2009 January 24 Saturday
Obama Inaugural Popularity Exaggerated By Press

If you listened to the gushing descriptions of Obama's inauguration you might get the impression that the whole country is extremely excited and happy and everyone was tuning in. Well, while Nielsen estimates 37,793,008 watched Obama take office the inaugural star was clearly Ronald Reagan on January 20, 1969 with 41,800,260. The difference is even bigger than it looks at first glance since the United States had a much smaller population of 229 milion versus 304 million today. That is 12.4% for Obama versus 18.3% for Reagan. Obviously Reagan is the bigger star.

If you click thru you'll see that Obama scored a Nielsen HH (head of household?) rating of 25.5. Starting with Nixon (33.5 in 1969 and 28.5 in 1973) 3 other presidents beat him by Nielsen rating. Curiously, both Bushes scored very low for all 3 of their inaugurals.

The liberal press is ga ga over getting a leftie into office. We can't expect most of the press to do critical reporting about Obama. But if his TV ratings are any indication the public isn't as enamored as the press.

Unfortunately America's problems are more fundamental and deeper than either party's platform even begins to address. Our biggest problem by far is demographic decay. We are becoming both older and dumber. Clever macroeconomic policies or social policies can't fix these causes of decline. As long as conventional problem descriptions to not admit to the underlying causes of our problems those problems are going to grow in size.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 January 24 10:20 AM  Media Critique


Comments
Some wordy bastard said at January 24, 2009 10:32 AM:

What it seems you are saying is that the ratio of unproductive people to productive people is increasing.

At some point, the burden on the productive becomes so large that they simply go elsewhere.

Randall Parker said at January 24, 2009 10:55 AM:

Wordy,

Go where?

One of the downsides of US citizenship as compared to Canadian or British is that if we work abroad we still must pay US federal income taxes. Granted, if we work abroad we can avoid state income taxes, state sales taxes, and some other US taxes. But short of changing citizenship it is hard to escape federal income taxes.

Raphael said at January 24, 2009 11:41 AM:

you have to FILE but don't necessarily have to PAY.
upto about 80k is excluded. I doubt average pay in the US is anywhere even close to 80k.

Engineer-Poet said at January 24, 2009 5:04 PM:
We are becoming both older and dumber. Clever macroeconomic policies or social policies can't fix these causes of decline.
Clever social policy most certainly can.  Just treat people as deadbeat parents if they have children they can't support (especially unmarried teenage dropouts), and pay bonuses for the most productive parents; after all, their children will be the ones holding up Social(ist in)Security, so it makes sense to encourage the productive to have children.

It doesn't matter what race they are, just that they do the right things.  People will scream "Racism!" but after Obama's life story culminating in this last election I don't think that will go as far as it used to.

averros said at January 24, 2009 8:13 PM:

The definition of "unproductive people" is "people living off looted wealth created by others". Their numbers is definitely on increase.

The solution to the problem of "unproductive people" is very simple - end all subsidies and welfare, fire most (and, better, all) government "workers", and have them to actually earn their way. By doing things other people actually want to buy. Flipping burgers, cleaning, etc, etc. Suddenly, all "unproductive" people become quite useful members of society. Even if they are poor and have few skills.

> One of the downsides of US citizenship as compared to Canadian or British is that
> if we work abroad we still must pay US federal income taxes.

Depends (as was pointed above), but it does help to have some other citizenship in order to be able to show the middle finger to the US tax collectors, if the need arises. Besides, if you don't plan on ever returning to US, you can simply stop paying. In most places it is not too hard to become a permanent resident.

Randall Parker said at January 24, 2009 8:32 PM:

averros,

The solution isn't simple because the people who want to live off of others outnumber the most productive and they vote.

Your libertarianism has nothing to offer for this problem. Instead, you offer a position on immigration that makes the problem worse.

You basically desire for the enactment of your very small minority moral code into public policy and law. But evolution produced humans who disagree and who find your arguments incomprehensible or wrong. Few women, even few well paid and productive women, find libertarianism appealing. They aren't wired up that way.

Libertarians ignore and deny the incompatibility of their philosophy with most of the human products of evolution. This pretty much dooms libertarians to increasing failure of attempts to turn their beliefs into public policy.

Randall Parker said at January 24, 2009 8:38 PM:

E-P,

If people can't afford to support their kids what do you propose to do about it?

The bigger problem is that people who can't afford to raise kids make babies. We would need to change the incentives so that people save longer, work harder, live more cheaply, and spend more time preparing to have kids before having them. But the poorest and dumbest are most impulsive. How do you propose to make them less impulsive?

HellKaiserRyo said at January 25, 2009 12:03 AM:

Randall,

I said it before, just put people away, and encourage them to live like hikikomori if they cannot be "productive". Hikikomori usually do not have children. I wish someone would try to establish that as a social policy.

Randall Parker said at January 25, 2009 12:27 AM:

HellKaiserRyo,

The idea of denying someone the "right" to reproduce will just send all sorts of people ballistic. They'd rather we get overrun by genetic dummies and genetic criminals.

HellKaiserRyo said at January 25, 2009 6:19 PM:

Randall,

My proposal does not involve the direct revocation of reproductive rights. I simply want more incentives for the alledged "unproductive" not to do anything harmful such as reproduction. These incentives do not require explicit coercion and are generally more subtle. Regarding the hikikomori, they are people who do not have jobs in Japan and simply live in their parents homes. Of course, they are not doing anything "productive," but they are not harming society by commiting crime (most of them) or having children which can be liabilities to the state. They do live a rather sheltered life at their parent's expense though because the marginal cost of supporting an extra person in a household is rather low. (And the Japanese do not have many children, so they could easily house one child in a comfortable setting.) That is what I want, Randall. I want a system where people would be prevented from significantly harming others, yet everyone would have a nice comfortable and safe life even if they are not "productive," like the hikikomori.

Do you like that idea? But, such a proposal might be desirable, but how do we set up a society and incentives that can encourage this type of behavior from certain people?

Randall, do you agree that an aging population (say Japan) is better than having a bunch of "dummies" having plenty of children?

I also got banned from a Catholic forum recently for allegedly "disrespecting Catholicism" when I defended Paul Ehrlich's ideas about the one child policy, and for a remark stating that I would be glad if Obama abolishes the Mexico City Policy because it killed hundreds of thousands of women in the developing world. And I didn't say anything about "Catholicism" in those and other recent posts. Yes, people do go ballistic if you talk about reproductive rights, and I do appreciate that fact.

Randall Parker said at January 25, 2009 6:26 PM:

HellKaiserRyo,

What is your view of offering money to dummies to get sterilized? This could be a single payment or a monthly stipend or more when they retire.

Hikikomori: But the Japanese are so incredibly uncriminal that they are capable of just staying at home. Doesn't work here.

Aging population better: certainly.

Reproductive rights: I tell libertarians that when there are external costs something can't be a right. They do not want to hear this of course.

averros said at January 25, 2009 7:29 PM:

> The solution isn't simple because the people who want to live off of others outnumber the most productive and they vote.

Voting only changes things if there's a loot for voters to lust for. What you fail to see is that democracy is *the* problem; an irrational belief that a crowd of people somehow has a moral right to do collectively what any of the members of that crowd have no right to do individually.

So, yes, get rid of democracy. Even absolute monarchy is better for its subjects (for detailed explanation why see Hans Herman Hoppe's "Democracy: The God That Failed").

> You basically desire for the enactment of your very small minority moral code into public policy and law.

Oh, really? Since when "don't kill" and "don't steal" became very small minority's moral code? What I'm saying is that the very same moral norms should be applied to the government. You see, "don't steal" immediately precludes taxation, and "don't kill" makes any foreign military interventionism completely unacceptable.

> most of the human products of evolution

Oh, no, not the pseudo-evolutionist bullshit. The idea of natural rights is way older than the socialism, and is universally accepted on the mundane, person-to-person, level. It's only when people start personify collectives, attributing god-like moral qualities to them, the natural tendency of people to respect natural rights of others goes away.

If you're an adherent of Hobbesian human-as-fierce animal view, you may just as well go hang yourself - because there would be no hope whatsoever, for a very simple reason - it is quite tautologic that the most aggressive and morally deficient people are getting to the top where violence, lies, and threats of violence (aka "politics") are required for avdancement. Criminals and psychopaths cannot provide law for others, they only can suppress petty competition, while committing way greater crimes (like total wars and wholesale theft of major portion of income of captive populations). It is the natural, instinctive, morality of regular people, which keeps them in check.

> This pretty much dooms libertarians to increasing failure of attempts to turn their beliefs into public policy.

Really? We did get rid of the Soviet Union, which made life much better for the millions of people - though, obviosly, there's still a long way towards vanquishing the collectivist religion. The numbers of libertarians in US are growing; judging by the numbers of regular visitors to libertarian websites, about 15% of politically active population is libertarian these days (up from about 2% in 80s). And libertarians are getting better organized - witness the fund-raising success of Ron Paul campaign, which would be quite inconceivable 10 years ago.

Libertarian movement by now has consistent ideology and good economic theory (which does matter in the age of Internet-facilitated memory... it's easy to point out to a several-years old YouTube video and say "told you so"), and will be well-positioned to take over in the wake of widespread disillusionment in collectivist ideologies (i.e. democrats' socialism and republicans' fascism) following the implosion of American empire (which would be helped by Obama's new new deal). Besides, libertarians tend to be armed (and by now Army, tired of fighting useless wars, seems to be more and more sympathetic... of all primary candidates, Ron Paul got most donations from the military personnel) and thus will be in a good position to provide law and order following the financial collapse of state and municipal governments.

Finally, there are two factors which make present crisis very different from the Great Depression - one, mass media no longer has stranglehold on information - which makes their propaganda much less effective; and there's no credible external enemy which ruling elite could use to launch a big war sufficient to justify totalitarian collectivization without risking incineration by incoming nukes. (Getting in WWII was quite safe for the Roosevelt & pals - they personally didn't risk their hides.)

Randall Parker said at January 25, 2009 8:01 PM:

averros,

People want their own rights respected and to varying degrees care a lot less about the rights of others.

You want to get rid of democracy while at the same time you exclaim:

Since when "don't kill" and "don't steal" became very small minority's moral code? What I'm saying is that the very same moral norms should be applied to the government. You see, "don't steal" immediately precludes taxation, and "don't kill" makes any foreign military interventionism completely unacceptable.

Obviously a lot of people see a difference between stealing and government taking via taxation. Your belief against taxation to support the welfare state is a minority belief. You even admit it when you say you want to get rid of democracy.

You even admit that people draw a distinction. The reason they do that has to do with our natural as produced by natural selection. This very nature that you try to dismiss as bullshit.

Oh, no, not the pseudo-evolutionist bullshit. The idea of natural rights is way older than the socialism, and is universally accepted on the mundane, person-to-person, level. It's only when people start personify collectives, attributing god-like moral qualities to them, the natural tendency of people to respect natural rights of others goes away.

You can't get many people to think like you. Libertarianism is embraced by a small minority of smart white males. The reason is biological.

As for widespread disillusionment with collectivist ideologies leading to a surge in support for libertarianism: dream on. In Russia the people are happy to vote for Putin. Is he enacting libertarian policies? Looks like he's nationalized resource extraction industries and some other industries as well.

Randall Parker said at January 25, 2009 8:08 PM:

averros,

You also complain about my Hobbesian views while at the same time you sing the praises of absolute monarchy. Justification of absolute monarchy sounds pretty Hobbesian to me.

There's a problem with monarchy: You can get a great monarch or a terrible monarch. There's a bigger standard deviation with monarch leaders than with democratically elected leaders. That's the problem with monarchy. The great ones do not make up for the terrible ones.

Then there's this comment:

It is the natural, instinctive, morality of regular people, which keeps them in check.

Not in some countries. In Russia as compared to America there's a far greater reluctance to stand up to government and for individual citizens to create non-governmental organizations that monitor and fight against government. The Russians lack the social capital.

M said at January 26, 2009 5:18 AM:

"We did get rid of the Soviet Union"

My ass "We" got rid of the USSR!

I was there in the 80's when libertarians were whinging with left about Uncle Ronnie and his "aggressive policies" and pouring money into the "military-industrial complex" and insisting the whole mess would go away if we just legalized drugs and prostitution(as usual).

Most libertarians were next to f***ing useless in the 80's.
Hell,the remnants of the Scoop Jackson Dems were more useful.

"I also got banned from a Catholic forum recently for allegedly "disrespecting Catholicism" when I defended Paul Ehrlich's ideas about the one child policy"

Ehrlich is an idiot who couldn't get the time of day right with an atomic clock and a sundial and China's one child policy has been a demographic disaster,too many old not enough young,never mind the gender imbalance.

By the 70's,Americans had settled mostly on a 2 child family,a "consensus position" promptly undermined by feminism and the beginning of illegal immigration.Had we stuck with this consensus,we would now be a un-balkinized nation of about 240 million rather than the fragmented banana republic 305+ million with a cold civil war heading to hot when The One,the Messiah,He Who Is The Light That Shineth Upon The Earth,Bless Gaia,begins to bungle stuff,the bitter radical left and blacks will lose it.
Dude may have won the last election but it's only the next election that matters and he's already been dissed by 2 Dem governors and Pelosi's Dem Congress.

The next decade will not be fun.

Randall Parker said at January 26, 2009 7:30 PM:

M,

The Blessed One now has a Little Blue Book Of Quotations from his most exalted and holy. I expected this sort of thing to come from The Onion. Instead it comes from Real Life. I'm thrown for a curve.

Engineer-Poet said at January 27, 2009 6:01 AM:

Quoth RP:

If people can't afford to support their kids what do you propose to do about it?
We treat them like any other deadbeat that's failing to pay support:  throw them into some supervised work/punishment program.  We can make it sufficiently onerous that people will consider it stupid, and definitely not fun.  Give them free sterilization as a ticket to parole.

Quoth averros:

The idea of natural rights is way older than the socialism
Natural rights include the right to starve if you screw up.  If you want support from others, they have the right to determine the terms of that support.


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