George Will has a great article at NRO on capitalism. He puts the choice that Americans face this way:
In the accelerated churning of today’s capitalism, changing tastes and expanding choices destroy some jobs and create others, with net gains in price and quality. But disruption is never restful, and America now faces a decision unique in its history: Is it tired — tired of the turmoil of creative destruction? If so, it had better be ready to do without creativity. And ready to stop being what it has always been: restless.
You should read the whole thing but in case you don’t, we want to reinforce what he did say and note what he doesn’t say. George has some nice examples of the changes that capitalism has wrought in the grocery business. Capitalism leads to net gains with constant disruptions. We would like to discuss two things that George does not mention in the article.
First, what is the alternative to capitalism? A good analogy is earthquakes. With capitalism you get small quakes all the time as the market reacts to new conditions. Over time you get the results that George notices where, in just over a century, the A&P goes from zero to a 75 percent share of the grocery business to bankrupt. The alternative is to try and forestall the little earthquakes. The pressure still builds up and we get epic economic events like the former USSR, eastern Europe, and Venezuela to name a few. Economic change is coming. The question is how do you want it?
Second, George makes no comment but capitalism and open borders are not connected. Folks try to connect the two because the Venn Diagram of the two groups of supporters has a substantial overlap but they are unrelated things. We support the former but not the latter.
Jason Furman and Rohit Kumar have an excellent idea over at the WSJ: End the debt ceiling. Too bad it will never happen. This is one area where conservatives will have to bear their share of the blame.
Why is it a good idea? What have been the positive outcomes from the debt ceiling debates? The sequester. That is not much to show for all of the effort expended and the negative atmosphere it creates.
Why are conservatives to blame. Because they think that either they might eventually win one of these dramatic showdowns or that it is a way to rally the base. It won’t happen until they control the media. For those of you reading this before your morning coffee or other means of caffeine intake that means it won’t happen.
There is a clamor to teach public universities a budgetary lesson for their behavior towards free speech and intellectual diversity. A few weeks ago Tiana Lowe at NRO recommended that we defund Evergreen State University in Washington:
Public funding constitutes 46 percent of Evergreen’s annual revenue — $55.2 million from state appropriations and $32.3 million in state and federal grants. A public college that cannot defend the First Amendment or even the basic safety of its professors doesn’t deserve a cent of the taxpayers’ money.
Republicans in the Washington legislature have introduced such a bill.
In North Carolina it is about the UNC School of Law as Frank Pray reports:
The North Carolina Senate’s budget proposal, now being debated in the House, includes a $4 million reduction in funding to the law school, constituting nearly a third of the school’sbudget.
We agree with Frank when he says:
Instead of incentivizing greater intellectual diversity, in the long run it could endanger the school’s academic standing and embolden campus radicals. Case studies in other states show why legislators should think twice about this kind of meddling.
We think that such moves will drive all of the state schools to the left in support of their colleagues. It might feel good to conservatives to batter the crazies financially but it will not lead to conservative results. We need to find ways to stop explicit behaviors and create incentives for free speech and intellectual diversity. It is hard legislative work to create such incentives but that is the direction that we need to go. As in most situations, the conservative solution takes time and effort.
Kevin Williamson is his usual perceptive self at NRO when he says:
The Republican apparatus may be cowardly, craven, and more than a little corrupt, but it is not the main obstacle toward achieving meaningful conservative reform. The main obstacle toward achieving meaningful conservative reform is the same as the main obstacle to the success of the Libertarian party: Americans do not want what they are selling. The tasks of conservatives is to explain to Americans why they should. It will not be easy.
What is amazing is that he is right. It has not been easy and it seems to get harder. Kevin covers the the positive side of what Deidre Mccloskey calls the Great Enrichment. Although he knows it well, in this article he does not bother to take the time to cover the failure of the alternative that we see so starkly in Venezuela. Here is the December 2016 Venezuela travel warning from the US Government. Here are some stories on the economic disaster in Venezuela. Remember that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves.
So we know that capitalism works and socialism doesn’t. Why were the 2016 presidential nominees from both parties so repulsed by capitalism? Why is capitalistic success a hard sell and the hope that socialism won’t fail for the umpteenth consecutive time an easy sell? We try to stick at it but it is a challenge to point out the obvious over and over again. We give Kevin credit for creating new and pointed ways to make the obvious obvious.
Recently NRO offered up some copies of High Jinx by WFB at a reasonable price. We jumped and bought it. Market efficiency (the paperback is $10.95 with used and electronic versions cheaper) means that NRO hasn’t cornered the market but it was offered in The Corner. We have not read WFB fiction before.
Sidebar: We recognize the importance of WFB to the conservative movement but he was never our favorite. We preferred George Will or Milton Friedman. It was a matter of style rather than content. End Sidebar.
It is a fun read. Stalin is dead but Beria is still making mischief. Ike is the President but Caroline is the Queen. The author mentions himself and Brent Bozell in discussing Senator McCarthy. But the most important part is on p. 24: “Master Sergeant “Newt” announced in an imperious voice that there would be a handball game….” We know that there is team handball (we even got a shirt at the Olympics) but it seems hard to believe that WFB and his dashing hero would play such a mundane sport. The text does mention team but that could be a (real) handball doubles team. Since WFB isn’t around to answer the question, we conclude that Blackford Oaks is a handball player. We plan to read the rest of the novels to see if handball shows up again.
The one disappointment in High Jinx is that there is no commentary on the matches. How does Blackford deal with balls on the left? Who is the power server?
The Daily Beast has a kind and thoughtful look at the folks that would be our rulers called, “The Arrogance of Blue America” by Joel Kotkin. It is well worth reading, really the Daily Beast has something this good, so read it all. Here is a brief taste of what Joel has to say:
In seeking to tame their political inferiors, the blue bourgeoisie are closer to the Marie Antoinette school of political economy than any traditional notion of progressivism. They might seek to give the unwashed red masses “cake” in the form of free health care and welfare, but they don’t offer more than a future status as serfs of the cognitive aristocracy.
It is a kind look at our would be betters because, despite their behavior, they just believe in a fiction as the last sentence in the quote from Joel shows:
The argument made by the blue bourgeoisie is simple: Dense core cities, and what goes on there, is infinitely more important, and consequential, than the activities centered in the dumber suburbs and small towns. Yet even in the ultra-blue Bay Area, the suburban Valley’s tech and STEM worker population per capita is twice that of San Francisco.
The whole article is chock full of evidence and examples. It gives us a nice way to think of the blue bourgeoisie. They are well meaning but wrong. We’re not sure we accept the former entirely but Joel has offered a way to converse with such folks if they ever venture into flyover country to visit us.
We love Jonah Goldberg but wish he would give up the ghost on Never Trump. Of course there are a few folks that are moving the goalposts with The Donald but it was a binary choice between The Donald and Herself. So when he says in his newsletter (it isn’t on NRO yet):
Then there are the folks who are mostly-in for Trump. Every day I hear people say on Twitter, “Yeah, he’s flawed but at least he’s not Hillary.” But what kind of standard is that? I’m glad Hillary’s not president. Truly. But if your yardstick for a Republican president — not candidate, but president — is now “He’s better than Hillary,” then you’ve filed down the yardstick to a couple inches. “Better than Hillary” strikes me as the minimum requirement for a conservative president, not an omnibus justification for anything he does.
We probably fit in the mostly-in for Trump. We had a choice, a binary choice, between Herself and The Donald. We too are glad that the country agreed with us and made the choice it did. Sure there are fans of the current president that are as deluded as the fans of our most recent past president. There are also folks who hated one or the other. We need to move on from both groups. Whether you are metric or not the measurement in a binary choice is which one is better. That is the only measuring stick in a binary choice. Ex ante we thought The Donald was the choice. Ex post, or at least after 100 days, that judgment has been confirmed. We would have preferred that we were starting Mitt’s second term rather than The Donald’s first. That (and whatever Jonah’s first choice was) wasn’t on the ballot and Jonah needs to remember that.