Left Wing Governments Love the Poor

Why do left wing governments sometimes support policies which harm their constituents? In A Theory of Political Entrenchment Gilles Saint-Paul, Davide Ticchi and Andrea Vindigni offer an answer:

A partially self-interested left-wing party may implement (entrenchment) policies reducing the income of its own constituency, the lower class, in order to consolidate its future political power. Such policies increase the net gain that low-skill agents obtain from income redistribution, which only the Left (but not the Right) can credibly commit to provide, and therefore may help offsetting a potential future aggregate ideological shock averse to the left-wing party.

The basic idea may also be put this way.  A left wing government might not want to pass policies to educate the masses or open markets to small business firms because such policies are likely to be successful and in the process create a class of skilled workers and petty bourgeoisie who will vote against the left-wing party and its policies of income redistribution. By keeping its constituents poor, the left-wing party keeps its constituents beholden because only the left-wing party will support income redistribution.

The left-wing party might even pass policies that the right-wing party wants in order to build its own future power base. The authors give the example of the Democrats under Bill Clinton supporting NAFTA which may have harmed the left-wing constituency of labor. The authors show, moreover, that the effect is likely to be bigger the bigger are political rents and the more stable are political careers. In other words, Bill Clinton passed NAFTA so that Hillary Clinton could run against it. An interesting idea if not wholly convincing.


Not convinced? How do you explain the brutal marginal tax/benefit curves that are designed into almost every social program? Make a dollar more and be thousands of dollars worse off.

That's just the difficulty of the problem, to provide a safety net without perverse incentives is hard.

On the left-poor thing, I think it is obvious that there can be downward spirals. Cuba. Venezuela. Heck, today's Russia?

But in the US no, I agree with Alex that it is a bit too crazy.

Not hard at all if your priorities are to help people get independent.

Perverse incentives? In most provinces in Canada, there is a marginal dollar where you lose free dental and income. The perversity is in the program, by design, not the incentives.

Obamacare has lots of these. Didn't a Democrat say that it would allow people to write poetry or something equally disgusting?

We have computers now. We can do fade-outs more easily. I would imagine that any step thresholds are holdovers.

No, it's politics. You can get a politican to understand "below inome X you get benefit Y", but good luck getting them to understand a formula expressed as an equation. Especially if it has advanced math in it, like percents. Sure, a few may understand a formula, but you'll lose enough votes you won't even try.

What you're not saying is that politicians are drawn from the legal profession, which is chock-a-block with the innumerate.

Not sure about now. When I was a consumer of liberal opinion journalism a generation ago, criticism of means-testing was pretty standard. Not sure that would apply to the social work lobby or working politicians, but figures such as Robert Reich and Robert Kuttner would surely tell you to replace means-tested programs with universalistic ones.

If you do something universal, and tax it back, that's fine. It is net means tested.

Means testing makes better racial targetting. Left wingers are racist (The Motivated Use of Moral Priciples, 2009) and so prefer means testing as it is de facto racism against whites.


.... "Perverse incentives?"

The perverse incentives are in the government rulers, not the people.

"Established" (in power) governments have a different outlook & objective than the political ideologies that brought them to power initially.

Power Corrupts. Maintenance of power becomes the objective for inevitable oligarchic self-interest. Policies and mechanisms of power-keeping take precedence.

Leftists are initially ideologically motivated by inequalities, poverty and suffering in society... and seek political power to remedy these problems---- but once well "established" and very self-comfortable in power... their focus changes away from general society to themselves. It is human nature. (same thing happens on the Right spectrum of politics)

The poor become merely a necessary political support faction to maintain the leftist ruling establishment in power. For rightist establishments, personal liberty and economic freedom become empty buzz words to deceive their supporters.

Power Corrupts. Power Corrupts!
Any powerful government becomes corrupt over time.

In related news:


Sure power corrupts, but centrists know it corrupts everywhere it is held, not just in government, but also in churches, corporations, even private foundations:


And so we need balance, not the fantasy that evil inhabits but one body.

Political power is autbority to world force. Leftists conflate civil social institutions with government and deny this obvious distinction between the two. Leftist conflate private, voluntary interactions and cooperation with the involuntary, compulsive, and violent nature of government coercion.

There is no need for "balance" between coercive government and civil institutions. There is no need for "balance" between cooperation and coercion. There is no need for "balance" between servitude and liberty.

Leftists argue we need a "balance" between having control over our own lives and allowing some politician control over it.

So when the sugar industry spun fat as bad, they bore no guilt? Only the governments they convinced?

That's idiotic and religious. Of course everyone who does evil is doing evil.

Lobbyists have no power to enforce their desired policies, market exclusions, or market regulations. Only governments do. That's the entire point of lobbying.

Claiming we need government to protect us from the lobbyists who use government to further their own interests is tortured logic.

So, Medicare was originally right-wing when passed - rich and poor got the same benefit at the same cost, but it has become left-wing as time has passed with the premiums increasing as income increases - earn one dollar more and your Part B premium goes from 50% to 75% and a second one dollar more and the premium goes to 90-100%? Thus Congress has shifted from conservative in 1965 to leftist by 2000?

And Bernie is a conservative because he wants health care to be no premium or out of pocket cost for anyone regardless of income?

I agree that the incentives are bad in the situation, but on the plus side, someone sitting near the threshold, instead of going for the marginally better job that would be just worth it, would then be in a situation where they both have facilitated access to college and university training at the same time as requiring a significant gain in their earning potential to be worth it. Whether it pays out on average is doubtful, but this definitely affects the calculus. (I imagine a fadeout of benefits would be much better).

Agreed. It is hard to design social programs.

If we are talking marginal effects, the it would not be "make a dollar more and be thousands worse off", it would be "make a dollar more and only be 25 cents ahead". But sure, it is entirely possible some poorly designed policies might actually leave you thousands worse off. However, this is just a sleight of hand. Without the policy in question our subject would be thousands worse off regardless of if they made that extra dollar or not.

That fuzzy thinking leads to the absurd proposition that the best way to enrich the poor is to provide them with fewer resources.

The idea that by providing resources to the poor democrats are buying votes are or otherwise doing something unethical is bogus. This is just the way democracy works. Democrats of all classes support these policies (and vote for politicians to implement them) because they believe, perhaps incorrectly, that it makes the world a better place.

It isn't clear to me what the thinking is on the other side of the aisle. I simply call it greed.

Nailed it! BOOM!

I think it's more accurate to say that, in the realm of social programs, there are inherent Type I and Type II errors. Type I being resources don't get to some promising individual whose development is thwarted, and Type II being resources create incentives that undermine self-reliance. Every program ever is a just so story about tackling Type I errors and pretending Type II errors don't exist. But over the broad sweep of history going back to the onset of The Great Society, it's hard to ignore the accumulating Type II errors.

Bill Clinton's Welfare Reform was exactly about eliminating those type II errors.

'Bill Clinton's welfare reform' was an initiative of congressional Republicans which Bilge signed into law because Dick Morris told him he had to appeal to voters and not to the social worker lobby. The congressional Republicans cribbed it off Gov. Thompson of Wisconsin and policy wonks like Lawrence Mead.

@anon, yeah well, but this was about curtailing a program rather than enacting one. What did you think of welfare reform?

BTW- the SNAP replacement cost $25 billion in 2005, but it tripled to $80 billion in the depths of recession (counter-cyclical, high unemployment), and has since, 10 million jobs later, come down to...$75 billion (wait, what about the counter-cyclical thing?). This is the natural order of these things, unless resistance is applied.

Still, anon makes a good point. Bill Clinton's Welfare reform was intended to reduce dependency and drop the welfare roles and was largely successful at those goals. Clinton deserves credit for making the right policy decision and questioning his motives about it is churlish and partisan.

Everybody's a keynesian during the recession. Nobody's a keynesian during the recovery.

BI'll Clinton's welfare reform was passed by a leftist Republican Congress headed by Newt Gingrich so obviously it had to create dependency.

If it had been passed by conservatives, it would have totally eliminated all poverty???

Mississippi and Alabama have been run by leftist for centuries which explains the deep poverty in those States???

The way democracy works is buying votes by providing resources to the poor. You're denying this, one of history's most bald truths?

Panem et circenses. The free grain dole was purely a political scheme for vote-getting.

You are preening about how much you care about the poor, and you care so much you want to make sure that they remain that way because you like them poor.

This is a real problem, and if you don't get it don't start preening. Educate yourself. Find out how these hard marginal dollars are either circumvented by fraud or misrepresentation, or simply by giving up.

We have examples of where your caring for the poor taken to it's full extent creates a disaster. You have no moral standing at all, none at all.

So why does Obamacare have these one dollar marginal tax situations if you people care so much?

If the system was designed to actually help people improve their lives they wouldn't punish them for doing it.

And don't change the subject. It isn't about setting up programs that help people when they need it. It is about how the programs keep people in poverty.

It's possible that policy challenges are just that: difficult aspects of formulating policy, not an insane left-wing conspiracy to keep the poor under the lash of the Party X.

The purpose of welfare policy for the poor is always the same, no matter the "challenges" faced in making them work economically. Clodius offered free grain to the poor for the same reason Chavez offered nearly free gasoline to everyone. Both nearly bankrupted their governments doing so.

If you're going to insinuate a purpose you really ought to state it baldly so people can assess the quality of your argument rather than this kind of ideological vaguebooking.

I don't fell inclined to hold your hand through my fairly obvious observation. If you can't follow it, read a book or something.

Aww. It is so hard governing the ingrates.

If what you are saying is that your ideas and worldview in reality are bankrupt, wrong and in practice don't work, I agree with you.

You should maybe look at the reasons why that is. I suggest that these wonderful things are not about helping people, they are about accumulating power. Stop doing that and maybe the programs will be implemented in a way that actually helps people.

I don't think I expressed anything about my worldview, and what I said is equally true of foreign policy, monetary policy, etc., etc.

The existence of marginal incentives and discontinuities doesn't invalidate the entire concept of social programs, in the same way that a war you don't win doesn't invalidate the concept of national defense, or a recession destroy the legitimacy of monetary/fiscal policy.

Come on, man.

Bi-lingual education fits this pattern, too.

Was it the British very upper middle class Labour minister Richard Crossman who swore to close every single selective grammar school in Britain because they kept lifting bright members of the lower classes into the middle classes and hence made them Tory voters?

The split system is worse for social mobility than the comprehensive system. If you compare LEAs retaining the split system with similar LEAs where it had been abolished children from poor backgrounds did better. It turns out the main predictor for passing the 11 plus was parental income. If your parents were educated and could afford tutoring then you had a much better chance. So the effect of the abolition of grammar and secondary modern schools was the exact opposite of your claim.

Countries with comprehensive education systems like America and Britain do considerably worse in social mobility than countries that have highly selective systems - like pretty much the rest of Europe. From Macmillan to Blair Grammar schools provided every single Prime Minister of Great Britain including people who could never have done it under any other system like John Major.

So you will have to excuse me if I don't believe a word of that.

Yes, obviously bright parents have bright children. Who will do well in any system. But only selective systems help the bright children of the poor. Since abolishing the Grammars British social mobility has cratered.

Not that your comment is remotely relevant as it does not matter what Grammars schools did, it matters what Crossman thought that they did. And that is what he (or someone else) thought they did.

That isn't true. Many of those PMs went to public schools not grammar schools (which are a type of state school). Douglas-Home and Cameron went to Eton, Blair went to Fettes. There is also a selection effect most are old enough that the split system was pretty much universal at the time they were in school. So any PM from state school would be likely to have had to sit an eleven plus and to be the sort of child who passes.

Tim Harford looked into this in the 14th August Radio 4 episode of More or Less

Some of the results are summarised by the BBC reality check.


The claim: Grammar schools work, but they under-represent the poorest children.

Reality Check verdict: Pupils at grammar schools perform well. Children overall in areas with grammar schools perform less well than in non-selective areas, except for the richest children. Poorer children are less likely than wealthier children to get into grammar schools.

Sean Worth from the think-tank Policy Exchange, who was formerly a special adviser to David Cameron, has told BBC News: "The evidence shows that grammar schools do work, but they under-represent the poorest children."

He was speaking on the day that Education Secretary Justine Greening confirmed "we do believe selection can play a role" in the schools system.
Much of this question depends on what you mean by grammar schools working, but you could look at whether they work for the pupils attending them and for the education system as a whole.

An excellent place to start looking at the evidence on grammar schools is with the work of Newsnight's Chris Cook.

He found in this piece of research that children from prosperous families in Kent (the biggest area for selective schools in England) are more likely to get into grammar schools and also that in selective areas, poorer children overall get relatively worse GCSE results than they do in comprehensive areas.

This report from the House of Commons Library has a good round-up of the research into grammar schools.

In England, the report says that in 2015, 96.7% of pupils at selective schools achieved at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and maths, compared with 58.1% in state-funded schools overall.
What we cannot find out is how the pupils selected at age 11 would have fared if they had not gone to a selective school.

Another important piece of research is this work from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which found in 2013 that grammar schools were disproportionately unlikely to admit bright students who were eligible for free school meals or from poorer neighbourhoods and disproportionately likely to admit children from private primary schools.

And this piece from Policy Exchange cites work by Chris Cook, which finds that pupils overall in counties with selective schools perform worse at GCSE than their counterparts in non-selective schools, except for the very richest pupils.

It is worth bearing in mind that the government has not yet announced how it plans to use selection in its education policy for schools in England, but the evidence so far is that grammar schools in England do not boost overall attainment in areas in which they are most common.

Right. And California politicians are trying to re-introduce bilingual education, even though it's even more obvious in 2016 than when California largely voters restricted it in 1998 that English is the global key to economic opportunity. The rest of the world is teaching their schoolchildren English, but California legislators are trying to figure out a way to stop doing that.

" How do you explain the brutal marginal tax/benefit curves that are designed into almost every social program? "

Um, the fact we have a political system where one party (and before say, 1990, a large southern faction of the other party) is rabidly against social spending so certain compromises are required to pass any sort of social program. Traditionally the Democratic left has argued for universal benefits and steeper tax rates to pay for those benefits rather than means testing. Have you followed the discussion about social security? There has been a pretty strong Democratic left consensus against means testing and instead for raising the cap.

Not convinced? How do you explain the brutal marginal tax/benefit curves that are designed into almost every social program? Make a dollar more and be thousands of dollars worse off

Not into Medicare and Social Security, which consume probably a majority of 'social program' spend.

But the answer to your question is math.

If you put a nice, gentle, slope to your means tested program you will find yourself sending checks all the way up to upper middle class people or higher. If you have a budget, your benefit is going to have to be very small or else if you want to help the most people at the bottom you're going to have to institute a steep drop off.

Originally there were no means tests for Social Security benefits or for Medicare premiums because FDR and LBJ were conservatives. Since 1980 the nation has shifted way to the left and added all sorts of means testing into both that result in one dollar more in income triggering big losses of benefits.

Isn't that the argument?

Paul Ryan is a leftist because he wants to change Social Security and Medicare into programs that pay more to the poor and down to nothing for the middle class and up instead of programs that actually benefit the middle class much more than the poor.


The average working black man will never collect his full contribution to social security. Why do Democrats destroy black retirement and then lie and whine about the math?


In 2007 life expectancy at birth for black men was about 70 yrs old and 76 for women

The problem, of course, is that more black males don't make it to retirement age. Once you get to retirement age, however, Social Security is relied upon more by blacks than other groups for support in retirement.

The problem then is shorter lifespan and higher rates of death before reaching retirement. Unless you feel that paying social security taxes actually causes black men to die more than others, Social Security isn't 'destroying retirement' for black men. If you die before you retire, the problem is you are dead...not that you didn't have the right type of 401K or pension.

Social security takes 15% of a black man's earnings and then redistributes it to whites and women. Thanks for proving my point, Boon, that your type can't admit anything is wrong even when you are destroying minority kids (Vergara) and black male retirement. Sad.

Do yo know what you can do with your 401k if you die before retirement? Gice it to your underprivileged black children. But, as in the case of vouchers, economic control is always the correct answer for the left, even when black people would be better off without it.

Bull crap. There are far more whites than blacks. The social security contributions that black men make who then die before they reach retirement age (and also do not have surviving spouses and/or children who can collect those benefits) is trivial to social security's budget. Those black men who do make retirement age, however, get far more from social security than they do from 401K's AND far more than if they had hypothetically been required to put a portion of their pay into a 401K for their working lives.

Again you identified a problem not with retirement for black men but a problem with a lack of retirement for black men. It's very simple, if you die before you reach retirement, that's a sucky retirement for you. The obvious solution is to try to avoid an early death, not redesign the retirement system with early death as part of the plan.

This has been done for some programs, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit and the subsidies for PPACA. Note, though, that Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitt "47%" Romney implicitly criticize precisely these phrase-outs when they talk about the "culture of dependency" and cite scary-sounding statistics about how many Americans receive government benefits of one sort or another. Of course, lots more people will be receiving benefits if you want to help people truly in need while also extending partial, phased-out benefits to people with higher incomes. You can't have it both ways.

Why is Ryan's Social Security reform designed to pay more to the poor and pay less to the middle class, instead of the current pay more to the middle class and less to the poor, except with a floor to benefits?

Bernie wants to make health care free to everyone rich or poor with no means test, so he must be conservative?

I've been talking about that for a while and the usual apologists were defending Democrat policy makers. There are two choices: incompetent or evil.

The explanation is the same as why nearly every piece of legislation passed by the "right" ends up with a few points that benefit the other side: the necessity of compromise, especially in the U.S. system.
The ACA is a prime example. None of the left wing really favored that over single payer. Heck, the Supreme Court has already green-lighted single payer, but even with large majorities and the Presidency, the ACA was what we got because there would be no chance of getting anything else through Congress.
I'd have more examples from the last 4 years of GOP control of Congress, except they've been too busy worrying about avoiding any appearance of compromise to actually try to pass anything. Fear of primary opponent is preventing them from even trying to actually participate in shared government.

Universal Basic Income and universal grants per kid can avoid some of these issues. (also avoids the issue that lots of people hate programs that just give money to the poor)

I love how circular this argument is. People on the right complain about the cost of public services like education, creating an environment where it's incredibly difficult to pass any program that raises cost, then points to left's failure to pass those programs as a sign that they didn't really want to pass them in the first place.

That's in no way a circular argument. And this post isn't about programs that didn't pass. So your comment isn't topical in any way.

Soh, the fact that conservatives blocked universal health care to everyone at no cost means Democrats compromising with means tested plans are leftist because conservative Democrats would have held out for univereal single payer. Thus Bernie became leftist when he voted for ACA, but Jill Stein has remained pure conservative by opposing Obamacare as a horrible leftwing compromise?

When did R's block universal?

You mean other than 1993 when the Clintons first proposed it, the 2000s when they passed a Medicare reform/prescription drug bill and could have implemented it then, 2009-10 when we got the ACA instead, and probably numerous other times in the 20th century?

I'm not sure that "circular" is quite the right word, but it does indeed blame the left for failing to do something that the record of the right, by fact of which policies supported, can be easily seen as further in the wrong direction, if it is taken as a starting point that the position of the left is "wrong" in the stated direction.

And anyways, by fact of criticizing the left in this manner, it's a sort of coup in the sense of agreeing on an ideal direction of things. At least where I come from, it is much more common on the left to approve of the idea that in public services, notably education, some sort of drive of responsibility should be imbued. On the right, the pre-occupation seems to be that strictly focusing on scores on standardized tests is the way to go, which not accidentally, I think, would also contribute to a means (any would do, I imagine) of grinding the teachers' unions in any possible way. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing can be debated, but the fact of whether or not it happens, and whether the left or right is more in line with policies that would contribute to a more socially, legally, historically and culturally aware electorate and citizenry, I think is really not much in question.

One would argue that Congress has had an incredibly easy time passing programs that raise the cost of education. What they've not done is repeal those programs, which is why costs are still growing.

Then the Left when they have power do exactly what the right accuses them of doing; building an expensive non functioning system that is in every way simply a way to maintain their grip on power.

I thought the Left were the smart people.

Why do right wing governments support policies that harm their constituents? By adopting policies that increase inequality to high levels, right wing governments exacerbate financial and economic instability while increasing social instability. Right wing governments might do it in order to suppress dissent, signs of economic and social instability inducing both the wealthy and the middle class to support harsh measures designed to suppress dissent. As both inequality and dissent continues to rise, however, right wing governments have no choice but to double down, adopting policies with ever increasing levels of inequality and economic and social instability and ever harsher measures to suppress dissent, until financial collapse, social collapse, or both.

Sounds like the Soviet Union or Communist China... or modern day Venezuela.

Funny, I've never heard anyone refer to those regimes as "right wing."

Is Alex's description of this paper accurate? I have not yet read the whole thing but the excerpt sounds to me more like: "a left government might choose policies that (first order) hurt the lower class section of their constituents but increase overall economic growth enough to allow a net benefit for these constituents following redistribution."

Don't forget that these stats almost always group together the bottom 10% or 20% at a time, so just because the group benefits on average does not mean that no one is harmed.

The method is useful for many kinds of economic analysis, and can be easily and significantly improved upon by using percentiles on a simple graph instead of quintiles or other much larger and much less useful aggregations. With such large levels of aggregation, the headline averages in the bottom 20% cover up a lot. Also, inter-quantile mobility is generally not addressed, whether due to lack of appropriate data or because the researcher decided it wasn't intheir focus.

How do you explain the conservatives that work hard and long to bring in more low skill migrants to provide businesses with a low wage workforce and destroy native wages? It pays off for a few years but soon enough the policies of Ronald Reagan and Dubya and Paul Ryan create an underclass of culturally alien citizens that will never, ever vote for Republicans.

Do they just not care what happens a decade or two down the line? They ended the Bush family line's political fortunes. Paul Ryan will never be a viable candidate for president, and eventually will lose his seat in the House. Reagan's beloved conservative policies will be reversed one by one since there will never be another conservative president.

create an underclass of culturally alien citizens that will never, ever vote for Republicans.

The lumpenproletariat are politically demobilized. That aside, the communal groups most devoted to the Democratic Party are blacks, Puerto Ricans, California chicanos, and Jews. Only the third of these four could be described as a recent immigrant group (and only the first two have notably large lumpenproletarian sectors).

If they are politically demobilized why are Republicans winning as many whites as Reagan and losing elections.

We all know that the lumpen vote at much lower rates then post-grads, but at the end of the day quantity has a quality all its own.

"If they are politically demobilized why are Republicans winning as many whites as Reagan and losing elections."

Republican's have far more elected officials in office than they did in the Reagan years. Democrat's have been losers on net for Federal and State positions for the last 30 years. A better question is why do Democrats struggle to win the Congress now after controlling it continuously from 1954 to 1994?

Republicans have won a lot of governorships. They do so mostly by not being very Republican, which is true of my own deep blue state.

Democrats dominated because the new Deal coalition was incredibly powerful and it took a long time to work through that. Also, many "Democrats" were in the south where they were democrats in name only, a holdover from the pre-civil rights era designations.

Republicans won big in 1994 and 2010 running on populist anti-elite messages, then got sold out pretty hardcore by the people they elected. Nothing of importance was accomplished by these Republican majorities, and as a result their party has imploded. Dems are expected to pick up a lot of seats this fall.

As for Democratic struggles these can only be prolonged for so long by gerry mandering and two senators per box state.

Without going into the details, the basic fact remains that Republicans haven't been 'losing' elections.

And it goes well beyond Governorships. Democrat's had a lock on Congress and the majority of state legislatures for decades. That lock is completely broken.

'Democrat’s had a lock on Congress and the majority of state legislatures for decades.'

Almost as if no one has ever heard of yellow dog Democrats, or what happened to most of them in terms of party affiliation after LBJ sold them out on the altar of all American citizens having an equal right to vote.

"Almost as if no one has ever heard of yellow dog Democrats, ..."

Sigh, it's like you know all the terms, but never understand the context.

"Yellow Dog Democrats was a political term applied to voters in the Southern United States who voted solely for candidates who represented the Democratic Party. The term originated in the late 19th century. These voters would allegedly "vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican"".

"many “Democrats” were in the south where they were democrats in name only, a holdover from the pre-civil rights era designations."

So there must be some Democratic litmus test that specifies the policies of "true" Democrats and reveals "faux" Democrats that use the party affiliation as the fascists they are. What are the particulars of the test?

Never forget the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidaly.

Just noticed that my phone undid Hidalgo. Pfft.

It is a Trump voter probably.

"It pays off for a few years"


reate an underclass of culturally alien citizens that will never, ever vote for Republicans.

You're vastly overstating that case. Hispanics aren't that culturally alien (they are Roman Catholic, and Spain is a country in Europe).
And Hispanics are just as capable of understanding and appreciating American individualism as any other group of immigrants. There are many second and third generation Hispanics who are completely assimilated.

Heck, I lose count of how many co-workers I have (and this is in high tech) who have Hispanic last names. Lopez, Saca, Guiterez, Alvarez, I don't even notice any more until one of then starts speaking Spanish to the cleaning staff. The problem is the Republicans keep pissing them off and driving them into the Democratic party with the racist assumption that they're all a bunch of ignorant working class peasants. Just statements like this that they will never ever vote for Republicans, acting like their genetically socialist or something, when many of them are self-employed independent businessmen, it's infuriating. Nobody likes people making assumptions about them based on how they look or where they are from. if they are voting D, it's because they have friends and family who are stuck in the immigration system and they understand what a kafkaesque nightmare that is. It's not because they are incapable of "getting" the concept of free enterprise.

It boils down to the concept of class. In a world of individuals, it's apparently necessary to assign them to various classes, since no one unique individual can be familiar to everyone else.

Republicans also do poorly with Asian-Americans and Jews. Large numbers of people who are not white gentiles feel there are elements in the Republican Party who cast aspersions on them and indulge in white identity politics. The Republican response is usually feeble whining about how they are the victims of unfair propaganda. In fairness, George W. Bush did push back against some of this but his side seems to have lost the internal battle within the party.

Don't all groups basically support their own kind in any multi-cultural society. Sometimes there is some temporary issue affecting allegiance (anti-communism amongst Cuban or Chinese immigrants a generation ago). For the most part though, all groups form some kind of interest group to push their own interests.

Do Asians in other countries not vote in a discernible pattern compared to the general population. You can't really pin this down to "they hate those Bible Thumpers" if this is a pattern we can see all over. Country after country, system after system, everything always breaks down to some racial spoils system. The coalitions change, and obviously as a high IQ group they have different interests then low IQ groups, but task #1 is still still get yours however you can get it.

Jews are not voting Democratic because anyone's casting aspersions on them and social survey research demonstrates that Jews are far more antagonistic to evangelicals than evangelicals are toward them. To the extent you find hostility to Israel in our domestic discourse, the sources are either the red-haze left (consequential on college campuses) or the alt-right (irrelevant everywhere).

As for the oriental population, it's chock-a-block with educated professionals of a sort who despise the Republican Party. They're taking their cues from their co-workers.


They also object to joining a coalition with people who call them "oriental". ;)

It's only over the past decade and a half that non-African American minorities have come to overwhelmingly support the Democratic party. Asian Americans and Arab Americans used to be reliable Republican voting blocks. Hispanics favored Democrats but it was something like 60-40. Basically, poor minorities supported Democrats and wealthier minorities supported Republicans just like white people. The open embrace of white identity politics by a significant fraction of the Republican party has completely alienated these populations. Basically, white identity politics is threatening to all non-white members of American society and so opposition to it overwhelms all other issues.


That doesn't make sense. For one the absolute height for Hispanic support for Republicans came in 2004 with Bush, at about 40% (some people quote 44%, but that's based on a bad election day exit poll that was debunked).

Also, that 40% was really something like 30% of Catholic Latinos and 55% of Evangelical Latinos. It was tied up in the entire Evangelical political movement of the Bush era, so its incorrect to say these people were turned off by white Bible thumping. Rather, a minority of Latinos that had socially assimilated heavily into far right Christian society, during an election with a Texas politician, gave a slight edge to him in the same election that the whole country gave him a slight edge, and at rates double digits lower then white Christian evangelicals.

So we've got a group that temporarily gave a strong non-majority to a politician with great name recognition for them based on social connections to the same movement you think has repulsed them and which has lost all political relevance. In 2012 they voted about as Dem as they did in 1996.

Asians saw probably their biggest shifts to the Dems in the 1990s. Like Cubans, a lot of Asian support for the GOP came from anti-communist sentiment among people who has escape from then heavily communist countries. That faded after the cold war ended. There was another collapse between 2008 and 2012, when the GOP ran a moderate MA governor that wanted to increase H1Bs, "Staple Green Cards with Advanced Degree", and leads the #NeverTrump faction.

But more importantly, one can see racial voting patterns in Asians (and all people) all over the world. In the West and in Asia (go look at voting patterns in Singapore or Malaysia). If this was simply a problem with "white identity politics", "immigration", or "crazy Christian fundamentalists" then you'd expect this to be solely an American pattern. But it isn't. It's everywhere.

Don’t all groups basically support their own kind in any multi-cultural society.

Project much?

They won't vote Republican as long as the GOP is seen as a White Man's party.

Italians and Poles in 1910 were a reliable Democrat constituency when the GOP was viewed as the White Protestant Man's party. Now that Republicans are nice to Catholics, these groups are some of the party's most reliable voters.

There are more conservatives voting for Democrats than liberals voting for Republicans.

No serious analysis of political ideologies shows that 95% of African Americans are left of center but these folks cannot vote for a party that nominates a man like Donald Trump.


See above.

Also. White Catholics don't vote GOP at the rate White Protestants do. White Protestants voted 70% GOP in 2012, the evangelical wing at 80% rates. White Catholics voted GOP at 60% rates in 2012, with a +7 point swing from 2008 to 2012. Catholics were less keen on the GOP in the 1990s, Bill Clinton won the white Catholic vote in 1992 and 1996. Basically, white Catholics have moved in the direction of whites in general over the last 25 years. Do you think the Dems kept winning the NE all the time without the Catholic vote?

Figuring out who votes for the GOP isn't hard. Imagine George Washington. The further away you get from George Washington the less you vote for the GOP. White Catholics are slightly far away, so they vote GOP slightly less. Blacks are very far away so they hardly vote GOP at all. And on and on. The distance from George Washington method predicts statistical GOP support by identity group incredibly accurately.

Makes sense. Who ever saw a Jew or an "Oriental" on US$ 1.00 bills.


Brilliant, so all you need is to clone George Washington a couple of hundred million times, and you're set.
If you think the only way to GOP victory is through White Protestant Males, then you are doomed to keep losing elections, forever.

You either figure out how to convince Hispanics Catholics and Asians and Blacks that the GOP isn't their enemy, or you lose, forever.
And guess what, you're not going to do that by continuing to claim that Asians and Hispanics and Blacks are an existential threat to society.

A lot of Latinos are fairly traditional in terms of stuff that the religious right tends to support.

But Republicans are usually pretty hard on Latinos, for example in these comment boards, so it should not be surprising that people who are regularly trashed by Rs far more so than Ds tend to vote for the people who are less assholish to them, on average.

It's almost as though people don't vote for you if you shit talk them on a regular basis, or if not at least do not call out those who do.

Do you know much about Latino religion? For instance, do you see any of the tension in the Catholic church over Francis's South American liberation theology Catholicism versus traditional Catholicism.

Religion isn't some kind of checkbox or label name. South American Catholicism is some mix of existing paganism, leftist politics, and a sprinkling of whatever syncretist bullshit the Jesuits cooked up to get butts in pews. Didn't Brazil get same sex marriage before us. You've got to be pretty ignorant to think of these people as "natural conservatives" because they go to the church picnic.

I'm pretty sure there are a spectrum of versions of Catholicism in Latin America, given that they make up about 40% of all Catholics worldwide, and are spread over most of two continents.

The authors don't explain a little problem with incentives: if I'm a cynical president today, why should I plant the seeds another guy 10-20 years down the road will benefit from? The incentives only exists if there's potential for dictatorship.

However, the model is interesting if you apply it monarchy. A demagogue monarch has a strong incentive to keep people in bad conditions, the heirs will benefit directly.

Monarchs where they have actual power haven't usually held power long enough to see the benefits. Life has always been short and brutal for Kings.

Come again? The executive monarchies left in this world are among the Arab states, southern Africa, and the Himalyas. Supposedly, the King of Thailand has more influence than is usually the case for a constitutional monarchy. They had a couple of intrafamilial depositions on the Arabian peninsula ca. 1971 and the Nepalese monarchy was overthrown a few years back (some years after an assasination rampage had killed his brother-predecessor. Otherwise, extant executive monarchies have had more than adequate tenures.

Looking back at the pre-Regency monarchs in Britain, you don't see a superabundance of abbreviated tenures. James II was deposed, Charles I executed, Richard III killed in combat, the princes in the tower likely murdered, Richard II deposed, Stephen of Blois subject to an insurgency throughout his reign, Harold Godwin deposed and killed, and Edmund Ironsides deposed. That's eight cases between 937 AD and 1811, or one a century.

Did you not read the post? Alex discusses this and even gives a topical example:

The authors show, moreover, that the effect is likely to be bigger the bigger are political rents and the more stable are political careers. In other words, Bill Clinton passed NAFTA so that Hillary Clinton could run against it.

Which is bonkers, because Clinton had to run again after NAFTA passed.

The level of control, coordination, disciplin and forsight necessary for the model described above to accurately portray the decision-making of US political leaders is so far beyond reason it beggars belief.

And aren't you giving civil servants (well, really all of economics) far too much credit for their understanding of macroeconomic trends? If these guys understood exactly how to improve the economy and increase or decrease wages for certain folks, the idea that rather than bask in the immediate glory of prosperity for all, they'd spend their time laying subtle 20 year plans to get their spouse elected to office is absurd.

Maybe they'll actually do their job?

I don't understand why the president gets paid about equivalent to the 1000th most highly paid CEO in the country. What about market systems, and assuming that we pay people what is needed to attract the right talent for the position?

Babe Ruth made more than Herbert Hoover, but he had a better year.

I doubt politicians or their attentive constituents think that many moves ahead or are anywhere near that cynical, at least over here. James Carville might be that cynical, but he's a lizard who looks the part. Think of it this way: among the constituencies of the left party will be those working in the education and social services trades. These people are invested to a degree in what they've done with their life and have reactions to human problems which incorporate employing people like them.

Many years ago, Morton Kondracke interviewed a somewhat dissident figure in the drug-treatment research squad who offered this observation: "liberals want to give people things". And, of course, giving people things does not incorporate busting them for their offenses or setting enforceable standards of conduct, even though what's commonly lacking in the lives of the poor is public order.

Most importantly, the things they give are often the paid for services of liberal do gooders.

I hate people who do good.

They don't do good. They provide services and get paid (often handsomely) for them, but the amount of actual objective do gooding is up for debate, may even be negative.

Knowing nothing else at all, how much do you think you have to pay to get good management over a $5 million annual budget? What about the optimal level of pay over that $5 million budget to ensure its maximally good use? Should they pay the minimum wage? $50k a year? $125k a year?

Compare the answers in the private sector and public sector.

And then reduce by: job security, need to sell a product, need to be cost conscious. There is no shortage of people applying to manage 5 million dollar public budgets for 35 hours a week @ 6 figures, a npv pension of millions, and unpenalized Cadillac benefits.

The people I worked with in both government and private government contractors were both well paid and incompetent. They didn't achieve their objectives, and in some cases did net harm beyond even squandering their budgets.

'James Carville might be that cynical, but he’s a lizard who looks the part.'

However, his wife would probably be approved of here, one hopes - 'Mary Joe Matalin (born August 19, 1953) is an American political consultant well known for her work with the Republican Party. She has served under President Ronald Reagan, was campaign director for George H. W. Bush, was an assistant to President George W. Bush, and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney until 2003. Matalin has been chief editor of Threshold Editions, a conservative publishing imprint at Simon & Schuster, since March 2005.


On May 5, 2016, Matalin announced she has changed her party registration to Libertarian.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Matalin

It is always so amusing to see how many people think that power cares about anything but power, and instead believe that it is somehow a team sport where one has to select a team to support.

There was a story of a trial in ancient Rome where the defendant bribed his way to victory, but afterwards realized he won by an extra vote and bemoaned the extra cost in not getting exactly the number of votes needed.

Politics is about putting together coalitions of 51%. Ultimately, you basically choose a coalition of interest groups and try to get them spoils through the political process. There is some ideological background to wash it all down, but its mainly about the interest group spoils system.

From this perspective any group you bring into the coalition ought to be maximally loyal to you. If they only vote 60% in your favor then any political capital or fedbucks you spend on them is 40% wasted. You want constituencies like blacks, where they are 90% to one side. You don't need to waste money on black republicans because there aren't many.

Minority groups are great for this purpose because they are both tribal and cheap. They vote reliably and overwhelmingly for their coalition, with much less concern for how it affects society in general. And for the moment at least their demands are either cheap or things that the progressive state can skim off of. Obamaphones and looted flat screens are cheap. Medicaid is expensive, but medicaid is mostly about the government paying providers for things they were doing for free anyway. Those providers then become a constituent group of the democrats. In Virginia hospitals are begging the republicans to let them pay something into getting Medicaid expansion there because its a net win for them.

Whites just can't get their shit together and act like an interest group. The best they can do is get 60% nationally and 70% locally. That's a lot of wasted votes if you try to bring whites into a coalition. Better to pick off some specific influential ones and make up the numbers gap with minority identity politics.

There was a time when the Clintons needed say the Scots-Irish in Appalachia. Bill won WV, KY, and TN. Twenty years later his wife tells those same broke hillbillies that they have white privilege and are a bunch of deplorables. They don't need them anymore to get to 51%.

Retake high school civics. Play some baseball. Become an American.

This is a microaggression. As one leftist professor put it to Ben Shapiro, "the only response to a microaggression is a macroaggression". Enjoy your dystopia - don't be white near a Trump rally, even as a protester!

Also, the problem with putting together a Coalition of the Fringes is holding it together emotionally. The most obvious way is to conduct Two Minutes Hates of Core Americans, even if you have to make up your Emanuhaven Monahanstein hate figures like Rolling Stone did.

There was a time when the Clintons needed say the Scots-Irish in Appalachia. Bill won WV, KY, and TN. Twenty years later his wife tells those same broke hillbillies that they have white privilege and are a bunch of deplorables. They don’t need them anymore to get to 51%.

Per capita income levels in West Virginia are about 20% below national means (i.e. better than a number of European countries). Some portion of that is attributable to the fact that a much higher share of West Virginia's population is outside metropolitan commuter belts than is usually the case. Incomes in West Virginia are more similar to national means than they have ever been. There does appear to be an abnormally large lumpenproletarian population in West Virginia, but the employment to population ratios suggest that that element is at most 20% of the state's population, if that. There really are not that many broke hillibillies in this world, Kevin Williamson's confusions notwithstanding.

My vague impression is that West Virginia's whites have been drifting downward relative to other state's whites in this century.

Here's a question I haven't seen addressed: the Ozarks are culturally pretty similar to West Virginia. How have the two places done relative to each other? The Ozarks have Walmart's headquarters, which has brought a certain amount of wealth in to northwest Arkansas. And Branson has been pretty successful for hillbilly music. I wouldn't be surprised if there has been an outflow of ambitious people from West Virginia to northwest Arkansas.

It's hard to measure the Ozarks since they are split up across several states. Sam Walton picked Bentonville so he could go dove-hunting in four different states each year.

Again, they have not. Personal income per capita in West Virginia is, vis-a-vis the national mean, as high as it has been at any time since 1929. West Virginia gained ground from 1929 to about 1979, then lost ground for about 25 years or so, and then began gaining ground again. Neither does West Virginia have notably elevated unemployment rates. What they do have is depressed labor force participation.

West Virginia and Arkansas have very similar levels of affluence. Both have depressed labor force participation. Arkansas has held its own demographically while West Virginia has been demographically stagnant (on balance) for 75 years or so. West Virginia has only small cities, where as Arkansas has Little Rock, a city of middling size. Arkansas is on balanced more urbanized.

Northwest Arkansas is kind of cut off from Little Rock by the fairly sizable Boston Mountains that are steep enough for rock climbing.

The Ozarks are pretty distinct from the lowland south.

Nobody expected the Ozarks to produce the richest man in the world.

I bet a fair number of West Virginians moved out to the Ozarks. Here in California we have some hardnosed West Virginians, like Chuck and Steve Yeager and Jerry West. Formidable.

It would be an interesting question to explore what percentage of the incredible wealth generated by Walmart's success went into Sam Walton's estate and what percentage went into the surrounding region. That question ought to be of great interest to state and local policymakers considering tax breaks for entrepreneurs. Nobody will be more successful than Walmart, so how much good did Walmart do its home region? (Quite a bit, I imagine, but exactly how much I don't know.)

Walmart has to be one of the great economic shocks in all economic history, and thus highly worth studying by economists. It's not all that surprising that, say, Apple, Google, and Facebook have created great wealth in Silicon Valley, but for the most successful company in America to emerge in northwest Arkansas was a shock at the time. The Ozarks were considered the most backward place in the country: Hooterville. And yet the leanest, meanest corporation in the world came roaring out of those hills.

Minority groups are great for this purpose because they are both tribal and cheap. They vote reliably and overwhelmingly for their coalition, with much less concern for how it affects society in general. And for the moment at least their demands are either cheap or things that the progressive state can skim off of. Obamaphones and looted flat screens are cheap.

The black population has favored the Democratic Party since the Depression, but the Democrats did not roll up 10-to-1 margins until about 1964. Richard Nixon won 30% of the black vote in 1960, and, of course, black voters preferred the Republicans prior to 1932. Per capita income among black Americans is as we speak about 3.5x what it was in 1955.

While we're at it, California chicanos and Puerto Ricans vote overwhelmingly Democratic, while Texas chicanos split their preferences.

Interestingly 'alt-right' - that is, the current system is designed to increase dependency, regardless of the policies needed to generate it.

It's the downside of successful FDR-Truman era policies that facilitated the entry into the middle class of the grandparents of a lot of today's Republican voters. In the Coen Brothers' Depression musical "O Brother Where Art Thou," George Clooney's speech at the end while they're floating in the new reservoir about what the TVA and rural electrification are going to do for Southerners is a good explanation for the origins of many of today's Red States.


It’s the downside of successful FDR-Truman era policies that facilitated the entry into the middle class of the grandparents of a lot of today’s Republican voters.

I doubt the ratio of wage earners to the sum of salaried employees and proprietors is much different than it was in 1929. You have more salaried people (with the advance of large bureaucratic enterprises) and fewer proprietors (as farmers have sold their land and moved into the wage and salary sectors). The 'middle class' is not proportionately much larger. What's changed is that the number of workers living in abject conditions (e.g. sharecroppers) has radically declined and the affluence of the wage-earning sector is such that subsistence is seldom an issue. Except for the improved incomes of the elderly, all that is not a consequence of New Deal policies, but of productivity improvements.

Like the Coens suggested, hydroelectric dams were a big source of productivity improvements in the Tennessee Valley.

Again, about 2% of value added in the economy is attributable to utilities. The TVA was only locally important.

I don't know enough about India to know if the 1990s pro-market reforms that Rajiv Gandhi oversaw built up Hindu nationalists to be a conservative threat to the once dominant Congress Party, but that may be a good example. When India was socialist and poor, the Congress Party was awfully powerful.

The effect doesn't have to be intentional -- and it probably works better if it isn't. If left wing politicians truly believe free markets are evil and government-directed redistribution is what the poor really need, then they may be able to create a self-perpetuating system of poverty and redistribution. The thing that tends to screw up this tidy arrangement is citizens having an unfortunate awareness of other countries that don't follow this enlightened approach and somehow get ever richer. One of the many reasons, I suppose, that the Cuban government has kept its citizens off the Internet. Reminds me that reportedly 'The Grapes of Wrath' was banned in the Soviet Union because it made the U.S. look too good (it showed even the poorest Americans could afford a car).

Its a good point that this need not be intentional. One of the authors, Gil Saint Paul, actually has another paper on how education policy may reduce exposure to market institutions thereby re-enforcing anti-market beliefs among the populace as a whole and the civil service sector in particular: https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp4468.html

This is exactly how many Argentines explain peronism.

If you change the subject of this post from Left Wing Governments to, for example, the Catholic Church, I expect most progressives would agree with the thesis. Why does the state receive the benefit of the doubt? Isn't it possible that, for example, the Democratic machines in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, etc., prefer a desperate and degenerate constituency?

I was going to comment on this. I lived in Northern Quebec where the Catholic Church still held sway. Their education system was terrible; they would learn how to write beautifully, but not much else. They were discouraged from reading and essentially kept stupid and poor. The few really smart ones were encouraged to get educated so they could keep the upper levels of government and church populated to maintain the whole thing. It was disgusting, profoundly so.

The population of the Nord du Quebec, other than four francophone municipalities at its southern extremity, is about 30,000 and predominantly aboriginal.

The so-called American democracy is broken. Only sweeping political, social, moral and economic reforms can save it from itself and prevent the American Regime from being tossed into the dustbin of History.

"The so-called American democracy is broken. Only sweeping political, social, moral and economic reforms can save it from itself and prevent the American Regime from being tossed into the dustbin of History."

There is some Grade A projection in that comment. Brazil's economy has been bad for the last couple of years and the President was just impeached, but that's little reason to lash out at America.

"Brazil’s economy has been bad for the last couple of years and the President was just impeached, but that’s little reason to lash out at America."

It is a completely different phenomenon. The Brazilian system works. The president was impeached, her party was trounced in the last Sunday regional elections, the House Speaker was deposed, the vice president (well, now president), the President of the Senate, former president, kingmaker and Dilma's patron, Lula, are under federal investigation. Several dozens of high-ranking politicians and businessmen are jailed, their reputations forever ruined, their livehoods threatened. Can you imagine Trump or Clinton (or Obama or Bush) being investigated by the FBI? Brazilian politics is not systematically corrupted like America's is.
"Now, certainly, simple honesty is not too much to demand of men in government. We find it in most. Republicans demand it from everyone. They demand it from everyone no matter how exalted or protected his position might be."-- Barry Goldwater, 1964 Saying so today would sound hoplessly naïve, and this is the main reason for a desesperated populace to seek redress by Trumps and Sanders and other would-be strongmen. Americans don't believe in their system anymore. They feel betrayed, they are angry and tired and confused and nauseated.
As for the Brazilian economy, the prompt reaction of the Brazilian people under the correct guidance of our leaders averted the worse. The economy is getting better, the unemployment rate is at its historic average (after being kept artificially low under the Workers' Party economy policy for about a decade), the deficit is almost under control, economic reforms are been pioneered. Like our forefather, in their fight against the savage aggressors, we are ready to bear the unbearable. We, Brazilians, have every reason to face whatever tomorrow brings with hope, faith and unshakeable confidence in our country, our leaders, our countrymen and ourselves. Brazil shall rise again!

You do make good points. The US Federal government does seem to be exhibiting signs of high level corruption.

It's clear that the IRS targeted conservative groups on largely political grounds.

"Can you imagine Trump or Clinton (or Obama or Bush) being investigated by the FBI?"

I can absolutely imagine Trump being investigated by the FBI and wouldn't be surprised if there was a recommendation to indict. However, it seems pretty improbable that the FBI would hold Hillary Clinton accountable for anything less than a smoking gun situation.

The current situation whereby the FBI provided an immunity deal which included the FBI destroying the laptops of Clinton's aids after the 'investigation' looks extremely suspicious.

"Immunity deals for two top Hillary Clinton aides included a side arrangement obliging the FBI to destroy their laptops after reviewing the devices, House Judiciary Committee sources told Fox News on Monday. Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public -- in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said.
Committee aides also asked why the FBI and DOJ would enter into a voluntary negotiation to begin with, when the laptops could be obtained condition-free via a subpoena."


"I can absolutely imagine Trump being investigated by the FBI and wouldn’t be surprised if there was a recommendation to indict".
Recommendation to ndict? I think you give the FBI (and Obama) too much credit for courage. Corrupt powerful people are nigh-invulnerable in the USA. As for being investigated, who knows who is being investigated? Did the East Germans? On the other hand, in Brazil, the investigations are carried out in broad daylight, with neither fear nor favor. A former Ministro da Fazenda (something like a Secretary of the Treasure) was arrested at a hospital and taken from the side of his wife, who was about to undergo surgery, sent to jail in another state and had to surrender his passport. A few hours later, the judge who issued the order to arrest him decided the evidences didn't merited such harshness and he was allowed to go back to his wife's side provided he don't interfere with the police work. Another former minister is still at jail, former senators are jailed. The CEO's of Brazil's biggest construction industry companies and some big banks are behind bars (it doesn't help the economy). Our country is undergoing the most rigorous and through investigation since the Stalinist purgues. No crimes is too small, no criminal is too big to be spared.

Projection, sure, but true nonetheless.

I don't think the changes needed are that drastic, even. Ranked choice voting is a simple but powerful political change. The Church growing a spine and fighting moral relativism is part of their job description, and would be a powerful moral change. No reforms appear likely, though, since it is political suicide.

The Church and the protestant congregations may do that, but not in your lifetime or mine, at least in the world palpable to people. You can find clergymen who take an interest in spiritual works of mercy, but they're atypical. Most of them remind you of the character in VS Naipaul's Guerillas, "He had no important skills...an organizer of boy's clubs". I doubt more than one in three went into it for the right reasons.

The Nafta example silly but the overall point is quite obviously true.

Minimum wage the perfect example. Creates two permanent lefty constituencies. Those getting the above market wages; and sadly those unemployed because of it and on the dole.

A raise in pay every election. That is what happens when NDP governments are in power. A second voting bloc is government workers. Last NDP government just previous to an election where they were desperate reclassified every position in the government so that everyone got a wage increase. They lost the election nonetheless; we in BC have little tolerance for those shenanigans.

Yes. Minimum wage is the liberal dream policy: pretend you're helping the poor while you're actually screwing them, furthering their loyalty and dependence. Keeps the brown riffraff out of their nice white coastal towns, to boot.

And as we've noticed, there is no political desire to make the minimum wage a formula-driven metric.

Politicians could easily have pushed through a bill that said, "from now on minimum wage shall be X% of the median wage in each metropolitan area up to a limit of Y" or something like that.

But they don't do that. They want political credit for raising the minimum wage so they let it stagnate and then push through a very public bill every few years.

It makes intuitive sense, and if you framed it as "the Chavez government" or something, everyone would agree that this is the case. But my kneejerk reaction was that the US is different of course, and I predict many others will react similarly. We are all chauvanists.

"The basic idea may also be put this way. A left wing government might not want to pass policies to educate the masses or open markets to small business firms because such policies are likely to be successful and in the process create a class of skilled workers and petty bourgeoisie who will vote against the left-wing party and its policies of income redistribution."

Isn't this happening in schools, where kids are rarely exposed to lessons on free markets, business and other economic issues?

The ideologues in charge of education seem committed to ensuring people have little economic knowledge.

Also they are not teaching Creationism. The "ideologues in charge of education seem commited to ensuring people have little" Biology and History knowledge.

No one's teaching creationism. The closest you get to 'teaching creationism' would be some evangelical schools offering readings which critique evolutionary conceptions. That aside, biology is a modest fraction of school curricula (< 10% of the academic education I received), and discussion of evolutionary concepts is a fraction of that.

No clue why you fancy that people who complain about Richard Dawkins cannot or will not teach history.

Also worth remembering that evolution is only a small part of a high school's biology curriculum.

Even if a harcore Creationist taught the class, students are still going to learn about cells, bacteria, DNA, food chains, biomes, etc.

"Also worth remembering that evolution is only a small part of a high school’s biology curriculum."
So is Set Theory, logarithms, etc for a Math curriculum. Even if you don't teach it (´cause there is no empty set, God is everywhere), children will still learn so many things...
"No one’s teaching creationism."
My point exactly, they are not teaching Creationism for the same reason they are not teaching whatever "Chip" thinks economy is. Also, believe it or not, Dawkins did not create Darwinism (the name is a tip).

I never made any use of set theory, and I got through multi-variable calculus.

Well, if we ever need to get rid of an entire Mathematical field due to budget cuts, we know which one it will be. What else? If you mutilate Math enough, we may just have enough time and resources left to teach whatever delusion Chip thinks we shoud teach.

"That aside, biology is a modest fraction of school curricula"
Which fraction is History? Which fraction is WW I or the New Deal or the Revolution? Maybe we should get rid of some decades and a few presidents.

Guess what, Thomas. Your time is not unlimited and requires budgeting. Sorry to break it to you.

Fair enough: Who goes away: Roosevelt, the Middle Ages or the 13 Colonies?

Why those choices?

They are nothing but "modest fractions" of the current school curricula. Relax, kids will be fine. No boss of mine ever asked what the New Deal was.

I agree that it's probably far fetched, but some of this could happen not by design, but because of perverse incentives for the politicians.

That is, it's difficult for various political reasons to get rid of the marginal tax rates that are built into welfare programs. It either costs tax money to phase out benefits more gradually, or it cuts into people's benefits. And then you add the fact that people who are dependent on welfare are more beholden to you and at the margin it makes it less enticing to tackle the challenge.

You can say similar things about occupational licensing and open markets. There are already incentives to cater to established firms and keep markets closed. Then you add in the subtle incentive to keep the poor from becoming self-employed, and maybe that costs a few more votes, and makes it that much harder to get rid of occupational licensing.

The problem is democracy is not a great tool for fine-tuning complex systems. You get one vote every few years for a representative, and that representative has to not only understand what the economically just solution is, but also be willing to act against his own interests to vote for it. And really, most of the time these issues get decided by an administrator who is appointed by the politician, whose interest is in pleasing the politician and in demonstrating a continued need for his job, and who hence has only a very indirect interest in whether poverty actually gets reduced. The guy who is in charge of the occupational licensing board has no interest in repealing the occupational licensing laws - he would be out of a job if he did. The guy who is in charge of food stamps doesn't have much interest in getting people off food stamps.

You can say similar things about occupational licensing and open markets. There are already incentives to cater to established firms and keep markets closed. Then you add in the subtle incentive to keep the poor from becoming self-employed, and maybe that costs a few more votes, and makes it that much harder to get rid of occupational licensing.

Other states have their deals. In New York, occupational licensing applies to medical professions; veterinarians; psychology and counseling; a subset of engineers; geologists; accountants; land surveyors; home inspectors; real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers; court reporting; athletic trainers and health clubs; security guards, armored car guards, alarm installers, and like agencies; private investigators; bail bondsmen; barbers and beauticians; cemetery operators and undertakers; cab drivers and taxi services; and a half-dozen other small trades added for obscure reasons.

There are some barnacles here, but these listed generally require years of training, or are trust-invested (or both). There isn't much 'self-employment' the 'working poor' are denied by licensing requirements. (And, while we're at it, 'professional services' account for 4.5% of value added in the economy).

This seems to assume a remarkable faith in government planning. Politicians can craft policies that both seem like they are helping some group improve but in reality causes their numbers to increase and not improve thereby offering them job security by getting voters to double down on said policies and politicians.

Why couldn't politicians also simply craft policies to help a group actually improve and then adjust policies as they go from lower to middle class? How about the great shift from mass manufacturing to services in the economy? This dramatically lowered private sector union membership during a period of Democratic dominance. If this model is correct Democrats should have been promising to move people above union jobs while at the same time enacting policies that increase the number of people working in union jobs.

Different from, but related to, the Curley effect.

You definitely don't want to be the "favored" constituency of a Leftist Party or in the US, the Democratic Party. This paper sounds like a generalization of the same feature documented in the US in Edward L. Glaeser and Andrei Shleifer's 'The Curley Effect: The Economics of Shaping the Electorate'

So Clinton and Obama represent "leftist" government here? What are Papa Bush and Baby Bush then?

Someone said the ChiCom generals were leftist. Does this label mean anything?

What are Papa Bush and Baby Bush then?

Baby Bush would be a 70 year old grandfather who held high political office for 14 years, operated two different businesses over a period of 15 years, has been married for 38 years, and was trained to fly fighter planes in his youth.

A "leftist" then, too?

I think the best example of this is the debate around the privatization of Social Security.

Democrats are *extremely* opposed to any kind of mandatory private account because it would turn millions of people into minor capitalists whose interests would align more with corporations than labor unions.

It is much harder to rally The People against Wall Street if The People are active investors in Wall Street.

I don't think this pattern holds for most other types of social spending though. Food stamps don't impoverish the poor, nor does Medicaid. These means tested welfare programs are partly vote buying schemes and partly genuine concern for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

"These means tested welfare programs are partly vote buying schemes and partly genuine concern for those at the bottom of the economic ladder."

I agree. I find the thesis flawed. I don't believe that Leftwing governments intentionally design their programs to that effect. They just tend to ignore the likely economic effects.

"Democrats are *extremely* opposed to any kind of mandatory private account because it would turn millions of people into minor capitalists whose interests would align more with corporations than labor unions."

Democrats are extremely opposed to mandatory private accounts, because workers would be funding their own retirements, which might be fine except that current workers would no longer be funding the retirements of retired workers through the Social Security system. This would essentially erase the current Social Security system. So the people who are now receiving it would turn into hordes of homeless old sick people wandering the streets and countryside of the U.S., unable to afford food, clothing or shelter. And then future generations of older people would also contain a large percentage of people who didn't bother to fund their retirement accounts, or who did fund them and then lost their whole account in risky investments in the stock market. So they would be the next generation of homeless hordes of people wandering around.

"Democrats are *extremely* opposed to any kind of mandatory private account"

The arguments against private accounts are quite well documented and have nothing to do with what you wrote. It is amusing that you don't seem to realize your statement is a mid-2000s anachronism, though. The Republican Party took a very clear stance after PPACA was passed that any federal government requirement for a private citizen to do business with a for-profit entity is unconstitutional. If you are still in favor of mandates -- whether for health insurance (e.g. Heritage/Romney/GingrichCare) or retirement savings -- you could be a centrist Democrat but you can't really be a Republican.

Ricardo seems to be disappearing into Mulp land.

" The Republican Party took a very clear stance after PPACA was passed that any federal government requirement for a private citizen to do business with a for-profit entity is unconstitutional. "

The Republican Party argued that the PPACA was unconstitutional. They didn't take a broad stance that any possible mandate is automatically unconstitutional.

"If you are still in favor of mandates — whether for health insurance (e.g. Heritage/Romney/GingrichCare) or retirement savings — you could be a centrist Democrat but you can’t really be a Republican."

Obviously this is more fantasy land where Ricardo would like to tar all Republicans with the same brush. I'm confident he would object to anyone doing the same to Democrats. (and he'd be right in that case.)

You are entirely free to support a retirement savings mandate and oppose a health insurance mandate on policy grounds. However, if you try to cloak your policy preferences in constitutional garb, I will call you out on it and rightly so -- there is nothing in the text of the Constitution that remotely implies that Congress may require individuals to invest their money in Fidelity or Vanguard index funds but may not require individuals to buy high-deductible health insurance policies. Many Republicans made the foolish and short-sighted decision to make this into a constitutional issue and I haven't heard much talk of mandatory private accounts lately.

"Many Republicans made the foolish and short-sighted decision to make this into a constitutional issue and I haven’t heard much talk of mandatory private accounts lately."

LOL, the SCOTUS said it was Constitutional. So, your argument isn't really an argument so much as whining.

Democrats are *extremely* opposed to any kind of mandatory private account because it would turn millions of people into minor capitalists whose interests would align more with corporations than labor unions.

Imagine the bailouts that would happen. You retired in 2009 but you're retirement is 20% less than some other guy who retired a few years back because the stock market crashed. Given that nearly a trillion dollar bailout package passed a Republican Congress and President does anyone honestly think that this wouldn't be the route to massive bailouts and moral hazard?

It is much harder to rally The People against Wall Street if The People are active investors in Wall Street.

This misalignment doesn't seem to pass a bit of thinking. Social Security is funded via employment. Corporations employ huge numbers of people, and many high paying jobs are with corporations. So workers who rely upon social security for retirement are aligned with the interests of corporations.

The main flaw in this argument, although plausibly it could apply in some situations relatively more than the right wing, is that the left wing tends to promote policies which are relatively much more in the direction of unleashing the talents of the poor than right wing policies.

is that the left wing tends to promote policies which are relatively much more in the direction of unleashing the talents of the poor than right wing policies.

Nathan knows nothing of inner-city schools in this country.

Art is hard hard to make the case that there is something wrong with the inner city schools apart from the students.

No, it's hard for people addled by thrift-shop markdown sociobiology to make the case.

The American Society is rotten to its very core. Cosmetic surgery would make no difference at all. The American System must be overthrown.

Thiago, your country is a crime ridden latrine. Deal with it.

Fill those same schools with the children of poor immigrants from China and people will be amazed at how they improved. Same school same teachers different results.

"Thiago, your country is a crime ridden latrine."
No, it is not! It is written,
"From the Universe among Nations
Shines brightly that of Brazil.
From the Universe among Nations
From the Universe among Nations
Shines brightly that of Brazil."

Vergara v. California: to a Democrat, teachers' unions > equal protection for, and good education for, minority children. Disgusting.

“The basic idea may also be put this way. A left wing government might not want to pass policies to educate the masses or open markets to small business firms because such policies are likely to be successful and in the process create a class of skilled workers and petty bourgeoisie who will vote against the left-wing party and its policies of income redistribution.”

Yet another attempt to show how awful and corrupt the Left Wing is, and to explain why and how. Unlike the Right Wing, where you get politicians nobly defending the right of crony capitalist welfare queen companies to pollute the air and water, defraud consumers, and start unnecessary wars for the financial benefit of Halliburton and other MIC companies. You get the Right Wingers feeding at the public trough through corrupt private prison companies, corrupt charter school companies, and insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies that price gouge sick people. When every vulnerable sick person, school child, or prisoner is seen as a cash cow, that's the noble Right Wing free market at work, in contrast to those horrid corrupt Left Wingers.

And every compromise that a Democrat like Bill Clinton made with a Right Wing Congress can be portrayed as an attempt to screw over the people who voted Democrat.

"where you get politicians nobly defending the right of crony capitalist welfare queen companies"

Seems like the Democrats have them locked up too. Big business is against Trump. Clinton is already paid for.

If elected, Trump will give big business anything they want, as long as he gets some benefit from them himself. He does know what to say to get a certain segment of voters supporting him. But he changes his mind constantly, and also lies constantly. So if elected, it's pretty certain he will act in ways that personally benefit Trump, and a lot of these ways will benefit other people with large businesses too.

Isn't that exactly how Hillary acts, and Obama too?

No (unelected) Republican likes what you are talking about, but you personally approve of every leftist example given, Jill. Tell me you don't prefer a poorer but more equal society. We all know you do, you little commy.

Of course, I don't. Preferring a poorer society is a Republican thing. The Dems only vote for that when they compromise with the GOP, The Masters of Poverty Creation, always ready to slice the social safety net to shreds.

Why not try a Basic Income Guarantee or an hourly wage subsidy instead of complex interacting programs that we have.

An expansion of the EITC would be the logical approach.

Never attribute anything to malice what can be explained by stupidity.

Theory #1: Clinton and Obama knows that their poorly designed social welfare programs keep poor people as a malleable voting class. So they pass programs increasing poverty traps.

Theory #2: like most left-wing voters, they don't realize every government program is another poverty trap if poorly designed. They make mistakes and try to fix them, but the Right blocks fixes because they object to the existence of those programs.

Theory #3

Perhaps Dems do realize that every government program is another poverty trap if poorly designed. They don't make mistakes so much as they compromise with the Right because they have to, because the Right has so much power in Congress. LIke Obamacare, where they compromised with the crony capitalist GOP dominated Congress, and instead of giving us single payer health insurance, which would have been great, they just got as close to doing that as they could, given the GOP dominated Congress-- which was not very close at all.

Since the GOP dominates both Houses of Congress, most governorships, most state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died, they control almost everything. However, "almost everything" includes the media. So the president who sits there, unable to give us single payer insurance, and unable to even get a hearing for his SCOTUS nominee, sits there being blamed for everything by the Right Wing propaganda we are immersed in.

I could come up with a theory saying that the GOP realized they could do this if they controlled everything except the presidency, and that they intentionally lost the presidency during the last two terms for that very purpose. But I don't believe those kinds of theories about clairvoyance, for either party.

I like how the GOP can dominate Congress as a minority.

lol, +1

As someone who was actually there, believe me we got exactly the healthcare bill Dems wanted.

Yes, I remember in the videos of Congress at the time, that a person named asdf was there. So I believe you.

" LIke Obamacare, where they compromised with the crony capitalist GOP dominated Congress"

Republicans all voted against it. What world do you live in?

A lot of Republicans Light did vote for it, but they had to be bribed to do so. The Blue Dog Dems are Republicans Lite.

instead of giving us single payer health insurance, which would have been great,

By single payer I assume that you mean like Canada not like France or Germany or the UK which do not have a single payer (UK has a single payer but also run most of the system). Am I correct?

Their fixes lead to as many mistakes as their original poor design. They just aren't the smart technocrats they think they are, and their policy ideas aren't as good as they think they are.

Liberals never get a chance to get their designs passed, like single payer. Republicans and Republicans LIte (Blue Dog Dems) always block the good designs. And then they claim the Republicans and Republicans Lite claim that liberals' policies never work. Liberals can't even pick a good SCOTUS judge-- Oh, wait, they did nominate one, but the GOP won't even allow him a hearing, much less a vote.

In truth Jill, you had six clear years (1933-39) and another clear set of years (1965-67) to get everything you wanted passed. About the only things repealed since then were measures which were redundant which Democratic presidents agreed to dispose of, e.g the residual alphabet soup agencies dissolved during World War II. The two exceptions have been the misbegotten Office of Economic Opportunity and the replacement of AFDC with TANF - more than two decades after it was plain as the nose on your face that AFDC was a wretched program. Of course, the period of time you all had the free hand, we had over 700 urban riots on our hands as well as a bloody and mismanaged war. You belong on the margins.

Healthcare is regulated at the state level and so if it is to be paid for through Gov it should be done at the state level, else the state level politicians will have very bad incentives. So try Massachusetts few republicans and blue dogs there.

Thanks, Thomas, for calling me a little Commie. The name calling stage of argument is when I know a Right Winger is out of arguments against me and knows I am right.

TMC, both Dems and GOP in Congress are legally bribed by crony capitalist welfare queen companies. And if Trump wins, he will be too, and his Right Wing Congress is already. The only difference is that some on the Left try to do a few things for the poor and/or minority groups. We have Republican and Republican Lite (Democrat.) We live in a Right Wing country. But since we are totally immersed in Right Wing propaganda, almost all criticism is reserved for the Republican Lite (Democrat) party for being less than totally Right Wing.

This article appears to have some really interesting assumptions behind it. It sounds like it is implied that it is okay when Republicans screw over the poor because that's what they're all about. But when Dems compromise with the GOP on free trade issues, it's the Dems who are evil-- both because Dems are expected to be clairvoyant and know that free trade bills will hurt the poor, and also because what? Because we expect evil and poverty to come from a GOP Congress, so that's okay, because it's the GOP's job to increase poverty and harm people. Whereas Dems promise to try to help the poor, so more is expected of them. More is even expected of a Dem president being blocked in most of what he tries to do, by a GOP Congress. When the Dem pres is blocked by them, he gets the blame., because he failed to deliver on his campaign promises. And when he cooperates with the GOP on free trade bills, then he-- not the GOP-- is also at fault, because the bills turn out to increase poverty in the U.S.

What can a Dem president do to not be blamed for doing or not doing things? Sit on his hands his whole term?

And this also seems to say that the poor are the main Democratic constituency. A lot of Dems are middle class, and some are upper class.

"But since we are totally immersed in Right Wing propaganda, almost all criticism is reserved for the Republican Lite (Democrat) party for being less than totally Right Wing."

This is completely out of touch with reality.

Jill might be a very good fake leftist. Mulp level.

I've ended up tangling with Jill at other sites. She manufactures political and historical fantasy and doubles-down when you point out she's said something nonsensical and factually untrue. She appears to get all of her information from Pacifica radio type loci. She isn't a fake leftist. She's a dopey, mendacious, and wearyingly verbose one.

Yes, Fox news and Clear Channel iHeart Radio "facts" are all you need to know, aren't they?

I use standard reference tools, Jill, such as government statistical sites. I haven't listened to the radio regularly in about a dozen years and have not listened to commercial AM stations since about 1975. Fox News is a commentary network, and, no, I do not site commentary as evidence (nor am I a regular viewer of any Fox News shows).

I don't know, it's almost too absurd to be real. It's like a portlandia sketch come to life.

I'm still 30% troll, 70% outside the realm of reason and logic. My hesitancy is the right wing media claim. It just seems too obviously false to be anything but trolling.

I like the part where the media are in it for the GOP. Jill hates black people. See Vergara.

I hate black people. What planet do you live on? I never said anything remotely similar to that.

Thomas, if you want to make it appear as though you live on planet earth, then tell me where you got the idea that I hate black people.

Do you support the plaintiffs in Vergara?

If JFK ran today he'd be a fascist, Bill Clinton would be a moderate Republican. DC has gone hard left.

What planet do you live on, TMC? ObamaCare was pretty much the same as RomneyCare was. We've gone hard Right. Now Dems use GOP ideas, and the GOP blasts them for it because the ideas the Dems borrowed from the GOP aren't far enough Right for today's GOP.

Interesting that even though the media is so overwhelmingly liberal biased, that the Right Wing party dominates both Houses of Congress, most governorships and state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died. And where the Right Wing doesn’t have the presidency yet, but through Congress they do tie the president’s hands frequently e.g. by refusing to allow his SCOTUS nominee even a hearing, much less a vote.

And although the Right Wing controls everything in the U.S. except the presidency-- Now that voters want to vote a big Eff You to the establishment, the way they are doing that is to vote for....the Right Wing party for president. Now THAT's some very successful propaganda by the Right Wing media.

That a Left of Center president got impeached over a blow job. But when the Right Wing president led us into an expensive long bloody war based on lies about phony weapons of mass destruction, no problem there. And one of the chief war cheerleaders was the supposedly liberally biased NYT.

Interesting that even though the media is supposedly so overwhelmingly liberal biased, that so many people so wisely and independently and correctly choose Right Wing or conservative values and policies and beliefs. Hillary has gotten only a low percentage of millennial voters because no matter how young people are, most of them are not too young or too naïve to choose Right Wing values. Despite the liberal biased media, young people are wisely and independently and correctly choosing to be Right Wing-- and more conservative than previous generations at their age.

Poor voters, uneducated voters, low I Q voters-- Except for some minority groups, no one is poor enough or ignorant enough to lack the wisdom and independence and intelligence
necessary to correctly choose to be Right Wing.

And have a look at the Internet. The vast majority of people on comment boards are Right Wingers, including most Internet trolls. So even the obnoxious people who roam the sewers of the Internet are wise, independent, and intelligent enough to correctly choose to be Right Wing, despite the pressures of the supposed Left Wing media bias.

If there is a liberal media bias, it sure doesn't seem to have affected many people. In fact, if you look at what people in the U.S. are like politically, it sure looks like the media is overwhelmingly Right Wing biased instead of Left Wing biased. In fact, Fox News has been found to be America's most trusted news source. And almost all talk radio is Right Wing.

When the media bashes Hillary 24/7/365 for decades, on the basis of unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo, is that liberal bias? When the media gives billions of dollars of free air time to Donald Trump, is that liberal bias?

Good point.

Without the severe liberal media and Hollywood bias the socialist PC anti freedom dictators you favor would have nothing and we'd have liberty.

Yes you people are that bad.

Man I didn't see all your posts!

Pathetic obsessed broken ranting little totalitarian.

To hate liberty and civilization as much as you do. Sick creature.

Selective education in the UK was attacked by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_of_the_Meritocracy. One of the claims it made was that selective education attacked the working classes by removing to higher status jobs more intelligent people who would otherwise have become union leaders. This book could therefore be seen as an example of a theoretical argument by the left wing which attempts to consciously further their political aims while worsening the lot of bright working class kids.

(Selective education in the UK goes by the name of Grammar schools. It has been illegal to create a new grammar school for some time now, but the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, who was educated in a Grammar school, seems to be thinking about changing this - https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/09/theresa-may-to-end-ban-on-new-grammar-schools)

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