32:29great irony is that the real ideologicaledge of the whole Bitcoin movement waswas guys like you know James DaleDavidson and REE smog and they therewere sovereign individual these areboomers and all the Xers that followedthem these are all libertarians theybelieve radically in the idea of nogovernment you know and we’re just youknow the with no need for trust I meantalk about an ideal Society for most GenXers no trust necessary so so anywaywe’re gonna do a world with that trustand and that was really it was it wasactually I think an ideological edge toa lot of people’s interest in Bitcoin itwas sort of the kind of world sociallypolitically that they really wantedand unfortunately ideology as you knowand you’ve often spoken about that inyour programs ideology always warps yourmarket driven judgment right big timeyou don’t want to start with ideology ifyou’re marketing an ideology and you’regood at it you might make a lot of moneyin a short period of time but thatdoesn’t mean that your views on it orgoing to be non cyclical and or crashingand that’s that’s that’s what you knowsadly is happening a lot of purveyors or34:47and speaking about money and again thisis sort of very deep sort ofintellectual history there kind of twotheories about the origin of moneyone is the barter theory you know westarted out bothering Bob Barton justtreating goods for goods and then youknow then gold and other things and soon so it’s basically that’s the kind ofthe libertarian theory so the Canadianguy from like the Hudson’s Bay Companylike yeah you know forever that piece ofpaper but then there’s a whole nothertheory which also has a long kind ofintellectual pedigree which is more thepurview of sociologists and that isgovernment the money was really creationof governments and there’s a lot to sayfor that because in fact that’s howmoney wasreally introduce now it’s the governmentpeople right that whole theory thatwhole that whole intellectual pedigreekind of feeds into modern monetarytheory and that is its government thatcreates money I mean forget this wholeidea that it all comes from gold andthere’s some intrinsic value no god it’sa system of Social Credit and Society itmakes a collective decision to create itthey can do it as they wish allgovernment all currency has always beenfiat currency and this whole idea thatonly recently we’ve had fiat currency soanyway that’s the idea behind monetarytheory you don’t have to worry about howmuch you issue because you can issue anyamount you want so long as the economyis it is running at full employment andso long as you keep inflation to youknow down to a reasonable degree now Ialways say that the argument frommonetary theory post GFC is a lot betterthan it was right because no matter howlow we get interest rates we had troublegetting to full employment and inflationnever seemed to show up on our radarscreen so I think this is the reason whymodern monetary theory is so big if thereason it’s going to be practicallyimportant is not now when we’re you knowunemployment is down at 3% and althoughit’s gonna be a big issue come the nextrecession right that’s when it’s gonnahit right and we haven’t even talkedabout that when is the nest recession isthat gonna be perfectly time for thenext election or not right that’s goingto be fascinating there are many moreDemocrats believe in this mmt thencertainly like you said libertarians buttheir but their chances of introducingthat are going to be hugely improved atthe right political juncture with theeconomy on the right conditions yeahwait until the economy is flat on itsback with our unemployment rate up at 1037:19percent and 11 percent whatever it is37:21suddenly the Fed is sitting there37:24flatlining at SERP right not knowing37:26what more they come on yeah hundred37:29mandatory thirty would be back plus huge37:33fiscal spending and you know the two37:35kind of merged together right modern37:36monetary theory and huge37:38of fiscal deficits you’ve been greater37:40than we have now so long as you got the37:42economy back working again37:44what’s the matter we did it with in37:46World War two we did it during the New37:48Deal mm-hmm the green New Deal37:50come on you got bad you got a New Deal37:52and the green New Deal37:53actually we’re getting some questions on37:54that why there’s actually question on37:57climate change if it figures into your37:59outlook does it you know on climate38:02change I’m more of a I have a matt the38:06ridley you know the guy the the british38:10intellectual who who wrote a a number of38:13great books on on genetics and and38:16evolution and so I’ve been equine38:17deterrent because he he actually covered38:19climate change for many many years but38:21he coined the term Luke warming he said38:24he’s a lukewarm ER which means that he38:27thinks it he thinks that rising carbon38:29dioxide levels are responsible for a38:31little bit of warming but not not a lot38:34and not nearly the kind of alarmist38:37picture that people think I’m kind of38:39more of a lukewarm ER what interesting38:42thing warmer sounds like Luke Skywalker38:43it’s like an appeal to people because it38:46sounds like it makes some sense how’s it38:49look warmer yeah a little bit more of a38:51hot because you can’t you know we like38:52it you can’t be like a total like38:54Treehugger or you know you did you got a38:57it sounds like a little bit more neutral38:59yeah kind of sounds disgusting39:02anyway alright great thinking on the39:05economic Turan economic direction39:08long-term Neil Central Bank policy will39:10likely continue to counter the39:12demographic gravity and fall failure39:14will likely manifest in market and39:16monetary crises so slow with chaotic big39:19bumps ahead question mark sounds like39:21more of a comment but a lot of people39:23believe that I got into this with with39:25with Lakai a39:27lot of people believe that no worries39:29more cowbell markets could never go down39:31again no I clearly don’t believe that39:34and and actually I think around October39:36to December you were brown right you’re39:39on this side of the you know this side39:40of the earth on the right side of the39:42grass yeah the markets went down yes39:47this is memories are so short it’s39:50almost like people watch the market day39:52they completely forget what happens you39:54could have lot if you’re along the39:55Russell 2000 which is a pretty broad39:56index of US stocks and now 27 percent39:59from August the 30th to December the40:0124th what could go wrong that’s that’s40:04called a bear market yeah yeah I mean40:06it’s a rash so but I think what what40:10they’re referring to is the idea could40:12could the economy go down yeah and and40:15and not only do I think it will i40:17actually this is all a part with a lot40:20of people i think it’s a good thing I40:21actually do I think that is when we40:24correct institutions and we rebuild40:26institutions I think the idea that you40:29would have an economy just constantly40:30dribble along you know is actually not40:34good for us40:34well there’s many periods of40:36Reconstruction and and not only that but40:38the whole point about market crashes40:41depends which side you’re on if you’re40:43young and you’re being an invest you get40:45to buy into the American dream40:47at a discount there are always two sides40:49to a transaction and I do believe you40:51know when I’ve I see the media following40:53Wall Street all the time and every time40:55markets will go down a treeless type40:56price but whenever the prices go down40:57it’s like a terrible tragedy yeah for41:00all the older people that owned41:01everything but the next generation is41:04coming on right it’s their opportunity41:05there are always two sides to a41:07transaction and and for life to go on we41:12have to think about what’s coming on41:13after us well what you have seen is the41:15opposite like by virtue of not having a41:17recession this is the longest u.s.41:18economic expansion in US history41:20Republicans and Democrats when it comes41:22to monetary policy have gravitated to41:24the same thing there’s no difference you41:26know there’s no difference between41:28Donald Trump wanting more cowbell and41:30Barack Obama wanted more cowbell there’s41:32no difference between this the federal41:34reserve members how they go about their41:37day job that it’s all one in the same41:40thing totally but when the economy goes41:45down again and when we’re back at that41:47you know that zero bound then all this41:50other stuff comes back onto the table41:51and and I don’t believe by the way that41:54you know people talk about inflation the41:58governments can very easily engineer42:00inflation if there were enough I believe42:02Japan was very near that point a couple42:04of years ago and and the way they would42:06have done it was simply to say any42:08worker or anyone with a payroll you put42:12your stuff in a bank and we just we’re42:13gonna index it out by a percent a month42:15or something like I mean thank you guys42:17but but no in other words you can42:20engineer it if you if you have the42:23incentive to do so a Jubilee what are42:25the advantages of that well suddenly now42:27your monetary policy has teeth once you42:31get inflation going again then holding42:33that interest rate low right actually42:36gives traction to your monetary policy42:39and and we are gonna see that if this42:44next time puts us in that same situation42:46we were gonna see a lot of the stuff42:47that was only discussed before yeah and42:49and the inflation to be clear comes from42:51the deflation because the deflation is42:53what causes the inflation so I mean you42:55come from a very asymmetric point42:56there’s big opportunity politically in42:58that and you save the world according to43:00yourself let’s see here43:05there’s a lot of political questions and43:07I want to go there what what would be43:11here this is an interesting one given43:13you join the term Millennials what what43:16would be your biggest long-term bet as a43:18millennial investor given stagnation and43:21slowing growth if it comes to fruition43:27as a millennial so I assume they’re just43:30meaning if you’re Milan you’re looking43:32like what’s the best way to play your43:33outlook good answer I mean I you know43:49other than all the standard answers43:51about you know diversifying your assets43:53and being geographically diversified43:55obviously at a time of crisis you43:57certainly want to be geographically43:59diversified I mean I often get asked44:01which areas of the we you know you’re44:03the demographer which areas of the world44:05I should be you know invested in from44:07that point44:07view and you can see that I mean if you44:09just look at any of my you know 2044:12charts on the subject you can look at44:14you can look at areas which are44:16reasonably decent in terms of you know44:22security legal structure corruption and44:25all that and yet have high population44:27growth so if you’re really looking for44:29that wave you know you’re looking at the44:31at the Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s the44:33Philippines and so on there there is44:35there is again looking at quadrants44:37there is an area there where you can44:40find economies for the long run that are44:43probably going to you know they still44:44have a lot of catch-up to do in terms of44:46productivity they’re still gonna have a44:47proactivity you know dividend over the44:50so if you’re looking long term but be44:53diversified because you know how any one44:55of those countries is gonna go but there44:57are ease of the world where you where44:59you where you certainly particularly if45:01you know if your millennial you probably45:02have a target date fund you know out45:04there I don’t know45:05that’s tough hundred forty five or those45:07four old wall products like those are45:09like you can’t do it within that product45:10so I’m saying if you can take some money45:12out of that product yeah you you’d want45:15to diversify what is it one way to45:17things like Josephine’s for up Neil’s45:19four quadrant map with the countries45:21quickly if you can what I think you’re45:23saying – if I put it within the context45:26of my process is if we go to a slowdown45:29like one that’s beyond stagnating to45:31slow down in the US and then you have45:33political change and you have MMT the45:37dollar is going to get castrated in that45:39environment and those countries that are45:41in quod one that you just showed are45:44gonna have in dollars don’t forget that45:46eeehm does very well when when when the45:49US government is burning its currency at45:51the stake so you know that is you know45:53that is the units the rebalancing of45:56global power so rebalancing of45:57incentives it’s a rebalancing of growth45:59expectations to where you actually have46:01the population growth going okay so46:04that’s maybe another way to think about46:06yeah I I agree with that and it it46:09really depends a little bit on the46:11nature of the crisis I mean obviously at46:13the at the worst of the crisis the46:14dollar was strong because that was sort46:17of the the safe haven currency but as46:19things begin to sort out46:21the dollar may still be strong relative46:23– you’re absolutely right with regard to46:25the EMS but we have I mean if if we46:27follow our sector we you know not only46:29do I do this kind of long term general46:31stuff we actually have particular46:33industries we like and I’ll just mention46:35two of them here because we’ve written46:36about them yeah very particular46:39industries which we’re very bullish on46:41from from a demographic standpoint one46:44is pet care there are a lot of46:47interesting ways you know everyone’s46:49owning pets and boomers and Xers have46:51completely reimagined how we treat our46:53animals right I mean you know everything46:55about them is is you know the food and46:57you know it’s organic it’s every the46:59amount of money we spend on my father47:02treats my his two dogs better than I was47:05ever treated today they know if dogs47:07have now have parents and grandparents47:09and you know they weekend yeah but but47:17another is a huge change there and in47:21particularly assertive although I’m not47:24big social media generally they’ve got47:26the kind of Google Facebook duopoly I’m47:28not very positive on I think that you47:34know online dating is an incredible47:37growth opportunity and we had a piece47:38recently on that because you know47:40virtually everyone is waiting a lot47:42longer to get married older people are47:45getting divorced and that’s an entire47:48area where there’s been very little47:49market penetration in your long the47:51screening process I mean that’s that’s47:52pretty much the other one is cannabis47:55we’ve done a extensive amount of work47:56there you could see that the well we47:58have lifting we home security that does48:01that silly but but it’s it’s not48:03shocking to see Shane Laidlaw as hockey48:07sticking charts on cannabis consumption48:09relative to alcohol consumption yeah and48:11it is he calls it hit paper high or48:14whatever he calls it you know hit for I48:16yeah because it’s a lower it cost less48:18here’s a here’s another question this is48:21this is this is definitely this could48:23take you a whole day to answer this do48:25you need capitalism and favourable48:26demographics for GDP growth48:32well obviously not especially out the48:34GDP growth number you can have it all48:36the time48:37you need you need some form of48:39capitalism just to have any kind of48:40efficiency in your economy so that’s48:42kind of a loaded question I think the48:44more interesting question is do you need48:45democracy and I think that’s becoming a48:48bigger issue I’ve written about that youknow our Millennials giving up ondemocracy I think that’s actually aninteresting global question now we knowfrom a lot of surveys that Millennialsare less interested in democracy thanolder generations and you look at notonly is it true and the UK and in theUnited States but it’s true around theworld now if you look at particularlyEast Asian countries you know with thesenew charismatic leaders in a NarendraModi and India appealing to the theHindu mainstream you look at you knowBurma they’re the Buddhist mainstreamand you know uncle she is appealing inChina to the great Han you know to allof these leaders in Shinzo Ivy appealingtraditional right you and then you go tothis this this madman is in charge ofthe Philippines now you know RodrigoDuterte dirty-dirty duterte as they callit but my point is is that you havethese charismatic authoritarian leaderswho are appealing to the mainstream oftheir countries don’t give a damn aboutwho’s on the fringes right who is votingmost for them younger voters and that isfascinating to me because earlier in thepost-war era the authoritarian leadersmainly were voted for him only about theolder voters younger people didn’t wantthem and that’s changing around and Ipeople often asked me this question whendo we know when the world is going fromhost word of pre war you know when whenare we going from a post-war mood to apre well it’s kind of hard to tell untilyou have the next big crisis right butone key is is that in a in a post-warera it’s the the generation that justcreated the new era they were just wentthrough the crisis so they reallyidentify with the institution‘s theybuild and generally younger people tendto want more freedom they want lessorder they want less rules that wellwrite less conformity and all that buteventually as time goes by rightthose younger leaders are in power andgenerally have a pretty less a fair youknow libertarian world it’s youngerpeople who want more order morecertainty more route you soon I’m goingwith this that is a sign you’re in apre-war little pre-crisis does that lineup with the fourth term absolutely yeahthat’s that’s well that you know I don’tsay pre-war because that kind ofpredisposes about kind of crisis but I Isay pre-crisis pre-crisis yeah for thoseof you that haven’t read the fourthturning that I’m biased because I thinkthat’s your favorite book I think that’smy favorite book I think that wouldprobably be a consensus though is it notyour favorite people’s favorite book51:20that you write it’s it’s either that or51:22the original one we did generations51:24generation shoes yeah that was kind of51:27the first big book I guess we’ve had51:29this question and maybe a good one to51:31wrap up on here because people are51:33constantly asking where do you think51:35Trump the Trump administration fits51:37within your framework of what is the51:39fourth turning I you know Trump and I51:43thought that the two most interesting51:46fascinating and path breakingdevelopments in 2016 were Bernie Sandersand Donald Trump because there’s arecurring edge on both the left and theright of this whole new kind of populismand authoritarianism right the threechairs on the left every bit as much ofpossibilities of thorough tourism on theright and you know Bernie Bernie Sandersis a guy who believes in top-downgovernment just you know government andbaking big decisions creating winnersand losers and you always have to admirethe guy I mean when was the last time wehad leaders just say this is how it’sgonna besingle-payer you know and andMillennials actually gravitate towardthat yeah you know the paradox of choicewhy have so many choices is somethingsmall one choice but it works reallywell right at least and you find thisnow becoming a very dominant view on the52:36left so I think just like Jeremy Corbyn52:39now sort of the you know the elder sort52:40of great champion in the UK of the left52:42of the millennial left and you have52:45Bernie Sanders here but I think that52:47thatthat Donald Trump is the kind of theexponent of the leader the first one whoreally galvanized this new populism butif I had to bet I would say that whenthose final populism finally takes shapein America it’s gonna be a littleafternoon on the right so this is thisis why the you know 2020 election loomsreally large and when you look at youknow futures markets and remember againI come back to this the economy is now53:19at three point something percent53:21unemployment and already you have53:23futures markets predicting right that53:26that Democrats are going to come in and53:28sweep in 2020 wait and until the economy53:32is yeah a little more negative you take53:34that outlook and maybe last question on53:36this if you take that out looking again53:37we’re not I’m not trying to be political53:39I’m not a Republican or Democrat I’m53:40Canadian I’ve said that all the time53:41because it’s it’s it’s of course true53:43but if you look at them if you take that53:46let’s say the economy’s long we have53:47quad three four three quarters in a row53:49that’s my outlook and if that’s the path53:51and and what you just said is still the53:53truth you know what kind of a candidate53:56and what generation could or should they53:58be from within your lens would come out54:01of the Democratic Democratic Party as54:03the as the as a front-runner well this54:06is the big moment for Generation X right54:09you got a lot of candidates in yeah Gen54:12Xers you know you have you have you know54:17Camilla Harris and Bader O’Rourke and54:19you know you know what’s-his-name from54:21New Jersey you know they’re all my age54:23so you’ve Pro cannabis to New Jersey guy54:27yeah but interestingly enough you have a54:33millennial candidate running you know54:35this guy Pete Bennett reach out of South54:37Bend Indiana he’s 37 years old and just54:42to show you and I actually had a piece54:44on that recently I think he came out54:46yesterday but an amazing stat l just54:48leave people this one amazing statistic54:51and that is as as proof of how54:54absolutely disinterested Generation X54:57has been in politics you know they’re54:59way behind the age curve it actually55:01in Congress you know taking the house55:02taking the Senate taking us governor’s55:04at their current age you know boomers55:07had already we’re into the third55:08president and already at pluralities in55:11both the house in the Senate Gen Xers55:13have been so slow55:14you know Gen X is in both parties tend55:16toward the libertarian edge of their55:18party right55:19but as proof positive of how55:21disinterested Gen Xers are in politics55:24we look back and found we looked at all55:26of the contenders for the primaries in55:28the every presidential election since55:33198655:34and for the past almost 30 years55:37the youngest contender in either party55:41was a Boomer all the way up through all55:45the way up through 2012 there were no55:48gen extra candidates actually contending55:51for the presidency obviously in 2016 you55:54had a lot of them the two younger ones55:55were Marco Rubio and that guy from55:57Louisiana you know the governor from55:59louisiana agenda button bobby Jindal56:03they were born in 1975 and interesting56:07Lena 2020 we have a millennial contender56:10so only one year only one president of56:13presidential election was a gen Xer the56:16youngest contender and it’s already56:19moving on to Millennials and this is56:21what anyone who’s read the fourth56:22turning or my books knows we bill and I56:25used to always make the point that56:27Millennials are destined to make an56:29early and strong entrance into politics56:33as a generation and basically filling56:35the vacuum that Gen Xers have left56:38behind even to some extent so they could56:39circumvent Gen X presidential candidates56:42altogether and you know most references56:43and most Gen Xers always knew it was56:45cutting in the cards you know by Stan56:491975 yeah I have a genuine I do not hate56:54but I genuinely don’t like any56:57politician like that I don’t like their56:59parties I don’t like either party and57:01the ones that ran to your point57:03Gen X Rubio like those are like wet57:07Kleenex they feel like that’s not a57:09leader that’s not like you know you57:11don’t memorize your lines and57:12you know so I think that you’re right I57:14mean if you certainly if you take57:15somebody like me I’m just like disgusted57:17by politics and politicians so maybe57:19there is somebody there to inspire57:21somebody because I’d love to change my57:22mind we do we do talk in our ratings57:24about dominant and recessive generations57:26so between the GI generation which57:30fought in World War two you know the57:31so-called greatest generation right of57:33that was in the white house for a long57:36time from John Kennedy you know born in57:38the century all the way up through you57:40know George Bush Senior and then we had57:43a Boomer that completely bypassed the57:46Silent Generation yeah anyone who57:48remembers the Great Depression and World57:50War two as children but were you know57:53not old enough to serve that an entire57:57generation nearly twenty years was57:59completely bypassed for the White House58:01and look what’s coming up they say we we58:04do this we have dominant generations we58:07have recessive generations that’s uh I58:10don’t know if that’s a good or a bad way58:12to end today’s discussion but for us Gen58:15Xers we’re just going to go back into58:16our a political holes and we’re gonna58:18keep you data dependent as we tried to58:20keep you across by the way durations58:22today don’t forget we’re trying to talk58:23about a multi duration framework so58:25whether it’s short term intermediate58:26term or Neil House super long term there58:29are so many different things for us58:30human beings to attempt to contextualize58:32it at the end of the day we don’t know58:34what the real answers are gonna be but58:36we can probability wait how we go along58:38the way in terms of positioning58:40ourselves and being in better spots oops58:42would have been if we were ignorant of a58:44lot of these data’s and economic facts58:50[Music]58:59[Music]
People who read this column know my political ideology: I’m a Whig. If progressives generally believe in expanding government to enhance equality, and libertarians try to reduce government to expand freedom, Whigs seek to use limited but energetic government to enhance social mobility.
Back in the 19th century, during their heyday, Whigs promoted infrastructure projects, public education, public-private investments and character-building programs to create dynamic, capitalist communities in which poor boys and girls could rise and succeed.
Whigs admired people and places that are enterprising, emotionally balanced and spiritually ardent. They had a great historic run — inspired by Alexander Hamilton, led by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, embodied most brilliantly in the minds of Abraham Lincoln and the early Theodore Roosevelt.
The conservative movement—and, with it, the GOP—is in disarray. Specifically, the movement’s “fusionist” alliance between traditionalists and libertarians appears, at long last, to be falling apart.
.. Libertarian disaffection should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP’s rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq.
This woeful record cannot simply be blamed on politicians failing to live up to their conservative principles. Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism.
.. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government.
.. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.
.. the conservative embrace of a right-wing Leviathan has left libertarian-minded intellectuals feeling left out in the cold.
.. New York Post columnist Ryan Sager bemoaned the rise of big-government conservatism and warned that excessive pandering to evangelicals would rupture the movement.
.. Andrew Sullivan denounced the right’s fundamentalist turn in The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back.
.. 13 percent of the population, or 28 million voting-age Americans, can be fairly classified as libertarian-leaning.
.. Back in 2000, this group voted overwhelmingly for Bush, supporting him over Al Gore by a 72-20 margin.
.. Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame caused something of a stir by proposing the term “Libertarian Democrat” to describe his favored breed of progressive.
.. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, fellow Montanan Tester, and Virginia Senator-elect Jim Webb—have sounded some libertarian themes by being simultaneously pro-choice and pro-gun rights.
.. if Democrats hope to continue appealing to libertarian-leaning voters, they are going to have to up their game. They need to ask themselves: Are we content with being a brief rebound fling for jilted libertarians, or do we want to form a lasting relationship? Let me make a case for the second option.
.. the prevailing ideological categories are intellectually exhausted. Conservatism has risen to power only to become squalid and corrupt, a Nixonian mélange of pandering to populist prejudices and distributing patronage to well-off cronies and Red Team constituencies.
.. Liberalism, meanwhile, has never recovered from its fall from grace in the mid-’60s.
.. Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods.
.. But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends.
.. many of the great libertarian breakthroughs of the era—the fall of Jim Crow, the end of censorship, the legalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce laws, the increased protection of the rights of the accused, the reopening of immigration—were championed by the political left.
.. capitalism’s relentless dynamism and wealth-creation—the institutional safeguarding of which lies at the heart of libertarian concerns—have been pushing U.S. society in a decidedly progressive direction.
.. The civil rights movement was made possible by the mechanization of agriculture, which pushed blacks off the farm and out of the South
.. Likewise, feminism was encouraged by the mechanization of housework.
Greater sexual openness, as well as heightened interest in the natural environment, are among the luxury goods that mass affluence has purchased.
.. secularization and the general decline in reverence for authority, as rising education levels (prompted by the economy’s growing demand for knowledge workers) have promoted increasing independence of mind.
.. Yet progressives remain stubbornly resistant to embracing capitalism, their great natural ally.
.. Knee-jerk antipathy to markets and the creative destruction they bring continues to be widespread, and bitter denunciations of the unfairness of the system, mixed with nostalgia for the good old days of the Big Government/Big Labor/Big Business triumvirate, too often substitute for clear thinking about realistic policy options.
.. the rival ideologies of left and right are both pining for the ’50s. The only difference is that
- liberals want to work there, while
- conservatives want to go home there.
.. Both generally support a more open immigration policy. Both reject the religious right’s homophobia and blastocystophilia. Both are open to rethinking the country’s draconian drug policies. Both seek to protect the United States from terrorism without gratuitous encroachments on civil liberties or extensions of executive power. And underlying all these policy positions is a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value.
.. their conceptions differ as to the chief threats to that autonomy.
- Libertarians worry primarily about constraints imposed by government, while
- liberals worry most about constraints imposed by birth and the play of economic forces.
.. At the same time, some of the resulting wealth-creation would be used to improve safety-net policies that help those at the bottom and ameliorate the hardships inflicted by economic change.
.. Progressive organizations like Oxfam and the Environmental Working Group have already joined with free-market groups in pushing for ag-policy reform.
.. the current subsidy programs act as a regressive tax on low-income families here at home while depressing prices for exporters in poor countries abroad—and, to top it off, the lion’s share of the loot goes to big agribusiness, not family farmers.
.. the president of Cato and the executive director of the Sierra Club have come out together in favor of a zero-subsidy energy policy.
.. cut taxes on savings and investment, cut payroll taxes on labor, and make up the shortfall with increased taxation of consumption. Go ahead, tax the rich, but don’t do it when they’re being productive. Tax them instead when they’re splurging—by capping the deductibility of home-mortgage interest and tax incentives for purchasing health insurance. And tax everybody’s energy consumption.
.. Gore has proposed a straight-up swap of payroll taxes for carbon taxes
.. Greg Mankiw has been pushing for an increase in the gasoline tax.
.. libertarians’ core commitments to personal responsibility and economy in government run headlong into progressives’ core commitments to social insurance and an adequate safety net.
.. Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is now projected to increase from about 9 percent of GDP today to approximately 15 percent by 2030.
.. We can fund the Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs for the poor; we can fund unemployment insurance and other programs for people dislocated by capitalism’s creative destruction; we can fund public pensions for the indigent elderly; we can fund public health care for the poor and those faced with catastrophic expenses. What we cannot do is continue to fund universal entitlement programs that slosh money from one section of the middle class (people of working age) to another (the elderly)—not when most Americans are fully capable of saving for their own retirement needs.
.. Instead, we need to move from the current pay-as-you-go approach to a system in which private savings would provide primary funding for the costs of old age.
Romney’s rhetoric on China and immigration was a more restrained version of Trump’s nationalist pitch, and here and there he tried to imitate Franklin Roosevelt’s promise, updated crudely by Trump, to be a traitor to his successful class.
.. the defining pitch of the Romney campaign was the tone-deaf “you built that,” which valorized entrepreneurs and ignored ordinary workers; the defining policy blueprint was a tax reform proposal that offered little or nothing to the middle class; and the defining gaffe was the famous “47 percent” line, in which Romney succumbed, before an audience of Richie Riches, to the Ayn Randian temptation to write off struggling Americans as losers.
.. that failure lay the opportunity that Trump intuited — for a Republican candidate who would rhetorically reject and even run against the kind of corporation-first conservatism that Romney seemed to embody and embrace.
.. Trump has mostly turned his back on his own economic populism
The best of the current Republicans (the Paul Ryans, the Ben Sasses, the Mitt Romneys) have certain common features that should be appealing to the electorate. They seem to have the home life of the family man. They have the discipline and diligence of the organization kid. They have the looks of the pretty boy. Yet the public still rejects them, because the voters find their ideas even more unpleasant than Donald Trump’s odious personality.
.. But he could also perform a service by showing that he has learned something from watching Trumpism succeed where his own campaign failed — which would mean steering a different and more populist course than those NeverTrump Republicans who pine for a party of the purest libertarianism, and those OkayFineTrump Republicans who are happy now that Trump has given them their corporate tax cut.
.. Right now there is a small caucus in the Republican Party for a different way, for a conservatism that seeks to cure itself of Romney Disease by becoming genuinely pro-worker rather than waiting for a worse demagogue than Trump to come along.
In the United States, Trump is leading something that is best described as plutocratic populism, a mixture of traditional populist causes with extreme libertarian ones.
.. The puzzle, Wolf says, is why this is a politically successful strategy.
.. Pierson argues that Trump entered the White House with a set of inchoate ideas and no real organization. Thus, his administration was ripe for takeover by the most ardent, organized and well-funded elements of the Republican Party — its libertarian wing.
.. “We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. . . . We just need a president to sign this stuff.”
.. But what if people are not being fooled at all? What if people are actually motivated far more deeply by issues surrounding religion, race and culture than they are by economics? There is increasing evidence that Trump’s base supports him because they feel a deep emotional, cultural and class affinity for him.
.. And while the tax bill is analyzed by economists, Trump picks fights with black athletes, retweets misleading anti-Muslim videos and promises not to yield on immigration. Perhaps he knows his base better than we do.
.. Polling from Europe suggests that the core issues motivating people to support Brexit or the far-right parties in France and Germany, and even the populist parties of Eastern Europe, are cultural and social.
his repeated use of the word “fake” to describe news coverage when he actually means “unpleasant” and his style of rhetoric in front of the United Nations, where he called terrorists “losers” and applied a childish epithet to the head of a nation in whose shadow tens of thousands of American troops serve and with whom nuclear war is a live possibility, are all cases in point. There is no way to formalize conventions of maturity and dignity for presidents. Custom fills that void.
.. When he violates such customs, Mr. Trump is at his most impulsive and self-destructive. It may sound ridiculous to invoke James Madison or Edmund Burke when we talk about this president, but that is part of the problem. Mr. Trump could profit from the wisdom of his predecessor Madison, for whom the very essence of constitutionalism lay not in what he derided as “parchment barriers” — mere written commands there was no will to follow — but rather “that veneration which time bestows on every thing.” The Constitution, in other words, would be only as strong as the tradition of respecting it... Burke is generally seen as the progenitor of modern conservatism, but Mr. Trump, who came late to the conservative cause, is said to be so hostile to custom that his staff knows the best way to get him to do something is to tell him it violates tradition... demagogic campaign rallies masked as presidential addresses.. because many elements of his base associate these customs with failed politics, every violation reinforces the sense that he sides with them over a corrupt establishment... Historically, conservatism has tended to value light governance, for which custom is even more essential. Aristotle writes that “when men are friends they have no need of justice.” In other words, rules enter where informal mechanisms of society have collapsed. The philosopher and statesman Charles Frankel summed it up powerfully: “Politics is a substitute for custom. It becomes conspicuous whenever and wherever custom recedes or breaks down.”.. Since Woodrow Wilson’s critique of the framers’ work, progressive legal theory has generally denied that the meaning of the original Constitution, as endorsed by generational assent, wields authority because it is customary. Much of libertarian theory elevates contemporary reason — the rationality of the immediate — above all else.
.. The president’s daily, even hourly, abuse of language is also deeply problematic for a republic that conducts its business with words and cannot do so if their meanings are matters of sheer convenience. The unique arrogance of Mr. Trump’s rejection of the authority of custom is more dangerous than we realize because without custom, there is no law.
Bannon’s grand ambitions should inspire the same soul-deadening déjà vu, the existential exhaustion, with which Bill Murray’s weatherman greeted every morning in Punxsutawney, Penn. They should bring to mind both Friedrich Nietzsche’s idea of eternal recurrence and his warning that if you stare deep into the abyss, it stares into you.
.. What Bannon is promising is what the Tea Party actually delivered, in a past recent enough to still feel like the present: a dramatic ideological shake-up, an end to D.C. business-as-usual, and the elevation of new leaders with a sweeping vision for a new G.O.P.
.. The ideological shake-up took the form of paper promises, not successful legislation. The end to D.C. business-as-usual just created a new normal of brinkmanship and gridlock. And when the Tea Party’s leaders — Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, above all — reached out to claim their party’s presidential nomination, they found themselves steamrolled by a candidate who scorned all their limited-government ideas and offered, well, Trumpism instead.
.. when it comes to governance, Trumpism turns to have two fatal weaknesses:
- the dearth of Trumpists among elected Republicans, and
- the total policy incapacity of Trump himself.
So having failed in his appointed role as Trump whisperer and White House brain, Bannon has decided to do the Tea Party insurgency thing all over again, except this time with his
- nationalist-populist cocktail instead of the
- last round’s notional libertarianism.
.. Maybe the Tea Party was a dead end, but some Trumpist primary candidates will finally produce a Republican Party capable of doing something with its power.
.. His professed nationalism, with its promise of infrastructure projects and antitrust actions and maybe even tax hikes on the rich, is potentially more popular than the Tea Party vision ..
.. But this imaginative exercise collapses when you look at Bannon’s own record and the candidates he’s recruiting... At the White House, Bannon did not manage to inject much heterodoxy into any part of the same old, same old Republican agenda. But he did encourage the president to pick racialized fights at every chance... his new grass-roots populism promises to be more of the same:
- a notional commitment to some nebulous new agenda,
- with white-identity politics and the
- fear of liberalism supplying the real cultural-political cement... Especially because the would-be senators he’s recruiting are a mix of cynics and fanatics who seem to share no coherent vision, just a common mix of ambition and resentment... if you believe figures like Roy Moore and Erik Prince are going to succeed where Trump is obviously failing, I have some affidavits attesting to Harvey Weinstein’s innocence to sell you... He and his allies are the latest group to recognize the void at the heart of the contemporary Republican Party, the vacuum that somebody, somehow needs to fill.
- .. The activists and enforcers of the Tea Party era tried with a libertarian style of populism.
- Paul Ryan tried with his warmed-over Jack Kempism.
- My friends the “reform conservatives” tried with blueprints for tax credits and wage subsidies.
.. now they, too, need to reckon with a reality that has confounded every kind of Republican reformer since Barack Obama was elected: Our politics are probably too polarized, our legislative branch too gridlocked, and the conservative movement too dysfunctional and self-destructive to build a new agenda from the backbenches of Congress up, or even from the House speaker or Senate majority leader’s office.
.. Our system isn’t really all that republican anymore; it’s imperial, and even an incompetent emperor like Trump is unlikely to restore the legislative branch to its former influence. So if you want to remake the Republican Party as something other than a shambolic repository for anti-liberalism, the only way it’s likely to happen is from the top down —
- with the election of an effective, policy-oriented conservative president (which Donald Trump is not),
- surrounded by people who understand the ways of power (which Bannon, for all his bluster, didn’t) and
- prepared to both negotiate with Democrats and bend his own party to his will.
.. I would not be wasting my time trying to elect a few cranks and gadflies who will make Mitch McConnell’s life more difficult.
Instead I would be looking for the thing that too many people deceived themselves into believing Trump might be, and that Bannonite populism for all its potential strength now lacks: a leader.