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Reality vs. Perception (The Secret Podcast PREVIEW)

October 6, 2023
Notes
Transcript
Tim is in for Sarah and he and JVL talk about the economy, unemployment numbers, and the relationship between voter sentiment and reality.
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:00

    Hey there. It’s JBL. On the Secret Show today, I was joined by Tim Miller. We talked about the economy and bidenomics and What are voters actually thinking? Here’s the show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:19

    My contention is that, in every economic time. There are lots and lots of people who are in a precarious position because this is America. And we are sort of read into the flaw, and our social safety nets are okay, but not great. And you know, no matter when you are, if you’re in the nineteen eighty six, when things were going great. If you’re in nineteen ninety six, when things were going great.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:50

    There are a whole bunch of people who are an illness or a lost job away from from real financial calamity. And so even in times where we say the economy is good. There are a lot of things which cut both ways. Good for some people, bad for other people, for instance. We say today that inflation is bad.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:10

    And inflation is bad. Unless you happen to hold a lot of debt at at a low interest rate. Right? If you bought a house five years ago and your your, mortgage is at, like, a two point eight percent. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:24

    The the inflation is very good for you because it is eating away at the value of the debt you owe. If you are if if in if interest rates go up, and that begins to
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:37

    I bought a house in April, by the way. So maybe this is co maybe this is coloring our, the discussion. This is coloring our discussion. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:45

    If you are if interest rates go up, this has a cooling effect on the housing market. Right? It it slows the housing market down because the the costs for, you know, to borrow money go up and your monthly payments go up, etcetera, etcetera. That is, bad for somebody trying to sell a house. But is generally pretty good for the buyers because the cooling market means that they have more leverage in their negotiations and that they’re gonna be able to to do better on price.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:15

    So these things always cut both ways. And my contention is that we have an insane mismatch right now between voter perceptions about where the economy is. And where the economy actually is. And where the economy actually is is pretty good. Not not great.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:35

    Not perfect. There are problems, etcetera, etcetera, but also there are always problems. There is no there is no time when all the end indicators go up and everybody is a winner. That’s not it. And today, we have people, like, you listen to Sarah’s focus groups, and there was guys like, this is the worst it’s ever been, worse than the great depression.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:54

    What the fuck are you talking about? What the fuck are you talking about? You know? And, this mismatch is not rational and cannot be explained away by, Will Saletan is more expensive this week. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:09

    And when people then say things like I want deflation, you know, well, the prices we when the prices go back to what they were five years ago, then we’ll, you know, then we’ll pay g money. Yeah. Sorry. G money walking through the background. These people do not understand that price deflation is never correlated with a healthy economy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:30

    Right? When when prices are going down, that is a bad sign for every economy. And so the it’s just irrational the moment that we’re in in people’s view of the economy. That’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:43

    That’s fine too. Okay. So I wanna make the pitch for why it’s rational. I don’t really disagree with any of that, but I wanna give you a frame that I that I wanna try work this out real time. I like the secret pot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:52

    I don’t feel like I have to, you know, have my take down. I have my stick down. Wait. We can just work it out. But it’s something like this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:01

    Which is, you know, people, like, it it’s just kind of wired into most of our systems, maybe not yours. But that, like, especially an it’s an American thing too, I think, really, that people wanna be aspirational. Like, they wanna feel like they’re they have more coming. They’re getting more. Their kids are getting more that next week, if they get a raise, they’ll be able to do more stuff.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:22

    They’ll be able to have a better vacation next year than this year. Okay. Like, that’s just That’s a psychological thing. And I think that, right now, we’re in a we’re an economy where a lot of people have, like, caps on their aspirations because of, like, the cost of things. Flight are really expensive.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:39

    Hotels are really expensive. Vacations really expensive. Going out to dinner is very expensive. Right? And and I think that what you’re talking about, people that are in real catastrophe.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:51

    Right? The great depression. I totally agree with you about the focus group thing. Worse than great depression, real catastrophe. If you’re at a time you know, let’s say where inflation is low, and the economy is generally good, particularly for people that have skills or college education.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:04

    You know, Like, there’s a small percentage of people that are dealing with catastrophe. Right. They’ve lost a job. They’ve been laid off. It’s hard for them to find a job because points a little high.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:13

    I’m trying to let’s think about the economy maybe in, like, the a lot twenty eleven, like, the slow recovery from the great depression. Right? Are great recession. Right? Some people, their house went under.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:24

    So there’s a and not not small in aggregate, but small in percentage. Right? Like, say what it is. Six percent of the country is like, I’m dealing with a, like, financial catastrophe. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:35

    But, like, sixty percent of the country is like, I don’t know. Like, things are pretty good. Like, things are getting better. I still have my job. Like, my house didn’t go under.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:44

    Right? Like, I didn’t deal with, like, it has feet. Right? Like, the big middle of the country is like, you know, whatever level they are, lower middle, middle, upper middle. They’re like, I’m doing pretty good.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:54

    And, like, maybe and I’m to get raises slowly, and things are cheap. I can get cheap flights, and I can get a cheap house, maybe, because some people’s houses went under. Right? Right? So there’s like so I I’m just You know, right now, we’re in this time where, like, a lot of people, except for the very rich, and and people in specialized industries, certain industries.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:14

    You know, particularly some lower middle folks, by the way. I they’re they’re like, ugh, I actually have to have a worse vacation than I did last year. You know, or I have to I’ve gotta, you know, cook the special chicken two more times this week. I know I know I know what you’re gonna say. First world problems.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:32

    I get I get it. But psychologically. And then once you go down the income scale, people that are like, people that are really fucked. Like, I’m a teacher. I’m making forty two grand a year, whatever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:44

    And I didn’t get a raise or I did get a raise from forty two to forty three. And yet, my my groceries bill is twice as expensive. My car payment is more expensive. And I, you know, my whatever, or people like me. So you you had to move or or, I’m I guess I don’t wanna two personal, but, like, another family member I have is, like, had another kid.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:06

    Their house is too small. Right? But it’s like they can’t go get a bigger house right now. Right? Because it’s like they’re more the mortgage would be insane.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:14

    You’d have to move you’d have to move out to where you live. Like I guess they could. They could move out to the far boonies. And again first world problem their life is fine, but like that’s stressful. Like now, you know what I mean?
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:23

    And I think that there’s a broader percentage of people dealing with stressful times. A smaller number of people dealing with catastrophic times, but like that creates an angst that I think is rational. If not
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:41

    So okay. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:42

    If not, like, we don’t we shouldn’t have fascism over it, but it’s a rationalized.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:46

    Right. I mean, this is one. So so you can squint. Right? If you squinted it, you can get to, yeah, I guess.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:54

    Although, again, unemployment, which is the single most important thing, right, is historically low. Like, the most important thing is Do you have a job? And if you lose your job, can you get another job. Right? And that is great right now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:10

    Real wage growth. Is outpacing inflation again. Right? This is, like, the those are the the the two big things. And on those two big things, like, everything is Everything’s okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:22

    And people aren’t looking around saying, yeah, okay. Like, you know, could be better. But, I and I would say, you know, compared to how things were during I don’t know. How things were in twenty twelve? I think compare pretty well to how things are today compare pretty well to how things are we’re in twenty twelve even.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:44

    Right? And in twenty five,
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:46

    it gets reelected. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:47

    Long gets reelected, and people were not running around saying, we’re in the great depression.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:54

    Yeah. They weren’t saying great. Yeah. Republican campaigns were saying it’s really bad, but didn’t. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:58

    But but so here’s that again. So I wanna get at the psychology. This. In twenty twelve, we’re coming off the great recession, and it’s getting better, but slowly, very slowly. Too slowly for a lot of people’s taste, I think that a lot of commentators were right wing people were trying to make this a thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:14

    But unless you were one of the people that had catastrophe, and and total sympathy to you, but I we’re just we’re talking scale. Right? Like, like, what matters politically is what does, you know, the vast number of people feel. Most people in twenty twelve are feeling like, things are getting a little bit better. Next year, I’m probably gonna have a better year than this year.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:33

    The year after that, I’ll probably have a better year than that. I can probably get a new car. Right now, I think a lot of people
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:39

    feel a little bit better. Month to month. Like, more jobs are
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:42

    good now, but the numbers
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:44

    are still going down.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:45

    But things are still persistently high. And so if you’re squeezed You’re like, I don’t know. You know, it’s not like inflate it’s not where data deflation, as you said, where, it’s a little bit of inflation, So it’s like, man, if you gotta go buy a new car right now, you’re gonna get a shittier car than you want, because the interest rate is more expensive. If you god, you know, need to move, you know, like, there’s just a lot of things right now that people have to say. And I, again, I want to go back to the American psychological part of this because I think that they’re probably healthier cultures.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:13

    Know, but in this consumption culture where it’s like, you know, your feeling of happiness and growth is tied to, Yeah. I’m gonna get to go do this thing or buy this thing or have this experience. A lot of people I and I think that’s more of the middle, upper middle view. I think a lot of those folks feel like, man, they’re they’re gonna have to actually tighten their belt a little bit, and that bothers people. And then I think once you get lower down the income scale, it’s a real squeeze for people.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:42

    It’s like if you can’t get a new car, I’m thinking about one of my buddies here that does. You know, that does gig work. Like, his car is fucked up. And it’s like, getting a new car right now is horrible. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:53

    Like, you know, I guess use car price are coming down. Like, there are other things you can do. You can go get some, you know, again, it’s not like, it’s not the great depression. A first world problem. It’s not like you shouldn’t kill yourself over this, but it’s like, it kinda sucks.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:05

    It kinda sucks. And that and that was not the case in twenty twelve, Right? That’s different.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:10

    Yeah. Maybe unemployment was still like seven and a half, I think.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:13

    Right. And for those people, it’s catastrophic. Right? I’m what I’m saying is we have a broad group right now. That’s like it kinda sucks.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:20

    And a tiny group that’s like it’s catastrophic and a actually a decent sized group that’s like things are amazing. And back then, it was like, we have a small ish, but real group that was like, this is catastrophic, but a big middle group that’s like things are getting better.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:35

    Yeah. I can see that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:36

    That’s the difference.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:37

    So here’s my trump card, though. Right? So, trump me. So what you’re saying is if you squint, it makes sense. And I I agree with that too.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:47

    Right. You know, you can squint and have it make sense. But then there are all these other sets of views, which are showing up and pulling. Like, for instance, the boats that Donald Trump is more mentally fit to be president than
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:05

    I thought that those were gonna be your trump cards.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:07

    I was
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:07

    gonna have trouble. No.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:10

    You know, and that’s not a rational thing. The the here is the here’s the other. Right? So I’m I’m writing today about the thing you sent me yesterday about Democratic public opinion in New Jersey on Bob Menendez where, he is at five five percent. In the polling for the democratic primary.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:30

    I think it’s too good. Actually, there’s always a five. I thought it was That
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:32

    was in the two way race. In the three way race, he’s at five.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:35

    Okay. Got it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:38

    In three ways he’s at five. And Miss Doug Bergum territory. Democrats responding to an indictments of Democrats with, horror and disgust. And not not just Menendez. I remember Andrew Cuomo, who was not indicted for carrying around gold bars of from bribery.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:59

    He was like, you know, just a just a serial sexual assaultor, or sexual harass, or rather. And democratic pulling on him collapsed overnight Like Democrats wanted him impeached or resigned. They wanted him out of there. They did not like it. Republicans on
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:17

    the It was a little just it was a little more stable than Menendez. He didn’t get on
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:21

    to He was he had a
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:21

    little more stable. He had some Cuomo sexuals, and I think older black folks, some of the Joe bot,
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:26

    you know There there was some of that. Right. His collapse was not as serious, but it was serious enough that he wasn’t gonna be able to retain
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:32

    his job.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:32

    Friend in in his defense. It was only again, I’m putting that in in scare quotes, sexual harassment, not felony bribery. Right. So it was it was different in skin. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:45

    And
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:45

    not also rape, coup, for fraud.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:48

    Right. Right. The response of, Democratic voters to badly behaving Democrats is pretty rational. And the response of Republican voters to badly behaving Republicans is what we have to support him because. And I I’ve I’ve I have a chart in the trade today with a bunch of, like, lines drawn by, like, you know, this indictment comes out here or look what happens Trump’s poll numbers a week later.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:16

    And it’s it’s a like, it’s just cause a fact, you know, like, they will and so if If we look at a huge trunk of voters, half of the country, and they react that way all about things like indictments, why should we then go and be squinting trying to understand their views of the economy? Why should we assume their views of the economy are based in anything more rational than
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:41

    Yeah. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:42

    That’d be fantastic.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:43

    Because I’m gonna partially argue against my and then and then give an answer. So I think that there are two areas where I agree with you. Number one is I think that we are in a unprecedented time, particularly on right to left, but also somewhat left to right, political polarization, and and how that turns out in polls. And right now, we have, like, literally ninety two percent of Republican self identified Republicans will never say a good thing about any Democrat or anything happening under a Democrat. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:13

    Like that, like, the that is that. So so so Joe Biden’s, like, baseline high watermark that could ever get in a poll is, like, fifty three. Like, you know, from nineteen sixty to nineteen ninety seven, like, that was every most president’s floor. Right? You know, because you could get people right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:30

    So so I I think that is totally showing up in the polls. And and there are totally, you know, just again to speaking against myself, I think upper middle to upper class, cons Republicans complaining about the economy. It’s totally irrational. Airports are packed. The boat thing is true.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:48

    Like, people are you know, it is it does not feel like a recession out there. Everybody’s like, oh, it’s a recession. I, you know, I liked I, unlike, you’re a hermit. I’m not. I can report from the world you know, from bars and airports and things that I do.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:01

    I know you went to a gut sick. I can report from the world. Fancy restaurants are full. Airports are full. Planes, it’s like being in
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:09

    a boat sales at all time high. This is what what people don’t understand what you use.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:14

    Concert tickets. I was at Beyonce. Superdome is full. Those tickets are not cheap. You know, people are people, you know, so so particularly people with money are are enjoying their life.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:25

    And I think that Republicans who are upper to upper middle. And remember, Donald Trump, despite being the populist party did quite well. Let’s above a hundred k in in income, that crowd is bullshit. And they’re saying the economy is bad because they’re annoyed that they, you know, they wanted the bigger boat or whatever. I don’t know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:43

    You know what I mean? Or just because they hate Joe by or just because they hate woke people or because they’re raised, you know, and they’re a million whatever irrational reasons. I do think that there is a irrational category out there. Where where I disagree is that I think that Joe Biden is getting hurt right now. With a rat with also with a rational group.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:01

    Some of them are Republicans, some of them are independent, some of them are his democratic numbers. Not that good. You know? And I think that there are people that are experiencing real rational, not catastrophic, but rational, you know, life lifestyle problems that that are, you know, that are causing day to day angst for them and anxiety that they didn’t have before.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:24

    There. And I think a lot of prongs are disappointing with Biden because he isn’t a leftist. Right. You know what I mean? This is Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:31

    So he’s getting so this is, like, so when you’re trying to understand his numbers, it’s like Okay. There are Republicans that hate every democrat that always will. Okay. That used to be a small number. Now that’s most of the party.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:39

    There are repub rich Republicans that you would think might like Biden. Right? But because of cultural anxiety and polarization and fox rain worms, like they, you know, so they so that so by so Biden’s losing with those people. He’s losing with Jonathan Last some, you know, with some groups. He’s losing with some young people that don’t that just, like, look at him and say you’re an old guy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:00

    You don’t represent care, understand what my generation is experiencing, and then he’s losing with some independence that are that have, I think, some legitimate. Economic concerns. Not not unemployment, but other concerns. So all of that together, you get you get where it is. And some of those some of irrational, some of it’s rational, and it’s all very concerning.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:20

    Now you would think that the specter of Donald Trump would overshadow, all of that, you know? You might as I wrote about this week, you know, his plan for Gulans and the fact that he’s just like explicitly saying we should shoot people on the street. You know, and and the fact that his little minions on Fox are are talking about how they need support. You would think that people would be like, yeah, you know, k. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:43

    Okay. I have to I have to go to the Marriott this year instead of the Ritz. That sucks, but that’s better than fascism, but, but unfortunately, we’re not seeing a ton of that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:51

    Alright. Let me throw one more thing at you, which is tangentially related, but veers away from the economy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:57

    Can Nicole Yokic?
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:58

    No. Not Nicole Yokic. We polarize around everything. Right? This is a we we’re gonna you pick an issue and we then pull one party becomes for it and one party becomes against it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:11

    Yep. Okay. Sure.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:15

    Are we now polarized on the concept of the rule of law? Which is why Democrats just abandoned menendez right away because in to getting indict is now a for them, a partisan kind of like, you know, hey, this is bad. We’re in favor of the rule. We’re the rule of law party. And Republicans are, you know, don’t because, well, that’s That that law stuff is just Bulwark.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:40

    That’s deep state, etcetera. We’re not we’re not gonna if we were to be against Ken paxton, then we would just be, you know, making those cucks happy, and we’re not gonna give them that satisfaction.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:54

    Yeah. Okay. I think I have a long winded answer with this, but I’m gonna to make it as compact as possible, kind of. And you would, I don’t think we’re fully polarized. You would think the reactionaries our friends, you know, Bari and Rowi and, you know, Nate Silver.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:13

    That crowd. They would say that we are polarized on the rule of law in a different way than you mean it. And like they would say that, yeah. Now Republicans have totally gone against institutional law, the FBI, the federal government, etcetera. And and, you know, white collar, whatever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:32

    But then the Democrats have now polarized the other way, and they don’t believe we should have any policing. Right? And, like, they think you should just be able to shop left. And then that’s that polar as they is sending Republicans the other way where now it’s like we should actually be able to shoot shoplifters, you know, and so, that’s what they would say that there is this kind of thermostatic. Polarization that’s happening related to all those issues.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:54

    I I my view and I think the correct view in yours that you share is that that’s maybe there’s a little bit of that on the left, but that’s not quite right because there’s a big part of the left coalition that is not polarized on that at all, and then it’s like desperately asking four.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:07

    I should be able to read that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:08

    Yeah. Reasonable policies.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:10

    Ten different City district attorneys who hold those views. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:15

    mean, that’s not Yeah. But this is so anyway, I I don’t I don’t agree with that, but I’m saying that’s what’s theirs. That’s what that’s would be the perspective. And so I don’t know
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:24

    if that’s want to shoot Charlie Sykes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:26

    Yeah. Exactly. Right. And I don’t think that that’s quite right. Like, I think that what we have here is a a Republican party that has decided that Every elite institution besides rank and file cops are against them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:42

    Right? And And they have now polarized now against institutional norms and ideas, but also Again, you know, because of what happened in the Bulwark Lives Matter fall out, right, like, against the notion that we should have any sort of, you know, because there was a peer wasn’t that long ago that it was Donald Trump has criminal justice reform. Right. Yeah. I alright.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:04

    And and Donald Trump has criminal justice And that that would be completely impossible now, right, or now what, no matter who, even if Trump died, the Republican nominee would be somebody that would be basically four extrajudicial killings by by border security and police in certain scenarios or at least at least anti anti yet. Okay? And and then anti any sort of belief that the, whatever, elite DC, New York, you know, like, attorney general FBI, all of that. Like a post to to believing that that that Republicans need to follow, you know, the those rules. I think that has absolutely You know, I and I I think that that’s actually getting worse and worse as we, you know, over time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:53

    Like, because that that wasn’t, you know, Trump was elected and I don’t I don’t think that that was true. In in, like, the first two years of the trump term. Right? So I think that we’re seeing that polarization to be exact year over year.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:04

    And it’ll speed up. Right? All polarizations accelerate yet once they start. And I it’s great. This is this is how you get to civil war.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:12

    Alright. Two minutes and then you gotta go. Coach prime update. Very, very close game at USC. Very impressive.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:21

    Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:21

    Yeah. Two L’s, you know, these out without Travis Hunter, did you see the bowling video?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:26

    Hey, again. It’s JBL. The conversation goes on from there. If you wanna hear the rest the show, head on over to Bulwark plus and subscribe. I’d love to have you.
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