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Just here to farm downvotes

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joined 2023 June 15 03:16:03 UTC
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User ID: 2498


Just here to farm downvotes

1 follower   follows 0 users   joined 2023 June 15 03:16:03 UTC


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User ID: 2498

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True! But that's still only half the deficit.

Defaulting on debt is not much of a plan if you're not also balancing the budget.

I'm very aware of our recent fiscal history. We fell into deficits during the GFC, and kept running them all the way until covid, and have only recently climbed out. Obviously that period of time is going to leave a significant amount of debt (though still a fraction of what the US is burdened with).

But it's also true that all that time we were running deficits, outside of the immediate emergencies of the GFC and covid, those deficits were controversial. Wayne Swan loudly and repeatedly promised to return us to surplus, and was roundly mocked when he failed. Joe Hockey loudly and repeatedly promised to return us to surplus, and was roundly mocked when he failed. Scott Morrison went a step further and brazenly claimed to have already returned us to surplus and produced commemorative coffee mugs celebrating the achievement... based on projections for 2020. Of course covid happened and he got mocked even more roundly than his predecessors.

It was the current left wing government that ended the deficits. I'm under no illusions that Labor sincerely cares about fiscal responsibility of course, and their cheerleaders in the media are constantly agitating for them to tax and spend more. But the party is very serious about winning elections and they know that normal Australians don't like deficits or taxes.

The problem with huge debts is not that you have to come up with the money. You can just borrow more to pay for whatever unfunded liability you have. The issue is the growing interest bill reduces your capacity to spend on things that people actually want, for any given level of taxation. The system doesn't collapse, you just have shitty roads, underfunded police, and high taxes.

The solution is simple, if difficult. Balance the budget. Hell, you don't even need to go that far, just get the rate of debt growth below the rate of economic growth. Keep it that way, and the problem becomes steadily more and more manageable over time.

As a digression, this is one of the differences in political culture between Australia and America that I think defies the standard view of Australia being more left wing. America seems to have just given up on even pretending they're going to ever address the problem. Australia doesn't always balance the budget but our governments, Liberal or Labor, are always under pressure to do so. We currently have a left wing government delivering tax cuts and budget surpluses. I'm not sure why the difference exists, but it's notable.

I dunno, I've picked up some Trump support among younger people that would otherwise be politically disengaged.

Yeah true.

"Message discipline" doesn't mean you don't put your foot in your mouth. It means you consistently emphasize your strong issues, de-emphasize your weak issues, and present a consistent framing and position on the issues.

When Trump says "covfefe", that's a funny typo, but not a lack of message discipline. When he proposes the death penalty for criminals like the ones that he pardoned, that's a lack of message discipline.

I dunno, I actually think Trump is pretty good at "reading the room" and sensing what topics to avoid/what people want to hear.

I think Trump has handled the Gaza issue about as well as possible from a political perspective, by shutting the hell up about it and not reminding angry leftists that the Republican party supports Israel even harder.

Biden is great at message discipline. His issue is that he needs to keep the Democratic coalition together (or believes he does) and that impedes his ability to go after the swing voters he needs to win.

I think the Gaza effect is real in terms of driving down Biden's poll numbers currently.

By the time the election rolls around? Probably not. Arabs might remain resolutely anti-Biden but there's not that many of them and the white lefties who also hate his support for Israel will come back home once the dust settles. And I'll be surprised if the war continues for more than another month or so.

I'm a part of a discord community that plays Diplomacy variants, and in particular large world map variants with big numbers of players. These run semi-regularly and there's a new one currently in sign-ups and I thought I'd extend an invitation here to anyone who's interested.

Diplomacy is of course a strategy game based on players negotiating between themselves before making simultaneous moves. Alliances, deception, and betrayal are a big part of the game. The standard version has 7 players and plays out in Europe, but this version (called Imperial Diplomacy and set in 1642) is quite a lot larger.

There's various modifications to the rules to balance the large size and wildly varying sizes of powers (small regional powers start with 4 units while large colonial powers can begin with up to 16). However these changes are mostly to do with win conditions and the game itself plays pretty much as you would expect if you have any experience with standard Diplomacy.

If you're interested in checking out the game or looking at the map and the ruleset in detail, you can find the server here

I think I quit on Fargo midway through season 3. It's a shame because seasons 1 and 2 really were extremely good.

I'm not sure what any of this is saying.

It's been used much more than twice - the law has been on the books since the 50s.

I picked this case specifically because it was so clearly politically motivated, because that made it easy to have confidence that it was not actually motivated by Exxon investors who felt victimised. If you want to shift the goalposts and ask for a non-political 63(12) case instead, I can find one of those.

You asked for

another victimless fraud case that occurred that had zero pressure from an victim pushing for prosecution.

I provided it. If you don't want to read it, don't ask for it.

That's on me, I set the bar too low.

Ok so fair call out, but I'm not sure to what extent we actually disagree on substance. As you say, there may be tactical restraint, or ignorance or inability. But my core position is that political actors will attack their enemies in the most effective ways they can, and the most effective methods available will vary according to the person and situation. And I'm not sure that you even disagree with that.

Eh, that might be the rationalization, but I heavily suspect the actual reason is the same as it is for almost all politicians - Biden likes power.


The law in question has been used many times against other people and businesses, including Exxon Mobil, Juul, and Martin Shkreli. It's not as if they dug up some long dormant statute.

It also doesn't perturb me that the unlawful conduct in this case is common. The law is designed for addressing "repeated" and "persistent" fraudulent activity - and while it's possible for a type of fraud to be "persistent and repeated" without it being "common", you'd have to expect there to be a good amount of overlap. In other words, it seems to me that this statute is designed to be used for addressing exactly these types of crimes that people have gotten used to thinking they can get away with.

Which just leaves us with the fact that Trump is a politician. Personally I'm of the view that it's entirely right and appropriate for politicians to come under unusually harsh scrutiny, as long as the laws are applied appropriately. They are unusually powerful people, so it's in the public interest that they also be unusually law-abiding. So the horror scenario that some people hold up, that Joe Biden or other Democrats might be subjected to retributive criminal investigations, seems to me like a win-win. I'm very happy for the Trumps and the Menendezes and the Santoses all to get shipped off to prison and if sufficient evidence can be found to lock up the Bidens and the Clintons and the McConnells along with them, all the better.

No Substack or Twitter I'm afraid - my particular flavour of obnoxious ranting is a Motte exclusive.

Williams further corroborated that as a lending officer, he would expect a client to provide truthful and accurate information to the bank, and that Donald Trump’s net worth and personal guarantee were significant factors in Deutsche Bank’s determining whether to underwrite a loan. TT 5427-5428. Williams additionally confirmed his previous deposition testimony, in which he stated that had he determined that Donald Trump’s net worth fell below $2.5 billion at any time, he would have recommended that the private wealth division declare an “event of default.”

From page 22 of the judgement. Yes, Williams said that it was standard practice at Deutsche bank to apply a large discount on clients' reported net worth in order to be conservative as these valuations are based on estimates and there is inherently a lot of fudge factor involved, even if the client is being honest. But it is also true that Trump was not being honest, and that if he had been, the bank would have assessed his application differently. Williams' testimony contributed to this finding.

I think that Nixon's actions were both less bad than Trump's and less clearly criminal.

I think the ruling itself is fair. The underlying law is a bit iffy.

Basically, it's not strictly accurate to describe the amount that Trump is paying as a "fine". The underlying activity - while I agree it is clearly and indisputably fraudulent - is not particularly heinous. Ok, he exaggerated the value of his assets, I don't think anyone finds that particularly shocking or surprising. The judge describes it as "a venial, not mortal sin". The reason why he's being made to pay such a big amount is because it's primarily disgorgement. That is, he's being stripped of the money that he made through his unlawful activity.

In this case, that means a) the difference between the interest he paid given the favourable terms he was able to procure and the interest he would have paid without those favourable terms, and b) the profit he made on the business deals that were financed by these loans. Trump happens to have borrowed a lot and made a lot of money.

As far as I understand it, that is how this law works and the judge is applying it fairly. I'm not exactly sure though how I feel about a law that can have such wild differences in penalty depending on factors that have nothing to do with the severity of the unlawful activity itself. For example, if Trump's real estate investments had tanked he would be on the hook for far less - even though his behaviour would be equally bad and the consequences of it would be worse (the harm that Trump caused is deceiving the banks into accepting higher risk than they priced in which is bad in principle but obviously more damaging in a reality when the gamble doesn't pay off). I accept that sometimes laws have differing penalties based on the outcome and regardless of intent, but it's probably not great to have a law that functionally penalises someone more when their actions hurt people less.

At the end of the day though, that's how New York chose to write its law and it's being implemented as intended. It was entirely in Trump's power to avoid this outcome by simply not lying. So as far as I'm concerned, he fucked around and found out. Tough bikkies.

EDIT: On further review it appears that the law doesn't actually require disgorgement and that the judge has more latitude than I thought in terms of determining the appropriate relief. That shifts me away from thinking the law is poorly drafted and towards thinking that the Judge applied a pretty stiff penalty relative to the seriousness of the conduct.

I wouldn't say this judgement is particularly or unusually informal.

I respect you for being the resident leftist.

I'm very much not a leftist.