November 27, 2017

GOP hijacking of Trump agenda nearly complete

The first warning sign that the GOP Congress would not be yielding to the overall themes or specific items of the Trump agenda, as developed during the primary and general campaigns, was the near unanimous re-election of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House just a few weeks before the inauguration of his nemesis in the party, Donald Trump.

The two are completely opposed on major policies, and they have a poor working relationship owing to the campaign-season feuding over which direction the party would be taking. But Ryan did not single-handedly re-elect himself as Speaker -- the entire GOP caucus in the House, minus Thomas Massie, did that.

That was a loud-and-clear signal that they would not be working with the Trump movement, on neither a policy nor a personal level. The GOP Congress would continue pursuing the same ol' BS, and Trump could either join their stampede over the cliff, or remain on solid ground yet politically isolated and publicly marginalized.

Trump decided to give the crooked Congress the benefit of the doubt, even after they preemptively stabbed him in the back with the re-election of Ryan as Speaker. The result was to make himself the standard-bearer of a legislative agenda that began with trying to ramp up corporate rape in the healthcare sector, when he has argued for years in favor of universal healthcare ("single-payer," "socialized medicine").

Despite that failure, the agenda is moving on to tax cuts for the rich, when the elites ought to be soaked for having destroyed the nation's economy, government, population, and culture -- you broke it, you bought it. When Trump was considering a third-party campaign in 2000, he proposed soaking the rich with a wealth tax in order to pay off the national debt.

And during the 2016 campaign, he regularly mocked the idea that all we need to do is give more tax incentives to corporations for them to return production to this country -- they just take the money and run. We need those big fat 35% tariffs, but those are nowhere to be seen in the GOP tax reform bill.

Whether or not that effort succeeds, the next big item will not be infrastructure -- supposedly the third major focus from earlier in the year. Back then, people debated whether the GOP Congress and Trump should have led with that, and score an easy bipartisan victory that would boost his popularity among all citizens, and begin building his pile of political capital with Congress critters on both sides of the aisle.

The GOP-ers said, We'll get to that after the really important stuff -- like corporate rape in healthcare and tax cuts for the rich -- which, by the way, will be difficult wins if they are won at all because the partisan approach leaves no margin for error, which will destroy his popularity among all but hardcore GOP voters, and which will probably not build his political capital since he will not have been part of a team that delivered the goods.

Now it looks even worse -- not just that Trump has wasted so much time, effort, goodwill, and political capital on the usual Republican crap, before getting to the good stuff, but that the GOP Congress will not be putting together a big infrastructure bill at all.

He got suckered by the worthless Republican politicians in Congress, and he should immediately cut off his cooperation with them. Politically isolated or not, at least he would not throw himself over the cliff for no reason like the rest of those retards.

For the time being, though, he appears to still be going along with their agenda. Instead of infrastructure to "rebuild America instead of Afghanistan," what are we moving onto after tax cuts for the rich? Why, gutting what's left of welfare!

Swamp-supporting defense contractors and Wall Street bankers will continue getting richer than God from make-work government contracts and bailouts, but if you're a poor white family that voted for or at least supported Trump, your reward is going to be having the rug pulled out from under you.

And so much for the "What the hell do you have to lose" angle for urban black voters. Plenty to lose, as it turns out. Not that blacks were a key element of the Trump coalition -- not at all -- but it will still be part of the larger hijacking of Trump's campaign themes by the typical Republican bullshit.

To the extent that Trump did touch on welfare during the campaign, it was to point out what a damning symptom it was of a great big festering underlying disease -- the eradication of good-paying jobs in this country. Trump is not an "ideas, values, and culture" airhead -- he is a pragmatic materialist, and said that poor people have turned to welfare because the economy offers them nothing dignified and prosperous to do. He did not insult them as having moocher values or a culture of slacking off.

He posed the emptying of the welfare rolls as a reaction to the flood of high-paying jobs back into this country, motivating them to go looking for work again. He did not get the cause-and-effect arrow backwards like the conservative movement, which believes that high-paying jobs will result from emptying the welfare rolls first.

On the contrary, without larger structural changes -- such as the re-introduction of manufacturing plant jobs for the material sectors, and trustbusting in the informational sectors to create more workplaces and more jobs -- kicking people off welfare will only have them taking the low-paying, benefit-lacking, no-security-having jobs that are already on offer from the latter-day slave-drivers who hire and fire today's workers.

Welfare is not only a way of cushioning the blow from random bad luck. It is a way to let workers go on strike until employers agree to higher wages or better conditions. Unlike union membership, it is not a collective form of bargaining and therefore packs far less of a punch. But it is a government policy that gives the worker a little extra bargaining power against the employers who only want to pay $5 an hour. It is pushing employers to make their workplace more appealing than collecting a pittance on welfare.

The only welfare reform that Trump ought to be pursuing is cutting off all immigrants, whether legal or illegal. We need to "take care of our people," not try the impossible task of making 10 billion foreigners enjoy middle-class lifestyles. Then declare an immigration moratorium, since they are far more likely to use welfare services than Americans are -- keep the system from getting burdened even further.

But the main focus should be: You crooked Republicans will get your welfare reform when you impose 35% tariffs on off-shored manufacturing, and when those jobs come flooding back into this country to give people good enough jobs that they won't need welfare.

That will paint the GOP into the rhetorical corner of arguing for welfare elimination not as part of an effort to give low-income Americans good decent jobs, but solely to squeeze more cheap labor out of the American population. If they won't work for $5 an hour, they won't have the welfare payments to fall back on -- so $5 an hour it is, and the cheap labor lobby wins again.

The GOP is not too far from using the police, intel agencies, and the military itself to force poor Americans into literal labor camps. If you're able-bodied, we need you to go to work -- for $5 an hour, or else.

Fiscally, welfare accounts for none of the budget or the national debt. It is of marginal priority for getting the nation's finances in order, which are thrown outta-whack instead by the government inflating bubbles for Wall Street and the Pentagon.

At this point, it is probably better that the Democrats take control of Congress. Then Trump won't have to decide whether to pursue suicidal policies or remain isolated. True, he'd have to get on board with some of the awful Democrat agenda items -- but at least we'd get some good things from them, too. The moribund Republican party is intent on just riding out their last years without having their bedridden rest disturbed by any drastic changes coming from within the household.

As for the medium term, the Trump supporters ought to build a new second party to replace the Republicans. Re-alignment of an existing major party was the ideal solution, but the GOP refuses to yield and re-align. They will go down with their sinking ship that we have torpedoed, rather than allow us to board it and make it sea-ready again, for a new crew steering it in a new direction.

A new second party arose from the first Civil War, and another will arise from the second.

November 20, 2017

Why do Democrat elites exploit subordinates more than GOP elites do? How can it be solved?

Almost all of these #MeToo accusations of sexual exploitation by male superiors over their female subordinates hail from Democrat-controlled sectors of the economy, primarily the media and entertainment faction of the elite.

The culture war view is that the Democrats are the liberal group, and liberal morality and values is more likely to lead its believers to sexually exploit other people ("do whatever feels good"), while conservative morality and values provides at least some degree of negative feedback over the sexual desires of its believers ("keep it in your pants").

But we've seen how unconvincing the focus is on culture, ideas, values, and beliefs, and are turning toward a cold hard materialist analysis of how society works. We reject the view that Democrats commit far worse sexual exploitation simply because of a difference in values. That field of moral psychology (Haidt) shows that liberals are concerned mostly with factors of harm and fairness, while conservatives are concerned with those, plus factors of authority, in-group loyalty, and purity.

And yet sexually exploiting someone goes right against the norm of "do not harm others" or "do not treat others unfairly," e.g. if they are lesser in status than you. If liberals committed worse offenses than conservatives due to values, it would have to be on something that violated norms of authority, in-group loyalty, or purity.

Liberals are more likely to sexually role-play as a nun and priest, I'm just guessing, compared to conservatives who would find that sacrilegious, whether they were religious or secular conservatives. But not sexual exploitation, which goes against the central -- and sometimes only -- norm of liberal morality, "don't harm others, do provide for their well-being".

The clue that material economic forces are at work is that this exploitation takes place within a career setting, where the woman is looking to advance her material status by climbing the hierarchy, or getting into the industry in the first place, while the man is well established in his wealth and power within the industry. He acts as an economic gatekeeper, whether he will be a direct employer (casting couch) or an indirect favor-doer.

The central split between the elite factions that control the Dems vs. the GOP is that Democrats represent the "informational" economic sectors that scale up easily, where profit growth and market share expansion are not dependent on the costs of labor and materials, while the GOP represents the "material" economic sectors that are physically constrained and are limited in their growth by man-hours. Dems represent finance, online tech, and the media / entertainment. GOP represents the military, energy extraction, and agriculture.

But don't both of those sides have an employment hierarchy where a low-ranker has to navigate patronage networks? And aren't there gatekeepers on both sides who could exploit their subordinates in order to allow access to the material flow of resources upstream of the gatekeepers?

Yes, and both sides will practice exploitation, even sexual exploitation, of subordinates. Both sides will be hit by accusations. Still, one side is going to show far worse behavior and be hit by far more, and far more damaging, accusations. Why?

Since the informational sectors don't rely on building up large numbers of employees and various layers of supervisors and managers, they have far fewer job slots necessary to operate at the same level of domination as a material-sector industry.

Going from a small-sized internet "farm" like when Google began, to the vast digital plantation that it has become, has not required it to hire orders of magnitude more digital "farm hands" or supervisors of those hands, or regional managers of those supervisors, etc. They can keep the same order of magnitude employees and managers, yet expand to dominate the entire global search engine market, and suck up all of the lucrative ad revenue going into that market.

With a literal farm that raises crops or supports the grazing of livestock, it is exactly the opposite. Or with expanding the scope of the military, or the scope of an oil company, or a manufacturing industry, or a chain of brick-and-mortar stores.

In informational sectors, the demand for labor is very low. And yet the supply is sky-high -- who these days is not looking for a job that lies within, or is dependent upon, the sectors of finance, tech, and media / entertainment? Especially with the explosion of the higher education bubble, where entrants into the labor market are expecting to get into a forward-looking info-age career.

In material sectors, the demand for labor is relatively higher because the top-level bosses cannot further expand their fiefdom without hiring more subordinates at all levels. Their corporate greed and authoritarian streak is equal to that of their info-sector rivals, but they cannot act on it to the same degree without going out of business. They rely far more on the cooperation of large numbers of subordinates, who cannot be exploited so badly or so shamelessly as they are in the informational sectors.

A media mogul like Harvey Weinstein can say, "Either you blow me, or you won't work in this industry at all," and back up that threat. He only needs one lead actress for the next big-budget film he's producing, and there are literally thousands or even millions of other women who would be willing to blow a fat ugly disgusting old geezer if it meant they'd get millions of dollars plus a shot at fame.

The same goes for the small handful of conservatives who are big media players. It's not about liberal or conservative, but the nature of their economic activity.

A woman who wants to open a fast-food franchise, or a hairstyling franchise, does not have to go to a small number of big-wigs and allow herself to be sexually exploited by them in return for permission to operate another store within their brick-and-mortar chain. The head honchos at McDonald's do not have just one spot opening up, a la the aspiring lead actress -- they have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of new stores they'd like to open up.

And material sectors offer no fame because they do not scale up to the national or international level easily, so nobody will know who you are just because you own a McDonald's or Great Clips franchise, whereas they very well might if you got a role in a Hollywood movie or a talking head spot on cable news. That draws fewer attention-seekers into the material sectors, making the supply of labor there less tolerant of bad behavior in exchange for a shot at fame.

Being physically constrained, firms in material sectors tend to be less monopolistic. It's harder to just declare or to buy off the government and get control over a larger fiefdom. You have to physically acquire it, physically staff it, physically provide raw materials and equipment, physically over-see its operation -- and physically defend it. Expanding the fiefdom of an informational firm usually involves abstractions like contracts -- legalistically acquiring a new plot through M&A, legalistically downsizing and consolidating the combined workforce, and defending its fiefdom in court.

More monopolistic firms can exploit their workers more, because where else are they going to work? There are only five corporations that control all of the media and entertainment sector -- and if Fox spins off everything except Fox News, the entertainment industry will only have four in total control. You either tolerate the exploitation from your media bosses, or you are out of the industry altogether and forever.

If you want to operate some kind of mass-appeal franchise from a chain, and locate the store in a suburban shopping center, how many hundreds or thousands of choices do you have? Supposing the representative from McDonald's demands sexual favors -- then you go with the zillion other fast-food chains, or with the zillion choices in hair salons, or clothing, or other retail. No BJ required to break into the "brick-and-mortar franchise" business.

So the widespread exploitation within Democrat industries has nothing to do with differing values or morality, but with the differing nature of their economic activity. Depending almost not at all on more man-hours in order to expand their fiefdoms, and with so many seeking employment, these easily scale-able and monopolistic informational industries can get away with more mistreatment of their workers compared to their elite rivals in the material sectors.

This also points to the solution of the problem -- it is not to try to teach the Harvey Weinsteins better morality, or give them sensitivity training. That targets values and beliefs, which are immaterial, as it were. These industries need to be broken up into more companies and de-scaled in the size of their fiefdom, which will cut down the gatekeeper ability of the corporate chiefs, as well as create orders of magnitude more jobs now that there will be dozens or hundreds of new media organizations of comparable size with each other.

It will also slash the profitability of each of the five media giants, giving them less wealth as well as less power.

We must radically change how these economic organizations are set up, if we want to change the behavior of their leaders. That goes for the material sectors, too -- they may be relatively less exploitative than the informational sectors, but it's not a high bar to clear to be less of a sex abuser than Harvey Weinstein.

Trustbusting must be a top priority in the new revolutionary age of the Trump-Bernie insurgency.

November 16, 2017

Why don't Democrat elites need tax cuts?

One of the sharpest divides between the Dems and GOP is tax policy, with Republicans never having seen a tax cut they didn't push for, and Democrats resisting the cut.

The standard story based on the different values and conceptual worldviews of the two parties is that Republicans argue on grounds of fairness that we must allow rich people to keep more of their money, whether annual income or accumulated wealth, while Democrats argue on grounds of providing for the citizenry that we must not cut taxes since that will deprive the government of funding for its public goods and services.

But, remembering that ideology is just a rationalization of crude underlying material interests, we reject that approach and ask instead -- why don't Democrat elites benefit from tax cuts, in the way GOP elites do? They don't ask for tax cuts because they don't get much out of them at a material level, not because they have a system of inviolable values that leads them inexorably toward that policy conclusion.

Democrat elites may get something out of tax cuts -- how could they not, when the rich pay most of the taxes, and all elites are rich? But they don't get as much as the GOP elites would, so tax cuts would shift the "balance of power" toward the economic factions that control the GOP. Societal control is a zero-sum game between warring coalitions of economic sectors.

So, what about the nature of their industries makes the GOP elite factions gain far more than the Democrat elite factions from tax cuts or tax reform?

Recall that the Democrats represent the informational industries that scale up easily, where the cost of materials and labor are not rate-limiting steps on profit growth or market share expansion. Finance, media, digital / internet companies. The Republicans represent the material industries that are physically constrained and are rate-limited in their growth by the cost of materials and labor. Military-industrial complex, agriculture, energy / resource extraction.

Rather than try to solve the problem at the general level first, let's start with a particular example and get some intuition. Consider the estate tax -- this is a tax not on income, but total wealth owned by a person. When this person dies and wants to pass that wealth on to others, it is taxed. Only estates valued at over $5 million are subject to the top tax rate of 40%, affecting only the top 0.2% of estates. So, only the incredibly wealthy are affected by the estate tax.

Still, why aren't stinking-rich Democrats calling to abolish the estate tax like their stinking-rich GOP rivals? Because the form of that wealth differs -- for an elite Republican, it may be a mega-farm in the Great Plains worth $10 million, while for an elite Democrat it may be a bank account with $10 million in it. One is material, the other is virtual. The material is particular and distinct, the virtual is general and fungible.

When it comes time to avoid the tax man, wealth in a form that is physically constrained will be harder to hide, while wealth in a form that is fungible and intangible will be easier to "move" out of the cross-hairs.

Tax laws are enforced by governments, and there is no government above the level of nations -- no international army that conscripts soldiers from the entire global population, no international IRS that levies taxes on the entire global population.

So "moving out of the cross-hairs" of the tax man means getting that wealth outside of the jurisdiction of the United States government -- or of the British, German, etc. governments. The safe spots that the global rich use to hide their wealth from their own government's taxation and other regulations are tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Swiss banks, and so on.

Yet some factions of the rich can move their wealth into bank accounts in the Caymans or Switzerland far more easily than other elite factions.

That great big farm in the middle of Kansas may be worth $10 million, but that doesn't mean they can literally uproot the farm, transplant it onto the physical land within the borders of some tax haven, pass it on entirely to their inheritors, and have it continue to serve as a form of wealth to the inheritors at a similar value.

Digging up a mega-farm, moving it over, transplanting it, etc., would cost more than the value of the farm itself. The climate of the tax haven might not be the same as where the farm came from, the host's subterranean geology might be hostile to the transplanted farm, and so on and so forth.

Even if the physical environments were a perfect match, how are the inheritors supposed to derive income or wealth from a farm that now lies in the Cayman Islands? Is it going to yield the same level of output, sold at the same prices, producing a similar income stream as when it was back in Kansas?

Maybe it was heavily subsidized by the government's farm bill back in the US, and since the Cayman Islands are tax-free, they don't have much revenue to direct toward farm subsidies. And then there's the cost of shipping their corn or soybeans to other countries, since the Caymans and Switzerland are not big enough in population to give a similar demand for corn or soy as there was when the consumers were the American population.

The farm also provided living space for the owning family to build large houses and keep a watch over the crop cultivation -- are the inheritors going to relocate to live in the Caymans in order to stay physically connected with their farm, and to check on its operation?

These difficulties in avoiding the jurisdiction of the tax-payer's national government will generalize from mega-farms in Kansas to all material sources of wealth -- an oil field in Texas cannot be shipped out and parked in the Caymans, and neither can a coal mine in West Virginia, or a defense industry factory in South Carolina (for reasons of national security, these are the least likely factories to be off-shored).

Because the informational sectors of the economy do not rely on material production, they don't own a whole lot of real assets -- some choice real estate for their corporate headquarters, a nice home or two, but not the very life-blood of their company, which are instead based on abstractions like contracts.

That means a far larger share of their total wealth is financial, i.e. stocks and stock derivatives, as well as some cold hard cash. It's not that material sector elites don't also own a lot of stock -- but as a share of their total wealth, it's smaller because of all the real assets in the mix (barrels of oil, head of cattle, soldiers under command, etc.).

And the easily scalable nature of informational sectors means that they are more globalist in supplying customers. Aside from some client states (including a few big ones), the Pentagon does not own or control the militaries of the rest of the world. The oil companies do not own or control the oil in oil-rich nations (those dreams died in the 1970s when all the Middle Eastern countries nationalized their oil fields). Nor do the mega-farms in the Great Plains own or control the farms in other countries.

They compete with the militaries, oil fields, and farms of other nations, but do not always wipe out the competition. Especially since the 1970s, the military and oil sectors have largely failed to take over their international competitors. The big farms have done relatively better, especially with NAFTA opening up the Mexican market to highly subsidized American agriculture that comes with low prices.

The informational sectors, however, have totally swamped their international competitors. They are not only the only game in town in America, but in most of the rest of the world. Google, Hollywood, Wall Street investors.

That means that a far larger share of profits will be earned abroad for informational sectors, and a relatively larger share earned domestically for material sectors. And since income in the form of profits is effectively taxed where it is made, the informational sectors can more easily avoid the IRS, which only has effective jurisdiction over profits made in America. And since the informational sectors are generally the only game in the entire world, they can bully foreign governments into not taxing them very much.

Given how lengthy the tax code is, this overview has only scratched the surface. But the basic intuition is pretty clear -- because the informational sectors are more global in operation, and hold more of their wealth in financial assets, it is easier for them to dodge the tax man in America. And even if they would benefit from a tax cut here, it would benefit their rival factions of the elite stratum even more, and tip the balance of power toward their enemies.

It has nothing to do with liberal or conservative "first principles," and let us never speak of "values" again when analyzing tax policy.

In terms of fairness, the material sectors do have a point that they are unfairly taxed compared to the informational sectors. But the solution is not to let both sides of the elite get away with abandoning their subjects -- it is to rein in the informational side and soak them as well as the material side. Break up these info-age monopolies so that they cannot earn so much profit abroad without having to spread that wealth around back home, and threaten to seize the assets located in America from entities who stash so much of their wealth in tax havens abroad.

November 8, 2017

Did Gillespie get any Bernie supporters? Populism or death, in the Trump era

GOP Establishment candidate Ed Gillespie lost the Virginia governor's race by nearly twice the margin that Trump lost the general election, showing that whether or not Virginia likes Trump, they really can't stand the same ol' Republican bullshit.

Perhaps the partisans have forgotten already, but you don't win elections by adhering to the same losing base. You have to either drive up the turnout of your existing base, or you have to convert people who voted for the other party last time. These are not kneejerk partisans you are converting, but the large chunk of independents.

Trump won the election by flipping Obama voters from high-population counties in states that have been blue for decades. These were largely white working-class, as well as the exceptions among college-educated suburban whites who aren't worthless yuppie parasites, and who don't want to see the working-class get flushed down the toilet.

According to exit polls, Gillespie did somewhat better than Trump among non-whites, but somewhat worse than Trump among whites -- and contrary to incessant propaganda, minorities are still in the minority in this country. Losing a small percent of a big number is worse than gaining a small percent of a small number.

Gillespie tanked relative to Trump among families with incomes of $50-100K, which is working and lower-middle class.

He did worse than Trump among Democrats, who are the largest group by party affiliation. He also did worse among liberals and moderates, although better among conservatives.

And although he did as well percentage-wise as Trump in the Appalachian west of the state, turnout was way down, giving the hill and mountain people less impact against the suburban Swamp dwellers in the north.

All this points to a failure to mobilize the Trump coalition -- the white working class, and anyone sympathetic to their plight (the shrinking pool of responsible steward elites).

According to post-election data, Trump won 10-15% of Bernie Sanders voters. See this analysis from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, as well as the American National Election Studies (web interface here). The ANES shows only 3% of Hillary primary voters going for Trump, and I couldn't easily find out what the CCES says -- but presumably small there too, given the Sanders-Trump voters not being Democrat partisans and not being big fans of Obama or identity politics.

If the GOP tries to convert the type of people who supported Hillary in the rigged primary, they will keep losing. They will do about 4 times better percentage-wise going after Bernie supporters, and since the popular vote was fairly even between Bernie and Hillary, the sheer numbers will be far greater as well.

Three of the Democrats who helped to sweep the VA House of Delegates were endorsed by the Bernie organization Our Revolution, in a state where Bernie lost the primary no less. So clearly the Bernie wing is energizing and turning out voters. Wouldn't it be nice if enough of those voters chose the Our Rev candidates for the House, but then the GOP candidate for Governor?

But -- who are we kidding? The Republican party is as likely to court Sanders supporters as Elizabeth Warren is to hold a pow-wow with Trump supporters.

Fully one year after the historic upset Trump victory, the GOP still refuses to re-align itself to be a populist rather than elitist party, or a nationalist rather than globalist party. So what if Gillespie spoke harshly about MS-13 and crime -- where was he saying that immigrants, legal and illegal, drive down wages for the working class, and drive up the cost of housing? Where was he saying that we need to pull our military out of most of the rest of the world and begin spending that money rebuilding America rather than rebuilding Afghanistan? Where was he saying that China and Mexico are eating our lunch on manufacturing vs. poverty-sustaining agriculture? ("All we send them is beef.")

He's a dyed-in-the-wool Republican corporate globalist sell-out traitor, so of course he's not going to go against the GOP orthodoxy on any of those issues, let alone all of them together like Trump did.

And on the populist issues, where was Gillespie saying that the government should pick up the tab so that poor people won't be "dying in the streets" because they can't afford a hospital bill? Or that we need to negotiate drug prices from Medicare D, and tell the drug companies who've "taken care of" our politicians to go suck it?

If you can't even muster the populism level of Eisenhower or Nixon, don't bother running. Stay home and just kill yourself.

Which is exactly what the Republican party is intent on doing -- riding out their terminal decline with as much phony honor as they can to numb the pain.

That goes for the would-be insurgents within the GOP, too -- if you're not going to say all the things Trump said during the campaign (re-jiggering NATO, Saudi Arabia is ripping us off, give the poor free healthcare, bring back manufacturing plants by the boatload), don't even bother running. Putting on a fig-leaf of wanting tougher "border security," even "a wall," is not going to cut it. Trump just got the ball rolling with toughness on immigration. It was a much broader theme of "America first" in every domain of society, from the military, to the economy, to the government itself.

If you're not for "America first" across the board -- what do you offer to weary independent voters? They will just choose the party of comfy stagnation rather than suicidal chaos.

Unlike most Trump voters, I was actually ecstatic last night that the GOP got clobbered all around the nation. They refuse to submit to the re-alignment, so they are officially a party not just without an electorate -- but actively hostile toward it. (See also George W. Bush insulting all Trump voters as racist bigots. We still need to send his ass over to the Arabian desert where he can get beheaded on video by his jihadist buddies.)

The more the GOP wastes, the more the New Second Party grows.

November 6, 2017

The sociology of GOP vs. Dem agendas: Control by material vs. informational economic factions

I think I've found a new big theme to start mining, the sociology of the GOP vs. Democrat parties from a materialist rather than idealist framework, from an institutional and coalitional rather than personalized framework, and from the perspective that most of the institutional struggles take place at the elite rather than the popular level.

It all began with this initial post about the Democrats being the Wall Street party and the Republicans being the Pentagon party, with discussion of other factions in each party's coalition, and with some abstraction about what unites the Democrat elites vs. what unites the Republican elites on an economic level.

The current post is a pause in the empirical case studies done so far, in order to clear things up and unify them at an analytical level, before continuing on with more case studies on why the two parties behave the way they do. All posts on this theme will be tagged "Dems vs. GOP," including those already posted. Click on that tag in the "Category Index" on the right-hand column, or on any post with that tag, to see them all.

Briefly, Democrat factions hail from economic sectors where output is not limited much by the costs of materials and labor, as "copies" can be made cheaply or freely, or where a service can be provided to larger and larger scales of customers while using the same number of employees to provide the service. They scale up easily. Let's call these "informational" sectors.

Republican factions hail from economic sectors where output is limited by the costs of materials and labor, where "copies" can only be produced by putting in more materials and paying for more labor. Reaching larger and larger customer bases requires hiring a lot more people to produce all that new output. They do not scale up easily. Let's call these "material" sectors.

The Democrat party has united the elites of the informational sectors, and the GOP the elites of the material sectors, each seeking to use the government as a means of bettering the material status of their own sectors. Because there is only a finite amount of government goodies up for grabs, and a finite number of national positions open for political puppets (1 President, 100 Senators, 438 Representatives), this makes the conflict zero-sum, so that the informational sectors seek to undercut the status of the material sectors, and vice versa -- not out of hatred of what the rival sectors do, or what they believe, but simply to keep the rival sectors from hoovering up more goodies via the state.

These patterns have only emerged over the past several decades, when most of the focus on the alignments of the two major parties has been on their ideologies and values -- Democrats coalescing around a unified set of liberal values vs. Republicans coalescing around a unified set of conservative values. That is a study of the culture wars, which I regard as an epiphenomenon on top of the underlying clash of coalitions at the level of material wealth and power.

While there may be nothing new about the materialist vs. idealist debate, the institutional vs. Great Man debate, or the oligarchic vs. popular input debate, it is new to apply them in the context of the contemporary Democrat vs. Republican parties -- their background and their agendas.

How often do you hear anyone discuss the Democrats as the Wall Street party and the Republicans as the Pentagon party? Usually it is all about liberals and liberalism vs. conservatives and conservatism, whether the discussion takes places in the media, academic social science, or random people arguing over the internet.

Framing the partisan conflict this way is materialist, identifying the material basis of the power or influence that the faction wields over the government (banking, military might). It is institutional, identifying the entirety of Wall Street and the Pentagon instead of disparate banks or military branches, let alone isolated individuals.

It is oligarchic, viewing the struggle as the elites of one faction vs. the elites of another, with little and infrequent input from the populace -- even when they're shouting their lungs out, as with the Trump voters who still have gotten little in return for voting for the Pentagon party (indeed the military has since gotten the American government even deeper in bed with the #1 source of radical Islam and Islamic terrorism, Saudi Arabia).

And it is coalitional, looking at the parties as a coalition of such elite economic factions -- the Democrats represent not only the elites of the banking industry, but also of the media / entertainment industry, and of the hi-tech industry. The Republicans represent not only the elites of the military-industrial complex, but also of the agriculture industry, and of the energy industry.

So that's where the view fits into the wider intellectual traditions in social science. What is new is the application to the current partisan conflict in the United States, and presumably the rest of the Western world -- although I'll only be discussing the country I'm familiar with.

But doesn't it sound darkly familiar that British Prime Minister Theresa May is covering up for her party's support of the radical Islamic regime of Saudi Arabia, as well as her party's role in sending radical Muslims from Britain over to Libya (via Syria) to topple Qaddafi -- only to see them return back to the UK where they go on to blow up Britons at politically neutral spaces like an Ariana Grande concert?

It sure appears as though the Conservative party is as controlled by the military elites over there as the Republican party is here, that both are deeply in bed with the Saudis for the same reason -- military expansion in the Middle East, with Saudis as allies -- and that both must cover up for their jihadist allies when they inevitably run amok, or cause Muslims in the US or UK to run amok.

From now on, I don't want to hear anything about liberals or conservatives, or liberalism or conservatism, as political forces (as emotional, moral, and psychological frameworks, it's fine). Liberals didn't bail out the big banks under Obama's tenure -- it was the Wall Street party bailing itself out. Conservatives didn't invade and occupy Iraq under George W. Bush -- it was the Pentagon party looking to expand its military footprint on the global chess board. And neither had any liberal or conservative ideological basis -- that was just the slapdash, post-hoc rationalizing of the pundit puppet class on behalf of the elites of their respective parties.

And the American people are sick of hearing about liberals vs. conservatives. Trump was lambasted by party elites for not being a true conservative, and he won over the Republican primary voters by responding to the charges with, "Who cares? Our country is a big fat mess, and we don't have time to argue about who's a conservative or not."

On the other side of the anti-elitist movement, Bernie was dragged by party elites for not being sufficiently multicultural, intersectional, and anti-gun. Despite the DNC rigging the primary against him, the party is starting to shift microscopically more in his direction (single-payer healthcare) than back toward the same old Clintonian crap. And he did that not by trying to prove that he really was more liberal than Clinton, but by arguing that class, elitism, and inequality were more pressing issues than who wants to abort the most babies.

Going forward, we should keep this basic framework in mind to analyze current events, to organize people around shared goals, and to identify the obstacles to those goals -- especially when it comes to which sectors of the elite are most opposed to the change.

This will also keep our expectations realistic for electoral politics. At the national level, we are not voting for an individual's agenda, but for the agenda of the coalition of economic elites that control the party of that individual. People thought they were voting for Hope and Change, and they ended up voting for the big banks. People thought they were voting for Drain the Swamp, and they ended up voting for the military-industrial complex.

That is not to downplay electoral politics, but only to temper our expectations, and make us look to organizing ourselves outside of the electoral system in order to put popular pressure on the warring elite factions. Generally the struggle is entirely among the elite factions themselves, but every once in awhile there is a populist uprising, forcing the elites to respond to the people below for a change. Our goal is to ramp up the pressure to such a level that they actually take us seriously.

When enough churches begin to organize against our military brass due to their being so deeply in bed with the jihadist nations, then the Pentagon will have no choice but to dial back their imperial ambitions in the Middle East. When enough labor unions organize against the big banks due to their getting bailed out while the workers go under water, then Wall Street will have no choice but to dial back their manipulation of finance laws.

When the churches and the unions turn up the heat from below at the same time, we will usher in a new Progressive Era that will purify all of the corruption and degradation wrought upon the general public by the degenerate laissez-faire elites of our latter-day Gilded Age.

November 2, 2017

Muslim immigration benefits GOP factions, not Dems

While it is welcome to hear Trump advocate for ending the diversity lottery in immigration, we must realistically assess who is behind the open-borders policy toward Muslims, and whether that makes it likely or unlikely that Congress will obey the President's orders (which also happen to manifest the will of the American people -- not that Congress cares about that part).

The key awakening of the Trump and Bernie movements was that questions of airy-fairy cultural values don't matter -- it is the cold hard material reality that matters.

Democrats didn't win elections because they championed liberal instead of conservative values in social-cultural domains -- voters simply saw them as the party that would impoverish and refuse to protect them in a slightly less callous fashion than the other party, who would throw the American people into poverty and absence of security with abandon.

Trump then turned around the GOP's presidential fortunes by convincing voters that he cared more about their stagnating and eroding material conditions -- on economics, immigration, and jihadism -- and would make those areas the focus of his presidency, not the same ol' culture war BS that we expect of Republican politicians.

An earlier post asked whether amnesty for illegal immigrants, largely Hispanic, would be suicide for the Dems or for the GOP?

We cannot answer that without a focus on institutional analysis, in other words which factions of the elite control the Dems vs. the GOP. The major split is the Democrat factions hailing from economic sectors that easily scale up -- banking / finance, media / entertainment, digital / hi-tech, etc. -- while the GOP factions hail from sectors that are more physical and physically constrained, like the military, agriculture, energy resource extraction, and so on.

For amnesty, it is clear how the GOP factions benefit materially from large-scale immigration, whether legal or illegal. The farms and small businesses, who are loyal Republican sectors, depend on cheap labor to thrive, since their economic activity is so labor-intensive. Importing hordes of servants from the Third World boosts the material standing of these GOP sectors.

On the other hand, Democrat sectors like the media, tech companies, and finance, are not labor-intensive and therefore do not derive a big boost in profits from cheap labor. Not that they don't make use of foreigners, but it's not the main source of their soaring wealth. That comes instead from the higher and broader reach of their company that is not very labor-intensive -- for example, a merger of two media companies, or the entry of a Wall Street bank or Silicon Valley tech company into a "developing nation".

So the Democrat factions do not benefit materially from open borders.

But wait! What about using those hordes of foreigners to vote Democrat and tip the scales irrevocably in the Democrats' favor? One problem: they don't bother voting, not even when they're eligible.

This moronic view crippled the GOP for the longest time, as they saw their electoral weakness tracing back to their lack of support from Hispanics, rather than the white working class who won't vote for the unabashedly elitist party.

Now that moronic view is going to cripple the Democrats, who also see their electoral success as owing to their dominance among ethnic minorities rather than the white working class.

The reality as revealed by the General Social Survey, from that earlier post on amnesty, looking at the 2012 election:

Among immigrants -- those residing outside the US at age 16 -- only 46% voted, vs. 71% of native citizens.

Among Hispanics -- regardless of race or immigrant status -- only 44% voted, vs. 73% of non-Hispanics.

Within the Hispanic population, only 28% of immigrants voted, vs. 51% of native citizens.

And that's among those who were eligible -- obviously the participation of illegals is even lower, since they'd be taking a greater risk in voting, and are more apathetic about America's political outcomes since they just got here and are only interested in stealing jobs, and maybe the occasional rape and murder, rather than steering the government's future.

Now let's turn to Muslims, another demographic group who the moronic Democrat Establishment views as an absolute lynchpin to its (previous) electoral success. They're only 2% of the population, and they're in safe blue states anyway, so right away we know they are the key to nothing. But even assuming they became as large as Hispanics and more broadly distributed...

Going back to the General Social Survey, in 2012 only 49% of those who were raised as Muslims bothered to vote, among those who were eligible. In 2008, it was 38%. In 2004, 53%. In 2000, 55%. Each of these samples is small (less than 50) because Muslims are so small in population, and the GSS is a representative sample of the population. Pooling them all together in a 21st century group, only 49% voted.

That is far smaller than the 70% and above rates of participation by natives and whites. And it's of a tiny slice of the population, sitting at only 2%. So it doesn't matter that they vote 85% Democrat, since that's only 85% of 49% of 2% -- Muslims deliver diddly squat for Democrats.

Of course, insulated tunnel-vision Democrats can't conceive of throwing Muslims under the bus because they're convinced that multiculturalism is what won them elections, contrary to all data. But once they've drunken the kool-aid, it can be hard to undo its effects.

The point remains, though, and at some point the power factions and the party itself will realize that they do not benefit materially from Muslim immigration, and if anything have sinking prospects at the ballot box from apologizing for every radical Islamic terrorist attack on the American people -- "think of the backlash against poor innocent Muslims!" Not the way to win elections with American voters.

Who does benefit from allowing in immigrants from the Muslim world? Why, the same GOP factions who partner with the jihadist nations and militias over in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. Namely the Pentagon brass, who prize the expansion of imperial borders over the safety of the core homeland.

They rely as all empires do on the cooperation of local elites in distant lands, and in the Middle East, they have thrown in with the jihadists like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, the Taliban (when they were fighting the Soviet Union), and so on and so forth. The military elite do not care whether their allies are barbarian jihadists who want to destroy America, as long as they will cooperate in getting the Pentagon and the CIA more pieces on the global chess board.

Of course, that never happens -- it is Iran rather than Uncle Sam who controls Iraq, after 30 years of our interventions in that country, and it is the Pakistani Deep State that controls Afghanistan, not us. But again, once people drink the kool-aid, it's hard to reverse the symptoms. The Pentagon still believes that bending over backwards for jihadists will get them more territory to control and patrol on the great big global chess board.

In the military leaders' minds, bending over backwards for its radical Islamic allies requires us to open our borders to immigrants from any Muslim-majority nation, as a costly and honest signal of our shared fates. In the early stage of the Trump administration, before the White House was hijacked in April by the Pentagon boarding party who pushed for further involvement in regime change in Syria, you might remember Iraq initially being on the list of countries barred from sending people across our border.

The Pentagon threw a fit and demanded that Iraq be taken off the list. Why? Because banning Iraqis would threaten the cooperation of Iraqis in Iraq with the American military presence in Iraq. Not that we're getting anything out of that presence, but still, that's what motivates the Pentagon -- keeping a "seat at the table," despite never getting anything. The GOP administration complied with the orders of its primary power faction, and Iraq was removed from the travel ban list.

You can bet that it was also the Pentagon, arms manufacturers and dealers, and defense contractors, who lobbied to keep true terrorist threats off of the list, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The war machine is in bed too deep with the leaders of those two countries to put their citizens on a travel ban. To do otherwise would risk their cooperation in the attempt to put more territory in the region under Pentagon control (again, not that that has ever worked out favorably for the Pentagon).

The leaders of Muslim countries have a hell of a lot of leverage over the GOP factions like the military-industrial complex. If they want open borders for Muslim immigration, the GOP will have to deliver it or else feel the pain of the screws tightening from their Muslim allies in the imperial project over in the Middle East and Central / South Asia.

The GOP factions of oil and energy companies are also highly materially motivated to get in bed with jihadist nations like Saudi Arabia, or take over non-jihadist nations like Iran. But oil is lower-ranking than the military, and there's little oil and gas in Afghanistan.

What are the leaders of those Muslim countries going to do to hurt the Democrat factions? Refuse to allow Hollywood movies to be shown? Ban the local CNN International station? Kick out American investors from Wall Street? Not bloody likely. Hollywood and the media, social media companies, and Wall Street banks do not rely so crucially on those Muslim nations -- they have their fingers in pies all around the world, unlike the Pentagon which is concentrated so heavily in the Muslim world. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street wouldn't even feel it if Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia banned them from their country.

The only Muslim nation that the Democrat factions are eager to stay on the good side of is Iran, which is a ripe niche for Western financial investors after being cut off by sanctions for so long. They are a very large population, civilized, and fairly prosperous by regional standards. That was the motivation of the Iran deal -- material interest, not multicultural feel-good-ism.

But Iran is among the most moderate of Muslim countries, being Shia (radical Islam plagues only the Sunni side). They do not proselytize, and are not hell-bent on sending their own people or their co-religionists to infiltrate the US. When they use empty bluster as a negotiating tactic against the Dems, it's based on military strikes, not threatening to unleash hordes of immigrants into our country.

Mexico threatens the opposite, and does the opposite -- never any military bluster, but saying it would be a shame if they were to not police the hordes of other Central Americans pouring through Mexico on their way to El Norte. Mexico is a real threat, Iran is a fake threat.

In the long-term, and even the medium-term, it is cynical material interests that drive behavior, not airy-fairy values-oriented BS. Ideology is a rationalization of material motivations.

On both forms of material interests, whether wealth or power, the Democrat factions stand to gain little from Muslim immigration, whereas the GOP factions stand to gain a lot -- continued cooperation from Muslim countries in the Pentagon's imperial ambitions on the other side of the world, and depending on the country, preferred access for oil and gas companies.

That means the GOP presents more of an obstacle to ending the diversity lottery, banning Muslims from entering the country, and so on. It is in the grip of a power faction -- the Pentagon -- that would rather leave a festering open wound on the nation's honor and security after September 11th, rather than give Saudi Arabia even a rap on the knuckles in retaliation for their attack against us.

We've seen so far that Hispanics and Muslims don't vote, especially if they're immigrants, and this point will generalize to all ethnic minority groups who could be brought in by the diversity lottery.

Take Africa, to end the argument with. Among blacks raised in America, 77% voted in 2012, as opposed to 40% of all African immigrants, or even 52% of eligible African immigrants. (And African immigrants were a mere 6% of the black sample of the GSS respondents about the 2012 election.) Immigrants simply don't give a shit about our government's current or future workings -- as long as they get paid more money than back in their home countries, they don't care what else happens here.

Among the elite factions, the Democrats stand little to gain from such open-borders immigration policies -- not to mention antagonizing one of their key junior partner factions, the labor unions who will get decimated by cheap non-union labor. That's really not going to help Dems with the white working class in Rust Belt states.

The GOP stands to gain immensely, whether it is cheap labor for the labor-intensive sectors that make up the GOP coalition, or the military elite who want the cooperation of the sending nations in far-flung imperial adventures, or the oil and gas sector who want cooperation from oil-rich nations sending their immigrants here.

Now among the base, it is obviously the opposite -- Republican voters are far more opposed to open borders than Democrat voters are. If the citizens were to triumph over the politicians and the power elites of their own party, then the GOP would easily and eagerly ban Muslim immigration, kick out Hispanic illegals, and the rest of it.

But until more power is in the citizens' hands, and while power remains concentrated in the elites, the Democrats pose relatively less of a threat vis-a-vis immigration. They will buckle to pressure from below more easily, since their power factions don't gain nearly as much as GOP elites do. We do have the kool-aid effect to overcome with the Democrat multicultis, but that is an easier task than threatening the cold hard material wealth and power that the GOP elites derive from open borders.

GSS variables: vote12, vote08, vote04, vote00, relig16, reg16, race