Vive la liberté! (Part 1 of, I dunno, 50?)

Got another email.


Okay, let’s see what your new favourite guy has to say. I’m not going to bother with the host, because he’s already revealed himself to be exactly as intelligent as he looks. (I’ll be doing this on the fly, because this video is too long to watch multiple times. Really long. Feature-length, in fact.)


‘There’s a couple of things that I like about Trump: one is, he says things that are not politically incorrect.’

Bold claim. Please, elaborate.

‘There’s a difference between being rude and being politically incorrect. Being rude is telling Megyn Kelly she’s bleeding from her … wherever. Being politically incorrect is saying that some immigrants that cross our southern border are criminals.’

Both of which Trump did say, albeit less delicately in the case of the latter. Way to completely gainsay the claim you just made, genius.

‘That’s politically incorrect, but it’s not rude. But, saying Megyn Kelly’s bleeding from her wherever, that’s not being politically incorrect, that’s just being a jerk.’

Unless, of course, we consider:

a) women to be a group that experiences discrimination, in which case it is politically incorrect; and

b) labelling undocumented Mexican workers ‘rapists!’ impolite, in which case it is rude.

In other words, what everybody except you understands those terms—which are not mutually exclusive—to mean.

‘We live in a “me” culture and a “me” time …’

True enough.

‘The Left, for a hundred years, has fallen in love with the idea of the “strong man” …’

Unlike the GOP, whose candidates would never dream of falling over each other to associate themselves with a certain somebody whom they are convinced singlehandedly ended the Cold War.

*** Many minutes of waffle about personality politics and how it’s bad for conservatives, but Bernie Sanders should do more of it ***

‘… if Sanders can stay away from the whole “you’re a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe” thing …’

You mean, the kind of personal attack that you just acknowledged he doesn’t engage in, before insisting that he really should? (UPDATE 14/6/16: okay, he’s kinda started to do it against Trump now that Hillary’s got the nomination sewn up.) And why, I wonder, might Sanders—if he were inclined to such behaviour—elect to use those particular slurs against Ted Cruz? You seem pretty certain that they’d be the obvious go-to, almost as if it’s a ‘whole thing’ with Cruz.

‘Is income inequality something we ought to worry about, or is it just ramifications of a free-market system in which people make voluntary transactions happen?’

Voluntary transactions. Like, say, those with your landlord and your boss. ‘Accept whatever pay and conditions we decide are appropriate, or be homeless and starve. Your choice. Oh, no, there’s no public housing or dole for you, because we decided the government must only exist to protect our property. Yay, freedom!’

‘We’ve broken down into this identity politics that … traps people into a group identity, rather than, “go out and make something of yourself, go out and do something.”’

So, the ‘me, me, me’ mentality you described earlier is a good thing. Right. Because you said it like it was a bad thing.

‘Every society in history has had income inequality.’

Guess your parents skipped their time in the kibbutzim, huh.

‘… you’re not showing me a villain.’

We are, you’re just refusing to acknowledge its presence. Look, this fellow is even pointing at it for you:


Too abstract? Need to put a face to it? Here’s one. Here’s another. And another. Here’s one we saw earlier. Just say when you’d like me to stop. Okay, one more.

‘The problem with the Occupy Wall Street movement … is they were saying, “crony capitalism is bad. Therefore, the government should pick more companies to help. Or, should nationalise companies outright.”’

[citation needed]

‘Being a person who operates in business does not make you a capitalist.’

Unless it’s a for-profit business, in which case it definitely does.

‘… cut off the tie between the government and the private sector completely, which I would certainly prefer’

Sounds familiar.

‘If you’re gonna argue against crony capitalism, you also have to argue against government-subsidised loans for people who can’t afford them for houses, which causes massive economic crashes …’

That’s an interesting reversal of causation. Y’know, considering the government only stepped in to subsidise those loans—that is, to ‘bail out the banks’—after the fact, because the absence of government regulation had allowed your beloved private sector to tank the global economy.

‘… which Bernie apparently doesn’t oppose, right? I mean, he would like more of those things. He would like all of us to subsidise folks with bad credit taking out loans.’

If, by that, you mean he thinks the bailout money would’ve been better spent on shoring up people’s means of shelter, rather than rewarding the finance sector for its utter incompetence, sure. But you literally couldn’t have put it in a more convoluted way.

‘[Bernie Sanders] sees somebody in a room with five dollars and somebody with one, and he immediately says the guy with five dollars must’ve stolen something from the guy with one dollar. Whereas, I say I have no evidence of that until you show me that evidence. Maybe the guy with five dollars produced more than the guy with one dollar.’

Leaving aside the baseless and ridiculous claim about what Sanders would assume about the two dudes in your little thought experiment, WHERE DO YOU THINK PROFIT COMES FROM? Because, apparently, you think it just pops into existence when you produce something.

Hey, maybe the guy with five dollars actually did produce more, is self-employed, and sold his goods in the marketplace. Good luck to him. Alternatively, the guy with one dollar may have produced more, but he works for the guy with five dollars, who sold the goods for six dollars, paid him one dollar for his labour, and kept five for himself. Or maybe, just maybe, the guy with five dollars inherited that room, and as soon as he’s done extracting that six dollars rent from the other guy, he’ll kick him out on his arse and begin the process again with the highest bidder.

I’ll let Michael Hudson explain further (from Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy):


‘I am [in the 1%]. Yeah, I am. But, I mean, it took me a long time to get there.’

You’re 32 years old. You finished full-time study less than nine years ago.

‘I think that’s the only thing that’s charming about Donald Trump. I think you should be proud of how much money you earn in this country, because if you worked to get there—I spent a lot of money going to law school, I spent a lot of time working in the trenches …’

Let’s see now. If you’re in the top 1%, you make at least $400,000 per year. So, $400,000 divided by 52 weeks in the year, divided by, let’s say, six days a week—you’re a religious man, after all—divided by, I dunno, 12 hours a day? My, you have been working hard for your … $106.84 AN HOUR? Goodness, you must have been productive in those trenches! Considering the minimum wage in the US is $7.25 an hour (or $2.13 an hour, if there are tips involved), and given that you think income lines up exactly with productivity, you must have been really fucking productive in those trenches.

‘And I work a lot of hours to make that really good living.’

Okay, so perhaps 15 hours a day, six days a week then? With no vacation time or sick days? $85.47 an hour. According to your logic, that would mean you’re 11.8 times more productive than a minimum-wage worker for every one of those 90 hours you work each week. And that’s presuming you are paid only $400,000 a year. Yeah, that seems reasonable.

‘I think the progressive tax is a bunch of crap … I don’t see why you deserve a bigger percentage of my money because I make more money.’

You say ‘make’. Are you printing that money? Assuming you are actually producing something—legal advice, I guess?—that people are voluntarily buying from you in the marketplace for at least $85.47 an hour, how are they paying for it? Or, perhaps you are making your money from book sales, in which case it’s your intellectual property that’s returning profits for you. I realise you’d like to be John Galt, but you’re really more of a Wilt Chamberlain, only less promiscuous and not—heaven forbid!—black. Still, it kinda undermines your whole productivity–income assumption.

‘All taxes are, is a gangster shakedown. That’s all they are. And so, we can all agree that some gangster shakedowns are worthwhile, because we have to pay for police …’

Is that what gangsters spend their money on? Seems a little counterintuitive.

‘Here’s the problem with any sort of progressive tax … you have three people in a room, two of them are not Bill Gates, and one of them is. They vote two to one that they should take half of Bill Gates’ wealth.’

That sounds a lot like a criticism of majoritarian democracy, and not at all like a criticism of progressive tax. I mean, are there people outside this room? Is there a world outside this room? If so, why are only these three people voting? And if not, you’re describing a Hobbesian war of all against all, in which there is no government to demand taxes from anyone. And what, pray tell, are they going to do with all of this wealth? Is there a vending machine in the room? If not, it’s not really wealth at all, is it? It’s worthless. Money has no intrinsic value. Boy, are you bad at thought experiments.

‘Here’s my basic rule for all legislation and all taxation: if you pass this law, are you willing to shoot the person who disobeys? Because that’s what the government is. The government is just a big people-shooting machine.’

No, you want government to be a big people-shooting machine. Millions of Americans, over centuries, have democratically elected to have governments that are much more than just big people-shooting machines. You don’t like it, but—again—that’s just you not liking democracy.

‘The question is, are you willing to shoot people who don’t pay taxes if those taxes go for the national defence that protects us all? The answer is yes. Because, if nobody pays their tax, then, presumably everybody dies in some sort of terrorist attack.’

Look, I realise it can be difficult to nail down an exact definition of terrorism, but it’s not that.

‘I think the purpose of the tax is just as important as the percentage of the tax.’

So, just cut the 78 per cent currently spent on frivolous things like health, welfare, education, transportation, infrastructure and foreign aid, and people can simply pay their own way? From their $7.25 an hour? Except that, of course, that number will also fall, because you’ve decided the government shouldn’t be allowed to enforce it. But, I’m sure the market will correct for that by dropping prices, despite the complete absence of any incentive for it to do so.

From the Harvard Business Review:


‘Makes no sense. [Sanders] says, “I’m going to tax you five thousand dollars and you’re going to get ten thousand dollars back in medical service.” What magical box did you make that happen in?’

The equivalent of what would currently cost you ten thousand dollars. Because, yes, the public health system is much cheaper and more efficient than the private one.

‘Honestly, I wish Leftist solutions worked, because they’d be the easiest solutions in the world, right? “It’s a recession, tax everybody at 100%, redistribute the wealth”; in two days, the recession’s over. But they don’t work, they’re crap.’

First—with the possible exception of the Communist Party USA’s two thousand (at best) members—absolutely nobody is arguing for that. Second, yes, the recession would be over, because millions more people would have money to spend, and they would spend it. This is a fun little explainer on the deflationary cycle from Salman Khan, but his conclusion is wrong. Khan assumes that people—being rational actors, equipped with perfect knowledge, as they are in most modern economic models—will invariably hoard money. This might be true for those with enough disposable income to do so; e.g., deliver a stimulus package to the banks, and its management will spend it on bonuses for themselves while still refusing to lend people money. But, give a low-income earner an extra $900, and—as this guy successfully demonstrated—they’ll spend it. Because they have to. They simply cannot afford to save it. They’ll pay down their credit card debt, buy groceries or, yes, even a flat-screen TV. Which stimulates the economy. So, third, it’s not crap.

Hang on. 2160 words? That’s probably just about enough for now.





About samquigley

I'm Sam Quigley.
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