Free Markets, Free People
As of today, FOIA.org released another 7zip file—which can be obtained here—containing 5000 unencypted, and an additional 250,000 encrypted, climate change emails from all the usual suspects we remember from Climategate. FOIA.org says they don’t plan on releasing the encryption keys for the remaining emails yet, but the 5,000 unencrypted emails are…interesting.
One quick take-away: Michael Mann’s temperature results may be…questionable.
I thought I’d play around with some randomly generated time-series and see if I could ‘reconstruct’ northern hemisphere temperatures.
[...] The reconstructions clearly show a ‘hockey-stick’ trend. I guess this is precisely the phenomenon that Macintyre has been going on about.
That would seem to be a pretty big vulnerability in the "hockey stick".
And the IPCC process seems…really questionable.
Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary [...]
I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.
The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s included and what is left out.
In my [IPCC-TAR] review [...] I crit[i]cized [...] the Mann hockey[s]tick [...] My review was classified “unsignificant” even I inquired several times. Now the internationally well known newspaper SPIEGEL got the information about these early statements because I expressed my opinion in several talks, mainly in Germany, in 2002 and 2003. I just refused to give an exclusive interview to SPIEGEL because I will not cause damage for climate science.
Hence the AR4 Section 22.214.171.124.2 dismissal of the ACRIM composite to be instrumental rather than solar in origin is a bit controversial. Similarly IPCC in their discussion on solar RF since the Maunder Minimum are very dependent on the paper by Wang et al (which I have been unable to access) in the decision to reduce the solar RF significantly despite the many papers to the contrary in the ISSI workshop. All this leaves the IPCC almost entirely dependent on CO2 for the explanation of current global temperatures as in Fig 2.23. since methane CFCs and aerosols are not increasing.
I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!
But, remember, the science is settled!
The results for 400 ppm stabilization look odd in many cases [...] As it stands we’ll have to delete the results from the paper if it is to be published.
 What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably [...]
Although I agree that GHGs are important in the 19th/20th century (especially since the 1970s), if the weighting of solar forcing was stronger in the models, surely this would diminish the significance of GHGs.
[...] it seems to me that by weighting the solar irradiance more strongly in the models, then much of the 19th to mid 20th century warming can be explained from the sun alone.
would you agree that there is no convincing evidence for kilimanjaro glacier melt being due to recent warming (let alone man-made warming)?
[tropical glaciers] There is a small problem though with their retreat. They have retreated a lot in the last 20 years yet the MSU2LT data would suggest that temperatures haven’t increased at these levels.
There shouldn’t be someone else at UEA with different views [from "recent extreme weather is due to global warming"] – at least not a climatologist.
I am not convinced that the “truth” is always worth reaching if it is at the cost of damaged personal relationships
Phil, thanks for your thoughts – guarantee there will be no dirty laundry in the open.
He’s skeptical that the warming is as great as we show in East Antarctica — he thinks the “right” answer is more like our detrended results in the supplementary text. I cannot argue he is wrong.
<4470> Norwegian Meteorological Institute:
In Norway and Spitsbergen, it is possible to explain most of the warming after the 1960s by changes in the atmospheric circulation. The warming prior to 1940 cannot be explained in this way.
It is interesting to see the lower tropospheric warming minimum in the tropics in all three plots, which I cannot explain. I believe it is spurious but it is remarkably robust against my adjustment efforts.
You know what else is remarkably robust against adjustment efforts? Reality.
Today’s economic statistical releases:
3rd Quarter GDP took a downward bump on the Commerce Department’s first revision from 2.5% to 2%. Analysts had expected a revision to 2.4%, so today’s revision was well below that.
The Richmond Fed Index ended 4 months of contraction, coming in at 0, indicating no growth or contraction.
Corporate after-tax profits in the 3rd quarter rose 6.5%.
In weekly retail sales, ICSC-Goldman Store Sales were down -0.9% for the week, and only up 2.8% year-over year. Meanwhile, Redbook reports strong 3.7% sales growth over last year.
As Bruce points out below, the failure of the Super Committee should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. Even where committees arrive at an agreed solution, it rarely ever gets implemented. What’s worse, in this case, the Super Committee was operating under the sword of automatic spending cuts to domestic and military programs should it fail to arrive at a consensus — i.e. no side had any incentive to deliver more or less than what would automatically go into place anyway. Of course, Pres. Obama running a re-election campaign based on a “do nothing” Congress certainly didn’t inspire his Democratic brethren on the Super Committee to find common ground either.
But these aren’t the real reasons for the Super Committee failure. Instead, as Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) writes in the Wall Street Journal today, the underlying problem is one of ideological impasse:
Ultimately, the committee did not succeed because we could not bridge the gap between two dramatically competing visions of the role government should play in a free society, the proper purpose and design of the social safety net, and the fundamentals of job creation and economic growth.
For the members of the Super Committee, the choice seemed to be between raising taxes on a small percentage of earners and making no cuts or reforms to the shibboleths of Medicare and Social Security, or reducing taxes and modestly curbing entitlements at some point in the future. In other words, it was a choice between expanding or slightly retarding the growth of government. However, it’s not just the specifics that make compromise difficult, if not impossible. Where one side believes that government is always the answer to what ails us, and the other (at least nominally) operates from the premise that individual effort leads to greater prosperity for all, there is only so much compromise that can be reached between the two. Eventually, government will be either too small or too big for the other side to bear.
This is the crucible in which somehow a compromise was to be reached on federal spending.
As it stands now, government spending is equal to about 35% to 40% of GDP, while our national debt is around 100% of GDP. At the federal level, we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that we spend, and entertaining trillion dollar plus deficits year after year for as long as we can reasonably forecast. This is the vision of those who see government as playing the primary role in most every aspect of society since it costs a lot of money to execute that vision. Yet, despite the fact that government has done nothing but grow over the past sixty years, they are convinced that anything smaller than what we currently have will lead to economic and social ruin. To be sure, after finally getting the government foot in the door of universal health care, the liberal base is not about to countenance any willing walk-back on those gains. The Democrats on the Super Committee were well aware of this, and that accepting changes to Medicare and Social Security or any other dearly loved social program would result in a deep backlash from those who believe that all of life is dependent on government.
Opposing that vision are those who think that government should be smaller and less intrusive, especially with respect to our economy. They look at our ever-growing debt and anemic, if not illusory, economic gains and see nothing but trouble down the road we’re traveling. Unfortunately, while total government spending is often publicly recognized as the problem, too many of these visionaries think that simply reducing tax rates will flood the federal coffers and all will be right with world. It’s true that raising taxes in a declining or struggling economy will tend to exacerbate, not alleviate, the problem. But Republicans on the committee also know that their base stand ready to punish any member who suggests raising taxes, now or in the future, regardless of the fact that the spending cuts necessary to get our debt problems under control simply aren’t feasible. And they won’t have much better luck at the ballot box if they even hint at reforming Medicare or Social Security.
Even where they are willing to take that chance, however, the Democrats can’t politically afford to compromise:
The Medicare reforms would make no changes for those in or near retirement. Beginning in 2022, beneficiaries would be guaranteed a choice of Medicare-approved private health coverage options and guaranteed a premium-support payment to help pay for the plan they choose.
Democrats rejected this approach but assured us on numerous occasions they would offer a “structural” or “architectural” Medicare reform plan of their own. While I do not question their good faith effort to do so, they never did.
Republicans on the committee also offered to negotiate a plan based on the bipartisan “Protect Medicare Act” authored by Alice Rivlin, one of President Bill Clinton’s budget directors, and Pete Domenici, a former Republican senator from New Mexico. Rivlin-Domenici offered financial support to seniors to purchase quality, affordable health coverage in Medicare-approved plans. These seniors would be able to choose from a list of Medicare-guaranteed coverage options, similar to the House budget’s approach—except that Rivlin-Domenici would continue to include a traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan among the options.
This approach was also rejected by committee Democrats.
The Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare trustees, and the Government Accountability Office have each repeatedly said that our health-care entitlements are unsustainable. Committee Democrats offered modest adjustments to these programs, but they were far from sufficient to meet the challenge. And even their modest changes were made contingent upon a minimum of $1 trillion in higher taxes—a move sure to stifle job creation during the worst economy in recent memory.
Even if Republicans agreed to every tax increase desired by the president, our national debt would continue to grow uncontrollably. Controlling spending is therefore a crucial challenge. The other is economic growth and job creation, which would produce the necessary revenue to fund our priorities.
Meanwhile, we operate under a tax system that is so heavily skewed towards the highest income producers that our government is dependent on about five percent of the taxpayers for a majority of its revenue, and only a quarter of all tax payers for more than 85% of that revenue. To the Democrats, this is apparently a good start. Republicans, on the other hand, see an unfair system that, if properly reworked, could raise even more revenue. Either way the spending, and thus the government, grows.
The definition of “priorities” is the real sticking point. It means either that everything from price and income support to cradle-to-grave health care is a priority, or that only the basic structural necessities of national defense, courts of law and last-resort safety nets qualify. There has been a great deal of compromise on that definition over the past several decades (albeit, always resulting in an expanding government), but it seems that we’ve finally reached the limit where any further acquiescence by one side results in unbearable loss to the other side. It’s difficult to see how we can successfully move forward as a unified country with such diametrically opposed visions for the role of government. Indeed, maybe we can’t for very much longer.
I’m not much of a Paul Begala fan, but in fact, like a blind pig will eventually find an acorn, he’s gotten this one right. Why is Newt Gingrich in ascension? Well because the ABR crowd’s latest candidate, Herman Cain, imploded.
ABR you ask? Anybody But Romney.
More likely the Gingrich surge is just the latest Republican tulip craze (count the pedantic historical references I use in Newt’s honor!)—with Newt simply serving as the latest vessel for the ABR movement: Anybody But Romney.
Mitt Romney has been running for president nonstop for about five years now. And he has gone from 25 percent in the 2007 Iowa caucuses to 18 percent in the latest Bloomberg poll of Iowa voters. He’s the Harold Stassen of 2012. Face it, Mitt: they’re just not that into you.
Republicans, apparently, will date anyone before they’ll marry Mitt. Remember their brief fling with Donald Trump? Then, after he decided not to throw his hair into the ring, they fell for Michele Bachmann, the Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya of the far right. Then it was Rick Perry—the guy who claims he jogs with a loaded gun (without a safety) tucked into his shorts. And now that they’ve tired of Herman Cain’s, umm, hands-on style of leadership, it’s Newt’s turn.
Begala’s point is fairly obvious but true.
However, there’s a very important point to be made despite that. A recent poll found that Obama, Romney and Gingrich are statistically tied in the swing states. Romney, as Begala and others point out, isn’t even the consensus GOP pick. In fact, the GOP voters are willing to look at everyone else to see if any of them provide a suitable replacement for Romney. And even the candidate they’d prefer to replace Romney with is tied with the incumbent Democrat.
That isn’t good news for Democrats if you think about it. If the guy that is the last pick of the GOP faithful (or so it seems) is able to tie the incumbent president in swing states, how bad will it be when the GOP (and supporters) finally pick one candidate and get behind him (even Romney)?
Begala thinks Gingrich would be a “gift” to Democrats. He’s right to an extent. But the Republican’s gift is sitting in the White House right now. He actually has to run on a record this time, and it’s not an enviable record. While it is true that Republicans are still trying to find their man (or woman), there are indicators such as that poll that say that regardless of who they choose, even if it is a baggage laden Gingrich, Obama has big trouble.
So far those like Paul Begala choose to ignore that point. Their intent now is to attack the GOP candidates personally as they’ve always done in the past (remember Begala comes from the Clinton campaign where the politics of personal destruction were raised to an art form) and hope they manage to demonize the Republican pick enough to let their guy slip by. It’s about the only hope they have.
Gingrich will provide a target rich opportunity there. But, given the incumbent, will it be enough? I’m not so sure. I’m certainly not convinced that Gingrich will prevail, but I do think that Democrats right now are either in denial or simply not aware of how deep the electoral trouble is that their candidate is in. Whoever the GOP chooses, he will not play John McCain to this election year’s Barack Obama.
While everything is mostly focused on the GOP and their interminable debate cycle, at some point, Obama has to step out of the shadows and actually begin his run. That’s when the real games will begin, and I’m not sure the Democrats yet understand that much of the fire the GOP candidates are now receiving will shift to Obama when that happens.
It ain’t gonna be pretty when it does.
Question: is anyone – and I mean anyone – somehow surprised that the Supercommittee failed?
Seriously? Is there anyone who actually thought that this collection of ideologically loyal representatives handpicked by leaders on each side was ever going to compromise and try to work something out?
I’m not suggesting that compromise was the right or best thing to do – I’m simply asking a question about the make up of the committee and how anyone who knows anything about how Washington DC works could have or would have expected success.
And, as Michael said in the podcast, there was no incentive for them to succeed. There was every incentive to do exactly what happened, fail to reach any sort of consensus.
So, as Jim Geraghty quips in today’s Morning Jolt, they now get back to what they do best:
After the Supercommittee, Congress returns to its core competency: finger-pointing
And we will certainly see much of that in the next few weeks. Already some in the media are trying to spin it a certain way.
The imminent failure of the congressional deficit “supercommittee,” which had a chance to settle the nation’s tax policy for the next decade, would thrust the much-contested Bush tax cuts into the forefront of next year’s presidential campaign.
Why do I consider that “spin”? Because the “much-contested Bush tax cuts” are simply the current tax rate, nothing more. Tax rates have changed over the many years of income taxation and never has one rate, which has been in effect for years, been referred too as a “tax cut”. They certainly didn’t refer to tax increases under Bill Clinton as the “much-contested Clinton tax increases” did they?
No, they were simply the new tax rates.
So as with many things, the media has bought into the description that one side has put out there to keep attention focused in a negative way on the so-called “rich”. Rarely do they point out the amount of the total taxes these “rich” pay when they parrot the politicians call for the rich to pay their “fair share”. Nor do they bother to point out that even if the “rich” pay 100% of their earnings in taxes it won’t solve the deficit problem.
Presented as the unchallenged panacea to all that is wrong is this tax increase.
Note what isn’t mentioned. Spending. In fact, we’ve quietly slipped past $15 trillion cumulative national debt in the last week. That means that in less than a year, another trillion in spending borrowed money has occurred. We’ve now managed to run up a debt equal to 100% of our nation’s GDP.
That should be what we’re talking about in the 2012 presidential campaign. How we managed in 3 short years to push the debt from $9 trillion to $15 trillion. It certainly wasn’t the “rich” who did that, nor would increasing taxes on them have stopped it.
While at some point revenue increases may end up being something the Congress will discuss, the problem to this point remains the fact that Congress has done absolutely nothing to stem the red ink that keeps running our national debt through the roof.
And the sequestration cuts supposedly triggered by the failure of the Supercommittee take place when? 2013 of course. After the election and when a new Congress, which can’t be held to the cuts made by a former Congress, comes into existence.
In reality, this is nothing more than a new fangled way for our politicians to kick the can down the road while they squabble about something which really has no bearing and would have little effect on the primary problem: out-of-control spending.
So what do the real 99% think about the motley .0001% trying to represent themselves as the majority?
A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows that the "Occupy" movement has failed to capture the attention of a majority of Americans, indicating either ambivalence toward it or lack of interest.
The poll finds that 56% of Americans surveyed are neither supporters nor opponents and 59% say they don’t know enough to have an opinion about the movement’s goals.
The survey, however, does show an increase from 20% to 31% in disapproval of the way the protests are being conducted.
If Occupy Wall Street’s goal was to capture the attention of America and spark a movement that would change its face (even if it isn’t exactly sure what it wanted that change to look like), it has apparently failed, if this poll is any indication.
Majorities didn’t know or care much about them and also weren’t paying enough attention to them to understand if they had any goals and if they did, to have an opinion about them.
In effect OWS has been reduced to a side show that surfaces again every now and then when some new outrage is discovered to have happened among the protesters.
I assume that even the slowest among the Democrats has effectively abandoned OWS by now.
Last week I pointed out how Tunisia is starting the seemingly inevitable slide toward Islamic extremism.
Egypt too has failed to keep the promise of the “Arab Spring” uprising that saw Hosni Mubarak ousted from power. There the Muslim Brotherhood has gained power and the Army seems intent on keeping power – at least in the short term. We now are seeing deadly riots again in Tahrir Square in Cairo where the Army is clashing with protesters. Thus far it is reported that 35 are dead in the three days of those clashes.
The eruption of violence, which began Saturday, reflects the frustration and confusion that has mired Egypt’s revolution since Mubarak fell in February and the military stepped into power.
It comes only a week before Egypt is to begin the first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections, which many have hoped would be a significant landmark in a transition to democracy. Instead, it has been clouded by anger at the military’s top body, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which will continue to rule as head of state even after the vote. Activists accuse the generals of acting increasingly in the same autocratic way as Mubarak’s regime and seeking to cling to power.
The military says it will only hand over power after presidential elections, which it has vaguely said will be held in late 2012 or early 2013. The protesters are demanding an immediate move to civilian rule.
Again, in a country which has no democratic traditions or institutions the “hope” is the parliamentary elections will be “a significant landmark in the transition to democracy” has no foundation in reality. Right now it appears that the Egyptian people have simply exchanged on boss for another. And the result of the parliamentary elections, if they’re ever held, may see the ushering in of a third “boss”- the Muslim Brotherhood which has not really promised “secular democracy” if they take the majority in the Egyptian Parliament. Instead it seems clear they intend a steady move toward an Islamic state.
And the traditions of the Islamic state are to pay lip service to “democracy” (see Iran), no secularism (in fact one of the only secular Arab states, Syria, is in deep trouble right now – any guess what may replace that government?) and rule by Islamic law.
I don’t think that the “spring” most of the initial protesters (and their supporters in the West) were hoping for when they turned out to oppose Mubarak and call for secular democracy.
As usual, it is the most organized and ruthless who will claim power. Right now that’s the Army. If and when an election is held and the Muslim Brotherhood takes enough seats to form a government it is likely the Army will reach an agreement with them to somehow share power. And secular democracy?
No time soon in Egypt, count on it. And watch Libya carefully as well.
Today’s economic statistical releases:
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index rose to -0.13, indicating that economic growth, while improving, is still below trend.
Existing home sales rose 1.4 percent in October to a 4.97 million annual rate. Sales are up 13.5% on a year-over-year basis.
For those of you who have not taken the opportunity to listen to this week’s podcast, the above was part of the summation of our situation by Dale Franks. I’d recommend you listen to the whole thing.
No one knows in detail what will happen in the next few years. The number of variables is too high. But the general outline is clear. In the near term, the US and about half a dozen European countries have unsustainable debt curves. That unsustainable debt is going to cause financial catastrophe not in a decade or two, but sometime in the next few years.
Given the interconnected nature of the world’s trade and financial system, that catastrophe is likely to spread rapidly. Even countries whose sins have been modest, such as Germany, will be caught up. Countries who depend on the US and Europe for the money to drive their economies, such as China and India, will be caught up. It’s going to be very, very messy, and a lot of people are going to suffer.
The participants in the podcast all agreed that there isn’t any obvious politically feasible way to reverse course. I agree, and I have a few comments to add.
I see the following as the biggest three groups involved in the political decision making, from largest to smallest, with some overlap among them:
(1.) The "rationally ignorant"* – those who don’t pay that much attention to politics, and have at best a vague understanding that we have a problem. These people, to the extent they think about it at all, believe that shuffling some things around a bit, electing some different people, and passing a few laws will fix whatever is ailing us.
They believe in such a “solution” because that’s the way things have gone their whole lives. Somehow the ruling class has always managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and keep things humming. They won’t believe this process will fail until it does.
There are even quite a few Republicans in this category. They can generally be identified by their fixation on finding "the next Reagan".**
(2.) The ones who have some glimmering that there’s a problem, perhaps because they are unemployed, mired in debt, or both, but have a convenient scapegoat in mind. That’s usually "the rich" and "the evil corporations", though for Republicans, it might be Obama, Barney Frank, George Soros, or whoever. Like group 1, they believe it’s easy to fix the problems – just come down on the scapegoat, and everything will work out.
(3.) The "ruling class" as defined by Codevilla. This group is mostly convinced of their own magnificence, and thus believe if the right people are in charge (which usually includes them personally), then they can solve any problems. The ones in this group with enough situational awareness to realize the magnitude of the problem also realize that it’s pointless to do anything significant to try and solve it because that would get them cashiered from the ruling class. So their efforts are in mitigation, obfuscations, and generally stretching things out until they are retired from the game.
Given this breakdown, we can talk all we want about who the GOP is going to nominate for president, but it really doesn’t matter. We have too big a cohort of people in this country who either believe we don’t really have a serious problem, or think there is a serious problem, but believe the cause is a boogieman of some kind that must be vanquished.
There’s a good reason they believe that. They are kept in the dark by a mainstream legacy press desperate to cover up the failings of the left-leaning governing style preferred by the vast majority of journalists.
In fact, none of the ruling class – which includes the politicians, journalists, academicians, lobbyists, staffers, and the like – has any motivation to tell the harsh truth about the trouble we are in. As I said above, they have a strong disincentive to do so. If they did, the other members of the ruling class would turn on them. They would likely lose their livelihood.
We’re also fighting ingrained culture. We have two generations that have been raised to believe that, ultimately, someone else is responsible for the essentials of their lives. They believe they are supposed to retire in their fifties or early sixties, with a pension followed by Social Security. They believe they are supposed to relinquish concern for healthcare costs when they turn 65. They believe that if things get bad enough in their lives, unemployment, and later welfare, will keep a roof over their head and food on the table. They’ve been trained to believe this by a ruling class that has been assuring them since the 1930s that they have the fundamental right to a soft life.
These people do not want to think about a world where these things are not true. It would be exquisitely painful to worry about those things. So they don’t. They ignore the warnings of the "radicals" who trot out the debt curves and the demographic stats. It’s easy enough to do that – the supposedly smart reporters ignore them too, if they don’t come right out and ridicule them. The abysmally ignorant social scientist cohort produces yet another round of "analysis" purporting to prove everything is OK, or at least would be if those rich people would just give up some more money. The political class assures them that it will be all right if they just keep electing the right people.
This state of affairs has no exit except catastrophe so major and undeniable that it affects most people personally. By then, it is virtually certain that the world financial system is past the point of no return in its current form.
I’ve stopped trying to talk to people around me about what is happening and likely to happen. I would have to spend hours removing the false assumptions they hold before I could even start. Plus, as I mentioned, they don’t want to believe what I need to tell them. It’s just too painful.
We are about to see a crisis that will set back living standards in this country to a level many alive today have never seen. The only reason it probably won’t get down to subsistence level is the technology base that we have. But we’re probably going to see stagnation, crumbling infrastructure, high unemployment, inability for most people to build any significant assets, and possible civil violence if the problem becomes so severe that it starts affecting the food supply (which I hope won’t happen).
I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does either, about how we will get through the chaos and what things look on the other side of it. I see three major categories of possible outcomes, and there may be more. But that’s a subject for another post.
(*)When I used the term "rational ignorance" in a comment at Daily Pundit about five years back, Bill Quick picked it up and had some unkind things to say about such people. (Daily Pundit is undergoing a platform change, so I can’t link to the page. It was on June 10, 2006, and I’ll link to it once the site over there is back to normal.) I understand Bill’s take, but unlike him and some other opinionists on the right, I don’t use it pejoratively. I use it the way economists originally intended: simply to mean people who are unwilling to invest the time and cost to become informed about the real underlying state of our political world.
It is expensive to become so informed, and the payoff for any individual is small. The aggregate effects, as we are seeing, may be horrendous. That doesn’t change the underlying economics. A political system that relies on individuals to invest the time to become informed about complex political issues, out of a higher understanding of their civic duty, is as doomed to failure as a system that expects individuals to commit to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". In both cases, such an expectation crashes up against the behavior of real people, i.e., human nature. For me, this is one of the cornerstones of my strong belief in highly limited government – it’s the only form that allows people to not know much about the political world because that world is pretty simple. We just have not figured out how to make limited government stable in the long term in the face of rational ignorance plus plus the cohort of moochers that’s present in every society.
(**)While I grant that Reagan was better than many alternatives, including the pathetic scold he replaced, at best he gave us some breathing space to solve the underlying problems of a decaying welfare state. He didn’t really make much progress in actually solving the long term problem, and his inability to get Democrats to cut spending led to some significant contributions to our debt problems.