PUTTING THE 70’S OUT OF OUR MISERY:

Historic Alliances Between Hip-Hop and Punk (Lemon Wire, 04/24/2017)

The earliest formation of what could be called a genuine punk movement (as opposed to earlier protopunk groups such as the MC5, New York Dolls, and the Stooges) began in Manhattan around 1974/75, revolving around a venue circuit of run-down bars like the CBGB. It came out of a working class movement of young people who were tired of the pretensions of arena rock and disco, a music culture that put music-making out of the hands of regular folk. So, when the Ramones, arguably the most influential punk band of all time, picked up their instruments and leather jackets in 1975, not a single one of them could really play their instruments.

Around the same time, DJ Kool Herc was spinning records at parties in the Bronx. He had been doing this for a bit already, his parties highly popular for his eclectic and niche taste in music- Herc would play the best dance music of the time, putting down records ranging from live James Brown records to Edgar Winter singles. After he started getting gigs DJ’ing Bronx clubs, he made a discovery that was potentially one of the most important in music history- he could set up the same record on two turntables, and loop the break-beat section of records. This process would be refined by Grandmaster Flash, who invented DJ’ing as we know it today, and by 1977, the Bronx had a holy trinity of DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa spinning records in the underground. This early hip-hop scene mirrored the rebellious spirit and do-it-yourself attitude of the punk culture across the river.

By the late 70’s/early 80’s, after the Sugar Hill Gang had put out “Rapper’s Delight,” hip-hop groups were looking to expand out of the Bronx and into Manhattan, but the disco clubs wouldn’t have them. This was how first contact was made between the two genres- Grandmaster Flash had a friend who booked shows in Manhattan and was able to get Flash booked in the most unlikely of places- the punk bars. As it turned out, the punks were all about any music that was out of the norm and rebellious. Reportedly, Blondie was at this first show, and told Flash that she was going to write a song about him.

Not long after, in 1981, Blondie put out the single Rapture, which had the first video on MTV to ever feature rapping. One can see the influence on Flash and the Furious 5- in the video for “The Message,” released in 1982, Melle Mel can be seen sporting a very punk-esque outfit, complete with studded leather armbands.

This expansion of Hip-Hop into Manhattan led one punk to fall in love with hip-hop- Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam records. Rubin produced several of Hip-Hop’s early records, and signed monolithic artists such as LL Cool J and Public Enemy. He was also responsible for pushing the Beastie Boys away from hardcore punk and into the realm of Hip-Hop.

NATIONALISM/SOCIALISM ISN’T WORKING:

Misunderstanding Milei (g. patrick lynch, 11/23/23, Law & Liberty)


It took almost 80 years. That’s how long Argentina’s economy and society have been in free fall. In some ways, it’s a testament to our greatest fears about democracy and self-government that no political leader had the political incentives and simple nerve to buck the status quo. Eighty years of relentless, grinding inflation and spiraling deficits, followed by defaults, currency devaluations, and restarts before November 19. But finally, the people of Argentina have rejected a failed status quo. Javier Milei publicly won a near landslide by Argentinian standards, and when one considers the probability of Peronist cheating at approximately 100%, the margin was likely much higher. Whether or not the alternative Argentinians have chosen will “fix the situation” is for now beside the point. They have exercised the one option they have—rejecting the incumbents for the promise of something different. That’s all that democracy promises.

[…]

Milei’s main, nay fundamental, policy proposals are all in the context of this backdrop. His firm commitment to abolishing Argentine central banking and cutting social spending is straight out of Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman, and it is completely appropriate given the circumstances. The only way that an “anarcho-capitalist” could be elected was in a situation of failed governance and welfare statism so dire that he could crack the door open slightly and introduce ideas unknown by the mainstream intelligentsia, let alone the average Argentine on the street. […]

There are no easy solutions here, which is part of the reason the media and its stale-minded intellectual influences have no solutions to offer. They are left with nothing but vague language, scare tactics, and labeling. What took 80 years to destroy will take decades, perhaps centuries to recreate. Well before he won the first round of voting back in September, Milei was asked what his model for Argentina was. He replied, Ireland. Ireland of course famously cut taxes and regulation, freeing its economy and spurring rapid economic growth. Argentina could do worse than Ireland, but anything different than its current path will be an improvement.

We know what works and what doesn’t. Do what works.

MORE:

Inflation Destroys Rotten Governments (HAROLD JAMES, 11/23/23, Project Syndicate)

In Argentina, the election of a radical self-styled anarcho-capitalist, Javier Milei, as president can be understood as the immediate consequence of the incumbent Peronist regime’s inability to deal with inflation, which has hit an annualized rate of 143%. Milei’s most important campaign promise was to restore price stability by abolishing the central bank and replacing the Argentine peso with the US dollar.

Ending monetary autonomy is obviously a bold and risky experiment that will severely limit government action. But that is exactly the point. Since the previous government tried to do too much, and manifestly failed, voters now feel as though anything would be better than more mismanagement. […]

[R]ussian inflation also surged in 2022, following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine – just as it had done in 2014 after the initial seizure of territory in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Then, from April 2022, the inflation rate fell for a full year, and almost looked as though it would settle at a respectable 2.5%. But that stability turned out to be an illusion. Inflation returned this summer, following Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted putsch, and it now represents the greatest immediate risk to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wartime regime.

Moscow’s city government is candid about this source of angst, and even Putin, who generally avoids acknowledging weaknesses, recently commented on inflation and its threat to Russian families. The Russian central bank has duly hiked its policy rate to 15% – almost three times higher than the US federal funds rate.


As Putin may well know, discontent over prices is often the first sign of an authoritarian regime’s loss of social support.

NOT HOW FASCISM WORKS:

Privatize State-Owned Media, Public Companies (Associated Press, 11/20/23)

Populist Javier Milei, a libertarian economist and self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” won a presidential runoff election Sunday with 55.7% of the vote. He said Monday that he would move quickly to privatize the country’s state-owned media outlets and look to do the same with other public companies.

“Everything that can be in the hands of the private sector will be in the hands of the private sector,” Milei told Bueno Aires station Radio Mitre.

HATING GREENS WON’T STOP THE FUTURE:

Four ways AI is making the power grid faster and more resilient: From predicting EV charge times to pinpointing areas of high wildfire risk, AI is transforming our energy network. (June Kim, November 22, 2023, MIT Technology Review)

AI’s ability to learn from large amounts of data and respond to complex scenarios makes it particularly well suited to the task of keeping the grid stable, and a growing number of software companies are bringing AI products to the notoriously slow-moving energy industry.

The US Department of Energy has recognized this trend, recently awarding $3 billion in grants to various “smart grid” projects that include AI-related initiatives.

The excitement about AI in the energy sector is palpable. Some are already speculating about the possibility of a fully automated grid where, in theory, no humans would be needed to make everyday decisions.

hISTORY eNDS EVERYWHERE:

Shock therapy, please: A frustrated Argentina has chosen radical economic reform (David Smith, 11/22/23, The Critic)

In the eyes of the voters here, the folks in power had for so long buried decency in a mafia-style political operation, designed to keep themselves in power forever — robbing one of the richest countries on the planet for themselves. They have been making almost half the population certifiably poor and dependent on government handouts, despite a rhetoric of inclusion and social justice that had the old Left in Europe celebrating the ruling Peronist party.

In this scenario, libertarian maverick Milei, an economics professor barely known three years ago, stormed the country with a chainsaw, promising to slash the state and get rid of the entrenched caste of politicians. Anarcho-capitalist, he calls himself. He’s never knowingly undersold.

Milei’s voters were overwhelmingly young, across the entire country, showing how much this means to them. The next generation of Argentines saw this election as do or die — or do or leave — and voted in overwhelming numbers for the former goalkeeper with a boyhood aspiration to be Argentina’s Mick Jagger. To them, the economics professor offered hope: a future that might keep them in a country they love. His message was direct and TikTok savvy: completely blunt on the need for radical change, with private property and capitalism as the guarantees of freedom.

It worked. On the 40th anniversary of its return to democracy, Argentines stood up to be counted and positively chose shock therapy. To protect the integrity of their polling stations, tens of thousands of volunteers watched over every vote cast. Amazingly, all sides ended up acknowledging that the democratic process on voting day was exemplary; the result was accepted as the will of the majority. Again, a positive.

The Second Way failed everywhere.

THE OPPOSITE OF MAGA:

On foreign policy, Argentina’s Milei leans neoconservative, not libertarian (ELDAR MAMEDOV, NOV 22, 2023, Responsible Statecraft)

This is not an area in which he has displayed much interest or knowledge to date, but someone like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a standard bearer of libertarianism in the U.S., would hardly recognize himself in the positions embraced by Milei. In fact, Milei’s foreign policy views, to the extent they exist, are far closer to neoconservative than libertarian. His views would easily find home in hawkish Washington D.C. think tanks and parts of the mainstream of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

This is not to be underestimated, as Argentina is a member of the G-20, the third largest economy in Latin America, and has recently been invited to join BRICS, a grouping that comprises China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Milei’s foreign policy views, as expressed repeatedly during the election campaign, are starkly Manichean — they divide the world into democracies and “communist autocracies.” Counter-intuitively for a self-proclaimed champion of free trade, he promised to sever ties with two of Argentina’s main trade partners — China and Brazil (combined, both account for around 25% of the total of Argentinian exports) — on the grounds that both are ruled by “communists.” China was an object of particular scorn, with Milei dubbing the country at one point “an assassin”.

Milei is a staunch supporter of Ukraine, in contrast to a more moderate position espoused by the outgoing center-left Peronist administration which, while condemning Russia’s aggression of Ukraine, was also reluctant to sever ties with Moscow, which grew closer during the pandemic when Argentina acquired Russian vaccines, with results generally deemed acceptable.

Perhaps on no issue Milei’s neoconservative credentials are more on display than in his fervid embrace of Israel. While Argentina, under different governments, has generally enjoyed good relations with Israel, those were traditionally balanced by Buenos Aires’ engagement with Arab countries and, at times, even Iran. That balancing act did not prevent Argentina from declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization for its alleged role in the notorious 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Milei’s defeated opponent, Sergio Massa, promised to similarly add Palestinian Hamas to Argentina’s terrorist list if he had been elected. Milei, however, wants to go much further. He declared that his first international trips as president-elect will be to Israel and the U.S. He also promised to move Argentina’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such a one-sided reorientation would represent a major break in Argentina’s traditional foreign policy consensus.

Milei is also opposed, on ideological grounds, to Argentina joining the BRICS, despite the invitation issued by the existing members, reportedly the result of heavy lobbying by Brazil on Buenos Aires’ behalf. While the prospect of joining the group that represents more than 40% of the world’s population and 31% of global GDP (and also a destiny of some 30% of total Argentine exports) is seen as an opportunity by many Argentine businesspeople and politicians, for Milei BRICS represents little more than a dictators’ club.

It’s an ever more Unipolar World.

THE SOLUTION TO POVERTY IS WEALTH:

We’ve been fighting poverty all wrong (Oshan Jarow, Nov 20, 2023, Vox)

Over the course of 2021, child poverty was cut nearly in half, and the long-running fear at the heart of the American welfare system — that unconditional aid would discourage work — never came to pass.

Then, to the dismay of advocates and recipients alike, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) blocked the Democratic Party’s effort to make the expansion permanent, fearing, among other familiar concerns like the cost, that recipients would just buy drugs (the data shows that recipients spent the money on food, clothes, utilities, rent, and education). Come 2022, phase-ins returned to the CTC, approximately 3.7 million children were immediately thrust back into poverty in January, and the rest of the year saw the sharpest rise in the history of recorded child poverty rates.

Phase-ins have long had critics across the political aisle, but their arguments have generally been grounded in small-scale pilot experiments, appeals to morality, or even philosophizing about human nature. Now that we have real-world evidence from a nationwide, year-long experiment, the expanded CTC’s success should ignite efforts to roll back phase-ins across the board. That also means cutting them from the CTC’s sister program, the earned income tax credit (EITC), which phases in as a supplement to wages for low-income Americans and helps about 31 million Americans.

The expanded CTC is estimated to have reduced child poverty rates anywhere from 29 percent to 43 percent, with the vast majority of that drop attributable to removing phase-ins. Extending that success to include the EITC would cut child poverty by an estimated 64 percent.

HATING GREENS DOESN’T STOP THE WIND AND THE SUN:

Offshore wind is at a crossroads. Here’s what you need to know. (Heather Richards, 11/13/2023, E&E News)

[B]oth analysts and developers remain confident that this period of instability could also reset the offshore wind sector and refocus policy priorities on building an industry and supply chain that’s sustainable.

“We need to slow down a little bit in our growth,” Jan Matthiesen, director of offshore wind for the research and consultancy group Carbon Trust, said at the Turn Forward press briefing. “Give the supply chain some room to actually breathe and catch up.”

With U.S. offshore wind at a crossroads, here’s four questions answered.

Why are only some projects in trouble?
While it’s clear the entire offshore wind industry is facing significant headwinds, the impacts haven’t been equally felt.

A slew of projects have broadcast their vulnerability. In addition to the now-canceled Ocean Wind project, New York’s Beacon Wind, Empire Wind 1 and 2, and Sunrise Wind are on the ropes. Two Massachusetts projects, SouthCoast Wind and Commonwealth Wind, are paying million-dollar penalties to break contracts with utilities with plans to rebid in future state solicitations.

“It’s largely an issue of timing,” explained Tim Fox, a research analyst with ClearView Energy Partners. “Projects that bid into solicitations before macroeconomic factors arrived, but then had to secure contracts amid high interest rates and inflation, face serious headwinds.”

Some projects are barreling forward — like Vineyard Wind, a joint project of Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners off the coast of Massachusetts. The first large project permitted in the U.S., Vineyard is under construction with full operations beginning by next year. South Fork Wind, an Ørsted project off the coast of Rhode Island that will power New York, may go live even sooner.

A similar spirit of confidence is occurring in Virginia, where the utility Dominion Energy said last week that its 176-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project is on schedule. Monopile foundations have already been delivered.

The troubles thrashing some offshore wind projects highlight some of the benefits that Virginia’s project uniquely enjoys.

It is the only project being developed in the U.S. solely by a regulated utility. Richmond-based Dominion is a monopoly in Virginia, though it also has customers across 14 other states.

That means its investments are paid for by electric consumers, with utility regulators approving a return on the investment as profit. Dominion has already fought, and won, for its right to proceed with a project that is costing roughly $2 billion more than it had planned.

“Dominion’s smart strategy has helped it avoid the same issues faced by its competitors. They are the off taker — they are able to pass on cost increases to consumers,” said Atin Jain, wind analyst at BloombergNEF.

He noted that Dominion secured supply deals with turbine manufacturers in 2021, before inflation drove up costs. The Coastal Virginia project will also be “huge,” with a capacity of 2.6 GW, enabling the company to benefit from economies of scale.

The project, which got final approval from the Interior Department last month, is also building its own ship, the Charybdis, to install its turbines.

Expected to be complete by early 2025, the $650 million vessel means the utility won’t have to fight with other developers over a limited number of installation vessels, said Søren Lassen, head of offshore wind research at Wood Mackenzie. Plus, Dominion will be able to pay off some of its investment in the ship by leasing the vessel out to other U.S. projects, he said.

THE DRAGON HAS NO TEETH:

China’s Self-Inflicted Economic Wounds (TAKATOSHI ITO, 11/21/23, Project Syndicate)

[X]i’s obsession with control continues to pose a serious threat to China’s prospects. Not only does it hamper innovation by domestic firms; it also discourages foreign investment.

Already, foreign companies, such as the polling and consultancy group Gallup, are fleeing the country. This can be partly explained by China’s economic slowdown, which has reduced the availability of high-return investment opportunities and, together with demographic trends, promises to shrink the Chinese market over time. But, with China still targeting 5% growth, there is clearly more going on.

In fact, foreign companies worry about becoming the target of spurious antitrust investigations, and fear that the newly expanded, but deliberately vague counter-espionage law could result in them being punished for normal business activities. Of course, US restrictions on high-tech exports to and investment in China are not helping matters.

China today shares many features with Japan in the 1980s. But the biggest risks to its economic prospects are all homegrown. By prioritizing security and stability – through surveillance, control, and coercion – over economic dynamism, China’s leaders are abandoning some of the policies and principles that underpinned the country’s “economic miracle.”

You can’t have a Clash of Civilizations when there is only one.

MINOR CARTAS:

Declarations, Compacts, & the American Constitutional Tradition (Bruce Frohnen, November 20th, 2023, Imaginative Conservative)

The American constitutional tradition stretches back beyond our shores to England (and, thence, through Rome, to Greece, and to Mt. Sinai). It is a tradition shaped on this continent by experience and the character of the people. Clearly, the rhetoric of one paragraph in one document of distinctly limited purpose cannot define such a tradition. Rather, the broad, thin claims of the Declaration, like the theologically and politically demanding purposes of the Compact, form parts of a federal vision of political society. In this vision, local communities play the primary role in government, protecting the fundamental institutions in which good character is formed. But beyond these communities there must be a wider, less organic and communitarian organization with the more limited purpose of defending the common good of the states and localities, securing them against foreign aggression and keeping the peace among them. What we have, then, in the transition between Compact and Declaration, is not “progress” toward ideological abstractions, but rather movement from the more local, organic, and primary, toward the more general and conventional. Both are necessary for a functioning society and can, as they did in America, work together to form a more perfect union.

Our texts vindicate–then universalize–our rights as Englishmen.