Patterico's Pontifications

11/11/2016

John Podesta: Big Media Gave Trump a “Pass”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:30 pm



Who’s in the bubble again?

Hillary Clinton’s inner circle gathered for an autopsy of her failed presidential campaign and concluded that media bias in favor of Donald Trump contributed to his historic win.

. . . .

“The media always covered [Mrs. Clinton] as the person who would be president and therefore tried to eviscerate her before the election, but covered Trump who was someone who was entertaining and sort of gave him a pass,” Mr. Podesta said. “We need to reflect and analyze that and put our voices forward.”

Free media for Trump absolutely contributed to his victory. But . . . they gave him a “pass”?

A “pass“???

I have considered Mr. Podesta’s claim with all due seriousness and have prepared a rebuttal. Without further ado, here is my official response to John Podesta’s claim that Big Media gave Trump a “pass”:

UPDATE: Ack! Put Hillary in the title when I meant Trump! I have fixed it.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

In Recognition of Our Veterans

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:45 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Thank you, thank you so much to all of the veterans, both in our personal lives and here in the Patterico community of readers. Although it sounds trite to my ears to say a simple “thank you,” it comes with the deepest respect and appreciation for your service to our country. Thank you that you chose to do something selfless and brave and noble. As a parent whose youngest just arrived back home from an eight month deployment with the Marines, I am inordinately grateful to any and all willing to give up a chunk of their lives to protect us and the very unique principles that make up this United States of America.

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And while we know that there are those who will never understand the sacrifices made by others for them, there are those who understand all too deeply and painfully the cost. So a humble thank you also to those who have lost their loved ones who proudly served. May God keep you near, and through His grace, may He turn your mourning into joy in the way that only He can.

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–Dana

Trump’s Jobs-Destroying (Yes, Jobs-DESTROYING!) Infrastructure Program

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:36 pm



Donald Trump’s proposed trillion-dollar infrastructure bill will not create jobs. On the contrary: it will destroy jobs.

That may sound counterintuitive. But it’s right. With your permission, I’d like to explain why.

When the federal government passes a huge bill that would appropriate a lot of money for something like infrastructure, the usual reaction is: hey, at least it employs people. It’s understandable for people to think that. It’s what Big Media will tell you. It’s a totally natural reaction to have. It’s what I used to think when I heard about programs like this.

Then I ran across Frédéric Bastiat and the parable of the broken window. The concept of the seen and the unseen. The key insight is that analyzing economic problems usually requires you to look past the things you can see, and focus on the things you can’t see. If you have not heard of this before, that’s cool. I hadn’t either, three years ago. But it’s one of the single most important economic concepts you can ever learn. (Thanks to Gabriel Hanna for bringing it up in this context.)

Here’s the scenario: Imagine some kid throws a baseball through the window of a bakery and breaks it. The baker now has to repair the window. One could look at this as a great boon for employment in the community. After all: someone has to be paid to make a new window. Someone has to be paid to install it. When each of these workers is paid, they now go to other businesses and spend that money, and now other businesses do better through the magic of the Keynesian multiplier! If you’re a Keynesian, you could almost work yourself into believing that it was a good thing that the window was broken!

And yet, intuitively, you know this has to be wrong. Destruction is not good for the economy. What’s the flaw in the analysis? It has to do with the seen and the unseen.

The payments to the window maker and the window installer are what is seen. It doesn’t require imagination to see that people are being paid.

What is unseen is what the baker could have done with the money he had to use to fix the window. Maybe he was saving up for a new oven that he now can’t buy. With the new oven, he could have made his products more efficiently. The bread he sold would have been cheaper. That may mean more sales and profits for him (after all, he wouldn’t buy the oven if he didn’t think it would pay off eventually) and he can now spend the extra money elsewhere. What’s more, cheaper bread means the consumers buying the bread have more money in their pockets. Their standard of living goes up and they can spend money elsewhere. Or, as a commenter of mine points out: “perhaps the baker might have used the broken window money to pay a young apprentice who would then learn a valuable skill and perhaps one day own a bakery herself.”

But all of that is unseen. It requires imagination to realize that the money used to repair the window could have been used for other, more productive things.

When government spends taxpayer money to build a bridge, the bridge is seen. It’s right there. You can see it with your eyes and feel it with your hands. But what is unseen is all the things that could have been done with the money that was instead taken from taxpayers to build the bridge. That money can be used for capital investments to build businesses and employ more people. You could use the money you keep to buy a car that you need to get to work. You could use it to pay for your child’s education. There’s all sorts of things the money could be spent on, besides the bridge.

Which creates more jobs and wealth in society: money in the hands of taxpayers such as consumers and small businessmen, or money in the hands of federal bureaucrats? Do you think, in general, that businesses, with their need to economize and make a profit by satisfying consumer preferences, will do a better or worse job meeting the needs of society than inefficient federal bureaucracies? The answer, for a free market guy like myself, is obvious: of course private industry does better! Someday, I will make a more comprehensive case as why this must necessarily be so. For now, the simple answer is this: the incentives of the marketplace create more jobs than the inefficiencies of non-market governmental incentives to create pork and wasteful spending.

So, in the end, taking money from the taxpayers for infrastructure actually takes away more jobs than it creates.

I can tell what you’re thinking: all that being said, some repairs do need to be made. Infrastructure does need to be maintained. But much infrastructure is, or should be, private — and to the extent it is maintained by government, that should occur on the state or local level. Electricity and other utilities should be run by the market; making it a state responsibility is a mistake, leading to things like rolling blackouts, water shortages, and the like. Government should not choose winners and losers in terms of sources of energy. Mass transit projects seemingly always prove to be wasteful, and if a private company can make a go of them, let them try. As to projects that must be completed by the state, very few such projects should be federal in nature. Water supply and waste disposal are local issues. The federal government should have nothing to do with it. Even the interstate highways are owned and operated by the states. And, despite that fact, we just passed a $305 billion infrastructure package in December 2015, less than a year ago — back when Republicans were scared to death to make any stand on the budget whatsoever for fear of having Barack Obama shut down the government and claim the Republicans in Congress were at fault.

The idea that we are starving infrastructure spending is a myth. We’ve spent more on infrastructure than ever before. So, with infrastructure being primarily a state and local responsibility, how much more do we need to spend now on a federal level? People can debate that. Personally, my offer is this: nothing.

As we have this discussion, keep in mind that a spendthrift Democrat whom many considered (fairly or unfairly) to be a socialist at heart, Hillary Clinton, thought it required about $275 billion to improve our infrastructure. Now Donald Trump, Mr. Bankruptcy himself, is telling us that it requires $1 trillion. Why? Are we going to gold-plate all the bridges? Are we going to spend millions to put the name “Trump” on the side of every overpass?

More realistically, are we going to have a pork extravaganza the likes of which the world has not seen for eight years? And the answer to that one, as Trump fan Sarah Palin might put it, is: you betcha!

But in any event, as we have this debate, let’s remember the seen and the unseen. All this spending is not free. It comes out of people’s pockets.

A Donald Trump presidency is going to required fans of the free market to do a lot of learning, and a lot of educating others on economics. It’s a topic I have learned a lot about in the last three years, and I don’t hold people in contempt if they haven’t questioned these assumptions. I didn’t myself.

My pet project, in which I hope to promote the values of liberty, the free market, and the Constitution — including educating people about economics as I have done in this post — is the Constitutional Vanguard. We have a private Facebook group, open only to members of the group, and are discussing our plans for the future. If you haven’t already, join us by signing up here.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

UPDATE: Added JVW’s observation to the post. Great stuff.

Democrats To Clintons: We Just Can’t Quit You — Because You Won’t Let Us

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:54 am



[guest post by Dana]

The day after the election, Slate published a post-mortem about the Democratic party’s enormous loss. Writer Jim Newell held responsible the DNC, a number of loyal Clinton supporters, including the media, long-time members of the Clinton machine, lawyers, and of course, Hillary herself (although he ultimately let her off the hook a bit by holding more responsible those who enabled her…):

The Democrats will now control next to nothing above the municipal level. Donald Trump will be president. We are going to be unpacking this night for the rest of our lives, and lives beyond that. We can’t comprehend even 1 percent of what’s just happened. But one aspect of it, minor in the overall sweep, that I’m pretty sure we can comprehend well enough right now: The Democratic Party establishment has beclowned itself and is finished.

I think of the lawmakers, the consultants, the operatives, and—yes—the center-left media, and how everything said over the past few years leading up to this night was bullshit.

The midterm losses? That was just a bad cycle, structurally speaking; presidential demographics would make up for it. The party establishment made a grievous mistake rallying around Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t just a lack of recent political seasoning. She was a bad candidate, with no message beyond heckling the opposite sideline. She was a total misfit for both the politics of 2016 and the energy of the Democratic Party as currently constituted. She could not escape her baggage, and she must own that failure herself.

Theoretically smart people in the Democratic Party should have known that. And yet they worked giddily to clear the field for her. Every power-hungry young Democrat fresh out of law school, every rising lawmaker, every old friend of the Clintons wanted a piece of the action. This was their ride up the power chain. The whole edifice was hollow, built atop the same unearned sense of inevitability that surrounded Clinton in 2008, and it collapsed, just as it collapsed in 2008, only a little later in the calendar. The voters of the party got taken for a ride by the people who controlled it, the ones who promised they had everything figured out and sneeringly dismissed anyone who suggested otherwise. They promised that Hillary Clinton had a lock on the Electoral College. These people didn’t know what they were talking about, and too many of us in the media thought they did.

We should blame all those people around the Clintons more than the Clintons themselves, and the Clintons themselves deserve a ridiculous amount of blame. Hillary Clinton was just an ambitious person who wanted to be president. There are a lot of people like that. But she was enabled. The Democratic establishment is a club unwelcoming to outsiders, because outsiders don’t first look out for the club. The Clintons will be gone now. For the sake of the country, let them take the hangers-on with them.

With that, as Newell examines the state of the current Democratic party, he suggests that going forward, a new and improved Democratic party needs to be established, and it must not look like the old party. Unfortunately, he recognizes that blaming others for the huge losses will likely prevent it from making the changes necessary to win an election in the near future:

Whoever takes over what’s left of the Democratic Party is going to have to find a way to appeal to a broader cross section of the country. It may still be true that in the long term, Republicans can’t win with their demographics, but we found out Tuesday that the long term is still pretty far away. Democrats have to win more white voters. They have to do so in a way that doesn’t erode the anti-racist or anti-sexist planks of the modern party, which are non-negotiable. If only there were a model for this.

The few Democratic leaders who remain are going to say that it was just a bad note struck here or there, or the lazy Bernie voters who didn’t show up, or Jim Comey, or unfair media coverage of Clinton’s emails, to blame for this loss. I am already seeing Democrats blaming the Electoral College, which until a few hours ago was hailed as the great protector of Democratic virtue for decades to come, and Republicans were silly for not understanding how to crack the blue “wall.” They will say, just wait for Republicans to overreach. Then we’ll be fine.

Apparently the Democrats have already decided that the new party will look a lot like the old party:

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Chelsea Clinton is being groomed for the New York seat held by Rep. Nita Lowey.

Chelsea could run for the seat in NYC’s 17th Congressional District once Lowey, a respected, 79-year-old career politician with nearly 30 years in office, decides to retire, we have exclusively learned.

Lowey’s district includes parts of Rockland and Westchester counties and, conveniently, Chappaqua, the Clinton family home base.

A source told us, “While it is true the Clintons need some time to regroup after Hillary’s crushing loss, they will not give up. Chelsea would be the next extension of the Clinton brand. In the past few years, she has taken a very visible role in the Clinton Foundation and on the campaign trail. While politics isn’t the life Hillary wanted for Chelsea, she chose to go on the campaign trail for her mother and has turned out to be very poised, articulate and comfortable with the visibility.”

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: We just have to make a pact that we will never again vote for any person not already elected President named Bush, Clinton, Obama, Kennedy, or Trump. Enough with the dynasties already. Enough.


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