Let That Cycle Spin

Leftist parties in Europe are facing declining membership, electoral routs, and a general malaise:

The sick list is headed by Britain’s Labour Party, where veteran radical Jeremy Corbyn last week easily won a leadership challenge by centrist MPs angry at his part in the shock Brexit vote.

But political analysts say the venerable party — founded in 1900 — faces electoral oblivion despite his victory.

Its dismal standing in the opinion polls is mirrored across Europe.

As with Labour, Spain’s Socialist Party is in the grip of a fratricidal war over the performance of its leader, Pedro Sanchez, at a time of national crisis.

In Germany, the Social Democratic Party has lost half its members since 1998.

In France, President Francois Hollande is the most unpopular president in his country’s modern history and would be routed if he stands in next year’s presidential elections, according to opinion polls.

Centre-left parties recently lost power in Denmark, a stronghold of social democracy, and registered their worst-ever results in Finland and Poland. In Greece, support for the once dominant Pasok has plunged to just six percent.

“Social democracy is a shadow of itself,” German political analyst Albrecht von Lucke said on NDR television channel. “We are dealing with decline of historic proportions.”

The bad news?  While the center right and populist parties are benefitting, many near-left voters are moving even further left.

The Economics Of Duh

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals think 2% inflation is a good thing, it keeps the economy growing.

That’s insane.

The definition of “money” is “a store of value.”  The whole point of using a monetary system instead of a barter system is to maintain the

value of money.  Inflation erodes the value of money.

If there’s 2% inflation and you get no cost-of-living adjustment in your wages, then at the end of the year you can buy 2% less stuff because the

money you earn isn’t enough to buy the same amount of stuff at the new, higher prices.  Everybody knows this but they accept it because we’re

conditioned to accept it.

Suppose instead there was 0% inflation, but your employer cut your wages 2% each year.  End result would be the same – the smaller amount money

you earn isn’t enough to buy the same amount of stuff.  But would people shit a brick?  Damned right.  They’re working just as long, just as

hard, but they’re losing ground.

To me, it’s so obvious I want to scream.  How can Liberals not see this?

Joe Doakes

“Liberal economist” is another word for “economic phrenologist”.

Gotta Hand It To The Brazilians

The Brazilians just finished impeaching their first female leader, Dilma Rousseff, for corruption.

As Kevin Williamson points out, her corruption was pennies on the American “Progressive” dollar; the sort of creative accounting that the left (has been foisting on the American public for decades (with the connivance of way too many Republicans in DC, naturally), and why it, at this point, really matters anyway:

Corruption leads to poverty. It leads to poverty in Brazil, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles, in Upstate New York, and in the Rio Grande Valley. Capitalism — the awesome productive capacity of free people — can bear many burdens and defray many costs, but it can be perverted and misdirected, too. From the state-run enterprises in Brazil and Venezuela to the green-energy fantasies of U.S. progressives, we see that the real threat to capitalism is not domination but seduction. Brazil seems to be hearing that gospel. We refuse to listen.

Is it because the media wouldn’t call Hillary (or any) Clinton “corrupt” if they caught her walking out of Fort Knox with a stack of gold bars in her purse?  Or because Americans favor the corruption – the looting of the public treasury – that benefits them?

We’ll see – sooner than later:

In November, the people of the United States almost certainly are going to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton their next president. Like Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, she will be the first woman to hold the office. Like Dilma Rousseff, she is an old-fashioned party-machine pol who is deeply and consistently corrupt, habitually dishonest, funny with money, and prompt to dismiss any and all efforts at holding her to some basic standard of decency and accountability as — remember the words, which could have been Rousseff’s — “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” We had to impeach the president the last time we had the poor national judgment to send a member of this hilljack crime syndicate to the White House, and Mrs. Clinton already has been acting as a one-woman crime wave when it comes to the laws that regulate how sensitive government information is handled and how official communications are archived for the purposes of accountability and oversight. Mrs. Clinton has argued that this all stems from her being too stupid to understand how to operate a mobile phone: “I used one device,” Mrs. Clinton lied. (She used many and has a talent for nesting lies within her lies.)

Americans may one day – soon – envy the corrupt, malarial hellhole that had the common sense to show at least one member of that class the door.


A Rhetorical Question

MINNESOTA CONSERVATIVE:  If a conservative, libertarian or Republican gets hit, spit on and otherwise attacked, and no media reports on it, did it really happen?

MINNESOTA LIBERAL:  If what happened to who?  Huh?

MINNESOTA CONSERVATIVE:  I said, if a conservative, libertarian or Republican gets hit, spit on and otherwise attacked, and no media reports on it, did it really happen?

MINNESOTA LIBERAL:  If what happened to who?  Again, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

MINNESOTA CONSERVATIVE:  Well, you got that part right


So it looks like all the people who were caterwauling about doom and gloom for British trade in the wake of the “brexit” were unreservedly correct, and the English economy is going to spiral into the toilet like an airplane missing both wings…

… I’m sorry. I got something caught in my throat. As I was trying to say, the lesson is clear: without the guidance of “experts” who’ve never run a business, and whose entire frame of reference is nothing but being bureaucrats, a sovereign peoples’ hopes of a decent living or just wind and sales…

…hopes of a decent living are just wind and sales…

… No, that’s just something in my throat still…

… Oh, who am I kidding?   It’s been less than two weeks, and countries are lining up to cut trade deals with Britain, independent of the EU.

Why, it’s almost as if all those jeremiads from the wonks, and the wannabee wonks in the media, the American and European left, and National Public Radio, we’re just trying to scare people into acquiescence with the wishes of their self-appointed betters or something.

Cop Resident

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is buying topsoil at Kern Landscaping in Saint Paul.    Busily loading his car, he doesn’t notice Avery LIBRELLE climbing out of an oil-belching Subaru wagon to make a deposit.  

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  If we elect Hillary, we’ll get Bill Clinton for co-president!

BERG:  So?

LIBRELLE:  That means the economy will boom!

BERG:  Wait – didn’t NPR tell me the economy is already booming?

LIBRELLE:  It’ll boom even more!

BERG:  OK.  So we’ll get Bill Clinton.  Will we also get Newt Gingrich?

LIBRELLE:  No.  Why?  Hisssssssssssssss!

BERG:  Because it was the Gingrich Congress’s enforcement of fiscal discipline on the Clinton Administration after the 1994 Republican Wave that kept the Feds out of the way of the economic boom.  By the way, speaking of boom – will there be any empires falling, paving the way for a massive transfer of resources from the military?


BERG:  The “Peace Dividend”.  When the USSR collapsed – thanks to Ronald Reagan – the US was able to move a lot of defense spending to civilian uses.  Which dumped a ton of money, skill and technology into the civilian market.   Which led, after a brief recession, to the beginning of a boom that ran until 9/11.

So – if Hillary plans to bring back a conservative Congress and has another “peace dividend” in her purse, we might have ourselves a deal.

LIBRELLE:  (Stands, mutely flapping jaw)

BERG:  Have a nice day, Avery.


I’m No Longer From The Government, And I’m Here To Help

There is an actual, credible move underway to privatize air-traffic control (ATC) – a long-overdue move to modernize a system where government’s hide-bound, politically-driven intellectual sclerosis isn’t merely slow, annoying and exquisitely expensive, but directly threatens lives:

Air-traffic control (ATC) is operated by the Federal Aviation Administration and funded by a combination of aviation taxes and a subsidy from general revenues. Ever since the Reagan administration, the FAA has been trying to modernize the ATC system, taking advantage of new technology to unclog the congested airways. Yet the system still relies on 1960s technology: radar instead of GPS to keep track of planes, paper flight strips with handwritten changes instead of electronic data on controllers’ screens, and unreliable voice radio instead of digital communication. Tens of billions have been spent on new computer systems and minor technology upgrades, but three decades of reports by the GAO and the Department of Transportation’s inspector general have documented repeated cost overruns and late deliveries and an ever-receding target date for true modernization.

The push isn’t new:

Dating back to Reagan’s transportation secretary, Jim Burnley, a growing consensus has emerged that air-traffic control is better viewed as a 24/7 high-tech service business than as a tax-funded, federally subsidized bureaucracy. National commissions, think-tank reports, and industry studies have all reached this conclusion, but reform efforts have gotten nowhere in Congress — until this year. In February, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a bill that would remove the Air Traffic Organization (the operational arm of the FAA) from the FAA and reconstitute it as a self-funded, nonprofit, private company. It would be governed by a board representing all segments of aviation and regulated for safety — at arm’s length — by the remaining FAA, just as that agency regulates airports, airlines, and private pilots.

Read the entire article – which notes that many of the other nations that both the left and right admire have done the same, with great success (and arrested and diminishing cost (!) in recent years.

And then stop and think – where else would this work?

Swedish Style

The things Bernie Sanders – and, to be fair, every single one of his American supporters – miss about Scandinavian socialism today (as opposed to the seventies-era variety that Sanders seems to think still applies), via Johan Norberg:

“Sanders is right: America would benefit hugely from modeling her economic and social policies after her Scandinavian sisters. But Sanders should be careful what he wishes for. When he asks for ‘trade policies that work for the working families of our nation and not just the CEOs of large, multi-national corporations,’ Social Democrats in Sweden would take this to mean trade liberalization — which would have the benefit of exposing monopolist fat cats to competition — not the protectionism that Sanders favors. … Being more like modern Sweden actually means deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bernie.”

If there’s one thing the American left can build, it’s shatterproof intellectual bubbles.

It’s Always Sunny In Gøteborg

It’s nothing new for America’s pollyannaish, historically-and-economically illiterate left to jabber “why can’t we try Scandinavian-style ‘Democratic Socialism?’  What do they have that we don’t?”

The  correct answer is “they have small countries – about the same population as Minnesota – with socially, ethnically and economically-homogenous societies (seriously – ethnic and social homogeneity is so ingrained in Scandinavian society, they have a word for it – Janteloven) with traditions of simultaneously-uplifting-and-suffocating communitarianism dating back hundreds of years”.

You could also add “…and a willingness to reassess how their sustainable their systems actually are in the real world“, which is something the American left flops at.


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Obama apparently had so much fun during the original Housing Bubble, he’s setting up another.

President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.

Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.

Read:  Again, the government will socialize the risk, while privatizing the rewards.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Just returned from a trip where I met a couple from Canada, dairy farmers who milk 150 head.  They couldn’t understand why Americans would support Sanders.
It seems the political party that dominated their province was conservative until a “Tax The Rich Corporations” party won and raised corporate taxes in order to lighten the load on the middle class.  Corporations are rich, they’re not stupid, so they moved out, taking their jobs with them, leaving a budget shortfall that required raising taxes on the middle class, who are now worse off because greed blinded their common sense.
Gee, where have I heard that one before?
Joe Doakes

We have a generation of voters who don’t remember the lessons of socialism in Eastern Europe.

Or Cuba.

Or Argentina.

Or Western Europe in the ’60s and ’70s (and coming back for an encore now)

Or India through the seventies, when it almost starved itself back to the 1600s.

Or Africa,’til today.

Or Venezuela in the past 20 years.

Other than that…

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

One of the keys to achieving a healthier citizenry is providing everyone with affordable (meaning subsidized) health insurance.  Naturally, since the government is paying for most of it, the government needs the data supporting the billings.  So all your medical records belong to the government.  But it’s okay, the data is totally secure, just like the personnel records at the Department of Homeland Security.

Joe Doakes

In all things, we must reinforce failure and reward incompentence.

With government, anyway.

The Scary Thing About Iowa

OK, conservatism had a good night, and the Trump bubble got deflated ever so slightly, maybe.

But the scariest thing to come out of Iowa is that a whole lot of people consider socialism an acceptable alternative.

Peggy Noonan:

A conservative of a certain age might say: “No, he’s a fad. Socialism is yesterday! Marx is dead, the American economic behemoth rolled over and flattened him. Socialism is an antique idea that rocks with age. America is about the future, not the past.”

I disagree. It’s back because it’s new again.

For so many, 2008 shattered faith in the system—in its fairness, usefulness and efficacy, even in its ability to endure.

As for the young, let’s say you’re 20 or 30, meaning you’ll be voting for a long time. What in your formative years would have taught you about the excellence of free markets, low taxes, “a friendly business climate”? A teacher in public high school? Maybe one—the faculty-lounge eccentric who boycotted the union meetings. And who in our colleges teaches the virtues of capitalism?

If you are 20 or 30 you probably see capitalism in terms of two dramatic themes. The first was the crash of ’08, in which heedless, irresponsible operators in business and government kited the system and scrammed. The second is income inequality. Why are some people richer than the richest kings and so many poor as serfs? Is that what capitalism gives you? Then maybe we should rethink this!

And Mr. Sanders makes it sound so easy. We’re rich, he says; we can do this with a few taxes. It is soft Marxism. And it’s not socialism now, it’s “democratic socialism” like they have in Europe. You’ve been to Europe. Aside from its refugee crisis and some EU problems, it’s a great place—a big welfare state that’s wealthy! The French take three-hour lunches.

I was about to say that younger Americans’ illiteracy about the history of socialism was a failure of the American educational system…

…but I stopped myself.  To the teachers unions and most of academia, it’s a feature, not a bug.

Doakes Sunday: Glacial

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My grandkids got school photos [a few] weeks ago.  I received my prints a week ago and took the extra set to the UPS store to send to my parents, the Great-Grand Parents.  Cheapest to send by US mail First class in a flat mailer so that’s what I did.  No tracking, no signature, just mail them.

Spur of the moment, decided to visit my folks on Saturday: no photos.

The mailer should have gone out in the evening mail from Lexington Avenue at 5:00 on Monday.  I was at my parents’ house Saturday.  Five business days is not long enough for a First Class letter to get from St. Paul to Rochester?

[Columbus Day, when Joe mailed this], is a federal holiday.  Tomorrow delivery maybe, for a total of eight days?  Pony Express could have gotten it to California in that much time.  The quality of service has fallen off dramatically.

It’s only photos, nothing urgent; but every time I use the Post Office for anything other than a Money Order, I am reminded why I refuse to use the Post Office for anything other than a Money Order.

Joe Doakes

I actually sent a letter – not an urgent one – via USPS last weekend.  It was the first time I’ve done it in years.

Low Expectations

Democrats are fond of trying to find statistics that try to show that the Obama Administration has not been a complete economic disaster.

One way is via a blizzard of charts that claim to show a long series of months with job growth:

Raw Numbers

“It’s Bush’s fault! It’s Bush’s fault!”

Of course, as Mark Twain once said – and it’s a cliche I almost regret to say – but there are three types of data; lies, damned lies, and statistics put out to defend Democrat economic policy.

A graph will look very, very different, and depict very different things, depending on the two dimensions you select, as Philip Bump points out in the Wall Street Journal.

Obama looks best when you compare his job creation record with the day he took office – a graph which, by the way, has some liberals chortling, in that it makes Jimmy Carter look like a boss job creator:

Versus First Month

Of course, Clinton is the champ – he’s the only two-term president since World War II that didn’t have a recession on his watch – thanks, of course, to Ronald Reagan and the Peace Dividend, as well as Newt Gingrich stifling the worst of Bill and especially Hillary’s agenda.  Clinton was a champ in spite of himself, and largely due to his opposition.

We also note that more jobs were created on Dubya’s watch in three years than in six and a half of Obama; remember, Dubya had the 9/11 recession and the housing bubble in his eight years.

But isn’t comparing job growth versus a president’s first day in office a little artificial?

Sure.  Let’s compare presidents with their administration’s low points:

Versus Low



So in other words, Obama’s like Nixon.  I wasn’t very old at the end of the Nixon administration, but we all know what a lousy time that was.

But of course, the population has changed; Reagan added 17 million jobs in a population that was around 260 million.  Obama has added nine million jobs in a nation of 315 million (although nobody’s really counting anymore).  So how about we measure this in terms of concrete percentages?

Versus Population
As anyone who was looking for work back then knows, life under Reagan was infinitely better; the economy added a higher percentage of jobs in the quarter after the end of the’82 recession than it has in the six years of the Obama recovery.

Print out that last graph.  Share it with your liberal friends.

Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You

What do we really need for President?

Jack Kemp.

The former Bills quarterback and congressman from Buffalo was perhaps the most influential American politician who never became President; he was behind much of the “get out of the way” legislation that led us to the prosperity of the ’80s and ’90s.

And he rose to prominence during an era with great similarities to today.

Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes write in the WSJ:

The present era resembles the miserable 1970s. Growth is glacial. Incomes are stagnant. The country’s mood is sour. Divisions are widening. In 1979 only 12% of Americans thought the nation was headed in the right direction. Now it’s around 30%. And politicians are pitting class against class: the “1%” against the “47%”; white workers against Mexican immigrants. The public is furious with Washington, and no wonder. Polarized Republicans and Democrats do nothing for them.

Jack Kemp shook things up—but with dramatic ideas about policy, not by pitting outsiders against insiders. The Republican establishment resented the gall of a backbencher’s butting into tax policy. Democrats hated tax-cutting, even though Kemp kept reminding them that President John F. Kennedy first proposed lowering the top rate to 70% from 90%. Special interests were furious when Kemp proposed reducing their tax breaks. He once wrote Reagan’s deficit-hawk budget director, David Stockman,demanding to know why Mr. Stockman wanted to raise taxes on working people and cut food stamps, Medicaid and Head Start, but keep subsidies and tax breaks in place forBoeing,Exxon and Gulf Oil.

Go on and read the whole thing.

And then ask yourself – which candidate would Kemp support?

Kemp was, of course, one of the people who converted me to conservatism.  We could do much, much worse, and we usually do.

There’s Just No Way…

…anybody could have predicted this: Seattle workers whose minimum wage has been jacked up to 15 bucks an hour…

…are now asking for fewer hours, so they don’t lose their housing subsidies.

Naturally, the artificially-high minimum wage was supposed to cut welfare dependency, blah blah blah.

So now we’ve got fewer jobs, and just watch – the program dependence is going to stay the same.