Feeling So 1938

History doesn’t repeat – but it rhymes.

The world’s major powers are rattling their sabers as they spar in secondary theaters.

The economies are in the hands of people who love to tinker with the levers and buttons of the Big State.

And young intellectually over-stimulated but underendowed bobbleheads are romping and playing:

Everything old is new again.

Where’s The Money?

The Minneapolis City Council’s vote on minimum wages for independent contractor drivers has driven Lyft out of Minneapolis, and Uber out of both cities.

A friend of the blog emails with an initial reaction very close to my own:

The Minneapolis City Council doesn’t actually understand a lot. They want affordable options, but they want people to be paid high wages. It doesn’t always work that way.http://apnews.com/article/minneapolis-uber-lyft-ridehailing-minimum-wage-d60db6a2e2580dc1d93c438a8cffa5ee

That being said, Uber and Lyft were never affordable here in the Twin Cities like they are elsewhere. That is likely because the market here doesn’t support it like it might in cities with higher density populations. 

This article mentions that “Seattle and New York City have passed similar policies in recent years that increase wages for ride-hailing drivers, and Uber and Lyft still operate in those cities.”

Yes, well, the cost to use those services was lower to start with because they actually could make money there. So, they are likely still making money even if passengers are paying more to ride. I would bet those services were barely making it here as it was. It’s not hard to drive most places, it’s not even particularly expensive. The downtowns of MSP are mostly dead anyway, so who is using Lyft and Uber at this stage anymore? As far as I can tell, the council’s stupid ordinance just gave them the excuse to pull out. 

That was pretty much what I thought; it was yet another case of a prog city council demanding the world violate the laws of economics to give them what they want.

But wait. There’s more.

It’s the current DFL – so one must always check to see if there’s an ulterior motive involving transferring wealth from taxpayers to the DFL’s non-profit/government complex.

And of course there is:

There you go – Soviet-style ride sharing.

Because the DSA needs to make sure they get a cut of all that ride-share money.

Compromise

Someone walks up to you with a baseball bat. They say they want to kill you.

Your response is “no, I don’t want to get beaten to death with a baseball bat”.

Looks like you have a standoff. A controversy. A conundrum.

Someone else steps in and asks “How about we compromise? Will you settle for a traumatic brain injury?”

It’s the middle way, after all. The guy with the bat might even say “sure, I just wanna hit you, hard!“

You might respond “No – in fact, I don’t want anyone hurting me in any way. At all”

And the buttinski responds “Why won’t yiou compromise?”

Who’s right?

You?

The guy with the bat?

Or the person striving to find the middle ground between the two of you?

If your response is “I’m putting my foot down; nobody is hitting me with a bat for any reason at all“, and the other to ask “why do you hate the guy with the bat?“, does that change anybody’s mind?

Point being, sometimes the middle path, the compromise, is not the most moral path forward.

Not The Babylon Bee

So much that feels like parody but, sadly, is not, in this tweet from Senator Fateh:

  • Omar Fateh, of the party that insists “we’re not socialists, we’re Democratic Socialists, at a meeting of Socialists.
  • At Macalester.
  • And…that crowd.

When I said the left hates Lauren Boebert because she could beat all their men at armwrestling, you can see what I mean, now. Right?

A Hell “We” Can Make Happen

I came across this tweet last week.

At first blush, I thought it was parody, and not especially good.

I moved from there to Assumption B – a chuckleheaded sophomore political science major from Austin, or Seattle, or maybe the University of Saint Thomas. It can be hard to tell parody from reality with them, sometimes.

That’s what I thought. Or, let’s be honest, that’s what I hoped. Parody, or young lefty dolt.

But no. Mr. Lee is a California state assemblyman, detailing the world he and most of Big Left hold out as their idea.

No mention of that social credit score you gotta pass to get into your “public bank account”. No mention of who’s going to be teaching at those “awesome public schools” or building, maintaining and operating that “green transit”, or even why either would exist if people get Universal Basic Income. No mention of how in a world without the generation of value and wealth, the “UBI” will pretty much inevitably devolve into ration tickets, to buy…what? Who’s doing the producing, the farming? Robotic cricket mills creating insect paste is about the only logical option.

Utopienfergnügen

I caught this Twitter thread last week, and wanted to make sure I got a chance to talk about it. It’s by Andrew Hammel, an American living in Germany. The first people to pass it around to are all of your friends who still think Angela Merkel was the real leader of the free world over the last six years.

After that? Pass it on to all of your friends and relatives who think that “Social democracy – Socialism lite – is financially self supporting, and doesn’t depend on literally everything going perfectly.

And while it’s about European macro economics, there is an inevitable Minnesota angle below Mr. Hammel’s piece, which follows. And speaking of Minnesota – whenever “Germany” is mentioned in the piece below, fill in “Minnesota”. It doesn’t all fit, but enough of it does that it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.


I think many Germans don’t realize how the energy crisis directly threatens Germany’s future as a prosperous country. Germany has a huge bureaucracy and social-welfare apparatus, and provides comparatively generous subsidies for the arts.

Universities are free, which means the taxpayer pays for them, and lots of vocational training is also heavily subsidized.

Where does all the money to pay for this come from?

If you ask the typical lefty voter, they have only the vaguest idea: Big companies and the rich people in modernist villas who always turn out to be the real killer on German crime shows.

The German media do a terrible job conveying the basic principles of economics and management to viewers and listeners, so most Germans who aren’t engineers or executives or factory workers or otherwise directly involved in producing goods don’t really understand where Germany’s wealth comes from.

But no, the only reason Germany can afford all these dead-weight investments which don’t yield any returns (or only indirect, generalized, time-delayed returns) is because Germany makes things people want to buy.

That’s what brings the money in. Germany doesn’t have many natural resources (at least, that it is willing to recover), so those don’t bring in the cash. Germany’s exports are the main, nearly the exclusive, source of its wealth.

Germany has much higher manufacturing costs than many other comparable countries, and the only way it can keep competitive is through a well-educated workforce, efficiency, high technology, and high quality.

That’s what generates enough value added to make it worthwhile to produce something in Germany, rather than in Hungary or China or the US or Russia, where all input costs are cheaper.

But the energy crisis has the potential to nearly or completely destroy this competitive advantage.

When energy costs are merely three times what they are in a competitive country such as the USA or Romania or China (depending on the product), German efficiency and technical quality and brand reputation can make up for that.

When energy costs rise to 10 times or even 15 times those of competitive countries, and the markets become convinced this is a lasting situation, Germany becomes unsustainable. It becomes impossible to manufacture high value-added products for a profit within Germany.

They may be designed in Germany, but they won’t be made there. It will just be too expensive, period. There’s no way to make the numbers work.

And this leads to long-term erosion of the tax base.

Gradually the money dries up for things which aren’t vital to the survival of the country. And what are those things vital to the survival of the country? Massive government subsidies to make energy and food affordable to the average person.

This is where much of the budget of many developing countries goes right now: to subsidies on diesel and wheat and rice which enable ordinary people to be able to pay their (artificially reduced) bills.

Half of the time you read about riots in places like Indonesia or Egypt, the cause is the government being forced to reduce subsidies on food and energy, often by a mandate from the IMF.

Once Germany reaches the point where it has to subsidize energy and food to prevent social unrest – something it’s about to start doing right now – then money for non-essential things dries up.

Those things include generous welfare, arts subsidies, free education, generous pensions, etc. There will be even more privatizations, and many arts institutions will simply go bankrupt.

Train travel might become something reserved (even more) for the well-off, since (1) subsidies which keep the Deutsche Bahn (even remotely) affordable will disappear; and (2) the average German consumer will not have enough disposable income to pay for a non-subsidized train ticket. Universities will gradually wither on the vine unless they introduce tuition fees, and even then, they’ll shut down entire degree programs which don’t channel graduates into well-paying jobs.

Goodbye humanities, it was nice knowing you.

Sorry regional symphony orchestra, we can’t afford you anymore. Bye-bye small museum, you’re becoming an Aldi. And sorry 2nd-oldest church in Hepperhausen, there’s no money to maintain you anymore.

We can just barely afford the 1st-oldest church, which we have to keep up because it’s a tourist attraction, and we are desperate for every tourist dollar.

And all those state-funded “streetworkers” and “night buses” providing basic assistance to the growing numbers of homeless? Sorry, you’ll have to find money elsewhere.

And then Germany will find itself in the trap many developing countries find themselves in: It will lack the productive industries needed to support the subsidies which it must continue paying to avoid social chaos.

It will go further and further into the red, and will need help from outside entities. And those entities will point out that the only way out of the red is to cut the broad subsidies for basic survival.

Which Germany won’t be able to do without plunging millions of people into genuine, real, not-enough-food-to-eat poverty.

Germany will survive, of course, but it will keep getting steadily poorer and poorer.

And that is very bad for a country’s psyche, since humans regret what they have lost much more bitterly than they regret losing a chance to get something they’ve never had. Deaths of despair will increase, as they did in Russia in the 1990s.

This is why the energy crisis poses a grave threat to Germany’s future as a prosperous country. There is still a way to avert it, but certainly not with the strategies currently favored by the administration. We’ll see whether the EU can pull a rabbit out of the hat.

I’m not optimistic.


The side angles – about things that Germans do when things break down – are too obvious and awful to think about.

Minnesota, and US, angle: we don’t have the Soviet…er, Russian government shutting off gas and raising energy prices by an order of magnitude.

Or do we? I mean, this winter is going to suuuuuuck, and we’ve got a governor who thinks, like Angela Merkel, that shutting off nuke and coal plants and driving people to solar and wind power makes perfect sense.

Originally in this tweet thread:

Renters Remorse

A friend of the blog emails:

These amendments wouldn’t have changed my vote, but I wonder if it would have even passed if rent control as defined through the council’s amendments had been on the ballot?

Not likely, which is how it should have been in the first place – not passed.

I ask, as if in a vacuum, will this teach voters a lesson, change how they vote? The answer to that question is also not likely. 

Indeed, I’d wager a shiny new quarter that this will be used by the hard left to push for even more “progressive” city councilbeings.

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”?

Your Lying Eyes

Most of the hard, empirical realizations I’ve had as a result of this blog started as satirical, sardonic or otherwise flippant remarks that turned out, to my amazement, to be true.

The canon of “Berg’s Law” is the closest I’ve got to a “famous” example.

Less flippant? My ever-more-frequent observation that Democrat politicians can tell “their” voters pretty much anything that suits them, because their base just doesn’t do critical thinking.

Case in point: the Administration apparently wants to borrow a page from Elizabeth Warren, and have the economy “identify” as healthy:

In 1984, the regime released the news that the chocolate rationwas being cut from 35 grams to 25 grams, by announcing that it was actually an increase from 20 grams. Maybe the people knew better, maybe they didn’t, maybe they just shunted the truth aside out of self-interest.

Not sure this is the same pathology – but I can’t think of a better one.

Script

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I’ve been working on a movie script for an action adventure film. I made sure to be Woke and Diverse to avoid rejection for those reasons.

***

The top 100 richest people on the planet are mostly old straight White men who hate women, minorities, LGBTQ+ and want them to die, with a couple of Asian and Middle Easterners for diversity but no Blacks because Slavery). They meet at a mountain resort in Idaho hosted by an oil tycoon and guarded by the militia. He tells the group that evolution sorts winners from losers and they are the winners who deserve to rule the planet. He proposes to divide the Earth into kingdoms responsible for local administrative affairs operating under a global empire to resolve differences and fairly allocate resources.

Someone points out the public won’t stand for it. No, but they won’t have a choice. The 100 Kingdoms won’t need as many servants as we have population so we’ll reduce the population to a manageable and sustainable level. It’ll be easy since we control the media and the military. Scare the public into giving up their rights by releasing a virus. Imprison dissenters (those who aren’t killed resisting arrest). Shut off natural gas to freeze them; ban them from media so they can’t communicate; shut off gasoline so they can’t travel; shut off diesel so they can’t get food farm to market; defund the police and stage a few false-flag incidents; let anger, panic, starvation and disease do the rest.

What if the people revolt? Order your troops to fire on them. Won’t the generals oppose us? Replace them with boot-lickers (promise to make a general into a Baron under your Kingship and he’ll willingly kill his entire family to serve you). Replace warriors with woke and trans time-servers so they’re no threat to our private security, which will be made up of former warriors serving to protect their families from the mobs we created.

How will we pay for it all? Just print money, flood the economy, inflation will impoverish citizens which will make them frightened and easier to manipulate.

How do you know this will work? We’ve been running beta tests for a couple of years, now. Covid lockdowns. Stimulus checks. Defunding the police. Crushing Canadian truckers and Danish farmers. Sri Lanka. We should be able to destroy the present world order and replace it with The 100 Kingdoms in about five years. Who’s on board?

Somehow, The Good Guys find out about the plan and Our Hero is assigned to stop them. I won’t tell you the rest because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

***

I shopped the script around to several movie studios but they keep telling me there’s no market for documentaries.

Maybe if I change the setting, make it Sci Fi taking place on a planet far, far away and a long time ago, with space ships and laser beams?


Joe Doakes

It’s just crazy enough to work.

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.

Days Of Future Past: Obama’s Fourth Term Edition

Production: US currently run by an administration imposing a “radical restructuring” that will make society a dystopian droog state (for all but the oligarchs who will sit at the top. See also the USSR, or China).

Staging: Justin Trudeau’s Canada, where the next steps of the dystopian vision are trialed on a “western” population.

Experimental Red China. Where the surveillance state has come to life in ways that’d make Orwell blanche in horror:

https://twitter.com/BernieSpofforth/status/1536704803073576962

Coming to a “free society” near you, if the powers that be have their way.

Lesko Warranty

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Lesko Brandon took bold decisive action to help me with rising gas prices. There’s just one catch: he wants to void my vehicle warranty.

I drive a 2017 Hyundai Sonata. The owner’s manual says I can use gasoline with a maximum of 10% ethanol. In Minnesota, that’s ordinary 87 octane gas but under the new plan I’m supposed to burn 88 octane (aka E15 because it contains 15% ethanol and therefore is slightly cheaper). Except I called the dealership and they said flat out, no, that’s not approved and using it will void my warranty. Save a nickel? Void my warranty? Hmmm.

I guess he really does want me to buy an electric car. Not certain how I’m going to charge it, though. Maybe I’ll end up getting those 10,000 steps a day after all.

Joe Doakes

It’s almost as if there is a plan of foot to destroy literally everything about America, starting with the constitutional system at the top, working its way down to every single thing you and I own.

NAH, that’s just crazy talk. Right?

School Days!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I need to go back to school so I can take out$10,000 in student loans and never pay them back.

I’m thinking Gunsmith School sounds good. Saw it on a matchbook cover. Probably be lots of demand for my services and get paid in cash, after Democrats ban legally-owned guns.

Joe Doakes

I’m going to guess that the base value of a academic program Will increase by $10,000 in the next few years.

Above and beyond inflation, I mean.

India First

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

India not shipping much wheat to other nations,they’re keeping most of it to feed their own. They are hoarding wheat!

The tiny amount they grudgingly sell costs too much. They are price gouging!

Poor people in other nations will go hungry. They are playing politics with food, women and children hardest hit!

India is putting the interest of its own citizens first and letting the rest of the world fend for itself. They are ultra-nationalist isolationists!

Why aren’t we?

Joe Doakes

Rhetorical question, right?

Modern Monetary Theory

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

In the olden days, when gold and silver were currency, there was only so much metal so there could only be so much money. The government couldn’t create more money out of thin air, it had to tax citizens to obtain the money to run the government.

Lesko Brandon reminds us Milton Friedman no longer rules the world. The government can create as much money as it wants, simply by adding ones and zeros to bank accounts.

Fine. But then why am I paying taxes?

Joe Doakes

To show everyone who’s boss?

Digital Theft

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The US government seized funds without notice or hearing and doesn’t plan to give the money back. It plans to spend the money.

“Good,” you say. “That person deserved it. He lives in a country we don’t like. He belongs to a religion we don’t like. He believes in medical treatments we don’t like. Glad they did it, ought to do more.”

But what about the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? “The Constitution is a living document which must be reinterpreted to fit changing circumstances. The Founders never meant a guarantee of property rights to shield enemies of society from just retribution. Merely by asking the question, you’ve lowered your Social Credit Score and put yourself on The Watch List.”

It’s the latest fad, all the Kool Kids are doing it. Last quarter, it was Canadian truckers’ money. This quarter it is Russian citizens’ money. How long before it is your money? No arrest, no conviction, no Summons, no hearing, no appeal – a click of a button and your life savings disappears, your ‘hoarded wealth’ redistributed to those more deserving. Welcome to the Digital Economy.

Joe Doakes

It’s one of those reasons, among many others, that “a cashless society” needs to be resisted.

Coming soon to a state near you

Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky produced a sobering report for Chapman University on the plight of California and its prospects for the future. It might be more accurate to refer to “the Californias”, plural, as the report describes two Californias.

The state is blessed with immense natural resources and generates riches that make Croesus seem a pauper. Yet, the wealth is far from evenly distributed.

According to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, 20% of state wealth is held within 30 zip codes that account for just 2% of the population. Less than 33% of state wealth is held within 1,350 zip codes that house 75% of Californians. Since the 1970s, California middle-class incomes, once ebullient, have stagnated.

Even before the pandemic, California experienced lower growth than the other states it competes with for business and people. The most glaring losses have been in well-paying blue collar jobs. Even without adjusting for costs, no California metro ranks in the
US top ten of well-paying blue-collar jobs. But four—Ventura, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego—sit among the bottom ten.

You might think that being a tech center would make California immune to disruption at the higher end of the scale, but that may be changing.

There is much controversy over the extent and importance of business flight from California, but the most recent evidence reveals that the tide of business headquarters leaving the state is accelerating. A 2021 Hoover Institution report presents a compelling set of data about recent business behavior. From January 1, 2018, to June 30, 2021, 265 companies moved their headquarters
out of the state, an average rate of 6.3 per month. The speed of exodus accelerated significantly (to 12.3 per month) in the six months from January through June of 2021.

Most of these firms departed from the Bay Area and Southern California, the state’s premier urban areas. Where did they go? Five states—Texas, Tennessee, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado… Since the beginning of 2018, some 107 companies have moved their headquarters to Texas from the Golden State.

While the über-wealthy bunker down in their coastal, leafy enclaves, the people the Left claims to care oh so much about are sinking.

Continue reading

Task And Purpose

“Every once in a while, a politician slips up and tells the truth“

“Lieutenant“ Governor Flanagan did that Monday on Twitter:

She’s right. After three generations of actively creating dependence on government, they have… created dependence on government.

It’s a feature, not a bug. To the DFL, anyway.

Wrong

Joe Doakes from Como park emails:

I’ve been thinking that donations to politicians were buying access. If some front company in Ukraine donates a million dollars to Hillary’s Haitian Relief Fund, she’ll return their calls so they can express their concerns about US foreign policy. But thinking about it more, that’s gotta be wrong. Everybody knows that system can’t work. She gets calls from all her donors, she makes no promises to any of them, just says pleasing platitudes and moves on. That’s not worth a million dollars.

They’re buying notice.

I donate a million dollars to Hillary’s fund, foundation or library, her staff notifies my staff of actions which could harm me. But not just notice, timely notice, notice given far enough in advance that I can move assets, sell stocks, transfer funds to avoid whatever new tax or regulatory scheme is coming down the pike, and far enough in advance so I can wipe my computers, like with a cloth, or at least ditch my laptop at some rural pawnshop to avoid ‘insider trading’ sanctions by regulators.

It won’t work for little guys like me. Even if I had known three years ago that St. Paul rent controls were coming, could I have positioned myself to take advantage of them (or at least, not be hurt by them)? No. Not enough cash on hand, not nimble enough in the market, not able to take advantage of the warning. But what about Blackrock or Zillow? Could they have used that knowledge to stop buying in St. Paul and concentrate on Roseville instead? Absolutely.

I wonder how long the safe harbor provision is?

Joe Doakes

Depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

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.

Costs

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I used $20 of electricity but my bill is nearly $50 because of the taxes and extra fees, including an “affordability” charge.

If you’re trying to make my bill more affordable, shouldn’t that be subtracted instead of added?

Joe Doakes

It’s not about making your bill, or any of our bills, more affordable. It’s about transferring money to the political class, and those whose first they need.

But Joe knows that.