The Ratchet Effect in Politics

There is an infuriating but effective method of political campaigning employed by the British left which goes as follows:

1. Labour wins election in 2005. Raises spending on X in 2006, 2008, and 2009.

2. Labour lose power in 2010, Tories come in.

3. Tories propose cutting spending on X in 2012, which would take spending back to 2008 levels.

4. Lefties scream that spending is being slashed to where it was in 1882, conjuring up visions of starving children in Dickensian workhouses.

It’s known as the ratchet mechanism whereby spending can only ever be increased but never, ever reduced. The middle classes – who are enormous beneficiaries of state expenditure – suck it up without question, not even realising the expenditure will drop only to 2008 levels (and things weren’t that bad then).

There’s a similar thing taking place now in the US, only it’s not to do with spending. Yesterday I came across this superb video explaining the phenomenon of Mattress Girl, the Columbia University student who falsely claimed she was raped and responded to his non-prosecution by dragging a mattress around campus. It is 47 minutes long but worth watching if you wish to understand the Title IX row that’s going on in America.

For those who can’t be arsed to watch it, I’ll summarise:

1. Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia University, had a friends-with-benefits arrangement with a fellow student, Paul Nungesser. They’d had consensual sex once or twice and, if her text messages are anything to go by, she fell for him pretty heavily. He wasn’t interested in a relationship with her, and she threw a wobbly and claimed he raped her. Anyone sane reading Sulkowicz’s text and Facebook messages to Nungesser after the alleged rape would conclude the sex was consensual and her actions thereafter were of a jilted lover seeking revenge.

2. She didn’t go to the police for various rather convoluted reasons, but complained – quite a while later – to the university authorities. They investigated (as best they could) and concluded Nungesser didn’t rape her.

3. She then begins a campaign claiming sexual assaults and rapes are rife on college campuses, and she is but one of thousands of “survivors” whose ordeals are being brushed under the carpet while the rapists are allowed to roam free to rape and rape again.

4. Feminists seize on her story and amplify Sulkowicz’s campaign, giving it national prominence. Article after article pushes her version of events uncritically, and unanimously refer to her as a “survivor”, implying Nungesser raped her. The campaigners set about digging up other rape “survivors”, and claim there is an epidemic of sexual assault and rapes going unpunished across America’s college campuses. According to their figures, Ivy League campuses present a greater risk of rape than the worst African war zones. The campaign gains the attention and support of feminists in or close to the Obama Administration – particularly New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand – who takes up the cudgels on behalf of Sulkowicz, swallowing her story whole and inviting her to the State of the Union address.

5. The feminist campaign, which is based on unalloyed fabrications, targets Title IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, which says:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

In response, in 2016 the Obama administration – which is stuffed full of deranged feminists and headed by a man who lacks the balls to control them – issues a 19-page Dear Colleague letter which contains the following instruction:

We recognize that sexual harassment represents unacceptable conduct, and those found responsible should be appropriately sanctioned. Some of us have witnessed the injustices resulting from institutions that downplay or ignore sexual harassment on their campuses, and we commend OCR for taking a proactive approach to this problem. In pursuing its objectives, however, OCR has unlawfully expanded the nature and scope of institutions’ responsibility to address sexual harassment, thereby compelling institutions to choose between fundamental fairness for students and their continued acceptance of federal funding.”

In other words, the Obama administration bought into the rape-on-campus hysteria driven by the feminist movement, and effectively instructed colleges to remove due process for male students accused of rape. The presumption of innocence would be removed along with other obstacles such as proving guilt. The onus was on believing the women without question and throwing men under the bus – all in the name of liberal feminist politics.

Many people, and not just white male rapists, were appalled at this development branding it a contravention of a person’s right to a fair trial under the Constitution. Once Trump got elected the feminists lost their influence over the administration, and he appointed the decidedly non-feminist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of State for Education. One of the reasons her appointment was so viciously opposed by the Democrats, especially women, was partly because they knew full well she’d roll back the more lunatic policies of the Obama era (the other was that she’s likely to upset the unions).

This week DeVos has started to rescind the Title IX guidelines issued in the Dear Colleague letter, and – predictably – the left have gone absolutely ballistic, accusing her of siding with rapists over their victims. But it’s not just demented feminists on Twitter. Consider this:

Twenty state attorneys general published a letter to Betsy DeVos on Wednesday, urging the Secretary of Education to maintain the sexual assault reporting guidelines for college campuses currently found in Title IX.
The letter was co-signed by state attorneys general from around the country including Pennsylvania, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico and Hawaii.
“We’re calling on Secretary DeVos to listen to law enforcement and trust survivors of sexual assault by keeping these protections in place and putting student safety first,” lead author of the letter Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press release.

This is nothing to do with justice or the rule of law and everything to do with the promotion of poisonous, divisive, liberal politics. Even the BBC manages to be fairly even handed, reporting that:

During a speech at George Mason University in Virginia, Mrs DeVos called the Obama-era guidelines a “failed system” that had done a “disservice to everyone involved”.

“Instead of working with schools on behalf of students, the prior administration weaponised the Office for Civil Rights to work against schools and against students,” she said.

She said the definition of sexual assault was too broad and that too many cases involved “students and faculty who have faced investigation and punishment simply for speaking their minds or teaching their classes”.

Mrs DeVos, however, noted that acts of sexual misconduct are “reprehensible, disgusting, and unacceptable”.

“Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” she continued. “These are non-negotiable principles.”

It’s clear that every piece of Obama-era legislation, no matter how wrong-headed and unconstitutional it may be and how little debate or even thought was involved in its writing and adoption, will be defended to the death by Democrats, Republicans who wish they were Democrats, activist judges, and unhinged protesters determined to override the wishes of the people and make America ungovernable. We saw the same thing earlier this week with Trump’s decision to overturn the 2014 DACA policy, which Obama signed off in his office without bothering to run it through Congress.

The good news is that I doubt most Americans are taken in by this squawking in the way the British middle classes are, in fact I think the opposite is probably happening. Like a torch shining on cockroaches, I think a lot of Americans are grateful that Trump’s actions are revealing the true nature of their political elites, and they’ll be taking a careful note of who said what come election time. The other good news is that this process is happening at all: had Hillary won, the Title IX guidelines would have probably been enshrined in law.

UPDATE

This article by Emily Yoffe in The Atlantic is long, but worth reading. Choice quote:

Its report for the latter half of 2015 included a new category: third-party reports in which the alleged victim, after being contacted by the Title IX office, refused to cooperate. These cases made up more than 30 percent of all undergraduate-assault allegations.

Mark Hathaway, a California attorney who has dealt with several no-complainant complaints, says that the zeal with which these complaints are sometimes handled can be wounding psychologically to both the accused and his partner. Hathaway represented a young man who was in bed with his girlfriend in her dorm room. They were fooling around but not having intercourse. In the next bed was the girlfriend’s roommate and a male student. They thought that the girlfriend had had too much to drink to be able to consent to sexual activity. They mentioned their concern to a resident adviser, who was obligated to report it to the Title IX office, which then opened an investigation. “The girl says nothing happened; it was all consensual,” Hathaway told me. “But the school still goes forward.”

Thank you feminists, and Obama.

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26 thoughts on “The Ratchet Effect in Politics

  1. As Government spending over the last 20 years has seemed designed to make housing more expensive. I am not sure it has really benefited the middle class (although they might think housing inflation is good, unless they own more homes than they need it is isn’t).

  2. I am not sure it has really benefited the middle class

    Oh dear Lord, they’re the primary beneficiaries which is why they keep voting for it: it gives them the illusion of wealth, allowing them to tell each other they’re sitting on an enormous fortune. There’s a reason why house prices make it into every Daily Mail article, but are almost never mentioned in other countries.

  3. “why house prices make it into every Daily Mail article, but are almost never mentioned in other countries”: you’ve forgotten Australia already? You’ve never lived in Canada?

  4. why house prices make it into every Daily Mail article, but are almost never mentioned in other countries

    I meant some other countries. The “some” is not always required, e.g.

    “Beaches in Britain are good, but they are nicer in other countries”.

    That doesn’t imply that Lichtenstein’s beaches are nicer than Britain’s.

  5. @Tim, you’re quite right but here “some” is really helpful, even if not essential.

    “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood”

    Most commonly attributed to William Howard Taft.

  6. “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood”

    In blog comments? Jesus, you lot set high standards, don’t you? How many ambiguities and spelling mistakes do I serve up in my actual posts, eh? Eh?!

    *mumbles to himself for the rest of the day*

    (The reason I’m leaving out words is because I’m on the final self-edit of my book, which mostly involves looking at every line and stripping out every word that isn’t essential.)

  7. “Oh dear Lord, they’re the primary beneficiaries which is why they keep voting for it: it gives them the illusion of wealth, allowing them to tell each other they’re sitting on an enormous fortune.”

    Indeed. How many people actually sell their homes and pocket the cash? It seems to me that people just trade up and down houses, which as they are all rising in price, meaning the financial price is almost a fiction as the trade up and down remains relative.

    As if there really is enough purchasing power out there for people to buy all of the expensive homes across the UK and convert those assets into cash. Obviously it does happen, but just imagine if whole swathes decided to sell up at once. You wouldnt find enough buyers.

  8. “Feminists seize on her story and amplify Sulkowicz’s campaign, giving it national prominence….The campaign gains the attention and support of feminists in or close to the Obama Administration – particularly New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand – who takes up the cudgels on behalf of Sulkowicz, swallowing her story whole and inviting her to the State of the Union address…”

    Do you think there was a point when Sulky Witch thought “Oh, shit, things are really getting out of hand now!”. But there comes a point after which one can never really back down…

  9. “but just imagine if whole swathes decided to sell up at once. You wouldnt find enough buyers”

    But even if you could, where would the sellers go?

  10. @Tim,

    Don’t take it the wrong way. I manage dozens of professional writers, and I fly around teaching people how to write. And I’m in major nit-picking mode today. I wish more of mine were up to your standard.

  11. I suggest you go easy on the stripping out of nonessential words. They can really help the information flow into your reader’s brain. In fiction, word count doesn’t matter if more words make it more pleasant to read.

  12. I’ve not been following the novel thing. Is it something along the lines of two thirds of a polyamorous triple getting outraged when the other third brings the groceries home in a plastic carrier bag?

  13. “It’s known as the ratchet mechanism whereby spending can only ever be increased but never, ever reduced.”

    The UK’s monetary system relies on increased money supply or it would implode. The interest payment on existing debt can only be met with new debt as interest payments are real and have to be repaid. If the money supply was not to increase for an extended period then the whole economic system and society as we know it would go through a massive change.

  14. I second the comment on stripping out every extraneous word. Enough to give meaning and image. Not so many that the reader becomes lost.

    Your blog writing is excellent and, just as importantly, correct.

  15. Tim,

    I think part of the reason that the left go batshit crazy about Trump is that he is slowly but steadily reversing some of this ratchet. Their assumed single directoin of political travel has prved to be untrue.

  16. @ Patrick

    Not so sure about that, Trump the property mogul if he were to get his way would increase the money supply at a fast and furious rate. Repealing Dodd-Frank, deregulating banks and recently rolling on the debt ceiling and now rumors of a secret deal with Democrats to take the debt ceiling review point out of the system altogether, he is a big spender and there is no doubt about it.

  17. BiG,

    Don’t take it the wrong way.

    I didn’t, don’t worry.

    In fiction, word count doesn’t matter if more words make it more pleasant to read.

    Yup, I’m trying to get that balance in my book now.

    Is it something along the lines of two thirds of a polyamorous triple getting outraged when the other third brings the groceries home in a plastic carrier bag?

    Oh now you’ve gone and given the plot away! Sheesh!

  18. I second the comment on stripping out every extraneous word. Enough to give meaning and image. Not so many that the reader becomes lost.

    Yup!

    Your blog writing is excellent and, just as importantly, correct.

    Thanks!

  19. The ratchet effect was underappreciated when various constitutions were set up. A simple rule of “60% to pass, 40% to repeal” would help, as would a Presidential (or executive branch wherever) ability to repeal all legislation in full.

    I think the Trump method is to say ‘Let’s take things back to 1882! Then he gets us back to 2002 and the Democrats and GOPe feel relieved that they have preserved 120 years of “progress”. (I say that but admittedly his Presidency seems to be drifting leftwards at the moment.)

  20. The ‘Ratchet Effect’ is not only to do with money. Numerous ‘issues’ in today’s world can never be solved, because if they are then the poutragers will have nothing to pout about.

    If, for example, all men ‘behaved correctly’ and no one even looked at a woman, let alone touched her, there would still be cries of rape and harassment because there is a lucrative industry that has been ratcheted up to feed off it. Once an idea is introduced into the Socio-Political world then it must always be present, must always be measured and compared and if ever seen to be declining it can then move sweetly to the ‘invisible/unreported/deliberately ignored’ sphere which, being abstract, can be as big as needed.

    Like: “We’re winning the war on drugs (even when we aren’t) but we must remain vigilant at all times because children as young as 00 are being targeted!”

    Eventually I suspect we will be worn away by eternal vigilance, but at least we will be ‘aware’ of our worn away state.

  21. every piece of Obama-era legislation

    The “dear colleague” letter isn’t legislation nor even a regulation but it is a ghost regulation. Regulations have to follow a process to be implemented; this was a bullshit interpretation of existing law and regulation. It is a regulator’s assertion of power with everyone understanding that a “dear colleague” letter is not necessarily enforceable but that it likely will be enforced in the short term to devastating effect i.e. Federal funding will be cut and it’ll take time and money to challenge it while your reputation suffers. By not propagating a formal regulation with its public comment period, discussion and risk of blowback they can stick with their simplistic narrative and it is a fait accompli.

  22. Do you think there was a point when Sulky Witch thought “Oh, shit, things are really getting out of hand now!”. But there comes a point after which one can never really back down…

    Yes, and I think that phenomenon is far more prevalent than we realise. I suspect that point came very early on, but – if she’s like the lefty feminist women I know – she’d rather die than admit she was wrong. She’ll go to her grave telling everyone she was raped.

  23. The “dear colleague” letter isn’t legislation nor even a regulation but it is a ghost regulation.

    I know, and it typifies the Obama administration in my view, the whole “pen and phone” approach to governance. I think historians will find it noteworthy that his father is African.

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