Donald Trump and the administrative state

During the just concluded meeting of the North American society of historians of economic thought I made a major effort to find at least one other attendee among the other 200 who would be willing to make a single positive statement about the election of Donald Trump as president. They may all have been academics and therefore hopelessly lost, but even so, some were from the reddest of red states, some were from universities with a reputation for being on the right, some were from counties directly threatened by mortal enemies who Trump has promised to defend them against, but not a single one was willing even to murmur, even with just the two of us huddled together, speaking quietly and with no one else within a hundred yards, that a case for Trump as president could be made. As an example of how far from the centre these students of history are, who are no doubt representative of the academic world in general, I offer you this from the citation that came with the awarding of the prize for the best book published in HET during the previous year. The rot is very deep.

The book tells the story of how a band of academics and their reform allies, many inspired by the social gospel and on a mission to redeem America, went on to remake both American social science and its relation to the state. They transformed economics from a species of public discourse into an expert scientific field housed in recently formed research universities, where they could use their newly won positions and authority not only to advocate for new policies, but to refashion the role of the state itself. Their target, a laissez faire capitalism that they viewed as both wasteful and unjust, was to be undone by a new entity, the administrative state, which when guided by objective social scientists like themselves, would exercise the social control that was necessary to produce a better society. The myriad social problems wrought by urbanization, industrialization, and in the American case, massive immigration, gave impetus to their reforming zeal.

The book exactly defines what Trump is up against.

UPDATE: I only partially quoted from the citation for the book, but given the comments so far, I will provide all the rest below to provide some idea of how wide the deep state is. This is the continuation of the above through to the end.

To be sure, the stories of the rise of the administrative state and the attendant professionalization of economics have been told before, sometimes by those who praised the new sorts of policies that the progressive reformers and their allies put into place, and sometimes by others who criticized what they saw as their scientistic hubris and overreach. Leonard’s unique contribution is to document in grim, indeed harrowing, detail the “scientific” arguments that were used by many progressives to bolster certain of their policy recommendations. For if the desire was to raise up the poor, to assist the downtrodden to be better able to help themselves, the definition of those who were deemed worthy of such assistance was limited. It did not include members of many immigrants groups, African Americans, women, and the disabled. Indeed, for members of these groups, the American dream of hard work leading to material success was grotesquely inverted by policies that helped guarantee that they could not compete successfully against the preferred group, namely, White Anglo Saxon Protestant males.

As a result parts of this book are, to put it mildly, unpleasant to read. Given the controversial nature of his material, Leonard wisely often simply lets his protagonists speak for themselves. And given the resurgence of nativist, nationalist, and xenophobic elements in the political discourse and policies of many countries today, it is, sad to say, a timely read.

We started out with over 20 books, but soon narrowed it down to a more manageable set to consider seriously. It turned out to be an incredibly easy process. It took just one e-mail to come to a decision, for Leonard’s book was rated first by all three of us.

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27 Responses to Donald Trump and the administrative state

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    The fact that the book is about a bunch of numpties doesn’t mean that it is a bad book. It may very well have been an excellent book.

  2. OneWorldGovernment

    If only Turnbull would increase taxation by 15%.

    And stop the coal mining.

  3. Some History

    …… the administrative state, which when guided by objective social scientists like themselves, would exercise the social control that was necessary to produce a better society.

    The “administrative state”. Oh, yep. That sounds just dandy. They, the academic unintelligentsia, know exactly how to produce a “better” society. These people have a dangerous “god complex”.

    Everybody in the social sciences wants to rule the world

    Sung to:

    https://tinyurl.com/qezbdqz

  4. C.L.

    Granted, the reviewer describes how they saw themselves and what they sought to achieve (and why) – without judging the merits of their ‘reformist’ goals. But there is a suspicious absence of irony and mockery in the precis which makes it read like a weird Stalinist hagiography or a plotline for a Team America sequel with left-wing academic economists as the puppets.

  5. Jannie

    the administrative state, which when guided by objective social scientists like themselves, would exercise the social control that was necessary to produce a better society.

    They already tried that and it resulted in countless millions being beaten, shot, and starved to death.

  6. bushwalker

    If it’s not philosopher kings, it’s economist kings. I’d prefer engineer kings.

  7. Baldrick

    Their target, a laissez faire capitalism that they viewed as both wasteful and unjust, was to be undone by a new entity, the administrative state, which when guided by objective social scientists like themselves, would exercise the social control that was necessary to produce a better society.

    Who elected them arbiters of a ‘better society’?

  8. Louis Hissink

    The Administrative state, the US version of North Korea.

  9. iain russell

    Were the book and the award pre-approved by Soros? It would add to the book’s authenticity if Smaug had OK-ed it.

  10. Rabz

    The tyranny of the self declared experts.

    No, thanks.

  11. Tintarella di Luna

    Steve how very very depressing, not even the thought of our own political chihuahua being unceremoniously dumped cheers me at all. Thanks though the red pill will always be my choice.

  12. C. Paul Barreira

    This s somewhat dodgy. What does this alleged society call itself? What is the title of the said prize-winning volume? The name of the author? I have little or no time for academics, nor indeed intellectuals—self-described—generally, whose standards of scholarship continue to deteriorate and for all of whom career and politics trump all else. I have remarked to a number of persons (of my tiny acquaintance) my view that all is hopeless. Does Steve Kates affirm the conclusion?

  13. Rococo Liberal

    This can’t be anything but bad science fiction, surely?

  14. Asperamanka

    Trump told at least one lie every day for the first 40 days of his presidency and people still don’t trust him. I just can’t figure it out.

  15. Rabz

    the administrative state, which when guided by objective social scientists like themselves, would exercise the social control that was necessary to produce a better society

    Is that sentence courtesy of a random word generator? What preposterous gibberish.

  16. Rabz

    They transformed economics from a species of public discourse into an expert scientific field

    Oh, bollocks. They did no such thing.

    As a result of their utterly misguided efforts, economics is now quite possibly the most discredited “science” and “profession” in human history.

  17. val majkus

    one victory for Trump; about that executive order

    The Ninth Circuit, later joined by the Fourth Circuit, decided (illegitimately) to put President Trump in his place, broadly rejecting his temporary suspension on travel from six Muslim-majority states – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – that had previously been designated by the Obama administration as terrorism risks.

    In an example of “what goes around comes around,” the Supreme Court, in a per curiam – that is to say, unanimous – decision, gave the appellate courts their comeuppance, allowing President Trump’s travel bans to be in effect as “against foreign nationals abroad who have no connection to the United States at all.”

    Never-Trump commentators would do well to reflect on the following statement in the per curiam ruling: “To prevent the Government from [suspending travel by] foreign nationals unconnected to the United States would appreciably injure its interests, without alleviating obvious hardship to anyone else.” Clearly, the lower courts, in their zeal to injure the Trump presidency, gave no thought to whether a “foreign national” has a connection to the United States. Excessive, unwarranted, and unfair allegations against President Trump were persuasive at the Ninth Circuit.

    How will the media, which lauded the appellate decisions for their anti-Trump bias, respond to the following, which reflects the views of liberal as well as conservative members of the Court? “Denying entry to such a foreign national does not burden any American party by reason of that party’s relationship with the foreign national[.] And the courts below did not conclude that exclusion in such circumstances would impose any legally relevant hardship on the foreign national himself.”

    The ruling implies that the burden of the travel suspension “against a foreign national who lacks any connection to this country” will not be magnified into an Establishment Clause issue by claims of anti-Islam animus allegedly made in political campaign remarks.

    The ruling also accepted the government’s request for writ of certiorari, and the issue will be set down for argument at the October 2017 term. Pending a decision on the merits, the travel suspension does not affect “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. All other foreign nationals are subject to the [travel suspension].”

    What next from the left: demands that the Supreme Court be impeached?

  18. val majkus

    partly cut and pasted

    …..Nevertheless, as the recent war on President Trump and the more distant — but certainly recent enough — debate on marriage reveal, U.S. liberals don’t necessarily need to win elections to further their leftist agenda. In fact, as most any sentient political observer of the American scene is aware, arguably the sturdiest plank of the Democratic platform — abortion — became legal in America, not because of what occurred at the ballot box, but because of the tragically foolish decision of seven unelected justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. As the block (now lifted) on the so-called “travel ban,” the seemingly never-ending Trump-Russia collusion farce, and the Trump obstruction-of-justice myth prove, if the electorate won’t cooperate, the American left well knows that it can almost always rely on the cooperation of the courts and the mainstream media.

    Since Barack Obama’s election as U.S. President in 2008, election losses for American democrats can literally be measured in the thousands. Yet liberals were still somehow so shocked at Hillary’s loss to Trump in the last presidential election that they’ve turned to wing-nut conspiracy theories in order to undermine his and the GOP’s — sometimes one and the same — agenda. Of course, at nearly every turn the media and the courts have aided and abetted the efforts of Democrats.

    Even more disconcerting than the rise of fake news to undermine Trump and the GOP is the rise of fake law. It’s one thing to have an army of (mostly) low-educated, left-wing bloggers, reporters, and pundits engaging in media malpractice; it’s quite another to have the highest levels of the American judiciary practicing judicial tyranny. With the rise of the alternative media, the widespread liberal media malpractice we are enduring can be countered. Reining in liberal courts is much more difficult.

    Again, before the Trump political era, the marriage debate provides a great lesson here. As recently as November 2009, the U.S. electorate was 31 for 31 in soundly rejecting same-sex “marriage.” At a rate of over two-to-one (67.5%), U.S. voters in 31 states, at the very least banned same-sex “marriage.” This rate of victory for (biblical) marriage was FAR greater than the rate by which most candidates — Republican or Democratic — win their races.

    As I noted at the time, this rejection of same-sex “marriage” occurred not only in conservative states, but in some very liberal ones as well. Along with the reliably red states in the South, Midwest, and mountain West, deep blue states such as Maine, California, Oregon, Hawaii, along with “purple” states such as Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada, all soundly rejected same-sex “marriage.” Across the U.S., from the Deep South to the Northeast to the Midwest to the West coast, American voters united behind (biblical) marriage.

    Despite the length and the volume of the electoral defeats (take note, Christian conservatives), liberals in general, but especially liberals in the media, persisted in pushing their perverse views on marriage. (We are now seeing similar tactics as liberals battle biology and sound morality in the debate over gender.) Shaming corporations and corporate executives — most of whom were ill equipped to take an intelligent and principled stand for marriage — soon most every large corporation in the U.S. was an ally for the left in the marriage debate (as they are now in the gender debate).

    Astute observers of American politics had to know that the courts were most likely soon to follow. Sure enough, contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of the American electorate, a misguided and foolish ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex “marriage” the “law of the land” in the U.S. The oldest institution in the history of humanity (marriage is older than God’s covenant with the nation of Israel, older than The Law, older than the church, and one of the earliest truths revealed by God) has been legally dismantled by five liberal justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    There’s an important lesson here: If liberals can achieve the legal redefinition of marriage without the aid of the American electorate, there’s little they can’t accomplish. The consequences of the infamous Obergefell ruling are devastatingly wide ranging. I don’t think there is another legal precedent that is as far reaching as the legal redefinition of marriage. And again, liberals achieved this all the while losing elections!

    Thus — and sadly — it is not enough for conservatives to win elections. In addition to continuing our efforts in the alternative media, we must make sure the courts are properly staffed. One of the biggest reasons (as should be the case in every presidential and senatorial election) that I, and many others, voted for Donald Trump for U.S. President was because of the role the President plays in the federal judiciary. So far, by most indications, Mr. Trump has done little to disappoint.

    As Mr. Trump has at times demonstrated himself to be conservatively challenged, long-entrenched conservatives must ensure that these efforts continue. As the Drudge headline the day of this writing indicates (“Trump To Get Another Supreme Judge?”), we may soon be having another battle over the Supreme Court. Knowing well what’s at stake, liberals will go all out (beware the level of violence!) to keep a solid conservative out of any seat currently occupied by a reliably liberal vote. Trump and the GOP are making progress in dismantling the legacy of Obama and other like-minded liberals. A conservative judiciary at the federal level would go a long way in ensuring that such dismantling is widespread and long-lasting.

  19. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    there is a suspicious absence of irony and mockery in the precis

    +1
    And a significant lack of analytic capacity about the blindingly obvious in the conference attendees.
    Or is it simply a lack of intestinal fortitude; a terror of being outside the pack and losing their jobs?

  20. Rob MW

    They transformed economics from a species of public discourse into an expert scientific field housed in recently formed research universities, where they could use their newly won positions and authority not only to advocate for new policies, but to refashion the role of the state itself.

    Exhibit (1) – ‘Science and Regulation’ – The Precautionary Principle in Australia: A Background Paper

    The parallels with the Tom Cruise movie ‘Minority Report’ and the notion that prosecutions based on the science of a “Pre-Crime” and can be somehow sustained at law is uncanny.

  21. Razor

    Claim much to obtain some furthering of the foothold of social control.

    The authorship uses extreme positivism to attempt to control (for want of a better word in this environment) the narrative.

    We of disimilar mind must do likewise – claim the high moral, ethical and political ground. We must do so in the clearest and simplest of language. We must claim our stance as an apriori. Marriage is untouchable, gender is untouchable, morality is not fluid, humanity is based on the individual and there is a well tested source of common law dating back to the Magna carta.

    Indigenious persons were conquered by a society far in advance of their own. They live in Oz and America under the auspice of persons who recognise that they have first rights in a further enlightened society. A society which wishes them the best and no harm. A society which wishes the happiness we seek for ourselves.
    We have a society which is proud of what it has made of our country’s heritage.
    Nationalism is recognised as that which binds many to work under hardship and fight when necessary for the safety of the vunerable in order to live in peace and harmony.

    We must demonstrate the contrast between the disharmony and pain that socialism brings to a society (for it brings fascism of a type no different from that of a dominant politico-religion), and the relaxed peace of a conservative ideal of individual self governance.

  22. max

    Exchange between Senator Lindsey Graham and Bradley Booker … of National Intelligence

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