Thursday, May 4, 2017

Donald Trump, Decius, and the AHCA

Michael Anton, a Donald Trump adviser who went by the pen name "Decius" in making the intellectual case for Trump during the campaign, said this during an interview about Modern Conservatism's failures:
Economic freedom is a human right. But with finance having seized the economy by the … whatevers … and income inequality skyrocketing, should lower taxes really be top priority? Carried interest, 2 and 20? Or is fostering economic solidarity more important? Conservatives have conniptions at the very question. But Aristotle says that the greatest wealth gap in a good regime should be 5 to 1. I’m not saying we want that, but in what way does making hedge fund managers the ultimate winners in our society make any sense? It made sense to challenge the Soviet Union, as it still makes sense to maintain a strong defense. But “strong defense” has morphed into endless, pointless, winless war. 
In 1980, we had to unshackle the economy, rebuild the military and alliance structure, and recover from the ’60s-’70s orgy. Today our priorities are different—or should be. But conservatives only know the formula they learned from the crib sheet.
Today, the House of Representatives voted on a health care bill that will boot 24 million people from coverage. They did so to clear the way for giving millionaires a tax cut. And they celebrated this in the Rose Garden.

So much for "fostering economic solidarity."

Monday, May 1, 2017

Donald Trump's Civil War question actually isn't that stupid.

Donald Trump is wrong and stupid and evil about a lot of things. In a world where we entertain counterfactuals, though, it is not wrong and stupid and evil to ask the question, "Why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?" The sniffy responses are getting out of hand.

As a libertarian friend of mine is fond of pointing out, the UK abolished slavery decades before the U.S. did, and did so without a shot being fired. So it is within the realm of possibility that a nation which entertained slavery can end it and not end up torn to shreds over it.

I'm not endorsing Trump's point of view. I think counterfactuals are of limited use: History played out the way it did, probably for reasons. I just think it's silly — in a country where somebody's written a "What if the Nazis had won?" novel every year for the last 70 — to get sniffy about this question.

More to the point: History is not inevitable. We are its actors. The president is a uniquely powerful actor. If he's showing signs of intellectual curiosity, let's not discourage it, eh?

Yes, Donald is often wrong and evil and stupid. Let's try to distinguish focus on the real problems instead of acting like posing a Philip K. Dick question is a sign of trouble. I keep saying this: We who consider ourselves Trump's opposition need to be smarter, better, and have higher standards than we think is present on the other side. Otherwise, what's the point of being on the other side?