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Old 01-10-2019, 10:51 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Tucker Carlson and Economic Populism

Sooo...

Tucker Carlson, whom I have long considered a popular blowhard (and famously schooled by Jon Stewart ages ago) is taking a surprising tack into economic populism.

As covered by this article in Vox

https://www.vox.com/2019/1/10/181719...tism-trump-gop

in it the author posits some surprise that a Fox commentator is so upfront about taking on free market capitalism. But I see where Carlson is coming from. He writes about the way that free market capitalism has become almost religious dogma to a group of people on the right and that it is failing everyday people by placing pressure on the family, the small towns and other groups and institutions passed over by an expanding economy.

Quote:
From Tucker Carlson
Republicans have considered it their duty to make the world safe for banking, while simultaneously prosecuting ever more foreign wars.
Now, Carlson sees these things, apparently, as leading indicators of societal upheaval and disruption. I don't really disagree. He also argues that conservatism needs to begin to address these things to prevent a larger, less organized upheaval later.

Quote:
Im just saying as a matter of fact, he told me, a country where a shrinking percentage of the population is taking home an ever-expanding proportion of the money is not a recipe for a stable society. Its not.

"Unless you want something really extreme to happen, you need to take this seriously and figure out how to protect average people from these remarkably powerful forces that have been unleashed."
It's interesting to me that he mentions Teddy Roosevelt in the article. Roosevelt was a hunter but also a fairly strict - for his time - conservationist. He believed in conserving and regulating the exploitation of nature for its preservation. Carlson seems to be taking a similar approach to American society...that free market capitalism - as it is currently implemented - is unsustainable and will lead to catastrophic change is some sort of management is not instituted. He makes no particular argument for what management needs to be instituted, but he makes that argument that the discussion needs to begin.

It's again interesting to me that this is coming from a conservative commentator. Could it be the beginnings of an attempt to rationalize the populist anger that Trump tapped into? If so, that could lead to real change if we could generate a coalition of economically disenfranchised people from both urban and rural America.
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:01 AM
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Conservatives have been against capitalism since the beginning. The original liberals were up against the crown and the guilds, overturning the status quo. Many early socialists were conservatives who wanted to maintain the status quo.

Later for example, Russell Kirk hated the car and referred to it as a “mechanical jacobin”.

Laissez-faire capitalism results in monumental changes over a short time. Socialism’s cousin democratic socialism seeks to slow capitalist progress and let the wealth simmer or something so it spreads out? Sounds a lot like Carlson, Buchanan, and many before them.
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:26 AM
Ashtura Ashtura is offline
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Carlson has some off the wall ideas that not a lot of conservatives support.

For instance, he wants to ban automation to preserve human jobs. Not a totally insane idea, but definitely not one shared by a lot of conservatives and free market capitalists.
'
He's not really a cookie cutter conservative.
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Old 01-10-2019, 12:08 PM
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Carlson is mistaking social problems with economic ones. The reason people don't get married as much as they use to is sex is easy to get and marriage can be difficult. Ending trade with China or banning automation won't help that. The government can't do anything about that and it would be awful if they tried.
The government can help at the margin, say by subsidizing low wage work, having fewer low skilled immigrants, ending student loan subsidies, and legalizing cheap housing. However, the problems of low marriage rates, drug addiction, and single parenthood can not be fixed without changing the culture and the government can't do that.
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Old 01-10-2019, 12:39 PM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
Carlson is mistaking social problems with economic ones. The reason people don't get married as much as they use to is sex is easy to get and marriage can be difficult. Ending trade with China or banning automation won't help that. The government can't do anything about that and it would be awful if they tried.
The government can help at the margin, say by subsidizing low wage work, having fewer low skilled immigrants, ending student loan subsidies, and legalizing cheap housing. However, the problems of low marriage rates, drug addiction, and single parenthood can not be fixed without changing the culture and the government can't do that.
But that wouldn't be a simple pitch to distinguish yourself on cable opinion news. I don't think Tucker Carlson is a complete phony as infotainment personalities go. I think he's changed his views at least in part for genuine reasons. Though keep in mind Carlson was at one time a conservative-leaning libertarian. He's moved a long way in suggesting, at least, that the govt needs to micro-manage trade and the application of technology (like automation) to the economy.

I agree basically with your point though I'd term some of the things that have happened as 'toothpaste already out of the tube'. For example I think certain social dysfunctions now in the working class can in part be traced to rapid changes in the economy due to technology (mostly) and trade (which is more often blamed, because it's simpler and appeals to the gut: it's foreigners' and 'globalists' ' fault). That doesn't mean that collectivist micro-management of the economy would put the toothpaste back though. It would just turn into a source of inefficiency, cronyism and outright corruption, like it always does.

Any solution proposed should be simple and transparent IMO. Carlson suggests he's in favor of more progressive taxation, but he still recoils at relatively simple stuff like wage subsidies (or just further subsidizing lower earners by coming up with payroll tax revenue somewhere else) as 'putting half the population on welfare'. But somehow recreating a past economy/society isn't generally possible. And the past situation is often not all it was cracked up to be, nor the hated present necessarily as bad as it's made out to be.

But people want to hear that some trend they don't like can simply be reversed if the easily identifiable bad actors are called to account. That's the essence of populism, left and right.

Last edited by Corry El; 01-10-2019 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 01-10-2019, 02:57 PM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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The article is pretty light on details - what does Carlson want, apart from more progressive taxation and to help families?

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:28 AM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
The article is pretty light on details - what does Carlson want, apart from more progressive taxation and to help families?

Regards,
Shodan
I don't follow him closely, but watch a few minutes of him now and then and *he* seems pretty light on detail, or at least doesn't keep pointing back to any detailed manifesto. It seems mainly he just keeps dropping the 'bomb', "I Tucker, a conservative (or at least some people call me that, or at least I appear on a channel thought of as 'conservative', or at least I dislike the left, etc), think the govt needs to intervene more to decrease inequality, and micromanage trade and technology more for the benefit of the[*] working class". And just lets that reverberate.

*implicitly the 'white working class' but I haven't heard him say it should be racially targeted.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:40 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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I'd have to say the important thing is not the details - which most TV commentators are light on - but that someone with his reach is making the statements at all. Carlson is the #3 news host in the country after Hannity and Maddow (for certain definitions of 'news' I suppose).

For someone with the reach of a few million people per day to start making the argument against unfettered capitalism and for controls on income inequality is groundbreaking. It'll be interesting to see if it gets picked up by others at FoxNews.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:12 AM
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As technology and automation advances, ordinary labor becomes less valuable while productivity increases and the return on capital investment increases, so it's easy to see how wealth distribution becomes more and more skewed unless investment returns are heavily taxed and redistributed.

I think the deeper question is to think about what the social structure and economic system of a post-scarcity economy would look like - a society where little human labor is required, and most goods are produced in overabundance for negligible cost. And then to consider how we might get there from here.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:30 AM
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"Evonomic populism" sounds weird to me; a complex topic forcibly linked to a philosophy that rejects complex topics. It's like "caveman biochemistry", "biblical astrophysics" or "Fox News."
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:30 AM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
I'd have to say the important thing is not the details - which most TV commentators are light on - but that someone with his reach is making the statements at all. Carlson is the #3 news host in the country after Hannity and Maddow (for certain definitions of 'news' I suppose).

For someone with the reach of a few million people per day to start making the argument against unfettered capitalism and for controls on income inequality is groundbreaking. It'll be interesting to see if it gets picked up by others at FoxNews.
I don't see the income redistribution thing as very ground breaking. Since we have that in the US already on a pretty massive scale (a relatively little less than in other rich countries, a difference routinely exaggerated by both left and right in the US) and the right/Republicans have always gone along with it. Nor does the US have anything like 'unfettered capitalism'.

The part about micromanaging trade and the application of technology is more of a change, and an ominous one. The likelihood of net good coming from that is negligible IMO.

Whereas again, income redistribution via taxation and social welfare spending is the reality now, has been for decades, and will be. It also has been and will be tweaked one way or another. But it will also eventually have to come into line with what the whole body politic is willing to pay, since it's a fantasy that 'the rich' can pay for all of it (the rich countries which spend a bit more than the US on social programs don't believe that, everyone pays: high fuel taxes, VAT's, on top of income taxes no more progressive in general than that in the US counting state taxes).

Last edited by Corry El; 01-11-2019 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:29 PM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
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Originally Posted by Ashtura View Post
Carlson has some off the wall ideas that not a lot of conservatives support.
Donald Trump has some off the wall ideas that not a lot of conservatives support. Nonetheless, he won the Republican nomination for President, and then the general election. Now he's President.

I would not be surprised if Carlson runs for the Republican nomination in '24 or '28.

The world is changing. One of Wall Street's richest zillionaires may be running for President as a Democrat. The rich are shifing to the Democrats while the working class go the other direction. If the Republican Party is becoming a party for the lower income brackets, we can expect their platform will eventually change to reflect the interests of the lower income brackets.

Last edited by ITR champion; 01-12-2019 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:29 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Tuckers motivations could be endless, and other people in this thread have already outlined them.

I personally think tucker is motivated by white identity politics and he fears working class whites will be seduced by the economic agenda of people like sanders and aoc, which would also empower the feminist and multiracial agenda of the left.

Maybe he is triangulating like Clinton did in the 90s, but in the opposite direction to prevent the gop base (working class whites) from joining the left and inadvertently their leftist social agenda.

Either way, it'll be interesting to see the divide between an economically liberal white working class and a rich business class in the gop.

That's also the division in the democrats. On one side progressives want action while more corporate centrists want much more moderate changes.

It seems both parties are trying to placate their voters enough to not push for legislation that would harm the rich.
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:41 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Originally Posted by ITR champion View Post

The rich are shifing to the Democrats while the working class go the other direction. If the Republican Party is becoming a party for the lower income brackets, we can expect their platform will eventually change to reflect the interests of the lower income brackets.
Those people aren't rich, they're upper middle class.

College educated whites turned towards the Democrats a bit because they are repulsed by the anti democracy, racist and sexist agenda of the modern gop. Plus the gop tax plan was designed to punish upper middle class people in blue states, which had some backlash. I'm sure lots of those upper middle class districts that flipped were in California, NY, NJ, etc.

But the rich themselves aren't turning from what I know. The rich seem evenly split as they were.

Also the working class aren't joining the gop. Whites without college are. Whites with a college degree who don't earn much aren't joining the gop, and non whites who are working class aren't joining.

It's about race and education, not economic class.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 01-12-2019 at 07:43 PM.
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