Thursday, September 24, 2015

"This high plateau is getting rather bumpy lately" - Part Two

Part Two from our correspondent High Plateau Drifter,

2. OK, now on to Trump!

When Trump crashed onto the scene with his platform dedicated to the issues driving down middle class wages - immigration and trade deals (importing low wage labor and exporting American jobs overseas to cheap labor venues), I assumed that at least one or two of the career politicians would steal his issues and run with them all the way to the nomination. But not a single Republican has embraced those issues. What we get are the usual moral issues that government has neither the power nor the will to do anything about, along with the usual bromides that salute American exceptionalism. Apparently politicians are completely dependent upon contributions from globalists to run their campaigns and have not yet had the time and opportunity to sit down and beg their contributors indulgence while they gather votes sufficient to win and then abandon the middle class once in office.

But Republican politicians must be really stupid. They haven't noticed the obvious fact that our billionaire oligarchs are now divided on what must be done. with Mark Cuban, Carl Icahn and others now supporting Trump. If a Republican candidate is too stupid to recognize the fault lines developing among the oligarch class and incapable of exploiting those divisions for campaign cash, then there is no way that such a man or woman would be able to get anything done in D.C. as President. All of the establishment candidates have hired campaign consultants running 10 year old play books and cannot adapt to change.

What a sorry lot.

And one more thing. The advent of Trump on the scene has proven to me what I long suspected, namely that giving women the right to vote was the death of Western Civilization. My wife, an intelligent and sensible woman, hates Trump with a passion and says she could never vote for him, even though she agrees with him on the issues. I agree with her that Trump is an arrogant ass, but argue to no avail that his personality does not matter, while his issues are the only ones being spoken of in this election that do matter, and that only a rather unpleasant fellow – or indeed an arrogant ass - is going to be able to confront the DC establishment and force them to stand down. But to my wife, and to most women, it is his personality that matters. Sadly, the Country isn't worth saving unless a mild mannered nice guy can make the fair sex feel comfortable about the process!


ADL said...

It seems that you'd like to remove women and Republican politicians from the voting pool. If you're willing to define that latter group to include all politicians and potential politicians--for simplicity's sake, let's say all Republican voters--then you've got yourself an across-the-aisle supporter here.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

giving women the right to vote was the death of Western Civilization

I don't know about Western Civ, but it was the death of small government:

High Plateau Drifter said...

"If you're willing to define that latter group to include all politicians and potential politicians--for simplicity's sake, let's say all Republican voters--then you've got yourself an across-the-aisle supporter here."

You mistake me. What I would like to see is real Republican politicians - men and women who would cut Fedgov in half and let the states do the heavy lifting of health education and welfare. In other words, a choice not an echo. Oh, and while we are at it, nine supremes who can read the literal words of amendment 14 and recognize their plain meaning, namely, that government enforced racial preferences deny "equal protection of the laws" to whites.

Our electoral options seem now to be restricted to one party, namely the party of exponential government (and government debt) growth, with the two nominal factions of that single party differing only in their thinly veiled identity appeals to differing ethic, religious and racial blocks.

ADL said...

@ High Plains Drifter:

Perhaps I do mistake you, though I rather thought we were talking about women's right to vote vs. white people's right to...something. Or perhaps you'll fall back on the Trumpian defense that you were simply making a joke?

I recognize and to some extent respect the stance that (our somewhat fraught national history with the delimiting of "states' rights" notwithstanding) the federal government should be truncated, though I'm not quite sure what that has to do with women.

I'd ask you in turn to consider your implication that whites are somehow embattled (if this wasn't your implication, why bring it up?) as another example of the identity politics you decry.

High Plateau Drifter said...

"I'd ask you in turn to consider your implication that whites are somehow embattled (if this wasn't your implication, why bring it up?) as another example of the identity politics you decry."

You can be certain that an overwhelming amount of Trump's support does come from whites who feel embattled, and I am indeed suggesting that they have cause to feel embattled. Perhaps a slowdown in exporting their jobs and importing cheap labor might help. But then if one were inclined to feel contempt, or perhaps even hatred, for middle and working class whites, exporting their jobs and importing cheap labor would be just about the perfect policy combination for both elitist self interest and elitist ethnic or class disdain.

As for women and the vote, it was a bemused meandering on my part, as once the franchise had been given to women it could not be taken away by democratic means.

ADL said...

@HPD (I made a mistake--Plateau, not Plains!):

We probably agree on quite a bit.

On the question of jobs, I wonder to what extent they belong to those who hold them? Is it part of the social compact that one can have a reasonable expectation that one's job and industry will continue to be viable? There are good arguments available on both sides. Of course, mobilization of working class whites via demonization of the job-taking Other (Germans, Irish, Jews, blacks, Chinese here, Japanese, Chinese overseas, maquiladora workers, Mexicans here, to mention some but not necessarily all examples) has a long history. The question, as always, is whether things are different this time, and if so how.

The franchise is an interesting question: whether it's given or taken, discovered or created, inherent or contingent...strong arguments on all aspects.

High Plateau Drifter said...


You raise questions that deserve serious national thought and discussion.

I go back to the concept of "comparative advantage" as envisioned by David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, in which each nation and everyone therein benefits. It is a far cry from the globalism of today in which wages and salaries are to be driven down by mobility of capital to the lowest wage labor pool that can be found and harnessed. We should not prevent successful U.S. competitors from building plants in China to satisfy Chinese demand. But arbitraging wage rates by producing in China (or Viet Nam or Malaysia) and shipping back to the U.S. disemploys U.S. workers and moves them to the welfare rolls, a process by which the profits are personalized and the costs socialized on to the backs of taxpayers and debt markets. To my mind, Trump's notion that "you must have meaningful borders or you do not have a nation" is shorthand for the notion that we have duties towards our fellow citizens at some level that differs substantially from whatever duties we may have toward humans throughout the rest of the world. In short we ought not to import, along with cheap goods, Malaysian or Vietnamese living standards for 80% of our population. We need to be able depend upon our fellow citizens for protection and support in emergencies. Those who think that the bottom 50% or 80% are somehow expendable, need to realize that when the bonds of duty are broken, historical experience suggests that it is the top 1% that is done away with.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone going to comment on the bumpiness - and lack of horizontal orientation - of the plateau??

If even this clueless guy has stopped buying dips, what is propping this "sucker" (George W term) up anymore? And how much longer will it stay propped?

Mein Trumpf said...

Here's something I've never heard before!

The big cultural struggle in the 1920s was bohemians versus small town Protestant ministers / Protestant women. The wits of the era saw Prohibition and Feminism as a two-headed monster. The New Yorker magazine was founded in 1925 to be “not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.” Wilfrid Sheed wrote of the early New Yorker,

Thurber’s world cannot remotely be understood without understanding Prohibition, or the locker-room version of it: a plot brewed up by women and Protestant ministers while our soldiers were overseas, in order to end America’s men-only culture and bring the boys all the way home, not just as far as the nearest saloon.

The crushing of German-American pride in 1917 made possible both Prohibition and Suffragism, since the big German-American brewers were the main funders of the resistance to letting women vote, since everybody assumed that votes for women meant Prohibition.

CP said...

Re: the Impermanent Plateau

BRK down 15% from 52w hi, last Dec:

UNP down 30%, Feb:

IBB, down 20%, Jul:
You would have to be a complete putz to own that one.

AAPL, down 14%, April:

It looks like we're going to have to get an answer to HPD's question from April:
"What happens when prices stop rising, as they must along a permanently high plateau? The S&P 500 is down slightly from its Dec. 29, 2014 high. That means zero yield for nearly 4 months. What happens if this continues for 9 months or a full year?"

Since the momentum investors have bid stocks up to a multiple of what a value investor would pay, how can it culminate in anything but another enormous crash?

Margin debt peaked already:

High Plateau Drifter said...


"The franchise is an interesting question: whether it's given or taken, discovered or created, inherent or contingent...strong arguments on all aspects."

CP and I discussed this issue and tentatively concluded that the death of representative government in America is due entirely to the high cost of advertising and the consequent dependence of career politicians on vast sums of money.

We both agreed that reaching, persuading and then motivating low IQ voters requires huge amounts of money and that any form of "g" loaded test that would narrow the franchise to those with an IQ above 100 would dramatically reduce the value of advertising and thus reduce cost of campaigns and thus free up our political system to pursue the national interest and actually confront and solve real problems.

It would not matter whether the test had zero "cultural loading" like Ravens Progressive Matrices or the SAT with high "cultural loading". We need an electorate cares enough about the country to actually take a test. Narrowing the franchise is the only thing that could give us a government that has the freedom to tackle real problems and impose real solutions on our economy strangling under oligopoly money power.

High Plateau Drifter said...


Damn! I hope I don't have to change my moniker!!

ADL said...


Not that this will happen so debating it is sort of pointless, but key assumptions seem to be:

1) Decent IQ-type test available, and appealing even to skeptics

2) Higher IQ voters less susceptible to advertising than low IQ

3) High IQ voters will look after interests of unenfranchised

To which I'd say: 1) Maybe 2) Maybe 3) Probably not. bad incentives are not improved if replaced by other bad incentives.

Asa for comparative advantage, quite so, though it perhaps shifts generationally, as in tentative "onshoring" of various work which is no longer cheaper to do in China. So: you lose the jobs, others gain them, they get richer, they lose some of them back to you and some to other poor countries, which in turn grow richer. You enjoy cheap goods and then the return of the jobs, they enjoy an improved living standard and, maybe, a move up the value and (crucially) consumption chain. Very rose-colored way to look at it, of course.