About that ‘dark’ view of America

Dennis Prager devotes a Townhall.com column to the left-of-center talking point that Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention speech exhibited a “dark view of America.”

For the left to dismiss other Americans as having a dark view of America is preposterous.

Because no one — not Trump, not the Republican Party, not any conservative — has nearly as dark a view of America as does the left.

Across the board — from the universities to the media to the Democratic Party — the left, around the world and in America, has an unremittingly dark view of the United States.

Here’s a brief glimpse.

–Racism “is part of our (American) DNA,” President Barack Obama said in 2015. Is there anything Trump said in his acceptance speech that is as dark about America as that?

–On July Fourth weekend, Vox published a long column arguing “3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake.”

–The most widely read historian in American high schools and colleges, the late left-wing professor Howard Zinn, was asked (by me) whether he thought the United States had done more good or more bad in the world. “Probably more bad than good,” he answered.

–The left regularly characterizes the United States as a sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist and bigoted country.

–Our wars are wars for imperialist expansion, driven by material greed.
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–The top 1 percent relentlessly exploits the other 99 percent.

–America is rigged against blacks, Hispanics and the 99 percent.

–Cops kill unarmed blacks proportionately more than they kill unarmed whites because so many cops are racist.

–About 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted on campus.

Is there anything in Trump’s speech that can match any of those left-wing views of the United States for “darkness”?

Not feeling the Bern

David Harsanyi of the Federalist offers a cold dose of reality to Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

Let’s concede that the media’s distress about Donald Trump’s nomination is well founded. I certainly believe so.

If so, surely it’s also fair to point out that Bernie Sanders is by any measure an authoritarian as well. In many ways, Sanders’ proposed state intrusions into the lives of citizens are more significant, enduring, intrusive, and revolutionary than Trump’s. These positions, by the way, were not so long ago considered completely outside the norms of mainstream political discourse.

Somehow it seems to escape the attention of most of those covering the race that Bernie is a champion of an economic system that has caused more suffering and destitution than any other in modern history. It is almost impossible for nations to kick. Yet Sanders has, at various times, proposed state control over whole — or large parts of — the energy, health care, transportation, and education sectors because, well, he’s a socialist. (Yes, democratic socialists tend to attain power through “democratic” means in countries where democratic systems are in place.)

I’m old enough (and I say this seriously) to recall a time when it was considered contemptible to suggest that liberals were in any way sympathetic to the cause of collectivism. Even now, Twitter has a RedScareBot that will mock you as some kind of paranoid McCarthyite for bringing up “socialism.” Yet on Monday, Americans were subjected to the economic illiteracy of three of the most extreme anti-capitalist politicians — Keith Ellison, Elizabeth Warren, and Sanders — ever to appear on stage at a major party’s convention.

Union leader hypocrisy

Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon shines light on a little-known fact about top labor union leaders.

The six union leaders who took the stage on Monday at the Democratic National Convention to condemn the richest one percent took home nearly $2.3 million in total compensation in 2015, according to federal labor filings.

Assembled delegates heard from the presidents of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on the first night of the convention. Each labor leader earned well over six figures, salaries paid for by the dues of their hardworking members.

McMorris goes on to feature each labor leader, along with their salaries ranging from $296,549 to $497,118.

The GOP after 2016

We still don’t know who will win the presidential election this fall, but Jay Caruso is looking ahead to the Republican Party’s post-election future. He shares his analysis at National Review Online.

After Mitt Romney was defeated in 2012, the GOP conducted a “post mortem,” the purpose of which was to make inroads with the working poor, with minorities, and with women — all consistently pro-Democratic voting blocs. In the 2016 cycle, Trump completely upended the GOP’s restoration plans, and forced them back to the drawing board.

This has served as a major setback for a party that looked to be on the verge of domination. And yet, if it is clever, the GOP can use the opportunity to its advantage. Barring some major catastrophe, Donald Trump will likely lose to Hillary Clinton. And, when he does, his defeat will spell the end of the GOP as we know it, and the beginning of a new Republican party that is better placed to advance conservative ideals.

Although the political landscape has changed in recent years, the GOP has struggled to adapt its voter-appeal approach to the times. As is now clear, Republicans can no longer merely talk of “lower taxes and smaller government,” in order to get people to listen and to vote. They must take a different approach, but without having to surrender conservative principles to do so.

For over 20 years, the Republican party has embraced larger and more expansive government. In George W. Bush’s administration alone, Republicans supported No Child Left Behind, the 2002 Farm Bill, and Medicare Part D, among other things. In so doing, they advanced the idea that government can work so long as the right party is the one aiding its expansion. It is for this reason that voters are cynical when Republicans promise to, say, abolish the Department of Commerce. Given past results, they know that it is not going to happen.

If you’re pining for the fjords …

Nima Sanandaji writes at National Review Online that Americans might want to think twice about adopting the social democracy of Nordic countries.

Although Bernie Sanders failed to win the Democratic presidential nomination, the Vermont senator’s campaign did succeed in mobilizing thousands of progressive activists. Their energy and support seems closely connected to Sanders’s quest to introduce a Nordic-style welfare model in the United States. As Sanders explained at the very first Democratic debate last October, “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

But it’s evident that the left wing of the Democratic party would also push for these ideas under a future Hillary Clinton administration. Indeed, Ezra Klein, the editor of the liberal news website Vox, wrote last fall that “Clinton and Sanders both want to make America look a lot more like Denmark — they both want to pass generous parental leave policies, let the government bargain down drug prices, and strengthen the social safety net.” …

… A common misconception is that the Nordic countries became socially and economically successful by introducing universal welfare states funded by high taxes. In fact, their economic and social success had already materialized during a period when these countries combined a small public sector with free-market policies. The welfare state was introduced afterward. That the Nordic countries are so successful is due to an exceptional culture that emphasizes social cohesion, hard work, and individual responsibility.

Today, in contrast, Nordic countries stand out as having high-tax models. Denmark, for example, has the highest tax rate among developed nations. But in 1960, the tax rate in the country was merely 25 percent of GDP, lower than the 27 percent rate in the U.S. at the time. In Sweden, the rate was 29 percent, only slightly higher than in the U.S. In fact, much of Nordic prosperity evolved between the time that a capitalist model was introduced in this part of the world during the late 19th century and the mid 20th century – during the free-market era.

What might come as a surprise to American admirers of the Nordic countries is that high levels of income equality evolved during the same period. Swedish economists Jesper Roine and Daniel Waldenström, for example, explain that “most of the decrease [in income inequality in Sweden] takes place before the expansion of the welfare state and by 1950 Swedish top income shares were already lower than in other countries.” A recent paper by economists Anthony Barnes Atkinson and Jakob Egholt Søgaard reaches a similar conclusion for Denmark and Norway.

New Carolina Journal Online features

Dan Way reports for Carolina Journal Online on an effort to strengthen ethics rules surrounding the state treasurer and N.C. financial investments.

John Hood’s Daily Journal focuses on key down-ballot 2016 election contests, including the battle to control the N.C. General Assembly.

American Airlines defers its A350 order

American Airlines held its quarterly earnings call on Friday. The company made a lot of money in the 2nd quarter, as you’d expect from an airline when the economy is doing pretty well and the price of oil is low. More interestingly though, the airline also announced that it was pushing back deliveries of the 22 Airbus A350-900 jets it has on order. Instead of taking the first of the widebody jets early next year, the air carrier will begin taking delivery in 2018. The average delay in delivery is 26 months. This, obviously, is not an endorsement of the state of the world economy going forward.

“Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People”

That’s the title of an interview of J.D. Vance that recently appeared in the Amercian Conservative. Vance is the author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis. Its a fascinating discussion of what sounds like a fascinating book. Here’s an excerpt:

What many don’t understand is how truly desperate these places are, and we’re not talking about small enclaves or a few towns–we’re talking about multiple states where a significant chunk of the white working class struggles to get by. Heroin addiction is rampant. In my medium-sized Ohio county last year, deaths from drug addiction outnumbered deaths from natural causes. The average kid will live in multiple homes over the course of her life, experience a constant cycle of growing close to a “stepdad” only to see him walk out on the family, know multiple drug users personally, maybe live in a foster home for a bit (or at least in the home of an unofficial foster like an aunt or grandparent), watch friends and family get arrested, and on and on. And on top of that is the economic struggle, from the factories shuttering their doors to the Main Streets with nothing but cash-for-gold stores and pawn shops.

The two political parties have offered essentially nothing to these people for a few decades. From the Left, they get some smug condescension, an exasperation that the white working class votes against their economic interests because of social issues, a la Thomas Frank (more on that below). Maybe they get a few handouts, but many don’t want handouts to begin with.

From the Right, they’ve gotten the basic Republican policy platform of tax cuts, free trade, deregulation, and paeans to the noble businessman and economic growth. Whatever the merits of better tax policy and growth (and I believe there are many), the simple fact is that these policies have done little to address a very real social crisis. More importantly, these policies are culturally tone deaf: nobody from southern Ohio wants to hear about the nobility of the factory owner who just fired their brother.

Trump’s candidacy is music to their ears. He criticizes the factories shipping jobs overseas. His apocalyptic tone matches their lived experiences on the ground. He seems to love to annoy the elites, which is something a lot of people wish they could do but can’t because they lack a platform.

And here’s another:

General Chuck Krulak, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, once said that the most important thing the Corps does for the country is “win wars and make Marines.” I didn’t understand that statement the first time I heard it, but for a kid like me, the Marine Corps was basically a four-year education in character and self-management. The challenges start small–running two miles, then three, and more. But they build on each other. If you have good mentors (and I certainly did), you are constantly given tasks, yelled at for failing, advised on how not to fail next time, and then given another try. You learn, through sheer repetition, that you can do difficult things. And that was quite revelatory for me. It gave me a lot of self-confidence. If I had learned helplessness from my environment back home, four years in the Marine Corps taught me something quite different.

Read the whole thing!