Gasp! A Trump Supporter!

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267 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    Derek, you’re such a racist, misogynistic hater. One might accuse you of being libertarian with all you FYIGM attitude. /sarcasm off. 🙂

    Let’s not forget that, while Trump maybe be less pro gun rights than many would prefer, he’s damn well not as anti gun as HRC. I wouldn’t vote for her on that alone given her her support for another “assault weapons ban

    I’m more dubious about “the wall”. I’ve seen the wall outside of Naco. Baring any electronic monitoring, I think it’s scale able if someone is prepared. I’m not really sure a wall would work, but I’m damn well sure putting something there beside a cattle fence composed of 4 strands of barbed wire at a height of 4 feet isn’t a deterrent at all either. I think it would be more effective to put pressure on the illegals here while giving new entrants a more effective path–such as a faster guest worker process.Report

  2. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Minimum wage and/or redistribution increasing employment is the Laffer Curve of the left.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:

      This seems to be acknowledging that the Laffer curve is stupid. So I guess that’s progress.

      I don’t think liberals see increased minimum wages as a path to HIGHER employment (though there is research that paying somewhat more decreases turnover and has positive effects on labor costs, which is a related but different issue). We see it as a way for people with full time jobs to not be destitute. Which seems like a good goal.Report

  3. Avatar j r says:

    One of the biggest problems with contemporary politics is the extent to which people put too much weight on matters of political identity and too little weight on policy. So, happy to have someone coming out and writing about why he thinks that Trump’s policies are the right ones or at least the best of what is on offer.

    So, from a policy perspective, there is something very wrong with your first and third reasons. I’m all for simplifying the tax code and incentivizing more businesses to do their business in the U.S. as opposed to overseas. The problem with Trump’s plan is just that the numbers don’t add up. His overall tax policy would drastically cut revenues. Personally, I support cutting taxes, but for that to make sense it has to be met with cuts on the expenditure side of the ledger, which is the opposite of building a proposed giant white elephant border wall. And it’s hard for me to take a point of view seriously for gigging Hillary Clinton for not understanding the economy, while simultaneously advocating against immigration.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      Outside political identity, Hillary Clinton has mental stability issues that disqualify her from being president (not that she won’t win, barring Trump doing something unbelievably stupid).

      Banning all immigration is something that we ought to do, and do now. We won’t have enough food for the people we’ve got, soon enough, and every single person who comes in now will vote “identity politics style” for more people to come from home. Voting in such a way to create more refugees is stupid. Even future refugees.

      I stopped listening to his economic argument when he said that the rich would ordinarily support small businesses.Report

  4. Avatar J_A says:

    I don’t know how to start

    First, I don’t have much recollection about Derek from other posts of comments. I’m just going on what I’m reading here, and nothing of my comments is about Derek himself

    1- Taxes

    “I doubt anyone in Congress or the White House understands this. They all still look at a closed system for jobs and buildings in this country — or even less realistically, that they can close the system again.”

    Minor nitpick: I don’t doubt that’s the case of Congress, but the Obama WH seems to me very technologically savvy, and quite clear about the real world. Of course, without Congress, what they can do about the real world is very little.

    “…. The easiest place for a company to place its profits is at the manufacturing site. If the workers cost much less, this helps out even more, since the expenses in a manufacturing site is largely payroll and overhead.”

    This sentence was a big red flag to me, because it’s true only in the limited sense of specialized accounting nomenclature.

    The biggest COST elements in manufacturing are the cost of raw materials and input into the manufactured product (that accounts call “cost of production” or “costs of sold good”) and the machinery and equipment costs (depreciation in accountinguese). Labor, overhead, and O&M, what accountants call expenses, are a distant third in manufacturing costs

    Derek’s analysis ignores the largest costs, materials and equipment, plus other big items like larger than labor costs, like transportation costs. Either he’s not fully conversant with manufacturing cost structures and is just following the word “expenses” in a Profit and Loss statement, in which case his analysis will be deficient, or he’s making a sleight of hand.

    “…EG has 100,000,000 reasons to use location strategy and place its factories in low tax countries (likely somewhere in Latin America, East Asia, the South Pacific, or selected European nations like Ireland) and shift a large amount of the profits to these locations.”

    Latin America is not a low tax environment. Corporate taxes in Panama are 32% with far less deductions than the USA corporate taxes. This is quite standard for Latin America. Chinese corporate taxes, and provincial taxes, are quite heavy also. Yes Panama offers zero corporate tax FOR ACTIVITIES TAKING PLACE OUTSIDE OF PANAMA, which obviously doesn’t include manufacturing. The low corporate tax paradises of Ireland or Estonia are not known for low labor costs, or for manufacturers establishing factories there.

    Because manufacturing normally takes place in high corporate tax countries, transfer pricing normally minimizes the selling price of the good to the next stage in the chain: the intermediary. Here’s were Ireland, Estonia, Panama, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (bet you didn’t know about those two-even more popular than Ireland) or the Caymans come in. The intermediary buys the cheap manufactured products from the Chinese affiliate, and then sells it very dearly to the next link in the chain, the final retailer. Here is where the profit is made. Low tax or totally tax free because the transactions are all offshore. The goods never come to Panama, Ireland or Luxembourg. And you don’t need a single person in that country. It’s all a paper transaction.

    Finally, the final retailer sells it to the end user in a high tax environment at a minimum profit. Taxes have indeed been minimized.

    But there is no relationship between transfer pricing and employment. Labor is not located in the low tax jurisdictions, waiting for the USA to cut their corporate taxes so factories can move from China to Georgia.

    And how do we make the tax cut revenue neutral? Do we close the tax loopholes at the same time too? And how we make sure they don’t come back? It’s much easier to create a tax credit than it is to raise a tax rate.

    And if you are not concerned about revenue neutral, please explain what expenses should be cut. Waste, fraud and abuse are not budgetary line items, so they don’t count.

    There’s a lot wrong in the USA tax code but cutting the corporate tax, and I’d support a major overhaul. But an across the board corporate tax cut will have almost zero impact in labor. This is not a new Trump proposal. It’s old Paul Ryan style Republicanism. Cut taxes to the rich and magical things happen to the WWC.

    2- Regulations

    Regulations BAAAAAAADDDDDDD!!!!!!!!

    What regulations are bad? Can we get into details?

    Should we cut workplace safety regulations? This thing about giving workers safety hats is expensive. And girly.

    Environmental regulations are stifling job creators Those regulations about mines polluting rivers are a nuisance. There’s perfectly good corporate sold bottled water you can buy if you don’t like the water from your dead river. And if your children get sick you can always sue the Delaware LLC that has no assets but holds all the contingent environmental liabilities to bankruptcy and get all of $10,000 they had as equity (you can transfer contingencies to shell companies too)

    There might be useless regulations that should be scrapped (Texas and hair dressers, come on?). But because there’s a lot of regulations I like, and a lot more that I would like implemented, until I hear specifics about what regulations should be scrapped, I’m very suspicious of this language. Language, again, that has nothing from Trump in it and zero difference from what Mitt Romney was saying

    3- The Wall

    Besides the fact that it will be tremendously costly to build, man and maintain, and won’t be paid by Mexico; besides the fact that it will have a massive environmental impact by blocking animal routes (damn regulations); besides the fact that it will take decades and won’t be finished even if it’s started due to the fact of how the USA budgets multi-year projects in single year appropriations; besides all that, the wall does not address the fact that the majority of illegal aliens come in legally and overstay their visas.

    Or are we going to block Latin Americans from visiting DisneyWorld. Good luck with that.

    If you really want to cut illegal immigration, and actually induce a lot of migrants to leave, the best thing you could do is short term migrant workers programs. Most illegal immigrants would rather work in the USA for a season a yeR, of for a couple of years, and then go home where their USA income and savings allow them and their families to have a much better standard of living.

    But because crossing back and forth is so difficult and dangerous, once here, they stay and bring in their families. And voila, 12 million people, a lot of which would rather be elsewhere, are here permanently.

    For people that supposedly understand so well the motivations of capital, and the differences in relative costs ans taxing regimes, it’s astounding Republicans can’t understand that the same applies to the economic calculations of illegal migrants.

    Perhaps is not about the data, but it’s all about the feelings about the data.

    4- Hillary supports an increase in the minimum wage

    Enuff said. I can’t imagine anything more anti-labor than that, except perhaps giving people health coverage. I can see why the WWC is so against her. Fortunately Trump doesn’t want them to make more money flipping burgers.

    Snark aside, I don’t see really anything about Trump in the OP. Except for the wall It all looks to me like reheated Republican talking points from Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      The Obama administration is a notable fan of drone technology 😛

      “If you really want to cut illegal immigration, and actually induce a lot of migrants to leave, the best thing you could do is short term migrant workers programs.”

      This is kind of my thought–that the way to deal with illegal immigration is to hand out green cards at the Tijuana border stop. Which seems paradoxical, but what it *does* is allow all those immigrant laborers to file complaints about employer practices without being deported. And that inability to complain is why immigrant labor is so much less expensive than hiring American citizens.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        The Obama administration’s use of drones is widely criticized on the left. Were the choice between the drone-loving candidate and the drone-hating candidate, with everything else being roughly equal, we would be having a different discussion entirely.Report

      • Avatar J_A says:

        Really? Green cards at Tijuana? That’s what you understand a guest worker program is?

        I understand now the dense part of your name. What does the duck stand for?Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Maybe my sarcasm detector is on the fritz, because I took @densityduck’s comment to be in earnest, and I basically agree with it. If you want people to comply with the law, making it really easy to comply with the law will help.Report

          • Avatar J_A says:


            It might be the words “green card” that set me off, because a green card (permanent residency in the USA for life, and the ability to bring your spouse, your children and your spouses’ children) is nothing like a six month guest program.

            If we are talking about giving the guy a six month working visa in Tijuana (which was one of Bush 43’s proposals), and once the picking season is over go back to your wife and kids somewhere in Mexico until the next year, then yes, we are both in agreement. That would be a better way to manage the illegal immigration problem.Report

            • Avatar Murali says:

              One problem with that and we’re seeing that in Singapore is that on a guest worker program, guest workers who complain often have their guest worker permits revoked. Suppose they complain directly to ministry of manpower. Their current employer gets fined or jailed. If their employer is in jail, their work permit expires and they get sent back (and the chances of coming back are slim*). If the employer is still in business, then the employer just doesn’t renew the work permit. A more open green card system actually makes wages fairer. The idea roughly is that just as barriers to exit can create barriers to entry, barriers to entry can also create barriers to exit. If you make entering the US very difficult, guest workers are going to be less willing to leave because permission to work in the US becomes a scarcer and more valuable good and thus they will be more reluctant to leave. Think about it as raising or lowering the expected alternative to negotiated agreement. The higher it is, the greater your bargaining power.

              *Well not exactly. I’ve known of a number of guest workers who have come in multiple times. But they are generally older and have had large gaps between those stints. This suggests that it is somewhat difficult even if it is not nearly impossible.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              Give them a green card. Let them file complaints with the EEOC. Suddenly, magically, there’s no more jobs for non-citizens, because they’re just as much trouble as citizens and they don’t speak English.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Seriously guys, green cards are permanent residency permit, for life, you and your family, no restrictions about what jobs you and your family do, and you can become a citizen after five years.

                I’m talking about a short term seasonal work visa, that might or might no be tied to a specific employer or kind of job (fruit picking for instance) or a specific state.

                They are vastly different things.

                When we start using the wrong names for something then people react to the wrong thing. Failure to communicate and all that.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Give them a green card. Let them file complaints with the EEOC. Suddenly, magically, there’s no more jobs for non-citizens, because they’re just as much trouble as citizens and they don’t speak English

                Not far enough. As I’ve stated before, and people don’t quite seem to know what to make of it, here’s my position:

                I don’t want people in this country without any political power. I mean, okay, kids aren’t exactly responsible yet, and someone who is just passing through as a tourist is…whatever.

                But every person in this country trying to live in this country, try to work in this country(1)…should be a voting citizen, because the second we start having non-citizens run around, we’ve created a class of people without political power, and they will be abused. Not as obviously as someone here illegal, but they will still be completely ignored by the government…a government, I must point out, they are paying taxes to.

                I think people realize this about people here *illegally*, but have failed to notice that someone here *legally* who cannot vote also has less power. And the more existence of a class of people who don’t have power weakens the amount of power people right above them have, also.

                And, moreover, this violates the fundamental concept of democracy. If someone is under the laws of the US, they should be able to help set those laws.

                There are exactly *two* solutions to this, to be an actual democracy. Either don’t let people in, or let everyone who is in vote.

                1) Student visas are tricky. I’m not *worried* about those people. Someone on one of those is *probably* is wealthy enough to have some level of power, including the support of institutions in their own country. OTOH, I don’t see the problem of letting them vote.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                People come here because there is work.

                There’s work because Americans are expensive.

                Americans are expensive because laws require them to be so.(*)

                Laws are enforced by the government because when they’re broken, people complain.

                Employers hire illegal immigrants to do the work because, as they’re illegal, they cannot complain, and so from the employer’s perspective they’re a lot cheaper.

                If the immigrants suddenly can complain, then they’re no longer cheaper and there won’t be as many (if any) jobs for them.

                (*) and before you get your nose all up in the air, I think that they’re expensive for good reasons, reasons like “buildings should have fire escapes” and “people who work with toxic chemicals should have appropriate protective equipment”Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Employers hire illegal immigrants to do the work because, as they’re illegal, they cannot complain, and so from the employer’s perspective they’re a lot cheaper.

                Yes. But my point was that extends past that. People on work visas, despite being here legally, also cannot really complain.

                If they publicly complain about their specific company, they could get fired…but that’s true of everyone. Although they get sent home, so that’s *really* not an option.

                But they also can’t *secretly* complain the way other citizens in a democracy can do…by voting for people who will try to fix the problem.

                Even people on green card, permanent residents, cannot get things fixed. For example, our immigration system has astonishingly long delays in it. I don’t mean the deliberate ones to make people wait, but crazy-ass backlogs and broken internal systems. But, by definition, the people stuck in this system cannot vote, so what politician is going to offer to fix it?

                Voting is, in many ways, a very weak power. But it is, at least, *some* power.

                A long time ago we decided that some people should have that power…assuming they were white male property holders. We’ve slowly reduce the exceptions to people who have that power to…’people we’ve arbitrarily decided they don’t have that power because they weren’t born in the boundaries of the US’.

                But it’s government for the *people* and by the *people*, not government for and by the *group of people we’ve defined as citizens*.

                Age requirements, sure, we don’t think you’re competent to make large decisions before a certain age. Residency requirements, sure, you have to live in a place *some* amount of time before you can vote, so you understand issues. I’d even be okay with some sort of conflict of interest rule, like people cannot be voting in multiple countries at once, you have to pick one.

                But with anything else: I want some sort of actual justification for why someone living under a government does not get to have a say in that government. Not just because ‘That’s the way the rules always were’…because, no, the rules *used* to say women and black people couldn’t vote, and in fact many white men couldn’t either!

                If the immigrants suddenly can complain, then they’re no longer cheaper and there won’t be as many (if any) jobs for them.

                Well, any time there’s a monetary imbalance, we’ll have some immigration. If someone can support their family of three *and* their elderly mother *and* build up a savings to retire on, in their country of origin, in a few years of work in America, they will see that as a good deal.

                In fact, if their wages go up to the same level as citizens, they will see that as a better deal.

                However, employers *won’t*. Without the advantage of lower pay, why hire them? And considering the dumbass movement of employers in this country to constantly require more and more education…well, they don’t have a HS diploma, at least not an American one.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                ” People on work visas, despite being here legally, also cannot really complain.

                If they publicly complain about their specific company, they could get fired…but that’s true of everyone. Although they get sent home, so that’s *really* not an option.”

                That’s why I said green card and not work visa.

                And yes, I am absolutely serious. Let them in! Put them on the books. Let them file exactly the same complaints about employers, with exactly the same government-backed protections and rights, as born-here American citizens.

                “they also can’t *secretly* complain the way other citizens in a democracy can do…by voting for people who will try to fix the problem.”

                (looks at Trump, looks at Clinton) yeah, how’s that voting thing working out for you?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Yeah, i’d be well more willing to listen to Republicans if they weren’t on the side taking money from the corporations that support slavery.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “I’m just going on what I’m reading here, and nothing of my comments is about Derek himself.”

      Probably a good general rule of thumb.Report

    • Avatar derekstanley says:

      Wow, so many responses. I know I will not be able to get to them all or even read them all, but there are a few that I do want to respond to.

      First, J_A, thank you for the reply.

      Second, you are correct about cost of goods being another expense. I should have mentioned it as well. Point for you.

      Third, at least we do agree that transfer pricing is complicated and there are many ways to do it and each company has their own way. I have used the one the company I work for has for a good number of its product lines and you have mentioned another way. If my conclusion is true, then it should work for your example as well. Lets look at it.

      “Because manufacturing normally takes place in high corporate tax countries, transfer pricing normally minimizes the selling price of the good to the next stage in the chain: the intermediary.”

      1) Is the multi national company transferring money out of the US? Yes. The payment to the vendor would be money into the non-US company and that the third party would use the cash received in that country.
      2) Does this reduce the tax rate of the US multi-national company? N/A. As J_A mentioned transfer pricing has not started since this part of the transaction is to a third party vendor.

      “Here’s were Ireland, Estonia, Panama, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (bet you didn’t know about those two-even more popular than Ireland) or the Caymans come in. The intermediary buys the cheap manufactured products from the Chinese affiliate, and then sells it very dearly to the next link in the chain, the final retailer.”

      I add these all together since whether the company’s structure is a chain of only two or twenty entities, each step still; 1) send cash to purchase the goods in lower tax rate countries and 2) helps reduce the overall tax rate of the multi-national. The needless complications for naming different steps is not necessary for the conclusion that using transfer pricing to reduce the company’s tax rate has moved money to lower cost countries and out of higher cost countries in an effort to reduce the company’s overall tax rate..

      “And you don’t need a single person in that country. It’s all a paper transaction.”
      “But there is no relationship between transfer pricing and employment. Labor is not located in the low tax jurisdictions, waiting for the USA to cut their corporate taxes so factories can move from China to Georgia.”

      It is not that transfer pricing needs people, but the money that is gained through the transfer pricing will cause the multi-national to spend it in that country. That spending will cause increases in jobs and infrastructure in that country and it is money not spent in the high taxed locations like the US.

      Trying to cloud the issue with needless complications does not change the final result.


      Would you like to prop up any more straw men to knock over? You ignore the two examples that I mentioned and then list a whole bunch of bad ones just to demonize the argument. That that way any logical debate will not happen. If you actually want to talk reasonably about this, we can continue, but I see little point until then.

      The Wall-
      “Besides the fact that it will be tremendously costly to build, man and maintain, and won’t be paid by Mexico; besides the fact that it will have a massive environmental impact by blocking animal routes (damn regulations); besides the fact that it will take decades and won’t be finished even if it’s started due to the fact of how the USA budgets multi-year projects in single year appropriations;”

      Huh, this sounds like an argument that could have been made for the interstate road system. Or the Hoover Dam. Yet somehow that happened. The issue is not what you are saying above, but whether it is worthwhile to make the wall. We both know each other’s answer.

      “But because crossing back and forth is so difficult and dangerous, once here, they stay and bring in their families. And voila, 12 million people, a lot of which would rather be elsewhere, are here permanently.”

      Actually the best way to reduce illegal immigrants here in the US is to find them, enforce the laws, and ship them out. Shoot, according to you, most of them would thank us since the only thing keeping them here is the danger of walking back. Sounds like a win-win to me. Then they will not have to do the dangerous crossing again because the wall will make it too difficult.

      Typical again. ignore the reason and go for an emotional response. No need to go into it anymore until you wish to be reasonable.Report

      • Avatar J_A says:


        Derek, thank you for engaging

        Let me see if I can help bridge our gaps


        I understood your argument as being “if corporate taxes were as low in the USA as they are in China or Mexico, companies would bring their manufacturing back. So let’s cut taxes in the USA so we can bring those jobs back”. If I understand correctly now, the argument is “no matter if the money is parked in China or in Ireland, let’s cut corporate taxes, money will be returned to the USA and it will be spent here, and we will witnss a rising tide and will lift all boats”. But if this is the correct argument, it also does not correspond to commercial reality, because, surprisingly, the money is indeed already n the USA, as we will see.

        Let me sumarize again the typical multinational transfer pricing strategy. Let’s assume for simplicity all corporate entities are affiliates and subsidiaries of Evil Corp.

        I- Gadget is manufactured in China, a high tax country. Evil China Manufacturing entity minimizes taxes by selling gadget at a price just a tiny bit above total costs (of which labor is not the largest) to Evil Corp Trading Luxembourg B.V., and delivers those gadgets to the USA

        II- Evil Corp Trading Luxembourg B.V. resells gadget with a markup of 500% to Evil Corp Big Boxes Everywhere, a DE entity with big stores in the 50 states. It pays 5% tax to Luxembourg and keeps the money there, for now.

        III- Evil Corp Big Boxes Everywhere sells millions of gadgets again at just above the cost at which they bought it from the Luxembourg affiliate, and lower in the January and back to school sales. It makes very little money and pays very little tax to the states and the USA.

        The next step, I did not include in my discussion, because I thought that the argument was about low taxes as a tool to move the factory (and the jobs) location, so it wasn’t germane to that argument, but it’s quite germane now:

        IV- Evil Corp also doesn’t like its money parked in Luxembourg in a savings account doing nothing. So Evil Corp Trading Luxembourg B.V. will loan its profits to its parent Evil Corp. The money comes into the USA in full and Evil Corp will use it for whatever nefarious or beneficial uses they can think of. They will pay market interest rates (we want to avoid Luxembourg tax authorities raising transfer pricing issues) of, let’s sat 4%. Luxembourg gets its 5% cut of that 4% and the rest remains in the coffers of the trading company, waiting to be loaned back to the USA. 5% of 4% is much less than 32% or (future) 15% corporate taxs in USA, so the money will remain there for the foreseable future.

        So, when you hear that US corporations have X trillions of dollars offshore, that’s correct from an accounting point of view. The offshore entities are the owners of X trillions of dollars. But the money is not in foreign banks, where Evil,Corp can see it but not touch it. It’s been brought into the USA, a long time ago, all perfectly legally, and it’s already been spent in whatever Evil Corp wanted.

        The only difference is that the US Treasury did not get a cut, because it came as a foreign loan instead of a dividend.

        So there will not be any future huge job creation as a consequence of all that money coming in, unless Trump is talking about jobs created by the government spending the taxes collected.

        The guy in the street might not know this mechanism. He might believe that the money is really still in Luxembourg, where it’s been the last 20 years, and if it came home there will be indeed a boom. But there is no Scrooge McDuck pile of money abroad waiting to come if only taxes were lower. And people that deal with this every day: Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, DONALD TRUMP, they all know the money arrived to the USA years ago. If they tell you otherwise, that the cash is out there, as opposed to the paper money being out there, they are trying to con you.

        Unless you bring them to zero, the corporate tax rate will never be lower than the 5% plus 5% of 4% of Luxembourg, or the 0% of the Caymans. The goal of most of those that advertise for lowering corporate taxes is not about the effective rate of Multinational Evil Corp. It’s about lowering the rate of US corporations that do business solely in the USA. The real state developers like Perry Homes that bankroll the Texas GOP, the oil fracking industry, the railroads, the utilities. It’s just that Evil Corp’s foreign operation make a better foe. And Evil Corp does not mind because the changes will not affect them at all.

        2- Regulations

        Your only detailed (sic) discussion of regulations was Dodd-Frank. I don’t know enough about it (apparently I know much more about international taxing) to discuss it in full, but your summary didn’t ring fair to me. Let’s agree to disagree about D-F. Had it been Sarbanex Oxley I could have written a novel (I was in Enron at the bankruptcy, and stayed in Enron way past the December 2011 chapter 11 filing)

        But let me quote a Trump supporter:

        “That is what regulations do, create barriers to entry for the small companies thus insulating the large companies from new competition. Regulations need to be slashed in this country to help bring back small and mid-size businesses and Trump understands this.” (Derek Stanley, August 2016)

        This Stanley guy is not saying: “let’s review (or let’s slash) D-F or SOX(*), he’s suggesting slashing left and right. As I pointed out, with perhaps too much snark, the main complaint I hear from old as well as “new competition” is about environmental and safety regulations. How many Clean Air and Clean Water Acts litigation we see in the Supreme Court? How much Dodd Frank litigation?

        Singling out Dodd Frank and then saying “Regulations need to be slashed” seems, again, a sleight of hand. As I said, I’m all for cutting stupid regulations, and for enforcing and strengthening important ones.

        I’m particular, but not exclusively, I’m for environmental and safety regulations. What about you? Should those be slashed or strengthened?

        (*) SOX is worthless. It’s just the Accountants and Cabinet File Makers Jobs Matter Act. The problem is the US GAAP accounting (that almost no one but the USA uses. GAAP is all form over substance. As long as the form is complied for, the substance is irrelevant. Under GAAP your gay partner isn’t (wasn’t) a related party to you because Texas said that a man and a man could not be similar to a marriege, no matter if the live together and sleep in the same bed for ten years. Nothing in SOX changes the form over substance emphasis. It just requires a lot of additional people signing of, and a lot more record preservation (which is arguably good)

        3- The Wall

        Yes, it’s an argument about how Interstates are built today, with yearly appropriations and no security about the future. There’s an interstate junction a couple of miles from my house (I-10, I-610, US 290) that’s been under reconstruction for seven years, and herbals will be done in one or two more.

        The private sector doesn’t do proyects like that. Funds are allocated not on a yearly basis, but on a milestone basis: funds to build this portion, or that portion. If there are cost overruns you have to come back for more and explain. But definitely you don’t stop and send everyone home because it’s September 30 and you have no idea when you will continue the project if ever. That’s an opportunity for Congress, particularly the House, to take a page from the private sector, and change the way infrastructure funds are allocated. It’s up to them to do so.

        4. Immigration.

        I put down a coherent view of what I think the solution would be, which by the way, differs little from George W. Bush’s proposal. You believe the best way to solve immigration is to find them and ship them out. Agree to disagree again?

        5. Minimum Wage

        Your original arguments against Hillary are exactly the same the Ryan/Romney/McConnel wings of the Party made against Obama in 2012. It’s the Takers and Makers, and soak the job creators speech again. She supports increasing the minimum wage and that is killing jobs, Obamacare is killing jobs, etc.

        I’d be happy to improve Obamacare to find a way for it to work that idoesn’t kill jobs. Is there a proposal on the table that preserves the gains and corrects the issues? Is there something advanced on the Replace part of Repeal and Replace? Obama and Clinton debated a lot this issue in the 2008 primaries (though Obamacare is probably closer to Clinton’s than to Obama’s proposal). Was there a similar debate about competing visions of the Replace in the 2016 Republican primaries that I missed (I’m quite sure all, except perhaps Trump, were fully in agreement about the Repeal part)? Will there be a Trump proposal? Is he willing to debate this with Hillary in September?

        And what is your personal vision, Derek? What should replace Obamacare? I’ll give you a hint of mine. I’m not for the NHS.Report

        • Avatar derekstanley says:

          J_A thank you for the response again.

          Two areas are wrong with your transfer pricing. First, the IRS scrutinizes the profit margin between the related entities in a transfer pricing structure very closely.

          Since the combined filing for a US company is filed in the US, the IRS sees it all and that 500% mark up from your example would be a huge red flag. They would require proof that something was done for the product in Luxembourg that justified that large a mark up. While not impossible, this is highly unlikely.

          So, the IRS will disregard the entity and roll all for the transfer pricing structure from that point into the parent company. Then tax them at the 35% rate.

          Second, the combined return that is audited by the IRS eliminates assets and liabilities from related parties. So, the ‘loan’ from Luxembourg, would only be the cash transfer to the US on the return and the IRS would tax it at 35%.

          Your plan does not work. Thank you for discussing this with me, I rarely get to talk taxes with people since their eyes normally gloss over after a couple of minutes. At this point it will be up to the members of the league to decide if this is important or not to them.

          2 – Regulations

          Slight of hand? If you do not see the correlation between small to mid sized, local bank closing and the loss of jobs, or larger banks buying them and then, most likely removing a number of people, to unemployment, I do not know what will.

          Also, the anecdotal evidence for the Affordable Care Act to reduce working hours is right on point with under employment.

          The only slight of hand happening is you asking what I would replace the Affordable Care Act. That was never part of the argument. My argument was showing how regulations hurt working people and both regulations mentioned do that. Now it is your choice to decide if it is still worth it to have the law if it hurt these people, because of other benefits received.

          3- Immigration

          Nothing new here to discuss and I do not need to repeat myself.

          4 – Minimum wage

          Nothing new here either just finger pointing at ‘evil’ republicans. Nothing to refute the logic of a 1000 dollar minimum wage or even to accept it will hurt jobs and the economy some, but the benefits outweigh the negatives. We could at least agree to disagree on that, but you will not concede the point. Too bad.

          Thank you all for the responses, I know there are a ton I have not answered. I had hoped I would like this more, but I found it more a chore, so this will be my last post. Good luck to you all and have a great day.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      The Obama Administration arrests people simply because they were capable of crimes, not because they can demonstrate actual lawbreaking. This is not technologically savvy, just stupid.
      And they win the prosecutions enough of the time, too.Report

    • Avatar euro-disaster says:

      Very sensible reply. Besides, the author’s comment about learning all they needed to learn about the economics of the minimum wage in Econ 101 should also serve as a red flag. There has been a ton of research on the minimum wage, and the results are… mixed. Very not Econ 101.Report

  5. Avatar derekstanley says:

    j r:
    The problem with Trump’s plan is just that the numbers don’t add up.His overall tax policy would drastically cut revenues.Personally, I support cutting taxes, but for that to make sense it has to be met with cuts on the expenditure side of the ledger, which is the opposite of building a proposed giant white elephant border wall. And it’s hard for me to take a point of view seriously for gigging Hillary Clinton for not understanding the economy, while simultaneously advocating against immigration.

    J R, thank you for the response. For the first point about the tax rate numbers, it depends on how the 15% rate is enacted. If it was immediately dropped from 35% tax rate to 15%, there would be a large shortfall of revenue since businesses would not be able to react that fast to offset. Yet that is not the way it should have to be done. The government has often done a tiered approach to large changes and hopefully the government would look to do it here. Say reduce the rate by 2-4% over the next 5-10 years. Also, there are two ways to affect the amount of taxes collected, one by rate changes and the other is with changing the tax base. Trump changes the tax base and there will be additional revenue coming in from that increase. The one of those changes will be the repatriating of money from over seas at a much lower rate. That was part of the plan, hopefully it will stay. This will increase the incentive for the companies to bring the cash into the US and, if the reduced rate is still high enough, it would bring in additional tax revenues. The attached article has the wrong option on what to do, but it shows there is around 2.4 trillion overseas that would be good to entice back to the US and there would be a good chunk brought back over if the reduced tax rate was between 10-15%.

    As for the wall, yes it would be an additional cost to the US to build. The US spends billions today on infrastructure and this would be and additional project. This is a worth while expenditure and, ideally, funds would be shifted from the current infrastructure bucket,but I know better. It will just be tacked on. So be it, the benefit still out weighs the additional cost. With Trump’s good economic plan, the economy will grow and tax revenues will increase to offset the additional expenses.Report

    • Avatar J_A says:


      “Also, there are two ways to affect the amount of taxes collected, one by rate changes and the other is with changing the tax base. Trump changes the tax base and there will be additional revenue coming in from that increase. The one of those changes will be the repatriating of money from over seas at a much lower rate. That was part of the plan, hopefully it will stay. This will increase the incentive for the companies to bring the cash into the US and, if the reduced rate is still high enough,”

      This is pure Laffer. Reduce the tax rate and revenues will increaseReport

      • Avatar derekstanley says:

        J_A true, but you say that like it does not work.Taxes have always influenced behavior and that can work here too.Report

        • Avatar Francis says:

          Tell that to Govs. Brownback & Brown. It’s possible that tax environments can change business planning, but comparing Kansas to California (or Missouri) shows that there’s a lot more than taxes that goes into siting decisions.Report

        • Avatar J_A says:


          I think that Reagan (deficits don’t matter) and Bush 43 (Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter) proved that cutting taxes do not increase revenue.

          Tax might nudge behaviour, but in my 30 years of commercial experience in the international energy business, I have never seen a major decision driven by taxes. I’ve seen tax optimization at the margin (*) around decisions already made based on business criteria.

          I understand that Pfizer is a tax driven major decision, but it’s an outlier in a planet that makes thousands of business major decisions per day.

          (*) an example would be: Should the property chain include a Cayman co, or a Dutch B.V.? Dutch B.V. will have a 5% tax versus zero in the Caymans, but would allow for EU shareholders in the future (The EU imposes additional taxes on entities that have Cayman -and other jurisdictions- companies in the property chain)Report

  6. I learned better in the first two weeks of my Econ 101 class, and it makes me think she has no clue how the economy works.

    Anyone who believes what they learned in the first two weeks of Econ 101 was not paying attention in the last two weeks.

    According to my favorite Econ professor, “We know that half of what we think we know is wrong, but we don’t know which half.”Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Econ 101: In which we learn basic theories of economics.
      Econ 102-End: In which we learn never to apply Econ 101 to actual problems, because it doesn’t work.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci says:

        I learned better in the first two weeks of my Econ 101 class,

        Thanks for this. One thing I have learned in a long and busy life is that nothing following such a sentence is worth reading, and you saved me a lot of time.Report

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Welcome Derek, I hope you are wearing your asbestos underoos!Report

  8. Avatar Don Zeko says:

    Thanks for guest posting, @derekstanley . Rather than get into the weeds on policy (this is Donald Trump we’re talking about, after all), I would say that this post reads like an account of why you consider yourself a Republican. It doesn’t, to my mind, engage with Trump’s particular flaws that might be disqualifying even to somebody that finds some of his claimed policy positions very attractive. So are you bothered by Trump’s promises to use the power of his office against those in the media that cover him critically, his attacks on the judge ruling on the fraud case against him, his promises to discriminate against Muslims, his deep and persistent ignorance about policy, his extremely frequent lies, misstatements, and contradictions, his willingness to court the most loathsome bigotry around, his refusal to release his tax returns or a credible medical report, his questionable relationship with Russia, etc. etc. etc.? Are you bothered by these things, but of the opinion that Clinton is somehow equally bad or worse? For that matter, why do you trust Trump to even attempt to carry out these policy proposals that you find attractive?

    I get that you want to look at this in terms of policy and ignore questions of personality; in most elections I would agree! But Trump is, in so many ways, a special case. This post adds to my extreme surprise and displeasure that perfectly intelligent and non-bigoted people, which you give every impression of being, can find ways to blind themselves to the many and manifest defects of Trump that transcend policy and ideology.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      “frequent lies, misstatements, and contradictions….or a credible medical report, his questionable relationship” with her foundation, etc. etc. etc.?” You can cut / paste a lot of that into a question about HRC too.

      “I get that you want to look at this in terms of policy and ignore questions of personality; in most elections I would agree! But Trump is, in so many ways, a special case.” Nah, he’s just saying what he actually thinks vs saying what’s likely to maximize election results.

      “This post adds to my extreme surprise and displeasure that perfectly intelligent….to blind themselves to the many and manifest defects of HRC” Whoot, look what a little cut/past can do!Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        ” You can cut / paste a lot of that into a question about HRC too.

        Well, you can. But this is bullshit, in the Frankfurtian sense of the word. Take the medical report. Sure, some of the more feverish swamps of the right are pushing the claim that Clinton is on the point of collapse. And it is kind of fascinating to watch the claim work its way into the “liberal media.” But the claim is unadulterated bullshit. There is nothing of even vaguely plausible substance to it. Yet it is out there, and this being the nature of things it is going to stay out there. She could serve eight years, capping off her second term by running a marathon, and it would still be out there. So what constitutes a credible medical report? Any report that says that she isn’t on her death bed will be denounced as an obvious fake, and the “liberal media” denounced for reporting it. This is in precisely the same way that the only credible birth certificate for Obama would be one that says he was totally born in Kenya.

        Stick to the emails. There isn’t much there, but it has the singular virtue of having a kernel of truth. This is refreshing, after years of hearing about Vince Foster.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:


          If Don wonders why Trump “refusal to release…a credible medical report” is fair game, why isn’t it with HRC? Did I miss something in the new where she released them? I know she released her tax filing. All I’m saying is if you’re calling into question something about candidate X I’d think you’d want candidate Y to have already done it.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            Her personal physician released a statement over a year ago about her health, including the two actual diagnoses of hypothyroidism and seasonal allergies. This actually was what set off a lot of the subsequent bullshit, and the fever swamps learned the name of Clinton’s physician and started generating back forgeries with this name at the top.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              Thanks for this update. I was not aware. So, if she released her tax records last month, why doesn’t she get a new physical and release that to “put this nonsense” down for good? It can’t be because she doesn’t have time, I’ve heard news reports that she’s not been campaigning as much, but fundraising with donors….Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Because she knows full well that doing the same thing again will have no effect upon the spread of this nonsense?Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                I’m not sure that pointing out something from over a year qualifies as an “update,” but more to the point, what possible reason is there to believe that an update would put this nonsense down for good?

                Obama released his birth certificate, but this somehow didn’t count. So he did it again. Those Republicans who knew all along that this was bullshit then pretended to be convinced, because while releasing it once didn’t count, releasing it twice made all the difference. But those Republicans who actually believed the bullshit were unmoved.

                In neither case is this about persuading people with facts and logic. The facts of Clinton’s health have been out there all along. Nothing has changed. Suggesting that she should do this once again is like suggesting that if only Obama would release his birth certificate a third time, everyone would agree that yes, he was born in the U.S.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                That’s a valid point. It might convince me the issue was a non issue, but not the more rabid HRC haters. Full disclosure…i’m pretty rabid anti HRC but not because she did or didn’t release her tax/medical records.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko says:

            She did, in 2015, just as every major party nominee has for decades…except Trump. Finding this link took approximately ten seconds on Google.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko says:

        As @richard-hershberger ably points out, much of what you’ve picked out to cut and paste is complete horse apples, but I’d like to focus on how much cutting you had to do to find parts of my critique of Trump that could even slightly plausibly apply to Clinton. Notice that she did release a tax return, she hasn’t personally attacked any judges ruling against her, she is well versed in policy detail, etc. Oh, and because Trump is Trump, I realized I left out major items fpry list immediately upon posting. Remember how he has promised to commit war crimes, renege on our treaty commitments to NATO allies, and default on the national debt? But yes, HRC is worse because something something emails Benghazi.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          ” But yes, HRC is worse” Worse? Nah. I wouldn’t vote for either. I think Trump is an ass, probably a poor business person, narcissistic, and a tool, and a liar. HRC is corrupt, a liar, and I could go on, but it’s pointless. I’d love a “none” option in the election.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            “HRC is corrupt”

            What specific corrupt act do you claim she has committed?Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              One could write a full post on that. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                And yet you don’t answer the question.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Indeed, but I’m not planning on writing a guest post. But more to the point, it wouldn’t convince you. And if it has no chance to sway you, why would I even try?Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                Do you understand why this non-responsiveness is indistinguishable from yet more bullshit? “She totally did this thing, but I’m not going to say what thing it was that she did, but she totally did it, and it was bad!”

                I do not consider Clinton to be pristine. Far from it. I will grant you that it is very unlikely that I will come out of this agreeing that she is in the same league of awfulness as Trump, but this doesn’t mean that I believe every whitewashing about her.

                Point to one specific corrupt act you contend she made. Pick your best one, because if examination shows that there is nothing there, the response of “OK, so she didn’t do that, but she totally did a bunch of other bad stuff!” would be kind of weak.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “Do you understand why this non-responsiveness is indistinguishable from yet more bullshit? ” Yep. But you’re asking me to support a position by specific facts of actions she’s taken when it’s an overall pattern of “stink” more than anything else. Someone once said “if it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck”. I can point you to a whole bunch of stuff that’s “questionable”. More so than any other politician? No idea. Enough for me. I could say that I find her voice “harpy-ish”. And I could say that her dissembling about gun rights leaves me wanting-she’s made her potion clear on that. But I haven’t liked her since her hubby was Pres. I though Bill was a scoundrel, but he, at least, had personality. I don’t think she has any.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                This is the “where there is smoke, there is fire” principle. The principle works most of the time, but it can be gamed. There might be a smoke machine rather than a fire.

                The thing is, it’s not as if she has eluded scrutiny. She has been investigated by strongly motivated investigators with ample resources at their command, who found nothing. So what do we make of this? We might conclude that she is fiendishly talented at cover-ups. We might conclude that while those purported scandals that were investigated were nothing, all the others undoubtedly are totally real. Or we might conclude that the purported scandals are, at least for the most part, politically motivated fakes. This seems to me by far the most economical conclusion.

                As for your personal response to her, that is entirely unrelated to whether she is corrupt. The point of this discussion is the claim that Clinton is peculiarly awful, thereby justifying overlooking Trump’s awfulness. Rumor and innuendo doesn’t cut it, and personal reactions to her aren’t even in the same realm of discourse.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                It’s worth pointing to the AP’s report on the Clinton Foundation conflicts of interest, the very deep investigation, was just released, with absolutely damning conclusions, or at least conclusions they *pretend* are damning…

                …and everyone pointed out the report was complete nonsense. To get their numbers, they had to resort to just blatant number doctoring. And their specific examples are things like ‘The State Department worked on a charity project with a CF donor’…or, alternately, we can describe that ‘CF donor’ as ‘someone who literally has a Nobel peace price given to them for their charitably work’. The most hilarious example was ‘The State Department helped a CF donor with a visa problem’, which is, uh, literally the job of the State Department.

                It’s a report that tries very very very hard to be a scathing indictment of conflicts of interests, and there is *nothing* there. Absolutely nothing. The AP managed to find a grand total of three times the State Department ‘did something for’ a CF donor, and all of them were perfectly fine and reasonable things for the State Department to do.

                Hey, anyone remember when George Bush pardoned the son of Edwin L. Cox, a large donor? Anyone remember that? No?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Fuck all. Yes, people can get the state department to do its fucking job by calling in favors with the Secretary of State. Yes, this is the DEFINITION of corruption, needing to call in favors to get shit done.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                You know, it seems like every time I have a conversation with you about Clinton, it goes like this:

                I state that everyone asserting some sort of absurd levels of crimes are insane idiots, and in fact the *absolutely worse* that could even *possibly* be happening is X.

                You seem to think I just said X *is* happening, and it’s entirely proven.

                Random allegation with no evidence: Clinton is a pickpocket, and regularly steals people’s wallets.

                Entire right-wing internet: Clinton has stolen millions of dollars last week!

                Me: The right-wing is being completely idiotic again, and can’t do math. Pickpockets are extremely unlikely to make millions of dollars a week. That’s a few hundred a day, at most, so maybe a thousand a week.

                Kimmi: So everyone agrees that Clinton has stolen thousands of dollars last week!

                Kimmi, the report found *three* examples of CF donors having something done for them. Things that are *completely regular things, and, I must point out, didn’t really involve any monies directed at them.

                There is no evidence that the only way to get State Department to do its job was to call in favors with the Sec of State. There’s no evidence that was a way *at all*. The State Department continued functioning just fine under Clinton.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Never say that there is no evidence.
                At some point, someone is going to say, “I know someone who counts as evidence.”

                David, as might be apparent by what I’ve said before, I’m not going by the report, which I haven’t read. I am going by information from a person who works for Clinton. And has access to what wikileaks possesses from the DNC.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                Depending on who the person making it is, I usually count the claim, “I know an anonymous expert who says X is true,” as no evidence. Exceptions to this are fairly rare.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Less so when you capitalize anonymous.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                You only assume that they “found nothing” sir.
                Wikileaks has tons of data that they’re slowly releasing.
                Now, when it would do the most damage.

                Now is the time for people who don’t want clinton in office to strike.

                BUT, The Powers That Be want her to WIN. Given that, where the fuck do you think we have these “motivated” investigators?Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              Pay to play with foreign governments. Giving money to the Clinton Foundation (through intermediaries of course) bought them some damn shiny weapons that the Secretary of State had jurisdiction over giving them.

              I get this from someone who works for Hillary Clinton, by the way.Report

      • Nah, he’s just saying what he actually thinks vs saying what’s likely to maximize election results.

        If he is, that’s pretty terrifying; isn’t it more likely he’s still doing a full on marketing blitz and is saying what he thinks the punters want to hear?Report

      • Avatar CJColucci says:

        Nah, he’s just saying what he actually thinks vs saying what’s likely to maximize election results.

        Well, er, yes. I think that’s part of Don’s point.Report

    • Avatar derekstanley says:

      Don Zeko, Thank you for the reply. I see this more as the loud mouth part. I am fine with bluster when there are checks in place to stop him from going beyond the bluster. His lack of policy knowledge is backed up by the people he surrounds himself with and it has been seen with the policies he has brought out, like his tax plan. I doubt they were completely his brain child.

      Know this will not be popular, but I will not get into the cries of racism. I disagree and will leave it at that.

      As for whether he will actually do any of these things? I do not know, but I do know what I will get with Clinton. I will hope that some will happen.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Instead of caring about the things you care about, you should care about the things that *I* care about.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      What stands out about this comment is not how many people are doing it, but the particular way in which people are doing it.

      As far as I can see, there are three potential constructive responses to @derekstanley ‘s essay here:
      1.) Focus on the specific policies he has identified as being a priority for him and show him why he has incorrectly evaluated the candidates’ standing on these policies.
      2.) Show him why he should care about other policy areas.
      3.) Show him why he should determine his preferred candidate based on a completely different set of criteria (i.e., show him why he should focus on personality instead of or in addition to policy).

      Considering those three things, #2 and #3 would seem to fit the bill for what you describe.

      As I skim the comments, I see some folks doing #1 and some fruitful dialogue emerging. Perhaps no one’s mind will be changed but the conversation seems constructive.

      I see some folks doing #2.

      I see many folks doing #3, sometimes under the guise of doing #2.

      Now, I’m reluctant to criticize these folks. In fact, I’m not even sure that taking the stance you poke at above is even inherently deserving of criticism (except perhaps insofar as it undermines the sort of conversations #1 allows for). I look at comments such as the one @saul-degraw makes and it seems both obvious and legitimate that he would take tack #3: aspects of Trump’s personality (i.e., his apparent anti-semitism) are deeply personal and potentially dangerous to Saul and his love ones. Asking him to ignore that to discuss trade policy seems a tad ridiculous.

      Are #2 or #3 winning tactics? Probably not… at least not with someone like Derek. But I think that is still probably okay?

      Not sure I have a point here beyond observation and surprise at the particular path much of the conversation has taken.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Observation and surprise are good things to keep in your belt.

        Keep observing and keep in mind that one of the goals is to be surprised less often.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Er, less obliquely, my goals are to understand how the thought process works. Can I pass the turing test and give an argument that my opponent will say “yeah, you’ve pretty much laid out what I believe”?

        But, sometimes, this manifests as “can I guess how this is going to go?”Report

  10. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Welcome @derekstanley!

    To echo @oscar-gordon you are very brave too step into the lions den. I will already say it is worth while!

    I do not support Trump per se, I am simply anti HRC. Both for the reasons you mention and the specific needs of free speech and good governance, which she gives no indication of being even halfway good at.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:

      Can you explain why you think Donald Trump is better for free speech than Clinton? I have to admit that’s a new one for me.Report

  11. Avatar North says:

    Welcome Derek, thanks for sharing your perspective.
    A couple questions:
    -Assuming, as one must, that Trump means what he says Trump has also talked quite a lot about reneging, upending and revising the US’s trade deals. Since you’re clearly a strong free trade proponent how does that factor in to your calculus?
    -I presume you’re not a deficit hawk? Trumps tax proposals as stated would colossally defenestrate the federal budget. Since Trump has very openly committed to preserving the most expensive of the US’s safety net programs and has committed to increasing military spending we’re talking historic increases in spending over historic decreases in revenue.
    -Does it bother you at all that Trump is a serial defaulter and remarkably bad business partner? His businesses have consistently imploded taking lenders, employees and business partners with them. He’s such a bad lending risk most western financial institutions won’t lend to him any more. Has what he’s said about potentially defaulting on the Federal debt or “renegotiating” it given you any cause for concern?Report

    • Avatar Autolukos says:

      #3 is a vastly underdiscussed source of risk in a Trump presidencyReport

    • Avatar derekstanley says:

      North, Thank you for the response.

      I am fine with the trade deals, but the US needs to be more competitive in the global market to take advantage for them instead of being taken advantage of like we are right now.

      If the drop in rates happened immediately, it would, but if it is done slowly over time then the changes made by business to take advantage of this and other tax base increases would make up the difference.

      On defaulting the deficit, I am not concerned. I expect the bluster and the threat to gain some advantage in negotiations.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @derekstanley How are we taken advantage of in trade deals? It seems like we have a lot of power over what goes in those deals. We certainly seem to get what we want. Is it that certain interests in the US do poorly while others do well with the trade deals?Report

        • Avatar J_A says:

          @derekstanley ; @greginak

          The typical perception at the other end of the trade deal is mostly that the USA can flood the local markets with U.S. products, that I.P. Laws become more stringent, that service companies (like engineering, IT consultants of large accounting firms) are allowed to set shop or sell services across the border without using local professionals, and that exports to the USA remain mostly flat.

          I’m not saying that the data shows this is what is really happening. But the feeling about the data is that these things are happening. Free trade deals with the USA are fairly unpopular in most places.

          Remember that the USA has plenty of free trade deals with a lot of places with which trade is minimal in volume. For practical purposes, the big impact countries are Mexico (NAFTA), S.E. Asia (the future TPP), the EU (under negotiation), and China (nothing).

          Trump can blow away the free trade agreements with Chile, or the Caribbean, or Colombia, and no one will care much, either here or there. But NAFTA is the only agreement concerning one of the countries that theoretically matter. You cannot cancel a non existing Free Trade Agreement with China.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            @j_a Thanks. That was sort of my impression but it’s not a topic i follow heavily or have a ton of knowledge about. I did know about not having a deal with China which should be basic info before starting a conversation or presidential platform about trade.Report

          • Avatar Francis says:

            This is not correct. You are missing the World Trade Organization, the organization formed under the 1994 amendments to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Both the US and China are signatories to the 1994 Agreement and are members of the WTO.Report

            • Avatar J_A says:

              You are correct. I skipped that part because the WTO framework (that covers 164 countries) is the base beyond which all other Free Trade Agreements are built. In other words, all the Free Trade Agreements are WTO-plus.

              WTO covers also current trade with the TPP countries and the EU, since we still don’t have separate agreements with them.

              There’s a though current that says that bilateral trade agreements undermine the WTO structure and should be discouraged (*) or forbidden. On the other side, it’s almost impossible to get 164 countries to agree. Hence the Doha round stalling. Perhaps bilateral agreements are realistically the best that can be done.

              I remember when the USA used to veto China’s incorporation into the WTO, until 2001. It was a massive political debate that lasted years.

              (*) I belong to this group btw. But Trump’s (ot the Trumpists) grievances against free trade also include the WTO trade structure. (**)

              (**) And the idea that Trump can negotiate a better deal for the USA (that is, balanced in favor of the USA and against the counterparties) with 163 other parties altogether in one swoop is risible.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Ok so on trade deals you honestly do think he’ll negotiate “better ones”.

        On deficits, basically raw Laffer curve voodoo*.

        On defaulting this amounts to “I believe he’ll keep and have the power to enact the promises I like and that he’ll skip out on or lack the power to enact the promises I despise.”

        I appreciate your response, I’ll give you this, it’s a very profoundly modern republican set of assumptions and the GOP deserves to suffer them good and hard.

        *frankly at our current taxation levels calling it voodoo is an insult to witch doctors everywhere.Report

  12. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I am going to echo what @don-zeko says. This posts seems to skirt around and try its hardest to deny the unique awfulness of Donal Trump. You admit it up front but then counter with a “BSDI” via two links. At least one of which is to a highly-partisan right-wing mag. Nothing wrong with reading partisan mags. I do it as well but one article from the National Review is not going to convince many that HRC is a crass liar.

    NR was on the front lines of smeers against both Clintons during the 1990s. They might be #NeverTrumpers now but I consider this hypocritical because they were part of the fever dream propaganda machine that set gave rise to Trump via dog whistle after dog whistle or was tolerant of it despite Buckley’s famous refusal to allow people from the American Mercury to contribute to the National Review and his banishment of the Birchers.

    I don’t know how old you are but I am 35. My adolescence was during the Clinton Presidency. A lot of people in my generation and younger seem to have absorbed a lot of Clinton hate via the right-wing noise machine unconsciously even if they hate the Republican Party. This seems especially true of men.

    There could be a lot of reasons for this. HRC was among the first Boomer women in political life as a spouse in the public eye and the more conservative public never forgave her for refusing to be a docile housewife. She is not the world’s most perfect politician but Clinton I and Obama were rare political talents. She is not a dishonest monster though.

    Trump is an absolute con and fraudster though. He does around himself with sexists, racists, anti-Semites, homophobs, Islamic bigots. He does this even as his daughter married a Jewish guy and converted to Judaism. He has taken the Long Con to an art form:

    “Trump nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign, according to a Huffington Post review of Federal Election Commission filings. The rent jumped even though he was paying fewer staff in July than he did in March.

    The Trump campaign paid Trump Tower Commercial LLC $35,458 in March ? the same amount it had been paying since last summer ? and had 197 paid employees and consultants. In July, it paid 172 employees and consultants.”

    You don’t have to like HRC. You don’t need to vote for her but finding ways to get around the unique awfulness of Trump is not very principled. Saying I’m a Republican and vote for the Republican is much more honest.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “He does around himself with sexists, racists, anti-Semites, homophobs, Islamic bigots.”

      Do yourself a favor, kid, and don’t start making this be a “who’s worse” contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko says:

        Comments like these make me feel like somebody in the conversation must be a space alien, since it’s just as obvious to me that HRC wins such a contest as it is to @densityduck that she loses. It genuinely boggles my mind that people manage not to be repelled by Trump, just as the degree of vitriol directed at Clinton never seems to have any connection to the facts. I just don’t get it.Report

        • Avatar Dave says:


          I just don’t get it.

          The Clinton Foundation must have gotten to you.

          Seriously though, I don’t get it either.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          The point is not whether she wins or loses a shit-flinging contest.

          The point is how much sticks to her afterwards.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            How is that at all relevant to the question of whether she’s a better candidate than Donald Trump?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              As candidates go, Trump is obviously a better candidate than Clinton.

              Trump went from “punchline” to “nominee”. Clinton had to play against a punchline of an opponent and, instead of beating him handily, she had to sweat to beat Bernie before becoming the nominee.

              Imagine a universe in which Clinton was fighting against a different Republican. Romney, Rubio, Walker, Perry. Is Clinton doing as well against this candidate in that universe as against Trump?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Imagine a universe in which Clinton was fighting against a different Republican. Romney, Rubio, Walker, Perry. Is Clinton doing as well against this candidate in that universe as against Trump?

                The answer seems to be a pretty obvious, “No,” to me, because none of those candidates would have charted a course that makes it so difficult to run a general election campaign. Trump, wittingly or not, did a lot of things though the primary campaign that have made it much more difficult for him to compete with Hillary, including saying a ton of stupid shit and alienating the hell out of a lot of important people in his party.

                Also, I think people perpetually underestimate Sanders’ ability as a politician. I was a Hillbot from Day One, but he played a lot of cards perfectly.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I can look back on Hillary Clinton’s experiences of being a candidate and see that there are a non-zero number of examples where her opponents played cards perfectly against her.

                You get enough examples of people playing cards perfectly against a person, you might find yourself thinking if this person is really as good a player as you thought.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I can look back on Hillary Clinton’s experiences of being a candidate and see that there are a non-zero number of examples where her opponents played cards perfectly against her.

                Yes. I mean, one of those opponents was Barack Obama, who in retrospect is a very good card player. Sanders saw an opportunity, capitalized on it well, and… lost anyway?

                On the other hand, of all the candidates you listed for the GOP, the only one who actually demonstrated any ability at all to run a decent national level campaign wasn’t even running.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It seems that we’re going to see Clinton win this election.

                Barring some super-weird thing that still might happen (but what are the odds of something super-weird happening?).

                I disagree that this makes her a particularly good candidate.

                (Though I will say that my old theory that the Republican bench was surprisingly deep has encountered one hell of a black swan.)Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                What would make her a particularly good candidate? I’m not sure her hypothetical performance against other Republicans is a terribly useful metric, and I think it’s strange to frame Sanders’ exceptional success entirely in terms of Hillary’s weaknesses.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So perhaps we should just conclude “well, we just can’t say that she’s a particularly bad candidate”.

                I am more than happy to agree on that one.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                That seems like a reasonable position.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                That’s kind of puzzling. She is, according to many, self-evidently a “bad candidate” or a “bad campaigner”. Despite getting into the Senate easily, and despite fighting to an effective draw against the best Democratic candidate in decades.

                And then winning the primary 8 years later.

                But clearly she’s a “bad candidate” despite all that winning, clearly worse than people who keep losing (including people claiming she’s a worse candidate than the guy she just beat.). The logic confuses me.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Barring some super-weird thing that still might happen (but what are the odds of something super-weird happening?).

                According to our friends at, between 12.4% and 23.3%, as of today. Criticize their methodology as you will, that seems about right.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, my definition of “super-weird” isn’t saying that there’s going to be much of a Bradley Effect (though I think that there is going to be a smallish one) as much as it includes stuff like “events”. Headline level stuff. “Thing Happens, How Could This Thing Have Happened?” followed by “Trump Capitalizes On Thing Happening” and “Clinton Criticizes Trump For Politicizing Thing Happening”.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                BTW, I think in Portland we discussed the “Bradley Effect,” with the entire group of us improperly attributing its source. The term came from the 1982 California gubernatorial election, between George Deukmejian (then the Attorney General) and Tom Bradley (then the Mayor of Los Angeles). Whether it was really a thing or not in that election remains hotly debated.

                Which doesn’t directly mean, one way or the other, that some people who intend to vote for Trump will not conceal that fact from a pollster when confronted. But skepticism about any Bradleyization going on with respect to Trump does seem to dovetail into the multiplicity of very public displays of support for Trump one sees when traveling around and about, particularly and unsurprisingly in more rural areas.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                Isn’t it possible that:

                1. The Bradley Effect could have been a real thing in 1982.

                2. Changing demographics made the Bradley Effect irrelevant in 2008, 2012, and now 2016.

                What is it with political discussion and reporting that seems perpetually stuck in 1980-1988?Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Is it possible that both those propositions are true? Of course. If the Bradley Effect was a real thing in 1982, then there’s every reason to believe that it’s still a real thing now. And it matters less because white voters are a smaller percentage of the electorate in 2016 than they were in 1982, as you note in a comment infra. But “matters less” is not quite the same thing as “irrelevant,” and I notice that both political campaigns are competing for the non-college white working class vote, where the Bradley Effect would remain a thing (if it ever was a thing in the first place, which point remains indeterminate).

                As for your second question — that’s because the Reagan Era defined the political dynamics of an entire generation and the people whose formative political years fell within that time are now editors and writers. Your generation will get its turn in good time, just like we X’ers had to wait for the Boomers to graduate out of the prime positions before you.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I would ask why the Bradley Effect which didn’t exist in 2008 has shambled back onto the scene like a particularly unwelcome zombie.Report

              • I must not have been around for the discussion, because I knew that; in fact, I voted for Bradley.

                What Bradley were you guys thinking, Bill, Omar, or Milton?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Yeah, Russian Roulette odds are both plausible and metaphorically appropriate.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I still maintain that a lot of this stuff on October surprises is white guys in existential terror that they no longer control Presidential elections and/or their political power isn’t what it used to be.

                Perhaps demographics have really changed. Lots of white guys seem to code libertarian for the same reason many white guys lean R.

                What will take for white guys to learn that they are not the be all and end all in politics anymore?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My idea of an “October Surprise” is not “White People Whitely Conspiring To Pull A White Surprise Out Of White Nowhere”.

                Though perhaps there is less of a distinction between what you think that they are and what I was talking about.

                Perhaps it’s my fear at becoming irrelevant that makes me see this distinction where there is none.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                Trump seems openly racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic, and even anti-Semitic in ways that were unheard of for decades in politics. He also seems to bring out hardcore white supremacists like no other candidate.

                If I read you correctly, you think that there is some kind of event that can negate all of this general horribleness and get enough minorities and women to either switch to Trump or stay home.

                I am not sure that is true.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I hope you’re right and I’m wrong.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                super-weird is a lot more likely with trump than without him.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                Walker flamed out really early. I think HRC would have had an easy campaign against him. Walker’s antics might work in Wisconsin but he seems rather unpopular across the rest of the United States.

                Rubio is a light weight but he could put Florida in play. Perry is also great in Texas but probably a disaster in the rest of the country.

                Romney is a harder guess. Maybe not but a lot of Ds don’t like him and Obama had a fairly easy reelection as those things go.Report

              • As candidates go, Trump is obviously a better candidate than Clinton.

                Yes and no. He was definitely a better candidate in the GOP primary, because his nativist belligerence and refusal to dogwhistle didn’t treat the GOP base like useful idiots. But in the runup to the general election? Not so sure; the polls seem to show a steady erosion in his support despite (or possibly because of?) the increasingly unhinged shit-flinging coming from the Mighty Wurlitzer.

                I don’t really see that he’s attempting to widen his support outside of the true believer + misogynist + racist segment of the electorate, and it doesn’t appear that that would be enough to get him into the oval office. This does not seem like the mark of a particularly good candidate.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


              She gets all her dresses from DuPont.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        Except that again, most (though not all) of the Clinton material is bullshit, in the Frankfurtian sense. We have spent the last quarter century with the right wing producing, and the “liberal media” repeating, utter bullshit that doesn’t stand up to actual scrutiny. Remember Whitewater? Remember Ken Starr, a highly motivated investigator given vast resources? Remember what he found? I’ll remind you: bupkis. I’m sure you can produce links spinning the findings as vastly significant, but that is simply more bullshit. They were in fact bupkis. Similarly with Benghazi! and with virtually everything else.

        So in our “who’s worse” contest, are we counting all the bullshit that has been spread around, or just the real stuff? There is some real stuff there, but much much less that the totality of bullshit. Subtracting out the bullshit brings Clinton from the Olympian heights of uniquely awful down to merely flawed humanity: just like the rest of us.Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          So it’s Star’s fault that Dems didn’t have the honesty to admit that Slick Willie perjured himself?Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            I see we have entered the “changing the subject” phase of this discussion. First off, “perjury” is a technical term of art. It does not merely mean “lied” or even “lied under oath.” His actions did not fit the definition. But this is beside the point. If you look very very closely at the ballot come November, you will find, mirabile dictu, the William Jefferson Clinton is not on it.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              “All this Clinton stuff is bullshit nothingburgers!”

              “What about the times they committed perjury?”

              “okay mister, ‘perjury’ is a word with a very specific legal definition, and I can show you all sorts of ways that the Clintons did not fit it…”Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:


              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                Bill Clinton’s purported perjury arose because he was testifying on one subject, and was asked questions about an embarrassing but unrelated subject. Pulling this trick is a basic no-no. Under normal circumstances, his own attorney would object and the attorney pulling the stunt would either back down or the dispute would go to a judge. Under the peculiar circumstances of a sitting president giving testimony, that would be as embarrassing as telling the truth. The smarter move would have been to take the political hit at the time. I don’t know whether Bill zigged when he should have zagged because he was caught by surprise or if this decision was made during the preparation phase. Either way, this was pure gamesmanship on the prosecutorial side and not anywhere within shouting distance of actual perjury on Clinton’s part.

                I see that Bill Clinton’s purported perjury has now been expanded to the Clintons collectively. I could only speculate on what perjury you claim Hillary has committed.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Hmm and yet he was disbarred for lying…Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                My understanding of the impeachment process is that the decision to impeach, made by the House, is equivalent to an indictment, and the rejection of the impeachment by the Senate is equivalent to an acquittal. The evidence in favor “perjury” charge was so overwhelming that they couldn’t even get every Republican Senator to vote for it.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                IIRC, that entire line of questioning was later pulled or deemed inadmissible by the judge.

                It was literally thrown out of the case.

                But as that was decades ago, I might be remembering it wrong.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          I remember Ken Starr.
          I also, unlike the rest of you, remember what caused Ken Starr.

          Seating arrangements.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        This is probably useless but please explain to me why HRC is worse than this:

        • Avatar Damon says:

          Because she’s HRC? Evil incarnate? 🙂

          Those that have made their decision on who to support aren’t going to change that unless one candidate is found with a dead body, and I’m not even sure about that.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog says:

            They may not even change their minds if the dead body in question is that of the candidate.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:


              Police enter a cheap apartment to find one of the Pres. candidates standing over the other, clearly having shot the other one to death. “What are you going to do, it’s a two party system”?!

              I know one person who would still vote for HRC if she was the one who shot Trump. Maybe even more so knowing this…..Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I was refering to the candidate being found in their own dead body – that a lot of Democrats would vote for a deceased Democrat before a living Republican, and vice versa.

                In my federal riding, I figure the voters would elect a sack of potatoes if its name appeared next to “Conservative Party of Canada”. Both our current and former MPs, for all the action and initiative they take / took in parliament, are functionally sacks of potatoes.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Ah yes, understood. I think its a well known urban legend, or a fact, the the dead do indeed vote, so why wouldn’t those alive vote for a dead guy? Seems to have a nice symmetry.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “please explain to me why HRC is worse than this”

          The point is not whether HRC is worse.

          The point is that she needs to convince us that she’s good enough to be worth listening to from 2017 to 2021.

          If enough people are convinced that she’s rotten through-and-through, it won’t matter if she wins.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            Won’t matter for what purpose? It may not do much to get Clinton’s policy proposals through, but even if she’s deathly unpopular and ineffective, electing her will still do a bang-up job preventing Trump from exercising the powers of the Executive Branch.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              And if all you want the President to do is “not be Donald Trump”, then I guess you’ll get what you want.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                It’s a good start.

                More to the point, though, it seems like this is what Hillary-reluctant but anti-Trump conservatives should want: someone who isn’t Trump but is too weak to be effective. It’s not clear to me why it would play out this way–partisan sorting is too strong in the contemporary environment–but my first concern is having a President who will faithfully execute the duties of their office. In a normal election, this wouldn’t be an issue.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                I realize that that’s aiming low, but it doesn’t seem like a bad baseline for me. The POTUS does a lot of stuff, and only a small percentage of it is about Big Ideas and Being an Inspiring Leader. A big chunk of it is just appointing qualified people and acting as the top administrator of a giant-ass bureaucracy while not accidentally starting World War III.

                The grand plans everybody has for their preferred candidate are good and fine, but I’m generally pretty happy with a cautious competent administrator who will make incremental changes in a reasonable direction. Not everybody needs to be Abraham Lincoln or FDR. An unremarkable presidency remembered mostly for not getting us into unnecessary trouble and not appointing crackpots to cabinet positions while nibbling away at long term problems is just fine by me.Report

  13. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    “Allegations of anti-Semitism and Holocaust diminishment have emerged against one of Donald Trump’s foreign-policy advisers. According to complaints leveled by former colleagues, former Department of Defense inspector general Joseph Schlitz bragged about firing Jewish employees and questioned whether the Holocaust could have killed as many Jewish people as widely reported. “His summary of his tenure’s achievement reported as ‘…I fired the Jews,’ ” wrote Daniel Meyer, a former IG colleague of Schlitz’s, in a complaint obtained by McClatchy DC. “In his final days, he allegedly lectured [former top Pentagon official John] Crane on the details of concentration camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 million Jews.” Schmitz has adamantly denied ever being accused of such anti-Semitism, but three ex-colleagues have cited his controversial remarks, including one person who has testified under oath about them.”Report

  14. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    First, lets assume my moral and ethical priors are universal and correct.


    Great, now let me explain why I prefer Hilary…Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      {Comment redacted as an unnecessary swipe at an individual not present -wt} Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      Just an elaboration-

      As an explanation of why Derek prefers Trump, this essay conceals more than it reveals.

      He leaps immediately into the thicket of detailed economic analysis, without having first made the case for why any of this should matter to anyone who isn’t already on the train.
      It reads to my eyes like an essay earnestly trying to persuade me that Shia is so much more righteous than Sunni.

      1. Would Trump’s Presidency make America a better place, a happier, more prosperous place to be?

      1a.For everyone, or just a tiny sliver of lucky individuals?

      2. Trump has earned, through a tremendous and dedicated effort, the hatred and distrust of nearly every nonwhite person in America; Do their opinions have any influence on Derek’s choice?Report

  15. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Somewhat more seriously, but not much, this strikes me as falling into the whole “well, you’ve got to vote for one of the two real choices” trap.

    And if you hate Hillary more than you hate Trump, you’re stuck voting for Trump.

    It reminds me of the Douglas Adams lizard democracy passage:

    “It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…”
    “You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?”
    “No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
    “Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”
    “I did,” said Ford. “It is.”
    “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
    “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
    “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
    “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
    “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
    “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”
    “I said,” said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, “have you got any gin?”
    “I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.”
    Ford shrugged again.
    “Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happenned to them,” he said. “They’re completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone’s got to say it.”
    “But that’s terrible,” said Arthur.
    “Listen, bud,” said Ford, “if I had one Altairian dollar for every time I heard one bit of the Universe look at another bit of the Universe and say ‘That’s terrible’ I wouldn’t be sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.”

    I think that you should vote for someone who isn’t a lizard. Or who is less like a lizard. Two-thirds.

    But, I suppose, if you think that you’d rather have a chance at not throwing your vote away than voting for someone who is only two-thirds lizard… I guess you could do worse than Clinton or Trump. You could be voting for Trump or Clinton.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      One can always “throw their vote away” and vote for a third party.

      And people wonder why the percentage of voting is dropping……Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      There are a few ways to look at this:

      1. The set-up of the Federal Government in the Constitution tends to favor a two-party system. Lee has pointed out that the age of the US would likely mean First Past the Post voting instead of another system even if the US adopted a Parliament instead of Congress. There are not any spoils to distribute and the spoils tend to encourage coalition governments.

      2. Perhaps a lot of people just disagree with the Libertarians and the Greens. Someone can dislike Trump but hate HRC more and still not be good for Johnson or Stein because of social conservatism, a belief in foreign policy intervention, whatever. Someone can dislike HRC less than she dislikes Trumps but think Stein is an absolute lightweight/conspiracy nut who courts anti-vaxxers but disagrees with the Libertarians on economics.

      3. I don’t really see the Libertarians and Greens running for local offices in many locations. Perhaps instead of going for the Presidency every four years, the parties should do the painful and slow thing and run for city and county council, then state legislatures, then Congress, then the President.

      4. Maybe a lot of people just really like being Rs or Ds and Libertarians and Greens have a very hard time grasping this as a fact or reality.

      I’m not a Libertarian and I am not a Green. I don’t buy the priors of either group. There can conceivably be a time when the Ds nominate an absolute disaster and I feel torn but that is not going to change my priors and world view.

      The issue seems to be that freedom is a malleable word and everyone thinks they come from the party of liberty and freedom. No one has a monopoly on the term or the true and correct version. Our political fights are for making our version of freedom and liberty dominant.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        Number 3 is the tell that these are vanity projects, not serious political parties.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          To be fair, you need national recognition to when your building a party up. The Libertarians and Greens can’t just focus on municipal, county, and state offices while ignoring Congress and the Presidency. They at least need somebody to run for the Presidency to act as a spokesperson for the entire party. Based on Slate’s coverage or the Libertarian convention and Stein’s antics, both parties really need to reconsider their political strategy and how weird they come across to most people.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


          I will be slightly fair to the Greens. They have won local lections in places like New Paltz and other college towns that swing farther to the left. Though it says something that even in San Francisco, Jane Kim had to switch from the Greens to the Democratic Party in order to win a seat on the Board of Supervisors.Report

      • Avatar mark boggs says:

        Well, I disagree about the subjective malleability of things like freedom and liberty, but I agree that we suffer from a syndrome of every person thinking their version best encapsulates the “true” meaning or iteration of the words.

        I always felt like J.S. Mill’s discussions of harm could be useful to us. In the way that my right to swing my fists ends where your nose begins. Some folks have imaginary noses that extend much farther from their faces than their actual noses (offense=harm=actionable through legislation) and some folks have really big fists that are so important that, whereas those fists have done some damage, we really didn’t intend for it to happen and it would be onerous for us to have to rectify the mistake through civil or criminal penalties and so we’ll just have to socialize the cost of the damage.

        But then this leads to people finding the most extreme example of something and arguing against it as though it is the norm, i.e. slippery slopes and all. The 2nd amendment debate and the drug war/legalization are two areas where this seems to be common and finds both sides in somewhat contradictory positions depending on which one is being discussed.

        This is why I find myself leaning towards a more libertarian position. I’m still gun shy of some of their economic positions (or maybe am more wary of some of the folks who hold very strong libertarian economic positions while sort of treating the civil libertarian positions as annoying gnats), but I find them usually to be more consistent in principle as to why they support/oppose things.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          The debates we have on things like universal healthcare, social security, and other welfare benefits are evidence that freedom and liberty are malleable words. The proponents of universal healthcare and welfare state benefits believes it enhances human freedom because they allow people to face the vagaries of life with reasonable certainly of emerging in good shape or at least not totally devastated. People are more likely to take risks if they are only likely to fall so far. The critics of the welfare state believe that they decrease freedom because they make people dependent on others and freedom is about independence from everybody. To them your supposed to take total control over all aspects of your life and see to your own provisions.

          I’d also like to point out that the university with the most restrictions on student conduct in the United States calls itself Liberty University. The name does not seem ironic. The administrators really believe that liberty is compatible with making a boy get permission from a girl’s father to date a girl. In the not so decent past, most Americans believed that freedom was compatible with enforcing popular morality on sex.Report

          • Avatar mark boggs says:

            Oh, you’ll get little argument from me over the irony of Liberty University.

            And I agree that the arguments over “entitlements” and safety nets gets very murky in terms of where fists and noses end up. I guess I didn’t quite get to the part about the fact that the words have actual meanings but their applications can be very gray.

            But maybe that’s where we’re at: we’ve gotten the generalities so pinned down that now we argue about the color of sprinkles? I don’t get that sense though. It still feels like we end up arguing about the caricatures of the arguments. Admittedly, over the last 35 years, some of the leading players have evolved to places that very much resemble the caricatures.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              I don’t think we have the generalities down. There are still many Americans that believe enforcing Protestant sexual morality is perfectly compatible with freedom. In Europe, the much more religious and socially conservative beliefs and behaviors of Muslim citizens and immigrants is causing a big fight with the much more liberal and secular native Europeans.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


          Mill had the benefit of writing in the 19th Century and being from Europe. At the time, there were serious monarchist and anti-democracy parties in Europe. Franchise expansion and other issues were serious fights in Britain through out the 19th century and well into the 20th century. Look at the fight over the People’s Budget in Britain during the pre-WWI days.

          The issue in the US is that we were never a monarchy and everyone drenches themselves in the language of small-d democracy and small-r republicanism except maybe a few weirdos.

          So you have the far-right House Freedom Caucus speaking about Freedom and Liberty in ways that don’t sound very free to me.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            Many Americans are obsessed with the British Royal Family and the entire Disney Princess thing makes me wonder if many Americans harbor some monarchal sympathies even if they can’t articulate it. The tendency of many Americans across the political spectrum to idolize the Founders and treat the President as a very revered savior doesn’t point to much small-r republican sympathies.Report

          • Avatar mark boggs says:

            Yeah, I was specifically referring to his distinctions between offense and actual harm. We seem to be unable to make that distinction in many of our debates, and specifically, I would say social conservatives seem to be the ones most often conflating the two.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              I’m a secular apathetic agnostic kind of guy. I suppose if someone was really a biblical literalist who believed in the wrathful and angry God, it would be hard for them to make that distinction.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                Which it obviously is, but what troubles me is when they think there is some sort of American ideal that encourages this kind of confusion between what their God says and what the Constitution allows.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I suspect that they think this because it was effectively true for decades in many ways.

                I think it would also take some serious mental compartmentalizing for someone to think your way and still be a biblical literalist even if I agree with your interpretation on what the Constitution allows.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      Trump’s campaign to plumb the outer limits of BSDI-ism has been remarkably successful.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        So start with a person who says “I prefer my politician to be at least a ‘7’ according to my own personal measuring stick for me to vote for them”.

        Then have them face a choice between a 6 and a 3.

        If they say “You know what, I think I’ll vote for a 3rd party because neither of these people are a 7”, that’s a position that makes sense to me.

        Though I understand why supporters of the 6 would argue whether 6es are better than 3s, and HOW DARE YOU SAY THIS PERSON IS A 6 BEFORE I ACCEPT YOUR VOTE FOR A THIRD PARTY YOU HAVE TO PROVE THAT THEY ARE NOT A 7 I WILL WAIT HERE, and, of course, accusations of making false equivalence.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Yes, because arguing that someone needs to be at least a ‘7’ before you vote for them is ridiculous given the way our electoral system works. We don’t have approval voting in this country.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            And soon you find yourself saying “arguing that someone needs to be at least a ‘6’ before you vote for them is ridiculous given the way our electoral system works”.

            And then “arguing that someone needs to be at least a ‘5’ before you vote for them is ridiculous given the way our electoral system works”.

            And, one day, you wake up and the election is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              Yes. When it comes time for the general election, your argument doesn’t make sense at all. The only way it would make sense is if both candidates are equally (un)acceptable.

              Even if I stipulate for some reason that Hillary Clinton is an unusually terrible candidate, I don’t see the relevance. Is there some plausible mechanism where voting for someone other than Kang of Kodos leads to a better set of choices in the future?Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                Is there a plausible scenario where voting for Kang or Kodos changes which one wins?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Yes. Maybe @jaybird lives in Oklahoma or Massachusetts or something, in which case his vote won’t matter and nobody will care, but maybe he lives in Florida or Ohio or some other swing state.

                [Insert obligatory argument about how moronic the electoral college is here.]Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                The EC has nothing to do with it; indeed, by making close, decisive, sub-elections possible, the EC makes an individual vote marginally more likely to matter. In a case like Florida 2000, Bush only took Florida by 500 votes; Gore took the national vote by 500,000.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                The EC has a lot to do with the votes of people in OK, MA, et c. being completely irrelevant. It basically increases or decreases the power of your vote in a pretty arbitrary way.Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                Given that the power of a vote in a swing state is effectively 0, the power of a vote in a non-swing state really isn’t very different.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My take on this is a fairly old one.

                My ideal outcome for any given election is that the winner does so with 48.5% and the loser does so with 48% and the losing party looks long and hard at that 48% and then long and hard at that 3.5% and starts asking “what could we do to peel off some of those people?”

                I want to be part of that 3.5%.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                We tried this experiment in 2000. Yet here you are, with Donald Trump on one side and Hillary Clinton in the other. Notably, neither party looked long and hard at what they would have needed to do to attract that sizable number of Nader voters.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                We had three elections in a row where third parties got an appreciable, and at least arguably decisive, portion of the vote, since Perot posted pretty big numbers in both ’92 and ’96. We’ve iterated. The outcomes do not appear to have moved in the direction you want.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The outcomes do not appear to have moved in the direction you want.

                Which outcomes would those be? Private prisons? Marijuana? Gay Marriage?

                I’m doing better than I was in 1992.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                If 538’s predictions hold up.

                HRC should get around 48-49 percent of the vote

                Trump should get between 37-40 percent of the vote

                and Johnson will receive a healthy 8-10 percent of the vote.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If Johnson gets even 5%, I’ll be very, very, very, very, very surprised.

                That said, if he does, we’ll be enjoying a bottle of something, I tell you what.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                ” Is there some plausible mechanism where voting for someone other than Kang of Kodos leads to a better set of choices in the future?”

                Imagine if there were a choice other than Kang or Kodos.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                That certainly would justify a primary vote, but it’s very unclear how voting for a random third party candidate in the general election will help an insurgent candidate in a future major party primary.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                People were saying “WE ABSOLUTELY MUST VOTE FOR CLINTON BECAUSE OTHERWISE TRUMP” before the primary season was even halfway through.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                That was a different and, at least IMO, considerably weaker argument.

                On the other hand, it’s hard to argue that the folks on the other side of the aisle, who were saying, “WE ABSOLUTELY MUST VOTE ${NOT_TRUMP} BECAUSE OTHERWISE CLINTON!” didn’t kind of have a point.Report

    • Avatar J_A says:


      Regretfully in that world there are two issues

      1- Gravitational forces make certain lizards coalesce with others, until you don’t have individual lizards, but clusters of them. And I have to vote for the cluster and take the whole package. In each cluster there might be lizards I hate less and lizards I hate more. And there are clusters I cannot take at all. There is this one cluster of lizards that has a tax policy I cannot support at all. A policy of tax cuts that I find terribly detrimental to the polity. So, no matter how much I might dislike the other cluster of lizards, the risk of the wrong lizard taking over is real.

      2- it takes a certain nature to enter into politics. Lizards fit that nature better than really nice people. It’s a pity.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        What about people who instead of tax policy see continued military intervention in the middle east as a deal breaker? I am not voting Trump but Iraq, Libya, and HRC’s general hawkishness completely disqualifies her from the presidency in my opinion. Now I suppose it’s possible Trump could be worse on this issue (I think it’s impossible to say) but people need to stop acting like there aren’t principled reasons to oppose Clinton or that there is some sort of clearly greater sense in embracing the race to the bottom view of voting that Jaybird articulated.

        Not saying voting 3rd party (which I will do) isn’t without plenty of flaws but the its Clinton or eternal damnation argument that progressives and the MSM are pushing is itself flawed and quite self serving.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Of course there are plenty of reasons to not like Clinton that don’t’ involve poo smearing or nutjob conspiracy mongering. There always have been. Sadly most people go with the trash and poo but lots of us don’t like her hawky side.Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            My frustration stems from my perception (which is anecdotal) that legitimate criticisms of Clinton are being treated as the same as conspiracy theories about Vince Foster. I know everyone in blue America (of which I am reluctantly a part, at least in terms of demographics) is supposed to be uniting against Trump but I still hate all the tribalism and blind loyalty. It reminds me of the Bush (whose foreign policy we are most likely about to return to office) years in the worst waysReport

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          Someone I know (who works for hillary) has her at 20% chance to get us into World War III if she wins. I don’t like those odds.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            You know what?

            No. No you don’t know someone who works for Clinton, and no they haven’t assigned 20% odds to WWIII under Clinton.

            Those two things literally never happened outside your head.

            For Pete’s sake, Kimmi, really? I can’t tell what’s worse — the idea that you believe such delusional things OR the idea that you think we’ll believe you when you say it.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              Oh, I don’t expect you to believe it. I don’t expect you to believe when Hillary’s lying either, even if I was to explain to you her tells in detail (which, to be fair, I don’t know. I have the word of a trained analyst on one of them. I’d have to ask to get more.).Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      That’s a great essay Jaybird, but, seriously, the wrong lizard might get in.

      Also, y’know, maybe that human would be better, but I’ve never heard of him. But this lizard person, she’s like, someone we know about, right? At least I remember hearing her last name said by the TV news people when I was a kid. And besides, shouldn’t it be a female’s turn to be President? Maybe she’s said straight out that she wants to eat human babies, but I’m sure that’s better than whatever the other lizard person wants to do.Report

    • Avatar Fortytwo says:

      That is exactly the story I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’m still voting against the wrong lizard, though.Report

  16. Avatar Francis says:

    I find hyperbole about minimum wage arguments particularly off-putting. To wit, in the other direction: let’s eliminate all welfare programs and set the min wage to zero! Without a safety net, people will be highly motivated to find work and with labor costs so low, employers will be eager to hire! What’s so bad about indenture anyway? At least you’re getting trained and fed!

    There is more to the economy than the size of the GDP. Allocation is important too, at least for many people.

    Point 2: The stranglehold that regulations put on American business is a popular theme among conservatives and Republicans. But looking at the cost side only is just wrong.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      ” looking at the cost side only is just wrong.”

      Really? Why? People are quite happy to look at the “cost side only” of, e.g., defense spending, despite the fact that defense spending also gives GPS and weather forecasting.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Because if one is actually interested in choosing the best course of action, one is well-served by considering both costs and benefits. The fact that similarly bad arguments have been presented in other contexts doesn’t change this.Report

      • Avatar Francis says:


        Lead paint abatement is very expensive. But it results in smarter kids. Good policy or bad?

        Trump’s Wall will cost billions and likely result in very few people being prevented from getting into the country. Good policy or bad?Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          I’m…not the one saying “looking at the cost side only is just wrong”, broskies.Report

          • Avatar Francis says:

            ? Yes, looking only at the cost of a regulation is a terrible idea. Those poor car manufacturers, mine owners, paper mill operators, land developers, bankers and sewage treatment companies, all laboring under the lash of incredibly costly state and federal regulation. The poor American taxpayer, bleeding out their paycheck to the oppressive federal and state govts.

            or, alternatively, look how clean the air is in Southern California compared to the 70s. Look at the plummeting rate of workplace death and injury compared to 100 years ago. Look at the reduction in elder poverty (Soc Sec) and illness (Medicare). Look at the national and global prosperity engendered by military alliances and military spending.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            Yes, but you were the one asking why we might wish to do otherwise.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              …wha? Please look at the author name on the posts you’re reading before you reply to them. Maybe going back to the start of the thread would help you.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                You asked “Really? Why?” in response Francis saying ” looking at the cost side only is just wrong.”

                I gather you were facetiously referring to people who don’t follow Francis’ advice when the subject is defense spending, but I’m still not clear on why it’s relevant that some people make silly arguments about defense spending.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “You asked “Really? Why?” in response Francis saying ” looking at the cost side only is just wrong.” ”

                And that’s…not me asking why we should look beyond the cost.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Then I’m afraid it isn’t obvious to me what you are trying to say.Report

  17. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I am not among those who consider corporations evil. People are evil. Corporations are things, not people. They don’t have morals except for the morals of people who use these constructs to carry out actions.

    However, a corporate tax rate that is different from the ordinary tax rate invites people to play even more games with their taxes, forming corporations as shells to move income around in a way that avoids even more taxes. This is only useful to the 1 percent, it does nothing at all for everyone else. I think the idea that tax policy will bring jobs back to America – old-school manufacturing jobs – is foolish. Tax policy didn’t make them go away. And now workers are being replaced by robots even in China.

    You’re fighting the last war, using the wrong weapon.Report

  18. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Let me publicly state that I’m thrilled to have this opinion to offer up to our readers; it’s felt for too long like nearly every political post we had was anti-Trump.

    So I’m really, really grateful to @derekstanley for stepping up to the plate and offering up the essay. I disagree with damn near every word of it.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      Well at least you can be respectful and accepting Burt…not like that jackass who got that other post pulled. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Aaron David says:

      I agree quite strongly with @burt-likko here, with the exception of disagreeing with it. I am fairly neutral to positive on the content. I would, however, see someone give me good possible reasons to vote HRC. Just for context.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @aaron-david The reasons to vote for Clinton are pretty clear and obvious. If you want something like centrist Dem to liberal policies enacted and mostly liberal judges then Hills is your candidate. Don’t want those….well then she isn’t for you.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:

      @burt-likko agreed. To a point.

      Is he going to get into the comments?Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Yeah i’ll agree here with Burt. While i think the reasons Derek stated are epically wrong it’s good to have a variety of voices and he stated his views clearly. That is pretty much what we can hope for.Report

    • Avatar Holly says:

      Agreed! Well said, Burt.Report

  19. Avatar Aaron W says:

    For someone who seems to pride themselves on economic sophistication, your position on immigration is remarkably simplistic. Other people have already covered why just building a wall is unlikely to solve the problem or make it worse (most illegal immigrants come here by overstaying their visa; a wall just creates an incentive to stay and bring the whole family). Or how it contradicts your position on regulations (immigration controls are a form of economic regulation after all.) If despite all that, you still hold that position, I’d just like to point out one thing. In case you didn’t notice, Trump has already reversed his position on this. Presumably since he’s losing.Report

  20. Avatar pillsy says:

    Hillary Clinton is a jackass privately. In fact, her jackassery is so private that you need a dubious tell-all book from a Secret Service agent to substantiate it.

    Donald Trump is a jackass publicly. In fact, his jackassery is so public that you need to immediately describe it as an “elephant in the room”.

    The idea that this indicates that both candidates suffer from equally disqualifying character flaws is bananas. By your own admission, your favored candidate doesn’t even have the basic common sense and impulse control to keep his tantrums behind closed doors.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Hillary Clinton is a jackass privately. In fact, her jackassery is so private that you need a dubious tell-all book from a Secret Service agent to substantiate it.

      Not to mention sorta contradicted by everyone who has ever worked with her. They’re fantastically loyal to her.

      Which either means she’s absolutely a great boss or, of course, they’re terrified of being murdered by her squads of hit men.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      @pillsy @morat20

      This entire post and a lot of the comments remind me of a meme:

      White Guy: I don’t know who is worse, HRC or Trump

      Blacks: Trump

      LBGT: Trump

      Jews: Trump

      Latino(a): Trump

      Asians: Trump

      White Women: Trump

      White Guy: I don’t know who is worse, HRC or TrumpReport

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        “Trump is worse” doesn’t imply “Clinton is good”.

        Clinton needs to avoid any possibility of people realizing that.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David says:

          Indeed, she needs to keep making the argument that anything is worse. To hide the
          Hillary is Worse.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Why? People routinely vote for candidates that aren’t “good” by some internally applicable standard, and do so in the face of contrasts much less stark than the one presented by Clinton and Trump.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            The reason it matters is that we are, in November, going to be presented with “well I won the election because you voted for me so that must mean you think my plans are good ones“. And it is going to be very important that people keep a sense of why they voted the way they did, rather than pretending that everything coming out of the Oval Office is exactly what they wanted all along.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              I mean, look, I’m a liberal Democrat who’s preferred Hillary Clinton from the start of the current cycle. The idea that everything that will come out of the Oval Office is going to be what I wanted all along is… completely alien to me.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                I just don’t want World War III. That’s all I ask. Clinton’s mental issues make me afraid that we will get World War III. (And more importantly, people who work for her afraid for that outcome).

                We’re GOING to get a recession. Just a matter of when (guessing after the election as they want Clinton to win).Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          “Trump is worse” doesn’t imply “Clinton is good”.

          True dat. But it does imply “Clinton is less bad.” And that’s how I see this election.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        What an insightful meme. The best way to determine the validity of an opinion is the race/religion/sex of the person stating it. Not sure why no one else ever thought of that.Report

      • Avatar Fortytwo says:

        You forgot the end.
        White man: Sticks head further up ass.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Well, it’s not THAT simple, is it? I ask this seriously: Why should white men agree that what’s good for latinos or LGBTQ is good for them? Seems to me – and again, I mean this seriously – that the anti-Trump alliance Saul enumerates can be reasonably (not necessarily agreeably, mind) viewed as resulting from a shared view that white male culture needs to be taken down a peg or two. How would that not incite some resistance?Report

  21. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    I want to cast my vote for President this time with the goal of maximizing the chances that the Congressional Republicans won’t be able to do anything about policy, either immediately or after the 2018 midterms. I remain convinced that they have lost their collective mind, and I want as much protection as I can get.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I remain convinced that they have lost their collective mind, and I want as much protection as I can get.

      Heh. I hear ya. The only thing I’d add is that I foolishly didn’t think it could get any worse than the last, oh, 8 or so years.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      Reports I’m reading are that Clinton has also lost her mind. 20% chance of WWIII if she gets elected. [China is becoming dangerously unstable, as is Russia.]Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Hillary’s hawkish foreign-policy tendencies do concern me, especially since the most likely electoral outcomes in November leave her in the domestic role of caretaker for Obama’s policies. Unlike your sources, I doubt that she can muster the national will to get us into a major shooting war.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          Mustering the national will isn’t the issue. Getting into a pissing contest with dangerously unstable countries is something else. Let China sink a few destroyers, and what do we have then?Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            It’s your hypothetical, but… Make it reasonable. She has US Navy destroyers poking around within 12 miles of those islands in the South China Sea to support the Philippines’ claim. A Chinese submarine no one notices was there this time sinks one of the destroyers. What’s she going to do? How does she get into a shooting war with China before Congress reins her in?Report

  22. Avatar Dave says:


    Interesting post. You wrote:

    I learned better in the first two weeks of my Econ 101 class, and it makes me think she has no clue how the economy works. That worries me greatly.

    I could turn that gun back on you when it comes to your entire anti-regulatory argument, which says nothing about Trump’s positions but rather echoes the conservative/libertarian/free markets talking points of the less-informed persuasion. It’s a bit disappointing because the depth of knowledge demonstrated in the taxation part of your post is completely non-existent when you discuss Dodd Frank…to a fault.

    First of all,

    That is what regulations do, create barriers to entry for the small companies thus insulating the large companies from new competition. Regulations need to be slashed in this country to help bring back small and mid-size businesses and Trump understands this.

    The problem with boilerplate anti-regulatory language is that it’s wholly inapplicable to financial markets. In the bigger picture, systemic stability is what should drive the regulatory environment, and creating a playing field that best achieves that goal is one that requires disclosure. Disclosure is absolutely necessary in order for people to accurately price risk and make their investment decisions accordingly. Personally, I’m not of the opinion that repealing the backbones of modern securities laws are going to somehow make the markets function better. Sames goes for Dodd Frank, but I was one of those people that actually understood the causes of the crisis, unlike many of DF’s critics.

    Plentiful and complex regulations really do not affect Fortune 500 companies. They are large enough, with enough money, to mitigate the cost of compliance and find ways around the most onerous parts of the law.

    So why is MetLife battling with the U.S. Government over the SIFI designation?

    Why did General Electric sell off one of its most profitable units, GE Capital, rather than deal with the SIFI designation?

    Why did the five or so commercial banks that were doing a kind of payday lending exit the business after they were brought under the jurisdiction of the CFPB?

    Why did trading revenues at the i-banks drop as a result of the activities prohibited by Dodd-Frank? Consequently, we saw some sizable layoffs in these groups over the last couple of years or so.

    What do you think’s going to happen to the large loan CMBS shops as the risk retention rules go into effect and the originators are going to be forced to hold onto a piece of each deal (which I think is BS but that’s for another conversation)

    Consider Dodd-Frank. This law was meant to punish the big banks,

    The only way that was going to happen was if the banks were going to get broken up, which was never going to happen. Of course, I probably have a far-more narrow definition of “punish” than you do, or so it seems.

    and make sure there would never be a “too big to fail” scenario again.

    That’s the SIFI designation, and I fully support it. Institutions that are large enough to create a systemic event in their failure should be subject to a completely different of regulations. It becomes completely impractical to use the regulatory power to limit size, especially when the larger off-shore banks can do business in this country with no such limitations.

    But those banks are bigger now than they were when they got bailed out,

    So what? If the failure of any institutions doesn’t trigger a systemic event, I couldn’t care less about how big they are.

    and the local and mid-sized banks have reduced in number (many being bought by the large banks).

    A trend that was going on long before 2008. After the crisis, the trend continued, and some of that was arguably a result of local and regional banks being significantly weakened by their exposure in their construction loan portfolios. Take into account competition from the nationals, regionals, mid-size all the way down the line that everyone was getting bigger to keep up with everyone else.

    Though other factors were involved

    Yes, and those factors may have driven bank consolidation more than Dodd Frank. Your links demonstrate no clear evidence one way or the other.

    Dodd-Frank put small banks out of business and made big banks bigger.

    The nature of the banking industry did that. Hell, without Dodd Frank and the bans on certain kinds of activity on the trading side, it’s possible to argue that the banks would be even bigger today, and that could have spurred even more intense competition down the line, especially if the big banks were able to be more aggressive on the retail banking side.

    Trump? He’s just echoing what opponents of financial regulation have been saying for years. It’s like with the ACA. Opponents find things they don’t like and the solution is to repeal the whole damn thing. That’s as stupid with DF as it is the ACA given the depth of what these laws are trying to accomplish.

    Great post and thank you for your contribution.Report

  23. Avatar James K says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinion Derek, we don’t have a lot of Trump supporters here, and its good to have that side of the political debate represented.

    I share some of your exasperation with the Democrats, their abuse of Aggregate Demand to suggest minimum wages have no downside is deeply irritating. Conservatives have their own version of this with the Laffer Curve and tax cuts, but I can completely understand why you find the argument irritating. Your point about how regulations often benefit large corporations at the expense of small businesses is also well taken.

    The thing that concerns me the most about Trump isn’t so much his policies as his attitude toward the norms that underpin the apparatus of state. His tendency to threaten legal action (or even violence) against people who criticise or mock him, combined with his tendency to describe a system as “rigged” purely based on whether he is getting what he wants from it is deeply disturbing to me. A President of the US has a lot of power, and I can too easily imagine scenarios like a President Trump ordering the arrest of judges who rule against him, or attempting to squash media outlets who criticise him. Basically, in temperament, Trump is far too much like Hugo Chavez for my comfort.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      I appreciate and agree with your last paragraph here quite intensely.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      Yes, I expect the contours of the debate would be very different if the nominee were John Kasich or Mitt Romney. I mean, I wouldn’t want either as President because I think they’d pursue a terrible policy agenda, but they’d be running for President.

      Trump is running for Generalissimo.Report

  24. Avatar Patrick says:

    I am pressed for time, so I’m not going to dive too deeply into this post, but since you’ve made tax policy your lead item, I’m going to give my standard response to anybody who brings up tax policy:

    Regardless of who wins in 2016, you will not see a change in U.S. tax policy.


    At the absolute earliest, the next time you will see a change in U.S. tax policy is in 2020, and even that is (IMO) highly unlikely. 2025 would be a better bet, but still not good; the 2020 census will put some energy behind redistricting but probably not enough (and, spoiler alert, it will not be a change in the direction of “taxes go down”).

    This is due to structural reasons.

    The President has virtually **nothing** to do with changing tax structure in any practical sense whatsoever.

    Folks believe that the President matters in tax law negotiations.

    They almost entirely don’t, except in a negative sense (they can veto a tax proposal, and they can approve a tax proposal).

    The President can craft whatever sort of tax legislation they want, and they typically do at least once a year… but all tax law originates in the House of Representatives under the Constitution.

    If you want to have a substantive change in U.S. tax law there is one and only one way to start to do it, and it has *nothing* to do with who sits in the Oval Office and *everything* to do with who holds the House of Representatives.

    Because whoever holds the House of Representatives controls the Ways and Means Committee and nothing else matters if you don’t hold Ways and Means. This is why Clinton’s tax policy is totally irrelevant.

    Without a vote by the Ways and Means Committee, proposed tax legislation does not go forward.

    Supposing you get that, you also need a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and the President, of course, but that’s the second and third step in the process, not the first. The President actually signing the legislation is anti-climactic, even if the President is the one that set the table with the initial proposal.

    You can hold all nine judges on the Supreme Court, and the Presidency, and the Senate, and a chunk of the House… but if you don’t control the House outright (or have enough moderates of either party in the House), you can’t control who sits on Ways and Means.

    If you don’t have Ways and Means, you WILL NOT get tax policy changes… well, not unless you can hold something hostage to the House of Representatives to get them to force Ways and Means to pass your proposal out of committee, but that’s a tricky political proposition. It also requires you to hold onto something that the folks on Ways and Means *want* more than stopping your proposal from going forward, which in today’s GOP is a nonstarter. They’ve already shown a complete giddiness at shooting their own hostages, let alone a willingness. Ted Cruz is the second runner up in the GOP primary at this date and he’s already shut down the government once!

    If you *have* Ways and Means, you need to get 60 in the Senate next.

    This is not going to happen on the GOP side in 2016. Probably not in 2018. Almost certainly not in 2020. So.

    U.S. tax policy is going to be what U.S. tax policy is for at least eight years. Write it off. It will not happen, and any change you want to make to government that depends upon a tax change ain’t gonna happen, neither.

    In order for **that** to change, one of the parties has to be willing to give up something they actually currently want in order to get the other party to move.

    This means, if you’re the GOP, agreeing to cut government spending *that you like* in order to get the Dems to sign on to a tax policy change *that you like*. You’re not going to get buy-in for a tax cut by cutting the Department of Education, because the Democrats are not going to let you do that. You’ll have to cut the military budget, really.

    And not only that, you’ll have to figure out which cuts in the military budget are the cuts that fall on your own states, because you won’t get 60 votes in the Senate if you’re telling only the Democratic senators that the cuts need to come from their states. The military contractors of the US got wise to this back in 1994, diversifying location so that defense cuts would fall on multiple districts no matter what got cut. Go crunch the spending patterns and you’ll see a very limited number of red states that could make a dent in the military budget. Maybe Texas.

    That’s just not going to happen.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      This is also why you’re not going to see a change on immigration, either, really.Report

    • Avatar Francis says:

      Patrick: I agree on the politics, but isn’t the sequester under the Budget Control Act of 2011 still out there? Wiki tells me that the 2013 budget fixed the sequester through FY 2015, but then we’re back to the 2011 law.

      Also, I thought that Senate rules prohibit the filibuster on certain kinds of budget bills even if they contain changes to tax laws. So the Dems really need (a) Ryan to recognize he needs some moderate Dems, (b) the Dems to take the Senate, and (c) the Dems to hold the White House.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      I think this overstates the importance of the House of Representatives. Yes, only they can initiate tax legislation, but the Senate still needs to pass it, as does the president, unless both houses have a 2/3 majority in favor. And both the Senate and President can influence what goes into the House bill by saying that they won’t pass/sign it unless it has this or that provision.

      Furthermore, the Republicans currently control the House and are strongly favored to retain control in the next Congress, so the actual bottleneck, if Trump wins, is the need for 60 votes in the Senate, which seems very unlikely.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        I mention that:

        “If you *have* Ways and Means, you need to get 60 in the Senate next.
        This is not going to happen on the GOP side in 2016. Probably not in 2018. Almost certainly not in 2020. So. “Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        You don’t think that if the Republicans have the Oval Office, the House, and the Senate, they won’t do away with the filibuster? My own suspicion is that they would do so first thing, because they have a list of things they want to fix (and that aren’t subject to SCOTUS review). The Congressional Republicans clearly want to rein in what the EPA can do under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, both rolling back previous decisions and blocking future ones. They want to abolish the estate tax, permanently this time. I suspect that they want to make a run at amendments to the Antiquities Act and the 1976 Federal Land Management Act.

        To be honest, if the Dems win all three, I expect the same thing. We have reached the point where getting anything done requires one of (a) an extraordinary electoral sweep or (b) doing it by executive order and court decisions.Report

        • Avatar Patrick says:

          No, I don’t.

          Although I suppose it is possible.

          The consequences of it would be incredibly dire for the GOP. They would get quite precisely what they are looking for, with all of the attendant unintended consequences.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:


            They would get quite precisely what they are looking for, with all of the attendant unintended consequences.

            Quibbles about what an “unintended consequence” is when it’s entirely predictable, I think you overestimate the rationality invoked by the entity collective! known as “the GOP” by attributing to them your own.Report

            • Avatar Patrick says:

              Let me rephrase, to be more clear.

              Trump plus the House plus 51 Senators could indeed burn down the last of our unwritten Constitution and throw out the filibuster and jam 20 years of pent up political frustration into an orgy of antigovernmentalism.

              That would cause so many direct, short term bad consequences that they would lose any ability to compete on the national stage for twenty years. They are borderline life support for the Presidency as it is, but this would be awful.

              You throw out the DoE and Title 1, every school district in the country immediately goes bankrupt. There is no capability to adjust, that’s it. Almost every district except maybe two in California goes into receivership in less than 8 months.

              You throw out the rules and nominate someone to the Right of Scalia and jam them through a fillibuster, you guarantee that RBG doesn’t retire and you get really not much for it. Plus the lower courts will lose their shit over it… practically every district court will drag out every case they can in silent protest.

              Maybe you get two beneficial SCOTUS rulings but that’s one hell of a price to pay.

              Really what it comes down to is that all you can do is push the pendulum far in one direction without the governor there to limit it, and… uh, you really can’t put it back barring actually going the full blown dictator for life route.

              You look at the public polling right now and what you see is that folks ain’t too keen with the crazy train in theory.

              You put the crazy train out in reality and that’s it, you are toast.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      If the democratic party picks up the voters I suspect it’s going to be picking up after this election, you can kiss 2025 goodbye.

      I mean, assuming that the “neocon” and other “Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal/Highly Educated” types end up over there.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Barring a black swan event, sixty in the Senate isn’t on the table for either party for quite some time into the foreseeable future. Four years at best for the Democrats, if everything breaks their way, which we know won’t happen.

      Yes, Republicans are on their way to a bad year, but it’s still likely their year won’t be so bad they lose the House. They might lose the Senate, they might not. If tax policy is what excites you, SCOTUS is not particularly important aside from the very occasional wild card it throws in to the play.

      And the Republican Party is strong enough to survive the damage Trump is doing to its brand. IMO, a lot of Republicans are going to have to come up with better answers to “So what did you do during the war, Dad?” than the truth being played out in real time will support, but neither party has a monopoly on revisionism. Even if some of the wild talk out in Internetlandia (although not really here, to our credit) about the GOP actually self-destructing doesn’t think through that there are a very great many people who will NEVER become Democrats and will, even if the GOP dissolves into a puddle of foul-smelling gurgling goo like the Wicked Witch of the West, they’ll simply form the Conservative Party, which will look quite a bit like the Republican Party of 2004. So we’re simply not going to have a one-party state.

      As a practical matter, the Democrats cannot take the House until the 2022 elections (the first that will happen after redistricting in the wake of the 2020 census). Even then, only if nearly everything breaks their way, which we know won’t happen.

      Why? Taken as a whole, the voters behave consistently with the proposition that they like divided government. The how we get there is kind of messy and inexact, but as a general rule, the people as a whole get the government they (more or less) want.Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        Even if some of the wild talk out in Internetlandia (although not really here, to our credit) about the GOP actually self-destructing doesn’t think through that there are a very great many people who will NEVER become Democrats and will, even if the GOP dissolves into a puddle of foul-smelling gurgling goo like the Wicked Witch of the West, they’ll simply form the Conservative Party, which will look quite a bit like the Republican Party of 2004. So we’re simply not going to have a one-party state.

        I take issue with the term “simply”

        If that happened, would we become a Single Party system? No.

        Would we become a Dominant Party system for easily a decade if not (probably) two decades? Yes.

        Historically speaking (both for the U.S. and other countries), once the major “other” party goes away, it is decades before the dominant party schisms and the opposition can organize a party. Sure, Libertarians might pick up a few seats and American Constitution might grab a seat or two. Even parties like the Green Party might pick up a few when some of the less fanatical democrats break with the party. However, given how fanatically both Democrats and Republicans cling to their political party as part of their social identity, the Democrats in this scenario would be effectively unopposed for decades before the next generation of conservatives and even disenchanted moderate democrats would be able to form an effective opposition party.

        There is no “simply” about such a scenario, unlikely as it may be.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        I contend that the Democrats really don’t need 60.

        The GOP can’t just not confirm a judge for four years. Not confirming Merrick is already a downticket drag, they hold the line for four years and they probably *will* lose the 60.

        And the Democrats can afford to bank on moderates like Merrick, who the GOP already looks bad for rejecting after they have already said they liked the guy.

        Scalia’s replacement being even right of center would push the court to the left.Report

  25. Avatar Joe Sal says:

    Good work Derek! Glad we finally had some contrast to all the ‘Trump is doomed’ stuff we had before. Hope you stay around, or at least show up often.Report

  26. Avatar pillsy says:

    My last reason for supporting Donald Trump is his stance on illegal immigration.

    It seems that, as of today, Trump’s stance on immigration is, “Clap louder” .Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Oh yeah, Ann Coulter got burned too. She had a new book and everything.

      I love this pivot. It’s great. It’s the best pivot ever. Unlike other candidate’s pathetic pivots, this one is epic!

      (It’s a hilarious move. He’s already alienated a ton of Republican or Republican leaning voters with crap like this. He’s done so while maintaining massive visibility on these issues. There’s no possible ‘rebranding’ here, and anyone he’s run off is going to remember why they ran off. So now he’s taking one of the things the remaining supporters really LOVE and moving away from it.

      So to sum up, Trump’s strategy seems to involve getting rid of any voters who aren’t hard core, and once that’s done, he’s going to try to shed the hard core voters. Best pivot ever!).Report

  27. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful and enjoyable post. I’m glad to see additional diversity in opinion here, and I think the tone of the post fits in well with the culture that makes this place such a rare gem.Report