The GOP, Reform, and the Urban Vote

Will Truman linked to a blog post by Hip-Hop Republican on how GOP can revive itself and become new in the age after Trump. Hip-Hop Republican imagines that a new Republican Party can attract urban voters by talking more about Uber and Air Bn’B over “anchor babies.” The article also imagines that there are huge swaths of urban voters up for grabs and that these voters are trapped in voting Democratic even though Democratic politicians take them for granted. Likewise, the American Spectator came out with an article on how the GOP can be the party of choice.

I’m highly skeptical that the GOP can become the party of choice and that they can reclaim the urban vote. These pieces seem to come from the department of wishful thinking over any real and significant way of reforming the Republican Party or attracting urban voters.

I will grant the Hip-Hop Republican that there are a lot of people who believe that the Democratic Party takes their votes for granted. The problem with the Hip-Hop Republican’s view is that these are voices on the left of the Democratic Party, not the right. Rahmn Emmanuel is disliked because he took neo-liberal corporatism too far. Andrew Cuomo was challenged from the left in 2014’s Democratic Primary for governor, not from the right. Hilary Clinton is still almost certain to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016 but a self-described democratic socialist is giving her a strong run for her money.

Clintonian centerism might still hold a lot of sway and power but it is not clear where the right comes in to sweep up Democratic votes because the voices of the Democratic base are looking to the left in terms of politicians like De Blasio, Teachout, and Sanders. They are not looking to the right or to libertarianism.

Talking about Air B n’ B and Uber instead of anchor babies and whether “Americans want to be able to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other developed countries. They’re tired of paying the highest prescription drug prices in the world because the White House cut a bad deal with drug companies to get Obamacare. Republicans should follow the lead of some in their party who advocate for Americans’ ability to choose where they buy their prescription medication” as the American Spectator puts it also seem like false issues. Libertarians seem to love and think there is a huge backlash against companies like Air B n’ B and Uber from evil government but this does not seem to match reality. I have never experienced any difficulty in getting an Uber or a Lyft in San Francisco. Lyft advertises all over San Francisco including covering buses with their advertisements. If anything, anger at Air B n’ B is not because of evil regulators but because people believe Air B n’ B takes housing off the market for renters.

I am also unsure about how allowing Americans to purchase medication from Canada will be a winning issue for the GOP. Gary Shapiro acknowledges that Americans are overcharged for drugs but his R-undies prevent him from seeing the reason why drug prices are so high in the United States. The Canadian Government is allowed to negotiate for cheaper drug prices, Medicare is not. The reason Medicare is not allowed to negotiate for cheaper drugs is because of a “noninterference clause” in Medicare Part D. Medicare Part D was passed in 2003. Last I checked, the GOP controlled the Senate and House and White in 2003. The Left has a clearer understanding that government intervention is sometimes necessary to lower medication prices. Shapiro’s plan is a roundabout way to a government benefit for American citizens. Why is it better to allow Americans to purchase drugs at prices negotiated by the Canadian government over letting the American government, especially Medicare, negotiate for drug prices? My guess is that the GOP is still too committed to the philosophy of limited government. They sort of understand that younger buyers are no longer enamoured with Reagan mythos but it is too powerful a habit for them too quit. Allowing Medicare to negotiate for drug prices is a direct admission that government can be a positive force in the lives of people.

What seems to be happening is that there are many voices in the GOP that realize that their party is becoming increasingly unpopular and might spend a decade or two (or longer) in the wilderness. They realize that many young Americans are turned off by the old GOP coalition which served the party from sometime in the 1970s until sometime in the oughts. Those old GOP voters are dead or dying. Yet the problem for these writers is that they are still true believers in the all government is bad message and just can’t bring themselves to quit that drug. The urban voter doesn’t want fewer regulations for Air b n’b or Uber, they want higher wages and lower rents. There is also not much love for the gig economy in the age of Trump and Sanders. People generally don’t see the gig economy as liberating, they see it as jobs of last resort.

Finally, both Hip Hop Republican and Gary Shapiro fail to acknowledge social choice and social liberty. At best, Hip Hop Republican says keep it quiet on anchor babies but they do not acknowledge the concept or importance of civil liberties and civil rights. Especially the importance of minorities (racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, gender-based, etc.) to fully participate in economic and civil life without fear of discrimination. This is a kind of liberty that requires government interaction though. It is government that can tell businesses that they need to serve all regardless of their background.

Can the Republican Party compete for urban voters? Potentially. Nothing is impossible. Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of moderate to somewhat conservative voters who live in cities. Urban politics are often fights between Clintonian centerism and further liberalism. What all urban politicians have in common is at least a belief that government is necessary. The GOP probably needs to abandon the idea that government can do no good to attract urban voters though. The Air B n’B and Uber issues do not seem like winning answers because there are not enough urban techie-libertarians to carry a ballot in San Francisco or any other city. Public transportation woes are a huge issue in many cities. You can talk about making it easier for more Uber, Lyfts, Chariots, and other forms are not going to make transportation in cities easier. If anything, they will just increase traffic and congestion. The GOP is not going to win the young vote or the urban vote until they realize get off the anti-government kick.

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150 thoughts on “The GOP, Reform, and the Urban Vote

  1. For good or bad, the current GOP policies are so far away from the interest of urban citizens-rich or poor- that no amount of contortionism will get them from there to here.

    But I would suggest that the Democratic platform could become far more urban friendly (as opposed to -for lack of a better word- minorities that happen to live in cities friendly)

    The apparently “unseen” reality is that most people in America do live in cities, yet there doesn’t seem to be policies commited towards urban needs. Democrats are close enough that a relatively small shift urbanwards would bring them votes in droves.

    For example: Public transportation. There is no way people can get to jobs or doctors or schools or to buy vegetables if they don’t have transportation. Why can’t we have European levels of public transportation? Because we spend uncounted billions in highway exchanges, that’s one of the reasons.

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    • Most Americans are more accurately suburban rather than urban. I think that the census bureau and the United States government doesn’t make any practical difference between suburban and urban dwellers because both are built up environments. Actual Americans do make a distinction between suburb and urban though. Most of our cities are either incorporated and strictly zoned low-density suburbs or even collections of suburbs like Dallas, Phoenix, and other Sunbelt cities. Car centric transportation policy works for most Americans even if it has some drawbacks for the environment or traffic jams.

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      • This. The Census Bureau divides things into rural vs non-rural, although its definition of non-rural seems to change every decade. In really round numbers, 25% rural, 25% urban, 50% suburban.

        Deciding what density to use to divide urban and suburban is a hard question. In this recent piece at Business Insider, the dividing line is 2,000 households per square mile. My suburban zip code outside Denver is well above that, but my county isn’t. Given that 20% of the county is national forest, and another 20% is mountainous terrain outside the national forest that can’t be developed, the county as a whole is unlikely to ever meet that threshold. Denver proper has a similar problem these days — one-third of the City and County of Denver’s area is Denver International Airport, resident population zero.

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        • Density isn’t enough to distinguish between urban and suburban. There are some suburbs, even outside the North East, with densities over 5000 people per square mile. They are still suburbs. An urban should be walkable and transit oriented and somewhat mixed use when it comes to zoning. If you have to drive everywhere and have dozens of square miles just devoted to housing alone than you aren’t urban.

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    • ? Because we spend uncounted billions in highway exchanges, that’s one of the reasons.

      I think Interstate maintenance is a $9-10 bn bill each year. I can show you bus lines that run in the inner suburbs of metropolitan Washington wherein the bus is nearly empty at mid-day, the stops stripped of schedules, the paper schedules in the buses ill-maintained, and the transit staff worthless over the phone. These problems are not an artifact of spending on Interstates. Now, if you financed the limited access highways with tolls and the public roads with excises on motor fuels, people would alter their consumption bundles some, but I think their behavior might be sufficiently insensitive to price that you’d be disappointed with the results.

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      • the bus is nearly empty at mid-day, the stops stripped of schedules, the paper schedules in the buses ill-maintained, and the transit staff worthless over the phone. These problems are not an artifact of spending on Interstates.

        Uh…is there a *reason* you think those problems are not an artifact of spending on Interstates?

        It seems rather obvious that, for example, the schedules at the stops and in the buses would be better maintained if there was more money. Likewise, the transit staff could probably use more training or people or something, there’s not some *magical* reason they can’t do their job well.

        And arguing that the problem with public transportation is that the buses are empty is obviously a bit silly and confusing the levels. The buses being empty is clearly the *result* of some problems, not a problem in and of itself.

        There are a lot of political problems in the US that are deeply complicated, where regulation of specific things is needed to solve something, but causes harm somewhere else, etc, etc.

        Having working public transportation is basically never one of those things. There are almost no compromises between competing interests (Barring some eminent domain stuff.), no problems it creates, not even any moral hazards.

        The sole questions are: What level will we fund it at, and will we actually build it where it’s needed, instead of where random outside entities want it to go? (Sometimes because the politically powerful *want* access to it, so will divert it towards them. Sometimes because the politically powerful *don’t* want it near them, so keep it away.)

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        • Yes, there is a reason I think these things are not an artifact of spending on Interstate maintenance: money is fungible. The absence of schedules is more a function of crummy management in the transit service. If you’re concerned about misapplied appropriations, you might look at the salaries and compensation of senior administrators in the transit service. And if you fancy there will not be public upset and deadweight loss from potholes and uncleared snow on local Interstates, you need to come back to Earth.

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        • And arguing that the problem with public transportation is that the buses are empty is obviously a bit silly and confusing the levels. The buses being empty is clearly the *result* of some problems, not a problem in and of itself.

          You might have fuller buses if you had better service. OTOH, you might just be at the outer limits of your potential clientele as we speak (absent things like distributing a fixed quanta of vehicle registrations via multiple price auctions).

          Personally, I have nothing against public transit. I am suggesting to you that you consider that the deficit of demand really is not a function of what you’re not spending and is a function of how people prefer to move about in a metropolitan area when they’ve got the disposable income to have their preferences in full.

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          • How do you match that against ACCESS, which does door to door transit?
            (for a higher price, mind).

            Pittsburgh has a hell of a competitive advantage about attracting blind talent, because we have a county-wide ACCESS program to get people around without using a car.

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        • PLEASE tell me that you’re going to blame the DC metro’s problems on the lack of funding by DC/MD/VA & the Fed gov’t, which is:

          The Feds cover over 50% of the capital fund. DC/VA/MD cover 45% of the deficit from operations.

          Last month Metro shut down the entire system for one day to do emergency safety maint. There’s talk that Metro may shut down whole lines for months at a time to do more extensive repairs.

          Please tell me that it’s because of a lack of funding. Please tell me that the escalators that keep breaking is the result of not having any money. Please tell me that it’s because of funding that Metro doesn’t know why its power cables are deteriorating faster than expected. Perhaps it’s not the funding that the problem? Or maybe it’s because of all the highways that keep being built in the area rather than funding the Metro? Right.

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          • The Feds cover over 50% of the capital fund. DC/VA/MD cover 45% of the deficit from operations.

            …none of which gives any information about how much money the system *actually has* vs. how much it needs.

            Last month Metro shut down the entire system for one day to do emergency safety maint. There’s talk that Metro may shut down whole lines for months at a time to do more extensive repairs.

            <announcer voice>Magic gremlins breaking things, or years without doing any upkeep on the system due to lack of funding causing problems! YOU BE THE JUDGE!</announcer voice>

            Please tell me that it’s because of a lack of funding. Please tell me that the escalators that keep breaking is the result of not having any money.

            I am completely baffled as to what *you* think those problems are from.

            Do you think it is fundamentally impossible to keep escalators functional due to them being a unholy perversion of the national order of things? (Only God can make moving stairs! Genesis 28:12!) Or does it appear more likely, as it does to me, that broken escalators are breaking due to not maintaining them?

            Which leads either to the conclusion that the DC Metro management either doesn’t know you’re supposed to do that (In which case, uh, DC is in trouble.), or knows you’re supposed to do that but was attempting to cut corners for some reason.

            Please tell me that it’s because of funding that Metro doesn’t know why its power cables are deteriorating faster than expected.

            You *do* think it’s magic gremlins!

            Or maybe it’s because of all the highways that keep being built in the area rather than funding the Metro? Right.

            I have no idea why the DC Metro sounds like it is so underfunded it is falling to pieces, as I have no idea of the funding situation.

            Could be highways, could the Congress, could be contractors ripping the place off, could be the Metro’s management spending all the money on hookers and blow. No idea.

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            • It is weird how we view mass transit and automobile transit through two entirely different lenses.

              When streets and freeways need upgrades or maintenance, it is viewed as a mundane but essential part of governance that doesn’t need much in the way of argument, other than quibbling over price.

              But when rail lines grow old and need repair, suddenly it becomes an example of Soviet inefficiency.

              Not sure why this is so.

              FWIW-
              I take the Metrolink every day to work, and they are routinely being interrupted by rail line maintenance and improvements…by BNSF, the private rail line upon whose tracks the public mass transit cars ride.

              Maybe what we really need is some solitary genius to invent some sort of super duper high strength steel for rails or something.

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              • The guy who lives diagonally across the street from me is a retired rail worker. He says that it’s not the rail so much as all the stuff that has to hold it in proper alignment. The subgrade erodes; ballast shifts; ties rot. In some cases they can elevate the rails while they rework all the underneath stuff. In others, he says, it’s easier and faster to just replace the rail as part of the process. I recall him remarking that the new light rail tracks in our city will use concrete ties because — due to the light weight of the trains — the subgrade and ballast will last much longer. On the freight lines, particularly those carrying the big coal trains, the subgrade and ballast are the limiting factors so cheaper wooden ties are used.

                He also remarked that repairs for freight routes are much easier — there’s usually an alternate route, and since the railroads gave up on scheduled freight deliveries decades ago, the trains can be held up while the crews replace another mile during the day, then the trains go through at night.

                The interstate highway system has been mentioned. In many places in the West, outside of the cities, the interstates function as inefficient rail lines doing scheduled delivery. On rural I-80 across western Nebraska and Wyoming, for example, the number of big trucks greatly exceeds the number of automobiles.

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                • Thanks for the info.
                  I was referring more to how the different modes of transportation have fallen into the ideological camps.

                  Streets and freeways and their associated suburbs are favored by the right, while cities and mass transit are favored by the left.

                  But if there was anything that should defy ideological filters, it should be transportation.

                  There isn’t any such animal as an entirely public, or entirely private mode of transportation. All of them- autos, trains, airlines, ferries- are the product of a massively entangled network of public and private actors and relationships.
                  And no one can plausibly paint a picture of a comparable, workable system which isn’t.

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        • How you figure that?

          (While we’re at it, the metro buses in this part of greater Washington run quite infrequently, maybe once an hour in Alexandria, which is a dense inner-ring suburb; they’re not anywhere near 50% capacity. They’re below 5% capacity and the driver commonly has an attitude problem. I’ll say one thing: they are a great deal cleaner and more comfortable than the city buses I grew up with).

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          • Because a bus running empty part of the time is not a crisis any more than a highway being nearly empty is for part of the day.

            At least with a bus, if they are consistently running empty you can stretch the schedule out for that time of the day (run a bus every hour instead of every half hour), or alter the route, etc.

            The fact that cities don’t isn’t a ding against buses, it’s an indication of incompetent or ineffective management.

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          • You should call someone and figure out how they’re doing it. If they’re truly below 5% capacity, something else is going on.

            Here’s something I know from my own commuter bus route: any bus route that has a stop in a “disadvantaged urban neighborhood” gets some non-local dollars (federal or state, forget which). It’s part of the reason we have some stops that nobody ever, ever uses. (note: part of that’s because we’re running at the top of a fairly significant hill, and there are buses that run more frequently lower down on the hill).

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  2. DeSantis makes a decent thought on how a Republican can campaign in a city. If he can grab the Obama voters, that’s a good thing, right? They’re the good government folks.

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  3. I had to laugh at that Hip Hop Republican piece. It reminds me of other “reform” Republicans who think that if the party just talks about these issues in a slightly different way, the Republican Party is going to pick up all these disaffected voters.

    Oh wait, Trump did just that, just with issues that actually seem to animate said disaffected voters, not Air BnB.

    Chris at least recognizes that the turn towards white identity politics in the Republican Party is a losing electoral strategy, but I doubt the alternative he offers is going to appeal to anyone not already invested in the Republican brand wrapped up in neoliberalism, National Review, and flat taxes.

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    • Its amazing how the elites of both parties do not want to admit what really moves their dissatisfied base. The Democratic Party is more honest about the difference between different parts of the Democratic Party but Democratic elites indulged their base much less than the Republican elite did. DLC types can claim honesty more easily than Republican elites can.

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    • talks about these issues in a slightly different way

      The thing is, I think this is actually rather true. For both parties. It’s not like the electorate is reading through tax plans, or long articles in the NYT or WSJ explaining tax plans. There is a lot built up in the framing. Where issues kill most are where they can be really easily explained. That’s part of why cultural issues have the importance that they do (though even those can get complicated), and some economic issues (Do you want to raise taxes or not? Increase the minimum wage or not?)

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      • I would disagree, at least on some of the big animating issues of our time. Yes, we don’t have to talk about immigration in the ratchet-up rhetorical way it often is, but at the end of the day, mass migration is not going to be beneficial to a working class individual’s immediate good. We can drop calling migrants rapists and terrorists, but the real displacement and wage depreciation of existing workers isn’t something Republicans and Democrats can just spin away.

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  4. The Democratic Party had a lock on the urban vote since mass immigration began in the 1840s. There were some Republican cities like Philadelphia or an occasional win here and there but the Republican Party was more or less seen as a rural and small town Protestant party from the time it was founded to the present. After World War II, the Republican Party became the suburban party. They never were an urban party and often ran against cities as campaign rhetoric even when race was not an issue and most African-Americans lived in the countryside South.

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    • Looking at mayors (because I’m lazy and it’s far easier than trying to find lists of city councillors and their partisan affiliations) finds the following cities that have had Republican mayors for at least ten years since 1945:

      NYC – 12 years, not counting Bloomberg

      LA – 24 years

      Chicago – last GOP mayor’s term ended in 1931, but from your 1840s starting date there have been a bit over 30 years of GOP mayoral terms.

      Saul’s own San Francisco – 18 years

      (other than Philadelphia, to which you already alluded, I looked at the other cities which were in the top ten per the 1950 Census)

      Detroit – 15 years
      Cleveland – 16 years

      (St Louis, Boston, and Pittsburgh, who were #s 8-10 in the 1950 Census, were indeed solidly Democratic in their mayoralties over the postwar period)

      and then the Sunbelt cities

      San Diego – GOP mayor about 60% of the post-1945 period (including now – only GOP mayor of the largest ten cities)

      Phoenix – GOP mayor rather more than half of the time (I couldn’t easily find partisan ID for a couple of them)

      Dallas – well over twenty years’ worth, at least

      So among Midwestern and Sunbelt cities it’s not been quite as strong an effect of GOP dominance as you appear to think (there appears to be a bit of a pattern that really old cities, mostly on or near the Atlantic, stayed more Democratic at least in their mayors through the post-Civil War period than newer cities in the interior – perhaps because their urban political machines were already well established and able to ride out any loss of status due to association with the losing side in the Civil War?)

      I’ll undercut my own thesis by hypothesizing that, again speaking of the postwar period, Republicans were significantly overrepresented in the mayor’s office versus the city councils – that was true of my only first hand experience of living in a large city with a GOP mayor (Los Angeles with Richard Riordan as mayor 1993-2001 – the council always had a very strong Democratic majority). And Le WIk tells me that San Diego (only in-office GOP mayor of the ten biggest cities) has a 5-4 Democratic majority on its city council.

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  5. I’ve noted this before, but if you actually got a bunch of low income urban people together and let them speak in their own voice about what they wanted from government, what would be their priorities?

    Would they look anything like this?

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    • Why in hell are you asking about low income?
      What you want to ask about is low wealth, which is a far different animal…
      You get a mostly conservative list, with cops doing their job (walking the beat), and government doing its best to build and help communities.

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    • Not even a little bit. It shows just how little the elites on either side think of those they deem far below them. You are too poor to know what is good for you. What is good for you is to emulate the middle class (see Jaybirds link), so we are going to spend resources on what is good for the middle class and above, with just a bit of help for you.

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          • By bourgeois liberalism, I also include freedom of religion and civil rights protections for minorities. Of course white nationalism and herrenvolk Democracy don’t work for me, I’m Jewish.

            I don’t even necessarily mean doing well at school (my grades were always a mixed bag.)

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            • Wonderful things, to be sure, but of little value for making ends meet in the daily grind when poor.

              Remember that I grew up poor, food stamps and all, even being homeless for a few years (living with friends and family rather than shelters, but still without a place of our own). Had I not joined the military, I probably would still be poor.

              Assistance is important, as it lets you survive, but it doesn’t help you find opportunities to thrive. Solid public transit, on the other hand… My opposition to public transit is, like so many things, not to the idea, but to the implementation.

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              • All snideness and libertarian whining aside. I have yet to see African-Americans, women, and other minorities denounce the need for legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. I’ve read various debates between libertarians on whether freedom of association must trump all other rights (hence the evilness of the Civil Rights Act. White business people should be allowed to exclude whomever they want, for whatever reason from their establishments) vs. whether libertarians should go for civil rights legislation.

                So far many libertarians seem firmly in the Freedom of Association uber allies camp without understanding why the Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act are forces for good.

                Libertarians won’t win much of the minority vote until they actually grapple with the fact that full participation in economic and civil life is important and that means not being turned away because of who they are.

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                  • I actually agree with Saul on this point, even tho it pains me to say why.

                    Bernie’s appeal to minorities is primarily of the libertarian-esque principled variety, without appeals to various groups as a voting block. And he’s getting crushed in those demographics even tho his policies (at least by this white guy’s assessment) would benefit minority communities more his competitor’s. The explanation, seems to me, is that he – unlike his opponent – doesn’t make explicit appeals to identity politics in his pitch.

                    Which is to say – again, I repeat myself! – that libertarianism can only thrive as a form of governance if people were different than they actually are.

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                • This has nothing to do with a libertarian point of view, only a who’s killing black boys point of view. All of those things you list, the voter rights acts etc., are great, when you are not dead. But along with educational and economic opportunites, the D’s talk a good talk, but in the end they treat minorities much like the R’s treated the white working class – as a vote plantation. It seems to me that is starting to come back to haunt them, with groups like BLM.

                  Full participation in economic and civil life is great, when you aren’t dead or in jail.

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                        • Aye, by a factor of about 35. If you’re mode of political action is to seek publicity by telling people they’ve been given insufficient RESPECT, making a point of discussing mundane (and often embarrassing) social problems just doesn’t fill the bill.

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                        • Sadly most black males are more likely to be killed by a member of their own community than a cop, yet the left only pays lip service to this issue.

                          And this is *still* one of the oddest comparisons I’ve ever seen when actually unpacked.

                          Black business owner: You knows those security guards we hired to protect our warehouse from those thieves that kept stealing from my inventory? Well, it turns out, when the guards search through my inventory looking for ‘thieves’, (Not sure why they think thieves are hiding in the boxes) they like to break things. Not like, accidentally, they just don’t seem to care at all, throwing stuff around without a care in the world. Also, a few of them seem to be stealing stuff. See, I have a bunch of documentation here. Oddly, they don’t seem to do it on your side.

                          Conservative co-owner of warehouse: Why are you complaining about that? They’re still cheaper than the thieves, who are costing you ten times as much each year!

                          Black business owner: Erm, is your argument that they are not as harmful as those the people we hired them to stop? That’s…not generally how employment standards work. I mean, if someone saves me $500, I don’t let them smash a computer monitor for fun.

                          Conservative: It’s well worth the tradeoff.

                          Black business owner: And more important, didn’t you just point out they had not *stopped* those thieves? So now I’ve got *two* groups of people costing me money! And I’m helping pay for one of them!

                          Conservative: I still don’t see why you’re complaining about *the guards* when you have all those other people stealing from you! You should do something about them!’

                          Black business owner, sardonically: Well, I guess I could try *hiring* someone to stop those thieves. Again. More of them.

                          Conservative: Exactly! I’m going to tell the security guards to up the amount of searches, and maybe we can hire some more of them! Tough on crime!’

                          Black business owner starts painting a ‘black inventory matters’ sign.

                          tl;dr: The new police slogan: We kill less innocent people than criminals do!

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                      • “Rough ride”? Kazzy, the man was cuffed and told to stay put on the floor after serial displays of contumacious behavior. He elected to stand up and toppled over backward into a metal protrusion which caused a fatal neck injury. That’s called a ‘freak accident’, and as a result, his family’s had a nice pay day and this unassuming city government wheelhorse

                        http://www.trbimg.com/img-554412ce/turbine/bs-md-gray-profiles-goodson-20150501

                        is facing a show trial for depraved heart murder.

                        What is it with you people? Why are your sympathies reliably distributed to abstractions or to people on the asinine-to-wicked spectrum? What did Caesar Goodson ever do to you (or to anyone)?

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              • Oh f*ck yes. Those Democratic city governments are just as timid as the GOP when it comes to reining in police abuses. But there aren’t many Bernie Sanders’s downticket, so the choice is an ineffective Democratic city government or an ineffective (at best; I’ve seen too many Republicans looking starry-eyed at Kansas or Flint to trust their instincts for anything related to domestic policies) Republican one, and the Democrats are generally better at not applying the jackboot everywhere.

                But Rahm and his ilk? To hell with them; they make me wish the Christians were right and there is a hell waiting for that sort of parasite.

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      • If the poor had their voice heard, there would have been no urban freeways in the first place. White flight was greatly helped by the government plowing freeway corridors through poor sections of cities, and if the white population didn’t have the option of a massively subsidized freeway system from their white-only suburbs into town they’d either still be taking the CA&E or living next to the El.

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        • Its a chicken and egg thing. Racism and the inability of the poor, even poor whites, to make their voices hurts certainly hurt cities but the path to post-War suburbia and car oriented transportation dates from the early 20th century. Trolley ridership peaked in 1910 and declined fast afterwards. As soon as Americans could afford cars en mass, it became the preferred form of transportation. Proto-types of car-oriented suburbia started in pre-World War I Los Angeles and spread during the 1920s. The Great Depression and World War II acted as something of a break.

          There was a massive need for housing for new families after World War II and most of those families wanted a single-family home with a yard and a garage rather than an apartment with a train. New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco kept their transit because it made sense in those cities. Others did not and attempts to build transit were generally failures. Suburbia seems overly determined.

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        • If the poor had their voice heard, there would have been no urban freeways in the first place. White flight was greatly helped by the government plowing freeway corridors through poor sections of cities,

          This makes no sense, David. You had a redistribution of population consequent to increased affluence. More production, more income, more income spent on certain amenities. You also had overall increases in population. You had 128 million people in this country in 1930 and 227 million in 1980. Households tended for a number of reasons to be marginally smaller in 1980. You had a four-fold increase in real per capita income during those 50 years. Why would you think that the boundaries of urban settlement would remain precisely the same? Why would you not think there would be some thinning out in high-density urban areas as people grow more affluent and dwellings wherein families are doubled up are converted to single-family dwellings?

          That aside, you had considerable post war migration of blacks from the South to northern cities. People from the south Atlantic states move to loci like Rochester, N.Y. and they rent apartments in the old 3d and 7th wards (and adjacent areas) in Rochester. The previous inhabitants are moving out (as tenants do, every year) and the landlord rents to whomever will take the apartment. The departed tenants move various places, either because they’re more affluent and can afford better or because neighbors they feel they can put up with are too thin on the ground, or for some other bloody reason or combination of reasons. There is nothing sinister about this process except in the minds of people pushing self-aggrandizing historical fictions.

          It might be pleasant if blacks and Italians had a more stable modus vivendi in urban neighborhoods. It might also be pleasant if no one ever got divorced. Now, look in metropolitan Rochester today. You have about 390,000 people living in suburban tract development. You have about 100,000 blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans in the central city. They’re not all concentrated in slum neighborhoods or sketchy neighborhoods and even if they were, replacing 50,000 minorities with 50,000 suburban dwellers requires shifting around only 13% of the suburban population. While we’re at it, the old 11th ward went from modally Italian to modally black a few years either side of 1965. How many quondam 11th ward residents do you fancy are still knocking about in Rochester’s suburbs?

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          • The active destruction of streetcars was actually punished as a conspiracy, I believe. We’re talking lawsuits.

            Liberals rather want their cities to resemble Paris.

            But, seriously, let me put on my technocrat hat for a moment and say that it’s most efficient and best to have your wealth centralized in a particular area (the Parisian model, where suburbs are really “below the city” in most meaningful ways)

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        • massively subsidized freeway system from their white-only suburbs

          I think expenditures on Interstates during the construction of the system were around about $20 bn a year on average in a country in which (at the midpoint of this period) $3600 bn worth of goods and services were produced. The subsidy was provided to users of the Interstates (who were not charged tolls) by property holders, consumers, and earners. So, the subsidy amount to what the users might have paid in tolls in contradistinction to what they paid in property, sales, and income taxes. The financing method was suboptimal, but I doubt it was contextually ‘massive’ to any notable population of households other than those in the trucking business.

          While we’re at it, the suburbs were not ‘all white’ in my home town when I was in high school 35 years ago, much less today.

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            • I think the latter day maintenance costs (including an allowance for amortization of capital expenditures) are something on the order of $10 bn for Interstates. IIRC from my last look at New York state and local expenditures, about 80% of the budget is expended on maintaining ordinary roads. I’d have to check to make sure, however.

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        • Perhaps, but aside from the cost of purchasing a car, there is fueling it, maintaining it, insuring it, and in an urban setting, parking the fecking thing.

          The reason public transit tends to fall flat is because A) it rarely gets you where you need to go as precisely as a car does, and B) if you need it for anything besides a commute (say, transporting a large amount of shopping/groceries, while managing one or more children), it tends to be a inconvenient mess. This is because public transit is not for poor people, it’s for middle class commuters, who are nice enough to let poor people use it.

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            • Good for you Kimmie. When I shop at Costco, I fill the back of my SUV with purchases, some of them very difficult to carry. When buses let me bring a flatbed on board, we can talk about how awesome a bus is for a trip to Costco.

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              • I haul home 50-75 lbs of stuff, it’s not that difficult.
                Wouldn’t suggest it if you’re buying tires, or a shed, of course…

                How often do you shop at Costco? (We have people here who spend $1800 per trip, and shop once every three months. I approve of their economy).

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                • In your arms? Either you are in incredible shape, are using a frame pack, or a full of it. Still, that is irrelevant. It’s nice for you, but it doesn’t help the handicapped guy, or the senior citizen, or anyone else who can not haul 50-75 lbs of groceries around easily.

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                  • No frame pack, strangely enough. Two costco bags (the big ones that are insulated) and a backpack. The bags get worn on my shoulders, or sometimes cross-body.

                    And, criminy, it’s only a half mile, uphill. When I was actually in decent shape, I pulled off 20 miles with 30lbs on my back.

                    The handicapped guy or the senior citizen has ACCESS which gets them from their door to costco and back again.
                    (Did I mention I love our public transportation?).

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                    • Congrats, still doesn’t mean others are OK with doing that as a regular part of their routine.

                      This is like the conversation I had with a guy who insisted no one needed a gun for self defense, they could all just learn Kung-Fu like he had.

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          • “The reason public transit tends to fall flat is because A) it rarely gets you where you need to go as precisely as a car does, and B) if you need it for anything besides a commute (say, transporting a large amount of shopping/groceries, while managing one or more children), it tends to be a inconvenient mess. This is because public transit is not for poor people, it’s for middle class commuters, who are nice enough to let poor people use it.”

            That covers it pretty well, along with the class issues of not actually talking to the poor to see what they need, what would actually help them. What would make it easy to get groceries, pick up your date, etc.

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              • a mandated backup camera is important if you are driving a different car every time you sit at the wheel.
                (a lane departure alarm that doesn’t whine when you use your turn signal is at least an effective enticement to Use The Appropriate Signal).

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                  • You want them on my car, dude. trust me.
                    And if they aren’t on all the cars, they won’t be on the car I rent.
                    Plus, it’s what, $300? That’s not a lot, compared to $20,000 for a car. And it will save lives.

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                    • But that’s YOUR car. Not my car.

                      Putting them on rental? Sure, I could see that, if the rental company thought it would be a good idea for what ever reason.

                      It’s not the marginal cost of each item. It’s the total of each one over time. “Saving” lives is the excuse. Here’s a better idea. Pay attention to your driving. That’ll save more lives and it’s free.

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                      • “Pay attention to your driving”
                        … says the person who listens to music in the car. Or talks. Or shouts at rando pedestrians.

                        You aren’t too irate about vaccines, and we all share the road together (okay, so there’s not really any herd immunity from backup cameras…)

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                        • I only shout in my car at clovers. My music is at a low enough volume I can hear outside noises, if it’s not NPR.

                          I just don’t comment on vaccines much. I’ve taken them, had them given to me. I make my choices on risk.

                          We all share the road, true. Sharing has nothing to do with paying attention. I’ll say it again. I want a bumper sticker that says “I’ll be civil when you pay attention to your driving”. It’s really not that hard.

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                          • It’s not the “hearing of outside noises” that concerns me. It’s the distraction.

                            I know someone who actively tries harder than anyone you’ll probably ever meet to drive well. (Yes, we’re talking simulating the entire road as a video game in his head, including AI for other cars). Doesn’t drink, doesn’t tolerate people talking to him while driving (except for copilot directions).

                            He’s got motor difficulties, though, and his reaction times are quite horrid.

                            It’s not always something you can fix, this “driving better” thing.

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                            • of course.

                              But the VAST majority of people looking at/using phones. Some of what I’ve seen in the last year:

                              Talking on the phone doing 20 miles below the speed limit causing backup half a mile.

                              Texting and almost front end colliding with oncoming traffic after drifting into that lane.

                              Weaving back and forth in the lane.

                              Failure to go on green (arrow, light, etc.)

                              Random “slow down” breaking while below the speed limit.

                              Stopping in the middle of the road.

                              Leaving 3 car lengths between you and the next car at a light, cutting off the other lane as people cant get around you.

                              I could go on and on.

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                        • First, yes, I am female.
                          Loved it when I picked a nickname out of a hat, just to tell you folks that women will comment… and then everyone wanted to know if I was Korean!

                          Second,yes you can. You simply have to model my expected behavior — and alternatives that you may have to compensate for.

                          It’s really not very difficult. Driving is an easy video game to play, so long as you remember that you don’t actually have rockets to shoot the slowpokes. (and that sideswiping people is both dangerous and illegal).

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                          • Second,yes you can. You simply have to model my expected behavior — and alternatives that you may have to compensate for.

                            Let’s just say the distribution of possible behaviors on the New Jersey Turnpike has tails too long for there to be a well-defined expectation value. I want all the mechanical assistance I can get.

                            More seriously, it’s public roads and we already mandate insurance. I’m not saying @damon’s wrong about these particular technological trade-offs, but I’m not saying he’s right, either.

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                            • The worst place to drive is Las Vegas (as you’re heading out of the city). All the fun of SoCal drivers, but now on crack and half a dozen other illegal drugs.

                              Where I live, people are one of two types:
                              1) 1/3 of the people are insanely nice. Break traffic rules to let pedestrians cross, that sort of thing.
                              2) 2/3 of the people drive like standard, aggressive cityfolk.

                              It’s much better than where i grew up.

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                              • Not many people get to drive w Hunter S. Thompson these days; I’m jealous.

                                The tunnels around Pitt are the quirkiest in the US. Covered bridge lane widths with 21st century width vehicles. But then again, the difference between the NJ Turnpike and the Penn turnpike is like the difference between the German Autobahn and the National Road.

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                                • Hunter S Thompson didn’t learn to drive from video games.
                                  Ergo he wasn’t occasionally struck by the instinct to send rockets after other cars.

                                  The tunnels aren’t the problem. The stop signs on the merges on the interstates are the problem. (Seriously, the onramps are too short to be legally allowed to use a yield, so you legally have to stop.)

                                  I like Obelisks!

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                      • You do realize that it is literally impossible to ‘pay attention’ to directly behind your car below trunk level, right?(1)

                        You do realize that small children and animals exist, right?

                        You do realize that even if you go and look there before getting into your car (And I would *bet money* that you do not if you happen to come from the front, even if you are going to back out of your space.), that someone can still run behind there and be unobservant in the few seconds as you get into the car down?

                        Even if you check behind the car (you don’t) and keep your eyes glued to the mirrors once in (you don’t), there’s still a gap. (Unless you do some weird half-turn squat to get into your car where you can see behind you and the passenger mirror while getting in. I guess it *might* be possible, but no one gets in their car that way.)

                        In reality, of course, no one starts watching the rearview mirrors the second they get in the car. They do the *normal* stuff, like plugging the cell phone in, buckling their seatbelt, starting the car, tuning the radio, setting the AC, etc. You know, all that stuff that responsible drivers do *before* moving the car, and they do it without looking in the mirrors…giving anyone the perfect opportunity to relocate behind the car before the driver shifts into gear and *then* starts checking the mirrors before backing.

                        1) There is *also* an area you cannot see in front of your car, but due to the angle of the hood, that area is usually much much smaller, and you see even more of it as you get in, and it is much easier to notice someone entering that area even if you aren’t driving yet.

                        OTOH, I once almost ripped my bumper off because a parking lock exit sloped where I couldn’t see the ground…and it turned out they had one of those V entrance thing, where cars are only supposed to come in from the left and exit to the right. For added annoyance, it had a wheelchair cutout across it, so I went up and over *twice*. (I noticed later, to my amusement, that they had added those little white and orange pillar things, so clearly someone *else* had done that and complained.) So I also wouldn’t have seen someone *laying* on the ground there, if they were dumb enough to do that.

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                        • Any kids in the back or front of my car that I can’t see are 2 feet tall and their parents should not be letting them play in the street.

                          I’ve been driving for over 30 years. I’ve had 1 at fault accident. I’ve never had a kid anywhere near my car, or I’ve seen them move (cause their parents taught them well) even when I lived in “single family suburban 3.2 kids/family land”. In a land full of deer in the roads, I’ve only hit 1 when it jumped into the road.

                          Of course, I’m more in tune with driving because up to 2015 I’ve had manuals. It’s not really a problem.

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                • I’m kind of torn. The kind of blah, generic models that get bought for rental fleets often have the best rear visibility, so a rear camera’s main benefit is knowing where your corners are (which is nice in an unfamiliar car). I’m still libertarian enough to balk at a mandatory $300 price jack to a $14k car that is already basically just a box made of glass.

                  OTOH, on sporty two-seaters (the convertibles are probably worse than the coupes), ridiculous C-pillars are in vogue – and that’s not even getting into baroque and unnecessary “spoilers”, like on the Eclipse GSX or Civic Type-R, that partition the visual field through the rear window. And the four-door versions are probably no better. Fortunately (?) these tend to (1) be expensive anyway, and (2) come with integrated navigation with camera as an almost-always-chosen option.

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                    • You’re right that designers aren’t completely free – there is a certain minimum amount of structure that has to be there. But I had occasion to drive an Infiniti Q60 last winter, and I swear the rear window was a porthole. I only drove it 20 miles, but even with the best side mirror angle I could manage, there was still a noticeable blind spot, which just shouldn’t happen these days.

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  6. Neither piece suggests that the GOP might need to make substantive changes to its platform to appeal to new voters. In the case of Gary Shapiro’s Spectator piece, this struck me as particularly egregious, because there are several high-visibility, high-salience areas where the GOP cannot be plausibly argued to favor “choice” as an underlying principle. Maybe upending those would be too damaging to what remains of the GOP’s existing coalition, or would be personally abhorrent to Mr Shapiro, or would actually harm their efforts to reach out to new voters in urban centers. I could believe any or all of those things, but I’d have to see an argument first, and the fact that I didn’t signals a significant weakness.

    I can easily believe that, say, the anti-abortion plank of the GOP platform is to important in whatever respect to get rid of. But to go on at length about which party will supposedly let you vape without addressing the issues of choice involved in, say, smoking weed is remarkably silly.

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    • This is the point I was trying to make. Both pieces completely ignore issues on social liberty. At best they are trying to defuse bombs and avoid elephants in the room by not engaging in social issues. The GOP can’t attract urban voters until it abandons significant chunks of social conservatism.

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          • Because being in the rental housing business is a means of earning a living and taking care of those around you. Ingesting mary jane has nothing to do with either. It’s of intense interest to the Reason Foundation types. I once corresponded with a man who was for a time director of a libertarian advocacy outfit called the Buckeye Institute. He said the day he began walking away from the movement was the day he realized it was a movement led by the childless with childless people’s priorities. (Adolescent priorities, really). What Charles Murray had to say the better part of a generation ago and what Ann Coulter had to say to the Libertarian Party of Connecticut some years later applies here: free trade in stupefacients presupposes a society where no one has any recourse from the labor market. We do not live in that society, I’m not interested in living in that society, Coulter’s not invested in the idea of living in such a society, and for Murray it’s a rather abstract proposition.

            One might also recall that in 1914, relatives had more control over errant family members, common provision tended to be in-kind services delivered by public agencies (schools, city hospitals, asylums, santitoriums) and relief tended to be indoor relief (work houses). Drug abuse was still a social problem not contained, hence the drug laws.

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            • So much for taking a bold stand against the “nanny state”.

              Now, maybe you are fine with not doing that, object to the characterization, or whatever, but if you and likeminded people are too important to the GOP coalition to do without, well, Mr Shapiro should say so. It’s better than peeing on our legs and saying it’s vape juice.

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              • So much for taking a bold stand against the “nanny state”.

                That’s not really my idiom, so you’ll have to talk to someone whose it is.

                Penal codes are (at least notionally) straightforward: don’t do this or we’ll smack you. Social work began to infect the implementation of penal codes in the middle of the 19th century, but it was for decades restricted to efforts contra juvenile delinquency. While social work is a component of what the penal courts do, the predominant thrust is punitive and assumes the agency of the defendant.

                Common provision in America has been a feature of public policy since the latter 19th century. The modes have changed over the years and it has grown more multifarious and systematized. Like any other human endeavour, it can be pursued past the point where diminishing returns gives way to net losses in common welfare.

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                • That’s not really my idiom, so you’ll have to talk to someone whose it is.

                  OK.

                  The original linked piece was by someone (Gary Shapiro) who was trying to use that idiom as a way of making the Republican Party appeal to some new classes of voters–including a disproportionately large number of the childless voters you were dismissive of. If large numbers of existing Republican voters have problems with that approach, or at least problems with applying that approach in a way that would actually appeal to voters, that constrains Mr Shapiro’s approach in important ways that he should, ideally, be aware of and up front about.

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                  • I’m not seeing the term ‘nanny state’ in his article, though some of what’s incorporated into the term is latent in the article.

                    The sort of things he complains about concern not so much nannying (bar the dig at Michael Bloomberg toward the end) as the erection and maintenance of state cartels and the like. These may be sold with nanny arguments (and, with regard to the teacher-training apparat, nanny arguments they believe), but the structures incorporate fairly naked economic self-interest (or, in the case of the teachers, and cloaked cultural self-interest).

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  7. What seems to be happening is that there are many voices in the GOP that realize that their party is becoming increasingly unpopular and might spend a decade or two (or longer) in the wilderness.

    Your share of seats in legislative bodies is near a 90 year low and you hold 18 governorships in states which comprehend about 40% of the national population. Partisan Democrats seem to think like characters in This is Spinal Tap.

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  8. What seems to be happening is that there are many voices in the GOP that realize that their party is becoming increasingly unpopular and might spend a decade or two (or longer) in the wilderness.

    I doubt that. THe GOP is doing quite well at the municipal, state and fedrul CC level. They just suck at presidential politics and national-level governance. Which is a very real flaw in their whole platform/ideological rollout. As Trump (and Cruz!) have revealed.

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  9. The Left has a clearer understanding that government intervention is sometimes necessary to lower medication prices.

    And remains willfully ignorant of the deleterious effect price controls have on innovation. The left has a lot of really bad ideas, but reducing the incentives to develop new medicine is a pretty solid contender for the top spot. To be fair, reimportation is a bad idea for exactly the same reason. We should be pressuring Canada and Europe to pay their fair share, not trying to join them in their war on people with currently incurable diseases.

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    • the deleterious effect price controls have on innovation.

      Is there a formula to determine the optimal balance between profit-motive and innovation? Or is it the sorta thing where more profit entails more innovation, which is an objective good, so it all works out in the end?

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    • I’ll have sympathy for the pharmaceutical companies ability to innovate if Medicare starts to negotiate like any other company that has leverage via number of consumers when they stop spending billions of dollars to advertise the latest slightly different version of their allergy pill (because the prior version just went generic).

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      • True story here — I once got prescribed a brand new drug , a strong NSAID that is designed for people where NSAID’s irritate their stomach.

        I went to fill it and found a month’s supply costs 400 dollars. My insurance refused to cover it. I, clearly, wasn’t going to pay that. So I checked into the drug.

        It was Alleve plus Nexium. I’m not exaggerating. It literally was one pill that contained both. I was able to replicate this miracle, 400 dollar a month drug, by spending 30 bucks for a bottle of Alleve and a bottle of Nexium.

        Same dosage, exact same effect (I even checked with my Doctor, who hadn’t realized it was 400 dollars a freaking month, and he confirmed what dosage I needed to take). And they charged my 400 dollars a month.

        Suffice it to say, I take the whining of the pharmaceutical industry with a grain of salt the size of New York.

        If you don’t like THAT story, let me tell you about my 400 dollar Epi-pen (well, 2 200 dollar ones). It contains approximately 30 cents of a drug that’s been generic for 100 years, wrapped in a container that cost — at most — 10 bucks to make. But wait, what about the R&D costs associated with the next generation of pens that allows you to inject through your clothes, even thick jeans?

        The US Army paid for that, they really wanted auto-injectors that could be used through their BDUs. As a spin-off of government R&D, the licensing costs are…small to non-existent. The US government paid for every dime of R&D.

        Funny story, the cost for a pair of epipens used to be 40 bucks a piece. They got bought out, and the price (similiar to the Alleve/Nexium thing above) went up 10 fold. For an ‘innovation’ that costs considerably less than a buck an injector, for which they paid no R&D and did not develop through any desire of the market.

        The owners of the Epipen company DO habitually buy out or drive competitors out of market though.

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        • The Justice Dept and the FTC really should be pressing much harder on anti-trust. With the likely 5-4 split at the Sup. Ct. favoring liberals for the first time in a long time and really compelling evidence out of the pharma and communications industries, the judiciary may be ready to reconsider what anti-competitive behavior means.

          And I really reject the idea that the current patent system, coupled with the current methods used by various entities — including federal, state and local govts — of paying for drugs, is the best of all possible worlds for maximizing the invention of socially useful drugs. There are plenty of alternative models out there.

          I am not, by the way, complaining about erectile dysfunction and other lifestyle drugs. Those drugs make an enormous difference in the quality of life for the millions of people around the world who take them. Going back to the posts about market failures, I think the entire drug development system needs to be reconsidered on a global basis.

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          • Reject it our not[1], it’s just not a free market in any respect. It’s about as far as you can get from a free market without having a straight-up command economy. You have the government imposing very expensive requirements to enter the market and then effectively rewarding companies with a monopoly on a drug once they clear that hurdle. I don’t disagree with @brandon-berg’s basic contention that the US is effectively allowing healthcare systems in Canada and Europe to free-ride on the costs of drug development, though.

            [1] There really are some arguments in favor.

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  10. Saul Degraw,

    Yes, I knew without looking it up that George Christopher was the last GOP mayor (actually, until I looked it up I thought Christopher was the only postwar GOP mayor; turns out the SF mayoralty was solidly Republican 1912-1964). I lived in or near SF from 1960 to 1982, and if my memory serves (which it well may not :) there were never more than two GOP council members from the early Seventies on.

    LeeEsq referred to Democratic dominance of urban areas going back to the 1840s. My point is that it’s a rather more recent phenomenon in lots of the country, hence using 1945 as my starting point. If we were to take say 1980 (halfway between 1945 and now) as a starting point, we’d find rather fewer non-Sunbelt cities with more than eight years of Republican mayor (and, I suspect if I could find the data, basically none with GOP majorities on their councils).

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