Category Archive 'Predictions'
20 Oct 2020
Joel Kotkin argues that, even if the democrats manage to win the presidency this year, the tripartite Democrat Party coalition is inherently unstable and its factions are bound to fall apart.
The [Democratic] Party now enjoys predominant influence over mainstream media, rising influence among wealthy elites, a stranglehold over education and entertainment industries, and the domination of the burgeoning non-profit world. Remarkably the self-styled â€œparty of the peopleâ€ now accommodates the big Wall Street firms and tech oligarchies alongside the progressive, neo-socialist, activist base and an ever-diminishing remnant of traditional working-class voters.
This powerful coalition is also a fundamentally unstable oneâ€”a three-headed hydra whose heads, particularly after Trump leaves, will soon be biting each other furiously. One faction, the corporatist elite, genuflects and even profits from the progressive mantra on climate, gender, and race. Some, like former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, are so committed to gentry progressivism that he recently suggested those who donâ€™t get with the program could â€œface a firing squad.â€ Others, like the Marxists and rioters of BLM, seek a total social revolution and increasingly speak of ending â€œracial capitalism.â€
Many on the Right, having learned nothing since Reagan, simple-mindedly identify each of these two dominant groups as â€œliberal.â€ A more accurate assessment would be â€œcorporatistâ€ and â€œsocialist.â€ …
[I]ncreasingly, the policies of the partyâ€™s two dominant factionsâ€”the corporatists and the socialist Leftâ€”are out of sync with working- and middle-class interest. On issues like climate change, patriotism, and housing, notes Berkeley law professor Alli Joseph, both the progressives and corporatists evidence â€œclass cluelessness or class condescensionâ€ that undermines the partyâ€™s populist appeal. The Leftâ€™s agenda, as epitomized by the New York Timesâ€™s 1619 project, and widely adopted by the corporate elite, is no winner on Main Street. Even the World Socialists see it as â€œa gift to Donald Trumpâ€ and â€œa falsification of historyâ€ which denies â€œthe great Democratic legacy of Americaâ€™s revolutionsâ€ and alienates most working class Americans.
11 Feb 2018
Forbes interviews Gilder on the future of Big Tech.
Q: One of your lifelong theories, which reaches back to your 1980s bestsellers https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596988096?ie=UTF8 and The Spirit of Enterprise, is the role of the human spirit and human agency, something economists and governments donâ€™t see or donâ€™t want to acknowledge.
Gilder: Itâ€™s the greatest of all forces. Think about whatâ€™s going on in the U.S. today, particularly in our university system. As Tyler Cowen describes in his book The Complacent Class, weâ€™ve adopted a kind of ideology of cautionary principles and stationary states. He really puts his finger on it. Weâ€™re not living in an age of boldness and abundance, but in an age of retrenchment and shrinking horizons and careful rearrangements of existing resources. A lot of it is epitomized by this whole idea that unless human beings stop moving, the climateâ€™s going to collapse on us.
The climate-change paralysis has been very destructive, not only to our national economy but particularly to Silicon Valley. Every time I find a company thatâ€™s doing everything right, I discover a peculiar feature of its technology thatâ€™s designed chiefly to stop it from emitting carbon dioxide. And that feature twists the technology into a pretzel, making it less useful and less promising. Take Google. Itâ€™s making an elaborate effort to render all of its massive data centers around the world â€œcarbon-neutral.â€ Theyâ€™re all linked up to various druidical Sunhenges of solar panels or quixotic kites or windmills. I mean, thatâ€™s some archaic way to produce energy!
I think weâ€™re really in the middle of a loss of confidence, a loss of courage that is expressed and perpetrated by a massive expansion in regulations. This began in the Bush era, was vastly expanded during the Obama years, but has now been marginally retrenched. My hope is that the Trump retrenchment signals a truly new approach to the world and the human predicament.
28 Nov 2017
“James Madison” thinks the same old German flaws are leading once again to the same old disaster.
Germany does one thing exceptionally well. It can harness its natural tendency toward rigor bordering on arrogance, self-preservation, and an abiding need for social conformity to achieve unparalleled economic dominance in the region. But, because it is consumed by fears â€“ fears arising from its exposure lying at the nexus of the east and west along the wide Northern European plain â€“ it cannot control its urge to overcompensate. Whether it is provoking war against France in 1870, baiting Austria into confronting Russia leading to WWI, or allowing a megalomaniac to seize power and neighbors to create buffer states in WWII lest they threaten, Germany keeps repeating the same mistake. It always eventually turns its industrial power into a tool to exploit others in an effort to protect itself.
After WWII, Germany adopted a kind of â€œnever againâ€ mentality driven first by reconstruction and later by contrition. The German Constitution, the Basic Law, was designed to avoid a repeat of Hitler, Weimar, and Hohenzollern rule which led to economic expansion, exploitation, and calamity. It also structured its government to stop communism, avoid religious division, and prevent class warfare.
The Basic Law is designed to be clear and obtuse, central and diffused, and strong but weak. Thus, with no clear Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, or â€œLibertÃ©, EgalitÃ©, FraternitÃ©â€ to define itself, everything eventually boiled down to local matters, local politics, and local interests. Economics dominates in Germany â€“ followed by lifestyle. The green movement flourished in Germany when scientists falsely reported the Black Forests were being denuded with acid rain â€“ so there is that too. Green money and green forests or an amorphous concept of social responsibility, therefore, define an undefined social contract, with jobs coming first, vacations second, and social justice and the environment in there somewhere.
By the 1990s, Germany recovered fully from the devastation of WWII and was faced with the enormous cost of integrating the East. Faced with the necessity of converting the low-skill, low-wage East Germans into a productive resource, it developed a political-union-management plan to temper wages in the western side of the country, invest in automation and low-end production in the East, and in the process trim and redesign its production model. The key result was more job flexibility than most Europeans were willing to accept at the time. This led to rapid transformation and a remaking of German production. Germany increased its quality and lowered its relative costs. With the Soviets out of the way, military spending was trimmed and redirected to pay for retraining, social costs, and funding economic efficiencies. This was a win-win politically since reductions in defense spending fed the ever-present anti-war sentiment of a nation that has always struggled to control its fears.
At the same time, the Euro currency entered in 1999 and diluted the relatively high cost of the German Mark and German efficiency. Suddenly, a blending of Germanyâ€™s productive workforce with the extremely unproductive, low-skill Mediterranean and growing eastern EU countries in one currency shielded and boosted German competitiveness. The Euroâ€™s arrival meant Germany could hide behind a currency that did not fully value its costs. Its products and companies began to experience better fortune. The timing was perfect. China and the other BRICS needed machine tools, equipment, and technical know-how. Germany would export its way to pay for East-West integration and create itself as a world trade power.
By now the politicians were fully on board â€“ including the left Socialist Democratic Party under Gerhard SchrÃ¶der. They were delivering a new Reich, one that would dominate in the marketplace with high technology, luxury, and world-class products. German companies dominated segments of Chinaâ€™s, Brazilâ€™s, Indiaâ€™s, and Russiaâ€™s auto and fabrication markets. To smooth things out, much talk of green energy, policies, and global accords was tossed about. Germany was in a fugue of green that would eventually lead its politicians to pull the plug on nuclear after the nation hysterically failed to fully understand the Fukushima incident. Nevermind, Germany would pretend to be green while it turned more brown â€“ burning coal to generate power and subsidizing solar and wind everywhere at great cost to the average German. Electricity costs would rise substantially â€“ non-competitively.
Germanyâ€™s economic success, however dominant, was not unique. It could be mimicked. In fact, much of its transformation was patterned after Japanese methods. So to address this, German politicians began working to ensure German standards and technology were adopted or imposed by using the growing power they accumulated within the EU. The phony German diesel engine debacle (only German diesel engines could meet the new German-written EU standards) or the German obsession (silly fad) with renewable energy resulted. With over 20 percent of German jobs (over 10 percent due to VW alone), corporate profits, and exports dependent upon creating a global auto footprint, all of Germany rallied around the phony â€œclean dieselâ€ technology â€“ deceptively and fraudulently represented as cleaner than it actually was. EU skies in Madrid, Milan, and Paris turned gray with diesel pollution that was not possible using the new German clean diesel. In 2015, they got caught. Something was rotten in Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg.
With the promise of a better tomorrow, Germany began to encounter additional bumps. Russia turned revanchist, forcing hard choices about sanctions over Ukraine, choices moralistic Germany belatedly accepted. China did not adopt western democratic ideals with free markets, in fact, it became more repressive. Human rights issues had to be overlooked by Angela Merkel on her trade visits to China. German export markets in Brazil and India were built upon rather primitive economic foundations that eventually caught a downdraft. The rise of Turkish and Hungarian nationalism and authoritarianism presented conflicts between economic interests and a German aversion to authoritarian rule.
Finally, its look-the-other-way tolerance in exchange for the opportunity to â€œsell, sell, sellâ€ arrived at a beggar-thy-neighbor strategy which eventually sold and banked Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal into near or actual insolvency. There were other cases of German goods being sold to dictators and winding up where they should not be. Germany, rather than being seen as a responsible citizen, a trusted partner, and source of trade and technology, was seen as a ravenous exploiter. Even sales of its military hardware â€“ items it was not purchasing sufficiently to defend itself or Europe â€“ saw an uptick in sales. German might be the leader of Europe â€“ but it was a leader that lacked both the high ground and the high road.
It was clear as far back as 2006 when oil prices were skyrocketing that Russia planned to rearm. Despite this, Germany continued to disarm and unarm. And by 2015, Britain saw the EU for what it was becoming â€“ a Franco-German alliance with deep interests in telling local merchants in Barcelona to do things the way they were done in Bavaria. The EU regulations set how many paper towels could be used in a public bathroom or which diesel cars met EU standards (answer: German). Germany was calling the shots in public and behind the scenes whether you lived in Leyden or Leicester. The EU could not challenge the one nation that generated all the positive export balance for the EU in total. The EU needed Germany and Germany knew it. It alone still manufactured things that could be sold around the world.
Yet, Britain and France paid for the nuclear forces, they alone funded the limited means to project military force, and they alone held some real soft power to influence the United States â€“ the only power that still mattered if the EU was to hold sway. It was evident looking back that even the Clinton and Obama administrations barely deferred to Germany. She was a non-factor.
The great German waltz suffered its last blow when Germany turned away from sincere concerns about social harmony and cohesion and Angela Merkel opened her borders to flocks of young, unskilled males roaming in from the Middle East to enter the country as refugees. This horde was encamped with government cooperation and little national debate or reflection â€“ and they remain in German-funded schools and transition programs to this day. Underlying this somewhat disastrous decision to accept about a million new citizens from Syria, Iraq, etc., is a stark reality that Germany â€” if it is to continue to be a workshop for VWâ€™s, Airbusâ€™s, and machine tools â€” needs workers. The population reproduction has lagged behind replacement levels and no one wants to clean sewers, bathrooms, or pick up garbage. Thus, an economic policy driven by a demographic problem led to a rushed rationalization of an immigration policy that quickly became unpopular.
Nationalist sentiments â€“ the vilest and most detested sentiments in post-WWII Germany â€“ have surged forth. And the nation is now locked in a political impasse over forming a new parliamentary coalition to rule â€“ a little over a month ago the Christian Democrats (Angela Merkelâ€™s center-right party) experienced their worst election since 1949! No coalition is forthcoming.
Meanwhile, Germanyâ€™s economy is strong. The nation is weak. It is even perhaps unstable. It is in some respects isolated â€“ from Britain (Brexit), France (reluctantly pro-EU expansion), the Mediterranean EU countries, the more demanding, intolerant, and authoritarian Eastern EU, a resurgent Russia, and its old protector, the United States â€“ which is now a political card played to demonstrate moral superiority. Its old fears of exposure on the Northern European plain nestled between nations who do not trust each other or worse, do not trust Germany, will emerge again. That which unites Germanyâ€™s regions and people, their natural proclivity toward a kind paranoia and fear, also destroys it. Will it continue to overplay, overextend, overcompensate? Can it pull itself back a bit, realign, and find a national consensus? Can it arm itself, protect itself, and become a trustworthy ally?
The answer is simply that since its creation as a balance of power between imperial Russia and France, Germany is too small, too large, too aggressive, too passive, and too weak to lead. And when others, or Germany itself, attempts to do so, sooner or later she oversteps and things start to spin out of control. Germany is its own, and quite often the worldâ€™s, worst enemy.
21 Jul 2016
Political commentators have been speaking of the Trump takeover of the GOP, and conservatives have been worrying about the redefinition of the Party by the amateur outsider who ran away with the presidential nomination this year.
I think last night’s convention showed that there isn’t much to worry about with respect to an ideological remodeling of the GOP by Donald Trump. Convention speakers have been conservatives and the speeches they’ve been delivering have all contained basically nothing but standard current conservative talking points.
Trump has not really added or subtracted anything, which should probably not be surprising. Trump’s candidacy isn’t about ideas. It was never about ideas. Trump hasn’t got any ideas. It has always been entirely about Trump. Just as Mexican bandits don’t need no stinkin’ badges, Donald Trump doesn’t need no ideas or theories. Trump will simply Trump his way to victory using his appetites and oversized personality to get where he intends to go.
Though I think now that we haven’t got any future ideological contamination of Republican purity to fear as the result of the ascension of The Donald, the Cleveland Convention does make evident the existence of one future consequence of all this. There were all those Trump offspring giving speeches, praising and endorsing their father.
Donald Trump deliberately arranged to put one Trump child after another on center Convention stage in prime time, their speeches scattered at intervals between speeches by various national figures. This, I’m sure, was not an accident. In one evening, Donald Trump turned his obscure and unaccomplished sons and daughter into nationally-recognized celebrities.
Donald Trump may not understand, or care much about, the Constitution, but he does understand and cares deeply about branding. Trump has been branding his children. You can bet on it. There is going to be a Trump political dynasty with one Trump after another running for public office, and breezing in on the strength of membership in an American royal family.
02 Mar 2016
Detail, John Melhuish Strudwick, A Golden Thread, 1885, Tate Gallery.
This ought to be a locked-in-concrete, dead-certain Republican year. America has a two party system, and Americans have an instinctive habit of giving both sides a turn at the presidency. Unless the incumbent walks on water like Ronald Reagan, after 8 years, the American public is hankering for a change and typically turns the ball over to the other team.
Beyond that, running against Hillary is a lot like running against the mean old woman of every Blues song, who moreover seems likely any day to be indicted.
But, along comes Trumplestiltskin.
In Scenario 1, Trump wins nearly all the rest of the primaries. The GOP caves and gives him the rest of the votes he needs for the nomination, and then the Party splits. Movement conservatives, the people who nominated Barry Goldwater and elected Ronald Reagan, and the intellectuals (very possibly including the Neocons), conceivably including socially-moderate, but snobbish, Country Club Republicans take a hike. In significant sectors of the Party, voting for The Donald is just infra dig, and some contend that even Hillary would make a more responsible first magistrate. Trump loses, Hillary becomes President.
Scenario 2, Trump has a ceiling, getting a plurality of delegates on the first ballot, but no majority. Conservatives and GOP Establishmentarians will die in the last ditch before nominating Donald. The knives come out. Trump delegates are pulled away on subsequent ballots, and a brokered convention nominates Cruz or Rubio. Donald J. Trump is no sportsman. He immediately forms a Third Party, and in the election proceeds to pull all the numbskulls and Reagan democrats away from the GOP candidate. Hillary becomes President.
There is no scenario 3.
The Trumpkins are going to say: This isn’t fair. We’re having a Revolution, and the rest of you are supposed to get on board. Donald Trump is our only hope of Change. Change you can believe in. And the rest of us, the sane people, are going to make little circle next to our temples with our index fingers at the idea of turning all the power of the Presidency over to a totally-unprincipled, egomanaical airhead with the morals and manners of the most spoiled rich kid in the entire country. Some of us actually know what happened when they made Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, nicknamed “Caligula” (“Little Boots”) by the Army, Emperor. It was not pretty.
24 Nov 2014
At Richochet, Sabrdance views the American political future in the light of the Jacksonian Tradition. He even manages to place Abraham Lincoln (perhaps the ultimate anti-Jacksonian) directly in the Jacksonian Tradition (!).
In this weekâ€™s G-File, Jonah Goldberg elaborates on his Special Report rant that there is a populist revolt brewing in response to the misbehavior of the government, specifically, the revelations regarding Jonathan Gruber. Jacksonians expect government to be corrupt, but they require that it not be perverse; it may line its pockets, but it may not harm the people to do so. If it does, Meade is sanguine: the Jacksonians will revolt and elect a hero, as they did previously with Jackson himself, both Roosevelts, and Ronald Reagan.
I am less sure. The Jacksonian response to corruption has historically been to withdraw, first to the frontier, then into their churches and towns. Their antagonists follow until their train of insults culminates in harm, at which point the Jacksonians become bloodyminded. Meade skips over it in his discussion of Jacksonian heroes, but Lincoln can also be seen as of that mold, elected to punish the Southern states for insulting their Northern brethren by forcing the Fugitive Slave Act on them, violating both the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, as well as the implicit the agreement of the Founding to contain slavery and allow it to die (all brought about by the Louisiana Purchase, itself a dubiously legal executive act).
Jacksonians are honorable people. They will put up with much, and will withdraw into their enclaves rather than get sucked into a vendetta. Executive encroachments, legislative flimflam, judicial arroganceâ€¦ the Jacksonians wonâ€™t respond to any of it. Until they do.
Their predecessors in England launched both the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution.
I do not want to repeat that experience.
Read the whole thing.
25 Mar 2014
Nate Silver, the New York Times statistics whiz and FiveThirtyEight founder and chief editor who accurately predicted every stateâ€™s election results in the 2012 election, has some good news for the Grand Old Party: The 2014 midterm Senate election he deemed a toss-up last July now projects a slight edge for the Republicans. Why the switch? He explains that Obamaâ€™s shrinking approval ratings and the fact that Republicans have recruited quality candidates have given the party the edge they now enjoy.
Hot Air reports that Silver predicts a has a 60% chance for the GOP to take control of the upper chamber, and a 30% chance of winning it big. Of the 36 Senate races this November, heâ€™s predicting that Republicans will pick up 6 seats, and possibly as many as 11. Senators Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and Kay Hagan are some of the incumbent Democrats whose seats are considered vulnerable. Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas and South Dakota are Democrat-held seats likely to be picked up by the GOP.
01 Mar 2013
From the Blaze:
If Congress allows sequestration cuts to take effect, more than 170 million Americans could lose their jobs, according to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
â€œIf sequestration takes place, thatâ€™s going to be a great setback. We donâ€™t need to be having something like sequestration thatâ€™s going to cause these job losses â€” over 170 million jobs that could be lost,â€ Waters said.
She went on to say cuts must be done â€œover a long period of time.â€
Thereâ€™s just one problem with her estimation â€” and itâ€™s a big one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are only 134 million people working in the United States. So by Watersâ€™ estimation, the sequester cuts would be so apocalyptic that nearly 40 million people who donâ€™t have jobs would become even more unemployed.
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