Steven L. Taylor
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog).
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A prediction: in a few years when the horrors of this Chinese COVID tsunami have receded and scientists are able to come up with a more or less accurate count of the excess death rate, it will be on the low side compared to other nations, in line with the rest of the countries that surround them. All those nearby countries have done significantly better than most of the West, even the less developed ones with crowded workplaces, fewer desk jobs and poor public healthcare, like Viet Nam and Thailand.
My guess is that some less virulent virus swept through that part of the world some years ago and it provides some level of immunity, but it may be years before we figure it out.
Wasteful spending defined as anything that limits what the plutocrats want to do. Oh yeah, Social Security, and Medicare too
In addition to lower minimum wages and higher rates of incarceration, “the report also finds that, on average, abortion restrictive states have half the rate of unionized workers…”, “unemployed people access the benefits they are entitled to at a rate of 12 percentage points lower…”,
One has to keep the serfs in their place, otherwise they might git uppity.
I saw this and, while I haven’t dug into it, I suspect it’s a numbers game.
Not to excuse Trump and the GOP’s profligate spending, nor their rank hypocrisy.
But it’s rather easy to use large numbers, accrued over time, to skew perception.
One of the few things I DO think “both sides” are guilty of.
I would be happy for someone to show me that I’m wrong.
@daryl and his brother darryl:
To be clear, I’m not saying the data is incorrect.
My point is that it’s the natural result of sharp growth.
eg. I imagine you can also say the S&P 500 has gained an outsized portion of it’s value in the last 4-5 years.
Again – I could be wrong about this. It’s just my initial gut reaction.
Disabled Veteran: George Santos Took $3K From Dying Dog’s GoFundMe
In the running for worst person in the world.
@daryl and his brother darryl: Commentor Ken over at Balloon Juice dug it up:
The quoted article seems to imply causation. I suspect that it’s actually a classic case of a confounding or hidden variable: some factor that drives all of abortion restrictions, lower minimum wages, higher incarceration rates, and the rest.
@Michael Cain: Oh, I think Ozark pegged it when he said:
I’m not being facetious here. That’s exactly the purpose of governance in the trump states.
Trump ran the governmrnt the way he ran his crappy businesses–like “a clown living on credit,” as he’s often been called.
I have just experienced a bit of our future. I was reading an article about a band and came across this: “… they sound like carburetors…” and my initial reaction was what it would normally be: “What the hell does that mean? Carburetors don’t sound like anything”, but then it immediately turned to, “That sounds like something an AI might write. I wonder if the author was using one as a jumping off point?”
It’s that time again. Time to speculate What Will Brady Do Now?
I think the league should give Oakland an expansion team called the Oakland Bradys, where any of the small-fry billionaires* can build a roster around Tom, and whine about not winning a championship or even making the playoffs despite having the bestest QB of all time.
*Anyone with a net worth under $100 billion. You know, a poor billionaire.
Sure, it’s Republican leadership. the one thing consistent in anti-abortion states.
@Michael Cain: I think the article is badly written.
Banerjee says, quite rightly, that not having access to abortion has negative economic consequences for women who need them. And then she says,
I had to read it 2 or 3 times before I got that she wasn’t saying abortion was the cause of the others, just that these states treat people like shit across the board.
Right – like I said, I trust the data. But thanks for the spreadsheet!
So – if you take 25% of the $2T debt in 2017 ($0.5T) then you only have to go back about 5.5 years – between 2011 and 2012 – for that same 25% gain.
Before that the debt gained 25% in just 3 years – between 2008 and 2009 until 2011/2012. Of course the Bush Contraction was in ’08, so that’s a factor.
(so was Covid – but Trump exacerbated that so he deserves credit)
The spreadsheet is fascinating. The first big jump in debt is the Civil War. WW1 of course. The next big Jump is the Great Depression.
take off with Reagan and trickle-down economics. Reagan ALMOST TRIPLED the debt in his 8 years, from $0.998T in 1981 – $2.8T in 1989.
So the debt was tripled in the 80’s, not because of some cataclismic event, or economic disaster…but solely because we decided to make rich people richer.
Enjoy your day.
@MarkedMan: Up close carburetors do make a hissing sound, albeit drowned out by other engine noises, and occasionally one backfires with a bang. But that does seem a very strained and odd analogy.
My understanding is that carburetors were displaced by fuel injection in the 1990s, relegated to only some small engines, such as those in lawnmowers. Maybe, then, the writer associates the discordant sounds of small engines or old, poorly maintained cars with carburetors.
Nothing quite says solvency and sound business practices like a fire sale.
At least Elon I God Emperor of Mars and Deimos isn’t doing the same at Tesla.
Well, yeah. But plenty of carbureted engines, from that era, still exist.
While a pain in the ass, they still require maintenance and, from time to time, replacement.
@Kathy: FWIW, In the past I have cleaned carburetors and adjusted them and even rebuilt a couple and about the only audible thing I associate with them (aside from the air intake aspect which is masked by other engine noise) is that cars back then varied their engine speed a bit at idle, whereas cars today are locked on a certain RPM. Overall, fuel injection is about a million times better.
And I am willing to bet the author couldn’t tell a carburetor from an injector unless they were in their original boxes with labels.
@daryl and his brother darryl: I remember Reagan hammering Carter over a $66B deficit and then exploding it, but it was all OK for Reagan because… I don’t know why.
@MarkedMan: Back in the day, I must have rebuilt a dozen carburetors or more. I remember one time when I rebuilt one and was absolutely horrified to discover I didn’t have any left over parts.
Fuel injection over carburetors every damn time.
Trump says that okay, he kept hundreds of “classified” and “confidential” folders, but not the contents, because the folders were “cool” souvenirs.
There’s a sucker born every minute.
He has admitted to the crime several times. I cannot, for the life of me, believe any other person on the planet would not be in jail.
@OzarkHillbilly: When we got married my wife had an old Chevy station wagon. I rebuilt its four barrel. That model carb had been around for decades and the rebuild kit had a list of applications that included many dozens of car models, several boats, farm implements, some airplanes, and a few items of stationary equipment. Each had its own little mod. I’m used to the rule that if you did it right you finish the job and run out of parts at the same time. I still had several dozen small parts in the box when I finished that one. Ran good though.
One problem I have with most liberal commentary on the national debt is that I think it sometimes over-focuses on Republican hypocrisy. That’s an important angle, and it needs to be pointed out. It may even be the best political angle that Democratic politicians can take on the topic.
But I also think a lot of liberals are too accepting of the framework that federal government debt is inherently a bad thing that a responsible president will necessarily bring down. There are potential harmful consequences to an over-sized debt, even if economists disagree on what those consequences are or how close we are to a catastrophic point. But increasing the debt isn’t inherently bad, and decreasing it isn’t inherently good. And even when there is value to bringing it down, it isn’t necessarily as urgent as the alarmists make it out to be, enough to prioritize over other economic issues.
I’m not even sure it has much political benefit. Republicans dishonestly manipulate the topic as a pretext for cutting social programs. Most Americans are woefully illiterate on the subject, anyway, and it’s easy to make “debt” sound scary to someone who doesn’t have any idea what it means. For example, polls consistently show that a majority of Americans oppose “raising the debt ceiling.” They don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein has said (and I agree with this) that if you ask most Americans about the debt or the deficit, they’re just using it as a stand-in for economic problems generally. There’s a famous moment at one of the 1992 presidential debates that illustrates this. A woman from the audience asked the candidates how “the national debt” affected them personally. Bush began rambling about the impact of the federal debt on interest rates, before the moderator noted that when the audience member said “the national debt,” what she really was referring to was the recession. Clinton then knocked it out of the park with an empathetic response about the economic problems he’d seen as governor, the failures of trickle-down Republican policy, and he explained the distinction without coming off like he was talking down to the woman. It was a really good example of how a Democratic politician can address the topic effectively.
The national debt is complicated from a policy perspective, and it’s not something which the public “feels” in an obvious or direct way, like is the case for grocery prices, gas prices, wages, unemployment, or health care costs. A lot of the time, it’s just a war of rhetoric–how can you make the other side sound bad by talking about exploding debt. Dems do need to maintain a clear and consistent message on the topic, but they should avoid getting sucked in by the alarmism of centrist economists like Larry Summers, which I think is not only wrong on substantive grounds, but has the effect of distracting Dems from the pocketbook issues that are far more salient.
@daryl and his brother darryl:
He also said that “the Trump Hating Marxist Thugs” might plant documents in the empty folders.
@gVOR08: I had a ’72 Chevy p/u that after I replaced the tranny, and then the engine, (rebuilt the 4 barrel carb at the same time), ran like a striped ass ape (as a buddy of mine liked to say) but damn did it guzzle some gas. I nicknamed it “the Beast”. I finally sold it in 2002 because gas prices were going up up up and I couldn’t see them coming down.
There went my prognosticating career.
Kevin Drum was reminded of a piece he did in 2011 on just what a bloody disaster the W administration was.
I remain gobsmacked that after 20 years everyone seems to realize Afghanistan and Iraq were disasters, but somehow W is still respected, “He protected us.” My ….. arse he protected us.
My recollection is admittedly colored by bias, so this is an honest question for the group. I’ve got Eisenhower and the Interstates, Reagan in Grenada, HW and Iraq I, then I’m tapped out. What have Republicans done since WWII that worked as advertised*? Help me out here.
* Noting there are things, like tax cuts for the rich, that worked out as they intended, but not as they advertised.
I guess that was what I was saying, without saying it. The debt goes up. It pretty much always has. Sometimes more than others based on events; eg. WW2. Sometimes less based on other events; eg. the tech boom of the Clinton era.
But yeah…trickle down has always been a failure, and a failure not only lacking in any societal benefit, but with huge downsides. “This is why we can’t have nice things” downsides. If you look at the wealth transfer, from the public coffers to wealthy people, it’s really been a huge detriment to our society since the 80’s. As you say, not directly – but certainly indirectly.
I tend to think a lot of WWI generals saw their primary job as maintaining discipline to keep the troops marching into the meat grinder. I think Larry Summers sees his role the same way, as keeping the public disciplined and willing to follow the orders of their supposed betters.
I think that you’re right that the public see debt, deficit, unemployment, GDP, etc. as just a fuzzy feel good/bad about the economy. You see the effect in COVID, a million dead people is just a number in a newspaper they didn’t read. Same with economic statistics. I think Ds benefitted from this in ’22. The papers were all screaming “8.5% Inflation, OMG”. (Using year to year numbers, which is a whole different long kvetch.) But the price of bread hadn’t gone up.
On debt, Democrats are clearly the white hats, but telling that story is more complicated than the GOP story, “Debt bad.”
I am surprised that this was not already brought up in yesterday’s Open Forum or todays (or maybe it was and I missed it), but Kevin Drum put up a post yesterday that a report that shows that Social Media companies have a Conservative Bias was completed but no one in Congress (at least anyone with an R in front of their name) seems to want to discuss the report publicly now that it has been completed.
So basically Twitter let Trump spew enough disinformation to nearly turn the United States into a failed nation run by a dictator and no one, and I mean no one working for Twitter felt they had the power to apply some checks and balance to posts by Trump and friends.
For some reason, I feel that as more of this info comes out that it is going to start pissing off people on both sides of the political aisle, and the rage that build up in folks might be what causes some folks to be able to shake loose from the cult of Trump.
Folks need to start yelling at the GOP to release the Social Media report, considering that they only investigated places like Twitter because folks like Trump insisted that Twitter and similar companies were cancelling/silencing Conservatives who wanted to speak their mind on sites like Twitter and FB.
Like so much of what came out of Trump’s gob, this idea that Silicon Valley was silencing Conservatives is pretty much complete and utter BS.
@inhumans99: The less we hear about the shadowbans, the more proof we have that they exist. QED
While the lower level employees at SV companies are mostly left leaning, the owners and senior executives are very much hard right, because as much as they like to pretend they’re software people, they’re actually finance bros.
And the finance bros are the ones who actually decide what the company is going to do.
Waiting for Musk to release this info via journalism-adjacent Matt Taibbi as another of their Twitter-Files.
@Stormy Dragon: Like the present kerfuffle that’s been going on about Hasbro’s attempt to retroactively rewrite the contracts on D&D rules, start charging 25% royalties for use of said rules for large enough 3rd party manufacturers, and open a legal loophole allowing them to swipe any 3rd party product as their own IP without paying for it.
There was enough of a stink that Hasbro half-backed off, and now the question is whether the revolt of the rest of the D&D 3rd party manufacturers/publishers is going to totally kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Like Elon Musk’s burning up of $44B in the Twitter debacle, Hasbro seems to have totally burned up all goodwill and trust that existed in the D&D gaming community and now there’s a high change that the whole set of activities will coalesce around the equivalent of an open-source platform.
It was a crappy (and ill-conceived) attempt on the part of Hasbro to create a walled garden, privatising something that was in fact a common culture. Probably thought up by some idiot holding an MBA who only thought “hey, we can put out a new set of D&D rules, forbid everyone to use the ones already out there, and charge them $30/month!”
I actually was surprised the issue didn’t benefit R’s more than it did, because it did lead to a lot of price increases on food and gas. I was frustrated by how Democratic candidates were addressing the topic. They seemed to avoid mentioning that the problem was global, as a consequence of the world emerging from the 2020 pandemic lockdown. I’m not a Democratic strategist, so maybe it would have risked making it sound like the problem was out of their control, on top of reminding voters about the controversial lockdowns. But it just seemed like way Dems were addressing it merely reinforced the idea that they owned it.
So why didn’t it have the electoral impact Republicans hoped it would? My guess is that most voters understood it was a cyclical issue with far less permanence than some other issues (like, say, abortion). I think it did hurt Democrats somewhat. It was just neutralized by other factors, and it didn’t push voters into a Pavlovian “incumbents bad” response.
But I agree that the press tends to focus on numbers that provide an easy stat, but which are too abstract for the average voter to feel in their daily lives.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say “hard” right, but you could say the same about the supposedly liberal MSM.
Yes – issues like abortion and January 6th and the assault on Democracy overcame inflation, with the help of massive (relative) youth turnout.
Perhaps ever worse, George started a go fund me to fund his Jewish mother’s Catholic funeral and it appears he pocketed the money.
This is becoming hard for me to laugh at or hate him for. He is not a well man.
Unless you are referring to the sound of air being pulled through the carb.
Santos apparently pretended to be a Jew in the hope of getting bigger donations from actual Jews.
Boy that Dark Brandon is shifty. Not only is he coming after your gas stove, he also wants to outlaw eating meat! [head explodes emoji]
I’ve been wondering for a while about his motivations for claiming to be Jewish. It’s not at all clear to me that Jewish voters have any tendency to support Jewish candidates over non-Jewish ones–especially one who claimed from the start to be from a mixed Jewish-Catholic background. But it’s perfectly plausible that he might believe Jews vote in this way.
If it’s about funding, there may even be a tinge of anti-Semitism–gotta get his hands into that pot of (((money))) to get anywhere in the world. But then, this is New York, so I’m not sure his assumption is so far off.
My impression of a lot of his lies overall is that he’s checking off boxes he thinks makes him more appealing–Jew-ish, half-black, Holocaust survivor background, USSR survivor background, 9/11 survivor background, and so on.
Santos told his ex-roomie that Jews would give more money to a Jewish person, so he apparently believed that.
I got that. My question is, why does he want Jewish money that badly too begin with?
Because he believes Jews have the most money? Because he equates being a NYer with being Jewish?
The best money, the crispest $100 bills. Or so people say.
I don’t know we need another variable like partial immunity from another virus what could possibly be explained by just different social behavior. At least for many “Eastern” nations, wearing a mask was for possible illness reasons was already a more normal social behavior than in many “Western” nations. A society more willing and able to take such measures to minimize transmission when how to treat cases for best outcomes was still unknown would do wonders to reduce deaths. Even if it was just delaying getting covid, better to delay to after vaccines are available or at least after better treatment regimens have been determined to improve survival rate.
Difficult to tell just from “anecdata”, probably most are fairly squishy liberal Republicans at a guess, but there does seem to be a definite constituency for a weird mutation of authorito-capitalism among the tech venture capital types.
See eg Peter Thiel.
And some people point to Curtis Yarvin as the pamphleteer of their worldview.
I still can’t quite bring myself to believe it, given how hilariously daft Yarvin’s analysis is, and I mean even from an “sovereign individual” Randian sorta POV.
I first came across the chaps writings back in the early 2000’s, and nearly fell off my chair laughing.
Absolute monarchies as the best protectors of property!
No “monarch”, however absolute, has ever ruled alone; Louis XIV didn’t build Versailles to grow tomatoes in.
And nothing is as predatory to property as an unconstrained shark-pool of courtiers and royal relatives.
See eg the reasons why the Whig aristocracy in England booted the Stuarts.
Or look about at the nearest analogues to autocratic monarchic states around today: North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, some African kleptocracies.
Some may respect your property, conditionally, so long as you understand that if they want it, it’s theirs to command.
Incidentally, a little British link:
One favoured tome of these types, alongside stuff by eg Rand and Nozick and Rothbard, is
“The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age”
(alternative second half of title “How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State”)
by Jim Dale and William Rees-Mogg.
Rees-Mogg, you say?
Ring a bell?
Yes, it’s the father of arch-Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
And thence all the spaghetti tangle of transatlantic connections: Atlas Network, Global Warming Policy Foundation, the “Kochtopus”, etc.
@gVOR08: Yeah carb rebuild kits usually had multiple jets etc depending on the application for the carb. So you should have extra parts left over in that case. When I rebuilt a quadrajet I didn’t have any left over parts as the kit I used was designed for that specific model/application.
Still doesn’t make you feel better when you’re “done” rebuilding a carb and you still have parts left over… Like the first time I did a rebuild of my drum brakes and had left over springs because they weren’t applicable for my situation.
I see no reason to believe he is not well. So long as there are no consequences, a grifter will continue to repeat the grift.
My guess is that he never expected to get elected and have that much focus on him. He may not face legal consequences, but his notoriety is going to make the next grift harder to pull off — he is screwing with his career as a grifter.
On the matter of debt, some months ago I recall reading the money spent on acquiring US sovereign debt by countries such as Japan, who buy lots of T-bills, constitutes a form of modern-day tribute.
Alas, there was no further elaboration.
I know how tribute worked in ancient times. Mostly it was protection money, money paid by allies for real protection (much like how Benito thinks NATO works), peace settlements, and a few other uses. I’m not clear how modern tribute would work. It may be that other countries find it useful, or expedient, to foot the bill for America’s deficit spending. But then almost all countries have some form of sovereign debt, mostly through the issuance of interest-paying bonds.
And one big buyer of US sovereign debt is China. I can’t imagine that’s tribute.
@Kathy: More like leverage.
You know, we’re never gonna be able to fend off an alien invasion, at this rate. We’re too busy fighting each other over relatively petty differences.
That’s what The Race thought when they rudely interrupted WWII in Turtledove’s WorldWar AH.
BTW, a 40% drop in revenue would explain in part Elon’s fire sale.
Someone needs a refresher in correlation vs. causation, preferably with occasional head-slaps.
This is a clear case of correlation via common causal mechanism, and the mechanism is taxation (or rather, the lack of it). Places that tax their residents enough to pay for services have better services, less crime, etc. Places that are willing to tax also tend to favor higher minimum wages, and support abortion rights.
Elevator speech version: liberal government makes for happier people. Even some oligarchs (Gates, Buffett) get that.
Grifters lie when they need to, strategically. Otherwise it gets too hard to keep track.
Santos (if that’s his real name) apparently lies all the time, spontaneously, because in the moment it makes him more appealing or sympathetic or whatever. Yeah, I think he’s not well.
@DrDaveT: After the “reality tv president”, I suspect there’s a good percentage of the population who isn’t “well”.