War of words

Reading Talking About Politics today, trying to sift through the messaging madness swirling all around us. Here's my take.

  1. On the right: Let the free-market do its thing, and the economy will eventually take care of itself. If "eventually" means a decade of staggering unemployment, so be it. Suffering is part of the human condition. Poor people are poor for a reason: so rich can get richer.

  2. On the left: Use public policy to stimulate economic growth to give the middle class in America a break. One reason we're in this mess is because Republicans rolled back taxes on the super-wealthy.

Comments

That free-market thing just doesn't make sense

Not what you have written above, but the bs spewed from the r's pie holes. I was told, "Businesses should be able to do whatever they want!"

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Key phrase

eventually take care of itself

I thought laziness wasn't to be rewarded.

Merely more hypocrisy from those who trumpet "free markets" but do everything in their power to obscure the free flow of information necessary to test their "free market" theories.

Don't be surprised. Same hypocrisy, different day.

 

Please elaborate

"One reason we're in this mess is because Republicans rolled back taxes on the super-wealthy."

1. Roll back taxes on wealthy.

2. ????

3. Collapse of the housing market.

----------------------
"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Simply not relevant

Care to explain? Are you saying that deficits are bad?

How did tax breaks for the rich cause the economic recession?

----------------------
"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Can't have it both ways Dr. Q.

Either deficits are a cause of economic instability, or they're not. Which is it?

Regardless of your answer, deficits are the thing standing in the way of more government stimulus spending, which itself is a problem.

Do you honestly think the sole cause of today's dire economy is US housing meltdown? If yes, what was the cause of that? Irrational exuberance? Stupid borrowers? Predatory lenders? Lax regulation? Take your pick ... they all apply. But in the cauldron of a government paralyzed and preoccupied by deficit spending, the options for remediation are few and far between.

I personally don't worry about deficits. The hysteria is foolish and unproductive. But it does appear that most of America has a different view.

Either deficits are a cause

Either deficits are a cause of economic instability, or they're not. Which is it?

In my opinion, government deficits are generally not a cause of economic instability, especially in the short term. In the case at issue, I don't see any evidence that the Bush deficits themselves had any causal connection to the collapse of the housing market (that's why I was asking for some). Long term, deficit spending can have a negative effect on the economy as increasing amounts of money are being siphoned from the economy to pay back the debt (and at a certain point you might destroy your nation's currency or confidence in your economy since governments tend to get a little wild when faced with an insurmountable fiscal crisis).

Regardless of your answer, deficits are the thing standing in the way of more government stimulus spending, which itself is a problem.

Yea, but at this point it is just politics and the public perception of the deficit that is actually preventing more stimulus money. It would still be economically possible to issue more debt and create another stimulus bill. Again, the Bush tax cuts aren't really "causing" the problem in any economic sense.

Do you honestly think the sole cause of today's dire economy is US housing meltdown? If yes, what was the cause of that? Irrational exuberance? Stupid borrowers? Predatory lenders? Lax regulation? Take your pick ... they all apply.

No - capitalism is fundamentally flawed, and that is the ultimate underlying cause of the present problems. The housing market collapse was just the particular mechanism by which the flaws of capitalism manifested themselves in this cycle. Why a speculative bubble? The federal reserve's low interest rates. Why housing? Various regulations and privileged institutions which directed the cheap credit into that particular sector.

The "causes" you mentioned are the proximate causes of over-investment in housing, but they are not the ultimate cause. They only came about because of much larger and more significant trends.

But in the cauldron of a government paralyzed and preoccupied by deficit spending, the options for remediation are few and far between.
I personally don't worry about deficits. The hysteria is foolish and unproductive. But it does appear that most of America has a different view.

So you don't believe that deficit spending necessarily limits the government's "options for remediation," but does so only because of misled public perception as to the significance of deficits, right?

----------------------
"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Not exactly

So you don't believe that deficit spending necessarily limits the government's "options for remediation," but does so only because of misled public perception as to the significance of deficits, right?

Deficit hysteria is part of a calculated strategy by the very people who create the problem to shrink government, shred safety nets, etc. It's not about public perception, it's about the members of Congress. Or more specifically, it's about the 41 members of the US Senate who have resorted to filibuster as a matter of daily practice.

The "causes" you mentioned are the proximate causes of over-investment in housing, but they are not the ultimate cause. They only came about because of much larger and more significant trends.

What trends? Sounds like you might be a communist at heart.

Just kidding.

Deficit hysteria is part of a

Deficit hysteria is part of a calculated strategy by the very people who create the problem to shrink government, shred safety nets, etc. It's not about public perception, it's about the members of Congress. Or more specifically, it's about the 41 members of the US Senate who have resorted to filibuster as a matter of daily practice.

So you think that deficits only pose as a political obstacle to stimulus (due to Republican jerks), rather than a substantive economic/financial obstacle to more stimulus. While I agree with that, I definitely disagree with the notion that Republicans are, in any way, interested in actually shrinking the government. I honestly don't think they are even that interested in attacking social safety nets either (aside from what they do purely to reinforce their small-government credentials). They'd rather just expand them in a way that nets a profit for their buddies (i.e. Bush's prescription drug bill).

What trends? Sounds like you might be a communist at heart.
Just kidding.

Overproduction, underconsumption, and the need for ever-increasing levels of state interventions to prop up the flawed system, either by subsidizing the capitalist class directly or by subsidizing consumption. Either way, the aim is to preserve an economic system founded on exploitation. Corporate liberals and phony small-government conservatives just disagree on exactly how the system can be best preserved, but in the long term it's like arguing over what type of coal should be used to fuel the Titanic.

I think Marxists have a lot of valid arguments when it comes to economics. It's their politics I can't stand. Ditto with the Austrian school and the vulgar libertarians.

----------------------
"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Exploitation

Ain't that the truth. But isn't it simply the human condition? Dog eat dog eat dog? Darwin and all that?

This is pretty heavy for a Monday, but I think you are on to something important. It may be that it's all about preserving sets of privilege. If that's true, and if there's no way around that reality, shouldn't we focus on which sets of privilege are most and least damnable? Are you saying they're equal? That doesn't sound right to me.

I'm in a position to buy almost anything I want. Others are in the position of living in cardboard boxes and starving. Do we just say, "Tough shit" and move on? Or do we try our best to do what little we can to mitigate suffering? I can't speak for anyone else, but I would happily pay more in taxes if I had confidence it would contribute to the common good. That confidence is increasingly hard to come by. In the meantime, I do what I can to help where the needs and the benefits are clear.

It's a matter of degree

The difference is simple. I wrote about it a couple of days ago.

My view? Red prefers a playing field tilted toward the righteousness of personal wealth, government be damned. Blue prefers a more balanced view. Let me explain.

The growing band of extremists on the right would happily eradicate almost every aspect of government except the war machine. In comparison, extremists on my end are not at extremists at all. None of my friends would be in favor of doing away with private enterprise.

I am not an extremist. I am a successful businessman. BlueNC is a company.

If government is going to exist, and it is at some level, why not embrace it as part of a culture of excellence? Why on earth would "small" be the prime directive? Why wouldn't we want to strive for the very best people, paid handsomely, to do the people's work?

Why outsource our wars to Blackwater mercenaries, all of whom were trained at great expense by US taxpayers? Why not have those expert warriors working in public service? Why should Erik Prince get rich being America's hit man?

Not trashin' ya, James, trust me

If government is going to exist, and it is at some level, why not embrace it as part of a culture of excellence? Why on earth would "small" be the prime directive? Why wouldn't we want to strive for the very best people, paid handsomely, to do the people's work?

Why outsource our wars to Blackwater mercenaries, all of whom were trained at great expense by US taxpayers? Why not have those expert warriors working in public service? Why should Erik Prince get rich being America's hit man?

Govt. existing and being paid "handsomely": No government employee should be receiving more than what the same job at the private level receives...argue it if you want. And, since taxpayers pay their salaries, we should ask that they perform at a higher level, in my view.

"Small" with regard to government does not necessarily mean "little". It can and should mean "lean", meaning that we should not have more committees, more offices, more "assistants to the assistants to the assistants" than is actually necessary. Who actually does not know that kind of thing doesn't happen because of political favors and because of pork spending and because of "favors" to constituents both repub and dem?

James, you already know I am absolutely and completely against farming out our military involvement in foreign lands other than administrative duties and food service and such. I agree wholeheartedly with you on that. It is a waste of money and degrades our excellent fighting personnel in all branches of service all around the world. And, it is just SUPER expensive and rife with corruption.

I am in rare form today, think?

You are!

To your point about pay.

The CEO of BlueCross made $4 million last year. The comparable job in government ... say, the governor of the state ... makes less than 1/10th of that.

I'm not sure if we always get what you pay for, but the best and brightest often have to sacrifice economically to work in government services. That doesn't make sense to me.

Yes I am

Sure, that is true. But, the exception does not disprove the rule, know what I mean?

Sorry...I am in a bit of a "devil's mood" tonight.

Actually, I am in a "common sense" kinda mood tonight. Sometimes that shakes the trees a little on blogs.

So what is the answer?

Jeffersonian agrarianism with populist, er...egalitarian safety nets?

My problem with those that would propose to wipe the slate clean (trashing Krugman) deny the reality of where we are.

If you were operating in a vacuum, then these theories are just fine, but we have to start where we are.

What is so very wrong with doing what we're macroeconomically able to do -- but for political cowardice?

 

Wish I knew user

So what is the answer?

Great question and if I knew that and could implement it, I would probably be the next Obama.

But, alas, I don't know the answer, my friend.

I know the answer

I just want to say one word to you:

Still no link

Still no link between the fiscal problems caused by Republicans (through deficit financing), and the recession.

Krugman never disappoints, does he? Look at this gem: "ever since Reagan, the G.O.P. has been run by people who want a much smaller government."

Do progressives actually believe that the GOP leadership sincerely wants to shrink the size of government? I could go on about how absurd this is (especially the whole "starve the beast" sinister conspiracy/grand strategy), but I'll just let Greenwald set the record straight for me.

Edit: I say this mainly because you really ought to know your opponent better (no offense, and I'm assuming you agree with Krugman's assessment). Don't take it for granted that they actually want/support free market economics - they use "free market" in reference to a state-capitalist system which is essentially a rigged game in favor of the capitalist class with whom they identify. They say "small government" in reference to a government just as large, or larger, as any other but controlled by themselves. Calling them "free market extremists" or "small government" advocates is as absurd as calling Obama a socialist, and for parallel reasons. These people aren't ideologues - they are control freaks with massive egos who will say whatever it takes to gain power.

----------------------
"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

I don't see Obama that way

I don't think he's a control freak. I think he's a visionary who believes there's a better way ... and is striving like hell to find it. I wish him luck, but I'm not optimistic.

Krugman is right half the time. In this column, though, his explanation of the unvirtuous downward spiral of cutting taxes to shrink non-defense government spending is correct. And, hell, it's always possible to get extra money when war's involved. Right?

I just don't have that faith

Maybe it's because I didn't read his auto-biography, but I just don't see Obama as anything more than a typical, middle-of-the-road corporate liberal with the rhetoric of a mild progressive. He's still beholden to the same military-industrial, financial, and corporate interests which - no surprise - dominate the rest of our political system. He's just the latest embodiment of the same establishment machine, and his actions prove it.

No doubt that Krugman is right about the Republican's priorities (War > all else), but I just don't see much evidence for the contention that Republicans are actually (not just rhetorically) interested in cutting entitlements, or that the inevitability of entitlement cuts is the product of some grand strategy. Not only have Republicans expanded entitlements in the past, but if they intentionally created a fiscal crisis then their military contractor buddies would obviously feel the squeeze to some degree as well - why would they want that? Republicans don't care about entitlements or the poor either way. They might play off of popular sentiment against "welfare queens" but they really just do not care about what happens to entitlements so long as their big business interests get served.

One last point: big business loves the entitlement system. Eases the 'pain' of having to treat your employees like crap and lay them off on a cyclical basis (less whining if they get government handouts).

----------------------
"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Our very economic system is based on the "free market"

Please resist calling me some kind of "right-wing nutjob" here, okay? But, c'mon, guys. Our country is today and has been for nearly 200 years so great because of the "free market". Now, of course, that depends on how you define "free market". We have seen just SO much graft and corruption in this capitalist system of ours and, someone show me how we have not seen JUST AS MUCH graft and corruption in our government.

Is it time we all jump into that time machine and go back to when we all knew we had to work for our living and were ashamed if it was known that we were on "government assistance"? Is that "right-wingnut" thinking? Is it not time we once again expected our government leaders to make sure that rather than to make decisions based on maintaining power in D.C., our leaders made decisions for the betterment of our citizens? We can be liberal or progressive or conservative or wingnuts....but if we do not REQUIRE our leaders to make decisions for the populist benefit rather than the party-politics benefit, we are doomed. Argue it all you want. It won't wash, and you all know it.

Yes, we progressives want to make sure there is marriage equality and we want to be sure our environment is kept clean and pure and we all want to give our women the right to determine their own reproductive future and we all want to improve the health care chances for everyone in America. But, at the end of the day, those issues take a back seat to the economic future of America. Pulling ourselves out of this horrible economy (regardless who was at fault) and creating jobs within our capitalist system is paramount. That is the most pressing problem of the day and that is where every effort of every politician and individual should be going.

I am ranting again. Argue it all you want. Gridlock for political power purposes is absolutely KILLING us. When will we, as the people that vote in our representatives, finally....EVER...take this in our own hands and vote for those that are willing to and smart enough and experienced enough to get our country back on the right track economically? When that happens, many of our other problems will be solved and the problems that are not solved in that regard can THEN be approached.

Let's get some common sense into our system rather than politics. God help us !!!!!!!!!!!

Hera help you

Have you ever not accepted an uncritical thought?

Ignore.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

I hate that response

It makes me sad.

The last thing I ever am is ZZZZZZZ...asleep.

Thank goodness we can vent here. Thank goodness James & Co. lets us express "alternate" opinions sometimes.

You will not find a more vicious defender of just so many liberal/progressive issues than me, my friend. But when it comes to our very existence with regard to our economic well-being and future, I take issue with many things said on "my" side of the aisle.

free market

Let the free markets roll and the recession ends. The free market brought us to the party. The left has to learn where this stuff they call "taxes" comes from. It does not materialize on a college campus or in a think tank or from meditation or whining. At present we have too few pulling this big cart called the US of A. We need more to get off the damn cart and help push or pull.

So, what is the alternative to solving our recession?

Being a businessman and involved yourself in the free market system, what is your belief with regard to what will solve this recession?

I have never owned my own business but I have had to manage business interests in two large business endeavors and know the intricacies involved in those. I present my opinions in that regard based on that experience. But, again, I have never actually owned my own business and had to pay business taxes or meet a payroll on my own. If you have been or are in that position, then I bow to your perspective.

James, to me we have lost our ability to apply just common sense in our government today. Too many things have become political and too many things that are important have been put on the side burner in order to get some other less important issue or less needed piece of legislation accomplished. The health care reform bill is the epitome of this discussion.

I would sincerely love to hear your perspective on what is needed to solve our economic woes in America today, James. It is dire, no doubt.

Thanks for responding if you have the time.

Foxy/Dale

I would do five things

My business background doesn't have much to do with this, but I do know a lot about debt. I had to borrow a million dollars once to keep my company from going bankrupt. It took four years to pay it back. That said, I think there are five main things that need to be done.

  1. Raise taxes on the top 5% of income earners. These are people who are already spending on whatever they want. This tax increase will have no negative impact on their ability to keep their cash flowing.
  2. Crank up a very large stimulus spending plan focused in three areas: Nationwide infrastructure maintenance (sewer systems, bridges, roads, water facilities, schools, public facilities, etc.); green economy (solar manufacturing, energy efficiency, wind facilities, etc.); public education (hiring more teachers, small schools)
  3. Expand Medicare through the reconciliation process into a single-payer system for everyone, with strong governance and new powers to negotiate with health providers. Unless we get healthcare costs under control, our nation cannot compete in the world economy.
  4. End the war on drugs. This alone would produce nearly $100 billion every year in savings to the federal government.
  5. Tax corporate spending on campaigns, electioneering and lobbying at a punitive level, say 100% level. Spend $100 on a campaign ad, it'll cost you $100 in taxes. Direct those revenues to either the general fund or into voter-owned elections.

Now aren't you sorry you asked?

Tax or Book them Dano?

5.Tax corporate spending on campaigns, electioneering and lobbying at a punitive level, say 100% level. Spend $100 on a campaign ad, it'll cost you $100 in taxes. Direct those revenues to either the general fund or into voter-owned elections.*James
Now that you ask!
5a. Tax political parties, Corporations, Lobbyists and political religious factions along with political consultants at 450% of the investment and than take all of the above funds and put into a special lockbox [Fort Knox] guarded by the Montana Milita and the 200 Million Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. These funds would be distributed equally to all candiates for political offices, National, State, County, City and Dog Catcher.......
5b...No Campaign can have salary employees, nor paid consultants......

Well! One can dream?

Good response

And, I would wonder how many jobs that would be created and how that would boost our economy so that America will become the economic giant it can be and so that we are once again a prosperous and vibrant group of people because of economic prosperity. Sorry I do not see it as you do and consider jobs and the economy priority one above all else, James.

You and I are like-minded on the "war on drugs". Doubt that will EVER happen, though.

Thanks.

I'm not going to pretend as if I read all those comments

but let me throw a little something in there.

It has never been left or right. It is has Always been CONservative Vs PROgressive.

CONs want the Status quo. Progressives want Progress, Positive Change.

The Reagan Tax Cuts crippled Government. Bush lost his reelection bid because of the Fiscal Irresponsibility of Reagan. Reagan Cut Taxes and Still Spent. WHAT THE?? Thats not CONservatism. Even the Great CONservative knew that he couldn't stop Spending. The Country would have fell apart. He couldn't wage his Cold War if we didn't keep spending.

CONservatism has Never worked. It was tried in the 20s and it lead to the Great Depression. Reagan resurrected it Bush #1 and Clinton drank the Kool Aid and Bush #2 just went along with what ever Cheney and Rumsfield to him to do and it has lead us to the Crisis we are in now.

Clinton drank the Reaganomics Trickle Down Deregulation Theory and completed Bush #1 NAFTA program which has sent Millions of Jobs overseas. 30 years of this theory has devastated this country.

When you basically wage War on the Labor Unions you destroy the Middle Class. Reagan Waged War on the Public School System, Unions and his So Called War on Drugs destroyed Urban Families. To me Reagan was Worst than Hoover, and Harding. But for some reason he is regarded as some great leader. Smsh.

What policies did Reagan enact to Improve our Way of Life? What Progress have we achieved that can be attributed to this Great CONservative Hope?

Every Major Achievement that Government has produced would be what most people would consider Progressive. I can't name anything CONservatism has done for the Greater Good of Man Kind!

As for Free Markets. They don't exist. Every Industrialized Nation Regulates its economy to some degree. It would be shear CHAOS if they didn't. So lets quit with this Free Market CRAP! It doesn't work either. It would be like allowing a Cancer to grow once it has been diagnosed. No one in there right mind would do that.

Free Markets Create Monopolies. Monopolies destroy (Eat Small Business) that means in order to stop Big Corporations from becoming Monopolies you need Government Regulation. You can't TRUST Corporations to police themselves. Thats like asking a Bank Robber to turn themselves once they have committed a crime.

The Truth is it boils down to two entities. Government and Corporations. Who do you want running the Country!

Corporations once they become Monopolies are hard to control. Governments are always accountable to the People that elect them at least every 4 years that is. Big Multinational Corporations answer to no one.

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!