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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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…
The New York Times reports that hermit crabs have wealth inequity. It’s settled science. Which proves that wealth inequity is part of the natural order of things, and not the result of capitalism or white supremacy. Therefore, I no longer need to feel bad about it. Good to know. Joe Doakes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Think about the increasing number of young Americans demanding socialism, even as the horrific collapse of Venezuela is in the news. Why do they want that to happen here? It occurs to me that “hot” is a word which has no meaning to a child, until the child touches something hot. Until then, it’s just noise. What if “socialism” is the same? What if the only way to appreciate “capitalism” is to live under “socialism” for a while? Maybe, instead of class credit for protest marches, schools should require students to spend a month living in a place where the water isn’t safe to drink, the electricity isn’t reliable, there is no free wi-fi, food stores are empty, gasoline is only sold in back alleys, medical care is cash only and no antibiotics remain. A place where the police are not your friend, government officials demand bribes and the press reports what they’re told to report. Would students learn a new appreciation of America? Or would they wave aside their experience saying: “But we’ll do it RIGHT this time.” Joe Doakes
On the one hand, it’d lead to some of the “haves” among the students bleating “Yeah, but this isn’t socialism done right. “
On the other? It’d put some meat behind Churchill’s dictum “a man who’s not a liberal a 20 has no heart, and a man who isn’t a conservative at 40 has no brain”.
And maybe acclerate the timetable among those that can be saved.
Kevin Williamson on – ahem – “Why Alexandria Ocasio Cortez drives Republicans Crazy”, and I’m gonna stop right there.
She doesn’t “drive anyone crazy”. She’s a walking, talking testimony to the media’s left-wing bias; Ocasio Cortez actually is as vapid and ignorant as the media would have had you believe Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann were, and much more extreme.
Ocasio-Cortez, seen from that point of view, presents Republicans with a lot of things they despise — her far-left politics — wrapped up in a package that they very much want but cannot have. She’s everything they want and everything they hate at the same time: Odi et amo, RNC chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel might well say.
About those politics: Ocasio-Cortez describes herself as a socialist, a declaration mitigated somewhat by the fact that she doesn’t seem to know what the word “socialist” means. She is a reflexive practitioner of identity politics, immediately suggesting that any criticism of her is racist or sexist or both. And she is an unapologetic authoritarian, threatening to abuse congressional subpoena powers to retaliate against Donald Trump Jr. for posting something mean about her on Twitter. An avowedly socialist practitioner of identity politics and social-media bully: that, and not her views on marginal tax rates, is what gets up Republicans’ noses. Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist, too, but he’s a grumpy old Muppet from Vermont — a useful cat’s paw to maul Mrs. Clinton, but otherwise old news.
But Williamson notes there’s danger in making her too much the figurehead of Big Left’s “Resistance from Above”:
As a purely tactical matter, Republicans would probably be better off keeping Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer as their leading partisan archnemesis, inasmuch as neither of those candidates can deride the GOP as the party of rich old white folks without inspiring at least a little bit of a giggle.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may personify much of what Republicans despise about the distinctively millennial brand of censorious progressivism that currently dominates the Democratic Party, but, if they were smarter, they’d be grateful for that: If this callow dilettante is the best the other side has to offer, then maybe the Republicans — no strangers to callow dilettantism — still have a chance after all.
She – and her elder sister in entitled identitymongering, Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren – are in that sense gifts to conservatism. Is the GOP – conservatism’s current vessel – smart enough to know what to do with them?
I get it now. I understand. It’s hard to change a lifetime of thinking one way, the wrong way, but I get it now.
I hope my children do worse than I. I hope their prospects are dimmer, their fortunes poorer, their deaths early.
You see, I once believed that by staying in school to get an education, working hard in my job, spending frugally and investing wisely, that I was making a better life for myself and my family. But now that I’m woke, I see that I never earned anything, I didn’t build my career, it was all handed to me because my parents weren’t divorced and my Mother read to me.
I have White Privilege.
Oh, sure, I saw the brown, black, red and yellow kids outside the razor wire, watching us White kids go to the school where they were denied admittance. I saw them sitting against the wall of the supermarket, their bellies distended, flies buzzing around their heads, because they life in a food desert. I thought that was the natural and inevitable consequence of their parents’ cultural choices. I thought White culture was better at protecting women and children while building and conserving wealth.
But I understand things now and I’m not going to let my children make the same mistakes that I made. I’m pulling them out of STEM school and getting them hooked on drugs to ensure they never go back. I’m squandering my savings on a tricked-out Yukon with 20-inch Spreewells. I’m quitting my job and committing a few felonies, to ensure I can’t get another. When my kids’ lives are as bad as the kids in the lowest strata of society, then things will be fair.
Most European countries (including Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium) if they joined the US, would rank among the poorest one-third of US states on a per-capita GDP basis, and the UK, France, Japan and New Zealand would all rank among America’s very poorest states, below No. 47 West Virginia, and not too far above No. 50 Mississippi. Countries like Italy, S. Korea, Spain, Portugal and Greece would each rank below Mississippi as the poorest states in the country.