Vote Republican for lower wages

Is that a winning slogan? Do the Republicans have another?

Is this really a winning slogan?

Or how about “Vote Republican and destroy public education“?

No? Then maybe the old “Vote Republican and keep gay people from defending their country“? Hmmm … looks like that old dog won’t hunt anymore.

No, I think they’ll have to fall back on “Vote Republican and get rid of religious freedom.” Oh, and of course “Vote Republican to defend white people,” though with changing demographics that one, too may be reaching its sell-by date.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

29 thoughts on “Vote Republican for lower wages”

  1. Mark asks, is this really a winning slogan:

    The paper makes the party’s anti-Keynesian case that fiscal consolidation (read: spending cuts) can spur immediate economic growth and reduce unemployment.

    Yes I think that pig can fly. Quite far and powerfully in fact…
    Remember that great line from George Carlin?

    Nail two boards together, that nobody has ever nailed together before, and some schmuck will buy it from you.


    Nail two economic ideas together, that nobody imagined could ever be collated, and Americans will buy it from you en masse.

    Mark, cognitive dissonance outstanding, our general population has no ammunition in its head to fight back with. We are blank slates. Pure know-nothings. Especially when it comes to Econ 101. You can write anything at all on blank slates. Like this: “Cut taxes and raise revenues.” That’s an idea you can’t ever prove wrong. Because no one in the general population is paying attention to what happened in the last decade. They’ve got no facts upstairs. No book learning. Nothing to leverage an argument with…

    I betcha over 50% would mark that TRUE rather than FALSE on an exam.

    Do-do birds Mark.
    Ripe for the cudgel.
    They made an easy meal long ago…
    They make an easy meal today.

  2. Time was, it was considered impolitic to propose useless war, torture and deprivation of civil liberties. The Republicans have prospered nicely from this, and all three things are now cornerstones of American policy. Heck, 30 years ago when Reagan talked about the “death tax,” permanent repeal of the inheritance tax seemed ludicrous. But now it’s within reach.

    The Reality-Based Community may not like it, but as the leader of a great empire could have said: How many divisions has the Reality-Bsed Community? Or how many votes?

  3. Works for me.

    1. The average real wage is (GNP minus investment) divided by employment. Reducing the number of high-salaried State-employed parasites will raise real wages, if the parasites move from their do-nothing $80,000 per-year jobs to the Starbucks counter.

    2. I was torn between Palin and Cain. The link makes Cain and Bachman sound better on education. Years ago Ivan Illich wrote that a compassionate society would have in its constitution a clause like the First Amendment to the US Constitution which would read “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of education”. In abstract the education industry, where performance depends critically on local knowledge of highly variable inputs, is an unlikely candidate for State (government, generally) operation. I can understand why a professor at a government university would see the matter differently.

  4. Malcolm – Please can you explain what (if anything) should replace public schools (“government education” if you prefer)? Would you completely eliminate taxpayer funding of education? If that were the case, would everyone either educate their own children, hire tutors or pay for private schools? Or are you just proposing that the federal government get out of the education business and leave it to the states to finance education? If you don’t want to eliminate taxpayer funding of education, how if at all would your revised first amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of education” change the existing reform movement and its policies of privatization, competition, testing, and union-busting? If having that amendment would mean getting rid of NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and RTTP (Race to the Top) and all other standardized testing and textbook industry influence on public schools nationally, I think a progressive could really get behind that policy!

  5. Well, accepting wage cuts for the greater good (e.g., less unemployment) is something that is actually being done and has been done before, though generally in other countries with more robust traditions of social justice.

    The problem I see here is that the Republican party simply does not have the credibility to make this case; by all appearances, this is just a pretext to implement some of their more strongly ideological positions.

  6. I’m sorry to say it, but I tend to be sympathetic to the argument that this economic hokus-pokus talk works on many white voters because of their unexamined racism. What was that quote the other day – you hire one half of the poor to kill the other half? I think the Edsalls are basically right.

    Though of course, if we were all one race, the GOP would just find another wedge. They’re very good at it.

  7. (NGC): “…I tend to be sympathetic to the argument that this economic hokus-pokus talk works on many white voters because of their unexamined racism.
    Thanks for that insight into the NGC mind. Perhaps you could explain how Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Dambisa Moyo came to hold their views.
    (Malcolm): “…if the parasites move from their do-nothing $80,000 per-year jobs..”
    (James): “Kindly list ten.
    Go to the website of any tax-funded university. Locate all department/programs/colleges that go by “____ (fill in the blank) Studies”. List the faculty. Nationwide, your list will grow to thousands. Hawaii’s current Governor, Dr. Neil Abercrombie, got his American Studies PhD for a 50-page book report, “Mumford, Mailer, and the Machine”. Add the entire DEA, County-level Liquor Inspectors, city Vice squads, and you’re probably getting close to 1,000,000.

  8. “Heck, 30 years ago when Reagan talked about the “death tax,” permanent repeal of the inheritance tax seemed ludicrous. But now it’s within reach.”

    I think this is the essential point.
    A large portion of America (dominated by, but not exclusively, Republican) have realized that “America” is a massive vein of ore that can be mined successfully at least until they die. Of course, not long after they die the vein will be completely mined out — but that will be someone else’s problem. Future historians will note that as a strange irony of history and culture — that once a society becomes wealthy enough to be decoupled from true misery, it is in a position to forget that this state is not ordained by nature but is the consequence of the decisions and attitudes of the past.

    It is tempting to blame this exclusively on Republicans, but as I have noted over and over again, we see EXACTLY the same sort of magical thinking amongst card carrying leftists when it comes to population issues; and we have seen it repeatedly in the collapse of previous civilizations (vide Diamond’s _Collapse_). I think the bottom line is essentially the mechanism I have described. No-one WANTS to work hard, to spend money on infrastructure rather than playthings, to limit the number of kids — they do this because they’ve experienced the consequences of not doing so. But with enough time, the personal experience and culture that led to these choices fade, and people, decoupled as people always are from the uttermost roots of their civilization, assume that they can party forever.

    I imagine that the the majority American political establishment can continue to sell their particular blend of “good times are here to stay AND if you personally are suffering, it’s the fault of those outgroups over there” for quite a few more years. There’s probably two decades, at least, left of denial about climate change and peak oil — how things could go back to “normal” if we only drilled everywhere in the US, got rid of environmental restrictions, (maybe ratcheted up pressure on the Saudis) etc etc.

  9. Curious,

    Any realistic recommendation will depend on the audience and the span of time under consideration. To parents here in Hawaii, under the current legal system, I recommend (in descending order) that they (1.1) homeschool, (1.2) homeschool-by-remote (extend daycare to age 17 and take the GED), (2) pay tuition at a parochial school, (3)encourage their children to drop out in school (i.e., tell their children to tell their teachers to leave them alone, or else satyagraha. Read “The Ransom of Red Chief”). To students I recommend that they try negotiating with teachers and obtain credit by exam. Often this will not work. Many teachers are intellectually insecure and need to be needed. To legislators, I recommend any expansion of parent control (tuition tax credits, tuition vouchers, subsidized homeschooling, Parent Performance Contracting). I make basically the same recommendation to voters. To people willing to attend to abstract arguments, I ask that they try to answer two questions:
    1. From State (government, generally) operation (or subsidy) of what industries does society as a whole benefit? You may suppose either a dichotomous classification, A={x:x is an unlikely candidate for State operation} and B={x:x is a likely candidate for State operation}, or a continuum…
    (highly unlikely) -1_________._________+1 (highly likely).
    2. What criteria determine an industry’s classification or position on the continuum?

    I suggest that the answer to #2, above, will relate to (a) the relative importance of detailed knowledge of highly variable local conditions versus systematic expertise and (b) up-front capital costs. By these measures, the education industry is a highly unlikely candidate for centralized control.

    The State cannot subsidize education without a definition of “education”, but then the State’s definition binds students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers.

  10. To Malcolm: Go to any private university’s website and you’ll find just as many, if not more, professors of “fill-in-the-blank studies,” and unless I’m mistaken about freshwater economics, if the private sector offers something, especially en masse, then there must be a demand for it, and thus a use, so I find it bizarre that you would consider those jobs “do-nothing,” that is, unless by “do-nothing” you mean “they do things that I don’t care about nor understand.” Which is funny, because you consider “American studies” one of those “do-nothing” jobs, which makes sense, since you generally seem to know little nor care about America’s history, but rather just your own narrow ideological viewpoint.

  11. To paraphrase the Right Wing nowadays: “Public and universal education, one of the pillars of the prosperous modern nation-state, is an irreconcilable evil that trounces on your freedom and religion.”

    Anyone who listens to this nonsense is an idiot, plain and simple.

  12. Arguments for home-schooling kids are the funniest: “What if they are exposed to the wrong ideas!” And yet, somehow parents think that sheltering their children will prepare them for success in an increasingly global and mobile world. It does astound.

  13. For the sake of abstract argument, if the Federal government cannot define education adequately, can individual States do so? If local conditions within a State are so variable that even the State cannot define education and should get out of the business of financing it, are local government and school boards any more equipped to do so? Or even private schools or charters? From my perspective, the testing and textbook industries have already captured the standards-setting, policy-making, and financing aspects of local, State and Federal governments with control over education, but I still don’t see any realistic alternative to educating children in schools, with teachers who are paid to teach a curriculum defined by someone other than the individual teacher or parents of the child. Do you?

  14. Curious,
    The argument for markets and the argument for federalism (local control) proceed from the same premises. Markets and federalism institutionalize humility on the part of State actors. If we disagree about a matter of taste, competitive markets in goods and services or numerous local policy regimes allow for the expression of varied tastes while the contest for control over a State-monopoly enterprise must inevitably create unhappy losers (who may be an overwhelming majority; imagine a referendum on the one size shoes we all must wear). If we disagree about a matter of fact, where “What works?” is an empirical question, competitive markets in goods and services or a federal system will generate more information than will a State-monopoly enterprise. A State-monopoly enterprise is like an experiment with one treatment and nop controls: a retarded experimental design.

    I recommend E.G. West: “Education Without the State”.

    What is needed is choice in education. School choice has not and will not lead to more productive education because the obsolete technology called ʺschool” is inherently inelastic. As long as ʺschoolʺ refers to the traditional structure of buildings and grounds with services delivered in boxes called classrooms to which customers must be transported by car or bus, ʺschool choiceʺ will be unable to meaningfully alter the quality or efficiency of education.

    See also:…
    Marvin Minsky
    Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, 1994-July

    …the evidence is that many of our foremost achievers developed under conditions that are not much like those of present-day mass education. Robert Lawler just showed me a paper by Harold Macurdy on the child pattern of genius. Macurdy reviews the early education of many eminent people from the last couple of centuries and concludes (1) that most of them had an enormous amount of attention paid to them by one or both parents and (2) that generally they were relatively isolated from other children. This is very different from what most people today consider an ideal school. It seems to me that much of what we call education is really socialization. Consider what we do to our kids. Is it really a good idea to send your 6-year-old into a room full of 6-year-olds, and then, the next year, to put your 7-year-old in with 7-year-olds, and so on? A simple recursive argument suggests this exposes them to a real danger of all growing up with the minds of 6-year-olds. And, so far as I can see, that’s exactly what happens.
    Our present culture may be largely shaped by this strange idea of isolating children’s thought from adult thought. Perhaps the way our culture educates its children better explains why most of us come out as dumb as they do, than it explains how some of us come out as smart as they do.

    One last recommendation: please read this article on artificially extended adolescence by Ted Kolderie.

  15. Sean,
    1. State funding has crowded out private providers. The dominant (State-funded) model shapes what competitors offer.
    2. Richard Arkwright, Cyrus McCormick, and Thomas Edison were homeschooled. Albert Einstein and Mohandas Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school.
    3. Homeschooling parents have chosen to homeschool, not to move to Mars. School is bad socialization.

  16. Ahahaha, so no one has to click Malcolm’s last link, the Kolderie one, it pretty much argues for the re-introduction of child labor beginning around 12. It’s also only four pages long and filled with only hearsay and anecdotal evidence from a small, self-selected group.

  17. To Malcolm, on point 2: It is rather absurd to point out that most successful people who grew up before 1850 were educated privately since public schooling, and certainly not universal public schooling, didn’t become popular until the mid-19th century. And people like S. T. Coleridge and even Wordsworth were for the Bell system of education when it debuted. And Albert Einstein, I imagine, would not be too pleased to be in a private school, a parochial school, or homeschooled, according to what he seems to have wrote (a feeling similar to Wordsworth’s before Wordsworth decided his son needed an education not strictly from nature). Me, I feel the same way as Einstein and Wordsworth about how children should be brought up and “educated,” and hope to send my kid[s] to a Montessori school. But I would want every student to have that chance, which means public financing rather than education only for the rich, which is what private-school models end up doing inevitably. In any case, there are so many massive problems with universal private-schooling that don’t even get to “What is the best pedagogy?” that the idea is completely impractical. And if you are suggesting that universal education is not the answer, then I’m sorry, but that is where the discussion ends. (Ah! lets dream of a return to an institutionalized caste-based society!)

  18. (Sean): “Public and universal education, one of the pillars of the prosperous modern nation-state…
    (Sean): “public schooling, and certainly not universal public schooling, didn’t become popular until the mid-19th century.
    Make up your mind.
    (Sean): “…Malcolm’s last link, the Kolderie one, it pretty much argues for the re-introduction of child labor beginning around 12.
    Today, children work, unpaid, as window-dressing in a massive make-work program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel.
    (Sean): “…if you are suggesting that universal education is not the answer, then I’m sorry, but that is where the discussion ends.
    It is a mistake to equate “education” and “school”. It is a mistake to equate compulsory attendance at schools operated by dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel to “public education”.

  19. Please excuse my remix of Mark:

    I’m Republican, and I’m for lower wages. Much lower wages.

    Public education is a cancer. Vote Republican!

    Hate religious freedom? Vote Republican!

    Ask yourself. Do you support:
    Six day workweeks?
    Back alley abortions?
    Food poisoning?
    Air pollution?
    A destroyed national economy?
    No jobs?
    No future?
    Lying, amoral, reptilian behavior?
    Destruction of our national character?
    Hatred, fear, and cowardice?

    If you answered YES to any of these, then VOTE REPUBLICAN.
    You’ll be glad you did.

  20. (StevenB):

    Six day workweeks?

    Food poisoning?
    Air pollution?
    A destroyed national economy?
    No jobs?
    No future?
    Lying, amoral, reptilian behavior?
    Destruction of our national character?
    Hatred, fear, and cowardice?

    You describe Soviet society, the Soviet economy, and the Russian environment, post 1918. Read Boris Pononmorev, __The Destruction of Nature in the USSR__, Zhores Medvedev, __Nuclear Disaster in the Urals__, and Vaclav Smil __The Bad Earth: Land Use Policy in China__. Read Andrei Amalrik, __Involuntary Journey to Siberia__, and __Notes of a Revolutionary__, Victor Sheymov, __Tower of Secrets__ and John Barron, __Mig Pilot__. Take a break from reading and watch __The Lives of Others__. Have a taste for fiction? Read Grossman, __Life and Fate__.

    You have, broadly speaking, three choices: to live as a hermit, to participate in an exchange economy, or to participate in a command economy.

    Abortion is independent of the left/right socialist/free-marketeer axis. There were communist countries where abortion was illegal and communist countries where it was compulsory. There are market economies where abortion is illegal and market economies where it is easily available.

  21. Once again, Malcolm takes a brave and principled stand against the thriving and powerful Communist Party of America!

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