The criticism of Trump which few will utter – Marginal Revolution

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Aaron David

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

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  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    Conors piece is worth reading as well.Report

  2. Avatar j r
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    says:

    The good news, if that is what one should call it, is that the best criticisms of Trump involve the concept of individual liberty and freedom from arbitrary legal authority and pure presidential discretion. The bad news is that so few intellectuals have the relevant ideological vocabulary in that regard.

    This is the relevant section for me. And I included the first sentence for context. I actually think that the message is stronger if you just read the second sentence.Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    says:

    Tyler Cowen seems remakably incurious as to why so “few will utter” this criticism.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird
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    Politics is the art of figuring out who gets to do what to whom.

    If your goal is to hold the whip someday, it’s a lot easier to see someone else getting to hold it as part of the deal of you getting to hold it someday and someone who says “let’s get rid of the whip!” is someone who opposes your goal.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      “Politics is the art of figuring out who gets to do what to whom.”

      If you walk around with that as your operating understanding of politics, can you really be surprised when it doesn’t turn out well?Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        It’s a much more realistic view than “they just want to help” lies people tell themselves.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Chip Daniels
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        It is rather reductionist.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        Is that a criticism for Jaybird, or a lamentation of politicians who hold that view.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          He can’t answer that question. We are stuck in a meta conversation about politics that makes it next to impossible to actually affect politics. We can only affect the conversation and even that is fleeting.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r
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            says:

            I think he can answer that question. It’s a form of reductio: if you (Jaybird but whoever) think that politics is solely about who does what to whom, then even the purest ideal of libertarianish, non-coercion-based, freedom-for-all with a minimalist “night-watchman’s state” can’t be justified.

            Or in other words: that level of cynicism is impossible to reconcile with reality. Any reality.Report

            • Avatar j r in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              Or in other words: that level of cynicism is impossible to reconcile with reality. Any reality.

              Agree to disagree, because I don’t think that there is any achievable level of human cynicism that could approach the reality of our political system.

              More to the point, ask yourself this question: why is Chip’s initial question ambiguous? Is it ambiguous on purpose? Does it matter if it was intentional or not? (Fine, that’s three questions, but they’re all the same)

              Politics doesn’t care what you think. You can think libertarian thoughts. You can think socially progressive thoughts. You can think alt-right, white supremacist thoughts. As long as the primary mode of political interaction is people ruminating on their own identities, power will coalesce somewhere that we’re not paying attention and do what power does.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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              Sure, it can be justified. One option is to be sufficiently paternalistic/maternalistic and see the people you’re doing things to as children, for example.

              It doesn’t have to be *MEAN* things that the powerful do to those with less power. Many of those in power probably want to think of themselves as benevolent and magnanimous and doing nice things can help with that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                Sure, it can be justified. You just need to be sufficiently paternalistic/maternalistic and to see the people you’re doing things to as children.

                Offering an easily rejected account of other people’s views of government is an example of the cynicism I’m attributing to you, Jaybird. Again, if your view of politics is that it reduces to a who gets to do what to whom calculus, none of it – even minimalist courts and cops gummint – can be justified. That’s just those guys getting to do stuff to some other folks.

                Which is a strange thing for you to say, given past comments about how the US system compares to some other types of gummint.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Of *COURSE* it can be justified.

                Heck, here’s an example: “there are so very many people who are not equal to us and they’re not equal in the more powerful sense of not being equal… we should team up and do a better job of standing up against them!”

                Earlier, you used Disney as one of the reasons you wanted a government big enough for it to be worrisome if Trump got his hands on it.

                This is an example of who gets to do what to whom but it’s nice.

                But it doesn’t stop being who gets to do what to whom.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                Earlier, you used Disney as one of the reasons you wanted a government big enough for it to be worrisome if Trump got his hands on it.

                Huh? I said that Disney has more political power than I’d prefer any institution to have. Nothing to do with Trump. Nothing to do with government, except to make the point that shaping the will of the people constitutes political power, and governmental figures CAN do that.

                It’s very interesting to me that you would interpret my words so radically different than basic meaning expressed. Here’s the comment the list – the Koch Bros, Disney, the NYT – were examples of: “No man or woman should have so much political power over others.”

                In saying that I was just expressing a basic fact of our modern life Jaybird, without judgment or censure.

                More to the point: your argument makes no sense, since you’re expressing other people’s arguments for government which you reject as examples of “who gets to do what to whom” even tho you (apparently!) reject that logic.

                And even more to the point, if that and only that is what you think politics reduces to then there is no calculus to determine better policy from worse. Which I assume – could be wrong! – you think is a reductio on the initial premise.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                “No man should have so much political power over others.”

                I’d tend to agree. It’s just that libertarians tend to see a government strong enough to stand up to these people/organizations as being far more likely to be co-opted by them than oppose them in some weird principled manner.

                Please don’t see my “who gets to do what to whom” as anything more than expressing a basic fact, without judgment or censure.

                There are of course calculi to determine better policy than worse. The problem is that there are different calculi that depend on different premises and the calculi that we use to pick which premises that we should use to pick our calculus for determining better than worse are beyond my ken.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                and the calculi that we use to pick which premises that we should use to pick our calculus for determining better than worse are beyond my ken.

                Well, no they aren’t. You apparently think that a smaller government, one which doesn’t have the power, via democracy!, to say who gets to do what to whom is a premise in an argument.

                If not, what the hell have we been talking about?

                Also, the libertarian ideal of a teensy tiny government suffers from the practical problem of being so small that private interests can overthrow/coopt it. Of course, the libertarian response is that government has already been overthrown/coopted by private interests.

                Well, it’s a balancing act, isn’t it? Gummint has to keep enough people happy to prevent violent revolution. Principles just don’t necessarily hold. Accept in utopias and negative critiques. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                is a premise in an argument.

                Try to see it as more of a conclusion. Maybe the outcome of Disney’s next copyright case or the legislation that the Congress will pass on Disney’s behalf will help you see my perspective on this.

                As for this part of the sentence: You apparently think that a smaller government, one which doesn’t have the power, via democracy!,

                I’ve come to realize that the government is not the horse in this dynamic. It’s the cart.

                Well, it’s a balancing act, isn’t it? Gummint has to keep enough people happy to prevent violent revolution.

                The last thing you want is the people up’n and saying “You know what? Let’s alter the deal.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Try to see it as more of a conclusion.

                Sure. A conclusion that becomes the premise to another argument. That’s the thing about premises: they’re actually conclusions too. 🙂

                Maybe the outcome of Disney’s next copyright case or the legislation that the Congress will pass on Disney’s behalf will help you see my perspective on this.

                No, I don’t think it will cuz my point about Disney – and the NYT and the Koch Bros (as I said upthread!) – is that their political power has nothing directly to do government but rather shaping the will of the people, thereby indirectly even while causally effecting policy. That said, I’m not at all sure what your perspective is on this. I thought you were providing an analysis here. If you’re just saying that lots of people are motivated to use governmental power to hold the whip, well, there’s no disagreement between us. (Unless you think governmental politics reduces to whip-holding in the absence of any other considerations, in which case we’re right back in it.)

                I’ve come to realize that the government is not the horse in this dynamic. It’s the cart.

                I recognize and appreciate that you’ve moved on to rejecting the view that gummint is the sole and unique source of all our collective problems, since I (for one) also reject that view. But personally I hesitate to say that gummint is the merely the cart in all this. All sorts of shenanigans prevent the “horse” from actually determining outcomes. For better or worse, as the case may be. (We’re seeing the cart/horse problem played out in real time within the GOP as we speak.)

                The last thing you want is the people up’n and saying “You know what? Let’s alter the deal.”

                Depends on the deal, don’t you think?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                Depends on the deal, don’t you think?

                Looking at history, I’d say that it more depends on the people. There were quite a few revolutions that did more harm than good and there are quite a shortage of really awesome ones that weren’t regretted a generation after they ended.

                Which is not to say that the situation prior to the revolution was a good one and those who got didn’t get what they had coming to them. They quite regularly did.

                It’s just that the new bosses quite regularly had stuff coming to them as well.

                And those that followed them. And on. And on.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                There were quite a few revolutions that did more harm than good

                Yeah, revolutions don’t always work out very well. Even revolutions rejecting paternalism. Crazy, ain’t it?Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          My ears were burning so I’ll answer.
          It was directed at anyone who sees society in those terms.
          I say society, because politics is just the process of how we decide to organize ourselves.

          It strikes me less as cynical and world weary, than fundamentalist and dualistic.
          You are either dominant or submissive, master or servant.

          It doesn’t seem to be open to the notions of collegiality, brotherhood, trust and mutual respect.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            How much collegiality, brotherhood, trust, and mutual respect were shown to Eric Gardner and Freddie Gray?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kolohe
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              says:

              You think that just because they were killed on the roads or sidewalks that if society didn’t have any then they’d still be alive.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kolohe
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              How much collegiality, brotherhood, trust, and mutual respect were shown to Eric Gardner and Freddie Gray?

              An adequate amount. One was a morbidly obese diabetic / asthmatic who suffered a heart attack when subjected to an ordinary police tackle. The other had a freak accident in a paddy wagon which was almost certainly no one’s fault but his. Neither of these men were mistreated by law enforcement.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Art Deco
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                ” Neither of these men were mistreated by law enforcement.”

                Yeah….while I’m prepared to give a bit of benefit of the doubt in these two cases, it’s not that much.

                Not when I’ve seen examples of lies, testilying, and countless videos of illegal crap pulled by cops on civilians.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon
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                Police executing a man for killing a police dog (that was set loose to attack him, when he wasn’t in any immediate danger of harming any civilian, and wasn’t actively attempting to hurt the police) springs to my mind.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Damon
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                You’re bound and determined to think ill of a class of people, and you will. Nothing to do with me or them.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Art Deco
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                A class of people?

                No. Cops aren’t a separate class. They are a group of people however, and this group has been, and continues to, take liberties and short cuts while doing their jobs, a job I pay them for.

                What do you think about your employees that disobey the rules, abuse their employers, and generally make things worse? I call them “unemployed”.

                Now, I’m not saying that all cops are bad. I’m not saying that they can be provoked and the do make honest errors/mistakes. I’m not saying they don’t have a difficult job. I’m saying we have enough anecdotal evidence to state that some work needs to be done to fix some serious problems.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Art Deco
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                One was a morbidly obese diabetic / asthmatic who suffered a heart attack when subjected to an ordinary police tackle. The other had a freak accident in a paddy wagon which was almost certainly no one’s fault but his.

                Thanks Art, no one has analyzed these two incidents in such detail or with such care.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to trizzlor
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                You know that windmill isn’t worth tilting at, right?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to trizzlor
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                There’s not much else to say in either case, unless you want me to enlarge on the skeezy state’s attorney in Baltimore running a show trial of every police officer that Grey crossed paths with, which, I cannot help but notice, does not bother the don’t-touch-my-smartphone civil liberties obsessives here one bit.

                Unless you fancy that Caesar Goodson

                http://www.trbimg.com/img-554412ce/turbine/bs-md-gray-profiles-goodson-20150501

                took out a hammer and icepick and pounded the latter into his passenger’s neck, Grey had to have toppled over backward into a protrusion. Since he’d been shackled, cuffed, and placed on the floor, that wasn’t going to happen without his efforts. As for the ‘rough ride’, pretty deft of Ofc. Goodson to run it so as to get to the station with one moribund passenger and one uninjured passenger. Marilyn Mosby is stomping on six city employees for the advancement of her career and her husband’s, and the only effect it will have apart from injuring the six people involved is to further send the morale of the Baltimore Police Department into the toilet.

                As for Garner, he was manhandled by the officers for all of nine seconds after refusing to comply with lawful instructions. You could not persuade the District Attorney that those officers disregarded a risk that an ordinary person would have perceived. There’s a reason you couldn’t.Report

              • Avatar Fortytwo in reply to Art Deco
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                Every moral compass needs a butt end. Thanks for all your comments illustrating how morally defunct modern conservatism is. If one has no compunction as to how citizens are treated we are headed towards authoritarianism.Report

  5. Avatar Francis
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    says:

    “It is sad to see so many people [not sharing my concerns]”

    well, it’s a strange old world and most people don’t think much of your philosophy, Tyler. So instead of being quite so contemptuous, maybe you should think about why people disagree with you, and why you are saddened by the existence of that disagreement.Report

  6. Avatar trizzlor
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    says:

    Let’s give Cowen some credit for not insinuating that people are like this because they fetishize power or are addicted to government goodies.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to trizzlor
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      No need. Scott Sumner has that part of the waterfront covered.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Art Deco
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        … and had I been a more careful reader I would have noticed that Friedersdorf also lead with that in the column Cowen linked to. It’s like that old George Carlin joke about driving: anyone who wants a broader definition of government power than me is an idiot or a fascist, and anyone who wants a stricter definition is an idiot or an anarchist.Report

  7. Avatar pillsy
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    It is sad to see so many people, including those on the Left or in the Democratic Party, criticize the idea of a Trump presidency without ever uttering the phrase: “No man or woman should have so much political power over others.”

    This is truly strange, given that many of the criticisms of Trump focus on the fact that he claims he’ll be able to do a ton of shit that he won’t actually be able to do.

    Cowan remembers Trump is the, “Build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it,” guy, right? It seems like it would be hard to forget, but I still feel the need to double-check after reading that.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to pillsy
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      “many of the criticisms of Trump focus on the fact that he claims he’ll be able to do a ton of shit that he won’t actually be able to do.”

      And so many of the other criticisms are that the shit he says he claims he’ll do is, like, really bad.

      The funny part is when the same people make both criticisms at once, sort of a “terrible food! and such small portions!” thing.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
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        And so many of the other criticisms are that the shit he says he claims he’ll do is, like, really bad.

        And then turn around and claim that we need to elect Hills/Bern because they’ll do things that they won’t actually have the power to do.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          My biggest (or perhaps second biggest) objection to Sanders is that he’s also constantly claiming he’ll do things the President can’t do. Less awful things than Trump, sure, but building fantasy castles out of rainbows is not that much more worthwhile than building them out of bile.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy
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            Yeah, it’s why I can’t feel the Bern, even if his lack of establishment cred makes him attractive to me.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy
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            The important thing is to normalize the whole “vote for me, get everything you ever wanted” tactic.

            If we can get people to not be able to tell the difference between achievable campaign promises and pie-in-the-sky ones, the status quo can stick around longer.Report

          • Avatar dexter in reply to pillsy
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            @pillsy, What are some of the things that Senator Sanders has promised that he won’t do.
            At least he didn’t vote for the Iraqi invasion and doesn’t think that mass murderer Kissinger was a great Secretary of State.
            And, oh yeah, I will vote for Clinton because, while I don’t think much of her, I loathe the republican with the heat of seven O stars going nova.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to dexter
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              She’s more than people liked to speak of her as — pugnacious, sure, but also deft and with a wit bright enough to catch organizational problems, and enough of a silver tongue to get other people to cotton on to her ideas.

              She doesn’t make the best candidate, but Obama didn’t either (he’s horrible at debates, his campaign sweated bullets during ’em. Biden, on the other hand, has that Irish taste of the blarney stone… Never had to worry a moment on that one, just give him a few prompts (Malarkey!))Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to dexter
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              It’s less, “Won’t do,” than, “Can it conceivably do.”

              For instance, how is he going to implement free-at-point-of-service “Medicare for all”? Even if he had the kind of Congressional majorities that Obama did in 2008, there’s no way that could pass, and it’s really not clear (to put it mildly) that it would work as described.

              His plan to break up “too big to fail” banks is… seriously underspecified, and really only plausible when compared to Trump’s fantasies about the wall.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to pillsy
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                Run some anti-trust against the banks. Let the judges decide.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kim
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                Why enhance yet again the legal profession’s opportunities to be officious, incompetent, arrogant, and rapacious?

                That aside, unless there is some sort of collusive pricing going on, the financial sector hasn’t run afoul of the anti-trust laws properly conceived. Too many players in the market.Report

              • Avatar Francis in reply to Art Deco
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                A. Pursuing anti-trust cases is part and parcel of the DOJ’s statutory authority.

                B. In 2008, the very size of the financial institution at risk forced the government to treat them far more deferentially than they deserved.

                C. If lawyers are all that incompetent, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s good lawyers who win cases.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Francis
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                I don’t give a damn if a lawyer is ‘competent’ or ‘incompetent’ according to the standards of his guild. I do care about whether or not they are competent to run businesses. They are not, of course.

                Whether or not it is within the statutory authority of the Holder-Lynch crime syndicate to do this or that is not my concern. My concern is whether or not consumer welfare could possibly be advanced by any action on their part. The point of anti-trust law at its inception was to combat the effect on consumers of collusion and monopoly. Managing implicit cartels is certainly easier the smaller the number of players you have, but bigness is a correlate of badness; it is not badness in and of itself (in the realm of which we are speaking). As a matter of policy, a restructuring of the financial sector one might argue is in order; not, however, on anti-trust grounds.Report

              • Avatar Francis in reply to Art Deco
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                “Holder-Lynch crime syndicate”

                oh AD you’re such a charmer. Are you spooling up for another rant predicting that the good yeoman stock are going to rise up and toss me and Burt in the deep fryer?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Francis
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                No, just strip you of your citizenship and deport you to Argentina. No need to create any martyrs. Just take out the trash.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Art Deco
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                It’s so cute how you think you get to define who is and isn’t a real American citizen.

                I do like the threat of stripping people of citizenship. It’s so very totalitarian of you. I admit, you can pull it off if you add some jackboots.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Morat20
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                Just taking my cues from our appellate judiciary, who fancy that they’re the school administration and the rest of us are just kids. I notice the disposition is favored by the lawyers in these parts.Report

              • Avatar Francis in reply to Art Deco
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                This from the individual who just a day or so ago was talking about the importance of civility in his family history.

                I guess that apples sometimes do fall far from the tree.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Francis
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                You’re rather more malevolent than anyone my ancestors had to contend with.Report

              • Avatar Francis in reply to Art Deco
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                I’ll take that as a compliment.

                bless your heart.Report

              • Avatar dexter in reply to pillsy
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                @pillsy, Thanks for the reply. I do agree that some of Senator Sander’s wishes are not completely thought out, but all I can say about that is, Sir Edmond, there is no way that you can climb that mountain.
                And I really, really detest Kissinger and anybody who thinks he was a great SoS is, in my mind, seriously deluded. I believe the world would be a better place if he had been hanged for war crimes.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to pillsy
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      Cowan remembers Trump is the, “Build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it,” guy, right? It seems like it would be hard to forget, but I still feel the need to double-check after reading that.

      I get that “Build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it,” operates as a dismissive joke, but what happens when you stop and consider that, of all the promises being made this election, it is far from the most absurd?

      Here’s an exercise: construct a list of the most absurd conspiracy theory-sounding things that the U.S. government has done over the last 100 years or so. Start with Teddy Roosevelt signalling to Panamanian rebels (Panama was part of Colombia) that the U.S. would be friendly to a revolt, followed by Roosevelt sending a gun boat down to make sure the Colombians couldn’t counter. Go right up to the CIA using a fake vaccination drive to try and find Bin Laden DNA in Abbattobad. Include the extra-judicial assassination of U.S. citizens using flying robots and the Bay of Pigs and overthrow of Mohammed Mosadegh. And then slip in “U.S. uses threat of financial sanctions to force Mexico to pay for construction of border wall.”

      Find someone who doesn’t know about any of this stuff (you shouldn’t have to look far) and ask him to pick out the obviously made up one. Repeat a bunch of times. How sure are you that the Mexican border wall wins the plurality?Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy
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    I vaguely remember Jason Kuznicki refusing to endorse a candidate during the 2012 election because he could not bring himself to support anyone eager to wield the vast powers — particularly the creation and execution (no pun intended) of a ‘kill list’ — the President now holds.

    I tried to Google the piece and can’t seem to find it. Perhaps I’m misremembering but it was the kind of argument that really made me think differently about something.Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    1. What does Cowen mean by political power?

    2. Why is holding political power over others worse than having other powers over others? What about the power that employers have over employees? I am not merely talking about while on the job. At-Will employment allows employers to fire employees for off the job activity and/or structure employment in such a way that all time can seem like employer time. Why is that not bad? Why is the boss power so okay with libertarians?Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw
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      My take, political power leads to government power, which as we recently discussed in another post, is ultimately the power to imprison and kill (even if ideally that power is restrained by due process).

      That is a power no private employer has.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        I think libertarians really overvalue the difference between “follow the law or the state will imprison you and your family will starve” and “follow my order or I’ll fire you and your family will starve”.

        But even granting that, there’s the related issue that federal power is often used as a check against state power. I’m much less worried about Trump convincing Congress to build his wall or deport millions of people than I am worried about brown folks in North Carolina forced to take a spelling test before they vote. There’s no adversarial Congress in backwoods NC, and the local bureaucrats either don’t care or designed the law to do exactly this.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor
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          It’s a similar power dynamic, but one of vastly different degrees.

          Thinking about it, the employer’s power is checked much faster than the governments, i.e. an employer in an area with limited opportunity who employs people of limited means has considerable power, although still limited. My employer has damn little power over me, since I live in a place with considerable opportunity, and I have a robust enough skill set that I can take advantage of those opportunities. But against the government, I am at a considerable disadvantage, although I can make them work for it, should I enjoy due process (and given that I am white & educated, that is a good bet; yay privilege!).

          Of course, if I had assets enough to be a notable person, my power with respect to the government begins to approach parity.

          Ideally, the government should use it’s vast power to help balance the power differential between such parties (such as things like facilitating Unions to a degree, and whistleblower protections). The fact that government doesn’t always do this is why we should be concerned about what kinds of people hold political power over us.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            >>My employer has damn little power over me, since I live in a place with considerable opportunity, and I have a robust enough skill set that I can take advantage of those opportunities.

            And this might be why libertarianism is so popular with the Valley types, who typically have opportunity, education, race, and wealth on their side. If I was a minority dude living in Ferguson, routinely got hassled and nickel and dimed by the (mostly white) local cops, and knew that – just as a matter of statistics – I was less likely to get an interview callback than a white dude with the same resume + a criminal record …. well, I wouldn’t be cursing the expansive power of the DOJ.

            Note that, aside from due process, you also have the power of the vote against the state, whereas you only have the power of the dollar against your employer.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor
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              says:

              My dollar goes a lot further with my employer than my vote does with my government.

              While your other point has merit, the power of the fed/DOJ is a double edged sword. A DOJ can be aggressive toward the Ferguson’s of the land, or it can whitewash their behavior, depending on who’s holding the leash. Which gets at the root of this discussion, which @Kolohe summed up nicely.

              PS this is not to say the DOJ should not have said power, but rather, that said power should, perhaps, not be so readily employed at the discretion of a single person.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                >>My dollar goes a lot further with my employer than my vote does with my government.

                Is this generally true? Let’s take two scenarios: (a) Big Corporation dumps some waste on your property and you threaten to sue them they commit to using their vast wealth to tie up the case; aggressively counter-sue to waste your resources; hire people to stand outside your home in a threatening way; all within the law. (b) The town first selectman does something equally corrupt and you threaten to go to the media and petition the voters to recall him, going to state or federal government if necessary. Where do you have more power?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, that’s changing the hypothetical now, isn’t it.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to trizzlor
              Ignored
              says:

              If I was a minority dude living in Ferguson, routinely got hassled and nickel and dimed by the (mostly white) local cops, and knew that

              You need to take what the Department of Justice and Alex Tabarrok say with a grain of salt. Tabarrok’s beef about the speeding fines neglected the obvious: the main beltway around St. Louis runs through Ferguson and tickets on that section of the beltway are returnable in the Ferguson municipal court whether they’re written by municipal police, county police, or state police.

              That aside, look at the politics in Ferguson: there was no political mobilization there among local homeowners, as you might expect if locals were actually being harassed by the police. The ‘demonstrators’ were from out of area (and some of them collecting sorosphere bounties).Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                There are many many reasons why you wouldn’t see political mobilization in the presence of harassment. The DOJ civil rights report had enough specific examples of harassment, with only CYA from the department, to convince me.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to trizzlor
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, but you’re easy meat.

                You have politicians running without opposition in Ferguson in a black majority town. The blacks in question are prosperous working people who, by and large, own their own homes. It was a satisfied society.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                What are you talking about? Ferguson has a poverty rate nearly 2x the rest of the country, median home value 0.5x, median income 0.7x. Prosperous society?! Is this just an attempt to waste my time looking up statistics?Report

        • Avatar Autolukos in reply to trizzlor
          Ignored
          says:

          It’s usually easier to find a new job than to get out of prison before the state wants you to.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to trizzlor
          Ignored
          says:

          I read that article, and the title is not exactly accurate to the story. Hell, in my case, the only reason I could email one of my previous bosses, who was Indian, was that the first four letters of his last name were so unique, he was easily found in the Outlook search function.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        That is a power no private employer in American currently has.

        My alterations now make your statement “true”.

        But by and large, private employers CAN’T do those things (in America) now. But historically, that has…not been the case (everything from company towns to, well, slavery). Of course, the reason they can’t do these things is because government stops them.

        In fact I rendered it just mostly true — What do you call locking employees in until they’ve finished their work, even if they’re no longer being paid? That happens, you know. And that’s a totally legit, legal business. What about illegal brothels, drug operations, sex trafficking — you’d be quite right in that they get away with that because they’re illegal businesses, and legalizing them would prevent them from imprisoning or even killing employees.

        But again, because government stops them.

        That’s not to say government is some unalloyed good, but it’s the power to kill, hurt, or imprison all the way down. What’s the quote? Government prevents all abuses of power save that which itself performs?Report

        • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Morat20
          Ignored
          says:

          What do you call locking employees in until they’ve finished their work, even if they’re no longer being paid? That happens, you know. And that’s a totally legit, legal business.

          What you’ve described is called ‘unlawful imprisonment’ in New York and it’s a Class E felony. You’re going to have to do better than making assertions if you want to convince someone that this is a common practice.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20
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          says:

          Government prevents all abuses of power save that which itself performs or allows?

          Which is my point. Government doesn’t have to do bad things, it just has to decline to investigate, or prosecute.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            What you are getting at here, intentionally or not, is the interlocking fields of private and public power.

            Looking at places as disparate as the Soviet Union and the Jim Crow South, private power over others was matched and connected to governmental power. They weren’t detached or coincidental power relations.

            In the Soviet Union, the same old family, ethnic fields of power were reinforced by the governmental power. If you were a party boss for example ,your son would be given acceptance to the best schools, while your enemies would see their sons investigated.

            In Jim Crow, white property rights were respected, while black rights were not.

            Seeing public and private power as somehow separate or even antagonistic to each other yields bizarre results.

            It isn’t even as simple as saying “Lets reduce the power of others over us”- the cornerstone of even the most minarchist state is the establishment of a monopolistic regime of property definitions and boundaries, enforced coercively over minority dissenters with as much violence as needed.

            Further, the foundational creed of libertarians is strong property rights, that is, erecting a legal wall around each property claim, and declaring it to be a feudal fiefdom into which the state may not enter.
            An expansion of rights if you are a property owner, a reduction in rights if you are not.

            And if you are an unpopular minority such as a Native American, you may find that your claim to property is somehow ignored or overruled.

            Again, private power working in concert with public power. They are never detached from each other.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
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              says:

              It’s quite intentional, I assure you. That power relationship is both necessary & terrifying.

              The goal is not to eliminate the power or pass it completely to individuals or corporations, it’s to bind it such that it can not exercise that power capriciously or with abandon, at least not without threatening the legitimacy of the authority to do so.

              Strong property rights is one way to do that, a bill of rights is another, but neither is the pinnacle of such methods of restraint, just two of the ways we happen to do it (see, I listen to you).

              If things like the weakening of the 4th amendment, among other things, weren’t a reality, my concern over that power relationship might not be.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Who is doing the binding? How are they effecting action?
                Taking a vote or something?

                After you have turned property owners into feudal lords, who will bind them, and check their power?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Who is doing the binding? How are they effecting action?
                Taking a vote or something?

                That is kind of what that whole Constitution & Checks & Balances thing was supposed to be about, along with voting. The thing about voting is I think it has an effective population limit, and we’ve long since passed that. I wonder if it isn’t time to set an upper limit on how many people a legislator can represent, and as our population grows, the population of legislators has to grow as well.

                After you have turned property owners into feudal lords, who will bind them, and check their power?

                Who granted them that power? Back in the days of feudal lords, power was cemented by King & Church through a mandate from God, and that worked, right up until the people decided they’d had enough and God failed to show up to legitimize the authority of the King & Church.

                But as I said, strong property rights are but one way to bind the power of government. I happen to think they are a useful tool because they are measurable and objective, to a degree (mineral, air, and water rights complicate the picture, but seem to be navigable). I think such rights can also be legitimately constrained by government so as to discourage the accumulation/hoarding of property, or any other such negative impact that is concerning, but as with all things, the rules need to be clear and objective and not subject to the whims of governing bodies.

                Anyway, the question isn’t about property rights, it’s about implementing the means of limiting the exercise of power such that it is not used in an arbitrary and/or capricious manner. Or, looping back, if you are not comfortable with a person like Trump having his hands on the levers of power, perhaps it isn’t about Trump, but a realization that you’ve allowed the limits on those levers to slip a bit too much.Report

  10. Avatar Mo
    Ignored
    says:

    even though I agree with the outcome, the logic is pretty facile. Because I don’t think Trump should command the largest, most powerful military in the world, eliminate the military! Because I don’t want Trump to control the nuclear football, we should destroy the nuclear football.Report

  11. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    It is sad to see so many people, including those on the Left or in the Democratic Party, criticize the idea of a Trump presidency without ever uttering the phrase: “No man or woman should have so much political power over others.”

    Damn. I feel that way about the Koch Bros. And Walt Disney. And the New York Times….

    Trump’s political power over others is largely the result of non-governmental forces. Will of the people and all that. Bush massaged the meaning of “torture” to include torture and no one griped about the extent of HIS political power over others.

    Oh wait. {Damn…}Report

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