Category Archives: Democrats

Can Non-Fascists Support Any Degree of Capitalism?

Dave

Whew, I am so glad fascism is over now that Biden has been elected.

Just kidding!

The center-left will only facilitate the creeping rise of fascism!

Biden and Harris still support corporations over people. So they suck and need to be forced to implement policies that help normal people.

Me

Which specific policies should they be forced to pursue and how should they be forced to pursue those policies? How will they facilitate the creeping rise of fascism?

Dave

Medicare for All, student loan forgiveness, welfare expansion, decriminalization of drugs and sexwork, abortion protection, decreasing the military budget, and others I can’t think of right now.

And they should be forced to do this by the threat of being voted out.

They facilitate the creeping rise of fascism by wanting to maintain the same system that the fascists want to maintain: capitalism.

Me

I’m inclined to agree with you on most of those points. Probably just a matter of the degree and timeline.

I think it might be unwise to throw out capitalism altogether just because our fascists cling to it so religiously, though.

I’m inclined to think that, generally speaking, authoritarians (which I would use interchangeably with “fascists”) are more likely to favor economic systems that give them the most control, i.e. centralized economic systems or command economies. I’ve been frustrated before by my inability to find a ready analysis for this, so I went ahead and did my own quick study.

The below chart is the result of a Pearson correlation comparing two datasets: the Fraser Institute Economic Freedom Index and the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index. The EIU is part of the Economist, so I would expect it to be biased toward free market policies. The Fraser Institute also appears to be libertarian. Why use two libertarian sources? Because that’s all I could find.

Regardless, the correlation does suggest a general tendency for free market (or more capitalistic) economies to be more democratic. The value of R is 0.7205. The P-Value is < .00001, so the result is significant at p < .01.

Again, while I’d prefer to compare indexes from multiple sources with different ideological bents, I’d hope you’d agree that the ratings do not scream of obvious bias.

If you’re interested, my full dataset of 155 countries is here.

Dave

Sure, fascists/totalitarians may favor a centralized economy, but many of them (Hitler and Mussolini, for example) exploited weaknesses in democracy and capitalism to get to that point.

I read the most recent publication of the Fraser Institute Economic Freedom Index to look at their criteria for economic freedom. Based on their criteria this correlation really just tells us that democracies tend to support capitalism, or at least a business friendly environment.

The two criteria that immediately caught my eye is “Size of Government” and “Regulation”. If I understand their rating system, the smaller and thriftier the government and the less regulation a country has, the higher that country’s score for those criteria. Looking at the details of those criteria it seems that the less a government invests in or protects its citizens the better the country’s score is.

This makes me even more skeptical about their evaluation of “Legal System and Property Rights”. Like the other criteria it seems to be biased towards business and doesn’t really pay any attention to equity of the system in terms of citizens vs business interests.

I know you acknowledged that the indices were biased, but I don’t think the EFI is a good index to evaluate the value of capitalism. It basically just says the more friendly a country is to corporate interests the better it is. And I don’t agree with that at all.

Me

I’m glad you looked into the EFI. Your summary of the EFI: “It basically just says the more friendly a country is to corporate interests the better it is.”

Equity seems to be something you’re especially interested in. I looked for an “equity index,” but that’s all bound up in the financial sense of equity. However, I did find something called the Social Capital Index from something called SolAbility. There’s not a lot of info I could find for this self-described “sustainable intelligence think-tank” online, but they’ve been around awhile. In these rankings, they say they include equality, health care availability, violent crime, income equality, resource equality, human rights, individual happiness, etc.

I was curious how the EFI rankings would stack up against the Social Capital Index rankings, so I ran another Pearson correlation. This time, I got a lower correlation coefficient: 0.6022, but it’s still positive and still significant at p < .01.

So, just from this, it does look like “the more friendly a country is to corporate interests the better” if you agree with SolAbility’s ratings.

The data are in the same doc I shared earlier, but here is the link again if you’re interested.

2020 Presidential Race Legislative Scorecard Compilation

“A Joe Biden presidency would be exactly the same as a second term for Donald Trump.” This is something that I have heard from various friends and, of course, from the Internet recently. For one friend, Trump’s various sexual misconduct allegations are exactly equal to reports of unwanted contact from Biden. There was also a Bloomberg quiz where you can guess, unsuccessfully, as to which person said which of a small collection of quotes.

Of course, that is pertinent information, but I think it ignores the significant differences in legislation that would be passed under each presidency and what might also happen to the Supreme Court under each presidency. To get a better picture of the actual impact of each person’s presidency, I have dug into the legislative careers of various presidential candidates.

Why “various”? Why not all of them? Well, obviously, not all of the candidates have a legislative trail. Julián Castro was most recently HUD Secretary and Mayor of San Antanio. Pete Buttigieg is mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Andrew Yang founded the nonprofit Venture for America.

Trump, of course, never held elected office until winning the electoral college in 2016. FiveThirtyEight, a website devoted to quantifying political, sports, and other phenomena, tracks how closely the voting records of congresspeople have aligned with Trump. The most-aligned with Trump by that metric was Jeff Sessions, who voted with Trump 100% of the time before becoming Attorney General. So, it is Sessions who will be used as an (imperfect) proxy for Trump.

I live in Arizona, and so I am especially interested in my own senators. Those two senators currently are Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema. They both became senators (Sinema by election and McSally by appointment) in 2019. Therefore, their House records are used for this comparison. Continue reading 2020 Presidential Race Legislative Scorecard Compilation

Why Vote for Democrats?

Legislation

1935
Social Security Act
-Passed the House 372-33
-Passed the Senate 77-6
-Signed into law by FDR

House
-Dem: Yes — 284 of 319 (89%)
-Rep: Yes — 81 of 102 (79%)

Senate
-Dem: Yes — 60 of 69 (87%)
-Rep: Yes — 16 of 25 (64%)

Source

* * *

1938
Fair Labor Standards Act
-Established minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, and restrictions on child labor
-Passed the House 291-89
-Passed the Senate by voice vote
-Signed into law by FDR

House
-Dem: Yes — 252 of 293 (86%)
-Rep: Yes — 30 of 78 (38%)

Senate
Passed the Senate by voice vote.

Source

* * *

1941
Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry
-Executive Order 8802
-Banned discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war-related work
-Established the Fair Employment Practices Commission to enforce the new policy
-Signed by FDR

Source

* * *

1948
Desegregation of Armed Forces
-Executive Order 9981
-Established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, committing the government to integrating the segregated military
-Signed by Truman

Source

* * *

1963
Clean Air Act
-Passed the House 276 to 112
-Passed the Senate by voice vote
-Signed into law by LBJ

House
-Dem: Yes — 204 of 256 (80%)
-Rep: Yes — 69 of 178 (39%)

Senate
Passed the Senate by voice vote.

Source

* * *

1964
Civil Rights Act
-Passed the House 290-130*
-Passed the Senate 73-27*
-Signed into law by LBJ

House
-Dem: Yes — 152 of 254 (60%)*
-Rep: Yes — 138 of 177 (78%)*

Senate
-Dem: Yes — 46 of 67 (69%)*
-Rep: Yes — 27 of 33 (82%)*

Note: This vote was an important moment in the history of the Republican and Democratic parties and was the major catalyst leading to the transition of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party.*

Senate Votes on the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

Senate Votes - 1964 Civil Rights Act

* * *

1965
Medicare (Social Security Act Amendments)
-Passed the House 307-116
-Passed the Senate 70-24
-Signed into law by LBJ

House
-Dem: Yes — 237 of 293 (81%)
-Rep: Yes — 70 of 140 (50%)*

Senate
-Dem: Yes — 57 of 67 (85%)
-Rep: Yes — 13 of 32 (41%)*

* * *

1972
Clean Water Act
-Passed the House 366-11
-Passed the Senate 74-0
-Vetoed by Nixon
-Nixon’s veto was overridden by Congress

House Override
-Dem: Yes — 151 of 161 (94%) (92 abstained)
-Rep: Yes — 96 of 109 (88%) (68 abstained)*

Senate Override
-Dem: Yes — 34 of 37 (92%) (17 abstained)
-Rep: Yes — 17 of 25 (68%) (19 abstained)*

* * *

2010
Permitting Gay People to Serve Openly in the Military
-Passed the House 250-175*
-Passed the Senate 65-31*
-Signed into law by Barack Obama

House
-Dem: Yes — 235 of 255 (92%)*
-Rep: Yes — 15 of 179 (8%)*

Senate
-Dem: Yes — 53 of 56 (95%)*
-Rep: Yes — 6 of 32 (14%)*


The Economy

Most economists lean Democratic:


From a 2003 survey of 264 economists
Source


From a 2010 survey of 299 economists
Source


Climate Change

The earth’s climate is extremely important, both economically and biologically. Most Democrats agree with the vast majority of climate scientists that humans have caused all or nearly all of earth’s rapid warming over the past 5-6 decades.* As of 2017, 78% of Democrats agreed that human activity is causing the warming while only 24% of Republicans agree* with the extremely strong scientific consensus.

But, isn’t there still a lot of uncertainty about what’s causing global warming? No. Climate scientists are roughly as certain that humans are causing the rapid warming of the earth’s atmosphere as they are in the basic science of plate tectonics.*

But, is scientific consensus really important? Maybe. One way to look at it is to consider artificial intelligence. Imagine if we looked at research papers of artificial intelligence researchers and polled them and found that 5% of them are warning that there is a high probability of robots taking over the world in the near future. That might be slightly alarming, right? However, if we look at that same information and talk to the same people and find that 97% of those papers and scientists are warning of a robot takeover, governments all over the world would be acting immediately to prevent this.

McSally vs. Sinema – AZ Senate Race 2018

People often focus more on what politicians say than on what they do. Those two things are often not in accordance, due to factors within their control and not within their control. My preference is to look at how candidates actually legislate. However, no one that I know of puts out this information in an easy-to-read way. So, I have tried below to compile all of the legislative scorecards I could find for two Arizona candidates. I hope you find it useful.


 

ACLU

Supports government transparency; Supports eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and LGBT people; Supports protecting the rights of immigrants

McSally and Sinema:
https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/acl18002_legislative_report_card_v2.pdf?redirect=legscorecard2018


AFL-CIO

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the largest federation of unions in the United States.

Sinema: https://web.archive.org/web/20180923212924/https://aflcio.org/scorecard/legislators/kyrsten-sinema

McSally: https://web.archive.org/web/20180923212941/https://aflcio.org/scorecard/legislators/martha-mcsally


FreedomWorks

Pro Small Government Advocacy/Tea Party-Affiliated

McSally and Sinema:
http://congress.freedomworks.org/keyvotes/house/2018#keyvotes-descriptions


Human Rights Campaign

Advocates for LGBTQ Equality

McSally and Sinema: https://assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/114thCongressionalScorecard.pdf?_ga=2.84250265.1888141725.1539383407-944623586.1539383407


Humane Society

Pro Animal Welfare Advocacy

McSally and Sinema:
http://www.hslf.org/assets/pdfs/humane-scorecard/humane_scorecard_2017_final.pdf


League of Conservation Voters

Environmental Advocacy

Sinema:
http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/kyrsten-sinema

McSally:
http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/martha-mcsally


NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Advocacy, “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination”

McSally and Sinema: https://www.naacp.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2017-Legislative-Report-Card-1.pdf


National Cannabis Industry Association

McSally: 17%
Sinema: 100%

No Title

No Description


NCPSSM – National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

McSally: 14%
Sinema: 86%

No Title

No Description


NEA – National Education Association

Labor union that represents public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers.

McSally and Sinema


NumbersUSA

Immigration Reduction Advocacy

McSally and Sinema: https://www.numbersusa.com/content/my/tools/grades/list/0/CONGRESS/az/A/Grade/Active


NRA

Gun Deregulation Advocacy

McSally and Sinema


Planned Parenthood

Pro Reproductive/Abortion Rights

Sinema

McSally

Real Constitutionalists and Grumpy Spouses

Another fine day of canvassing for my local candidates.

One conversation:

“Hi, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats.” (That’s me speaking.)

“Democrats? Oh, no. I’m a constitutionalist. I believe in the Constitution.”

“Oh, great! Same here!”

“No, I’m a real constitutionalist.”

“Yeah? Me too.”

And we go back and forth like that for about 45 minutes.

Kidding! She just said, “Uh huh. Right. Bye.” and closed the door.



Legislative District 17


Another convo:

“Hi, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats.”

Roughly 50-year-old male answers the door:
“The Democrats?”

He literally thumbs his nose at me. Which I thought was pretty funny.

Thing is, I was looking for a female voter at that house. I can’t tell you how many times I get a grumpy spouse who doesn’t like Democrats or doesn’t like being bothered, but then I ask for their spouse and find their spouse extremely receptive.

I remember one of my first times canvassing this happened. The spouse answered and was like, “We don’t want any.”

His partner overhears and says, “Who is it?”

“The Democrats.”

“Get out of here!” she tells the spouse, literally pushing him out of the doorway. Then she signed whatever petitions I had and complained about ol’ President Pussygrab.


Another convo:

“Hi, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats. I’m out collecting signatures for two candidates who are running for the state Senate and House in our district.”

“The Democrats? Oh my god. Where do I sign?”

“Haha! Yeah, I talk to people all the time who are so happy to find that there are others of us out there.”

“Yeah, my friend said to me the other day, ‘You ever feel like the white speck in the potting soil?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!'”

I tell her that there are more white specks than she probably realizes. (Not my analogy, folks!) Actually, most people I speak to don’t realize that the state is almost equally split between people who lean Republican and people who lean Democratic.

Of course, that varies from district to district. I’m kinda lucky in that I’m in a purple district with great candidates who have a real shot at winning.

Sagan, 22, “Peddling Without a License”

The fall of 1956 temporarily separated Lynn and Carl. Sagan began work at the University of Chicago’s astronomy school in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. This is the home of the Yerkes Observatory. Completed in 1897, the forty-inch Yerkes refractor was housed in a brick-and-terra-cotta domed building. It was by then a storied relic.

Williams Bay had a population of barely 1,000. For city-bred Sagan, it presented a culture shock. For the first time in his life, Sagan encountered anti-Semitism. He also ran into trouble with the law. He attempted to raise funds for the Democratic Party, asking householders for a dollar each. As Sagan told it,

I spent all morning going door to door. And I got the most amazing responses: “The what party?” or “Shh! the master will hear!” or “Wait right here, young fellow, and I’ll get my shotgun.” Finally I was arrested by the sheriff, who had had innumerable complaints, on the grounds of peddling without a license. They figured I was peddling receipts at a dollar each. And I was remanded to the custody of the observatory director, who I don’t think understood anything about it, but just said to me, “Be a good boy.”

—From the bio Carl Sagan, 1999, by William Poundstone

“Everything’s gay, gay, gay now.”

More fun this evening chatting with Chandler voters.

The first person I talk to comes out guns blazing. I don’t even knock on his door. He just pops out with a “Hey there!”

“Hey, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats. I’m collecting signatures for some local candidates.”

“I used to be a Democrat,” he says, “back when they were conservative. Now they’re for the homosexuals and abortion, and they’re against God.”

I say, “Well, you know, I’m not a big fan of abortion, but I think the Democrats have it right. Number one, strangely enough, making more restrictive abortion laws doesn’t actually reduce the rate of abortion.* It’s like Barry Goldwater said: ‘It’s always been around, and it always will be.’* Things we know that help reduce the rate of abortion, though, like increased access to birth control and sex ed are things Democrats are generally for.”*

“Well, that’s true,” he says, “and that’s why I’m not strictly for one side or the other. But, I don’t know why everything has to be gay, gay, gay now. You can’t turn on the TV these days without homosexuals in everything. You know, I believe in the Bible, and the Bible makes it totally clear that homosexuality is wrong. Take Sodom and Gomorrah: God sends angels down to Lot, and the wicked men of the city try to have sex with them. Lot offers them his daughters — now that part’s terrible — but the men want the angels.”

I say, “Yeah, but I would point out that there are different ways to interpret these things. There are people out there who believe — I’m sure — just as strongly in God and the Bible who don’t think homosexuality is bad. In that verse you mentioned, for instance, they might say that God’s problem with the wicked men was not that they were homosexuals but that they wanted to rape strangers. Maybe God is just against people who want to rape other people.”*

He says, “Yeah, there are a lot of people out there who want to distort the truth. They try to call people like me an extremist just because I’ve been married to my wife for 52 years.”

I say, “Well, I wouldn’t call you that. I would just say that I have gay friends myself who I care for a lot. They’re people who I think suffered because they grew up around people who told them that they were bad. They couldn’t change this ‘bad’ thing about themselves, so it made them deeply unhappy. I think that’s terrible.”

He then tells me a bizarre story about a handsome nephew who he says was turned gay by his mom and sisters who would dress him up like a girl, in dresses and makeup. I let that one go. I liked that the guy called his nephew “a real head-turner,” though.

This was like a 20-minute conversation that I won’t recount all of here. It turns out that the guy doesn’t like Jeff Flake because Flake’s nephew apparently … neglected some dogs? The guy doesn’t like McCain because McCain is responsible for the shoddy condition of the VA apparently.

He talks about how you can’t have the Bible in schools anymore, but you can have the “yin yang.” I kinda regret not finding out what the “yin yang” is ….

Trump, though. There’s somethin’ about that Trump guy. He says, “Trump’s a guy who can’t be bought ’cause he’s already a billionaire.”

As I almost always do when I hear Trump’s name, I begin to vomit uncontrollably. No, I’m kidding. I just vomit in my mind. The mind vomit helps to cloud the mental image of Trump.

This ex-Democrat then says, “And the Mueller investigation — the Democrats are just dragging it out. It’s just a waste of taxpayer money.”

I start to say, “Well, the Republicans spent a lot of taxpayer money to investigate Hillary….”

He jumps in: “Well, it’s been good talking to you.”

Then, he kinda cocks an eye and says, “Good night and … God bless.”

“Thanks for talking to me!” I say. “Have a good one!”

One convert at a time.

2014 State Per Capita CO2 Emissions vs Party Lean

Do people in red-leaning or blue-leaning states have a bigger carbon footprint?

Just looking at data from the Energy Information Administration from 2014, it looks like red states do produce more CO2 per capita:

 

I wanted to better quantify this, though, so I ran the data through a Pearson correlation calculator.* Here’s the dataset in case you’d like to check my work:

And, here are the results:

As you can see, mathematically, as the proportion of a state that was Republican or leaned Republican in 2014 went up, so did the state’s per capita CO2 emissions. The value of R is 0.549, a moderate positive correlation. R2: 0.3014.


For the sake of thoroughness, I performed the same calculation for the Democrats. Here’s that dataset:

Here’s the resultant graph:

The value of R is -0.5593, a moderate negative correlation. R2: 0.3128.

2016 State Per Capita GDP vs Democratic Lean

How well do states perform economically that have populations leaning Democrat or Republican? To try to answer this question, I took data from Gallup for 2016* to determine political leaning and compared it to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis for state per capita GPD* using a Pearson correlation calculation.*


State Per Capita GDP vs Percent of States Identifying as Democrat or Lean Democrat

From the resulting graph, one might expect a slight positive correlation, and one would be right. The value of R is 0.462. Although technically a positive correlation, the relationship between the variables is weak. The value of R2, the coefficient of determination, is 0.2134.

* * *

For the sake of thoroughness, we can perform the same test for percentage of states that lean Republican:


State Per Capita GDP vs Percent of States Identifying as Rep or Lean Rep

From the resulting graph, one might expect a slight negative correlation, and this is what we find. The value of R is -0.4692. Although technically a negative correlation, the relationship between the variables is weak. The value of R2, the coefficient of determination, is 0.2201.

* * *

What, if anything does this prove? Primarily, it doesn’t appear that either Republicans or Democrats can strongly boast of improving the economy if that metric is based on per capita income. However, if one side did want to make the claim to being better for the economy, the analysis appears to support the Democrats. These results are similar to those I found in another Pearson correlation I performed using Gallup data in comparison to unemployment figures.

Using Voter Registration to Predict Votes for President

Updated March 17th, 2017

In mid-2014, Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy helpfully published a listing of all then-available data on state voter registration:


I was curious to what degree this info could be used to retroactively predict the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

If you quickly glance at their list, you might wonder where Alabama is. Well, Alabama doesn’t require party registration (as the chart title suggests). The same is true of Mississippi and of Georgia. Due to these omissions, you might think that this undertaking already doesn’t make much sense. There are still 31 states listed, though, so it could still be an interesting exercise.

So, how do we go about figuring out prediction rate? My solution was to first figure out the differences between percentages of registered Republicans and Democrats in each state. For example, the difference here in Arizona is 29.5% Democrat vs 34.8% Republican for a roughly 5 percentage point Republican advantage. Ultimately, Trump won the state by 3.6 percentage points. So, not too bad for Arizona.

I then performed that calculation for all 31 states that require voter registration compared to the Clinton/Trump outcome by state. The results are here:

The states where registration is most predictive:
NJ — 1.0 percentage point difference (ppd)
AZ — 1.6 ppd
AK — 1.7 ppd
ME — 1.9 ppd

And where it’s least predictive:
OK — 38.0 ppd
LA — 39.4 ppd
KY — 45.1 ppd
WV — 63.7 ppd

Some of these numbers are obviously incredibly high. Why? Well, look at Democratic registration in some of these states that are obviously red states:

State — Dem — GOP
OK — 44.7% — 43.2%
LA — 47.4% — 27.8%
KY — 53.9% — 38.5%
WV — 50.3% — 28.8%

I’m tempted to think that this has something to do with the Dixiecrats.

But if we look at states Dixiecrat chief Strom Thurmond won in 1948, only Louisiana tracks with that hypothesis:
State — Percentage of Vote Won
MS — 87.2%
AL — 79.8%
SC — 72%
LA — 49.1%.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Louisiana is the only state of those four that requires party registration.

On the other hand, Thurmond hugely lost those other states with unexpectedly high Democratic registration, getting…
under 1% of the vote in Oklahoma (Truman won the state with 63%),
under 1% in West Virginia (Truman won the state with 57%), and
1.3% in Kentucky (Truman also won with 57%).

Putting aside for now an explanation for why some of these states have unexpectedly high Democratic registration, what are we left with?

Well, even with the outliers, this method is 71% predictive with a mean state predictive score of 12.8. Not bad but not great. And if we remove those four biggest outliers, we get a more respectable 81.5% predictiveness with a mean state predictive score of 7.8. A little better but of questionable usefulness.

Regardless of that dubious utility, I maintain that the exercise was interesting in itself. Perhaps residents of some of these outlier states will stumble across this info and throw in their two cents for an explanation. Is it that they all have a lot of old timers who never bothered to change registration because cross-party voting isn’t a problem in those states? Is there some other reason?

Keep in mind too that California’s result was 15 percentage points different from expectation based on voter registration. How come? I don’t know. Feel free to chime in if you think you know.