Thursday, September 17, 2015

Transactional democracy and "free stuff"

Apropos of Monday's post on democracy and transactions, we offer this rather arresting chart from Heritage via TaxProf and Instapundit:


Looked at this way, Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" comment might have been "60 percent" and remained within the boundary of political truth. Which, of course, only would have made it more catastrophic.

Fortunately for people who earn more than they consume and pay more in taxes than they collect in benefits, American voters are not, as individuals, moved only by their individual economic considerations. Democrats wonder "what's the matter with Kansas?", meaning that they are bewildered by voters who "need" more from government but vote against the party that would deliver more. And there are of course people in the top two quintiles who vote for more "free stuff" even though it comes out of their own pocket. Indeed, the real fights in American politics are often about questions of values or symbols that influence identity far more than mere money. That does not mean they are any less often available to be traded for votes, but they are certainly less susceptible to rendering on a graph.

We see the economic and non-economic considerations most acutely in the candidacy of Donald Trump. He guns for the popularly "undeserving" rich by proposing to tax carried interest as ordinary income, which hurts the "hedge fund guys" and will surely result in more "free stuff" for some people in lower quintiles. He argues forcefully for reduced immigration on that basis as well -- an influx of low-skilled workers who compete against our least-skilled certainly depresses the wages of workers in the lower two quintiles. But Trump also appeals to American identity, with most of his rhetoric around "winning," national greatness, and a fundamentally traditionalist view of American exceptionalism, including some of its best (leadership) and worst (nativist) strains. Whatever one thinks of Trump, his meritage of "free stuff" and inspirational themes feels like a winner -- or might be if it were polished up a bit and disassociated with Trump the man -- however much the mixture offends both the ideological purists and the politically correct.


"The Hammer" said...

TigerHawk would you be so kind as to define what the word "nativist", as you understand it. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? How nativist are Americans as compared to the rest of the world? Do you believe in open borders? Do you see things from a self interested nationalist perspective or are we citizens of the world? Tell us your world view on mass migration.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

While we're on this, Hammer, would you be so kind as to define what you mean by "open boders"? Furthermore, would you suggest that open borders is what the United States of America maintains?

LL said...

There is a historical precedent to making a nation, down on its fortunes "great again". I am not anti-Trump, but I've seen films of the rallies at the Reichstag. My point here is that saying "America for Americans" at this point after 7 years of "You didn't build that" Trumps the opposition and gains instant traction.

The people in fly-over country believe that they have no voice. Donald Trump has said, "I will be your voice". To TigerHawk's point, we have no idea how that would be put into effect and how a Trump presidency would execute. I'm not sure that Trump knows, but he's schooling himself and bringing in bright tutors.

Neville Chamberlain was succeeded in office by Winston Churchill. Politics tends to swing that way more often than not when you have a soft, weak, compliant leader who screws up everything he touches. Chamberlain was fortunate to die a month after he left office so that he didn't see what he wrought with his pacifism in the face of a serious threat.

TigerHawk said...

I will, at some point quite soon, write a nice long post on the immigration question, and I suspect that on the policy points The Hammer and I are not so far apart. Suffice it to say at this point that there are numerous reasons to worry about -- shall we say -- generous immigration from poor countries. Those reasons range from the utilitarian (poor people burden taxpayers, they depress wages for our poor people, and so forth) to the cultural (our country is best served if one language dominates and if it is not bilingual in any official or even non-official capacity) to the partisan (fewer immigrants will help Republicans win) to the arguably ugly (at least some of the assertions that call for keeping out particular nationalities or racial groups versus other foreigners). It is possible to make a strong argument for much-reduced immigration entirely on the basis of the first two, without drifting in to the second two. And speaking for myself, I rather like Latinos, including the many I know both personally and who work for me. But that does not mean I would not support securing the border and much-reduced quotas.

"The Hammer" said...

I would define open borders as pretty much what we have now. Rudimentary border security resulting in a flood of illegals from God knows where, a visa system that allows people in but after that has no idea where the visa holder is or isn't physically located (until they're arrested for driving their F150 into two teenagers sitting at a red light killing them both), sanctuary cities, the federal government -who's primary mission is the security of the American people- turning loose known illegal aliens including many with violent, criminal histories...good enough?

My question for TigerHawk, which seems to have touched a nerve with you, is his views on nativists (which he slings around like it's a BAD thing) vs. a multiculturalist, which is what I suspect he is. I am a nativist, and damn proud of it. I don't view the world as one big happy family. I don't see Iranians as just like us, just different, therefore if we treat them like brothers they will act like brothers. I think this is a silly and dangerous world view.

Back to the original point, I think open borders THE most dangerous of all Obama's policies. Every illegal that enters my country reduces my power for self determination. They hinder my ability to take care of MY old and infirm, MY disabled and MY poor. Many illegals are thieves, not all but many. Many come here for the freebies. But even the one's who do work take billions out of OUR economy and send it overseas to build their home country's economy. They take jobs from our working class and drive down wages. But even if none of that were true, they are NOT Americans and have not "absolutely and entirely renounced and abjured all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen." We have no moral, legal or ethical obligation to them whatsoever. So why are they here? Why allow them in our house to rob us blind?

You guys REFUSE to get this. You say "Oh yeah, we're on board, gotta get this immigration thing fixed". We believe you, just not your candidate. We've been lied to too many times. You want to know why Bush hasn't a hope in hell of getting this nomination when he had every advantage? You want to know why he's at 5% or 6% percent and can't get out of second gear? You want to know why Perry flamed out almost immediately and Trump is still pulling huge numbers? Coulter said it in her column yesterday: "Today, the fight in the Republican Party isn't over abortion, guns or the Sandinistas; the dividing line is immigration. Will we continue to be the United States, or will we become another failed Latin American state?" And contrary to everything you've witnessed these past few months, these candidates refuse to acknowledge this fact. Why? Because the big money LIKES illegal immigration. It's VERY profitable.

Until I see a blog post from one of you guys saying Trump is a clown and an idiot but he's dead right on immigration therefore you are withholding your support for Marco (or whomever) until he/she wakes up and smells the roses, I will continue to assume it's not that important for you either.

TigerHawk said...

I think Trump is *close* to right on immigration. I read his whole plan (in addition to Ann's book), and I agree with most of it. I think that demanding that Mexico pay for the wall is just grandstanding and pointlessly inflammatory, but I agree with a lot of it.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Thanks Hammer. You have ended any hope I may have had for trying to pursue commonality with you on immigration. Defining "open borders" as "pretty much what we have right now" creates a dynamic between the two of us in which, because I believe you incapable of real judgment and discernment on this issue, and I can't justify further time wasted arguing the point with you.

"The Hammer" said...

Well that's usually how my debates end, you just told me to go F myself more civilly than most.
Look CW, I'm easy. I just want the law applied as written. Those laws I don't agree with I'm willing to live with until we can get them changed. That's it. If anything I've said in the past is not consistent with this statement, please bring it to my attention.

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