We are all neoliberals now


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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286 Responses

  1. Avatar RTod says:

    “It’s almost a subterfuge. The real issues motivating the conservative base are gay marriage and abortion.”

    I wonder if this is true.

    The Tea Party has always felt to me like it *was* an economic movement at it’s core. I always think of the TP as the other side of the sword campus communists wielded when I was in college: Things are changing and I am not as financially well off as I want or need to be, and the best way to deal is to find the enemy that is purposefully conspiring to make it so. If we vanquish the enemy, I will finally get my due.

    For me, this explains the fierce and sincere demand for the government to stop using tax dollars to subsidize medical insurance premiums while being unwilling to lessen medicare benefits.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      The Tea Party is underscored by economic uncertainty as a result of the recession. Without that, we would not have the Tea Party. The recession is the issue, not government spending.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        Agreed. Though I do think you are right in your post – I think the uncertainty of the recession allows the *cultural* enemies to slip in and take the Lucifer-like role as the brothers who have betrayed our dream and ripped paradise from us.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I think of the Tea Party as the other side of the sword that environmentalists are wielding: continuous “economic growth” is as close as we come to a public religion now and the heretics are those who suggest it’s not possible- on one side because resources will periodically (and in some cases permanently) become scarce; on the other because continuous growth is inevitably tied to inflation, which has for the last century just as inevitably lead to increased government intervention, either through increased expenditures for social spending as unemployment rises, or just as often through government banks supplying the capital that’s necessary limited by inflation. In other words, economic growth became what war was supposed to be: the health of the state. Or, in other other words, you can have your continuous economic growth, or you can have your free market: pick one. Calling the economic structure of the US anything but state capitalism has been a joke for nearly a century. Suggesting that the line of growth cannot simply stretch up to infinity and probably has to come back down if we are to live within our means is the argument of the environmentalists and of the Tea Party alike, although I’m not certain the latter realizes as of yet just what it is they’re opposed to; it’s not just state capitalism- it’s really the entire public philosophy guiding life in the United States. Everything has to change, including their own “standard of living”. It can happen. But at some point, they have to stand in opposition to the doctrine of growth itself and it remains to be seen if they have the balls for that.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        Yes, a free market will lead to an adjustment of real supply and demand. It could lead to deflation, which is not bad if it’s allowed to naturally come about (just like computers which were expensive to begin with but come down in price despite inflationary efforts to keep all goods and services priced higher and higher). But our “state capitalism” demands higher and higher everything, prices, wages, everything, when in reality, efficiency and productivity could lead to much lower prices, at which we could become more globally competitive, thus creating more jobs.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          I don’t disagree with this. The problem is that the norm under a free market, as Reagan once put it is, “markets go up and markets go down”. If people can live with the instability and fluctuations of that, the up side are those economic liberties they all claim to want. Americans also, whether they realize it or not, don’t just want, but expect economic growth to mean a steadily increasing standard of living for them too, regardless of the industry they’re in. Maybe Microsoft can afford a 10% wage increase this year without it cutting into their bottom line- labor might be a small percentage of their overhead. But that doesn’t mean that paying the cops and janitors 10% more this year to keep up with inflation isn’t going to unbalance those sets of books. The government has been underwriting this steady growth fantasy for years because the only ways to untangle the state from this is to increase unemployment, decrease expenditures, or deflate the currency and there’s no way a politician is going to stump for that sort of “restraint”. Of course, if you want to get really sociological about this, the development of capitalism towards debt financing back in the 1920s changed the way most people thought about the market and it’s not clear that the government didn’t benefit from a lot of widespread bad mental habits.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Rufus, in a free market, at least any ups and downs are pegged to economic reality and aren’t caused by government actions which make no economic sense. Before the creation of the Fed, the downs were short in duration — what we have now is similar to the Great Depression in which the down was extended because of the many government interventions which prevented economic adjustment. It’s true that the ironic effect of continuous economic growth attempted by government intervention is a steady decline in the standard of living for most people — a steady stagnation. With great infusions of money into the system, the rich get the first wave which can purchase goods and services, or invested, at the current price, only later as this inflation creates price hikes do the rest of us get the privilege of paying for goods and services with the then devalued dollars.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              Yeah, well, there’s stagnation because of that artifically-induced inflation and also because someone has to pay for all the government bells and whistles. I think we agree about that. I’m just saying that part of what gets us to a corporatist economy is the expectation that, if someone’s getting rich, the society will be “working” only if everyone else is getting at least a little richer each year. But it doesn’t work like that (and it’s likely that a free market shouldn’t works like that) without a lot of government intervention and the bills for that intervention keep coming due, which drains more money from the people who should be buying things and living their lives.

              It’s funny- people often think I’m a critic of capitalism as such when I talk about this stuff, but it’s fairly evident to me that it is the economic system that has delivered the highest standard of living to the most people in human history. I’m fine with capitalism. The danger, as I see it however, is in thinking of capitalism in utopian terms: everyone’s going to get steadily richer, all together, without any downturns. When people think of economic growth that way, they set their own expectations accordingly, and if things don’t go entirely according to plan, there’s a great impetus for the state to step in and fix things, which is a bit like getting the DMV to pick the hit songs on the radio, if that makes any sense. So, if people want to argue for a free market, fine do so. But don’t be utopian or dishonest about it. There will be drawbacks and bad times for some people- it won’t be perfect- the point is that there are worse drawbacks with command economies. Not that we’ll wake up tomorrow and everyone will have their own pony.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I agree — free market is not utopia. There are business cycles, and the economy never goes in a straight line. When current investment is no longer productive, there’s a readjustment, usually innovation, or just redirection of capital into more productive areas of the economy, then a another round of growth. If this is planned for, people save for slower times. In a free market, people will be allowed to keep more of their money, invest it in insurance plans to cover slowdowns, or periods of unemployment. Without burdensome regulations, insurance companies will come up with creative plans to cover all such stituations. People have to control their own lives, and they won’t need government help. The most unfortunate who can’t help themselves can be taken care of through private assistance organizations. There are ways to lessen the pain of the ups and downs, but people have to change their way of thinking of government as the escape from reality.Report

            • Avatar Mike says:

              It’s not true that ‘Before the creation of the Fed, the downs were short in duration’. Various downturns in the 1800’s lasted a while. Go look up the Long Depression.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          when in reality, efficiency and productivity could lead to much lower prices, at which we could become more globally competitive, thus creating more jobs.

          MF, You say alotta crazy things, but I think this is espcially incoherent. On your view, efficiency in country X leads to lower prices on exports, which leads to more demand for goods from country X, which in turn creates jobs. Aren’t you leaving out a crucial factor here for everyone who actually works for a living: their labor rate? Doesn’t the simple fact that wage rates are disparate between countries, which is the foundational premise of globalization to begin with, transparently refute your view? Isn’t your view correct only if US labor rates are actually ‘globally competitive’, ie. less than they are now?Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:


            If, in our adjustment in a free market, prices go down, and wages go down, preferably not as much as prices, then the global differences in wages are not as great. It only matters what you have left between what you bring home and what it costs to pay your bills, not how high or low your wages are. The combination of productivity, efficiency, lower prices and lower wages would make us more competitive in the global market — with our proven advancements in productivity and efficiency, if you allowed wages and prices to adjust to the reality of the market, we’d be much more competitive against countries like China who gain advantage only through low wages, and they will eventually have social unrest because of this — it’s forced. Thus, it seems to me that “forced” is the problem — in the US we “force” higher wages and higher prices. In a free market, the “force” is removed.

            Of course, you’d have to eliminate the Fed in order to have a truly free market . The Fed is the central controlling factor that most people making comments on “neo-liberalism” are missing. When people like North look only at what obvious taxes are rasied or lowered, they miss the actions of Fed whose actions are filled with hidden “taxes” — devaluing the dollar means your money buys less, even if Obama is blocked from imposing an obvious tax. The devalued dollar is a main reason it cost me $90 at the gas pump — this is a tax that hits the poor the hardestReport

      • Avatar James K says:

        This makes no sense to me.

        First, sure the laws of thermodynamics predict that we can’t grow forever but that gives as no predictions as to when it will happen. That depends a lot on how our technology progresses. We could hit a limit in 20 years, or in 20 billion. And the existence of constraints definitely doesn’t imply we will have to lower our standard of living. Our steady-sate level may be orders of magnitude higher than what we have now.

        As for the rest of your comment, none of it follows. Growth makes targeting the money supplier a bit trickier, so yes some inflation is to be expected. But the only intervention that requires is a central bank that tries to keep prices level by fiddling with interest rates (or just use Friedman’s grow the money supply at x% rule, that would probably work well enough). That’s a very minor government intervention in the grand scheme of things.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          Okay. Well, look, first off I’m not talking about the law of thermodynamics. I suppose I suggested as much by my mention of the environmentalist argument, which is another thing entirely and probably doesn’t match up that well with the Tea Party anyway. Let’s put that to the side.

          But the idea that growth is steady and uniform and continuous- well the last few years should have put the kibosh to that, but even if we agree to it, the problem is really more that economic growth has been tied to certain social goals and expectations, such as full employment, a rising standard of living throughout the society, and increased consumption; and more importantly, it’s the state that cannot deny those expectations. A market economy left to its own devices is going to have fluctuations and winners and losers. I’m sorry, but not every boat is going to rise. To me, that’s not a big argument against it. But the idea that, of course, growth would be steady, continuous, and increase the standard of living across the society is a big reason that what was once a largely uncoordinated market process became the object of concerted government policy decades ago. The result? The US government now has a structural deficit, but they simply can’t cut non-discretionary spending without huge political fallout. Their mouth has written checks their ass can’t cash. Meanwhile, the promise is that every candidate, if elected, will “create jobs” through the state! When this sort of thinking scares the Tea Partiers, I just think they have a point.

          As for inflation, I’ll just agree that inflation at a steady rate is manageable, provided there are no inflationary spirals. But, you still have rising expectations that the market alone simply cannot meet. It’s like a casino in which everyone is expected to win. So when I say the state ‘intervenes’, I mean by increasing social spending when unemployment goes up, increasing entitlements during boom years and then keeping them forever, bailing out companies in trouble (which incidentally has been going on for decades in Europe), and increasingly as a direct source of equity capital for industries that cannot get funds in the regular capital markets, especially during times of high inflation or when the banks or their holding companies overextend themselves, which we know can happen.

          Listening to NPR today, however, there was a consensus among the left-leaning commenter and the right-leaning commenter that the government needs to lend considerably more capital to companies, since it’s so hard to get now. Oh and also they need to stop interfering with the market.

          Honestly, I don’t think any of what I’m saying is all that absurd. The best way I can think of to describe the US economy is either corporatist or state capitalism. Secondly, I suspect it got to be that way because people expected things from the market that the market can’t, and shouldn’t, provide them, and the state wasn’t going to deal with the instability involved in letting them find that out the hard way. So, maybe that’s a crazy notion, but I really don’t think so.Report

          • Avatar James K says:

            Ah, that would explain my confusion, you were making a totally different point to the one I thought you were.

            So now I know what you’re actually talking about, we can have a proper discussion:

            The best way I can think of to describe the US economy is either corporatist or state capitalism.

            I’d say that’s fair. In fact I’d say the US economy is a combination of corporatism and neomercantilism (with some free market capitalism in the mix), the balance shifting depending on which party is in power.

            Secondly, I suspect it got to be that way because people expected things from the market that the market can’t, and shouldn’t, provide them, and the state wasn’t going to deal with the instability involved in letting them find that out the hard way.

            Yes, I can go with that too. I consider one of the problem the US political system has is that its too democratic and that leads to popular demands become law (even in the face of good sense) more often than they should.

            The tricky part is working out what to do about it.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

              Ironically, I would say that the problem with the American governmental system is that it has too many veto points and it’s hard for what people actually want to become law.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:


                It is difficult for what there is of aggregated popular preference to enter the law – or at least enter it not festooned with Louisiana Purchases and Cornhusker Kickbacks.Report

              • Avatar James K says:

                Sure, anything that passes gets larded with pork but even the pork seems pretty popular (maybe not in aggregate, but every congressman seems to be popular for getting pork for their own district).

                And your primary system pretty much guarantees that politicians are popular with their base.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Actually, the Tea Party [patriotically] turned its back on local pork, and nominated enough GOP winners in the House to arrest the growth of spending. And in 2012, will continue the trend.

                Since the US House of Representatives, with its 2-yr terms, is closest to the parliamentary system, the US seems to have incorporated the best feature of that system. And although there are master porkmeisters like the late Harry Byrd, our senators are elected more on their positions than their porkiness, which is prudent.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                No Congressman will ever get primaried out of office for bringing stuff to his state, no matter how “unpopular” earmarks are.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mr. Ewiak, that observation does not lead to a point.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                I think you mean Robert Byrd of West Virginia, deceased last year after arranging for much of the federal government’s offices to be transferred to said state. Harry Byrd, Sr. and Harry Byrd, Jr. were no relation (and represented Virginia between 1933 and 1983).Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                Members of Congress acting as intercessors with the federal bureaucracy (‘constituent service’) is not generally a problem. Neither is local pork much of a problem. The sum of public works spending by the federal government is quite modest. IIRC, the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers is under $10 bn.

                The real problem is the cumulative effect of special dispensations incorporated into the tax code and (more esoterically and off-budget) into the regulatory regime in given agencies. Re-imbursement formulae incorporated into big-ticket items are a problem. Bidding procedures can be a problem. The large mass of grants to state and local government are a problem. There are ways to excise some of these and ameliorate others, however. Implementing them will be well-nigh impossible if legislation can be held hostage to U.S. Senators on the d’Amato-Byrd-Landrieu axis.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    If a Republican did essentially exactly what Obama has done you wouldn’t even have a Tea Party…

    You mean like George W. Bush did during his last year in office?Report

  3. Avatar RTod says:

    A tangential question I would love to see someone delve into: would there have been a Tea Party without Glenn Beck, or without FOX?

    I certainly don’t think either “controls” any of the Tea Party chapters, but I wonder if the circumstances were identical and Glenn and FOX had been focused on other stuff, would this movement have ever gotten off it’s grass-rooted ground?Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Would there have been a John Birch society without Fox News?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Would there have been anti-war protests without ANSWER?

      It seems to me that the answer is “of course” but, I’ll grant, there would have been a handful of rallies that would not have been anywhere near as large as they had been.

      I see a similar dynamic here.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        A similar dynamic, sure, but the Tea Party strikes me as fascinating in a different way. If it *is* true that the Tea Party is essentially a Beck or FOX creation (and I’m not convinced it is) it is a wholly different animal than ANSWER anti-war rallies.

        ANSWER is a political advocacy group that exists to organize anti-war protests.

        Beck and those at FOX that promoted the TPs (I’m talking about the Hannitys and FOX & Friends types, not the reporters or news casters) are entertainers. If they *did* create the TP, or were at least responsible for it’s huge success, then what they achieved was not advocacy so much as a hugely successful cross-marketing campaign. Imagine creating a cross marketing campaign that turns millions of consumers into a proselytizing and passionate tribe, who preaches as one of their core messages that people should not get products and services from your competitors not out of personal preference so much as capital M Morality.

        I think it is actually hugely different, and altogether brilliant.

        This assumes, of course, that is a chicken-egg and not egg-chicken.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    I was wondering why the lines in the neo-liberal cafeteria got so long all of the sudden. That said, if I see the execrable W getting admitted into the club I’m escaping out a window (and I’m taking the tablecloths with me).Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      In the club? His daddy built the club, bought the tablecloths, and taught Bill Clinton the secret handshake.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        HW Bush? He was a bit before my time; I wouldn’t call him a neo-liberal but I’d say he was a pretty honest, honorable and decent conservative. Pity they don’t have any of is ilk on the right any more.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          But even HW thought he had to pretend to be a “social conservative” to be elected. If you can, find a recording of the debate with Dukakis where he says he’s against abortion. It rivals Mitt for transparent phoniness.Report

  5. Avatar shano says:

    I wish neo- liberalism would die a quick death along with the Neo- conservatives. Both are really bad for national and global affairs.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Right, what we really need are the good old days of command-and-control, protectionism, and…Europe and Asia devastated by war.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “Our bastard”, international “realism”, and proxy war after proxy war.

        The music was better, anyway.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Well, the whole point of devastating Europe and Asia with war was so that their economies would suck so badly that they could not draw capital and jobs away from americans! Then you could have big unions to collect all the monopoly rents.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Command and control protectionism was instituted during the Wilson years to protect capitalism from the ravages of actual, real competition. You know , the type of competition which drives a person to want to destroy his opponent by bankrupting him. And potentially himself as well. That’s not good for market stability, or longevity.

        America had a long history of ‘command and control’ until it became evident that oligopolistic price fixing was the appropriate and much more liberating ‘free market’ solution to the problem. Since then, mergers and acquisitions have been the order of the day, refuting one of the fundamental principles of a more naive ‘free market’ ideology: that free and unfettered competition is a boon to consumers and capitalists alike. It isn’t. It leaves the economy in ruins.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          Them Googles & Apples sure did ruin the economy, didn’t they?Report

        • Avatar James K says:

          I’m deeply sceptical of your interpretation of events.

          For one thing there’s nothing wrong with people being driven into bankruptcy. I mean it sucks for them, but the system can cope with that.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I’m deeply sceptical of your interpretation of events.

            I know you are. But your skepticism in and of itself doesn’t mean what I said above was wrong. And I agree with you about bankruptcy in principle. But the comment wasn’t about bankruptcy, rather the inherent instability of free market capitalism. Which it is. Only when a few firms (or individuals) actually can act as non-anonymous actors and leverage their power into sustainable profit margins, can markets actually become stable.

            But that’s the opposite of a naive view of free markets. It’s also what Milton Friedman technically defined as a monopolized market. And it’s what permits people to now advocate against command-control: most markets are already stable due to oligopolization.Report

            • Avatar James K says:

              And your assertion doesn’t make it right.

              What you are talking about is greatly at variance with how I understand market to work, and since I’ve spent my entire adult life learning about how markets work I think my scepticism is warranted.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Seriously, do you have any substantive crticisms of neo-liberalism beyond that it shares a prefix with neo-conservativism?Report

      • Avatar wardsmith says:

        Neo /did/ bring down the Matrix. Or did he save it? I was never too sure.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          The Matrix? He saved it. Smith was an uncontrolled virus threatening to destroy the entire system (and also threatening to infect the machine civilization that built it) and Neo destroyed Smith allowing the Matrix to continue to function, albeit with a small minority of humans being released from it.

          And yes, I feel a touch sheepish that I know that right off the cuff.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith says:

            That’s just the storyline. But didn’t the Neo-Anderson ruin the Matrix in the first place by infecting the New-Smith? Neo-Smith couldn’t have become the virus he was without Neo-Anderson disassembling him. He was a program after all. The better philosophical question is whether the Matrix should have even continued to exist. Forced servitude in perpetuity by the mindless masses for the benefit of the faceless uber-machina? Wait a minute, this is all starting to feel familiar…Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Brilliant, North!
            Sooooo, that’s what that was about!Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        Neopolitan has been a danger to global ice cream stability for yearsReport

      • Avatar dexter says:

        I am not up on all things neo-liberal so would you kindly explain to me how moving three million manufactoring jobs overseas is good for America?Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          Regulation, taxes and high operating costs drove many of those jobs over-seas — if that is neo-liberalism, then it’s not good for America.

          But, in a global economy, it’s expected that corporations will place themselves globally. We just need to create a free market environment that attracts companies to America. We can be the biggest magnet, if we get serious and remove the foolish economic planners.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            In other words, the jobs will come back, just as soon as we let American be paid slave wages, remove any sort of environmental and labor regulations, and cut taxes on the “job creators.” The same BS we’ve been told for the past 30 years.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco says:

              No, but declines in real wages are a component of the rebalancing which occurs in economic recoveries and allows labor markets to come closer to clearing.

              Institutional practices which might change (with the aid of statutory law) and thus act to ameliorate the uncertainty which is appended to hiring a worker would be..

              1. Restructuring the financing of medical care, replacing employer provision with a mix of public provision, co-operative purchase, and out-of-pocket purchase.

              2. Hastening the replacement of defined-benefit pension plans with defined-contribution plans.

              3. Promoting ‘Japanese’ compensation schemes, whereby people receive a base wage (or salary) and a fluctuating bonus derived from company earnings.

              4. Rechartering extant trade unions as associations for the cooperative purchase of insurance and legal services and the maintenance of pension funds; extending collective bargaining privileges only to company unions.

              5. Lowering the federal minimum wage to a convenience value of $1.40 an hour.

              6. Sorting of regulatory responsibilities between federal and state governments in the realm of labor relations and occupational safety, so that private concerns are contending with one or the other but not typically both. You might have the federal authorities regulate pension plans, interstate shipping and transportation, nuclear materials, mining, employers domiciled in multiple states, and trade unions domiciled in multiple states. You could then have the states supervise the rest.

              7. Repeal and replace much of employment discrimination law. One might define certain types of workplace harrassment and certain particularly insulting practices in hiring and promotion as torts. Otherwise, let companies have plenary discretion. It costs them to be stupid (unless the stupidity is systemic in an industry). Much of higher education’s status as a gatekeeper in the labor market (and the motivation to accumulate large quantities of debt ‘ere entering the work force) can be attributed to employment discrimination law.Report

          • Avatar dexter says:

            That sounds like a good idea. Haiti just raised their minimum wage to 31 cents per hour. I am looking forward to the day when Americans can compete with those wages.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer says:

              dexter, this sounds damning, but is has nothing to do with allowing wages to follow the market in an industrialzed nation.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Except that it does, because an industrialized nation now exists in a global market, which means that the labor market now includes less industrialized nations.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                The global market doesn’t set our minimum wage wage law. In many ways, in endeavors unique to America and other technologically advanced, industrial countries, the global market doesn’t limit our wages.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Zero capital gains and bingo-bango we got full employment, but commie-Dems aren’t really about ‘jobs.’Report

  6. Avatar b-psycho says:

    The “tea party” is culture war in a suit made of the skin of dead economists. Their whole act boils down to “tax-funded benefits for ME are good, tax-funded benefits for THEM are pure evil and must be destroyed” — which has squat meaningful to really do with the propriety of social welfare in and of itself.Report

  7. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    “The whole government spending thing was never a rally-the-base issue when Republicans had the wheel.” You’re right if you’re applying the above to the Neo-cons and Rinos in the GOP, who are, by-and-large bob tailed commie-Dems. The Paleos were always agin’ it and said so in their periodicals and, pretty much, among the talk show hosts, at least in terms of not being comfortable with George trying to imitate/placate the immoral Dems. But, as bad as GB’s spending was, it pales when compared to Hisself.
    C’mon guys, there’s a whole lotta graveyard whistling goin’ on here. Though, it’s kinda fun watching “libertarians” trying to defend a big gummint dude.
    Barry’s toast if he doesn’t, somehow, get the economy to the levels enjoyed by that evil George Bush (about 5%) and push the evil, corporate, stock market back up to 14k or so. And, the bad news is Barry’s ‘advisors’ have indicated they’ve shot off all the silly, leftwing econ bullets in their quiver (…calling Dr. Keynes, calling Dr. Keynes!)
    Well, it’s all, pretty much gone in the crapper for Barry (…have you noticed, my man’s got that deer in headlight look about him?) and he’s drug the American people down, damn near as low as they’ve ever been, which doesn’t mean he won’t be re-elected.
    Americans, thanks to Barry, really do have that Carterfied ‘malaise’ thing goin’ for them, now!
    Actually, I feel rather sorry for those Americans who voted for this clown (I actually had one apologize to me the other day!), who thought Hisself knew what he was doing.
    As Mr. Car-vile once said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” And, the economy belongs to the commie-Dems.Report

    • Avatar b-psycho says:

      Do you really think the Democratic Party is made up of communists, or am I missing some kind of snark here?Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        It’s always hard to separate the line between lying and delusion, isn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Mr. b-psycho, God forbid that I would engage in snarkery. My analysis of the Democrat Party has uncovered the fact that these derailed individuals share many systemic principles with Leninists, Stalinists, and Mr. Marx. So much so that there’s really no need to split hairs here at the League. However, the good news is that in terms of order and disorder and in reality and non-reality the days of the ideological systemizers are truly numbered. As always, I’m here to hep.Report

        • Avatar b-psycho says:

          Explain corporate profits and the continued power of the finance sector during Democratic rule then…

          Both “major” parties are capitalist. The twist is that contrary to popular belief, capitalist does not = advocate of a free market. State-capitalism just does a better job of hiding its intervention points (usually) than state-socialism.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Mr. b-psycho,
            Usually the commie-dems (JFK, LBJ, Bubba) understand that they’re cultural parasites lodged deep in the ass of the corporate/Capitalist/working class producers. Now, in the past they happily sucked the life fluids from said corporations, small bidness, and gainfully employed drones but not so much as to make them sick or, God forbid, kill them. That’d be like killling the Golden Goose.
            Barry on the otherhand is a fished up Hawaiian, Kenyan Marxist and his objective is to economically destroy the country, which by the way he is succeeding at, and instituting those evil, commie, ideological mechanism that will allow the nation to rise again, only this time as a socialist, secularist state where many of you here will have to be re-educated.
            I’m here to hep!Report

  8. Avatar MFarmer says:

    This is maddening. Obama and progressives are working as hard as they can to command and control the economy — Dodd-Frank is cranking out regulations faster than businesses can keep up — the EPA is cranking out regulations — Obamacare is coming online. This is simply incredible. One analysis showed that 600 recent regulations have added 1.5 billion dollars to the cost of doing business. Incredible. I simply don’t understand this angle, when it’s so obvious that we are getting further and further from a free market each year — do people really not understand what a free market is?Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      We are truly living in Orwellian times in which the obscurantism of the media and political pundits is clouding people’s judgement, but not everyone’s judgement. In the real world up is not down, and down is not up.Report

    • Avatar Steven Donegal says:

      We understand what a free market is. It’s where businesses get to dump all their negative externalities on the rest of us without bearing any of the cost. It’s a helluva deal as long as it lasts.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “One analysis showed that 600 recent regulations have added 1.5 billion dollars to the cost of doing business. ”

      (a) A recent analysis by whom?
      (b) $1.5 billion in a $14 trillion economy?
      (b) How many trillions of $ would a re-regulated Wall St have
      saved us?Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        that was in one month, BarryReport

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          Barry is another socialist who doesn’t hide his colors. Very good.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            Are these the same fine folks who told us the Ryan Plan would give us 2.3% unemployment?Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Socialist apparently = someone who doesn’t think that catering to big business is the sole purpose of governments.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              1. We must either stomp on big business or stomp on the poor.

              2. The obvious choice is big business, because the poor are… poor!

              It’s the first premise I reject. Stomp on no one.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Stomp on no one is a good motto, Jason.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                The assumption seems always that the state’s actions — and even its inactions — inevitably help one social class at the expense of another. The question is never “How do we set things up equitably?” but always “Whose team are you on?”

                Catering to big business is never the proper purpose of government. And yet much, much deregulation is entirely justified.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                “How do we set things up equitably?”

                Jason, could you take a crack at answering your own question? I’m particularly interested in who the “we” is in the question and how “equitably” gets defined.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                The first mistake is to think it could be answered in a single blog comment, a single sound bite, or even a single election season.

                I consider something like what I’m talking about to be a guiding principle here for everything that I write. Look at it all, and even that’s woefully incomplete. (Also, I’m amused to no end when I feed straight-up Rawls right back to liberals and they think I’m trying to pull one over on them in favor of the industrialists.)Report

              • Avatar dexter says:

                What three things would you deregulate?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                1) Pharmaceuticals (both the drug war part and the prescription part, which are really part and parcel of the same thing. But it can count twice if one wants to)

                2) Agriculture (see also raw milk raids.)

                3) immigrationReport

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                1. Agriculture;

                2. Primary and secondary schooling;

                3. General operations of state and local government.Report

              • Avatar JosephFM says:

                When have the state’s action ever not helped one social class at the expense of another, ever, in history? I’m totally at a loss here.

                Even “setting things up equitably” would inevitably end up at a loss of privilege by those benefiting from inequities.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Stomp on no one is a good motto, Jason.

                Jesu Cristo EDK, do you really believe this? I mean seriously, after the last two weeks of bullshit, you can say stomp on no one?

                At some point you have to choose sides. It doesn’t even matter which side you choose, just so long as you commit to it. The indecision and meta-judgments are enough to already put you on the side of evil as it is: the people who are working against your interests look at your indecision and smile. With satisfaction.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


                It’s weird to see this word used unironically.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Torture is evil; a lot of us have been saying that the whole time it’s been euphemized as “enhanced interrogation techniques”.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                That does feel different from saying the (name your politcal party’s opponent here) is the side of evil, though.

                JB is right, it’s hard to absorb in an un-ironic way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Had this been a rant against torture, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have noticed the use of the word.

                I did a quick little search on “torture is evil” on this site though and that exact string shows up twice… and once it is in reference to the “‘torture is evil’ side”.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Yeah, “evil” is totally different from “demonic”.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                The weird thing is I’ve just written a post on evil and am just struggling to write the last paragraph.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, I’m used to backwards people using the term.

                Dancing around a fire and exorcising demons.

                I’m taken aback seeing it used by enlightened folks in a context where they aren’t talking about, for example, torture.

                (I’m very much looking forward to Rufus’s post, by the way.)Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                …killing babies is not ironic but it is evil.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                While keeping slaves is praiseworthy.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                What’s really ironic is that my comment suggesting that a person’s detached meta-judgments about politics and policy in the absence of political engagement undermines their own self-interest was met with … detached meta-judgments. About the comment.

                Weird, no?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If that’s the case, then I, too, am on the side of evil.

                Surely you can understand why I might remember the last group of people who called me evil because of the “side” I was on. Surely you can understand why I think you sound a lot like them. Surely you can understand why I see your position as the other side of the coin that their position is on.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You’ve conveniently overlooked the actual point of the comment: that it doesn’t matter which side you’re on. You’re on the side of evil because you’re not opposing/advancing policy initiatives that by your own lights harm/promote the things you care about. By failing to push back – and let’s face it, making meta-judgments about how both parties are equally fucked up doesn’t push back or promote anything politically – you are tacitly permitting other people to decide your fate. And insofar as those policies are intended to do you harm, your apathy puts you squarely on their side.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “At least it’s an ethos”?

                Yeah, I think I’m over playing that whole “lesser of two evils” game. I’m also over playing the whole “a vote for a fifth party is effectively a vote for the greater of two evils!” game.

                If that’s what you’re into, of course, keep at it. Everybody needs a hobby and if you feel that your hobby is fighting against the forces of evil, well, let me get out of your way. Knock yourself out. Try to avoid looking in any mirrors around extended periods of looking at the enemy. Might end up with seven years bad luck.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think I’m over playing that whole “lesser of two evils” game. I’m also over playing the whole “a vote for a fifth party is effectively a vote for the greater of two evils!” game.

                This exactly confirms my point. You’re rigidity wrt principles gives you a sense of principled satisfaction for taking a principled stand against participating in the actual un-principled power struggles that determine un-principled policy.


              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If I’m going to compromise my principles, I’m going to need a lot more than arguments about how I wouldn’t have had to compromise them for nothing if only the opposition didn’t exist.

                If that works for you, though, that’s awesome. Keep at it!

                I’m pretty sure that you’ll get sick of looking at yourself in the mirror before I will.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                By your own lights, on your personal view of government as it currently exists, there is (let’s say) a set of entrenched policies that are good, and another set of entrenched policies that are bad. Your contention is that the two parties who currently shape legislation are exactly indistinguishable wrt advancing your goals wrt your preferred policies? Is that right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                No. It’s that there is an entrenched set of policies that is bad in one way and a different set of entrenched policies that are bad in a different way.

                The choice is between voting for this set of bad, harmful policies or voting for that set of bad, harmful policies. (And, let’s face it, the Venn Diagram of them have a *LOT* of overlap and where they don’t overlap are the areas where they will *NEVER* be able to push through their particular agendas.)

                Sometimes I’m lucky and the guy who gets elected by promising to be different from the last guy is indistinguishable from him once in office… but that’s because his bad policies overlap with the bad policies of his so-called “opposition”.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Ahh, Good. I’m glad you made this explicit. So, from your pov, political solution to the pressing problems of government and policy are impossible.

                What’s left? Second Amendment remedies? Is that on the table?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I keep my head down, I take care of my family, I do what I can to help my extended family, and I wait to see what happens next.

                Part of the problem is that I don’t see “killing the right folks” as much of a good solution to an entrenched problem as your political parties do.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                So, regulation now equals stomping on big business now. You don’t stomp on big business or corporations in general. You keep them in a cage of regulation for the same reason you keep a tiger in a cage. Because uncaged, they kill you.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I was hoping the hyperbole would be obvious. See above for a fuller explanation.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Oh I agree. I don’t see any reason why, in our current system, we can’t promote the interests of both big business and the poor. I just see Farmer saying “Socialist” to anyone who says anything bad about business or pro-business or deregulation policies. And I thought it was funny. “Socialist,” in our country, has come to mean absolutely nothing, except as a word with a strong emotional valence for the right to tar its opponents.Report

              • Avatar JosephFM says:

                The funny thing is that all of the actual, self-proclaimed socialists I’ve ever met have also been anarchists and therefore every bit as anti-statist as Farmer himself.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I go by Mises working definition of socialism, which he worked out in his book…wait…wait…Socialism — I’ll bet it took a long time for him to decide on that title.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Plus, Chris, it’s funny how you’ve missed my rants against government/corporate enmeshment, and how I support a free market, not because I support any type of business, but rather support economic freedom — along with other freedoms.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          (a) study by whom
          (b) then why are corporate profits and cash on hand so high?Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

          This all sort of dodges the point, Mike. The Republicans are no different than the Democrats when they’re in charge. They whine and complain that Obama does it. Then they take the wheel and do the same thing. The Tea Party would not exist (in its current size or shape) if McCain or Romney were president. Ron Paul is consistent, but he’s a lone wolf.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            E.D. — I agree that the Republicans have been just as bad, now, can we move along? I have to laugh at this response.Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

              I’m sure you do, Mike. You laugh at this response and then cry “statists!” for all the world to hear.

              And yet here we are in a world with governments, in a world where all these policies really do matter. Saying that we’d all be better off without all this big government nonsense may be true, but what’s the point? Do you think we’re going to dismantle the welfare state? Do you think you’re providing anyone with a path toward something that’s workable? Or is it just a comfortable ideal that easily escapes the reality on the ground?

              I mean, to be quite frank, I don’t really disagree with you that much. But you’re ideas are in the ‘true but useless’ category in many ways, at least in terms of the politics we have.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I don’t think so. If no one ever saw the possible and worked toward it, nothing would change. I’m just not as pessimistic as you, and I don’t care about blaming one party over the other. At some point in history, the idea of America probably seemed impossible to many people.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                But, I’ll be damned if I’ll capitulate just because creating a free market will be difficult. You can criticize and belittle me for crying “statism” if you want to, but statism is destroying itself, and something needs to replace it other than complete tyranny.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                You’re so worked up these days, Mike. Settle down will ya?

                You keep coming into each of these threads all punchy-like. No need for that.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I don’t know what you’re talking about. This is a strange description of my contribution here. I state what I believe. You are the one who seems punchy and out of sorts when anyone disagrees with you. Having doubts?Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Mike – *sigh*

                Having doubts about what? You *do* seem punchy. You may not realize it, but you do. I may be a bit defensive, true, but that’s probably just the nature of writing something and getting lots of flak for it (over and over again these days it seems). But you just recently showed back up and you seem…I dunno, all pumped up. Adrenaline running high or something.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                E.D., that’s a sneaky way to avoid tackling the opposition I present — questioning my mental/emotional state. Here’s my punchy answer — grow up..Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Mike – Am I questioning your emotional or mental state? Or am I saying that you seem punchy, amped up – maybe looking for a fight a little bit?

                It has nothing to do with your arguments. Here’s my answer to your arguments: not gonna happen. You need to show how you plan on going from point A to point Z instead of just saying “If we were at point Z everything would be great!”Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Yes, to say I’m punchy and looking for a fight is a serious accusation regarding my mental state. I don’t know what is wrong with you, but this doesn’t describe my participation here at all. Most of my posts have been humorous and light-hearted. I think you’re mad because I’m disagreeing with you, but I don’t care. Show me where I’m looking for fight. If you knew me, you’d know that if I wanted to fight, I’d be fighting.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Yes Mike. I’m mad because you’re disagreeing with me. That’s exactly what it is. You know I just can’t stand disagreement.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Plus, E.D., I’ve written lengthy comments here explaining how we can get from A to Z, over and over. Your characterization is manufactured to portray me as someone who doesn’t provide content, but I do. Why are you doing this?Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                I’m doing this, obviously, because I’m mad that you disagree with me. And because I can’t stand dissent.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Well, E.D, I wouldn’t think that you’d be mad because I disagree with you, but you’ve given me nothing else to go on, so I’m just assuming that must be it.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Also, Mike, I’d be interested in your take on this.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                It’s a lot to answer in a comment — I’ll write one more post answering all these issues on my site and send you a link. Be careful, though, that you don’t become intolerant of opposing views — you seem to be very arrogant and intolerant lately, Your site though, and you can do what you want. Just a warning that you might wind up with a lot of ass-slappers and not much interesting differences of opinion.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Yeah, okay Mike. Thanks for the…ahem…advice there buddy.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                You’re welcome, E. D. — I’ve just seen too many sites become insulated with like-minded thinkers, and the owner begins to get testy when someone comes in and has strong opposition to the prevailing mindset. I’d hate to see that happen here.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Mike – I *don’t care* about dissenting opinions. That’s why I attempted to engage you in the comments. And gave you the link to my other post. So that we could argue about all of this stuff and figure it all out.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “Mike – I *don’t care* about dissenting opinions. That’s why I attempted to engage you in the comments. And gave you the link to my other post. So that we could argue about all of this stuff and figure it all out.”

                Good. that’s a healthy position. I was getting worried for a minute.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                One thing I can say about the linked post is that transition to a free market is necessary to stop inequalities going forward — I don’t think we can make it fair and determine who deserves what before making the transition. And when a proposal is made to dismantle the welfare state, that doesn’t mean the person making the proposal wants to take all assistance away, but rather allow a free market to respond to assistance. The Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army — there is already a foundation — we just need to make the transition and remove government involvement. Creating a free market would be the first order of business, because you need a good healthy economy and minimal taxes, so that people have the income to contribute. The public has been okay with the welfare state because they want to help, so if the transition is made, people will respond, and if it’s voluntary, they will have pride, and morally it’ll be a boost to the American spirit — it will create a sense of community responsibility. Innovation and creativity will enter the picture, and people will think of all kinds of ways to improve assistance to the needy — for the great many of us, I’ve proposed insurance/retirment plans which are purchased at the beginning of a life, and it could follow the person through life providing for emergencies, college, unemployment, healthcare, retirement. I’ve suggested that insurance professionals have a brain-strorming summit in which comprehensive plans are offered for the public to consider, showing the greater benefits of private plans. I’ve also addressed some of the problems arising like private ceritification companies which provide seals of approval to gain public trust that the plans and comapnies are solid, and other mechanisms to detect financial problems when they arise.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                Don’t capitulate then.

                Just offer a suggestion of a path forward that is achievable and doesn’t leave everyone at the mercy of entrenched power.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                As long as there is a “status” there will be a status quo to defend. Thus it was and thus it will ever be.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                My God, all I do is offer suggestions to move forward. Jesus, what are you people reading when I write?Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                Way to NOT engage there, Mike. The operative words there were “achievable” and “entrenched power”.

                I’ve not read everything you’ve written, but I’ve seen quite a bit. I understand your point (and somewhat agree) that establishment of a truly free market would be anathema to Big Business. I share your hope that dismantling the welfare state could lead to greater private innovation and increased community responsibility from a potentially generous American people. I’ve seen very little commentary arguing with your goals.

                However, you’ve been clear that the FIRST order of business is to create a free market, as if there is a Create a Free Market Button that we as a society could just push if we could only summon the collective will.

                In absence of this magic button, what is it you propose we do to first create a free market? Do we start by electing like minded leaders to enact free market policies? Is it possible to create a free market without the ruling class’ participation. Is it only deregulation you propose or do you see any need to dismantle any non-government/anti-competitive structural advantages present in our economy?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:


                You start by fixing the loopholes in the Constitution so limitations are clear — The government must be limited if a free market is to work — just as people preach separation of Church and State, we must honor separation of State and Economy. This is why the Framers included an amendment process, so that we could fix what goes wrong — and the commerce and welfare clauses have gone terribly wrong. Then you begin removing regulations and strengthening the court system to become rational arbiters regarding violation of rights. This will be a long arduous process, but it might be forced on us if the State fails more quickly than it has been failing — we’re getting close to a tipping point at which a crisis will set off a chain reaction that puts us at square one.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:


                I find it difficult to believe that people think the entrenched power, the ruling class, can’t be brought down. It would take nothing but the people dissenting in such a way that the consent to govern is withdrawn. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s not — we’re getting closed — 80 something percent disapprove of congress — good Lord.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                Thank you, Mike. That’s helpful.

                So we’ll need the ruling class to cooperate in order to fix the loopholes in the Constitution, right? How do we get elected people who would choose to limit their own power?

                We’ll also need to protect the courts against capture, if they are to be strengthened. Because if the moneyed interests are no longer protected by the legislature of the state, they’ll put their money to work buying the next available institution to protect themselves, wouldn’t you agree?Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                Mike –

                Let me be clear, I define entrenched power as the collusion between the state and moneyed interests. It takes two to tango, so limitations on one does not ensure limitation on both.

                Also, “It would take nothing but the people dissenting in such a way that the consent to govern is withdrawn” is a breathtaking statement. There is a massive step between 20% approval and tanks in the streets a la Assad in Syria. That ain’t “nothing”.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                I’ve got to go, but thank you for dialing back the indignation a bit and directly answering my questions.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Tanks in the street! Talk about a jump.

                Maybe the powerful just have us locked in, and there’s no way out. I’ll be sure to tell my granddaughter before she gets her hopes up.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                indignation? some of you guys are poor judges of tone.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                some of you guys are poor judges of tone.

                In our defense, it’s Friday night and we’re drunk.

                Join us.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                The problem is the expanding, statist, central gummint. What the TPers recognize is that it is necessary to examine the experience of federalism, and all that that entails, and re-institute those founding principles. Of course, none of this silliness would have been necessary had the South won the war.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Because a government that intended to build a slave empire could hardly be called “statist”.Report

              • Avatar patrick says:

                > What the TPers recognize is that it is
                > necessary to examine the experience
                > of federalism, and all that that entails,
                > and re-institute those founding
                > principles.

                Oddly enough, Bob, I agree with the necessity. I disagree that the TPers recognize it (see elsewhere, most TPers are idiots parroting a line, just like most political groups).

                > Of course, none of this silliness
                > would have been necessary had
                > the South won the war.

                Heh. You’re not going back far enough, Bob.

                None of this silliness would have been necessary if the South had just given up on the idea of slavery. No slavery, no Civil War, and no 14th amendment. Probably no U.S. involvement in WWI.

                We would have probably had an expanded federal government due to WWII, but even then it would have been “The United STATES of America vs. the Axis” not “The United States of AMERICA vs. the Axis.”Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Pat, I’m not sure of the sundry I. Q’s here. My experience with TPers is that they seem considerably more informed of the basics of gummint then my commie-dem friends but that’s just anecdotal.
                Re: the ‘late unpleasantness’, and I have no desire to highjack the dialogue, but the South would have seceded over tariffs, and Lincoln at the behest of the Eastern monied interests would have had to invade. Ironically, the initiation of American statism is the result of capital seeking a mutually benefical position with gummint. While Lincoln takes the blame as the great tyrant, it’s obvious that the political class in toto had become immoral and abandoned the virtues of republicanism. And, that is what the TPers seek to recapture.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                the South would have seceded over tariffs,

                Yes, that’s why the recessions started before Lincoln was even inaugurated: because he was expected to raise tariffs.

                Do you ever get tired of spouting nonsense?Report

              • Avatar patrick says:

                > The South would have seceded
                > over tariffs, and Lincoln at the
                > behest of the Eastern monied
                > interests would have had to
                > invade.

                Could you supply, yanno, any sort of contemporary evidence to bolster this claim?

                I just read South Carolina’s Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union , and I see no mention of tariffs therein. I would think, if one was dissolving one’s relationship with a mother country, one would include a list of grievances that would be as inclusive and exhaustive as possible.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Patrick, you might wanna look at Georgia’s secession statement. Also, an excellent, objective read is Jeffery Hummel’s “Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Freemen.”Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Geez, RC, give it a rest. ‘Twas you who brought up the South and so, did hijack the dialogue, despite yr protestations.

                Now, knowing you as I have grown to, I imagine you were at most 1/4 serious in bringing it up. I took yr original remark as a bit of self-mockery as in, “there he goes again.”

                Or at least I hope so. Even Glenn Beck’s co-hosts on his radio show give him, “Yeah, yeah, Woodrow Wilson, blahblahblah,” and even Beck admits it’s funny.

                Now then, as a gentleperson who resides on the right side of the aisle and not the wrong, surely you know that the left credits itself for all racial progress in the history of the United States. Rather than face the disaster that was Pelosi-ism and is President, Barack Obama, you trigger a grateful Pavlovian response by mentioning the Confederacy and therefore race, the left’s last line of defense and first line of attack.

                Because the last time the left was right about anything was c. 1964, which is its last justification-for-existing; its attack is that whatever racism remains in these Re-United States [re-united after Mr. Lincoln’s War of Northern Aggression] now votes GOP exclusively.

                And so, Mention the South>Vote Democrat. Inexorably. Pls, dear Robert, stop playing Dr. Pavlov and stop ringing that damn bell. It only makes them salivate.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Thx Tom, I deserved that! And, yes I’m rather innocent in that that was a throw away remark, though in the back of my mind I was, just a little, chumming the waters.
                Loved your analysis btw, and of course, you’re right.
                I dunno about you but I’m beginning to sense some despair here as it pretains to Hisself. The loveable E.D. seems to be ever walking the circle, not quite sure of himself, then gets published in an important leftwing periodical, which made proud of our version of the League’s Woody Allen.
                BTW, Tom, I’m ever so proud of your ongoing efforts to teach and instruct here among the unwashed. Keep it up, you’re here to hep, too.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                People like Mike and Bob can tell us that “statism” is the problem, but I’m never quite sure what that problem is (it’s not like there were fewer poor people before the increase in “statism” that gets us to 2011, is it?), or how reducing the size of the federal government is supposed to solve it.

                I say this as someone who would be more than happy to do away with the government as well, but for me, something else has to go first.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Chris, here’s one example of how to reduce the corruption in the central gummint: re: ‘poor’ people let’s leave the question to the states. Now, people are people, but the corruption surrounding the ‘poor’ is closer to the taxpayer in terms of state gummnt vs. the Leviathan and there are lots of local prosecutors who’d like to make their bones on catching either bureaucrats or the professional ‘poor’ cheating. Which is to say monitoring the expenditures may be a lot more intense on the state leve than on a federal level, which is good for the taxpayer.
                Now, Chris there’s a lot more examples of this sort. Perhaps you can come up with a few?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Bob, that might work fine for Deleware or hell, even Alabama, but I don’t see how it makes a whole hell of a lot of difference for a state like Texas, New York, California, or Florida. And I don’t see a lot “more intense” monitoring of expenditures in these states, either.

                Also, I think the “professional ‘poor'” are pretty much the least of our worries.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Chris, when someone jumps to “removing government” as a response to criticism of statism, I realize at once that they are spinning or just don’t understand the historical argument of most minarchists.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I don’t mean removing government entirely. I just mean removing government from some, most, or all of the things that it’s in. But hey, you can insult me if you like. Since you’ve never actually presented an argument or evidence, I can’t really say whether you understand shit either. I’m leaning towards no.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I wasn’t insulting you, but responding to this –
                “I say this as someone who would be more than happy to do away with the government as well, but for me, something else has to go first.”

                That sounds like you accused us of wanting to do away with government,Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Ah, yes, I would like to do away with the government, but something else: capitalism, materialism, etc., has to go first. I’m not a minarchist, in large part because minarchists who call themselves such tend to be libertarians, free marketers, and I find them… lacking.

                I’m precisely what you accuse others of being (despite the fact that they are not), except I’m only a statist to the extent that we live with a market at the center of our society (not just our economy). Where there is capitalism, there must be a government, even if the government will in most cases cater to capital, as ours does. At least it will throw us some bones, and the more bones the better (for me, those bones should include at a minimum single payer health care, social security, working infrastructure, and various safety nets for those who inevitably fall through the cracks, long term or short term, along with vigorously protecting the right to organize).

                But I am a socialist (not a Marxist, not a Leninist, certainly not a Stalinist), and I probably find the government as repulsive as you do. The difference between us lies in how repulsive we find capitalism.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                It depends on what you call capitalism. What is called capitalism today is not capitalism. The word has been so perverted, I prefer to simply refer to free market and economic freedom.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                What would you replace capitalism with in your government-less, socialist world?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Something else along these lines, E.D., Alexander Rustow wrote Domination and Freedom in the 50s, and in one chapter he described the process of collapse regarding great empires and powerful nations. One part of the process is when the people accept the status quo as something that can’t significantly be changed. A pessimism and submissive acceptance sets in, and people attempt to tweak and make small changes, or they try to manipulate the system as it is to find advantage or comfort — the powerful system rolls on out of control, and the worse it gets the lower the standards become, until there’s collapse.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                This was supposed to go way up thereReport

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                @Mfarmer, that is what I meant when I said this above:
                As long as there is a “status” there will be a status quo to defend. Thus it was and thus it will ever be.

                It isn’t just the pessimism that drives this. The entrenched special interests will continue entrenching and resisting change because that’s all they know and they’re bigger than thee or me.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Wardsmith — Special interests have been more active and organized, but this can be overcome with a grassroots movement that draws the full political power of the American people to the fight. Almost half the people qualified don’t vote. I have a feeling this is changing, and I’ve never been one to submit to power just because it’s in power — status can change quickly. As statism results in more economic failure, and as special interests are revealed in the Information Age as players in a fixed game, a more informed public will break up the fixed game. And this movement will be diverse — minorities are going to catch on, many have already and refuse to be patsies.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                One of the last bastions of the tyrant class is keeping the illusion of accountability to the process. We think because we can vote that we can accomplish something, but as long as one political party “knows” that it owns 95% of a voting class (as the Democrats have the black vote), they don’t need to work hard for the rest. The parties use their computer programs and their gerrymandered districts and rarely get surprised (although that last election was a doozy). Republicans think they “own” the Tea Party, but it is becoming the other way around. Everyone gets upset at this, but it is the closest thing to Democracy I’ve seen in 50 yrs. Why have we forgotten that our political “leaders” are accountable to US?

                This whole politics thing is just a shim to keep us apart and disorganized into warring camps. We all seem to want the same things here: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, the devil in the details part is just how we get there. Representative Democracy just ain’t cutting it anymore. Too messy.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                The Tea Party are populists. Populists are people too, and unlike their snide critics, Tea Partiers can count even higher than a trillion, as in the deficit.

                And put me down as a continued admirer of Mr. Madison’s system. The Senate and its 6-yr term is designed for stability and continuity; parliaments can fly off the handle. The House of Representatives, with only a 2-year term, is designed to be responsive to popular sentiments.

                As a Burkean conservative, I adore the Senate and its obstructionism, lest we run ourselves down the wrong road.

                But the People’s House is not always wrong, and its job is always to be ahead of the curve and issue first warning. I believe they aren’t wrong here, in the current crisis. One doesn’t need a graduate degree or the data or arguments or models generated by those who possess them. All you need to be able to do is count higher than a trillion, which in some quarters seems to be a lost art.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                E.D. –

                In all fairness to Mike, are your ideas all that far from ‘true but useless’ in a country where Gary Johnson would need to shoot up a mall to get his campaign mentioned on the evening news?Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Well I’m not sure I would actually support Gary Johnson if it came down to it.

                Actually I think the liberaltarian/neoliberal movement is quite likely. Socially liberal but pro-market. What’s so unlikely about that?Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                E.D. –

                Um, in the current political environment, a modest jobs bill, focused on something uncontroversial like fixing crumbling infrastructure (both the Chamber of Commerce and the major unions strongly support it), has 0% chance of enactment. It’s socialism in a time of austerity, see, and therefore forbidden.

                Sadly, liberaltarianism seems a million miles from here.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                This narrative that it’s easy to support a better plan that can’t possibly be implemented is bogus. It’s easier to take the position that the status quo can’t be significantly changes, so we’ll have to do the best we can with what we have. This is a copout and avoidance of doing the tough things necessary to change the system. It’s easy to go along with the status quo — it’s difficult to challenge the status quo and work for significant change.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                I’m not suggesting we have to accept the status quo. I’m loathe to accept the status quo.

                I’m saying the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, not at milepost 750.

                Say you, I and a dozen of our friends share your ultimate goals and want to help. Name the first 5 concrete things we should do to move things along. (Please don’t have any of the 5 be “write about it on a blog”.)Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                It’s already underway — the first step is awareness, and through the new media, more people are aware of statist problems. The second stage is getting representatives into congress who are unafraid to make systemic changes. Citizen activists can call for actions/amendments to limit government — there’s already a push to get an amendment to balance the budget, and this is progress. Once we begin thinking in these terms, radical changes to remove power from the State, the momentum will feed on itself. It takes diligence and re-education. Years of State-controlled education have clouded the American mind. Then it’s a matter of direction — moving in the direction of de-regulation and non-intervention in foreign affairs. It might take several decades, but it can be accomplished if the American people are concerned enough with preventing financial collapse and loss of freedom and pursuing future prosperity and happiness.

                Another stage is the transition from old State-media to new media, in which innovative ideas will surface, making the old, statist ways look pathetically out of date. Once young people’s imagination is tweaked, the whole internet generation is geared for more economic freedom and less foreign intervention — more cultural sharing and less policing the world — more small, nimble businesses and less clumsy giants protected by the State. A new zeitgeist will be born and the momentum will be away from central control to decentralized, free market creativity. There will be thousands of changes, big and small, but once the vision is created, it will pull the American people toward it, and government will be brought under control to serve the people and protect our rights. Washington is like Jurassic Park — the statist mindset is so un-21st century.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              I agree the GOP has been bad, but they did nowhere near the evil this clown has and we’ve just given him another $2.7 Trillion!Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            The Tea Party is the folks who didn’t vote GOP in 2006; the Dems took Congress. Some were disaffected/apathized Republicans [“there’s not a dime’s worth of difference”], others were independents; some weren’t registered to vote atall.

            So perhaps it’s true that GOP control = no Tea Party, but it’s all of a fabric, because they had nowhere else to go, certainly not with or into the Democratic Party.

            As it turns out, there’s more than a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties, it’s more like $1 trillion and in 2011-12, the GOP of 2006 is on the run from the insurgents.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco says:

            I guess I just missed the trillion dollar deficits during Mr. Bush’s tenure and the sweet deals for the United Auto Workers.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Dubya was more of a TARP kinda guy.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                I seem to recall some sweet deals for seniors, steel workers, and the oil industry during the W days.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Is somebody arguing that RINO’s and Neocons aren’t bob-tailed libruls? Bush was a bob-tailed librul. I mean there’s only a couple of issues difference between Neocons and libruls, right? As for Barry, the dude’s spending is apparently designed to bring America to her knees, which reminds me, Is anyone ready to apologize for voting for “hope and change?” I mean either apologize or call, publically, for Barry to resign!Report

              • Avatar dexter says:

                I recall sweet deals for big pharma, Haliburton and others, all without a tax base to support them.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          “hat they will renew their efforts, supported by business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a memo Barasso handed out to the lawmakers, he claimed that the administration in July only has put in $9.5 billion in new regulatory costs by proposing 229 new rules and finalizing 379 rules. Among those he cited were EPA, healthcare reform, and financial regulatory reform rules.”

          In other words, a party whose core belief is econoshit squirted out some more sh*t.

          I’ll remember that in your world, ‘memo put out by politician’ = ‘study.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Mike, I agree this is maddening because so much of this is partisan crock from a man who claims to be strictly non-partisan.

      I mean Bartlett and even ol’ Frum on the right have debunked most of these canards, and I quote:
      “My conservative friends argue that the policies of Barack Obama are responsible for the horrifying length and depth of the economic crisis.
      Question: Which policies?
      Obama’s only tax increases – those contained in the Affordable Care Act – do not go into effect until 2014. Personal income tax rates and corporate tax rates are no higher today than they have been for the past decade. The payroll tax has actually been cut by 2 points. Total federal tax collections have dropped by 4 points of GDP since 2007, from 18+% to 14+%, the lowest rate since the Truman administration. …
      We have not seen a major surge in federal regulation, at least by the usual rough metrics: the page count of the Federal Register has risen by less than 5% since George W. Bush’s last year in office. Trade remains as free as it was a decade ago.
      While the Affordable Care Act itself will eventually have major economic consequences, most of its provisions remain only impending.
      Energy prices have surged, but that’s hardly a response to administration policies.”

      I mean from Bob I expect it since he’s admitted himself that much of what he writes about politics is neither fact nor reason based but rather designed to tweak “libruls and commie dems”. But Bob just wants to make lefties descend into a gibbering rage; he doesn’t want to persuade anyone. You honestly seem to want to be taken seriously so what on earth is with all the baseless over the top accusations. The Dems and the neoliberals want to centralize the means of production and institute communism? I mean good grief, does everyone have a goatee in the universe this is coming from?Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        Frum: “There’s a strong case for condemning Barack Obama for the things he might have done, but did not do.”

        Fine, have it your way. The deficit ballooned to $1T+ ,i>while he had a majority in Congress. He did nothing, except pass a healthcare bill that nobody knows what the hell’s in it and don’t want to hire until they do.


        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          Frum is busy trying to separate his group from the Tea Party group, and he, obviously, doesn’t have the comprehensive intelligence to analyze the problem of government intervention on the economy. It amazes me that the debt has exploded, and we face unfunded liabilities that will destroy us, and Frum spends most of his intellectual energy trying to marginalize a group of America citizens who simply want to do something about spending. Yes, many Tea Partiers, like most citizens in general, don’t have a scholar’s understanding of political science and economics — they don’t specialize in it — but for people like Frum to spend his time working against these people, when he should be elevating the discussion to include an understanding of systemic failure and how Obama’s actions, like his predecessor’s actions, are contributing greatly to our problems, not because Obama is evil, but rather because Obama is a statist politician operating in a statist system that has reached its limit regarding spending and intervention, shows how petty and faux-elitist he’s become.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I have no approval at all for how Obama has handled the HCR issue in particular (his spongy weakness and lead from behind naiveté caused him to get stuck with a bill that was obscurely written and drew more from right wing faux proposals than actual productive ideas) but to try and claim that the fear is HCR’s possible regulations is causing and prolonging a recession that started before it was even written and blatantly is more based on the collapsed financial industry is mighty fail indeed Tom.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Palsy, I think the point is the commie-healthcare legislation is one and only one, of the actions taken by Barry that has resulted in the economy stalling out. Bidness doesn’t know, for sure, what this clown’s going to do. If he’ll use the power of the state (statism) to fish things up for them even more then he’s already done. It’s obvious, I think, that Barry’s not interested in ‘jobs’, in the state doing all that it can to making a positive climate for bidness to create new jobs (gummint doesn’t ‘create’ jobs) and in putting real, actual human beings back to work, he’s interested in consolidating power.
            Had Barry given in to the Tea Partier’s in congress and reduced the deficit by $4 Trillion or so, S&P would not have reduced our credit rating (I believe you told me that wasn’t going to happen!) and we would be on our way to correcting Barry’s economic errors. The possibility exists, that after making these same mistakes over and over, the POTUS is intentionally dumping the economy.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I said I considered it unlikely Bob and clearly I was wrong on that, though I’ll note that S&P are blaming the GOP for the downgrade due to all the brinkmanship they forced on the debt angle. We’ll also note that had the GOP compromised even an iota as much on taxes as Obama did on spending they’d have gotten their deal which is why they’re (rightly in my mind) wearing a lot of this deal. Obama’s negatives, in my view at least, come mostly for being seen as a weakling in his responses to the GOP threats. The US voters hate weak presidents.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            I didn’t say “causing,” Mr. North. Keep it clean.

            Prolonging? Yes.Report

  9. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    er….that’s “…getting unemployment to the levels enjoyed by that evil George Bush (about 5%) ..”Report

  10. Avatar Murali says:

    Not exactly complaining, but where did all the crypto-marxists suddenly come from?Report

  11. Avatar MFarmer says:

    I was wrong about the cost of the 600 regulations — it’s 9.5 billionReport

  12. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Keynes said, “A sound banker, alas, is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him”.

    Of course the New York Times buggered up this quote as they often do. The reason Keynes is wrong for today is that “banks” are not the sole source of funding they once were. Banks’ status as lender in chief has gone by the wayside as corporations bypass them issuing their own bonds. Government stimulus doesn’t work because the unemployed are too disperse to benefit from random programs (invariably political cronyism) in random places.

    I regularly read here that TP’s think this and think that, but what I’m really curious ala a previous OP’s question is whether any of you have actually met a Tea Party (gay person)? As for the Fox News angle, in my hometown there was a TP gathering of about 15 thousand. There was not /one word/ about it in ANY of the local media (largely owned by a single family BTW) beforehand. I had no idea in the world where all these people came from or why they were there. That behavior was replicated across the country, these massive demonstrations would magically appear with no forewarning from the media (because they were personally against it). Only occasionally would there be coverage AFTER the fact. Fox made it a point to give coverage where other media wouldn’t and their viewership increased an order of magnitude because the American people knew they were being lied to (by omission if not commission).

    I met a die-hard Tea Party’er. He told me he was going to these not because he gives a rat’s ass about gay marriage or abortion but because he’s 60 yrs old and is very concerned about being able to retire. Like others of his ilk, he followed all the rules, saving his entire life and not accumulating debt, investing wisely, paying off his house and living within his means. In the Ward Cleaver days, that would have meant a comfortable retirement. But in the hard and fast times at ridgemont high we live in he has already seen the equity in his home evaporate, the value of his stock holdings deteriorate (sure the market ‘seems’ to be going up, but never in the stocks you personally own) and the interest income from his savings drop to negligible (negative counting inflation) returns. He feels he has a “right” to Social Security because he damn well paid into it for 40+ years and is STILL paying into it! He’s a bit concerned that there are those who never paid a dime into it who are much younger than him who are collecting now, even though the “system” is going broke.

    Tea Party’ers and a lot of independent Americans too smell a rat. Waking from their stupor, they observe that the society they grew up in is disappearing before their eyes and they aren’t convinced the replacement is going to be any better. For the first time, parents are seeing the future prospects for their children are going to be worse then they were for themselves. Sure we can all buy i-phones, but they are all manufactured in China and programmed in India. These are very real concerns and fears.

    Clinton was right, “It’s the economy stupid”.Report

    • Avatar patrick says:

      Yes, I know some Tea Partiers.

      Roughly, in my direct experience, they translate to 30% close-enough-to-call libertarians, and 70% social conservatives who are basically traditional GOPers.

      85% of them do not make any coherent sense when I talk to them about politics. The other 15% actually have something to say. In fairness to the Tea Party, this is only marginally worse than any other political group, really.

      “He told me he was going to these not because he gives a rat’s ass about gay marriage or abortion but because he’s 60 yrs old and is very concerned about being able to retire. Like others of his ilk, he followed all the rules, saving his entire life and not accumulating debt, investing wisely, paying off his house and living within his means. In the Ward Cleaver days, that would have meant a comfortable retirement.”

      He’s not going to be able to retire in the U.S., not in the way Ward Cleaver planned. However, he can live much better than Ward ever did by selling his stuff and becoming an expat.

      In the long view, this is actually a more traditional way of “retiring” than what the American conception of “retiring” is today, which is based upon a very narrow window of time when the boys came back from war, we had nearly doubled our workforce by putting the women to work, and every other nation on Earth had an infrastructure that was bombed all to hell and gone. We were the only game in town for almost 20 years.

      It’s a lot easier to skim retirement off the top of that economic engine than any other one in the history of the world, post-industrial. That time is dead, really… probably never to return barring some other similar crazy relative productivity boost. We need to get over it; it’s squandered time and lost to us. You work until you die… unless you get very, very lucky, or you pack up your bags and move somewhere where your dollar is worth 20-100 times what it is worth in the U.S. This *is* the real world, the 50s was the dreamland.

      Also: if you’re longing for the days of Mr. Cleaver, you might want to reconsider the whole “cutting taxes” primacy of your political leaning, seeing as how Ward was looking at an 80% tax rate or so. Not to say that Ward might not have been looking forward to a better retirement with a lower tax rate, but at the very least it calls into question the legitimacy of “lowest possible taxes” will always result in economic growth.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith says:

        @Patrick, Some back of the envelope (ok, in my head) math tells me you’d have to know at minimum 20 TP’ers personally to justify your statistics. I’m curious whether these are of the “virtual” variety or in person? I’m leaning towards the former, in which case it begs the question whether they are at all representative of the Tea Party or anything at all since the virtual world is not the real world.

        You make some good points and some less good in the rest of your post. Ward wouldn’t have paid at that rate since that was the top marginal rate for only the highest earners clear into the Reagan administration.

        I’ve heard the expat argument before, in fact I considered it myself. However a lot of those dreamland locations where the currency is so cheap have another problem. Life is cheap as well. Won’t be much of a retirement if the expat gets kidnapped and killed for his “fortune”. Not to mention I’d have to learn another language. But the future you describe has been the present for decades for the British. Unfortunately in the macroeconomic sense, the dollars the expat takes with him/her reduces the standard of living in the home country and enhances the economy in the new host country. I believe even you have used a similar argument to defend illegal immigration.

        It isn’t all about lower taxes BTW, but rather less profligate spending. The Left’s answer to higher deficits is never “let’s tighten our belts” but always, “let’s stick it to those fat cats”. Tax the rich, feed the poor, till there are no rich no more.Report

        • Avatar patrick says:

          > I’m curious whether these are of the “virtual”
          > variety or in person?

          Six of one, half-dozen of the other. I readily admit that my direct exposure to the Tea Party isn’t in any wise representative of the group. However, it’s within a small enough delta of my experience of other clan-based political structures to expect that the differences aren’t crazy abnormal.

          Put another way, I don’t see reams of people identifying themselves as tea party members standing up and commonly making brilliant discourse, and for every one who makes some semblance of sense there’s a bunch more that seem to be howling nuts. And I’m not talking about the ones you see on The Daily Show, as that’s obviously a self-selected representation.

          > Unfortunately in the macroeconomic sense,
          > the dollars the expat takes with him/her
          > reduces the standard of living in the home
          > country and enhances the economy in the
          > new host country.

          Well, nobody sez the individual needs to feel particularly compelled to solve the macroeconomic problems of the country of their birth. I’m just talking practical realities.

          > Won’t be much of a retirement if the expat gets
          > kidnapped and killed for his “fortune”.

          Oh sure. Avoid Columbia. Living high hog anywhere is of course risky (even here in the U.S., for that matter). Even the retired rich Americano on the hill in Bolivia has to pay his bribes. It’s not the same sort of retirement as the one my grandpappy thought he might get, granted… but it’s a retirement, so if you’re looking to “not work” at some point in your life, that’s the easiest way to get there.

          > It isn’t all about lower taxes BTW, but rather less
          > profligate spending.

          This is the line I hear from the TPers who make sense. The ones who are ranters start off the other way ’round.

          I’m all about balanced government. I agree we don’t have it. All on board, there.Report

    • Avatar JosephFM says:

      Never mind that such a retirement – and even those supposedly sound choices – would have been off limits to him even in the 50s if he was black. In all likelihood he wouldn’t have even been allowed to buy a house in the first place thanks to redlining and segregation.

      And this: ” He’s a bit concerned that there are those who never paid a dime into it who are much younger than him who are collecting now, even though the “system” is going broke.”
      That is not a real concern. The only people receiving SS payments who are younger than him are severely disabled and less able to work than he is, and in any case SS is pretty much solvent for nearly as long as somebody his age can expect to live. If anyone’s concerned about it, it should be people my age and younger, who’ve paid into it for a few years only to have people like him try to eliminate it altogether.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        If anyone’s concerned about it, it should be people my age and younger, who’ve paid into it for a few years only to have people like him try to eliminate it altogether.

        If you think it’d be costly now to get rid of SS with all of the money you’ve put into it so far, wait until you see what a bargain keeping it will be.Report

        • Avatar JosephFM says:

          Well, I’d expect to keep paying payroll taxes even when it’s eliminated, because FICO makes of the largest % of taxes paid by the bottom bracket. And nobody’s proposed getting rid of it until guys like him get paid, so my assumption has to be that these older Tea Party people want me to pay for their retirement while not expecting the same for myself.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Two options:

            1) Start having lots and lots and lots of kids and be nice to all of them or…

            2) Make cigarettes $1.50 a pack again and bring back smoking sections at bars, restaurants, and other public places for people age 50ish and up.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              Actually, the upside to smoking is the nicotine helps reduce the chances of alzhiemers-sp and my, my I remember when cigarettes were fitty cents a pack, hell the Red Cross gave ’em to my old man free in the Bulge.
              Fishin’ do-gooder, interferrin’ commie-dems!Report

          • Avatar wardsmith says:

            SS is a ponzi scheme. The whole “lockbox” idea was a sham. Under Johnson (and ever since) SS got robbed and its money replaced with IOU’s. Those IOU’s are off the balance sheet, but explode our national debt from a mere $14.5 Trillion to over $130 Trillion! If you’re actually thinking about retirement, read this guy.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          I love the smell of vague BS in the morning.Report

  13. The real issues motivating the conservative base are gay marriage and abortion. The whole government spending thing was never a rally-the-base issue when Republicans had the wheel. Stem cells were.

    The elephant in this sentence is race.Report

  14. Avatar Bill Kilgore says:

    The federal government spends 40% more than it takes in year-to-year (with no credible means of reasonably addressing that issue) and someone is actually delusional enough to argue that conservatives have nothing to fight over becasue they have already won.

    Much like the ridiculous Frum nonsense being faithfully regurgitated (give the guy credit, he knows his market) the above claim is either ignorance or dishonesty. Or, perhaps, a touch of both. What it is not, is trenchant political analysis.

    Moreover- and far be it from me to insist that people’s talking points actually line up- it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to argue that the Tea-Partiers are this crazy group never before seen in American politics who are willing to destroy the full faith and yada yada… and then turn around and claim that they are just regular old Republicans. In fact, the two claims taken together basically announce the claimant as the worst kind of hack. Fortunately, the American progressive movement being full of intellectuals and all, would never fall prey to such an affliction.Report

    • Avatar JosephFM says:

      The federal government spends 40% more than it takes in year-to-year (with no credible means of reasonably addressing that issue) and someone is actually delusional enough to argue that this isn’t the direct result of conservatives’ political victories.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        Who really cares whose fault it is in the long run. Oh yeah, and, the long run is here, and we ain’t dead.

        The biggest problem we face is statism. I mean this sincerely — forget the parties and eliminate statism — in all its forms, it destroys countries.Report

        • Avatar JosephFM says:

          It matters because despite your protestations otherwise, you’ve hitched your buggy to one side’s horse. Remember when I used to comment at your blog? I still think that the path you advocate would not only fail to eliminate statism, it would in fact merely result in a furtherance of capture by a smaller and smaller cadre.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Joseph — my “side” is limited government and a free market, not a political party, and I simply disagree with your claim that a small cadre would capture the nation — the nation is too smart and diverse and creative and gutsy to allow a small cadre of rick people to capture the nation — if it’s not protected by the government and its monopoly on coercion. I punchily disagree with you.Report

      • Avatar Bill Kilgore says:

        The last year the Republicans had control of the government at two levels, fiscal 2007, the yearly debt was an absurd figure….of about 280 billion. Nearly half of which was Iraq/Afghan which was non-structural, a distinction I’m guessing you don’t spend too much time wrestling with.

        Ignoring the distinction between conservatives and Republicans, the spending was horrible before, it’s orders of magnitude worse now. And we just got a front-row seat at how impossible it is to make even token efforts to address the issue. This despite the fact that “keynesians” would be looking to run surpluses in the long-term.

        The Democratic party has committed itself to two things: (1) abortion, and (2) whatever spending is needed to secure the political coalition needed to protect number 1. As soon as they manage to elect a non-homophobe for President, we’ll probably be able to add that to number 1 as well. Outside of the that, the party is wholly devoid of any substantive virtue all. No one who looks at our demographic problems would ever run the deficits we are, particularly if they fancy themselves concerned with the plight of the less fortunate. But politically, the Democrats have no choice.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith says:

      The Republican party lost its majorities in the House and Senate in 2006 BECAUSE they were spending like drunken sailors on leave. But as a famous letter to the editor of some Oregon newspaper (IIRC) said, “I take umbrage at the statement that this congress is spending money like a drunken sailor. As a former drunken sailor I had to quit spending when the money ran out!”

      To conflate the profligate spending Republicans with the Tea Party is nonsense. Given the choice of bad and worse, TP’ers voted for bad. It is disingenuous to pretend they are one and the same, and is the kind of things pundits love to do to keep the sheeple off the true scent.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Medicare part D was passed in 2003. The off-budget wars were in full swing by then. The elections of 2006 and 2008 were about GW II far more than about spending.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          But people DESERVE drugs! They need them! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and food! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and rent! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and christmas presents! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and QVC! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and drugs!Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            OK, they should, but this didn’t occur to us for three years.

            Or maybe now that the Bush Fils Administration is over, people can get by without drugs.Report

          • Avatar Jeff says:

            But people DESERVE drugs! They need them! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and food! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and rent!

            Commie!!! Socialist!!!! Peopl,e desrve to die if they’re poor becuase they deserve it. The “free market” is ALWAYS right, even if it does kill a few million every year.

            They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and christmas presents!

            The poor should be happy to live in squalor and eat what scraps WE give them. They just don’t know their place (so darn “uppity”).

            They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and QVC! They shouldn’t have to choose between drugs and drugs!

            The Strawman Cometh.

            There is a class war going on (see the sky-rocketing sales of luxuary goods in this recession) — which side are you on?Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            ….hey, what about the children?Report

        • Avatar wardsmith says:

          The so-called “pundits” /claimed/the election was about GW II, but the voters had other thoughts. But no one really wanted to hear their thoughts, not when someone else could put a nice tidy bow around an entire country of individuals and pretend heterogeneity was homogeneity. Millions of voters either voted for the opposition or voted with their feet (and stayed on the sidelines) guaranteeing the victory to the Democrats. They then incorrectly took that as a mandate to do as they pleased, the same mistake the Republicans had made before them.

          If you really want to know what the Tea Party thinks, read what they write:

          America is divided between “those who work for a living and those who vote for a living.” 

          1.  You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by  legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

          2.  What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

          3. The government cannot give to anybody anything thatthe government does not first take from somebody else.

          4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

          5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half  is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

          Now reading the above, explain the crazy to me.Report

          • Avatar patrick says:

            > 1. You cannot legislate the poor into
            > prosperity, by legislating the wealth
            > out of prosperity.

            One might argue that this misrepresents the goal of the welfare state. One might argue that this also misrepresents the mechanism of taxation.

            > 2. What one person receives without
            > working for, another person must
            > work for without receiving.

            One might argue that there are endemic access problems in our society, such that certain categories of opportunities are limited by something other than merit. Not all “work” is equal, which sort of throws this out of joint.

            It also ignores the fact that not all costs scale linearly. In practice, in fact, this is almost never the case.

            > 3. The government cannot give to
            > anybody anything that the government
            > does not first take from somebody else.

            This, at least, is untrue. The government gets to borrow. Now, in practice it may be the case that the government does wealth transfer (although the trend seems to be that the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are moving up in the world so I’m not sure how the reality matches the cute saying), but it’s certainly not the case that everything comes out of somebody’s pocket before anything else happens.

            > 4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

            Certainly. The reducto the other way is likewise ridiculous: if you merge it, eventually you wind up with all the wealth in one pot and then of course it doesn’t multiply, either.

            Wealth is multiplied when money moves around via transactions, that’s about it.

            > 5. When half of the people get the idea that
            > they do not have to work because the other
            > half is going to take care of them, and
            > when the other half gets the idea that it
            > does no good to work, because somebody
            > else is going to get what they work for,
            > that is the beginning of the end of any
            > nation.

            Agreed. I think this is an odd characterization to make, though, and certainly an inaccurate representation of the current makeup of the citizenry. Or are you positing that half the people in the country are on welfare and the other half are running out of unemployment as we speak?Report

            • Avatar wardsmith says:

              I could argue all your points with you, but don’t have the same whiz bang edit tool you have to deal with the >’s. Unless you’re doing that by hand, which is even worse.

              Your first point is the most interesting though. What is your definition of a Welfare State? Do we live in one? Is that a good thing? Your answer to these questions will tell me better how to respond to the rest.

              BTW, you’re completely wrong about the government borrowing. Money taken out of circulation by the government because it “borrowed it” is money unavailable to commerce, it is a kind of zero sum game. Likewise there is no free lunch here and the piper WILL be paid through such mechanisms to pick the pockets of savers as, “inflation, currency devaluation and low to negative real interest rates” (Bill Gross PIMCO).

              The half that has will be those fools who think that they can save, live within their means, pay their debts and be responsible members of society. The half that wants to live like Aesop’s grasshopper can just hold its hand out waiting for the entitlements purchased for votes.Report

              • Avatar patrick says:

                I’m doing it by hand. Old habit.

                > What is your definition of a Welfare State?

                A welfare state would be a governmental entity (doesn’t need to be national) wherein some portion of the population is consistently dependent wholly on the state’s largess for its continued existence.

                > Do we live in one?

                Yes and no (more “yes” here in California than in most states).

                > Is that a good thing?

                Yes and no; this depends. If the dependency is pernicious, then very likely not. If the dependency is not pernicious, then perhaps. If the dependency is forced by unavoidable or unresolvable circumstance, then I imagine that the subjects of the welfare state are happier with it than without it, even in the case that it is pernicious.

                To clarify that bit:

                If I’m actually really disabled due to military service or injury, and I will very likely never be able to become a working citizen, then the welfare state (for me) is likely preferable to living on the street. This represents only a portion of people on welfare, granted.

                If the subjects of the welfare state have mobility out of dependence as individuals, that’s a good sign. If I can be born to the underclass and through welfare gain access to enough opportunity to move into the more productive classes, that’s a good thing. If I can be born into the lower or middle class but suffer crisis from natural disaster or some such, then having a safety net so that I can recover from a catastrophic loss and resume being a more productive citizen, that’s great.

                If the subjects of the welfare state have mobility out of dependence as a class, that’s an even better sign. If there are groups of people of similar backgrounds who can, en masse, move from the underclass to the more productive classes, that’s pretty cool. This, however, usually does not work as designed and we probably ought to not shoot for this brass ring.

                > BTW, you’re completely wrong about
                > the government borrowing. Money
                > taken out of circulation by the
                > government because it “borrowed it”
                > is money unavailable to commerce,
                > it is a kind of zero sum game.

                This completely discounts something.

                One, LOTS of our debt (over a quarter of it, currently) is purchased by people who aren’t here, aren’t subject to our tax laws, and aren’t looking to invest in very liquid assets in the first place: foreign governments and/or citizens. By offering them access to U.S. Treasuries, they take their kroner or yen or whathave you and give it to *us*. If we stopped offering them access to U.S. Treasuries, they’d probably choose German bonds over investing in, say, the U.S. corporate bond market. So they’re not part of a zero-sum game. They’re actually bringing in money that wouldn’t be here otherwise.

                About 28% of U.S. debt is liquidity we’ve taken from *other countries*. Now, if liquidity is already high, this is of debatable value, but when liquidity is low, it can be very useful.

                Second, U.S. Treasuries are used as collateral all the time, Ward. In this case, I’m actually making money.

                I have $1,000,000. I don’t want to buy stock, because the market sucks. I buy $1,000,000 worth of 30-year T-bills. You’re right: I’m now not going to put that $1,000,000 into the corporate bond market or the stock market.

                But what you’re forgetting is that I likely wouldn’t put that $1,000,000 in the corporate bond market *anyway*. If I’m willing to accept the very low interest rate I’d be getting on a T-bill, that means I’m *VERY* risk averse. If I don’t have U.S. bonds to buy, I’m going to buy some other nation-state’s bonds before I put that money in the market – that takes that money *out* of our economic engine entirely (well, except the taxes we might collect on my interest collection, which is going to be a small fraction of that $1,000,000). Meanwhile, the government has $1,000,000 to spend today. I’ve taken my illiquid wealth and the government has made it liquid.

                You can of course argue that the government might spend that money foolishly. No problem there.

                You might also argue that the government will spend it in a way that guarantees that the return on the money will be less than it would be if I invested in German bonds and they just got 20% off my 4.5% yearly interest income from that investment. I think this is hard to state unequivocally, but you can give that a shot if you want.

                And, when the stock or corporate bond market opens up, I can draw down a loan from a bank with my bonds as collateral and then turn around and plunk that money in the market. I’m not stuck with that $1,000,000 sitting at 1% (or whatever the current rate is) forever.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                @Patrick, You make some excellent points that deserve their own OP heading. Maybe our esteemed host (and Atlantic author I might add) would give you a guest post to elaborate on the welfare state. You are completely on the right track with an honest assessment of the status quo of welfare. Too many on the Left ignore or discount the warts in the system, much to everyone’s detriment. This gets akin to the minimum wage arguments, where someone says, “You can’t make a living raising a family at an entry level job!” To which any businessman would answer, “You’re not SUPPOSED to be raising a family on an ENTRY level job, you’re SUPPOSED to get promoted because you’re competent and deserve it!”

                Neither side is wrong, but there is a vast chasm nevertheless between the two memes. This would be well worth exploring on this site in a Gentlemanly fashion.

                As for your economic discussion, you REALLY need to read this book to catch up on the subject. Duncan squarely predicted the mortgage meltdown earlier than anyone, predicted the bailout and predicted the coming (bigger) meltdown because the underlying disease hasn’t been cured. Too many have taken exactly the simplistic view you outlined in your response while ignoring the macroeconomic milieu on which it rests. The mercantilism approach doesn’t work without a stable currency or gold standard (Bretton Woods) and that’s already been gone since 1971 (and was flawed for over a decade before that).

                An excess of foreign reserves causes a multiplier effect for the exporting country (say China) and overheats their economy. Now they have inflation. But their central bank understands this, so they rig the system by buying Treasuries and dollars artificially buoying the dollar’s value and artificially devaluing their own. The Japanese did this first of course, their economists were well trained by our best economists. The problem in today’s world is /everyone/ is playing this game against the dollar, and it has become as Ruell said, “a childish game, in which after each round the winners return their marbles to the losers”. Like another game, called musical chairs, this game only works until the music stops. Once that happens, the proverbial stinky brown stuff hits the fast spinning object and spatters everywhere.

                You’ll note that the stock market went down 10% in this past week alone, Treasuries were downgraded and the contagion is already spreading around the globe. This has nothing to do with the Tea Party’s intransigence, that would be like blaming the child who said the emperor is wearing no clothes for the EMPEROR wearing no clothes. Blame the emperor, he’s the guilty party here. The emperor is our federal government which pretended there was no piper to pay, ever. That was a pretense and like all such vanities, evaporates in the harsh light of the day’s reality.Report

              • Avatar patrick says:

                > The problem in today’s world is
                > /everyone/ is playing this game
                > against the dollar

                Oh, yes. This puts us in a particularly interesting position.

                > … and it has become as Ruell said,
                > “a childish game, in which after
                > each round the winners return
                > their marbles to the losers”. Like
                > another game, called musical
                > chairs, this game only works
                > until the music stops.

                Oh, sure.

                Lest you misunderestimate me, Mr. Ward, I’m fully cognizant of the fact that the “abstracted-off-labor” currency market is currently woefully disconnected from reality.

                > The mercantilism approach doesn’t
                > work without a stable currency or
                > gold standard

                There has never been a stable currency, even with the gold standard. There are only currencies which are less unstable than the others. Currencies, by their very nature, *cannot* be stable. They’re not directly connected to the thing they represent.

                The mercantilism approach doesn’t work in the long run; but the difference (I think) between the two of us is that you’re presupposing that there is an approach that will work, whereas I think they’re all going to break in the long run.

                I readily admit that I’m not enough of an economist. I already have three fields of study and I don’t have the time to add another, really, without removing entirely my ability to do things that rest my brain, like blogging.

                But it seems to me that many people who study economics shake their heads at me when I ask about deflation, as if such a thing is alien not just to their experience, but to their conceptual model of the world. As a student of complex systems and crisis, that tells me something very interesting.

                In any system, abstracted currencies will eventually become more disjoined from real value than they already are by design. Such is the weakness of money. It’s not a fatal weakness, in the sense that it enables all sorts of advantages when things are going well.

                But this game of musical chairs, which began with the steam engine, has already resulted in there being only one chair left. It’s ours, the dollar, and as you already pointed out everybody is piled on top of the chair juggling their own currencies and pretending that the music hasn’t stopped yet. The game’s already over, the only question is how long is it going to be before the chair breaks. I’m guessing not long, in the time sense of nation-states.

                Because if there’s one truism in human nature, it’s that we’re going to ignore the shark until it swims up and bites us in the ass. This game isn’t going to be reset until the chair breaks. What happens next is anybody’s guess. My money (heh, see what I did there) is on, “We’ll come out okay on the other end, since we still have the least unstable government out there, and we can produce more than enough food for ourselves.” A true global economic meltdown is overdue by 10 years. We’re running out of spit and bailing wire.

                Arguing about our debt or who ought to be in charge presupposes that somebody can fix it. I posit that it’s unfixable. But that’s okay, the world economy is a phoenix and it will emerge out the other side of the funeral pyre. It always does.

                And then the next round of musical chairs will begin.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Excellent post (again) Patrick, well thought out. I’m really wishing we had our own thread to flesh this out because soon the column will be 1 centimeter wide and rather difficult to read. 😉

                You’re rather sanguine about a meltdown of the size we’re both anticipating. This won’t just be people grumbling about wiped out savings accounts. This will be riots in the streets and voracious looting (think New Orleans across hundreds of major cities worldwide). Sure there /might/ be a phoenix at the end of that, but who will be around to see it? Civilization is just 3 days removed from barbarism when the sh*t hits the fan. Sure I can cling to my guns and religion and being the hardass I am, I’ll probably come through it only emotionally scarred for life. But what about everyone else?

                One would hope that those who can (or even /think/ they can) will at least try to stop this speeding train from going off that cliff (or the chair from dismal collapse). You may be right, it may be completely too late, but garnishing your pessimism in a fine patina of optimism doesn’t disguise the dish much.

                We could all play Cassandra here and meet her fate, but we could also use whatever meager tools are at our disposal to try and avert this looming catastrophe. We needn’t be trapped in a neo-left vs neo-right paradigm, the only players I want to see in this are Smart and Smarter. The thick as a brick crowd need not apply. Unfortunately they’re the ones running the country, just like in the song.Report

              • Avatar patrick says:

                Breaking the threading so that we keep some column space.

                > I’m really wishing we had our own
                > thread to flesh this out

                I’ve got an account. E.D.’s supposed to turn on my ability to post to the front page pretty soon. I’ll see if I can write something that encapsulates what I’m talking about here (plus a couple of other notable threads).

                > You’re rather sanguine about a
                > meltdown of the size we’re both
                > anticipating.

                Well, one might say I’m rather sanguine about the 7.0+ earthquake that will hit my locality with a 95% confidence interval before 2030, too. I’m also pretty sanguine about the next nuclear meltdown (2019 was my guess before everybody freaked out and started shutting down reactors, now I’m going with setting the over at 2031). Also the next pandemic, we’re overdue for one of those, too.

                Being terrified of the (eventual) inevitable ain’t my style.

                > Sure there /might/ be a phoenix at
                > the end of that, but who will be around
                > to see it?

                Less people than there are now. I suspect the big losers will be the big food importers, though. These also happen to correlate highly with the countries with the biggest populations and/or the highest death rates already.

                Note: ain’t nobody sez the wheels need to come all the way off. There have been economic collapses before without the guns coming out. It’s likely, but not inevitable.

                If we can get through DubyaDubyaTwo okay, when the whole country turned its GDP to making war machines, we can get through this.

                > Civilization is just 3 days removed
                > from barbarism when the sh*t hits
                > the fan.

                We don’t need the monks in Ireland to preserve the old knowledge this time. I think the recovery cycle will be better than the last go around.

                It’s not going to be all that bad, really. I mean, in the greater scheme of human catastrophes it’s not even close to the Black Death. So I don’t get to retire and all that money I’ve been putting away is going to be largely worthless. Megh.

                Hell, it’s totally conceivable that we can stay on top of this teetering chair for another 50 years and then I’ll be senile enough that I won’t care. The funny thing about crazy out of whack systems is that they can run a long time without blowing up.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                I can’t figure out if yous guys are apocalyptic or gnostic?Report

              • Avatar Patrick says:

                Normally I’d consider “apocalyptic” people to be hysterical doomsayers in the, “Do this or the whole thing will come crashing down upon thy head” crowd. I don’t really have a “this”, and I’m hardly hysterical.

                Earthquakes happen. Pandemics happen. Currencies collapse. None of these things are the end of the world (in fact, the Dutch seemed to have recovered okay from the whole tulip thing). Sucks for certain victims when things go down, but such is life.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        wardsmith August 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm

        ” The Republican party lost its majorities in the House and Senate in 2006 BECAUSE they were spending like drunken sailors on leave. ”

        Do you have anything to back this up?Report

  15. Avatar Anderson says:

    Sure…but, although the terms of the debate have changed when it comes to economics, the political tug-of-war between a free market economy and a social market economy is perhaps as divisive as it has been in recent memory, mostly because of the measures taken in response to the recession. Think about it: even when the U.S. economy was in a more socialistic state after WW2, the two parties were much closer on economic policy than they are now. So sure, no economic adviser is pulling out the Marx, but thanks to Friedman’s revival of classical economics the divide between *forms* of capitalism has become wider, even while the debate *over* capitalism has all but ceased. Your implication seems to be that liberals, conservatives, libertarians, etc all should be in general agreement on economic policy now just because the USSR collapsed, which I find to be a HUGELY simplistic way of thinking about politics nowadays. The center has shifted rightward, but the players are standing as far about as ever before. The debate ain’t going away; it’s growing.Report

  16. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Karl Smith has a valid argument. Quoting him directly re the “insanity” of conservatives was rather inflammatory however, and at least partially explains the counterproductive tone of this combox.


  17. The culture war will not survive the next generation. The binary of the future will be technocrat vs. postmodern.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      How do you define postmodern?Report

      • Exactly.

        Jokes aside, I’d say the main characteristic is opposition to technocracy.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          anyone opposed to technocracy is postmodern?Report

          • In the necessarily binary terms of every ideological battle in the history of the U.S., yes. In reality, no.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer says:

              I’m not sure what this means.Report

              • Sorry for the repeated platitudes here, but this is just what I think will happen. No one under 35 cares enough to oppose gay marriage, abortion, or any other pet issues of the Xian Right. Very few people under 35 don’t believe that markets are the optimal delivery mechanism for good and services. There is consensus in the rising generation, which means they’ll have to find something else to split on. This has happened several times before in American history. We usually call it a “realignment”. Both political parties are shameless opportunists, so they’ll basically flip-flop and posture until there is a 50-50 stalemate. I think this stalemate will be pragmatic technocrats like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, who believe that government can solve problems without creating more problems vs. largely postmodern people who think the government should stay out of the watchmaking business and let chaos ensue. Of course, we can already see the seeds of this hypothetical future world in the various political parties, but everything is built on everything else, so this shouldn’t be surprising. The real interesting aspect of the whole thing though is just how much politics eventually converges on D&D character alignment.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                No one under 35 cares enough to oppose gay marriage, abortion, or any other pet issues of the Xian Right. Very few people under 35 don’t believe that markets are the optimal delivery mechanism for good and services.

                Not too swift to just extrapolate from your circle of acquaintances.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

                Good thing I’m relying on a combination of polls, voter history, personal experience, and demographic data then.Report

  18. Avatar MFarmer says:

    So, what have I learned?

    We’re captured by a ruling class which is a combination of government and corporations, but it’s actually neo-liberal-like and nothing to be overly concerned with — nothing like socialism or fascism or other junky stuff like that. There’s no way out, although you probably don’t want out because it’s not that bad, really, sort of Republican/Democrat middling kinda setup. Make the best of it and find its usefulness, it’s nothing serious, and the control is not really hurting that much. Have a nice life, and, as usual, fuck the Tea Party.Report

    • Avatar 62across says:

      Yeah, I tried to engage you civilly and that was a mistake I need not make again. As North notes above, you present yourself as someone interested in trying to persuade people to see your worldview, so I hope for the sake of the grand anti-statist project there are others out there interested in winning minds and hearts or the project is doomed. Waiting for the new zeitgeist brought by the new media several decades hence seems somewhat passive to me, but you’ve convinced yourself that you’re the one doing the hard work. Congratulations.

      You’ve got nothing but bloviation and a immensely thin skin.Report

  19. Avatar MFarmer says:

    So, 62, what is your plan?Report