Lion of the Blogosphere

Vox article about Donald Trump and populism

The reader “dsgntd_plyr” mentioned this Vox article about Donald Trump and populism in a comment.

The takeaways from the article are:

1. Social Security is extremely popular. 93.7% of the people think that Social Security benefits should be kept the same or increased. Even with voters who are registered Republicans, Social Security is extremely popular. Support a decrease in Social Security benefits is a loser position (with respect to winning elections).

Let me digress and say something about “socialism.” The word “socialism” is often used to scare Republican voters, but the reality is that the majority of Republican voters like socialism once they are used to it, and it’s a socialism that benefits working middle-class people (i.e. people who do the right things) with no strings attached. I am sure that Republican voters would also come to like government-paid healthcare, especially if it were less complicated and confusing than Obamacare. (Although from the perspective of Republican elites, complicated and confusing is a feature that they can use to attack the whole concept of government-paid healthcare.)

2. Immigration is not as popular with regular people as it is with elites. 43.4% of people want to decrease immigration and only 14.3% want to increase it. As the article shows, among Republican voters who the author of the article does not classify as “business Republicans,” there is strong opposition to immigration.

3. Thus Donald Trump, who says that he wants to reduce immigration but maintain social security, is in line with a strong plurality (if not a majority, that’s not clear) of Republican primary voters. Jeb Bush, who scares voters with proposals like making the retirement age higher (which is really a reduction of benefits) is not saying what the majority of voters want to hear. And of course, we know that Jeb Bush’s pro-amnesty position for illegal immigrants is definitely not what Republican voters want to hear. No wonder why Bush has only single digit support in the polls.

When will party elites realize that Bush is a doomed favorite son and pick someone else? And who will they pick? Only Ben Carson and Donald Trump have strong polling strength right now.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 10, 2015 at 12:14 pm

47 Responses

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  1. It shouldn’t be that hard to make a good case for “index the retirement age to life expectancy” which is essentially a benefit cut. It doesn’t even have to be done at a 1:1 ratio. The other side is left trying to make the argument that retirement should inexorably become longer and longer, regardless of the taxes required on younger families.

    Fiddlesticks

    September 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    • It shouldn’t but retirees tend to vote in much higher numbers than young families and young people who could potentially form families in the near future, so politicians listen to the people who vote consistently vs the people who don’t.

      massivefocusedinaction

      September 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      • It shouldn’t but retirees tend to vote in much higher numbers than young families and young people who could potentially form families in the near future, so politicians listen to the people who vote consistently vs the people who don’t.

        It doesn’t affect current retirees.

        Anyway, all you have to do is grandfather in workers over a certain age, and sweeten the deal for those younger than that age by allowing student loans to once again be dischargeable in bankruptcy.

        Fiddlesticks

        September 10, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    • It’s already hard to find a job and every job opening has hundreds of qualified applicants. You don’t want people who already have a job working even longer. Let them retire as early as they can and free up space on the labor market.

      chairman

      September 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      • This is exactly right. With less need for productive workers in the economy, the exact wrong thing to do is to have old people work at their job longer than they do right now and monopolize jobs that can be held by those just out of college. Another example of Jeb being completely out of touch with realities on the ground.

        Realist

        September 10, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      • Maybe people who can’t afford to retire on their own should just work as long as they are able? Why should an ablebodied chap be supported? If he planned and saved he can retire, and if not – it’s his problem. I may work till my last day and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

        Yakov

        September 10, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      • That’s neat, but companies tend to get rid of older workers because they cost more. Also, often when an old employee is replaced they are either replaced by software or what they were doing is assigned to someone else.

        in battle there is no law

        September 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      • and is assigned to someone else who’s paid much less.

        pure supply and demand simply doesn’t apply to wages, and for reasons of convention rather than regulation. capital is the master of labor when there’s a labor surplus. (hint: complaints about labor shortages are 100% bs. a labor shortage is good for labor. after the black death in 14th c England the living standards of the farm workers weren’t reached again until shortly before WW I.)

        but “age-ism” is another one of those silly pc words which refers to a genuine problem in america.

        there’s probably a word for it. the assumption that the group member is typical of his group. so old workers are (or may be), as a group, slow and slow to learn, but there are plenty of exceptions.

        it applies to all groups. it’s a cognitive bias with the name “the ecological fallacy”…iirc.

        kim jong un

        September 10, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      • Average age of death for those who retire at age 50 is 86. Average age of death for those who retire at age 65 is 66. There’s a lot of noise in those numbers in that anyone capable of retiring at 50 may have other life enhancing attributes plus the closer to 65 you get presumably the larger the universe (and less healthy) from which your average is obtained, nevertheless, it suggests that working past age 50 decreases lifespan. If so, then it decreases long term social costs including government pensions and health care. So, perhaps there’s a good reason to keep people working as long as possible.

        Curle

        September 12, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      • That looks like a myth, like the myth that 10% of people are gay.

        http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18952037

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

  2. There are three broad political positions represented in the campaigns:

    1) Globalism + more social spending. This is the mainstream Dem position: more immigration plus more food stamps for those who need them due to the weak labor markets caused by immigration.

    2) Globalism + less social spending. This is the mainstream GOP position.

    3) Nationalism + more social spending: this is Trump’s and Sander’s position.

    As for nationalized health care v. social security, social security is popular because people trust the government to send checks. Same reason Medicare is popular. They don’t trust the government as much when it comes to actually providing healthcare, given disasters at the Veterans Administration hospitals.

    Dave Pinsen

    September 10, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    • If the government can’t be trusted to administer health care then this country is really pathetic. It’s not just Japan, Germany, Norway, and other super successful countries that beat the US in health care rankings but also Spain, Greece, Morocco, etc.

      Lloyd Llewellyn

      September 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      • 1) It depends on the health care rankings. If you compare life expectancy, for example, the US looks worse than Europe, because we have minority groups such as African Americans that have lower life expectancies. If you compare efficacy of treatment, the U.S. looks as good or better than the rest of the world.

        2) Many foreign countries that have universal health care coverage don’t have government administered health care, for the most part. This is true of Germany, for example, which has a model closer to ours than to Britain’s.

        Dave Pinsen

        September 10, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      • It’s true that not all other developed countries have single payer administered by the government (although some do) but they all have vastly more government control and oversight.

        I’m curious what rankings beyond cost put the US at or near the top. The most commonly cited rankings are these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization_ranking_of_health_systems_in_2000

        Like I said it is utterly pathetic to look at all the basket case countries that rank higher than the US.

        Lloyd Llewellyn

        September 11, 2015 at 12:58 am

      • I’m curious what rankings beyond cost put the US at or near the top.

        Five-year cancer survival rates, for one:

        if we measure a health-care system by how well it serves its sick citizens, American medicine excels. Five-year cancer survival rates bear this out. For leukemia, the American survival rate is almost 50 percent; the European rate is just 35 percent. Esophageal carcinoma: 12 percent in the United States, 6 percent in Europe. The survival rate for prostate cancer is 81.2 percent here, yet 61.7 percent in France and down to 44.3 percent in England—a striking variation.

        http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_canadian_healthcare.html

        Bear in mind, too, that some of the stats used in international comparisons are b.s., e.g., the ones that say the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than Cuba. The difference is the U.S. counts premature babies as live births whereas other countries don’t always do that.

        Dave Pinsen

        September 11, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      • Medical statistics can be complicated and counter intuitive. Cancer survival rates are an interesting example because in addition to being a function of the obvious positive things like treatment effectiveness they’re also a function of how aggressively you search for cancer. By finding and treating early relatively non lethal cancers you end up increasing your cancer survival rate compared to other countries that are only treating more advanced, lethal cancers. This can hold true even if the treatment itself is ineffective and increasing mortality rates (as well as costing money, reducing quality of life, etc.). So I’m not impressed by that statistic.

        I couldn’t find where I first read about this but this seems to cover it: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/cancer-care-in-the-u-s-versus-europe/

        Although it does look like US cancer mortality rates are slightly below average for developed countries but that’s obviously a function of lots of different things besides treatment effectiveness.

        Lloyd Llewellyn

        September 11, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    • Most of the middle class views social security as retirement savings that belongs to them, not a government handout. It’s “popular” in the sense that it’s their money, and they expect to get it back. I’m not sure how popular the concept itself is. Medicare is more vague on that point, but similar.

      J1

      September 10, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  3. My prediction is that the elites will give Jeb until November to shape up or ship out. If he doesn’t significantly gain polling strenth at that time then they will dump him for Marco Rubio. The NeoCon plutocrats have been grooming Rubio for years. This was supposed to be his warm up run but they will give him pole position if Jeb flames out, which he will. Jeb is finished.

    Rubio will continue an agressive foreign policy which is the main NeoCon concern. Watch for him to start talking tough on immigration though to compete with Trump. He will say that as the son of immigrants he wants immigration only for those that “work hard”, “follow the rules”, etc. He will say that he is against amnesty to get elected but if elected will deliver some form of watered down version of it.

    B.T.D.T.

    September 10, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    • What do low skilled legals have, besides certified residency?

      I see many Latin American workers in Meriprolestan, engaging in work that is mundane, simple, and can be done by anyone, without much education and training.

      JS

      September 10, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    • Rupert Murdoch said on Twitter recently that he thought Biden would enter the race. Which, reading between the lines, means he’s sort of given up on Jeb and Hillary.

      Dave Pinsen

      September 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm

  4. I caught Jeb Bush in an egregious bit of dishonesty this morning, when I heard part of an interview he gave to somebody on TV. He was contrasting himself with Dubya as to fiscal austrrity, saying his brother had allowed all kinds of spending while he, as Florida governor, had vetoed so kany spending items that he came to be called “Veto Corleone.” The thing is, of course, that the President does not possess a line-item veto, while governors often do (e.g. Jerry Brown in Cal.). So he conveniently and dishonestly elided the fact that no U.S. president can be “Veto Corleone.” JEB is an asshole, and whover was interviewing him is brain dead.

    marty

    September 10, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    • “…and whover was interviewing him is brain dead.”

      Not necessarily. They could just be feeding him rope, so he gets comfortable and gives his opponents lots of soundbites to attack in the general. What happens if they attack now? He might wise up. He might grow a thicker skin and not lash out pathetically. He might lose and cede the nomination to someone who has a snowball’s chance of winning. Much better to bide their time.

      Jesse

      September 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm

  5. “Keep your Government hands off my medicare!” say mouth-breathing GOP voters in Flyover.

    Curious

    September 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    • sounds like a reddit/Huff Po reader

      shiva1008

      September 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    • And the bankers and bureaucrats just smile.

      Glengarry

      September 11, 2015 at 1:44 am

  6. Social Security is a stupid, stupid system, and a literal ponzi scheme. But that horse left the barn a long, long time ago. The ideal solution would be a shift to a mandatory defined retirement account (your account, your money), which could be defined in a million ways and you could switch over quickly assuming the government ponied up for money you already put into the system. The government could also supplement people on the low end of the scale and so forth, so that it would be more or less “equal” up to a certain amount (things must always be “equal” after all). But people are too stupid to understand this (same people who don’t understand what a 401k is and don’t get their employer match because stupid), and it would be WAY too easy to demagogue against it. But it would make a gigantic ton of good sense.

    Another good thing about this is that it means some Chinese grandma who shows up in America by chain migration and who never put a penny into the system doesn’t get to sit fat and happy with a Soc Sec check every month (no tickee, no shirtee). But that is also precisely why such a plan will never happen, because immigrants.

    peterike

    September 10, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    • ” people who don’t understand what a 401k is and don’t get their employer match”

      I’m curious, what percentage of white-collar jobs in the US offer 401k plans with employer matching?

      I live in a country where there is basically no tax-deferred retirement savings. I have a massive pile of money in a savings account where its value is being steadily confiscated by the government through the inflation that they sponsor.

      Kyo

      September 11, 2015 at 10:51 am

      • 401K employer matching is a standard benefit at all big corporations.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 11, 2015 at 11:09 am

      • 401K employer matching is a standard benefit at all big corporations.

        It is, but it’s usually limited to something like the first 3% you contribute.

        I worked at a company once that had a great 401(k) + profit sharing plan. You could only defer a max of 5% of your compensation, but they matched it 2x, so you ended up with 15% getting put away each year.

        Dave Pinsen

        September 11, 2015 at 7:17 pm

  7. Yes, work harder and longer to pay for immigrants who hate your guts, all the while being berated for the “privilege” of doing so!

    Western civilization is a pathology itself.

    jjbees

    September 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    • I believe this condition is temporary

      Copperhead Joe

      September 10, 2015 at 7:11 pm

  8. I like socialism so far as it’s taking care of my own. I’ll happily pay massive taxes so my compatriots can live comfortable, prosperous lives. I will not pay one single dime for other countries or for foreigners. Not. My. Problem.

    Jesse

    September 10, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    • Why should I pay for someone outside my family? Outside my neighborhood? my state?my country? my race? Gotta stop somewhere?

      wt

      September 11, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      • Right. It stops at the borders of your country and it’s limited to your fellow citizens.

        Jesse

        September 12, 2015 at 7:50 am

  9. I notice the late night talk show hosts are calling Donald Trump a “racist” (for his English only comment) and someone who has white nationalist support and doesn’t distance himself from it sufficiently.

    jef

    September 10, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    • why don’t Democrats distance themselves from radical feminists who promote violence against men?

      shiva1008

      September 10, 2015 at 4:41 pm

  10. Speaking of Vox, Lion, I’d be interested in your view on this post of theirs about Trump and the split between the alt-right and the mainstream right: http://www.unz.com/forum/nrorevolt-explained/

    Dave Pinsen

    September 10, 2015 at 4:17 pm

  11. I saw that Vox article the other week, and given Vox’s leanings, I was surprised that they figured out the Trump appeal while GOP Inc still can’t seem to figure it out.

    Mike Street Station

    September 10, 2015 at 4:39 pm

  12. 1. Social Security is extremely popular. 93.7% of the people think that Social Security benefits should be kept the same or increased. Even with voters who are registered Republicans, Social Security is extremely popular.

    No Republican presidential candidate has ever called for eliminating social security. Some of them wanted to allow workers to invest their contributions into the markets – a good idea because the return on social security is laughable. But saying they want to eliminate it is a strawman.

    I am sure that Republican voters would also come to like government-paid healthcare, especially if it were less complicated and confusing than Obamacare.

    There is no such thing as good government health care. If the government creates they will screw it up, and the process of moving Republican voters onto it will mean their losing their private sector insurance.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    September 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    • “There is no such thing as good government health care… ”

      Well, it might be a *little* bit better than no health care, which is the real alternative for many. But hey, don’t let obvious points stop you from making an incisive sounding point.

      Also, seriously, how old are you? If you’ve had any serious experience with private insurance companies you would be far, far, less pro-market naïve.

      ModernReader

      September 11, 2015 at 12:23 am

      • Also, seriously, how old are you? If you’ve had any serious experience with private insurance companies you would be far, far, less pro-market naïve.

        Private sector insurance companies don’t operate in a “free market” and don’t even try to make the market more free. They use their lobbying power to get laws and regulations passed to tilt the playing field in their favor, just like most other big companies do. That said, private sector insurance is still much less screwed up (from the perspective of the average employee) than government health care.

        Tarl

        September 11, 2015 at 11:13 am

      • Private insurance is great if you work for a big corporation that’s giving you the most expensive and hassle-free plan.

        It sucks if you are self-employed or working for a company that gives you a crappy cheap plan that hardly any doctors accept and where there’s a huge amount of bureaucratic insurance BS put in the way of you actually getting any money from them.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 11, 2015 at 11:22 am

      • Private health insurance isn’t perfect, but I think more veterans have died waiting for care with the government-run Veterans Administration system than those with private health insurance. Usually, you get treated and then have to haggle about the bills with private insurance, but, to be fair, a lot of that is the fault of greedy and dishonest physicians, rather than insurance companies.

        Dave Pinsen

        September 11, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    • No Republican presidential candidate has ever called for eliminating social security. Some of them wanted to allow workers to invest their contributions into the markets – a good idea because the return on social security is laughable. But saying they want to eliminate it is a strawman.

      Exactly the point I intended to make!

      Tarl

      September 11, 2015 at 11:08 am

      • They want to reduce benefits by increasing the retirement age, or come up with plans to “privatize” it. Good advice for getting elected is not to touch the so-called third rail.

        They say Donald Trump doesn’t know how to be a politician, but in fact he’s acting like one by telling people what they want to hear. It’s the other Republicans who aren’t telling the voters what they want to hear because they have some bigger plan or because they are so indebted to rich donors that they don’t dare represent the regular voters.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 11, 2015 at 11:10 am

  13. Trump is a populist-nationalist candidate with some similarities to Ronald Reagan, who was, of course, a great actor – but so is Trump. I suspect most Republican candidates would embrace the popular positions on SS-Medicare, but Trump is the only one really to do so on immigration. The GOP Beltway elite spend big bucks on pollsters and consultants to help them develop candidates such as Bush III, and then Trump comes along and makes them all look like idiots.

    BTW, SS and Medicare are understandably popular with older Americans because they, on the average, get more in benefits than they have paid in. Who doesn’t like that? I have a senior friend who underwent major joint replacement surgery recently. The total bill came to over $55,000. He had Medicare plus a good supplement and had to pay only a few hundred dollars out of pocket. What a deal! SS is similar – most get paid a lot more than they put in. When the first SS retirement benefits were issued, in 1940, the average life expectancy for American men was 62, and, for women, 65. Benefits were paid at age 65 – period. There was no early retirement option. So the majority of men and about half the women got nothing. Failing to adjust SS for increasing life expectancy has created a fiscal time bomb, but it won’t detonate for more than a decade or two. Even then, Congress will probably “fix” the problem by using general revenues to support these programs, which is what is being done now under the guise of the “SS Trust Fund.”

    An historical note – the first SS retirement beneficiary was Ida May Fuller, a school teacher and legal secretary from Vermont. The fortunate Ida May lived to be 100 and received almost 1000 times more in benefits than she paid into the program! The numbers today aren’t nearly that good but still represent a windfall for most recipients, so it’s not surprising that the program is popular with most Americans. As long as the big Baby Boomer demographic remains a powerful voting force, not too much is going to change. I wonder, though, if younger Americans really understood what a rotten deal SS and Medicare are going to turn out to be for them, if they would still voice support for the programs.

    Black Death

    September 11, 2015 at 9:59 am

  14. Yakov, your ability to work depends on the presence of jobs that pay well enough to make a demand for labor. If everyone decides to “save everything to retire” as some suggest they’l have to cut way back on expenditures and you’l be out of work.

    We cannot afford Japan level saving and to retain current levels of production since there is no one to push they surplus production on. Japan found that out when they US couldn’t afford to but their stuff and as China is learning, they aren’t immune.

    Also the older workers need to move on and let younger workers move up or you’ll end up stifling family formation. Population aging is not good for the future market,

    Fact is jobs are zero sum, maybe negative sum and that means older folks need to stop paid work in their late 60’s like it or not.

    A.B Prosper

    September 11, 2015 at 8:20 pm


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