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Trump Era = Peak Democracy
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We keep getting told that Trump is a harbinger of Fascism, but, in reality, the Trump Era is Peak Democracy:

– The public is now fascinated by politics
– The midterms saw huge turnout
– Newspapers, improbably, are prospering, because Trump Sells
– Trump’s enemies, such as Jeff Bezos (owner of the Washington Post), are thriving beyond the dreams of Croesus
Saturday Night Live dares to make fun of the President for the first time since 1/19/2009

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  1. I no longer pay attention to the mainstream media, but to the extent that it forces itself upon me I gather that it thinks that Trump is a dangerous threat to democracy. In fact he is the first actual expression of democracy the nation has seen since Reagan, or according to Kevin Michael Grace, since the end of World War II. Democracy itself is a threat to democracy under the system favored by the Powers that Be, and Trump is such a threat to the Constitution that the Constitution must be ignored in order to destroy him.

    Some commenters here complain that Steve doesn’t get into every aspect of party politics, but they do a good job of that at the Conservative Tree House site. I especially like its analysis of the Uniparty, which comprises the Democrats and GOPe working hand-in-hand to destroy Trump and maintain Deep State priorities.

    The story has often been told about how back in the 1990s, Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky proposed to Putin that they create a fake two-party system, with Putin at the head of a socialist-democrat sort of party and Berezovsky leading a neoconservative one, or the other way around. They would switch off depending on how the elections went.

    This is in effect how politics works in the US and it has proven very useful to the Powers that Be. The voters decide which party they’re in, and then blame the other for every blunder and failure that occurs. For example, during Obama’s presidency, for eight years his supporters blamed the sluggish economy on the mess Bush left behind. When Trump took office and the economy rapidly improved, they claim that it only did so because of the policies Obama had put in place. I asked a well-informed progressive friend to tell me which Obama policies were currently helping the economy. He couldn’t think of any, but that didn’t change his opinion. All credit to his party, all blame to the other. That’s the genius of the two-party system.

    • Agree: Cagey Beast, ic1000, Hail
    • Replies: @Jake
    , @Reg Cæsar
    , @CJ
  2. The 2014 mid-terms had a turnout of 36% of all registered voters. The Republicans took control of the US Senate. The 2018 mid-terms had a turnout of 50% of registered voters. The Democrats turned out the dead, illegal aliens, non-citizens, and engaged in “vote-harvesting.” The Democrats took control of the US House of Representatives. The two Dem 2020 front-runners are Beto (looks like Bobby Kennedy) and Kamala (ex-Willy Brown trick who thinks ICE is the new KKK). Third-World, here we come!

    • Replies: @Hail
    , @Anon
  3. Jake says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    It’s a Brit thing. It was slowly formed during the Restoration of the monarchy and was established fully by the ‘Glorious Revolution’ and the 1707 Act of Union.

  4. The Z Blog says: • Website

    Authoritarianism is peak democracy and sadly, Trump is not an authoritarian. When President Kamala Harris suspends Congress, then we’ll have peak democracy.

  5. Binyamin Appelbaum: “My unpopular opinion is…”

    Unpopular? One of the main sub structural causes of this nation’s woes is, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting 35,000 opinions of guys with names like Binyamin Appelbaum.

    To paraphrase an old joke (and think of it: this is an OLD joke) — American public discourse consists of two men named Binyamin Appelbaum on a talk show hosted by Binyamin Appelbaum and produced by a guy named Binyamin Appelbaum, on a network owned by Binyamin Appelbaum, arguing about how Jack and Sally McAllister can do what’s best for Binyamin Appelbaum.

  6. George says:

    Trump might be the end of democracy. Ron Paul’s primary runs and the Obama Presidency had something in common, a belief that if the guy in charge, the POTUS, was Ron Paul or Black the ‘Man’ would just order this that or the other thing. That was always a theory until Trump began tweeting orders, especially to the military, to do this that or the other thing and the orders were completely disregarded. The orders were not unconstitutional or insane, actually, they seem designed to avoid WWIII, no matter.

    In summary, maybe this is in a sense the end of democracy. In France the current mainstream street protests are a realization by ordinary French of the same thing the North African immigrant rioters of the past decade already knew, democracy had stopped working as a method of influencing government. The French street protesters are saying go ahead and create fake political parties like the Republic in Gear, and Fake candidates like Pres Macron, we’re taking our case directly to the ‘deep’ government.

    What comes after democracy?

  7. snorlax says:

    Crucial shutdown date: January 18

    That’s when the federal courts run out of money. Good time for issuing any controversial executive orders. And also Mueller will be shut down.

  8. Thirdtwin says:

    National addresses by pols are unpopular because the media doesn’t like them. The media needs to be in the room, and on the stage or TV screen with the pol. asking the questions and either speaking truth to power or putting lips to ass, whichever is appropriate. They don’t like being reduced to pre-shows and afterparties which nobody attends.

  9. Yes, with the arrival of Trump, the Yellow Vests, Brexit and the “populist” governments in Europe, democracy — or a real clash of political factions — has begun again. One response has been to blame the Russians.

    (I have no idea how these tweets will render here. They’re about the use of labels that describe some of the people actually in charge and how we shouldn’t use them because the Russian bots do.)

    • Replies: @unpc downunder
    , @J.Ross
  10. Toris says:

    Ol thriving Jeff ‘Bezos’, man of mystery regarding family background … mystery that it’s such a mystery! Who wouldn’t want their peasant customer base in the BLM age to know about family members hunting down runaway slaves, slaves dying during family relocations down country, scores of slaves parcelled out in wills to children, Mexicans killed, native Americans killed. It is what it is, but strange how there’s zero interest in media, even on this blog, to fully out Bezos family tree – and let’s not stop till we back in the Motherland.

  11. Stick says:

    Dems are hoping hatred of Trump will catapult them back in control of the US. They seem to have missed the point of why Obama and Hillary caused the improbable election of Trump in the first place. Presidents that listen to what voters want, do what they say and deliver positive results are really hard to defeat for a reason. If your governing philosophy is nothing more than do the opposite of who you hate (see Gavin Newsome) then you are the plaything of the thing you hate. A lot of the left functions this way with doing the opposite of what Hitler would do as the divining rod of good. This is the inverse crazy of What Would Jesus Do. This type of thinking is profoundly German/Dutch which doubles the ironic stupidity of the exercise. The Tyranny of the Polemic is something we need to jettison.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  12. Barnard says:

    How is this a waste of airtime? Have you seen what they show the rest of the time?

    Good point, every single network TV prime time program could disappear tomorrow and nothing of value would be lost.

  13. @snorlax

    Really? Got a link on that? That might be part of the shutdown strategy. I cannot imagine that courts aren’t funded.

    • Replies: @Jack Hanson
    , @snorlax
  14. DFH says:

    You’re wrong Steve. The EU imposing unelected technocrats on Southern Europe is peak democracy.

    Good people in power = Democracy
    Bad people in power = Populism
    Bad people who say mean things about journalists in power = Fascism

    • LOL: res
  15. Hail says: • Website

    The midterms saw huge turnout

    2018 squeaked past the 50% turnout line (by one measure) for the first time in a long time. It looks like midterm turnout was long stuck around 40% (previous peak, 1994 at ~42.5%).

    Even the 2018 upswing only meant one in six who ‘normally’ wouldn’t have voted actually voted in 2018 (10% marginal new midterm voters vs. 60% base rate midterm non-voters, 10/60).

    The U.S. Election Project finds 260 million U.S. residents and U.S. citizens abroad [4 million, 1.9% of total, seemingly including a highly disproportionate share of iSteve commenters] age 18+ in Nov. 2018, of which there were:


    (a) 21.2 million known foreign citizens resident in the USA ineligible to vote [8.2%]
    (b) 3.1 million U.S. citizens ineligible to vote due to felony (not a sum of total felons but calculation by USEP based on each state’s laws; state laws vary and some only disqualify felons currently incarcerated; red states generally also disqualify those on probation/parole, the biggest states and blue states generally don’t) [1.2%]
    (c) 117.2 million nonfelon U.S. citizens who did not cast any vote (including persons eligible but who did not register to vote) [45.1%]
    (d) 2.0 million votes were cast but invalid, blank, or rejected (as in some unverifiable provisional ballots; some of these really will have been fraudulent, others mistaken non-valid votes of the Hanging Chad variety) [0.8%]
    (e) 116.5 million successfully cast a vote [44.8%]

    Using the 118.5 million who ‘attempted’ to vote (d+e) over the total eligible population (c+d+e), that gives 50.3% turnout in Nov. 218. Using only the valid votes cast (e), it is 49.5% turnout in Nov. 2018.

    (The denominator for these calculations includes many defacto non-Americans who have, at some recent time, grabbed cheap citizenships for what amounts to economic gain or gold-star permanent residency permission, and not as a marker of political identity [note that foreign citizens were only 8.2% of residents, but post-1970 immigrant stock is near 20% of adults; Census Bureau data implies recent-immigrant-stock citizens vote less than natives, which means a higher “recent immigrant stock” share of the voting-eligible population explains some of a hypothetical secular decline-trend in turnout, vs. a likely relatively more steady/higher turnout for a hypothetical all-White electorate.).

    Previous midterm turnout, calculated by USEP with the same criteria as the 50.3% 2018 midterm rate is calculated above:

    – 2018: 50.3%
    – 2014: 36.7%
    – 2010: 41.8%
    – 2006: 41.3%
    – 2002: 40.5%
    – 1998: 39.3%
    – 1994: ca. 42.5%
    – 1990: ca. 39.5%
    – 1986: ca. 39.25%
    – 1982: ca. 43.5%

    To again conceptualize this data, if the midterm base rate for the 1980s to 2010s before Trump was “40% vote, 60% don’t vote,” the media-induced Anti-Trump Hysteria (slash anti-Anti-Trump Enthusiasm) got only one in six of the stay-at-homes out to vote (new marginal votes, 10%; stay-at-home base rate, 60%), ]

    2018-Midterm was also still well below presidential high-turnout years: In recent times, ClintonBushPerot-1992, BushKerry-2004, ObamaBombIranGuy-2008, and TrumpHillary-2016 were all presidential elections that broke 60% turnout by the same metric (finds USEP).

  16. Bill H says: • Website

    I would say that higher voter turnout is actually a bad thing, because it means that more uninformed voters are voting for all the wrong reasons.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  17. So, it’s all downhill from here?

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  18. @The Germ Theory of Disease

    It’s funny ’cause it’s true. At least it was true until a few years ago. More than a few people want to make it true again. I hope in the future, kids won’t believe it when we tell them just how comically overrepresented Jews were before the social media revolution.

  19. @The Alarmist

    About every 80 years the West re-invents itself. Last time was about 80 years ago (WW II). It’s always a singularity — what’s left looks roughly the same, but believes different things and acts differently. That’s been crucial for the West’s breakout — other societies just can’t change quickly enough (or at least haven’t so far). This thesis comes from William H. McNeil, Canadian ‘grand narrative’ historian.
    Last I heard, McNeil was a bit concerned because no-Western societies had been torn down to ground level by the West’s arrival, but have re-integrated themselves. The West is getting overdue for a re-boot. Note that breakouts aren’t forever — the Greek breakout under Alexander lasted for a thousand years or so, then went away with the end of the Romans. Greeks were eventually conquered and partially displaced in their own homeland.

    However — it isn’t all downhill from here. Singularities don’t have an “up” or a “down”. No frame of reference in a singularity.


  20. @Harry Baldwin

    the Democrats and GOPe working hand-in-hand

    You sure you don’t mean “GrOPe”?

  21. @TomSchmidt

    No, he’s right. Only some criminal cases will go forward. Civil cases are in stasis and can’t be brought.

  22. Steve, don’t you know that populism is the enemy of democracy?

    ‘Peak Democracy’ is when we get 50% turnout, Congressional seats representing districts full of illegal non-citizens, a lobbyist class that owns both parties, and we’re involved in multiple wars nobody wants.

    • Agree: Hail
  23. snorlax says:

    Really? Got a link on that?

    That might be part of the shutdown strategy.

    If it isn’t, it ought to be. Assuming Trump and the Senate GOP stay strong until and beyond the 18th, they’ll have major additional leverage over Democrats, who’ll be desperate to bring back their Hawaiian judges and Mueller witch hunt.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  24. CJ says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    Some commenters here complain that Steve doesn’t get into every aspect of party politics, but they do a good job of that at the Conservative Tree House site.

    I check that site for its reports about trade negotiations. They’re the only people who seem to understand what Trump is trying to accomplish and why. They were outstanding on the NAFTA renegotiations, giving more information about the Mexican and Canadian negotiators than their own media did.

    That said, their comment section is a bizarre God-bless-our-President snoozefest. You need to scan/skim/ignore a lot over there to get to the nuggets.

    • Replies: @Harry Baldwin
  25. ” … in reality, the Trump Era is Peak Democracy …”

    Absolutely. Trump’s openness is jarring, but in a good way. His enemies, and they are legion, hate him for this because it creates chaos in their fragile world. They prefer operating in the imperial shadows.

  26. Corvinus says:

    We keep getting told that Trump is a harbinger of Fascism, but, in reality, the Trump Era is Peak Democracy”

    LOL. The reality is that you mention Trump, without actually talking about him. It’s as the elephant in the room doesn’t exist in your world. Keep being cagey, Mr. Sailer.

    “– The public is now fascinated by politics”

    The public has always been fascinated by politics.

    “– The midterms saw huge turnout”

    Polarizing figures tend to encourage more people to exercise the franchise.

    “Newspapers, improbably, are prospering, because Trump Sells”

    Not really.

    “Trump’s enemies, such as Jeff Bezos (owner of the Washington Post), are thriving beyond the dreams of Croesus”

    As much as Trump has, or will stand, to profit during his presidency. NOTICE much?

    “Saturday Night Live dares to make fun of the President for the first time since 1/19/2009”

    Probably because there is so much material. He’s a serial liar.

  27. Corvinus says:
    @Bill H

    “I would say that higher voter turnout is actually a bad thing, because it means that more uninformed voters are voting for all the wrong reasons.”

    OK, in what specific ways do you believe that today’s voters are uninformed?

  28. Corvinus says:
    @The Z Blog

    “Authoritarianism is peak democracy”

    Wrong, per usual.

    “When President Kamala Harris suspends Congress, then we’ll have peak democracy.”

    So Trump will lose in 2020? What about Vox Day who predicts a Trumpslide in 2020?

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  29. @The Z Blog

    President Kamala Harris. This African/Indian hybrid with the Becky hair is of average intelligence but scores off the charts in ambition and sociopathy. The Darkness that gave us Hillary now offers Kamala. Time to renew my passport.

    • Replies: @Lagertha
  30. @George

    The Greeks already answered that question. You get mob rule where people are being hacked to death in the streets or return to autocracy; hoping for monarchy instead of tyranny.

  31. @Cagey Beast

    Yes, nobody was using the word “neoliberal,” until the Russian bots started spreading it. Oh, apart from every other politician and intellectual in Western Europe and the UK Commonwealth since about 1982. And the term “neocon” was virtually unheard of in the US before 2016.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  32. J.Ross says: • Website

    Hearing about the little negotiation attempts I daydreamed that Trump would simplify the meeting: demand a wall or send the congresscritters back to their knoll, sort of a “how would I handle this” fantasy, and then immediately disagreed that surely the negotiations will be like they always are (cf bump stocks, banned because of Vegas, where they were not used). Today at least Trump did exactly what I would have done here. This situation is because of a wall. Demanding that Trump completely give up instantly, and in exchange for nothing, is not “negotiation,” and the Democrats do not have a position of strength justifying that tone. It is not only right but deeply gratifying that Trump sent them away.
    Now: to fantasize about streamlining Boer refugee status, aggressive ICE activities, viciously busting the tech trusts, normalizing relations with Russia, sending money no-strings-attached to Syria, banning CIA officers from so much as seeking elected office, and sacking any flag officer or Georgetown grad who wants to start a war with Iran or who regards any nation but this one as his priority.

  33. @The Germ Theory of Disease

    American public discourse consists of two men named Binyamin Appelbaum on a talk show hosted by Binyamin Appelbaum and produced by a guy named Binyamin Appelbaum, on a network owned by Binyamin Appelbaum, arguing about how Jack and Sally McAllister can do what’s best for Binyamin Appelbaum.

    … and then excoriating anyone who dares to notice that public discourse is largely shaped by people called Binyamin Appelbaum.

  34. @CJ

    their comment section is a bizarre God-bless-our-President snoozefest.

    Reading the comments here at iSteve uses up enough of my life. I don’t read the comments on other sites.

  35. J.Ross says: • Website
    @unpc downunder

    This sort of thing proves that the elite echo chambers honestly didn’t grasp how unpopular the Iraq war was, or the domestic “liberal” austerity schemes that surrounded it. There are calculations that you can play the first crowd off the second but not that everybody really honestly hates a policy.

  36. J.Ross says: • Website
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    This is true, but in the artificially* rare case that they actually have something to say (like here), I’m all for their speaking up. This was a great tweet.

    *The paradox of “meritocratic” mass media over-representation is that Appelbaum is competing with Behar, Kardashian, Gross, Goldberg, other Goldberg, fat Goldberg, Eichenwald, Brooks, et cetera ad infinitum.

  37. Didn’t Steve address this issue recently? Or at least some commenters. This fellow at comes along with outrageous numbers in the other direction. Of course, he doesn’t cite the studies. My guess is that they took place in ghetto hospitals, if they’re valid at all.

    There are numerous studies in the USA that say that between nine percent to 30 percent of children are born with biological fathers who are not the father they know—and it’s a secret held by their mother and sometimes also by the father whose name is fraudulently listed on the birth certificate.

    A study in the U.K. says the number is 20 percent.

    The frightening thing is that this man is allowed to fly presidents, five of them Republicans. Now that’s suspicious.

  38. Hail says: • Website
    @Detective Club

    The 2018 mid-terms had a turnout of 50% of registered voters

    While 50% turnout for a midterm election is impressive for recent times, it is still way below the midterm turnouts prevailing in the 19th century.


    I see five stages of U.S. democracy viewed through prism of the statistic Midterm Turnout:

    (1) Mid to late 19th century, the classic era of U.S. democracy (turnout over 70%);
    (2) Ellis Island-induced[?] turnout decline (starting with the 1898 midterm, turnout transitions down to 50%);
    (3) Transition period in which there are multiple disruptions to turnout associated with war mobilization/migration, and the gradual decline of first-generation Ellis Islander share of voting pool, and women’s suffrage (“overall turnout” took an immediate hit, often down to the 30s, with women voting at low rates in the first cycles after enfranchisement);
    (4) Mid-20th-century ‘Era of Good Feelings’: late 1940s to midterm 1970 (turnout stable at ~50%)
    (5) Late 20th to early 21st century ‘Era of Apathy’: It began with a whimper in Nov. 1974 (midterm) following the Nixon resignation, and persisted through 2014; these cycles all clocked in a turnout at 40% give or take one or two points. The Trump Bounce of 2018 cannot be called a stage as yet — wait till 2022 and 2026 before making any hasty judgments.

    Explanation of each era, as I see it, from the USEP data:


    (1) – Mid to late 19th century, the classic era of U.S. democracy: with the franchise becoming universal for White men in 19th Century Q2, midterm turnout is high, consistently over 70%, especially when keeping two things in mind: [1] By the midterm cycles 1874, 1878, and 1882 and onward, for a few decades, few of the theoretically enfranchised Blacks in the South voted due to various disincentives like the literacy test and poll tax, and a recalculation of USEP’s [VEP Turnout]/[Whites] will always yield over 70% with plenty of room to spare; [2] if measured using identical criteria to how 2018’s 50.3% turnout is measured, i.e., not valid votes cast over (USEP‘s ‘VEP’ metric, but [valid votes]+[invalid but attempted votes], the mid to late 19th century midterms definitely clocked in at over 70% turnout.

    This “classic era” pattern holds through 1894 midterm election.

    (2) – Ellis Island-induced turnout decline; starting with the 1898 midterm, we see a steady decline from the “classical era”‘s 70%,+ down to 50% in Nov. 1914. The most readily occurring explanation to me is the huge immigration wave ongoing in this period. This turnout decline that begins in the data with 1898, may continue into the 1920s, and correlates with huge numbers of immigrants (for the first time ever, largely non-NW European-origin starting in the mid-1880s), the Ellis Islanders, being naturalized. Being handed citizenship papers of [x nationality] is not the same as being [x nationality], especially in that era of limited communication and ethnic enclaving; language ability and unfamiliarity with local politics would presumably drive voter participation rates lower among the first generation of Ellis Islanders.

    By 1914, USEP finds that turnout sits at 50%; this rate was then, in fact, its lowest ever and way below the classic era, which may have been as high as 75% depending on the methodology one prefers.

    Interestingly, the Nov. 1914 midterm and the Nov. 2018 midterm may have had identical turnout rates down to the tenth of a percentage point, according to to USEP: 50.4% for 1914 and 50.3% for 2018. (Though Nov. 1914 may be 51%+ if calculated using the exact same criteria as UESP uses for 2018, [valid votes]+[invalid but attempted votes]). (See my comment-15 above for other thoughts on the historical turnout rate since 1980 and driving forces behind its rise and fall).

    (3) – There follows a period of transition in which [1] the Ellis Island effect may be persisting, if starting to fade, with attendant downward pressure on turnout into the 1920s, [2] the introduction of universal female suffrage (1920) seems to be a definite disruption of the turnout metric — the 1922, 1926, and 1930 midterms all show what seems to be depressed total turnout over the trendline coming from the pre-1918 cycles, which this seems very likely due to low female turnout (it has been well documented that many women did not actually want the vote in the early years and it took time to adjust; the emergence of ‘female politics’ as we now know it was generations away), [3] electoral disruptions caused by the two wars (Nov. 1942’s low-point turnout rate of 33.9% seems obviously caused by lots of families uprooted for war work, and millions of men being away in the Armed Forces, with the same explanation likely explaining Nov. 1918’s sudden, 10.5-point-drop below 1914’s). Midterm 1934 and 1938 turnouts are both in the mid-high 40s, foreshadowing the mid-twentieth century era:

    (4) – Mid-Twentieth-century Era of Good Feelings: (Even if feelings were not always good, as such, this is of course a reference to the supposed peak days of American democracy in the early-mid 19th century; the good feelings are those of civic pride that presumably pushed up voting rates). Beginning with the midterm of 1950, turnout recovers to the mid 40s to 50 range, peaking in the midterms of 1962, 1966, and 1970, all of which may have crossed the 50.0% barrier of [valid votes]+[invalid but attempted votes] (the same criteria which yield 50.3% turnout for 2018).

    By the 1950s, the Ellis Island effect is over because the share of first-generation Ellis Islanders is now insignificant and net immigration for the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s was near zero; political Americanization has occurred.

    Women’s voting becomes normal by this era, but the era of ‘female politics’ and a Gender Gap (actually a marriage and gender gap, as Steve Sailer has shown) is still pretty far off in the core of this era. Available evidence implies either no Gender Gap at all in the first sixty years of women’s suffrage or that women tended to vote “more conservative” than men, which changed only with the 1980s (see comment-25 in a previous thread).

    The mid-twentieth-century-era midterm turnout up near 50% lasts through midterm 1970.

    (5) – Late Twentieth- to early-Twenty-First-Century Era of Apathy: The now-familiar pattern of midterm voter turnout hanging down around 40% begins with the 1974 cycle, of course associated with Watergate (the Nixon resignation was three months before the Midterm elections) and the social changes that had gone mainstream in the early-mid 1970s. The new turnout rate of 40% was remarkably persistent through 2014. with the peak in 1994 only ca. 42.5%.

    Midterm Turnout is thus another of the many datasets I have seen that suggest Peak America came in the early 1970s.


    In more recent years, some of the long-run turnout downward pressure on turnout is probably caused by post-1970 (especially first-generation) immigrant stock voting at lower rates, a new version of the Ellis Island Effect (Link goes to my comment-15 above).

    It would be interesting to know how much of the 2018 bounce up to 50% from mid-1970s-to-mid-2010s long-run-average of 40% was caused by a vote surge by recent-immigrant stock, versus how much of the bounce can be attributed to lots more votes from native-born Whites of long U.S. ancestry going back a century or more, before the 1920s cutoff.

    • Agree: Lot
    • Replies: @Lot
    , @Reg Cæsar
  39. @Corvinus

    “Authoritarianism is peak democracy”

    Wrong, per usual.

    If the people vote for authoritarianism, and get it, what’s not democratic about that? Cf. FDR, Saddam Hussein, District of Columbia firearms permit.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
    , @nebulafox
  40. Corvinus says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    “Authoritarianism is peak democracy” does not equal, nor is it similar to,”if people vote for authoritarianism, and get it, what’s not democratic about that?” Try again.

    Now, to answer the question, on one level it is “democratic”, as the people were given the opportunity to select their candidate. However, on another level, it is other than democratic, especially if there were no other candidates running, or they were somehow prevented from running, or if there was government and/or military interference.

    “FDR, Saddam Hussein, District of Columbia firearms permit.”

    FDR was elected by the people. His opponents called him authoritarian by how he governed.

    Saddam was a dictator who won an election with 99% of the votes cast, with no opposing candidate
    and the ballots counted by the government with no oversight.

    The DC firearms permit refers to legislation, not authoritarianism.

  41. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    Hilarious. And everybody using “incel” is a sincere, real American, and not a stooge propagating the incoherent “incel” idea.
    You generally can’t spot activists just with words for the reasons given. Shills on 4chan self-announce with turns of phrase that are “advertise-y,” unnatural, known from leaked internal documents, and self-explanatory in their purpose (ie, asking questions wrongly to get personal information that can be used to attack the board). The guy who uses the word “security” in a sentence could be anybody, but the guy who asks you what it would take to overwhelm the local security system is probably up to no good.

  42. nebulafox says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Even in openly authoritarian states, it would be a mistake to necessarily associate opponents of the regime voicing their discontent with the lack of civil rights as having mass support from the people. This isn’t always to say that they support authoritarianism, per se, but the idea that the masses are the bulkwark of democracy and social openness is false. They’ve got more concrete concerns.

    In the Principate, openly autocratic, proto-Dominate emperors like Domitian and Septimius Severus might have been despised by the Senate, but the common people generally supported them. Average Romans knew where their bread was buttered: they were more worried about Senatorial abuses than imperial ones. And their history proved that they were largely correct. Average Romans wanted Augustus to openly take *more* power at the Senate’s expense, not less. One of the big reasons behind the fall of the republic was the aristocracy, flush with new imperial wealth, importing massive amounts of slaves to do the labor and the yeoman republican farmer becoming an endangered species. (Sound familiar?) It’s this dynamic that led directly to the mules of Marius, and ultimately to Julius Caesar, whom middle and working class Romans loved as their hero and protector-for good reasons.

    The feudal system of Europe might have had its blueprint lain during the early Dominate by Diocletian and Constantine. But it really, really got going when the aristocracy was able to “withdraw” from the state, basically becoming independent in many regards-and that was not least due to strong emperors giving way to weak ones as the 5th Century begun, especially in the West. Ask the future serfs whether they wanted a strong emperor or the local aristocracy.

    • Replies: @Lot
    , @DFH
  43. @snorlax

    Crucial shutdown date: January 18

    That’s when the federal courts run out of money. Good time for issuing any controversial executive orders. And also Mueller will be shut down.

    An unconventional solution to the turbulent Hawaiian Judge problem.

  44. nebulafox says:

    Well, unless Trump shifts gears hard, 2018 proved that could work. Trump’s decision to more or less embrace Jeb Bush-ism with a few concessions here or there on substantial policy, if not image, is not going to prove wise. Moreover, Trump has basically done nothing to show that he is, or ever was, serious about the job and is anything less than a blown up reality TV star who only happened to ridiculously terrible opponents and a bipartisan elite (his own social class) that was completely out of touch with reality.

    Now, the opposing Republicans botched 2012 and the Democrats botched 2004, both of which were eminently winnable elections against incumbents who were facing major problems. That might happen again, given the DNC’s increasingly visibly insane stances on certain issues, above all on immigration. But it might not. Trump has delivered pretty much the worst possible combination of Crazy Orange Man in style and fundamentally lazy, malleable weakling on policy, with only a few exceptions. That ensures that his enemies will be mobilized, and his would-be supporters… not so much.

    • Agree: ben tillman
  45. People who have a hard-on for ‘democracy’ reveal profound ignorance regarding the ability of ordinal preference aggregation to reflect social preferences reliably enough to justify force.

    Coz let’s be clear: that’s what democracy advocates are saying.

    The current commonly held view is preposterous on its face: it boils down to this –

    If a candidate or a party passes some hurdle[1], they have the legitimate authority to force everyone to pay for anything they decide to do, for a set period of time – including
    • doing some subset of the stuff they promised to do in the policy platform for which they were elected;
    • doing stuff that was not part of their platform;
    • doing stuff that they specifically said they would not do; and
    not doing stuff that they specifically promised to do.

    That list shows that the ‘consent’ (or ‘delegated authority’) obtained by voting is a vote for the ‘set menu’ of the campaign platform, plus each voter’s guess at a significant set of anticipated but unknowable departures from, and additions to, the campaign platform.

    Well guess what? We have known for almost 3 generations, that ordinal preference aggregation does not reliably lead to a credible estimate of social preferences, even under ideal conditions.

    That is to say, ‘democracy’ cannot do what its advocates claim, even when
    • the platforms are known with precision; and
    • voters know the payoffs for each policy with precision; and
    • voters vote on policies one at a time; and
    • there is 100% certainty that the winner of the electoral contest will implement only policies that were promised; and
    • there is 100% certainty that the winner of the electoral contest will implement all policies that were promised.

    As you move further from each of those ideal criteria, democracy does a worse and worse job of estimating social preferences; it also does a worse job as the number of voters rises above 3, and the number of choices rises above 3. For very large numbers of voters, the probability of a well-formed social preference function approaches zero.

    Condorcet’s 1785 conjecture was formalised by Arrow in his famous ‘Impossibility Theorem‘ (Arrow, 1950), and Arrow’s conclusion was extended by Gibbard and Satterthwaite in the 1970s (the ‘Gibbard Satterthwaite Theorem‘).

    Nobody has any excuse for not knowing this stuff: Arrow requires grade 10 mathematics (at most), and it’s a proof , not a conjecture, that ordinal preference aggregation cannot do what its advocates claim. Gibbard and Satterthwaite are a little more meaty, but are also proofs. (And this is before we get into any discussion about preference intensity, rent-seeking, adverse selection, moral hazard, X-inefficiency, bureaucratic capture, or even Holmström’s Theorem)

    The political class knows this: the senior bureaucracy knows it too. They know full well that their schtick is not actually ‘representative’ in any meaningful sense, but it is a critical part of the grift, so they make the right noises.

    In the same way, the Catholic hierarchy always understood that the Pope was not actually infallible (when making ex cathedra statements) but they pretended it was true so as not to upset the gravy train.


    [1] the ‘hurdle’ can be plurality or majority, of votes (or seats, in representative and parliamentary systems).

    Note that the hurdle is never majority of all those entitled to vote – which, “paradoxically”, is the only time that ordinal preference expression has the remotest chance of being a sound estimate of social preferences… it also forces candidates to formulate policy platforms to encourage disinterested voters (i.e., those who see all other available policy platforms as insufficient to obtain their vote).


    Arrow (1950). “A Difficulty in the Concept of Social WelfareJournal of Political Economy 58 (4): 328–346

    Geanakoplos (2005). “Three Brief Proofs of Arrow’s Impossibility TheoremEconomic Theory 26 (1): 211–215

    Gibbard (1973). “Manipulation of voting schemes: a general resultEconometrica 41 (4): 587–601.

    Satterthwaite (1975). “Strategy-proofness and Arrow’s Conditions: Existence and Correspondence Theorems for Voting Procedures and Social Welfare FunctionsJournal of Economic Theory 10: 187–217.

    Holmström, “Moral Hazard in Teams“, The Bell Journal of Economics 13, no. 2 (1982), pp. 324–340. JSTOR 3003457

    Marquis de Condorcet (1785) “Essai sur l’application de l’analyse à la probabilité des décisions rendues à la pluralité des voix

    Gerlein (2002) “Condorcet’s paradox and the likelihood of its occurrence: different perspectives on balanced preferences“, Theory and Decision 52: 171.

    Extension Reading

    For those interested in extensions of Arrow and Gibbard-Satterthwaite to systems that generate a non-empty set of winners (as opposed to a single winner), the following is a decent list of references.

    Duggan and Schwartz, “Strategic manipulability is inescapable: Gibbard–Satterthwaite without resoluteness“, Working Papers 817, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 1992.

    Duggan & Schwartz (2000). “Strategic manipulability without resoluteness or shared beliefs: Gibbard–Satterthwaite generalized“. Social Choice and Welfare. 17: 85–93. doi:10.1007/PL00007177.

    Taylor, “The manipulability of voting systems“, The American Mathematical Monthly, April 2002. JSTOR 2695497

    Taylor, “Social Choice and the Mathematics of Manipulation“, Cambridge University Press, 1st edition (2005), ISBN 0-521-00883-2. Chapter 4: Non-resolute voting rules.

  46. Lagertha says:

    Kamala means horrid; terrible; awful in Finnish…so The Darkness is funny as hell!

  47. Rapparee says:

    Whatever may happen with The Wall and The ‘Shutdown’, I have never before attended a family Christmas gathering with so many discussions concerning border security. Certainly, not everyone was sold on the wall as a solution (I myself don’t expect it to be a panacea, though it can’t possibly hurt), but there was ample speculation on other alternatives. If he accomplishes nothing else, President Trump has started regular Americans debating something once the province of “crackpots” like the Minuteman Project.

    • Agree: Ron Mexico
  48. Anon7 says:

    I don’t see how we can have peak democracy when almost all of the media dishes out just one point of view.

  49. @George

    That was a good comment, George.

  50. @snorlax

    Don’t know about the courts but I’ve heard Mueller has all the funds he needs — CNN site saying he’s funded from some special revolving Treasury account for indefinite investigations.

    • Replies: @snorlax
  51. @Kratoklastes

    The bottom line is that democracy means unanimous consent. Tullock & Buchanan’s “Calculus of Consent” is especially relevant here.

  52. J.Ross says: • Website

    Fantastastic comment, could be a miniature article, and of course nobody ever believed in a democracy that completely excluded them.

    • Agree: Harry Baldwin
  53. Anonymous[786] • Disclaimer says:

    Peak Democracy?

    Feels more like Peak Banana Peel Republic:

    “I asked Mr. Barr directly, ‘Do you think Bob, Mr. Mueller’s, on a witch hunt?’

    He said no.

    ‘Do you think he would be fair to the president and the country as a whole?

    ’He said yes,” Graham told reporters.


    Senator Graham outlined that AG Nominee William Barr and Robert Mueller are close personal friends for decades.

    “They’ve been personal friends for over 20 years,” Graham said, noting they worked together previously at the Department of Justice.

    “His opinion of Mr. Mueller is very, very high in terms of ethics and character and professionalism.”

    Graham said Barr’s and Mueller’s wives attend Bible study together and Mueller has attended the weddings of two of Barr’s daughters.

    “I didn’t know that they were that close personally,” Graham said.

    Graham also said Barr told him he has a high opinion of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but that Rosenstein confirmed that he has been looking to leave the department after about two years in the job.

    That bolsters indications that Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel and has overseen the probe since its inception, is expected to leave after a new attorney general is confirmed.

    Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who Trump named in November, currently has ultimate authority over Mueller and the investigation.

    However, Rosenstein has continued to be the main Justice Department official to interact with Mueller and receive updates on the investigation.

    Graham said he told Barr to pick a deputy he’s comfortable with.

  54. Lot says:

    “Midterm Turnout is thus another of the many datasets I have seen that suggest Peak America came in the early 1970s.”

    My conclusion too after looking at many historical datasets

    For others it is more precise to say “the end of peak America.”

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
  55. Lot says:

    ” Average Romans wanted Augustus to openly take *more* power at the Senate’s expense”

    Maybe, there were not opinion polls then. That the Senate faction raised such large armies against JC, and defeated earlier populist coups, suggests they had plenty of non-elite support.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    , @J.Ross
    , @nebulafox
    , @DFH
  56. J.Ross says: • Website

    Is it reasonable to surmise that, awful as Tiberius or Caligula were, their victims were largely restricted to upper class capital notables, so that farmers in Transalpine Gaul probably thought he was; as it were, like Paul Ryan face to face with Tucker?

    • Replies: @Lot
  57. J.Ross says: • Website

    Apologies if this becomes a double post, I can’t tell what’s happening any more.
    1 – If the victims of the bad emperors were largely Capital notables, would it follow that ordinary people (especially far from Rome) would be under the impression that Caligula was like, as it were, nice guy Paul Ryan chatting with Tucker?
    2 – Ordinary Russians definitely saw Ivan the Terrible as saving them from their elite.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  58. @Hail

    There are no freakin’ “midterms”!!

    Congressional elections come every two years and all of them are equal. That’s basic fourth-grade civic class.

    When are we going to bury this bogus term?

  59. @George

    That was always a theory until Trump began tweeting orders, especially to the military…

    A President should be issuing orders, not “tweeting” them.

  60. nebulafox says:

    Perhaps, but any mass non-elite support the Senate might have once had had long eroded by the time Augustus was in the saddle. Of course, a lot had happened by then, and most people just wanted peace and quiet after a century of incessant internal strife-including the Senate themselves. Not for nothing did Tiberius claim they were fit to be slaves by the time he was in charge and genuinely wanted them to actually partner with him rather than simply dance to his tune.

    My own not particularly unique thesis is this: the big difference between the late republic and earlier eras was that before the late 100s BC, the aristocracy was united enough to counter any sort of populist coup. This unity had fractured by the time of the Gracchi for a host of reasons, and that undermined resistance to the populists. From that point onward, the defeat of populists lay more in the mistakes of the populists than the competence in aristocratic countering of them by garnering widespread support. Along with the influx of well-to-do new centrist men (Cicero) who did know how to appeal to everybody.

    The only exception to the rule, IMO, was Sulla and his conservative coup. He really did have a lot of popular support. But Sulla was unique in that he truly *got* the hoi polloi Roman and his mindset due to his upbringing: not just compared to other aristocrats, but even types like Marius or Cicero. Above all, Sulla was one of the few generals of the age who could claim to rival JC for the devotion of his men. They would have marched to hell and back for him.

    (Sulla was… an utterly fascinating character, to say the least. Resigning absolute power like an old early Republic dictator. Then marching out of the city with all the prostitutes and actors and gladiators in tow. That’s what I call a boss.)

    • Replies: @DFH
    , @Jack Hanson
  61. nebulafox says:

    Caligula was a bit an exception because he probably really was nuts and just didn’t give a damn what anybody thought-this was seen by his attempt to plant a statue of himself right in the Holy of Holies, which nearly set off the Jewish revolt 30 years early.

    But for the most part, a lot of the genuinely terrible emperors-Nero and Commodus for an example-only began to lose favor with the masses toward the end of their reigns. They both lasted over a decade for a reason. Part of this was because Nero and Commodus delivered big time on what the masses really cared about: the social freebies and the games. So, they didn’t particularly care what Senator they were in the process of humiliating or killing. It was only when the breads and circuses dried up and the two started to go off the deep end a little that the general public abandoned them. And for Nero, some never would.

    I’d strongly appreciate somewhat with a better knowledge of Rurik-era Russian history answering the last one. Pre-Boris Godunov and the Time of Troubles, I don’t know much.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  62. J.Ross says: • Website

    Ivan was well after Rurik, and Rurik was there because the elites of Rus could not stand the elites of Rus.

  63. @The Z Blog

    When President Kamala Harris suspends Congress, then we’ll have peak democracy.

    At the rate we’re going, Congress will be among the least of Kamala’s concerns.

  64. @snorlax

    That’s when the federal courts run out of money.

    …Be Still My Beating Heart

  65. Anon[206] • Disclaimer says:
    @Detective Club

    Detective Club, I knew Bobby Kennedy, and let me tell you, Beto O’Rourke is no Bobby Kennedy!

  66. @Kratoklastes

    One of the best comments ever. Goes into the “keep” file.

  67. Anonym says:


    I should be king. 😉

  68. Steve,

    Your take on the push from (((public intellectuals))) to “reform” the Senate to impose population proportionality on it? Looks like another example of minority rights ceasing to be valued once Whites are in the minority.

  69. DFH says:

    The people of Rome were not the average Roman citizen. Average Italians hated Marius, Caesar and Pompey for stealing their land to resettle soldiers. The ‘Average Roman (by which I mean the average citizen of Rome)’ was not being abused by the Senators who were paying for their gibs, although the provincials certainly were.

  70. DFH says:

    the Senate faction

    But ‘the Senate faction’ was actually Pompey, and his Italian armies were composed of veterans with personal loyalty to him. Similarly their legions at Mutina were legions loyal to Caesar who defected from Anthony to Augustus.

  71. DFH says:

    My own not particularly unique thesis is this: the big difference between the late republic and earlier eras was that before the late 100s BC, the aristocracy was united enough to counter any sort of populist coup. This unity had fractured by the time of the Gracchi for a host of reasons, and that undermined resistance to the populists. From that point onward, the defeat of populists lay more in the mistakes of the populists than the competence in aristocratic countering of them by garnering widespread support. Along with the influx of well-to-do new centrist men (Cicero) who did know how to appeal to everybody.

    You are interpreting it completely wrongly. It wasn’t a ‘populist coup’ trying to break in, but actually just the intensification of intra-elite struggles that had existed at least since the end of the punic wars. What populist program the Gracchi had was never really implemented, land distribution was only ever conducted by generals to further their purely personal interests of having loyal veterans nearby.

    But Sulla was unique in that he truly *got* the hoi polloi Roman and his mindset due to his upbringing: not just compared to other aristocrats, but even types like Marius or Cicero

    Where did you get the idea that Sulla was popular? My impression was that murdering thousands of people, often just to steal their money, did not make him popular.

  72. @snorlax

    Huh. That would indicate some seriously strategeric thinking. Thanks for the link. My new learning for the day.

  73. snorlax says:
    @Known Fact

    He can’t do anything if there are no courts.

  74. @Kratoklastes

    Nobody ever said Democracy was perfect. Is there a system that comes closer? What do you recommend?

    Very interesting comment.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @Kratoklastes
  75. @Lot

    “Midterm Turnout is thus another of the many datasets I have seen that suggest Peak America came in the early 1970s.

    Early 70s is arguable, but i’d argue too late.

    One could argue–symbolically–the peak was July 20th, 1969.

    But the truth is while the technology rolling out–and the skirts were going up–a lot of negative trendlines were set in the 60s, including significant fundamental rights–ex. free association–being stripped by the onrush of minoritarianism. Dovetailing with, of course, the great reopening in order to balkanize and destroy the nation.

    Peak America was probably 1960.

    • Replies: @Lot
  76. Lot says:

    I think all of the bad emperors probably engaged in excessive taxes, conscription, debasing coinage.

    I wouldn’t call Tiberius awful however.

  77. Lot says:

    Hail and I were specifically talking about historical datasets. The cultural rot, Great Society, elite-directed globalization, and Warren Court leftism started in the 60s for sure, but by most measures the average American’s life was still improving.

    I put the overall peak of Western civ as 1875-1913. The beautiful era, as the French called it later.

    One reason I was happy to see Hail’s post is that Kochy mainstream conservative propaganda portrays the 70s very negatively. For the rich the 70s was indeed a low point. But for the middle class, it was pretty good, by most objective measures better than the 1980s.

    Kind of a depressing topic though, I got to see only the tail end of the American century, but enough to still wince at movies and photos from the late 80s and 90s and recall what we’ve lost.

  78. Trump era = Peart Rum.

    Does Neil know about this opportunity?

  79. @stillCARealist

    Nobody ever said Democracy was perfect. Is there a system that comes closer? What do you recommend?

    It’s applied to abortion politics in Europe, but not in the US or Canada. (Compare the resulting statutes.)

    Somehow North American jurists think they have found something better.

  80. Lookie this! Carlos Reynarez is pushing a solution to wall funding. He’s a fellow New Muralist.

  81. @stillCARealist

    Is there a system that comes closer? What do you recommend?

    Voluntaryism not only comes closer, it hits the mark.

    People who want to join a group structure, do so – they are obliged to fund the group’s projects (i.e., they’re the tax base[1]), and are free to leave.

    The ‘free exit’ condition places a strong constraint on the capacity of the group to accumulate debt: debt isn’t necessarily zero, but if the group becomes too indebted the most risk-averse people will exit the group.

    Modern churches are an example of this: they’re still doing fine (for the moment), despite having migrated from compulsory membership (often under pain of death) to voluntary membership with free exit. The problem they have now is that everyone knows their product is defective, and so they can’t get new subscribers to stick.

    Governments know that they would suffer the same fate – because their product is also mostly fake. So for the moment they simply refuse to offer the choice to subscribe or not, and you don’t really have ‘free exit’: you can leave, but unless you have citizenship of another country, you can’t divest yourself of citizenship – and you certainly can’t stay in your house and declare that you’re no longer part of the tax base.

    The primary argument against voluntaryism is that it can’t fix public goods[2] problems (externalities, mixed goods, etc).

    My response to that is that government introduces more social costs than it fixes. For every ‘Harberger Triangle’ of social loss saved by an intervention, government waste and ineptitude creates dozens – if not hundreds – of offsetting triangles of welfare loss.

    And that’s a problem even under an ideal scenario – that is, assuming that there exists some government that
    • only undertakes public-goods amelioration;
    • is able to adduce the the actual social optimum path of output for every public good;
    • intervenes directly in a least-cost way;
    • intervenes such that there are no uncompensated changes in other goods or factor markets;
    • funds their intervention with an optimal tax mix (i.e., the mix with the lowest marginal excess burden).

    Chance of all those happening at the same time, ever? Zero.

    And once there’s a war, the amount of social cost imposed is the same as throwing all the Harberger Triangles on a big bonfire. And only governments ‘do’ industrial-scale war.

    In other words: people who talk about government “solving public goods problems” generally have a dilettante understanding of what they’re talking about – the #muhroads trope.


    But let’s say that a group structure (whether voluntary or not) decides it wants a system where power is delegated to ‘representatives’.

    OK, now you’ve got a ‘selection’ problem – what is the best way to pick officeholders, given that preference-aggregation can’t possibly work (and is made worse by the types of people who actually want to hold political office).

    In that case, the best possible outcome is obtained by selecting officeholders at random (without replacement – i.e., if selected for office, you serve one term, and never get to hold the same office).

    Formally, that’s called sortition and has been used since ancient Athens; informally it’s been referred to as Randomocracy since the early 80s (although Wikipedia rejected ‘Randomocracy’ as a neologism back in the mid-00s).

    One key advantage of sortition is that nobody knows who is going to be an officeholder, so parties cannot ration candidature (no ‘primaries’, no need to be someone acceotable to the DNC/RNC machines).

    As a result, it is not possible to influence political-class decisions by bribing a party (i.e., being a ‘major donor’) – you would have to bribe individual officeholders, which is expensive and easy to monitor (and taking a bribe would be impeachable; offering a bribe could even be a death-penalty offence).

    Long story short: political corruption would reduce dramatically.

    There are also benefits regarding the type of people who obtain office.

    Under the current system, sociopaths have a distinct advantage: they have no qualms about lying, or about reneging on promises… and they are not experts in anything except the acquisition of political office.

    If the entire (adult) population is eligible, the randomly selected set of officeholders would have ‘average’ characteristics.

    Sometimes ‘average’ is good, and sometimes it’s bad – but ‘good’ and ‘bad” have to be considered in light of the people who currently dominate politics (parasitic megalomaniacal sociopaths).

    To consider just a few attributes: the randomly selected political officeholders would exhibit

    • average intelligence and average grasp of the ramifications of long-tailed policy: having only average levels of those attributes is bad, but not egregiously so relative to the type of people who become politicians; and conversely

    • average megalomania, average corruption and average sociopathy ; average levels of those attributes are a far better joint outcome when compared to the current political class, who display extreme levels of all three, as befits an ‘apex parasite’.


    Alternatively, the decision could be made to select ‘representatives’ from a subset of the population – with an IQ cutoff, for example. Or it could be portfolio-specific: a requirement that the Justice Minister is a first-rate lawyer, while the Treasurer must have first-rate qualifications in quantitative economics.

    These subset models are a deliberate, randomly-selected aristocracy (a genuine use of the term aristos [Gr. ἄριστος] – excellent).

    The foremostest (HA!) problem is, obviously, that the best and brightest have much higher-reward alternatives: generally they will not participate in a voluntary system that where there’s a risk they get dragooned into ‘public service’. It would work fine in the current political structure (where the State you live in gets to act like it owns people).


    [1] How taxes are administered (flat, wealth, consumption, income or some combination) would be a matter for debate – and would ensure that people would only subscribe if thy felt that they got value for money.

    [2] I admit I’m a bit of a Public Goods tragic: I enjoyed the subject as a student (I was fortunate to have been lectured by John G Head, who had worked with Buchanan), and I still read the literature a quarter-century later. (I only audited the Masters ‘Public Finance’ course; my study load was all Math Eco, CGE Economic Modelling and Econometrics. Quantitative economics is my main game, and plus there is no money in Pub Fi as a professional discipline)

    The theory of public goods is interesting, but the basic pedagogical framework is very simplistic; necessarily so, since otherwise Public Finance courses would be 100% essay-writing exercises, and essays are a pain in the arse to grade when the 3rd year Pub Fi class has 100 students and there’s only 1 tutor.

    Almost nobody studies Pub Fi at post-grad, which is where the primary assumptions are relaxed (when I say ‘post-grad’, in the US that would mean post-doc: US PhD coursework covers the same material as 3rd year undergraduate courses in the UK, Australia etc – Buchanan, Tullock, Edgeworth boxes and Kolm Triangles, Lindahl taxes… yadda yadda)… and there’s no stage in either undergrad or postgrad coursework where the models are extended to a genuine multisector dynamic equilibrium-seeking system with uncertainty and expectations (that’s where CGE modelling comes in).

    • Replies: @Harry Baldwin
  82. J.Ross says: • Website

    >plus there is no money in Pub Fi as a professional discipline
    But the actual administration of public finances is a thing, it’s a pretty important thing. Who actually does it? Lawyers? People chosen by lawyers?

  83. @nebulafox

    Sulla’s acquaintances make a strong case that transsexuals have always been part of the right wing.

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