Socialism and the Democratic Dictatorship – by Matthew Bowman

Socialism and the Democratic Dictatorship – by Matthew Bowman

So there I was, minding my own business, and a Munchkin who refused to go to sleep at the usual bedtime. Really, I’m not sure what he was expecting to accomplish by staying up late.

Image 1 Munchkin Dictator(1)

But it meant I came across this particular gem of myopic intelligence looking for a handout, shared into the Secret Headquarters of All Things Insane on an obscure website called something like Bookface. Now, I’m going to cover every single word of it, so if you’re not used to the kind of statist idiocy you can find online, please shield your eyes lest it burn a permanent afterimage into your retinas.

Image 2 Socialist Stupidity(1)

Now, being tired and a bit strung out from Munchkin’s antics (really, child, you have to be at least three years old before building a proper death ray out of nothing but Lego bricks, it’s a choking hazard), I decided to do the smart thing and just walk away from it.

Ha. No. I fisked it. And Sarah liked it, so she said she’d be all “disappointed” if I didn’t write a blog post for her.

I know what that means, and I am not prepared for a visit from Greebo’s minions. So here’s the blog post.

If you’re not already familiar with the Asymmetric Bullshit Rule, please familiarize yourself:

Image 3 ASR(1)

Yes, that’s right. That tiny little socialist screed has a lot of words that mean nothing, but I’m about to write many, many more words about them, because the problem is that even more people actually live under the delusion that these words in this kind of configuration are Profound, Meaningful, and Wise.

“But, Mr. Bowman, you’re a religious man. Socialism is a religion. Why are you persecuting them?”

Hell. No, really, because hell. Not the Big-H hot place that’s somewhere in excess of 200 C (the ignition range of sulfur, AKA brimstone), but the living, mortal hell that socialists bring to every country where it gets tried. Just ask Sarah’s cousin in Venezuela. Oh, wait, you can’t. Good thing for socialists that there were a lot of other “disappeared,” so it goes from tragedy to statistic. Whew! Break out the Che Guevera shirts!

“But Mr. Bowman, what about Scandinavia?”

That should be another shirt. “What about Scandinavia?” with a picture of Europe on fire. Scandinavia isn’t socialist. They used to be headed in that direction, but they saw the writing on the wall and have been rolling back many of their programs. That’s beyond the scope of this fisk, so please, go ahead, ask in the comments. I’m sure you’ll come across someone who will give you lots of good, hard facts you’ll be able to safely ignore.

Image 4 Gollum Not Listening(1)

Okay, let’s get into the fisk. The original will be in italics, and my commentary from this point on will be in bold.

“Socialism: The government owns most of the major industries.”

Try “all.” This is helped out by the way that many of them die out anyway. That’s what happens when you choke the life out of someone in order to give life to someone else. There’s always something lost along the way. But keep going, I’m sure someday you’ll get it right.

“This is an extreme system that seems to fail.”

Okay, so this type of socialism is pure socialism, so it’s extreme? If extreme is bad, then clearly there must be something about it that fails. But what does that mean?

Let’s look at liberty instead. What’s extreme liberty? Well, a logical examination would indicate that “extreme liberty” is either anarchism or so close as to be indistinguishable. I don’t want anarchy, but if your goal is liberty and nothing else, then true, pure anarchy solves that. Society falls apart, but that’s a feature, not a bug. You could also argue that extreme liberty is ultimate isolation, being the only human you will ever meet. No society seems to me even worse than a broken society, but even if the drawbacks aren’t worth it to me, I can’t deny that it is still liberating.

Yet can socialism deliver on its promise even at great cost?

Image 5 Spock Socialism(1)

When socialism falls apart, you have a failure of the very thing it promises to preserve: equality and well-being. Taken to its logical conclusion, you wind up with the same destruction of society as you have under anarchy, with no industry or agriculture to support large populations or making the tools necessary to efficiently defend against one group raiding the supplies of another. You have all the disadvantages of anarchy without any of the benefits of individual freedom, because all that’s left is the enforcement of the party leaders directing The People — and The People become no better than serfs.

This might, theoretically, not result in a plutocracy; but that doesn’t mean it’s ever actually happened. EVERY instance of pure socialism has resulted in a ruling class concentrating all the wealth in the name of defending the people. That’s feudalism repackaged.

Image 6 Means of Production(1)

We’re talking about something that was defeated by the HORSE COLLAR, and yet people keep trying to bring it back its essence under another name.

Sheesh. Already I have so freaking many words, and I’m only two lines in. Bullshit be asymmetrical.

“Corporate Socialism: (our current system)”

If everything is socialism, then nothing is. You just want to talk about corporations now.

“The government mostly benefits wealthy corporations.”

How so? Bailouts?

Since this is directed at disguising the Democrat Party agenda, we have to assume that this is an attempt to paint the status quo as being held up by conservatives. When’s the last time you saw a conservative saying we needed more bailouts?

Image 7 Bush Bailout(1)

SHUT UP, GEORGE. I asked for a conservative. And while Bush was not all bad, it is absolutely unbelievable to me that a Texan president’s eight years has been outdone by three years of a NEW YORK LIBERAL. If anyone managed to win those odds in Vegas, my hat’s off to you, because no one could have predicted that.

No conservative politician has ever wanted the government to bail out any company. This isn’t even a No True Scotsman moment; it just simply hasn’t happened. The closest you get is government-backed insurance, which most conservatives (grudgingly) accept because the companies have to pay into them in the first place.

Now, frequently the Democrats have reached for the idea that tax breaks equal bailouts, and this statement from the original post so vague (“benefits”) that we can safely assume the original author is trying the same here. There are two issues with that.

First, “not raising taxes” is only the same thing as “benefiting” if you assume that the money belongs to the government in the first place; in which case it’s not a tax, and we all work for one giant corporation. Wait, isn’t that what you hate?

Image 8 Hate(1)

Second, the statist left has loved to say that corporations aren’t people, but they also love to have it both ways. Here, they act like corporations get away scot-free (ironically, when’s the last time you saw a Scot free of England? But I digress). However, if corporations aren’t people, then the people who run AND work for corporations get taxed twice. First they have to pay corporate taxes (monthly, unless it’s quarterly, unless they’re nonprofit, unless they still have to pay certain taxes anyway — don’t blame me, the IRS rules are written by hyperactive German engineers snorting Pixie Stix), and THEN they have to use their remaining money to pay their employees, who THEN have to pay taxes on taxed money. So if corporations aren’t people, then why tax these people twice?

Ugh. I have to speed up. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH WRONG.

Image 9 Wrong on the Internet(2)

“Most major industries are privately owned (capitalism),”

The only way they can get away with this “most” statement is by saying that the military is an industry. Really. If you’ve been lucky enough to have not encountered that argument so far, then I’m sorry to break your cherry. The socialist left loves claiming that the military is “the means of production of war,” and therefore the military is socialist, and therefore the government is socialist. They weren’t getting anywhere with the roads-and-bridges argument, so I guess they thought this would work out for them.

There are private military contractors who might get involved in warfare, but under international law that’s not the same thing, so that’s really all they have. I think it’s just because they think we’re so brainwashed into loving the military that they want to either convince us we’re already socialist or they think we might turn anti-military under the weight of their impeccable logic. (I threw up a little in my mouth writing those last few words.)

They can’t say that about firefighters and police, because there are private companies that do the same job. I haven’t seen anyone say that “prosecuting criminal defenses” is socialism, but give it time; technically, no one does that other than the state.

“but still receive massive handouts, bailouts, and other benefits at the expense of the taxpayer.”

At the hands of the party promoting socialism, doofus.

Image 10 Socialism(1)

Yes, the Republicans have experimented with that, and it’s always a disaster; and the experiments normally extend only to tariffs, which I think are stupid (it’s just another tax and impacts the economy accordingly), with very few actual bailouts. As I said before, those are always decried by the conservatives. Hell, most conservatives who lose their livelihoods would rather claw their way up out of poverty rather than accept charity, and those who do usually limit it only to family.

“It is driven by corporations’ ability to influence the laws with large amounts of money that results in legislation that favors their ability to make even larger amounts of money.”

Do you even know what a run-on sentence is, you grammarless insult to an already-bastard tongue?

That’s called crony capitalism, and the left has been promising to get rid of that for CENTURIES now. Yes, just pass this next law! It’ll work THIS TIME! That’s how we got the 16th and 17th amendments, and the underlying promise of utopia through government regulation also got us the 18th as well. (Yes, Prohibition was pushed by progressives and socialists; look it up, dumbass.)

Image 11 Prohibition(1)

“In this system the wealthy become more wealthy at the expense of the lower classes. This system is essentially a Plutocracy (ruled by the wealthy).”

I already covered this point responding to Socialism. Moving on! Oh, hey, we’re finally to the next section.

“Democratic Socialism: The government mostly benefits the citizens.”

Yay! Excellent! That’s the whole concept behind the three purposes of government!

Wait, “mostly”? What’s this “mostly” crap? If you’re instituting a government that isn’t 100% intended to benefit its citizens, then what in the name of Ginsberg’s taxidermist are you ACTUALLY DOING?

See, I’m going to take a moment in the vain hope that someone, somewhere, will read this post with an open mind and think about what the actual purposes of government might be. The following is as concise a summary of conservative and small-L libertarian philosophy as I can manage.

1) Secure and facilitate voluntary agreements and cooperation among its citizens and serve as impartial arbiter, because you can’t have a cohesive society without enforcing agreements.

2) To defend citizens against threats both foreign and domestic, because you can’t keep a society without protecting it.

3) To aid citizens in disaster situations and take steps to prevent public disaster situations, because you can’t maintain society without planning for the worst.

Government action beyond these three purposes is best avoided, which is why we support small government, low tax burdens, cutting or removing government programs that can be handled by private enterprise, and moving government agencies to the smallest and most local level possible for their function.

Will “democratic socialism” give this to us? Considering that everyone who supports and promotes it wants MORE government, HIGHER taxes, REDUCED private enterprise, and CENTRALIZED government, I highly doubt it. But what do I know? I’m just a knuckle-dragging conservative who actually read books in college without red covers.

Image 12 College(1)

“Most major industries are privately owned (capitalism),”

Fisked above.

“but they have to stand on their own without handouts from the government.”

This is so obviously an attempt to appeal to conservatives that I’m not even insulted. I’m just amused. You REALLY think that a rightist is going to fall for the claim that socialism increases personal responsibility and fiscal solvency? Really?

“The tax burden previously funneled to the wealthy corporations is used to improve the lives of citizens instead.”

Again, this only works if you believe that all money belongs to The State, and we all work for a giant corporation called The State. A tax that does not exist does not equal government support.

“This enables the government to help fund improvements to public services such as: Police, Firemen, Libraries, Roads and Interstates, Education, and Healthcare.”

Every single one of those things is currently funded by government, and two of them absolutely should not be. Can you guess which ones?

“The system is driven by people working together and lifting each other up.”


Oh, wait, you’re serious. Let me laugh harder.

Image 13 Slavery(1)

“In this system the middle class thrives and poverty decreases.”

This has already happened under what you called corporate socialism. Even the statist left, masters of goalpost movement, can’t move the goalposts fast enough to keep up with the growth of middle class wealth in the United States over the last hundred years alone. When you add in England and go back nine hundred years to the document that is the most direct ancestor of the Constitution (the Coronation Charter of 1100, look it up), you can see so clearly that middle class growth is directly due to the freedom to perform private business that you’ll briefly think you have the necessary clarity of vision to read a map revealing the location of your gluteus overly maximus.

“This system is more Democratic (ruled by the people) than our current system.”

How so? Because you’ve increased the regulatory burden on ordinary citizens? Because you’ve made them more dependent on government handouts? Because you’ve driven everyone who can leave to get out, leaving only those who have no choice but to accept a 100% voter return for El Dictadora? (And yes, I do understand Spanish pronouns better than any current Democrat presidential candidate.) You can call it a democratic dictatorship, but it has to be one or the other.

Image 14 Dictadora(1)

Go back and caress your tear-and-other-stained copy of The Communist Manifesto, you pompous dick-nosed slimy idiotic syphilitic camel-infested bundle of shameless quarter-witted monkey-twisting puny nosehairs. You’re about as useful as a condom dispenser in a Vatican toilet.

Now I just need to get my Munchkin to sleep.

Image 15 Munchkin Awake(1)

Matthew Bowman can be found at his apolitical Novel Ninja blog (desperately in need of new blog posts but still open for business and accepting manuscripts for editing), where he is frequently confused for a moderate by the ill-prepared; and at Write of Center Authors on Facebook, where he is in the process of setting up a writing-support organization for freedom-loving authors, editors, publishers, and cover artists. He’s not normally this caustically creative, but baby-induced tiredness makes him loopy and Sarah assured him it would be, on occasion, hilarious.

204 thoughts on “Socialism and the Democratic Dictatorship – by Matthew Bowman

    1. I’ll take that compliment.

      Also, I’m trying very hard to teach my Munchkin big words that won’t shock the little old ladies who coo over him. Since I’m literally the son of a sailor and swear like it, this means I have to get creative.

      1. LOVE the fisking, more please!

        I swear a lot. I managed to have the children not swear by saying those words are for use by grownups only. Later had a talk with the eldest son that expanded on this by saying that there are times when such words should be used, and it’s usually when you’re grown up that you learn when cursing is appropriate (this, after he confessed to cussing out someone, and instead of being punished by the adults who listened to the why, was told this was an appropriate use of swearing, and to avoid being caught by any adults or teachers around as an additional precaution.)

        I’m going to have to be a bit more careful with the youngest babies. Jaenelle’s picking up phrases, as well as individual words, so I may have to get used to getting creative as well.

        The youngest bundle of cuddles is keeping me awake by wanting Endless Supply of Mummy Milk. So, commiserating sympathies on sleepless Munchkin.

        1. I may have to get used to getting creative

          I usually get creative in a…technical way. Such as: That’s a load of bovine organic waste product!
          Everything the Democrats do makes perfect sense once you realize that they have given up on getting people to want to vote for them, and are putting all their efforts into making people afraid to vote against them.

          1. One memorable way I remember my mom (and possibly, her mother?) describing someone was ‘having a diarrhea of words, and a constipation of ideas.’

            Alas… lack of sleep is kind of dulling my wit. *looks down at the bright eyed infant with head pillowed on my arm, nursing* I’d also forgotten how exhausting making milk can be.

            I think the Democrats forget that human response to fear isn’t always to meekly acquiesce, but to band together, hunt down and eliminate the source of the fear. It’s a matter of determining that ‘if we don’t do this, we will die’ level.

            1. Sometimes we all band together behind the loudest guy out there.

              Which is usually the one they’re listening to, at least lately.

              This makes for a very bad assumption.

              (Since one of Chesterton’s mysteries was based on exactly that kind of a bad assumption biting the bad guy on the rump, it’s apparently evergreen.)

      2. I appreciate the lack of profanity. It shows good training and discipline and good vocabulary. Since you are a sailor, it is doubly appreciated that you restrain yourself on our behalf. It is a sign you care about others.

        However, like Kurt Schlicter you like you some name calling. This bugs me because the article is excellent, and has the potential to enroll others in switching sides if they read far enough to connect the dots. I don’t think insults have much persuasive power other than to persuade one to go the opposite direction. During the 2016 election I kept thinking to myself, “if they want my vote, why do they keep insulting me?” There was no way I was going to vote for them.

          1. well, it also says on the wrapper that you’re the son of the son of the son of the son of the son of (etc) an archer.

  1. >> “I am not prepared for a visit from Greebo’s minions”

    Wait, Greebo has MINIONS?!?

    Sarah, is that cat of yours running some kind of editorial mafia?

            1. …And it works! Thanks, Fox!

              It’s compressed a *little* more than I’d like, but there’s no helping that I suppose.

              1. Pretty sure the image compression is to make it fit into the width of the comment; if the comment were higher up in the thread order, and thus wider, it would be less compressed.

                Also, when WordPress embeds an image and squeeze it to fit into the width of the comment, it also makes it so that you can click on the image to see the original, so that’s nice, too.

      1. Of course not, but Greebo being the head of an editorial mafia is now my official headcanon. Why else would he be sending minions around to harass other writers besides Sarah?

        I just hope nothing bad happens to Mr. Bowman for letting the cat out of the bag.

    1. Speaking of which, was RBG in attendance at the SOTU?
      Watched the whole thing, but they never as far as I could tell do a pan over the entire SCOTUS, and I was looking for her specifically.

        1. She said that her attending would legitimize the President. Which either means that all the Democrats who DID attend now support the President in her eyes, or that her presence is superior to Pelosi. Either one would fit her demonstrated understanding of how the real world works.

          1. As if her presence could legitimize anything! I don’t doubt the real reason she stayed away was her revulsion of the idea of having to sit for seventy-five – ninety minutes and listen to somebody else speak.

            By stating away she could watch it with her coven and tweet snarky comments.

      1. I thought I read that RBG was absent. (I’ve been a geek a looong time, it came out as RGB.)

        1. Same problem. Every time that woman’s initials come up I have to remind myself to keep the last two letters straight.

      2. According to reports, no, she was not, just as she skipped the two before (after falling asleep three years ago). But only four of the Justices were, in any case. Several of them have skipped it for many years now Thomas hasn’t been there since 2009; Scalia had stopped going even before then.

        It’s not a “command performance” for the SCOTUS, anyway.

            1. Quoth the Nancy:
              “It’s appalling the things that he says, and then you say to me, tearing up his falsehoods, ‘Isn’t that the wrong message?’” she said, gripping the podium. “No, it isn’t. It’s just — I have tried to be gracious with him. I’m always dignified. I thought that was a dignified act compared to my other exuberances, as I said. But we will not allow any president to use that Capitol, that chamber of the House of Representatives, of the people’s House, as a backdrop for him.

              Pelosi went on to complain about the number of guests Trump acknowledged at the address, about the fact that the cancer patient he highlighted was Rush Limbaugh rather than Rep. John Lewis, and about how Trump looked “sedated” when he neglected to shake her hand upon arrival at the Capitol.

              Emphasis added.

              But Nancy, you knew what he was when you invited him. Just because the monkey refused to dance to your tune is no reason to show your ass in response.

          1. I tend to agree with that.

            But that is why neither one of us is, or ever will be, a successful politician! SOTU was the beginning of the full press 2020 campaign.

      1. A “spry” RBG?
        Okay, now imagine her dressed as a flapper, and line dancing the can can.
        Now try to get that image out of your head.

        1. Now try to get that image out of your head.

          That’s gonna take about 20 yards of Mental Floss.
          Dark Willow: “Bored now.”

  2. ‘Democratic Socialism’ — isn’t that what they’ve got in North Korea?

    You didn’t mention fascism. Because, when you render down all the leftist doublespeak, you find that fascism is what they’re really after. Complete subjugation of the individual by the State. The State takes everything from everybody, and then the State gives everything to everybody, equally. Except that somehow, some animals wind up being more equal than others.

    All those sincere little socialists think they’re going to be the Pigs, and can’t see that they’re just the Sheep.
    There is no shortage of people convinced they can create the perfect world. Trouble is, they always start out by f*cking up this one.

      1. But they don’t understand technology! They know how to use (and mis-use) the gadgets, but they don’t understand how they work, or what it takes to design and manufacture them. They don’t know that engineers and technicians exist. Everybody except the Socialists is just part of the great mass of Workers, and they need Big Brother government to take care of them.
        Argumentum ad nauseum — to keep repeating the same bullshit until everybody is so sick of it they stop listening, then declare victory.

          1. They don’t understand anything. They see sweatshops turning out iPhones with slave labor, and can’t comprehend that there’s any more to it. That without Steve Jobs and all those engineers with that eeevul ‘income inequality’ there wouldn’t be any iPhones to assemble.

            And they screech about ‘wage slavery’ here in the U.S. while ignoring literal slavery elsewhere. Here, where they pay the ‘wage slaves’ 100 times more than those sweatshops.

            They condemn accomplishment, and celebrate the lack of it.
            If you want to learn, the worst schools and teachers in the world won’t stop you. If you don’t want to learn, the best can’t help you.

        1. The problem with Argumentum ad nauseum (to keep repeating the same bullshit until everybody is so sick of it they stop listening, then declare victory.) is that sooner or later somebody sick of your bullshit will stop listening in order to beat your head in with a shovel.

          1. Nonsense. The effective rebuttal of Argumentum ad nauseum, ivolvig no shovels, is Argumentum ad throttleum.

            Admittedly, some application of shovel may be necessary in the absence local pig populations or nearby bodies of water.

            1. But if you throttle them, then you still need to get the shovel to bury them. Hit them with a shovel, and *hey!* it’s already there. All you need is a stake to drive through where their heart should be, place them face down, and Bob’s your Uncle!

    1. Fascism is what you get when the government nominally lets people pretend that they still own their business while having every decision relating to that business made by the government.

      Communism is removing the pretense.

    2. If I remember the definitions and actual conditions of fascism, on the books, the businesses, companies, and corporations were owned by private individuals and investors; however, actual decision making was by the government, either by being the direct and only customer dictating what and how much was to be produced, or by a plethora of regulations that basically amounted to the same thing.

      If the government controls everything you can do with something, is that something really yours, or is it really the governments? And yes, building codes (state and local), housing associations regulations, EPA regulations, Army Corps of Engineering regulations, federal regulations all amount to fascist control of your real estate. A whole lot of somebody elses deciding what you can and can not do with your “castle”; and making sure you pay through the nose for them to do it.

        1. just suffered Hazmat training.
          Our company has a letter from a Chief of the DOT telling us we could do something, and they took her word for it. We have a second letter saying “Sorry for any inconvenience” when the items got here, hit a few warehouses and someone with a clue said “Wait, we can’t move those!” and we, 16 years later, still can’t move the items legally. Seems we can’t ever get a special exemption to dispose of the items.
          But wait! There’s more.
          She was still a Chief in the previous administration, when she did similar (not to us, but the guy we use for DOT/IATA/INTL compliance training and representation was also retained by who it happened to) and FINALLY got moved out of her Permanent Senior (almost wrote Undersecretary) Gov’t position.
          Yes, someone so bad the Deep State moved her into retirement.

          1. Notify your Senators, Representatives, and news media of the problem and give them a one week deadline to fix it. At the end of the week, take those items to the office that won’t give you legal permission to move and dispose of them, and fill their office, hallways, and parking lot with the containers. If they try to use LE to stop you, break open one of the containers and dump it right there.

            1. no one in corporate would be willing to risk that. hell no one in any management position above Shift Lead (highest hourly position) would risk it.
              The D.O.T. are some vindictive asses, and doing this is not just a corporate fine, but personal felonies. I think we’ve just been happy they didn’t fine us for getting them here. By the rules, they are in their rights to fine us for following her instructions because we cannot show we got them there within the law. As long as they don’t move from the warehousing, they can’t do much now. I don’t know what stops us from rendering them useless, safely, in place, and disposing of the containers. Might have come out cheaper to just let them sit and redesign a new part, than to build a re-pack and disposal.

    3. They don’t want complete subjugation of the individual by the State. They want complete subjugation of all individuals OTHER THAN THEIR WONDERFUL SELVES by the State.

  3. Sir, as an engineer of German descent and an aficionado of Pixi Stix, I take umbrage that you would think such individuals could be responsible for the IRS tax code. German Engineers, no matter how hopped up on sugary substances, are incapable of even conceiving such a thing. No, the true authors are none other that politicians. Only they have the depraved hypocrisy and autolytic thought process that would allow for one to create the tax code.

      1. Yeah, tell the next time traveler to go back and kill Marx instead of Hitler.

        Actually, that might prevent both World Wars! Worth a shot, anyway.

        Imagine there’s no communism
        Imagine if you can
        No Marxim or Leninism
        No useless Five-Year Plan…

        1. Sir or Madame or Xhe;

          This is notice that you are now under temporal surveillance by the Department of Time Policery Department.

          Any attempt to displace temporally and make any change will be met with force, as we don’t have budget sufficient to police yet another split timeline, especially after the twelve bazillion split timelines where everyone and their sister went back and killed Hitler. So don’t do it. Please.

          And attempting to incite said temporal meddlingness will also be met with a bit less force. Like this email. We really can’t afford anything more. But knock it off. Pretty please.

          Please have a wonderful day in your own timeline.


          Senior Junior Leftenant Greebo
          Time Police Threatening Communications Department of Communications

        2. “No Narrative to die for,
          imagine it if you can…
          Imagine all the people
          living proud and free.
          You can say I’m a dreamer
          but I’m not the only one.
          Load your guns and join us
          and the world we’re fighting for.”

      2. Say what you might about him, Karl didn’t force idiots to implement his ideas and didn’t engage in large-scale murder.

          1. Marx – and a lot of other darned fools of the time – were inspired by the likes of Hegel, and Rousseau. Perhaps better to shoot one of them?

              1. Take the Time Machine forward to an era when a one-shot transgender treatment is available, then travel back and let infant Rousseau have it.

            1. If presented with a one shot time machine – and the mission of preventing a fair chunk of the 20th Century misery – I would arrange a fatal accident for Morrell Mackenzie.

                1. Morrell Mackenzie was the British doctor who misdiagnosed Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, thus allowing his throat cancer to kill him. This handed control of the German Empire to Wilhelm II. Personally, as I think Bismarck’s manipulations of Wilhelm II are as much or more responsible for Wilhelm’s poor decision making, I think Bismarck makes a better candidate for a fatal accident – though when exactly is a good question.

                  1. There were still the vons Holstein and Bülow – Wilhelm was highly manipulable, and also excitable. Now, Bismarck would almost certainly have been out under Frederick, also – and the Reinsurance Treaty would have still sailed out the window after him – but I don’t think that the Austrians would have been given the green light to solve the “Serbian Problem” by Frederick.

                    Yes, “when” would be the question if Bismarck were the objective. Just before 1870? After? A disunited Germany was a magnet for adventurism, with all of the other Powers quite likely to find themselves facing off in major conflict for minor reasons.

                    I am thinking of the “one shot” scenario here, note. Fixing the entire mess would be a much, much more complex task (such as preventing the rise of a Wilson or a Japanese military dictatorship) – and I would say it is impossible without a Mike the Computer to prevent stepping even harder on our cranks.

                  2. [looks up Frederick’s death]


                    What could his doctor have done about it? Bleeding, poultices, prayer, elixirs made from unlikely and usually-disgusting substances?

                    He could take a knife and cut out whatever was obvious – bear in mind there were no anaesthetics in 1888, and the medical profession still largely ridiculed that whole cleanliness thing.

                    The first effective treatments for cancer were spinoffs from WWII war gas research and the Manhattan Project via the Livermore Radiation Lab; chemo and radiation.

                    “War! What is it good for?”

                    1. Actually, chloroform and ether were being used as general anesthetics by the 1850s. What they didn’t have was effective antibiotics; in fact, one of the common complaints was that they could knock the patient out and do the surgery, but they saw a huge increase in deaths from infection when they did.

                2. The English doctor who mis-diagnosed the laryngial cancer of Frederick (father of Kaiser Wilhelm II, very briefly Emperor Frederick III of Germany).

                  Playing the odds here, of course – but…

                  1) Hitler, Mussolini, and Lenin/Stalin were arguably symptoms, not causes. They happened to be the carp that managed to get on top of a very large heap of it that existed in their countries as a result of the post-war chaos into which those nations were thrown. Some other contender for those thrones would almost certainly have emerged if they did not.

                  2) Emperor Frederick III would have been far less likely to blunder into a war between the Austrians and Russians. Certainly would not have had the slightest desire to encourage competition with the British Empire. (Not entirely under his control, of course, but he would have been working to reduce tensions, not exacerbate them. No “gunboat diplomacy.”)

                  3) Tojo is a different matter altogether, although with an undistracted Britain and France, he might not have been quite so tempted to implement the expansion of Imperial Japan. Economic factors would still be in play there – but Imperial Japan was far more comfortable with the US administrations before FDR rose to power. Japan could have been contented with US trade and the exploitation of just their Manchurian possessions. Might.

                  (Yes, there is a vaguish outline for an alternate history sitting on my hard drive… Why do you ask?)

                  1. Ooooh, if we could have avoided Wilson and FDR…or, at least, if they hadn’t been a communist and a fascist…

                    Most of those socialists and communists have a very simple problem — somebody else has got MORE than them. Since they are, by definition, The Smartest And Most Enlightened it can only mean those deplorable Others are cheating. Everything must be taken from them!
                    Under Captitalism, man exploits man.
                    Under Communism, it’s the other way around.

                    1. Avoiding a Wilson would have been a different problem – and I don’t have a solution for that, to be honest. He was, again, more of a symptom than a cause. Although the lack of a convenient war would have curtailed much of the power grabbing.

                    2. Agree on Wilson as symptom of greater problem. Some lessons can only be learned by trying the wrong answer. We corrected pretty well after Wilson and he ought have been sufficient exposure to the illness of socialism to produce effective antibodies. Sadly, like certain venereal diseases, new strains keep emerging just when you think the last outbreak has been cleared up.

                    3. Which explains a lot of the leftist rage at Trump. They know they’re smarter than he is, they cheated and still lost, therefore he MUST have cheated somehow, and has to be punished. The fact that he basically outsmarted them and won even in the face of a rigged election never occurs to them. Donald Trump’s no genius; but his opposition isn’t even as competent as the Keystone Cops, and they’re a lot less funny too.

                    4. Re avoiding Wilson:

                      Option 1 is to keep McKinley from getting gutshot, either by giving Leon Frank Czołgosz a job after he lost his in 1893 so he would not get radicalized, telling McKinley’s Secret Service guys, or the Buffalo PD, or both, about Czołgosz being armed and dangerous could work given the times, or getting McKinley to skip the Temple of Music event that his secretary kept taking off his schedule and he kept putting back on.

                      If McKinley had served out his two terms from through 1904, TR would have easily succeeded him and his two terms would have run through 1912. Assuming he didn’t just run for a third term the R nominee would have been Taft, and with TR not splitting the 1912 not-Wilson vote, Taft would have been President when war broke out in Europe instead of Woodrow Imperator and his wife, Livia Drusilla, err, I mean Edith.

                      Option 2 is to go back and convince TR to never, not ever, and especially not in 1904, say “I will not serve another term”. If TR had shut his yap he would have won again in 1908and again it would hav been Taft in 1912, so no President Professor Woodrow von KKK Racist Dictator Wilson.

                    5. Just remember. Without Woodrow Wilson, we wouldn’t have Woodrow Wilson Smith, AKA Lazarus Long.
                      What would be the social, cultural, and technological fallout if that key Heinlein character never came to be?

                    6. If you really want one guy to be stopped from doing something that let progressives gain ground, then shoot a famous shooter: John Wilkes Booth.

                      It’s interesting to see how much Lincoln was holding back Union progressives who wanted to grind the South down. Reconstruction is near-universally accepted as being worse for national cohesion than the Civil War was. That’s how we got such a sudden shift to centralized power, and why progressivism got such a hold (in two different flavors) in both North and South.

                      That’s not to say Lincoln didn’t have his own history of overreach, but he had an interesting view: if it was in any doubt, he erred on the side of being allowed rather than being forbidden, and let the courts figure it out. It’s a very lawyerish view, and not one I agree with, but definitely pragmatic. He wanted the South brought back in swiftly, without muss or fuss. His death changed that.

                      What happened in the South was a symptom, not a cause. In fact, so was Booth; if he hadn’t shot Lincoln, who’s to say someone else wouldn’t have? But it’s interesting to look at Lincoln’s private writing and see that he didn’t want what happened, and then to look at what DID happen and see how that caused progressivism to take root.

                      It’s likely that with Lincoln’s moderating influence at the helm, those scars would have healed faster and we wouldn’t have had the 16th, 17th, and 18th amendments (and therefore the 21st). It wouldn’t have stopped the rise of communism and fascism in Europe or Asia, but it likely would have meant the US wouldn’t find it so attractive, and it’s possible that Latin America wouldn’t have followed suit so easily.

                      There are far too many factors to really know, of course. It’s just something fun to think about.

                    7. Napoleon observed that if he had been hit by a cannon ball as he rode down the streets of Moscow, he would have gone down in history as the greatest general ever.

                      So too with Lincoln. Even he would have found the post-war hard.

      1. Ah. I see. Slight correction. Pixie stix, a flavored sugary concoction housed in tubular form somewhat reminiscent of coffee straws is mostly harmless.

        Pixie Styx on the other hand is an infernal alchemy giving the imbiber (or inhaler) feelings of megalomania and desire for control of the most miniscule of actions. It has been banned by both Courts and over half of the known dimensions that are aware of its existence (the lesser half being the ones where it cannot exist or would either immediately be rendered into ash or unable to affect its environs in any way).

        Known to be the bane of engineers, Germans, and German engineers *in the know,* use Pixie Styx is considered a war crime on Earth #457-1099499WT.

      2. I heard a story once about a kid who decided to snort a green-apple Pixie Stix. Let’s just say that, while I think his nasal passages recovered eventually, the screaming was heard in every wing of the middle school.

  4. An example from this week of those who think they want technocratic fascism:

    Look up the CV of the CEO of Shadow, Gerard Niemira. No joke, he was a history major in college.

    The scary thing is that they don’t know what they don’t know, yet they are potentially in line to control large programs that influence other people’s lives. The lack of security awareness on the part of politicians is frightening. And I don’t use fear-associated words lightly. think of self-driving cars; remember in Obama’s era, we were assured that in 5 years or so they would be everywhere?

    1. So… he saw only the Woke, politically-correct, far-left propaganda that’s available from the academic system?

      You’re not going to learn much history from college classes…

      1. To be fair, I was a history major as well.

        Of course, I went to a rare college that was mostly right-wing and authentically Catholic, where only one known student voted for Kerry and the political fights were mostly about whether one should be libertarian, conservative, or distributist. (If you’ve never heard of distributism, don’t worry, most people haven’t. It sounds like communism at first, but after a while you realize it’s a moralistic free-market system that pretends it’s not in any way capitalist.)

        Frankly, it has such a good academic reputation, the only reason why they don’t have lots of non-Catholic right-wingers sending their kids there is that it’s a gun-free campus. I really wish they’d change that. It’s in Virginia, though, and the accreditation agency puts pressure on certain things. During my last year they had to remove all swords from the campus because of those weak-livered pansy-painted hippie rectal thermometers. Some sort of “safety concern” that affected the college’s rating, and the board of directors caved. Most of them were costume pieces, which meant that the “wooden practice weapons” that we were allowed to keep were the actually dangerous items.

        My roommate and I started an honest-to-goodness Fight Club in protest. The first rule of Fight Club was that you always talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club was to meet outside the cafeteria after dinner and not expect a referee.

        1. Another history major survivor (triple dipped). I bounced off of socialism the first time around, worked in the real world, and was very good at making the proper noises at the right time the second and third time through.

          1. I’m kind of hoping that my presence helped mitigate the attempts to make socialism shiny to my classmates. It may have been helped by the angry Socialist teacher who docked my grade in her class when I did NOT come up with glowing descriptions of life in East Berlin. *grin*

            1. I’d rip a bootleg copy of One, Two, Three and leave it on her desk labeled, “Life in Cold War Berlin.” It’s a rare, hard-to-find (we had to get a copy from GREECE, of all places) Cagney film where he plays a Coca-Cola executive in West Berlin who has to do a My Fair Lady on an East Berlin communist before the boss arrives. Utterly hilarious. Worth hunting down. “Put your pants on, Spartacus” (pronounced “Spah-dihcuss”) is a household staple quote.

              1. ???? Love that film — didn’t when it first came out (in my defense, I was, I think, eight) but having seen it as an adult it is an at least second-tier Billy Wilder film, which means it is very good indeed.

                Reportedly $17.49 for the Blu-ray, new, at Amazon, less if used.

        2. Perhaps I should report that school for failure to fully support U.S. Olympic sports. Let’s see. Shot put, discus, javelin, foil, epee, saber, rifle and shot gun, biathlon, pentathlon, all involve weapons or sporting derivations. Hell, even baseball, cricket, and lacrosse use clubs. And what’s a bowling ball but a mortar shell with holes drilled in it?

          1. One of its attractions to conservatives and libertarians is that they don’t take a dime of federal money.

            Also, I was never able to enjoy the local bowling alley. It’s a smoking joint, and I’m allergic to tobacco. It sucks. I hate that allergy more than I hate being handicapped.

            1. “allergic to tobacco”

              I have no tolerance for second hand smoke, at all. Even less for the residual smell left behind on anything or anyone. To the point where I could not volunteer at our son’s school when I wasn’t working. Working with kids, whose parents smoked, in scouting or sports was barely tolerable, because mostly outdoors. Inside, forget it. We rarely stay in hotels. When I worked & had to travel occasionally, once I made the mistake of not reserving a room. Only room they had available was not non-smoking, I didn’t last the night. Another time, one of our rare hotel stays, I walked in a “non-smoking room”, & my response was “oh h*ll no”. They moved us.

              The smell triggers almost instant migraines. Back when it was difficult to get away from it in public, restaurants, work, & other venues, I know that it affected my health, beyond the migraines. I got sick really easily. Lord help me if I had to think (one of the reasons I know we don’t play Duplicate Bridge, they allowed smoking “rounds”). I still get migraines, always have. But at least with smoking (most places) disallowed, I can usually avoid that trigger.

        3. There’s only two real problems with distributism and most other forms of small-proprietorship-oriented economic philosophies:

          1. Small businesses don’t make good modern fighter aircraft, naval ships, or tanks.

          2. The early theorists never seemed to grasp that communists and other leftist anti-capitalists wanted the small proprietors gone even more than they wanted the merchant princes gone, and that’s an error that keeps repeating.

          1. On your first point: In my fisk, I nearly put an additional point under government bailouts, after federal insurance. That was about military hardware contractors, and why the government orders so many surplus items even though the US doesn’t need them. We want those businesses in business if fecal matter hits the rotary impellers. I deleted it, though, because it was too much of a tangent and not nearly funny enough.

            On your second point: I’ve never read Belloc on the subject, but Chesterton’s arguments for distributism made a lot more sense once I found an essay where he defined “capitalism.” It was actually a very narrow definition, basically crony capitalism. It fit my estimation (gleaned from rooming with two foaming-at-the-mouth distributists in college, one of whom went on to hold a local public office) that it was really just free market capitalism as operated according to Catholic social teachings and where credit cards were the eighth deadly sin. Not that Chesterton or Belloc ever saw a credit card; that one was added in later by people who tried to make out their arguments against capitalism as being against the free market (or that when free market advocates advocated, they really just wanted cronyism).

            Regardless, that’s the real reason why distributism won’t work outside an agrarian economy. It requires long-term local associations that adhere to a common moral system which emphasizes hard work, personal responsibility, and charity before self. I love my Catholic faith, but if we can’t even get our own members to act ‘properly,’ how can we base an entire society around something that requires absolute (or at least 90%) acceptance of the same or similar system?

            Besides, I always find that the Catholics who cry loudest about needing to help the disadvantaged are the ones most likely to want someone else to do it in the first place. Let’s just say that the ex-roommate who went on to hold public office didn’t quite live up to his stated ideals from yesteryear.

      1. But I agree, we need better computer security before we put them everywhere anywhere.

        Fixed that for ya.

        I think it was a Roger Zelazny story that had a scene with teenagers jumping in front of automated trucks on a highway. Winner was determined by how close the truck got to hitting them. I don’t know how many Darwin Awards they won…

        Read another story in which hundreds of cars’ auto-drive computers were cracked, directing them to a little roadside stand where they had to make a purchase to unlock the damn thing.

        Now if somebody was ornery enough, and just a little bit evil, they might hold their door open and refuse to move even if those running the scam unlocked their car. Because driving-with-door-open would be an ABSOLUTE safety prohibition.
        He’s a lumberjack, and he’s OK.

        1. In Zelazny’s “The Dream Master” a dog was able to go joyriding in a self-driving car…

          Like Canada’s mandate for lever-style door handles, “unintended consequences” can be… er, unintended.

          “Mom, there’s a moose in the living room again!”

        1. Honestly, I’d rather see a return of cars with NO computers and easy-to-maintain engines. And there might be a market for it; I remember Instapundit recently linking an article about how farmers were bidding like crazy for old tractors that they could fix themselves.

          Is it illegal to make such things these days? Because you’d think SOMEONE would.

          1. Probably not directly illegal, but environmental/pollution controls likely require the sheer data-crunching power of digital computers nowadays. I’d even heard the claim (I have NO desire to test it!) that the ‘run the car in the garage with doors closed’ means suicide might no longer be effective as modern autos have such a clean burn that that carbon monoxide no longer is a significant issue. Wonderful, if true,… but.. I ain’t gonna test it!

            1. Gas masks and carbon monoxide measurement devices (different from standard detectors) are pretty cheap.

              I don’t have a garage, or I’d be tempted. I like experiments.

              1. Alright, I could (if I had a more modern vehicle…) run the experiment with a monitor and a webcam or such. I would still not place myself in the “experimental area.” And unless things have changed significantly, gas masks are no good at filtering out CO.

            1. Yeah, I’ve been wondering about kit cars as science education directed at highschoolers.

              Though, it comes to mind that the farmer market is probably the one to target that way. They almost certainly have access to children for any nominal education component.

              1. Few schools even have “shop class” any more, much less a place to build a car. I know a few schools were doing Locost 7 projects 20-odd years ago, but I haven’t heard of any since.

                1. I happened to be in my local (Texan) public high school last year, and was shocked to see that not only did they have shop, they also had a home ec room. Awesome. Hopefully they teach the students how to pay bills and balance a checkbook, too.

                  1. Rumours are that Shop bit the dust because of insurance liability concerns — I think the required ritual sacrifice of two to three of the shop teacher’s fingers reduced the available pool of teachers.

                    Home Economics went the way of all academically unfashionable programs, killed by the Feminists who should have demanded the boys take the courses as well as the girls. The only thing potentially of little use to the guys in a good Home Ec curriculum might be the sewing — and knowing how to buy a good suit at GoodWill and tailor it to fit is something from which any guy could benefit.

                    1. My middle school had a single elective in which you spent 1/3 of the school year in shop, 1/3 in home ec, and 1/3 in… basically a mix of typing and history of computers. I’m afraid that typing practice might have been the highest level of utility we hit, in retrospect — we each made a cardboard rocket and a teddy bear, but both tailoring and any form of very practical tool use were, I think, beyond the levels reached. Still, it was a lot of fun and introduced some things, at least.

                    2. We had a teacher who hijacked the 3rd or 4th year of sex ed– which was then put adjacent to the driver’s ed class, so they didn’t put in specifics for what to teach– to do a home ec/”how to adult” class.

                      She did how to wash clothes, make a white sauce, wash dishes, sew on a button, not kill yourself while cooking…..

            2. EPA and DOT regulations only apply to Federally licensed automotive manufacturers. At the individual level, all you have to worry about is your state of residence. *Technically* other states’ laws apply when you visit them, but there are various compacts between the states that exempt visitors by courtesy.

              Those compacts apply to “vehicles”, but not necessarily to trailers, which is why crossing foreign states while towing a trailer can sometimes make you a target for revenue enhancement agents.

          2. My 1980 car has a fluidic analog computer for fuel metering, a simple solid state electronic ignition (and I have a point-type distributor as a spare), and a radio, which I haven’t turned on in at least ten years.

            EMP? Even if it’s close enough to break the windows and burn the paint off, I’ll be driving away in just a few minutes. The Army nuked a lot of pickup trucks in Nevada to find out things like that…

            I used to wear the +10 Spiked Jackboots of Security Administration. The idea of involunterily forcing software updates to the *many* computers in a modern car, over a cellular modem, makes me want to beat some idiots until they see reason…

            Most OEMs can *already* shut off your car remotely; it’s not going to be long before various government bodies are going to want to play with that…

            1. Governments already want to force the OEM folks to make more toys for them to play around with that way.

  5. Democratic socialism means that you convince the people that surrendering control of the vital industries that support their lives (e.g. health care, utilities, transportation, communication) to an all-powerful, benevolent government is a good idea. That is, until the government turns out to be not so benevolent after all, and the money you were promised would go to public services goes to criminals and thugs.

  6. Last I heard, Venezuela is wanting to re-privatize the oil and gas industry. Sell the companies back to someone or other.

    Anyone who’d take the offer is a d*mn fool.

    1. JOB OPENING: Government patsy, immediate placement. Must be willing to take the fall for others’ decisions. Healthcare for family members included at remote and undisclosed location. No experience necessary.

      1. Or prepared to use some rather extreme management practices…. supposedly Russian interests are nosing around.

  7. Oh, I don’t know. I’d buy back their oil industry, with the stipulation that I provide 100% of the security infrastructure for them, reporting to me and not under any government control. Then I’d hire me a passel of former U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and a handful of Air Forces types, with enough weapons and vehicles to squash any attempts by the Vz to re-nationalize at a later date.

    1. Step one: go into *massive debt.* Hire your own military. Can recruit local, but training better be beyond top notch. Pay good people better wages. Buy better gear than the three nearest countries.

      Step two: Modern production facilities. Professionals to run them.

      Step three: Declare your own country.

      Step four: Profit. Always profit.

  8. I’ve been known to tell people that the scariest words are “But we’ll get it right this time!” when applied to politics and economics.

    1. Ah, but you do know that our Constitutional government is a 200+ year experiment, don’t you?

      Look at all the other governments around the world we have as controls.

  9. Our experiment has been contaminated with the effluvium of a few dozen failed experiments.

    And they’re blaming us for their failures!

  10. That “someone is wrong on the internet” has been a family staple (applied to me) ever since it was drawn.

    (I’m getting better.)

  11. The Sweden thing is basically the ” *Photo may not represent the actual item for sale” kind of sleezy micetype thing. They may talk it up, they may even do their dead level best to make you believe that’s what they want, but it’s not what they are actually selling.

  12. They forgot Nationalist Socialism, which is what Bernie says he is after.

    Wow, that’s a lot of letters to type: If only there were some sort of abbreviation for the concept. Hmmm.

  13. One thing that always itches my “that ain’t right” button is when folks talk about the virtues and wonders of democracy. There were reasons smart folks like the Founders of our nation and more going back to the Romans we snagged quite a few good ideas from thought it was a bad idea.

    A Republic, folks. We are a Republic. Not a democracy. We’re better than that.

    1. “I’m the boss of you.”

      “What? How do you figure that?”

      (Pulls friend over.)

      “There’s two of me and there’s one of you.”

      1. Little tyrannies. Small tyrants, future petty bureaucrats, agents provocatuer in training.

        Entirely too much has been made of the “wisdom” and “rightness” of majorities. Right side of history, settled science, and cakes.

        Just because a thing is popular don’t make it right.

        Side note. I seriously wish the identity politics people would hurry up and realize that the practical *and* logical ends of that theory is individual liberty. Protect the freedom of each and every individual and infinite intersectionality is achieved. Congratulations. Go live your life and make something of it. Stop bothering other people who ain’t bothered you none.

        Thus the tyrant has only himself to boss around, morally speaking. People will still follow fads and foolish things. But the responsbility will all be on them in the eyes of the world. As it should be.

      2. “Better count again. I count Smith, Wesson, and me.”

        Which is why Leftists prefer a disarmed populace. And there’s lots of “libertarians” who are happy to help them, because they figure the “red-flag” laws will flag the people they disapprove of..

    2. I’m pretty sure the word “republic” never occurred in any of the textbooks I had in school.

      Everything was DEMOCRACY! ! ! And at least half of that was the Sainted Roosevelt, from whom all goodness flowed.

      1. I pledge allegiance
        to the Flag
        of the United States of America,
        and to the Republic
        for which it stands …

        “Republic. A state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people”
        ~Red Skelton [ ]

        1. I was apparently absent when they taught that, and though I asked several times, the teachers would never tell me what the words were.

          All I ever got was, “aplejaleeja toodafah, dyunissah staya merka…” Up until… eighth or ninth grade, when they didn’t do it any more.

          I’m pretty sure a majority of schoolmates didn’t know the proper words either; there couldn’t have been *that* many mush-mouths.

          I was out of school before I saw the words written down and recognized them.

          1. The words that were never explained to me during the pledge-days (which stopped after third grade because I moved overseas) were: “Plej,” “Uhleejince,” “Indy-visible,” “Libertee,” and “Justis.” Mind you, I knew that Liberty was something to do with America, and especially a big statue out in New York City; and Justice had something to do with Superman.

            Fortunately, my grade-school teachers taught annunciation, because I was a bit of a mumbler to begin with.

  14. “the experiments normally extend only to tariffs, which I think are stupid (it’s just another tax and impacts the economy accordingly),”

    Well, no. A tariff is also a weapon as effective as a battleship (as Trump is busy proving) against a world which gives lots of lip service to free trade, but in practice meant the US citizenry bent over and spread them for the 12 inch barbed meathook.

      1. I admit that Trump is using them effectively, but he started out threatening them in the same way that George W. tried to protect American businesses, and it failed. It was the same rhetoric all over again.

        Even under Trump, there are no economic benefits. There are DIPLOMATIC benefits, and that’s what he’s wielding well. Simply placing a tariff and expecting it to boost the economy isn’t the answer. No one has ever been taxed into prosperity.

        1. But see my point below. For the Chinese products, the end-cost to the US purchaser has been minimally impacted due to increasing Chinese subsidies.

          1. Also: There are very few products that really NEED to be made in China. There are lots of other low-wage countries, some of which have developing infrastructures. And the costs of US-made products can be driven down over time via productivity improvements.

            A lot of people have overstated the importance of Chinese imports to the American standard of living. Even Art Laffer said: “China is a huge plus to the U.S. because without China there is no Walmart, and without Walmart there is no middle class or lower class prosperity in America.”

            Actually, the US was known for broad-based prosperity long before either Walmart or China was a significant factor. It was really only in the 1980s that Walmart’s expansion really took off…and it was then by no means as China-dependent as it has more recently become. Indeed, starting in 1984 and extending at least through the early 1990s, Walmart was a strong supporter of the Crafted with Pride in the USA campaign, which was launched by textile entrepreneur Roger Milliken, among others.


        2. Right. When country A puts a tariff on products coming from country B, it harms both countries economically, though it might harm one of them a little more than the other. The only good way to use them is in a tit-for-tat manner, as part of a larger diplomatic strategy: when country B is imposing a tariff on your products, you impose a tariff on theirs, and promise that you’ll lift the tariff as soon as they lift their tariff. It’s the exact same strategy as the winning strategy in Prisoner’s Dilemma: default to co-operation at first, but promise that betrayal will be met with betrayal, and co-operation will be met by equal co-operation. If you always co-operate no matter what, you invite betrayal. But if your opposite number knows that force will be met by force, and peace will be met by peace, you are most likely to end up with peace all around. This has been gamed out numerous times in Prisoner’s Dilemma simulations, and the tit-for-tat strategy beats out all other strategies in the long run. And the exact same thing happens with tariffs. The only way a tariff boosts your economy is if it manages to persuade the other country to drop their own tariff (at which point you drop yours), leading to economic benefits for both countries as they are now co-operating instead of harming each other.

        3. We have different views on how Trump started.

          And ultimately, how well do you expect a country to continue to function if it has a growing number of people who are actively or passively suicidal because their ability to earn a living has been sent overseas?

          President Trump, correctly, sees it as his duty to do what’s best for Americans.

          1. This this this. The responsibility to optimize for the people who are legally resident or citizens over those who arrive from elsewhere is intrinsic and unrecognized by the progs.

            The City and County of San Francisco or the State of California, would be a quite different places if they had been optimized over the past decades for benefit of the people already there.

            1. The relationship between Citizens and State is akin to that of Principal and Agent: the former delegates authority to the latter to act on the former’s behalf. If the latter instead acts in favor of parties not participants in the agreement it has violated its fiduciary duty and is in breech of contract, subject to discharge on grounds of that violation.

              Or, as some people once phrased it:

              We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …

              In other words, when your agent starts working on behalf of “the other* side of the street” it is time to fire that agent and get one who knows who’s the boss.

              *e.g., the seller when you’re buying a home, the buyer when you’re selling, the publisher when you’re selling your book, the ball team when you’ve gone free agent …

              1. Failure to identify who the real principal is the root of lots of misconceptions. For example, your health insurance company isn’t working for you; they work for their stockholders / owners first, then whoever is paying the premiums, then you as a patient. The problem our Leftist friends have is recognizing that making the government the owner and the premium payer isn’t going to do anything to change who the decisions are being made to benefit.

          2. Well, my “different view” is formed by what he said while campaigning and then the start of his term. Not sure how that gets you a “different view,” unless you mean “different facts.”

            Either way, you’re promoting the statist argument. Now, I’m not accusing you of being a statist, and especially not because you’re disagreeing with me. (I’ve been seeing that happen a lot lately with other people, and I hate it.) I simply mean that this is the statist argument. Because Government Intervention A has caused Bad Thing, the solution isn’t to repeal Government Intervention A but rather to add on Government Intervention B.

            In Trump’s case, he also started rolling back the government policies that drove corporations into moving oversees or seeking foreign imports in the first place, which is what I think he should have done from the start. On the other hand, he did it quietly, while the tariffs were loud. I’m not a fan of the “Trump plays four-dimensional chess” theory (nor am I a fan of Trump at all, but then I’m a fan of very few Presidents), but I have to admit that it looks very deliberate. Reducing government is hard, and based on my knowledge of it from . . . um, “sources,” none of them secret but difficult to sum up . . . I have to wonder if the whole process was smoke and mirrors. He didn’t wind up implementing the same tariffs he’d been talking about, and it looks like he used that debate to cover up the regulation roll-back.

            You don’t tax someone into prosperity. I’m by no means an expert, but it looks to me like Trump has lowered more taxes than he’s raised, even with tariffs. That’s good. Tariffs are still taxes, though, and I don’t like taxes even though I admit the necessity. (Contrary to the accusations of many libertarians who accuse me of wanting to grow government, of course.)

            1. On the whole “four-dimensional chess” thing: I’m starting to revise my estimates downward. I don’t think Trump is playing four-dimensional chess, I think he’s just capable of working towards more than one goal at the same time, whereas the news media is only capable of focusing on a single thing at once. That makes him able to run rings around them while being no more intelligent than the average billionaire. (Which is, I’ll readily grant, a population with an average IQ quite a bit above 100, as long as you filter out those who merely inherited their money and only keep the ones who earned their money in your sample population.) In other words, Trump is playing chess (the normal kind), while the media are playing checkers.

              1. I figure he’s really good at using rabbits– release a rabbit, watch the dogs go nuts chasing it, saunter where you wanted to go anyways.

            2. Most people forget that the compliance cost of regulations is ALSO a tax. The government is forcing you to spend money the way they want it spent, and not the way that is productive of more goods and services.

    1. Besides, in the case of the China tariffs the effective cost to the US consumer (industrial and personal) is extraordinarily low. To keep their products competitively priced and hence retain some of their market share, since the tariff imposition the Chinese government has been heavily subsidizing their industries to keep the after-tariff price much the same.

      1. This is because the tariffs that were originally floated are not the same in number or scope as what we have now; these have shifted as negotiations have progressed. Inasmuch as there is a benefit to tariffs, Trump is maximizing that benefit.

        I still see them as nothing more than a tax. The fact they can be used diplomatically doesn’t change their nature.

    2. Tariffs were a useful tool in the early part of America to protect our fledgling industries from being undercut and put out of business by established foreign industries. The whole idea is to undercut your competition to put them out of business, and once that’s accomplished, jack the heck out of your prices using your monopoly power. Which is basically what China has been doing to the U.S. for years. And why Trump brought back the use of tariffs as a leveling the playing field mechanism.

      1. The only difficulty with that is eventually your manufacturing processes and techniques stagnate, or at the very least don’t move forward as fast as they would without foreign competition, so you have to wean your corporations off the tariffs, eventually.

  15. There are gov’t owned ‘corporations’ such as USPS. They love to say “we aren’t gov’t” but they don’t explain all those Federal warnings on the paychecks.

    Now, as to if there really should be such ‘corporation’…

      1. Doesn’t the USPS have a legal monopoly on delivering first-class mail? If you need to send something that way then you’re effectively forced to subsidize them. That’s a form of government financial aid whether or not it’s officially acknowledged as such.

        1. Supposedly. Yet the one of the Most Effective ways to Get Something Done is to write the ‘nasty letter” to the President of “The Company” and FedEx it overnight so it WILL land on his desk. Evidently even Express Mail isn’t quite enough.

          1. Yes, I’d forgotten that part. Thanks.

            But it doesn’t really change my point. It’s still a government-forced subsidy even if it’s a less direct (and less honest) form than usual.

          2. There is also the fact that First Class mail is, by definition, what the US Postal Service delivers. You might as well try to buy Coke from a Pepsi machine. Anybody can deliver a letter, but the Post Office has exclusive use of the stamp. Unless a competitor prints their own, of course.

            The USPS also has exclusive license for use of the mail-box (or slot, as the case might be.

            1. RES, assuming I recall it correctly, and it’s a dim memory so don’t take me as authoritative, it has to do with how “tampering with the mail” is a federal offense. The mailbox isn’t gov’mint property, but the only people who are legally allowed to use it is the postman and the recipient.

              In practice, no one gets in trouble for putting something in the mailbox, but UPS and FedEx are probably prohibited from using it for that reason.

          3. I wish they really WERE required to deliver to all residential addresses. When I lived in Virginia, they didn’t deliver to my door. FedEx did, and their trucks don’t take to mountain roads nearly as well as the Suburban (not USPS truck, just a Suburban with US MAIL magnets) that delivered to the boxes by the highway. And if there were packages, I had to go into town during business hours, since they didn’t stay open for one second past 5 PM. I teleworked, so I could do it, but it was still annoying and I would have had to get my mail delivered to someone else’s address if I actually commuted.

            1. The boxes-by-the-highway is your address, though. (Same way that an apartment complex or development can have those horrible piles of boxes.)

              There are entire towns where it’s really not economically reasonable to have a post office. But they have to, and deliver mail not just to the office but to the addresses.

  16. I looked at the little mini-screed, and started ranting, sputtering, and yelling at the screen.

    Husband, who was doing some chores/sorting of Stuff behind me, said “You aren’t supposed to get ranty on his behalf.”

    Me: *rassumfrassumrawrgrumblesnarlswearingextensivelyunderbreath*

      1. >> “That’s how you get looped into writing loopy blog posts for Sarah.”

        He lies. Greebo sending the editorial mafia after you is how you get looped into writing loopy blog posts for Sarah.

  17. “This enables the government to help fund improvements to public services such as: Police, Firemen, Libraries, Roads and Interstates, Education, and Healthcare.”
    Every single one of those things is currently funded by government, and two of them absolutely should not be. Can you guess which ones?

    Forgive my application of Inquisitorial arithmetic, but Libraries, Education, and Healthcare makes three.

    1. I would argue that there’s nothing wrong with a Library funded by government…so long as it’s local government. If a town decides it wants a library system, that’s fine. County systems can be ok. By the time we get to the State level, the libraries are out of control of the citizenry and that’s not good.

      1. Fair enough, and I’ve yet to compose a working business model for a “public” lending-library. But in my experience, the government version seems to be the Tweedledee of the Purblik Skrewels’ own Tweedledum. At some points, it seems no libraries might be better (as much as it pains me to think it!) than government-bureaucracy-run libraries.

        Here we see Pournelle’s Iron Law, and the maxim (¿was it Slaughter’s Rule?) that everything not explicitly conservative drifts Leftward, both at play. And as libraries are an educational institution, it is no more the government’s business to run them than to run the schools.

        1. The Founders were perfectly fine with state-run education, just not federal-run. Public schools existed before the Constitution. The whole reason they’re not mentioned in the Constitution was because Congress had no power over them, just like all the other things that weren’t mentioned.

          Personally, I think that no public school should be handled at above a county level, with voluntary local groups (similar to accreditation) offering suggestions on curricula. Those groups should not accept any government funding by law. But that’s probably not practical.

          Regardless, I’m perfectly fine with libraries as public services. They aren’t really educational systems. They might have educational programs, but that’s a secondary service. Their primary purpose is as an aid to self-education through their status as repositories of public-access knowledge. Thomas Jefferson would have cheerfully cut off his left arm for even a crappy public library today. He’d still give his right if he had to, but he’d be less cheerful because he’d have to learn to write with his left, and there’s no way he’d skip taking notes on everything he read.

  18. **********
    That’s called crony capitalism, and the left has been promising to get rid of that for CENTURIES now.
    What they don’t get, is that the more we ask government to do FOR us, the more opportunities are created for crony capitalism.

    “This enables the government to help fund improvements to public services such as: Police, Firemen, Libraries, Roads and Interstates, Education, and Healthcare.”

    Every single one of those things is currently funded by government, and two of them absolutely should not be. Can you guess which ones?
    Not only can I guess which ones, but WHY education and healthcare should not be funded by the government, particularly at the Federal level.

    Education and healthcare are areas that are highly specific to the individual … and regardless of even the best of intentions among them, government operatives lack the (proximate and consequential) insight to accurately perceive the problems of each and every individual in these areas, and also lack the flexibility to accurately resolve them for each and every individual.

    And that each and every is significant … the Left consistently believes in helping some by harming others in the name of societal “fairness”. This nation, however, was founded upon a respect for individual liberty that contradicts such robbing Matthew to pay Maxine. If unalienable rights aren’t protected from a majority vote … much less from compelled submission to an allegedly-superior elite … they are not unalienable.

    And it is those rights, and what they facilitate – the responsible exercise of individual initiative, not submitted to the “wisdom” of said elite – that lead (validated by history) to solving the problems in education, and healthcare, and almost every other area of human concern.

    What the Left has done with all its promises to solve our problems FOR us if we only SUBMIT, is effectively unplug most of the distributed intellect in this nation, in favor of a few allegedly Best and Brightest to call all the shots. And in the process, leaving millions comfortably numb and vulnerable to the human failings of those we are expected, if not compelled, to put total trust within.

    You could say that since the government put men on the moon
    That they’ll handle all this stuff just fine …
    But I recall all the effort that it took to put ’em there
    Just a half a dozen times

    What makes our leaders think they can even come close
    To gettin’ all the answers right
    When all the answers have to be right over each and every one
    Of three hundred million lives

    Despite their erudition
    And academic pedigree
    The Best and the Brightest look instead
    Like a box of dim bulbs to me

    They can barely handle stuff that’s one-size-fits-all
    Let alone for you specifically
    The Best and the Brightest look instead
    Like a box of dim bulbs to me …
    … Like a box of dim bulbs to me

Comments are closed.