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  • Archive for the 'Big Government' Category

    Why a Conservative Distrusts Cheney

    Posted by Ginny on 12th May 2021 (All posts by )

    Cheney thinks that questioning the election arises from a mindless, dangerous loyalty. It is great and fine that she is a conservative. But when she voted for his policies, didn’t she note how often they devolved power and now, she gives comfort to those who would nationalize elections, police, and lives? If he affected the Georgia senate race, is she healing the party or leading thoughtful discussions on the election given that the Democrat’s bill is now facing them? It is bad enough Democrats want to get in our heads to make our eyes and hearts and minds conform. But that leadership in Congress does is irritating – and apparently that is how Congress sees it. Thank God.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Education, History, Trump | 28 Comments »

    America’s Civil War 2.0: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 10th May 2021 (All posts by )

     It’s official: The Biden “return to normalcy” is more divisive than Trump’s tweets. America is now arguably more polarized than any time since the Civil War because of wide and deep disagreements over all three of the major sources of civil strife: ideology, race and religion. A large minority, more than prior to the Civil War, believe this will result in bloodshed. Tribal conflicts have been the order of the day since the beginning of recorded civilization. The development of nation states in Europe during the second half of the last millennium sometimes suppressed, other times magnified such strife.

    Democratic politicians caused the first race war and are on the cusp of starting the second to overturn the existing political order of limited government, minority protection and opportunity based on individual merit that for over a century has defined America’s Exceptionalism and been a deterrent to the growth of their progressive administrative state.

    The Cause of America’s First Civil War: A Disease of the Public Mind

    The US has generally succeeded in uniting diverse populations because its Founding Documents protect individual rights regardless of race or religion, and the minority from majoritarian control. The majority of the original 13 colonies in the US were founded on the principles of religious freedom for various Christian sects. (By 2050 the number of Muslims is projected to double to about 8 million, a potentially politically divisive issue only if they reject America’s Founding principles and laws.) The US has assimilated virtually all races.

    But it took a bloody Civil War to initiate the extension of Constitutional rights to slaves and their descendants. Battlefield deaths were at least one hundred times greater in America’s Civil War than the 7000 battlefield deaths in the Revolutionary War. Initially inclined to accept secession as the South’s Constitution emulated the libertarian US constitution but for the exclusion of slaves, the Northern Republicans formed a constitutionally dubious “nationalist” campaign to “save the union.” General Sherman’s “Total War” to impress and terrorize the civilian population with the moral superiority of the North created enmities that persist to the present. Both Northern policies set a precedent for subsequent inter and intra national wars around the globe.

    Why did it take a Civil War? Less than 4% of slaves imported to the Americas ended up in what became the United States, the only country that fought a war (losing about 10% of its population) to end the practice. The War wasn’t fought over the issue of the abolition: only about 5% of Northerners were abolitionists, the same as in the South. Although most people North and South now recognized slavery as morally wrong, disagreements arose over the viability of various exit strategies (Lincoln’s plan to return slaves to African Liberia would have resulted in much higher mortality than slavery. Parenthetically, mortality rates were lower in the South than in African generally, much lower than in South America, and lower than for Northern slaves.) More free blacks owned slaves (7.5%) than did Southern whites (6%). Historian Thomas Fleming concluded that a Disease of the Public Mind, deep hatred caused by Southern Democratic segregationist politicians’ steadfast refusal to negotiate a future extension of rights to what they claimed were “racially inferior” African Americans made war inevitable.

    What do Democrats Mean Today by “Our Democracy”?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 21 Comments »

    The Deep State and World War I

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th April 2021 (All posts by )

    I have been reading, actually rereading, a book on the origins of World War I. It is titled “The Sleepwalkers” It is a bit of a revisionist treatment of the topic which has been popularized by Barbara Tuchman and “The Guns of August which lays the blame for the war on Germany. This book does a pretty good job of assigning responsibility to two new culprits, Sir Edward Grey, who is also blamed by Pat Buchanan in “The Unnecessary War.” Buchanan blames Grey and Churchill, which I disagree with. Buchanan goes on to blame Churchill for WWII, as well but I think he has a good argument with Grey about WWI.

    What is striking to me on this rereading, is the role of the bureaucracies of several countries. Many know of the willfulness and erratic behavior of Kaiser Wilhelm. His ministers often did not inform him of serious matters, lest he impulsively make them worse. A gross example was “The Daily Telegraph Affair.” In this example, the Kaiser wrote a letter to then English newspaper making some extreme statements. His ministers were horrified.

    The Russian Czar was equally erratic and his ministers frequently maneuvered to discourage his role in foreign affairs.

    What seems to me to be new insight concerns the English and French bureaucracies. Edward VII had been a Francophile and Germanophobe and had encouraged The Entente Cordiale with France and Russia. Edward died in 1910, leaving his son George V on the throne. George V was new, uncertain and left foreign affairs in the hands of his Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey. Grey was a quiet, seemingly passive man but he was also a bureaucratic manipulator. He was a Germanophobe and had a collection of like minded men in the foreign office. The worst of the Germanophobes was Eyre Crowe born in Germany and spoke with a German accent but a Germany hater. Grey’s policy was not popular with other Liberals in government so he kept the policy of alliance with France vague right up until 1914. He denied the existence of an alliance with France right up to the declaration of war. As for Crowe:

    He is best known for his vigorous warning, in 1907, that Germany’s expansionist intentions toward Britain were hostile and had to be met with a closer alliance (Entente) with France.

    Crowe organized the Ministry of Blockade during the World War and worked closely with French President Georges Clemenceau at the Supreme Council at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

    Lloyd George and Crowe’s rivals in the Foreign Office tried to prevent Eyre’s advancement but as a consequence of his patronage by Lord Curzon, Eyre served as Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1920 until his death in 1925.

    A similar group in France ran the foreign Ministry and was referred to as the “Centrale.” The French government was as unstable as it was before WWII and for the same reasons. Weak parties and weak Foreign Ministers who came and went, often in months not years. The man who was the center of this system was Maurice Herbette. There is very little about this man in English sources. He apparently controlled the Foreign Ministry’s public communications and very nearly caused a war with the Agadir Crisis of 1911.

    The point of this discussion of history is that we have a similar situation in this country right now. We have a weak, very weak, president in Joe Biden who is senile and who is being controlled by someone mysterious. The Deep State is a term used to describe the federal bureaucracy and probably includes a network of rich corporatist donors who control the Democrat Party.

    The faceless bureaucrats of 1914 botched the crisis the followed the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Yes, the Serbian Black Hand created the crisis and there has been much discussion of the competence of the “Three Emperors” who ruled the main belligerents, but the real rulers of these three countries plus republican France were unknown (to the public), unelected bureaucrats who might well have resembled the people running Joe Biden.

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Britain, Europe, France, Germany, History, Military Affairs | 58 Comments »

    Biden’s Climate Fixation.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th March 2021 (All posts by )

    Joe Biden, or whoever writes his stuff, announced that “Climate Change” will be the #1 issue for his administration. What does this mean and portend? There are a number of articles in “Asia Times” that discuss this. I ran across this series at an Australian blog I read ever day, Catallexy Files

    In his January 27 “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” US President Joseph Biden declares that his administration aims at “putting the climate crisis at the center of United States foreign policy and National Security.”

    Taken literally, this statement – as I think any sober observer of today’s situation in the US and internationally will agree – is a piece of insanity. Joe, please tell us you don’t mean it.

    Whatever one might believe about an oncoming climate apocalypse, the urgent domestic and international problems the Biden administration will face in the immediate months ahead have little or nothing to do with the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. They include the likelihood of crises that might decide between war and peace on a short time-horizon.

    I am reading the articles, there are 6 so far. I think they are worth a read. The author is a PhD in Math at age 22 from UC Berkeley

    The first article

    The second

    The third.

    BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest investment management company with about 8 trillion dollars of managed assets, plays a singular role in US President Joe Biden’s climate policy. Indeed, it looks like BlackRock and the Biden administration are married to each other.

    The marriage was consumated, one might say, with the appointments and nominations of prominent BlackRock executives to high posts in the administration. All of them are typical of the “revolving door” phenomenon of leading personnel shifting back and forth between government and big finance.

    The fourth.

    Most importantly: Given sufficient support for research and development in the context of large-scale infrastructure investment worldwide, ending the era of dependence on fossil fuels could be accomplished without austerity and with a minimum of coercive measures by governments. The major drivers would be higher efficiency, lower costs, competitive advantages.

    This would be a natural process if guided by rationality rather than quasi-religious belief in a coming “climate apocalypse.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Energy & Power Generation, Environment | 36 Comments »

    The Zombie of Reparations

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th March 2021 (All posts by )

    Oh, for the Love of Life Orchestra, the rotting spectral zombie of reparations for slavery of African-Americans is staggering out of the graveyard of bad political ideas once more, and onto the stage of public discussion. It’s a Biden-approved notion (or a notion of whichever puppet-master has their hand up Biden’s fundament) and I note that the thrust of the matter is only to discuss the possibility.

    Which makes me suspect that this new and respectably presidential consideration is a token gesture, a sop to the militant BLM activists and the old racial shakedown coterie, and the constituents they proport to represent; mostly the semi-literate, barely skilled lifetime welfare-receiving urban thug element, who have an insatiable appetite for monetary graft, free stuff and slivers of unearned privilege. The racial shakedown coterie does very well out of catering to those clients in any case, and it is their best interests that the shakedown continues even unto the umpteenth generation. If we are very fortunate, the stupidest, most controversial and divisive bad idea since Prohibition will never get any farther than the discussion phase, but if it does – and I wouldn’t put it past the current batch of Woke-ists to their best to make it work – it won’t. It will likely fail, catastrophically. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Leftism, Politics, Predictions, Urban Issues | 59 Comments »

    The Computer Age Turns 75

    Posted by David Foster on 21st February 2021 (All posts by )

    In February 1946, the first general purpose electronic computer…the ENIAC…was introduced to the public.  Nothing like ENIAC had been seen before, and the unveiling of the computer, a room-filling machine with lots of flashing lights and switches–made quite an impact.

    ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was created primarily to help with the trajectory-calculation problems for artillery shells and bombs, a problem that was requiring increasing numbers of people for manual computations.  John Mauchly, a physics professor attending a summer session at the University of Pennsylvania, and J Presper Eckert, a 24-year-old grad student, proposed the machine after observing the work of the women (including Mauchly’s wife Mary) who had been hired to assist the Army with these calculations. The proposal made its way to the Army’s liason with Penn,  and that officer, Lieutenant Herman Goldstine,  took up the project’s cause.  (Goldstine apparently heard about the proposal not via formal university channels but via a mutual friend, which is an interesting point in our present era of remote work.)  Electronics had not previously been used for digital computing, and a lot of authorities thought an electromechanical machine would be a better and safer bet.

    Despite the naysayers (including RCA, actually which refused to bid on the machine), ENIAC did work, and the payoff was in speed.  This was on display in the introductory demonstration, which was well-orchestrated from a PR standpoint.  Attendees could watch the numbers changing as the flight of a simulated shell proceeded from firing to impact, which took about 20 seconds…a little faster than the actual flight of the real, physical shell itself.  Inevitably, the ENIAC was dubbed a ‘giant brain’ in some of the media coverage…well, the “giant” part was certainly true, given the machine’s size and its 30-ton weight.

    In the photo below, Goldstine and Eckert are holding the hardware module required for one single digit of one number.

    The machine’s flexibility allowed it to be used for many applications beyond the trajectory work,  beginning with modeling the proposed design of the detonator for the hydrogen bomb.   Considerable simplification of the equations had to be done to fit within ENIAC’s capacity; nevertheless, Edward Teller believed the results showed that his proposed design would work. In an early example of a disagreement about the validity of model results, the Los Alamos mathematician Stan Ulam thought otherwise.  (It turned out that Ulam was right…a modified triggering approach had to be developed before working hydrogen bombs could be built.)  There were many other ENIAC applications, including the first experiments in computerized weather forecasting, which I’ll touch on later in this post.

    Programming ENIAC was quite different from modern programming.  There was no such thing as a programming language or instruction set.  Instead, pluggable cable connections, combined with switch settings, controlled the interaction among ENIAC’s 20 ‘accumulators’ (each of which could store a 10-digit number and perform addition & subtraction on that number) and its multiply and divide/square-root units.  With clever programming it was possible to make several of the units operate in parallel. The machine could perform conditional branching and looping…all-electronic, as opposed to earlier electromechanical machines in which a literal “loop” was established by glueing together the ends of a punched paper tape.   ENIAC also had several ‘function tables’, in which arrays of rotary switches were set to transform one quantity into another quantity in a specified way…in the trajectory application, the relationship between a shell’s velocity and its air drag.

    The original ‘programmers’…although the word was not then in use…were 6 women selected from among the group of human trajectory calculators. Jean Jennings Bartik mentioned in her autobiography that when she was interviewed for the job, the interviewer (Goldstine) asked her what she thought of electricity.  She said she’d taken physics and knew Ohm’s Law; Goldstine said he didn’t care about that; what he wanted to know was whether she was scared of it!  There were serious voltages behind the panels and running through the pluggable cables.

    “The ENIAC was a son of a bitch to program,” Jean Bartik later remarked.  Although the equations that needed to be solved were defined by physicists and mathematicians, the programmers had to figure out how to transform those equations into machine sequences of operations, switch settings, and cable connections.  In addition to the logical work, the programmers had also to physically do the cabling and switch-setting and to debug the inevitable problems…for the latter task, ENIAC conveniently had a hand-held remote control, which the programmer could use to operate the machine as she walked among its units.

    Notoriously, none of the programmers were introduced at the dinner event or were invited to the celebration dinner afterwards.  This was certainly due in large part to their being female, but part of it was probably also that programming was not then recognized as an actual professional field on a level with mathematics or electrical engineering; indeed, the activity didn’t even yet have a name.  (It is rather remarkable, though, that in an ENIAC retrospective in 1986…by which time the complexity and importance of programming were well understood…The New York Times referred only to “a crew of workers” setting dials and switches.)

    The original programming method for ENIAC put some constraints on the complexity of problems that it could be handled and also tied up the machine for hours or days while the cable-plugging and switch-setting for a new problem was done. The idea of stored programming had emerged (I’ll discuss later the question of who the originator was)…the idea was that a machine could be commanded by instructions stored in a memory just like data; no cable-swapping necessary. It was realized that ENIAC could be transformed into a stored-program machine  with the function tables…those arrays of rotary switches…used to store the instructions for a specific problem. The cabling had to be done only once, to set the machine up for interpreting  a particular vocabulary of instructions.  This change gave ENIAC a lot more program capacity and made it far easier to program; it did sacrifice some of the speed.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Biography, Book Notes, History, Science, Tech, War and Peace | 20 Comments »

    The ghost of T Boone Pickens hovers over Texas.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 16th February 2021 (All posts by )

    Texas is suffering severe power outages as the windmills are frozen and natural gas is having trouble with supply.

    T Boone Pickens did not live quite long enough to see what his wind farms wrought.

    Pickens focused his advocacy on alternative energy such as solar and wind. The Washington Post says that “perhaps the strangest role” Pickens “has fashioned for himself is his current one: the billionaire speculator as energy-wise man, an oil-and-gas magnate as the champion of wind power, and a lifetime Republican who has become a fellow traveler among environmentally-minded Democrats – even though he helped finance the ‘Swift boat’ ads that savaged” Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign. In an editorial, The New York Times reported Pickens “has decided that drilling for more oil is not the whole answer to the nation’s energy problems.

    Pickens’ “Wind Farms” resemble the Tax farmers of Louis XVI in 1789.

    The government of France contracted with private citizens to collect taxes and duties.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Energy & Power Generation, Science | 46 Comments »

    An Amateur Observer Sums Up

    Posted by Ginny on 21st January 2021 (All posts by )

    Pundits describe a fractured Republican party: the cult of Trump versus policy conservatives. This narrative compounds wishful thinking with ignorance of life outside the beltway, but has some truth. Trump, some say, is considering nurturing a third party.

    The Republican establishment thinks they are more Republican than the Trumpists and have decades of battle scars to prove it. But they need him – whether he runs again or campaigns for others or is a strong voice. But for him the structural support of a party with a century and a half’s institutional memory can be helpful; most voted consistently with him. When Biden swears in 1000 appointees before his first full day in office, I worry that any Republican splits weaken a future Republican president’s hand. It is true that some of Trump’s best bets were ones the establishment would never have considered, but it is also true minor posts took a long time to fill.

    The Trumpists need to accept that all of the people pulling back are not the sorry excuses for Republicans of the Lincoln Project, though they may not want to share a foxhole with them. Trump could have handled the last two months better and in not doing so, he irritated some, like McConnell, left to pick up the pieces. McConnell may be a Rino but he got those appointments through because he knew what he was doing. However, the establishment needs to remember, Trump nominated and backed them, their strengths came from their abilities rather than political resumes.

    The establishment needs to be honest with itself. For decades the party promised and didn’t deliver, risks weren’t taken. They must acknowledge where Trump’s strength lay – at least in terms of the people I read, the people I know. It was policies. His actions – and boy did he act – in a Republican tradition. A good many people first voted for Trump as the better of two bad choices and came to see him as a transformative president. Some that hadn’t in 2016 said they’d crawl over broken glass to vote for him in 2020. Sure, some found him offensive, some had buyer’s remorse. He engendered turmoil and tension, though often in response to the wolves that circled him. (A baying that hasn’t stilled as he leaves the White House.) A resonant fact, however, is that many more voted for him in 2020 than in 2016. And the reason for most was, I suspect, what he’d done. Whether or why he lost, with 74 million votes he’s a force.

    He was volatile and transparent. He wounded and was wounded. We winced at ad hominem attacks on his staff. He entertained. We were used to laconic heroes, but here was a man of action but also of emotional responses. But the four years – how and what he accomplished, the assumptions that made of his tenure a coherent whole – embodied instincts true to human nature and its potential. And that whole was conservative, American conservative.

    He seemed to possess endless energy to push back while striding forward, he persevered. And his focus was on what counted: internationally, improving the United States’ ability to respond quickly and forcefully, to expand its frontiers; domestically, reducing the government’s (especially the national government’s) impositions and cleansing the unAmerican doctrines of tribalism parading as political correctness. In doing so, he implicitly respected his constituents. Are these not what they wanted, had wanted?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Big Government, Conservatism, National Security, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 79 Comments »

    Only on Bended Knee Should You Address Us

    Posted by Ginny on 14th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Our betters on the left can’t seem to distinguish between reading 1984 as dystopia or guidebook. That doesn’t mean they didn’t learn something, though more probably from the communism that so rightly disturbed Orwell.

    Hannity can be irritating, but today his response to the impeachment seemed correct – that he (and the right in general) were not invested, interested in the impeachment. It seemed little different from every other political subversion of Trump’s presidency. And with only days left, it also seems silly. The left’s apparent motives are, nonetheless, maddening. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Big Government, Current Events, Politics, Trump | 40 Comments »

    Smashing the State

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 9th January 2021 (All posts by )

    There won’t be any surprises in this one for anyone who knows me at all well, but I’ll try to at least make it entertaining.

    My very first lasting memory of a news event with political content took place on the afternoon of Sunday 21 January 1968. A B-52 with four hydrogen bombs aboard took off from Thule AFB and crashed somewhere in the Arctic, location unknown.
    Ten days later, the Tet Offensive began.
    Nine weeks and one day after that, Dr King was assassinated.
    Nine weeks less one day after that, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.
    Twelve weeks to the day after that, I first saw real human blood shed live on television via cameras above the intersection of Michigan and Balbo as the Chicago police attacked demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention.

    I was eight years old.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Book Notes, Chicagoania, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Libertarianism, Management, Personal Narrative, Political Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 42 Comments »

    The Twilight Zone

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Well, it appears that the mullahcracy in Iran is still steamed over the death of their military mastermind Quassam Soleimani, the chief of so-called Quds Force – sort of the Iranian SS, I have always thought. On the one-year anniversary of that momentous drone-zap (a consummation quite overdue in my opinion) the president of Iran directly threatened the life of President Trump. Talk is cheap, and Iranian threats of dire revenge are the equivalent of those teeny and nearly worthless Spanish 1-peseta coins, which were struck from aluminum in the early 1990s, about the size of a child’s fingernail and looked like nothing so much as doll money. But still … the militant Muslims of Iran are certainly dedicated and determined sufficiently to have racked up any number of lesser-known and less-protected hits, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was something more than just tough talk for the benefit of their domestic audience and fans of Islamic mayhem in other countries. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Current Events, History, International Affairs, Iran, Media, Middle East, Trump | 81 Comments »

    Book Review: Year of Consent, by Kendell Foster Crossen

    Posted by David Foster on 5th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Year of Consent, by Kendell Foster Crossen

    —-

    This is a pulp SF novel from 1954, which has uncomfortable relevance to our present era.

    The story is set in the then-future year of 1990.  The United States is still nominally a democracy, but the real power lies with the social engineers…sophisticated advertising & PR men…who use psychological methods to persuade people that they really want what they are supposed to want.  (Prefiguring “nudging”)  The social engineers are aided in their tasks by a giant computer called Sociac (500,000 vacuum tubes! 860,000 relays!) and colloquially known as ‘Herbie.’  The political system now in place is called Democratic Rule by Consent.  While the US still has a President, he is a figurehead and the administration of the country is actually done by the General Manager of the United States….who himself serves at the pleasure of the social engineers.  The social engineers work in a department called ‘Communications’, which most people believe is limited to such benign tasks as keeping the telephones and the television stations in operation.  Actually, its main function is the carrying out of influence operations.

    One approach involves the publishing of novels which are fictional, but carry implicit social and/or political messages…via, for example, the beliefs and affiliations of the bad guys versus the good guys. Even the structure of novels is managed for messaging reasons: romance-story plots should not be boy gets girl…loses girl…gets girl back, but rather boy gets girl, loses girl, gets different girl who is really right for him.

    Some methods are more direct, although their real objectives are not stated.  One such objective is population control: If the fertility rate is running a little low, advertising is ramped up for a pill called Glamorenes, which are said to create the “rounded, glamorous figure of a TV star…remember–it’s Glamorenes for glamor.”  Actually, the real function of Glamorenes, which is top secret, is to increase a woman’s sex drive and expand the fertility window.  On the other hand, if the birth rate is running too high, the ad emphasis switches to Slimettes for women and Vigorone for men, both of which have a contraceptive effect.  The book’s protagonist, Gerald Leeds, is one of the few who is in on the secret, and when he hears a Glamorenes ad, he realizes that this is the real reason why his girlfriend, Nancy, has been acting especially affectionate lately.

    Few people, even at the highest levels of government, realize just how powerful the Communications Department really is.  “Even the biggest wheels only know part of it.  They think the Communications Administrative Department exists to help them–and not the other way around.”

    The computer known as Sociac (‘Herby’) accumulates vast amounts of data on individuals, including such things as shopping, dining, and vacation preferences. “Thus, when the administration wanted to make a new move, they knew exactly how to condition the people so that it would be backed. Or they knew exactly what sort of man to put up to win a popular election.” Telephone calls are tapped, but are rarely listened to directly by government agents; rather, they are fed directly to “a calculator” (perhaps a front-end to Herbie) and added to “the huge stock of intimate knowledge about the people.”

    Those individuals who resist the conditioning and are found to hold unapproved opinions–or find themselves to hold unapproved opinions–are said to have “communications blocks,” and good citizens will act on their own to request treatment for such blocks. The first level of treatment is the Psychotherapy Calculator, an interactive system which will help the patient change any objectionable opinions and behavior.  But in some cases, the PC determines that stronger methods are necessary, and in those cases, the patient is referred for a lobotomy.  The escorting of patients for mandatory psychotherapy and lobotomy procedures is done by a white-uniformed police force known as the Clinic Squad.

    Citizens are, of course, expected to report any instances of unapproved beliefs or actions.  When the protagonist’s girlfriend Nancy overhears one of her colleagues expressing sympathy for a man who is in serious trouble, she reports the girl immediately. (“For the moment I disliked Nancy,” says Gerald.  “Then I felt sorry for her.”)  Nancy herself is concerned that there may be something wrong with her, and has considered reporting herself for voluntary automated psychotherapy.  “If I did have (something wrong with her), I’d want to be purged of it quickly before it could make me do something awful like that poor Mr Shell”…Gerald notes that her hand was shaking as she lifted her glass to finish the drink.

    Gerald, the protagonist, works within the Communications Department…unknown to his superiors, he is a member of a resistance organization which aims to overthrow the existing system of government and to restore individual liberty. He must feign agreement when his immediate boss talks about how wonderful the system is and how misguided are those who oppose it:

    Never has there been more freedom anywhere than in America today.  We’ve done away with police and even prisons.  Crime has been almost wiped out since we recognized it as a social disease.  We’ve done away with poverty. There are fewer restrictions on people than ever before in the history of mankind.  For the first time they’re really free.

    Gerald reflects:

    Even if it hadn’t been dangerous, I wouldn’t have argued with him.  He believed what he was saying. His faith was the faith of a Torquemada backed by science.  There was no way to make him see that the social engineers had taken away only one freedom, but that it was the ultimate freedom–the right to choose.  Everything…was decided for them and then they were conditioned to want it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Russia, Tech, USA | 16 Comments »

    Anchorites

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 29th December 2020 (All posts by )

    We are commanded by our so-called experts in this age of the Chinese Corona Crud, to live the enclosed life as a sort of secular anchorite, walled into our little singular cells, supplied by regular deliveries passed in through one narrow passage to the outside, and to spend our days contemplating the televised media worship of the narrative du jour through the window into the shrine of our authoritative masters. Or at least, those who call themselves our masters, although I am certain that’s not the term which they use for themselves. ‘Experts’, ‘scientists’ ‘elected* leaders’ – that’s probably how they term themselves, commanding us to stay at home, eschew social gatherings (although violent BLMAntifa protests are perfectly OK), church services, seeing a movie, getting sit-down dinner inside a restaurant, walking in a public park, hanging out on a beach … all through fear of the rampaging and almost-always-fatal Chinese Corona Crud. To add insult to the injury, those political leaders, to a man, woman and whatever, don’t seem to feel any need to observe their own dictates; traveling freely to their vacation homes, meeting up for holidays with family, going out to supper with friends to the French Laundry, getting haircuts, and omitting the wear of what I’ve begun to call the FFD (the F**king Face Diaper). Really, it’s as if they are getting their jollies out of flaunting their authority and privilege in our FFD’d faces. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Civil Society, Current Events, Predictions, USA | 33 Comments »

    What will Trump do after January 20, 2021 ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th December 2020 (All posts by )

    It is quite unlikely that the election fraud can be reversed before Biden is sworn in. I don’t expect any of the nonsense the left has been predicting if that occurs. Trump will leave office peacefully but will not attend the “inauguration,” which will probably be “virtual” anyway.

    What will he do next ? He is the titular head of the Republican Party, and the choice of 98% of the 75 million voters who supported him. He got 10 million additional votes this year compared to 2016.

    Here is one observation.;

    Trump may or may not purposely dominate the political scene in the background as Teddy Roosevelt did from 1909 – 1912 and then run again in 2024, but I argue that Trumpism will dominate the scene for a long time to come, and that any successful GOP presidential nominee will need to be a Trumpist. I go further, in fact, and believe the shuffling of the issue map and the realignment of voting coalitions are as substantial as FDR and the New Deal—and it took FDR four terms to effect that change.

    I don’t see Trump running again in 2024. He will be as old as Biden is now and, while he is a good deal healthier than Biden is, the party will need new blood to carry on. What then?

    This does not seem realistic.

    “I received a call from President Trump last week. We chatted about the election briefly [and] he made it clear that he wasn’t giving up on fighting for a second term,” said Eric Bolling, a Sinclair host and friend of the Trump family who appeared on Trump’s reality TV show years ago. “I mentioned to him that I believe whatever happens with the legal fights, he would emerge as the biggest media personality on the planet. Trump has a clear opportunity to be a media mega-personality post-presidency.” 

    “I think an Apprentice/Celebrity Apprentice revival would be a humongous hit,” Bolling added. “This iteration would be ratings gold for whomever is fortunate enough to get the reboot.”

    That is the least likely possibility, in my opinion.

    What else?

    I’d rather see Trump get involved with something like Newsmax or just generally working to increase the conservative footprint in news media. Since Fox News has become sort of like the Justice Roberts of the news world, there’s a very real opportunity to capture a very large and underserved audience. And with the tech monopolists brazenly practicing story suppression for the Dems, it’s more important than ever.

    That is a thought. How about this ?

    In my opinion Trump should get together with someone like Vince McMahon and invest in something like Parler, expand the platform to take on twitter and facebook simultaneously. I’d bet taking them down a peg or two would be two would be very satisfying to him, and it would be a huge platform if it worked.

    There is a good chance that he will be blocked on Twitter after he leaves office, although Twitter would be foolish to do so financially. Parler is an alternative, as iWe is an alternative to Facebook. I have joined both but not used them significantly. I never joined Twitter and have used Facebook mostly for baby pictures and the like.

    Would he stay in the hotel business ? His kids have been running much of that the past five years and , while some like Ivanka might have political ambitions, I don’t see him getting back into development. My personal opinion is that the consequences of the virus and the insane reaction by Democrat Mayors and Governors have killed many cities. New York City is bleeding emigrants.

    It will be interesting to see if he chooses to supervise the transition of the GOP from a corporate, Chamber of Commerce, party to a populist one. I think that is coming and he is the likely one to lead it. Third parties do not do well in our binary system. The old Republican Party, and many of its stalwarts, like Mitch McConnell, seem out of date, if not beholden to China. Ross Perot and Sarah Palin were warnings ignored. The Tea Party was an attempt that failed because they (we) lacked leadership. Obama went after the Tea Party with every department of the federal government weaponized. It resembled the assault on Trump the past four years in intensity and motive.

    What if the country starts to separate? If the leftist radicals behind Biden try to enact their agenda, their real agenda, we could see a cold Civil War. They would be foolish to pick a hot one with the segment of the population that is comprised of most military veterans and which owns 350 million guns. A book written about such a peaceful separation is “America 3.0”

    The analysis of American history is worth the price of the book and the time to read it. I wish the recommendations for recovery were more likely to be adopted. There are some excellent points about future trends, as in medicine for example. I like some of the suggestions for defense policy. The whole thing is a nice exercise in predicting the future. I just wish it would happen that way. I previously reviewed George Friedman’s  The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century . I think I like this one better and highly recommend it.

    I was not optimistic about their suggestions in 2013 but then world has changed markedly since then. We could end up with a country that has blue crusts on each coast. The rest solid red. Chicago is a blue island that is failing. Maybe Canada would take them.

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Trump | 74 Comments »

    Net Novostey v “Pravde” i net pravdy v “Isvestihakh

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th December 2020 (All posts by )

    The bitter Soviet-era joke about the honesty and reliability of their major news organs translates as “There is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia” – Pravda (Truth) being the official newspaper of the Russian Communist Party, and Izvestia (The News) was the official government newspaper. Teasing out actual tidbits of accurate and relevant information from those two sources may have been the most popular indoor sport for decades among Russians, after chess, depressing novels and drinking heavily. Pravda and Izvestia told the citizens of Soviet Russia only what the top-tier authorities wanted ordinary people to know about – anything contrary to the interests of party and government was deliberately omitted. Any embarrassing civic disasters with a high casualty count, sexual peccadillos on the part of the Party elite, and serial killers on the prowl – news coverage of that kind of event or development was firmly squelched, as things like that just didn’t happen in the perfect Soviet worker paradise. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Elections, Leftism, Media, Politics, Russia, USA | 56 Comments »

    In Accordance With the Prophecies…

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th November 2020 (All posts by )

    …the Schlichter prophecies, I mean, wherein the good Colonel Kurt S. postulated a political/geographic split of the United States along red-blue lines. In his bleak and blackly humorous vision, (carried out over a five-volume series) the middle portion of the States carried on with fidelity to the Constitution, free-range capitalism, and universal military service as an obligation for full citizenship. Meanwhile the east and west coasts as a so-called “People’s Republic” carried on under a selection of increasingly deranged and erratic progressive principles, turning into a dysfunctional combination of Portland’s CHAZ/CHOP, any PC-addled university you could name, Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe and Venezuela at this very moment. The series is meant to be grimly entertaining, but I’m beginning to believe that the split has already happened – not in the neat geographic manner (with some violent hiccups) outlined – but in a slower and murkier manner. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Leftism, Trump, Urban Issues, USA | 57 Comments »

    A Bridge Too Far?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th November 2020 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit – who is an even more die-hard conservative than I am – and I have been coming to terms with what happened last week, in the wake of the election. Not to put too fine a point on it, we were distressed, disbelieving, and horrified at how that has gone. And then we were both deeply angry. It’s an anger that I have trouble quantifying, when all is said, considered and done.

    Look, we’ve known for years about dirty deeds done with sheep and ballot boxes … especially the ones that show up out of the clear blue. LBJ notoriously got elected by a couple of those, early on. It’s also pretty strongly suggested that JFK got the 1960 election because of fraud at the polls, and Nixon didn’t want to make a big thing out of contesting it, because … reasons. Patriotic reasons, for which he never got any credit at all.

    But this latest is just too obvious. Too blatant. Too ‘in your face, and what are you gonna do about it, you lying dogface pony soldier?’ The roughly-reported evidence of ballot boxes appearing out of the blue in the wee hours, of so-called “glitches” transmuting Republican votes to Democrat, of Republican observers told to go home it’s all over – while the fraudulent counting goes on in a closed room. Goes on, and on, and on … Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Just Unbelievable, Leftism, Trump, USA | 115 Comments »

    The Multi-Front Attack on Free Speech (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 10th November 2020 (All posts by )

    (I don’t usually rerun posts that are less than a year old, but in this case…)

    Free speech…free expression generally…is under attack in America and throughout the Western world to a degree not seen in a long time. I think there are some specific phenomena and (partially-overlapping) categories of people which are largely driving this attack–I’ve written about this subject previously, here, but the situation has gotten even more serious since that post, and some of the important factors were underemphasized.  Here are the current fronts, as I see it, in the war (not too strong a word, I’m afraid) on free speech.

    The Thugs. As I pointed out in my post The United States of Weimar?, illegal actions against political opponents, ranging from theft of newspapers to direct assault and battery, have in recent decades become increasingly common on university campuses, and now are well on track to being normalized as aspects of American politics. Incidents of political thuggery are reported almost daily: just the other day, pro-Trump women at an upscale DC hotel were verbally attacked and apparently physically assaulted by members of a wedding party that was heavy on Democrat attendees; including, reportedly, some top officials from the DNC. A pro-free-speech film was reportedly interrupted by two men wearing masks. Interruption of movies they didn’t like was a tactic used by the Nazis prior to their obtaining official censorship powers. The film “All Quiet on the Western Front” was plagued by Nazi disruptions when released in Germany in 1930. And attempts to shut down dissident speakers on college campuses, such as this, have become so common as to now be almost the default expectation.

    The Assassins. These individuals go beyond the level of violence practiced by the Thugs, and make credible death threats they attempt to carry out against those whose actions or believe they view as unacceptable. The majority of threats and attacks falling in this category have certainly been the doing of radical Muslims; however, some of the more extreme ‘environmentalist’ and ‘animal rights’ groups have also demonstrated Assassin tendencies. At present, however, it is those Assassins who are radical Muslims who have been most successful in inhibiting free expression. Four years in hiding for an American cartoonist. But see also Ecofascism: The Climate Debate Turns Violent, how long until this justification and practice of violence reaches the level of justifying and carrying out actual murders?

    The Enclosure of the Speech Commons. Whereas the Internet and especially the blogosphere offered the prospect of political expression and discussion unfiltered by the traditional media, the primary social-media providers have taken various levels of controlling attitudes toward free speech; Twitter, in my opinion, is especially bad. Partly this is ideological; partly, it probably reflects their ideas about protecting their brands. Yes, there are plenty of ways to communicate online outside of the social media platforms, but their growth has been so rapid that a large proportion of the potential audience is not easily reached outside their domains. Note also that conversations that one would have been private friends talking at home, or over the telephone are now semi-public and sometimes made fully public. Plus, they become part of an individual’s Permanent Record, to use the phrase with which school officials once threatened students.

    The Online Mobs. The concerns of the social media providers about providing online “safe spaces” does not seem to have in the least inhibited the formation of online mobs which can quickly make life unpleasant for their targeted individuals, and even destroy the careers of those individuals. Decades ago, Marshall McLuhan referred to the technology-enabled Global Village; unfortunately, it turns out that this virtual village, especially as mediated through the social media platforms, has some of the most toxic characteristics of the real, traditional village. See my post Freedom, the Village, and the Internet.

    And the mobs do not limit themselves to attacks on the target individual: they frequently attack other individuals who fail to participate in the shunning of that target person. As an example:

    A few weeks ago, shortly after I left my magazine gig, I had breakfast with a well-known Toronto man of letters. He told me his week had been rough, in part because it had been discovered that he was still connected on social media with a colleague who’d fallen into disfavour with Stupid Twitter-Land. “You know that we all can see that you are still friends with him,” read one of the emails my friend had received. “So. What are you going to do about that?”

    “So I folded,” he told me with a sad, defeated air. “I know I’m supposed to stick to my principles. That’s what we tell ourselves. Free association and all that. It’s part of the romance of our profession. But I can’t afford to actually do that. These people control who gets jobs. I’m broke. So now I just go numb and say whatever they need me to say.”

    Increasingly, it’s not just a matter of limiting what a person can say, it’s also a matter of edicting what they must say.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Business, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Education, Environment, Feminism, Media, Society, Tech, Terrorism, USA | 22 Comments »

    American Weimar or American Habsburg?

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd November 2020 (All posts by )

    Aaron Sibarium has an interesting article on the Weimarization of America thru the normalization of political violence and intimidation…it is a trend I’ve raised concerns about in the past, for example, here:  The United States of Weimar?  An article by Dominic Green, though, argues that Weimar is less of a threatening precedent for American today than is the Habsburg monarchy of Austria-Hungary:

    The Habsburg monarchy was riven with ethnic division, but:

    Where the Hapsburgs had nationalism, we have ‘identity’. Like the Hapsburgs, we have racialized nationalism within an imperial framework. The result is what English-speakers call ‘Balkanization’. You need only look at the history of the Balkans in the half-century before 1914 to see where our current path leads.

    I was reminded of a quote from historian AJP Taylor:

    The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    Taylor also noted that the ethnic conflicts were exacerbated by the government dominance of economic life. “There were no private schools or hospitals, no independent universities; and the state, in its infinite paternalism, performed a variety of services from veterinary surgery to the inspecting of buildings.” The present-day US doesn’t have that level of government dominance, certainly, but the degree to which many nominally-private activities are now government-funded (universities, healthcare)–combined with the extreme politicization of everything from coffee to football–is helping to drive those same behaviors of intergroup squabbling.

    Also from Dominic Green:

    Above all, the typical affluent young American, the sort who in a more stable time might have thrown in his or her lot with the bureaucracy or a management job in the Mittelstand, the corporate heart of the economy, now resembles no literary figure so much as Ulrich, the protagonist of Robert Musil’s 1913 novel The Man Without Qualities.

    Ulrich is a forerunner of our college-educated millennials: morally enfeebled, sexually frustrated, professionally stunted. He has acquired enough sophistication to see through the forms of politics and social life — ‘critical thinking’, as the imposters of our schools call it — but not enough conviction to act in a way that might improve his life by bringing him into authentic contact with ‘reality’, which he knows is somewhere out there but cannot touch.

    I’m reminded of some comments by the deposed German Kaiser and by the writer Goethe, 94 years apart…not sure how directly relevant these points were to the Austria-Hungary of the time, but they are relevant to America today:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Education, Europe, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Leftism, Society, USA | 16 Comments »

    “Collecting Democrat votes one dead stiff at a time”

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2020 (All posts by )

    Yesterday at lunch a friend was circulating an e-mail her friend had taken as she’d run errands in Houston. Great video: hearse following Biden bus. Some overreaction (Can we stand four years with a humorless party in power? And how do they intend to use their power – to stop laughter and flags flying?)

    I’ve long thought that the Babylon Bee does more to keep up spirits about next Tuesday than the greatest stump speech or endorsement.

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Humor, Texas, The Press | 9 Comments »

    The October Surprise

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st October 2020 (All posts by )

    So the concept of an “October Surprise” in an election year is so hoary a notion that pundits have evolved that name for it; a planned last-minute revelation before an election (usually of the presidential-variety) of something so scandalous and disreputable that it upends the expected campaign win of the candidate the ‘Surprise” is aimed at. The Rathergate – Texas Air National Guard memo, which Dan Rather and 60 Minutes unleashed on George W. Bush just before the 2004 election is the example which springs first to mind, and never mind that it was launched in September. It was still a desperate partisan attempt to upturn an election. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Predictions, The Press, Trump, USA | 29 Comments »

    When Big Tech Came for the NY POST – “Our 2020 Abbotabad Moment”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 16th October 2020 (All posts by )

    I’m writing this Chicagoboyz piece to clarify the moment we are living in with regards to the Techlords oppression of America’s 1st Amendment constitutional right to free speech on their social media platforms.

    I’m calling it “Our 2020 Abbotabad Moment” (see photo) because, like the SEAL Team 6 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad Pakistan, it was a Moment of Strategic Clarity about the nature of an oppressive & corrupt regime that cannot be unseen.

    In Pakistan’s case, it revealed a nationalist, separatist, tribal, and above all a terrorist-supporting regime rent by murderous religious and ethnic hatreds. One where the one thing all the leadership factions there can agree on is fear of India. Think of a nuclear-armed Somalia in the mountains, but one good enough at faking a government to get military & economic aid from stupid foreigners.

    By way of contrast,  Big Tech’s censorship of  the NY Post, the Trump campaign, Trump’s press spokeswomen, the GOP House Judiciary Committee and others, followed by the open endorsement of the “Free Press” on Twitter of these actions have showed we don’t have a “Free Press.”

    We don’t have a “Press” at all.

    We have OPRESSORS.

    They are the propaganda arm of an unelected & unaccountable elite that hates the American Republic.

    I’d call these people’s disregard for free speech “Unamerican Activities” but, point in fact, they are as American as the Ku Klux Klan.  Or more on-point, the Pinkerton men putting down the United Mine Workers.  Complete with Denver Channel Nine’s hiring of a Leftist activist as a security guard who subsequently murdered a Trump supporter at a protest they covered.

    If this were the movie “The Empire Strikes Back,” we would be at the point of the film where Lando Calrissian picks up the mike and says “Attention. This is Lando Calrissian. The Empire has taken control of the city; I advise everyone to leave before more Imperial troops arrive.

    Unfortunately, there is nowhere to run. The moment of strategic clarity the NY POST’s censorship has brought shows is this is no longer just a “9/11/2001 election.”

    We are on Sun Tzu’s “Desperate Ground” with a choice of acquiescence to enslavement by inches, or a fight for freedom where absolutely nothing is guaranteed, even if you “win.”

    And Sun Tzu advises that, on Desperate Ground…FIGHT.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, History, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 25 Comments »

    Why I Like Ike

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 15th October 2020 (All posts by )

    Why I Like Ike. The Greatest of the Greatest Generation followed by the Worst of the Worst.
    —-

    Dwight D. Eisenhower served during the Great War, lived through the Great Depression, and led the Allies to Victory in WW II. But perhaps Ike’s greatest contribution was his leadership as President of the United States, ensuring the peace and building America’s infrastructure while imposing additional sacrifices on his generation to eliminate the WWII debt burden, the failure to do so after the Great War being the primary cause of the next. His hard won legacy of freedom and democracy has been completely squandered over the last half century by fiscally irresponsible Baby Boom politicians.

    The Clinton Administration cut the deficit every year, averaging only .8% of GDP, the lowest since the Eisenhower Administration, leaving the budget in what was predicted by many at the time to be a permanent surplus. But the deficit during the Obama/Biden Administration averaged 5.9% of GDP, the largest since WW II, increasing the outstanding debt accumulated over the centuries by 70% and now exceeds 100%, the level at the end of WW II. The CBO projects that under existing law, including repeal of the 2017 tax cuts in 2025, that will double again to 200% of GDP over the next generation as the $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities continue coming due. State and local governments face similar unfunded liabilities that they are prevented from borrowing to fulfill, so subsequent federal bailouts as currently demanded will add to these federal totals. This CBO forecast implies declining middle class/middle age after-tax incomes even as debt and deficits balloon.

    The Biden Plan

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, History, Politics, Public Finance, Tradeoffs, USA | 23 Comments »

    Obamacare – The COVID-19 Virus of U.S. Healthcare Insurance

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 30th September 2020 (All posts by )

    It tricks its way in and infects the vital organs.

    Obamacare promised to reduce the cost and improve the availability of health care services in the U.S. without reducing the quality, generally considered the world’s best. By traditional metrics, e.g., the health of the American public, the cost, and the share of national resources devoted to healthcare, Obamacare is a total bust. As with any government program targeted to a single metric, a higher percentage of the population has insurance, whatever the cost or coverage, but even that has been declining since the enforcement mechanism, a grossly excessive individual mandate, was eliminated.

    Obamacare made some households feel more financially secure, others less so. But it’s an illusion from a broader perspective as federal, state, and local finances are virtually all unsustainable. The federal government spent about $1.5 trillion on health care in 2019 and states about $300 billion. Handing out stacks of newly printed $100 bills to assist households with medical bills would have been a much cheaper and simpler solution.

    The current Rube Goldberg monstrosity reflects the attempt to achieve the universal coverage and uniform quality of national health systems while maintaining private medical services and private health insurers under the misleading banner of “insuring the uninsured.” Many analysts believed Obamacare was purposely designed as a Rube Goldberg contraption intended to end with a “bang,” paving the way for “single payer” or “Medicare for all” – the current progressive goal. But like virtually all failed government programs, Obamacare whimpers on.

    To repeal and replace would admit the obvious. But the “single payer” and “Medicare for all” proposals aren’t an actuarial insurance fix, merely a progressive federal tax. Their perceived merit is eliminating insurance company administrative costs (and administration), profits and actuarial premiums with political premiums – payroll taxes that contribute to total Treasury tax revenue. Politicizing the premiums will further politicize provider payments, two steps toward nationalized healthcare, the likely goal of many proponents.

    Socialized national healthcare may be preferable to it. But politicians deny and mis-represent the European national healthcare systems’ inferior medical performance and deny the totalitarian necessity even while issuing multiple mandates and threats under Obamacare. The original separation of the private and public healthcare systems in the U.S. – the original “public option” – is another, arguably better option.

    The Winding Road to the Obamacare Dead End

    In a competitive market economy health expenses would largely be paid from personal precautionary savings or medical insurance, the premiums sufficient to cover actuarial claims according to the “law of large numbers” for unpredictable claims, with insurance reserves for worse than predicted experience, e.g., due to a pandemic. All insurance requires a degree of “assurance” to mitigate avoidable claims, a “moral hazard that the insured will take greater risks.

    The U.S. health insurance industry in the early twentieth century followed the path of the savings bank industry of the prior century. Individual not for profit (mutual) firms (Blue Cross and Blue Shield) started appearing during the Great Depression for employees (initially teachers). The big expansion came when during WW II, FDR, no stranger to fascist business methods, capped wages but not benefits creating a loophole for un-taxed employer health insurance benefits that persists today, an advantage over individual plans paid mostly with after tax income.

    Health care needs of the poor were addressed by a variety of public, civic and religious institutions. During the first half of the 20th century, driven largely by public health concerns, municipal hospitals provided health services but with independent fee for service doctors, whereas housing policies followed the fascist Wehrmacht model, paying private developers and builders to construct public rental housing.

    Public healthcare, like public housing, was definitely below average. But the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution of 1946 declared “enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”—defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”—“is one of the fundamental rights of every human being,” reaffirmed in the 2020 Democratic Party Platform.

    Similarly, in market economies housing structures are considered a capital investment financed with debt or equity, owned or rented. But the United Nations identifies adequate affordable housing and secure tenure as a “fundamental human right.”These assertions followed the destruction of WW II and rise of European “democratic socialism,” but were foreshadowed by FDR’s New Deal policies during the Great Depression and his Second Bill of Rights in 1944.

    European national Healthcare systems reflected this uniformity, with one standard for all under Britain’s system, whereas the French system allowed about 10% of the population to opt for higher quality care with private insurance.

    The U.S. went in the opposite direction in the 1950s and 1960s. Federal expenditures for housing and health services were increasingly directly subsidized with federal progressive taxation, less intrusive to the private sector than prior methods or European systems, albeit more so than subsidizing income directly. The advent of federal Medicaid and Medicare subsidized insurance led to the decline of public hospitals (as did the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” ) But the Budget Act of 1974 making expenditures more transparent shifted lobbying efforts to less transparent tax subsidies and to regulation by the Administrative State.

    So progressives targeted finance and insurance, where the subsidies are often opaque. The objective became achieving a socialist incidence of both cost and delivery of health services by subsidizing and manipulating the private insurance market. The problem with FDR’s freely granting of multiple “rights” including healthcare and housing during this “fireside chat” was that they were not his to dispense. Progressive “rights” are nothing more than meretricious socialist promises implemented with a totalitarian stick that violate the unalienable rights in America’s Declaration of Independence that are the cornerstone of a market system, the reason for multiple conflicting and confused Supreme Court decisions regarding Obamacare.

    The Clinton Administration first proposed Hillarycare, the precursor to Obamacare, in 1993. When that failed, it turned to housing, where it was too successful. These latent New Deal viruses later turned deadly. Some three and a half years ago I argued that the two legislative centerpieces of the Obama Administration, the “Dodd-Frank Act” (the Wall Street Bank Bailout) and the “Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare) had the same fatal flaw. Politicians basically intervened in finance and insurance markets to provide equality of home ownership and medical care across all incomes without transparently paying the price. The effects spread like a deadly virus, distorting all the incentives, checks and balances that kept the private system afloat, replaced by universal one-size-fits-all mandates. The sub-prime lending debacle, like the Wehrmacht, lasted a decade, the current age of Obamacare (see Appendix).

    The Building of a Rube Goldberg Contraption: Doubling Down on “Pre-Existing Distortions”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Medicine, Obama | 17 Comments »

    What do Democrats Want ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 25th July 2020 (All posts by )

    I have been watching the gradual, then sudden, dissolution of a political party. My parents were Democrats. They were shocked when they learned I had voted for Richard Nixon in 1960. Jimmy Carter was a failure as a President but I wasn’t really worried about the country when he was in office. His actions with Iran and the Panama Canal were harmful but they were a matter of policy. Ronald Reagan, not a governor I was fond of in California, was a successful president. He was able to work with the Democrat Party in spite of some far left loonies like Chris Dodd. Many of the far left members of the Democrat Party favored communists like the Sandinistas but they were kept in line by the old pols to whom graft and spending were more important. Tip O’Neill would let Reagan win the Cold War as long as Reagan let the Democrat Congress run up the deficit.

    Bill Clinton changed much of this dynamic in two ways. First, he was a lot more ideological than previous presidents and second he was incompetent at it. Clinton is a very smart man but his wife, Hillary, was far too obvious in her corruption. First the 900 FBI files, then the White House Travel Office. Both were scandals that primed him for a big loss.

    Then the 1994 elections turned the Congress over to the Republicans and we learned how little they were interested in Conservatism. They accomplished nothing before being ousted by Democrats in 2006. This, of course, was followed by the housing and mortgage collapse of 2008. There was some attempt by Bush administration officials to rein in Congress and the debt explosion but it was probably too late anyway. The 2008 election placed Congress in Democrats’ hands for the first time with a Democrat president since 1974. Clinton’s two years did not result in much happening. The first Obama Congress spent like drunken sailors but were quickly reined in in 2010.

    What might happen if Biden won the presidency and the Democrats got a majority in the Congress ?

    In the past until now, there was zero chance that the hard Left would ever win an American election. No socialist has ever come close. Even Bernie Sanders accepted that the Democratic establishment for six years broke rules, leveraged candidates to drop out, and warped the media to ensure that he would remain a septuagenarian blowhard railing at the wind from one of his three houses. George McGovern was buried by a landslide. Most Democrats, after Kennedy and until Obama, never won the popular vote unless possessed of a Southern-accented hinting at centrism.

    Only the Great Depression and World War II ensured four terms of FDR, who still knew enough not to let his house socialists ruin the wartime U.S. economy.

    But in perfect storm and black swan fashion, the coronavirus, the lockdown, the riots, anarchy and looting, all combined with Trump Derangement Syndrome to be weaponized by the Left—and the media far more successfully than with their failed pro forma, legalistic efforts with Robert Mueller and impeachment to destroy the Trump presidency—have pushed socialism along.

    I thought Obama was an empty suit. Biden is an empty head.

    Who is behind all this and why ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Trump | 44 Comments »