Monday, July 16, 2012

Whedon Is Wrong, And Right

I don’t normally care what Hollywood types say about politics. By and large, they’re fools with no insight or understanding of ideology, economics or human nature. Not to mention, they’re intensely hypocritical. But Joss Whedon just said something that is worth discussing. He’s wrong about most of it, but he’s right about something and conservatives would do well to listen.

Whedon is something of a conservative hero because he created Firefly, which many conservatives view as a libertarian statement against big government. But make no mistake, Whedon is NOT a conservative, as his latest comments prove once again. Whedon is an atheist feminist who has spoken out against capitalism, and he endorses Democrats, like John Kerry in 2004.

His latest comments came at Comic-Con 2012, where he was asked to explain his economic philosophy in 30 seconds. He said that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.” He blamed this on capitalism and said that “we are watching capitalism destroy itself right now” because of the gap between the ultra rich and everyone else, which he traced to Ronald Reagan. Then he lamented that socialism is a dirty word in America.

This is wrong on many levels. First, he’s completely wrong to blame capitalism for our recent economic problems or for the growing income gap. The middle class is getting squeezed because government regulations have destroyed middle class jobs and because taxes have eaten middle class incomes so the government could keep spending on the poor and the ultra-rich.

Moreover, the ultra-rich aren’t rich because of capitalism. Some are, but the vast majority of people in the upper 1% are there because they have found ways to milk the government for money and to use the government to shut down their competitors. Wall Street banks are the perfect example of this. They have used their connections at the Treasury to get government guarantees to protect them from risks they take, to unload unprofitable assets, and to keep smaller competitors out of the market. They got billions in bailouts. They used their influence to change regulations to allow them to do things like draw cheap money from the Fed, impose fees on unsuspecting consumers, restrict the power of bankruptcy to their unique benefit, benefit from the sale of government debt, control prices, and engage in trading practices that simply have no justification in economics, like microtrades. They routinely do things that the unconnected go to jail for.

And banks aren’t alone. It is no accident that billionaires like Warren Buffet rarely engage in businesses that aren’t heavily regulated: energy, insurance, railroads, etc. It’s no accident that GE gets environmental regulations imposed on others and then gets those waved for itself or that Pelosi’s healthcare friends get waivers for ObamaCare. It’s no accident that so many of the loans made to energy companies went straight to political donors. The reality is that our economic problems for the past decade have been the result of our government, no matter who is in charge, becoming the tool of the well-connected to extract money from taxpayers and stifle competition. That’s not capitalism, it’s crony corporate socialism.

Secondly, Whedon is wrong in his description of socialism. Here is what he said:
“We have people trying to create structures and preserve the structures that will help the middle and working class, and people calling them socialists. . . . It’s some people with some sense of dignity and people who have gone off the reservation.”
Uh, no. American socialists don’t care about the middle or working classes. American socialism is a collection of non-economic grievances founded on spite and envy, and its goals are highly destructive to the middle class. The only economic policy American socialism still advocates is high taxes across the board on all workers, with the money to be used on subsidies to big business and unions, plus increased welfare payments to the very poor. That’s it. Look at the stimulus for proof. The idea behind the stimulus was that giving billions of dollars in middle class tax dollars to big business and unions and boosting benefits for the unemployed would somehow make America better. Obviously, that failed.

Whedon is right about something, however, and it should concern us: income disparity. When you look at history, the countries that fell apart were those where the middle class collapsed, leaving most of the population very poor and part of the population fabulously wealthy. America is trending that way right now, and that's dangerous.

But the key to solving this is not class warfare, it is to stop trying to strangle the middle class. The American middle class is suffering because almost all of our policies involve taxing the middle class to pay for subsidies to the wealthy or the very poor or to fund social experimentation. At the same time, we have actively sabotaged the kinds of jobs that are needed for people to move up the income scale and we keep flooding the country with cheap labor.

Conservatives need to realize this. Right now they reflexively defend the ultra-rich but dismiss any concerns about the middle class as “class warfare.” That's bad. America needs a strong middle class if it is to remain the country we all know and love. And we can’t do that if we make it impossible for people to start businesses or if we keep taxing people's success.

To that end, Republicans should:
● Pass a flat tax with no deductions.
● Stop standing in the way of natural gas production, which could bring billions of dollars a year to middle America.
● Reform schools so everyone is ready to participate in the modern world.
● Stop the cronyism. End subsidies and eliminate pointless regulations meant only to keep competitors out of the market.
● Strengthen laws meant to make markets more competitive, e.g. anti-trust.
● Clean up the stock markets so that all rules apply equally.
● Break up the biggest banks so the taxpayers stop backing risk and only insure genuine savings.
● Fix the bankruptcy laws to allow a genuine clean start again.
● Reform healthcare to bring free market competition, as we’ve discussed many times.
● Reform the legal system to reduce verdict sizes and discourage frivolous suits.
● Reform government to stop it from taking ever more of our rights.
Moreover, let's not forget the other ways we are becoming serfs. Day by day, the government is taking individual rights and freedoms supposedly for our own good. Banning 16 oz. containers, forcing you to buy healthcare, trying to control the internet, massive amounts of wiretapping, taking of private property, etc. These things need to stop. American needs to become the land of the free once more.

70 comments:

Patriot said...

Amen Andrew.......!! Why do only conservatives see the corruption and personal greed inherent in all of these democrat schemes for "helping the middle class?"

Maybe they'll back off now that Obama and his crooked cronies have looted the national treasury? Doubt it.......

Great article.

Anthony said...

Andrew,

I agree with the overwhelming majority of what you said, but for the sake of keeping things interesting, I will focus on the tiny portion I disagree with.

----
Andrew said:

we keep flooding the country with cheap labor.

-------
My theory is that the problem is globalization. If the cheap labor doesn't come to companies companies go to the cheap labor.

Don't get me wrong, globalization has offered consumers a wider, better, cheaper array of goods, but it has done that by allowing companies to go to where the costs (including but not limited to labor) of production are lowest.

Often, that isn't here (the cost of living in the US is much higher than the cost of living in say, Honduras so wages can be cheaper there).

I'm not saying the US workers (and the US itself) can't be more competitive than they are now, but we are in an intense global competition and thus the salad days when a guy could come out of high school and get a high paying, long term job are behind us no matter what the government does.

DUQ said...

Excellent article! I love how you always see the complete picture. Everyone else is just attacking him for attacking capitalism. I think you're absolutely right about this "income gap". I don't care how much rich people make, but I do care when no one but them seems to be doing well. And I think you're right that we've attacked the middle class with our policies. Well done.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, again, it's a simple case of liberal-progressives (I declare it a hyphenate, now) and the far-right (which really needs a better term applied to it) being unable to see the third option in almost any scenario. What you propose is very middle-of-the road in that it slaughters some sacred cows from both sides. And I like it.

Whedon's pontification exemplifies the same left-right language-disconnect that I see everywhere. To wit:

When one says capitalism, conservatives hear free markets while liberals hear cronyism.

When one says socialism, conservatives hear gov't takeover while liberals hear charity.

The real bugaboo is that neither side is entirely wrong in their understanding of those terms because capitalism and socialism are broad, imprecise terms that cover all the concepts that both sides understand.

DUQ said...

Patriot, That frustrates me too. The Democrats and the MSM always attack "the rich" but somehow they only seem to ever attack the productive ones. Guys like Buffett and the others living on government grants and largess always get a pass. In fact, they're held up as examples of great Americans. It angers me.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

What gets me is this is the guy who wrote Firefly and got it right, but doesn't understand simple basic concepts like Socialism and Capitalism.

DUQ said...

Joel, Isn't that interest? It makes you wonder what he was rebelling against in Firefly.

Kit said...

If I can watch Chaplin movies and enjoy them I can watch Whedon's shows.
And Whedon's work is far more watchable than Chaplin (who could be very self-indulgent).

Also, how many conservatives listened to "This Land is Your Land" during the most recent Fourth?
Which is basically a song calling for revolution ("this land belongs to you and me").

I will still hug my Firefly dvds, still watch Buffy, and still watch Angel. And will, when I get around to it, watch Dollhouse. Which stars Eliza Dushku, a.k.a., Faith from Buffy. Win! :)

Kit said...

Finally got it right!

Kit said...

Firefly was also written by Tim Minear, who is, I think, either center-right or libertarian.

Kit said...

Joss also gave Adam Baldwin's career something other than spots in Roland Emmerich movies.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Patriot! I think it goes back to the rhetoric. The Democrats have screamed since forever that they just want to help the middle classes and the MSM pushes this too. They even call their noxious bills things like "The Middle Class Tax Relief Act." So their followers mindlessly repeat that these things are meant to help the middle class.

And of course, the Democrats are never corrupt. They "genuinely want to help people." So again, their followers never put two and two together.

But the truth is, the Democrats are steeped in corruption. They do the bidding of crony capitalist with the hope of concentrating power because that makes it easier to run everything -- when two banks run everything you can control the banks, when 10,000 do, you can't.

In terms of theory, a college professor of mine actually spilled the beans years ago. He was very clear that the middle class are where the money is. So you always need to take from them because there isn't enough to take from the rich or the poor to do the things the left wants to do with government.

Also, the middle class is the group that needs to be oppressed (for lack of a better word) because their values are the values which drive the culture. So by keeping them under the government's thumb, you can force change upon the country. That's why things like Obama are so important to them because it's another chance to control middle class expectations.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I'm not say boycott Whedon or anything like that. I'm just saying he's wrong in his thinking, BUT he also has correctly identified a huge problem conservatives have failed to grasp because they dismiss it as class warfare.

Kit said...

"Kit, I'm not say boycott Whedon or anything like that."

Ok.
I do think some conservatives are saying something like that, however.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, By and large, I agree with you, and I am a fan of globalization. I've long been an advocate of free trade. There simply is no good argument against free trade.

And you are right that companies will go where the labor is cheapest.

But I see two problems with our current system of importing labor.

First, we have let close to five million new workers into the country in the past decade, at a time when the country produced zero net jobs. I have no problems letting people in when we are growing, but when there are not enough jobs already, all that does is drive down wages for people who are already here.

Secondly, I've discussed this a couple times in the past, but a lot of this strikes me as sheer profiteering. Now keep in mind, that I don't consider profit a bad word -- but I do consider using government policy to add to profit bad policy, especially when it results in social costs being pushed onto the taxpayers. And that is what is happening. Companies import this labor and we end up paying for all the social costs associated with it.

There is also a lot of bad faith in this. In the case of things like the welding industry along the great lakes and the financial people, for example, they have made ridiculous claims about not being able to find workers because they wanted to get cheaper labor even as they had record profits and were highly unlikely to lose market share or leave the country.

In 2009, the financial industry (which had just laid off several hundred thousand people six months before) actually claimed they couldn't find anyone to hire and asked to be able to import people. That's ridiculous. These were companies who had just gotten massive bailouts and who were making record profits.

But even leaving the specifics aside, the more we expand the labor force, the lower wages will remain and the harder it becomes for people to remain middle class as workers.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I know they are. And most of them reacted stupidly to his anti-capitalism comments and again assumed that everything he said was wrong. But the thing we need to learn is that just because the left has horrible ideas doesn't mean they are always wrong about identifying things which are real problems.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks DUQ! I like to use my brain to think, not my knee. And that means considering everything that gets said. In this case, I think most conservatives couldn't get past the idea that he had said something they didn't like, so they dismissed everything he said. The bigger issue, to me, isn't what some Hollywood idiot believes, but that he's put his finger on something that is a problem which conservatives ignore.

T-Rav said...

Bleh. Whedon can say whatever he likes, as long as he keeps making stuff with conservative inclinations, like Firefly and The Avengers.

Here's what liberals can't seem to wrap their heads around. Yes, if you look at it by statistical categories, there is some income disparity in America. However, as Thomas Sowell and others have pointed out, this tells us nothing about the people in those categories. According to the available information, the vast majority of people who start out in the bottom 20% income bracket rise out of it over time, a fair number winding up in the top 20%. It works both ways, too: many of the top 1% fall out of that category on a regular basis.

We have plenty of social mobility, and the key, in my opinion, is free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit, which encourage people to make something better of themselves. It's in the socialist system, which Whedon and others seem to be so fond of, where you have a regimented economy that confines people and drastically limits social mobility as a result.

T-Rav said...

Kit, I can say that I personally don't listen to "This Land is Your Land." Never really liked it, even before I realized the political insinuations. Just seemed too maudlin.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I can quickly dismiss anything a Hollywood type says, and in Whedon's case, just enjoy his productions. Socialism just makes everybody equally poor in mind, body and soul (except for the elite, of course).

On the other hand, your suggestions for change should be the Republican platform.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Thanks! This is an issue which frustrates me because I'm not sure the left/right lines apply. I tend to see this more as middle class-ism or common sense-ism.

What bothers me is that both left and right do the same things in this regard. The left supports cronyism as a means of consolidating power and gaining control. The right supports cronyism because they've allowed themselves to be misled into thinking that big business and capitalism are synonymous. That's why it frustrates me that the MSM buys the left's rhetoric about being opposed to big business cronies, and why it frustrates me that so many conservatives knee-jerk defend anything business wants.

It's time we stripped all this crap out of our government and returned its purpose to being only the regulation of the things that are need to ensure public safety, to ensure the functioning of the free market, and to prevent people from pushing externalities onto the public. All the rest is where the problems begin arising because the rest is just about control and profiteering.

Unfortunately, neither side seems willing to adopt this cause, which is why I think the Tea Party and populism have taken such a strong hold (and why they continue to fight the Republicans) because average people are sick of both the left and right milking the taxpayer to hand out the goodies to their friends and stealing freedoms to make life easier for their crony buddies.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, It is very frustrating because the media glorifies guys like Buffett and Immelt, who wrap themselves in the flag of capitalism and free markets, at the very same time these guys are pushing for massive regulations and subsidies. It's like a shell game where the crony socialists get the benefits of their successes and capitalism gets the blame for their failures.

It's time conservatives started calling these people what they are.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I think you'll find that few leftists understand the concepts because they see them through the lens of intent rather than through how they really work, and they never look beyond labels. That's exactly what Whedon's done here.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, It's very possible Firefly was just based on an historical period he found interesting rather than being a political statement of any kind. The character of Mal is very much a standard American stereotype of the loner who only yearns to be left alone.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I don't know Tim Minear, but the writers do probably have more to do with the shows politics than its creator.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Perhaps conservatives should say "free markets" from now on instead of the over-saturated "capitalism."

It would be more specific and let's face it, it's a lot more difficult for leftists to attach any hidden meanings to "free markets."

Ironically, the crony-capitalism-fascism that leftists like Whedon rail against is something their leaders are guilty of (moreso than most republicans, although we must all speak out against republicans who do the same thing).

Technically, as Thomas Sowell has pointed out, Obama and company have been applying fascism rather than socialism.
Of course, both are bad for liberty and the middle class and both are closely related, but we need to be more accurate when we describe what is happenning.

I think Obama will use whatever is easiest to employ in his quest to grow the size of government, and right now that's fascism.

Outstanding post, Andrew!
I like all of your suggestions.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Those are valid points. There is much social mobility and socialism will only make things worse.

But that doesn't change the fact that the middle class has been slipping since the 1970s. Something needs to be done because we are at risk of creating a two-tiered society of rich and poor where social mobility stops -- something like Brazil or 12th Century France.

The problem is that the government has been gutting the very middle in the name of helping the poor and the very rich. Look at the stimulus as an example. Counting interest, more than a trillion dollars in debt were heaped on middle class taxpayers in the name of giving money to a few huge companies and to social welfare programs. We have made food super expensive in the name of ethanol, which benefits well-connected energy companies, a handful of farmers who live on subsidies, and makes rich environmentalists feel good. We gave a trillion dollars to the world's richest banks. We bailed out companies like GM and GE who ship jobs overseas. Etc. So much of what our government does today actively hurts average Americans.

Make no mistake, these things do matter. They are exactly what is behind the Tea Party instinct, and they could easily change forms if they continue to be ignored by the right. It's a fine line between common sense conservative reforms and populist anger.

The problem isn't not capitalism, it's the lack of capitalism. And conservatives need to learn this.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I never liked the song either, but never thought about it's political implications. It just struck me as a stupid song with childishly oversimple lyrics.

Jen said...

Andrew, Good article as usual! I've been saying some of these things over the years, but alas, according to a particular person, I have no credibility. I would like to send this, but I have another task to complete first!

Doc Whoa said...

Great article! Interesting start to a Monday morning. I never pay attention to Hollywood types either, even the conservative ones. But I agree with you that there is a problem here. I don't care about the income disparity, but I do care that not all boats are rising.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, So true: socialism just makes everybody equally poor. It's too bad that guys like Whedon don't understand this because people like Whedon could be very helpful at explaining the truth, if only they understood it.

In terms of ignoring his politics, I can do that too. It doesn't bother me unless he starts to get obnoxious about it. I just hope that conservatives grasp that he is right about one part at least.

I think this would be an excellent platform, but could you imagine the screams of the well connected? "This is socialism, they're trying to cut off our subsidies!" Think of the irony there.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben, And you (and Sowell) are correct, this is technically fascism rather than socialism. This is about state sponsored "capitalism" with the winners being lavished with taxpayer funded goodies in exchange for providing goodies to the party in power in exchange.

I also agree with you that the Democrats are more likely to engage in cronyism than the Republicans, but they both do it. I think that's why the Tea Party has yet to meld with the Republicans, because the top of the Republican Party is still dominated by people with big business interests rather than free market instincts. Either way, I think it's time we called both sides out on it.

I very much like the idea of speaking of free markets rather than capitalism. The word capitalism has been stolen by too many to hide forms of socialism and cronyism. Free markets is much more clear in its meaning and fits much more closely with what conservatives believe.

I'm glad you like the list! :)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew: In light of what Anthony and you said, I would add that unions and high corporate taxes is another two reasons companies move.

A recent example of this is Boeing who moved part of their business out of Washington state to North Carolina (or South Carolina, I forget).

They did this because of the high cost of the union here (nice job getting rid of the golden goose guys!).

However, Obama's DOJ immediately attacked Boeing for doing something legal because it hurts his union pals.

Now, If I'm the head of Boeing or any other company trying to escape unreasonable union demands I might think it's better to go to another country rather than deal with unions or the DOJ.

Not to mention the savings on lower taxes.

I do concur that the crony capitalist types that do this are just gaming the system (cough, cough, GE!) and we should put a stop to all this crony socialism/fascism.

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, I'm glad you like it! I think a lot of conservatives have been saying these things over the years, it's only been our leadership who don't seem to get this and who continue down the same old paths. I think this is why the Tea Party sprang into existence, because there was no outlet for these thoughts.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, There was a fascinating poll the other day, taken in China of all places, and they found that close to 70% of people don't care about income disparity. I would expect to find similar numbers here. By and large (decent) people don't care about what other people make and don't begrudge anyone what they have.

To me, the problem isn't the disparity, it's the fact that only the rich are getting richer. If everyone else was getting richer as well, then this wouldn't be a problem. But as I pointed out a couple weeks ago, the middle class has been slipping since the 1970 (to the tune of 30% in real terms). That's what needs to be reversed. And the only way to do that is to stop the government's decades long "war on the middle class."

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Your Boeing example is excellent, and again, look at the problem. Yes, unions and high taxes kill jobs, but here the real problem is again a federal government that is seeking to help its friends.

Unions and taxes drove Boeing from Washington. That was stupid, but it didn't necessarily hurt the country if Washington decided it wanted to chase away business to other states. That's how people learn they've been stupid and that's how wealth gets spread around the county. BUT, then Obama tried to force the same thing on Boeing in Carolina to protect the Washington unions. The federal government had no business doing that, and the result is exactly what you say -- next time, it will be easier just to move overseas and hurt all of America.

The feds never should have gotten involved to save the unions from their mistakes. That is not their role and it's a destructive policy.

These are the sorts of things which need to stop. Every time the federal government acts, it distorts the economy. We need to minimize those distortions because they are what causes problems.

Tam said...

Kit, I walked my kid out of a supposedly patriotic library story time last year when the presenter started reading/singing This Land is Your Land. We were right in front and I was so irritated, the only thing I could come up with to say was "My land is MY land" as I walked out. I hate that song.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam and Kit, Did I miss something with that song? I never really thought it, really, except to think the song sucked. Was it meant to be political?

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, That's interesting about China. You would think that a place which is still supposedly communist would be the place most people would be upset about income disparity.

I'll bet you American liberals are all upset about it though -- except with regard to their own incomes of course, which they've "earned" unlike everyone else.

Man, I hate liberals.

Tam said...

here are two verses of that song that don't get a lot of play:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me; Sign was painted, it said private property; But on the back side it didn't say nothing; This land was made for you and me.

Woody Guthrie has a variant:
As I went walking I saw a sign there And on the sign it said "No Trespassing." But on the other side it didn't say nothing, That side was made for you and me.

It also has a verse:

Nobody living can ever stop me, As I go walking that freedom highway; Nobody living can ever make me turn back This land was made for you and me. In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple; By the relief office, I'd seen my people. As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, Is this land made for you and me?

So yes, I think it is safe to say it was meant to be political. I hate it.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I would bet you as well that American liberals will be much more upset about it because envy has become their biggest motivator these days. That said, they certainly won't see the problem if a few good liberals like themselves or Michael Moore are super rich because, as you note, they earned it. . . unlike all those inventors and businessmen who stole their money.

Yeah, liberals get pretty annoying.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, Wow, I never knew those verses. What socialist crap!!!

Thanks for pointing that out.

tryanmax said...

The right supports cronyism because they've allowed themselves to be misled into thinking that big business and capitalism are synonymous.

Ironically, this would be one case where the Republicans are guilty of operating based solely on good intent without sound reasoning.

If I may also add to your's and Anthony's conversation: Globalization is a problem, but not of the sort that needs to be eliminated. That probably isn’t even possible. Rather, it must be dealt with, and outsourcing jobs and importing labor are not equal solutions. I’m loath to say which is better, because it is entirely situational, but overall outsourcing is the better solution right now.

As already pointed out, our cost of living is higher here. So right away that presents two problems with bringing in cheap labor. 1) Just the act of importing labor raises its cost over what it would be if a company took the work to it. 2) Even though the labor is more expensive in its new location, it is likely still cheaper than whatever else is available, meaning the importing company has created poverty.

Conversely, if the company takes the work to the labor, yes, there is a certain exportation of wealth in the process, but no different than if the company bought raw material from outside the country, a practice which far fewer people take issue with. Plus, the company saves labor costs--and possibly other costs as well related to the location of the labor--meaning the company now has more money to invest in more labor and materials elsewhere, including America. And the exported money is not entirely lost. It comes back in the form of higher value goods produced at a lower price. The bottom line is not in actual dollars, but in the amount of value gained verses the cost to achieve it.

Finally, in the case of the American worker, his situation remains unchanged regardless whether the company exports a job or imports the labor. In either scenario, the job was never available to him. However, in the situation where the company saved labor costs, the economy he lives in has more available dollars for which to compete. This carries a whole host of implications, including that this individual’s salad-days may not be over. I wouldn’t recommend that he does not avail himself of education and training, but the greater availability of dollars means that he has a greater chance of making that choice and still being able to subsist.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think you're right about average Republicans. They are acting in good faith and they know that business is generally capitalism, so when they hear their leaders talk about stopping socialism, it makes sense to support the idea.

The problem is with who is behind the leadership on this. Our political leadership is tightly wedded to K Street, which is the voice of Big Business. Every idea they've offered is sold as improving economic conditions or making markets more efficient. But the truth is the opposite. In most cases for a very long time now, K Street has sought laws and regulations which only benefit very narrow interests rather than business generally.

And they've gotten away with this through a rather interesting shell game. First, they find stupid Republicans to promote their ideas. These fools don't even bother looking at the things they're pimping, they just pass along the sales pitch. Then they get the Democrats to complain about how this will lead to unfettered capitalism. This causes the right to respond by demanding it because the left hates it.

So you end up with the center/right advocating it, the left building it up, and the right falling for the build up. And only a handful of people end up saying, "wait a minute!" And they get dismissed as cranks.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, On your other point about trade, all the economics prove that free trade benefits everyone. I think that's unassailable and history has borne that out.

The problem with importing people is twofold. First, by exporting jobs, you end up raising living standards in other countries, which makes them less competitive and results in a smoother transition as everybody finds a level of parity. Importing people doesn't do that, it leaves the other countries poor and basically result in a never-ending supply of cheap labor. In other words, you never "solve the problem."

Secondly, the real cost of importing labor is the social cost. Not only things like how it affects the culture, which is a valid concern, but things like how poor immigrant labor ends up using free hospitals, free schools and social services more. And how they require more police and other accommodations. Those are costs the businesses don't pay and which end up being borne by the taxpayers, whereas with normal workers, the businesses need to pay enough that workers can afford these things or contribute to them or they can't attract workers.

So taxpayers end up subsidizing business's ability to keep labor cheap.

Ed said...

I like your list a lot, but I think a lot of conservatives would freak out at things like increasing anti-trust laws because they would see that as attacking business. I know that's not your point, but can you give me a way to refute that?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, my comment was directed more at people like Whedon who think a redistribution of wealth is necessary to fix the country. As for your points on the problems the middle class faces, I agree--at least to the extent that their prosperity ensures the country's prosperity, and we need to stop government meddling and cronyism that hinders both.

T-Rav said...

Tam, I remember reading or hearing about that verse, and I was just dumbfounded. Like I said, I didn't really like the song anyway, but to imply America is all about ignoring property rights and stuff--grrr. I would have expected more out of an Oklahoman.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think the key is in what Ben said -- free markets. We want free markets where everyone can compete. But a lot of our markets are anything but free and the usual culprit is that government regulation has closed the market to all but a handful of huge firms. (Regulation is usually the only way to create a monopoly.)

We need to undo the effects of these regulations by breaking up the unnatural monopolies they've created. And I'm not talking about every big company, just those who have come to dominate a market to the point they have the power to control the market. The first step would actually be to end the regulations that got them there. If that wasn't enough to allow the reintroduction of competition, then I would say looking at anti-trust would be a good idea to break them up again and force competition.

In some instances, like banks, the issue is a little different. We've allowed these huge "too big to fail" monsters to be created. They need to be broken back into smaller parts. Specifically, they need to break out the parts which generate conflicts or forbid the incurrence of conflicts (e.g. selling government bonds while having an investment arm that shorts the same bonds), and we need to break out the savings banks they've eaten because they are using the money from those to banks to back their risks, and that money is guaranteed by the taxpayer.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I figured. It's ironic that people who complain about these things often propose a solution that would result in making things even worse. When hasn't socialism made the public poorer and the connected few a heck of a lot richer? Whedon and his ilk should pay more attention to reality and history.

On the middle class, it's not just prosperity. The middle class is the glue which holds the country together.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, This was the first time I have heard that and I'm shocked. That is totally a socialist song. I never knew, but I do now.

DUQ said...

According to Drudge, Romney's made his decision on the VP. His choices are supposed to be Jindal, Rubio, Ryan, Rick, Pawlenty, and people are saying he's leaning toward Pawlenty.

Ed said...

That makes sense. I like the idea too that removing the regulations they've hidden behind might be enough to break them up, but I absolutely agree about the banks. There should be nothing so large that it's failure can cause our economy or banking system to fall apart.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I saw that, I also saw that Rubio is by far in the lead, followed by Rice. Pawlenty comes in last. I'll probably talk about that a bit tomorrow.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think that's the most rational first step. You remove the regulation, which should in most cases be enough to allow competitors to enter again. Then you wait a year or two to see how things are going.

Ed said...

Makes sense.

T-Rav said...

I saw extensive articles today touting Ryan's and Jindal's qualifications for the job. Both were pretty well-reasoned. The only two things I would say with some certainty are that a) it won't be Rice, and b) we won't know who it actually is for another month. Of course, I could be wrong on either count (or both).

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I have a surprise choice I'll mention tomorrow who I think it will actually be.

I agree it won't be Rice.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, please tell me it won't be Rob Portman, the I-don't-know of I-don't-care. I cannot think of a better choice to suck all the oxygen out of the room.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Nope, that's not who I think. And yeah, that choice would suck. I'll give you a hint, it's a woman.

T-Rav said...

Hmmm. I can think of exactly four possible choices.

AndrewPrice said...

Hillary, Sarah Palin, Ann Romney, and Michelle Bachmann?

T-Rav said...

Heh. Well, correct on two of those--I leave it to you to figure out which two.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm going to move the Romney article off a day and do the Law of the Seas Treaty instead. The person I think now is Kelley Ayotte from New Hampshire. I'll talk about that Wednesday.

Individualist said...

Andrew

Well written article. These are things we all can agree with.

With regard to Whedon and other Hollywood types I sometimes wonder of the rhetoric is simply attempting to keep one's job.

Whedon had to work in an industry where making any movie that speaks out against the collective is a reason to black ball someone. He has the advantage of being an accomplished director so this gives him as the say "F - You money".

Firefly was a definite attack on the progressive control in our society and not just the story. If you listen to the DVD commentary you can hear Whedon lament that the government can do real damage for the best of reasons.

His latest movie Cabin in the Woods. A strange Horror/Film slash comedy that is best described as Office Space meets the Devils Rejects in a Lovecratian setting. In this film their is an explanation that the problem is not that socieity is falling apart but that it is binding. Too many blogs, rules and untimately control.

He may be a socialist liberal and the speech he gives publicly certainly would bear that out. However we don't really know what he says privately and he certainly makes films that tgend to show the downside of socialist practices and collective thought.

So in the end I am not sure.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I don't think he's a secret conservative. I think it's much more likely that like most socialists/liberals, he just doesn't see the contradiction in his beliefs. Like most socialists/liberals, he will say that he supports strong government to control everything, "BUT only if it's good government acting benignly and carefully." When the government acts in other ways, then he sees it as evil (and would label it fascist). And it never occurs to him that what he's advocating is nonsense and will always end up in the fascism he hates. It's like a defense mechanism that lets him avoid the negative consequences of his views -- "I only believed in the good parts."

Individualist said...

Andrew

I don't think he is a conservative. I think he might be a libertarian. It may be that he does not even realize it. If you listen to his commentary about the PAX_D drug in Serenity you will see that he beleives government overreaches. It is not an act.

The comments he makes about Sociliasm are at 180 degrees to what he puts in his movies.

It is an odd irony that most people who are younger liberals fall into it to go against "the system". They find things like "Keep off the grass" signs and fight the control. The Progs convert them by labelling the people in Control as "Rightwing Corporate" tyeps. They then fold them into a thought process where their left wing control is not really control but freedom.

Example: We need to free gay people from right wing theocratic sodomy laws by taking over everyone's sex lives and using sexual harrassment as a guise to dictate how one thinks and acts. We are sexually free by allowing the politically correct people to dictate to us what our sexual morays should be.

I think that Whedon may be in the early stages and is not yet a full prog. He may even hang out with and speak with Hollywood left leaning "libertarians". If you see Cabin in the woods. You will see another anti-government film.

I find it interesting because it appears to be Orwellian doublethink ingrained in the thought processes of the brain itself. I believe the phrase is Cognitive Dissonance.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, He may well have a libertarian nature and not know it. But he also may very much be just another liberal/socialist who sees the bad things the government does as fascist/republican and only supports the good.

That's not at all uncommon on the left. That's why they see 1984 as a warning against the "right wing" even though it clearly describes their preferred government/methods and why they claim without a hint of shame that the Nazis were "right wing" -- because they disavow the bad parts and claim those were right-wing behaviors, and they idealize their own fascist instincts as "for the greater good."

That's why they can even maintain the fiction that the military is evil when used by Bush, but angelic when used by Clinton or Obama -- because they are able to compartmentalize reality based on what they believe to be intent. Thus, if I forced everyone into a room and made them listen to me preach religion, I would be evil. But if I forced them into a room and made them listen to me preach "tolerance," I would be a good guy who is only working for the greater good. To them, example 1 is an abuse of power, example 2 is not because of the different intent.

By comparison, to you and me, the problem begins and ends with "force people into a room."

Individualist said...

By comparison, to you and me, the problem begins and ends with "force people into a room."

Exactly!

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's the bit the left doesn't understand. They just assume that everyone wants to rule the world and that they are the only ones with good intentions. The idea that we don't want to rule the world never enters their minds.

Post a Comment