revolving door tax

No More Elections or Campaigns: Liquid Democracy

Liquid Democracy - Pirate Party wiki

Liquid Democracy – Pirate Party wiki

I’m watching friends develop ulcers and crack under the strain of anxiety related to the election today. The huge amount of time and money spent to manipulate voters to cast their vote for candidates and ballot measures, with most of the propaganda oversimplifying or outright lying to gin up outrage or hatred of others, is one of the least productive activities in our lives. Two sides at war in a not-quite-literal sense, not devasting cities and killing people, but dividing and coarsening the people’s understanding of what it is realistically possible for a good government to do and denigrating the good faith of the opposition.

There are better ways, enabled by the new zero-cost, high-bandwidth communications of the Internet.

Athenian-style direct democracy lives on in the New England town meeting. Ideally, direct democracy means a community comes together in one hall and decides important issues by discussing and voting on them directly, as in ancient Athens. But even small communities had trouble handling all of the complex issues that might come up and eventually had to elect representatives, allowing citizens to delegate their votes to one person they trusted to act in their stead. Direct democracy was not scalable, and democracy itself could be dangerous since majority rule needed to be restrained by individual rights. A majority could otherwise vote itself benefits and loot the treasury or persecute individuals.

The last chapter of P. J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores colorfully describes the problem of today’s New England town meeting form of government. A developer has proposed a golf course and condo complex, and town residents are voting on a sewer issue that can prevent it. The future residents, of course, have no say in the vote:

It was at this moment, in the middle of the Blatherboro sewer debate, that I achieved enlightenment about government, I had a dominion epiphany, I reached regime satori. The whole town meeting was suddenly illuminated by the pure, strong radiance of truth (a considerable improvement over the fluorescent tubes).

It wasn’t mere disillusionment that I experienced. Government isn’t a good way to solve problems; I already knew that. And I’d been to Washington and seen for myself that government is concerned mostly with self-perpetuation and is subject to fantastic ideas about its own capabilities, I understood that government is wasteful of the nation’s resources, immune to common sense and subject to pressure from every half-organized bouquet of assholes, I had observed, in person, government solemnity in debate of ridiculous issues and frivolity in execution of serious duties. I was fully aware that government is distrustful of and disrespectful toward average Americans while being easily gulled by Americans with money, influence or fame. What I hadn’t realized was government is morally wrong.

The whole idea of our government is this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it. And here, in small-town New Hampshire, in this veritable world’s capital of probity, we were about to commit just such a theft. If we could collect sufficient votes in favor of special town meetings about sewers, we could make a golf course and condominium complex disappear for free. We were going to use our suffrage to steal a fellow citizen’s property rights. We weren’t even going to take the manly risk of holding him up at gunpoint.

Not that there’s anything wrong with our limiting growth. If we Blatherboro residents don’t want a golf course and condominium complex, we can go buy that land and not build them. Of course, to buy the land, we’d have to borrow money from the bank, and to pay the bank loan, we’d have to do something profitable with the land, something like — build a golf course and condominium complex. Well, at least that would be constructive.

We would be adding something — if only golf — to the sum of civilization’s accomplishments. Better to build a golf course right through the middle of Redwood National Park and condominiums on top of the Lincoln Memorial than to sit in council gorging on the liberties of others, gobbling their material substance, eating freedom.

What we were trying to do with our legislation in the Blatherboro Town Meeting was wanton, cheap and greedy — a sluttish thing. This should come as no surprise. Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst offsloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores.

The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.

Now we have C-SPAN, and in theory we could all be watching the legislative debates and voting on the laws directly. We’re kidding ourselves if we think most of our legislators understand in detail the bills they vote on — see Nancy Pelosi’s “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it….” comment about the ACA. But even if we had the time to make ourselves expert and the bills weren’t abominations of complexity and special-interest obfuscation, literally no citizen could follow all issues and vote on all bills in an informed way. This cannot work unless the law is shrunk to a reasonable size, and it would do little to rein in the Administrative State (the agencies that now legislate by issuing ever-increasing volumes of regulations and enforce them nearly free of Congressional and court oversight), which is now beyond the control even of well-meaning executive appointees.

One problem is our House Representatives and how we elect them. Their districts now have an average of over 700,000 residents, and no one can campaign personally enough to give each citizen a direct sense of them. So TV and advertising became critical, which required big money, which requires a coalition of party and big donors to have a chance of unseating an incumbent — which is why so few are unseated. The Senate is even worse, with a big state like California having 30 million people to sway. Since the 17th Amendment (which changed election to the Senate from a state legislative vote to a popular vote), senators have ceased to represent their state’s government and now have a nearly independent power base, which makes a sitting senator even harder to dislodge.

In parliamentary-style systems, the legislature selects the executive from among the members — so parties form to support a large enough majority to select the executive and pass the legislation the government desires. The government often chooses when an election will be held, and the timetable is usually short. Since it’s the members of parliament that choose the executive, the question of who that will be is not directly on the ballot, so the party takes responsibility for choosing the member that will lead them most effectively. Until recently this did not make a large difference, but it has become more noticeable lately that the US government, with its more complex structure and greater division of powers, is less able to actively do anything — including reforming the administrative state, which has taken on a life of its own that threatens to strangle freedom and economic growth. In the US, a party that controls the presidency, the House, and the Senate still finds senators and House committee leaders that have veto power over changes, and the senate filibuster makes a law written to resist change, like the ACA, almost impossible to roll back when it proves problematic — a minority of senators or the president can block repeal. If the election of 2010 had taken place in a parliamentary system, the Republicans would have taken control of the executive branch and been able to repeal the ACA before major damage had been done.

There have been proposals to return to a modified form of direct democracy which would have elements of representative government, notably “liquid democracy.” In my future-history Substrate Wars series, the student rebels who had invented quantum superweapons and forced the world’s governments to cede control of security to them discussed how they might implement liquid democracy:

“So to get back to the central discussion. Who makes the law for our judges and AIs? How do the people control their universal government, which might start with the people in this room, but grow to include ten billion people over a thousand planets?”

“What we have now seems to work well,” Prof. Wilson observed drily.

“Because,” Ben said, “we all agree on most things, and we want the same outcomes, and we’re too busy to worry about someone else’s job. But that won’t last, and we’ll have major disagreements, where one faction wants one thing while another thinks the opposite is better. And we need a way to efficiently decide such disputes. Back on Earth, democracies elected representatives who traveled to large halls to discuss and vote on laws. We will have the universal Net, which can guarantee who you are and what your authority is, and a way of including anyone interested in the debates on any law. You can participate and vote on the Net.”

“So we were talking about ‘liquid democracy’…” Justin said, raising his eyebrows.

“Liquid democracy, also called delegative democracy. This is the new type of democratic-republican system we are looking at. The basic idea is that every citizen has a vote on every law or issue, but for practical reasons they delegate their vote to a representative, who bundles together all the votes delegated to him or her and casts them as they think best. The key difference between this and republican systems we are used to is that there is no fixed term for a representative, and citizens can take their proxy back at any time to give to another representative, or to vote themselves directly. Thus ‘liquid’ — citizens can react to what their representative is doing, even down to revoking their proxy during a speech on the issue that sways them. Citizens who want to participate in every issue can; most people will give their proxy to a representative they trust and only occasionally consider switching. Participation in debate and the writing of legislation would have to be limited to a practical number of representatives who hold the most proxies, but a citizen would be free to watch the process and communicate ideas to their representative.

“Proxies can be limited or full. For example, I might delegate my vote on defense matters to Samantha, who is hard-headed enough to impress me as a wise choice for that, while giving my proxy for research funding to Steve, because he’ll always be better at that. There’s no pre-election period where a government can suck up to voters and spend money unwisely to get elected, then act as they wish for years after. The people can intervene quickly if they don’t like the way things are going.”

“Who chooses the executive, and what about those bureaucracies?” Prof. Wilson asked.

“The executive would be elected by the representatives, and have to work to keep their confidence, as in a Parliamentary system. We are intending the powers of the executive be limited this time — in the unlikely event of a war with an outside power, there would of course be emergency needs. But the huge bureaucracies for defense, agriculture, education, tax collection, and all that would all be unnecessary. A dispersed, connected, and footloose people with replicators won’t need assistance surviving, and no external enemies exist that we know of. The executive government may never need to be more than a few dozen people.”

No one has yet implemented a true liquid democracy for a real government. The Wikipedia entry on delegative democracy further describes the idea:

Crucial to the understanding of delegate democracy is the theory’s view of the meaning of “representative democracy.” Representative democracy is seen as a form of governance whereby a single winner is determined for a predefined jurisdiction, with a change of delegation only occurring after the preset term length (or in some instances by a forced recall election if popular support warrants it). The possibility usually exists within representation that the “recalled” candidate can win the subsequent electoral challenge.

This is contrasted with most forms of governance referred to as “delegative.” Delegates may not, but usually do, have specific limits on their ‘term’ as delegates, nor do they represent specific jurisdictions. Some key differences include:

• Optionality of term lengths.
• Possibility for direct participation.
• The delegate’s power is decided in some measure by the voluntary association of members rather than an electoral victory in a predefined jurisdiction. (See also: Single Transferable Vote.)
• Delegates remain re-callable at any time and in any proportion.
• Often, the voters have the authority to refuse observance of a policy by way of popular referendum overriding delegate decisions or through nonobservance from the concerned members. This is not usually the case in representative democracy.
• Possibility exists for differentiation between delegates in terms of what form of voting the member has delegated to them. For example: “you are my delegate on matters of national security and farm subsidies.”

Google has ongoing research into the topic, since their Hangouts have much of the technology needed to make this work — secure identity with encrypted communication and group meeting capabilities. Google did an experiment using as an example the critically important decision of what should be on the lunch menu. They have also issued a good video lecture on the concepts:



More interesting discussion of liquid democracy can be found in this Marginal Revolution post.

Here’s an open-source software project for implenting similar systems: LiquidFeedback. The German Pirate Party has been experimenting with the system to bring together its large membership to discuss and decide its policies, a form of direct feedback that has helped ithe party to grow rapidly to become an electoral force.

Here’s another discussion of the technologies needed to make this work safely in an environment of state-supported hackers: Liquid Democracy and Emerging Governance Models. At the very least, the identity and secure communications issues have to be solved, and a citizen’s view of their proxy status always available, yet secure from others. These are soluble problems, but not by the government programming mentality that brought us current voting machines.

One day we may be able to both vote on and help write legislation in areas we are expert in, while ceding most decisions to trusted representatives whose proxy to vote on our behalf is revocable at any time. No more gigantic omnibus spending bills that ensure spending never gets cut. No more election campaigns, lowest-common-denominator party hacks, or trickery designed to sway your vote past that one golden moment when you could have said no….

And that still does not solve the issue of who selects the judges who might determine when a new law infringes basic constitutional rights. The Supreme Courts which have deferred to Congress and agency regulation, rarely turning back the overreaches that have become increasingly common (see again the ACA!) are a big part of today’s problem with expanding government.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


For more reading goodness:

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again

Election 2016: Clinton vs Trump vs ?

I discussed the corrupt and incestuous media-government revolving door problem in Journalism or Government Propaganda? The Revolving Door.

With less than a week to go before the election, I’m watching lots of thoughtful friends struggling with the choices, and they are unhappy about having these candidates to choose from. It helps to remember that one person’s vote makes almost no difference, especially if you live in one of the populous states that is likely to vote overwhelmingly for one major party candidate. So do your best and don’t feel responsible if your chosen candidate wins and turns out to be a disaster — you’re not at fault.

I will make this meta-point: we’re heading for financial meltdown no matter who wins, since the demographic bomb of pensions and Medicare is about to go off and the central bankers are unable to safely end their ZIRP policies which must eventually end. It’s going to get ugly.

Similarly, the administrative state has become a parasite which can increase its share of national wealth indefinitely only when a robust economy supports it. Stagnation from ever-increasing regulation means that tax rates or deficits must rise to continue the bureaucracy’s expansion, further impairing growth and leading to a death spiral. Hard work and deferred consumption to invest in the future are already punished, and that negative feedback will only increase.

Clinton would be a continuation of the special-interest looting of the middle class, with cable TV and media combines supporting her through propaganda-news. Trump disrupts that cozy machinery, and while he has no policy solutions for the collapse to come when ZIRP finally ends catastrophically, a President Trump won’t be defending the administrative state when the freed-up Congress and states rise up to reform and shrink it. Clinton would continue the flogging until morale improves…

Smashing the Democratic Party’s corrupt feedback loop supported by public employee unions and government-funded academics will give other interests a chance to be heard. That is one of the better arguments for what would otherwise be an irresponsible decision to vote for Trump.

Peter Thiel had this to say:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR HAVING ME HERE.

EVERYONE KNOWS WE HAVE BEEN LIVING THROUGH A CRAZY ELECTION YEAR. REAL EVENTS SEEM LIKE THE REHEARSALS FOR SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

ONLY AN OUTBREAK OF INSANITY WOULD SEEM TO ACCOUNT FOR THE UNPRECEDENTED FACT THAT THIS YEAR, A POLITICAL OUTSIDER MANAGED TO WIN A MAJOR PARTY NOMINATION.

TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE USED TO INFLUENCING OUR CHOICES, THE WEALTHY PEOPLE WHO GIVE MONEY AND THE COMMENTATORS WHO GIVE REASONS WHY, IT ALL SEEMS LIKE A BAD DREAM.

DONORS DON’T WANT TO FIND OUT WHY WE GOT HERE, THEY JUST WANT TO MOVE ON. COME NOVEMBER 9, THEY HOPE EVERYONE ELSE WILL GO BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL. BUT IT IS THIS HEEDLESSNESS: THE TEMPTATION TO IGNORE DIFFICULT REALITIES INDULGED IN BY OUR CITIZENS THAT GOT US WHERE WE ARE TODAY.

A LOT OF SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE ARE TOO PROUD TO ADMIT IT SINCE IT SEEMS TO PUT THEIR SUCCESS IN QUESTION. BUT THE TRUTH IS, NO MATTER HOW CRAZY THIS ELECTION SEEMS, IT IS LESS CRAZY THAN THE CONDITION OF OUR COUNTRY. JUST LOOK AT THE GENERATION THAT SUPPLIES MOST OF OUR LEADERS. THE BABY BOOMERS. THEY ARE ENTERING RETIREMENT IN A STATE OF ACTUARIAL BANKRUPTCY. 54% OF THOSE OVER THE AGE OF 55 HAVE LESS THAN ONE YEARS WORTH OF SAVINGS TO THEIR NAME.

THAT IS A PROBLEM, ESPECIALLY WHEN THIS IS THE ONLY COUNTRY WHERE YOU HAVE TO PAY UP TO 10 TIMES AS MUCH FOR SIMPLE MEDICINES AS YOU WOULD PAY ANYWHERE ELSE. AMERICA’S OVERPRICED HEALTH CARE SYSTEM MIGHT HELP SUBSIDIZE THE REST OF THE WORLD, BUT THAT DOES NOT HELP AMERICANS WHO CANNOT AFFORD IT AND THEY HAVE STARTED TO NOTICE.

OUR YOUNGEST CITIZENS MAY NOT HAVE MEDICAL BILLS, BUT THEIR COLLEGE TUITION KEEPS ON INCREASING FASTER THAN THE RATE OF INFLATION, ADDING MORE EVERY YEAR TO OUR $1.3 TRILLION MOUNTAIN OF STUDENT DEBT. AMERICA HAS BECOME THE ONLY COUNTRY WHERE STUDENTS TAKE ON LOANS THEY CAN NEVER ESCAPE, NOT EVEN BY DECLARING BANKRUPTCY.

STUCK IN THIS BROKEN SYSTEM, MILLENNIALS ARE THE FIRST GENERATION THAT EXPECT THEIR OWN LIVES TO BE WORSE THAN THE LIVES OF THEIR PARENTS. WHILE AMERICAN FAMILY EXPENSES HAVE BEEN INCREASING RELENTLESSLY, THEIR INCOMES HAVE BEEN STAGNANT. IN REAL DOLLARS, IMMEDIATE HOUSEHOLD MAKES LESS MONEY TODAY THAT MADE 17 YEARS AGO. NEARLY HALF OF AMERICANS WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH $400 IF THEY NEEDED IT FOR AN EMERGENCY.

YET, WHILE HOUSEHOLDS STRUGGLED TO KEEP UP WITH THE CHALLENGES OF EVERYDAY LIFE, THE GOVERNMENT IS WASTING TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON TAXPAYER MONEY ON FARAWAY WARS. RIGHT NOW, WE’RE FIGHTING FIVE OF THEM. IN IRAQ, SYRIA, LIBYA, AND SOMALIA.

IN THE WEALTHY SUBURBS OF WASHINGTON DC, PEOPLE ARE DOING JUST FINE. WHERE I WORK IN SILICON VALLEY, PEOPLE ARE DOING JUST GREAT. BUT MOST AMERICANS DON’T LIVE BY THE BELTWAY OR THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY. MOST AMERICANS HAVE NOT BEEN PART OF THAT PERSPECTIVE. IT SHOULDN’T BE SURPRISING TO SEE PEOPLE VOTING FOR BERNIE SANDERS OR DONALD TRUMP, WHO IS THE ONLY OUTSIDER (VERY FEW PEOPLE WHO VOTE FOR PRESIDENT HAVE EVER THOUGHT OF DOING SOMETHING SO EXTREME AS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. THE PEOPLE WHO RUN ARE OFTEN POLARIZING).

THIS ELECTION YEAR, BOTH MAJOR CANDIDATES ARE IMPERFECT PEOPLE TO SAY THE LEAST. I DON’T AGREE WITH EVERYTHING DONALD TRUMP HAS SAID AND DONE, AND I DON’T THINK THE MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE VOTING FOR HIM DO EITHER. NOBODY THINKS HIS COMMENTS ABOUT WOMEN WERE ACCEPTABLE. I AGREE, THEY WERE CLEARLY OFFENSIVE AND INAPPROPRIATE. BUT I DON’T THINK THE VOTERS PULL THE LEVER TO ENDORSE A CANDIDATE’S FLAWS.

IT IS NOT A LACK OF JUDGMENT THAT LEADS AMERICANS TO VOTE FOR TRUMP, WE ARE VOTING FOR TRUMP BECAUSE WE JUDGE THE LEADERSHIP OF OUR COUNTRY TO HAVE FAILED.

THIS JUDGMENT HAS BEEN HARD TO ACCEPT FOR SOME OF THE COUNTRIES MOST FORTUNATE, SOCIALLY PROMINENT PEOPLE. IT CERTAINLY HAS BEEN HARD TO ACCEPT FOR SILICON VALLEY, WHERE MANY PEOPLE HAVE LEARNED TO KEEP QUIET IF THEY DISSENT FROM THE COASTAL BUBBLE. LOUDER VOICES HAVE SENT A MESSAGE THAT THEY DO NOT INTEND TO TOLERATE THE VIEWS OF ONE HALF OF THE COUNTRY.

THIS INTOLERANCE HAS TAKEN ON SOME BIZARRE FORMS. THE ADVOCATE, A MAGAZINE WHICH ONCE PRAISED ME AS A GAY INNOVATOR, EVEN PUBLISHED AN ARTICLE SAYING THAT AS OF NOW I AM, AND I QUOTE “NOT A GAY MAN” BECAUSE I DON’T AGREE WITH THEIR POLITICS. THE LIE IN THE BUZZWORD OF DIVERSITY COULD NOT BE MADE MORE CLEAR. IF YOU DON’T CONFORM, THEN YOU DON’T COUNT AS DIVERSE, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PERSONAL BACKGROUND.

FACED WITH SUCH CONTEMPT, WHY DO VOTERS STILL SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP? EVEN IF THEY THINK THE AMERICAN SITUATION IS SERIOUS, WHY DO THEY THINK TRUMP OF ALL PEOPLE CAN MAKE IT BETTER?

I THINK IT IS BECAUSE OF THE BIG THINGS THAT TRUMP GETS RIGHT. FOR EXAMPLE, FREE TRADE HAS NOT WORKED OUT WELL FOR ALL OF AMERICA. IT HELPS TRUMP THAT THE OTHER SIDE JUST DOES NOT GET IT. ALL OF OUR ELITES TREAT FREE TRADE AND EXPLAIN THAT CHEAP IMPORTS MAKE EVERYONE A WINNER ACCORDING TO ECONOMIC THEORY. BUT IN ACTUAL PRACTICE, WE’VE LOST TENS OF THOUSANDS OF FACTORIES AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO FOREIGN TRADE. HEARTLAND HAS BEEN DEVASTATED. MAYBE ELITES REALLY BELIEVE NO ONE LOSES OR MAYBE THEY DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT TOO MUCH BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY ARE AMONG THE WINNERS….

TRUMP VOTERS ARE ALSO TIRED OF WAR. WE HAVE BEEN AT WAR FOR 15 YEARS AND WE HAVE SPENT MORE THAN $4.6 TRILLION. MORE THAN 2 MILLION PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES AND MORE THAN 5000 AMERICAN SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN KILLED. BUT WE HAVE NOT ONE. THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION PROMISED $50 BILLION COULD BRING DEMOCRACY TO IRAQ. INSTEAD, WE SQUANDERED 40 TIMES AS MUCH TO BRING ABOUT CHAOS. EVEN AFTER THESE BIPARTISAN FAILURES, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS MORE HAWKISH TODAY THAN AT ANY TIME SINCE IT BEGAN THE WAR IN VIETNAM. HARKING BACK TO THE NO-FLY ZONE BILL CLINTON ENFORCED OVER IRAQ BEFORE BUSH COSTS FAILED WAR, NOW HILLARY CLINTON HAS CALLED FOR A NO-FLY ZONE OVER SYRIA. INCREDIBLY, THAT WOULD BE A MISTAKE EVEN MORE RECKLESS THAN INVADING IRAQ. SINCE MOST OF THE PLANES FLYING OVER SYRIA ARE RUSSIAN PLANES, CLINTON’S PROPOSED COURSE OF ACTION WOULD INVOLVE US IN A MESSY CIVIL WAR — IT WOULD RISK A DIRECT NUCLEAR CONFLICT.

WHAT EXPLAINS THIS EAGERNESS TO ESCALATE A DANGEROUS SITUATION? HOW COULD HILLARY CLINTON BE SO WILDLY OVEROPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF WAR?

I WOULD SUGGEST IT COMES FROM A LOT OF PRACTICE. FOR A LONG TIME, OUR ELITES HAVE BEEN IN THE POWER A LONG TIME, OUR ELITES HAVE BEEN IN THE HABIT OF DENYING DIFFICULT REALITIES. THAT IS HOW BUBBLES FORM. WHEREVER THERE’S A HARD PROBLEM BUT PEOPLE WANT TO BELIEVE IN AN EASY SOLUTION, THEY WILL BE TEMPTED TO DENY REALITY AND INFLATE A BUBBLE. SOMETHING ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE BABY BOOMERS, WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN SO MUCH EASIER THAN THEIR PARENTS OR THEIR CHILDREN HAS LED THEM TO BUY INTO BUBBLES AGAIN AND AGAIN. THE TRADE BUBBLE SAYS EVERYONE IS A WINNER. THE WAR BUBBLE SAYS VICTORY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER, BUT THESE OVEROPTIMISTIC STORIES SIMPLY HAVE NOT BEEN TRUE AND VOTERS ARE TIRED OF BEING LIED TO.

IT WAS BOTH INSANE AND SOMEHOW INEVITABLE THAT D.C. INSIDERS EXPECTED THIS ELECTION TO BE A RERUN BETWEEN THE TWO POLITICAL DYNASTIES WHO LET US THROUGH THE TWO MOST GIGANTIC FINANCIAL BUBBLES OF OUR TIME. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDED OVER THE INFLATION OF THE HOUSING BUBBLE SO BIG THAT IT’S COLLAPSE IS STILL CAUSING ECONOMIC STAGNATION TODAY. BUT WHAT IS STRANGELY FORGOTTEN IS THAT THE LAST DECADE HOUSING BUBBLE WAS JUST AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE UP FOR THE GAINS THAT HAVE BEEN LOST THE DECADE BEFORE THAT. IN THE 1990’S, PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON PRESIDED OVER AN ENORMOUS STOCK MARKET BUBBLE AND DEVASTATING CRASH IN 2000 JUST AS HIS SECOND TERM WAS COMING TO AN END. THAT IS HOW LONG THE SAME PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PURSUING THE SAME DISASTROUS POLICIES.

NOW THAT SOMEONE DIFFERENT IS IN THE RUNNING, SOMEONE WHO REJECTS THE STORIES THAT TELL US EVERYTHING IS FINE, HIS LARGER-THAN-LIFE PERSONA ATTRACTS A LOT OF ATTENTION. NOBODY WOULD SUGGEST DONALD TRUMP IS A HUMBLE MAN. BUT THE BIG THINGS HE IS RIGHT ABOUT AMOUNT TO A MUCH-NEEDED DOSE OF HUMILITY. HE HAS QUESTIONED THE CORE CONCEPT OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM.

HE DOESN’T THINK THE FORCE OF OPTIMISM ALONE CAN CHANGE REALITY WITHOUT HARD WORK. JUST AS MUCH AS IS IS ABOUT MAKING AMERICA GREAT, TRUMP’S AGENDA IS ABOUT MAKING AMERICA A NORMAL COUNTRY, A NORMAL COUNTRY DOES NOT HAVE A HALF TRILLION DOLLAR TRADE DEFICIT. A NORMAL COUNTRY DOES NOT FIGHT FIVE SIMULTANEOUS UNDECLARED WARS.

IN A NORMAL COUNTRY, THE GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY DOES ITS JOB. TODAY, IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THE GOVERNMENT HAS A JOB TO DO. VOTERS ARE TIRED OF HEARING CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS SAYING GOVERNMENT NEVER WORKS. THEY KNOW GOVERNMENT WAS NOT ALWAYS THIS BROKEN. THE MANHATTAN PROJECT, THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM, THE APOLLO PROGRAM, WHATEVER YOU THINK OF THESE VENTURES, YOU CANNOT DOUBT THE COMPETENCE OF THE GOVERNMENT THAT GOT THEM DONE, BUT WE HAVE FALLEN VERY FAR FROM THAT STANDARD. WE CANNOT LET FREE-MARKET IDEOLOGY SERVE AS AN EXCUSE FOR DECLINE.

NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS ELECTION, WHAT TRUMP REPRESENTS IS NOT CRAZY AND IT’S NOT GOING AWAY. HE POINTS TOWARD A NEW REPUBLICAN PARTY BEYOND THE DOGMAS OF REAGANISM. HE POINTS BEYOND THE REMAKING OF ONE PARTY TO A NEW AMERICAN POLITICS THAT OVERCOMES DENIAL, REJECTS BUBBLE THINKING AND RECKONS WITH REALITY. WHEN THE DISTRACTING SPECTACLES OF THIS ELECTION SEASON ARE OVER AND THE HISTORY OF OUR TIME IS WRITTEN, THE ONLY IMPORTANT QUESTION WILL BE WHETHER OR NOT THAT NEW POLITICS CAME TOO LATE. THANK YOU.

(Transcript courtesy Zerohedge.) As one commenter said, it’s a shame it’s not Peter Thiel running for the office.

So there are reasonable people supporting Trump, not because of his repellent behaviors and supporters, but in spite of them — because it may be the only chance to limit the power of the Democratic-bureaucratic alliance for another long four years.

Good luck, everyone!

 


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


For more reading goodness:

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again

Journalism or Government Propaganda? The Revolving Door

Fourth Estate? Or wholly-owned subsidiary of the Entertainment-Government Complex?

Remember the public image of crusading journalists uncovering malfeasance and bringing down the mighty? Our narratives about reporters include Woodward and Bernstein uncovering the Watergate scandal and helping to bring down Nixon. Why do today’s journalists shy away from investigating anything that might reflect badly on the Party of Government?

Journalism is a declining occupational category, with newspapers and magazines gutted by loss of advertising revenue and low-paid or unpaid scribblers on the Internet undercutting the market for news and opinion writing. Here’s the BLS statistics on job prospects for the profession:

Quick Facts: Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts
2015 Median Pay $37,720 per year
$18.13 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 54,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -9% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -4,800

$37K is a poverty-level salary in Manhattan or DC. With employment shrinking, many new graduates in media and journalism programs are forced to work at Starbucks or take those low-paid Internet clickbait writing jobs.

As a result, journalism can become just a springboard to work in government PR, which in turn gives entry to high-paying lobbying or TV personality positions. Occupations that become very low-paying tend to be of interest only to those who already have wealthy family backing and can afford to give up current pay for future status and influence — as seen in publishing. And the revolving door allows a few lucky partisan journalists to move into government PR, then cash in afterwards. The recent trend to marriage links and occupational crossover between Silicon Valley, East Coast media, and the White House staff is a warning sign of the merging of executive branch, administrative state, and media interests, weakening media’s ability to report truthfully on issues.

One recent example:

The Obamaworld-social media industry mind meld continues: White House strategic communications adviser Rachel Racusen is leaving to join Snapchat as director of communications, based in New York City.

Racusen, who has done two separate stints in the White House communications office (working at MSNBC in between), finished up work at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Tuesday and will start her new job Sept. 19. Over the past year, Racusen has focused on projects aimed at capturing the president’s legacy, from the economy to the environment. Before first joining the White House staff in May 2013, Racusen served as director of public affairs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for two years and as deputy national communications director for Obama’s reelection campaign….

Racusen joins a long line of Obama veterans who have found jobs in the tech sector after serving in the government, from former press secretary Jay Carney (Amazon) to former senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer (GoFundMe). And Snapchat is a popular White House presence already: Michelle Obama joined the platform in June, about a month after she and the president welcomed Snapchat chief executive Evan Spiegal and with his now-fiancee, Miranda Kerr, to the Nordic state dinner.

The relationships and mixing between government and media are getting too tangled to follow:

  • ABC News President Ben Sherwood, who is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a top national-security adviser to President Obama.
  • His counterpart at CBS, news division president David Rhodes, is the brother of Benjamin Rhodes, a key foreign-policy specialist.
  • CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Tom Nides, who until earlier this year was deputy secretary of state under Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • White House press secretary Jay Carney’s wife is Claire Shipman, a veteran reporter for ABC.
  • NPR’s White House correspondent, Ari Shapiro, is married to a lawyer, Michael Gottlieb, who joined the White House counsel’s office in April.
  • The Post‘s Justice Department reporter, Sari Horwitz, is married to William B. Schultz, the general counsel of the Department of Human Services.
  • [VP] [The President’s current Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications and] Biden’s [former] communications director, Shailagh Murray (a former Post congressional reporter), is married to Neil King, one of the Wall Street Journal‘s top political reporters.

George Stephanopoulos blazed the trail from campaign staffer for Mike Dukakis to White House press secretary to high-paid anchor on ABC. Lesser staffers have to settle for high-paid positions at Google and Facebook and the like, where their connections help bond the Party of Government and Silicon Valley social media closer — the big Internet powers know they could be hurt by regulation, and promoting progressive ideas and repressing contrary points of view can keep their businesses safe from the scrutiny of antitrust and regulatory agencies.

Sylvia Burwell is another Dukakis staffer who cashed in:

While still in college, she served as an intern for West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall, as governor’s aide to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and worked on the Dukakis/Bentsen campaign… She later worked on the Clinton/Gore campaign.

She was an Associate at McKinsey & Company from 1990 through 1992. On the night in July of 1993 when Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster committed suicide in a Virginia park, Burwell searched Foster’s office garbage for documents wanted by the Clintons before the police investigation commenced. Burwell was questioned during the Whitewater investigations regarding the purpose of her search of Foster’s garbage and the fate of the documents she discovered. She served as Staff Director for the National Economic Council from 1993 to 1995. She was Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin from 1995 to 1997. Mathews served as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1998, along with future Center for American Progress founder John Podesta. In 1998, Bowles left and Podesta was elevated to chief of staff, and Burwell moved to the OMB to serve as Jack Lew’s deputy director from 1998 to 2001…

On March 3, 2013, President Obama nominated Burwell to head the White House Office of Management and Budget…. In October 2013, during the United States federal government shutdown of 2013, Burwell sent the email initiating the process that closed national parks, visitors’ centers and even the “panda-cam” at the National Zoo. “Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations,” Burwell wrote in a memo to heads of executive departments and agencies. She ordered the action because there was no “clear indication” that Congress would strike an agreement on a continuing resolution before the end of the day Tuesday. “We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Continuing Resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations,” Burwell said in a statement.

Burwell was confirmed as Department of HHS secretary on June 5, 2014.

And today CNN is running her opinion piece on Obamacare’s success and bright future without explicitly noting she’s in charge of the agency running Obamacare.

CNN is owned by Time-Warner, a communications company extensively regulated by the FCC, an obsolete but still powerful agency whose commissioners are appointed by the President and control broadcast and cable TV. ABC is owned by Disney, which also owns ESPN and also depends on cable monopolies for its outsized profits. MSNBC and NBC are notoriously close to the current administration, and they are owned by Comcast, who… are you seeing the pattern?

Marilyn Tavenner started a nurse, then rose to chief executive of a hospital owned by HCA (Hospital Corporation of America, profit-making megachain), rising in the corporation before resigning to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Resources in the Cabinet of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine [now Hillary Clinton’s VP candidate.] She was in charge of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services which was responsible for the horrendously botched rollout of Obamacare and its Healthcare.Gov website.

She resigned January of 2015, and by July had been appointed President and CEO of AHIP, the health insurance industry organization and lobbying group.

These incestuous and corrupt linkages mean government regulatory authority is gradually undermining journalist’s independence, nurturing a shared worldview — a hothouse bubble — making nonpartisan reporting difficult. Most journalists are progressive-leaning Democrats, though some are still trying hard to be evenhanded. But the bubble in which they live and hobnob socially with White House staffers and other apparatchiks and lobbyists in DC and NYC makes it very hard for them to see their own biases and report fairly, when they know breaking news “difficult” for the socially-approved candidate will hurt them socially or result in a decline in their access to government sources. It’s easy to make it as a reporter or opinion writer by rewriting press releases and forwarding talking points given to you by friendly insiders — and time-consuming and often fruitless to follow independent leads to do investigative reporting revealing government malfeasance. It makes people you know and like look bad. It might help a candidate you can’t stand! …

The uniquely awful choice between Clinton and Trump is driving journalists to new lows in partisan reporting. The New York Times discussed the problem:

If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.

But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?

Covering Mr. Trump as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate is more than just a shock to the journalistic system. It threatens to throw the advantage to his news conference-averse opponent, Hillary Clinton, who should draw plenty more tough-minded coverage herself. She proved that again last week with her assertion on “Fox News Sunday” that James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had declared her to be truthful in her answers about her decision to use a private email server for official State Department business — a grossly misleading interpretation of an F.B.I. report that pointed up various falsehoods in her public explanations.

And, most broadly, it upsets balance, that idealistic form of journalism with a capital “J” we’ve been trained to always strive for.

This week’s episode of Hillary’s ongoing medical issues had her exiting the 9-11 memorial ceremony early. Captured only by amateur video because the press corps was prevented from following her, the talking points issued by her people went from allergies, to fainting in the (80-degree) heat, then finally (after the video became public) to the claim that she had been diagnosed days earlier with pneumonia, but kept on with her relentless schedule against doctor’s orders until she was overcome.

Partisan apologists immediately sent up flak memes to cover up the revelation that all previous talking points had been lies:

A 68-year-old woman, with pneumonia, still kept a schedule that most of us wouldn’t make it through, flying here and there, holding multiple events and briefings a day.

That’s not weak. That’s actually strong and tough as hell.

One wag responded:

If you spin a story faster than lightspeed, does it go back in time and rescue the candidate from that deep trench she fell into?

The New Yorker rushed out a cartoon lampooning the coverup:

Hillary Clinton's coverup -- Schwartz, The New Yorker

Hillary Clinton’s coverup — Schwartz, The New Yorker

Others pointed out how much US journalism is starting to look like banana republic propaganda:

Our Leader is Strong Like Ox! -- Anarchyball

Our Leader is Strong Like Ox! — Anarchyball

Ooh, harsh. But fair. We look at people like the Kirchners in Argentina and wonder how they can get voted in despite their obvious corruption. Today many stories in US politics are broken by the British press, who aren’t as constrained by the access favor-trading that has “respectable” news organizations self-censoring and identifying with the power structure they are supposedly a check on.

What’s next? If Trump wins, will Milo Yiannopoulos be appointed White House press secretary? I have to admit he’d be highly entertaining. Would he then go on to anchor the new Trump News Network’s Sunday politics show?

 

If Trump wins, would it be wrong for him to work to dismantle the protected oligopoly cable networks now have, lowering prices for content and getting his own network the advantages Time-Warner, Disney, and Comcast now enjoy? What will all the partisan journalists do when their platforms begin to shrink?

The risks of a Trump presidency are enormous, but Hillary Clinton’s claim that half of his supporters are “deplorables,” meaning people who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it,” sounds very much like the character assassination progressives apply to anyone who disagrees with them about — anything. Internet memes immediately began to appear mocking her comment:

Les Deplorables -- via Christopher Buckley, source unknown

Les Deplorables — via Christopher Buckley, source unknown

What is the solution to the revolving door of influence and media corruption? One proposal is Glenn Reynolds’ “Revolving Door Tax.” It would also be a good idea for Congress to explicitly prohibit use of tax dollars to do executive branch PR — vast sums are spent to generate pro-government propaganda, contributing to spread of biased information. Progressive claims that such expenditures are necessary to prepare the population to accept programs like the ACA show exactly why they shouldn’t be allowed. The corrupt feedback loop allowing voters to be brainwashed to accept political-class programming needs to be stopped. The regulation of cable TV and high-speed Internet that prevents competition for their local monopolies also needs to end; the extra $50-100 per month paid by hundreds of millions of households is being plowed into acquisition of content providers, and the tiny fraction of their monopoly profits these companies plow back into supporting politicians and PR people is damaging our politics. The similar corrupt feedback loops in banking and finance, healthcare and insurance, energy policy, education — really everywhere government controls a major economic sector — are subjects of other posts.

 


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


For more reading goodness:

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again