Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Deadly Sin: America Can't Afford Despair

No job is more difficult than the one you start having decided you are bound to fail. Things look tough now, as we look at the slow pace of change, the persistence of corruption, the failure of those we elected to bring about the full change we wanted. But nobody, not you, not the politicians, not everybody else gets it right all the time. The question is, who puts the effort into continuing to try to change things, who lets the failures become the lessons that create the successes.

As I see, it the greatest enemy we face is not complacency, not apathy, it is the despair that we can gather together as a nation and change things for the better. If we start out from that position of despair, then what's the point? We become an anchor on our own hopes and dreams, and the ugly realities persist.

Sometimes we're faced with BS like this, the special interests seeming to win even when they really shouldn't.

But if we just accept that and sit back in resignation that a screwed up state of affairs is just to continue, what then? Well, it really doesn't help, does it? It only permits greater abuses, as the opportunity passes by for this country to learn from its errors.

No, we should not let this happen. But the issue is, this has been precisely what has been happening, as the lobbyists win their victories, as the industry captured regulators and politicians.

The public just doesn't get outraged, because it's used to living in a constant state of cynicism about government that saps the will to change it, that puts Americans into a funk. Conservatives don't spread their outrage over big government and everything else for nothing. If everything is terrible, everything is corrupt, then why not opt for letting the whole thing just burn?

The irony, of course, is that if people went "hey, that's MY government", if they ditched the learned helplessness of years of conservative misrule, they might do something constructive about it.

The truth is, the government is not some alien thing dropped in from another galaxy. These are the people we select from among us. They are there, generally, at our pleasure. If we make the hard, fast decision that they are out, short of an unthinkable military coup, they are out.

Thing is, though, our concentration has been diffused. If the conservatives are to be believed, we only get what we want when we just let the chaotic mix of self-interests determine everything. No, we can't make a conscious decision as a country anymore. We can't lay down the law. We have to just trust that the screwed-up status quo is the best we're going to get. We just have to sit in our own mess and get used to the stink.

I am no rabid opponent of markets or capitalism. But I don't believe we can act like the folks in the market will write rules that will orient themselves to the public good. I believe that the interests of those industries ought to be set in some kind of balance with the interests of the public, with the public interests taking precedence, all things being equal.

Things are as bad as they are now because the consequences of a lifetime worth of negligence and carelessness don't go away overnight. It will be hard, unpleasant work to undo all the damage, and in a society like ours, the despair that this prospect presents us can be a major source of resistance.

In fact, that's sort of how we got Reagan and all the others that followed him. People saw all the things going wrong, and they simply gave up, and listened to those who preached getting theirs while the getting was good. Faced with terrible problems, we listend to those who told us that the solution was to give into our thirst for instant gratification, self-enrichment.

And you know what? The same people are saying the same things all over again. They're making the same promises, stirring up the same false hopes. They are hoping that people will forget the results of those policies over the last thirty years, hoping to blame everything on the liberals and on the President. They want us to be distracted by the fury of the here and now, and forget where their actions lead us.

In facing this situation, therefore, We must appeal, yes, to hope, and not despair. Despair is the enemy of progress here, because it saps the will to fight. When we talk of the Seven Deadly Sins, this is what gets labelled as Sloth. Sloth is not simple laziness, it is the kind of despair that robs you of your ability to do what needs to be done.

We need to commit ourselves to getting done what needs to be done, to defeating, rather than surrendering in the face of whatever corruption or failure of governance we see. And I'm not just talking about the political junkies right here, I'm talking about the nation as a whole.

We have, before, as a nation, risen to meet such challenges. Drastic reform is within our capability, as it was within those of our forefathers. Consider the world that those who came before us changed to deliver us the prosperity and prominence we enjoy even today, and you can see that our challenge is not so great as we might think.

But we have to motivate ourselves first. We have to stop taking for granted that this is the natural way things have to be, and understand that we can do better than this, and will do better than this, if we keep at it long enough.

I understand why some of you feel that everything's just screwed up. Everything is. But I assume you got into all this with the aim of changing that. I assume that what you want to do is more than just be a spectator to your country's continued fall from grace. There are two kinds of realism, the passive kind that just says "don't rock the boat, this is how things are, and we must adjust to it", and the active kind that says "This is how things are, they are unacceptable, but if we are to change and evolved the system for the better, we must start by acknowledge the truth of how things are now, and write up our plans from there."

Our Republic was designed to be adaptable, to change in the face of challenges in order to meet them. We can either be one more force acting as inertia against that change, as our despair drags us down and our feelings of helplessness paralyze us, or we can make the conscious decision to be active realists, people who acknowledge reality so they can change it and help the country move on.

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2010 1:09 PM
Comments
Comment #300128

SD’s prose doesn’t match my experience. if liberals are in despair please don’t color conservatives with the same brush. We are enthuastic about our chanches in november to return this nation to fiscal and social sanity as did Reagan when he followed a conservative policy returning our nation to greatness.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 5, 2010 1:38 PM
Comment #300129

Nothing more recent than the controversy over the actions by Arizona concerning illegal aliens defines the basic differences between conservatives and liberals.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 5, 2010 1:44 PM
Comment #300130

Royal Flush-
But enthusiastic to do what, to solve what? There’s only so much a party that is devoted to inaction, to staying in the proverbial rut can do to deal with America’s problems.

We’ve tried things your way. We started things out with your style of enforcement on Wall Street, your style of regulation. Your only response is to say, let’s do more of the same. Let’s deepen the rut, in other words. Having not succeeded in getting the screw in with your one tool, the hammer, your suggestion is to hit the screw harder.

Our suggestion: let’s start using the screw driver.

But hell if you don’t like that!

We have the worst oil spill in decades, certainly the worst accidental one of all times, by the time its done, but lets not be hasty and use that as a reason to change policy, you say.

We have the worst economic collapse in decades, certainly the worst in most American’s living memory, but no, let’s not change policies that much, you say, lets not be hasty.

We have the worst foreign policy situation in decades, but your people are still champing at the bit to commit the same mistakes all over again.

The Republican’s problem is not that they aren’t enthusiastic. It’s that they’ve got the wrong kind of enthusiasm.

It’s the same kind of enthusiasm that had them re-elect Bush, and stick with so many of his policies, even as they failed miserably. It’s an enthusiasm built on beating up Democrats, on being political bullies, on getting your way, even if the consequences are terrible for the country. You folks are literally willing to let this country slide into a Depression, the financial system fail, just to demonstrate you’re right about the markets.

The Democrats problem is that we have to get actual things done, and as such, we face difficulties, your party being one of them, since its committed itself to being a liability to any and all change from their old policies, even in the face of those policy’s failures.

Tell me, what value is your enthusiasm, if it only leads your party to double down on the policy screw-ups that will cripple the party’s long term prospects?

What the GOP really needs to do is get its act together, and start getting an attitude that values good governance over bumpersticker politics.

But I am not holding my breath.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2010 2:17 PM
Comment #300131
return this nation to fiscal and social sanity as did Reagan

Pardon me, but Reagan brought fiscal inanity upon our nation through reckless tax cuts that were coupled with spending increases rather than decreases. In 1979 the debt-to-GDP ratio was 33.1% (I’m referring to the table on page 127). That’s the lowest it’s been since the Hoover administration.

the controversy over the actions by Arizona concerning illegal aliens defines the basic differences between conservatives and liberals.

Yeah, liberals uphold the Constitution all the time, even if it means defending the rights of someone we don’t like such as Faisal Shahzad; conservatives only care about the Constitution when it’s politically expedient (and they still get the interpretation wrong).

Maybe if you folks actually accomplished what you preached during the time conservatism was in control from 1981-2009 you might be a bit more persuasive. If the GOP took control of Congress, I am confident that they will not solve any of the problems currently plaguing us. They won’t do anything to wean us off of oil (which is currently government subsidized). They won’t do anything to cut our defense spending. They won’t cut spending on entitlements. They won’t raise taxes in order to lower the deficit. What they will do is violate Constitutional Rights for the sake of a little temporary security, whether it’s ID checks for suspected immigrants or “enhanced interrogation” techniques for terrorists. They’ll also continue violating the 14th amendment rights of homosexuals and they’ll continue to chip away at the right to control what goes on in one’s own body.

Posted by: Warped Reality at May 5, 2010 2:39 PM
Comment #300132

Since SD refuses, in his writing, to recognize conservative values and historic success, and the converse failures of most liberal policies, how could he begin to understand my enthusiasm?

Today, one of the most liberal, and long serving (21 terms) congressmen, David Obey of my home state of Wis., has announced his retirement rather than face a Nov. defeat of liberal values in one of the most liberal states in the nation. Liberalism is dying and for good reason. I do understand SD’s despair. Obey resigns in an overwhelmingly liberal district in the face of an avowed conservative challenger. SD would be wise to take notice of declining liberal values.

Should I not be enthuastic in contemplation of the defeat of fiscal and social cripling liberalism?

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 5, 2010 2:45 PM
Comment #300133

Royal Flush-
To recognize conservative values and historic success?

Your success was built on betting that the Stock Market and the housing market would never go down.

Your success was built on the victory in the Gulf War.

Your success was built on bringing the budget under control in the 90’s with Clinton.

And now? Your party overreached on every count, thinking that those previous successes would insulate them politically.

No, the coming election is competitive.

Your problem is what you do if you succeed. What are you planning on doing? More freedom for Wall Street? More Freedom for BP and the like? More fearmongering about foreigners and terrorists?

Sure, you can drum up a considerable amount of enthusiasm. That’s easy when all you contemplate is “the defeat of fiscal and social cripling[sic] liberalism”.

Meanwhile, Democrats like me have to contemplate financial reform, dealing with the Gulf oil spill, the continuing refinement of healthcare reform, and all that other wonderful junk. You know, responsibilities.

Anybody can be enthusiastic for an ideal. Why should I be impressed with your party’s ability to demonize its opposition, when it’s yet to prove that it can handle the serious policy problems?

That’s what I’m talking about up there. In case you haven’t noticed, your leadership left us in a world of ****. It’s a world of **** you’ll have to deal with if you win. What I’m trying to get people to face up to, here and on Daily Kos is the need to step up and face our problems, not merely when we’re enthusiastic about an idea, or about kicking our political opponent’s asses, but when we’re faced with serious problems which take political maturity and quality policymaking to resolve.

As much as I might anticipate losses in this next election, you have something much more serious to contemplate: that Americans might actually expect the same results from you that they expect from us, and not take your excuses anymore than ours.

You can sell gridlock when somebody else is in charge, but can you sell it when you’re back on top?

You can’t win even if you do win. We’ll take back whatever you get back and then some. That’s what I believe, and if you look at the Demographics, that’s what’s going to happen sooner or later.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2010 3:43 PM
Comment #300134

Folks, I learned a long time ago about a concept called learned helplessness. What basically happens is that people learn to believe they can’t do anything about a problem, and they continue to believe that, even after they’ve developed the strength or gained the opportunity to break free. An elephant can be restrained by a flimsy rope, if its taught to believe young, while it’s weak, that it can’t break it.

Well, ironically enough, I think the Elephants of the GOP have tied a flimsy rope around our leg, and have convinced us that we can’t break.

On virtually every subject, Republicans have stubbornly insisted that things can only be done their way. From Taxation to regulation, counterterrorism to the economic crisis, there is only one way of doing things, and their enthusiasm comes from the degree to which anybody chooses to mess with their world.

Even when their policies are part of the problem.

How many preventable accidents, preventable disasters do we have to endure before we think enough crap has gone wrong to merit a response. Whether you think we should make policy carefully, or whether you think we should be more adventurous about it, if you’re serious about governing this nation wisely, you’re serious about taking some kind of option. Doing nothing is no longer a valid response to America’s problems.

But of course, Republicans have been most enthusiastic not just about doing nothing, but about making sure nothing gets done by anybody else.

My question to anybody here is why we should be so enthusiastic about bringing back the people who got us into this mess, or about rewarding those (Democrat or Republican) who seem intent on keeping us in that mess?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2010 4:11 PM
Comment #300137

S.D. argues we should continue to vote for mediocrity because it is better than outright corruption. Sorry, Bub. That argument doesn’t wash for me and 10’s of millions of other Independent voters who refuse to accept excuses for failures to solve the nation’s and our children’s darkening future.

What partisan b.s.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 5, 2010 6:39 PM
Comment #300142

Stephen

I love government so much that I think we should use it sparingly. There is no despair in recognizing that government is not the solution to all our problems. It is appropriate in some circumstances and not in others.

Thing of it like a tool box. Government is an ax. It is a great tool. It can be used as a weapon; it can chop wood; you can use it to hammer in nails and screws; it can do the job of a knife and can dig in the ground like a shovel; I suppose you could shave with it if you sharpened it up enough. But if you have a saw, hammer, screwdriver, knife, shovel, plow and razor, you might be better off using the appropriate tool for the task at hand and not make the ax the default option.

Posted by: C&J at May 5, 2010 7:29 PM
Comment #300146

David R. Remer-
If I want to send a message, I’ll write a blog entry. I will vote for the best person I think can win, or come close to winning. I vote for results, because results determine whose priniciples rule in Washington.

I’ll vote for the best person I can find. It is not my fault that almost any Republican we can speak of in any close election seems poised to help usher this country into the dark ages. Call that statement partisan if you will, but you know it’s the truth, just by looking. These are people that not even two catastrophically bad elections can get the hint through to, because the culture is all about denying my people any weakness to exploit, even if it means failing to admit that several of their key policies were disasters.

I am not going to vote symbolically. The strength of numbers, not the strength of symbolism is what moves elections. Tell me, did the Nader votes make Kerry more liberal when he came around? Or did he play to the center, where the votes were?

I am going to vote functionally, to put in place those who I think are the best out of all my choices. I will not let my mood determine my vote. Moods are for romantic nights. Moods are what got us into this mess. I’m going to vote from my brain, from my experience, from what I know the people involved will do.

C&J-
The same can be said for markets, which the Republicans have used in place of government regulation, even in the face of obvious evidence that the market hasn’t done the job.

I am not such a fool that I believer government can or should do everything. But I believe that Republicans have failed to use it where it is a more helpful and efficient tool than other means.

I know, your argument’s a nice one, but I can see where you are defining your opinion about where government is useful according to your own preconceived notions.

You still have to make an argument for those!

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2010 8:22 PM
Comment #300151

Stephen

Leadership v management. Government should provide leadership in determining the general direction and coordination. It should not be involved in the management.

We need regulation and the rule of law. You cannot have free markets w/o rule of law. But the rules should be related to making sure production is done in ways that do not create too many negative externalities.

The problem is not always correctable by regulation. Much of the financial crisis happened because of government regulations and programs that encouraged giving credit to people who were not credit worthy.

Government is not omniscient and those running it are not w/o their own self-interest. Experience in America and worldwide shows that we cannot trust either government or the private sector all the time. The danger is any concentration of power.

As our government in America grows, we start looking more like Continental Europe. Just as I think government is precious, I like Europe … but not too much of it. Over the long run, Europe grows slower than the U.S. and tolerates significantly higher unemployment rates. It is a trade off.

The other problem with government is that it crowds out other activities. Americans volunteer more and give more to charity than anybody else. We tend to take initiative in places where others wait for the government to take action. I like this entrepreneurial aspect of our culture. The trade off is a little less security.

I am not saying that there is a binary choice. There is NOT a European model v an American model (Ireland & Switzerland rate higher on the economic freedom charts and Denmark is almost tie with us). But America is a big and diverse country. It is hard to apply detailed regulations to the variety of situations and environments we face. General Federal laws can apply to Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada. Mico-management cannot.

Posted by: C&J at May 5, 2010 9:03 PM
Comment #300152


IMO, the despair on the left is caused by Obama’s approach to governing. Compromising with people who won’t compromise and then passing the compromise instead of Democratic legislation is disparaging. Obama needs to take a different approach than pragmatism.

Warped Reality, if liberals want to promote and defend illegal immigration that is fine with me but, don’t claim you are upholding the Constitution and the Rule of Law on this issue because your not.

That irks me as much as conservatives saying they are opposed to illegal immigration when they know that their politicians are just as guilty as the liberals and have no desire to reverse it.

Who bears the most responsibility for what is happening in Mexico? The taxpayers of the U.S. or at least that is who is paying and is going to pay much more to clean it up.

Posted by: jlw at May 5, 2010 9:25 PM
Comment #300154
if liberals want to promote and defend illegal immigration that is fine with me but, don’t claim you are upholding the Constitution and the Rule of Law on this issue because your not.

I don’t know if you followed the other thread regarding the AZ law.

I am not promoting or defending illegal immigration. If anyone detained by the police is found to be an illegal immigrant they should be deported immediately. What I oppose is the provision that allows officers to request identification from anyone who engages in “lawful contact” with the police. I’m sorry, but my Constitutional Right to unmolested movement trumps any desire to limit illegal immigration by transforming Arizona into a police state.

Posted by: Warped Reality at May 5, 2010 9:31 PM
Comment #300163

S.D. responded by saying: “It is not my fault that almost any Republican we can speak of in any close election seems poised to help usher this country into the dark ages. Call that statement partisan if you will, but you know it’s the truth, just by looking.”

Stephen, blaming the Republicans for Democrat’s actions today, is illogical and entirely out of touch with reality. Obama wanted to expand oil drilling. Dumb. Democrats have porked up every bill they have passed since coming into office. That’s not addressing the long term crisis needs of our nation. Democrats have cut spending on the border barrier and still slobber over the potential of all those new Democratic voters coming over our Southern border. Democrats talk debt and deficits, but, have yet to anything concrete about addressing them. Democrats have kept in place Republicans spying on Americans and Obama even has a shoot to kill order on an American citizen for suspected terrorism. None of these things can be blamed on Republicans, Stephen.

What’s partisan about your comments is their penchant to turn a blind eye to these realities, and fall back on the blaming of Republicans. I voted for Obama, and still think he is the best president I have seen in a very long time. But, it doesn’t blind me to his errors, flaws, and mistakes. His refusal to back single payer health care was enormous. His rejection of the Constitution and due process in pursuit of an American terrorist suspect overseas, cannot be ignored, except by the blindly loyal partisans.

Your comments and writing in the past used to pay attention to the flaws of your own party with the implication that you would seek to steer your party in a better direction. I see none of that in your writings of late. I call that partisan, and blindly so, because that is how it appears.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 6, 2010 5:08 AM
Comment #300166

RF
Great job in AZ. Obviously the best way to win big in the mid-terms is to piss off millions of Latino voters across the country and drive them to the polls. Maybe you guys can hang up that old MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner.Whats next? A big national push to outlaw abortion? That will help.Get right to the point. Push for repeal of not just the HCR bill but medicare itself. Show the courage of your convictions. Thats sure to work.

Posted by: bills at May 6, 2010 8:21 AM
Comment #300168

SD and all

Here is the national strategy to limit losses in the mid-terms and maybe pick up a few seats. It relies largely on turning out the 15 million new voters that made the BHO election a success.Don’t let them use fear and idenity politics turn the clock back. Don’t let them pander to rascism and division to put us back on the road to third world status. If you can spare any time,especially for get out the vote efforts,it could make all the difference.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/2010strategyhighlights?source=20100505_MS_A&key=d0c7b26cb0b293da3209298504cf83ae09786ca206006fffa6c9488b9a3e2acd&email=kel22301%40yahoo.com


You should be aware that there has been some election changes made. Republicans now will be voting on Wendsday so that they do not have to associate with all those illegal aliens,jiggaboos and homos voting on Tuesday.That should really improve their turnout.I heard it was Palin’s idea.

Posted by: bills at May 6, 2010 10:02 AM
Comment #300173

C&J-

Leadership v management. Government should provide leadership in determining the general direction and coordination. It should not be involved in the management.

The dictionary definition of the word manage makes it clear that yours is a distinction without a difference.

Your bias towards hands-off approach to government shows, even as you acknowledge the need for more of it.

I don’t want government to be cumbersome, but I also believe that it should manage the economy and other aspects of life enough that few of the kind of incidents that panic or force people into greater dependence on the government occur.

That’s why I think the Republican’s extremism in their anti-government stance has been both harmful and politically foolish. They’ve put themselves in a position where they allow or precipitate the occurrence of the very catastrophes that lead people to want government to intervene. They’ve created the demand for the Democrats, more than the Democrats themselves!

Take this thinking:

Much of the financial crisis happened because of government regulations and programs that encouraged giving credit to people who were not credit worthy.

What you’re missing was the glee with which the credit and lending industries took to soaking the credit unworthy, and the perverse incentives that existed to defy traditional market logic and seek out the worst risks.

Your perspective is too narrow if you’re saying the housing market was the cause. That’s like saying the deliciousness of the bread was the problem when the person stole it.

Folk’s eyes often get bigger than their stomach, or bigger than their wallet. What typically moderates this is what people are willing to pay them or lend them. People like you and me can’t just grow money on trees, and we are not in control of the bigger engines of the economy, the banks and the financial firms.

The essential truth of the financial crisis is that these institutions have gotten their damn selves confused. They over-complicated the system they had invented to make money off of manipulations of investors, debtors, and customers.

That’s why this is a system-wide problem, rather than a problem that hit primarily those involved in the housing market. Fact of the matter is, they weren’t making many of these loans to be paid back, they were making them to sell to others, and to be used as feedstock for the derivatives where their real money was being made.

In fact, that’s what allowed them to turn around and originate all these insane mortgages. They would not have had the cashflow to do this, if somebody weren’t willing to pay for those mortgages.

Inflating these assets, in fact, was a crucial part of the deal. The larger the eventual worth they could claim, the more attractive the derivatives became to buyers. But they had to get past something else: risk. Not everybody’s allowed to play the market like a casino. The bulk of investors, in fact, were required to take it easy, like pension and municipal funds.

Without that large and ready group of customers, you couldn’t sell the derivatives to as many people. This is key. Without them, without all those retirement accounts and people looking for safe investments, you don’t have the investors to send the money back to the lenders.

But of course, in the course of inflating people’s mortgage values, you make them bigger credit risks. Bigger risks means you’re putting these mortgages outside the range of the safe investor’s permitted or preferred portfolio.

Understand that particular crux, because it shows that rather than simply hedge the hairier bets the government was forcing on them, the financial companies and lenders were deliberately conspiring to exploit the system to profit by fraud.

The Lenders were deliberately putting people in impossible financial positions so they could claim the largest value for the asset they were selling off.

The bond raters were deliberately defrauding investors by slapping risky stuff with safe ratings.

The brokers were selling people high-risk investments disguised as low-risk investments.

The Financiers were making a killing leveraging, insuring, taking out derivatives bets, and otherwise churning the market in a frenzy of speculation that basically gave the impression of impressive economic growth to a country that was in fact heading downhill.

As I recall, housing starts were practically the only thing keeping the economy growing for many years of the Bush Administration.

The basic problem was one of an economy built up on basic BS. Citing the wider distribution of loans to the less creditworthy misses the forest for the trees.

We can talk about concentration of power. I believe the best antidote for that is an involved citizenry whose concerns are not drowned out by the big business. Big business deserves a seat at the table, but they do not get to be the guest who butts into everybody’s conversation to impose themselves.

I don’t believe in micromanagement either. I don’t think it’s terribly efficient, and I think it’s a rather unwieldy way of going about things.

jlw-
I think Obama’s style of government, on its own, would not bring people to despair. I think the true source of the despair is the sense of difficulty of even getting the most uncontroversial of reforms passed in Congress.

As for liberals promoting and defending illegal immigration? What Warped Reality said. Like I said to C&J, I believe an involved, vigilant public is key to to checking government’s tendency to concentrate power. But I also believe we should be extraordinarily careful about how we exercise the rule of law, because it can always be revised in such ways as to make a mockery of our freedoms.

Most Democrats believe in people taking the legal path to immigration. What concerns us is the exploitation of xenophobia, post 9/11, that threatens to make a mockery of our nation’s long tradition of accepting people from all over the world to add to America’s great bounty of diversity. What we’re concerned about is a bill that effectively leaves probable cause a subjective impression by an officer that a person is an illegal immigrant.

I also heard last night of a proposed law with unfortunate bipartisan support, which would allow the State Department to strip citizens accused of terrorist associations or activity of their citizenship by administrative fiat. Think about that, for a second.

The Xenophobes are cutting the constitution to ribbons by with their mad urge to scratch the itch of this problem. They forget that the main purpose of the constitution is to keep government power safely contained within limits, so the government can be effective where it needs to be, and absent where it doesn’t have to be.

I don’t care which place on the blame spectrum you are, whether you **** on the left by claiming they want illegal voters, or you **** on the right by claiming they want cheap labor, or **** on both sides, we all have to recognize that every side must observe limits to government power, lest all sides suffer the consequences of a government out of their control.

David R. Remer-
Why do we need the illegal voters? The Hispanic voters who are offended and alienated by the xenophobia of the right are much greater in number. You criticize me for passing on Democratic talking points, why are you passing on Republican talking points so uncritically?

This is the Republican claim, which they make to shore up the notion that they are the party who’ll seal off the border, the sort of Luntzian manipulation of the fears of voters.

Democrats talk debt and deficits, but, have yet to anything concrete about addressing them.

Anybody who aggressively pursues austerity measures right now runs into this.

A large proportion of the deficit problem is an economic problem, which undermines the revenues. Of course, try getting additional stimulus measures through, after folks like you have bought into propaganda about Pork and other things. The Republicans have succeeded in paralyzing much of any job-creating bill with their deficit alarmism. Ironically, though, a huge proportion of what they’re being alarmist about is owed to a problem they won’t let anybody fix.

I am not blind to the flaws of my administration anymore than you are, but you cannot be blind to the flaws of the political system right now, especially with the Republicans intent on robbing their counterparts of any political achievements they can. How would you pass anything through this? How would you reason with people who have decided it’s to their political advantage to say no or delay you to the greatest extent possible.

Do you think most Democrats deliberately acted to whittle down their own list of achievements so the Republicans could jump on them as feckless and dangerous?

I’m sick of arguing political theory and political fantasy while the world burns outside the window. I simply don’t care. But I know this: the Republicans are united in serving their own political interests, and the way they’ve decided to do that is by making sure nobody else’s will get served. I will not claim that my people would act flawlessly or without corruption if it weren’t for what the Republicans were doing, but I am damn certain that a lot more would have been done for this country in the past couple years if we hadn’t had to drag an elephant on our backs to do it. What’s the point of holding Democrats accountable, if it just lets the Republicans who are letting this country sink deeper in the mire off the hook?

Balance that, balance that fairly, and then you can come to me and demand political balance. I know you would oppose the Republicans on most counts, the question is whether you will let me oppose them where it counts without making out that it’s some kind of cynical politics.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 6, 2010 12:08 PM
Comment #300174

SD, this article from the ny times about today’s election in britain should help shine a bright light on the failure of socialist liberalism for your consideration. much of what we observe today in the fiscal collapse of many countries in the eu are indicitive of what the us is likely to experience soon should liberal policies continue to prevail in washington.

“All three party leaders have centered their campaigns on vague pledges to cut government spending, which has caused deficits on a scale not seen since World War II, when Britain fought Germany and Japan largely on borrowed money.

The comparisons with Greece begin with the current year’s deficit, which at 11.5 percent of gross domestic product is not far off the 13.6 percent figure for Greece and considerably larger than the figures for Spain and Portugal, which some economists fear may be the next European countries bidding for international bailouts.

The immediate political liability for this lies with Mr. Brown and the Labour Party, which engaged in a spree of epic proportions after taking power in 1997, spending at a rate that has outstripped inflation by 41 percent. The current budget of about $1.1 trillion includes more than $150 billion on the state-run National Health Service, triple the amount when Labour came to power.”

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/world/europe/06britain.html?th&emc=th

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 6, 2010 1:00 PM
Comment #300175

Royal Flush-
Should it, now? Trouble is, neither their economic problems, nor ours, are the result of government spending or overspending. The Brits are in trouble because their system got hit by the Wall Street debacle same as ours, and they ended up having to fight deflationary pressures, too.

Over forty percent of our budget deficit, each year, will be because of missed revenue goals. We budgeted as if the economy would grow a certain amount, and quite obviously, that money won’t be there, will it.

So, cut spending? Yes, perhaps, if there’s private money out there to replace it. But is there? Isn’t our problem right now that the bank’s money is going all to cover their butts on their unwise leveraging, their CDOs and CDSs, getting those toxic assets out of their system?

Lot of good that’s doing the small businesses or the average person. What do you think’s happening to our economy as wages remain stagnant, as credit card companies cut back on what their customers can spend, as people get laid off, so on and so forth? You’re so wrapped up in this bull**** 90’s anti-government rhetoric that you can’t see the economic problem right in front of your face.

The market, structurally speaking, has been crippled, rendered ineffective at matching demand to supply and supply to demand. It’s had a bloody heart attack, and you want us to tell it to walk it off.

All this talk about deficits being the problem would rely on everything recapitulating the 1970s and early ’80s. Trouble is, we don’t have high interest rates, nor is inflation running away and out of control. But that hasn’t stopped people from making political hay out of the memory of such events, even its entirely irrelevant.

If you want to run economies according to political dogmas instead of by empirical data, then you’re never get it right, though. Politics doesn’t make things true when they’re not. I would have thought the last decade would have taught you that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 6, 2010 2:50 PM
Comment #300176

sorry you won’t dechiper the handwriting on the wall SD. nearly every member of the EU is advocating, or being forced, to scale back spending; yet liberals there and here advocate more. stupid folks advocate stupid solutions. more gov and more spending is always the liberal socialist solution until total collapse cures their mental illness.


there is plenty of private money being tightly held by wary american’s fearful of more gov folly. small business is being stifled with more tax and regulation and big business is being either run by government or regulated into oblivion. Obama doesn’t have a clue what to do and is being led around by those dumber than he is.
the blind are leading the deaf with the applause of the demented.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 6, 2010 3:11 PM
Comment #300177

liberals should learn from many of our state govs which are reducing spending and cutting programs. this would be done at the federal level but for their ability to print money and borrow from china.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 6, 2010 3:23 PM
Comment #300178

Stephen Do you want this country to go the way of Greece? Or haven’t you been paying atrtention to the News. Because if we keep going the way we are we will be joining them including, England, Spain, Portugal and the rest of Europe.

Posted by: MAG at May 6, 2010 4:12 PM
Comment #300180

Sorry, Stephen D., you can’t have it both ways. Your party can’t pork up spending bills and refuse to significantly cut spending and raise taxes, and at the same time, claim to be concerned about debt and deficits. It takes a truly uneducated mind or, lack of logical integrity to buy into Democrat’s actions on this.

Democrats are hemming the debt and deficit issue by increasing tax collection efforts and cutting some NASA project budgeting. These however are window dressing, and do not in any way, address the road we are on toward Greece’s dilemma.

BTW, one of the major underpinnings of Greece’s debacle is their people’s wholesale refusal to pay their taxes for decades. America’s hundreds of billions of unpaid taxes each year are marching us down the same road as Greece. Why aren’t Democrats out there selling the patriotic duty of paying taxes to rescue our future, instead of shying away from the tax issue and capitulating to Right wing tax haters?

No government can survive a growing rejection of taxation to keep debt and deficits manageable. And no political party can survive in power by raising taxes without significantly cutting spending as well. This should be absolutely obvious to Democrats, but, it is not for the majority of them in the Congress today.

Spending and taxes will bring Obama down in 2012, if he does not right quick address them to the people’s satisfaction.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 6, 2010 7:27 PM
Comment #300184

Stephen

It is just simplistic to think a dictionary can prove or disprove an argument that has be discussed in literally thousands of books, seminars and graduate courses. I think that may indeed be a problem for the bigger government folks, that they don’t know the distinction.

Government’s record is not good when it overreaches. For all our troubles, America is still a great place to live. Our economy tanked and our unemployment rate went up to not much more than the usual long term unemployment rate in France or Germany. And those are the good examples. The countries with greater economic freedom are in general the most prosperous and free.

People used to think that central planning could do better than allowing people the freedom to make their own choices. Experience showed it was not.

Posted by: C&J at May 6, 2010 9:11 PM
Comment #300185

David

The problem of Greece is that government regulates or actually controls too much. Indeed, people often just don’t pay their lawful taxes. Americans, BTW, generally do. Taxes are much higher in Greece than in America - in theory.

As I mentioned to Stephen, the dominant problem of markets v planning is that planning works very well in theory or in the classroom. It is less effective when actually applied to complex systems.

Government is good at concentrating resources, so it is good at big things. That strength is also its weakness. It concentrates too much power in some areas and neglects others AND it makes these decisions for political and not practical concerns.

Posted by: C&J at May 6, 2010 9:18 PM
Comment #300187

Royal Flush-

sorry you won’t dechiper the handwriting on the wall SD.

Here’s the handwriting on the wall.

1) Healthcare costs drive up Medicare. You will neither take the risks to cancel Medicare, nor reform the healthcare system given the opportunity.

Republicans are incapable of dealing with the deficit.

2) More than 40% of this and future deficits are being run because of economic shortfall, the recession having drug down America’s productivity and wealth, draggin revenues down with them. Republicans refuse to use the Government sector, the one part of our economy which can still infuse new money into the economy. Democrats face political pressure from the right, everytime they think of doing more.

Republicans are incapable of dealing with the deficit.

3) Republicans, when given the chance, cut taxes in a time of war, and have pushed tax cuts as the panacea for both economic and fiscal problems despite a complete lack of proof that they’ve ever been effective in dealing with either one.

Republicans are incapable of dealing with the deficit.

4) Republicans, when given the chance, spend like drunken sailors. They have not shown any qualms about claiming responsibility for provisions in the stimulus that help their constituents. Would Republicans be so slow to spend the money for their own stimulus plans, if they were in charge? One wonders.

Republicans are incapable of dealing with the deficit.

5) The Republicans said nothing while huge amounts of debt were accrued in the name of keeping taxes low, and right now, they are lower overall, than they’ve been in sixty years. We don’t have a high taxation problem.

We have a Republicans are incapable of dealing with the deficit problem, which translates, due to their choices, into hundreds of billions of dollars wasted every year to pay for nothing so much as our continued, Mostly Republican generated indebtedness.

We got to fix the economy to fix the fiscal situation. That’s the writing on the wall. “Greece” is not the word here.

By the way, are you aware of what role Wall Street may have played in the current crisis?

Republicans are incapable of dealing with Wall Street, because they won’t admit their golden future of market self-policing doesn’t work quite as planned.

David R. Remer-
What does the term deflation mean to you?

What bills were porked up, and who told you they were porked up?

I remember people talking about basic scientific research, or putting more fuel efficient cars in the federal fleet as if they were pork. I agree that the tax policies are stupid, and enforcement is insufficient, and focused on the wrong people. They’re auditing people for the EITC more than they’re auditing big corporations and tax cheats.

We have thirty years of Republican corrosion of the system to undo, and the vitriol still flows in copious amounts. You want change, stop arguing with me, who wants some sanity restored, and start dealing with the folks here who are so used to just repeating slogans and catchphrases that they have no decent idea about how the system actually works.

It seems, nowadays, that everybody defaults to attacking the Democrats, even the Democrats themselves. Yet the people who got us in this mess, whether they’re the allies of the the Republicans, or the Republicans themselves, still maintain their errors, and the support of their constituents for continuing them. My advice is, don’t preach to the choir, take on the folks who are getting it most wrong, moderate them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 6, 2010 9:45 PM
Comment #300189

S.D. You rant and rave about the inability of Republicans in dealing with the deficit. I guess your answer to dealing with the deficit is adding more to it, which your party has done. We need to fix the fiscal situation, but spending ourselves into oblivion is not the answer. We have to watch Greece and all the EU. countries so we don’t make the same mistakes they have. But IMO we are headed in that direction if we keep on the way we are going. In all the News programs I watched today NONE mentioned Goldman Sachs as having anything to do with Greece’s problems, but some did mention entitlements as having a big part in their financial problems.

Posted by: MAG at May 6, 2010 10:45 PM
Comment #300191

C&J-
A dictionary can tell you what a standard definition for a word is. If you’re trying to allege that leadership is something different than management, then what’s the distinction you’re tryign to sell me on?

And no, you don’t get to basically call me ignorant just for not agreeing with that distinction. You’re going to have to tell me where this mysterious bright line exists between leading a company and managing it.

I’m not arguing for central planning, so why are you arguing against me as if I were? I’m arguing for staking out some boundaries here, so that we don’t have to suffer catastrophic economic collapses and economic instability on and off.

Don’t you realize that the number one enemy of small government is not liberals, but chaos and crisis? When business as usual yields stability, just outcomes, growing prosperity among people, folks won’t be lining up to be the first to rock the boat.

Screw things up royally, and people want intervention. Government hasn’t overreached here, it’s underreached, and because of that, it’s created the demand for additional interventions.

Greece’s problem is similar to ours in that the mismanagement of the economy has left the government with few if any popular choices. That’s what’s paralyzing Democrats right now. They’re hesitant to be the first to rock the boat after so many years of opposing tax hikes and following the Republican’s example. This has happened time and again.

You know what the critical factor in breaking that has been? Consistent pressure from people like me, who come back and push our elected leaders to do their jobs. We can’t ignore them between elections. In fact, that ignorance is often what encourages politicians to believe they can get away with crap. If you make it clear to them that they are being watched, and you make it to where voters do pay attention, you’ll have greater success fighting against the competing forces in Washington.

If you only exert your pull on election day, they’ve got their whole term to forget to be grateful and mindful concerning your vote.

If you let your wishes get out of sight of your politicians, it will certainly slip their attention. We need to remind them who they serve every day. The more they know they are being watched, the more they’ll be have as if people’s eyes are on them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 6, 2010 10:53 PM
Comment #300211

MAG-
Sorry, but the Hedge funds pop up here again, including Goldman Sach’s operation. Maybe you’re paying attention to the wrong news outlets.

Well, anyway, ignorance is no defense of your argument. You may not have heard of it, but they were involved.

When are you going to realize that the world’s problems are not conveniently shaped to fit your political agenda? The fiscal situation will not be fixed by an approach that simply counts on austerity, especially not with deflationary pressures at work, which will make them counterproductive.

You can distort the politics to force those measures, but you cannot force their success, anymore than Hoover, or even FDR later in the thirties could. America’s cashflow and the re-employment of its workforce are an integral part of recovering fiscal balance in this country, and if you don’t realize that then you don’t see the writing on the wall yourself.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 7, 2010 11:58 AM
Comment #300214

Stephen, I wish I could have retired at 61 like the Greeks can but now I guess it’s 63 now. G.S. may have had a small part in the Greek financial crisis but most of the problem is Government overspending especially in the entitlement area, plus high unemployment. You can’t spend more then you take in. I am using Greece as an example of what possibly could happen to the U.S. if we don’t control the ridiculous spending spree we are on now. Jobs have increased in this country but 290,000 is nice but that still leaves 8,000,000 out of work and most of those job increases I attribute to seasonal work.

Posted by: MAG at May 7, 2010 1:38 PM
Comment #300215

MAG-
Republicans are clueless about the debt. They beat up Obama for about 1.1 trillion dollars worth of unpaid for spending, and less that a trillion of spending offset by spending cuts elsewhere and new revenues, while they put seven to ten trillion additional dollars of deficit spending into action on account of their neverending wars and their precious tax cuts.

The Elder Bush had it right, back when he was campaigning against Reagan. The Republicans here are practicing voodoo economics. Our ridiculous spending spree is YOUR ridiculous spending spree, with the consequences of your ridiculous financial regulations added to the tune of 40% of the deficit.

But of course, your people sell themselves day and night as being better, you moan and groan about the deficit. But you know what? It’s very likely that if we tried things your way, we’d make the deficit bigger.

We’re caught in a deflationary trap. Far from an excess of money and debt being our primary problem at a federal level, our problem is our economy is painfully underfinanced, beyond even the reason of the market. We have had a catastrophic, but mostly artificial collapse of the financial sector. Why do I make that distinction.

See, the problem isn’t that most Americans won’t good for the money lent to them. No, the problem is, the bank’s own finances are so twisted up that they’ve locked up the money, for fear of being caught short when all the assets finally sort out.

Because the Banks won’t lend, businesses can’t employ people. Because Businesses don’t employ people, people don’t by products, and those proceeds don’t employ other people. Every dollar in that economy will be difficult to replace by private means, and that includes what taxpayer dollars the government puts into the economy.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of deficit spending, but the irony here is that a retraction of the government’s spending on the public will do little good, because that money is going to employ other people. Neither does raising taxes on most people make much sense right now.

Until we move out of the deflationary phase of our economy, the general result of attempts to tighten the belt will be to lose jobs. Losing jobs loses taxpayers, puts them on the public dole. Lost taxpayers mean lost revenues, added users of entitlements mean additional costs for government.

Get it? Until the economy is fixed, and people have the money to spare, you’re not going to get the intuitive, desired results from any austerity measures.

Republicans are great nowadays for complaining about what other people do on the sidelines, not so great for results or solutions. They treat government like a political game, rather than as a mechanism for serving the public’s interests.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 7, 2010 2:57 PM
Comment #300216

>Republicans are great nowadays for complaining about what other people do on the sidelines, not so great for results or solutions. They treat government like a political game, rather than as a mechanism for serving the public’s interests.
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 7, 2010 02:57 PM

Stephen,

Truer words were never spoken. Conservatives will tell you even today that government IS the problem, while shielding the fact that the private market is the actual culprit…then swear that cutting taxes and spending is the elixir that fixes everything from mumps to lumbago, while shielding the fact that every time THAT has been tried, it failed.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 7, 2010 3:10 PM
Comment #300232

Stephen, Both parties are clueless about the debt. We need to get drastic but neither party is willing to do it. Where did I mention anything about the republicans being better at economics then democrats? NOWHERE. You are assuming again. The only thing I said was that you rant and rave about Republicans inability with the deficit when your party is adding to it. The one thing that surprised me is that congress DID NOT give themselves a raise this year but I’ll bet they make up for it next go around. The government needs to get their hands out of the tax payers pockets and start being more responsible with our money, so things that happened in Greece do not happen here.

Posted by: MAG at May 7, 2010 7:46 PM
Comment #300235

Stephen

It is not a mysterious bright line and there is significant overlap. But it is possible for someone to be a good manger and a bad leader and the reverse. I googled the term “leadership versus management” and got 2,9700,000 results in .24 seconds. You can take your choice from among the many choices here. The top one has a simple difference. They say that leaders lead people and managers mange tasks.

As I said, much ink has been spilt talking about the distinctions. But if you don’t like the use of the terms, let me say it in other ways.

What I think government should do is set directions and make large scale decisions about laws, infrastructure and general priorities. It should allow the American people to manage their own affairs as they see fit as much as possible. Let me use the highway analogy. The government should build the road, set speed limits and safety regulations, but it should not tell the people where to go, how to get there or who to take with them.

I know you are not arguing for central planning, but you are calling for more planning than government can reasonably and effectively supply in a big and diverse country like ours.

Mark Twain said that you shouldn’t take more from a lesson than it has to teach. “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.” When there is a problem, people do indeed call for intervention and there is usually someone around who wants the job of cleaning up the problems and making the trains run on time. But it often does not solve the problem.

Nobody will say that the Greek collapse is the result of too LITTLE government. Greece is highly regulated and politicized. And Greece is certainly not the worst. The world’s most unstable places have strong government rules and the strong corruption and disrespect for the rule of law that often follows.

It would indeed be nice if we could figure out how to make rules to cover all (or even most) situations as well as anticipate the changes to come, but we cannot. And government officials tend to be among those least flexible in their approaches. Government means rules and law. Government has the monopoly on the legitimate use of coercion and violence. Those are powerful tools that should be deployed sparingly.

Posted by: C&J at May 7, 2010 8:38 PM
Comment #300262

C&J,

Somehow you continue to separate the government from the people, thus making government the enemy of the people. Government is not the enemy, it merely reacts to situations because the people demand it. When diseased foods are prevalent, it behooves people to protect themselves…they get that protection through the government. Government does not grow too big…the people grow the government to the size they think necessary to the pursuit of their happiness.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 8, 2010 8:26 AM
Comment #300304

C&J-

Mark Twain said that you shouldn’t take more from a lesson than it has to teach. “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.”

I think that’s the lesson conservatives unfortunately take concerning government. Whenever government goes wrong, they take it as a sign that all such government is destined to fail, or bad.

See, I don’t take such a hardline view either way. I say government can fail, and can succeed. I say, some things are so complicated that it’s better to leave it to distributed, individual judgment. Other things, though, I say are complicated for other reasona, and that complication isn’t really always necessary or productive. Sometimes government needs to step in and simplify things, eliminate alternatives that have no rational basis.

The propagandists in your party insist that we’re spendthrifts. We’re not. They insist we love taxes. We don’t. We might think of them as being a fact of life, rather than a curse on humanity, but we’re not jumping and skipping at the thought of paying higher taxes. They insist we love government intruding on our lives. We don’t, in fact we’re stalwart champions of civil liberties, especially those that keep the government from spying on people who are not involved with crimes or criminals.

I think the Republicans have been manipulated by opinion-makers who want the party to be their own personal cult. Evidence for this is that is in the disparity between those who consider themselves conservative, and those who identify as Republicans. Unfortunately, whether they realize it or not, a lot of conservative leaners take their cue from the Republican base, which itself has become rather hardline and inflexible.

But the unfortunate side effect of the Republican’s political approach is that they let things get screwed up that create demand for intervention. The intervention often ends up being more hurried, more hasty, for the fact that people are often trying to outrun a public backlash when they do it.

That’s not the best way to legislate. The best way is to examine things calmly and figure out what the points of failure are, and address those.

As far as your distinctions between leadership and management goes, I find them irrelevant because I believe a good government, and other good sources of public order must do both. Rules don’t magically enforce themselves. Programs don’t administer themselves. And really, always, somebody has to be looking at what’s going on, to see whether the rules are working as designed.

As for Greece? If there is a problem for both Greece and ourselves, it’s that for the longest time both governments have been essentially bribing their citizens with borrowed money, and now they both faces crises related to that irresponsibility.

But you would act like this was the result of what Democrats did. No, it’s not. The vast majority of what’s going to cost us such long term debt was imposed on us by Republicans looking to fight two wars, get in good with seniors and send their contributors billions in tax refunds, without any out of pocket costs or real spending cuts. And you know what? I think they would do it again, given the chance. Unfortunately, your people ARE willing to do it again.

One reason: “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare!”

It is one thing to scare people into opposing what you see as further development of the welfare state. But it’s quite another to actually convince people that what stake they’ve already got in that welfare state is worth renouncing, and until they do that, all you’ve really done is confuse them.

And confuse them, apparently, the Republicans have, on purpose. Why else did you have Eric Cantor making dark warnings about cuts in Medicare?

The leadership of your party knows its got a weakness there in its support. It knows that too much of that talk will scare off voters, and Republicans need to appeal to the middle.

That’s why all the deficit talk has been going around. But it’s problematic to address that problem until the consequences of spending cuts and higher taxes can be absorbed by the economy. If you want to look and see what a problem long term deflation can be, just look at Japan.

Our economic problem is not that people’s money has been devalued, it’s that their actual money supply’s been reduced, and that’s forced them to demand lower prices on everything. But to bring prices down that low, vendors and merchants have to bring other costs down, which often means lowering labor costs or bargaining down the prices that others charge them.

When individuals do this by themselves, as a personal decision, it’s part of the market forces. But when everybody’s forced to do it at once, it’s deflation, and it’s deadly to market growth. What’s deadly to market growth, is deadly to the revenues that the government depends upon.

Austerity measures imposed too soon will aggravate problems with the money supply.

Our basic problem is that we have opened up the throttle on lending as far as it will go, and closing it down at this point, without an economic expansion to buffer it, will make it harder for people to finance businesses, houses and other products, worsening the economic problem, worsening the fiscal problem.

The folks on Wall Street and the banks out there aren’t really lending as they once did. Their money isn’t circulating like it once was. Without that, effectively, private lenders cannot rescue us, any more than the Fed can. The economic crisis basically paralyzed the private financial system, and its only slowly opening back up.

The Problem here, is the rest of our economy’s being forced to catch up to that, forced to compact itself into a smaller than needed level of financing.

Only our government, with its ability to deficit spend, can open up the throttle on our economy, and expand the supply of business-financing dollars.

And so we did. That was the Stimulus, in a nutshell.

It’s been a mild success. But too mild. We need more money in the economy. Unfortunately, the Republicans have decided to deal with the deficit, instead.

At precisely the wrong time, most economist agree. Hoover and FDR both tried to impose austerity measures at some point in their administrations. Hoover did not succeed in his attempts to impose austerity- the revenues ended up unresponsive to increases in taxes, and the economy got worse as he tried to push the spending cuts, leaving both austerity methods insufficient to the task of dealing with the problem of the deficit.

FDR, like Obama today, was getting pressure on his spending and his low taxes. He tried to impose austerity measures, and was greeted by a double dip into recession land, about 1937, after having grown the economy steadily for the past four years before.

The Japanese tried austerity measures as well, in response to their rising debt and deficits, only to find that their attempts to make this work hardly worked either.

Point is, they were all expecting the markets to react as they do in times of growth and moderate price inflation. We also forget that one of the primary causes of the current deficit IS the economic downturn. If the economy were growing much faster, it could take up much of the slack in the deficit through revenues.

Unfortunately the way your people have gone about it, you’re trying to replay a completely different kind of recession. I would say, go ahead, screw it up, so we can defeat you soundly in the next elections, but I know two things: we Democrats would feel the effects, and the Republicans would blame us for this, as they’ve blamed us for the deficit that belongs mostly to them.

So, I’m going to tell you right here, whether you like or not, that your people had best stop parrotting party dogma, and start keeping an eye on what’s actually happening, and what’s understood about such situations, before you folks do yet another thing to make Democrats more popular the hard way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 8, 2010 9:13 PM
Comment #300316

Marysdude

The government is NOT the enemy of the people. I never say that it is. On the contrary, I constantly repeat that government is necessary and that w/o government there can be no civilization or free markets.

But the government is NOT the same as the people, even in the best democracy. Government has to be run by somebody and THOSE people have their own human priorities and failings.

Beyond that, government must run on certain organizational principles and of necessity does not have access to all the information necessary to make decisions about complex systems.

So government is good and necessary in some things. It is passably good at others and it is bad at some things. As it gets bigger, it moves into more and more places where it doesn’t have to required skills, competence and organizational robustness.

Stephen

Please see above. We agree that there are appropriate places for government and appropriate places where it doesn’t belong. I suspect we differ in the “default option”.

I believe that anything that can reasonably done by the private section SHOULD be done by the private sector. You seem to have the contrary default.

I generally do not like collective decisions and would prefer to make up my own mind about as much as I can. I would allow others to do the same. At my work, I believe in empowering my staff to take decisions. I like my bosses to give me that freedom and I like my government to let us all do that unless there is reason not to.

Lack of regulation may allow some injustice. Regulation creates its own sets of injustice and inefficiency. It is a balancing act. Just because private action fails, it does not follow that there is a government solution. There are things that just cannot be done.

Posted by: C&J at May 9, 2010 12:46 AM
Comment #300320

You made me think more about this subject, so I wrote a post.

Posted by: C&J at May 9, 2010 1:37 AM
Comment #300330

From a great article in the NY Times…http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/opinion/09friedman.html?th&emc=th

“DEATH NOTICE: The Tooth Fairy died last night of complications related to obesity. Born Jan. 1, 1946, the Tooth Fairy is survived by 400 million children living largely in North America and Western Europe, known collectively as “The Baby Boomers.” “We’ll certainly miss the Tooth Fairy,” one of them said following her death, which coincided with the 2010 British elections and rioting in Greece. The Tooth Fairy had only one surviving sibling who will now look after her offspring alone: Mr. Bond Market of Wall Street and the City of London.”

“We baby boomers in America and Western Europe were raised to believe there really was a Tooth Fairy, whose magic would allow conservatives to cut taxes without cutting services and liberals to expand services without raising taxes.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 9, 2010 12:19 PM
Comment #300607

Hmmmmmm … wasn’t votin’ Democrat supposed to make everything better?

So, how many of these 10 abuses have been addressed, or reduced since the last election?

Or the election before that, etc.?

Hmmmmmmm … wasn’t votin’ for Republicans supposed to make everything better?

What do that call it when people do the same thing repeatedly, and expect a different result?

Until enough voters understand that they are culpable too, and understand that shooting themselves in the foot ain’t too smart, then the majority of voters only have themselves to thank for it, and the rampant corruption will continue to grow worse and worse, threatening the future of the nation.

As you read this, and as if things couldn’t get worse, there are a number of things that threaten to make things worse:

  • (1) A 2nd bank crisis is brewing. As in the Great Depression, there were actually two bank crises. And now, while the government is now trying to save the too-big-to-fail banks, hundreds of small banks have failed, which worsens the too-big-to-fail problem.

  • (2) The Commercial Real Estate market may be the next shoe to drop. Values have plummeted. Small businesses, which create create a huge percentage of all jobs, could be drastically affected.

  • (3) The potential for rising U.S. Treasury rates, due to record deficits and debt, low demand for long-term treasuries, and crowding into short-term treasuries could become a contributing trigger for another financial crisis.

  • (4) The potential for rising mortgage rates could also threaten economic recover.

  • (5) A 70% Consumer driven economy, and weak demand could also threaten economic recovery.

  • (6) China’s stimulus didn’t produce much growth, and there’s now a real-estate property bubble that may pop. So, China isn’t likely to lead the U.S. out of troubled waters.

  • (7) Federal stimulus is running out, and states and local governments are about to start making massive spending cuts. This won’t help unemployment. States have several hundreds of billions in deficits.

  • (8) Foreclosures are at peak levels. It took 5 years to ramp up to 11,000 foreclosures per day, and it will most likely take as many years to ramp down.

But, other than that, everything is rosy.

I remember Republicans spouting rosy nonsense.
Now it’s the Democrat’s turn to spout rosy nonsense.
When will enough voters finally see that rewarding corrupt, FOR-SALE, incompetent incumbent politicians with re-election doesn’t work?

At any rate, the 200 million eligible voters (40% of which don’t even bother to vote at all, and the majority of the rest who blindly pull the party-lever) have the government that they elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, … , and re-elect, at least, until repeatedly rewarding failure, and repeatedly rewarding incumbent politicians with 90% re-election rates finally becomes too painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at May 17, 2010 12:28 AM
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