Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Education Week, Part II: The Case for School Choice

November 19, 2019 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

School choice is based on the simple premise that we’ll get better results if school budgets are distributed to parents so they can pick from schools that compete for their kids (and dollars).

The current system, by contrast, is an inefficient monopoly that largely caters to the interests of teacher unions and school bureaucrats. Which is why more money and more money and more money and more money and more money (you get the point) never translates into better outcomes.

This is why even the Washington Post has editorialized for choice-based reform.

A few years ago, I shared a bunch of data showing that school choice boosts academic results for kids.

As part of our recognition of National Education Week, let’s augment those results with some more-recent findings.

There’s new evidence, for instance, that Florida’s choice system is producing good results.
…new evidence from the Urban Institute, which…examined a larger data set of some 89,000 students. The researchers compared those who used school vouchers to public-school students with comparable math and reading scores, ethnicity, gender and disability status. …High school voucher students attend either two-year or four-year institutions at a rate of 64%, according to the report, compared to 54% for non-voucher students. For four-year colleges only, some 27% of voucher students attend compared to 19% for public-school peers. …About 12% of voucher students attended private universities, double the rate of non-voucher students. …Voucher students who entered the program in elementary or middle school were 11% more likely to get a bachelor’s degree, while students who entered in high school were 20% more likely. …High schoolers who stayed in the voucher program for at least three years “were about 5 percentage points more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree, a 50 percent increase.”
A column published by the Foundation for Economic Education notes the positive outcomes in Wisconsin.
Private schools and independent public charter schools are more productive than district public schools, …according to report author Corey DeAngelis… DeAngelis compares the productivity of schools in cities throughout Wisconsin based on per-pupil funding and student achievement. Wisconsin’s four private-school parental choice programs currently enroll over 40,000 students combined, and more than 43,000 students are enrolled in charter schools. …Compared to Wisconsin district public schools, private schools participating in parental choice programs receive 27 percent less per-pupil funding, and charter schools receive 22 percent less. Yet these schools get more bang for every education buck, according to DeAngelis: “I find that private schools produce 2.27 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [across 26 cities], demonstrating a 36 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for private schools. Independent charter schools produce 3.02 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [throughout Milwaukee and Racine], demonstrating a 54 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for independent charter schools.”
A study looking at 11 school choice programs found very positive results.
Today 26 states and the District of Columbia have some private school choice program, and the trend is for more: Half of the programs have been established in the past five years. …a new study from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas shows…that voucher students show “statistically significant” improvement in math and reading test scores. The researchers found that vouchers on average increase the reading scores of students who get them by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by about 0.15 standard deviations. In laymen’s terms, this means that on average voucher students enjoy the equivalent of several months of additional learning compared to non-voucher students. …“When you do the math, students achieve more when they have access to private school choice,” says Patrick J. Wolf, who conducted the study with M. Danish Shakeel and Kaitlin P. Anderson. …The Arkansas results aren’t likely to change union minds because vouchers are a mortal threat to their public-school monopoly. But for anyone who cares about how much kids learn, especially the poorest kids, the Arkansas study is welcome news that school choice delivers.
Even if choice is just limited to charter schools, there are positive outcomes, as seen from research on Michigan’s program.
Charter students in Detroit on average score 60% more proficient on state tests than kids attending the city’s traditional public schools. Eighteen of the top 25 schools in Detroit are charters while 23 of the bottom 25 are traditional schools. Two studies from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (2013, 2015) found that students attending Michigan charters gained on average an additional two months of learning every year over their traditional school counterparts. Charter school students in Detroit gained three months.
Back in 2016, Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal shared some evidence about the benefits of choice.
Barack Obama…spent his entire presidency trying to shut down a school voucher program in Washington, D.C., that gives poor black and brown children access to private schools and, according to the Education Department’s own evaluation, improves their chances of graduating by as much as 21 percentage points. …Democrats continue to throw ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer money at the problem in return for political support from the teachers unions that control public education. …Harvard professor Martin West describes some of the more recent school-choice research. Students at Boston charter high schools “are more likely to take and pass Advance Placement courses and to enroll in a four-year rather than a two-year college,” writes Mr. West. Attending a charter middle school in Harlem “sharply reduced the chances of teen pregnancy (for girls) and incarceration (for boys),” and “a Florida charter school increased students’ earnings as adults.” Mr. West concludes that “attending a school of choice, whether private or charter, is especially beneficial for minority students living in urban areas.”
A study by the World Bank found big benefits from choice in Washington, D.C., with minorities being the biggest beneficiaries.
This paper develops and estimates an equilibrium model of charter school entry and school choice. In the model, households choose among public, private, and charter schools, and a regulator authorizes charter entry and mandates charter exit. The model is estimated for Washington, D.C. According to the estimates, charters generate net social gains by providing additional school options, and they benefit non-white, low-income, and middle-school students the most. Further, policies that raise the supply of prospective charter entrants in combination with high authorization standards enhance social welfare. …In order to quantify the net social gains generated by charter schools, we run a counterfactual consisting of not having charters at all in 2007. …charter students who switch into public schools outside Ward 3 experience lower proficiency, quality and value added than before. Proficiency losses are quite severe at the middle school level and for poor black students, who on average lose 6.4 and 5.3 percentage points out of their baseline average proficiency… On average all student groups lose welfare due to the loss of school options, but losses are the greatest for those previously most likely to attend charters. Middle school students, who gain much from the quantity and quality of options offered by charters, are particularly hurt. Further, poor blacks in middle school experience a loss of about 15 percent of their baseline welfare. …The 25 percent of students most hurt by charter removal are non-white, have an average household income of $27,000 and experience an average welfare loss equivalent to 19 percent of their income. …total social benefits fall by about $77,000,000 when the 59 charters are removed.
This map from the study is worth some careful attention.


It reveals that the rich and white families who live in northwestern D.C. don’t have any big need for choice. It’s the poor families (mostly black) elsewhere in the city who are anxious for alternatives.

(Which is why the NAACP’s decision to side with unions over black children is so reprehensible.)
The good news is that there’s ongoing movement to expand choice in some states.

The Wall Street Journal opined about significant progress in Florida.
With little fanfare this autumn, another 18,000 young Floridians joined the ranks of Americans who enjoy school choice. More than 100,000 students, all from families of modest means, already attend private schools using the state’s main tax-credit scholarship. But the wait list this spring ran to the thousands, so in May the state created a voucher program to clear the backlog. …This is a huge victory for school choice. The first cohort of voucher recipients is 71% black and Hispanic, according to state data. Eighty-seven percent have household incomes at or below 185% of the poverty line, or $47,638 for a family of four. The law gives priority to these students… Mr. DeSantis’s opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, said he would wind down the scholarships. CNN’s exit poll says 18% of black women voted for Mr. DeSantis… That’s decisive, since the Governor won by fewer than 40,000 ballots.
The final passage is worth emphasis. Reformers can attract votes from minority families who are ill-served by the government’s education monopoly.

Parents in low-income communities aren’t stupid. Once they figure out that government schools are run for the benefit of unions rather than children, they will respond accordingly.

And here’s some positive news from Tennessee.
Governor Bill Lee fulfilled a campaign promise on Friday when he signed a school voucher bill into law. …its passage is a big victory for the Governor and even more for Tennessee children trapped in failing public schools. Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, the measure will provide debit cards averaging $7,300 each year for low-income families to use for education-related expenses. The money can pay for private-school tuition, textbooks or a tutor, among other things. The program is capped at a disappointingly low 15,000 students. Participation is also restricted to only two of the state’s 95 counties—Shelby and Davidson… This is where the need is greatest, given that these two counties have the most failing public schools.
To be sure, the union bosses are fighting back.

Over the years, we’ve seen setbacks in states where we hoped for progress, such as Colorado and Pennsylvania.

Let’s close with this very simple message…

…and this very persuasive video.



P.S. There’s also evidence that school choice is better for children’s mental health since it’s associated with lower suicide rates. That’s a nice fringe benefit, much like the data on school choice and jobs.

P.P.S. Getting rid of the Department of Education would be a good idea, but the battle for school choice is largely won and lost on the state and local level.
Education Week, Part I: The Continuing Deterioration of K-12 Government Schooling



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Cartoon of the Day

Education Week, Part I: The Continuing Deterioration of K-12 Government Schooling

November 18, 2019 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

According to the union bosses at the National Education Association, November 18-22 is National Education Week and a “wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education.”

I care about facts and I care about kids, and all the evidence shows that government schools do a terrible job. So, instead of celebrating, I’m going to focus this week on government’s destructive impact.

Let’s start with this stunning visual from Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute. As you can see, the main takeaways are that costs have soared and bureaucracy has expanded.

(Editor's NoteThe visual will not reproduce here because it's an active visual tracking how costs have risen over the years.  The author, Mark J. Perry states:
My latest animated “bar chart race” visualization above shows the growth over nearly the last 50 years in: a) the number of students (K-12) enrolled in public schools, b) the number of public school teachers, c) the number of non-teaching staff (administrators, principals, assistant principals, support staff, librarians, guidance counselors and instructional aides), and d) the inflation-adjusted cost of public school education per pupil, all from 1970 to 2016. All of the figures shown in the animated chart are the percent of 1970 values. Here are some observations: RK)
And if you look at this chart, you’ll see that test scores have been flat. Indeed, the unambiguous conclusion is that taxpayers are being asked to cough up ever-growing amounts of cash. Yet we never see any improvements in the quality of government schooling. Indeed, an article in National Review explains that all this money and this bureaucracy has produced a negative rate of return
A Nation at Risk…revealed, in the words of Ronald Reagan, an education system plagued by “low standards, lack of purpose, ineffective use of resources, and a failure to challenge students to push performance to the boundaries of individual ability.” …Since then the nation has devoted a great deal of attention to getting education right. To little avail. …The results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)…, released this month, are dismal. Fewer than half of students are rated “proficient” in each of these subjects.
But it’s not just folks on the right who think the current system is a failure. An article in left-of-center Vox is even more dour about the effectiveness of government schools.
…cast a cold look at the performance of schools… Consider the trends: Since 2005, SAT reading scores have dropped by 14 points. A writing component was added to the SAT in 2006, and scores have dropped every year since then except for two years when they were flat. Math scores for 2015 were the lowest in 20 years. …On the ACT’s measure of “college readiness” in math, English, reading, and science, slightly more than one-third of test takers met the benchmarks in three subjects, while another one-third did not meet any(!) of the benchmarks. …According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams (the “Nation’s Report Card,” administered by the Education Department’s National Center for Educational Statistics), only one-quarter of 12th-graders are proficient in civics, one-fifth in geography, just over one-third (37 percent) in reading, one-fifth (22 percent) in science, and one-eighth (12 percent) in US history. Only one-quarter of them reach proficiency in math. …At the same time, we have another discrepancy, outcomes versus public school funding. …Adjusted for inflation, the national average for per-pupil spending rose steadily…the cost-benefit numbers continue to look bleak.
The fundamental problem is that teacher unions are in bed with politicians. This doesn’t just mean that government schools are needlessly expensive (and they are). It also means that the government monopoly primarily exists as a tool to serve bureaucracy rather than students.

Consider these scholarly findings.
Does collective bargaining by teachers help or hurt students?Two Cornell academics— Michael Lovenheim, an associate professor of policy analysis and management, and Alexander WillĂ©n, a doctoral student—have recently completed a study that tries to answer it. In “A Bad Bargain: How teacher collective bargaining affects students’ employment and earnings later in life,” the professors conclude: “We find strong evidence that teacher collective bargaining has a negative effect on students’ earnings as adults.” …Students who spent all 12 years of their elementary and secondary education in schools with mandatory collective bargain earned $795 less per year as adults than their peers who weren’t in such schools. They also worked on average a half hour less per week, were 0.9% less likely to be employed, and were in occupations requiring lower skills. The authors found that these add up to a large overall loss of $196 billion per year…collective bargaining may be profitable for the teachers and staff of public schools, but the price is being paid by the students.
Washington-driven policies certainly haven’t helped. Bush’s so-called No Child Left Behind scheme failed, and the same is true for Obama’s Common Core. Indeed, this article from the Federalist documents the failure of Obama’s approach.
…the Obama administration lured states into adopting Common Core sight unseen, with promises it would improve student achievement. Like President Obama’s other big promises — “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” — this one’s been proven a scam. …Race to the Top was a $4 billion money pot inside the 2009 stimulus that helped bribe states into Common Core. …Are American children increasingly prepared…? We’re actually seeing the opposite. They’re increasingly less prepared. And there’s mounting evidence that Common Core deserves some of the blame. …ACT scores released earlier this month show that students’ math achievement is at a 20-year low. The latest English ACT scores are slightly down since 2007, and students’ readiness for college-level English was at its lowest level since ACT’s creators began measuring that item…the latest round of international tests…showed U.S. fourth graders declining on reading achievement. …Common Core sucked all the energy, money, and motivation right out of desperately needed potential reforms to U.S. public schools for a decade, and for nothing. It’s more money right down our nation’s gigantic debt hole, another generation lost to sickening ignorance, another set of corrupt bureaucrats‘ careers and bank accounts built out of the wreckage of American minds.
We can also see the dismal impact of bigger budgets by looking at experiences in various cities.
Throwing more money at the government monopoly didn’t work in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is canceling one of his signature education initiatives, acknowledging that despite spending $773 million he was unable to turn around many long-struggling public schools in three years after decades of previous interventions had also failed. …the program has been plagued by bureaucratic confusion and uneven academic results… The question of how to fix broken schools is a great unknown in education…no large school system has cracked the code, despite decades of often costly attempts. …the program was based on the union-friendly theory that struggling schools need more resources.
(For some very grim first-hand accounts of New York City’s government schools, click here, here, and here.) It didn’t work in Newark.
Booker pitched Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that, with $100 million, they “could flip a whole city!” In September 2010, the troika appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s television show to present and accept the gift. For education reformers convinced that poverty could be solved given the will and the money, it was a dream come true. …the reformers’ dreams turned into a political nightmare. …Hopes for a game-changing teacher contract were quickly dashed, as reformers learned that teacher tenure protections were enshrined in state law. …Newark public schools spend $19,650 per pupil, but only $9,604 reaches the classroom.
And it didn’t work in Denver.
Denver’s once-celebrated ProComp pay system…was jointly developed by the DCTA and Denver Public Schools in 2005. …Back then, ProComp was heralded as a pioneering step forward on pay-for-performance/merit pay… The only problem? This narrative is bunk. For all the talk about “merit” and “performance,” ProComp is almost wholly devoid of any links between pay and teacher performance. …ProComp is mostly designed to reward the usual credentialism… Denver’s situation is so noteworthy because Denver is no laggard. Indeed, for many years, it has been celebrated as a “model” district by reformers. So it’s disheartening how little progress the city has actually made.
And you won’t be surprised to learn it didn’t work in D.C.
The much-celebrated success of education reform in the nation’s capital turns out to have been a lie. …Education reformers used to celebrate D.C.’s dramatic decline in school suspensions. Then a Washington Post investigation revealed that it was fake; administrators had merely taken suspensions off the books. The same reformers used to celebrate D.C.’s sharp increase in high-school graduations. Then an NPR investigation revealed that it, too, was fake; almost half of students who missed more than half the year graduated. …consider Abdullah Zaki, who back in 2013 was named DCPS principal of the year. He was just placed on administrative leave (not fired, mind you) after an audit revealed that 4,000 changes were made to 118 students’ attendance records at his high school. …consider Yetunde Reeves…who took Ballou High School from 57 percent graduation to 100 percent college acceptance in just one year. She was placed on administrative leave (again, not fired) after NPR reported teacher allegations that she leveraged the teacher-evaluation system to coerce teachers to go along with her scheme.
I realize I’m being repetitive, but more money for the government monopoly also didn’t work in Providence.
Rhode Island’s politicians this summer made a show of decrying the shameful condition of Providence public schools…peeling lead paint, vermin, brown water, leaking sewage—from a Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy 93-page report on Providence schools… Student test scores are the worst in Rhode Island and lower than districts in other states with similar demographics. …“the district’s performance is continuing to decline despite increased interventions and funding.” Providence’s school budget has increased by nearly a quarter since 2011.
You can also click here to read about failure in Patterson, N.J., and Los Angeles, CA. The bottom line is that more spending does not lead to better student performance.

It’s also nauseating that government schools try to brainwash kids with leftist pabulum.

Consider what’s happening in California.
California’s Education Department has issued an “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum”…written by an advisory board of teachers, academics and bureaucrats. It’s as bad as you imagine. …The document is filled with fashionable academic jargon like “positionalities,” “hybridities,” “nepantlas” and “misogynoir.” It includes faddish social-science lingo like “cis-heteropatriarchy”… It is difficult to comprehend the depth and breadth of the ideological bias and misrepresentations without reading the whole curriculum—something few will want to do. Begin with economics. Capitalism is described as a “form of power and oppression,” alongside “patriarchy,” “racism,” “white supremacy” and “ableism.” …Housing policy gets the treatment. The curriculum describes subprime loans as an attack on home buyers with low incomes rather than a misguided attempt by the government to help such home buyers. …This curriculum explicitly aims at encouraging students to become “agents of change, social justice organizers and advocates.”
Seattle is also looking to get in the business of dishing out propaganda.
Seattle’s public-school district has proposed a new math curriculum that would teach its students all about how math has been “appropriated” — and how it “continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities.” …the social-justice approach to teaching math has officially entered the mainstream (and taxpayer-funded!) arena. …this approach to teaching math will only end up harming the very groups it claims it champions. …The minority students, the members of the very groups that this curriculum presumably aims to aid, are actually going to be learning less math than they would have without it — because they will be spending some of that class time learning about how math’s racism has hurt them.
Wow. No wonder young people are sympathetic to socialism. They’re being spoon-fed crazy ideas.

To round out our discussion, here’s a video from Reason.


So what’s the solution?

Writing for Real Clear Politics, Heather Wilhelm says we need to give up on the government monopoly.
…there might not be much left to do but vote with your feet. The term “Go Galt,” which comes from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” refers to citizens retreating from a political system that basically takes their money and otherwise does them no good. …odds are the public school system isn’t doing you any favors. If you’re a poor kid in the inner city, the damage and injustice is obvious… “If you send your kid to a private school,” Slate’s Allison Benedikt wrote in a 2013 essay-gone-viral, you are “a bad person … ruining one of our nation’s most essential institutions.” News flash: The public school system is already a mess, it’s getting messier, and it can only improve the old-fashioned way — through competition.
If you prefer, this quote from Thomas Sowell is spot on.

Thomas Sowell @ThomasSowell Oct 10 

If you are serious about wanting to improve education, do not vote more money for the education establishment that has been dumbing down the schools for years. Vote for vouchers, tax credits, or anything else that will transfer decision-making power to parents.If you are serious about wanting to improve education, do not vote more money for the education establishment that has been dumbing down the schools for years. Vote for vouchers, tax credits, or anything else that will transfer decision-making power to parents.
The bottom line is that government has created a bad system. It doesn’t matter that most teachers have noble intentions. It doesn’t matter that most kids are capable of higher achievement. Monopolies simply don’t perform, especially when mixed with special-interest politics.

It goes without saying that shutting down the Department of Education would be a positive step. But that’s only a partial solution. We’ll explore the real answer tomorrow.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Social Economics of Wokeness

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 4 Comments Wednesday, November 13, 2019 @ Sultan Knish Blog

What’s the appeal of ‘Wokeness’?

Let’s take two recent examples, Senator Kamala Harris and Terminator: Dark Fate. Both clunkers have two things in common. They’re overhyped vehicles that wasted millions of dollars of other people’s money, $25 million or so for Kamala, and an estimated $100 million for Terminator: Dark Fate, for negligible results, Kamala is polling at 2%, and Terminator: Dark Fate blew its opening weekend.

And they both took out identity politics insurance policies against their eventual failure.

Kamala didn’t run on identity politics just because it was a good winning strategy, but also because it was a good losing strategy. That’s why, as her campaign sinks, she keeps emphasizing two things, that she’s always won elections in the past, and that, if she loses, it’s because America may not be ”ready for a woman of color to be President of the United States”. Kamala isn’t losing. America is losing.

Like a lot of movie franchises with no reason to exist, Terminator: Dark Fate adopted ‘wokeness’ as its identity. It’s the latest in a series of ‘woke’ franchise cash cows to bomb, not because of their politics, but because their politics couldn’t disguise the hollowness of the cash grab at the heart of the movie.

Kamala’s candidacy also had no reason to exist. Neither Democrats nor Republicans, insiders nor outsiders, can define what the hell her message is, except the hollowness of her own ambitions. Like Obama, she tried to use identity politics and borrowed radicalism to disguise the hollowness, but just like movies, the difference between a bad cash-in and a good one is style, art, and entertainment value.

The only thing entertaining about Kamala’s candidacy or Terminator: Dark Fate are their failures.

‘Wokeness’ isn’t just a selling point for bad candidates and bad movies with no reason to exist except synergy and greed, which are two ways of saying the same thing, it also justifies their failures.

‘Wokeness’ may go broke, but nobody ever pays the price except the money people.

Kamala Harris took out an insurance policy by running on identity politics. Her defeat will not be due to her decisions or her flaws, but to America’s unreadiness for a half-black, half-Indian woman to be president. And since there probably won’t be another one of those running, her premise isn’t even disprovable. Terminator: Dark Fate defined itself around challenging sexism. And so that $100 million in estimated losses isn’t anyone’s fault except that of the sexists who weren’t ready to go watch it.

The ‘wokeness’ insurance policy has bigger and broader applications than a bad candidate and a bad movie. It’s all around us. Why is Dick’s Sporting Goods doubling down on its anti-gun politics after losing hundreds of millions of dollars? Because its ‘principled’ position was never about principles. It was a PR strategy to cover a risky shift away from its old customer base to a trendy urban outdoor sports market.

If Dick’s had played it safe, by selling firearms, while still making the transition, and failed, its leadership would have taken all the blame. Instead, Dick’s jettisoned its old customer base while appealing to its new customer base with a show of ‘wokeness’, while its leaders are hailed as heroes for their farce. Whatever happens to Dick’s, its leadership will never be seen as failures, but as courageous activists.

This cynical game pervades corporate life where ‘wokeness’ is an insurance policy for risky gambits, especially among start-ups and financial institutions. A controversial ad campaign, a minority CEO, and an environmental initiative are insurance policies against social and reputational failure by big business.

The ancient Greeks sacrificed to the gods before any risky venture. Their pagan descendants sacrifice to the gods of political correctness, they read the entrails of ‘wokeness’, and go forth fatalistically. If they succeed, it’s because they’re good people. If they fail, they’re still good people, but they failed because of the evil people, the racists, the sexists, the gun owners, and the enemies of all that is woke and true.

Success isn’t attributable to hard work, but to the right beliefs. Failure doesn’t bear any responsibility, but is due to a society that isn’t progressive enough to allow a project with the right values to succeed.

‘Wokeness’ shifts the axis of responsibility away from the individual and to all that it believes is evil.

This is as true of ordinary people as it is of giant corporations or presidential candidates. Identity politics indemnifies its heirs against failure, whether they’re Kamala Harris or the person in the next cubicle. Oppressed minorities never fail, like Kamala or a feminist killer robot, they are failed by society. To be underprivileged is be hailed for anything short of total disaster, with zero expectations or accountability.

What we think of as ‘wokeness’ elevated the social economics of embracing leftist politics from individuals to major corporations. By prioritizing social values over economic ones, the new credos of socially responsible investing and socially responsible corporate governance, and putting stakeholders over shareholders, upholding leftist politics became more important than making money.

That’s the appeal of ‘wokeness’.

Hard work is hard. Saying the right things isn’t.

Freedom of Speech is a part of the American work ethic because we were a society where what you did mattered, not what you said, what you accomplished, not to which group you belonged. That’s why America, not Europe, Africa, China, Russia, or whichever part of the world lefties think we should be more like this week, actually developed civil rights and the most equal society in the world.

Meritocracy is inherently equalizing. Ideological systems, no matter how much they preach the cant of equality, are inherently unequal because ideology is never accountable to anything outside itself.

Leftist politics are clerical politics. Their theology of values has been embedded into every institution, making the very idea of separation of church and state into an obscene mockery. And the essence of theocracy is the conviction that what you believe matters far more than whether you get results.

‘Wokeness’ is just the buzzword of the moment whose real meaning is that society is being reinvented from a meritocracy based around hard work to a theocracy for the exponents of leftist beliefs. It’s an engine that defines success in terms of its values while removing the penalty for real-world failure.

Of course, ‘wokeness’ is a huge hit. Unlike its movies.

Who’s likeliest to go ‘woke’? The lazy, the incompetent, the corrupt, the greedy, the insecure, and the powerful who want to keep a hold on power without having to honestly compete for it. Is it any wonder that the ‘wokest’ corps are huge corporations that once had a good product, but are just living off their brand and anti-competitive business model, e.g. Nike, Apple, Google, Procter & Gamble (Gillette), Disney, and the usual suspects who spend more money on diversity than on customer satisfaction?

Corporate America’s biggest ‘woke’ fans have a ‘broke’ product and no desire to do any better.

Meritocracy means that the lazy and the incompetent can’t just rest on their laurels. If people and organizations are judged by the work they do, then the elite must work harder than everyone else.

As the twenties of the twenty-first century dawn, would anyone accuse America’s elites, its political, academic, corporate, and government leaders of working harder than everyone else? There was a time when our elites, love them or loathe them, were overachievers. These days, a Harvard degree or a spot as a Fortune 500 CEO are as likely to demonstrate clerical membership as dedication and hard work.

The appeal of ‘wokeness’ to a lazy and incompetent elite, to an Obama or a Warren are obvious. They are just as obvious to corporate morbidly obese monopolies and multinational brand warehouses.

Why bother figuring out a business model or a revenue model when you can just virtue signal?

And the appeal is just the same to the college student who doesn’t want to work hard, and instead takes a detour into identity politics studies, and discovers that it opens doors in every infiltrated field. You can study math and science, and if you fail, it doesn’t prove you’re lazy or stupid, but that math and science are racist constructs invented by dead white slave owners. Like Kamala, you can’t fail. It’s math’s failure.

On a social level, you don’t have to do the hard work of developing character and working on yourself. ‘Wokeness’ means that your social failures, your dating problems, aren’t really your fault. And anyone on the wrong side of your temper tantrum can be subjected to an extended bout of ‘cancel culture’.

That’s what we used to call bullying before we ‘cancelled’ it and replaced it with cancel culture. The only difference is that bullying rewarded strength, while cancel culture rewards shows of weakness.

That’s ‘woke’ politics in both the micro, in a school, to the macro, a multinational corporation.

“Go woke, go broke,” is a common conservative saying. It’s true in one sense and not true in another.

‘Wokeness’ brings with it economic, structural and personal failure. But it’s also a social economic strategy of avoiding responsibility for those failures. It’s an insurance policy for incompetence. It’s a good hedge against risk. And it means never having to learn how to be a better human being.

Successful societies bring out the best in people while failed societies reward the worst in them.

As America makes the slow downhill journey from a successful society to a failed society, ‘wokeness’, by its many names, is an engine of change, an incentivizing agent for bad behavior, and a disincentive for the traditional success strategies of meritocracy. It doesn’t just punish success: it rewards failure.

Failed societies have successful people. They just use different strategies to succeed. The elites don’t lose out. It’s the hard workers and the strivers, and society as a whole who suffer the consequences.

No society is so failed that it doesn’t have an elite. ‘Wokeness’ is a new success strategy for a failed society. The people and organizations making use of it may not go broke individually. Not as long as the system that they’re part of extends its safety net to cover their losses and reward their values.

Instead it’s our society that’s going broke as its elites go woke.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Academic Bias Against Industry Is Toxic Hypocrisy

By Alex Berezow — November 5, 2019 @ American Council on Science and Health

There is a pervasive bias in academia against scientists who work in industry. It is often said that such individuals aren’t "real scientists." The less charitable describe them as having gone over to the "dark side." For at least two reasons, this is a shameful and hypocritical way to characterize industry.

First, academic-industry partnerships are often extremely productive. The former provides the basic discoveries and theoretical foundations that the latter can implement in the form of real-world technologies. Several universities now have technology transfer offices whose goal is to patent (and profit from!) academic research by identifying industry partners that can bring a product to market. The university collects royalties if a product is successful.

Second, industry provides nearly 2/3 of all research funding in the United States. According to R&D Magazine, in 2019, industry paid for $375.8 billion of the $581 billion spent on research and development in the United States. If industry research were to disappear, America's dominance in science and technology would evaporate along with it.

For these reasons, industry should be celebrated, not derided1. But that's not what we get. Instead, industry is routinely pilloried -- sometimes fairly, oftentimes unfairly -- both by academics and the media.

Writing in Forbes, astrophysicist Dr. Paul Sutter argues that Big Data is trouble for science. Why? He says:
As science becomes more and more data heavy and leans more and more on Big Data techniques, the students who are naturally gifted or most talented or most passionate about Big Data aren't going to end up in science, they're going to end up in the industry. [Emphasis added]
That statement reveals that Dr. Sutter believes that (1) industry scientists aren't real scientists, and (2) it's bad if too many smart people are attracted to industry. Therefore, Big Data itself is bad. That's a curious line of reasoning, but such pretzel-twisting logic isn't uncommon.

Dr. David Gorski (a.k.a. "Orac"), who blogs for Respectful Insolence and Science-Based Medicine, is also perpetually vigilant for corporate stooges2. While he agrees with us that vaccines are vital to public health, he claims that we only support vaccines because we're shills for Big Pharma, apparently notwithstanding the fact that our organization includes microbiologists, epidemiologists, and medical doctors, many of whom are academics.

This bizarre phenomenon of seeing shills everywhere one looks has also infected journalism. A team of journalists at NYU, led primarily by Charles Seife, routinely accuse others of malfeasance on behalf of industry. (One article written by Mr. Seife attacking plant geneticist Dr. Kevin Folta as an industry shill was so bad that it had to be retracted.) Yet, while Mr. Seife accuses all those around him of being industry shills, his employer NYU collected more than $1 billion in royalties for just a single drug that it patented and licensed to Big Pharma.

The fervor with which the "corporate shill" label is applied is akin to McCarthyist zeal. That's unfortunate. The truth is that if the science is accurate, then it doesn’t matter who paid for it — be it Monsanto, Vladimir Putin, or the Devil himself. Funding only matters if the science is inaccurate. That's when it's appropriate to ask, "Who funded this and why?"

Notes

(1) Yes, industry should be criticized when it behaves poorly.
(2) Dr. Gorski works for Wayne State University, which like many universities, has a technology transfer office. According to its website, "the University expects to receive a reasonable royalty" from industry if a technology it patents makes money. If Dr. Gorski's criteria apply equally to everyone, that would make his employer a corporate shill.




Cartoon of the Day


Government winter forecasts vs. The Old Farmer’s Almanac

By ,   | November 13th, 2019 | Climate | 222 Comments @ CFACT

The Old Farmers Almanac has a track record of accuracy and honesty in climate forecasting, though the general public is likely unaware of it. They base their predictions on more than two centuries of experience in meteorology, climatology and mathematical models tested over those centuries. They have a long line of skilled and experienced forecasters whose honesty is above reproach. If humanly possible they have to get it right. The farm economy depends on it.

The UN and NASA’s climate division, faces no consequences for inaccurate or fabricated science and forecasts. As a result we are facing quite a contrast in forecasts for the approaching winter.
Both NASA climate groups, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) predict the 2019-2020 winter more in keeping with the climate change delusion of warming produced by our use of fossil fuels and their associated carbon dioxide emissions. They predict warmer -than-average temperatures in store for the country.

NOAA wrote on October 17th, “Warmer-than-average temperatures are forecast for much of the U.S. this winter… below-average temperatures are not favored.”

So can we keep the snow-shovel in the closet? Not according to the Farmers Almanacs.

Founded in 1792 (with a second competitive version beginning publication in 1818), American farmers have been depending on the skill and accuracy of the Almanac’s seasonal forecasts. These forecasts have to be right. If they are not, farmer’s who depend on it could suffer significant financial loss. The Farmer’s Almanac, with no bias whatever would loose there financial support from buyers and advertisers.

While by contrast, to further political objectives set primarily by the Obama administration, the UN, NASA climate division, and NOAA are essentially required to find every way to move the needle towards the warming delusion.

The managing editor of Almanac Version 1 (founded 1792) summed it up:
“We’re using a very strong four-letter word to describe this winter, which is C-O-L-D. It’s going to be very cold.
Version 2 of the Almanac (founded 1818) agrees.
“We expect yet another wild ride this winter,” editor Peter Geiger said “with extreme temperatures swings and some hefty snowfalls.”
The coming winter is described by version 2 as a “polar coaster” for about 70% of the US.
According to the Almanac, which has been on the bulls-eye recently in winter forecasts, the Northern Plains and Great Lakes area could expect temperatures dropping to -40 (F).

The Almanacs provide climate forecasts nationally and state-by-state. Iowa for example, is predicted to have a “frigid and snowy” winter.

Democrat-controlled Illinois is preparing for Global Warming by putting the few and obsolete snow plows they have into storage based on the NOAA’s mild weather prognostication, while the Almanacs both project Illinois to be worse off than Iowa. Illinois has a dual winter climate forecast with part of the state “frigid and snowy” and the other part “frozen and snowy”.

“Only the western third of the country will see near-normal winter temperatures, which means fewer shivers for them,” the Almanac (Version 2) writes.

So far this year, the Almanacs have been right on target, with bitterly freezing temperatures and massive snow storms in the northern states of North Dakota and Montana and surrounding plains area already starting.

In addition to the unbiased Almanac predictions are private sector weather teams such as WeatherBell where prominent experts such as Joe Bastardi (often called on by network news shows) and Joe “D’ Aleo who are paid by companies whose efforts can be Weather dependent to give them a leg up on what impacts of weather they may expect. Among their clients at dozens of the major energy companies in the nation. Their analysis is complex and proprietary but line up with the Almanacs surprisingly often.

In this frigid forecast, the FARMER’S ALMANAC has a high tech ally in NASA’s Langley Research Laboratory. Unlike NASA’s climate division which is a politicized group dealing in propaganda, The Langley Laboratory is only about science. The chief scientist of the Langley Research Laboratory, Dr Martin Mlynczac, has developed a satellite method and system of calculating the loss of heat energy from the earth from its atmosphere into space.

Dr Mlynczac described his research methods: “I conduct basic research into the energy balance and climate of the atmosphere from Earth’s surface to the edge of Space. I lead the development of innovative techniques (instruments, technology, models, algorithms) to remotely sense the atmosphere from satellites, suborbital rockets, aircraft, high altitude balloons, and the ground.”

The Langley Research Lab system calculates heat loss on a scale of 1 (being the minimum of heat loss), with 10 being the maximum. We are at a 10, and Dr Mlynczac wrote:“We see a cooling trend… High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a space age record for cold.”

The reason for this present and coming cold is of course… the sun. The sun controls climate on earth, and weather as well. The effect of CO2 is zero. And we are now in a deep Grand Solar Minimum, with the sun in a cooler phase. Therefore climate on earth will be cooler. Not only this winter, but we are on the downward slope towards a SUPER GRAND SOLAR MINIMUM, which is most accurate solar model (that of Valintina Zharkhova’s team, Northhumbria University) forecasts to begin at latest in 2035, and perhaps much earlier.

It’s not going to be like the Hollywood disaster films of ice ages in New York City, but it’s going to be cold, with consequences for water, electric power, transportation, and agricultural infrastructure. Very few American cities, for example have the equipment to keep the roads and highways open in an extra cold period. This is explained in the book, ICE AGE 2025, by the senior author of this article.

SO WILL IT BE COLD AS THE FARMERS ALMANACS and THE LANGLEY LAB SUGGEST OR WARM as the UN, NOAA and NASA’s CO2 CLIMATE GROUP. PROPOSE? We suggest investing in woolen long underwear for the family this winter, and you’ll be fine.

Author

  • Dr. Joel Glass is an engineer working in the field of water infrastructure for ultra-cold climate environments. His book is ICE AGE … 2025: HOW TO PREPARE AMERICA AND YOUR FAMILY.

  •  
    Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition. He has authored more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

No Longer a Figment of President Trump’s Feverish Imagination –

By | November 12th, 2019

Recently, in the news, the acting director of the CIA, John McLaughlin was sitting on a stage at a National Press Club event at the Michael V. Hayden Center, named for the former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA)⏤he was sitting next to the former director of the CIA, John Brennan. Also on stage was former Deputy Director of the CIA Andrew McCabe. The event was titled “Intelligence and the U.S. Presidential Election”. One could hear, McLaughlin saying “Thank God for the Deep State.” From his reaction, a combination of pride and modesty, it was obvious that Brennan understood the praise was directed primarily at him.
One would be struck by the fact that after denying that the Deep State was anything but a figment of President Trump’s feverish imagination, people were actually crawling out of the woodwork to thank God for its (their) existence.
Andrew McCabe, together with Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, cobbled together the “insurance policy” that was to take down Donald Trump, should he, by some miracle, defeat Hillary Clinton.

They were joined by Michael Morrell, yet another former Acting Director of the CIA. The only “acting” is the role-playing these traitors engaged in when they pretended to be concerned about the U.S. Constitution, which they had sworn to protect and defend from people very much like themselves.

This was actually like a convention of the Deep State. Looking at the group, one may recall that back in November, 1957, the local cops in Apalachin, N.Y., became very curious when they noticed that a bunch of expensive cars with out of state license plates were showing up in their sleepy little hamlet.

It seems that 100 Mafiosi from around the country, together with representatives from Cuba and Italy, had gathered to discuss their criminal plans for the future at the estate of Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara.

The event was re-created in the movie “The Godfather.”

It wasn’t long until the feds finally took an active interest in the Mafia, and their collaborators and they began going to jail.
We can only hope that now that the Deep Staters are no longer hiding in the shadows, and with the promise that Attorney General William Barr, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham and Inspector General Michael Horowitz, will soon conclude their investigations into the treasonous activities of these unelected bureaucrats, we’ll finally get the results for which we’ve been praying.
If justice is finally delivered, these men will be driven out of their usual haunts at the Michael Hayden Center and CNN and straight into Leavenworth. Perhaps that sounds far fetched to you but there is more. 
Not only do we have the Trump administration officials mentioned above working on the case⏤we have the possibility of the Impeachment Trial. I say possibility, as the Democrats might not be dumb enough to go that far. Presently we are only seeing a front page effort to convince voters not to give President Trump another four years to clean out these swamp creatures.        

The House has the votes to defeat any Republican objections in the House in order to pass articles of impeachment and refer them to the Senate for a trial. However, they know they can not win. The necessary votes to convict are simply not available. But along the way the Democrats would pay heavily for their efforts. During the trial President Trump’s attorneys would have the right to question, through subpoena. absolutely anyone they want.

This is not a special counsel investigation which gives the person being investigated no rights to cross examine. It is the fairest portion of the American legal system.

Who might the President’s council call to the stand? How about James Comey, former FBI Director, the aforementioned Peter Strozk and Lisa Page who told strange tales about the President, Donna Brazille, friend of Hillary, perhaps Hillary herself and Obama’s crafty Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. The list could go on to all the enemies inside the Deep State who have made life difficult for Donald Trump through lie after lie. Lying on the stand could send them to jail.

For the first time President Trump will be able to question his accusers under oath.

The controlling party in the Senate, The Republicans, will determine what testimony will be allowed, and everything would be allowed. How about the DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign to defeat Bernie Sanders and thus fix the primary in favor of Hillary? What about the truth behind the Russian dossier which falsely assailed President Trump? And then there are Hillary’s missing emails, and the lies told to the FISA Court to allow spying and wiretapping at Trump Headquarters. There could be more, much more. After the Senate fails to convict our President, the backlash would bring an easy victory for him in 2020.

Of course for the next four years we would hear that the whole impeachment process was rigged. It would be great, but it will never happen. They are just not that dumb, are they?

So come on, let’s move on to impeachment.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Communism, Reagan, and the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

November 9, 2019 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

Back in 2011, I shared eight short videos that captured the greatness of Ronald Reagan.  One of the videos was this excerpt of his famous tear-down-this-wall speech at Brandenburg Gate.



In a column for the Washington Examiner, Quin Hillyer explains why this was a momentous event.
The greatest climactic event of the 20th century occurred 30 years ago Saturday, as thousands of Germans pushed through, climbed over, and began tearing down the Berlin Wall. Human freedom overcame human evil. Human potential was unleashed. Exuberantly but peaceably, the good guys won. The story needs to be told again and again, because those too young to have lived through the Cold War have trouble feeling viscerally the stakes, the danger, and the drama. …the late William F. Buckley said in his last-ever public speech that The Lives of Others, about life in East Germany under communist domination, should be required viewing in every American high school. The film reminds us that not just in gulags where perceived “troublemakers” were sent but in everyday life: The repression was severe; the fear was palpable; the attempted destruction of the human psyche was pervasive. And there stood the Berlin Wall. Both the real presence of brutality and the era’s most chilling symbol of mass enslavement, the wall was the physical, concrete portion of the figurative Iron Curtain. Also featuring extended barriers of metal-mesh fences, trenches, and 259 vicious-dog runs, and guarded by 186 observation towers manned by machine-gun-toting soldiers, the wall was a monstrosity. The joy that greeted the wall’s fall, not just on-site but around the world, remains almost indescribable.
By the way, I echo Quin’s endorsement of The Lives of Others. It really does capture the day-to-day horror of statism, and has a really nice twist at the end.

Returning to the issue of the Wall and communism, Reagan deserves considerable credit for this victory over evil.

Part of Reagan’s genius is that he attacked the moral foundations of communism. Or the lack of any moral foundation, to be more precise.

Here are some observations about his speech at Moscow State University in 1988.
Ronald Reagan, in the last year of his presidency, delivered one of his most magnificent speeches. …It was the last day of his fourth and final summit with Mikhail Gorbachev. …Reagan never regarded his meetings with Mr. Gorbachev as pertaining solely to arms control. Arms control was merely the pretext for a more fundamental challenge. …If the theme is diplomacy, the underlying purpose is liberty. …He did…understand that victory would belong in the end not to one nation over another, but to one political-moral idea over another. Freedom must triumph over totalitarianism. Reagan had always abominated communism. …Reagan’s ultimate aim was to plant the seed of freedom in the newly receptive furrows of a cracking totalitarianism. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” he cried at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987. “Isn’t it strange,” he mused to reporters, “that there’s only one part of the world and one philosophy where they have to build walls to keep their people in.” …Reagan delivered his Moscow speech standing before a gigantic scowling bust of Lenin and a mural of the Russian Revolution. He incorporated them as props in his address. “Standing here before a mural of your revolution,” he said, “I want to talk about a very different revolution,”… “The key,” Reagan said, “is freedom—freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.”
Yes, Reagan’s rejuvenation of the American economy helped lead to the collapse of communism (notwithstanding the fact that some western economists were dupes for Soviet central planning).
And, yes, Reagan’s military buildup helped weaken the Soviet Union’s resolve.

I’m convinced, though, that Reagan’s attack on the core evil of communism made a key difference. Aided and abetted by his relentless mockery of communism’s many failures.

Let’s not forget that history also is the result of random events.

David Frum last year wrote about a bureaucratic snafu that helped hasten the downfall of East Germany’s evil regime.
At an evening news conference on November 9, 1989, a spokesman for the East German Communist government made a history-altering mistake. The spokesman had been authorized to say that travel restrictions on East German citizens would be lifted the next day, November 10. Instead, he said that the restrictions were lifted effective immediately. Within minutes, hundreds of thousands of East Berliners rushed to the checkpoints of the Berlin Wall. Since the erection of the wall in 1961, border guards had killed more than 750 people seeking to escape East Germany. That night, the border guards had heard the same news as everyone else. Their license to kill had been withdrawn. They stood aside. The long-imprisoned citizens of East Berlin rushed out into West Berlin that night, in what became the greatest and best street party in the history of the world. Soon, Berliners east and west began to attack the hated wall, smash it, rip it apart.
Here’s a video that describes the same event.



By the way, we can’t write about the Berlin Wall without taking the opportunity to reflect on the failure of socialism.

Writing for the U.K.-based Spectator, Kristian Niemietz points out that big government failed in East Germany, just like it fails everywhere.
Thirty years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, socialism is back in fashion. The anniversary is a good occasion to reflect on some of the lessons that we have collectively un-learned, or perhaps never learned properly in the first place from the fall of Communism. The division of Germany into a broadly capitalist West, and a broadly socialist East, represented a natural experiment, and did so in two ways. It was, first of all, a gigantic economic experiment about the viability of socialism, and it produced conclusive results. Around the time of Reunification, West Germany’s GDP per capita was about three times that of East Germany’s. There was also around a three-year-gap in average life expectancy.
Amen.

I invite people to compare the numbers on East German vs. West German economic performance.
Last but not least, let’s close by adding an item to our collection of socialism/communism humor.


To be sure, this is dark humor. Hundreds of people were killed trying to escape into West Berlin. That may seem like an asterisk compared to communism’s horrendous death toll, but every needless death is a tragedy.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Cutting Room Files, Part 4: Japan

by Peter Zeihan on November 7, 2019 @ Zeihan on Geopolitics Visit our Archives

This piece is part of the Cutting Room Files, portions of the upcoming Disunited Nations text that were cut for length. Disunited Nations is available for pre-Order now on Amazon.comHarper Collins, and IndieBound.

Japan is … odd.

Most countries have a very clear chunk of reasonably good land that serves as home to a specific ethnicity. That group forms a government to serve the needs of those people in that place, and then that government steadily expands its writ over more territory and peoples. The valleys Nile, Thames, Ganges and Argun for the Egyptians, English, Indians and Chechens; Muscovy for the Russians; the Beauce for French, the Zagros Mountains for Persians, the Tibetans on their namesake plateau, and so on.

Japan doesn’t really have something like that. The Japanese islands are so steep and arable land so hard to come by that even as late as early 1800s, well over a millennium after after of the emergence of the Japanese ethnicity, the Japanese still lacked a common government.

So…what made Japan matter?

First, isolation. In the imperial age Japan was beyond the back of beyond. Between its island nature and its position on the northeastern corner of the Afro-Eurasian continent system, no one simply happened by. Anyone who wanted to reach the Japanese really had to want to reach the Japanese. If the Japanese’s geography wasn’t as good at isolating them from the rest of the world as one another, they would have been conquered ages ago and never emerged as a people of consequence.

Second, industrialization. What Japan could not do with muscle and wood and arrows and horses and manure they could do with steam and gunpowder and rifles and electricity and chemical fertilizers. The industrial suite of technologies enabled the late-19th century Japanese to overcome their horrid internal geography and forge the truly unified economic and political space we know today as Japan.

But that was hardly the end of the story. More the beginning. Because aside from its people, Japan has nothing that enables industrialization. Steel foundries require high quality iron ore, and Japan has none. Power lines require copper ore or bauxite, and Japan has none. Electricity requires coal or uranium or natural gas, and Japan has none. (Japan’s solar and wind potential for greentech energy is similarly pathetic.) Name an industrial input. Japan doesn’t have it.

And so, the only way Japan could industrialize – the only way Japan could reliably unify – was to raise an empire that could funnel the various inputs of the modern world to the Home Islands. To exist in the modern age, Japan had no choice but to expand into empire.

The Japanese know this in their bones, and they know the converse is true as well. The Japanese fought so hard in World War II less out of nationalism or because their emperor ordered them to, and more because they knew failure would mean a return to mutually-warring Balkanized medievalism.

The modern Japanese also know something else in their bones. No matter how powerful they become, no matter how well they anticipate and administer and execute, no matter how potent their navy, they will never be able to challenge the United States. Attempting to do so pisses the Americans off, and that has consequences. Dire, horrific, searing consequences.

With their WWII defeat, the Japanese prepared themselves to vanish from history. Unity required industry required empire, and their attempts at empire had failed.


 


But the Americans had other ideas. They needed a worldful of allies to contain and beat back the Soviets, and with 1940s-China in the fourth decade of a particularly messy civil war, Beijing was off the menu. So, in Asia, that left Japan. And so, the Americans folded the Japanese into their new global Order.

That meant unrestricted access to the global commodity supply and the ravenous American market, all guaranteed by the American Navy that had just so completely wrecked Imperial Japan. Economically, it was as if the Japanese had won the war. The decades since have been the richest and most secure in Japanese history.

Fast forward to today.

The Americans are leaving. The Order is ending. The happy period of growth and development and security and expansion without needing to invade anyone is nearly over.

Managing the American departure, or even better yet, preventing it, is paramount. Ergo the Japanese Prime Minister was the first world leader to visit the new U.S. president after Trump’s election, and the second to visit after his inauguration. Abe did everything right. He brought his host a set of golden golf clubs. He lost to him (hideously) in 18 holes. Egos were stroked. Groveling was on the menu. Abe went home satisfied that he had bonded with the new guy and the bilateral relationship was firm.

And a few months later the Trump administration slapped steel and aluminum sanctions on the Japanese economy.

Like many leaders Abe had believed some version of a cake-and-eat-it-too deal was on the menu, and if he could forge a personal connection with the new American leader, then Japan could continue on as before. Abe was convinced the tariffs were a negotiating tactic, and that he just needed to hold out and let Trump’s deal-art run its course.

But a few months later, the United States had inked trade deals with the South Koreans, the Mexicans, and the Canadians. Four of Japan’s largest trading partners had already organized themselves into a post-Order system. The remaining really big one was a country the Japanese really didn’t want to be left with: China. So, Abe did the only thing he could do. He followed the example of the Koreans and Canadians and caved. On everything. U.S.-Japan trade talks wrapped up in September.

Awkwardness aside, this transition to a world of Disorder is a transition the Japanese can manage. In the aftermath of Japan’s 1990s financial collapse, the Japanese corporate world relocated much of their industrial capacity to serve markets far more dynamic than their own. Build and employ where you sell. This doesn’t simply put Japan on the safer side of every political, currency and supply chain risk question, it makes their hosts as interested in protecting Japanese investments as the Japanese themselves.

The strategy hasn’t simply worked, it has transformed the Japanese economy from one of the most dependent upon international interconnectivity to one of the least. Add in the world’s second most powerful blue-water navy, and Japan today is the most flexible and insulated country in their region.

There’s more on this topic to be unfurled and explored. A lot more. But unlike South Korea or Mexico or Canada – the countries covered so far in the Cutting Room Files – Japan is a country exceedingly well set up not simply survive in a world without America, but to dominate its neighborhood. What’s above is a light trim from one core chapters of Disunited Nations. Which means that if you want to truly understand Japan’s future, you’re going to have to wait a bit.



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