The morning after

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View 749 Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Morning After

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I had actually thought that it would not be close: that Mr. Obama had made it clear that this was a key election which would have a real effect on coming policies. That, I thought, would be enough to galvanize those who understood it, and there would be far more who found it terrifying than who found it hopeful. We tried hope and change.

I was clearly wrong. Apparently a number of people did take Mr. Obama seriously, and found something threatening in that.

The odd part is that a majority of those voting believes that government is too large. I don’t know what that means.

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Ben Stein’s commentary this morning is well worth your time: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/11/07/a-painful-night

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California seems to have a majority of people challenged in both ethics and simple intelligence. The tax raise was sold on a ‘soak the rich’ ‘Robin Hood’ tax that would fall only on the rich, and was necessary because without it there would be these drastic cuts in schools. Of course the same budget spent more money than the tax would raise on raises in pensions and salaries for commissions and other additional needless spending: there was never an offer to vote to reject those and apply the money to the schools.

So. Rob the rich to pay for the schools and pay the pensions. That’s the ethical decision. And ignore the fact that the rich have the option of leaving the state, and many already have. More will. Meanwhile, most of the money the new ‘temporary’ taxes will be from increased sales taxes, and many of those will fall on those who thought they were soaking the rich. That’s the intelligence test.

The public employees and teacher unions turned out as expected. They understood the stakes.

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The American people, narrowly, voted for Free Stuff. They won’t get much of it, and they’ll pay for it; but that’s for the future. Of course the new taxes will not generate the expected revenue.

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Despair is a sin.

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"Free stuff" and the election

Jerry:

I agree with the "Free Stuff" diagnosis, but am mystified by the attribution of it to Mr. Obama specifically, or Democrats generally.

The Democrats have made it plain that taxes need to be raised to pay for Stuff; the Republicans keep saying, "No, no, tax cuts will pay for everything." The strange thing is, this appears to rely on a repeal of supply and demand. Mr. Norquist keeps having Congresscritters toe his line about cutting government services to low, LOW discount prices, yet strangely he doesn’t appear to believe demand for those services won’t rise given the "ON SALE" banner the GOP keeps insisting on flying.

No, let’s face it… The great irony is, the Republican Party has fallen prey to the Iron Law. The goal of party internal cohesion and institutional groupthink has come to far outweigh such seemingly trivial concerns like governing responsibly, or winning elections.

The only difference between the Republicans and the Libertarians these days is one of scale — neither of them have real world concerns.

And voters have picked up on that. It’s a good chunk of why, as of now, the GOP has lost the popular vote in 5 of the past 6 presidential elections, and hasn’t run a ticket that’s won the popular vote on their first try since 1988.

Your own comments deriding Mr. Obama’s promotion of "hope and change" help paint the picture as well. The GOP has become all about fear, and promoting the idea of hopeless despair where nothing ever changes — at least, not for the better. Even if one is genuinely concerned about the future, it’s not the kind of vision to which people willingly devote blood, sweat, toil, tears, and votes. The contrast with the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan couldn’t be more stark.

Even if one disagrees with him on policy, Mr. Obama has always recognized that optimism sells. Just as Mr. Reagan did. The substance may be different, but the more Reaganesque candidate in presentation won last night. And that too is ironic.

Hoping this finds you well,

– Hal

An interesting observation. I think it rests on the wrong interpretation of Mr. Obama’s actions, but perhaps not. As to Republicans and the Republican Establishment having succumbed to the Iron Law, that has always been true. It happened in Congress during the Reagan Administration, which is why Newt Gingrich was so upsetting to them, making his speeches in the empty chambers and attacking the Democrats. He actually got along better with Clinton than George H W Bush – at least that’s my observation and I was there.

I invite comments on your other observations.

 

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I will note that I wasn’t the only one who was fairly certain  that Mr. Romney would win. The market clearly bet that way, which is why it has fallen so rapidly today.

And I just heard that neither Romney nor Obama ran ahead of legalization of marijuana where they were on the ballot. I do not have the details, but that sounds interesting.

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Jerry:

I posted this on Monday night, perhaps under a premonition of how things would turn out:

http://andstillipersist.com/2012/11/the-gods-of-the-copybook-headings-illustrated/

The introduction to this post links back to a posting of the same poem (sans photos) four years earlier, which in turn links to your posting of the poem on your blog back in 2003 (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2mail/mail269.html#copybook).

In any case, the photos underscore how painfully relevant and current the poem remains nearly a century later.

Bruce F. Webster

Well done.

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Election night

View 749 Monday, November 05, 2012

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I am too depressed to say much. I knew that this was the result predicted by the polls, but I really thought the outcome would be very different. President Obama made a Presidential and conciliatory victory speech, but he made it very clear what his coming policy would be; and I thought – clearly more hoped than though – that this would have an effect on voters. I have always believed in rational thought, and while I know a great number of people are not governed by rational thought, a great many are.

There will be endless analysis of the election, but it seems clear to me: President Obama promised that if he is reelected he will continue with his program of Free Stuff. A major part of the US economy consists of opening containers from China, and paying for them with money borrowed from China; while the national strategy of technology is not X Projects or even research grants, but actual investment of tax funds and borrowed money in companies the government hopes will succeed. I cannot believe that makes economic sense, and I confess I thought that the President had made it clear that he did believe that policy works. But of course with that you get Free Stuff.

If something cannot go on forever it will stop. The economic policies of the last four years cannot go on forever: there just isn’t enough money anywhere in the world to allow it to continue. The next step is to use inflation to tax away all savings and reduce all those on fixed incomes to dependency. When everyone is dependent on government, the power of government is maximized; and of course government workers enjoy automatic cost of living increases. It’s almost certain that inflation will reach 10% a year within two years. We have endured that in the past. This time the debts are much larger and it will take much more dramatic inflation to continue the spending. Of course the end of that game is the 3 pfennig postage stamp issued by Weimar Germany: the stamp was overprinted to the value of Three Mird Millionen Marks. And I used to have a 100,000 real Brazilian banknote which I got in change when Dvorak and I went down to Sao Paulo as guests of the Brazilian COMDEX about 1990. I think I got it in change when I broke an American $20 bill.

The good news is that both Germany and Brazil have obviously recovered from such ruinous inflation. The bad news is that the inflation ruined most of those who had savings. Of course new rich emerged. There are always rich people. Sometimes they are simply government employees who have guaranteed cost of living raises…

The country will recover. Brazil did. But we have not hit bottom yet.

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Politics works. The Democratic strategy worked. They got their vote out. The vote was determined by campaign tactics and organization, not by rational debate of ideas. President Obama promised that his reelection would be considered a mandate for Four More Years of essentially the same policies.

But California will go broke before the United States does. Perhaps that will serve as a hideous enough warning to the rest of the nation. And apparently California, by direct democracy, has raised its taxes while burdening the productive with new regulations. It will be interesting to see where the pornography industry goes, now that Los Angeles County has in essence driven it out. Will it stay in California, or leave the state altogether? And which state wants it? Texas has already extracted tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses from California. Does it want the porn industry? Or perhaps Nevada does.

Of course there was a time when Los Angeles had a much larger entertainment industry without the need for XXX rated movies. Ah well.

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Historically, entertainment has always thrived during hard economic times. Story tellers can always sing for their supper. When I did a Britannica article on science fiction decades ago, I described my profession as the bards of the sciences: we are much like the wandering poets of the Bronze Age who would find a camp of warriors and say, in effect, If you cut me a piece of that roast and fill my cup with wine, I will tell you a story about a virgin and a bull…

The worse the times, the larger the number of people who will pay for a few hours of being unaware of them as they wander through stories and songs. Which tells me what I had better get working on. My house is paid for, but the government’s appetite for tax money is insatiable. They will want more money.

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Good night. Alas, it won’t look better in the morning. But we may rejoice in this much: the election is over. The loser has conceded. There will be no riots. The President has been gracious in his victory speech. Compromise will be sought.

All money bills must originate in the House, and the House remains in the hands of people concerned about deficits and inflation.

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