I’m Curious

Is there someone out there, anywhere, who read this:

…and thought “Hmmm – government is clearly not working for my family, and the “Inflation Reduction Act is clearly a turd that will raise prices…

but he ended it with the word “Period”.

Hmmm.

He must be onto something”?

Think “Walz Checks”, Only Gassy

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Modern Monetary Theory says the government can borrow and spend as much as it likes without consequences. If we can afford a gas tax holiday, why not an income tax holiday, a social security tax holiday, a liquor tax holiday?

Or is MMT a lie and the gas tax holiday simply at attempt at buying votes with taxpayer money?

Joe Doakes

It is, of course, a purely academic exercise, like so much of the policy big left has been foisting on this country for the past hundred years and change.

Resetting The Reset

Green, “sustainable” energy policies that make middle class live unsustainable.

Transitioning from houses to apartments, from cars to mass transit.

Moving from meat to vegetables, with maybe some insect thrown in as a treat.

Hyperinflation, which serves mainly to make common savings and investment worthless, but does wonders for the wealth of the plutocrats, “futurists” and pols – who will give up no cars, houses, yachts ,warmth or food.

Seems like the “new world order” looks a lot like the old, pre-1776 world order, doesn’t it?

Victor Davis Hanson – perhaps more optimistic than I feel at the moment – in a piece you should read. Pull quote:

So a reset reckoning is coming—in reaction to the “new orders” championed by Biden and the Davos set. 

In the November 2022 midterms, we are likely to see a historic “No!” to the orthodox left-wing agenda that has resulted in unsustainable inflation, unaffordable energy, war, and humiliation abroad, spiraling crime, racial hostility—and arrogant defiance from those who deliberately enacted these disastrous policies. 

What will replace it is a return to what until recently had worked. 

I hope he’s right. The boundless stupidity of the “send me more stimmies” set – whose votes count just as much as those of smart people – serves as the counterexhibit.

Decisions

A friend of the blog emails:

Neil Young’s Unknown Legend, one of my all time favorite songs, came up on my playlist.

It’s been, geez, two or three weeks now. I’m not sure if I’m not supposed to listen to Neil or not.

(Name Redacted)

One of the greatest aphorisms about music Dash art, really – Asia “ love the art, ignore the artist”. And I figure, once the song goes out into the world, it belongs to us (subject to copyright and intellectual property), not them.

But it is getting to the point where it’s hard to tell what you are, and are not, supposed to support if you want your dollar to stop working for the enemy.

For example, a certain brand of razor blades (which shall remain unnamed for purposes of this post) was a revelation to me when I first discovered it; I actually enjoyed shaving for the first time in my adult life.

Now, I happen to like this particular brand of razors every bit as much as I like Michael Knowles (who is an excellent writer, but kind of ok as a talkradio host) – so I was relieved to see that this particular brand of razor still sponsors other conservative talk radio, and I wasn’t going to have to go out into a razor market dominated by “woke “brands like Gillette to try and find a new brand of blades.

Stuck On Stupid

With Denmark and Sweden tripling down on the free market and abandoning draconian Covid regulations, the longing eyes of the world’s “Social Democrat” noodlers have turned to New Zealand’s. Jacinda Ardern.

She ran a very hawkish “Lockdown” regime in 2020, drawing the admiration of a lot of Mascists – as if they could replicate the lockdown of a country with a population 20% smaller than Minnesota’s, with land area 25% larger, isolated from all other land by a thousand miles, able to cut itself off from the world by closing a couple ports and a few gates at the Wellington airport.

Has it worked? Time’ll tell.

But she’s got more government gigantism in mind:

So – if you’re a smuggler, run an organized crime syndicate, or just like making money off of government-induced shortages?

Opportunity is knocking!

I’d respond “these people never learn from history”, but assuming they would would paradoxically mean I haven’t learned from history.

This Is What “Building Back Better” Looks Like

Black unemployment, after hitting historic lows under “the most racist president ever”, is bouncing back up under Corn Pop’s pal:

Of course, the last jobs report produced about 1/3 the jobs expected. l

But at least things are going swimmingly along the Mexico border and in Afghanistan…

Hope I Die Before I Get…Young

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who for the past 57 years or so, tees off on the “Woke” generation:

“The woke generation — it’s terrifying, the miserable world they’re going to create for themselves,” the rocker said in a recent interview with DJ Zane Lowe on Apple Music.

“I mean, anyone who’s lived a life — and you see what they’re doing — you just know that it’s a route to nowhere, especially when you’ve lived through the periods of a life that we’ve had the privilege to,” Daltrey added. “I mean, we’ve had the golden era. There’s no doubt about that.”

The English rock legend went on to point out the differences between “the woke generation” and generations of the past, noting, “we came out of a war,” and have actually “seen the communist system fail” firsthand.

“But we came out of a war, we came out of a leveled society, completely flattened bomb sites and everything,” Daltrey said. “And we’ve been through socialist governments. We’ve seen the communist system fail in the Soviet Union. I’ve been in those communist countries while they were communist.”

“I’ve seen how ‘wonderful’ — really? — it was,” the rocker added, sarcastically.

People today forget, or never knew, that after UK went full-bore Labour at the end of World War 2, it subsequently took them nine years to end war-time food rationing. And while the food situation gradually improved, once “rebuilding” ended, the rest of the economy went in the tank.

Also – not bad for a guy that’s gonna be eighty in the next few years.

Planet Of The Humans, Part 0

I spent a lot of time thinking about this scene last week:

I first started paying serious attention to politics in about 1980. Like a lot of high school kids, then and now, I was somewhere out on what would be called “the left”; I wrote a platform for North Dakota Boys State (a statewide mock government program put on by the decidedly conservative American Legion) that called for systematic redistribution of wealth, abolishing nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament, and a whole bunch of stuff that would be pretty mainstream among the Bernie Bros today.

Three years later, due to the good graces of my English professor, Dr. Jim Blake, I had re-evaluated most of my assumptions. I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, and never really looked back.

And I had no reason to. None of us did. Although the history books, all being written from the perspective of the Left, will never admit it, the two decades from 1980 to 2000 were, objectively, the last American Golden Age. I’ll squeak out an optimistic coda and add “so far”, but I’ll be honest – I haven’t been feeling it, but I’m a firm believer in acting like you want to feel, and so there is is. “So far”.

I’ll come back to that.

There’s no denying it was one of the high points of American history. We led an economic surge that brought more wealth to more people than any in history. We, as a nation, led a political surge that led to the collapse of one of the most evil regimes in history (although not the other one – so far).

Maybe it’s just the perspective of one guy’s lifetime – but I suspect you’d have to look long and hard to find a place and time when it was generally better to be a human.

Not just in material terms, but in terms of the tension between freedom and order, one of the hardest things about running a self-governing society, being in relative balance – and, more importantly, the general commitment to the system and process that kept all those moving parts in balance.

And it’s been downhill from there.

The arc from Morning in America in 1980 to last week’s skirmish at the Capitol – which, loathe as I am to come even close to Democrat chanting points, was a form of coup, not against President-Elect Biden, but against the states’ constitutional power to select electors – peaked…somewhere in the late ’90s – when one of the glories of the American system, gridlocked government, combined with a Peace Dividend brought about by the end of the Cold War (thanks, President Reagan), led to an outburst of technological, entrepreneurial and market power that brought so much wealth, and security, and general well-being, to so many people that it may have been as close to a uptopia, in some ways, as humanity can get. Because of the gridlock in government.

Somewhere between 1998 and 2005, things started to turn back south again. It’d be easy to point to the polarization of American politics, starting with the various Clinton scandals, through the fiasco of the 2000 election, the near-decade of squabbling over the War on Terror and the 2008 government-caused financial meltdown, as the cause – but it went in parallel with a lot of other changes in our nation’s political, moral and social lives that have led to their…

…I was going to say “culmination” last week at the Capitol. But of course, that’s not true. Last week’s sorry episode was, like last summer’s riots, and the social back and forth that gave us Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Trump himself, and the movements that supported them all in a way that was increasingly “un-American” (I’m still claiming a meaning for that term), and if you think that was the peak, or trough, or any sort of ending to the story, you just haven’t paid attention to 20,000 years of human nature.

So let’s not call it a culmination. Let’s call it a checkpoint, on a path that may be going up, or down, but control over which We The People need to take before the phrase “We The People” is forever relegated to the museum.

How have we gotten from the peak of Western Civilization to…this, in my adult lifetime?

Let’s talk about it.

We’ll start with President Trump, next.

But we’re damn sure not going to finish with him.

“Julia”

Anyone remember “Julia”?

The Obama campaign’s infantiolization of the American voter?

This video from Kamala Harris makes “Julia” look like John Galt:

This is what Joe Biden is a delivery system for.

Orwell Was A Pollyanna, Part MCLXII

Freedom is slavery.

Truth is lies.

And, to Los Angeles Democrats – in this case, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti – homelessness is prosperity:

Babylon Bee can’t keep up anymore.

Labor Day

It’s Labor Day – a transfer of wealth in the form of about .004% of most companies’ payroll to workers, given as a sop to organized unions at the height of their powers – a transfer I happily accept, like most of you, every year.

I’ll pay homage to the date with my own sojourn through the world of organized labor; my semester teaching at a local MNSCU university.

When I signed up, I was given a choice – pay $120 to the MNSCU faculty union, the “Inter-Faculty Organization” (IFO), or pay $108 for “Fair Share”, ostensibly my portion of the union’s negotiation efforts. I figured eight dollars was a worthwhile trade for a lifetime of being able to virtue-signal my DFL friends about being “a union guy”, and I paid it gladly.

As part of on-boarding, I had to attend a union orientation session.

There, the school’s shop steward – an English professor who as I recall was actually in a classroom 3-6 hours a week gave us an update on the concessions he’d wrung from the – I’m not making this up – “bosses” at MNSCU, his tone growing more impassioned, his face turning just a little bit red, a vein starting to bulge on his neck, like he was a Wobbly talking to iron miners in the 1910s about putting a safety cage on their elevator.

So – with all due respect to the union organizers who actually did make a difference with workers back when life actually was nasty, brutish and short (as opposed to some of the efforts we see today), enjoy the day.

As We Wait, And Wait, And Wait, For The “Inevitable Tsunami Or Right-Wing Violence”, Part MCMLXI

Modern Democrats, told “dial back some of the Gulag-y, Stalin-y, Black Maria-y talk”, respond…

like leftists always have:

After the New Hampshire Democratic debate on Friday night, MSNBC host Chris Matthews uttered high heresy against the Bernie Sanders movement by remembering the Cold War and the threat of socialist and communist executions. He warned that if Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War, “there would have been executions in Central Park, and I might have been one of the ones getting executed.” As if to demonstrate the truth of this statement, Bernie Bros got #FireChrisMatthews trending on Twitter…”A lot of this will be sorting this out if the Democratic Party runs a socialist candidate. That’s a change to the Democratic Party,” Matthews continued. He did not condemn the expansion of social programs, which he firmly distinguished from socialism. “The Democratic Party’s been to the left of the Republican Party on the issue of mixed capitalism, more social programs. They push Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, enormously popular programs. I think ACA/Obamacare, I wish they’d follow through with it, make it work. I think most Americans would be happy with … a public option” in health care.

Watch for burnings of The Gulag Archipelago and 1984 before too terribly long.

Ilhan Omar – Libertarian Heroine

Rep. Omar on Twitter yesterday:

There’s hope here!

If your healthcare, tuition and housing are “Free” (ergo, paid by me, the taxpayer who gets none of those benefits), I am your slave, and being a slaveholder is a moral burden on you as well.

I’m pretty sure Rep. Omar didn’t intend it that way, of course – as her droogs make pretty clear in the thread (and if there’s a 2020’s analogue to “never read the comment section”, it’s gotta be “never read the thread of someone with a blue checkmark).

But you never know.

Maybe Omar will finally get into trouble with Squad leadership for this gaffe…

And They Say Progs Are Illiterate About Economics…

Portland voters impose a 1% “clean energy” tax on large and big-box businesses.

And are then outraged that those businesses pass the costs on to customers.

Emphasis added:

Terry Wiesner stared down at his Safeway grocery store receipt in confusion in mid-September after he noticed being charged an extra 3 cents for buying a package of $2.99 napkins. The 3 cent charge was listed as a tax.
He called over a store attendant while still in the self-checkout line at the Southeast Woodstock Boulevard branch and asked about the charge. The worker pointed to a laminated sign nearby.
Portland instituted a voter-approved clean energy surcharge in January, imposing a 1 percent tax on paper products, wine, beer, household items and other products, the sign said. The surcharge began appearing on Safeway customers’ receipts on Sept. 9 and people should contact the City of Portland if they had any concerns, according to the notice.
“I didn’t remember voting for any kind of tax,” said Wiesner, 74. “I later learned that this was meant to be a tax on businesses, not the people. Frankly, it just made me angry. It wasn’t about the 3 cents, it’s about the spirit of this charge and how it’d been passed off to me.”

To be fair, it’s entirely possible this has been passed off as something that’d “just affect business”; Portland, like Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Duluth and now Rochester, is run by people who’ve never worked outside public employment, non-profits or academia.

Clap For Service

Told my wife we should get The Clapper so she doesn’t have to get out of bed to shut off the lights when I’m done reading. She scoffed – do they even make those anymore?
Yes.  Amazon.  $17.  Order by 6:00 on Friday, guaranteed delivery on Sunday.  Seriously?  How is that possible? 
Yes, I understand they have a 850,000 square foot warehouse in Shakopee, a building as big as my entire city block. But surely they must prioritize inventory?  Amazon updates its list of “Most Popular Items on Amazon” hourly, so I can keep up with the Jones.  Obviously, they’d have a huge inventory of in-demand items.
But how much demand can there possibly be for The Clapper?  And yet they have them in stock locally for two day delivery?  Unbelievable.  There’s a reason Amazon is kicking every other retailer’s a**.  It’s called “Customer Service.”
Joe Doakes

And yet, someday, just like Microsoft, Time/Warner/AOL, IBM, AOL, General Motors and US Steel, something will come along to knock it off the top of the heap.

Making Housing Affordable By Making It Unattainable

Minneapolis passed a “renter protection” ordinance last week that’ll hamstring landlords trying to do even the most basic due diligence about potential tenants:

The renter’s protection ordinance prevents landlords from using old criminal or housing records to deny applicants. Specifically, an applicant cannot be denied if they have a misdemeanor conviction older than three years, a felony record dating back seven years, and more serious offenses that occurred 10-plus years ago. Landlords also lose the use of a credit score during the screening process and there is a new cap on security deposits at one month’s rent.

I can see giving people a break on criminal records after a long-enough time keeping one’s nose clean.

On the other hand, I don’t think the City of Minneapolis is the one to plop an arbitrary figure on how long it takes a criminal to be a safe risk…

…for someone else’s investment.

Previously, property owners could look at someone’s criminal and credit history before renting to them, sometimes going back a decade. Renters said mistakes of the past should not affect their future, especially something from 10 or 20 years ago. 

In the 1960s, New York City instituted “Renter Protections” – rent control, making evictions for cause nearly impossible, onerous regulations on landlords – that caused the stock of “affordable housing” to become unsustainable; as landlords abandoned or sold out cheaper properties, housing either became unlivably awful and abandone, or sustainable but only affordable by the wealthy.

San Francisco followed suit; there is little between great wealth and grinding poverty.

Sounds like a fine plan, Minneapolis. You’re in good hands.

Gerbils For Freedom

My granddaughter is on vacation this week in Wisconsin Dells, so Grandma and I are gerbil-sitting. I remember gerbils from the olden days, they were just rats that lived in a big cage and made noise all night. Nowadays, they have a space-age plastic entertainment complex, with a menu of carefully selected natural foods and colorful blocks of wood, scientifically selected from the best species to promote rodent tooth health and avoid chemicals that may be hazardous.
That stupid rat lives better than I do, and vastly better than people in Venezuela, not to mention the free-range rats living in my attic. When did pets become bling?
I suppose I shouldn’t complain. At least she hasn’t declared it to be her emotional support animal, so I can prohibit her from bringing it in the car.
Joe Doakes

When you think about it? Gerbils have gotta be thankful for the blessings of the free market. Not only do they live better than “citizens” (subjects) in Venezuela, but in fact they’re pretty much food down there these days.

Misdiagnosed

Interesting article in the WaPo on San Francisco; its title suggests its current situation
“breaks America’s heart”,
which is a fine play on Tony Bennett, but doesn’t really reflect the contempt most Americans outside the tech industry and politics have for the place.

The city is in the midst of collapsing, not so much from wealth, or even the “prog” boogeyman “income disparity” or even the lack of a middle class, but from the complete unaffordability by anyone who isn’t either wealthy or heavily subsidized by the wealthy.

And of course, San Franciscans -the people who voted for the government that led them here – are the last to understand why:

“This is unregulated capitalism, unbridled capitalism, capitalism run amok. There are no guardrails,” says Salesforce founder and chairman Marc Benioff, a fourth-generation San Franciscan who in a TV interview branded his city “a train wreck.”

First – and something of a tangent – Salesforce sucks.

More on-point? “Capitalism” only “runs amok” when it’s got government paving its way – with zoning, taxes and social policies designed to promote some groups over others, to bring “the right people” and promote “the right kind…” of society, life, politics. It is leading the way – but hardly alone – in proving Joel Kotkin’s point from ten years ago; cities are becoming donuts, with a core of immense wealthy surrounded by immense poverty, largely via government policy.

Unbridled capitalism gave us…Williston.

Your Lying Ledger

A “Shoprite” store in Philadelphia is closing due to Philadelphia’s pop tax. 

Or so says the owners – someone with years of experience in the field, for what that’s worth:

Store owner Jeff Brown says this location has lost approximately 25 percent of its business over the last two years because of the tax on soda and sweetened drinks. 

The city, not to be “Mansplained”…er, “Bossplained?” “Enterepreneursplained?” Anyway, not to be taken to task by a mere prole, the city responded:

The mayor’s office responded with a lengthy statement pushing back against Brown.
“It is no surprise that Mr. Brown has decided to scapegoat the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, but neither he nor the beverage industry have yet to present any evidence that the tax has had any impact on sales. Here’s evidence to the contrary: an ongoing study by three of the most reputable academic institutions in the nation (Harvard University, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania) finds the beverage tax has not affected overall store sales, contrary to other public claims by this supermarket chain.”
Brown says the 111 employees will be transferred to his 12 other supermarkets.

Anyone but me suspect hat Mr. Brown’s going to get an audit letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue sometime soon here?

Up next: a Harvard Study on how taxes have nothing to do with “Food Deserts”, no way, no how.

Marginal Knowledge

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The New Hotness wants higher income tax rates.  The Left says it’s sensible and there’s historical precedent.
The trouble with historical precedent is picking the right precedent.  College students who drink until they vomit could point to Rome, the pinnacle of civilization at the time, where vomitoria were provided in public entertainment venues.  So that makes it alright?   No.
Similarly, picking a time when America was the world economic superpower and capital investment had nowhere else to go, doesn’t mean that high earners today would find their wages captured by higher tax rates.  Rich people are rich, they’re not stupid.  They can move to low-tax venues.  They can shelter their incomes.  They can lobby for loopholes that only they can afford. 
The only way to ensure that everybody pays their “fair share” is to fully embrace Communism:  from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.  But getting ordinary people into that mental state will require a period of socialization, during which the recalcitrant, deplorable, bitter clingers are identified and sent for re-education in the far North, or sent to farm the land by hand, or buried in mass graves.  And who will decide who lives and who dies? 

But the fact that it used to be the status quo back when the US was the world’s only functional economy (with ample tax shelters provided for the fabulously wealthy, like Ocasio Cortez’s benefactors) makes it “moderate”, to Big Left.

Surely There Must Be Some Mistake

Remember the old joke about the New York Times?  “Tsunami wipes out Manhattan.  Women and Minorities Hardest Hit?”

The Arby’s that’s been cranking out the rubbery beef, the crunchy chicken and the gloriously addictive potato cakes (that I can’t touch anymore) in downtown Minneapolis for a solid quarter century picked up and vanished like a carnival tent a few weeks ago.  It was the last nationwide fast-food restaurant in downtown.  All the rest – McDonald’s, BK, Wendy’s, Taco Bell – have long disappeared.   There are a few Subways, at least one Jimmy Johns,

The reasons are between the lines – rising rents and, ahem, rising labor costs (Minneapolis has high mandatory minimum wages and compulsory sick time for part-time workers).   They also blame the tsunami of food trucks that line the streets downtown from March through October.

But Minneapolis has become a place where it’s easy to get lunch for $9-15, but very, very hard to find anything below $7.   Arby’s was one of the last of them.

And so it seems that after years of trying to stigmatize and economically hobble Big Fast Food, they’ve gotten their wish…

…but, naturally, the usual suspects are the ones taking it on the chin:

Remaining food options are generally more expensive, pricing out low-wage workers and the homeless, who often gravitate toward city centers. Arby’s was one of the last places in downtown Minneapolis with a sandwich and fries for $5.

“I wondered why they closed, because they were so economical,” Marva Overton, a downtown worker, said as she bought a sandwich last week at Twin City Bites next to the former Arby’s. “It was so cheap to eat there and that was helpful to a lot of people.”

I recommend the Sicilian olives ($2.50 for a one-pound tub) at Sorrento Cucina.