The Coming Civil War

The boys and girls over at the flagship of Conservative Inc. have their panties in a bunch over the increasingly hostile relationship between them and the rank and file of the conservative movement. Well, what’s left of the conservative movement. Decades of broken promises and outright lying from public figures claiming to be conservative leaders has the hoi polloi looking for other options. Normal conservatives, which means middle-class white people, for the most part, are feeling betrayed.

Part of it is due to the awakening of the base to certain realities of party politics. One of those realities is that most of the people in charge are just in it for the money. These are career men who have wives and kids and mortgages. They are risk adverse. It is why they are quick to plead for a deal to end the bickering over policy. It is why they are willing to trade everything for stability. Great change means great tumult and tumultuous times are bad times for the mediocrities that are party functionaries.

Normal people look at this and think they are being taken for a ride. After all, what’s the point of voting for conservative candidates and supporting conservative causes, if the people running these things are willing to sellout for personal gain? These people are always ready to tell you about the need to compromise, but they never lecture the other side this way. That’s what is driving the general discontent with conservatives. David French has a post on it here and Goldberg has his say here.

Jonah Goldberg is the king of straw man arguments. His preferred method of dismissing criticism is to call the critics “populists” and then claim that populism is crypto-leftism or the precursor to fascism. Once he has anathematized the messengers he then moves on to explain why it is dangerous to listen to these bomb throwers. What he is doing is something the Left likes and that is creating an immoral straw man and then associating it with the arguments or facts they want to dismiss. It’s a form of scapegoating.

Of course, it is a ploy to avoid the elephant in the room. The Right lose every fight. They lose the PR wars. They lose the negotiations. They lose elections against weak candidates. They conceded ground to the Left before the debate gets going. Just on practical terms, the Right has been a near total failure for almost two decades. Whatever the defects of the critics, the people in charge of conservatism have failed at every turn, but have suffered no consequences.  In fact, they have grown quite rich.

The David French piece deserves special recognition for its mendacity. Every loser who wants to avoid the consequences of being a loser tries to play the victim card. They always claim to have received death threats. French claims to have received threatening calls at home. If he does not have a police report, then he is a liar. It is a serious crime to call someone and threaten them. Calls are easily traceable and the police take these things seriously. If true, he should file the report and post it.

In many ways, David French is emblematic of what is wrong with the so-called conservative movement. They think politics is a buffet line where all they need to do is put a few things on the tray and proclaim their fidelity to those with similar tastes. Put another way, they have reduced conservatism down to a handful of policy positions that just happen to be popular with their corporate and wealthy donors. Instead of maintaining an intellectual tradition, they are a public relations firm for the highest bidder.

Today it is hard to lie in public. Liberal politicians from normal states have been learning this the hard way. They used to get away with lying at home as no one called them on it in the press as long as they voted liberal. Now they get exposed quickly. The so-called conservatives are struggling with the problem now. Years of watching the so-called Right promise and fail, only to lecture their base about making unreasonable demands has most conservatives wonder if it as not always a scam.

What comes next, as conservatives wake up to the reality of demographic change and the emerging identity politics, is a big civil war on the Right. On one side will be the kept men of Conservative Inc., defending their perks and positions. On the other side will be a new Right, one more in tune with today’s realities and much less concerned with upsetting the feelings of the Left. It will be more populist and probably more racially aware. Most likely, the old Buckley crowd ends up on the Left, if the Left will have them.

One Step Closer To The End

The ancient Greeks would on occasion pass a law forbidding any further debate on some issue that had been decided. The reason for this was to prevent critics from undermining the policy, by endlessly debating the issue after a course of action has been agreed upon by the people. For example, a decision to go to war with another polos would be decided and no further debate permitted. If someone tried to revive the debate, they would be killed or expelled from the city. It was not a matter taken lightly.

It was a clever way to prevent second guessing and indecision, but it is also a way to lock in bad policy. The rule becomes a suicide pact. An example is how Massachusetts recently passed a gas tax that is pegged to the CPI. That means the tax goes up every year without any action by the legislature. Another example is how the US Congress has their pay automatically increase along with all federal salaries. The whole point is they don’t have to answer for their votes every election.

In theory, no legislature can bind a future legislature. The reason people say this is whatever is passed this year by the legislature, can be reversed by subsequent legislatures. For example, if the Congress passes a law promising to pay you a fixed amount of money every year, this can be reversed in the next Congress. That said, as with the Greek example, a legislature can make it really hard for future legislatures to undo their work. The American welfare state is the most obvious example.

Congress is poised to do soemthing that will be close to impossible to unwind. They are seeking to have the debt limit increase automatically every year, unless Congress passes a bill forbidding it. Further, if a future Congress tried to halt the debt ceiling hike, the president could veto the bill. This, in effect, give the executive power of the purse, as the government can always borrow, even if Congress refuses to tax. It turns on its head the political  relationship between Congress and the executive.

The reason for this change, of course, is to prevent the minority in Congress from putting the brakes on the excesses of the majority. The handful of spending hawks left in Congress made life unpleasant for the establishment every time they have to raise the det ceiling, so the establishment is taking that lever away from them. Leadership will not have to be embarrassed when they are out lying to the public about how much they care about the deficit and the spending. Borrowing is now on autopilot.

In popular government, the power of the purse is in the hands of the parliament. Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, is known as the Taxing and Spending Clause. It explicitly gives the power to tax to Congress. “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

The power to borrow, as we see, also lies with Congress. They authorize all debt. After all, government borrowing in popular government is a form of taxation. The legislature is making a promise to pay on behalf of the people, a promise to pay with interest. This is an indirect tax. Similarly, government borrowing raises the cost of private borrowing. That’s also a tax on the people. For Congress to have the debt limit automatically rise, without Congressional oversight, is handing tax power to the executive.

This is one of those small things historians will look back on as evidence of the decay in the American political class. The House is the most democratic body and it is the most populist body. In theory, at least. As the House slowly abandons its authority to the executive, the people slowly lose influence over government. The executive requires an ever expanding army of bureaucrats to administer the state. The people become subjects, ruled over by that permanent bureaucracy of overseers tasked with keeping control.

History is full of examples of this. There’s something natural about the how democracy slowly gives way to some form of authoritarianism.  It suggests people, over time, prefer to be subjects rather than citizens. America will be just one more example. The question is whether it is first a bureaucratic authoritarianism or some collection of interests, like a combination of the security state and Big tech, just seizes power. Maybe we end up with a strong man put in power by global corporate interests.

Either way, it will not end well.

Fixing Baseball

Pretty much the only major sport I watch and enjoy is baseball. Post-season baseball is a lot like post-season hockey. You have the best teams, and usually the best pitchers, competing under pressure. There’s plenty of dramatic moments, which is not always the case with regular season games. In July, an elite pitcher on his game will have the other guys swinging freely late in games as they just want to get over with quickly. No one says it, but it happens. The umps will expand the strike zone late in games too.

The problem is the games take too long. Game one of the ALCS took four hours. Game three took almost four hours and it was a 1-0 game. After every pitch the batter wanders off to scratch himself and adjust his gloves. Pitchers stare in for the sign like they are cracking the zodiac code. If a runner gets on we see ten throws to first, a few visits to the mound and, of course, more scratching and adjusting. It get ridiculous. When a half-inning lasts over 20 minutes, the games are taking too long.

There’s no way TV held an audience for the great Sox comeback in game two. I bet ten percent of the starting audience was up to see it. What’s the point of watching a game if you know you will not be up to see the end? If fans like me find it too taxing to watch these games, the causal fans are not watching. At best, they are tuning in and out while watching other shows. That seems like a sure way to lose your audience. Those people tuning in and out eventually just tune out and stop being fans.

The most obvious way to speed up the games is to expand the strike zone. That way you have have pitchers throwing strikes, which means the hitters have to swing. It also makes it more difficult for hitters to bad defensively. the narrow strike zone allows hitters to lay off a lot of pitches and just train to handle the narrow strike zone. Good hitters can work a count and sit on the pitches they can hit. Giving the high strike back to the pitcher would force hitters to swing at tough pitches. That should speed up the game a bit.

That would probably reduce offense initially, but good hitters would adjust in time so it would not result in the death of offense. In fact, it would probably bring back the contact hitter as a weapon. In the old days of huge ball parks, slap hitters would just put the ball in play to get on base. The small parks of today reward the sluggers, so the contact guys has faded from the game. The the most likely result is soemthing like the 1970’s where a lineup has a mix of sluggers and contact hitters.

People can tolerate a 2-0 game if it lasts two hours. Making fans sit and watch for three and half hours, you better have some offense. The trade-off for lower scoring would be shorter games. The other way to do it and something that would fix the playoffs is to keep the hitter in the box. Give the hitter one time out. Otherwise, the ump calls the batter in and the pitcher can throw until the ump calls time out. If the hitter needs to scratch himself, he has to do it in the box in-between pitches.

The Madness Of Paul Krugman

Usually when people us the word fanatic, it is intended to suggest unpredictable or irrational enthusiasm for something, often something trivial. The sports fan who paints himself in team colors and goes to the park shirtless in sub-zero temperatures. The guy who organizes items on his desk in a very specific way and gets upset when someone moves anything. There’s no logic behind that sort of activity. The means are extreme and the ends are pointless, maybe even self-defeating.

Then there is the religious fanatic, like the guys handling snakes or nailing themselves to a cross. From the outside it looks irrational and pointless. To the fanatic it makes perfect sense, but that’s just proof of the fanatic’s irrationality. In other words, there is an inverse relationship between what the outsider sees and what the fanatic sees as rational. The nuttier the behavior, from the perspective of people looking in, the more rational it seems to the people doing it. Again, the sense is a break with reason.

That’s something to keep in mind while reading this piece on Taki. Paul Krugman is a guy you meet and immediately the words “fanatic” springs to mind. If you did not know anything about him, you would assume he is under the care of a doctor. He has that bug-eyed stare and twitchy demeanor that suggest his medications need adjustment. He’s also prone to ranting and raving about things that have an imaginary feel to them. He’s just one of those guys who gives normal people the willies.

Because he is a culture warrior on the Left, he is immune from such scrutiny. His fellows in the cult admire his zeal and lap up his rhetoric. They also like to wave around his academic credentials as proof his work is gospel. The fact that he has been wrong about most everything and has become a punchline in his profession is ignored. In fact, the more he is wrong, the more zealous he becomes, suggesting there is some point in the future where police must be called to get him out his office.

That’s not just a way of dismissing him. It’s possible that he is quite mad, yet functional enough to carry on in his role. Blaize Pascal was ten times more brilliant than Krugman and he was a religious fanatic. Even in his age, when what we would consider extreme religiosity was common, Pascal was considered a bit over the top. The old line about there being a fine line between genius and crazy did not spring from nothing. Put another way, fanaticism is not a barrier to entry in the ruling classes.

History is shot through with men who were both crazy and brilliant. Diogenes was most likely a schizophrenic. Pythagoras was certainly a nut. That does not mean every genius is on the edge of sanity. It is just that you can be both brilliant and crazy as long the crazy is not debilitating. Pascal’s religiosity was driven by the same obsessive curiosity that drove his science and math. It was, for the most part, a harmless thing. People will tolerate a lot of eccentricity in exchange for brilliance or devotion to a cause.

In the case of Krugman, we see that he was generally liberal before going way out where the buses don’t run. Like his coreligionists, he was radicalized by the 2000 election. From that point, his writing became increasingly excited and paranoid. His nuttiness seems to feed some need on the Left. That and they seem to be in a race with one another to see who can stake out the most extreme position. If the finish line is crazy land, the guy running fastest toward it will look like a hero.

Still, one has to wonder how much crazy a society can tolerate. In the medieval person, excessively religious people were not uncommon, but the damage they could cause was limited by the technical realities of the age. Today, a crazy idea can not only rocket around the world in minutes, it can set of millions of other crazies just as fast. The internet is this constant positive feedback loop for these people. In other words, the madness of Paul Krugman becomes something like a pathogen. That can’t be good.

Memory Or Modesty

Gavin McInnes is a funny and interesting character on cable television. He just sort of appeared, but he allegedly was a star of some sort in the New York underground publishing scene. It’s hard to know if that is true, since everyone on TV has a fake back story. Regardless, McInnes is funny and outlandish, but also strikingly sensible, in contrast to the robots on cable news channels. He does his best when he feigns outrage and goes full-on Archie Bunker. It’s a fun act that works well for him.

His writing, however, is a different story. His website looks like what old people do to try and appear hip. The design is cheesy and dated, but the content is like something Boomers thought was funny in their youth. Putting pics of half-naked women in the pages of a men’s magazine was edgy in the 1990’s. There’s a lazy man’s edginess to that sort of presentation.  The whole site has an “try too hard” feel to it, like old people trying to appeal to young people. It’s aging hipsters talking about their glory days.

In fact, that seems to be a running theme in his columns and postings. On the one hand he is at the age when he can no longer pretend to be young. On the other hand, he is not ready to be old and finds the whole experience to be mystifying. Sadly, he suffers from that common modern malady of thinking that everything new to him is, in fact, totally new, so he talks about the mundane as if it is a revelation. We live in an age in which no one can seem to remember last week, much less trends from previous generations.

His latest on Taki is a good example of cultural amnesia. Everyone is carry on as if Miley Cyrus is something new, when she is just another version of the same act the entertainment complex has been churning out for decades. Female entertainers using sexual charged lyrics, dress and antics to attract a crowd probably dates to the dawn of civilization. In fact, sex and pop music have been a paring sine the dawn of the recording industry. Just listen to an old jazz or blues collection and you see it.

In the modern era, acts like Wendy O. Williams were selling raunchy sexuality on stage in the 1970’s. Madonna ripped off a big part of her act from Williams. Later female entertainers ripped off Madonna’s naughty school girl act. The only thing new about the Cyrus act is that it is so cheesy and fake. The female sex acts of previous generations at least had some talent and looked good. Cyrus is kind of gross looking and she sounds like a bag of cats. She looks like a bar skank on amateur night at the titty bar.

The thing is though, McInness is not an amnesiac. He’s simply responding to what he sees around him and that is a strange collective amnesia. It’s like American culture has suddenly forgotten the last 30-40 years and is now pretending to be scandalized squares from the 1950’s. Maybe the taste makers of the cultural class have decided that being scandalized was too much fun to let slip away, so everyone now has to pretend these new bawdy acts are new.

On the other hand, it could simply be that the technological age is destroying collective memory. Why remember anything when you can look it up on your phone? No one can follow directions or read a map anymore thanks to GPS. The young literally have never had a need to read a map or understand north and south. It’s not unrealistic to think we are headed to a place where everyone lives in the moment. Once something happens and is experienced, it is forgotten so it can be replaced by the next thing.

Is America Moving Right?

If you are conservative in America, you have grown used to the fact that the conservative commentariat is more concerned with staying in good with the Left than making the conservative case on behalf of their supporters. They are endlessly lecturing the Right about their tone and their tactics. If some “unauthorized” right-wingers, like talk show hosts or bloggers, comes up with some way to tweak the Left, Conservative Inc. starts lecturing everyone about the need for good behavior.

When the base complains about all this fraternizing with the enemy, guys like Jonah Goldberg claim that the job of the conservatives like himself is to sell ideas, win the argument. That means engaging the Left anywhere and everywhere using facts and reason to change minds. Further, they say that to do this they have to keep the debate civil and make sure they are on good terms with the other side. After all, we’re all on the same team. It’s just a difference of opinion.

The counter to that is that by going on these shows and engaging Lefty on his terms, they are accepting the premises of the Left. Once you accept the premise the argument is already lost. What’s left is a negotiated surrender. For example, by accepting the premise that racism is immoral, so-called conservatives end up having to sign off on every Progressive social project, for fear of being called racist. If they reject that premise, they don’t get invited to cable chat shows, so they roll over and play dead for Lefty.

Anyway, this story is getting a lot of attention on all sides. The Libertarians think it means their winning, but they have been expecting the “libertarian moment” for as long as anyone reading this has been alive. On the other hand, conservatives wonder why they are not winning anything, despite the fact the mood is swinging their way. Of course, the Left fears they are not winning enough. They have to work harder to defeat the Right. Again, the premise of the study is suspect, but it is a useful point.

Anyway, Kevin Williamson has picked up on it and written a column about the difference between winning the argument and winning elections. He also notes how support for the GOP at the national level has waned a bit as local support has grown a bit. Again, he assumes the premise is correct. Like everyone else on the right waving around this study, he really wants it to be true. More important, they want to think they are the ones responsible for altering public opinion by making those clever arguments to Lefty.

Again, the study and the chattering about it is nonsense, but it reveals a truth about the political system in modern America. It gets back to the start of this post. The Left runs everything and the Right works mostly as a brake to slow the process here and there, but never stop anything. For that to work, the Right has to be willing to play the role in the media. That’s why they are always worried about not upsetting the Left. Their job is to police the right and make sure no one tries to challenge the system.

Now, one thing about that study which could be useful is this. The demographic changes happening in the country could be causing a change among white voters. In other words, the study is picking up a shift in white attitudes. That has nothing to do with the chattering classes, at least not directly, but it will have an impact on them at some point. If the white population is shifting politically, it means the financial system of Conservative Inc is in for a major disruption, but that’s a topic for another day.

The Problem With Women

Steve Sailer has a post up about the trials and tribulations of girls in science. His post is commentary on this very long article by a woman calling herself Eileen Pollack. The general thrust of that piece that girls don’t go into STEM field in great numbers, because there is some invisible force filed that repels them. This invisible force field cannot be seen, because it is invisible, but it can be described by women with the right credentials from the women’s studies department. They call this force field “male privilege.’

Of course, as Sailer points out, Mx. Pollack started out in life as an undergrad in physics, but lost interest and moved onto creative writing. It turns out that women are not as good at math, on average, as boys, but they are also less interested in it. That means the number of girls in the STEM fields is going to much lower than expected, just using test scores for mathematical aptitude. Feminism, ironically, can not tolerate women choosing to be women, so they insist women are being tricked in some way.

Feminism stopped being a serious topic long before anyone reading this was alive and now it is quite silly. A century ago, changing the law to better serve women in the industrial age was a worthy topic. In the agrarian age, divorce, for example, was not an issue for most people. Property rights and legal rights were also far less important. As cities grew and social relationships changed, the law needed to change to address the needs of both men and women, so feminism made some sense.

Today it is just the stereotypical “feminists” grousing about men. In college, feminism is where the low self-esteem gals go when they don’t want to become lesbians. Some thing that has been true for a long time is the easiest women to get are the ones hanging around the women’s studies department. Despite all the man-hating and sisterhood talk, they will jump in the sack with the first guy showing interest. All their talk about independence and not needing a man is just an act.

Now, it is worth mentioning that the scrambling of the sex roles has made sorting these things more difficult. Men are far less manly, especially at elite universities where feminism is rampant. They are also far less worldly. From the female perspective, being out-competed in these cognitive fields by wimps and socially awkward losers could very well look like a conspiracy. The girls are atop the status system on campus and more aggressive than these males, but they can’t compete.

Even so, the main driver of the gender equity delusions is a studied and rampant ignorance of biological reality. The starting point is always the assumption that some mysterious force or perhaps a hidden conspiracy is preventing the egalitarian paradise from emerging. The default is the dream, rather than observable reality. Even the basic relationship  between the sexes is excluded. The fact that boys like pretty girls and girls like high status males is not a mystery.

The new study goes a long way toward providing hard evidence of a continuing bias against women in the sciences. Only one-fifth of physics Ph.D.’s in this country are awarded to women, and only about half of those women are American; of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14 percent are women. The numbers of black and Hispanic scientists are even lower; in a typical year, 13 African-Americans and 20 Latinos of either sex receive Ph.D.’s in physics. The reasons for those shortages are hardly mysterious — many minority students attend secondary schools that leave them too far behind to catch up in science, and the effects of prejudice at every stage of their education are well documented. But what could still be keeping women out of the STEM fields (“STEM” being the current shorthand for “science, technology, engineering and mathematics”), which offer so much in the way of job prospects, prestige, intellectual stimulation and income?

Imagine if someone said, “Our study goes a long way toward providing hard evidence of a continuing bias against whites in the National Basketball Association…” Everyone gets that blacks are, on average, better equipped by nature to excel at some sports. No one thinks this is odd, but in the cognitive fields, it is blasphemy to suggest there are differences between the sexes and races. It suggests the problem of gender equity is really just  a problem with women accepting reality.

We’re Doomed – Again

In every time and every place there have been those predicting doom just over the horizon. Eventually, one of them is right and is often remembered long after by future prophets of doom. No one remembers the millions who were wrong, unless they flamed out in a particularly spectacular fashion or a psychologist wrote a book about them. It’s why predicting the end of the world is much more popular than predicting everything will be just fine. It’s all upside and no downside.

The HBD blogger JayMan has a post up predicting the end of the world. Those inclined to this sort of thinking will surely find plenty to recommend it. That’s the other thing about doom-saying. There’s a big audience for it. People really seem to like hearing that it is all going to come crashing down. maybe it is a form of class grievance that is acceptable, because it lacks the vengeful quality of Marxism.

I have not read the whole thing or had much time to mull over his arguments, but what jumps out to me immediately is the Great Depression Syndrome. This is a cognitive bias I just made up to describe the myopic view of economics history. The field seems to be entirely warped by that one event.  I suspect it is because it is the big economic event that gave birth to their profession. That and they don’t have reliable data for prior events.

Still, you would think someone would notice that the world was buggering along for a few thousand years before Keynes. The other issue is the cultural overhang. The story of the American empire starts with the Great Depression and World War II. The Boomers grew up hearing tales about their parents making it through the Depression to then beating the Nazis. Jews, of course, dominate the economics field, so they bring their cultural biases to the table. For them, economics is all that matters.

The Great Depression is not the standard we should be applying today. For starters, the Great Depression was not what romantics of today claim. It was bad for a lot of people, but it was not catastrophic for most people. In fact, most people did well enough and some people did really well. That and it was relatively short compared to other economic downturns. The Long Depression was worse and it lasted much longer.

It is probably fair to say that the Long Depression is a better analogue to today than the Great Depression. Instead of one big dive over the cliff, followed by a period of adjustment, there were a series of shocks around the world that fed on one another, leading to a global depression. Today, Europe has different troubles than the US, which has different problems than Japan, but all of these systemic problems are influencing one another, threatening the global economy.

Even so, it is not a great analogue. There are lessons to be drawn, but policy makers never learn from the past so it is left to history buffs. Read Currency Wars and you can get a nice easy to read on the history of the Long Depression as well as the Great Depression. Again, the main issue we have with drawing lessons from previous economic turmoil is we don’t have a lot of useful data from those eras. That and the modern nation is demographically different from anything in the past.

Then we have the this. He too suffers from Great Depression Syndrome. In his case, no pics of bread lines today means it is better than the 30’s, because he remembers seeing all of those pics of breadlines back in school. The 1930’s did not have sprawling black ghettos either. They did not have trailer parks full of meth labs. They did not millions of foreign peasants crossing in the country. It’s what makes comparisons between now and 80 years ago incomplete. These are two different countries.

Anyway, plenty of good stuff for the doom and gloom types. The most likely outcome is we stagger from crisis to crisis as the world emerges from the post-Cold War delusions and comes to terms with the technological and demographic realities. There will be a slow winding down of the American Empire and rapid change in American politics, as we descend into tribal multiculturalism. All transitions come with a price, so maybe it is a slow decline or a quick on, the good economic days are probably over.

The Price Of Gesture

The American Left is not longer an ideological movement with a practical political platform and a list of demands. Instead, it has become a secular religion, that engages in ritual and gesture to signal piety to those within the movement. To outsiders, these gestures often seem weird or dangerous, but to insiders they are the coin of the realm. The right gesture can lead to a rise in the movement, while the wrong gesture can spell doom.

Gesture politics, however, is not without its costs. It is one thing to look down your nose at those downscale whites voting Republican and shopping at WalMart. It is quite another to vote in people who seek to act on the rhetoric. White liberals voted for Obama and the Democrats because they hated the people who supported George Bush. They had no other reason to support a guy unprepared for even minor office, much less president.

They did it because it felt good. When Obama was inaugurated, Progressive around the country held parties as if he was the savior and the rapture was upon us. It’s not that they thought he was Jesus or that he had supernatural power. They certainly acted like it, because that signaled their devotion. In a way, Progressivism is a meta-religion, in that it has all the rituals and spiritualism of a conventional religion, without the supernatural core, like a deity or a pantheon of deities. It’s very esoteric and mystical.

But, all that gesturing comes with a price when it results in public policy. ObamaCare was never a thought out policy. What passed was nothing like he ran on as a candidate. His proposal was a gesture to show his virtue. The final product was a collection of give aways to Democratic constituencies. The result is wrecking ball unleashed on an already fragile health care system. The cost for that is now coming due.

But people with no pre-existing conditions like Vinson, a 60-year-old retired teacher, and Waschura, a 52-year-old self-employed engineer, are making up the difference.

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,”

Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.

“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

Both Vinson and Waschura have adjusted gross incomes greater than four times the federal poverty level — the cutoff for a tax credit. And while both said they anticipated their rates would go up, they didn’t realize they would rise so much.

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the

one who was going to pay for it personally.”

Amazingly, whole generations of Americans have been raised to think insurance is this magic well of money that is there for you when you don’t feel like spending your money on stuff like health care. Of course everyone should have access to this magical resource. It would be unfair to do otherwise. The Left really thought the only reason everyone did not have insurance was that the dastardly insurance companies were withholding it.

One of the strangest aspects of health care debates is that no one can comes to terms with the fact that all goods and services are rationed. There are no exceptions. They are either rationed by price, as in a market, or they are rationed by a monopoly of supply, usually a state monopoly. In the former, charity can mitigate the realities of the market place. This was common until it was outlawed. In the latter, there is no mitigation and the result is always pretty dreadful. Those are the choices for health care.

Fake Companies

Is Facebook a real company? That sounds like ridiculous question, because they have a huge market cap and have thousands of employees. That certain looks like real company, even if they are not wildly profitable. Enron had a huge market cap and hired thousands of people, but they turned out to be an accounting fiction. No one thinks Facebook is cooking their books, but there is good reason to wonder if they are what they seem.

For example, dig around in how they make money and what you learn is they are mostly an advertising platform. Newspapers and magazines are advertising platforms too, but none are worth tens of billions. In fact, most are worth nothing as they can’t generate enough cash to cover their expenses. That does not mean Facebook is a cash furnace, but it raises the question of why they can make this model work and no one can figure it out, except for Google, which is a monopoly player on the internet.

Then there is the fact that it is an awful advertising platform. Go find a single person who has every looked at, much less clicked on, one of their ads. People talk about TV and radio ads all the time. The talk around every Super Bowl is about the commercials. No one has ever mentioned a Facebook ad – ever. There’s never been a viral video or ad that started on Facebook. In fact, it is always the other way around. The ad is created on traditional platforms and is hared by users of the new platforms.

That’s worth something, for sure, but is it really so unique to Facebook that they can command a huge market cap? More important, why would ad makers bother paying to be on Facebook, when a clever ad will end up on social media anyway? It seems that the main business model of Facebook depends on ad makers never noticing that ads on social media have no impact on their sales. At some point, they will notice and go back to those traditional advertising methods and not pay Facebook for their service.

Then there is the fact that no one knows how many people are actually on Facebook or any of these social media sites. They say about 80 million accounts are fake, but they are not counting the tens of millions of dead accounts. They are not counting the millions of accounts dedicated to pets or dead people or hobbies. Anyone who as ever run a message board knows that about 10% of accounts create 90% of the posts.

Talk radio has similar numbers. They say 1% of listeners will ever attempt to call the show and comment. In fact, this is so well known that the number of calls is considered more reliable than the ratings numbers. Similarly, comment sections in news sites see the same sorts of numbers. It’s called the Pareto Principle. That probably means the number of active users on Facebook is a fraction of what is claimed. Worldwide it is still a big number, but no where near what the ad men think they are getting.

Now we have the ultimate fake company going to market. Twitter is pretty much just an open RSS feed for idiots. Unlike Facebook, Twitter does have the ability to jam ads in your face on a mobile platform. That’s the Achilles heal of Facebook. These social media sites are best used on a phone or tablet. That limits ad space to nothing. Those microscopic ads at the bottom of apps are hilarious in their pointlessness. Twitter crams them into your feed and makes you look at them.

In theory, twitter can claim they are forcing users to see the ads and they can estimate how many people see them, based on user activity. Facebook really can’t do that as their ads are on the side or exist as corporate pages. Twitter still loses money, but at least they can plausibly claim someone is looking at their ads. The trouble is, most of their users may be fake. Rachel Maddow famously pumped up her Twitter followers by paying for fake accounts to follow her.

Again, we see the same problem as with Facebook. There’s no way to know how many users are really on their system. By the way, web sites had this problem too. Sites would claim millions of hits when it was just bogus traffic stuffing. Advertisers figured it out and sites can no longer fake their stats. The same scams are at work with social media, bu the ad buyers simply don’t understand how this stuff works, so they have not been able to see the problem. It will happen and when it does, the ad money goes away.

That gets back to the original question. Are these real companies or just elaborate confidence games designed to skim from the ad market? A real business provides a product or service. Facebook and Twitter provide a gateway and they operate like toll takes, but no one really knows if there is anything on the other side. Even if there is, why should these firms have exclusive rights to charge tolls? In the end, they don’t offer a product or service that has vale, so eventually, they go away.