Wednesday, June 24, 2020

"President" Dukakis and Summer Polls

"Ok, We Got Those Dastardly Republicans Now!"
On July 26, 1988, the Gallup Poll had Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis with a 17-point lead over Republican Vice President George H.W. Bush (41) in the race for the White House.
That was before he donned a military helmet and looked absolutely ridiculous riding in a tank in September. That was also before Dukakis gave a cold, clinical, dispassionate answer when CNN moderator Bernard Shaw asked him if he would support the death penalty for any man who raped and murdered his wife, Kitty.
“No, I don’t, Bernard,” Dukakis said. “And I think you know that I’ve opposed the death penalty during all of my life.”
He was done. “President” Dukakis, who looked like a shoo-in for the White House in the summer of 1988, lost 40 states to Bush who won 426 electoral votes and walloped Dukakis by 7 million votes nationwide despite being down in the polls by 17 points four months previous.
We may be seeing a repeat of the 1988 campaign in 2020. Democratic nominee Joe Biden is way ahead in many national polls and his supporters are already measuring for new drapes in the Oval Office.
But the campaign to define Joe Biden has yet to begin. Just as Dukakis was portrayed as a goofy, cold, liberal who was soft on crime, Joe Biden can expect to be caricatured as a goofy, senile liberal who will be soft on crime as well. His party will not allow him to be the moderate he wants to be in order to win the White House.
A senior Democratic strategist several years ago bemoaned the fact that every time the Democratic Party lurched further left to gain a far-left socialist young voter, they lose three older, traditional Democrat or Democrat-leaning unaffiliated voters.
“That is bad math for us” he groaned. Older voters of all races watch rioters protest with no masks, no social distancing and no hand-washing restrictions and then can’t go to their local gym, bar or minor league baseball game, and they start to wonder if everyone really is in this together.
There are some indications that a red tide could rise in states such as North Carolina, and Republican candidates might shock sophisticated observers on MSNBC and CNN.
I recently saw a woman in a store in Southport bedecked with a Trump hat and T-shirt and asked her if she thought he would win in November. “I think it is going to be a butt-whipping,” she answered confidently.
“Why do you say that?” I asked innocently.
“Because the Democratic Party doesn’t care about protecting anyone anymore,” she said. “They don’t believe in law and order; they always want to raise our taxes; and they don’t have any solutions. We live in a small town and when we see what is going on in Raleigh and Charlotte, we just shake our heads and say we are glad we don’t live there. We can’t wait to vote.”
Even with some national polls showing Biden with a Dukakis-like summer lead, President Trump is still leading in North Carolina. A veteran political operative has polled thousands of people in North Carolina in recent months about how likely they were going to vote this year. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 meaning they would vote today if they could, the number of 10s recorded for Trump voters outnumbered the number of 10s for Biden voters by a 10-to-1 margin.
He had never seen that much of a disparity in voter intensity before.
Do President Trump and the Republicans face a daunting challenge this fall? They sure do; they do every election cycle. But the economy is starting to open back up; people are going back to work and leaving the unemployment lines. Consumer confidence has perked back up to near 80 from a low of 71 in April.
Tuesday, November 3 is eons away in terms of the ebb and flow of politics. Joe Biden is not going to win by 17 points. Ask “President” Dukakis.
(first published in North State Journal 6/24/20)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Defund The Police...And Then What?

"Try Living In A Society Without A Police Force, and You
Really Will See That Life Is Nasty, Brutish and Short"
States have been referred to as “laboratories of democracy.”

We are seeing the dystopian experimental petri dish of “what America can become” in Seattle. Protestors have taken over city blocks with the support of local officials and established “autonomous zones” where no police are allowed and private ownership rights are ignored.

Perhaps everyone should be allowed to see what Seattle, Minneapolis and other major metropolitan cities far left progressive liberal elected leaders come up with to replace law enforcement. If anyone wants to see what Thomas Hobbes was referring to in "Leviathan" when he said life was "nasty, brutish and short", defunding the police will take us there quickly.

If their solution works, great. If not, the voters deserve proof of their failure to vote them out of office.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 51: “If Men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Mayors and city councils of Seattle and Minneapolis must believe they are living in heaven today, because they have failed Rule #1 of government: Protect Your Constituents.

No one has any idea of what such cities might establish to replace police forces. It might be a team of psychologists or social workers who would respond to emergency requests when a crime is reported.  Cities might do away with 911 call centers altogether and replace them with taped recordings of deep thoughts and meditations to calm constituent nerves when under vicious attack.

Assuming municipal police forces are disbanded, what are the likely outcomes for citizens?

Gun ownership will spike in each city and escalate as people defend their families. Since there would be no police force to call for help, inner-city Americans would be forced to resort to live like they were in the Old West where the best gunslinger prevailed.

Wealthier residents would band together to pay for private security to protect their lives and property. Poorer neighborhoods won’t be able to afford private protection, and since publicly funded police protection was abolished, they would be the first ones to suffer, again.

Mafia-style protection will proliferate where Antifa groups, or maybe the real Mafia, extorts money from businesses and people who somehow manage to remain downtown.

As cities depopulate in the wake of anarchist and illegal Antifa-led takeovers of prime metropolitan real estate, businesses will move out of cities that had been rejuvenated by regentrification and renewal efforts since the mid-1990s. Tax bases will dwindle, public services will diminish and downtowns will once again become the dangerous ghost towns many were before experiencing remarkable turnarounds in the last two decades.

There has to be a better way than abandoning inner-city America to anarchists and terrorists.

In the summer of 1975, I went on a public service internship in the Hennepin County Police Department in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over the door to the locker room, there was a big sign that said: “Remember: The Supreme Court has six months to interpret the Constitution. You have two seconds.”

I never forgot that. The men and women of all races who serve us in the police force are as brave and selfless as the men and women who serve in our military force.

One night, at age 19, I went along on a patrol with a black cop and a white cop after midnight. A shooting at a pool hall was reported, so the cops responded to the call. As we approached the door, the black cop said he would take it from there since it was in a black neighborhood of Minneapolis. He told me later that if any action had to be taken, it would be better if a black cop dealt with a black suspect and witnesses.

In a perfect world, the color of a cop or suspect’s skin would be immaterial. When a black cop kills a black suspect or an Asian or Hispanic police officer shoots an armed suspect of any race, there is not the sort of reaction as when a black suspect is subdued or killed by a white cop.

Perhaps we are moving to a police response based on race to avoid future George Floyd tragedies.

Leaving innocent citizens, mostly the poor in our cities, as we have seen in Chicago, completely unprotected by an armed police force is not the answer.
(first published in North State Journal 6/17/20)

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Americans Have A Spiritual Connection To Owning Property

"If you think a king or other people gave you
permission to own land, they can take it
away from you. But God gave that right to
you and that can't be taken away from you"
Widespread democratic ownership of personal property is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. Diverse racial and gender ownership is even more recent.
People in communist China do not really “own” their land, business or equipment; Chinese leaders “allow” select people to operate their business on a quasi-capitalistic basis. Sadly, as seven million residents of Hong Kong are finding out, all of their personal property and freedom can be wiped out at a moment’s notice because the State ultimately owns everything, not the individual.
President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are fond of telling American business owners: “You did not build your business!”
You are an American. Regardless of your race, sex, age or religious belief, you did build your own business. You do own your own land. You do own your own buildings, machinery and technology. You took the risk, invested your capital, sweated out weekly payrolls and had the creativity and perseverance to get your business to the point where hopefully it would make a profit one day.
You executed mutually agreed-upon contractual deals to buy your building and equipment. You are entitled to run your business as you see fit simply because you are an American, not because any elected government official told you what to do.
Americans have a spiritual connection to their property. There is a reason for such a radical revolutionary concept.
John Locke wrote about the rights of man in the late 17th century in England which became the foundational bricks and blocks of the American democratic republic. Locke believed every person derived their “rights” directly from God above, whether they were a believer or not, not from earthly royalty, including modern government.
Each person was entitled to the “fruits of their own labor” as written in the Old Testament. When a person farmed a piece of land, that land became part of his inherent God-given “right,” because with his own hands, he could provide food for his own family and sell the rest if he desired.
Locke wrote about the right of every person to engage in the “pursuit of property” in his Second Treatise along with the other inalienable rights of life and liberty. Thomas Jefferson later translated Locke’s phrase into the “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, but both were drawing from the intellectual philosophical well of Aristotle who wrote about “doing and living well” (eudaimonia) in his Nicomachean Ethics 2,000 years previous.
When personal property is destroyed in America, it is an affront to the American who owns it. It violates his or her conception of the “pursuit of happiness” and personal dreams of “living and doing well.” No man or government has the right to take those dreams away from anyone else unless that person has violated the law in an egregious manner.
Businesses and property are not just inanimate bricks-and-mortar and sheet-rocked objects, as some politicians said in the aftermath of the riots over the past weeks. No elected public official nationwide has stated if she or he suffered any personal property damage from the riots, so they are operating from a cocoon of safety away from the pain of having to rebuild a business once again.
The fundamental reason to have government in the first place is to provide a police force and judicial system to help protect the personal property and safety of everyone in a city, state or nation. When elected officials fail to order law enforcement officers to protect the property of innocent, law-abiding citizens, they violate the essence of American democratic republicanism at its core.
The destruction of property during the riots knew no boundaries when it came to race, gender or political affiliation. Blacks, whites, Latinos, men, women, gays, conservatives and liberals alike had windows smashed out and furniture, computers and files destroyed.
Just like that, over one violent weekend, living and working in downtown urban settings stopped being cool to millions of people, young and old. It may take decades to recover.

(first published in North State Journal 6/10/20)

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

John Maynard Keynes Must Be Rolling In His Grave Right Now

"Man. How Can Both Milton Friedman and I Have Been
So Wrong? It Says Right Here In My Book My Ideas
Should Have Worked, Even In America!"
Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes must be having some very interesting conversations in the afterlife about economic policy in America, wherever they may be.

Nothing catastrophically bad happened in America since 1982, such as hyperinflation contrary to Friedman’s monetary theories. Left-wing liberals who love Keynes have forgotten he was a highly successful investor and proponent of capitalism who recognized the limits of government spending and the virtues of fiscal sanity and balance.

Keynes was an English economist who wrote “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” in 1936 and revolutionized the way many looked at the dismal science of economics. He focused on fiscal means to increase demand in an economy, especially during downturns, and argued for government intervention to bring economies back into equilibrium instead of relying on pure free-market forces.

Keynes covered a wide range of economic theory from the multiplier effect to liquidity to efficient marginal deployment of capital, but if his entire theory for government intervention can be boiled down to what modern politicians think it is; this is it:

To get out of economic recessions/depressions, government must cut taxes and increase federal spending to increase demand, which will in turn lead to more employment, producing more supply to satisfy that increased demand.

However, since most political people who espouse Keynesian economics have never read his book in its entirety, here’s the flip side of his economic stimulus argument:

During economic expansions, taxes must be raised and spending cut to bring the federal budgets back into balance.

Raise your hand if you can recall the last time a liberal Democrat proposed a slash in federal spending in any area other than defense. No Democrat has proposed a reduction in overall federal spending without a coalition of Republicans leading the charge in my recollection ever.

Nowadays, both Republicans and Democrats are semi-Keynesians, as in “half believers.”

Republicans will cut taxes in recessions, to be sure, but they will never raise taxes in an expansion. Democrats will increase spending in a recession, to follow part of Keynesian doctrine, but they will never cut federal spending in a robust economy.

Both sides will spend trillions in a heartbeat, as we have just seen with COVID-19 relief efforts, but will not propose higher taxes, reduced spending or reform of entitlements to ever bring the U.S. budget back into balance in our lifetime.

In short, they are doing nothing when it comes to the hard work of governing under constraints.

We are soon going to see if $3 trillion of fiscal stimulus and $7 trillion of Federal Reserve monetary balance sheet expansion is going to work to save our economy. If it does, and if there are any 100% true-blue Keynesian believers left, perhaps a liberal Democrat will introduce a budget package of $4 in spending cuts relative to baseline projections for every $1 in tax hikes when we are back in solid economic times to see if America can restore any sense of rationality back towards a balanced budget.

To my conservative brethren who loathe tax increases of any sort, I agree with you 100%. However, since 1997, you have not accomplished one single dollar of spending or deficit-reduction by legislation in Washington. That was 23 years ago.

If by some small infinitesimal chance someone on the left proposes $1 trillion in spending reductions and/or entitlement spending reform for every $250 billion in tax hikes, what are you going to do? At the very minimum, you will finally achieve at least some spending discipline when you have failed miserably to do so for the past two decades. At the worst, you will have to swallow some tax increases you can work to repeal in the next Congress.

Otherwise, let’s just end the charade that one side is worse than the other on deficits and national debt accumulation. Based on empirical evidence since 1997, and especially in the last 3 months, there is no difference when it comes to controlling spending, increasing deficits and fueling skyrocketing
national debt.

Deficit insanity has won. Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes have both failed.


(first published in North State Journal 6/3/20)

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