Liberty vs. Security

An esteemed correspondent makes some good points in the following message (which I have edited lightly):

Our country is in more dire straits than it has been at any time in my lifetime [he is 85]. Maybe not as bad as when a Vice-President shot and killed a former Secretary of the Treasury or when there was an armed insurrection and each faction tried to take the other’s seat-of-government by force. I think our current divisions and divisiveness are detrimental to the continuation of the “greatest nation the world has ever known”; and I don’t think they can be fixed.

Liberty and security pull in opposite directions. More of one, less of the other. History and common-sense tells us that is so.

I’d like to start with Benjamin Franklin’s saying that is often misinterpreted. He said that our form of government is a republic, if you can keep it. That has been misinterpreted, repeatedly and emphatically by the current speaker-of-the-house to mean that Franklin was warning against a strong executive emulating a monarch. I think he was warning against the opposite, which he had witnessed in France. He also was fearful of our becoming a pure democracy with a people’s parliament becoming a law unto itself. This is similar to the tradeoffs between liberty and security. Either extreme is undesirable.

The geniuses who designed our government provided a number of checks and balances to try to keep things sort of in the middle. We are a federated democratic republic, not a democracy as is so often misstated. The Framers of the Constitution designed a government, but they neglected to explain the relationship of the government to those that were being governed. It took the first ten amendments to the Constitution to make that explicit. Those ten amendments delineate the limits that the federal government has over individuals. The 14th amendment essentially extends that to state governments. I especially like the tenth amendment. It is simply worded and says in plain English, any rights and authorities not specifically given to the federal government in this document belong to the people and/or the states.

Two constitutional issues were settled by the Civil War: slavery was no longer legal anywhere; and secondly, it was not permissible for states to secede from the union. It took later amendments to confirm that Blacks were not property; they are human beings with all rights of other human beings. Unfortunately that didn’t sit well with many Americans and we are still trying to sort out that issue in practice.

I don’t think that our current problems can be solved by appealing to the consent of the governed to be governed, namely by voting. Nor do I think secession (breakup) is feasible.

Voting: A significant fraction of those that voted in the November 2020 election think the the “results” are not honest. You can dismiss that view, but it is necessary to have a buy-in to the results of an election to have an election that conveys the consent of the governed. To me it is beside the point whether there is any evidence of “stealing an election” or not. There were enough irregularities that a demagogue can and did stir up doubts. Elections need to appear incorruptible, and today they are not. Could that be fixed? Not in our polarized society.

Furthermore, and this is more important, there isn’t balanced news coverage leading up to our elections or in analyzing the results. When there is overwhelming bias in the media, or there is no fair representation of both sides of the coin, we don’t have an environment for fair elections. Today one political party and the media are indistinguishable. The “media” is totally biased and deceitful in reporting “facts”. Remember Hamilton and Jefferson, who were arch political enemies. Each funded media that parroted his version of “truth”. But there were two sides. Add to the mix today’s “social media”, controlled by those favoring security over liberty. So the voices of liberty over security are relegated to fringe “nuts”. [The last bit is a gross error on the writer’s part, unless the millions who take my position on the matter are all on the fringe.]

Maybe even more importantly and indicative of a long-term fundamental change in America is the influence of “educators”. Uniformly, from those teaching young minds to the teachers of those teachers, in the formulators of “correct” history they favor security at the expense of liberty and are militant about spreading the “gospel”. They are children of the 1970s. Many grew up at a college their parents paid for and they didn’t have to work when they got out of college. They didn’t have any useful skills and of course the remedy for that is the old saying, “Those who can’t do, teach”.

So I don’t think there is any chance of “voting” to obtain the consent of the governed for their government is achievable. The influences wielded by the media and the educational system can’t be alleviated. There is only one perspective instead of a balance between liberty and security. I have avoided using the words liberal or conservative, or republican or democrat. I think that liberty and security are the two concepts that should be discussed more often as the heart of the country’s differences.

Secession: The possibility of secession, peaceful of not, was foreclosed by the Civil War. Since then the entanglements between the federal entity, the state entities, and the states themselves rule out out any practical solution those bindings.

Bottom Line: We’ll muck around for quite some time until it is realized that our system with all its faults is better than any feasible alternative. If and when it happens, I’ll be long gone.

I responded at length, in two epistles. Here’s the first one:

Your analysis of the present situation in the U.S. is spot-on. And, as you say, it’s not going to get any better on its own. There really are two Americas and they are irreconcilable. There are a lot of Americans — me included — who will not stand for “mucking around” that legitimates the present state of affairs or its ultimate destination: an imperial central government that is beholden to and effectively run by ultra-rich oligarchs and their lackeys and enablers in the bureaucracies, public schools, universities, information-technology companies, and media.

As for secession, the Civil War settled nothing — Justice Scalia to the contrary notwithstanding — except to underscore the fact that the North was able to muster superior forces thanks to its larger (free) population and industrial strength. If you have the time, read my analysis of the Court’s infamous ruling in Texas v. White, on which Scalia founded his baseless dictum: https://politicsandprosperity.com/constitution-myths-and-realities/. Scroll down to Section VI.F. for the bottom line about the legality of secession.

I also discuss in another section the practicality of secession or, rather, its impracticality. But there is another way to skin the cat. It is the nullification of federal edicts by the States. I refer to a new kind of nullification, which — unlike the kind attempted by South Carolina in the early 1830s — doesn’t involve formal declarations by State legislatures and governors. Rather, it involves non-compliance, acts of defiance, and foot-dragging. We saw some of that during Trump’s years, as States and cities declared themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants and refused to cooperate with ICE. We are beginning to see it from the other side as GOP-controlled States bring suit after suit against various federal actions (e.g., Keystone pipeline, Biden’s immigration fiasco), and GOP-controlled cities and counties declare themselves pro-life and gun-rights “sanctuaries”. This could be the wave of the future, with effective diminution of the central government through non-compliance with federal edicts. Federal courts have no power to enforce the edicts, and must rely on the federal government for enforcement. How many brushfires can the federal government put out? Would it resort to force against a state? I don’t know the answers, but it’s not clear that the federal government will come out on top, especially if it tries to enforce things that are wildly unpopular in some States and regions, such as abortion, strict gun-control measures, vaccine passports, or (the coming big thing) climate lockdowns.

So, unlike the earlier secession and its violent conclusion, there could be a non-violent kind of secession. It wouldn’t involve the formal breakup of the U.S., just a new modus vivendi between the States and the central government. Or, rather, a return to the modus vivendi that was intended by the Framers, enshrined in the 10th amendment, and then frittered away by the central government’s “mission creep”.

There is another, complementary, possibility. It is that Americans in the center turn their backs on the radical direction the country seems to be taking. (Resistance to CRT is a good case in point.) If enough of them do it, the GOP will retake Congress. And if in 2024 the GOP were to nominate someone more like Reagan than Trump, the Democrats could be kept out of power for a while — at least until they come to their senses. In the meantime, the Supreme Court could, without fear of being packed, make some libertarian rulings. A key one would be to find that Big Tech is s state actor (because of its immunity under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act), and therefore acts illegally when it censors views on the pretext that they are “hate speech” or “anti-science”, etc. In the way of the world, such an electoral and judicial turn of events could trigger a “cascade” in the direction opposite the one in which the country has been heading. And so, the “mucking around” might come to a better end than the one foreseen by you.

Here’s the second one:

A further thought about the tension between liberty and security.

It is really a tension between left and right, which is a deep psychological divide, as I discuss here: https://politicsandprosperity.com/2018/05/03/can-left-and-right-be-reconciled/. (The missing figure, which I will have to reconstruct, is derived from polling results that support the point made in the text.)

A point that I don’t make explicitly, but which should be obvious, is that compromise invites further compromise, to the detriment of liberty. The ransomware attacks, for instance, wouldn’t be happening if the U.S. hadn’t long ago abandoned the principle of unconditional surrender by the enemy. The track record of the U.S. government since the Korean War invites aggression. China and Russia know that and are playing the long game while Biden is tilting at global-warming windmills and (overtly and tacitly) endorsing a leftist agenda that will drive the U.S. economy to its knees while ensuring that the U.S. remains irreconcilably divided.

The end result of “mucking around” may well be not the kind of “social democracy” that keeps Eurpeoans fat, dumb, and happy. It may well be something far worse than that. You have been warned.

And I have been among the warning voices for many years.


Related reading on polarization: John Sexton, “The CRT Backlash and Progressives’ Big Lie about the Culture War“, Hot Air, July 8, 2021

Where It All Went Wrong

When the usual suspects were rioting, looting, and destroying their own habitat last summer (and many previous summers), did you wonder what happened to the Riot Act? Said act, in its original (British) form, provides that

if any persons to the number of twelve or more, being unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together, to the disturbance of the publick peace, at any time after the last day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifteen, and being required or commanded by any one or more justice or justices of the peace, or by the sheriff of the county, or his under-sheriff, or by the mayor, bailiff or bailiffs, or other head-officer, or justice of the peace of any city or town corporate, where such assembly shall be, by proclamation to be made in the King’s name, in the form herin after directed, to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, shall, to the number of twelve or more (notwithstanding such proclamation made) unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously remain or continue together by the space of one hour after such command or request made by proclamation, that then such continuing together to the number of twelve or more, after such command or request made by proclamation, shall be adjudged felony without benefit of clergy, and the offenders therein shall be adjudged felons, and shall suffer death as in a case of felony without benefit of clergy.

Would that it were so in these times.

But it isn’t so because the sob-sisters, bleeding-hearts and weeping-willies — who have always been with us — have for centuries (if not millennia) chipped away at the protections that keep the bad guys more or less in line. They have likewise chipped away at standards of performance.

The effective abolition of the death penalty in this country is just the tip of the melting iceberg of punishment.

Awards for showing up are symptomatic of the erosion of standards.

The two phenomena have been conjoined in the left’s treatment of law-enforcement. There are too many felons running loose because pre-felonious crimes aren’t punished harshly enough (a failure that is often justified by the demographic characteristics of offenders); felonies aren’t punished harshly enough; paroles are too easily granted; police (those who are still on the force) are increasingly edgy about “mistreating” suspects who resist arrest; and affirmative action has ensured that law-enforcers are no longer as strong or quick-witted as they were in the past.

What did happen to the Riot Act (British version)? This:

The death penalty created by sections one, four and five of the act was reduced to transportation for life by section one of the Punishment of Offences Act 1837.

The Riot Act eventually drifted into disuse. The last time it was definitely read in England was in Birkenhead, Cheshire, on 3 August 1919, during the second police strike, when large numbers of police officers from Birkenhead, Liverpool and Bootle joined the strike. Troops were called in to deal with the rioting and looting that had begun, and a magistrate read out the Riot Act. None of the rioters subsequently faced the charge of a statutory felony. Earlier in the same year, at the battle of George Square on 31 January, in Glasgow, the city’s sheriff was in the process of reading the Riot Act to a crowd of 20-25,000 – when the sheet of paper he was reading from was ripped out of his hands by one of the rioters.

The last time it was read in the Scotland was by the deputy town clerk James Gildea in Airdrie in 1971

The act was repealed on 18 July 1973 for the United Kingdom by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1973, by which time riot was no longer punishable by death.

There is still a riot act in the United States, and it is sometimes used. Its use by President Trump during the Antifa-BLM riots of 2020 provoked the usual reactions: “Trump is a racist.” “Trump is Hitler.” And the left’s allies in the media simply refused to acknowledge the riots or, when they couldn’t be tossed down the memory hole, insisted on referring to them as “protests” (“mostly peaceful”, of course).

But the history of the Riot Act in Britain, which died from disuse long before it died officially, tells the sad tale of how sob-sisters, bleeding-hearts, and weeping-willies — and leftists — have undermined the rule of law and made the world a less-civilized and less-safe place for the vast majority of its denizens.

None of this would have happened if God had smitten Adam and Eve for their transgression. Perhaps that’s where it all went wrong.

Seriously, though, it all went wrong in the way that most good things go bad. Just a little tweak here to make someone happier and a little tweak there to make someone else happier, and the next thing you know: the think is all tweaked out of shape. It’s like making a mountain out of a molehill: a shovelful at a time over a long period of time will do the trick.


Related posts: Most of the posts listed here.

Biden in the Land of Oz

Joel Kotkin spells it out in “Joe Biden’s Imaginary America“:

Joe Biden’s ballyhooed “infrastructure” plan, coupled with unprecedented stimulus spending, is cast by the obliging media as being about the middle class but seems oddly detached from how the overwhelming majority of the middle class lives, which is in lower-density, automobile-dependent neighborhoods. This dynamic was intensifying even before the pandemic. But Biden’s plan seems mostly about serving the relatively small sliver of transit-riding apartment dwellers living in denser neighborhoods. Overall, dense residential areas accommodate no more than 10 percent of the nation’s population….

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the Biden administration’s myopic sense of geography than its transportation priorities. Take urban transit. Biden has proposed a policy that, by some estimates, would allocate $165 billion for public transit (including urban rail — subways, light rail, and commuter rail) against only $115 billion to fix and modernize roads and bridges. Transit, which accounts for about 1 percent of overall urban and rural ground transportation, would receive nearly 60 percent of the money….

Transit thrives in only a few municipalities (not entire metro areas) with extensive downtown-oriented urban rail systems such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington. These municipalities, with the nation’s largest downtowns, accommodate nearly 60 percent of transit work-trip destinations but only about 6 percent of the country’s jobs. New York City by itself accounts for 36 percent.

Attempts to boost transit’s share of urban travel have been plagued by a basic problem: In the nation’s major metropolitan areas (those with a population over 1 million), cars can reach almost 55 times as many potential jobs as transit in less than 30 minutes, according to University of Minnesota research. In the New York metro, with by far the largest transit system in the nation, cars can reach six times as many jobs as transit. But demand for both forms of commuting may be lower now, as the pandemic has seen millions of people working at home grow used to a commute time of zero.

A principal purpose of federal subsidies to build urban rail systems was to lure drivers from their cars. But a review of 23 completed rail systems shows that no such thing occurred: Overall, where the new systems have opened, the percentage of commuters driving alone has increased….

The greatest absurdity is high-speed rail, which proponents such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say can replace planes for long-distance trips. But this has never happened — not in France, not in Spain, and not in China, which instead has emerged as the world’s aviation leader in passenger volume. President Biden also has imagined a world where people can go coast to coast as quickly by train as by plane. The fastest high-speed trains in the world average about 200 miles per hour — compared with the nearly 500-mph average speed of transcontinental flights.

The cost of building high-speed-rail systems in the highly regulated and litigious U.S. also would be prohibitive. World Bank research has estimated the costs of U.S. high-speed-rail construction to be a third more per mile than in Europe and nearly 150 percent higher than in China.

California, cited as the inspiration for many of Biden’s least practical ideas, should stand as a cautionary tale. The California High-Speed Rail Authority in 2008 estimated the cost of building the San Francisco–to–Los Angeles/Anaheim route to be $32.8 billion to $33.6 billion. In November of that year, voters approved nearly $10 billion in bonds for the system. But by 2012, costs had escalated to between $98.5 billion and $117.6 billion. Facing a political backlash over this inflation-adjusted tripling of costs, the authority adopted a revised proposal that would reduce the cost of the system by about $30 billion by not building high-speed infrastructure in parts of the Bay Area and Los Angeles. In these segments, high-speed trains would operate mixed with conventional commuter trains — a so-called blended system….

The Left’s embrace of forced density reveals a serious misreading of demographic and geographic trends. Despite what you might read in the New York Times, Americans on the whole never went “back to the city.” In fact, in not one year since 2000 have more people moved into the urban-core counties than moved into suburban and exurban counties. Between 2010 and 2020, some of the largest metro areas — including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, and San Francisco — lost domestic migrants, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. Critically, as new research shows, the people most likely to move are the educated young, previously thought to be permanently urbanistas.

Last year, as even a New York Times analysis indicates, most urban counties lost population as people moved to suburbs and smaller towns….

Harvard’s Michael Porter has identified the rise in U.S. oil and gas production as “perhaps the single largest opportunity to improve the trajectory of the U.S. economy.” But the impact of “decarbonization,” particularly a full ban on fracking as envisioned by Vice President Harris, for example, would cost more jobs than those lost in the Great Recession, according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report. It’s often suggested that these lost jobs would be replaced by “green jobs.” But that is something of a fairy tale. An analysis of the hypothesized green positions by North America’s Building Trades Unions shows them to pay far less and last far less long than the positions they would replace. Or as Terry O’Sullivan, general presi­dent of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, summarized this situation for Politico: “It’s pie-in-the-sky bullsh** about these green jobs being good middle-class jobs, because they’re not.”…

Kotkin’s litany addresses only a small part of Biden’s lunatic “leadership”. In addition (to name only three things), there is his vastly expensive and completely wrong-headed “war” on “climate change”, his plan to tax the rich even more (so that they will invest even less in job-creating economic growth), and his feckless and probably suicidal foreign and defense policies (see yesterday’s post).

All in all, Biden’s performance reminds me of The Wizard of Oz.  Biden is playing the Scarecrow (no brain), the Cowardly Lion (no courage), and — rhetoric aside — the Tin Man (no heart), given his demonstrated willingness to sacrifice the livelihoods of American workers while promoting the interests of foreigners and coastal elites.

What Do Wokesters Want?

I am using “wokesters” as a convenient handle for persons who subscribe to a range of closely related movements, which include but are not limited to wokeness, racial justice, equity, gender equality, transgenderism, social justice, cancel culture, environmental justice, and climate-change activism. It is fair to say that the following views, which might be associated with one or another of the movements, are held widely by members of all the movements (despite the truths noted parenthetically):

Race is a social construct. (Despite strong scientific evidence to the contrary.)

Racism is a foundational and systemic aspect of American history. (Which is a convenient excuse for much of what follows.)

Racism explains every bad thing that has befallen people of color in America. (Ditto.)

America’s history must be repudiated by eradicating all vestiges of it that glorify straight white males of European descent. (Because wokesters are intolerant of brilliance and success of it comes from straight white males of European descent.)

The central government (when it is run by wokesters and their political pawns) should be the sole arbiter of human relations. (Replacing smaller units of government, voluntary contractual arrangements, families, churches, clubs, and other elements of civil society through which essential services are provided, economic wants are satisfied efficiently, and civilizing norms are inculcated and enforced), except for those institutions that are dominated by wokesters or their proteges, of course.)

[You name it] is a human right. (Which — unlike true rights, which all can enjoy without cost to others — must be provided at cost to others.)

Economics is a zero-sum game; the rich get rich at the expense of the poor. (Though the economic history of the United States — and the Western world — says otherwise. The rich get rich — often rising from poverty and middling circumstances — by dint of effort risk-taking, and in the process produce things of value for others while also enabling them to advance economically.)

Profit is a dirty word. (But I — the elite lefty who makes seven figures a year, thank you, deserve every penny of my hard-earned income.)

Sex gender is assigned arbitrarily at birth. (Ludicrous).

Men can bear children. (Ditto.)

Women can have penises. (Ditto.)

Gender dysphoria in some children proves the preceding poiXXXX

Children can have two mommies, two daddies, or any combination of parents in any number and any gender. And, no, they won’t grow up anti-social for lack of traditional father (male) and mother (female) parents. (Just ask blacks who are unemployed for lack of education and serving prison time after having been raised without bread-winning fathers.)

Blacks, on average, are at the bottom of income and wealth distributions and at the top of the incarceration distribution — despite affirmative action, subsidized housing, welfare payments, etc. — because of racism. (Not because blacks, on average, are at the bottom of the intelligence distribution and have in many black communities adopted and enforced a culture the promotes violence and denigrates education?)

Black lives matter. (More than other lives? Despite the facts adduced above?)

Police are racist Nazis and ought to be de-funded. (So that law abiding blacks and other Americans can become easier targets for rape, murder, and theft.)

Grades, advanced placement courses, aptitude tests, and intelligence tests are racist devices. (Which happen to enable the best and brightest — regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic class — to lead the country forward scientifically and economically, to the benefit of all.)

The warming of the planet by a couple of degrees in the past half-century (for reasons that aren’t well understood but which are attributed by latter-day Puritans to human activity) is a sign of things to come: Earth will warm to the point that it becomes almost uninhabitable. (Which is a case of undue extrapolation from demonstrably erroneous models and a failure to credit the ability of capitalism — gasp! — to adapt successfully to truly significant climatic changes.)

Science is real. (Though we don’t know what science is, and believe things that are labeled scientific if we agree with them. We don’t understand, or care, that science is a process that sometimes yields useful knowledge, or that the “knowledge” is always provisional, always in doubt, and sometimes wrong. We support the movement of recent decades to label some things as scientific that are really driven by a puritanical, anti-humanistic agenda, and which don’t hold up against rigorous, scientific examination, such as the debunked “science” of “climate change”; the essential equality of the races and sexes, despite their scientifically demonstrable differences; and the belief that a man can become a woman, and vice versa.)

Illegal immigrants migrants are just seeking a better life and should be allowed free entry into the United States. (Because borders are arbitrary — except when it comes to my property — and it doesn’t matter if the unfettered enty ro illegal immigrants burdens tax-paying Americans and takes jobs from working-class Americans.)

The United States spends too much on national defense because (a) borders are arbitrary (except when they delineate my property), (b) there’s no real threat to this country (except for cyberattacks and terrorism sponsored by other states, and growing Chinese and Russian aggression that imperils the economic interests of Americans), (c) America is the aggressor (except in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Gulf War I, the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and in the future if America significantly reduces its defense forces), and (d) peace is preferable to war (except that it is preparedness for war that ensures peace, either through deterrence or victory).

What wokesters want is to see that these views, and many others of their ilk, are enforced by the central government. To that end, steps will be taken to ensure that the Democrat Party is permanently in control of the central government and is able to control most State governments. Accordingly, voting laws will be “reformed” to enable everyone, regardless of citizenship status or other qualification (perhaps excepting age, or perhaps not) to receive a mail-in ballot that will be harvested and cast for Democrat candidates; the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (with their iron-clad Democrat super-majorities) will be added to the Union; the filibuster will be abolished; the Supreme Court and lower courts will be expanded and new seats will be filled by Democrat nominees; and on, and on.

Why do wokesters want what they want? Here’s my take:

  • They reject personal responsibility.
  • They don’t like the sense of real community that is represented in the traditional institutions of civil society.
  • They don’t like the truth if it contradicts their view of what the world should be like.
  • They are devoid of true compassion.
  • They are — in sum — alienated, hate-filled nihilists, the produce of decades of left-wing indoctrination by public schools, universities, and the media.

What will wokesters (and all of us) get?

At best, what they will get is a European Union on steroids, a Kafka-esque existence in a world run by bureaucratic whims from which entrepreneurial initiative and deeply rooted, socially binding cultures have been erased.

Somewhere between best and worst, they will get an impoverished, violent, drug-addled dystopia which is effectively a police state run for the benefit of cosseted political-media-corprate-academic elites.

At worst (as if it could get worse), what they will get is life under the hob-nailed boots of Russia and China:; for example:

Russians are building a military focused on killing people and breaking things. We’re apparently building a military focused on being capable of explaining microaggressions and critical race theory to Afghan Tribesmen.

A country whose political leaders oppose the execution of murderers, support riots and looting by BLM, will not back Israel in it’s life-or-death struggle with Islamic terrorists, and use the military to advance “wokeism” isn’t a country that you can count on to face down Russia and China.

Wokesters are nothing but useful idiots to the Russians and Chinese. And if wokesterst succeed in weakening the U.S. to the point that it becomes a Sino-Soviet vassal, they will be among the first to learn what life under an all-powerful central government is really like. Though, useful idiots that they are, they won’t survive long enough to savor the biter fruits of their labors.

Is a Reckoning at Hand?

If it is, it will arrive on two fronts: political and economic.

On the political front, Conrad Black and Victor Davis Hanson are (sort of) optimistic that the left’s audacious power-grab will fail. A recent op-ed by Black at Epoch Times ends with this:

But we are almost at the point where this administration’s attempt to revolutionize American elections by practically abolishing any verification process for ballots and turning election day into a weeks-long orgy of ballot-harvesting, while packing the Senate and the Supreme Court and gagging congressional minorities, will collide with public opposition to all of these measures.

In those circumstances, the Supreme Court, its attempt at appeasement of the Democrats by abdicating as head of a co-equal third branch of government having failed, might also reassert the legitimacy of the Constitution.

A turning in the road is almost at hand.

Hanson’s view complements Black’s:

We are becoming cynical 1980s Eastern Europeans who quietly scoffed at their daily government news. And this is step one to a repudiation of the lies we have been living with—that masks were necessary outdoors even for those fully vaccinated; that derelict, sexual harasser Andrew Cuomo is a noted author, Emmy-winner and national icon rather than a reckless sexual-harasser and responsible for needless death and misery by his unhinged long-term facilities policies; that Oprah, LeBron, and the Obamas are genuine voices of what it is like to be oppressed in America, and all the subsidiary untruths: the “brave” former intelligence officials who signed campaign-sensitive affidavits seconding Joe Biden’s insistence that Hunter’s laptop was a Russian disinformation trick; that Trump scoffed at “proof” that Russians put bounties on Americans in Afghanistan as they were appease;, and that Joe Biden has no cognitive issues and never did, at least of the sort that prompted his predecessor to take cognitive tests and draw the attention of a Yale psychiatry professor to diagnose him as unhinged in absentia.

In sum, the woke movement daily, hourly, second-by-second hinges on untruth, from the 1619 canard to America is systemically racist. And the number who spot the lies is beginning to outnumber the number who lives by them—which means the Revolution is likely to follow the Jacobin rather than Bolshevik fate.

On the economic front, the huge increase in government spending over the past two years — which Biden wants to perpetuate — will bear rotten fruit.

Here is the increase, in perspective:


Derived from Bureau of Economic Affairs, Table 1.1.5 Gross Domestic Product (billions of dollars, seasonally adjusted at annual rates) and Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures (billions of dollars, seasonally adjusted at annual rates)

As I have amply documented, government spending doesn’t “multiply”. If fact, it “divides”; that is, it causes real GDP to decline because government spending (and the regulatory activities funded by it) result in the transfer of resources from productive private uses to unproductive and counterproductive government uses, while also discouraging business expansion and productive investments in capital formation.

The bottom line is that a sustained increase in the share of GDP spent by government from about 33 percent (the average for the 10 years before the recent surge) to about 45 percent (the average for the recent surge) would cause a long-term reduction 4 percent of real GDP. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider that it would be the equivalent of a Great Recession that lasts for years on end instead of two or three years.

Voters flocked to the Democrat Party in the 1930s because they believed (mistakenly) that it — and especially FDR’s “New Deal” — would rescue them from the Great Depression. Voters will flock the the GOP in the 2020s if the Democrat Party remains stubbornly “woke” and persists in economic policies that impoverish them.

And if voters fail to switch in droves, it will prove the wisdom of the Framers’ (long-abandoned) Constitution, which was designed to prevent demagogues from pillaging the nation.


Related reading:

Victor Davis Hanson, “Are Americans Becoming Sovietized?“, The Daily Signal, May 6, 2021
Patricia McCarthy, “Aldous Huxley Foresaw Our Despots — Fauci, Gates, and Their Vaccine Crusaders“, American Thinker, May 5, 2021
Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Is the U.S. Economy a Virtual Reality?“, AIER, May 2, 2021

Related post: Turning Points

A 100-Day Scorecard

On January 6, 2021, in “Here We Go … “, I essayed 17 predictions about changes Democrats would attempt to consolidate their grip on America and make it over into a European-style “social democracy” with the added feature of subservience to China and Russia. As I said in the original post, not every item on the list will be adopted, but it won’t be for want of trying.

How are my predictions panning out? Quite well, sadly.

Judge for yourself. Here they are:

1. Abolition of the Senate filibuster.

2. An increase of at least two seats on the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC), though there may be some vacancies to be filled.

3. Adoption of an interstate compact by states controlling a total of at least 270 electoral votes, committing each member state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who compiles the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of the outcome of the popular vote in each state that is a party to the compact. (This may seem unnecessary if Biden wins, but it will be a bit of insurance against the possibility of a Republican victor in a future election.)

4. Statehood for either the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico, or for both of them. (Each would then have two senators and a requisite number of representatives with full voting privileges in their respective bodies. All of them will be Democrats, of course.)

5. Empowerment of the executive branch to do at least three of the following things:

a. Regulate personal and business activity (in new ways) with the expressed aim of reducing CO2 emissions.

b. Commit at least $500 billion in new obligational authority for research into and/or funding of methods of reducing and mitigating CO2 emissions.

c. Issue new kinds of tax rebates and credits to persons/households and businesses that spend money on any item on a list of programs/technologies that are supposed to reduce CO2 emissions.

d. Impose tax penalties on persons/households and businesses for their failure to spend money on any item in the list mentioned above (shades of the Obamacare tax penalty).

e. Impose penalties on persons/households and businesses for failing to adhere to prescribed caps on CO2 emissions.

f. Establish a cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions (to soften the blow of the previous item). (Needless to say, the overall effect of such initiatives would deal a devastating blow to economic activity – meaning massive job losses and lower real incomes for large swaths of the populace.)

6. Authorization for an agency or agencies of the federal government to define and penalize written or spoken utterances that the agency or agencies declare “unprotected” by the First Amendment, and to require media enforcement of bans on “unprotected” utterances and prosecution of violators (e.g., here). (This can be accomplished by cynically adopting the supportable position that the First Amendment protects only political speech. The purported aim would be to curb so-called hate speech, but when censorship is in full swing — which would take only a few years — it will be illegal to criticize or question, even by implication, such things as illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, anthropogenic global warming, the confiscation of firearms, or the policies of the federal government. Violations will be enforced by fines and prison sentences — the latter sometimes called “sensitivity training”, “citizenship education”, or some other euphemistic term. Candidates for public office will be prime targets of the enforcers, which will suppress open discussion of such matters.)

7. Imposition of requirements for organizations of all kinds — businesses, universities, charitable organizations, clubs, and even churches — to favor anyone who isn’t a straight, white male of European descent. (The “protections” will be enacted, upheld, and enforced vigorously by federal agencies, regardless of their adverse economic and social effects.)

8. Effective nullification of the Second Amendment through orders/regulations/legislation, to enable gun confiscation (though there will be exemptions for private security services used by favored elites).

9. Use of law-enforcement agencies to enforce “hate speech” bans, mandates for reverse discrimination, and gun-confiscation edicts. (These things will happen regardless of the consequences; e.g., a rising crime rate, greater violence against whites and Asians, and flight from the cities and near-in suburbs. The latter will be futile, anyway, because suburban and exurban police departments will also be co-opted.)

10. Criminalization of “sexual misconduct”, as it is defined by the alleged victim, de facto if not de jure. (Investigations and prosecutions will be selective, and aimed mainly at straight, white males of European descent and dissidents who openly criticize this and other measures listed here.)

11. Parallel treatment for the “crimes” of racism, anti-Islamism, nativism, and genderism. (This will be in addition to the measures discussed in #7.)

12. Centralization in the federal government of complete control of all health care and health-care related products and services, such as drug research, accompanied by “Medicare and Medicaid for All” mandates. (Private health care will be forbidden or strictly limited, though — Soviet-style — there will be exceptions for high officials and other favored persons. Drug research – and medical research, generally – will dwindle in quality and quantity. There will be fewer doctors and nurses who are willing to work in a regimented system. The resulting health-care catastrophe that befalls most of the populace will be shrugged off as necessary to ensure equality of treatment, while ignoring the special treatment accorded favored elites.)

13. Revitalization of the regulatory regime (which already imposes a deadweight loss of 10 percent of GDP). A quantitative measure of revitalization is an increase in the number of new rules published annually in the Federal Register by at least 10 percent above the average for 2017-2020.

14. Proposals for at least least two of the following tax-related initiatives:

a. Reversal of the tax-rate cuts enacted during Trump’s administration.

b. Increases in marginal tax rates for the top 2 or 3 income brackets.

c. Imposition of new taxes on wealth.

15. Dramatic enlargement of domestic welfare programs. Specifically, in addition to the creation of “Medicare and Medicaid for All” programs, there would be a “fix” for Social Security that mandates the payment of full benefits in the future, regardless of the status of the Social Security Trust Fund (which will probably be abolished). (Initiatives discussed in #5, #7, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, and #15 would suppress investment in business formation and expansion, and would disincentivize professional education and training, not to mention work itself. All of that would combine to push the real rate of economic growth toward a negative value.)

16. Reduction of the defense budget by at least 25 percent, in constant dollars, by 2031 or sooner. (Eventually, the armed forces will be maintained mainly for the purpose of suppressing domestic uprisings. Russia and China will emerge as superpowers, but won’t threaten the U.S. militarily as long as the U.S. government acquiesces in their increasing dominance and plays by their economic rules.)

17. Legalization of all immigration from south of the border, and the granting of citizenship to new immigrants and the illegals who came before them. (The right to vote, of course, is the right that Democrats most dearly want to bestow because most of the newly-minted citizens can be counted on to vote for Democrats. The permanent Democrat majority will ensure permanent Democrat control of the White House and both houses of Congress.)


If you’re keeping up with the news, you will know that almost all of those actions are underway or clearly telegraphed by official statements. It’s hard to chosse the most chilling of those statements, but the one that clearly reveals Biden’s totalitarian urge is his campaign against “white supremacy as domestic terrorism”. This will morph into the suppression of anyone who dares question the doctrine that blacks are where they are because of white racism, and not because of their generally inferior intelligence and cultural traits, or anyone who questions the justice of racial discrimination when it favors blacks. Stay tuned.

What Is the Point of It All?

If you have read the preceding post you may have surmised that I have surrendered to statism; for example:

This solution [devolution of political power] is superficially appealing. But it omits crucial realities, which are reflected in the state of the world throughout recorded history (and probably for eons before that). Human beings band together in order to accomplish certain ends (e.g., defense against marauders), and the banding together almost always creates leaders and subjects. Thus is a primitive state established. And once it is established, it exerts control over a geographic area (or a roving band), and everyone who lives in that area (or joins the band) becomes a subject of the state. Primitive states then band together — either for self-defense or because of conquest — forming larger and larger states, each of which holds its subjects in thrall. An occasional revolution sometimes leads to the dissolution of a particular state, but the subjects of that state simply become subjects of a successor state or of neighboring states avid to control the territory and subjects of the defunct state.

So it has gone for millennia, and so it will go for millennia to come.

The tide of statism may pause in its rise — and even recede a bit — but the aggrandizement of the state and its power over the people seems inexorable. Or is it?

There are many good reasons to oppose and resist the aggrandizement of the state. And this blog is replete with arguments for devolution. But this blog and the many like it (most of them more widely read and quoted) seem to be as effective in curbing and shrinking big government as aluminum foil is in stopping bullets.

Facts and logic may be on the side of devolution — and they are — but facts and logic have almost nothing to do with the practice of politics. In the end, it comes to down power-lust, rent-seeking, and free-loading.

So, what is the point of it all — of the incessant if largely ineffective barrage of arguments against the aggrandizement of the state? Well, as long as the minions of the state and the state’s powerful allies are unable to completely suppress dissent from statism, there is at least some hope that totalitarianism can be averted. There is also at least a (dimmer) hope that something will happen to reverse the tide and return to an America that still lives in the memories of many of us: America between the end of World War II and the 1960s.

What might that something be? Who knows? It is impossible to describe the confluence of events that causes a sudden change in the course of history, except in the aftermath of that change. But the change will not occur unless there are pressures that can lead to its occurrence. The Soviet Union, for example, wouldn’t have dissolved were it not for Reagan’s defense buildup, but the defense buildup wouldn’t have made a difference if the Soviet Union hadn’t been economically weak in the first place, and subject to other, internal pressures.

The American state, as it exists today, is an alliance of big-government politicians; their enablers in the academy, the media, and major corporations; and huge blocs of voters who are fueled by greed, envy, anger, and the belief that bigger government will assuage those emotions. This concoction has many potential failure points. By constantly working away at those potential failure points, it is possible — though by no means certain — that one or a few will fail and bring down the entire edifice of the presently constituted American state.

That is the point of it all. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, the only way to avert the triumph of evil is to keep on fighting it.

State Action As Private Action

Anarchists and defenders of non-governmental censorship to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no dividing line between private and state action. I address this point in “Is Anarchy a Viable Concept?“. I elaborate the point here.

Anarchists like to draw a bright line between the state and the private sphere so that they can argue, foolishly, for the replacement of the state by private actors. Defenders of non-governmental censorship (e.g., deletion of tweets by Twitter and deplatforming by Facebook) are simply political theorists in thrall the mistaken belief that the “marketplace of ideas” is self-correcting and eventually yields truth. (Even if it were self-correcting, devastating harm often results before truth emerges.)

I will begin with the futility of drawing a bright line — or any line — between state and private action. Before going any further I should be clear about what I mean by “state”.

A state is defined as “the supreme public power within a sovereign political entity” (4.a.). This definition reflects popular usage, which suggests that a state is some kind of disembodied essence. But a state does not exist unless it is embodied in institutions that are operated by human beings. And the power exercised by those human beings is meant to serve specific (if inchoate) aims that are personal to them or to persons to whom they are beholden; for example, higher-ranking government officials, major campaign contributors, influential voting blocs, or a person or group with whom one wishes to curry favor (e.g., the media). (It is a long-standing custom to refer Queen Elizabeth II as “head of state” of the United Kingdom, but she is no such thing inasmuch as she wields almost no power.)

Government power is exercised through agencies that are usually characterized as legislative, executive, and judicial. But there is a fourth type of agency that operates, much of the time, independently of the other three types. It is the “administrative state”, a conglomeration of executive agencies that usurps legislative and judicial functions. The “deep state” of recent controversy refers to members of the administrative state who strive (often successfully) to thwart the will of the chief of the executive branch through their direct control of the minutiae of government operations. This phenomenon underscores the essentially private nature of state action.

The power of the four types of agency is exercised through a combination of force, fear on the part of the governed, and submission by those among the governed who naively view the state and its edicts as something akin to divinity and divine writ.

The power of government is augmented by its ability to control information and perceptions about governmental activities. Such control, nowadays, is abetted by (most) members of the media when government is controlled by Democrats and undermined by (most) members of the media when government is controlled by Republicans.

The state, thus properly understood, is merely an outlet for private action. In so-called democracies (democratic republics) elections and appointments determine which private interests control the power of the state.

Democracies differ from oligarchies only in that voters in democracies go through the exercise of choosing the oligarchies — the collection of interest groups — that will rule them.

The difference between democracies and dictatorships is one of degree, not of kind. The ruling interests in a democracy are simply somewhat more changeable than the ruling interests in a dictatorship. But in both cases the ruling interests pursue private agendas. Dictatorships are more blatantly oppressive. Democracies hide their fascism behind a friendly face.

The bottom line: The state embodies and implements private action.

Given that the state, in the service of many (and sometimes competing) private agendas, must trample on the lives, liberty, or property of most of its subjects it would seem obviously desirable to devolve political power. And, logically, devolution ought to proceed to the lowest level: the person or a group of persons who choose to be treated as a unit (e.g., the nuclear family).

This solution is superficially appealing. But it omits crucial realities, which are reflected in the state of the world throughout recorded history (and probably for eons before that). Human beings band together in order to accomplish certain ends (e.g., defense against marauders), and the banding together almost always creates leaders and subjects. Thus is a primitive state established. And once it is established, it exerts control over a geographic area (or a roving band), and everyone who lives in that area (or joins the band) becomes a subject of the state. Primitive states then band together — either for self-defense or because of conquest — forming larger and larger states, each of which holds its subjects in thrall. An occasional revolution sometimes leads to the dissolution of a particular state, but the subjects of that state simply become subjects of a successor state or of neighboring states avid to control the territory and subjects of the defunct state.

So it has gone for millennia, and so it will go for millennia to come.

That would be the last word … but the duped defenders of corporate censorship cannot go unanswered. As I once observed, power is power. If government censorship is wrong, why is it right for powerful corporations to censor speech and effectively nullify the First Amendment? To put a point on it, why is it right for powerful corporations whose leaders share the ideologies and interests of a particular political party to act as surrogates for that party, and to suppress and distort opposing views?

The revised bottom line: The state embodies and implements private action, and private actors who do the bidding of state actors are merely minions of the state.


Related posts:

Anarchy: An Empty Concept
The Fatal Naïveté of Anarcho-Libertarianism
A Critique of Extreme Libertarianism
Anarchistic Balderdash
Old America, New America, and Anarchy
Extreme Libertarianism vs. the Accountable State
A Few Thoughts about Anarchy
Anarchy: A Footnote
Another Footnote about Anarchy
Is Anarchy a Viable Concept?

Preemptive (Cold) Civil War
Whence Polarization?
Social Norms, the Left, and Social Disintegration
“Liberalism” and Virtue-Signaling
The Fourth Great Awakening
It’s Them or Us
First They Came For …
Conservatism, Society, and the End of America
The Paradox That Is Western Civilization
Insidious Leftism
Thinking About the Unthinkable
Intellectuals and Authoritarianism
Leninthink and Left-think
Society, Culture, and America’s Future
The Democrats’ Master Plan to Seize America
The Allure of Leftism
Leftism in Summary
Peak Civilization?
A Footnote to “Peak Civilization?”
A Warning Too Late?
FDR’s Fascism, Underscored
Oh, That Deep State
It’s the 1960s Redux
Some People Are More Equal than Others, Illustrated

Regarding the Verdict in the Chauvin Trial

What I said here still applies.

And … regardless of the justice or injustice of the verdict, cops will be further demoralized and thugs will be further emboldened by it. Look for less law and order in the months and years to come, unless a “man on horseback” arrives.

The Second Coming of Who?

William Butler Yeats’s “The Second Coming” is quoted often these days, especially the line “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”. And with good reason, given the maelstrom of strife and lunacy in which the nation and the world seem to be swirling.

Science and mathematics are in the grip of irrational forces; that is to say, sadly, the academic-media-information technology-corporate élites who have swallowed “wokeness” hook, line, and sinker. The same élites are responsible for the wholesale violation of immigration laws; the advancement of shiftless, violent, and less-intelligent citizens (and non-citizens) at the expense of blameless others; the risible belief that one’s sex is “assigned at birth”, to justify self-destructive and child-destructive gender-shifting; the repudiation of America’s past (the good with the bad); the destruction of the religious, social, and economic freedoms that have served all Americans well; the blatant theft of a presidential election; and much more that is equally distressing to contemplate.

Yeats wrote “The Second Coming” in 1919, in the aftermath of what was then the world’s most destructive war and in the midst of the pandemic known as the Spanish flu, which was far more lethal than the one from which the world is now emerging. It was a time of moral and physical exhaustion.

What is most remarkable about Yeats’s poem is its prescient second stanza:

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming!

Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

And thus did those “rough beasts” Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese warlords — all “men on horseback” — emerge to take advantage of the moral and physical exhaustion of the time.

No such person is now on the horizon in America (though the élites feared that Trump might be that man). But if the maelstrom continues to swirl, a man on horseback will emerge, either from within or from without. In the latter case, given the feckless leadership in America, the man on horseback is likely to ride out of China, perhaps accompanied by a Russian.

And given a choice between a man or horseback and the élites who have corrupted America and who pamper the rabble, the man on horseback will be welcomed with open arms by those who are suffering at the hands of the élites.

Is Anarchy a Viable Concept?

Even within a family, clan, or voluntary community there are usually persons who possess some combination of status, physical strength, strength of will, cunning, or persuasiveness that enables them to impose their will on the group. The motivation — an urge to control the group or a sincere belief that the group will benefit from their control — is unimportant; the fact of control is what matters.

There is the complementary need, felt by many persons, to be led or dominated because of lack of status, physical weakness, weakness of will, lack of cunning, etc.

Thus do leaders emerge, even within a family, clan, or voluntary community. And they may be venerated and prized just as they may be feared and hated. But they do lead (command) the group, and in doing so they set state-like rules that may help the family, clan, or community to thrive and survive — or put it on a path to strife, poverty, or extinction.

Businesses, of course, are notoriously and unavoidably commanded. As are gangs (which aren’t necessarily voluntary), cults, religious organizations — and on and on.

All of the organizations mentioned thus far (and their unmentioned ilk) may not be dictatorships or oligarchies. That is, their leaders may, formally or informally, seek the advice or consult the preferences of those whom they lead. But in all cases, there is a hierarchy of some kind, and the person or persons at the top have the moral or physical means to command obedience to their decisions.

In sum, the removal of a formal state does not mean the removal of state-like control over the lives of individual persons. At best, it devolves that control to smaller — but still state-like — institutions. And those institutions — like formal states — will devise various means of cooperation and conflict resolution, or like states they will engage in outright coercion and conflict of one kind or another (ostracism, rules enforced by sanctions, combat, economic warfare, etc.).

The argument for anarchy is therefore an argument in favor of replacing a formal state with myriad state-like institutions. These will range, in their preference for cooperation or conflict, from close-knit neighborhoods to mutually beneficial contractual arrangements to violence-prone gangs (of many scales) to uncompromising sectarian and religious organizations that are bound ideologically (e.g., Communist and Islamic cells).

It is beyond me how this would make the United States (let alone the world) a better place — in practice, that is, as opposed to Utopian dream-spinning. The realistic alternative, therefore, is an accountable state, the power of which is checked by constitutional means. It is far from a perfect alternative, as I will soon explain, but it is the only viable one.

Arguably, the United States was once something like an accountable state. And even then (from the late 1700s until the early 1900s), it was far less than a paragon of classical liberalism. Since then, aside from participating in at least a few senseless and horrendously costly wars, the central government has been depriving Americans of much of their liberty. Even the advances for blacks and other identity groups have not been unmitigated gains for those groups — think “welfare dependency”, for example. And those advances have imposed on most Americans the deadweight losses of taxation, reverse discrimination, punishments for “wrong thinking”, etc., that inevitably accompany favoritism for some groups at the expense of others.

But the retrogression of the United States as a force for liberty doesn’t mean that anarchy is a viable alternative to the kind of state represented by the United States. All it means is that no kind of human endeavor is exempt from corruption. Anarchy is just another kind of human endeavor, one that can deliver economic and social liberty only if the all-too-human urges to dominate others and to commit violence against them could be eradicated.

Those urges can’t be eradicated or kept in check — as history amply attests. The urge to perfection — as history also amply attests — only gives the “perfectionists” (Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc., etc.) an excuse for waging war on their own people and on the wider world.

What would a doctrinaire anarchist do if he saw others behaving un-anarchically to his detriment? Well, I suspect that if he were not a pacifist (i.e., self-destructive) he would organize his fellow thinkers into some kind of pro-anarchic army (oxymoron alert), and that the army would have to be hierarchical in order to succeed. I suspect, further, that if it did succeed, the result would be the de facto creation of an anti-anarchic “anarchy”, for the protection and preservation of anarchistic dogma. Shades of dictatorial “peoples’ republics” and Orwellian double-think.

Anarchy, after all, is an ideology. And ideologies always run afoul of human nature, in one way or another. And ideologies aren’t to be trusted because ideologues are dangerous, no matter what they profess to believe. If the Constitution of the United States, which was framed in the light of human nature, failed to deliver lasting liberty to Americans, what can one expect of a naive ideology that dismisses human nature?

The answer to the question posed by the title of this post is a resounding NO.


Related posts:

Defense, Anarcho-Capitalist Style
Fundamentalist Libertarians, Anarcho-Capitalists, and Self-Defense
Anarchy: An Empty Concept
The Fatal Naïveté of Anarcho-Libertarianism
A Critique of Extreme Libertarianism
Anarchistic Balderdash
Old America, New America, and Anarchy
Extreme Libertarianism vs. the Accountable State
A Few Thoughts about Anarchy
Anarchy: A Footnote
Another Footnote about Anarchy

How to Reform Election Laws

The brouhaha about recent changes in Georgia’s election laws is all about Democrats trying to make it easier for Democrat-leaning voters to vote. If Democrat politicians have their way, not only would D.C. and Puerto Rico become States, thus making it almost impossible for a Republican to be elected president (as long as the Electoral College remains in place), but also: the voting age would be lowered to 16 (14?, 12?); ballots would be mailed to everyone old enough to vote and could completed, collected, and turned in by anyone; online voting (easily corrupted) would be allowed; and anyone who happens to be in the country at election time would be entitled to vote.

All of that, and whatever else Democrats hope to do to secure permanent control of the central government, goes in exactly the wrong direction. Voting should be severely restricted, not opened up. Specifically, voting should be restricted to mature and responsible and who have “skin in the game”. Here is how it should work:

There would be one vote per household — irrespective of the sex of the head of the household (if I may use that quaint term) — inasmuch as a household is an economic and social unit.

The household must include at least one person who is 30 years of age or older, and one such person must cast the household’s ballot on election day (see below).

No member of the household may have demonstrated grossly irresponsible behavior, as indicated by a conviction for a felony.

There may not be an outstanding tax lien against property held by any member of the household.

At least one member of the household must hold a deed to real property with an assessed value of at least $50,000 (to be adjusted upward for inflation), and any outstanding debt secured by the property must not exceed 80 percent of the purchase price of the property.

At least one member of the household who is 30 years old or older must not be receiving unemployment benefits or must not have received them within six months before election day.

Every member of the household who is 21 years old or older must be a citizen of the United States or a legal, resident alien.

To ensure the integrity of ballots and the casting thereof on the basis of up-to-date knowledge of the candidates and the issues, all voting would occur in-person, on election day, at polling stations in numbers and locations adequate to avoid long lines at closing time. Each person casting a ballot for a household would have to produce the household’s government-issued voter-registration card and an approved form of identification (e.g., government-issued driver’s license, military ID card).

There would thus be no need for absentee voting, except in cases where an entire household is disabled (e.g., a household consisting of one or two elderly persons), as certified by a licensed physician, or stationed overseas. (Other households would have to plan vacations so that one qualified member can cast an in-person vote on election day.)

Election day would be shifted to a Saturday. All polling stations in the country would be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., local time. No votes, including absentee ballots, would be counted before the last stations close (i.e., the polling stations in Hawaii).

Presidents as Regulators: From Ike to The Donald

According to the Regulatory Studies Center of George Washington University,

the number of total pages published in the CFR [Code of Federal Regulations] annually provides a sense of the volume of existing regulations with which American businesses, workers, consumers, and other regulated entities must comply.

The dataset published by the Center provides a consistent measure of the total number of CFR pages for each year from 1950 through 2019, and for 2020 through July 9. Armed with those numbers, I computed the annual rate of increase in the size of the CFR under each administration, from Eisenhower’s to Trump’s (as of July 9, 2020). The result is shown below.

It is no surprise that Trump’s administration was the least heavy-handed. Nor is it surprising that each Democrat administration was generally more heavy-handed than its GOP predecessor. The surprising exception is Clinton’s regime, which was better than Bush I’s, and was second only to Trump’s in its regulatory austerity.

Where’s the Outrage?

Early today

two FBI agents were fatally shot and three more were injured while serving a search warrant at a South Florida residence in a child pornography case….

Later, President Biden issued this statement:

[O]ur hearts go out to the families of these FBI special agents, and — two of whom were killed and three of whom were injured today in Florida….

[E]very single day, every single one of these folks get up and they — by and large, the vast, vast majority of these men and women are decent, honorable people who put themselves on the line, and we owe them.

[End of topic. On to other things.]

As if it was necessary to apologize for the fact that FBI agents were serving a warrant in a child-pornography case.

What the president pretender should have said was this:

I am outraged by the killing of two FBI agents and the wounding of three others who were lawfully serving a warrant in a child-pornography case. It is the efforts of FBI agents and other law-enforcement officers that enable Americans to enjoy the fruits of liberty. Today’s tragedy is further proof that those who wish to defund the police are no better than the criminals whose foul deeds they condone.

President Trump would have said that, or something much like it.

Stock Markets: The Next Victims of Totalitarian Democrats?

Stock prices are about due for a major correction. Consider the graph below, which I derived from statistics available here. I define a major decline as one that lasts at least 6 months and results in a real drop of at least 25 percent in the real (inflation-adjusted) price or total return of the S&P Composite Index.

When will the correction come? No one knows, though there are probably many (and varying) predictions. But I expect it to come during Biden’s one-term presidency. (I have bet the price of a Prius that it will happen before broad market indices rise much more.) And given the run-up in stock prices since the last major correction, it will be a doozy. During the correction of November 2007 to March 2009, for example, the real value of the S&P Composite Index dropped by 50 percent.

Why does that put stock markets in the cross-hairs of totalitarian Democrats? Because stock prices, volatile and emotion-driven as they can be, represent real-world feedback about the effects of government policies. The fact that stock prices continued to rise throughout Trump’s presidency — despite modest corrections in 2018 and 2020 (the latter related to COVID-19) — was seen by many observers (though not Democrats, of course) as a sign of the success of Trump’s economic policies.

The next big correction — when it comes a week, a month, or a year from now — will be seen by many as real-world feedback about the economic destructiveness of Biden’s policies. The policies in question will include new and higher taxes; heavy handed re-regulation, especially to fight “climate change”; the initiation of vast and costly programs to fight “climate change”; the destabilization of civil order through tighter controls on policing and continued laxity in controlling riot by blacks and leftists; bailouts for Blue States and cities; and increases in “social” spending, including but not limited to the subsidization of hordes of recent and new immigrants from south of the border (of the kind formerly known as illegal).

At the first hint of a correction — perhaps even in anticipation of it — policy-makers in the Biden administration will use the power of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to throttle and “guide” stock trading. This will be done in the name of economic stability, of course, but the real aim will be to prevent or minimize a major correction in stock prices that would be seen, correctly, as real-world feedback about the destructiveness of Biden’s policies.

The Iraq War in Retrospect

The Iraq War has been called many things, “immoral” being among the leading adjectives for it. Was it altogether immoral? Was it immoral to remain in favor of the war after it was (purportedly) discovered that Saddam Hussein didn’t have an active program for the production of weapons of mass destruction? Or was the war simply misdirected from its proper — and moral — purpose: the service of Americans’ interests by stabilizing the Middle East? I address those and other questions about the war in what follows.

THE WAR-MAKING POWER AND ITS PURPOSE

The sole justification for the United States government is the protection of Americans’ interests. Those interests are spelled out broadly in the Preamble to the Constitution: justice, domestic tranquility, the common defense, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty.

Contrary to leftist rhetoric, the term “general welfare” in the Preamble (and in Article I, Section 8) doesn’t grant broad power to the national government to do whatever it deems to be “good”. “General welfare” — general well-being, not the well-being of particular regions or classes — is merely one of the intended effects of the enumerated and limited powers granted to the national government by conventions of the States.

One of the national government’s specified powers is the making of war. In the historical context of the adoption of the Constitution, it is clear the the purpose of the war-making power is to defend Americans and their legitimate interests: liberty generally and, among other things, the free flow of trade between American and foreign entities. The war-making power carries with it the implied power to do harm to foreigners in the course of waging war. I say that because the Framers, many of whom fought for independence from Britain, knew from experience that war, of necessity, must sometimes cause damage to the persons and property of non-combatants.

In some cases, the only way to serve the interests of Americans is to inflict deliberate damage on non-combatants. That was the case, for example, when U.S. air forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan’s surrender and avoid the deaths and injuries of perhaps a million Americans. Couldn’t Japan have been “quarantined” instead, once its forces had been driven back to the homeland? Perhaps, but at great cost to Americans. Luckily, in those days American leaders understood that the best way to ensure that an enemy didn’t resurrect its military power was to defeat it unconditionally and to occupy its homeland. You will have noticed that as a result, Germany and Japan are no longer military threats to the U.S., whereas Iraq remained one after the Gulf War of 1990-1991 because Saddam wasn’t deposed. Russia, which the U.S. didn’t defeat militarily — only symbolically — is resurgent militarily. China, which wasn’t even defeated symbolically in the Cold War, is similarly resurgent, and bent on regional if not global hegemony, necessarily to the detriment of Americans’ interests. To paraphrase: There is no substitute for unconditional military victory.

That is a hard and unfortunate truth, but it eludes many persons, especially those of the left. They suffer under dual illusions, namely, that the Constitution is an outmoded document and that “world opinion” trumps the Constitution and the national sovereignty created by it. Neither illusion is shared by Americans who want to live in something resembling liberty and to enjoy the advantages pertaining thereto, including prosperity.

CASUS BELLI

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the armed forces of the U.S. government (and those of other nations) had explicit and implicit justifications. The explicit justifications for the U.S. government’s actions are spelled out in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq of 2002 (AUMF). It passed the House by a vote of 296 – 133 and the Senate by a vote of 77 – 23, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 16, 2002.

There are some who focus on the “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) justification, which figures prominently in the “whereas” clauses of the AUMF. But the war, as it came to pass when Saddam failed to respond to legitimate demands spelled out in the AUMF, had a broader justification than whatever Saddam was (or wasn’t) doing with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The final “whereas” puts it succinctly: it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region.

An unstated but clearly understood implication of “peace and security in the Persian Gulf region” was the security of the region’s oil supply against Saddam’s capriciousness. The mantra “no blood for oil” to the contrary notwithstanding, it is just as important to defend the livelihoods of Americans as it is to defend their lives — and in many instances it comes to the same thing.

In sum, I disregard the WMD rationale for the Iraq War. The real issue is whether the war secured the stability of the Persian Gulf region (and the Middle East in general). And if it didn’t, why did it fail to do so?

ROADS TAKEN AND NOT TAKEN

One can only speculate about what might have happened in the absence of the Iraq War. For instance, how many more Iraqis might have been killed and tortured by Saddam’s agents? How many more terrorists might have been harbored and financed by Saddam? How long might it have taken him to re-establish his WMD program or build a nuclear weapons program? Saddam, who started it all with the invasion of Kuwait, wasn’t a friend of the U.S. or the West in general. The U.S. isn’t the world’s policeman, but the U.S. government has a moral obligation to defend the interests of Americans, preemptively if necessary.

By the same token, one can only speculate about what might have happened if the U.S. government had prosecuted the war differently than it did, which was “on the cheap”. There weren’t enough boots on the ground to maintain order in the way that it was maintained by the military occupations in Germany and Japan after World War II. Had there been, there wouldn’t have been a kind of “civil war” or general chaos in Iraq after Saddam was deposed. (It was those things, as much as the supposed absence of a WMD program that turned many Americans against the war.)

Speculation aside, I supported the invasion of Iraq, the removal of Saddam, and the rout of Iraq’s armed forces with the following results in mind:

  • A firm military occupation of Iraq, for some years to come.
  • The presence in Iraq and adjacent waters and airspace of U.S. forces in enough strength to control Iraq and deter misadventures by other nations in the region (e.g., Iran and Syria) and prospective interlopers (e.g., Russia).
  • Israel’s continued survival and prosperity under the large shadow cast by U.S. forces in the region.
  • Secure production and shipment of oil from Iraq and other oil-producing nations in the region.

All of that would have happened but for (a) too few boots on the ground (later remedied in part by the “surge”); (b) premature “nation-building”, which helped to stir up various factions in Iraq; (c) Obama’s premature surrender, which he was shamed into reversing; and (d) Obama’s deal with Iran, with its bundles of cash and blind-eye enforcement that supported Iran’s rearmament and growing boldness in the region. (The idea that Iraq, under Saddam, had somehow contained Iran is baloney; Iran was contained only until its threat to go nuclear found a sucker in Obama.)

In sum, the war was only a partial success because (once again) U.S. leaders failed to wage it fully and resolutely. This was due in no small part to incessant criticism of the war, stirred up and sustained by Democrats and the media.

WHO HAD THE MORAL HIGH GROUND?

In view of the foregoing, the correct answer is: the U.S. government, or those of its leaders who approved, funded, planned, and executed the war with the aim of bringing peace and security to the Persian Gulf region for the sake of Americans’ interests.

The moral high ground was shared by those Americans who, understanding the war’s justification on grounds broader than WMD, remained steadfast in support of the war despite the tumult and shouting that arose from its opponents.

There were Americans whose support of the war was based on the claim that Saddam had ore was developing WMD, and whose support ended or became less ardent when WMD seemed not to be in evidence. I wouldn’t presume to judge them harshly for withdrawing their support, but I would judge them myopic for basing it on solely on the WMD predicate. And I would judge them harshly if they joined the outspoken opponents of the war, whose opposition I address below.

What about those Americans who supported the war simply because they believed that President Bush and his advisers “knew what they were doing” or out of a sense of patriotism? That is to say, they had no particular reason for supporting the war other than a general belief that its successful execution would be a “good thing”. None of those Americans deserves moral approbation or moral blame. They simply had better things to do with their lives than to parse the reasons for going to war and for continuing it. And it is no one’s place to judge them for not having wasted their time in thinking about something that was beyond their ability to influence. (See the discussion of “public opinion” below.)

What about those Americans who publicly opposed the war, either from the beginning or later? I cannot fault all of them for their opposition — and certainly not  those who considered the costs (human and monetary) and deemed them not worth the possible gains.

But there were (and are) others whose opposition to the war was and is problematic:

  • Critics of the apparent absence of an active WMD program in Iraq, who seized on the WMD justification and ignored (or failed to grasp) the war’s broader justification.
  • Political opportunists who simply wanted to discredit President Bush and his party, which included most Democrats (eventually), effete elites generally, and particularly most members of the academic-media-information technology complex.
  • An increasingly large share of the impressionable electorate who could not (and cannot) resist a bandwagon.
  • Reflexive pro-peace/anti-war posturing by the young, who are prone to oppose “the establishment” and to do so loudly and often violently.

The moral high ground isn’t gained by misguided criticism, posturing, joining a bandwagon, or hormonal emotionalism.

WHAT ABOUT “PUBLIC OPINION”?

Suppose you had concluded that the Iraq War was wrong because the WMD justification seemed to have been proven false as the war went on. Perhaps even than false: a fraud perpetrated by officials of the Bush administration, if not by the president himself, to push Congress and “public opinion” toward support for an invasion of Iraq.

If your main worry about Iraq, under Saddam, was the possibility that WMD would be used against Americans, the apparent falsity of the WMD claim — perhaps fraudulent falsity — might well have turned you against the war. Suppose that there were many millions of Americans like you, whose initial support of the war turned to disillusionment as evidence of an active WMD program failed to materialize. Would voicing your opinion on the matter have helped to end the war? Did you have a moral obligation to voice your opinion? And, in any event, should wars be ended because of “public opinion”? I will try to answer those questions in what follows.

The strongest case to be made for the persuasive value of voicing one’s opinion might be found in the median-voter theorem. According to Wikipedia, the median-voter theorem

“states that ‘a majority rule voting system will select the outcome most preferred by the median voter”….

The median voter theorem rests on two main assumptions, with several others detailed below. The theorem is assuming [sic] that voters can place all alternatives along a one-dimensional political spectrum. It seems plausible that voters could do this if they can clearly place political candidates on a left-to-right continuum, but this is often not the case as each party will have its own policy on each of many different issues. Similarly, in the case of a referendum, the alternatives on offer may cover more than one issue. Second, the theorem assumes that voters’ preferences are single-peaked, which means that voters have one alternative that they favor more than any other. It also assumes that voters always vote, regardless of how far the alternatives are from their own views. The median voter theorem implies that voters have an incentive to vote for their true preferences. Finally, the median voter theorem applies best to a majoritarian election system.

The article later specifies seven assumptions underlying the theorem. None of the assumptions is satisfied in the real world of American politics. Complexity never favors the truth of any proposition; it simply allows the proposition to be wrong in more ways if all of the assumptions must be true, as is the case here.

There is a weak form of the theorem, which says that

the median voter always casts his or her vote for the policy that is adopted. If there is a median voter, his or her preferred policy will beat any other alternative in a pairwise vote.

That still leaves the crucial assumption that voters are choosing between two options. This is superficially true in the case of a two-person race for office or a yes-no referendum. But, even then, a binary option usually masks non-binary ramifications that voters take into account.

In any case, it is trivially true to say that the preference of the median voter foretells the outcome of an election in a binary election, if the the outcome is decided by majority vote and there isn’t a complicating factor like the electoral college. One could say, with equal banality, that the stronger man wins the weight-lifting contest, the outcome of which determines who is the stronger man.

Why am I giving so much attention to the median-voter theorem? Because, according to a blogger whose intellectual prowess I respect, if enough Americans believe a policy of the U.S. government to be wrong, the policy might well be rescinded if the responsible elected officials (or, presumably, their prospective successors) believe that the median voter wants the policy rescinded. How would that work?

The following summary of the blogger’s case is what I gleaned from his original post on the subject and several comments and replies. I have inserted parenthetical commentary throughout.

  • The pursuit of the Iraq War after the WMD predicate for it was (seemingly) falsified — hereinafter policy X — was immoral because X led unnecessarily to casualties, devastation, and other costs. (As discussed above, there were other predicates for X and other consequences of X, some of them good, but they don’t seem to matter to the blogger.)
  • Because X was immoral (in the blogger’s reckoning), X should have been rescinded.
  • Rescission would have (might have?/should have?) occurred through the operation of the median-voter theorem if enough persons had made known their opposition to X. (How might the median-voter theorem have applied when X wasn’t on a ballot? See below.)
  • Any person who had taken the time to consider X (taking into account only the WMD predicate and unequivocally bad consequences) could only have deemed it immoral. (The blogger originally excused persons who deemed X proper, but later made a statement equivalent to the preceding sentence. This is a variant of “heads, I win; tails, you lose”.)
  • Having deemed X immoral, a person (i.e., a competent, adult American) would have been morally obliged to make known his opposition to X. Even if the person didn’t know of the spurious median-voter theorem, his opposition to X (which wasn’t on a ballot) would somehow have become known and counted (perhaps in a biased opinion poll conducted by an entity opposed to X) and would therefore have helped to move the median stance of the (selectively) polled fragment of the populace toward opposition to X, whereupon X would be rescinded, according to the median-voter theorem. (Or perhaps vociferous opposition, expressed in public protests, would be reported by the media — especially by those already opposed to X — as indicative of public opinion, whether or not it represented a median view of X.)
  • Further, any competent, adult American who didn’t bother to take the time to evaluate X would have been morally complicit in the continuation of X. (This must be the case because the blogger says so, without knowing each person’s assessment of the slim chance that his view of the matter would affect X, or the opportunity costs of evaluating X and expressing his view of it.)
  • So the only moral course of action, according to the blogger, was for every competent, adult American to have taken the time to evaluate X (in terms of the WMD predicate), to have deemed it immoral (there being no other choice given the constraint just mentioned), and to have made known his opposition to the policy. (This despite the fact that most competent, adult Americans know viscerally or from experience that the median-voter theorem is hooey — more about that below — and that it would therefore have been a waste of their time to get worked up about a policy that wasn’t unambiguously immoral. Further, they were and are rightly reluctant to align themselves with howling mobs and biased media — even by implication, as in a letter to the editor — in protest of a policy that wasn’t unambiguously immoral.)
  • Then, X (which wasn’t on a ballot) would have been rescinded, pursuant to the median-voter theorem (or, properly, the outraged/vociferous-pollee/protester-biased pollster/media theorem). (Except that X wasn’t, in fact, rescinded despite massive outpourings of outrage by small fractions of the populace, which were gleefully reflected in biased polls and reported by biased media. Nor was it rescinded by implication when President Bush was up for re-election — he won. It might have been rescinded by implication when the Bush was succeeded by Obama — an opponent of X — but there were many reasons other than X for Obama’s victory: mainly the financial crisis, McCain’s lame candidacy, and a desire by many voters to signal — to themselves, at least — their non-racism by voting for Obama. And X wasn’t doing all that badly at the time of Obama’s election because of the troop “surge” authorized by Bush. Further, Obama’s later attempt to rescind X had consequences that caused him to reverse his attempted rescission, regardless of any lingering opposition to X.)

What about other salient, non-ballot issues? Does “public opinion” make a difference? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Obamacare, for example, was widely opposed until it was enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama. It suddenly became popular because much of the populace wants to be on the “winning side” of an issue. (So much for the moral value of public opinion.) Similarly, abortion was widely deemed to be immoral until the Supreme Court legalized it. Suddenly, it began to become acceptable according to “public opinion”. I could go on an on, but you get the idea: Public opinion often follows policy rather than leading it, and its moral value is dubious in any event.

But what about cases where government policy shifted in the aftermath of widespread demonstrations and protests? Did demonstrations and protests lead to the enactment of the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s? Did they cause the U.S. government to surrender, in effect, to North Vietnam? No and no. From where I sat — and I was a politically aware, voting-age, adult American of the “liberal” persuasion at the time of those events — public opinion had little effect on the officials who were responsible for the Civil Rights Acts or the bug-out from Vietnam.

The civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s didn’t yield results until years after their inception. And those results didn’t (at the time, at least) represent the views of most Americans who (I submit) were either indifferent or hostile to the advancement of blacks and to the anti-patriotic undertones of the anti-war movement. In both cases, mass protests were used by the media (and incited by the promise of media attention) to shame responsible officials into acting as media elites wanted them to.

Further, it is a mistake to assume that the resulting changes in law (writ broadly to include policy) were necessarily good changes. The stampede to enact civil-rights laws in the 1960s, which hinged not so much on mass protests but on LBJ”s “white guilt” and powers of persuasion, resulted in the political suppression of an entire region, the loss of property rights, and the denial of freedom of association. (See, for example, Christopher Caldwell’s “The Roots of Our Partisan Divide“, Imprimis, February 2020.)

The bug-out from Vietnam foretold the U.S. government’s fecklessness in the Iran hostage crisis; the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Lebanon after the bombing of Marine barracks there; the failure of G.H.W. Bush to depose Saddam when it would have been easy to do so; the legalistic response to the World Trade Center bombing; the humiliating affair in Somalia; Clinton’s failure to take out Osama bin Laden; Clinton’s tepid response to Saddam’s provocations; nation-building (vice military occupation) in Iraq; and Obama’s attempt to pry defeat from the jaws of something resembling victory in Iraq.

All of that, and more, is symptomatic of the influence that “liberal” elites came to exert on American foreign and defense policy after World War II. Public opinion has been a side show, and protestors have been useful idiots to the cause of “liberal internationalism”, that is, the surrender of Americans’ economic and security interests for the sake of various rapprochements toward “allies” who scorn America when it veers ever so slightly from the road to serfdom, and enemies — Russia and China — who have never changed their spots, despite “liberal” wishful thinking. Handing America’s manufacturing base to China in the name of free trade is of a piece with all the rest.

IN CONCLUSION . . .

It is irresponsible to call a policy immoral without evaluating all of its predicates and consequences. One might as well call the Allied leaders of World War II immoral because they chose war — with all of its predictably terrible consequences — rather than abject surrender.

It is fatuous to ascribe immorality to anyone who was supportive of or indifferent to the war. One might as well ascribe immorality to the economic and political ignoramuses who failed to see that FDR’s policies would prolong the Great Depression, that Social Security and its progeny (Medicare and Medicaid) would become entitlements that paved the way for the central government’s commandeering of vast portions of the economy, or that the so-called social safety net would discourage work and permanently depress economic growth in America.

If I were in the business of issuing moral judgments about the Iraq War, I would condemn the strident anti-war faction for its perfidy.

Election 2020: Modified Betting Propositions

In “Election 2020: Some Betting Propositions“, I laid out the terms of a bet that I had proposed to correspondent who is a “conservative” collabo. The underlying conditions — Democrat control of the White House and Congress — may not be met, at least not in 2021-2023. But the day will come, and Americans will rue it.

So, what will happen if Biden is elected but the GOP still controls the Senate and is able to prevent the left from enacting some of its agenda? Plenty. I have gleaned some examples from the blogosphere (links at the bottom of this post), and here they are:

Stopping construction of the border wall by not requesting funds for it, not reapportioning funds to it, and canceling all work in progress.

Encouraging illegal immigration (e.g., lax enforcement, reinstatement of DACA) to reopen the floodgates at the southern border.

Issuing executive orders that reverse the economic recovery in the name of combating COVID-19.

Rejoining the Paris climate scam, severely restricting U.S. oil production and the use of fossil fuels, and promoting “renewable” energy through  executive-regulatory actions, which will have almost zero effect on the climate and make Americans generally poorer and more miserable. (A full-bore legislative package — if Biden could get it passed — would be disastrous.)

Reinstating U.S. support of WHO, a corrupt pro-China, anti-life operation.

Reinstating Obama’s supine, America-last foreign policy. In particular, reinstating the Iran nuclear deal and resuming the shipment of bales of money to Iran to finance its “peaceful” nuclear research, continue to build its regional military prowess, and acquire the means to strike the U.S. with missiles; and ilting strongly in favor of radical Islam and Palestine, and strongly against Israel, which will foment conflict in the Middle East.

Progressing further toward thought control by encouraging more and stricter pro=left censorship by internet-based purveyors of “news” and anti-social media.

Advancing “critical race theory”, which blames whites for all of the miseries of blacks, many of which are self-inflicted by black culture, and others of which are due to innate racial differences in intelligence.

Actively pursuing extra-legal “punishment” of Trump’s allies and supporters.

Using the Justice Department to further erode law and order in the United States by hamstringing police departments.

Not mentioned at any of links below, but a key proposition from my earlier post: Diminution of America’s armed forces in the face of increasing adventurism by Russia and China — thus encouraging even more and bolder moves by those countries against American’s interests. This is a move that Harris-Biden can make unilaterally by slashing defense budgets submitted to Congress, and which the House can help to attain by holding the defense budget hostage until the Senate acquiesces in the cuts.

And one more crucial thing. Harris-Biden will openly flout rulings by the Supreme Court when such rulings conflict with the regime’s policies. (This is something that Trump/Hitler never did.)

I will package these items as a proposed bet for my correspondent. He will probably decline to take the bet (as he declined my earlier offer) because, in his ostrich-like way he doesn’t want to acknowledge the damage that Harris-Biden will do to the nation. He couldn’t see past his Trump hatred.

I will end this on a more pleasant note, with a link to Joy Pullman’s post at The Federalist, “12 Ways For Trump To Bomb The Battlefield While Biden Claims The Presidency” (November 10, 2020).


Links:

Carina Benton, “Totalitarian Left Promises Purges And Punishment For All Trump Voters“, The Federalist, November 10, 2020

Sam Dorman and Hillary Vaughn, “Biden Plans to Rejoin Paris Agreement, WHO, and Undo Other Trump Decisions on Day 1“, Fox News, November 9, 2020

Tilak Doshi, “The Coming Energy Shocks Under a Biden Administration“, Forbes, November 11, 2020

David Gerstman, “Former Biden Aide: Rejoining Nuclear Deal Is ‘High’ on Biden’s Agenda“, Legal Insurrection, November 10, 2020

Fred Lucas, “7 Big Items on Biden’s White House Agenda“, The Daily Signal, November 8, 2020

Heather Mac Donald, “The Biden Threat to Law Enforcement“, City Journal, November 10, 2020

Steve Postal, “How a Biden–Harris Administration Would Unravel Middle East Peace “, The American Spectator, November 10, 2020

Jarrett Stepman, “Biden Would Likely Issue Flurry of Executive Orders on Climate, Abortion, Immigration“, The Daily Signal, November 10, 2020

Jonathan Turley (eponymous blog), “Shredding The Fabric Of Our Democracy’: Biden Aide Signals Push For Greater Censorship On The Internet“, November 10, 2020

Francis Menton, “How Much Damage Can Biden Do to America with His Climate Plan?“, Manhattan Contrarian, November 14, 2020

Eugene Volokh, “Biden Transition Team Member’s Op-Ed on ‘Why America Needs a Hate-Speech Law’“, The Volokh Conspiracy, November 17, 2020

Frances Martel, “Six Disastrous Obama-Era Foreign Policies Set to Return Under Biden“, Breitbart, November 26, 2020

Art Keller, “Will Biden Resurrect the Iran Deal?“, Quillette, November 29, 2020

Election 2020: Liberty Is at Stake

I have written many times over the years about what will happen to liberty in America the next time a Democrat is in the White House and Congress is controlled by Democrats. Many others have written or spoken about the same, dire scenario. Recently, for example, Victor Davis Hanson and Danielle Pletka addressed the threat to liberty that lies ahead if Donald Trump is succeeded by Joe Biden, in tandem with a Democrat takeover of the Senate. This post reprises my many posts about the clear and present danger to liberty if Trump is defeated and the Senate flips, and adds some points suggested by Hanson and Pletka. There’s much more to be said, I’m sure, but what I have to say here should be enough to make every liberty-loving American vote for Trump — even those who abhor the man’s persona.

Court Packing

One of the first things on the agenda will be to enlarge the Supreme Court and fill the additional seats with justices who can be counted on to support the following policies discussed below, should those policies get to the Supreme Court. (If they don’t, they will be upheld in lower courts or go unchallenged because challenges will be perceived as futile.)

Abolition of the Electoral College

The Electoral College helps to protect the sovereignty of less-populous States from oppression by more-populous States. This has become especially important with the electoral shift that has seen California, New York, and other formerly competitive States slide into leftism. The Electoral College therefore causes deep resentment on the left when it yields a Republican president who fails to capture a majority of the meaningless nationwide popular vote, as Donald Trump failed (by a large margin) in 2016), despite lopsided victories by H. Clinton in California, New York, etc.

The Electoral College could be abolished formally by an amendment to the Constitution. But amending the Constitution by that route would take years, and probably wouldn’t succeed because it would be opposed by too many State legislatures.

The alternative, which would succeed with Democrat control of Congress and a complaisant Supreme Court, is a multi-State compact to this effect: The electoral votes of each member State will be cast for the candidate with the most popular votes, nationwide, regardless of the popular vote in the member State. This would work to the advantage of a Democrat who loses narrowly in a State where the legislature and governor’s mansion is controlled by Democrats – which is the whole idea.

Some pundits deny that the scheme would favor Democrats, but the history of presidential elections contradicts them.

Electorate Packing

If you’re going to abolish the Electoral College, you want to ensure a rock-solid hold on the presidency and Congress. What better way to do that than to admit Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia? Residents of D.C. already vote in presidential elections, but the don’t have senators and or a voting representative in the House. Statehood would give them those things. And you know which party’s banner the additional senators and representative would fly.

Admitting Puerto Rico would be like winning the trifecta (for Democrats): a larger popular-vote majority for Democrat presidential candidates, two more Democrat senators, and five more Democrat representatives in the House.

“Climate Change”

The “science” of “climate change” amounts to little more than computer models that can’t even “predict” recorded temperatures accurately because the models are based mainly on the assumption that CO2 (a minor greenhouse gas) drives the atmosphere’s temperature. This crucial assumption rests on a coincidence – rising temperatures from the late 1970s and rising levels of atmospheric CO2. But atmospheric CO2 has been far higher in earlier geological eras, while Earth’s temperature hasn’t been any higher than it is now. Yes, CO2 has been rising since the latter part of the 19th century, when industrialization began in earnest. Despite that, temperatures have fluctuated up and down for most of the past 150 years. (Some so-called scientists have resolved that paradox by adjusting historical temperatures to make them look lower than the really are.)

The deeper and probably more relevant causes of atmospheric temperature are to be found in the Earth’s core, magma flow, plate dynamics, ocean currents and composition, magnetic field, exposure to cosmic radiation, and dozens of other things that — to my knowledge — are ignored by climate models. Moreover, the complexity of the interactions of such factors, and others that are usually included in climate models cannot possibly be modeled.

The urge to “do something” about “climate change” is driven by a combination of scientific illiteracy, power-lust, and media-driven anxiety.

As a result, trillions of dollars have been and will be wasted on various “green” projects. These include but are far from limited to the replacement of fossil fuels by “renewables”, and the crippling of industries that depend on fossil fuels. Given that CO2 does influence atmospheric temperature slightly, it’s possible that such measures will have a slight effect on Earth’s temperature, even though the temperature rise has been beneficial (e.g., longer growing seasons; fewer deaths from cold weather, which kills more people than hot weather).

The main result of futile effort to combat “climate change” will be greater unemployment and lower real incomes for most Americans — except for the comfortable elites who press such policies.

Freedom of Speech

Legislation forbidding “hate speech” will be upheld by the packed Court. “Hate speech” will be whatever the bureaucrats who are empowered to detect and punish it say it is. And the bureaucrats will be swamped with complaints from vindictive leftists.

When the system is in full swing (which will take only a few years) it will be illegal to criticize, even by implication, such things as illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, anthropogenic global warming, or the confiscation of firearms. Violations will be enforced by huge fines and draconian prison sentences (sometimes in the guise of “re-education”).

Any hint of Christianity and Judaism will be barred from public discourse, and similarly punished. Islam will be held up as a model of unity and tolerance – at least until elites begin to acknowledge that Muslims are just as guilty of “incorrect thought” as persons of other religions and person who uphold the true spirit of the Constitution.

Reverse Discrimination

This has been in effect for several decades, as jobs, promotions, and college admissions have been denied the most capable persons in favor or certain “protected group” – manly blacks and women.

Reverse-discrimination “protections” will be extended to just about everyone who isn’t a straight, white male of European descent. And they will be enforced more vigorously than ever, so that employers will bend over backward to favor “protected groups” regardless of the effects on quality and quantity of output. That is, regardless of how such policies affect the general well-being of all Americans. And, of course, the heaviest burden – unemployment or menial employment – will fall on straight, white males of European descent. Except, of course, for the straight while males of European descent who are among the political, bureaucratic, and management elites who favor reverse discrimination.

Rule of Law

There will be no need for protests riots because police departments will become practitioners and enforcers of reverse discrimination (as well as “hate speech” violations and attempts to hold onto weapons for self-defense). This will happen regardless of the consequences, such as a rising crime rate, greater violence against whites and Asians, and flight from the cities (which will do little good because suburban police departments will also be co-opted).

Sexual misconduct (as defined by the alleged victim), will become a crime, and any straight, male person will be found guilty of it on the uncorroborated testimony of any female who claims to have been the victim of an unwanted glance, touch (even if accidental), innuendo (as perceived by the victim), etc.

There will be parallel treatment of the “crimes” of racism, anti-Islamism, nativism, and genderism.

Health Care

All health care and health-care related products and services (e.g., drug research) will be controlled and rationed by an agency of the federal government. Private care will be forbidden, though ready access to doctors, treatments, and medications will be provided for high officials and other favored persons.

Drug research – and medical research, generally – will dwindle in quality and quantity. There will be fewer doctors and nurses who are willing to work in a regimented system.

The resulting health-care catastrophe that befalls most of the populace (like that of the UK) will be shrugged off as a residual effect of “capitalist” health care.

Regulation

The regulatory regime, which already imposes a deadweight loss of 10 percent of GDP, will rebound with a vengeance, touching every corner of American life and regimenting all businesses except those daring to operate in an underground economy. The quality and variety of products and services will decline – another blow to Americans’ general well-being.

Taxation

Incentives to produce more and better products and services will be further blunted by increases on corporate profits, a more “progressive” structure of marginal tax rates (i.e., soaking the “rich”), and — perhaps worst of all — taxing wealth. Such measures will garner votes by appealing to economic illiterates, the envious, social-justice warriors, and guilt-ridden elites who can afford the extra taxes but don’t understand how their earnings and wealth foster economic growth and job creation. (A Venn diagram would depict almost the complete congruence of economic illiterates, the envious, social-justice warriors, and guilt-ridden elites.)

Government Spending and National Defense

The dire economic effects of the foregoing policies will be compounded by massive increases in government spending on domestic welfare programs, which reward the unproductive at the expense of the productive. All of this will suppress investment in business formation and expansion, and in professional education and training. As a result, the real rate of economic growth will approach zero, and probably become negative.

Because of the emphasis on domestic welfare programs, the United States will maintain token armed forces (mainly for the purpose of suppressing domestic uprisings). The U.S. will pose no threat to the new superpowers — Russia and China. They won’t threaten the U.S. militarily as long as the U.S. government acquiesces in their increasing dominance.

Immigration

Illegal immigration will become legal, and all illegal immigrants now in the country – and the resulting flood of new immigrants — will be granted citizenship and all associated rights. The right to vote, of course, is the right that Democrats most dearly want to bestow because most of the newly-minted citizens can be counted on to vote for Democrats. The permanent Democrat majority will ensure permanent Democrat control of the White House and both houses of Congress.

Future Elections and the Death of Democracy

Despite the prospect of a permanent Democrat majority, Democrats won’t stop there. In addition to the restrictions on freedom of speech discussed above, there will be election laws requiring candidates to pass ideological purity tests by swearing fealty to the “law of the land” (i.e., unfettered immigration, same-sex marriage, freedom of gender choice for children, etc., etc., etc.). Those who fail such a test will be barred from holding any kind of public office, no matter how insignificant.

Anarchy: A Footnote

In “A Few Thoughts about Anarchy” I opined that if

anarchy were a viable option, it would have long since thrived. If it seems to have eked out a tenuous existence in isolated cases because of state sponsorship, isn’t that evidence of its inviability? And if it hasn’t thrived because statists of one kind and another have suppressed it, isn’t that also proof of its inviability? Call it a non-existence proof.

What we are now witnessing is the use of anarchy (enabled by left-statists) to strengthen the power of the central government. Blacks will get more handouts; more preferential treatment in hiring, promotions, college admissions, etc.; more suppression of speech that offends them (and white leftists), including facts about disparities in intelligence and violence; and more lenient treatment by police and courts (which will abet more violence by blacks). The rest of the populace will bear the costs, though affluent white leftists won’t care and will be glad of the consequences for middle- and low-income whites.

It is telling that some prominent left-statists (e.g., Nancy Pelosi) can’t bring themselves to denounce the movement to abolish police departments. What could better signify the symbiosis of left-statism and black privilege?

(See also “It’s the 1960s Redux” and “Apt Quotations for a Riot-Ridden Country“.)

It’s the 1960s Redux

The death of George Floyd, which was caused (if only indirectly) by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department, has met with predictable reactions:

1. Trump is to blame for creating an “atmosphere of hate”.

2. The cop’s behavior is symptomatic of “systemic racism” in the United States.

3. Ergo, rioting — not just in Minneapolis but in some other large cities as well.

My thoughts:

1. The “atmosphere of hate” line is high irony, inasmuch as Trump and those who support him are targets of unremitting hatred. There’s a lot of psychological projection at work here.

2. The charge of “systemic racism” is symptomatic of systemic stereotyping by leftists who don’t want to acknowledge the next point and its consequences (discussed below).

3. Persons of low intelligence are more prone to violence than their more-intelligent peers.

The underlying problem hasn’t changed since the wave of urban riots in the 1960s:

Blacks, on average, are significantly less intelligent than whites of European descent, East Asians, and Ashkenzi Jews (a special class of whites of European descent).

Therefore, blacks generally earn less than than members of the other groups because (a) they are less employable and (b) their skills are less valuable (except for the small fraction of blacks who make it big in sports and entertainment).

Blacks, like most human beings, tend to live among persons who are similarly situated: economically, culturally, and racially. “Racism” is a two-way street.

Because large cities contain high concentrations of low-income blacks, resentments can quickly generate violence — not just where a triggering event occurs but wherever low-income blacks are concentrated.

A triggering event — like the death of George Floyd — ignites the simmering and long-standing resentment that must be felt among a large segment of the black population. That resentment is about the failure of blacks generally to advance relative to whites. The source of the resentment is found in the rhetoric of white “liberals”, who constantly peddle this untruth in return for black votes:

The social and economic distance between blacks and whites is due to white racism, and nothing else.

Another Big Lie from the left yields another tragic consequence.