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Hillary Clinton Says the NRA’s Leadership is Comprised Entirely of Women. Seriously.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called out Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) on Friday over his request that politicians “stop shouting” about gun control.

During a speech at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Conference, Clinton implied that Sanders’ comments may even have had a sexist tinge.

“I’ve been told to, and I quote, ‘stop shouting’ about gun violence. First of all I’m not shouting. It’s just sometimes when women talk people think we’re shouting,” Clinton said, as the audience applauded.

“And second, I will not be silent, because we will not be silenced. Not by the gun lobby, not by the size of this challenge, not by any of it. Stopping gun violence is worth fighting for.”

Despite Sanders’ fiery rhetoric on a number of campaign issues, the senator has a more moderate record on gun control relative to many Democrats. He was pressed to defend that record at the first Democratic debate last week.

“All the shouting in the world is not going to do what all of us want and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns,” Sanders responded. “What we need to do is bring our people together to stop the shouting, to pass sensible gun control legislation.”

As Sanders has continued to gain steam on the left, his Democratic rivals have frequently pointed out his spotty record on gun control.

Hillary Clinton just took another swipe at Bernie Sanders, Maxwell Tani, Business Insider, yesterday

Well, props to Mr. Tani for pointing out that Sanders’s actual comment was directed not just at Clinton but to politicians on both sides of the gun-control divide, who, like Clinton, shout figuratively, not literally, about the issue.  Maybe that’s because, unlike other news organizations’ reporters and their online video editors, Tani actually quoted Sanders’s entire comment at the debate.

Yet another mindless canard re ‘Denmark’, this one offered by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu: That the U.S. was less innovative during the postwar decades, because of, y’know, those high tax rates on high incomes.

The sophisticated safety net that ensures few Danes ever experience poverty, fear hunger or lack in health care does not come cheap. The Danish economy may be the most heavily taxed in the world, with rich Danes paying over 55 percent of their total income in taxes to support generous social services.

Even if high taxes, redistribution and low inequality is appealing to some, there are reasons to be skeptical that the U.S. could ever be like Scandinavia. Beyond the fact that Denmark is small and homogeneous — so it eludes many of the social, educational and economic challenges that the vast, multi­ethnic and deeply diverse U.S. must contend with — Denmark is technologically behind the U.S. If the U.S. increased taxation to Denmark levels, it would reduce rewards for entrepreneurship, with negative consequences for growth and prosperity.

As a result, the country significantly benefits from, and in some cases relies on, the technologies American entrepreneurs create. American technologies are used by Danish consumers and built upon by Danish companies, but in Denmark, the existence of the social welfare state means far fewer rewards for similar entrepreneurship.

The situation would be very different in a world where the Danes did not have access to the inventions of Silicon Valley or the new drugs and medical technologies created by U.S. companies. Imagine if the U.S. increased taxation, reduced rewards for entrepreneurship and discouraged risk­taking: It is reasonable to expect that its entrepreneurs — in Silicon Valley, medicine, robotics and aerospace, to name a few — would become less daring and innovative. This could have negative consequences for growth and prosperity not only in the United States, but throughout the world. There is no other country that could step in as the innovation engine of the world economy.

All of this is not to say that there isn’t much the U.S. can learn from Scandinavia, especially in alleviating and preventing poverty, in creating a level playing field for its citizens, and in achieving higher rates of social mobility. Some of the lessons the U.S. could learn might make innovation more inclusive, and consequently, even further propel the American economy. But when it comes to emulating Denmark or Scandinavia wholesale, Hillary Clinton put it best: “We are not Denmark…. We are the United States of America.”

A Scandinavian U.S. Would Be a Problem for the Global Economy, MIT economist Daron Acemoglu participating in a New York Times Room for Debate exchange titled “The United States of Denmark,” today

Okay, as you can see, Professor Acemoglu did not actually say outright that the U.S. was less innovative during the postwar decades, because of, y’know, those high tax rates on high incomes.  Or for any other reason.  He doesn’t mention the three decades following WWII at all, in fact.

But someone should, so I will. It was a period of very progressive taxation, with very high marginal rates on very high (for that era) incomes and pretty high rates for just sort-of -high incomes (for that era).  It also was an era of huge innovation here in this country, in a broad spectrum of areas of engineering, medicine, and other sciences.

And it was the era in which the Internet was invented. By the federal government.  Y’know, that invention that Professor Acemoglu says the Danish economy depends on and that allows Denmark to succeed as it has.  They’re piggybacking on U.S. innovation!

There are excellent refutations of this canard by two or three participants in that discussion. Such things as that there have been key medical inventions in European countries that are mainstays of U.S. medicine.  And that Denmark in fact has a higher rate of research and innovation than the U.S. does.

But disappointingly, no one mentions the trajectories of U.S. innovation and progressive tax rates.  When was it that the first modern computers were invented?  And that Microsoft and Apple were founded?  And that the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines were invented?  What were the marginal tax rates then?

What bothers me most about this particular canard–the canards on this are endless, apparently–is that it invokes American innovation during a lengthy period of high, progressive taxation as support for a false claim that the United States owes its high level of innovation to low tax rates.  These inventions came about in the USA, see. Therefore, …. what, exactly?

Then there is the question of how Acemoglu became a chaired professor of economics at M.I.T.  Does M.I.T. get a tax break from this, or something?


UPDATE: This post was linked to on an aggregator called Nuzzel, and tweeted by “@guan”, who added “This was also the era of Bell Labs and Xerox PARC. The US was innovative *because* of high tax rates.”

Added 10/21 at 2015.  Also, I’ve corrected the typos in the post!

Why does Clinton keep getting away with saying that gun manufacturers are the only industry in America that is immune from being held accountable for criminal acts by the purchasers of their products? Almost NO manufacturers are, by law, accountable for criminal acts by purchasers of their products. Someone should ask her to name one that is.

Senator Sanders did vote five times against the Brady Bill. Since it was passed, more than 2 million prohibited purchases have been prevented. He also did vote, as he said, for this immunity provision. I voted against it. I was in the Senate at the same time. It wasn’t complicated to me. It was pretty straightforward to me that he was going to give immunity to the only industry in America — everybody else has to be accountable but not the gun manufacturers. And we need to stand up and say, “Enough of that.”

 Hillary Clinton, at Tuesday night’s debate

It was pretty straightforward that Sanders was going to vote to give immunity to gun manufacturers for crimes committed by purchasers of their guns.  It also, I assume, was pretty straightforward to her that no other industry is liable for crimes committed by customers using their products.  She does, after all, have a law degree from Yale, and practiced corporate law in Arkansas.

It also, of course, was straightforward to her that although most people do know that, she could make this statement, unchallenged, in a debate forum in answer to a question that she knew Sanders would have no opportunity to respond to, since she was being asked to respond to his answer to a question.  And she knew that, in the moment, it would sound correct to the public.*

But, folks, gun manufacturers are not the only industry in America — actually, almost nobody else has to be accountable.  Maybe in the next debate, the moderator will ask her to name, maybe, two or three manufacturing industries that are held liable for wrongful use of their products by customers.  Can’t wait to hear the answer.

This is, of course, a different issue than the one O’Malley mentioned: that gun shop owners and others who sell guns and ammunition are not held liable when they themselves commit acts of gross negligence by selling several guns and huge amounts of ammunition to a single person, or failing to conduct a background check before selling guns or ammunition to someone.  I believe that this is what O’Malley said occurred in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting in 2012.

Denmark isn’t a middle-class, capitalist, entrepreneurial country? Because it has universal healthcare, free college, subsidized day care, and guaranteed family and medical leave? Really, Secretary Clinton? Really?

We are not Denmark — I love Denmark — we are the United States of America.  We would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world.

— Hillary Clinton, last night

Okay.  When I heard that, I said, “Wow.  Did she just say that Denmark isn’t a middle-class, capitalist, entrepreneurial country?  And that that’s because it has universal healthcare, free college, subsidized day care, and guaranteed family and medical leave?

That struck me as a major gaffe.  She is, after all, running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, not the Republican Party’s.

Sanders didn’t respond to it because, if I remember right, he didn’t have the chance.  But I expected the political analysts to point this out afterward.

Silly me.  It’s being hailed as a big moment for Clinton.  By most commentators I’ve read, anyway.  But not by Slate’s Jordan Weissmann, who wrote last night:

The odd thing here is that, despite his preferred nomenclature, Bernie Sanders isn’t really all that much of a socialist. Yes, the man is certainly on the left edge of mainstream American politics. He would like to raise taxes significantly on the wealthy, to spend more on infrastructure, to break up large Wall Street banks. He’d like to make public colleges tuition-free, but he isn’t pushing to eliminate private universities. Fundamentally, the man isn’t really running on an anti-capitalist platform of nationalizing private industry. The one exception, you could argue, would be his stance in favor of single-payer health care—that would amount to a government takeover of health insurance. But that would also basically bring the U.S. in league with decidedly capitalist nations such as Canada and Great Britain.

In the end, left writer Jesse Meyerson, himself a bona fide socialist, put is most simplyin Rolling Stone: “For now, the proposals at the core of his platform—for the most part very good—are standard fare for progressive Democrats.” That comment was from July but still holds.

Which brings us to the Northern Europe comparison. Typically, policy types refer to Scandinavia’s “social democracies,” because of the robust social safety nets in countries such as Norway, Sweden, and, yes, Denmark. But it’s not as if these places are antagonistic toward capitalism and business—by some measures, they’re about as entrepreneurial and innovative as the United States (at least if you adjust for the size of their economies). Saying we shouldn’t emulate Denmark because we want to preserve America’s spirit of industriousness, as Clinton suggests, is a bit strange.

I clicked the “by some measures” link, which is to an October 2012 article by Weissmann in The Atlantic titled “Think We’re the Most Entrepreneurial Country In the World? Not So Fast.”  It’s subtitled “We’re the venture-capital capital of the world, but start-ups and young small businesses play a smaller role in America’s economy than in many other rich nations.”  A key paragraph says:

Some of the most cutting-edge young companies in the world call Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, and Austin, Texas home, partly because we have the financial backers to support them. According to the OECD, the U.S. ranks second overall in venture capital invested as a percentage of GDP, which wedges us between Israel at No. 1 and Sweden at No. 3. In sheer dollars, we dwarf everyone. That said, it’s not clear all that money floating around makes our start-ups much more creative. The OECD ranks us ninth out of 22 for the number of start-ups younger than five years old that issue patents, adjusted for the size of our economy (Denmark leads on that measure).

Weissmann’s right that Sanders isn’t really that much of a socialist.  And if that statement by Clinton is an indication—and I think it is—Clinton isn’t really that much of a progressive.  Or even that much of a Democrat.

Sanders now has the funds to start running internet and even television.  I suggest to his campaign, should anyone from it happen upon this post, that the first ad they run shows a clip of Clinton saying what I quoted her above as saying, and juxtaposing it with the statistics that Weissmann cites in that Atlantic article, and a few statistics about Denmark’s standard of living.

If Clinton believes that venture capital for innovative startups, and bank loans for ordinary small businesses, will dry up if we have universal healthcare, free college, subsidized day care, and guaranteed family and medical leave, then she should maybe actually look into it a bit.  Maybe she should even visit Denmark, which apparently on her trip there in which she came to love it didn’t notice that most of its residents weren’t living in poverty and didn’t realize that most of its businesses, large, small, and midsized, weren’t owned by the government. While she’s in the neighborhood, she also could visit Sweden and Norway.  And if she can spare the time, even Germany.

But if she can’t fit a trip overseas into her schedule, well, Canada is just north of her home state of New York.  She could even do a day trip there.


I mean it, Sanders campaign.  Run ads of the sort I’ve suggested.  Soon.