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A Second, Less Republican, Republican Party?

two-elephants

The national pundit class has long longed for a third party that, coincidentally, holds the precise political views of the national pundit class. David Brooks has come up with a more practical solution: A separate Republican Party that, coincidentally, holds the precise political views of David Brooks but nonetheless works well with the existing Republican Party.

It’s probably futile to try to change current Republicans. It’s smarter to build a new wing of the Republican Party, one that can compete in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states, in the upper Midwest and along the West Coast. It’s smarter to build a new division that is different the way the Westin is different than the Sheraton.

Now, I’m a Hilton and Comfort Inn man. So I honestly have no clue in how Westin is different than Sheraton. They’re both owned by Starwood but the site is no help in differentiating the brands. So, the analogy is not particularly helpful.

In terms of the two GOPs, Brooks argues this about the existing model:

Since Barry Goldwater, the central Republican narrative has been what you might call the Encroachment Story: the core problem of American life is that voracious government has been steadily encroaching upon individuals and local communities. The core American conflict, in this view, is between Big Government and Personal Freedom.

[...]

The second G.O.P. wouldn’t be based on the Encroachment Story. It would be based on the idea that America is being hit simultaneously by two crises, which you might call the Mancur Olson crisis and the Charles Murray crisis.

Olson argued that nations decline because their aging institutions get bloated and sclerotic and retard national dynamism. Murray argues that America is coming apart, dividing into two nations — one with high education levels, stable families and good opportunities and the other with low education levels, unstable families and bad opportunities.

The second G.O.P. would tackle both problems at once. It would be filled with people who recoiled at President Obama’s second Inaugural Address because of its excessive faith in centralized power, but who don’t share the absolute antigovernment story of the current G.O.P.

So, we’re going to base a second GOP on a vague understanding of two social scientists, dedicated to somehow fixing outdated institutions, creating social mobility, and just the right amount of faith in government? And it’s going to more-or-less coexist with, let’s call it GOP Classic?

Are they both going to nominate their own presidential candidate? Because that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Or are they just going to exist at the state level? If so, how are they going to wrest control of the brand from the Tea Party?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    So, we’re going to base a second GOP on a vague understanding of two social scientists, dedicated to somehow fixing outdated institutions, creating social mobility, and just the right amount of faith in government? And it’s going to more-or-less coexist with, let’s call it GOP Classic?

    We could call it the Goldilocks Party — not too conservative, not too little conservative, but just the right amount of conservative.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 0

  2. Franklin says:

    He gets paid to write words down, so he does.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 0

  3. legion says:

    Brooks, as he often does, has no bloody idea what he’s talking about outside of a Beltway cocktail party. The GOP’s problem is that, in many (if not all) of its most secure strongholds, it is simply not possible to get elected to any local office without hewing to a platform that is loudly anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-any religion except evangelical Christianity – and in some areas, anti-women and anti-civil rights in general. That’s gotten them by for generations, but as we should have all learned from the last couple of Presidential elections, those platforms just don’t sell on a national stage. _That’s_ the “two GOPs” problem the party has – local politics versus national relevance.

    Over time, I sincerely hope, the hovels of social regression will continue to age, shrink, and eventually die out. But people whose self-image is built around calling themselves “Republicans” will have a very hard decade or two coming to them.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  4. C. Clavin says:

    I wonder if Brooks is suffering from some sort of early onset dimentia? He seems to have become untethered from reality over the last several years.
    Actually there is an entire group of moderates like Brooks who have come to realize that the centrist positions taken by Obama, many of which sensible Republicans agree with, leave totally exposed the extremism that has taken over the Republican Party.
    Therefore they long for an alternative.
    They can’t just agree with the President, and work together for the good of the country. No…that cannot be done.
    There must be an alternative to that!!!
    No matter how stupid it seems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  5. gVOR08 says:

    One, that’s Charles Murray of AEI and The Bell Curve, so one of the two “social scientists” has no credibility, and Brooks wants a little subtle racism in the mix.
    Two. Has anyone read Mancur Olson? Does he have anything useful?
    Three. I can’t wait to get home and read Charlie Pierce tonight. (I don’t read him at work, people find the laughter too distracting.) Pierce routinely eviscerates Brooks idiocy, and this column is certainly, shall we say, target rich.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  6. Tyrell says:

    In other words, the party of Nixon, Ford, Dirksen, and Lamar Alexander. This has been recommended for some time as the way Republicans can get back to the center – right: stay away from social issues, economic program that encourages small businesses, strong education system, keep government out of people’s houses, sensible government regulations where needed, and foreign policy that keeps our soldiers out of far away countries. It would help to have candidates that people can get excited about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s probably futile to try to change current Republicans. It’s smarter to build a new wing of the Republican Party, one that can compete in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states, in the upper Midwest and along the West Coast.

    OH BOY! Let’s call it the “New War of Northern Aggression”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. Dave says:

    I thought we already had this party and it is the democratic party. Since the GOP moves more to the right, the democrats get to fill in the middle. That is precisely what is happening but with the other party. I am confused is he calling for a return to Rockefeller Republicans?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    stay away from social issues, economic program that encourages small businesses, strong education system, keep government out of people’s houses, sensible government regulations where needed, and foreign policy that keeps our soldiers out of far away countries.

    Hmmmmmm….. Now who does that sound like?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  10. john personna says:

    The great fun, and positive aspect, is the overarching awareness in the pundit class that the Republican party is broken and does need a fix.

    … after that, yes, they can roll it nine ways to Sunday, the punch line being whether or not exactly the same GOP runs in 2016 after all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. john personna says:

    Heh, after much sturm und drang, Ryan 2016

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tyrell:

    This has been recommended for some time as the way Republicans can get back to the center – right: stay away from social issues, economic program that encourages small businesses, strong education system, keep government out of people’s houses, sensible government regulations where needed, and foreign policy that keeps our soldiers out of far away countries.

    So, basically, pretty much what the Democrats are already doing.

    If you want these things, you have the option right now of voting for the Democrats. So who needs the Republicans?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  13. Rob in CT says:

    David Brooks has been paid lots of money to write silly things for some time now. This should not surprise anyone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. Spartacus says:

    Brooks wrote:

    Since Barry Goldwater, the central Republican narrative has been what you might call the Encroachment Story: the core problem of American life is that voracious government has been steadily encroaching upon individuals and local communities.

    In other words, a substantial number of us in the GOP are bigots.

    The second G.O.P. wouldn’t be based on the Encroachment Story. It would be based on the idea that America is being hit simultaneously by two crises,

    In other words, those of us who aren’t driven by bigotry would like government to function properly, but the rest of the country now knows that tax cuts won’t build bridges or repair hurricane damage.

    Unfortunately for Brooks and other GOP tribalists, there are too many bigots in the GOP and not enough people who’ve spent time trying to think of solutions because all they cared about was winning – good public policy was never their goal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  15. john personna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    So, basically, pretty much what the Democrats are already doing.

    In the words of “teh base” a moderate Republican party is just “Democrats light” and cannot be supported.

    If you want these things, you have the option right now of voting for the Democrats. So who needs the Republicans?

    Obviously they could spin it with a little more market and a little less high speed rail, but see above, could and “could.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. ernieyeball says:

    Sheraton! Hilton!
    If this is the Republican Lodging Universe you aren’t truly serious about making the GOP tent Bed and Breakfast accommodating to citizens who might otherwise find a room at the Democratic Inn.
    As one who has travelled 14 States plying my trade since 1973 and stayed at the Motel 6 when it actually cost $6 a night ($1/night extra for black and white TV) I can say that for me today’s Super 8/Democratic Motel is far more hospitable and welcoming than the exclusive wet bar Westin!
    The Republican Party is out of touch…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    Why does anyone still Read David Brooks? Oh that’s right – to mock him!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  18. john personna says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    And, in our universe, to increase his page rank.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Tyrell says:

    @Rafer Janders: People will always want a choice. Things go in cycles. People want a change in policies, bad economy, some military disaster, scandals, etc. Sometimes they just get tired of the same old people in charge. There was a time a while back when the Democrat party was in disarray and was being written off – couldn’t win anything, leaderless, Republican registrations were going through the roof. Memories fade, and things move faster now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  20. C. Clavin says:

    So Tyrell…you support Republicans just because they are Republicans? How long before they find their way out of the woods?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. Mikey says:

    let’s call it GOP Classic?

    One has to wonder if “New GOP” would last any longer than “New Coke” did.

    “New GOP! Better tasting, better feeling, more inviting than ever!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey:

    “Tastes Great!”
    “Less Filling!”
    “Tastes Great!”
    “Less Filling!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. C. Clavin says:

    Actually they tried a new GOP…they called it the Tea Party.
    Didn’t work out so well.
    Brooks in 2010 said they wouldn’t take over the GOP:

    The Tea Partiers will not take over the G.O.P., but it seems as though the ’60s political style will always be with us — first on the left, now the right.

    Poor David was wrong. The Tea Baggers ruined his beloved party for him. Now he wants to invent something new…the Democratic Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  24. Moosebreath says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    “Tastes Great!”
    “Less Filling!”

    I like the easy opening cans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. SoWhat says:

    Although Brooks is a moron for swooning over and promoting Obama because of the crease in his pants, I do see a way forward for the GOP, and that is to admit and actively court libertarians into the tent. This would be a natural fit since libertarians want even less govenment than the establishment GOP which lately seems more concerned about getting their pigs to the taxapayer trough than actually reducing the scope of Big Government.

    The activist TEA Party and libertarians could be a potent force—just by running on Obama’s ’08 campaign promises. Remember when Obama said Bush was “unpatriotic” for running up the debt? LOL on steroids!

    As Alinsky said, make them live up to their own bullsh*t—paraphrased, of course!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  26. C. Clavin says:

    @ SoWhat…
    Kettle, meet Pot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. stonetools says:

    Is David Brooks wishing for a third party any different from James hoping that the Republican Party return to its “moderate”, Reaganite roots? Or for Bobby Jindal calling for the Republican Party not to be the “Stupid Party”, although keeping the same policies?
    At least everyone agrees the current GOP is broken at the national level. But its still a dangerous beast, with the capacity to f*(k things up for the rest of country, or at least in the states where it is dominant, till the next redistricting.
    As for me , if things get too bad, I plan on moving back to Blue America. Maryland ain’t that far away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve never been that impressed with Westin or Sheraton. I go Hyatt when available and I’m paying my own way. Four Seasons when I can get someone else to pick up the tab.

    We were talking about hotels, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I like the easy opening cans.

    and don’t forget, “To open, Twist.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. sam says:

    Whiiiiiigs!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. swbarnes2 says:

    @SoWhat:

    Although Brooks is a moron for swooning over and promoting Obama because of the crease in his pants, I do see a way forward for the GOP, and that is to admit and actively court libertarians into the tent.

    Gary Johnson only got one percent of the vote? Doug may have voted for former Republican Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, but he happily voted for Bob McDonnell too. So of the small number of libertarians, most of them are already voting for Republicans anyway. Outreach to a tiny group mostly in your pocket already isn’t really outreach.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  32. Woody says:

    Indiana Governor Daniels repeatedly vowing not to sign anti-worker legislation. Did anyway. Michigan Governor Snyder doing the same. Wisconsin Governor Walker doing the same.
    Virginia Governor McDonnell vows not to sign off on the anti-democracy-dirty-trick redistricting bill. Fifty bucks to a bent hairpin he signs off on it anyway.

    The Republican Party has gone further right in the last six months when one looks at enacted policy. This ends David Brooks’ current fantasy.

    The big problem for the Nation is that the horserace, rather than policy, is far more valuable to news corporations in terms of viewership (and profit). Even if GOP 2016 featured a Palin-Gohmert ticket, every news network would work overtime to promote the contest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We were talking about hotels, right?

    Nooooo, I thought we were talking about beer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: Actually I have gone more independent after being a southern democrat for a long time. Lately I have gone from Ralph Nader to Gary Johnson. Also liked Ventura and Schwarzennegar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  35. Moosebreath says:

    @SoWhat:

    “I do see a way forward for the GOP, and that is to admit and actively court libertarians into the tent”

    Brilliant! The GOP seeks to add a group which is collectively a rounding error of the national electorate, while decreasing the enthusiasm of their base, who like government intrusion on some matters (abortion, gay rights, etc.). What can possibly go wrong?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  36. SoWhat says:

    Yeah, Moosebreath, I guess you’re right; we need one party government like, say the old Soviet Union. That worked out so well for them. lol

    DEMOCRATS UBER ALLES!

    One Party Democrat rule; what could possibly go wrong? Um, California and Illinois?

    LOL

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 17

  37. legion says:

    @SoWhat:

    I do see a way forward for the GOP, and that is to admit and actively court libertarians into the tent.

    In addition to the other rebuttals, I would also point out that “Libertarians” are one of the few groups that the mainstream GOP has even less respect for than immigrants or women who want to control their own uteruses (uteri?). Even the Tehadists, who are more gullible and easily lied to, get more respect simply because they’re apt to become irrationally violent at random times. Libertarians are the Emo Kids of the GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  38. john personna says:

    @SoWhat:

    Independents are a much bigger group to go after than libertarians.

    See also “lapsed Republican,” a term popularized by Kevin Phillips.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. Moosebreath says:

    @SoWhat:

    Other than partially being in the same language, your response has nothing to do with my comment and nothing to do with the real world. In other words, a typical response by a Randian Utopian.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  40. grumpy realist says:

    Could Libertarians please show me a single country in the world where Libertarian policies have been put into place by a government or a populace?

    Hint: if you can’t find evidence of your theoretical system working, maybe it’s not that the rest of the world is wrong. Maybe YOU are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  41. C. Clavin says:

    SoWhat is onto something…I just don’t know what.
    Libertarian ideology is even more out of touch with the real world than the ideology of today’s Republicans. I fail to see how Republicans, who believe in failed policies, help themselves by embracing the nonsense of Libertarians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  42. legion says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Hint: if you can’t find evidence of your theoretical system working, maybe it’s not that the rest of the world is wrong. Maybe YOU are.

    Don’t hold your breath, grumpy. Supply-side economists have been proven wrong in every single real-world application since the 80s, and they still get jobs…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  43. legion says:

    SoWhat is onto something…I just don’t know what.

    Fixed that…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. SoWhat says:

    Well yeah, if the GOP could just be more like Democrats, all would be right with the world. Why can’t those pesky GOPers see the future like North Korea, Russia and China. One Party Rules, Two Party drools!!1111!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  45. Woody says:

    @SoWhat:

    This reads exactly like the Argument Sketch.

    “If we’re going to have an argument, it requires that I must take the contrary position”

    I don’t want one party rule – I’d just like both parties to be Not Bats**t. This is a feature of most functioning democracies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  46. john personna says:

    @SoWhat:

    We are roughly 1/3 Republican, 1/3 Democrat, and 1/3 independent. The Republicans have slipped a bit though, and had less ability to pull votes from independents than the Dems, which triggers all this discussion.

    All you need to do to win is to again appeal to those independents and pull from the middle.

    There are millions and millions of self-described “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” types to pull from, but it isn’t the “fiscally conservative” part that is really keeping them away. It’s the social agenda.

    The GOP needs some math … how many votes on the social extreme do they lose to gain how many in the middle?

    Of course they may not even be able to run that math if the social conservatives are at the controls. Which means the lapsed Republicans are likely to stay lapsed, and rape and abortion become easy wedge issues for the Dems to use in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  47. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Could Libertarians please show me a single country in the world where Libertarian policies have been put into place by a government or a populace?

    Prostitution’s legal in Germany. Does that count?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    No.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  49. Moosebreath says:

    @Mikey:

    “Prostitution’s legal in Germany.”

    And various drugs are legal in Holland. Ask your favorite Randian if they want this country to be more or less like Germany and Holland (all laws, not just cherry-picking a few).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  50. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: It was the only one I could think of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  51. Mikey says:

    @Moosebreath: Grumpy asked, I answered. Intended to be facetious, although it’s pretty hard to convey tongue-in-cheek on the Internet sometimes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  52. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “Lately I have gone from Ralph Nader to Gary Johnson. Also liked Ventura and Schwarzennegar.”

    And after your infatuation, did you ever bother to check in on how they governed? Schwarzenegger was a disaster as a governor, because he never lost the actor’s desperate need to be loved, so he swung wildly from hard right to mushy moderate back to right, then a feint left — whoever hated him that week, he courted. He was unable to form any alliances with legislators on either side, and accomplished nothing.

    Fortunately he was the last straw for the Republican party in California. We elected a real Democrat as governor, gave him the supermajority he needed to pass a budget, and he’s already balanced the budget and put us on a course to be a great state again.

    Ventura was about as big a train wreck as Arnold.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  53. wr says:

    @SoWhat: “One Party Democrat rule; what could possibly go wrong? Um, California and Illinois?”

    Um, would that be the California that has a balanced budget and is increasing funding to education since we elected a Democratic governor and a Democratic supermajority in the legislature? When the rump Republican party could no longer hold the entire state hostage to their Norquist pledges?

    One party rule may not be ideal — but it’s a lot better than having Republicans in government these days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  54. anjin-san says:

    @ SoWhat

    California

    You mean where we have a balanced budget and we can still send welfare to red states?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  55. anjin-san says:

    Schwarzenegger was a disaster as a governor

    Schwarzenegger spend much of the first few months he had in office flying around the state in a private jet to host 50K a plate fundraisers. He raised quite a bit of money, which was just about his only accomplishment during his tenure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  56. al-Ameda says:

    It’s probably futile to try to change current Republicans. It’s smarter to build a new wing of the Republican Party, one that can compete in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states, in the upper Midwest and along the West Coast. It’s smarter to build a new division that is different the way the Westin is different than the Sheraton.

    The easy way to accomplish what Brooks wants – a permanent majority Republican Party – is to have most of the Old South, plus a few ‘new states (like Oklahoma, Texas, maybe Kansas, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming) secede from the Union.

    And, this time, let them go, What’s the downside?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  57. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: I wonder if Brooks is suffering from some sort of early onset dimentia?

    I know that’s a typo for “dementia,” but I just wanted to say that I really, really like that word. And it fits certain people so well… totally dim-witted, but they think they actually make reasonable points.

    A perfect example: wr and anjin, touting California’s “balanced budget” — when that balance is based on very optimistic projections. Projections from people who, in the very recent past, projected a $948 million surplus that turned into a $943 million deficit. But then, I guess 1.9 billion is just a rounding error, right?

    I’m reworking my retirement plan on the lines of California’s budget. I’m projecting winning the lottery twice. And if my projections later need “revising,” well, then, I’ll simply push back the lottery winnings until next year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  58. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: Why is it that the people who talk most about secession are the liberals? And it’s always phrased as “let them go,” but comes across as “kick them out?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @al-Ameda:

    And, this time, let them go, What’s the downside?

    We’d lose Yellowstone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Why is it that the people who talk most about secession are the liberals?

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Just exactly what kind of drugs do you do?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  61. legion says:

    @SoWhat:

    Why can’t those pesky GOPers see the future like North Korea, Russia and China. One Party Rules, Two Party drools!!1111!!!

    You might want to consider taking a grade-school level civics class. In the countries you mention, they have only one party because the government explicitly outlawed any others. That’s a single-party socialist state for you. In the US, if we get to a one-party era, it will be because the GOP, in its incompetence, has alienated every single voter who isn’t old, white, male, and rich. That’s the free market making its opinion heard. You should learn the difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  62. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Why is it that the people who talk most about secession are the liberals?

    That may be the single dumbest lie you’ve ever written, Jenos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  63. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @legion: Look who most often introduces the subject around these parts, pardner. And note how they don’t tend to cite actual would-be secessionists, just talk about them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  64. Rafer Janders says:

    @legion:

    That may be the single dumbest lie you’ve ever written, Jenos.

    Oh, I don’t know. Last week he claimed that commercial air travel could never be accepted by Americans because of Freedom! or something. You know, the same commercial air travel we’ve had for about 80 years now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  65. OzarkHillbilly says:
  66. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That google search came up with 6,420,000 hits in .11 seconds

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  67. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: What @OzarkHillbilly said. We don’t start these things, you buffoon; we make fun of Republicans when _they_ mouth off. You _are_ the thing you are complaining about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  68. Jeremy says:

    @Rafer Janders: I would hardly call the Democratic Party the party of “sensible government regulations” nor the party of “encouraging small business.” Have we ignored the past five years?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  69. Jeremy says:

    Look, there’s really only one way to save the Republican Party, and that’s to become more libertarian. Dropkick the social conservatism out the door. You can’t have a party that says it will stay out of the boardroom invade the bedroom, and you can’t do that to foreign countries either.

    Stop bailing out corporations and the banks. Stop the cronyism. Stop the subsidies to keep food prices high. Stop being pro-business and start being pro-market. Look for ways to break down the barriers holding people down and increase income mobility (forget about income inequality, it’s meaningless). Stop denigrating the poor and help them help themselves. Start getting serious about entitlement reform, because we’re already pass the point of no return, and now it’s just a question of how hard we’ll hit. Also, and this one is probably going to be very controversial, but it’s time to look at radical welfare reform. Whether that’s a negative income tax or a basic income, we need to replace the bloated mess we have today, but we do need to establish some sort of minimal safety net or floor so that people at least have a launchpad to get their lives started(and, for those Objectivists, don’t drag on the rest of us).

    Stop being hypocritical on government spending: government spending is government spending. That means that you have to take cuts to defense spending too. Stop trying to take that stuff off the table. It’s stupid and makes you look like fourth-graders. If we’re going to cut government, we’re going to cut all of it, not just the parts you don’t like.

    And for the love of jesus, stop being so virulently religious. Atheists and the nonreligious are one of the fastest growing demographics today. What’s interesting is that a lot of them are, if not the garden variety conservative, are more free market than people think. They’re not automatically godless Communists. I would say 50-60% are free market libertarians. Enough with the Christian rhetoric in your speeches. You don’t have to be a god-fearing Christian to believe in free markets and individual responsibility. That theoconservatism, combined with the social conservatism, is the #1 reason why the GOP brand sucks today. A lot of people don’t mind the free market and are cool with working for themselves and making some money to get ahead. But they can’t stand the religious crap, even if they are Christians. Nobody is that hardcore outside of Alabama and Georgia, and you can’t win elections with just two states.

    Enough is enough is enough.

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  70. john personna says:

    @Jeremy:

    Again, 1/3 Republicans, 1/3 independents, and 1/3 Democrats.

    Sometimes I think people on the right side of the Republican party say to themselves “those independents really think like me, and a strong conservative message will appeal to them.”

    But if the independents were strongly conservative, would they really be independent?

    I think the more reasonable expectation is that they are neither Republican nor Democrat because they are moderate. A moderate and conservative fiscal message may appeal to them, but I really don’t think they are ready for libertarianism, in a “dismantle the safety net” sense.

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  71. Rafer Janders says:

    I think the more reasonable expectation is that they are neither Republican nor Democrat because they are moderate.

    Many of them aren’t even that moderate. Instead they’re confused, apolitical, rather ignorant and fearful of politics and don’t understand how it works. They’ll go along with the last thing they heard that makes sense to them. They’re human weathervanes.

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  72. john personna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Let’s avoid the trap that only the extreme are reasoned, it might more than imply a contradiction.

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  73. Rafer Janders says:

    @john personna:

    Oh god no, wasn’t implying that at all. There’s a great deal of confusion, tribalism and illogic on the extremes as well. But I see a great deal of mushy middle-ism in the US, the belief that the right place to be is at the exact midpoint of two arguments. It often makes as much sense as dividing the baby up into two.

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  74. john personna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    As a moderate, who oft-times sees more liberal and more conservative positions linked to hot buttons, I would suggest that the mushy middle might just be balanced in the humors.

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  75. Jeremy says:

    @john personna: I’m not saying they’re conservative. I’m saying they’re libertarian.

    http://www.cato.org/blog/america-center-libertarian-nation

    America is not a left-of-center nation. We’re a country of people who really want to be left the hell alone, whether they be preachers or bureaucrats.

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  76. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jeremy:

    We’re a country of people who really want to be left the hell alone, whether they be preachers or bureaucrats.

    Eh, no we’re not. Americans are, at heart, a country of people who really want to be told what to do and what to believe in. Sure, we tell ourselves we’re all rugged cowboys, but that’s not how we act.

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  77. Jeremy says:

    @john personna:

    Also, there’s no need to really “dismantle the safety net.” I did mention a basic income (I think I did, at least) which does, in fact, have a classical liberal/libertarian justification in some cases. Hayek, for instance, wasn’t totally opposed to that:

    http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2012/05/hayek-on-serfdom-and-welfare-states/

    I would link to an SSRN paper by Matt Zwolinski on the classical liberal UBI, but I’m afraid two links will flag my comment as spam. (It’s literally called “Classical Liberalism and the Basic Income.”) There’s also the idea of a participation income, which has some restrictions to avoid people laying on their butts all day doing nothing but collecting a check, but broadly defined so that it’s a pretty wide net. I kinda like the latter, but I’ve heard that has problems too.

    What we need is a system that is not a bloated leviathan of myriad rules and regulations. We need to get things down to the bare essentials, and 90% of today’s regulation is not sensible and does not need to be here (mostly because it was written by corporations trying to knock their competitors out of the market, or by do-gooding activists who were used by said corporations.) Some light regulation here and there, following the general rules that Hayek noted, and a basic income or something to provide a general floor for the public, and we’re good. The resulting economic prosperity and income mobility should take care of the rest (with the UBI handling those who, for whatever reason, still fall through the cracks.)

    I think that’s a decent system, don’t you?

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  78. Jeremy says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I’m not going to lie that there are a lot of sheep in today’s American public, most of whom are young and have been coddled (not their fault, though; they’ve mostly been lied to, too). But I don’t think that is all Americans, and I don’t think the current situation will necessarily stay that way for long.

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  79. swbarnes2 says:

    @Jeremy:

    Some light regulation here and there,

    I have no idea what this means.

    Will “light regulation” keep my air clean? My food safe? If I buy medication, will I have some reason to believe that it will actually do what it claims to do?

    Does “light regulation” mean that my employers can refuse to spend money on safety equipment, just to save a few dollars in the short term? Can “lightly regulated” businesses fire someone for being gay? Or pregnant? Or for not going to a prayer meeting?

    Are the people who manufacture the brakes on your car going to be “lightly regulated”? Or the people who built the furnace in your house?

    When your doctor tells you she is “board-certified”, what will you take that to mean, if lightly regulated doctors like Paul Rand can make up their own boards?

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  80. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jeremy:

    We need to get things down to the bare essentials,

    Why?

    This is not, it may surprise you, a first principle that most people agree with.

    If you were, say, buying a plane ticket, would you want to fly on an airline that said it operated with only the bare essentials and was lightly regulated, or with the airline that said it did more than was necessary and was strongly regulated?

    The fact is, we’re a big, complicated country with hundreds of millions of people with an insanely interconnected and overlapping web of national, regional and local companies and economies. Saying we need to run the US on bare essential is like saying we need to run an aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine on bare essentials. Big, complex systems require a lot of organization to run.

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  81. Rob in CT says:

    Libertarians basically have to delude themselves into believing their ideology is a lot more popular than it really is. On Earth Prime, it’s MAYBE a ~10% of the public ideology, tops (they get ~1% in elections, but I’m being generous and assuming perfect circumstances for them). Accepting this would be depressing.

    Americans (indeed, humans) do a lot of magical thinking. One way you can see this is polling people on self-ID and then polling them on actual policy positions. Result: they think of themselves as conservative or moderate, but want things that liberals want. But if you call them liberals… oh boy.

    The bleeding-heart libertarians are fine by me, in that I think they might make some contributions to the discourse. But seriously, libertarianism is a tiny minority ideology. BHLs are a tiny minority within that tiny minority (how many libertarians think they are LINO apostates?).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  82. Jeremy says:

    @swbarnes2:

    What I mean is that there should still be regulation prohibiting fraud and establishing private property rights, obviously. I don’t think anyone can object to that. But let’s look at your questions, now.

    Will “light regulation” keep my air clean? My food safe? If I buy medication, will I have some reason to believe that it will actually do what it claims to do?

    Let’s put air aside for the moment, and look at food and medication. You ask if government regulation will keep them safe. Surprise–even in today’s world, they don’t. Nothing can be 100% safe. But in a free market economy, customers notice bad products and stop purchasing from that source, demand refunds, and in some cases even sue. No government regulation required–they are already punished by the market severely (in some cases, more severely than regulation.)

    Does “light regulation” mean that my employers can refuse to spend money on safety equipment, just to save a few dollars in the short term? Can “lightly regulated” businesses fire someone for being gay? Or pregnant? Or for not going to a prayer meeting?

    For safety equipment, that would be a dumb idea to forego that, but can and should we really require it? Think about that for a second. What kind of safety equipment would be required? How much of it? What sort of testing? This is precisely where large, politically connected businesses interject themselves into the public policy process and lobby so that their safety equipment products are required by the government. Frequently, this has less to do with genuine safety and more to do with political rentseeking and cronyism.

    As for your job requirements, think of what might happen should the “other side” get into power with these sort of rules in place. They might order you to hire homophobic racist bigots, in order to balance out your workforce against more “liberal” employees. Do you want government to have that power? Should you be forced to hire people who regularly shout anti-gay slurs toward their coworkers?

    As for the other questions, this goes back to part 1 above. There is a natural selection process that constantly goes on through the free market system using the feedback mechanism of profit and loss. A company or professional that does badly loses sales and may be the target of lawsuits. People talk about how badly they do and others avoid them. Think this doesn’t happen already? Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Google+ (okay, that was a joke), and sites like The Consumerist already provide a sort of feedback mechanism to inform other consumers and let them know who is doing business badly. The problem with this feedback system is that it has been short-circuited by a government regulation system that has been co-opted by Big Business, which uses government regulators to craft rules that keep their competitors out of their markets, and thus insulate them from market forces.

    Now, as for air, I will give you that one. That’s because air falls under the academic definition of a “public good,” meaning that is nonexcludable (I can’t keep you from breathing in air–well, unless I try to suffocate you) and nonrivalrous in consumption (meaning your consumption of air doesn’t take away from my consumption of air–as long as we’re not at the bottom of the ocean or on the International Space Station.) I think a system of pollution taxes would be preferable to command and control regulation on this front, though, due to the corruption influence I noted above. For instance, the Clean Air Act was passed largely because GE (I think it was GE) had a new air scrubber technology they wanted to make money off of, and they figured a government law requiring it would be the way to do it!

    Now, do you really want to give so much power to Big Business? I doubt it.

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  83. Jeremy says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    If you were, say, buying a plane ticket, would you want to fly on an airline that said it operated with only the bare essentials and was lightly regulated, or with the airline that said it did more than was necessary and was strongly regulated?

    Ah, now this is an interesting question. This is actually precisely the natural selection process I noted to my reply to Barnes above: people choose services that they want, and companies have to adapt or go out of business. And regulation does not necessarily mean government; the MPAA rating system is a form of industry self-regulation. And a company can certainly adopt stringent safety policies that are entirely within the company. They may even take pride in, and sell themselves on, those policies. And I have no problem with consumers who voluntarily (that’s the key word) make that decision.

    But having that decision forced on you is no charity or compassion. It’s just force.

    The fact is, we’re a big, complicated country with hundreds of millions of people with an insanely interconnected and overlapping web of national, regional and local companies and economies. Saying we need to run the US on bare essential is like saying we need to run an aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine on bare essentials. Big, complex systems require a lot of organization to run.

    This is an interesting comment–because it is precisely because we’re such a big, complicated country that we can’t have government managing all of it (the economy, I mean.) One of Hayek’s central theses is the Knowledge Problem–that there are so many datapoints out there you couldn’t know them all and manage them. You could not direct an economy to accomplish some task–not only would you not have the information, but what task or goal would it be? Who would decide it? What if other people in the economy disagreed with this task/goal? You might say you would build a computer, but would said computer also scan everyone’s brain to know what they want, at every millisecond? (Because that’s what the market is based on–people’s wants and desires, which are entirely subjective, and which change not just on each individual, but where and when that individual is.)

    Do you really think you could manage all that? Do you really think you could hand that task off to a committee and have them manage all that? We’ve been trying that for decades and it really hasn’t worked. We’ve tried that for the past 5-6 years, under both parties, and it hasn’t worked. (And don’t give me the line about Republican obstructionism–that just reinforces my stance on who chooses society’s tasks/goals, and also doesn’t really mean anything. Especially with the Democrats in total power from 2008-2010. They still didn’t get any stuff done.)

    Many people have tried to manage a complex, modern economy over the centuries. They have all failed. (Even Krugman.) Ultimately, only the individual knows what is best for him or her, and only he or she has the moral power to make those decisions. I am not an anarchist–I still see a need for judicial functions, defense from foreign aggressors, provision of truly public goods (and by that you really need to look up in the EconLibrary the term “public goods”), and a modest social safety net, based on universal principles, to catch those who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own–but the massive government bureaucracy that would inevitably form to manage such a highly complex economy would drown under its own weight, and take everybody else with it.

    Yes, the economy is complex–that’s why we have a free market.

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  84. Jeremy says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Fair enough. I may be overstating the case somewhat. I do think, though, we’re trending in the direction of becoming a center-libertarian nation. The people fed up with both big banks and big government, the decline of labor unions, the growth in membership of Ron Paul-esque* groups and other liberty organizations such as Students for Liberty, and the growing trend away from socially conservative positions. It will definitely take some time to become the norm, and I’m prepared to deal with another decade of left-wing (and right-wing) inanity all over the place, but after the short-term pain there will be a lot of long-term gain (at least, from my point of view.) Judging by the fiscal situation and the maths, it is inevitable.

    *Note that Ron Paul does not represent all of libertarianism. In fact, there are a lot of people–myself included–who are annoyed with him or his followers. Which is the real problem with the libertarian “movement:” We eat our own more than the Republicans do.

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  85. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: If you actually read what I wrote and didn’t listen to blithering idiots, I said high-speed rail would be unlikely to catch on to the point where it would ever be practical and self-supporting. When some idiot (I think wr) introduced air travel as a counter-argument, I just shrugged and said to myself “this finally got too stupid.” High-speed rail is NOT intended to compete with air travel, especially transcontinentally; the rail is to supplant private automobiles, which just ain’t gonna happen.

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  86. wr says:

    @Jeremy: You’re fourteen, right?

    Please, go out into the real world, see what it’s like, and then come back and tell us how it matches your ideology.

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  87. wr says:

    @Jeremy: Shorter Jeremy: “The economy is complex, so we can’t have government inspectors making sure you don’t die from tainted meat. Plus Hayek!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  88. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Hey Stupid — Right now, people have two choices when they go from LA to SF: They can drive or they can fly. When the HSR system is complete, they will have three choices: They can drive, they can fly, or they can take the train.

    And yet, you have decided that the train will draw only from the pool of drivers.

    Also, too, you’re the one who said that when Americans took any form of transportation other than their own cars, they felt their freedom being crushed under the jackboot of tyranny. I merely gave you one example proving you’re an idiot.

    One more example, that is…

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  89. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I suggest you look at the Tokyo-Osaka link on the Shinkansen before stating so absolutely that it’s impossible for high-speed rail to compete with the airlines. There’s a reason why there’s so few planes flying that hop.

    A high-speed rail between Washingon, NYC, Baltimore, and Boston would probably be quite competitve. As soon as you get OUT to the airport, go through the security hassle, get in the plane, fly to your location, deplane, get your luggage, and then get INTO the city, you might as well have jumped on a high-speed train that was already linked into the local transportation system.

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  90. Jeremy says:

    @wr: Hey, wr, I work in Washington where I get to see the federal government up close and personal every day. Hell, I’ve worked for the federal government, right in the belly of the beast.

    But please, continue to throw out childish insults degrading my age and experience. It only makes you look worse.

    Also, if you’re going to refute my claim that the economy is too complex for government regulation, then actually put forward some evidence or an argument refuting me. If you don’t, I will be forced to conclude that you have actually conceded the argument to me, and that you have nothing with which to argue against. Childish insults and one-liners do not an argument make.

    This, on the other hand, is an argument: http://econlib.org/library/Essays/hykKnw1.html

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  91. swbarnes2 says:

    @Jeremy:

    Let’s put air aside for the moment, and look at food and medication. You ask if government regulation will keep them safe. Surprise–even in today’s world, they don’t. Nothing can be 100% safe. But in a free market economy, customers notice bad products and stop purchasing from that source, demand refunds, and in some cases even sue.

    Poor people can’t sue! Especially if companies play financial games and close up shop and change names to avoid the consequences of their actions. For instance:

    But in a letter dated Nov. 11, 2004, Paul Cirel, an attorney for NECC, argued that such disciplinary action would be “potentially fatal” to NECC’s business. In a footnote, he asserted, “Once disclosed, the reprimand will surely result in investigations/inquiries/investigations in those other jurisdictions. Regardless of the derivative actions taken, the attendant legal and administrative costs will be devastating.”

    So, the lab was a disaster waiting to happen, but since making that known to consumers like you would have been bad for business, consumers like you weren’t told. A few dozen people died of meningitis, a few hundred more sickened.

    So between spending a few pennies a person to have inspectors who can shut shoddy operations like that down, and 300 deathly ill people, you really prefer the latter?

    Really, is that how you want to live? Suffering a major health crisis every month, and then suing the people who did it? Or discover at age 50 that your health is permanently impaired because you were slowly poisoned, and never knew? The company will hire a team of lawyers who do nothing but make sure people like you do not make one thin dime. Can you personally afford better? Can you personally afford to hire better, and then lose your case?

    Economies of scale. It’s much more efficient for one body to handle safety issues than to make every single person spend all the time and effort and money trying to protect themselves, and to make individual suits when they inevitably get hurt.

    For safety equipment, that would be a dumb idea to forego that, but can and should we really require it?

    Well, good thing businesses make 100% sound decisions. Sure, government isn’t 100% perfect, but businesses sure are.

    Think about that for a second. What kind of safety equipment would be required? How much of it? What sort of testing? This is precisely where large, politically connected businesses interject themselves into the public policy process and lobby so that their safety equipment products are required by the government. Frequently, this has less to do with genuine safety and more to do with political rentseeking and cronyism.

    So because theoretically safety regs might become a political football, you think it’s fine and dandy for, say, a laboratory to decide that radioactive waste management is too expensive, you’d be fine if they just dumped it in the canyon? Or in your yard? After all, you can always sue them when you get cancer in 20 years, right?

    As for your job requirements, think of what might happen should the “other side” get into power with these sort of rules in place. They might order you to hire homophobic racist bigots, in order to balance out your workforce against more “liberal” employees.

    Are you just trolling? No sane person could possibly have written this intending to be taken for an intelligent person.

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  92. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    A high-speed rail between Washingon, NYC, Baltimore, and Boston would probably be quite competitve.

    We already have that, to an extent, although the Acela isn’t nearly as fast as what they have in Japan and parts of Europe. Is it competitive? I’m not sure, but it’s a very good alternative, at least. It certainly beats driving, especially if you’re going from DC to NYC, which can be a truly hellish drive. I’ve taken the train to NYC for business, and found it quite nice.

    Plus, riding from Penn Station to points south on a Friday evening is like a great big party, although I would not want to be on the road when the blotto train passengers get off the train in Philly and into their cars.

    If there were true high-speed rail between DC and Chicago with a stop in Detroit, I’d use it to visit my Detroit family. A few hours on the train instead of ten hours on the turnpikes? Sign me up!

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  93. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: I suggest you read up on the history of the US pharmaceutical and food industries before so blithely assuming that “public opinion” will do the trick.

    Your problem is when the feedback loops are too long, or the danger too great.

    I’d sort of like to know that if I take a certain medication when I’m pregant with a female fetus that it will give my daughter cancer when she grows up BEFORE I get pregnant, not when she develops cancer. Capisce?

    And if an airline company is stinting on its plane maintenance, I’d like to know that before I get on board, not when the plane crashes. Yeah, the company may go out of business, but fat lot of good that does me–I’m DEAD.

    Lack of regulation won’t help matters. After enough reports of individual companies with peanut-butter-with-rat-turds in them, I’m going to be suspicious of ALL peanut butter manufacturers. Which means I won’t buy peanut butter, period. I’ll buy peanuts and grind them myself.

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  94. David M says:

    @Jeremy:

    the economy is too complex for government regulation

    You’re complaining about people not taking that nonsense seriously?

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  95. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: I also suggest you read up on a) the Triangle fire, and b) the recent fire in the nightclub in Brazil. I’m sure the parents of the youths who died in the latter will be so much happier that their children are dead and that they can sue the night club rather than have the nightclub being forced to comply with some pesky government regulation because FREEDOM!

    Do you libertarians realize how ridiculous you sound?

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  96. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Interesting link. Lots of right-wing websites cited there: ThinkProgress, AlterNet, and Puffington Host are the first three links.

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  97. wr says:

    @Jeremy: “Also, if you’re going to refute my claim that the economy is too complex for government regulation, then actually put forward some evidence or an argument refuting me.”

    Hey, look, here’s 320 pages of evidenced for what our society looks like without regulation:

    http://www.amazon.com/Jungle-Dover-Thrift-Editions/dp/0486419231/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359589211&sr=1-2&keywords=the+jungle+book

    Although you might ask a pet owner whose beloved companion died after eating dog food made out of poison because it was cheaper than other ingrediants, courtesy of the unregulated Chinese market. You might also ask the parents of children hopelessly retarded because their toys were painted with lead to make them nice and shiny, from the same unregulated market. Of course those parents can post negative reviews on Yelp, so there really isn’t a problem.

    Jeremy, you think I was insulting you when I said you were fourteen. Actually, I wa paying you a compliment. Because anyone who could hold on to this Randian vision of the world past the age of majority is either an idiot or a sociopath.

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  98. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “I also suggest you read up on a) the Triangle fire, and b) the recent fire in the nightclub in Brazil. ”

    Or the recent fire at a sweatshop in Bangla Desh where they were making clothes for Walmart… where women burned to death because they don’t have the same fascist regulations about things like not locking exit doors.

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  99. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: Two questions: 1) Why does any mention that there might be a bit too much government regulation immediately get transmogrified into a call for total anarchy? And 2), the other day you said the court that struck down Obama’s non-recess recess appointments overturned “150 years of precedent.” Just what were those precedents dating from the Civil War were you referring to?

    I already know the true answers; I’m just wondering what you’ll make up or bring up to avoid answering them.

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  100. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Then you had better figure out a way to trim government regulations that’s better than saying “get rid of the FDA! The Department of Commerce! The FAA!”

    It’s exactly like asking the Republicans exactly WHAT stuff to cut out of the budget to balance it. “Getting rid of fraud and waste!” And then when you ask them HOW to do that they shuffle their feet, mumble, and never come up with any concrete solutions. Except for getting rid of government agencies in total…see above.

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  101. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Well, in this case, young master Jeremy was calling for eliminating almost all regulations, so I was responding to the level of state control he was advocating.

    Sorry if you’re having trouble keeping up.

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  102. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. If you look at the history of government regulations, you will discover that for the most part, they get started when the private market has shown it can’t self-police itself. Witness the Security Acts of 1933 and 1934.

    In other words, if you want to keep gov’t regulation down, don’t screw up and get hordes of Americans screaming at their congresscritters that There Is a Problem.

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  103. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    If you actually read what I wrote and didn’t listen to blithering idiots, I said high-speed rail would be unlikely to catch on to the point where it would ever be practical and self-supporting.

    Nope, that’s not what you said at all. You are lying.

    High-speed rail is NOT intended to compete with air travel, especially transcontinentally; the rail is to supplant private automobiles, which just ain’t gonna happen.

    Again, hilariously wrong. My god you are stupid. High-speed rail in Europe has absolutely decimated inter-city air travel. Airlines have closed down multiple routes they used to fly as short hops between European cities because high speed rail travel is cheaper, faster, more reliable and more comfortable. When I used to work in Europe, I used to fly from Berlin to Frankfurt, or Frankfurt to Munich. These days, I wouldn’t even consider flying, but would take a train every time.

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  104. Rafer Janders says:

    @swbarnes2:

    Poor people can’t sue! Especially if companies play financial games and close up shop and change names to avoid the consequences of their actions.

    And especially if, as a condition of doing business, companies have made you sigh a waiver giving up your right to sue and forcing you into arbitration. Which, if you look at your cell phone contract, for example, you’ve already done.

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  105. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    High-speed rail is NOT intended to compete with air travel, especially transcontinentally; the rail is to supplant private automobiles, which just ain’t gonna happen.

    Frustrations of Air Travel Push Passengers to Amtrak

    By RON NIXON
    Published: August 15, 2012

    WASHINGTON — Long a punch line for harried Northeast travelers, Amtrak has come to dominate commercial travel in the corridor connecting Washington, New York and Boston, and this summer its trains are packed.

    A decade ago, Delta and US Airways shuttles were the preferred mode of travel between the cities. But high fares, slow airport security and frequent flight delays — along with Amtrak’s high-speed Acela trains, online ticketing and workstation amenities — have eaten away at the airlines’ share of passengers.

    Between New York and Washington, Amtrak said, 75 percent of travelers go by train, a huge share that has been building steadily since the Acela was introduced in 2000 and airport security was tightened after 2001. Before that, Amtrak had just over a third of the business between New York and Washington.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/business/hassles-of-air-travel-push-passengers-to-amtrak.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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  106. Jeremy says:

    @swbarnes2: I need to know more about the situation you’re describing here before I can make an honest comment. I would also need to know how government regulation would have magically solved these problems.

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  107. Jeremy says:

    @Rafer Janders: I have major problems with the boilerplate print companies shove onto contracts nowadays. However, a major reason for these is that contract law has gotten more and more complex. Now, not all of that can be attributed to the government, but there is a lot of regulation governing such things, so it’s definitely a factor.

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  108. Jeremy says:

    @wr:

    1 – I didn’t say that at all, but nice try.

    2 – Your continued use of insults towards my age have forced me to conclude that you are one of three things:
    A – 12 years old, and not playing Halo 4 on Xbox because you stink at it
    B – Eric Florack’s sockpuppet account
    C – An individual who might be reasonably intelligent, but has absolutely no idea why s/he holds the political positions s/he does and has no argument to back up said positions, so s’/he instead resorts to grade school insults.

    You can see that I’m having a good-natured, civil discussion with Rafer Janders and Barnes, even though we disagree. Maybe you could learn something by observing their comments, and improve yourself by doing so. Regrettably, I am not hopeful.

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  109. Jeremy says:

    @wr:

    Ah, yes, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. I knew this would come. The book that came about in age of unbridled capitalism…except, it was actually an age of unbridled corporatism, of government bureaucrats cozying up to industrialists. The Gilded Age was not a libertarian’s wet dream as you may think.

    Also, Upton Sinclair was a dogged socialist with a intense agenda, and The Jungle was a novel–you know, a piece of fiction, or made up events. It would be like me citing Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to defend my views, or Star Wars–not exactly rock-solid evidence.

    As for China, yes, let’s look to a corporatist country, a place where all major businesses are owned by either government officials, relatives of government officials, or friends of government officials, and there are no free elections to choose said government officials. That’s hardly the same thing America has, or ever had. And yes, they were punished.

    I’m not going to say that a market is going to be a perfect utopia. That would be a rather stupid thing to say. But it’s blatantly clear that the millions of pages of regulations that are churned out of Washington have done absolutely nothing to help our economy or the American people, and are instead used as tools by big businesses to, in effect, “gerrymander” their customer bases. Surely you can be against “no regulation whatsoever” and still see that we have way, way too much regulation today. (And if you even try to bring up the financial crisis, I’ll just direct you to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and all the other numerous regulations passed before the crisis that did, in effect, nothing–or worse, contributed.)

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  110. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy:

    However, a major reason for these is that contract law has gotten more and more complex.

    What? I don’t understand how you can state this. Unless you’re saying that we’ve got more and more case law to look at. Or maybe it’s all the globalization out there and the rapidly increasing number of interstate and international contracts? (Hello, INCOTERMS!)

    Contracts are one of the more loosy-goosy legal thingies out there. The state doesn’t step in for the most part. As opposed to Brazil, which has an “against public policy” loophole big enough to shove a battleship through. (Don’t try to stuff a choice of law or choice of forum clause in a contract with a Brazilian company–if the other side decides to bring suit in a Brazilian court, it will be thrown out.)

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  111. Jeremy says:

    @grumpy realist: Ah yes, the pharmaceutical and food industries–you know, the industries that collectively invested over $341 million in the 2012 election cycle. You know, the ones that have effectively bought insulation from market forces.

    And yes, I definitely would want to know if a company had been doing it’s maintenance on its planes before I got on…but why must it be government? Wouldn’t the airlines’ insurance company do inspections to prevent them from having to make massive payouts? And would government regulation actually save you? Did it save anybody on TWA 800? Or any of the other airline crashes since then?

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  112. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: If the Gilded Age wasn’t the halcyonic period of liberation, then there are a hell of a lot of Libertarians running around claiming it was. You might want to go argue with them.

    Since THAT period wasn’t the Golden Age of Libertarianism, what period of US history was? And if no period of history ever has had Libertarianism enacted, why do you think that it will ever be acceptable in the US?

    (Yes, I know. Americans love to Not Have To Obey Laws. Until it’s THEIR car that crashes/blows up because Ford decided it was cheaper to leave out a $7 frobbitz per car, or THEIR house that falls down because of substandard building materials. Then they’re all howling for blood.)

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  113. Jeremy says:

    @grumpy realist: Well, I would figure having more case law would contribute.

    I admit that I am not a lawyer, and so am not an expert on this matter, but it would seem logically to say that case law has accumulated significantly in the past century…and so has the complexity of the law. And then there are the law schools, which create hundreds of new lawyers a year who think it is their solemn duty to write more laws and more laws and more laws…

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1594032335/overlawyerecomam/102-1927232-6988145

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  114. Jeremy says:

    @grumpy realist: There’s been no magical age of socialism either. Does that mean the socialists should stop working to accomplish their goal of socialism? (While I would like for them to stop, it would be for other reasons.)

    There are many different flavors of libertarian. Yes, there are some people who run around thinking the Gilded Age was a great time. However, they are actually quite few…and most of them are conservatives, not libertarians.

    And while you bring up the case of “frobbitzs,” you seem to conveniently ignore instances of industry self-regulation, such as the MPAA with it’s rating system. (I know, I know, the MPAA is a bunch of shracking fascists otherwise and I don’t like them either, but this is a good instance of self-regulation.) It’s also not in Ford’s interest to leave off those frobbitzs that will kill it’s customer–it will have less people to buy it’s products!

    Seriously, while you and your friends have been sitting here claiming all these things, tell me: why a company want to kill its customers? Why?

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  115. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: See above as to why government regulations get implemented. Historically, government has stayed out of regulation until it has been shown that the bloody effing market can’t or won’t police itself. Remember Enron? That was the major impetus behind Sarbanes-Oxley. If your supposedly so-fantastic market had whacked Enron down and solved the problem before it ended up blowing up so messily (taking a lot of pension funds with it), SOX would never have been implemented. Face it, it was the capitalists who screwed up. You’ve already demonstrated you can’t be trusted.

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  116. Jeremy says:

    Look, I think we should have a “presumption against regulation,” as Hayek put it. There may be instances where a regulation is needed. But we should presume it isn’t, and put the burden of proof on those who want the regulation first. And if we do have regulations, they should be based on broad, universal rules.

    However, today, we don’t have that. What we have are very specific rules (I mean, come on, why on earth would you need a regulation in Obamacare mandating insurance coverage for being injured on a flaming waterski or being pecked at by a parrot?) that are usually bought and written by corporations and their lobbyists, each rule engineered to support some company against it’s competitors and ultimately, the consumers.

    You can’t say “But we can fix that with bigger government!” How? The corporations have already bought the government lock, stock, and barrel. They always will. If you create something so huge that it controls if a company will make profit or suffer a loss, that company will invest in that thing so it can maximize its advantage. It’s simple logic. I don’t understand how liberals, who are genuinely against big business, turn around and give big business the tools to be such jerks. It makes no sense.

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  117. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: Might as well ask why rubber O-rings were used on the Shuttle even though all the engineers at the company knew that when cold, rubber isn’t a good sealant. Remember that? “take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat”? Companies do a lot of stuff that is really stupid in the long run because they don’t care–they just want to make the numbers look good and goose the stock price for the next reporting period.

    Why did Ford leave out that 7$ part on the Pinto? Because they thought they could get away with it. They made a calculation that the amount they’d have to pay out in wrongful death suits was less than the money they would save by not including the extra protection.

    A lot of companies work that way….

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  118. Jeremy says:

    @grumpy realist: The very fact that Enron went down WAS the market punishing it. I don’t want to drop invective here, but I’m very close, because that’s the whole point–the company went bankrupt. That IS the market’s correcting mechanism.

    That you cannot–or deliberately will not–understand baffles me. This is basic economics. You do something stupid, you screw up, you go bankrupt–you pay the price. That’s how it works. It’s government and “do-gooding liberals” who want to shortchange that, destroying the market’s natural feedback mechanism, and leading to situations where banks lend money all over the place willy-nilly to people who can’t pay those loans back without any concern–because it’s okay, since the government (read: taxpayers) will bail them out! Or did you forget 2007?

    “Capitalism without bankruptcy is like religion without hell.”

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  119. Jeremy says:

    @grumpy realist: Yes, there are problems with business culture–they don’t have good philosohpy (or any philosophy, to be honest), and they focus only on short-term quarterly earnings reports rather than creating long term value. (You’ll find it interesting that in Charles Koch’s management philosophy, profit is not something to focus on–the entire point of MBM is to create long-term value for society, not to generate profit. Bet you didn’t know that.)

    That’s a separate problem, though, and I don’t see how government regulation is going to change that. (Unless you decide to ban publicly-traded corporations, and I would still oppose that on moral grounds.)

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  120. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: Read my stuff above. We ALREADY have a presumption against regulation. It happens when there’s enough squawking about a problem that Congress gets off its lazy duffs and passes laws. This is when all the lobbyists jump in and game the system.

    If you DON’T want that to happen, then MAKE SURE THAT CONGRESS NEVER HEARS ABOUT ANY PROBLEM. Simple as pie. Self-regulate up the max and police your sector with a heavy hand. Don’t shrug your shoulders and say, “well, what we did is legal.” Don’t expect the existence of tort law to fix everything–it doesn’t. It might be legal, but if people think that what you did is MORALLY wrong then the squawking for greater regulation will start. (Witness junk faxes and spam.)

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  121. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jeremy:

    However, a major reason for these is that contract law has gotten more and more complex.

    Well, speaking as someone who went to law school and has been involved in more than his fair share of contract drafting and negotiation from both the legal and business sides, no, that is not the major reason at all. The major reason that companies impose boilerplate restrictions on consumers is to screw the consumer and because they’ve got them over a barrel. It’s an imbalance of power problem.

    Not such a problem, right? The consumer can go elsewhere. Except everywhere else he’ll go will impose the same restrictions, absent government regulation.

    And also, I suppose, not a problem so long as you never want to get a cell phone contract or fly on an airplane or rent or buy a car or get cable service at home or use a credit card or open a bank account or buy things from Amazon etc. etc…..

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  122. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: The problem is that Enron went bankrupt only after it had already caused a lot of damage. (I’m also in favor of more bankruptcies and in fact Section 7 bankruptcies. Section 11 in too many cases cases nothing but zombie corporations.)

    Honestly, I understand your viewpoint. I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years. I also happen to be a completely cynical bastard who thinks that there is no absolutely perfect system and no matter what system you tried to put into place, people would take advantage of it. Bureaucrats will be bureaucrats, trying to keep their jobs and expand their power. Capitalists will always be trying to game the system and put regulatory hurdles in place to act as barriers against competitors. You’re never going to get pure capitalism, because as soon as a group of players discover the possibility of collusion you’re going to get monopoly action. Which isn’t great either.

    There’s too much agency capture in the US. But even trying to add sunset clauses into legislation isn’t going to work, because people will almost always want to go with the existing system rather than make up a new one, mainly because of the hassle factor. I’m right now having to deal with the new America Invents Act and we’ve already run into quite a few issues which aren’t going to be settled until there are actual legal cases on them. Which means we have very little we can tell our clients on What To Do. Do you see why we might prefer to stick with the old legislation?

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  123. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jeremy:

    The very fact that Enron went down WAS the market punishing it.

    No, that was the market punishing Enron’s shareholders, i.e. ordinary investors who owned Enron shares. It did nothing to punish the actual Enron employees who committed the wrongdoing. Sure, they lost their jobs, but so did other Enron employees who did nothing wrong either. Absent government prosecutions, the bad Enron actors would have been able to pocket their ill-gotten gains and move on to the next sucker.

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  124. swbarnes2 says:

    @Jeremy:

    This is basic economics. You do something stupid, you screw up, you go bankrupt–you pay the price. That’s how it works.

    No, you don’t understand. Enron executives made a mint, thousands of innocent people lost their pensions, that’s how it actually works. The rank and file Enron employees did nothing wrong, but they paid the price, and that economic effect rippled.

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  125. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeremy: If you don’t like there being more case law, well, that’s what you get for living in a common-law country.. If it really disturbs you, I suggest you move to a civil law country.

    (Actually, speaking as a law student, a lot of law has become more streamlined and easier to deal with than it used to be, historically. Most Americans have no idea how much easier commerce is because of the UCC. Basically, it writes down a lot of the stuff that otherwise you’d have to shove into any sale of goods contract or go do a heck of a lot of research in case law to figure out what is going on. And interstate commerce is much easier–you don’t have to wrangle which state’s common law applies.)

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  126. wr says:

    @Jeremy: “And would government regulation actually save you? Did it save anybody on TWA 800? Or any of the other airline crashes since then? ”

    If you want to know why I use snark and insults against you rather than intellectually engaging your ideas, you should read these sentences of yours. Their stupidity is so completely self-evident to anyone not blinded by the adolescent fantasies of libertarianism that they prove there is no point in trying to talk seriously to you. It’s like using science to prove the world is round to a flat-earther.

    Love the idea that I’m Bithead’s sock puppet, though, especially since you and he agree on almost every issue we’re talking about here.

    I also think it’s amusing that you believe you’re having a good-hearted conversation with swbarnes, since every word she types drips with loathingand contempt for everything you stand for.

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  127. wr says:

    @Jeremy: “It’s also not in Ford’s interest to leave off those frobbitzs that will kill it’s customer–it will have less people to buy it’s products! ”

    And yet, in the real world, Ford chose to leave a ten dollar frobbitz off their Pinto, knowing it meant that people would burn to death in what would otherwise have been easily escapable crashes.

    Oh, and the man who made that decision, famously announcing that “safety doesn’t sell,” wasn’t shunned by his industry. Instead, Lee Iacocca rose even higher.

    So, despite what your ideology says, Ford decided it was precisely in their interest to leave off those frobbites that will kill its customer, not only because they figured there were always more customers, but that they’d spend less on lawsuits than on frobbitzes. And the glorious market only rewarded those who made the decision.

    So how does that square with everything you’ve just said?

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  128. grumpy realist says:

    In fact, I’d say that Enron shows exactly how new regulations get made. The top people at Enron made out like bandits and looked like they were going to walk away more or less scott-free while all the damage was going to fall on the ordinary employees and stockholders and everyone else who had had dealings with Enron. That was what caused the indignation that generated SOX.

    If “capitalism” had done a better job of punishing the top critters (I don’t know, sending ninjas after them?) or of keeping them from their fraudulent actions in the beginning, then SOX would probably have not been passed.

    It’s just like FAA regulations–if you look into the history of them, you will find that behind every one is a trail of crashes and dead bodies.

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  129. Pharoah Narim says:

    A second, more moderate Republican party won’t see so much as a primary victory—unless Democrats go and blow their coalition over guns. An AWB will loosen the jaws of victory enough to give guys with a message like John Huntsman. A large portion of the electorate is adverse to left or right social engineering–if we get the economy going (which was supposed to be a laser focus of the last 5 years) and people working and making decent livings–violence goes down. Wasn’t that suppose to be an outcome of gun legislation? However, if an AWB passes and 11,000 people are killed again (which is invevitable as most people are killed with pistols by people they have personal beef with) then the Democrats look like fools who are really good at passing legislation that doesn’t affect anyone personally. There are lot of single-issue gun voters that left the republican team when it got too crazy precisely because Dems weren’t making an issue about gun bans. That crew is getting antsy again. Anything more than background checks and high-capacity magazine restrictions and they’ll jump to the first train that has a half-way intelligent message.

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