Rebirth of Reason

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Saturday, March 12, 2016 - 5:36pmSanction this postReply

Good article... all so true.  But sadly irrelevant in one way.  Trump supporters are Trump supporters for emotional reasons and as we know it is usually the case that people who didn't use reason in adopting a position won't be reasoned out of it.


We are, by nature, are creatures capable of reason, but who also experience emotions.  Each of us, in our own minds, have set some kind of balance, some kind of relationship, some priority between reason and emotion in a given context.  Many of us at this forum have explicitly adopted a reason-first principle when it comes to grasping what is.  But there are many people who treat their emotions as if they were tools of cognition.  Instead of something like, "I think, therefore I am," it is more like, "I feel it, therefore it's true."


We see them seeking a father figure, or they seek someone who mirrors their feelings, or someone who appears to share their beliefs, or someone who will be strong enough to fix things that frighten them.... and they let emotions tell them who this person is, they buy his hats, they wave signs with his name on them, they scream their support at his rallies., and they vote for him.  (By the way, there is little difference between this process applied to Trump and this process applied to Bernie Sanders.  Is there a single Sanders supporter with a thoughtful answer to where the money for his programs will come from?)


Ed, it is a good article, but damned to remain a case of singing to the choir because those people who are choosing by emotion wouldn't read it in a way that opened their minds to its ideas, even if you put it between them and their corn flakes every single morning for a month.  It is reason, and they respond to a certain set of emotional triggers... triggers not found in a reasonable article.


What is scary is that there is some ratio of people of the emotional 'cognition' versus those who reason by principles (correctly or not).  Some ratio that represents where we are at this moment in our political history.  And that ratio, if we knew what it was, might tell us how much further we can go in the direction of politics-by-emotion before too few people will hear reasoned words, and too many people will be angry and use their anger to force their emotionally reached beliefs on the rest of us.  Reason tells me that at some point in time, reason will no longer be effective in our political arena, and since it is the linch-pin of our liberty, liberty will follow reason out the door.  


I don't know what that ratio is.  But I don't like seeing the number of Trump supporters that when added to the number of Sanders supporters are making up a significant percentage of the politically active grass-roots.


Another example of politics-by-emotion is visible on today's college campuses.  All of those little safe-space nazis, those little cupcakes of political correctness who shout down or physically threaten those who believe that speech can be free to everyone - not just free for the angry little social justice warriors.  Progressivism moves closer to its goals by taking its positions to greater extemes (it progresses) and it drives its agenda with identity politics and with ad hominem arguments.  These tactics require moving farther from reason and closer to emotion - to the use of emotion as the 'intellectual' currency and the motivational fuel of politics.

Post 1

Sunday, March 13, 2016 - 12:04pmSanction this postReply

Moreover, that $58.3 billion doesn't include remittances, which were nearly $24.8 billion in 2015.  On remittances.


(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 3/13, 12:05pm)

Post 2

Sunday, March 13, 2016 - 10:27pmSanction this postReply

It really doesn't make any difference what Trump says he is going to do, nor what he actually will do, as far as voting, or not voting for him.  People are voting against the status quo and simply don't care what Objectivists or anyone else says about Trump.  There is no one else worth voting for who has the remotest chance of winning anyway.  The economy will likely tank no matter who is President.  We might be better off with Sanders since we can blame the recession on socialism.  The biggest danger from Trump is that, if he becomes President and the economy tanks, voters will blame Republicans.


Criticizing Trump actually helps him.

Post 3

Sunday, March 13, 2016 - 11:00pmSanction this postReply

It really doesn't make any difference what Trump says he is going to do, nor what he actually will do, as far as voting, or not voting for him.


People need to choose who to vote for and they should be doing it based, at least in part, upon what the candidate says.  As to "what he actually will do" - how does anyone know for sure what that is for Trump?  To me that just means his words about he will do are even more important to focus on.


People are voting against the status quo and simply don't care what Objectivists or anyone else says about Trump.


I've already addressed the issue of choosing a candidate based upon emotion - see above - but almost no one is 100% emotional and therefore not 100% immune to arguments.  It is a matter of numbers.  I'm going to vote against the status quo, but not by selecting Donald Trump.


There is no one else worth voting for who has the remotest chance of winning anyway.


At this point in time, Ted Cruz still has a viable path to the nomination.  I don't see anyone else that does.  Happily, despite Senator Cruz's flaws, he is a strong constitutionalist and a strong supporter of limited government, a government quite a bit smaller in size.  I'd say he is well worth supporting over any of the others.


The economy will likely tank no matter who is President.  We might be better off with Sanders since we can blame the recession on socialism.


Who is in charge when it tanks makes a big difference.  Cruz would be much more likely to choose to fix the problem by massive tax and regulation reduction, whereas Sanders would be more likely to use the crisis to make massive increases in the size of government and will certainly blame Wall Street and Capitalism.


The biggest danger from Trump is that, if he becomes President and the economy tanks, voters will blame Republicans.


Actually, no matter who is in office, they will blame the other side.  If it is Cruz (or Trump) the blame will go on Obama.  If it is Hillary or Sanders, the blame will be on the Republicans, Wall Street and big business.


The biggest danger is allowing either Hillary or Sanders to have the bully pulpit at any time, much less to be the one who nominates the next 3, 4, or even 5 Supreme Court Justices, and has the key spokesperson's role during any crisis of any kind.

Post 4

Monday, March 14, 2016 - 2:24pmSanction this postReply

"Cruz would be much more likely to choose to fix the problem by massive tax and regulation reduction..."


Even if Cruz did that, it wouldn't help.  The demographic problem (aging) in Europe, China, the US and China is insurmountable.  Everyday in the US, about 10000 of US boomers retire.  When you retire, your income drops from the highest level of your working life to zero.  Everything retirees spend, which is less than when they worked - comes out of savings - their own, their retirement plan or from the government and not out of productive work.  The problem is even worse in Europe and Japan.  Central banks have been flooding the system with ever increasing debt - both public and private - in an effort to postpone the problem and kick it down the road.  They are conducting a grand experiment with QE and we are the guinea pigs.  It will ultimately fail with excessive debt making the problem worse.


And Cruz will not likely be able to cut taxes or regulations.  Most large businesses, especially those with K Street lobbies, actually like regulation and taxes as both help keep out newcomers other competition.  Congress, not the president, has the power to tax, spend, borrow and regulate.  Taxes are high due to spending and most spending, despite what we hear about earmarks, are entitlements (politically untouchable).  You could cut the entire Defense budget and all earmarks and you'd still have a deficit.  Minimum wage, which causes unemployment as you know, is also politically untouchable.


That's why I am going to sit this one out and survive (hopefully) my own way.  At this point, if anyone other than Trump is the nominee, there will be a revolt in the GOP and the Democratic candidate will win.

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Post 5

Monday, March 14, 2016 - 3:51pmSanction this postReply

Cruz would be the most likely to attempt to massively cut taxes and regulations and he would be the most likely to succeed in that attempt.


It's true that there ia a bulge in the demographics that relates to the births in those countries with returning WWII veterans - the Baby Boom.  But, like all things living, it is temporary.  I'm one of the first of the Baby Boomers and I won't last that much longer.  My youngest brother is six years younger and there aren't that many after him.  The new 'bulge' in the demographic profile is the Millenials.  They are coming on stream nearly as fast as the Baby Boomers are exiting.  But even if this weren't the case, and even if the demographic shift were far stronger, it wouldn't matter.  The reason it wouldn't matter is the economies are driven by the capacity to make a profit.  That old saw, "Where there is a will, there is a way," well, think of that as, "Where a profit can be made, the will finds a way."  And the capacity to make a profit is goes to full speed by nothing more than government getting out of the way.


As to the business of retired folks spending money from retirement funds... that doesn't matter.  That money is just as green as the money from a productive worker.  What matters is the lure of money to be made, which will marshall the productive resources, drive the hiring, and produce the products and services.


Central Bank activity and QE are the malfunctioning bandaids being applied by people who want to have their regulatory and confiscatory cake but not suffer any collapse.  Get rid of the regulations and reduce the taxes and the need for the bandaids goes away.  It is true that there is a lot of inflationary and regulatory malformations in the economy that would have to be consumed, taken apart by the market, and the resources picked up by the most competitive, but that is always the case with Capitalism.


The entire reason that Trump, Cruz and Sanders are having the successes they are is because the people have finally had it with the establishment and are making choices based upon who they think will say "Fuck you!" to K Street and other special interests.  Fear, anger, and feelings of impotence are not going to be tolerated by the voters for much longer.


True, Congress has the power to tax and regulate, but they have been potted plants and let the president have his way, and have done so while getting their reelections financed by these special interests.  That is why a strong outsider is being selected for president.  Cruz has plans for massive cuts in spending - whole agencies - and massive reform in taxes and in regulations.  He'll go right past Congress and fire up the same people that are angry and have them tell Congress what to do.  I can't for the life of me see why someone would not vote for him rather than one of the others, or sitting it out.  It is like the doctor saying, "Yes, you have a cancer.  Yes, it will hurt to cut it out.  Yes, the odds may only be fifty-fifty or less.  But the alternative is death," and the patient saying, "I'm going to sit it out."  My thought is that if Cruz doesn't win, or if he fails, then I can start sitting it out.


As I write this (and things are changing by the day... literally, by the day), Cruz is moving up on Trump so fast that there would NOT be a GOP revolt if he enters the convention with a majority... which is looking more and more likely.  If Trump gets to the majority, and the convention parachutes someone in from the outside, like Romney, or finagles the nomination for someone with far fewer delegates, like Kasich or Rubio, then there will be a revolt, the convention will end in tatters, and we can start talking about President Hillary.

Post 6

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 12:31amSanction this postReply

Ed and Steve, hear, hear!


" . . . represents the emergence of an open fascism in this country---or, more exactly, the crude elements from which an explicit fascism is to come. / Observe the symptoms: . . . a primitive, undefined nationalism (not a rational patriotism, but nationalism in the form of a collective pseudo-self-esteem)---militant anti-intellectuality . . . ---and force, the explicit and implicit reliance on the 'activism' of physical force as the solution to all social problems. . . . / Lacking any intellectual or ideological program, [he] is not the representative of a positive movement, but of a negative: he is not for anything, he is merely against the rule of the 'liberals'. This is the root of his popular appeal: he is attracting people who are desperately, legitimately frustrated, . . . people who sense that something is terribly wrong in this country and that something should be done about it, but who have no idea of what to do. Neither has [he]---which is the root of the danger he represents: a leader without ideology cannot save a country collapsing from lack of ideology." --Ayn Rand 1968, writing about Presidential candidate George C. Wallace.

Post 7

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 7:02amSanction this postReply

Trump may not have a trade deficit with his grocer. His grocer may patronize Trump's casinos, hotels, or golf courses. Of course, this does not undercut Ed's point. Good job, Ed.


Ed writes about the USA's trade deficit with Mexico. There is also China.


I don't know about Chinese investments in the US in total. I do know that China's sovereign wealth fund owned $1.3 trillion of U.S. Treasuries as of June, 2015. It's likely a little higher now. Anyway, it's likely at least 1.3/18.1 = 7.2% of all US Treasury debt. As the saying goes, money talks.


Suppose a POTUS wants to threaten China with import duties like Trump has done. China putting tariffs on imports from the USA is not the only possible response. What else could China do? Well, China could start selling their US Treasury holdings. Also, to the extent import duties reduce China's exports to the US, it goes hand-in-hand with such selling. They don't need to hold them to conduct trade with the US. Selling, of course, likely means interest rates on US Treasuries rise. The average rate on Treasuries was recently 2.04%. It probably wouldn't quickly affect the overall rate the US has to pay on Treasuries, but each 1% rise would mean an added outflow of 0.01*18.1 = $180 billion annually. Any rise puts pressure on other budget items. Enough 1%'s, and you're talking real money. A 5.55% rise is $1 trillion. Compare it to Federal gov't revenues, spending, and the deficit. In fiscal year 2015 federal government spending was $3.7 trillion, revenue about $3.3 trillion ($438 billion deficit).


There's talk, talk, talk, at the bully pulpit and then there's real-politic, which can be like a military-style obstacle course.


(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 3/16, 7:04am)

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