Yet Another Theory of Trump

 

Here’s another theory of Trump. Well, it’s not really a theory, more just a set of disparate observations. I’ve broken it into chunks so you can tell me which parts you agree with, don’t agree with, and why:

  1. Trump means ratings. Trump means pageviews. Trump means advertiser sponsorship. The media (very much including Ricochet) deserves a large share of the blame for the Rise of Trump, in so far as it’s driven by relentless competition for profit. The media gave Trump a massive amount of free publicity, not realizing — because the media is part of a clueless elite — that Trump was not just an entertaining bonanza for ratings and a guaranteed-clickbait diversion, but a serious political candidate who spoke to and for a very significant number of their fellow Americans.
  2. The opening of the ownership of broadcast channels, cable, and satellite to private investors has changed our civic culture, and not for the better. It did not result in a competition to provide informative news coverage to a civic-minded public. It resulted in just what you’d expect: competition, period — and thus a race to the bottom for ratings. The result was the creation of a mass culture of empty commercialism and short attention spans unconnected to deeper spiritual, moral, or civic values. Shopping channels, infomercials, product placement, and reality TV gave rise to a population fascinated, even obsessed, with consumer brands, products, celebrities, and super-celebrities. The Rise of Trump or someone like Trump was, in this culture, inevitable.
  3. The Internet, likewise, failed to meet its potential as an instrument for communicating conservative political ideas, traditional and religious values, and democratic civic mores. Only media outlets with well-established brand names and an already-large audience, or huge financial resources, have been able to enter the Internet media market and draw the attention of the public in significant numbers. The profit model of major media and their portals (Facebook, Google) is based on selling goods. The audience is no longer captive — as it was in the time of newspapers and the broadcast cartel — and thus there’s ferocious competition to amuse it and keep it from switching to another channel or clicking on another site. The media has severely cut back on news reporting and analysis; what little reporting they do is often based on press releases from corporations and lobby groups, foreign and domestic. (The number of people who work in PR now vastly exceeds the number who work in investigative journalism.) There’s a massive focus on providing shows and websites that are immediately attractive to audiences and advertisers: sex, sports, violence, and comedy, rather than detailed and informative reports about complex trade negotiations, the budget, tax reform, or health care.
  4. Advertisers don’t, generally, like programs and websites with complexity and disturbing reporting that interferes with the “buying mood.” They seek programs, themes, and stories that lightly entertain and fit in with the spirit of the primary purpose of program: selling their products. (Thus people are far more likely to read about restaurants and vacation destinations abroad than elections or deeper geopolitical trends.)
  5. Western elites, political and economic, understood the fall of the Berlin Wall as a vindication of free-market capitalism. The victory was so complete and so overwhelming that regardless of evidence, this elite has blindly assumed free trade to be always and everywhere benevolent and even democratic (although exceptions are allowed when private firms need subsidies and bailouts). The mainstream media, which is part of this elite, internalized this ideology.
  6. The steady encroachment of marketing and advertising into every aspect of our lives displaced both religion and the political public sphere, replacing it with a shallow consumer culture unsuited to thoughtful, democratic participation. Increasingly, we live in a world of virtual communities built by advertisers and based on consumer demographics.
  7. Whereas once we lived in a world of physical communities, sharing a social life and common concerns with our fellow citizens — of all classes — increasingly we live in virtual communities that may superficially be political, but whose chief purpose is to buy and sell goods, not to create or service the public political sphere and a healthful democracy.
  8. This social sorting has been accompanied by geographic sorting: Increasingly, we literally have no idea how the other half lives. They don’t live in our neighborhood; they don’t watch the same television, and we don’t even talk to them on the Internet. In fact, we deliberately “unfriend” people who don’t share our view of the world. (This helps to account, for example, for the massive disjunct between the Ricochet primary and the real primary.)
  9. Non-stop entertainment (including sports) doesn’t just help to sell goods. It is, even if inadvertently, a vehicle for the transmission of the elite class’s political ideology, as well as the contemporary equivalent Roman circuses. It diverts the public from politics, reinforces the beliefs of the elite class, and creates political apathy — until the dam breaks.
  10. The public has nonetheless been aware that it has been working harder with stagnant or declining incomes; it has inadequate medical care at high cost, and education is the pathway to the elite class — but education is increasingly unaffordable, and the culture of our educational institutions increasingly bizarre. It knows that things are done in their name all over the world, often involving their sacrifice or that of their families, but not, seemingly, to their benefit. Few understand our foreign policy or its history, because the media provides almost no substantive information that would help them place any of it in context. Neither does our educational system. The media does not see providing this information as its key responsibility. Its key responsibility is to shareholders and advertisers.
  11. Case in point: NAFTA. Substantial American majorities opposed NAFTA. Only the elite favored it. But media editorials, news coverage, and “experts” overwhelmingly reflected elite preference. The “experts” repeatedly intoned that the benefits of NAFTA were obvious and understood by all qualified authorities, and that only demagogues and “special interests” were opposed to it. (The “special interests” who were the losers included lower middle-class white males.) The media dealt with the awkward fact that polls showed steady majority opposition to the agreement mainly by ignoring it or occasionally suggesting the public was uninformed and didn’t recognize its own interests.
  12. The lower-middle class, white men in particular, has been under siege in the United States for the past several decades, adversely affected by the deflationary policies of the 1980s, corporate downsizing, globalization, and the government’s support of, or indifference to, the damage being done to them. While this class experienced significantly diminished wages and benefits, more onerous working conditions, and greater insecurity, a “protected” elite in government, finance, tech, tenured academia, and the media failed even to notice this, no less consider its long-term political implications.
  13. Since the 1970s, the income of the top 1 percent of households has grown by 85 percent and the top 10 percent by 45 percent, but the bottom 60 percent lost ground. The income of the lowest 20 percent fell by 12.5 percent. Real hourly earnings among the working class fell 5 percent. This, along with the adverse trend of social indicators (morbidity and mortality, drug addiction, suicide) suggests that the welfare of the majority of the country declined in the age of globalization — a point that was unnoticed because of the abovementioned points: The elite class became ideologically ossified after the failure of the USSR, which they took as dispositive proof of the benevolence of free markets and their ability to lift all boats in their rising tides; moreover, the elite class mentally and geographically separated itself from the rest of the country, and thus literally did not see what was happening to it. The mainstream media, drawn from this class, barely noticed that only a minority had been the beneficiaries of global trade. It briefly noticed this issue during Pat Buchanan’s 1996 campaign, then forgot it again entirely.
  14. The media and professional politicians — the elite whom Peggy Noonan calls “protected” — thus failed to notice the discontent of the public. The elite domination of the media occurs so naturally that media news people, even when operating with complete integrity and goodwill, are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news “objectively” and on the basis of professional news values. These constraints are so powerful, and built into the system in such a fundamental way, that they don’t see that they’re operating within them. Thus the media confused a public that had been lulled into apathy by cheap imported goods and cheap non-stop entertainment for a public that was, in the main, satisfied with politics as usual.
  15. As a result, the media both failed properly to report the sentiments of this public to policy makers and failed properly to report to this public with information it could use to guide its political decision-making. This public is now in full-scale revolt.

Do you agree with some, all, or none of the above? If so, why?

Published in Culture, Education, Entertainment, General, Politics
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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    You also miss one other major contribution to the equation: The rise of the protected classes.

    The nation’s president is a victim. The black woman on TV worth $3B is a victim. The Black Lives Matter leader at the University of Missouri whose father makes over a $1M per year is a victim. A woman who is so white she’s translucent is given a position at Harvard and a seat in the United States Senate is a 1/32nd victim.

    Race baiters make millions as TV hosts and skip paying taxes because they are victims. Gay and black millionaires in sports, media and internet companies are victims.

    Meanwhile, white male incomes decline and they are still derisively referred to as privileged.

    • #31
  2. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    I agree with a lot of your points Claire but I think you’re overstating the elite commitment to free-market economics after the Berlin Wall fell.

    Most of the elites on the left (and in the media) still think a command economy is a good thing as long as they’re the ones who get to command it. Witness Tom Friedman’s “China for a Day” column history or green energy subsidies.

    • #32
  3. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Red Fish, Blue Fish:Essentially, we made wealth the determining factor for life choices in ways that only existed around the edges for most of the 20th century.

    We created two cultures, and then those in the wealthier culture sneered back at those in the less wealthy culture. It’s that dynamic that turned the economically disenfranchised into revolutionaries of sorts.

    I’m sorry, but that’s just absurd.

    People in the less-wealthy culture have access to riches undreamed-of by the previous generations’ wealthiest people.  On top of that, all of their basic needs are met whether they want to work or not.

    Work is most definitely available in this country: I see it all around me here in Louisiana.  What is required to gain access to that work and with it, a solid, middle-class life?  People have to be clean, sober and can’t be felons.  That’s basically it.  A guy with nothing more than a high-school diploma and not a ton of smarts can work in a chemical plant here so long as he doesn’t smoke meth or weed and doesn’t beat his girlfriend or kids.

    This business about Mercedes in the driveway and whatnot?  If you buy a middle-of-the-road car that is 10 years old today, (From 2006 – you know, the stone age) it has features that a 15-year old Mercedes would love to have.

    These working-man-blues complaints just ring hollow to me – and I grew up in a family that was more than half “working” people.  I don’t even like to use that term.  It’s crypto-marxist semantic infiltration.  If you have a job, you’re a working person.

    • #33
  4. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Red Fish, Blue Fish:Somewhere since the late 80s, the culture of the upper half began to diverge. […]  In to the 90s, things changed for us. Remember when salmon was rare and expensive? We would eat lobster once per year as a family tradition. By the time I cam home from college in the mid-nineties, my mom would routinely have shellfish on the table. Gone was the processed bread. There was a Mercedes in the driveway.

    I see what you’re saying, but I think part of this argues the other way.  One of the reasons your family might be eating what was previously rare and expensive food is that, thanks to global markets and efficient shipping (paging Rob Long), it’s gotten cheaper, and everyone can afford them.

    I’m about your age. I remember when we splurged on maple syrup in a big tin, once a year. It wasn’t even sold in the South year-round, but now we get it all the time. A friend’s dad was a KC-135 boom operator. After a mission to Hawaii, he brought back a whole pineapple to show to our 1st grade class. We’d never seen them except in cans before, but now the whole ones are in our stores. Shrimp? I recently bought 2 lbs. of jumbo raw shrimp, on sale for $11 at the grocery store.

    So at least in food, our market has opened a lot of options up to everyone now.

    • #34
  5. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Tommy De Seno:Ricochet included in the media blame for the rise of Trump?

    Our main feed has had more anti-Trump rants than a player who just got denied a comp after losing this month’s mortgage payment on a river card at the Taj.

    Heh!  But I think what Claire means is that talking about Trump means ratings, and talking about Trump gives him more attention, and more attention to Trump brings (some) people to his side, even if you’re criticizing him.  Sometimes because you’re criticizing him.

    • #35
  6. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Red Fish, Blue Fish: The people in that same wealthy position today have likely never been inside a Stop & Shop. They don’t do Sears. They vacation in Europe or Asia, or the Caribbean. It’s all Audis and BMWs and Mercedes. Meanwhile, the consumer choices at the bottom level mirror, in large part, the choices made by all classes when I was younger.

    If you say so.  I am in the 1%, and I still shop at CostCo and Wal-Mart.  My cars have mostly been Chevys, Nissans, and currently a Chrysler.  (I’ll admit, there was one Cadillac and one Lincoln SUV in there somewhere.)  I don’t do Sears because it is a crappy store with crappy merchandise.  And while I have traveled in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean, I don’t fly first class unless it is on a miles upgrade.

    I can’t be alone in all this.  Your generalization may have some truth, but I strongly suspect that one-percenters who shop at Neiman Marcus and Whole Foods, buy Mercedes, and otherwise waste their incomes, don’t stay in the 1% for very long.  Living paycheck to paycheck is entirely doable, even for people whose paychecks are enormous.

    • #36
  7. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Red Fish, Blue Fish:Essentially, we made wealth the determining factor for life choices in ways that only existed around the edges for most of the 20th century.

    We created two cultures, and then those in the wealthier culture sneered back at those in the less wealthy culture. It’s that dynamic that turned the economically disenfranchised into revolutionaries of sorts.

    Despite my arguments above on the expanding choices (in certain categories) for everyone in our society, I think you’re right about some of this.  I remember someone recently citing…was it de Toqueville?  It’s usually de Toqueville, isn’t it?  as observing how the rich and poor lived near each other and shared many kinds of experiences.  There wasn’t the sort of segregation he saw back in France.

    I do worry that we might have grown into these kinds of segregated lives, although I’m not sure how to quantify this.  I want to quantify everything, to measure it.

    • #37
  8. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    I don’t know; in fact, I don’t know whether this is a good theory (or a useful collection of observations).

    It’s consistent with the rise of the Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo, so I think it’s a good working theory at the very least.

    • #38
  9. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    One other thing—travel.  Air travel has gotten remarkably cheaper since we were kids.  I remember taking two cross-country driving vacations from Tennessee to Montana and from Tennessee to Wyoming, back in 1978 and about 1984.  Montana took us five days going out and four coming back, although that involved a lot of sight-seeing along the way, which was fantastic.  But I don’t think we even considered flying.

    Now it’s not rare for average people to take vacations in Europe.  Two friends of mine at work, back when we were in our 20s and single and not rich at all, popped off to Italy for a weekend, just on a lark.  They’d watched for discount airfares and saw a good deal come up, and off they went.

    The vacation to Europe certainly used to be a thing of the wealthy, but it’s relatively affordable now.  Well, the travel is.  The prices of everything once you get there, though…yikes!

    • #39
  10. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    EJHill:First, no conservative worth their salt would ever attempt to argue that government-run enterprises are better than private ones.

    But sometimes Government funded products are superior to private enterprise funded products.  Because the objective is excellence rather than popularity.

    Forget about comparing the BBC with Fox News, look at all the art and architecture that tourists flock to Europe to admire.  A lot of it was funded by the Government of the day (eg Versailles was paid for by the French tax payer) or by bureaucracies that were linked to/ functioned like a Government (Sistine Chapel, St Paul’s Cathedral).

    • #40
  11. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    EJHill:Meanwhile, white male incomes decline and they are still derisively referred to as privileged.

    They may be declining, but if they’re still (so far) on average higher than the other groups’ white men are (relatively) on average economically privileged.

    It’s just getting somewhat genuinely competitive, which can be unsettling.

    • #41
  12. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Tommy De Seno:Ricochet included in the media blame for the rise of Trump?

    Our main feed has had more anti-Trump rants than a player who just got denied a comp after losing this month’s mortgage payment on a river card at the Taj.

    Sheer exposure. We’ve probably devoted far more words, pro- and against, to Trump than all the other candidates combined. I haven’t checked or counted, but I’d guess that. So we’ve done our part to contribute to an ambient sense that he’s somehow more important, bigger, larger-than-life.

    • #42
  13. Red Fish, Blue Fish Inactive
    Red Fish, Blue Fish
    @RedFishBlueFish

    Majestyk:People in the less-wealthy culture have access to riches undreamed-of by the previous generations’ wealthiest people. On top of that, all of their basic needs are met whether they want to work or not.

    I completely agree.  It’s also beside the point.  The point I am trying to make is that somewhere along the line, the culture of the upper half and the lower half separated in a manner that was new.  That does not mean that the lower half’s economic opportunities did not expand.  They did.

    Regardless of the increase in material wealth at the bottom, the upper half began to culturally separate themselves from the lower half by increasing the buy-in cost to their culture.

    Here is another example.  As a child, my closest friend was the son of a home oil repairman.  My father was a banker.  He and I had the same life right up to college.  Same school, same church (catholic), same CCD classes, same sports teams.  We had the same shoes and the same TV.  Our families were both Italian, so we had the same food.  My family vacations were to the same places as his.  Camping and fishing in the Adirondacks, and once every few years, a trip to Florida.  My sister was friends with his sister.  My father and his father would generally have a good time together at family events.  Our group of friends were the children of lawyers and public school teachers and, believe it or not, a vacuum salesman.  All of the mom’s stayed home (except for the mom’s who were teachers).  Our mom’s all volunteered in the lunch line together.  How many bankers’ wives are volunteering in lunch lines today at their child’s public school twice a week?

    That would never happen today in many communities in America, including the one I grew up in. The wealthy have largely segregated themselves by increasing the barriers to entry into their culture, into their living spaces, in large part by using brands, vacation choices, living space, etc., that is far too costly for the average Joe.

    It’s not about whether the working man can afford more today, its that the working man cannot get access at all to the cultural space occupied by the professional class because the wealthy class has made a minimum level of wealth a prerequisite.  That has changed dramatically in the past 30 years.

    • #43
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Tim H.:Let’s not jump on Claire if we disagree with the premises of her theory. I’m guessing that these are meant as points for debate, rather than (necessarily) statements of absolute truth.

    Yes, I mean them as points for discussion. I’m not married to any of them.

    • #44
  15. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Tim H.:One other thing—travel. Air travel has gotten remarkably cheaper since we were kids. I remember taking two cross-country driving vacations from Tennessee to Montana and from Tennessee to Wyoming, back in 1978 and about 1984. Montana took us five days going out and four coming back, although that involved a lot of sight-seeing along the way, which was fantastic. But I don’t think we even considered flying.

    Now it’s not rare for average people to take vacations in Europe. Two friends of mine at work, back when we were in our 20s and single and not rich at all, popped off to Italy for a weekend, just on a lark. They’d watched for discount airfares and saw a good deal come up, and off they went.

    The vacation to Europe certainly used to be a thing of the wealthy, but it’s relatively affordable now. Well, the travel is. The prices of everything once you get there, though…yikes!

    That’s another good thing done by Mr. Carter, deregulating air travel. Two were mentioned in the beer thread–no one would admit it sober?–deregulating trucking–& thus leading to the Stallone trucking-arm wrestling movie!–& legalizing private breweries.

    The fourth horseman is, aptly enough, asking Congress for lots of weaponry in 1980.

    • #45
  16. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Zafar:

    EJHill:First, no conservative worth their salt would ever attempt to argue that government-run enterprises are better than private ones.

    But sometimes Government funded products are superior to private enterprise funded products. Because the objective is excellence rather than popularity.

    Forget about comparing the BBC with Fox News, look at all the art and architecture that tourists flock to Europe to admire. A lot of it was funded by the Government of the day (eg Versailles was paid for by the French tax payer) or by a bureaucracies that were linked to/ functioned like a Government (Sistine Chapel, St Paul’s Cathedral).

    But a lot of it was also sponsored by wealthy private patrons.  Of course, for that you need people who have enough disposable income to spend on art (the rich), and who have the kind of refined tastes that incline them to art (elite attitudes).

    • #46
  17. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Red Fish, Blue Fish: It’s not about whether the working man can afford more today, its that the working man cannot get access at all to the cultural space occupied by the professional class

    Are you arguing that the working man can afford (somewhat) more today, but that this pales beside the much-more that the upper classes can afford? Or that the working man is actually doing worse, on average, than he was before?

    • #47
  18. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Majestyk: It’s crypto-marxist semantic infiltration

    Most excellent.  Now I just need to figure out how to remember that when I need it.

    • #48
  19. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Zafar: A lot of it was funded by the Government of the day (eg Versailles was paid for by the French tax payer) or by bureaucracies that were linked to/ functioned like a Government (Sistine Chapel, St Paul’s Cathedral).

    In more ways than one.  Their bones still pop up from the ground, occasionally.

    Look, as beautiful as the Vatican, St. Peter’s and the other edifices are, I don’t think we can compare them to what we’ve done in the modern era through private action.  All of these things represented a massive drain upon the resources of entire societies and probably retarded economic growth everywhere but where they were being built for the centuries that it took to construct them.

    • #49
  20. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    Zafar:

    EJHill:First, no conservative worth their salt would ever attempt to argue that government-run enterprises are better than private ones.

    But sometimes Government funded products are superior to private enterprise funded products. Because the objective is excellence rather than popularity.

    Forget about comparing the BBC with Fox News, look at all the art and architecture that tourists flock to Europe to admire. A lot of it was funded by the Government of the day (eg Versailles was paid for by the French tax payer) or by a bureaucracies that were linked to/ functioned like a Government (Sistine Chapel, St Paul’s Cathedral).

    Versailles is very beautiful, but it  very nearly bankrupted France.  And, as a reminder, it was built for the ‘elite’ of France, not for everyone.

    Also, before you get excited about government construction, you should research the Denver VA Hospital construction fiasco.  The project is $1 billion over budget.

    http://extras.denverpost.com/aurora-va-hospital/

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/12/02/report-shows-why-the-denver-va-hospital-is-a-total-failure-and-this-similar-hospital-is-a-total-success/

    • #50
  21. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Majestyk: Work is most definitely available in this country: I see it all around me here in Louisiana. What is required to gain access to that work and with it, a solid, middle-class life? People have to be clean, sober and can’t be felons.

    Part of the problem with “jobs are available” is that the people who need them the most aren’t always where the jobs are and there might be barriers to movement. You might have elderly family members you take care of, kids in school, a house to sell that’s in a down market that would bury you in debt if you sold for less than it’s worth, etc.

    Then what happens if you’re technically able but lack another peripheral requirement that didn’t exist in your previous location? I know roofing companies in Dallas that won’t hire anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish because it’s too dangerous to have a language barrier there. Roofing isn’t fast food work but you don’t need a post graduate degree either but I’m not certain the same requirement would hold in Minneapolis for example (maybe it would).

    Then you’ve got the social welfare issue – why work in Texas when you can not work in Wisconsin for the same money? It’s all well and good to say “To get your foot in the door” but that sort of ethic has been ruthlessly undermined for thirty years.

    • #51
  22. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Titus Techera:That’s another good thing done by Mr. Carter, deregulating air travel. Two were mentioned in the beer thread–no one would admit it sober?–deregulating trucking–& thus leading to the Stallone trucking-arm wrestling movie!–& legalizing private breweries.

    And remember when Coors didn’t sell East of the Mississippi?  Of course, that led to the greatest movie of 1977.  Smokey and the Bandit.

    …or maybe you don’t.  I’m imagining you were in Romania at the time and had bigger problems in 1977 with that 7.3 earthquake.  And Ceaușescu.

    • #52
  23. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Tim H.:

    Zafar:

    EJHill:First, no conservative worth their salt would ever attempt to argue that government-run enterprises are better than private ones.

    But sometimes Government funded products are superior to private enterprise funded products. Because the objective is excellence rather than popularity.

    Forget about comparing the BBC with Fox News, look at all the art and architecture that tourists flock to Europe to admire. A lot of it was funded by the Government of the day (eg Versailles was paid for by the French tax payer) or by a bureaucracies that were linked to/ functioned like a Government (Sistine Chapel, St Paul’s Cathedral).

    But a lot of it was also sponsored by wealthy private patrons. Of course, for that you need people who have enough disposable income to spend on art (the rich), and who have the kind of refined tastes that incline them to art (elite attitudes).

    This is the difference between aristocrats & democrats. Democrats cannot seem to do anything grand. Comparing ‘the state’ when it comes to the petty mindlessness of the BBC to ‘the state’ that was paying for the painters, sculptors, & architects, historical anachronism aside, is vulgar.

    • #53
  24. Red Fish, Blue Fish Inactive
    Red Fish, Blue Fish
    @RedFishBlueFish

    Tim H.: So at least in food, our market has opened a lot of options up to everyone now.

    True, but once the goods and services make their way into the market as a whole, new top-line goods and services begin to separate the classes again.

    South Park’s latest season included a pretty hilarious theme on the Whole Foods moving in.

    As certain products and services become available, the wealthy shift the goal post.

    Got salmon now?  Great.  But is yours wild caught at $35 a pound?  Does it have orange dye in it?  Is it organic?  Is it farmed?

    All of these choices are fantastic, no doubt.  But as a result of these choices, you get price separation.  What changed is the wealthy classes through the 80s could afford a lot more, but chose to downplay that.  Read Kevin Williamson today at NRO.  Displaying wealth was gauche.  Now, displaying wealth is a prerequisite for membership in the class.  It even affects whether you shop at Stop & Shop or pay three times as much at Whole Foods.

    • #54
  25. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Zafar: But sometimes Government funded products are superior to private enterprise funded products. Because the objective is excellence rather than popularity.

    No. Government funds nothing because government does not create wealth. Government may steal and control wealth and use it to create beautiful things for kings and monarchs but that does not make them “superior.”

    • #55
  26. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    I don’t think the media is to blame for Trump entering the race, but the media is to blame for how well he has done. Trump has gotten more free exposure than any other candidate and basically no real vetting. Yeah they go after what he says on the trail, but they have barely scratched Trump’s dubious past. They thought his ex-wifes recanted rape charge would sink him at the outset and when it didn’t the media kind of gave up.

    • #56
  27. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Tim H.:

    Titus Techera:That’s another good thing done by Mr. Carter, deregulating air travel. Two were mentioned in the beer thread–no one would admit it sober?–deregulating trucking–& thus leading to the Stallone trucking-arm wrestling movie!–& legalizing private breweries.

    And remember when Coors didn’t sell East of the Mississippi? Of course, that led to the greatest movie of 1977. Smokey and the Bandit.

    Maybe that wasn’t a bad idea. I feel, if you want to have a Coors, maybe you should be doing risky hijinks…

    …or maybe you don’t. I’m imagining you were in Romania at the time and had bigger problems in 1977 with that 7.3 earthquake. And Ceaușescu.

    Dad’s problem-

    • #57
  28. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Tim H.: After a mission to Hawaii, he brought back a whole pineapple to show to our 1st grade class.

    Yep. My grandmother would bring mangoes from Florida. Otherwise, I’d never have seen one growing up. Fresh orange juice? Forget it, that came from concentrate in a can. Yoplait was the first expensive yuppie yogurt on the market, and we didn’t buy it — too expensive. We bought margarine, not butter: Not only was it less expensive, it was widely believed to be more healthful.

    • #58
  29. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Tim H.:

    But a lot of it was also sponsored by wealthy private patrons. Of course, for that you need people who have enough disposable income to spend on art (the rich), and who have the kind of refined tastes that incline them to art (elite attitudes).

    Sure – and it was mostly produced by private labor/artisanship – but Louis XIV or a Borgia Pope didn’t have to worry about the public liking what they paid for.  Most of today’s equivalent deep purses with any interest in paying for excellence in the “high arts” are organs of Government – with an elite rather than popular focus, so not worried about what they buy being popular enough to pay for itself with entrance fees either.

    America is exceptional in that it has more private and academic purses in the mix than the rest of the world, but again – they’re not looking to be popular enough to get by on entrance fees, they’re looking to fund and produce what they think is great.

    • #59
  30. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Red Fish, Blue Fish: Read Kevin Williamson today at NRO. Displaying wealth was gauche. Now, displaying wealth is a prerequisite for membership in the class. It even affects whether you shop at Stop & Shop or pay three times as much at Whole Foods.

    He’s not quite saying that — he’s saying that displaying wealth is now passé. That Trump is old-style nouveau riche; the new style is philanthropic. (That Trump is leading the GOP polls suggests he may be incorrect.)

    • #60
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