Friday, July 29, 2016

A Man without a Party

Having watched both conventions, I am in a foul mood.  The media pokes fun at the dearth of black faces at the RNC, but one can name the white men who made it to the DNC stage.  We have become the two Americas that the politicians decry.  One is angry, straight, and white, and the other is smug and not those things.  The damage is worse on the Right, but that's to be expected.  Dysfunction is the demagogue's stock in trade.  Hillary has the wrong priorities, but, except for the glee she showed in taxing the rich, she is for advancing the downtrodden, while Trump wants to "take back" the ground where the downtrodden no longer fear to tread.

Serious conservatives are feeling especially impotent, unable to support "their" party's nominee, and unwilling to be associated with the views of the other.  The fecklessness of conservative politicians is mind-boggling.  It's like Warren Buffett says about how low tide shows you who's swimming naked. The Trump tsunami has revealed which Republicans are thinkers and which are posturers.  Speakers Ryan and Gingrich have come off particularly badly.  They have claimed to be philosophical conservatives, whether or not also fierce partisans.  But one cannot be a serious conservative and not bend every fiber to defeat Herr Trump.  One cannot be a patriot and sit still for his ascendance.  His rise is, in every sense of the word but one, "Unamerican."  That one sense is the one invoked by H.L. Mencken's observation that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.  Trump has lived that sad truth, and now he is running on it.

I am loathe to catalog my misgivings about Mrs. Clinton for fear they might be seen as reasons to vote against her this November.  I don't really care much about the "dishonesty."  Neither she nor her lying husband were thieves to any important extent, and both have sought to do in office what they said they would do.  Like oppose TPP, at least until it is called something else.  I don't doubt that Hillary will try to keep her campaign promises.  To the contrary, it's the promises I don't like.

She told the convention that she is not there to get rid of the Second Amendment.  Then she said that she is there to get rid of the First.  I can't wait to see how her proposed amendment to overturn Citizens United distinguishes between corporations that publish newspapers with editorials in them and corporations that merely purport to do that to get around some ridiculous distinction between them.  Citizens United was rightly decided, as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have proved.  Trump has been immune to PAC attacks, and Bernie raised tons of money at $27 a clip, without a PAC.  Big money couldn't get JEB out of the starting blocks.  Yet Democrats, as the party of the poor, pretend that there is a point and a hope of getting it out of politics.  Shame on her.

Hillary wants to pay for her job-creating infrastructure work.  Generally, paying for stimulus is oxymoronic, with an emphasis on the moronic.  How can you create jobs by taking spending money out of people's pockets?  All else equal, when we raise revenue to pay for increased spending, we penalize the private sector exactly as much as we benefit the public sector.  Where's the gain?  The answer, of course, is that the object of the tax is not to pay for anything; it is to get payback from those who have done so well.  It is redistribution masquerading as fiscal responsibility.  It probably will create jobs to the extent that it moves money out of financial assets and into infrastructure. But it's really just class warfare.

Here's what she said:
Wall Street, corporations, and the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.
Not because we resent success. Because when more than 90% of the gains have gone to the top 1%, that's where the money is.
Yeah, right.  Are we to believe that one's "fair share" of taxes is determined by whether one is where the money is?  But that we don't resent success?  (Like I said, she lies.)  Still, if the result is a better infrastructure and less income inequality, we will probably be better off than with neither of those results.

My own preference would be to borrow and print money to pay for the infrastructure work and redistribute wealth via a guaranteed basic income, also funded by printed money.  That's not to say the carried interest rule is a good thing, or that a higher tax rate on very high incomes would be a bad thing.  But not to raise revenue to pay for an improved national capital base.  The users can pay for that over time by using it to make things for the owners of the dollars printed to build it.  Future generations never pay in money; they always pay in outputs.  That is what self-styled fiscal conservatives always miss.

And then there's equal pay for women.  We have Title VII, and we have the Equal Pay Act.  The only thing left is the bureaucrat's delight called "comparable worth."  Yucch.  Don't get me started.  There is nothing left to be done on that front that is worth doing.  Hillary's motto is this:  "Give a woman a sou, and she eats for a day.  Teach her to sue, and she'll eat for a lifetime."   Maybe learning to negotiate would be more to the point.  There's really no there there, but the opportunity to pander to someone who is not white, male, and straight should not go to waste.

I guess we can blame it all on Nixon's southern strategy.  The GOP became the party of white trash when there were enough rednecks to win an election.  It is still the party of white trash, but there aren't enough to win an election, one hopes.  So the Democrats have naturally become the party of everybody else, including some ridiculous people on the left.  But somehow, the Democrats have abandoned the working stiff in the midwest.  They pay lip service to him, and they send Joe Biden to Scranton to mollify him, but they did not feature him in Philadelphia.  Where was the head of any major union?  I say this with no particular pro-union sentiment, just an observer of our polarized politics.  The party of the left doesn't need no stinkin' white men, so it isn't going to do anything to get their vote.  That could be a problem come November.

In general, the Philly convention was an exercise in bad triage.  Most of the preaching was to the converted, with one night targeted to an audience that included the non-disadvantaged.  Too little too late by my lights.  I think there were more votes to be gained than lost by courting the middle.  But that's just me, wishing there were a party for patriots who aren't angry.

(I'm not going to say anything about Trump beyond that his ascendance scares me as much as the possibility of his being President.  To paraphrase Dr. Johnson on women preaching, the remarkable thing is not that he is running well but that he is running at all.  What kind of people vote for that kind of person?  Sadly, Americans.)