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The Big American Question
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  • Anthony

    “With the Clintonista center-left, the Obamian left-liberals and the Bushie center-righties more or less discredited for now, one hesitates to speculate where Americans might turn next if Thrumpian populism is another god that fails.” (Walter Russell Mead)

    We’ve (America) been here before; cf. Arthur Schlesinger, The Politics of Upheaval.

    To the Big American Question, how about providing truthful responses: this is a nation with 320 million people (and the tensions inherent thereto), with several contiguous but different regions, with 5% of world’s population, with tremendous natural and physical resources (but not unlimited), with an over arching capitalism and its impersonal indifference to people needs (creative destruction), and this is a nation where 21st century globalization (and forces of technology, communication, transportation, migration, etc.) has truly over last generation impacted ways of country and the people within its boundary despite hollowness of our politics (or maybe because).

    We’ve been here before; now as before, Americans cannot allow the erosion of faith to be exploited by the idea that cynicism and despair is a dynamic of the 21st century.

  • FriendlyGoat

    When I was in first grade, I had a male playground friend and our favorite recess activity (1957) was attempting to “do” The Three Stooges together. We tried, but we were never REALLY able to “do” Larry, Moe and Curly like the real Larry, Moe and Curly. Here’s a tip: Try as you might, you can’t REALLY “do” FG either.

    • JR

      You are absolutely right. But I sure can make fun of some of your more stupid ideas, like tax hikes creating employment. The point is to mock you, not imitate you. I thought that was fairly clear without me having to spell it out, but now that you are hearing voices about Trump, I understand how your brain is not functioning properly. So here I am, spelling things out for you. As your Trump Derangement Syndrome progresses in the next 8 years, I fully expect to do more of this.
      P.S. You know hearing voices, ie auditory hallucinations is one of the symptoms of schizophrenia. I’d seriously consider going to the doctor.

      • CosmotKat

        The goat has a fever he can’t let go.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The seventh paragraph perversely reveals one of the unfortunate outcome determinants of the 2016 election. Although I am not much into Hillary blaming, I have come to realize that one of the reasons Trump won is that he literally spoke much faster than she did. He packed in nuances at a mile a minute anywhere he talked while Mrs. Clinton indeed spoke much more slowly at most events. Contrary to the suggestion of the seventh paragraph of this article, you don’t penetrate thick heads by doing that. Unless one is master of the quiet understatement, the specific talent which once made Bob Newhart a star of several shows, “fast talk” wins more attention.

    • Boritz

      This is interesting. Language scientists have determined that the average woman can generate more spoken words in a day than the average man can absorb. Of course this is due to the nurture that takes place within the confines of socially defined gender role norms as is a preference for toy military armor vs. Barbie dolls as play items. Apparently both Hillary and Trump have transcended their socially engineered use of language with the results now before us. A study of their gender normative playtime behavior would shed further light on the subject. My bet is Hillary would go straight for the Darth Vader action figure and use the Death Star to attack Trump Tower while Trump would set up the Monopoly board.
      BTW I agree with you about imitators. Accept no substitutes.

      • FriendlyGoat

        My guess is that Trump understood the history of P.T. Barnum and the sales effectiveness of Ron Popeil (the Ronco Chop-o-matic and other kitchen marvels sold personally in TV ads) while Hillary didn’t think those techniques were important.

        • CosmotKat

          I think she modeled her style on the character played by Jon Lovitz on SNL called the Liar.

        • Anthony
          • FriendlyGoat

            Yep. The only thing missing is the connection to the white evangelical church which was behind this train wreck even more than the “white working class” (acknowledging, as we should, some considerable overlap of those two groups).

            Thanks. Given my experience here in the comment section with the number and quality of arguments needed to even elicit a polite “Good Morning” from a “convinced conservative”, I predict it will take thousands of efforts like that from Joy-Ann Reid to even start breaking through to people who could shout “Whoa” to their GOP Congressmen. She is correct, I think, to point out that rich people in Blue states get more tax cuts and that Blue-state people have better social services because their states are Blue. So many in the Heartland, it seems, metaphorically turned their guns on themselves with respect to politics.

            The messages will have to be repeated thousands of times, and incorporate each new upside-down antic as it appears from Trump land. America’s pastors should be leading the fight, but, of course, they won’t and we know why they won’t.

          • Anthony

            Reid, though a partisan, provides informative commentary and often scrutinizes an issue to substantiate via evidence her position. She still is in shock but, alas, yet gives a perspective to be considered. Comparatively, I maintain “nimbler wits, nimbler wits” and their hidden opportunism.

  • FriendlyGoat

    To the last paragraph, the Republicans are ABSOLUTELY going to “deliver” their entire pent-up agenda while the window is open. The problem is that, as Nancy Pelosi was once criticized for saying about PPACA, “you have to pass it to find out what is in it”. Many, many people who voted for it by putting Republicans in aligned power have no idea what the effects of the “suddenly-convenient-to-pass” policies are. When they find out it was “You lose, sucker!” (see Spirit of JR at TAI comment section) , perhaps we’ll have a spiritual revival in the churches which provided the votes. You never know.

    • CosmotKat

      You’ve really sunk your teeth into bitterness haven’t you goat? He hasn’t even taken office and the progressive world has their collective thong underwear in a bunch squeezing your minds and preventing any sort of rational thought..

      • FriendlyGoat

        Little else can possibly happen. This has a long, long tail.

  • Arkeygeezer

    “With the Clintonista center-left, the Obamian left-liberals and the Bushie center-righties more or less discredited for now,….”
    I don’t think that any of the above are discredited. I predict that President Trump will run a center of the road administration that tries to embrace the PRACTICAL, i.e. doable, policies across a wide spectrum of thought. If he thinks it will work and is in the best interest of America, he will try it. If it doesn’t work, or is not in the best interest of America, he will scrap it. That’s what all good business executives do.

  • jeburke

    “In 1970, 92% of American 30-year-olds earned more than their parents did at a similar age, they found. In 2014, that number fell to 51%.”

    Hold the phone, Professor. I was 28 in 1970. But I made more money than my parents at the same age, because my father wad born in 1908 and was 28-30 in the middle of the Great Depression.

    • Beauceron

      You’re dad was pretty unrepresentative for the time– having a kid when he was 36. I would imagine most people back then would have been having children between 22-26. Kind of puts you a decade off…

      • jeburke

        Say what? A lot of people had more than one kid.

        • Beauceron

          Yes, of course. And I think a lot of people now probably start around 35.

          But I think back when you were conceived in 1941, 36 was probably on the old side. These stats are on first childbirths, but it makes the point.

          My point is simply that you were a statistical anomaly (in terms of age of your parents, of course. I am sure you are normal in every other respect), but it moots the point. I think, in terms of averages, most of the people at 30 in 1970 would have had parents who were aged 30 not in the great depression, as is your experience, but a decade or more later, during the recovery.

          • jeburke

            I take the point, and I’m sure data is available somewhere to illuminate it. Still, I think it may be a bit too convenient that 1970 was chosen, securing the 92% to 51% contrast. I wonder if we’d see the same contrast starting with people who were 30 in 1980 — born in 1950 instead of 1940.

          • Beauceron

            I confess I am kind of curios about that myself.

            I think one thing is true: even as productivity has skyrocketed, wages have remained stagnant over the last 16 years or so.


          • f1b0nacc1

            Lots of excellent reasons for this, the easiest of which is that productivity has been massively expanded by automation in ways that do not simply make workers more productive, but makes them irrelevant. In this sense, you have more output per dollar of wages not necessarily because the workers haven’t gotten paid more (in many cases they are paid A LOT more), but because there are fewer workers in general. An example of this would be an auto factor in 1970 that produced 3000 cars/day with 2500 workers. That same factory might have only 100 workers today, which would mean that its productivity (assuming for a moment that wages had been utterly stagnant) would have expanded 25x. Obviously this is not the case….

          • Jim__L

            But if the workers were irrelevant and unemployed, would they even show up in a graph like this?

          • f1b0nacc1

            If those same workers, after losing their jobs (and lets use the auto industry as an example) ended up working in fast food, or some other low-wage job (as many have), then the charts would indeed look exactly like that. More to the point, since I presume (and I will happily concede that I might be mistaken) that chart is tracking overall labor compensation (salaries + benefits * workers over the entire economy), then the decline of relatively highly paid manufacturing jobs over the economy as a whole (a natural result of automation) would tend to result in an lower overall level of compensation, even though productivity increases. This has been what we have observed in steel, automobiles, and other heavy industry sectors over the last 50 years.

            The point that I am making is that wages are not necessarily stagnant within a given job category for individual workers (they are not for the most part), but rather that when one aggregates all workers in a given category (i.e. all auto workers, or all steel workers) we are seeing rising productivity against slow (if any) compensation increases because we are reducing the number of workers (thus reducing overall labor costs) or replacing a relatively homogeneous pool of skilled workers with a mixed pool of a few high-paid ones and a larger number of lower paid ones (thus reducing the overall labor costs again). In neither of these cases are individual wages stagnant, but rather aggregate wages are lower as a statistical artifact.

          • Jim__L

            That’s a good treatment of the “underemployed” case. What about the unemployed / low labor force participation case?

          • f1b0nacc1

            (Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier….I have been a bit tied up at work….not even in a fun way!)

            Unemployed and low labor participation numbers can easily be tied to changes in various laws that make both of these more acceptable choices than they would have been in the past. Unemployment benefits typically are sustained for longer than in the past, most (if not all) states have far more generous (and far lower qualifying standards) for disability payments, and part-time work (typically at much lower levels of compensation) has become increasingly desirable for employers due to changes in federal (as well as some states) benefit law. One could easily argue that the biggest disaster for any worker without a high skill level in the last 25 years would be Obamacare, as it encourages employers to cut hours and take a very strong stand against hiring any full-time employees that aren’t absolutely essential.

            In all of these cases, we can see increasing output per dollar of labor cost (which is what productivity is) while the aggregate cost of labor only increases at a reduced rate.

  • CosmotKat

    “The standard Democratic narrative about this is that under-regulation is the culprit: that back in the glory days of the 1950s and 1960s, we had systems of tight regulation and high taxation that made the economy work for the little guy.”

    Why is it that Progressives can insult Republicans, conservatives and Classical Liberals claiming they yearn to live in the past and then dredge up that same past to argue that we return to the “good old days” when the economy worked? The hypocrisy never ceases to amaze and the irony is delicious.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Yes, but it is still nonsense. In 1960, for instance, the industrial world still hadn’t recovered from WWII, while the US stood pretty much alone at the top. By 1980, this was no longer the case, and the idea that we could tax away with high regulation and no consequences was being demonstrated to be the sort of fraud that only the weak-minded believed.

      • CosmotKat

        Keen observation and very true.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Thank you, that is most kind of you.

      • Disappeared4x

        Offshoring was driven by various (elitist) government policies that envisioned the post-industrial economy as gospel.

        Seems ‘reshoring’, a little-noticed trend since 2015, can accelerate, bringing back offshored manufacturing jobs, despite the pundit received wisdom that robots are our only future, etc., and that college degrees were the answer for all.

        Perhaps TAI will start citing City-Journal first, instead of the MSM. City Journal cites the reshoring trend since 2010, and how cutting the corporate tax rate, unleashing lower cost electricity, etc CAN accelerate the trend.

        “Trump’s Shore Thing: The president-elect can help make American industry competitive again.”

        Steven Malanga December 7, 2016

        “…Fortunately, better alternatives exist, including bolstering a trend that’s already underway: reshoring, or the bringing home of manufacturing jobs by American firms. Hundreds of businesses have already found compelling reasons to begin producing goods here in the United States again, and the Trump administration can help clear some of the obstacles to reshoring to ignite even more gains.

        American companies are eyeing our own shores for various reasons, including rising labor costs in places like China, where firms are now producing goods, and declining energy prices due to the domestic fracking boom. Companies are also investing again in production at home because they’re better able to protect trade secrets here than in places with widespread intellectual property theft, and because higher wages in America are at least somewhat offset by the extraordinary productivity of U.S. workers. A recent study by Deloitte on manufacturing competitiveness, for instance, estimates that American workers produce on average about $111,000 per year in Gross Domestic Product, compared with about $20,000 per worker in China.

        Reshoring involves bringing jobs back to the U.S., but it also includes new investments in manufacturing facilities by companies previously sending jobs overseas. Between 2010 and 2015, the reshoring trend has produced nearly 240,000 jobs. The Reshoring Institute estimates that more than a quarter of industrial jobs that American companies have located overseas could be brought home. A 2013 study by the Boston Consulting Group estimated that reshoring—as well as new foreign investments in American industrial facilities—could generate 2.5 million to 5 million manufacturing jobs by 2020. …”

  • Beauceron

    “now that the election is over, a darker picture is beginning to emerge”

    Now that a Republican president has been elected, the press has switched from adoring bromides to pessimistic venom.
    I think nothing has made me so aware of how deeply the bias runs in our press, of how intricately woven our press is with the Leftist project, than comparing how unremittingly nasty, acidic and pessimistic they were about Bush and how shallowly reverent and promotional they were toward Obama– it was outright veneration. It is clear the press views their mission to be to tear down any and all conservatives and glorify the Left.

    And it has bred in me nothing but distrust and contempt for our mainstream media outlets.

  • Anthony

    An observation:

    “America has a fake news problem. And it’s being exacerbated by the right’s long-running distrust of the mainstream media. In the early days of the conservative movement, many on the right led an often justifiable effort to highlight very real signs of liberal ideological bias in mainstream news outlets. But since then, this obsession with media bias has become an impulse, a tick, a reflex so sensitive to stimuli that it’s in a constant state of reactive spasm. Visit any right-of-center website or blog – or follow leading conservative writers, or really any politically engaged conservative, on Twitter – and you’re bound to encounter regular eruptions of furious outrage aimed at the mainstream media for its supposedly pervasive bias, double standards, blind spots, errors, and expressions of outright disdain toward conservatives.” (Damon Linker)

    On the whole, might the constant drumbeat of bias contribute to making identified conservatives (generally) more inclined to doubt real news – none of us ought to conflate sophistry with fake news; there is a distinct difference.

  • Disappeared4x

    Whose voice do you want to listen to for four years? Not how fast or slow, or the vocabulary of 3rd or 8th or 11th grade, but the tenor of the voice. Most soothing voice wins, plus it helps to actually talk about issues voters care about. In 2016, DJT talked about illegal immigration, SCOTUS, and jobs lost to bad trade deals; HRC talked about green jobs, same green jobs she (and then adopted by BHO) talked about in 2008.

    HRC’s deplorables video? was it her dripping condescension, or the actual words, or both?

    May there be no more Clintons or Bushes in America’s future political life. THAT point was yuge! in 2016.

  • M Hayne Hamilton

    Let’s take a longer view. I was born on the night on which FDR was elected to president for his first term. It has taken my lifetime until now to reverse the increasingly strident “progressive” movement from its assumption and goal that an American form of democratic Socialism would inevitably replace the economic liberty of the American citizen. The future now is in the hands of the Republican Party, not in those of Donald Trump. The hard working people of all ages, races, and income groups in the United States have suffered the total failures of left wing government long enough. After Eight years of total progressivism, no one of all ages, races, status , and income is better off except for the elites who are persuaded that their calling is to control everything that they think the rest of us must do. Let us stay the course, celebrating small progress and leveraging every gain In personal freedom to build on. Let’s hope that restoring the real, authentic America from the desecration of the last 84 years will not take as long to make the course correction as it has taken to bring us to this place in history. HH

  • Angel Martin

    “Just a few weeks ago, the press was hailing the glories of the Obama economic recovery; now that the election is over, a darker picture is beginning to emerge.”

    You know that there is a Republican in the White House when the “homeless” re-emerges as an issue.

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