Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Observations

1. If you go to RCP and look at the polls including 10/16 or 10/17, it appears that Obama’s real margin now is 5%. No McCain bleeding right now, still time for a surge.

2. On the Senate, the result could be pretty bad or really bad. Right now there are five races in the South that could go either way--NC, KY, GA, TX, and MS. They all go R, and no way the Ds get to 60. They all go D, and my prediction is they get 62. NC is enouraging insofar as Dole is hanging in there, but there’s a general consensus she’s unlikely to be reelected. Texas shouldn’t be as close at it is, but probably still R. Texas is one state where McCain really will be a help. Wicker holds a statistically insignificant lead in MS and is a lame candidate for a variety of reasons. Those in the know say a huge African-American turnout in MS will make the prez race closer than the polls show. If that’s true, Wicker loses. Chambliss is now targeted by Sam Nunn and friends in a big, big way, and a likely big, big African-American turnout in Georgia puts the odds against him at this point. I’ve haven’t seen any very recent polls on McConnell, but the few things I’ve heard don’t sound all that promising for him. The WSJ reminds us of the importance of the filibuster as a weapon in 1993-94.

3. I for one cringed some at McCain’s repeated use of Joe the Plumber. But surely the MSM/D fake outrage about his various human failings--and their intensive investigation of every nook and cranny of his existence--is something worse than negative campaigning.

Discussions - 12 Comments

The only thing that caused some small amount of cringing at the use of Joe the Plumber was that it took something like this to get McCain to finally start talking like he's been doing these last few days. There's a reason that Obama's numbers slipped just a bit in the last 4 days. His name is not Joe. It is Ron.

Joe seems like a fine guy but what was really damaging was Obama's "share the wealth" response which was a classic "getting caught saying what you really believe" gaffe. And you don't have to be making 250,000 a year to be disturbed by spirit behind the remark. And Joe reminds us that alot of what get dismissvley labeled rugged individualism is very family and responsibility oriented. But even the Joe version of rugged individualism won't be enough for Republicans this year.

I have few hopes for Republican incumbents currently polling at less than 50%. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

And Joe reminds us that alot of what get dismissvley labeled rugged individualism is very family and responsibility oriented.

Then I look at Europe and how they "share the wealth" through creating child care programs and requiring employers to pay a percentage of a woman's salary and give her an incredible amount of time off when she decides to have a child, and I remember what it means for a government to facilitate a "family" orientation (and "family values").

But, you know . . . hooray free market. Go Joe. Yeah, McCain - keep using "socialism" every other word (as if to celebrate the clear fact that the majority of Americans today just dismiss anything connected with the word as if Obama were creating a new Commie Russia in their backyard). Maybe you'll be able to surf that ignorance straight into an almost-loss instead of a landslide (in respect to the electoral college, that is).

Obama said ". . .spread the wealth around."

Matt, have you seen Western Europe's fertility rates? Most of those policies seem to be of zero help in raising families because what is given in benefits get taken in higher taxes and higher unemployment rates. One of the things that Joe reminded us is that he was a creature with responsibilities and his working towards upward mobility was an expression of his love for his family. He also expected similar responsibility for others, for the sake of themselves and the rest of us. There was some basic justice in his observations and it hit a chord with more than just hard core conservatives. But while Joe's family oriented rugged individualism is a part of any successful conservatism, it won't be enough. There are alot of hard working Joes who feel very economically insecure and who feel like their work is not translating into higher living standards. Conservatives have to face up to that fact too if they want a long term future. One idea we might borrow from Europe is the child allowance or a child care tax credit that can be used for care by a parent or family member rather than just a professional child care center

Pete, I don't think it has anything to do with the unemployment rate or social programs. Here is how much countries spend on their social programs and here are the birthrates for all countries. I can't find any kind of correlation like the one you suggest.

I think the fertility rates have a lot to do with culture. In western Germany, for example, women by and large don't feel comfortable having strangers take care of their kids (and are pressured not to do so by their family). In the U.S., we'll pawn 'em off on the cheapest sitter.

And check out this nifty tax rate thingy.

Pete gives the reason why the Western Europe system is unsustainable over the long term. THE STRANGE SECRET WORD SYSTEM IS GETTING STRANGER--my two words are eliminated and boned.

Matt, agreed that culture matters alot. But from your info (thank you for the links), I'll note that the US has a 10% or more higher birth rate than the Western European countries. Joe's attitude represents a more truly "family friendly" culture than the welfare states of Western Europe. The government ability to help families through government funded social programs and employer mandates is sharply limited and easily veers of into the counterproductive. Families in Europe get longer vacations but put off having children or avoid it alltogether. Businesses have to give better child care or family leave policies but they create fewer jobs leading to an unemployment rate that is usually a 50% or more higher than the US one. Culture and economic policies interact in a complicated way but adopting most of the European model will be very problematic.

You are right that any program to help families deal with the demands of the market should be more choice based that either a government run program or one that pushes people into commercial daycare that is run by strangers. The problems Matt raises are ones that conservatives should be spending more time thinking about (some do of course, but I'm talking about the broad run of conservatives). Helping families participate in the ever more competetive market economy while fostering the traditional family connections that lead to upward mobility and social stablity is a real policy challange that rugged individualism does not provide all the answers for. Conservatives might not like Matt's European oriented answers, but he is asking important questions.

Let me clarify that last comment: it's my belief that fertility rates, in general, have lot more to do with culture than with current economic policies.

I didn't say that the birth rates are caused by the social policies. It's a long story, but I don't think that. I said the social/economic policies are demographically unsustainable. All over the techno-West, we're going to have few productive young people and more and more unproductive old ones. This happenly more slowly in our country, but we're hardly exempt

Joe the Plumber hit a (good) nerve with my traditionally Democrat in-laws and all of their 50s generation relatives who were also working-class Dems back in the day. Riffing on Joe's remarks, I was able to explain in terms better than I've ever been able to do before with them, why I tend more toward the Republicans. (Socially, they've always been conservative . . . it's just that they still labor under the misconception that the Dems are more for the working class while the Republicans are for the rich.) That said, these are folks who probably were not going to vote for Obama anyway because he seems less than enthusiastic about American patriotism in the sense that they have always understood it. But Joe made a dent with them in terms of making them understand why they should probably not vote Dem for things like Senators and Congressmen and state reps, etc. I was even able to get my mother-in-law (though not my father-in-law) to see why the electoral college is a good idea and why over-regulation is damaging to the middle class because it puts too much trust in the goodness of the human nature of the regulators. I think my father-in-law might admit in private that he was persuaded . . . but he would never say as much to my face. Joe did McCain and all Republicans a great service in that greeting line. We'd all be fools if we let this go.

Yes. Every conservative in America owes Joe a debt of gratitude. Not watching TV, I only get to read about the media frenzy by second-hand. That the campaign seems have become a response to him is most impressive and happy-making in the democratic "anyone can rise to the political occasion" way some of us think America ought to work. If there is a place to contribute to the "Joe the Plumber Own Your Own Business Fund" I would send money.

On the other topic, some of those high birth rates look to be in countries with high infant mortality rates. Do we consider that a cultural issue? One other matter - perhaps being able to actually raise your own child makes child-rearing a more satisfactory activity than having children that other people raise, by and large. Apparently, the more the state is involved in raising the children, the less satisfaction there is in the the raising and the lower the birth rate.

Then, Steve, how do you "spread the wealth around" through taxation without forced "sharing"?

Finally, yes, the Captcha word options can be quite fun. I have "phenomenon parks" down there, which is an interesting idea. I just hope it likes my comment. Sometimes, I think it doesn't as some have been rejected out-of-hand and arbitrarily.

No, it didn't like it. Here, five minutes later, I have Shafter Evelyn.

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