What Means That Trump?

by John Holbo on September 8, 2015

No, I’m not just asking the question everyone else is asking. I’m quoting Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. It’s, like, erudite.

I’m with Kevin Drum. Watching Jonah Goldberg splutter about it is pretty rich.

“Live by the sword, die by the sword. But if you want to survive, you’d better at least understand that once forged, a sword can be wielded by anyone strong enough to grab it. You might not like it when your army decides to follow, but you’re the one who taught them to follow the shiny object without worrying too much about whose hand is on the hilt, aren’t you?”

Pretty much. But I think Kevin makes one Schadenfreudian slip or call it what you will. I mean: he’s ‘Drum’ and there’s ‘Trump’. We have a battle metaphor. How can you not quote Shakespeare?

“Whilst any trump did sound, or drum struck up,
His sword did ne’er leave striking in the field.” – Henry VI

Goldberg thus emerges as a historic figure. Tragic even. Just as he is vexed by the infidelity of the conservative base, Othello was once maddened by a different infidelity:

“O, now, for ever
Farewell the tranquil mind! farewell content!
Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars,
That make ambition virtue! O, farewell!
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war!”

Trump and Drum. Like peanut butter and jelly.

“Proclaim our honours, lords, with trump and drum.” – Titus Andronicus

But seriously, I have an explanation for this Trump business. Goldberg’s lament comes complete with a sidebar of related NR material you can peruse, to achieve deeper understanding of the issues.


You can see the force escalation. First, blame the left for Trump, then Trump for himself – finally, as a last resort, blame even the base. That’s what Goldberg is now trying. But what of that third item? Could it be that Trump is, in essence, merely the best, most devastating anti-Pajama Boy zinger yet?

Pajama Boy is the emblematic essence of liberalism’s omni-care – Obamacare. You will be made to care! (But think about it: if you care about everything, that’s like caring about NOTHING!) Ergo, conservatism, the opposite of liberalism, is most like the thing in the universe most unlike Pajama Boy. Namely, the honey badger. But, be it howsoever comprehensively uncaring the honey badger is ineligible for the high office of the Presidency. Thus, Trump. The closest thing in the universe to a honey badger that is eligible for the Presidency.

I know I’m not the first to note that Trump looks and acts like a honey badger. But I am the first to note that ‘Pajama Boy’ is the antonym of ‘honey badger’. This is scientifically testable. Next time you are playing Taboo and your card says ‘honey badger’, just provide the sure-fire hint ‘the opposite of Pajama Boy’. See if your partner doesn’t get it in one!

Bonus Fact The First: Conservatives often complain that it’s been downhill for at least a century or so. Often they blame Wilson – or Herbert Croly, when Goldberg is feeling fancy. But I think that’s just a proxy for increased pajama talk, decade on decade. Note how the graph rises steeply in the 70’s, then levels off in Reagan’s America. Then creeps up again in the 90’s. Coincidence? If I think it’s a fact, isn’t it a kind of fact?

Bonus Fact The Second: ‘Badger’ used to mean peddler. Thus, in the OED, we find this sentence, from 1610: “All the inhabitants be as it were a kind of hucksters, or badgers.” That’s from William Camden, Britain; or, A chorographicall description of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Shakespeare never uses the word ‘badger’ or I would have made a joke about it already.



John Holbo 09.08.15 at 6:41 am

I accidentally posted this as Belle at first. But I doubt that fooled anyone, so I just changed it to be from me – who actually wrote it.


Chris Bertram 09.08.15 at 7:00 am

See also Danielle Allen the other day, who compares Trum to UKIP and the FN in instructive ways



Adam Roberts 09.08.15 at 7:13 am

Give the devil his due: I thought ‘Trumpen Proletariat’ was pretty funny.


John Holbo 09.08.15 at 7:26 am

“I thought ‘Trumpen Proletariat’ was pretty funny.”

Yeah, but alicublog said it first!

But, fair enough, Goldberg is definitely not an alicublog reader.


Sancho 09.08.15 at 7:32 am

An aside to the sword business is ISIS is carrying American rifles in so many photos.


Belle Waring 09.08.15 at 10:54 am

What? I bet you a million dollars Jonah Golberg hatefucks alicublog on the regular. You’re going repeatedly to the font of his frothy vomit, right? Jonah Goldberg strikes me as someone who is sensitive to the opinions of others. And by that I mean, a plagiarist.


Josh Jasper 09.08.15 at 11:26 am

“They have a saying in Überwald: “If you don’t want the monster, don’t pull the lever.”” – Terry Pratchett, Making Money.

NR has been pulling that lever for decades. Now they get The Monster.

The monster isn’t Trump. The monster is the electorate they instructed to crave exactly what Trump is selling. “Hey, we didn’t want politicians saying that stuff out loud, they’re supposed to dog whistle it!” the NR dog whistles at it’s baying mob, who’ve slowly become addicted to 13o db level Trump Talk.

Mebbe they shouldn’t have canned The Derb. The Derb coulda bridged the gap with the Trump folks and made nice.


Lee A. Arnold 09.08.15 at 11:33 am

Jonah Goldberg’s column is proof, if more proof were needed, of TWO different facts. 1. Goldberg doesn’t understand how the GOP has come to this point, as Kevin Drum points out. 2. Goldberg is also not paying attention to what Donald Trump is actually doing, which is to lead with a ballsy approach, then backfill on the “policy positions” (such as they are) with nuances.

Trump is already mitigating his grating personality, and starting to change his positions (again!). Another Drum post (on Aug. 31) noted that Trump has begun to align himself with Republican orthodoxy on taxation.

So Trump whispers to the plutocrats, “I don’t want to be seen taking your campaign contributions, and I’ve got enough of my own. But don’t worry — I am still on your side!” (This will make him a bit more viable to the plutocratic contributors, although they still cannot trust him, if he gets into office. They will have to settle for retaining GOP control of the House.)

Whether Trump’s strategy can work, even against the other Republican candidates, remains to be seen. They can call him a hypocrite who’s changing his spots once again (thus, a chameleon of the honey badgers).

Political junkies are probably aware that a very interesting step may be taken tonight, September 8. Stephen Colbert has already booked Jeb Bush (and George Clooney) on the first episode of his new late night show, which might be watched by just about every sentient being in the US. (Bush was probably booked for this appearance before Trump’s rise in the polls began.) Jeb was already tasked with showing why he shouldn’t be identified with Dubya’s War (even though he’s got some of the same neocons on his foreign policy team), and finessing the immigration issue. Now he gets to take an unobstructed shot at Trump.


Bill Benzon 09.08.15 at 11:55 am

Muhammad Ali gave us “Rope a Dope”. How about “Thump a Trump” or “Dump a Trump”?


Lee A. Arnold 09.08.15 at 12:00 pm

And this morning, an analysis of Trump’s softening stance on immigration. (He’s making clear the complaint is illegal immigration, not legal immigration. I saw this one coming:)

“Why Has Donald Trump Suddenly Gone All Soft On Immigration?”

He should have Jonah Goldberg eating out of his hand in 5, 4, 3, 2,…


The Dark Avenger 09.08.15 at 12:58 pm

You have to go with the rifles you have, not with the rifles you wish you had.


Chris E 09.08.15 at 1:13 pm

I think what Drum misses is the extent to which this is driven by economics. Yes, there was always a background of support for odd ideas, but it took a continued economic crisis for this to galvanise into a movement.

[If you read the threads in a lot of the articles on rightwing media, what you’ll see is expressions of a sense of betrayal – the Republic Congress were voted in, and then are seen as having abandoned their support]


kidneystones 09.08.15 at 2:18 pm

@10 Trump will supply a never-ending supply of comedy gold. The best thing about Trump is that he’s sucked all the oxygen out of the campaigns of just about everyone, except Ben Carson, who is the sane one in this duo. I still remember being stung watching that clip you thoughtfully posted a few weeks back. Relying on TPM for information about GOP candidates is like relying on Sarah Palin for geography lessons. Trumps position on July 30 was pretty much the same as it is now, although that doesn’t means sensible, doable, or sane – just more or less the same. For Trump in July, undocumented immigrants 11 million or so, had to go. That’s still the case, I believe. What Trump calls ‘the good ones’ can come back in, and stay.

Krugman attacks Trump’s implied racism, and there’s no question Trump is dog-whistling for all he’s worth (which is a lot of dog-whistling). Two points: it’s not going to stop, and a substantial number of Hispanics and blacks are on the same page. Juan Williams is figures that BLM might be enough to win Trump enough black votes to win. My guess is Dr. Marshall will have Trump and the KKK side to side for the next 12 months, or longer! I blame Trig.

Meanwhile, the British government is explaining the need to drone strike its citizens.


Plume 09.08.15 at 2:27 pm


TPM is generally quite accurate for what it does, which is basically to comment on the rather narrow pissing match between Dems and Republicans. Its scope is narrow, but its data is pretty solid within that scope.

Palin on geography? That’s just not in the same realm. She’s an extremely ignorant person, who has a legion of yes men and yes women, hyping her with adoration for so long . . . she’s just never going to feel the need to reduce her ignorance. In fact, it appears she’s proud of it, as are her followers. To them, ignorance is a finger in the eye of the supposedly “liberal” media.

Again, yours is a very poor comparison.


Snarki, child of Loki 09.08.15 at 2:30 pm

BREAKING: new scribbled note from William Shakespeare, in margin of a draft copy of “McBeth”

“Badgers? BADGERS? I don’t need no stinking BADGERS!”

Our culture owes Shakespeare so very, very much.


ccc 09.08.15 at 2:34 pm

This was one wild ride of a post!


Scott Martens 09.08.15 at 2:57 pm

Re: “Trumpen-proletariat”

I take the currency and understandability of this pun at NRO as evidence that movement conservativism is, as had often been alleged, nothing more than Marxism turned on its head and revolutionary Bolshevism for the bourgeoise. Alas… the only other people who will get their joke are all leftists.


P O'Neill 09.08.15 at 3:40 pm

It must be particularly bad for the Reformicons or whatever they were calling themselves (Ponnuru et al). 2 years of well-funded papers and books just waiting for the smart conservative in the pack to make it his program for government … and the primary electorate could not care less. The unwitting Brechtian lament of Jonah is especially hilarious.


kidneystones 09.08.15 at 3:40 pm

“Donald Trump launched his presidential bid with a xenophobic bang, but now that the Summer of Trump is turning into fall, it looks like Trump is trying to turn over a new leaf.”

Speaking of plagiarism, what’s the bet that TPM’s “now that the summer of A is turning into fall, A is trying to turn over a new leaf” has been used about ten billion times in one form or another?

Goldberg really is pissed, and perhaps that explains why his writing is livelier than Marshall’s, who is a predictable snore.


Marc 09.08.15 at 5:30 pm

Reading Goldberg is like watching a guy stumbling around with his foot in a bucket who steps on a series of rakes.

To take the language of Edroso, who is a better writer and human being than Goldberg.

As the Sun rises and sets, Goldberg will contradict his thesis before his post disperses in a cloud of Cheeto dust and flatulence.


s0meguy88 09.08.15 at 5:31 pm

I am a conservative and I agree. It is sad. On the other hand the Democratic Party just adopted a national 15 dollar an hour minimum wage policy.

So on the one hand we have a party filled with immigrant phobic ninnies, obsessed with false postures of strength, with an insane belief that deficit Financed tax cuts for Millionaire’s make you poop gold.

And on the other hand you we have a party whose slogans should be these policies destroyed Puerto Rico now let’s apply them to all of the US.

But hardy har har suck on Trump conservative losers!


Plume 09.08.15 at 5:44 pm

Puerto Rico was destroyed by a $15 minimum wage? Who knew?

It’s actually $5.08 – $7.25.


Roger Gathman 09.08.15 at 5:59 pm

I’m sorta bugged that Trump has totally messed up my certainty that Bush was the inevitable candidate, being the candidate of the GOP establishment, who always wins. Except not always. They couldn’t block Goldwater, or, was it Wendell Wilkie?
However, I’m sticking by the forecast that no matter the GOP candidate, the election goes to the Dem -presumably Hilary Clinton. It seems that the pattern in the US is schizophrenic but understandable. The Democratic party loses in the states and local elections, partly because they simply don’t have a very good ground game, and partly because the old White Republic electorate is more heavily represented in these elections. But the national turns out a much deeper and more numerous crowd, and the Dem candidate will always overwhelm the White Republic crowd.
So, in a sense, the GOP candidate for president is a side show. Given that, the most gloriously funny thing so far is not Trump, but how much of a dud Jeb Bush is turning out to be. Trump is picking on him – which is actually the way to run against a Bush. It turns out they are very victimizable. What the establishment didn’t expect was how dumb, unprepared, and uncharismatic the Jeb has turned out to be. Unlike George, who projected a likeability (I could see it, although I couldn’t feel it), Jeb just projects awkwardness and cluelessness. When he jokes about how if anybody insults his dad, that person will have to deal with him, as he did at the debate, it just makes most people realize that George H.W., who is 9000000 years old, could still ward off an attacker better than his son. The NYT political reporters are valiantly trying to raise Jeb Bush’s political corpse by composing thought piece about how he is, oh God, a real compassionate conservative. But I am figuring the establishment might have to reboot. How bout that nice Rubio kid?


Hugh Jenkins 09.08.15 at 6:00 pm



We don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badgers!


politicalfootball 09.08.15 at 6:08 pm

Goldberg, invoking the words of a great Republican statesman in an effort to draw the starkest possible contrast to Trump:

“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

Who in the Republican Party is more the heir of Ronald Reagan than Donald Trump? Reagan was ahead of his time, and so is Trump. But in Reagan’s day, you could pick a better Republican leader out of a hat. Is there someone out there who is prepared to argue that Jeb! is a more serious-minded individual than Trump, or would make a better president?


The Temporary Name 09.08.15 at 6:27 pm

They couldn’t block Goldwater, or, was it Wendell Wilkie?

They managed to block Reagan a couple of times.


politicalfootball 09.08.15 at 6:30 pm

Chris’s link in 2 offers a very common international comparison that I think is misguided:

The Trumpists are our equivalent of Britain’s U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) and France’s National Front, both anti-immigrant, nationalist parties.

In fact, the Republican Party is the equivalent of UKIP. The author errs in setting up a comparison that puts “anti-immigrant, nationalist parties” on one side and “the Republican Party” on the other.

Ms. Allen says this, apparently intending to be taken seriously:

If the Republicans can hang on to the convictions that make them the party of Lincoln, we ought to see the party split.

Sorry, but that ship has sailed. The party didn’t split.


TM 09.08.15 at 6:38 pm

I tried to read the Goldberg article in hope there was something to laugh about but I had to give up after a couple paragraphs – it’s not even funny, just incoherent gibberish.

Oh, that reminds me: why even link to the BS? I should stick with the principle never to fall for Holbo clickbait.


Glen Tomkins 09.08.15 at 7:10 pm

The Final Trump

Shakespeare is for wusses, people not nearly as far gone down the rabbit hole as we have gotten to in US politics.

You have to go Full Monty apocalypsis to understand the Final Trump.


afeman 09.08.15 at 7:20 pm


BY THE WAY: As long as we’re on the subject, you may be fascinated to know that I share a pretty classy genealogy with Trump. My Drum ancestors come from the village of Ulmet in Germany, where the name is spelled variously Drum, Drumm, Trumm, and Trump. The Donald’s great-grandfather, Christian Johannes Trump, hails from Kallstadt, a village about 30 miles away in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. More than likely, there’s some shared ancestry if we just go back a few centuries.


s0meguy88 09.08.15 at 7:27 pm


A too high minimum wage, fair trade policies like the Jones act, a wildly expansive civil service hiring spree, expansive entitlement payments, combined with the business cycle down turn have destroyed Puerto Rico.

A 15 dollar minimum wage is too high for NYC. It would completely eliminate the formal service economy in places like WV and MI.

Basically we just need to implement Sander’s policies and wait. Unless some one repealed the business cycle when I wasn’t looking it will only be a matter of time.

Deficit financed tax cuts for Millionaire’s will not make you poop gold and a minimum wage will not make money grow on trees.


JimV 09.08.15 at 9:43 pm

Apologies for this off-topic rejoinder:

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20150524/business/150529725/ “What happened when Puerto Rico raised its minimum wage”

“Certainly there is some wage level above which companies have to cut payrolls, and there’s lots of research on both sides to fuel arguments about how much. But evidence from one historical example — Puerto Rico — suggests the effects might not be as bad as one might expect.”


ccc 09.08.15 at 10:34 pm


christian_h 09.08.15 at 10:46 pm

Did I really see Jonah Goldberg of all people complain about “venting and resentment pretending to be some kind of higher argument”? The author of a whole book that does nothing but vent his resentment (albeit resentment that had – so I am given to understand – never been presented with that much care)?


Piquoiseau 09.08.15 at 11:12 pm

They couldn’t block Goldwater, or, was it Wendell Wilkie?

If Trump actually somehow wins the GOP nomination, we will probably hear a lot about Willkie. He was the only major party nominee in any election thus far who had no electoral or military experience, having instead been a businessman (like Trump!). He was also a former Democrat who had only recently changed his party affiliation, and still supported some New Deal programs. However, the similarities with Trump seem to end there, as Willkie’s dark horse nomination had everything to do with the crisis in Europe and Republicans’ reluctance to nominate an isolationist in such circumstances.


engels 09.08.15 at 11:21 pm


Bloix 09.08.15 at 11:27 pm

“[Wilkie] was the only major party nominee in any election thus far who had no electoral or military experience, having instead been a businessman”

Hoover had no such experience. He was an engineer and businessman. He did serve as Secretary of Commerce from 1921 to 1928.

Taft also had no electoral or military experience. He did have extensive government service, including Secretary of War, Governor-General of the Philippines and of Cuba, Solicitor General, and judge on a federal appeals court.


Bloix 09.09.15 at 12:04 am


In 1968, the federal minimum wage was $1.60/hr – that’s $10.97 in 2015 dollars – and McDonald’s and Burger King were building new restaurants on every corner.

In 1974, I was a lot boy earning the minimum wage of $2.00/hour. No tips. That’s $9.68 in 2015 dollars. So the lowest-waged workers today are earning 25 percent less than what I made as a 17-year old parking cars.

Productivity per worker has tripled or quadrupled since the 197o’s, but wages are lower now than they were then.


s0meguy88 09.09.15 at 12:47 am


So a 12 year 15% increase in the minimum wage resulted in 9% less employment and mass emigration that kept it from being worse. A 100% increase without an open border to a nation that is far richer and


greg 09.09.15 at 1:15 am

Bloix @39:

In 1975 (I was 25) I had food, a room in a house 6 of us split the rent for, pot, and a few bucks extra, all for minimum wage part time. Somerville, MA. 2 miles from Harvard Square. Living was easy. That is impossible to do today.

The burden of the wealthy is much more oppressive now than then.


s0meguy88 09.09.15 at 1:15 am


So a 12 year 15% increase in the minimum wage resulted in 9% less employment and mass emigration that kept it from being worse. A 100% increase without an open border to a nation that is far richer and 100 time more populous will get us what?

We have meet the demagogues and they are us.

Bloix and ccc,

We are all 100% sure a relationship exists between the minimum wage and employment. If no relationship exists why not set the minimum wage at $60 an hour so we can all be rich?

At the margins with small increases we really have a hard time quantifying what the relationship is. 9 0r 10 dollars is 50% less than the proposed increase, When it was 9 an hour, well eh, not a good idea, bad in parts of the nations, but the exact overall implications are not 100% clear, so whatever.

At 15 an hour the loons are clearly running the show. I would love to see the reaction if the CBO were ever to score it.


John Quiggin 09.09.15 at 1:36 am

Australia has a minimum wage of $16.87 an hour (about $US12 at current exchange rate, which is close to PPP) and much better conditions (4 weeks annual leave, protection against unfair dismissal, parental leave). Our labor market outcomes have been generally better than US.

Of course, that reflects better macro outcomes, but that’s the point – unemployment is driven mainly by macro factors and only secondarily by things like minimum wages/


Bloix 09.09.15 at 1:41 am

#42 – “We are all 100% sure a relationship exists between the minimum wage and employment.”

Yes, but we are not sure that the relationship is linear, or even that it has a negative slope over the full range of possible values. There may be long sections in which the slope is zero, and this may change over time as conditions change. At the very low end the slope may even be positive in some circumstances, because putting small additional amounts of money into the hands of poor working people immediately increases their spending and creates demand. This effect may be greater than the decision of some employers to discharge or not hire workers due to increased wage costs.

“At 15 an hour the loons are clearly running the show.”

The minimum wage in Australia is the equivalent of US$15.58/hr. I don’t think you can argue that Australian workers are that much more productive than US workers.


Bloix 09.09.15 at 1:44 am

John Quiggin, we crossed. I got my data here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country
this reports Austalia’s minimum wage as A$17.29 per hour.
I don’t doubt that you are correct and Wikipedia is mistaken, but can you cast any light on the reason for the discrepancy?


John Quiggin 09.09.15 at 1:47 am

I think my number is slightly out of date.


Bloix 09.09.15 at 1:49 am

PS – I see that the Australian dollar has been falling relative to the US dollar so the $15.58 figure I quoted is out of date even with the higher minimum wage figure.

and given the recent fall in the euro, there were a number of European countries that had US$15/hr minimum wages until about a year ago.


John Quiggin 09.09.15 at 1:58 am

Nevertheless, the point stands that there is nothing crazy about a $US15/hr minimum wage for a modern economy. Many countries are within the margin of error inherent in currency conversions.


PatrickinIowa 09.09.15 at 2:08 am

Nothing funny in Goldberg’s column? I beg to differ:

“When running for president, doing your homework is a question of character and even patriotism. If you love this country and want to be the president, quite literally the least you can do is be prepared.”

This from a column that praises Reagan, who was literally demented at the end of his term.

And if Trump gets elected, he’ll be the second divorced horndog in the White House. The other? St. Ronnie.

Comedy gold.


greg 09.09.15 at 2:23 am

John Quiggin @48
A $15/hr minimum will not solve the real problem. The very wealthy are taking up an increasing share of the economy, and a $15/hr minimum will merely redistribute the scraps.


Plume 09.09.15 at 2:24 am

The idea that paying your potential customers more hurts the economy is blatantly stupid.

Higher wages for the consumer base is going to lead to far more demand. Obviously.

The problem comes with the atomized nature of capitalism, its cross-purpose foundation, and the built in incentives to think of yourself, the business owner, first and only. It’s always going to be a game of “After you, Alphonse.” Every business owner would benefit from increased demand that comes from higher workers’ wages, but no one wants to be the one to sacrifice a bit from their own wallets to make that happen.

There is absolutely zero evidence to suggest that raising minimum wages hurts economies, and no logical or mathematical rationale for that truly stupid belief.

It’s simply a matter of personal greed, selfishness and short-sightedness among capitalists . . . . which business owners manage to convert to a kind of conventional “wisdom,” aided by some economists (shills).

Given the overwhelming and crushing level of inequality in America and around the world, the rich can afford massive increases in the wages they pay their workers. Massive. If they accept a little less — like, not buying that third yacht — the overall economy will dramatically improve. But we all know they won’t do the right thing, unless they’re forced to via democratic processes.


Kenny 09.09.15 at 2:29 am

I had totally forgotten about Pajama Boy! I got him confused with Pajamas Media!


Glen Tomkins 09.09.15 at 3:49 am


Drop the third yacht thing. If they actually continued to spend their income on goods like third yachts, or services like grape-peelers, the owners would continue to create demand. But their incomes far exceed their ability to spend anything but a fraction of it on goods and services, on creating even deferred demand in the form of saving for future spending on goods and services.

A healthy economy requires that somebody have some wealth left over after spending on goods and services, because change and growth need to be capitalized. But ours is now a very productive economy, and capital accumulation is no longer a rate-limiting step that requires that wealth accumulation by the owners be protected as if it were a tender shoot. The owners have way more than the aggregate need for investment capital.

It’s not their third yachts or actual, capitalizing, investments that need to be taken away from the owners, it’s their excess wealth that they pour into pyramid schemes that needs to be taken from them before the bubbles overinflate and burst, raining destruction down on a real economy that should have that excess wealth recycled into generating more demand, rather than continuing to inflate bubbles.


Matt 09.09.15 at 5:43 am

It’s not their third yachts or actual, capitalizing, investments that need to be taken away from the owners, it’s their excess wealth that they pour into pyramid schemes that needs to be taken from them before the bubbles overinflate and burst, raining destruction down on a real economy that should have that excess wealth recycled into generating more demand, rather than continuing to inflate bubbles.

Oh, I’d periodically take away most of that excess wealth that goes into productive investments too — steep inheritance taxes, if nothing else. Someone with $50 million doesn’t eat a thousand times better than me but he has 1000x more economic power. Someone with $50 billion doesn’t eat a million times better than me but he has 1000000x as much economic power as I do. That’s the big difference between millionaires and billionaires — power — not that billionaires can buy better monocle polish.

Fortunately for the billionaires, who would otherwise be an endangered species even in a stunted democracy like the USA, most people exhibit severe scope insensitivity to wealth. Joe envies/resents a guy with income of $80,000 a year while he’s making $40k at a job that’s no easier. The feeling of unfairness doubles when he contemplates millionaires and doubles again for billionaires. The billionaire’s planetary-scale power is resented a full eight times as much as a good enough income to barely make it into the upper middle class. How many anesthesiologists or university presidents does it take to equal the power of Paul Elliott Singer? Hmm, I’m going to guess about 12. *Shakes fist at the teacher’s unions and tort lawyers who have hijacked the country*


John Holbo 09.09.15 at 8:11 am

“I had totally forgotten about Pajama Boy.”

This just shows why liberals and progressives are such fools. They have no historic sense. Those who fail to study Pajama Boy are doomed to repeat him. Conservatives understand this.


David Irving (no relation) 09.09.15 at 8:13 am

someguy88 up a ways: Australia (my home) has a minimum wage somewhere round $A17 ph (with an additional 25% loading for casuals). I can’t be bothered working out what this is in your money, but it probably has about the same buying power as $US15.

The last time I looked, my country hadn’t burst into flames, so I’m calling bullshit on your death-and-destruction assertions.


kidneystones 09.09.15 at 10:41 am

Time has a good piece on how pet pages on social media have propelled Caron to the front of the pack. Hasn’t set foot in Iowa and he’s second only to teh Donald.



Lee A. Arnold 09.09.15 at 12:30 pm

Brett Bellmore #30: “Good lord. Like or loath him, you’d have to be utterly oblivious, and probably willfully so, to have thought in the first place that his complaint wasn’t illegal immigration.”

Trump advocates: 1. increased amount of police activity, and 2. a hardening of police tactics to deal with criminal problems, across the board. He’s won the approval of white supremacists and currently has a majority of Latinos polling against him. So it may be a long while before most Latinos will agree, with you, that they have been “utterly oblivious”. In the mean time, Trump’s policy to “round-up and deport” will be sending police to rifle through their legal lives, and to chase after their friends.


Layman 09.09.15 at 12:33 pm

@58 That, plus many of those ‘illegals’ Trump says he’ll deport are, in fact, American citizens. They just happen to have parents who aren’t, and who are the ‘wrong’ color and culture.


Ze K 09.09.15 at 12:50 pm

Another super-successful plain-speaking man, yesterday:

“You want everybody educated to their potential. You want people to reach their potential. That still won’t work for some people in a highly developed market system.

I mean if this were a sports-based system, you could give me a PhD in football, and I could practice eight hours a day, and I might be able to carry the water from, not onto the field, but from the locker room to the bench. There’s just some people don’t fit well into a highly skilled market-based economy.

They’re perfectly decent citizens. We’ll send them off to Afghanistan, but they are not going to command a big price.”

– Interview with Warren Buffett on Sept. 8 on Bloomberg TV

Buffett for president!


Scott Martens 09.09.15 at 3:07 pm

@31, Brett… I know actual Trump voters. They don’t see the distinction in his words that you consider pretty plain. I don’t know what Trump actually thinks he means (I’m not sure Trump does either) but a lot of his supporters are the kinds of people who don’t make distinctions between legal immigration and illegal. I would think that was obvious from his attacks on “anchor babies” – people who are by definition neither immigrants nor illegal.


s0meguy88 09.09.15 at 4:13 pm

So, no, Australia does not have a minimum wage of 15 or 17 dollars an hour. After adjusting for PPP Australia has a minimum wage of 12 dollars an hour. Which is quite a bit less than 15.

Yes macro and other conditions are critical. That is kind of the point. Compare the 1960s to today. In the 60s China was having fun with the cultural revolution. Today it is the largest manufacturer in the world.

They are also critical when you compare Australia to the US. Australia is small country enjoying a massive commodities boom. The US is not.

I do not want any heads to explode but culture also matters. A lot. Australia and the US have different cultures and different populations.

The important point is that any level of output a 15 dollar minimum wage in the US will lower employment. Quite a bit. In places like WV and MI it will have even more impact. If the CBO ever scores it, I will probably, go with roughly whatever numbers they give. What about you?

No amount of wishful thinking will change that unfortunate truth. In the very best case scenario we know a relationship between employment and a minimum wage exists, we do not know exactly what it looks like, but we do know that at some minimum wage level we will increase unemployment a lot. Do we set our minimum wage 25% higher than Australia’s , a country 1/17 our size enjoying a massive commodity boom, outlier minimum?

Your very shallow priors, these priors are not philosophical or ideological based, they are hand me down cheap suit of shallow affections that serve as a faux identity statement, matter far more to you than reason or any possible public policy outcomes.

Thus Trump and a 15 dollar minimum wage. (I will admit that 15 minimum wage is a much more flattering false posture. A Trump vote. Ick.)


Marc 09.09.15 at 4:40 pm

I do think that it’s fair to note that a sufficiently high minimum wage could cause actual employment problems – there was a good NY Times article on that, making the point that a 15/hr minimum wage would actually be well above any historical US equivalent:


A minimum wage close to, or above, the median wage for a given area is going to impact employment, full stop, and this is a different argument from raising a minimum wage that is quite low, as the US one was until recently. It may be a good idea, but you can’t use past history to extrapolate the effects of a substantive change like this with any confidence.


john c. halasz 09.09.15 at 5:06 pm


“Productivity per worker has tripled or quadrupled since the 197o’s, but wages are lower now than they were then.”

No, U.S. productivity has grown by about 75% since 1973, real wages by about 9%.


Marshall 09.09.15 at 7:10 pm

I looked at Art of the Deal; while it’s mostly the kind of biography you would expect, chapter 2 is his “trump cards”, 10 or so principles that would seem to drive his campaign; among them, use of hyperbole, and keep yourself in a position to walk away happy. Have a look, it’s short. I wouldn’t suppose you can trust what he says any more than the average promoter/salesman, but maybe what matters is who President Trump would pick for his advisors/”subcontractors”: not necessarily the end of civilization. The racism stuff however is just nasty and from here it looks like a winner, in the sense of winning. It’s not just “right-wing” populism: lots of the NPR crowd would go with Law&Order scare talk.


Bloix 09.09.15 at 7:47 pm

#63 – correction – productivity per worker has quadrupled since 1947. It’s more or less doubled since the early 1970’s.


In 1947, the minimum wage was 40 cents an hour, or $4.28 in 2015 dollars. Given the increases in productivity, we should be able to pay minimum wage workers $17/hour. Not that we’re going to. But $12/hr should be an easy reach.


TM 09.09.15 at 7:51 pm

63: I suppose your source is http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/productivity-and-pay/. I’d like to see the actual data series but can’t find my way at BLS (http://www.bls.gov/lpc/prodybar.htm).


john c. halasz 09.09.15 at 9:01 pm

@ 66:

The source is from the recent Economic Policy Institute study, which is likely what Krugman referenced:


Second chart.

Per capita U.S. GDP grew during the same period by about 95%, the difference from productivity growth being likely due to the increase in the employment to population ratio, especially due to more women entering the work force. So not only have wages been relatively static, but more job hours have been extracted. Interpret those facts as you will. (FRED would be a better source likely than BLS, but I couldn’t find how to do a narrow search there; 450 irrelevant charts to my search term were too much time to waste).


s0meguy88 09.09.15 at 9:03 pm


Who is we? Is the nation productive enough to pay a minimum of 15 an hour? Yes. Would it be nice to do that? I say yes! Not really.

If my local pizza parlor adds 10 -20 – 30 – 35 to the cost of my pizza either I have a substitute, that almost certainly involves less labor cost, or I don’t. How does productivity matter?

Would be nice does not equal will work.


Tabasco 09.10.15 at 12:14 am

I think Trump would be a less-bad President than every other declared candidate, except Bernie Sanders and, maybe, Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina (who has as much chance of becoming President as Carly Simon).


Smass 09.10.15 at 4:25 am

s0meguy88 @62, Australia’s minimum wage is equivalent to about $12USD on current currency conversion rates not PPP. Until the recent relative fall of the AUD against most currencies, the value was much closer to USD15 .
It’s also worth noting that Australia has largely exited the commodities boom and also had a decent minimum wage before it started. Only a small proportion of the workforce was ever employed in that sector anyway (the service sector is far larger). So yes, different contexts but not as much as you make out; moreover, that really just supports John’s point about macro factors being far more significant determinants of employment.


John Quiggin 09.10.15 at 7:21 am

The difference between 12 and 15, on which someguy88 is now relying pretty heavily, is entirely made up by the 25 per cent loading for casuals mentioned by David Irving mentioned at 58, which compensates for things like the lack of annual leave and sick pay, conditions hardly any US minimum wage workers enjoy.

And, wrt someguys argument at 69, my son worked as a pizza delivery driver a few years back and got more than minimum wage as well as tips, though he had to use his own car. In general, plenty of service workers get more than minimum wage, especially because they get time-and-a-half on Saturdays and double time on Sundays. Despite these crushing burdens, we still manage to buy pizza here, eat out and generally defy the laws of economics on a daily basis.


John Quiggin 09.10.15 at 7:23 am

As an aside, it strikes me that this kind of argument is like shooting fish in a barrel for the Oz side. It’s virtually impossible for us to avoid being well informed about the US (or well mis-informed if we get our news from Murdoch). By contrast, while it’s technically possible for a USA resident to follow Australian news, it’s very difficult to get the necessary background to make sense of it.


kidneystones 09.10.15 at 7:49 am

@70 Great question! Unlike Clinton and the endless stream of lawyers, most readers here can’t begin to compare their own wonderful accomplishments with those of anybody who’s made 10 million dollars, 100 million dollars, much less Trump money. So, where exactly do the lawyers and academics do better than Trump. I’m absolutely able to comment on select limited number of topics. But what Trump did right and wrong on the way to building a fortune very few others can match is well beyond my commentary.

As for Clinton H.R., the last Democrat I could imagine supporting after shooting myself in the face as an Edwards supporter, check out the list of questions compiled for Her Majesty regarding her totally above board use of email, remembering that federal employees not named Clinton are prosecuted for any one of the offenses on this list:

Totally believable!! At least Trump doesn’t pretend to be ‘one of us.’


Lee A. Arnold 09.10.15 at 11:09 am

Kidneystones #74: “…most readers here can’t begin to compare their own wonderful accomplishments with those of anybody who’s made 10 million dollars…”

If “most readers here” worship money and baubles, surely that is true.

“…what Trump did right and wrong on the way to building a fortune very few others can match is well beyond my commentary.”

Well one big and obvious thing to do, is to choose to deal in commercial real estate. In a world of shrinking investment opportunities in real production, (and while the economics naifs have been disparaging the minimum wage), the “global savings glut” is flooding into high-end real estate and into the collectible art world, as well as risking shorter-term forays into paper-asset bubbles and gold. Trying to find something that will preserve value. And importantly, increasing the prices in those markets (it’s why some of the knuckleheads on Wall St. think that there is “inflation”), thus returning BIG profits to savvy dealers in those markets.


kidneystones 09.10.15 at 12:12 pm

@75 I fear you’re missing the point. Few here (I hope!) are suffering financially. You’re rush to categorize the wealthy, and the very wealthy, as those who ‘worship money and baubles’ seems churlish. Bill Gates and his wife certainly don’t strike me as such. Not that I’d know. I’m saying that it might be better to hold off judging Trump until we see what he actually plans to do. Perot’s bizarre business practices hinted at what his policies might be like. We simply don’t know what Trump actually wants to do besides ‘make America great again.’ I think Trump is quite wrong to claim that the government is run by imbeciles and rogues in the pocket of special interests, and then I think – wait a minute, actually I do think the government is run by imbeciles and rogues in the pocket of special interests. Then I listen to HRC, any of the GOP clowns, and think: Sanders or Trump. Flip a coin and save all the fuss.


Lee A. Arnold 09.10.15 at 12:20 pm

Marshall #64: “…use of hyperbole, and keep yourself in a position to walk away happy… maybe what matters is who President Trump would pick for his advisors/’subcontractors’ “

When that the general is not like the hive,
To whom the foragers shall all repair,
What honey is expected?…

And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
In noble eminence enthroned and sphered
Amidst the others; whose medicinable eye
Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,
And posts, like the commandment of a king,
Sans cheque to good or bad: but when the planets
In evil mixture to disorder wander,
What plagues and what portents! what mutiny!
What raging of the sea! shaking of earth!
Commotion in the winds! frights, changes, horrors,
Divert and crack, rend and deracinate
The unity and married clam of states
Quite from their fixure!


Lee A. Arnold 09.10.15 at 12:24 pm

Two things here, let’s take em one at a time:

1. “…use of hyperbole, and keep yourself in a position to walk away happy…” — ?

Problem is, there’s a huge gulf between the first part of this (happy hyperbole) and the second part (picking advisors). It’s called “getting elected.” He can’t hide his cards, as he can in dealmaking. He can’t go on for another whole year, simply promising a strong personality to get everybody’s hands out of the Washington cookie-jar. To get elected, he needs votes, and, once we move beyond the 30% of the population that defines the category of “knucklehead”, we find all people who need to know where he stands on the issues.

Well, we know where he stands on immigration (maybe)! But, consider that on most issues, nobody really knows where Trump stands, yet.

When it gets into the stratospheres of economic policy and foreign policy, where does he stand? He’s a complete cipher, a zero. Does he support increasing interest rates, or another round of QE to prop-up his bankster friends? Is he going to increase taxes on the wealthy, or let them escape again? (Kevin Drum noted that Trump is moving towards “escape”.) Is Trump now going to support the Iran deal, (another change he appears to be making), but just “enforce it better”, uh huh?

Is he in favor of a single-payer health system? He was in favor of it before: why should conservatives believe he isn’t, now? Is he Romney on steroids?

Is he going to push the Overton window to the left, or retreat rightward? Is he a Democrat or a Republican?

In other words, Trump’s still got to finesse about 10 tons of political crap that other politicians have ALREADY thought through, while he simultaneously sells his “can-do” personality in some new, more charming version which doesn’t threaten to provide us with a future of sexist sneers and bloodthirsty chatter, coming daily out of the Oval Office.

He cannot keep saying, “I will hyperbolize, and get advisors/subcontractors who can do it.” The timing is wrong: There is still a year to bluster through, until the election. He’s got to start stating policy — and after that, he’s got to smooth the ruffled feathers.

And then, he will FINALLY sound like every other politician.

And THERE’S his real problem: he is going to have to explain his coming rhetorical transition: Why do we believe him, once he has moved on, to sounding like every other politician?

So he is only going to sound worse.

One reason that experienced US politicians ALREADY sound the way they do (in addition to kissing plutocratic ass) is because they have already thought through this logical train of necessary rhetorical styles. But Trump has now unwittingly set himself up, to go through the logic visibly, while in the course of a major campaign. He doesn’t have to kiss plutocratic ass, it’s true, but it hardly matters: he still can’t avoid taking stands on policy and providing the details.

As soon as he starts doing so, his flanks will be wide open for attack. And first the attacks will come from his fellow Republican candidates, who need to chop away his base. His only defense will be his can-do managerial style, which will begin to fatigue even the Reagan idolators in the base audience.

Make America a Great Reality Show Again!

2. “who President Trump would pick for his advisors/’subcontractors'” — ?

Hoo boy, then there’s this question of “picking advisors”. I predict: As soon as his campaign starts naming names, we will see that they are going to be the SAME people who now run Washington, D.C.

Why? Because they are the only ones who know how it works. What’s Trump going to do? Pick people who AREN’T part of the network? How in hell will anything get done? Public floggings?

A good example of this was Arnold Schwarzenegger for California governor. Of course, 1. Schwarzenegger is a noted liberal on social issues, and so many Californians just fell back asleep; and 2. that was a very short campaign season. BUT it was “can-do-ism” that worked its magic upon those who voted for Schwarzenegger: They thought, in a rather similar manner to Trump’s supporters, that a financially successful movie star/real estate businessman MUST be able to ride in on a big horse, and fix things. (Well, he rode a horse through a shopping mall in “True Lies”, so of course it’s a horse, of course, of course.) And — of course — Schwarzenegger immediately rehired Gray Davis’ chief of staff.

Just as Trump must rehire people in D.C. Because there’s NOBODY ELSE who knows how to run the place.

3. If, and only if, Trump can navigate these big policy & perception problems, THEN he’s likely to face Hillary. Who isn’t a slimy sexist who makes young parents cringe and quickly shut off the TV when his face shows up.


Lee A. Arnold 09.10.15 at 1:27 pm

Kidneystones #76: “You’re rush to categorize the wealthy, and the very wealthy, as those who ‘worship money and baubles’ seems churlish.”

I wrote nothing of the sort. I am quite sure that there are some very wealthy people who don’t worship money or baubles! (And I am also quite sure that there are those who do.)

Instead you wrote, “most readers here”. Most readers here are academically orientated, and don’t compare their accomplishments, which are largely non-financial, in financial terms. If “most readers here” did so, then they would most certainly be laying unwarranted and undue emphasis on material acquisition.

Your emphasis upon certain sorts of success, falsely valorizes only certain sorts of competence, not unlike the California voters for Schwarzenegger.

The answer to your question, “where exactly do the lawyers and academics do better than Trump”? (#74) is: they could do better than Trump in understanding (and perhaps in making) law, and in understanding the rest of the world, outside of real estate. Which, in various cases, can make them more relevant to the proper conduct of government than Trump.


kidneystones 09.10.15 at 1:36 pm

@ 78 You may well be right. Which is why I stuck the Caron/Carson link in. Carson is everything Trump isn’t. Still, even with your very sound post the hinge upon which the entire argument turns is whether people who have seen real wages stagnate, the rich get richer, and everything generally turn to shit in the short term – outlook gloomy, can be convinced that another 4/8 years of more of the same is what people really want. It sure as shit isn’t what I want, although I’m not sure I want Sanders/Trump/ or Carson. I know is 07 I wanted anybody but O simply because I cannot support anyone who makes Dubya seem like a portrait of intellectual vigor and integrity. Two autobiographies and not much else is, I confess, grounds for immediate dismissal. I don’t care how smart Cruz actually is and apparently, like Hillary, he’s got brains out the wazoo. Don’t want either of them.

Trump has adopted enough common sense positions in the past to win a seat at the table. He’s going to win a absolute ton of negative press like few have seen before, but that may actually get him through all the ‘investigations’ of his policies but the same gang of a-holes who claim to have vetted Edwards, Weiner, O, and the rest. David Brooks? Yglesias? TPM and Instapundit accurately parrot the memes of the day and not much else.

I think the dark horse is Biden. He’s a reassuring (to some) grandpa who’s got the sympathy vote tied up. Course, you’d have to overlook his appalling record, but that’s precisely what HRC expects everyone to do. Fun times!


Bloix 09.10.15 at 1:43 pm

A paper published by EPI ast week is good on the de-linking of productivity and wage increases:



Plume 09.10.15 at 2:52 pm


It’s no “accomplishment” at all to make millions, or billions. All it takes it ruthless self-interest, and the ability to work the system already set up to legalize theft. In fact, anyone who makes millions in business can only do so through theft. There is no other possible way.

They make their money by NOT paying the very workers who make their fortunes possible. They make their own fortunes by “taxing” wages to a degree no government can match. The more unpaid labor they can squeeze out of their workforce, the bigger their fortunes grow.

That’s not an “accomplishment,” unless you see legalized theft in that way.


TM 09.10.15 at 3:06 pm

“It’s no “accomplishment” at all to make millions, or billions.”

It certainly is no accomplishment if you inherit the money, as Trump did.


Lee A. Arnold 09.10.15 at 3:13 pm

Kidneystones #80: “…whether people who have seen real wages stagnate, the rich get richer, and everything generally turn to shit in the short term – outlook gloomy, can be convinced that another 4/8 years of more of the same is what people really want. It sure as shit isn’t what I want…”

Well this gets into the real political-economic situation, instead of the purely political-campaign discussion of Drum’s comment on Goldberg, and of Trump’s reckoning with the GOP voters and the GOP establishment.

Staying on the campaign politics, many people (particularly youngsters and extremists) are easily tricked into thinking that the next person, white hat riding on horse, is the one who can fix it. The question is, how discontent will the voters be?

Right now, the answer to that question gives a mixed prognostication — and a lot can still happen in a year. Household balance sheets are mostly repaired; consumer confidence has been trending upwards, with hitches. A recession in China may hit US exporters and threaten another financial crash, but on the other hand, a stronger dollar is going to make imports even cheaper to US consumers. Basically (barring Jeb Bush’s new budget proposal), the US is still lookin’ good for the next 20 years, compared to the rest. Thus, in a year from now, voters (on the whole) may be feeling a little better, not worse.

I think Obama is one of the smarter presidents, but as to the perceptions thereof, we can say with certainty that Obama’s job approval has been approximately 50-50 since 2010 (right now there’s a 5-point spread, against) — and that is in the face of an unprecedented daily propaganda bombardment against Obamacare and now, against the Iran deal. Most people haven’t changed their positions on who caused the financial crash and recession (i.e. George W. Bush), and half the people appear to think that Obama did okay considering the astonishing financial mess he walked into, and considering the truly unprecedented opposition from the Republicans in Congress, who set out explicitly to destroy his presidency.

On the other hand, on the real political-economic situation? I would say for myself that I don’t think anyone can change the situation (just yet). So I will, as usual, vote for whomever does better to alleviate the plight of the poorest among us all, and does so with a minimum of the free-market, tough-love fantasizing that appears even to animate some of the other commenters above.


Layman 09.10.15 at 3:22 pm

Various kidneystones:

“But what Trump did right and wrong on the way to building a fortune very few others can match is well beyond my commentary.”

If Trump had simply put his inheritance into a low-cost S&P 500 index fund, he’d be more wealthy now than he is. His business acumen has lost him money.

“Bill Gates and his wife certainly don’t strike me as such.”

Yet Gates quite famously exercised market position to monopolize the PC OS market, forcing competitors out. He did not do this out of altruism. Surely you agree he’s greedy.

“I’m saying that it might be better to hold off judging Trump until we see what he actually plans to do. “

I’m tempted to Godwin the thread, but instead I’ll just say his character is transparently bad. Do we really need to see him exercise power in order to judge what he’d do with it?


Layman 09.10.15 at 3:27 pm

More kidneystones:

“Trump has adopted enough common sense positions in the past to win a seat at the table. “

On the contrary, he just took the seat, though I would say it was a megaphone, not a seat. It was there for the taking, so long as one has the funding. If you think he won it, from whom did he win it, and with which ‘common sense positions’?


Map Maker 09.10.15 at 3:38 pm

Layman – “If Trump had simply put his inheritance into a low-cost S&P 500 index fund, he’d be more wealthy now than he is. His business acumen has lost him money.”

Your math is off by an order of magnitude. His inheritance was valued at 70-80 million (I’ve seen higher and lower) in 1999. His networth is 7-8 billion (though a lot of this is BS, both higher and lower, as valuing the future revenue streams of his brand is not easy/accurate/relevant).

Put $75m in an S&P 500 Index fund in 1999, and you would have $139 million today.

Math is hard.


kidneystones 09.10.15 at 3:48 pm

I just spent the last couple of hours watching Lena Wertuller. The whores are fighting the anarchists right now whilst the fascists march in the street, even as I tap.

Colbert opened his ‘comedy’ routine with a photo of Trump and the KKK. The major news media seems to have elided any mention of Sanders as a ‘socialist’ politician. I’m loving every minute of a it and wouldn’t change a thing.

Comedy gold, we’re living it!


s0meguy88 09.10.15 at 3:57 pm

John Quiggin,

I am pretty sure the argument is not that no one anywhere will ever eat pizza again if we raise the minimum wage. I am pretty sure the argument is that with an increase in price of parlor pizza people will buy less parlor pizza. Please feel free to explain why that isn’t true in your next book.


Layman 09.10.15 at 3:57 pm

“Your math is off by an order of magnitude. His inheritance was valued at 70-80 million (I’ve seen higher and lower) in 1999. His networth is 7-8 billion (though a lot of this is BS, both higher and lower, as valuing the future revenue streams of his brand is not easy/accurate/relevant).”

That doesn’t seem to be the case.



TM 09.10.15 at 4:06 pm

MapMaker: Trump was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he built his business with the help of his father’s money and connections (oh and btw his father’s money was made from government contracts). His “inheritance” didn’t start in 1999, it started the day he was born. (http://www.alternet.org/story/156234/exposing_how_donald_trump_really_made_his_fortune) I’m not a millionaire but my net worth is many times what I received from my parents in money terms. And I somehow managed to do that without bailouts and profitable bankruptcies. If you wish to express your admiration for my awesomeness, now is the time.

This whole “Trump is awesome because of his money” is gaga but Trump is definitely a valuable contribution to American politics. It serves “conservative” Americans well to be exposed as credulous fools dancing around The Trump as if he were their golden calf. And the sight of “Family values” evangelicals fawning over a multiple times divorced buffoon because of the gold glitter he bathes in is just priceless (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/26/opinion/frank-bruni-trump-ward-christian-soldiers.html).


Plume 09.10.15 at 4:48 pm

Someguy @89,

There is no reason to raise pizza prices when wages go up. Owners of pizza shops will make far more when people can afford to buy their products.

They make money on volume sales, numbers of units. The more they sell, the more profit they accumulate. And when rank and file wages go up, pizza sales go up.

And who is more likely to buy pizza in the first place? Rich folks or the rank and file?

Beyond all of that, prices are as high as they are because most of the money is concentrated at the very top. This acts as a tax on wages AND the economy, several times over. First, with ownership suppressing wages directly, which suppresses demand. Next, with the concentration of money at the top which also suppresses demand.

One person with a billion dollars will spend a mere fraction as much in this economy as 10,000 people with the same amount to share between them. Working class and middle class folks typically spend all or nearly all of their wages now, here, in our consumerist economic system. The rich? A fraction of their comp. They sit on the rest or ship it overseas. That kills demand, including pizza sales. The rich actually take money OUT of the economy.

Nothing helps the overall economy more than breaking up large fortunes and equalizing wages to the degree possible. This radically increases demand, which will help the rich, too. But as they concentrate money in a few hands, they’re killing their own vehicle for wealth extraction . . . . and this endless process is one of the main reasons why we have recessions and depressions.


Stephen 09.10.15 at 5:26 pm

Apologies for delay (overcome by the curse of the drinking classes).

Chris Bertram@2, “The Trumpists are our equivalent of Britain’s U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) and France’s National Front, both anti-immigrant, nationalist parties”.

and politicalfootball@27: “In fact, the Republican Party is the equivalent of UKIP”.

I wouldn’t like to comment on the possibly resistible rise of Mr Trump, other than to repeat my belief that the USA is a very strange country: but from my perspective it seems an odd comparison.

UKIP are, as far as I can see (and their name gives a clue) committed to the idea that the UK is currently dominated by the antidemocratic forces of the EU, and would be better independent. That is not obviously wrong. I can’t see any US equivalent whatever outside the paranoid fringe who hold that the US is, like the rest of the word, in fact controlled by shape-shifting lizards.

UKIP do not, as far as I can see, object to immigration as such, but do claim that unrestricted immigration from eastern Europe has produced problems in the UK. Chris, who is I think committed to the belief that there should be no national borders whatever and all migration is good, may find this heretical. Whether it is untrue is another matter.

As for the FN: if they are concerned with EU dominance over their perceived national interests, and with the difficulties in France has in dealing with Islamic immigrants, again I can’t see a US parallel at all.

In short, if there is an equivalence I can’t see it. But then, I don’t understand the US. Can somebody who does enlighten me?


The Temporary Name 09.10.15 at 5:53 pm

UKIP do not, as far as I can see, object to immigration as such

How far exactly do you see?


Bruce Wilder 09.10.15 at 6:22 pm

Trump is just the logical extension of the politician as celebrity, and election campaigns as barely-scripted reality teevee shows.

Mr. Trump has a long history of promoting himself as a Brand, and, of course, has a decade as a celebrity participant in reality tv shows, with alleged entertainment values. We saw a slightly less pathetic rendition in 2008, when Obama’s campaign won awards for its brand management, and its iconic logo and posters. The degeneration is accelerating rapidly. Google “Ted Cruz tattoo poster” if you want a truly horrifying example.

This whole tact of trying to debunk Trump’s claims of wealth and success, like the attempts to undermine the policy credibility of his third-grade, playground rhetorical style fall very far behind the phenomenon. No one is fooled by Trump. The idea that there’s some group of Republicans enthused by Trump, who are also more self-deceived than usual, just misses the whole point of turning to Trump, self-aggrandizing reality show professional (sic).

Trump is obviously a Fraud. He’s very nearly Professional Wrestling’s equivalent of a politician, engaged in bombastic expressions of outrage and insulting the other competitors. No one is fooled by Trump, least of all his supporters. Supporting Trump is more in the nature of declaring the whole game, a fraud. The difference with Trump’s fraud, compared to Jeb! Bush or Hilary or Obama, is that Trump rarely even pretends to be serious. The semiotics let even the clueless in on the joke. So, in the reverse Calvinball of our politics, Trump, by not pretending to be serious, not pretending to be anything but a Celebrity participating in a reality teevee show competition, stands out by means of perverse contrast, as “honest” (scare quotes being an integral part of this meaning of honest).

The first and most obvious target of Trump’s style of politics are the centrist gatekeepers, who control the discourse and define seriousness in their peculiar fashion. Because Trump is running as a Republican, and he has exposed the yawning gap in desires and expectations, between the Republican electoral base and the Republican funding and media propaganda establishment (Fox News and Wingnut Welfare), the kind of amusement expressed in the OP is butter on the popcorn for spectators. Trump is bring Fox News qua Mr. McMahon into the Ring, and how fun is that!

The old joke was that politics was show biz for ugly people. The new politics is show biz, period: Professional Wrestling for Wimps, maybe.

In a subtle, inexorable way, Trump’s bullshit exposing the bullshit is undermining Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, which relies on celebrity, but tries not to admit the deep hypocrisy.


The Temporary Name 09.10.15 at 6:48 pm

No one is fooled by Trump, least of all his supporters. Supporting Trump is more in the nature of declaring the whole game, a fraud.

That, though, has been a lure to the Republican base since Reagan. It’s a mistake to think Trump is different, he’s just more.


Bruce Wilder 09.10.15 at 7:25 pm

. . . he’s just more.

Yes, I think there is something to that: the Republican Party has run on resentments and hypocrisy since at least Nixon. No one familiar with Nixon’s role in the communist witchhunts of the 1940s would fail to recognize the stance of the Congressional Republican Party against the Iran deal or its obsession with Benghazi. And, Reagan’s made-for-teevee fakeness was central to his appeal to people who thought John Wayne was a war hero.

Reagan ushered in the era in which journalists and pundits in the news media stopped caring about what anyone said, and focused on how they said it and what they wore while saying it. Reagan lied in every major speech he gave, but the news media quickly adopted the convention that Reagan as an actor was allowed poetic license, if he wanted to tell a tale of Welfare Queens in Cadillacs. By the time of the Iran-Contra scandal, half the American electorate could not even muster the critical thinking skills necessary to see how idiotically stupid Oliver North’s scheme was (let alone what it implied about the plausibility of charges that a Republican conspiracy stole the 1980 election with treasonous conduct).

It has been a long descent from Oliver North’s crack-brained scheme to the far deeper rings of hell where George W. Bush’s decided to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and lose billions of dollars destroying what little there was left standing with an insane Reconstruction program, and inaugurate a total surveillance state complete with a reconstruction of the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise.

What’s missing in this recounting of goldie oldies is the dog that didn’t bark: the insane cowardice and (increasing?) weakness of the Democratic Party, which rarely challenged any of the insanity, let alone the corruption, post-Watergate.

The Democratic Party degenerated in lock-step with the Republicans, albeit lagging a decade or so behind. If Nixon had Watergate, Clinton had Whitewater, and went along with that silly script, eventually justifying the removal of the Independent Prosecutor as an option. Always submissive and faux serious, like they had been cast by Fox as the Colmes to Hannity.

The lagging behind means that the Democratic Party has not made the demographic transition that the Republicans completed in 2010, Obama’s own youth notwithstanding. It presents a geriatric cast, like a TVLand rerun, competing against the 27th rendition of Somebody Somewhere’s Got Talent.


TM 09.10.15 at 7:31 pm

“No one is fooled by Trump, least of all his supporters.”

I’m curious what kind of empirical evidence you base this claim on (include study design, sample size, and key statistics).


Stephen 09.10.15 at 7:43 pm

The Temporary Name@94: “How far exactly do you see [re UKIP not objecting to immigration as such]?”

General impression: but a Google search for “UKIP immigration” comes up with a site I would not otherwise have looked at, http://www.ukip.org/ukip_launches_immigration_policy
saying “UKIP would introduce a visa system based on the Australian points model. This would be an ethical visa system for work and study, based on the principle of equal application to all people”.

Now, you are perfectly free to argue that this is only what UKIP say, you know very well that in fact that they (being in your belief incurable racists) don’t really mean it and are opposed to any form of immigration.

But unless you can come up with some coherent argument, I will continue to think that UKIP are not opposed to immigration as such.


Bruce Wilder 09.10.15 at 8:21 pm

I’m curious what kind of empirical evidence you base this claim on (include study design, sample size, and key statistics).

Trick question, right?

Survey research with people who would vote for Michelle Bachman. Fun!


hix 09.10.15 at 8:51 pm

Right the ukip is only opposed to letting the eu send british nuclear submarine locations to Russia :-), in general those people on the continent are jolly good *. I suppose in a similar fashion they are only opposed to the wrong kind of immigrants.

*Who knew what kind of conpiracies one could discover watching the fishery comitee of the european parliament. More serious ukip meps make trump sound sane.


TM 09.10.15 at 9:11 pm

Not a trick question at all. You have admirable insight (or so you claim) into the right wing psyche and I would like a piece of that.


Layman 09.10.15 at 9:11 pm

“In a subtle, inexorable way, Trump’s bullshit exposing the bullshit is undermining Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, which relies on celebrity, but tries not to admit the deep hypocrisy.”

I think this is insightful and entirely right. I’ve been struggling to grasp why HRC’s fortunes are falling as Trump’s are rising. Clinton is vulnerable to the charges of celebrity, privilege, and insincerity being leveled at Trump. This is not to say Clinton stoops to Trump’s level – far from it – but she’s been cagey enough that the charge wounds.

The Democrats are in something of a box. HRC is far from being an ideal candidate – she’s more hawkish and more friendly to Wall Street than the average Democratic voter, and far too willing to make ‘reform’ deals with Republicans, far too polarizing, and guilty of some things which fuel the anti-Hillary paranoia – but the Democrats are unable to turn away from her. Rejecting HRC again, after the Obama experience, would open up a seismic rift in the party and perhaps lose them the women’s vote for years to come. They’re stuck.


Val 09.10.15 at 9:28 pm

ProfQ may be too busy having breakfast or whatever to respond right now, so I’m going to jump in and have a go.

If the minimum wage is higher, the price of pizzas might be a little higher, but there are also more people who can afford to buy pizzas.

Didja think of that? I’m not an economist, but even I know that wage slaves are actually not just things to be considered as part of the production chain, but also consumers, or even better, “people”, who buy things.


Marshall 09.10.15 at 10:52 pm

@ Lee A. Arnold #78
Totally agree that if The Donald tries to sound wonky he’ll make a fool of himself; which he seems to be aware of himself, eg in re not needing to know the names of Middle East players. And so he won’t. I guess you missed the “walk away happy anytime” part. You assume this will bother people; I suggest people are already accustomed to ignoring policy&consequence, and there is enough “silent majority”-type anxiety (racist and classist, yes) throughout the electorate to carry him a long way. I may be wrong; we shall see, shortly. I think his major threat is the Repub “elite”‘, who will cheat as necessary to keep him out, if they can figure out how. Experience developing real estate in Manhattan is surely relevant here.

Likewise naming those who will do the work can wait. You don’t need to name your plumbing contractor before you’ve dug a hole for the foundation. Cf Vladimir Putin.

#77 is impressive but I don’t know what it means.


dax 09.11.15 at 8:19 am

JQ said: “It’s virtually impossible for us to avoid being well informed about the US (or well mis-informed if we get our news from Murdoch). By contrast, while it’s technically possible for a USA resident to follow Australian news, it’s very difficult to get the necessary background to make sense of it.”

I’m fascinated by this comment. An Australian knows a foreigner will lack the context to understand Australian news, but why does an Australian think he knows well the context of U.S. news? (Or for that matter, European news? Or news about Greece?) I’m not trying to pick on JQ here, but I find this attitude fascinating.


Z 09.11.15 at 8:38 am

An Australian knows a foreigner will lack the context to understand Australian news, but why does an Australian think he knows well the context of U.S. news?

Well, cultural imperialism (or soft power) is a thing. On average, an Australian (or just about anyone in the word, really) will know more about the US, its history and current events of interest there than an American will know about Australia (or anywhere else, really) simply because schools, news media, the Internet etc. in X devote much more space to the US than schools, news media, the Internet etc. in the US devote to X (for X anything not the US). I mean, wouldn’t you expect just anyone in Australia to be able to name the last three American heads of state? Which American could do the same with Australia?

Funnily, the same is true in my experience (for the same reason) with the Western World generally speaking and Japan, so that the average educated Japanese can readily quote a dozen or so historical and cultural figures of the West spanning 2000 years of civilization whereas I doubt the converse is true of the average (or even highly) educated Westerner with respect to Japan (or even the whole of East Asia).


dax 09.11.15 at 11:15 am

Z, greater exposure does not ensure greater wisdom. The Australian is at the tail end of a communication feed from the US. As JQ himself said, if the communication feed were fox news, then the Australian would be misinformed. So somewhere the Australian has to know that his particular feed provides insight to the context (rather than subtracting from it), but I don’t think you can have that unless you already know the context.

Obviously, I am a skeptic on this, perhaps intolerably.


Z 09.11.15 at 1:04 pm

dax, the putative Australian getting all his US news from Fox News would be a strange individual indeed: did he never go to primary school, to start with? Yet even he, if he exists, would know the current key political figures in the US, which political party they belong to and what broad set of issues they discuss and campaign for. He would understand the words Keystone, Ferguson, Occupy Wall Street, Donald Trump, Obamacare… That’s already so much more than I could say about Australia (I mean, I’m not proud but I don’t even know whether the left or the right is in power in Australia now).

More generally, I took John’s point to simply mean that Australian know much more about the US than American know about Australia (so that a debate involving a comparison of these two countries will almost inevitably turn to the Aussie’s favor) . Do you really dispute that point?


Plume 09.11.15 at 1:15 pm

Brett @109,

Anyone who views CNN as some kind of political opposite to Fox does not see our media as they are in reality.

CNN (Centrist News Network) is basically center-right. Fox is harder right. There are no counterparts to Fox on the left, as far as major TV networks go. And the two major American political parties are quite similar in that way. The Dems are center-right, except for a few “culture war” issues. The GOP is now hard right.

The left in America goes completely without representation in politics — other than third parties — and in the MSM.


dax 09.11.15 at 1:18 pm

Z, I don’t dispute that point, because Americans generally know very little, but I don’t think that’s John’s point. This is how I see how John sees it. He knows that commentary on Australia by Americans is superficial, because they do not have a full understanding of the background which has given rise to current events. He thinks Australians receive the appropriate background about the U.S.

I don’t think he can know this, because he lacks the background to decide whether Australians are receiving the appropriate background.


Plume 09.11.15 at 2:26 pm

Brett @113,

Wrong. And far from the truth. I’m proudly “far left.” I don’t even want to be “in the center.” I see the American center as “extreme” in its love of the status quo, mush, mud, do-nothingism, “dare I eat a peach” cowardice.

But being on that “far left” doesn’t mean I don’t see the whole spectrum. I do. And I see it far better than most. I was raised inside it, inside the American box, and Americans are bombarded with endless messages about that “center,” for that center, from that center. But I went outside box and studied that as well. Studied it and studied it. Most Americans never do. They get the center and that’s it. They think our A to B politics is all there is, that’s it’s actually A to Z. It’s not.

CNN and Fox are both “right wing.” The former is close to the political center. The latter is easily the most brazen party-first, ideology-first media propaganda outlet in the modern age. But they’re both in the political right.


Plume 09.11.15 at 2:31 pm

Clarification: I’m speaking of Fox only as an American media outlet. Not comparing it to media in other nations. It’s the most brazen ideologically for America. At least from the 20th century to the present.


Bruce Wilder 09.11.15 at 3:25 pm

Not every side has a media outlet with anything like Fox’s resources or commitment to the “cause”. One serious problem with the “every side” thesis in the American political media context is that only one side has a funding stream in a system owned and funded by corporate business conglomerates. CNN is just as right-wing as Fox; the differences are stylistic. MSNBC keeps its tame and synthesized “left” on a very short leash, while Joe’s ratings failures never matter. NPR and PBS are completely beholden to corporate sponsors. Koch can keep global warming off Nova for pocket change.

This state of affairs is one of the great failures of the left in the U.S. — the failure to recognize the necessity to build and fund institutions and careers. I would not blame the right for taking care of business — it is what they do.


Bruce Wilder 09.11.15 at 3:42 pm

On some level of subconscious understanding I really think most Fox News viewers know it is all fake, a variation on pro wrestling. You can wonder about the compartmentalized thinking that keeps its balance and enjoys Sean Hannity, but there it is.

I am not sure the typical MSNBC viewer knows.


Bruce Wilder 09.11.15 at 4:04 pm

The linked study makes a lot out of the editorial decision concerning the allocation of time and focus, but does not address ideology, per se. Partisanship in pursuit of an audience seems an adequate explanation. Partisanship is not the same as ideology, but partisanship fits the pro wrestling model.


Stephen 09.11.15 at 4:36 pm

hix@101: I did ask for a coherent argument, you know.


kidneystones 09.14.15 at 3:43 pm

Trump and Corbyn do represent a common phenomena, but only to a degree. Many who vote right in America are deeply unhappy with the GOP and have been for some time. Many who want to vote left in the UK have been moving away from Labour for some very good reasons for a long time. Chris Bertram’s post on Corbyn is generally very good, as are many of the comments.

Jay Cost in his excellent analysis: Why Has Trump Risen So Far So Fast http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/art-donald_1028492.html# asserts that in January Trump will have no be decimated for adopting so many positions in the past. I disagree, just as I disagree with those who assert that Corbyn’s positions, whether on the IRA, or the number of women on the front bench, are somehow going to ruin him. Corbyn was not ‘picked’ to be leader by a cabal of elites, he was elected by an influx of voters much more concerned with the future than the past. Voters, I strongly suspect, are no longer interested in gotcha type politics. The Guardian right now is running a piece on Corbyn’s failure to establish a press policy, missing the point entirely that Corbyn was elected by people who don’t want to be spun. Corbyn and Trump and Sanders supporters can live with the contradictions: Sanders support for 2nd Amendment rights, for example. Trump supporters couldn’t care less about whether he gave money to HRC, and even when pushed will, I suspect, hold their noses and pull the lever for the guy who can get shit done.

All the mud/crap that the Mail and other media outlets are certain to continue hurling at Corbyn may have the reverse effect of more sharply defining Corbyn in the voter’s minds as the man who is unafraid to appear in shorts. He’s not trying to look smart, or suggest that he has all the answers. Corbyn represents a community of people in Britain who want to put people and community first. This is who Corbyn is and there is absolutely no ambiguity, I suggest, on this key point. Corbyn, like Farage, like Trump, has a message that resonates with an under-represented constituency. I disagree with Chris Bertram, btw, on the ‘Conservatives are rubbing their hands with glee.’ Conservatives are ‘saying’ they’re delighted with Corbyn, but what else are they going to say? Chris is right to point out that Cameron still has to negotiate an EU referendum, if he expects to retain the support of his own party. Corbyn can expect to have mud flung at him every single day. Some will stick, but I strongly suspect that the attacks by a media class most ordinary voters loathe will simply endear Corbyn to his base and very well help Corbyn communicate to a wider audience. Le Monde gave him a very favorable review as the man who allowed Labour to turn the page, finally, on Tony Blair.

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