New Samuelson Biography: The Usual Progressive Self-Delusion

The "Review" section of the Wall Street Journal last weekend had a review (by a guy named Eric Maskin) of a new biography of Paul Samuelson (behind pay wall).  The title of the book is "Founder of Modern Economics: Paul A. Samuelson," and the author is Roger E. Backhouse.  Backhouse is an economic historian who teaches at the University of Birmingham in England.  Actually, the book that has come out is only Volume 1 (subtitle: "Becoming Samuelson") of what looks to be at least a three-volume magnum opus, and covers only the first 34 years of Samuelson's life, to 1948.  If you are into economics, you may recognize 1948 as the year that Samuelson first issued the basic economics textbook that millions of students have been assigned to read ever since, thus arguably launching his career into a new phase.  Although it only covers the formative years of Samuelson's career, this book is some 736 pages long, so it is nothing if not comprehensive.  That is, except for anything that might actually be important.

You can get a good idea of the gist of the book from the title ("The Founder of Modern Economics").  Backhouse clearly has a deep, deep admiration for his subject.  A particular focus of the book is Samuelson's introduction into economics, in many dozens of published papers, of complicated and sophisticated mathematical techniques.  Samuelson, according to Backhouse, is the guy, more than any other, who took economics from a field that had little use for mathematics to a field where advanced math skills were an absolute requirement to get that Ph.D.  The book goes in detail into many of Samuelson's early "insights" and "discoveries," including many of the equations, formulas and theorems now associated with the Samuelson name.  If you know anything about Samuelson, you will be aware that his pieces, generally after a tour through some math that few can understand, always seem to lead to the conclusion that more government spending and bigger government are a good thing.  

When I read Maskin's review, the thing that immediately struck me was that Maskin did not mention how this new biography deals with the one subject about Samuelson that has long seemed to me to be the most important thing in his career.  That subject, of course, is that in the middle of World War II Samuelson made what is without doubt the single most disastrously wrong economic prediction of all time -- the prediction that, if the federal government greatly reduced spending when it demobilized the military after winning the war, that that would lead to "the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced."  This prediction appeared in a chapter written by Samuelson, titled "Full Employment After The War," that appeared in a 1943 book edited by S.E. Harris titled "Postwar Economic Problems."  Here is a longer quote from Samuelson's chapter to give some context:

"When this war comes to an end, more than one out of every two workers will depend directly or indirectly upon military orders. We shall have some 10 million service men to throw on the labor market.  We shall have to face a difficult reconversion period during which current goods cannot be produced and layoffs may be great. Nor will the technical necessity for reconversion necessarily generate much investment outlay in the critical period under discussion whatever its later potentialities. The final conclusion to be drawn from our experience at the end of the last war is inescapable--were the war to end suddenly within the next 6 months, were we again planning to wind up our war effort in the greatest haste, to demobilize our armed forces, to liquidate price controls, to shift from astronomical deficits to even the large deficits of the thirties--then there would be ushered in the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced." [italics in original]        

Hat tip David Henderson at Econlog.  Note that I have departed from my usual style of putting the whole quote in italics in order to show you that this disastrously wrong prediction was thought by Samuelson to be so important that he put it in italics in his original.  And how did the prediction work out?  As Henderson points out, "pretty much everything . . . that [Samuelson] speculated about policywise happened: the huge drop in the deficit, the end of price controls, and the demobilization."  Government spending fell 61% from FY 1945 to FY 1947, and went from 41.9% to 14.7% of GDP.  And the economy took off, ushering in a great post-war boom that we still look back on with nostalgia.

When Maskin's review of Backhouse's book omitted any discussion of this subject, I decided that I would just have to go out and get the book to see how Backhouse dealt with it.  I mean, it would not really be possible to write 736 pages about Samuelson's early career, going into excruciating detail on literally every paper the guy wrote, and somehow just not mention this topic?  But yes, that is what I found.

Actually, it's even worse than that.  Backhouse's book does not omit discussion of Samuelson's "Full Employment After The War" piece, and actually has a long discussion of it, going on for several pages.  But if you read Backhouse's treatment, you will never find out about the disastrous prediction, and instead you will be told that the important thing about Samuelson's piece was its insights into economic theory, and most particularly the "discovery" of something called the "full employment multiplier" -- one of Samuelson's many thinly-veiled rationalizations for more and yet more government spending.  

Backhouse's treatment is found in Chapter 20 of his book, beginning at page 414.  The chapter is titled "Developing the New Economics, II: Policy, 1942-1943."  Here is the beginning:

At some point between March and June 1942, Samuelson wrote a chapter, "Full Employment After the War," for a volume that Seymour Harris was editing on Postwar Economic Problems.  Whereas elsewhere Samuelson's concern was the need to take action, in this chapter he focused on economic theory.  Sensitive to the political implications, Samuelson emphasized repeatedly that he was talking about a technique of analysis that was "neutral on policy questions" . . . .    

Sure, Roger.  Like the New York Times is "neutral on policy questions."  Back to Backhouse's discussion of Samuelson's piece:

Reviewing the "offsets" to saving that might contribute to full employment, Samuelson covered various possibilities, including business investment, government spending to redistribute income, foreign investment, the development of new wants to stimulate consumption, deficit-financed government spending, and "government spending matched by equivalent taxes."  The last was a recent discovery . . . [that] came to be known as the "balanced-budget multiplier," the idea that an increase in government spending matched by an equivalent rise in taxation is expansionary.  The political significance of this is hard to exaggerate . . . . 

You have to love the use of the word "discovery" as the label for Samuelson's assertion that "an increase in government spending matched by an equivalent rise in taxation is expansionary."  Hey, we know that more government spending and bigger government is always a good thing because it's backed up by a bunch of exceedingly opaque mathematical mumbo jumbo that nobody can understand!  It must be right!  But what about the empirical proof -- or in this case, the dramatic empirical disproof that followed within a few years?  Well, we'll just omit any discussion of the empirical prediction or of its disastrous failure.  And we'll attach the word "discovery" to the disproved hypothesis in the hope that no one will call us on our failure.

In short, Backhouse's treatment of Samuelson's 1943 piece and its disastrous prediction can only be characterized as deceptive.  After coming to this conclusion, you will not be surprised to find that I declined to read the rest of the book.  I did skim enough to realize that the gist of most of the rest is "Oh, wow, this guy is really, really smart" -- again in complex mathematically-dense pieces the bottom line of which always seems to be that the government should spend more money.

Unproven hypotheses rationalize massive increase in size and power of government.  Purveyor of the hypotheses becomes hero of the left and of academia.  Hypotheses disastrously fail empirical testing.  Left proceeds as if nothing has gone wrong.  If you notice any parallels to the global warming scam, it's not my fault.

President Trump Has A Great Opportunity To Cut The "Poverty" Rate

On Tuesday the first detailed version of the federal budget for the next fiscal year (beginning October 1) came out.  It was about 3 nanoseconds before the usual voices of the progressive media resorted to the usual ignorant talking points.  

Apparently, there is a style manual somewhere that requires the use of the word "cruel" in all discussions of a budget proposal from a Republican.  Out of all the subjects covered in the massive budget proposal, the one giving the most opportunity for use of the official word "cruel" was the proposal dealing with the food stamp ("SNAP") program, so most mainstream press outlets gave particular focus to that subject.  For example, we have Chauncey Devega in Salon ("Trump’s proposed budget is a wish list of wanton cruelty. . . ."); Derek Thompson in the Atlantic ("Trump's budget is a cruel con . . . ."); Abigail Tracy in Vanity Fair ("Trump's big, cruel budget proposal would decimate the safety net . . . ."); Michael Cohen in the Boston Globe ("Cruel fictions of the Trump budget. . . .").

For a slight variation on the theme, there was the speech given by Hillary in New York on Wednesday (is she still running for President?), in which she upped the ante by saying that the budget embodied "an unimaginable level of cruelty."  Really?  Current level of food stamp usage is about 44 million recipients.  Trump proposes to cut that -- maybe if he's lucky -- back into the 30s of millions.  Now, quick pop quiz:  How much did Bill Clinton cut food stamp usage during his presidency, and to what number of recipients?  The answer is that food stamp usage was at about 27 million users when Clinton took office in 1993, and declined to about 17 million by the time he left at the end of 2000, a drop of close to 40%.  The 17 million recipients in 2000 were well less than half the number today, and well less than half the percentage of the population as well.  So, Hillary, if Trump's proposal that might get back to around 30 million recipients is "unimaginably" cruel, what's your adjective for someone who would take the number back to 17 million?

Here is a chart of food stamp recipients by year:

 

The New York Times helpfully piles on in today's lead editorial, titled "The Problem Isn't Food Stamps, It's Poverty."  Excerpt:

Food stamps work. Each month they help feed 43 million poor and low-income Americans, most in families with children and working parents. Food stamps, officially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, keep millions of people from falling into poverty each year and prevent millions of poor people, many disabled or elderly, from falling deeper into poverty.

Do you think that these people must know what they are talking about to put such a seemingly definitive statement in the first sentences of a lead editorial?  The opposite.  It is almost impossible to comprehend the level of ignorance and stupidity embodied in the quoted statement.

The New York Times is completely unaware -- or, at least they pretend to be completely unaware -- that food stamps are not counted in the federal government's measure of poverty in any way.  For that reason, providing food stamps to additional recipients does not keep one single person -- let alone the "millions of people" claimed by the Times -- from "falling into poverty."

Next question:  Would reducing the number of food stamp recipients raise or lower the measured level of poverty in the United States?  For anybody who understands this subject at all, the answer is obvious:  reducing the number of food stamp recipients would lower the measured level of poverty.  This will be particularly true if, as Trump proposes, a work requirement is imposed as a condition for able-bodied adults to receive food stamps.

Does that seem counter-intuitive?  Once you understand that food stamps are not included in any way in the measure of poverty, it is not counter-intuitive at all.  "Poverty," as measured by the government, is a question only of what is called "cash income."  Take a person with no cash income and give him food stamps, and he still has no cash income, so he remains in "poverty."  He also has a strong incentive not to get a job (or at least, not to get a job with income reported to the government) in order to keep and maximize the food stamps.  However, take a person with no cash income and require him to take a job as a condition of maintaining some level of food stamps, and now he has cash income.  Even minimum wage jobs pay plenty to remove from poverty almost everybody who works full time or near full time.  (The only exceptions are large families with only one earner.)  Imposing a reportable job requirement also has the effect of bringing into the open substantial amounts of income that previously existed, but was off the books or under the table.

So in fact the changes that Trump is proposing in the food stamp program, and in other handout programs, have the potential to cause a substantial reduction in "poverty" as measured in government statistics.  This is no different from the dramatic declines in the poverty rate that occurred in the mid 90s, during the Clinton presidency, following the 1996 "welfare reform."  If Trump and the Congress have the stomach to proceed in the face of the outrageous charges of "cruelty" currently being hurled at them, they will have the benefit of dramatically improved "poverty" statistics to use in the next election.

How To Spin The Most Extreme Corruption To Make It Seem OK

The recently departed Bill O'Reilly would often call his TV show the "no spin zone."  It was a good effort on his part, but I would say that almost everything that comes out of a human being's mouth is spin of one sort or another.  That's particularly true in matters that relate to a person justifying his own conduct.  Even the biggest crooks in the world always have a narrative going on in their heads to excuse what they are doing as being perfectly OK. 

As an extreme example of this phenomenon, consider the lead headline in yesterday's New York Times:  "Russia-Trump Tie Was Big Concern Of Ex-C.I.A. Chief."  In the on-line version the headline is "Ex-C.I.A. Chief Reveals Mounting Concern Over Trump Campaign and Russia."

Nice try.  Here's my alternative headline for the same article:  "Ex C.I.A. Chief Brennan Offers Preposterous 'Russia' Cover Story To Excuse Blatantly Illegal Government Spying On Trump Campaign."  My alternative headline is just the other "spin."  

The gist of the article is that Brennan supposedly initiated use of CIA and FBI resources to snoop on the Trump campaign because of what he says was "concern" about contacts between that campaign and Russia.  Excerpts:

 John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, described on Tuesday a nerve-fraying few months last year as American authorities realized that the presidential election was under attack and feared that Donald J. Trump’s campaign might be aiding that fight. . . .  “I know what the Russians try to do,” Mr. Brennan said. “They try to suborn individuals and try to get individuals, including U.S. individuals, to act on their behalf, wittingly or unwittingly.” . . .  [I]ntelligence agencies are unanimous in their belief that Russia directly interfered in the election. . . .    

One thing I've learned from 40 years in the litigation business is this:  there's no definitively disproving what a person says about what is going on in his own head.  "I think," "I believe," "I concluded," "I was concerned," and so forth are all ultimately non-disprovable.  On the other hand, we are entitled to apply our common sense to the situation to see if such justifications are credible.

Let me start with this:  The citizens of the United States have given truly awesome powers to federal government law enforcement and intelligence agencies for one and only one reason, which is to keep the people safe.  For that purpose, and that purpose alone, we have acquiesced in the creation of the CIA, the NSA and the FBI, with their enormous and frightening investigatory and surveillance powers.  The single biggest corruption in which these agencies can engage is the use of their powers to interfere in the election process, and thus to disadvantage one side of the political divide in favor of the other.  The use of the investigative and surveillance powers of the CIA/NSA/FBI by government officials as a weapon against political adversaries is a far, far, far worse corruption than, say, merely taking a bribe, no matter how large;  and is a far, far, far worse corruption that merely embezzling millions, or even billions, of dollars from the government's coffers.  Misuse of the investigatory and surveillance powers against political adversaries goes to the very integrity of the democratic process, and indeed to the right to control the investigatory agencies themselves.

And therefore, if the officials of any of those agencies have used any of their powers to investigate or surveil the campaign of a political adversary, they had better have a damned, damned, damned solid basis for it.  And by a damned, damned, damned solid basis, I do not mean self-serving assertions of mere "suspicion" or "concern."  Anybody can assert "suspicion" and/or "concern" at any time they feel like it, for little or even no reason.  It's the ultimate non-falsifiable baloney.  If these enormously powerful agencies are going to engage in activities at this level of irresistible temptation of extreme corruption, they'd better have extremely specific facts indicating an extremely specific crime being committed.  This is no trivial matter.  If the CIA and the FBI and the NSA can invoke their frightening powers on the basis of a mere claim some kind of vague "suspicion" or "concern," and thereby launch an investigation of the political adversaries in the midst of a presidential campaign, then nothing about our political system is safe.  They can always claim "suspicion" or "concern."  If those are the criteria, you can be one hundred percent certain -- as certain as the night follows the day -- that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies will always be misusing their powers to interfere in every political contest of any consequence in this country at all times.  The temptation is just too strong.  It's the very definition of evil.

And let's be clear about one more thing:  this is a completely partisan issue.  The employees of the federal government in the Washington area -- and that includes the principal staffs of the CIA, FBI and NSA -- consist of ninety plus percent partisan Democrats.  If they can get away with using their investigatory and surveillance powers on the basis of self-serving statements of "suspicion" and/or "concern" to investigate and surveil politicians in political campaigns, then those powers will always be used to advantage the Democrats and disadvantage the Republicans.  That applies irrespective of which party may happen to be "in power" in the presidency or Congress at some moment in time.

So what did Brennan offer in the way of the "damned, damned, damned solid basis" to justify his conduct?  In a word, nothing.  Here's a longer Brennan quote, this time from Byron York in the Washington Examiner:

"I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign," Brennan testified. "I know what the Russians try to do. They try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf, either wittingly or unwittingly. And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons. . . .  

Brennan claims to have learned that there were "contacts and interactions" between members of the Trump campaign and Russian representatives, and, supposedly, he "know[s] what [they] try to do."  So?  His statement is just another way of saying that he had and has nothing whatsoever in the way of specific facts as to actual wrongdoing.  There is absolutely nothing illegal about members of the Trump campaign having "contacts" or "interactions" with representatives of Russia.  Without doubt, representatives of the Trump campaign had "contacts and interactions" with representatives of at least 30 or 40 of the important countries in the world.  That's an important part of the job of a campaign, to be ready to run the foreign policy of the United States in the event that their candidate wins.  For that matter, representatives of the Clinton campaign, with one hundred percent certainty, did the same.  Go further:  suppose that members of the Trump campaign actually "colluded" with representatives of Russia to figure out ways to try to defeat Hillary.  That is not illegal, let alone criminal!  Kudos to (otherwise partisan Democrat) Alan Dershowitz for making this obvious point in multiple forums over the past several days, for example here.  Is he the only Democrat left in America for whom civil liberties and the integrity of our democracy are more important than momentary partisan advantage?

So which is the worse problem:  (1) that Russia may have been "colluding" with one of the campaigns to disadvantage the other, or (2) that the CIA, FBI and NSA were working to help one campaign against the other, including by using their investigatory and surveillance powers?  It's not even close.  Russia has no ability to launch criminal probes in the United States.  Russia has no ability to threaten prosecution in the United States.  Russia has no ability to sweep up emails and financial records in secret in the United States and use them to prosecute political adversaries.  Russia has little to no ability to utter "leaks" to a friendly press to advance its political objectives.

But nevertheless the Trump/Russia story rolls on every day in the New York Times, Washington Post, et al.   

Progressive Fantasy Of The Day: Healthcare As A "Human Right"

I live in New York, and as a result I get to have friends and acquaintances tell me, more or less on a daily basis, that they firmly believe that "healthcare" is a "human right."  Or, make that a "basic human right."  Mind you, these are very nice and sincere people, and generally quite intelligent as well.  They care, deeply -- or at least, they believe that they care deeply -- about the plight of the poor generally, and in particular about the plight of those with health issues who have inadequate "healthcare."  (Note that the word "healthcare" for these purposes has very little or nothing to do with whether the subjects in question receive care for their afflictions, and almost entirely relates only to the question of whether the subjects have the unrestricted ability to call upon third parties to pay for that care.)  My New York friends find it difficult to comprehend how any person with a minimum level of morality could disagree on this subject.  When they learn that the winner of the Ms. USA pageant -- a black woman, no less! -- expressed the opinion that healthcare was a "privilege" rather than a "right," they are horrified, if not outraged.  

And God forbid that I should try to engage one of these people by presenting arguments for a different point of view.  As you might have gathered from reading this site, I'm not one to acquiesce or remain silent in the face of poorly-reasoned groupthink.  Plenty of people have raised their voice at me, or just walked away in a huff.  Another friend lost!

But in my case it has never gotten to the level that it reached over the weekend at the convention of the California Democratic Party.  That's where, as I reported just yesterday, the crowd raised its middle fingers for a chant of "F**k Donald Trump!", and then proceeded to shout down the likes of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for daring to suggest that the state might want to consider a "public option" healthcare law before going all the way to the holy grail of fully-socialized medicine, known as "single payer."  Simultaneously, a bill (known as Senate Bill 562) to impose the "single payer" system has been advancing in the California legislature, and declared socialist Bernie Sanders has been criss-crossing California whipping up his fans to support the proposed "single payer" system.    

Then, even as I was writing yesterday's post, the Appropriations Committee of the California State Senate went and released a financial analysis of SB 562.  The Sacramento Bee has the story here:

The price tag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.  California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.

How does this level of cost compare to the entire existing annual budget of the State of California?  The answer is, it is well more.  The entire current annual budget is about $180 billion.  Thus, implementing the "single payer" system of SB 562 would require more than doubling of all state taxes in California, which, as I am sure you already know, are already among the very highest in the country.  Don't worry, there's a proposal to raise the money:  impose a 15% payroll tax on everybody in the state. (As I understand it, a "payroll tax" is like an income tax, except without the features that low income people are exempted and high income people pay a higher progressive rate.)  For comparison, the current top California income tax rate is only about 13%, and only applies to incomes well above $1 million per year.

Are you surprised that just this one new program could possibly cost so much?  Then you haven't been following the issue.  For example, as I reported as recently as Saturday, New York also has a "single payer" bill working its way through the state legislature, and the incremental cost of that bill has also been estimated as well more than the entire amount raised by all state taxes currently in existence.  (In the case of New York, the estimated incremental cost of the "single payer" bill is $91 billion per year starting in 2019, while the entire take from all existing state taxes as of 2019 is estimated as $82 billion.)

Can anybody do this more cheaply?  Well, we can look to see if any other states have had a single-payer healthcare system that got far enough in the legislative process to get costed out.  And there are two more such states.  Vermont, under Democratic Governor Pete Shumlin, made a run at enacting a single-payer system in 2014 -- indeed, bringing "single-payer" to Vermont was Shumlin's signature issue.  As reported by Avik Roy in Forbes here, in late 2014 two consultancies  put cost figures on the Vermont proposal, known as Green Mountain Care:

The Shumlin administration, in its white-flag briefing last week, dropped a bombshell. In 2017, under pre-existing law, the state of Vermont expects to collect $1.7 billion in tax revenue. Green Mountain Care would have required an additional $2.6 billion in tax revenue: a 151 percent increase in state taxes. Fiscally, that’s a train wreck. Even a skeptical report from Avalere health had previously assumed that the plan would “only” cost $1.9 to $2.2 billion extra in 2017.  In 2019, Costa estimated that Green Mountain Care would have required $2.9 billion in tax revenue vs. $1.8 billion under pre-existing law: a 160 percent increase in revenue.

So Green Mountain Care also was estimated to cost well more than the entire existing take of all state taxes -- about 120% according to one estimate, and about 160% according to the other.  Once these numbers came out, Shumlin raised the "white flag" (as Roy puts it) and the proposal went away.  

On the cost end, are you starting to notice a pattern here?  The cost of these single-payer healthcare proposals seems always to turn out to be something well in excess of the entire existing state tax revenue.

Colorado was no different.  Colorado's single-payer plan was called Amendment 69, and it was put to the voters in a referendum that was on the ballot at the same time as the 2016 presidential election.  From Megan McArdle at Bloomberg last August:

Building this new entitlement would cost more than 140 percent of the total current state budget. Since there are no plans that I’m aware of for the Colorado state government to stop doing all its other functions, that means that everyone in Colorado would have to take whatever check they are currently sending to their state government, tear it up, multiply the total by 2.4, and write a new check.

In other words, pretty much the exact same story.  Meanwhile, while the proposal seemed to be leading in early polls, once the costs were known, it sank rapidly.  It ended up losing in a huge landslide, about 80-20.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton carried the state by about 5 points.  

My expectation is that even California is going to come to its senses on this one, angry activist demonstrators or no.  But the progressive fantasy will never go away, with the federal government as the ultimate target.  After all, the federal government is not subject to normal budget constraints, and has an infinite pile of free money to be used to create perfect justice and fairness in the world.  Right?  Of course, there are lots of other causes lined up for the infinite money -- curing poverty, ending income inequality, "climate justice" payments, reparations for slavery, etc., etc.    

Raising Political Discourse To A New Level

If you are still wondering, "Who are the Krazy ones around here?", I have a couple of new entries today.

The Democratic Party of California just held a convention on Saturday.  This is the party that is about as dominant in this state as either political party is in any state in the country.  They control  the governorship, and they also control both houses of the state legislature by two-thirds "supermajorities."  They delivered the state to Hillary Clinton in the recent election by a margin of more than 4.3 million votes.  

So how was the discourse at their convention?  For starters, outgoing state party chair John Burton chose to use his speaking time to lead the crowd in a chant of "F**k Donald Trump."  The crowd responded by chanting along and thrusting their middle fingers in the air.  Classy!  Here is a photograph of the moment, via GatewayPundit:

In its coverage of the event, the AP chose to spin the chants and gestures as "a sign of the vigor of the party’s distaste for the president."  OK.  AP also notes that "rowdy activists" in the crowd repeatedly disrupted the speeches of anyone the deemed "insufficiently supportive," Exhibit A being -- Nancy Pelosi!  

Rowdy activists organized by the California Nurses Association repeatedly interrupted speakers they deemed insufficiently supportive. When U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for a “public option” in health care, the advocates began chanting “single payer.” State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who has previously suggested now is not the time for single-payer, received similar treatment

Meanwhile, also from GatewayPundit, and also from California, we learn that UCLA has posted job listings for a position with the title "Social Justice Advocate."  The program seeks applicants to help their classmates “navigate a world that operates on whiteness, patriarchy, and heteronormativity as the primary ideologies."  Here is a longer quote from the online application:

The Social Justice Advocates initiative aims to empower students by developing them as conscious and critical leaders and equipping them with cultural and political capital as they navigate a world that operates on whiteness, patriarchy, and heteronormativity as the primary ideologies. Social Justice Advocates will learn about systems oppression and how they intersect and build upon one another maintain the status quo. Most importantly individuals and the collective will be empowered through liberatory scholarship and practices and strengthening their emotional intelligence to create change within their spheres of influence. Social Justice Advocates will educate their peers on how they can make UCLA a more equitable space for all students and communities.

The program materials indicate that the funding comes in part from the taxpayers and in part from alumni -- they don't reveal the split.

If you are wondering how the rest of the world might be reacting to the descent into kraziness here in the U.S., you may be interested in this article from Chenchen Zhang at OpenDemocracy.  Ms. Zhang reports that a new term "baizuo" (Chinese characters: 白左) has recently come to prominence on Chinese social media sites.  The translation is given as "white left," and the term is said to be derogatory.  Excerpt:

So what does ‘white left’ mean in the Chinese context, and what’s behind the rise of its (negative) popularity? . . . .  [A]s a social media buzzword and very often an instrument for ad hominem attack, it could mean different things for different people. A thread on “why well-educated elites in the west are seen as naïve “white left” in China” on Zhihu, a question-and-answer website said to have a high percentage of active users who are professionals and intellectuals, might serve as a starting point. 

The question has received more than 400 answers from Zhihu users, which include some of the most representative perceptions of the 'white left'. Although the emphasis varies, baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.

That's right, guys, the Chinese are laughing at you.  A lot more Americans ought to be laughing at them as well.  But then, many people find it difficult to laugh when they are being scorned and belittled, or told that they are "privileged" even as they lose their jobs or their pay doesn't increase for decades.