I'M lunching with a liberal friend today, and I'm thinking about what I'm going to say about Trump. What is there to say?
I think the first thing is that Donald Trump has broken the Republican Party that we have had since the end of the Reagan administration. Initially, the party was inclined to concede a few things to the Democrats -- a little tax increase here, a No Child Left Behind there -- but as time went on the party found itself doing a slow retreat, with nothing to show for its good will, before the culture war of political correctness that has done an astonishing job of marginalizing the Anglo-Saxon culture that underpinned the Bourgeois ethos and makes capitalism possible.
Now all that is gone, washed out with the tide. The good old libertarian conservatism that I have professed most of my adult life is broken. That's what the long withdrawing roar of the #NeverTrump folks is all about.
It is all broken because the chief political victim of the last 50 years, the white working class, has suddenly found a voice in Donald Trump. As is usual with politics the Trump promise to Make America Great Again (in the way that benefited the white working class from 1945 to 1973) is empty. We cannot "make it like it was." The world of the future will not be a world of good jobs at good wages with pensions and lifetime tenure. It just won't.
But the world being promised by the Democrats, of benefits and privileges to the favored victims, won't be the world of the future either. I'd say that the benefit state has gone about as far as it can go -- 35 percent of GDP decided by political power -- and any attempts to boost it with new privileges and entitlements and subsidies are likely to break it.
There's a cry in the land right now to end free trade. I don't know quite what people mean by that, but the simple fact is that free trade is just a fancy name for market prices, letting the decisions of consumers rule the economy rather than the political decisions of special interests. We could say that we want to increase good jobs at good wages, but we can't do it by legislating higher wages or forcing manufacturing onshore. Oh sure, we can muck around at the margins and give out a subsidy here and a tariff there. We can ease the pain of the buggy-whip makers. But the basic proposition of global capitalism, innovation and "trade tested betterment" and the sweeping away of the old methods that use more energy and labor, is irreversible.
It is shocking to a guy like me to see Donald Trump promising to renegotiate NAFTA and teach China a lesson. In my experience Republicans just don't do that. But the truth is that politicians tell voters what they want to hear and then go off and do what they need to do, and call it what they want. What will Donald Trump do if he is elected president? We don't know. What will Hillary Clinton do? We don't know.
What we do know is that governments are armed minorities occupying territory that tax the inhabitants thereof to reward their supporters. Republicans haven't done much rewarding of their supporters recently and their supporters are mad. But then Democrats have promised a ton of Hope and Change to their supporters and they haven't delivered much on that either.
There's a lefty piece out by Harold Meyerson today remarking on the hollowing out of the middle class and the prospects for the Democrats to do something about it while the Republicans become white nationalists. The only problem is that, when the progressives started, a century ago, the US governments at all levels were spending about 7 percent of GDP. Now they are spending about 35 percent of GDP. I'd say that the progressive opportunity to reward their supporters tends to tap out at 35 to 40 percent of GDP. So there is not much more redistribution that progressives can do to attract and reward supporters.
The problem for all governments, and progressives in particular, is that supporters insist on being rewarded. That is bad enough. But they get really mad if you ever take stuff away from them. That's how you go Greece or Argentina or Venezuela. It's easy for a government to give the voters money. It is near impossible to take it back when you have ruined the economy with your handouts.
Yet the art and practice of politics is to promise people things that they shouldn't be asking for and shouldn't be getting.
The Trump phenomenon means the end of conservatism as we know it. And probably the end of a lot of other things too that we don't yet know about.
I'VE been having an email exchange with Craig Greenman, who I emailed on a whim after reading a comment of his on NRO. Our exchange is labeled "Definition of a Conservative." His latest email puts up his definition of what progressives want to do against my definition of conservatives as not that interested in power. In Craig's formulation "both progressives and conservatives want to empower ...
I confess that George Soros is to me an enigma. On the one hand he sponsors the Open Society Foundations. On the other he funds the Democratic Party and divisive leftist groups like Black Lives Matter. On the one hand he is a speculator and an investor. On the other hand he seems to be a supporter of the bureaucratic and centralist European Union. What does George Soros want? On Friday he was ...
YESTERDAY, June 24, 2016, the voters in Britain elected to leave the European Union. I think it is time to recall Enoch Powell, of the "Rivers of Blood" speech, who said that the European Union could never work because there is no European demos. He meant that a pan-European state required, to succeed, a pan-European people. However, the Brexit election showed that there isn't a British people...
FIVE YEARS after Bourgeois Dignity the third and last volume of Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Trilogy, all 787 pages, has hit the UPS truck. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say anything that McCloskey hasn’t already said.
The new book is titled Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital and Institutions, Enriched the World. The subtitle gives the clue. The book is about defending ...
WHAT WILL come after the welfare state? After 120 years, at the turn of the twenty-first century, it is clearly showing its age.... more
Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education
Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system
James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls
James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor
E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in
Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century
F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law
Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract
John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present
James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.
David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century
David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state
Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China
Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state
David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world
Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Heres how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>
The Road to the Middle Class is a journey from a world of power to a world of trust and love. In religion, it is a journey from power gods that respond to sacrifice and augury to the God who makes a covenant with mankind. In education, it is a journey from the world of the spoken word to the world of the written word. In community, it is the journey from dependence on blood kin and upon clientage under a great lord to the mutual aid and the rules of the self-governing fraternal association. In law it is the journey from the violence of force and feud to the kingŽs peace, the law of contract, and private property.
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity