The Real Unemployment Rate

It’s bad. How bad? Here is the newly updated Part VI of “Economic Growth Since World War II“.

The real unemployment rate is several percentage points above the nominal rate. Officially, the unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent as of April 2021. Unofficially — but in reality — the unemployment rate was 13.8 percent.

How can I say that the real unemployment rate was 13.8 percent, even though the official rate was 6.1 percent? Easily. Just follow this trail of definitions, provided by the official purveyor of unemployment statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Unemployed persons (Current Population Survey)
Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

Unemployment rate
The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

Labor force (Current Population Survey)
The labor force includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary.

Labor force participation rate
The labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.

Civilian noninstitutional population (Current Population Survey)
Included are persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.

In short, if you are 16 years of age and older, not confined to an institution or on active duty in the armed forces, but have not recently made specific efforts to find employment, you are not (officially) a member of the labor force. And if you are not (officially) a member of the labor force because you have given up looking for work, you are not (officially) unemployed — according to the BLS. Of course, you are really unemployed, but your unemployment is well disguised by the BLS’s contorted definition of unemployment.

What has happened is this: Since the first four months of 2000, when the labor-force participation rate peaked at 67.3 percent, it declined to 62.3 percent in 2015 before rising to 63.4 percent just before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy. Then, the participation rate dropped to 60.2 percent before recovering to 61.7 percent in April 2021:


Source: See figure 10.

The decline that began in 2000 came to a halt in 2005, but resumed in late 2008. The economic slowdown in 2001 (which followed the bursting of the dot-com bubble) can account for the decline through 2005, as workers chose to withdraw from the labor force when faced with dimmer employment prospects. But what about the sharper decline that began near the end of Bush’s second term?

There we see not only the demoralizing effects of the Great Recession but also the growing allure of incentives to refrain from work, namely, disability payments, extended unemployment benefits, the relaxation of welfare rules, the aggressive distribution of food stamps, and “free” healthcare” for an expanded Medicaid enrollment base and 20-somethings who live in their parents’ basements*. That’s on the supply side. On the demand side, there are the phony and even negative effects of “stimulus” spending; the chilling effects of regime uncertainty, persisted beyond the official end of the Great Recession; and the expansion of government spending and regulation (e.g., Dodd-Frank), as discussed in Part III.

More recently, COVID caused many workers to withdraw from the labor force out of an abundance of caution or because they couldn’t work from home. The recovery has stalled, in large part because of “free” money and extended unemployment benefits. The effects are being felt by employers who are unable to fill job openings, thus refueling a resurgence of inflation.

Another factor, though of less significance, is a decline in the percentage of employed persons who are working full-time. It dropped from 83.3 percent in 2000 — its highest level since 1989 — to 79.9 percent in 2010 before rising jaggedly to 83.5 percent in April 2021. A shift from full-time to part-time work is really a form of disemployment, and ought to be reflected in the unemployment rate.

I constructed the actual unemployment rate by adjusting the nominal rate for (a) the change in the labor-force participation rate and (b) the change in the percentage of workers in full-time status. The disparity between the actual and nominal unemployment rates is evident in this graph:


Derived from SeriesLNS12000000, Seasonally Adjusted Employment Level; SeriesLNS11000000, Seasonally Adjusted Civilian Labor Force Level; Series LNS11300000, Seasonally Adjusted Civilian labor force participation rate; and Series LNS12500000, Employed, Usually Work Full Time. All are available at BLS, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.

The bad news — which the stock market has chosen to ignore (as of 05/07/2 1)  — is that the real unemployment rate is where it was in the darkest days of the Great Recession.
* Contrary to some speculation, the labor-force participation rate is not declining because older workers are retiring earlier. The participation rate among workers 55 and older rose between 2002 and 2012. The decline is concentrated among workers under the age of 55, and especially workers in the 16-24 age bracket. (See this table at Why? My conjecture: The Great Recession caused a shakeout of marginal (low-skill) workers, many of whom simply dropped out of the labor market. And it became easier for them to drop out because, under Obamacare, many of them became eligible for Medicaid and many others enjoy prolonged coverage (until age 26) under their parents’ health plans. For more on this point, see Salim Furth’s “In the Obama Economy, a Decline in Teen Workers” (The Daily Signal, April 11, 2015), and Stephen Moore’s “Why Are So Many Employers Unable to Fill Jobs?” (The Daily Signal, April 6, 2015). On the general issue of declining participation among males aged 25-54, see Timothy Taylor’s “Why Are Men Detaching from the Labor Force?“, (The Conversible Economist, January 16, 2020), and follow the links therein. See also Scott Winship’s “Declining Prime-Age Male Labor Force Participation” (The Bridge, Mercatus Center, September 26, 2017).

The Great Breakup?

I end “The Great Breakup (I Hope)” with this:

The nation is almost certainly broken, and broken irrevocably. That leaves the question of what is to be done about it. I have offered options in the past. The only one that can deliver (a lot of us) from the evil that bears down is a concerted secession effort by many States, perhaps leading to a negotiated partition of the country. The choice is stark: either a breakup or a complete takeover by America’s domestic enemies.

(Do read the whole thing. It is replete with keen observations and bons mots.)

Victor Davis Hanson rehearses the many reasons for a breakup in “How Much Ruin Do We Have Left?” (American Greatness, April 21, 2021); for example:

The military—after costly strategic stagnation in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya—is now turning on its own. Some of the politicized top brass seem more worried about the politics of their own soldiers than the dangers of foreign militaries.

Our public schools and colleges are systematically downplaying meritocratic curricula and substituting in their places ideological, racial, and cultural litmus tests. Admissions now often hinge as much on race, gender, and ethnicity than quantifiable achievement. The First and Fifth Amendments—free speech and due process—have vanished from most college campuses.

2020 saw the most destructive riots in American history. Yet very few of the looters, arsonists, and rioters were ever indicted. Most were never arrested….

Private monopolies that control most written communications of Americans censor expression entirely on the basis of politics….

Our officials at the Justice Department and the United Nations either will not or cannot defend the history and reputation of their own homeland.

Record natural gas and oil production had formerly given the public affordable heating, cooling, and transportation. Self-sufficiency in energy made the United States exempt from worries over Mideast wars or foreign oil embargoes. The more we produced our own natural gas, the cleaner became our air and the smaller our collective carbon footprint.

Yet in just 100 days, energy prices have soared. The Left has canceled pipelines and limited energy leasing on federal lands—with promises to all but end our own gas and oil independence in just a few years.

In the drought-stricken West, key irrigation water is still being diverted from farms to the ocean. Billions of dollars in farm aid are doled out on the basis of race. And promised new regulations and estate taxes may well kill off what’s left of family farms.

Not to mention higher taxes and more regulations, which penalize success and deter business formation and expansion. Not to mention the murderous anti-life stance of “devout Catholic” Biden and his henchpersons. And on and on it goes.

All of which leads Oliver Wiseman (“Disunited States“, The Critic, May 2021) to recall that more than 180 years ago

John Quincy Adams gave a speech to mark 50 years since the presidential inauguration of George Washington. “If the day should ever come, (may Heaven avert it) when the affections of the people of these states shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give away to cold indifference, or collisions of interest shall fester into hatred,” he told a New York audience, “far better will it be for the people of the disunited states, to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint.” Collisions of interest festering into hatred? That sounds familiar. The Trump years were famously light on fraternal spirit and, as the divisions deepened, “parting in friendship” started to look awfully attractive to a growing number of Americans.

After reciting many reasons for a breakup, and offering some reasons why it may not come to pass, Wiseman ends with this:

For now, secession threats are still mostly part of a bigger fight for the future of the country as a whole: a nuclear option in a cold civil war. America may lurch forwards having loud arguments that belie an underlying stability. But if divides grow wider and differences on fundamental constitutional questions start to look irreconcilable, more and more Americans might agree with John Quincy Adams: better to part in friendship rather than being held together in constraint.

It can’t happen soon enough for me, even though I may end up on the wrong side of the divide because of my impending move from Texas to Virginia.

Related page: Constitution: Myths and Realities, Part VI

Playing with Numbers

Stephen Moore asks a rhetorical question in “Why Did Biden’s Census Bureau Add 2.5 Million Residents to Blue-State Population Count?”. The obvious answer is: To reduce the loss of House seats to Red States, as Moore says:

The original projections for Census reapportionment had New York losing two seats, Rhode Island losing a seat, and Illinois perhaps losing two seats. Instead, New York and Illinois only lost one seat, and Rhode Island lost no seats. Meanwhile, Texas was expected to gain three seats, Florida two seats, and Arizona one seat. Instead, Texas gained only two seats, Florida only one, and Arizona none.

Was the Census Bureau count rigged? Was it manipulated by the Biden team to hand more seats to the Democrats and to get more money—federal spending is often allocated based on population—for the blue states?

The evidence is now only circumstantial, but when errors or revisions are almost all only in one direction, the alarm bells appropriately go off.

The same was true of Election 2020. There is ample evidence that the election was stolen from Trump and handed to Biden by chicanery in at least five States: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

But did the courts give a hoot? No, they looked the other way. And the same thing will happen when the Census Bureau’s fudged figures are challenged.

Democrats have a near-lock on electoral fraud. And (to change the metaphor) they need it because their “wokeness” is  is swimming against the tide of popular opinion.

Racial Profiling?

A point that I — and many fact-driven observers — have made over the years: Blacks are disproportionately “targeted” for arrest and incarceration because blacks are disproportionately prone to commit crimes, especially crimes of violence.

The cold facts are corroborated by the preponderance of blacks in the mugshots that have become a too-frequent feature of Austin’s local newscasts.

I am, praise be, leaving Austin for a somewhat less-populous city in a considerably less-populous metropolitan area. I have already begun to subscribe to that city’s newspaper. I was struck by the photos of the suspects in all of the murders covered on the front page of that newspaper. Here they are:

I wonder how much longer it will be before Biden’s Department of Injustice enjoins the media from displaying mugshots of black persons (or is it Black Persons)?

Double Jeopardy by Any Other Name …

… is still double jeopardy. The Constitution — as interpreted to date — still allows double jeopardy, despite the Fifth Amendment. A case in point is the federal indictment against Derek Chauvin (and other ex-Minneapolis police officers):

The Biden DOJ has indicted former police officer Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers on federal civil rights charges for their roles in the death of George Floyd.

The indictment alleges that Chauvin, along with J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane violated Floyd’s rights when they saw him lying on the ground “in clear need” of medical attention, but instead “willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm.”

This is essentially an indictment of Chauvin for the same actions that led to his arrest, trial, and conviction under Minnesota law.

I call a foul. This isn’t a new, pro-Chauvin call. I’ve held this position for many years. It’s documented (among other places) in a page that I published almost five years ago, “Constitution for the 21st Century“:

8. A citizen of the United States may not be:…

b. brought before a criminal or civil court to answer for the same act or acts that had been judged previously, under any rubric of law, by any criminal or civil court of any State or the United States;

I wrote that, despite the fact the O.J. Simpson — who was wrongly found not guilty of the murder of his ex-wife and her friend — was later found responsible for the murders in a civil trial. Which just goes to show how fair-minded I am.

The 96-Year Pause

Much has been written (pro and con) about the “pause” in global warming climate change the synthetic reconstruction of Earth’s “average” temperature from 1997 to 2012. That pause was followed fairly quickly by a new one, which began in 2014 and is still in progress (if a pause can be said to exhibit progress).

Well, I have a better one for you, drawn from the official temperature records for Austin, Texas — the festering Blue wound in the otherwise healthy Red core of Texas. (Borrowing Winston Churchill’s formulation, Austin is the place up with which I have put for 18 years — and will soon quit, to my everlasting joy.)

There is a continuous record of temperatures in central Austin from January 1903 to the present. The following graph is derived from that record:

A brief inspection of the graph reveals the obvious fact that there was a pause in Austin’s average temperature from (at least) 1903 until sometime in 1999. Something happened in 1999 to break the pause. What was it? It couldn’t have been “global warming”, the advocates of which trace back to the late 1800s (despite some prolonged cooling periods after that).

Austin’s weather station was relocated in 1999, which might have had something to do with it. More likely, the illusory jump in Austin’s temperature was caused by the urban heat-island effect induced by the growth of Austin’s population, which increased markedly from 1999 to 2000, and has been rising rapidly ever since.

Related reading:

Paul Homewood, “Washington’s New Climate ‘Normals’ Are Hotter“, Not a Lot of People Know That, May 6, 2021 (wherein the writer shows that the rise in D.C.’s new “normal” temperatures is due to the urban heat-island effect)

H. Sterling Burnett, “Sorry, CBS, NOAA’s ‘U.S. Climate Normals’ Report Misrepresents the Science“, Climate Realism, May 7, 2021 (just what the title says)

All Eyes Should Be on China

I have said many times (e.g., here) that the U.S. is in danger of becoming subservient to China. Recent reportage only reinforces my view:

Tyler Durden, “Top Australian General’s Leaked Classified Briefing Says War With China A High Likelihood’“, ZeroHedge, May 4, 2021

Nicole Hao and Cathy He, “Chinese Leader Xi Jinping Lays Out Plan to Control Global Internet: Leaked Documents“, Epoch Times, May 5, 2021

Tom Pyman and Mark Nicol, “China Was Preparing for a Third World War with Biological Weapons – Including Coronavirus – SIX Years Ago, According to Dossier Produced by the People’s Liberation Army in 2015 and Uncovered by the US State Department“, Daily Mail, May 8, 2021

As you should know by now, our “fearless” faux president, Joseph RobinHood Biden Jr., is in thrall to China.

You have been warned.

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

The Fed and Business Cycles, Revisited

This post updates “The Fed and Business Cycles” of June 11, 2011.

The following graphs depict the length of expansions and contractions (and the trends in both), before and since the creation of the Federal Reserve System in December 1913.

Source: “Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions,” National Bureau of Economic Research.
Note: The logarithmic scale on the vertical highlights proportional changes in the lengths of business cycles.

The creation of the Fed might have had a hand in the lengthening of expansions and the shortening of contractions, but many other factors have been at work.

What the graphs don’t depict is the relative severity of the various contractions. It is worth noting that the worst of them all — the Great Depression — occurred after the creation of the Fed and, in part, because of actions taken by the Fed. (A note to the history-challenged: The Great Depression began in September 1929 and ended only because of America’s entry into World War II.) Moreover, the worst downturn since the Great Depression — the Great Recession — was clearly the work of the Fed, in unwitting(?) complicity with the politicians who insisted on expanding home ownership through subprime loans.

In any event, the long-run cost of economic stability has been high. (See this, this, and this, for example.)

Biden: Not Knocking Their Socks Off

It comes as no surprise that Biden isn’t enjoying a post-inaugural “honeymoon” with the mass of voters. It is evident that he is intent on screwing them with higher taxes, higher energy prices, and special treatment of illegal immigrants, blacks, and gender-confused persons.

Compare and contrast Biden’s performance relative to the performances of Obama and Trump according to a measure that I devised in the early days of Obama’s presidency. I call it the enthusiasm ratio, which I derive from the Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, published by Rasmussen Reports. It is the number of likely voters expressing strong approval as a percentage of the number of likely voters expressing either approval or disapproval. That is, the ratio omits likely voters who express neither approval nor disapproval, and focuses on strong approval rather than mere approval.

Here’s the comparison:

Trump’s slow start can be chalked up to the phony Trump-Russia scandal and the incessant flow of negative stories about “chaos” in the Trump White House, both of which plagued his first months in office. Despite that slow start, Trump’s support then became — and remained — much stronger than Obama’s. It remained stronger even during the pandemic panic and the bizarre post-election months, when Trump was roasted for daring to assert (correctly, I believe) that the election was stolen from him.

Biden’s early returns are as weak as Trump’s, but the lack of enthusiasm for Biden is self-inflicted, not media-generated.

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

Reparations? Really?

A purportedly conservative columnist named Gary Abernathy, who seems to opine bi-weekly in The Washington Post, takes on reparations (for blacks, of course):

Like most conservatives, I’ve scoffed at the idea of reparations or a formal apology for slavery. I did not own slaves, so why would I support my government using my tax dollars for reparations … ?…

[I]t could be argued that the idea fits within the conservative philosophy. We’ll come back to that. But it is undeniable that White people have disproportionately benefitted from both the labor and the legacy of slavery, and — crucially — will continue to do so for generations to come.

When slavery was abolished after a bloody civil war, African Americans were dispersed into a world that was overtly hostile to them. Reconstruction efforts were bitterly resisted by most Southern Whites, and attempts to educate and employ former slaves happened only in fits and starts. The government even reneged on its “40 acres and a mule” pledge. After slavery, prejudice and indifference continued to fuel social and economic disparity.

The result is unsurprising. As noted by scholars A. Kirsten Mullen and William A. Darity Jr., co-authors of “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” data from the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances showed that median Black household net worth averaged $17,600 — a little more than one-tenth of median White net worth. As Mullen and Darity write, “white parents, on average, can provide their children with wealth-related intergenerational advantages to a far greater degree than black parents. When parents offer gifts to help children buy a home, avoid student debt, or start a business, those children are more able to retain and build on their wealth over their own lifetimes.”

Black author and activist Randall Robinson has argued that even laws such as those on affirmative action “will never close the economic gap. This gap is structural. … blacks, even middle-class blacks, have no paper assets to speak of. They may be salaried, but they’re only a few months away from poverty if they should lose those jobs, because … they’ve had nothing to hand down from generation to generation because of the ravages of discrimination and segregation, which were based in law until recently.”

In addition to the discrepancy in inherited wealth, even conservatives should be able to acknowledge that Whites enjoy generational associations in the business world, where who you know often counts more than what you know — a reality based not so much on overt racism as on employment and promotion patterns within old-school networks that Blacks lack the traditional contacts to consistently intersect….

The cost [of reparations] can be debated, along with the mechanics of a compensation package. But in the current drunken haze of government spending, appropriating trillions for the noble purpose of bringing Black Americans who remain economically penalized by the enslavement of their ancestors closer to the fiscal universe of White citizens surely seems less objectionable than some recent spending proposals.

It is a tenet of conservatism that a level playing field is all we should guarantee. But that’s meaningless if one team starts with an unsurmountable lead before play even begins.

It’s not necessary to experience “White guilt” or buy into the notion of “White privilege,” a pejorative that to me suggests Whites possess something they should lose, when in fact such benefits should extend to all. Supporting reparations simply requires a universal agreement to work toward, as Jayapal said, “righting that wrong.”

That’s not what you were expecting, is it? Where to begin?

Glaringly absent from Abernathy’s “analysis” are the main determinants of the vast black-white gaps in income and wealth: Blacks are (on average) less intelligent than whites; two-thirds of all whites in the U.S. are more intelligent than the average black. The lower intelligence of blacks, combined with certain cultural traits, means that (as a group) they can never attain the income and wealth of whites. The insurmountable gap is there because of inborn and inbred differences that have nothing to do with slavery or “Jim Crow” and everything to do with genetic inheritance and deeply rooted cultural traditions.

The wrong of “Jim Crow” is several decades in the past, and the wrong of slavery is in the distant past. Both have as much to do with the present condition of blacks as CO2 has to do with “climate change” — which is to say, almost nothing.

Racism? It cuts both ways, and you ignore that fact at your peril. It takes but a few seconds with a search engine to turn up statistics which show that blacks are much more prone to the commission of violent crimes than are whites (or Hispanics, for that matter). Don’t you suppose that the greater propensity for violence among blacks (which is a reflection of intelligence and culture) has a lot to do with the income and wealth gap? (It also has very much to do with the seemingly greater tendency of blacks to be shot by cops while they, blacks, are committing crimes and resisting arrest.)

A level playing field? Where did Abernathy get that one? A level playing field is where the participants are given the same opportunities to make what they can of their natural endowments. No amount of leveling the playing field will give blacks the same natural endowments as whites when it comes to earning a living. (Athletes and entertainers are among the relatively rare exceptions that don’t change the rule.)

Taking money from whites and giving it to blacks doesn’t level the playing field. It merely penalizes (most) whites for something that isn’t their fault and that can’t be fixed by throwing money at it. (Ditto, “climate change”.)

My own view is that American blacks, on the whole, owe me a large reparation for my “contributions” to various government programs. I am thinking not just of the usual handouts to “welfare queens”, the futile Head Start program, preferential treatment for mortgage loans, subsidies for black-owned businesses, etc., etc. Those are just icing on the cake of Social Security and Medicaid, which are designed to transfer income from those with high earnings to those with low earnings (or none). Then there are the taxes that I pay for “public safety”, which are undoubtedly higher than they would be if blacks comprised a smaller proportion of the populace.

Related page and posts:


Affirmative Action: A Modest Proposal
After the Bell Curve
A Footnote . . .<
Affirmative Action: Two Views from the Academy, Revisited
Crime, Explained Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action
Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications
Evolution and Race
“Wading” into Race, Culture, and IQ
Poverty, Crime, and Big Government
Evolution, Culture, and “Diversity”
The Harmful Myth of Inherent Equality
Crime Revisited Nature, Nurture, and Inequality
Let’s Have That “Conversation” about Race
The IQ of Nations
Race and Social Engineering
More about Intelligence
Nature, Nurture, and Leniency
Racism on Parade
How’s Your (Implicit) Attitude?
Why Race Matters
Is Race a Social Construct?
The Complexity of Race
White Privilege
Less Discrimination Means More Discrimination

Which Labor-Supply Curve?

A labor-supply curve, in economics, is a graphical or mathematical representation of the number of units of labor (work) of a specified kind that will be offered in a specified period of time (hour, day, week, etc.) at various rates of compensation (hourly wage or periodic salary or expected earnings from self-employment, plus the monetary value of benefits such as vacation time, pension contributions, etc.). A supply curve (like a demand curve) is ephemeral, in that it consists of the summation of the supply curves of many persons (or firms), each of which varies widely at a given time and shifts over time.

A person’s labor-supply curve is said to represent the choices that the person would make between work and leisure at various rates of compensation. On the assumption that leisure becomes more attractive than work at some point (i.e., a relatively high wage rate or salary that affords the person more than “enough” on which to live), the labor-supply curve is depicted as backward-bending after that point; that is, the worker will work less as his wage rate rises above the critical point. Graphically:

Figure 1

There are also complications due to unionization and minimum wage laws, both of which tend to set a wage rate that is above the wage that most workers would accept in a one-on-one transaction with an employer or prospective employer. (If unions or governments don’t mean to bargain for or dictate a wage above that which an individual worker could obtain on his own, that would vitiate the main justification for unionization and minimum-wage laws.) In any event, the effect of unionization and minimum wage laws is to deprive many workers of employment; thus:

Figure 2

The preceding relationships, interesting as they are, don’t paint a complete picture of the determinants of a person’s labor-supply curve. They are, perforce, inadequate to the task of explaining how various conglomerations of workers (e.g., unskilled laborers in Texas, pipefitters in Michigan, plastic surgeons in Malibu) will respond to compensation incentives.

For one thing, leisure — in the standard treatment — is a catchall for non-work activities: eating, sleeping, recreation, etc. It is simplistic to bundle those disparate activities. For another thing, most workers these days aren’t affected (directly, at least) by unionization or minimum wage laws. In general, the standard treatments fail to account adequately for other factors that may influence a person’s willingness to work for a give rate of compensation; for example, the perceived need to sustain a certain standard of living by working more to offset a reduction in one’s rate of compensation. I therefore submit the following step-by-step analysis of the labor-supply function, which is more complete and accordingly more complex than the standard treatments.

I will begin at the beginning, though I will refer to Figures 1 and 2 where they apply.

A person’s willingness and ability to perform a certain amount of work (L) of a particular kind is a function of several parameters: C, U, B, X, T, N, S, and E, each of which is defined below. I begin with the basic relationship between L and C, and then introduce the variations due to the other parameters.

C = total net compensation for work. This is the product of net compensation per unit of work (c) and the number of units of work (L). Net compensation is the after-tax, discounted present value of wages/salary and benefits (as perceived by the worker), for a given set of government policies that affect net compensation, directly or indirectly. In a simple labor-supply function, L = f(c), in which W responds positively and monotonically to increases in c; that is, the function is represented by an upward-sloping line (L), where c is measured on the vertical axis and L is measured on the horizontal axis:

Figure 3

(The rectangle bounded by the horizontal and vertical axes and the dashed lines that represent specific numbers of units of work, L1, and net compensation per unit, c1, has an area equal to the total compensation for that combination of c and L, which in this case is C1.)

U = utility or satisfaction derived from consumption and wealth accumulation resulting from work. This is usually depicted as a positive and rising relationship of the kind shown in the preceding graph. That is to say, the standard labor-supply curve is upward-rising because U generally increases as c rises (that is, as L rises) because of improvements in the quantity and quality of goods consumed and the accumulation of wealth (which provides even more access to goods of high quality, greater social standing, etc.). The following parameters complicate this seemingly simple relationship between c and L.

B = the effect of meeting basic necessities on the amount of labor that a worker is willing to offer. One factor that complicates a worker’s labor-supply function is the need to earn enough to cover basic necessities (e.g., minimal food, clothing, and shelter). The worker may be willing to work as much as required to pay for those necessities. For example, if his necessities cost him $100 a week and he can earn $10 an hour, he will be willing to work at least 10 hours a week, but if he can earn only $5 an hour, he will have to work at least 20 hours a week to pay for his basic necessities. It is entirely possible that a person who earns $500,000 a year will consider that amount necessary to meet his basic necessities, and that a change in his earning power or government policies will induce him to work more in order to net $500,000 a year. In any event, here is a depiction of the relevant portion of a labor-supply curve where B prevails:

Figure 4

If the worker is willing and able to deliver his labor beyond L3, his supply function would extend upward and to the right from that point. That is, having satisfied his basic needs, he would then be able to increase his utility by working more hours for higher rates of compensation.

X = the effect of changes in government policies on net compensation per unit of work, and therefore on the number of units of work that a worker will offer at a given rate of net compensation. If a worker has certain basic necessities (e.g., minimal food, clothing, and shelter), he will offer to work at least as much as required to meet those necessities, and may therefore offer to increase the number of units worked in response to X. For example, if the necessities have a cost to him $500 per week, he will offer to work as many hours as necessary to earn net compensation of $500 per week. And if his taxes increase by, say, $50 per week, he will seek additional work in order to offset the tax increase. But, if he is earning more than is required to cover his basic necessities, a tax increase of $50 a week — an effective reduction in his  compensation — will cause him to work less.

In this case, the graph of the relevant portion of the worker’s supply curve would look like Figure 3 or Figure 4, but c would be higher at each point along L; that is, the new supply curve would be above and parallel to the old supply curve.

T = taste for work of a particular kind. T is positive and rising with L if the work itself offers some pleasure to the worker (e.g., a doctor who enjoys helping the sick, an athlete who enjoys his sport for its own sake, a lawyer who revels in argumentation), or negative and declining with L if the worker works only for the compensation because of his distaste for the work (e.g., cleaning toilets, babysitting brats, working for pointy-haired bosses). This “psychic income” or “psychic penalty” raises or lowers the amount of work that the worker is willing to perform for a given rate of compensation (c).

Imagine a person who is capable of performing two different kinds of labor, X and Y. If Figure 3 or Figure 4 refers to X, and if the person has a “taste” for Y, his supply curve will for Y lie below the ones depicted in Figure 3 and 4; that is, he will require less compensation to do Y rather than X.

N = preference for non-work time (which includes leisure and time spent on personal functions such as meeting familial obligations, eating, and sleeping). This is the backward-bending relationship depicted in Figure 1. The portion of the supply curve that runs upward and to the right incorporates the tradeoff between compensation and leisure. But at some threshold value of C, the worker responds to higher c by reducing L. It seems to me that this effect should be depicted in this way:

Figure 5

That is, the worker reaches his “saturation” point at L3 and reduces the amount of work that he does as c rises past c3. In this case, he reduces his work time so that his total compensation remains the same as it was at L3.

S = subsidies that discourage work (e.g., unemployment benefits, “disability” payments, food stamps, subsidized housing). Where these are available to a worker, they reduce the amount of work that he is willing to do because they enable him to attain a given U without working. T may be positive and offsetting, but this is unlikely among workers who qualify for subsidies. The S effect pushes the supply curve upward; that is, less labor is offered for a given rate of compensation.

E = external forces that limit the amount of labor that a person is able to offer. There are at least two significant forces of this kind. One is the effect of laws and regulations that dictate the maximum amount of work that may be performed (e.g., zero in the case of most children under the age of 16) or the rate of compensation that must be paid (e.g., the minimum wage, overtime pay for persons in certain occupations). The other major force is the effect of employer-union contracts that dictate rates of compensation and hours of work that cannot possibly reflect the uncoerced preferences of many (or most) individual workers. (E, in its various manifestations, is treated in standard economics by overlaying “floors” or “ceilings” on the labor-supply curve.)

Figure 2 depicts this effect.

In conclusion, a labor-supply curve — even that of one person — can be a complex function, and one that responds in various ways to parameters other than the utility that is gained (or lost) by working more (or less). It is hard to imagine that a meaningful supply curve can be drawn for whole classes of workers. To draw such a curve, the workers must be rather homogeneous in their skills, their tastes (for leisure and other things), their wealth (which can strongly influence one’s willingness to perform certain kinds of work), and their exposure to various governmental policies (unionization, minimum wage laws, etc.). The fluidity of the labor market in the age of the “gig economy” supports my view.

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.

Why Not Confiscate Automobiles?

It is obvious that the aim of “gun control” is the confiscation of all privately owned firearms in the United States. There will be exceptions for private security forces who protect well-heeled leftists, of course.

Why is “gun control” such a visceral issue for leftists? Well, there’s the usual leftist urge to control things, especially “risky” things. This is compounded by leftists’ aversion to things that are associated with masculinity, and which have (male) sexual connotations. (Guns shoot bullets — very Freudian.) Leftists of my acquaintance really do have a visceral aversion to guns. It’s on a par with an aversion to broccoli, which is equally irrational.

Which leaves me with this question: If deaths from gunfire are so horrendous to contemplate, what about deaths from automobile accidents — which claim more lives? (It wouldn’t even be close if suicides by gun weren’t counted — and they shouldn’t be, in this context. We’re talking about people who take the lives of other people.)

Well, in fact the very same leftists who want to confiscate guns also want to force people to use bicycles and public transit. That’s why leftist-controlled cities are rife with bike lanes and light-rail networks (or plans for them). That’s why leftists are so keen on taxes that penalize the ownership and operation of automobiles. (Which doesn’t bother rich leftists, who own fleets of gas-guzzlers.)

So leftists are trying to confiscate automobiles (just not their own).

This Is Military Wisdom?

There’s a new book on the market, New Principles of War: Enduring Truths with Timeless Examples. Its author is a retired analyst of military operations. Given his quantitative training and accomplishments as an analyst, one would expect more than pap. In fact, the jacket blurbs would lead the prospective reader to expect deep, compelling, and novel insights into the conduct of war; for example:

“This is a fascinating book most useful for the practitioner and student of war, with many ideas also applicable to other competitive activities such as business. Marvin Pokrant gives us multiple historical vignettes that illustrate the good and the bad of principles of war from around the world and make a compelling case for significant revisions. Highly recommended!”—Col. John A. Warden III, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), and president of Venturist, Inc.

“Marvin Pokrant has masterfully distilled historical and international writings about the conduct of war and uses many historical examples to develop his new principles of war. I believe they form an important resource for study by both the professional military and our national security leadership.”—Adm. Henry H. Mauz Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.)

“The principles of war: prescription for battlefield success or dangerous mental straitjacket? Marvin Pokrant’s seminal exploration of the fundamentals of warfare that have been taught around the globe for generations is sure to engage and provoke. And in these dangerous times we need to rigorously challenge our preconceptions. This book does just that.”—Sean M. Maloney, PhD, professor of history at the Royal Military College

“All active-duty military officers should read this book. It would be perfect as a text at military war colleges. People dealing with strategic studies and national security will find this book valuable due to its suggestions of new principles to guide American military efforts. Readers of military history will find this work interesting because of the numerous historical examples.”—Phil E. DePoy, PhD, former president of the Center for Naval Analyses and founding director of the Wayne E. Meyer Institute for Systems Engineering, Naval Postgraduate School

“Marvin Pokrant’s New Principles of War is an excellent examination of the development of the principles of war throughout history and how they have differed over time and among countries. . . . If you are a student of military thought, this work is a must-read and will be a welcome addition to your library.”—Michael A. Palmer, PhD, author of Command at Sea: Naval Command and Control since the Sixteenth Century

I was therefore expecting something more than banalities. But that, in the end, is what the book delivered. Here are some key passages from the book’s concluding chapter:

Because objectives guide all military operations, commanders should put a lot of thought into selecting and prioritizing them.

Commanders should seek battle under conditions of the greatest possible relative advantage.

Commanders should seek to keep enemies so busy meeting threats that they have no time for their own schemes.

Commanders should take active measures to assure [that] everyone understands the overall purpose of an operation. They should demand [that] subordinates cooperate with each other to attain unity of effort.

Surprise can gain the initiative and a relative advantage, but the strongest effect of surprise is often its moral effect on the enemy. [As if the “moral effect” were always negative. But remember the Maine, and remember Pearl Harbor.]

The goal of deception should be to cause the enemy to act in a specific manner that you can exploit.

All forces should have good situational awareness of the location of friendly forces. [Awareness of the location of enemy forces is helpful, too.]

To defeat your enemy, you must learn as much as you can about your enemy.

The environment is often a decisive factor.

With my corrections, these are useful points to keep in mind when thinking about how to conduct a military operations. But why did it take the author some 300 pages (in the paperback version) to arrive at them. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, the classic of this genre, is rated at 96 pages in the hardcover edition. It would be much shorter than that without the front and back matter, the illustrations, the large typeface, the wide margins, and the ample line spacing (leading, in printer’s parlance).

New Principles of War is much ado about the obvious.