XXXVII. on the current state of the GOP nomination race

I come at this with a certain amount of what some might call bias, — I, of course, would say that it is a political philosophy built only on facts about the welfare of humanity and the world — but if the American people elect a Democrat next year, or maybe even an establishment Republican, they deserve what is coming to them: a shrinking workforce, no more meaningful allies on the world stage, a proxy war with Russia, trade capitulation to China, and a much stronger north-south secession argument inside the country.

For me, it is between Cruz and Trump. Cruz would be a dream come true for the country. I’m not sure they deserve him after electing Obama twice, but everything I see of him just makes me like the man more. Carson is levelheaded and seems a “good man”  but has the dodgy connexions, Rubio seems sincere but is for amnesty and illegal sanctuary cities, Christie is about as two-faced and yellow-bellied as a politician can be, Fiorina seems good with numbers and rhetoric but light on policy.

Trump is a wildcard. He will do what is best for Trump, and always will, but Smith’s Invisible Hand comes into play here. For 8 years (he has hinted he wants two terms), he will give the American people what they want in order to become more adored and to boost his ego even more, but what’s really wrong with that? He will look at being President like being CEO of a business: he will make decisions as if the American people were his clients. There are a number of slippery slope arguments that can be made against this, but I don’t think they have much ground. He wants to be the best President ever, that means numbers, that means jobs created, better trade deals made, security maintained, borders secured, international strength grown, economy balanced, and most of all, it means he wants the People happier, and feeling like the government they pay taxes for (goods and services, remember) is worth it, so they will firstly re-up in four years, and then look back fondly on him, and buy his (endless, I’m sure) books about his time in office.

On stage he rambles and obsesses with polls and rhetoric, but he has no Teleprompter, each sentence is true when he says it, and he seems sincere.

Cruz is a straight arrow. He will act according to his principles. His whole career he has been steadfast and moral, and acting first to what the Constitution says, and then to what his God says. He plays the game, of course; he knows exactly how many times to say “,”, how long his pauses should be, how to phrase a point, and where best to pool his (substantial) resources, but again, what’s wrong with that? If there are undecided voters, or Reagan Democrats, he needs to get their attention, to get his name and face recognised, but more importantly, to get his personality and policies recognised.

This seems a very important election, and I would have liked this to be the first American election I could vote in, but no luck. But sometimes this election does seem like a foregone conclusion: Republicans win this time… surely?

My last point is between Trump and Cruz: although Trump would be a net good for the nation, he might continue the pattern of American presidents ruling, as opposed to leading. This is an important philosophical difference; while in theory there are only flowery, superfluous differences, in practise it can be the difference between deciding what kids should learn, or leaving it to the parents; between deciding drugs laws, or leaving it to the states. I do not know enough about Trump to say he fully falls into the supremacy trap of “knowing best”, but he does seem like he would step in to appease a crowd during a crisis, rather than relying on history and fact.

XXXVI. on the Sino-British trade deal

The deal has been announced, a £40bn deal concerning exports, imports, £40bn, steel, nuclear power plants, worth £40bn. It is rumoured to be worth £40bn. The trade deal signed between Britain and China — between David Cameron and Xi Jinping — has just been announced, and it is given the value of forty billion pounds. Immediately, there are two obvious and ignorant questions posed to the P.M. for making this deal: 1) They are the bad guys, what about their human rights? 2) What about British industry?

1; their human rights record is atrocious; indentured servitude, widespread abuse, life is cheap, infamous working conditions. Mr. Cameron‘s own answer is valid — that you can have a trade deal while continuing a frank discussion about human rights — but truly, and perhaps callously, it is irrelevant. The question implies that we not only have a responsibility to improve their human rights that includes sacrificing our own country’s wealth, but also that their human rights problems are a black hole which cannot be fixed through friendship. Take Russia, for example; after the Cold War, with connectivity, the emerging market, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, their human rights have improved drastically. Now, most would argue that there is still room for improvement, but they are on the right track. The same will happen with China.

2; the understanding that economics is not a zero sum game goes some way to argue against this, but the main problem is our (ever increasing) minimum wage. Jeremy Corbyn made a fuss about this. British industry has been an impossibility for decades, now, even before Labour‘s insane push to try to prop the mining industry up. The bottom line is that industry will move forward, and if the law literally disallows the people of this country to compete with international labour costs, then unskilled industry will move forward without us.

XXXV. on tipping

I think the practice of tipping is generally good. When I have a sit down meal I always tip. There are times when I eat a meal and feel that my server has increased the value of my experience past what my money (to keep the restaurant and their job going) provides. In England in most restaurants a tip of probably 10% is most common. Some places declare that they charge a 12.5% service charge, mostly in London and big cities.

When it comes to America, though, I hear constantly that servers live off their tips, that their employer doesn’t pay them and so their tips are their only source if income. Now, as an outsider reading your law, it seems tips can only be used to offset the minimum wage, which employers still have to meet. It’s illegal for the restauranteur to only pay someone in tips unless the tips they make amount to more than minimum wage.

At least, that’s how it reads. Is it widespread practice for restauranteurs to break this law, age it goes unreported? Or is that not what people mean when they say that their employer doesn’t pay them?

Unskilled service is a hard job, but there are many hard unskilled jobs that earn minimum wage. And from personal experience in England, it is very easy to find a place to learn silver service, which pays upwards of £10 on ten hour shifts. (Once again, it is a very small percentage of people who earn minimum wage for a significant amount of time.)

Finally, about 40% of U.S.A. tips go undeclared as far as tax is concerned. I go back and forth on this, but at the moment I don’t think avoiding to pay taxes is an acceptable thing in the long run, either for personal gain or intentional sabotage of the state.

XXXIV. on Schopenhauer and pessimism

Certain it is that work, worry, labour and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole life long. But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives? What would they do with their time? If the world were a paradise of luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey, where every Jack obtained his Jill at once and without any difficulty, men would either die of boredom or hang themselves; or there would be wars, massacres, and murders; so that in the end mankind would inflict more suffering on itself then it has now to accept at the hands of Nature.

I think about these lines — or this concept — often. Pessimism has, in the mainstream, & even amongst many philosophers, come to be synonymous with unhappiness, with glumness, & with nihilism; that to be a pessimist is to be a weak person, to give up your hands to Fate. I think it has in it this implication: because there are many things that should make a man unhappy, I will be unhappy.

Schopenhauer’s passage is the traditional starting point of Pessimism (capital “P” for emphasis); it is only stating truths, and drawing no conclusions other than those which are clear from Nature and experience (we know of the mouse utopia). But from there he can make all the assumptions and jumps he needs, & there is little argument for how well he makes them. Appealing to the brute’s way of life, having children only as a thoughtless act…. Pessimism is (and should be) a great way to embrace the struggles in life, and once the strife is accepted, & you understand that you have to work, worry, labour and trouble, you can find allconsuming happiness (however fleeting) in meaningful ways. Good as a positive, but also not as the absence of evil; we need not turn to God.

XXXIII. on Donald Trump — II.

And the political climate has shifted, and the prevailing (if you read the news) belief that Donald Trump would gradually fade away — or sell out his narrative, or crumble to pressure, or be shunned by scandal — has been replaced by a widespread confusion.

As the summer of Donald Trump came to its end — and the prospect of a springtime for Trump no longer seemed like a gag — the quest to explain the billionaire’s runaway clown car went into overdrive.

Now, Frank Rich spends a lot of his NY Mag article chastising the man himself, or just making light of the individual as a politician, but he does concede that regardless of your perspective, Trump is doing something quite remarkable. If you can make your way through the snark, he makes a good point. / I am really starting to believe that Trump is here to stay. He became serious to me when he signed the pledge not to run independently if he didn’t make the Republican candidate. He could do a lot of good, I think. And even if he can’t radically change much policy (which, judging by the current president, is impossible — presidents are pretty much dictators now) he will show that he can stop the cronyism — even just for a little while. And that means something.

He is, as many say, making a mockery of the entire political process with his bull-in-a-china-shop antics. But the mockery in this case may be overdue, highly warranted, and ultimately a spur to reform rather than [a] crime against civic order.

XXXII. on Donald Trump

All of the Trump hatred, Trump disdain, Trump denial and Trump confusion seems misguided. He is hated because he expressed certain opinions about girls and gays. I don’t think anyone against him has looked into these opinions. The disdain is a misunderstanding that he has no policies. I don’t know where this argument came from, but it is meaningless. If you are moving towards greatness, freedom, small government, then you need fewer policies, and you have to start chipping away at the monster. The denial is fun to watch, saying that he is a joke, meaningless, a fraud, just an egoist with no plan. These arguments again have no base, I think it’s mainly because they look into his political career and don’t find one. But is that a bad thing? He is playing the no backers card, and I don’t think that’s a gimmick. Cronyism is one of the massive problems in any society which has gradually bloated its government, recreating elitism. And when that happens to America, which was invented with very specific parameters to avoid that, it’s time for a change. The confusion gets to me a little, because it’s usually by smug, condescending intellectuals going down the How can they believe that? route. Look into what they believe and try to understand. And maybe then go to Friedman, Sowell, Hicks, Keynes, Smith. Try to understand Trump, and then vote for Cruz.

XXXI. on Black Lives Matter, & class divide

I’ve not posted for a while, so as a gentle return to it I think I’ll talk about something sensationalist, factually murky, & violently controversial. If you’ve read this blog (there’s a possibility) you might have guessed that I’m not into the whole divisive rhetoric that is prevalent in politics nowadays, & has been for fifty years. A good contemporary example is the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement—a reaction to a recent string of white policeman-related fatalities amongst America’s black community.

As an Englishman, & one from the Midlands, I have run into similar sorts of divisiveness before, but in England it is much more to do with class than race. (Though much of the media here denies that social mobility is possible in this society, so the two are very comparable.) All it leads to is misunderstanding and anger on both sides. One party (the proponents of such a movement) are furious that the other side would even question their truth, how could they be so bigoted? how could you not wish to further equality? The other party (those against or indifferent) are furious for their values being misrepresented, for the unnecessary backlash, how could they think this? how could they react like this?

Black Lives Matter is painted as a positive force; an awareness movement attempting to force society to change in a direction which, if realised, would lead to equality. The reality, of course, is that it is as divisive as any other such movement; branding oneself as the Other, inventing challenge where none exists, and ignoring all other aspects of society which led to the situation America allegedly faces.

I don’t want to get into the facts or fictions behind the individual cases that B.L.M. bases its premises on; I’m making the argument that as a movement, from the outset, it does more harm than good.

And while much of the media would have you think otherwise, luckily, the American people agree with me. That includes the African-American population. Turns out they prefer the slogan ALL LIVES MATTER.

So, proponents of this movement, please stop and reconsider your position, because divisive rhetoric goes nowhere good.