A progressive regarding the world. Be careful what you buy from him!
(c) Can Stock Photo / ezumeimages
In my last essay I was only able to cover two of the major subsidiary lies progressives tell to both themselves and to others. By subsidiary I mean the falsehoods are told to buttress progressives’ ability to uphold their most fundamental offense to the truth, which is: Government actually has the capability to solve or ameliorate all social and economic problems without creating even worse problems. I discussed this fundamental lie in the post The Lies Progressives Tell (Especially To Themselves!). In my last post, More Lies Progressives Tell To Themselves, I debunked two of the supporting lies progressives often trot out in support of their policies. Those untruths were: first, that the ideological opponents of progressives and a large fraction of the American people are racists and fascists; and second, that free-markets encourage increasingly unequal income distribution. In this essay I want to continue the effort by rebutting four more progressive lies.
US real GDP growth from Q1 2009 to Q3 2017. The green line is a linear fit to the GDP over the three years from Q1 2014 to Q1 2017.
St. Louis Federal Reserve District Bank / FRED
I have have just updated the leading and coincident economic indicators I am following, the first update I have done since last May. That means it is time to take a more analytic view of just what is happening to our economy, and why.
Antifa combatants fighting with Trump supporters at Berkeley, California on August 27, 2017.
Youtube screenshot / The Red Elephants
The United States of America is unraveling as a society, in much the same way that the European Union is beginning to fall apart. Throughout the West, conflict is building between those who believe government is the answer to all social problems and those who believe government creates most of those problems. In the U.S. that conflict is becoming ever more violent. Those who believe in government, generally called “progressives”, are demonstrating increasing hatred toward those who do not, who are most accurately called “neoliberals” but often referred to as “conservatives.” Many neoliberals seem to mirror that hate.
The red state – blue state division of the United States as revealed by the presidential results of the past four presidential elections.
Wikimedia Commons / Angr
This week The Sacramento Bee reported additional evidence for the ideological balkanization of the United States. The newspaper of California’s capitol reported the state government is now banning publicly funded travel to four more states because the California government views those states’ laws or policies as discriminatory to gay and transgender people. The four new states on the list are Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota, all of which are red states according to the map above, i.e. Republican and neoliberal (aka “conservative”). Those four new states join Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee, similarly red states. As of now, I am unaware of any similar bans by red states against blue, i.e. predominantly Democratic and progressive states.
Progressives man the barricades the day after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States.
Youtube / Ibrahim Ka-Almasih Garba
It is not as if Donald J. Trump is a neoliberal (erroneously also called a “conservative”), which he has not been in the past. In fact, before he became a Republican presidential candidate, his expressed opinions seemed to be more consistent with progressivism. Had Democratic progressives not reacted to his election with complete hostility, they would have had a much better chance than with any other Republican presidential candidate of bending Trump toward their views. This suggests Donald Trump is not the main focus for progressive action; he merely presents an opportunity for progressives to nullify the results of the 2016 elections.
The time evolution of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s GDPNow forecast for the second quarter of 2017.
Image and Data Credit: Atlanta Federal Reserve District Bank / Center for Quantitative Economic Research
Just a few days ago, in my post U.S. Economy and Stock Markets, May 2017, I noted there were of a number of economic statistics pointing to current and future economic growth somewhat greater than the stagnant levels to which we became accustomed under Obama. In just those few days, I have found even more economic tea leaves for us all to ponder.
The classic, arduous. time-consuming, and expensive way to access information!
A photo of a part of my library
A few days ago, I asked the question “How Can So Many See Such Different Realities?” in a post with the same title. A part of the answer comes from the observation that most of us think we know a lot more than we actually do. From long-term observation of my fellow human beings (I am currently 70 years old), I am firmly convinced this is a true statement even for the most erudite of us. It has certainly been true for me for more times than I would like to admit! In fact, it is almost certainly a condition that is impossible to avoid. In this post I would like to offer some suggestions on how to ameliorate the situation.
Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler: One dictator of the Left and one of the Right?
Photo Credit Stalin: Wikimedia Commons / Workers Library Publishers (1930)
Photo Credit Hitler: Wikimedia Commons / German Federal Archive
This post is my last essay in a series answering a comment by a reader Cai, who objected to elements of neoliberal ideology. You can find the original comment at the end of the post Will Automation Require Progressive Unemployment Solutions?. My answers began with the essay Concerning Ethics, Economics, and Social Reality, continued with The Growing American Ideological Conflict, and finishes with this essay. If you are new to my posts and are confused by the term “neoliberal”, allow me to make my by now obligatory remark that neoliberalism is often mistaken as conservatism in the United States. The term “conservative” as applied to most Americans so-labeled is a misnomer, just as the label “liberal” is a misnomer for progressives.
Real U.S. Per capita GDP in chained 2009 dollars (blue curve) and its percent change year over year (maroon curve). The thick green line is a linear fit of the maroon curve over the recovery years from the Great Recession.
St. Louis Federal Reserve District Bank / FRED
I have not made a general survey of the U.S. economy for some time, the last one having been in October of last year. What caused me to take longer in producing a new one was the (for me) unexpected surge in GDP in the third quarter of 2016. From the Atlanta Fed’s forecast called GDPnow, plus
the other bearish indicators I was watching, I firmly expected third quarter GDP to come in at or below two percent. Instead, it showed at a very respectable 3.5 percent! What was going on? I decided to wait and watch before pontificating, searching for understanding before I wrote.
President Donald J. Trump delivering his inaugural address, January 20, 2017
Screenshot of ABC News broadcast
Uncompromising. That was the major tone of Donald Trump’s inaugural address on the west side of the Capitol building yesterday. Rather than being a partisan speech giving a list of what he would try to accomplish, it was a scathing indictment of the establishments of both political parties. In the words of the inestimable Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal,
He presented himself not as a Republican or a conservative but as a populist independent. The essential message: Remember those things I said in the campaign? I meant them. I meant it all.
President Obama negotiating with congressional leaders in November 2012 during the fiscal cliff debate
Wikimedia Commons / Voice of America
This is a story about how the Democratic Party became a lot less democratic. Once the Democratic Party lost control of the legislative branch of government with the loss of the House of Representatives to the Republicans in 2010, President Obama increasingly gave up on cooperating with Congress to obtain consensual government. Instead, Obama decided to seize some legislative power in an effort to become an American El Jefe.
Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, 18 January 1689-10 February 1755
Wikimedia Commons / Currently at the Palace of Versailles
In my last two posts, I have tried to convince you of the threat to our liberties emanating from regulations imposed by the government’s executive branch. First in How a Democracy Evolves Into Fascism and then in The Dodd-Frank Act: A Giant Stride Along the Road To Serfdom, I pointed out how the power of the legislature has so often been delegated to the executive branch under the president. When the legislative power has leaked to supposedly independent agencies, such as the Federal Reserve Board of Governors or the Federal Communications Commission, the situation is often even worse, because those agencies usually have judicial powers as well, and can enforce their own edicts.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
Wikimedia Commons / United States Congress, Wikimedia Commons / United States Congress
In my last post, I wrote of how federal government agencies and departments that administered executive branch promulgated regulations were pushing us toward an authoritarian state. In that post I described the Justice Department’s Operation Choke Hold, where Justice was attempting to greatly discourage and if possible destroy businesses, many of which were otherwise legal, of which they disapproved. What made this possible was the vast delegation of authority the Congress has given to the executive branch to enforce provisions of various legislative acts.
Unfortunately, Operation Choke Hold is not just a rare, aberrant case. There are many other examples. In this essay I will describe another case study where the Congress has delegated arbitrary powers to the executive branch: the Dodd-Frank Act.
The Robert F. Kennedy Building in 2006, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Justice. DOJ’s Operation Choke Point is an important case study in how democracies can evolve toward authoritarian government.
Wikimedia Commons / Sebmol
It is sometimes very hard for some people to envisage just how we could possibly lose the freedoms the American people have enjoyed since the founding of the republic. To some of my acquaintances, bringing up such a possibility is the height of hyperbole and a totally ridiculous thought. Yet, over the past eight years we have come closer to realizing that nightmare than ever before.
Line of shoppers in front of a Polish shop in the 1980s. A common sight in Warsaw pact countries ruled by communism.
Actually, dirigisme as a way of ruling a country has never really worked. Dirigisme, the philosophy that a country’s elites should rule a country though technocratic expertise, was just never applied with sufficient force to screw up the works. Not at least in Western countries until relatively recently. The Soviet Union was the first really huge example of how badly state control of the economy wrecked its functioning.