What’s the Super Bowl halftime show good for if it doesn’t
distract the narrative away from overpaid steroid-riddled athletes to
self-indulgent “artistes” paid to mimic strippers while delivering an
apparently much needed dose of unasked for uninformed political
I for one can say I wasn’t at all offended by
what many are saying was an anti-police message, because I couldn’t hear a word
she was screaming.
I do not know if it’s
an evolutionary inspired impairment to certain senses, but when a woman starts
gyrating on an imaginary stripper pole, my sense of hearing isn’t exactly
taking precedence over other senses.
as for the Black Panther inspired outfits, how did anyone take the Black
Panthers seriously if they strutted around in stockings and leotards?
“Oohh, you guys are baaaad asssss!
Where’d you get those sheer stockings?
Aren’t you afraid to get a snag in em when
your robbing banks and sheet?”
I’ve said it many times since the famous Janet Jackson
halftime performance – our whole culture is now a wardrobe malfunction.
Adele seems to be the only self-respecting
female singer these days.
All of the
others have bought into the false narrative that making your music and performance
primarily about titillating teen age boys (and men who wish they still were)
shows you are an edgy risk-taker who demands to be taken seriously; in fact,
any claim you have to being taken seriously goes out the window when your
“dance” moves are intended primarily to imitate one half of the beast with two
I won’t even get into Beyonce’s
politics on this one, or the hilarious “down with the struggle” courage it
takes a billionaire with no talent to trumpet the cause.
It’s laughable that Beyonce thinks we want
our politics and titillation from the same person.
You generally don’t see guys lining up at
strip joints to seek advice on who to vote for in the primary.
Crumudgeon rant over. Or maybe not - is it ever really?
Now it’s time to educate the people with some funky economics.
Here’s a basic primer in the economics of
understanding presidential campaigns and the empty rhetoric of the need for
bipartisanship. Economists use the term “Pareto Improvement” in reference to a
change from the status quo that could improve the lot of some in the polis
without hurting anyone else.
generally two potential tacks in campaigning for president, although they are
not mutually exclusive: 1) pretend there are all these Pareto improving
policies out there that could make everyone better off without harming anyone;
or 2) pick a side you want to back in policies that clearly are not Pareto
improvements, which favor some people at the expense of others.
Today I am going to focus on the second.
When your politics is more or less dominated by fights over
redistribution (whether you want more or less), you are never talking about a
Pareto Improvement that you want to make as president – you are talking about
changes in policies that make some people worse off, and others better off.
And so your campaign will be focused on
defining those who would win under your policies as deserving, and defining the
losers from your policy as anti-American leeches.
If your Bernie Sanders calling for more
people on the dole, or a more comfortable dole, this is only right given the
damage done by Wall Street speculators, who are the true enemy.
If you are a conservative trying to
re-instill work for welfare (ended by Obama), it is only right to limit the
extent to which welfare queens can live off of the hard work of the middle
You get the picture.
Redistribution is broader than just welfare programs; the
distribution of taxes also obviously effects what everyone has in their pockets
after the government takes its protection money.
If I want to redistribute $10 from Peter to
Paul, one simple way to do so is to increase Peter’s taxes by $10 and lower
Paul’s by an equal amount.
There is no
welfare payment going to Paul per se, but the effect is no different than if
Paul’s taxes staid the same, but he received a check from the government for
the extra $10 it collected from Peter.
fights over tax policies are also principally fights over redistribution of
So here’s the thing – there is no change to tax policy or
welfare policy in any direction that does not involve both winners and losers
versus the status quo.
isn’t true, as I will discuss in my next blog, but let’s just pretend for now
As such, there is no change in
these policies that could possibly be expected to engender bi-partisan
If one party’s primary
constituency is favored by such a change, it is often the case that the other
party’s constituency is harmed.
is no mere coincidence – each party will obviously try to advocate for the
interests of its core constituencies; because the interests of those core
constituencies are often adverse to each other, the parties will clash.
There is generally no such thing as a bi-partisan solution
in any issue involving redistribution; there is only a one-sided capitulation,
if only partial, to the demands of the other side.
And compromise should not be confused with
If the Democrats seek
to double welfare benefits, and Republicans seek to maintain the status quo, a
policy change that gets the support of Republicans and increases welfare
benefits by 50% is not a bi-partisan measure relative to the status quo – it’s
a partial capitulation for Republicans, a loss for their constituent group, and
a clear gain for the constituency of the Democrats.
I remember in a 2012 election debate Joe Biden trumpeting
his bi-partisanship in the Senate; my memory is a little foggy here, but if I
recall it consisted of a vote that was joined by both sides to limit the
trafficking of pornography via the internet that featured small puppies in
rescue shelters who are clearly not of the age of legal consent, or something
Such is the scope for
genuine bi-partisanship – it is limited to issues that are obvious no-brainers,
and which probably do not address any real problem.
Both sides can agree to run the risk of
losing the votes of the rescue shelter internet puppy pornographers lobby,
rather than take their chances of losing every other voter by backing that
Once you understand that redistribution is about both
welfare and tax policy, you can understand the comparative strategies of the
two parties – in both cases it could be crudely considered an attempt to favor
the respective ends of the income distribution by bribing the middle class to
Republicans are primarily
focused upon claiming all taxpayers as their constituency, as opposed to people
on the dole.
So the strategy is to say
that we can and should cut all of your taxes at the expense of the shiftless
people on the dole, and middle class people will reap the benefits.
You work hard; they don’t – end of
Democrats want to pit certain
taxpayers against others, and keep the conversation as far away from welfare
policy as they can; hence the rich are not paying their fair share.
The message – hey middle class guy drinking
Miller High Life after a long day in the mill, we can cut your taxes if we get
the fat cats who are on their yachts smoking illegal Cuban cigars hand-crafted
by five-year old kids enslaved by the commies (oh wait, they’re legal now) to
pay their fair share, and never mind about that welfare.