Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Romney will probably win, so where should technocratophiles take the battle?

Gov. Romney will probably win the Presidency in 2012, and I think that's a good thing.

So where should technocratophiles probably take the battle?

(1)I think the most important thing is to marginalize Tea Party conservatives, Libertarian conservatives, and (most difficultly in a Romney presidency) neoconservatives, who I think are the most dangerous elements of the US today. Immigration conservatives vs. immigration liberals/libertarians are trickier, because I think immigration is an optimization problem and I haven't seen a good faithed work out of the best solution yet.

How do they get marginalized? In a practical way, we want the more technocratic republican candidates to win primaries. We want the more technocratic advisers to fill Romney's staff and future cabinet.

(2) We want to coming Democrat opposition to be more technocratically based, to keep the technocratic ratchet going. Less Rev. Al Sharpton, more Prof. DeLong and Christina Romer. Dr. Elizabeth Warren could be a viable presidential candidate in 4 years.

(3) Romney has a very good chance of being able to go down as the greatest peacetime president in history. If once in office he works with democrats in Congress to implement some of he best parts of other OECD countries (socialize the healthcare sector, make the tax system more rational, implement best of breed economic management, fix the housing and educational finance structural problems and make defense spending more about infrastructure building (army corps of engineers) than weapons-selling --things that aren't that hard to do conceptually but are hampered by the current political dynamic, then he'll establish quite a historical legacy. Judging his term as Governor of Massachussetts and the rightful disdain he must feel towards the huge non-technocratic element of his party, I think he'll be very open towards technocratic solutions -even those that have significant conservative and rentier class opposition.

(4) We should pressure Obama and the Democrats to focus on wrapping up their control of the executive branch virtuously. They'll probably lose it, but they can do some very good work with appointments and administrative optimization prior to exiting. Cabinet members can focus on polishing their legacy prior to running for Governor of respective states. Obama can legitimately work on setting himself up for a UN Secretary General run (with his Kenyan father and global popularity). Recent desparate attempts to pander to jewish fundraisers by opposing Palestinian recognition in UNESCO do more to damage his legacy and global reputation than help him win reelection, IMO. President Obama should make his reelection campaign more about looking good losing to optimize his future reputation and macroadministrative career than about getting a dirty or pandering or even superimprobable win.

That's my 2 cents right now.


  1. The neoconservatives, or should we say the broader national security wing, have done the most damage yet always seem to emerge unscathed ready to give more bad advice. Most GOP candidates show little inclination to change on that front, I don't even think Jon Huntsman has said much different (Johnson & Paul are of course exceptions).

    "Romney has a very good chance of being able to go down as the greatest peacetime president in history."
    Why do you think that? I don't expect your listed reforms to happen under him (some tinkering with the tax code, but unsure how much).

  2. Who else has gone from cabinet secretary to governor? I actually don't know.

    I don't think the UNESCO thing matters.

  3. Hopefully Anonymous said ...

    TGGP, Gov. Richardson of New Mexico comes immediately to mind (former DOE sec).

    The Chief of Staff spot I think has been a bit of a stepping stone. Gov. Daniels of Indiana was OMB director, which I think is also comparable.

    I think Gov. Romney paired with a Democrat Congress and choosing a technocratic direction could amass quite a legacy for himself. I think Romneycare in Massachusetts is an indication. I doubt he'd go small with a combination of a technocratic upsurgence and a relatively marginalized conservative segment in America -so I guess those would be caveats.

  4. Good points on Richardson and Daniels.

    I think the Mass. GOP and the national one are different beasts, though one might as well say the same thing about Mass. vs US.

  5. Personally I expect Obama to win a second term. The US is slumping partly because it's losing economic advantages that derive from geopolitical hegemony, and that's not cyclical - once that goes, it doesn't come back. The usual limited repertoire of economic policy options simply can't offset that sort of loss, and so there's no technocratic way to finesse this change of status. This is a cultural issue for America too; the country has to develop a new understanding of its identity and its place in the world.

    If we use the end of the Soviet Union as the model, that would suggest an experiment in explicit repudiation of American national ideology; as if Zeitgeist-movement cyber-socialists ended up Occupying the White House. I believe democracy gives American political culture far greater plasticity than the single-party USSR ever had, and so that we won't see an abandonment of American political institutions and core political practices comparable to the abolition of the Soviet Union. But there will be some sort of radicalism, some presently inconceivable hybridization of Tea Partiers and Occupiers, in order to deal with all the economic unsustainability. That sounds like a technocrat's nightmare, a left-right coalition of populists, but we have to talk about it in these terms simply because the technocrats don't have any real solutions figured out yet. They don't even have a handle on the true situation. But that will come, probably somewhere on the other side of this European sovereign debt crisis.

    But back to Obama and Romney. What I am claiming is that there will be a cultural change as well as new economic thinking. And I just think that Obama is better placed to be a cultural radical, simply because he's black. Back in 2008 someone called him a "centrist cipher", and he has taken advantage of this to be relatively conservative in his actions and policy so far. But he very clearly has the potential to be a radical, if and when it becomes politically favorable to do so. If America ever does form the opinion that it has been governed by an oligarchy that needs to be purged, who would be more credible, Obama or Romney? I suppose Romney could be the "Gorbachev of American oligarchy", but that would be quite a leap for him.

  6. By the way, though I speak of radicalism, this doesn't mean no technocracy; it means new technocracy.

  7. Hopefully Anonymous said ...

    I don't see this cultural change happening, because frankly the asshole fraction of Americans is large and dooms populist coordination efforts. We have too many self-styled bullies fucking up virtuous coordinations for a small immediate payout.

    I don't really buy the manipulative oligarch line, because I see plenty of attempts to manipulate the noisy masses both against AND FOR their own interests. I think the large asshole fraction is what makes manipulations against collective welfare often work in the US, more so than secretly profitting oligarchs.

    The hedonistic payout for fucking up a virtuous coordination at the microsocial level is apparently very satisfying for our many assholes.

    Victories over this seem to me to come more from subtle tactics by good-faith technocratic elites than from massive popular demands for a govt. better executing improvement of social welfare.

  8. You could read my scenario as predicting a shift to a new asshole equilibrium, though. Even if human society is seen as fundamentally dysfunctional in all times and places, it's still true that there do occur changes from one dysfunctional order to another dysfunctional order. The human race may not be able to manage very much virtuous coordination, but it is capable, from time to time, of tearing down the existing order; e.g. when it becomes convenient for large numbers of people to notice hypocrisy, dysfunctionality, etc. in power.

    Maybe I'm wrong; maybe the revolution occurred back when Hank Paulson asked for his $700 billion, and everything else is just the aftershock. Obama could turn out to be a one-term aberration.

  9. Hopefully Anonymous said ...

    " Even if human society is seen as fundamentally dysfunctional in all times and places,"

    To be clear, I'm not saying I think the US has a representative fraction of assholes relative to humanity throughout history. I'm saying I think we have more and/or worse assholes than Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (to choose some countries most like us), and that it fucks up some pretty obvious coordinations we should make.

    Humanity as a whole is probably doomed for many reasons. But the US still battles over universal healthcare because it might have the largest asshole fraction of all the majority white anglophone countries.