A Trump Phenomena Theory

This is pure speculation on my part as I am unable to perform the research necessary to support this argument. Nonetheless, here it is:

One day Donald Trump had a thought resembling one of the following:

“What can I do to top off this incredible life I have had?” or,

“I am awesome! But something is missing in my life. What can I do?” or,

“I need to leave a legacy for my children that will help them continue to build the Trump empire. What can that be?”

Whatever the question, he then concluded “I shall run for president.”

He and/or his advisors knew he could not be successful on a moderate platform. He knew he couldn’t match wits with, or intellectually stand with, his opponents. A moderate platform (Left or Right) aimed at improving the inevitable move of the US and other countries to a global culture and economy would not get him elected.

Almost like a company seeking a niche to gain market share, Trump needed to find a large enough group of people that, if he could mobilize them, would get him elected. This group or niche could not be very intelligent and it had to be large. It just so happens he found it. It was the radical right.

He was successful. He found a large group of citizens that have a majority of these characteristics:

  • Xenophobic
  • Down-trodden and/or disenfranchised
  • High school education only, maybe some trade school
  • Lacking in communication skills. Trump can’t speak (i.e. expressing coherent ideas with supported facts) and they like that. They call it speaking frankly.
  • Lacking in critical thinking skills (thinking that building a wall will somehow make them safe or improve their standard of living.)
  • Scared (thinking that they need more protection in some way from terrorists.)
  • Paranoid (believing there is a higher likelihood of a terrorist attack than there is.)
  • Religious (which in itself is full of errors in thinking and most often shows a lack of critical thinking.)
  • Misdirecting their frustration at not having adequate real income growth over the past 20 years as something Trump can fix. He can’t even speak well.
  • Get their news from Facebook and Fox.
  • Believe pride is a virtue.

It was his wealth that gave him the opportunity to run for president. And so he found a large, alienated group and tailor made his platform and antics to win them over.

Unfortunately it seems this Trump-targeted group believes that because Trump won, it is their time. As they send out speakers to preach their gospel they are forgetting that there are a majority of Americans that voted against Trump. These Americans also believe the radical right’s polemics are anathema to peace and prosperity.

Reading Tyler Cowen’s  America’s Placebo President today inspired me to think about this. Dr. Cowen and many others who have written about Trump try to explain why the group voted for Trump or worse yet, why America voted for Trump. It seems to me that it is only because he targeted them and pushed their buttons. Trump said whatever he thought would rile them up and get them to the polls.

I believe this addresses the reasons why most pundits thought he could not win. They were not aware of the size of this group of Americans to whom Trump was pandering. I also believe it is an error by the media and others to think that America elected Trump. America did not. It was a subset of America and a minority at that.



Juan Cole weighs in on Andrew Breitbart.

I respect Juan Cole immensely. Dr. Cole is a distinguished University of Michigan History Professor and author of several books on the Middle East. Today he characterizes Andrew Breitbart accurately I believe here.

I also have tremendous respect for Peter Hart and Jim Naureckas and all the analysts at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) and lest you don’t hear enough objective information about Mr. Breitbart today, there are links here, here and here that help explain how Mr. Breitbart duped not only the public but major media outlets as well.

I am also of the opinion that each of our roles in life, no matter how we or others feel about them, are sacred and are all a part of what makes up this world. Hence no rancor just the facts.

In Defense of Al Sharpton

Don Boudreaux writes to Al Sharpton:

Rev. Al Sharpton
National Action Network

Dear Rev. Sharpton:

Your organization, the National Action Network, e-mailed me to boast about your complaint to Walgreen’s CEO regarding his company’s alleged ‘underserving’ of minorities.

I like your tactic! But it prompts me to ask: Why are you ‘underserving’ minorities in need of low-priced pharmaceutical products?

What have you done to attract private capital to finance retail outlets? How have you helped to organize supply chains that get pharmaceuticals from factories to consumers at costs that make the on-going retail distribution of these products profitable at prices that also are affordable to low-income consumers? Where’s the evidence of your entrepreneurial creativity – and the evidence of you risking your own money and of you spending untold hours of your own time – to help bring pharmaceuticals to low-income neighborhoods? Why do you not devote more of your ample energies to struggle with details of the likes of inventory management, optimal liability-insurance coverage, and OSHA work-place-safety regulations so that you can create a retail pharmaceutical chain that earns sufficient profit to enable it to stay afloat while it simultaneously achieves all of what you somehow divine such a retail chain ‘should’ achieve?

Walgreen’s investors and employees actually and already contribute infinitely more energy and resources than you do to the process of making pharmaceutical products readily available to the masses. So surely if it’s appropriate – as you clearly believe it to be – to fling accusations at anyone who arguably exerts insufficient effort to improve the retail distribution of pharmaceutical products, you deserve far more criticism than does Walgreen’s and its CEO.

Donald J. Boudreaux

Here’s my comment (you have to go down to about the 100th comment):

John Donnelly    December 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Ok, I’ll be your huckleberry. I know that most of the commenters are your fanboys (and girls) so I will take the Sharpton side.

Professor Boudreaux is like a father in his disciplining of the complainer with the old argument, “if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem” or “what? are your legs broken”. His argument is likened to telling an art critic to “grab a brush”!

Unfortunately Professor Boudreaux is not helpful in this case simply because the good Reverend is not in the business of distributing pharmaceuticals and he needn’t be. Nor does Rev Sharpton need to be an economist to express his opinion about Walgreens and their distribution and pricing policies from his social utility point of view.

Chucklehead has it right, Sharpton is just doing his job, complaining on behalf of those he deems to need his help and who don’t enjoy his level of influence. Rev. Sharpton’s attempt to sway a large corporation to do (hopefully mutually beneficial) business to help his community is a very rational thing to do given his unique assets and abilities.

I can go on about the good Reverend’s assets and how he leverages them but that is another debate.

This should generate some interesting comments!

Freeman editor critique of Elizabeth Warren cheeky and short on logic

Bloggers get lazy in their writing sometimes—writing for affect rather than trying to get at the truth. That’s just the way things are, but when a blogger insults my intelligence I feel the need to respond….

You can find the post here. You can read the comment I posted on the blog but I had to apologize to Mr. Richman for attributing a statement to him that was Robert Murphy’s in his blog post Elizabeth Warren’s Blank Check. I would have deleted and reposted the comment but it didn’t appear to be an option. I correct that attribution in the following:

Mr. Sheldon Richman’s irrelevant notions, stipulations and yes, non sequiturs.

His subtitle: “You can’t get to higher taxes from here”. Richman doesn’t know where here is.

First of all Elizabeth Warren was addressing Eric Cantor’s assertion that raising taxes on the rich would amount to class warfare. She rejects Cantor’s assertion because his premise is false; that there is no other reason than class animosity (hatred, envy etc.) that would explain why the duly elected representatives of the citizens of the USA might alter the tax code to increase taxes on “the rich”.

In her rebuttal to Cantor’s assertion (during a short informal campaign talk in a private home), she explains that Cantor is ignoring a “social contract”.  Warren may be referring to an unwritten agreement that citizens of a republic share when building said republic through the collection of taxes to provide various public goods, education and institutions in attempts to create a fertile ground for fruitful enterprise and a flourishing society.

Mr. Richman says that Warren’s premise is that man is a social animal. Not so, that is an axiom, a given, a proposition Warren assumes is true to argue her premise that there exists a “social contract”. The conclusion she reaches is that there is no class warfare here, but rather there exists a “social contract” (a republic building agreement) where the rich may need to pay some amount more in taxes. She is arguing there needs to be more progressivity in our tax structure if you will.

After enduring the Bastiat cut and paste, Mr. Richman states that her argument is “nothing startling” and a “mundane observation in the service of a bad cause”. This appears to be a non sequitur if in fact we are talking about Warren’s rebuttal to Cantor’s assertions of class warfare. I don’t see what is mundane about this observation and the popularity of the video tells me others are don’t see it either.

Mr. Richman wants us to stipulate to an irrelevancy by his own admission, i.e. “that’s not what Warren means”. We happily stipulate that folks get rich through “political means”. This is clearly not relevant to Warren’s rebuttal of Cantor’s assertion. Mr. Richman then says that “she says nothing about corporate-state privilege or the long years of intervention that amount to the “subsidy of history”. Well, she also says nothing about price of tea in China. It was short talk in a private home, she probably didn’t want to get into the “Subsidy of History” nor, to be fair, the price of tea in China.

It gets worse from here. The rest of the post says that repealing state-granted privileges is a good way to do away with services such as roads, education and police because of the evils of Regulatory Capture. I don’t see the relevance here either.

Towards the end Mr. Richman denies the existence of the “contract” which gave me hope that he might attack Warren’s premise with new insights and logic. However he simply apologizes for not trusting unwritten open-ended so-called “contracts” while ignoring the possibility that there must be something, some meeting of the minds that allows us to live together in communities.

Then we get the cry of the John Galt supporters; “Moreover, why aren’t honest production and exchange of valuable goods counted as payment forward?” The answer to this is that “exchanges of valuable goods” implies compensation as being received for the goods. Payment for goods now and credit again going forward might be hard to do.  “Honest production and exchange of valuable goods” gives us businesspeople money as revenue and profit. It is not too much of a stretch to ask that we pay our taxes with money as well.

Finally Richman says that it doesn’t follow that the rich should pay more in taxes because they used services that they have always used. Of course it doesn’t follow because the argument is about balancing the budget to which Richman says finally; cut spending.

I’ve noticed that people who follow the Austrian school of economics are sometimes guilty of fanboyism—quoting Bastiat and Hayek etc regardless of the context or argument. My aim was to point out how poorly the man wrote about a wonderful argument put forth by Elizabeth Warren. I did not say I concurred with her but rather I felt it necessary to comment on the poor analysis and logic of Mr. Richman’s post. Warren’s premise is the “social contract” and I will be either coming forward with arguments supporting the social contract as a basis for a more progressive tax structure or not.

I never intended on commenting on the post on freemanonline.org but I was researching for a post I am preparing to comment on George Will’s goofy Washington Post Op-Ed about the very same Elizabeth Warren argument. George Will’s piece is lacking logic and foundation and I will comment about it right here soon.