Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Balrog of the Depths

In the world of Middle Earth, the Balrog the Fellowship faced in the Mines of Moria came because the Dwarves of that subterranean realm delved too deep, too greedily. Today, in the Gulf of Mexico, we face our own Balrog, and our greed has us facing a monster unlike any we’ve ever been challenged by.

The gusher in the depths of the Ocean off Lousiana's coast is monstrous by any measure, a slick hundreds of miles wide, which threatens to befoul one whole coast of America's land. It will be a plague on those who fish, on the Wetlands that even before were failing, on those who make their money off the beauty and the bounty of those seas. Anybody who says that it's effects will simply pass without comment is trying to protect those whose risky behavior brought this on.

The monster we face is one created of both our great intelligence, and our great foolishness. No doubt, it took great technological development to drill this kind of well. But it also took great foolishness on the part of the management of BP and the company that owned the rig to cause this disaster to come about.

But our foolishness as a nation is this: we let these people take risks when they were not prepared for the worst case scenario, when they were not capable of demonstrating that they could seal off a well like this, should the worst come to pass. We trusted them, despite years of many counterexamples from companies of all kinds, to do what was right, and not simply what was easy and profitable.

Government is easy for some. Their notion is to let people do what they want, especially when their business makes lots of money, and in the event that something goes terribly wrong, government is supposed to either turn a blind eye to developing catastrophe in order to let the malefactors be punished by events, or it's supposed to intervene at the last moment, and spread the consequences of their losses to the taxpayers, to prevent the collapse of whatever industry we're talking about.

One way or another, we face monsters. We face monstrous bailouts, or we face monstrous consequences.

Nature, whether it is mother nature or human nature, seems quite willing to punish our greed, our laziness, our obliviousness, with disproportionately catastrophic results. Why some folks think this is the wise thing to do is beyond me. To me, government shouldn't be this manic depressive. It shouldn't be bouncing back and forth between inaction and breathless, hopeless, last minute intervention, or worse, impotent witness to a descent into purgatory. I would rather have a dozen good managers succeed each other in the Presidency than one Great Leader, succeeded by a dozen half-wits who are only operating out of sheer pretention.

We need folks to do what government should do: govern. To keep excesses in check. To keep itself in check when necessary.

We shouldn't be driven by the self-destructive impulse to simply consume and mine and process without regards to the safety and sustainability of our communities. There are dozens of examples throughout history of lost civilizations who met their Balrogs, who were destroyed by the monsters of environmental damage that they unleashed on themselves.

Look at Iraq, for crying out loud. There's a reason much of that land is desert, or seems like it, despite the fact that it was once the cradle of civilization. As they irrigated their fields, they salted them, ironically enough, a punishment that ancient civilizations used to inflict on their enemies to make their lands worthless for cultivation. But they did it to themselves. As they let their water needlessly evaporate into the air, they left salt behind in the evaporate. As time went on, they moved up the lands of Mesopotamia, the empires moving further and further north.

Now you can say, how could they know? Most likely, they didn't. But we have no such excuse. We know of lands like this, falls of empire like this. If we choose to, we have a memory that spans centuries, and in that memory, we can see the fall of an empire in the lead content of its favorite foods, or we can see the slow silting up of their harbors as they let the land erode through irresponsible cultivation.

We don't have to make their mistakes to learn their lessons. We don't even have to make the mistakes of our direct predecessors. We cut the lead out of our gasoline. Because of this, future generations will be smarter than their forebears. We once let the winds take our soils, leading to the Dustbowls of the Great Depression. Now we know not to be so wasteful. We can learn our lessons on wasting water. We learned our lessons on replacing CFCs as propellants, though the lifetime of those chemicals means they will continue to thin our Ozone for some time to come. We recovered an entire lake from becoming a dead zone by doing away with phosphates in laundry. Rivers that once caught on fire, no longer pose such a hazard.

But even so, there are those who chafe at the restrictions of these lessons, who merely see people getting in the way of what they want. They'll tell you your jobs are at stake, that our economy will suffer, that it's all just an evil plot by a new world order or some psychotic junk like that. They'll make fun of the spokesman, cast doubt on the science, even if it's nearly universally accepted. They'll wrap themselves in pretensions of scientific authority, and will help the industries do damage control when the chips are down.

But even if you can fool people, you can't fool physics, chemistry, or biology. I won't say that the Gulf is gone forever. That would be undisciplined to say. But I will say that there are limits to what we can do to this environment without inviting permanent, often times unwelcome change. Nobody's going to enjoy watching tar balls wash up on the beaches of Florida, or seeing any kind of dead zone develop in that region of the Gulf. Nobody wants to see what this thing will do when the Gulf stream inevitably starts transporting this stuff up the coast. Nobody wants to find out what the toxic dispersants are going to do.

But because the restraint and/or coopting of government took precedent over the function of government for so long, that may just be what we get to see in our lifetimes. Some folks, trying to score political points, bring out Katrina, but I don't think that's a good idea. There, too, decades of neglect came to a bad end, and the unthinkable sight of an American city destroyed by the forces of nature knocked us out of our hubris. We are touchable. We are vulnerable. We cannot continue to walk between the rain drops, or the oil drops for that matter.

The advice of one whole section of our political discourse here is to simply assume that we can do as we have done, continue all of our bad habits, take the easy way out, and just assume that if we're doing wrong, that the system will self-correct us before the worst happens.

Well, having seen the worst happen time and time again, I don't know why people still think this is a wise course of action. We're killing ourselves, inch by inch here, and I am convinced that we don't have to. It means that we can't stay as we are, as we have been, but if you look at American history, you will see that nothing has ever stayed the same for long. Colonies became frontiers, a nation driven by agriculture became one driven by industry, and industry gave way to internet. Horses and oxen once gave way to machines and automobiles. Why can't our technology today give way to something new?

Why must we continue to risk the Balrogs of environment and economy to keep this nation going? Why do we have to play chicken with the collapse of our nation's economy and energy infrastructure?

We have a different path obviously before us, and it it will be an easier path to tread if we walk it willingly, and aren't forced by terrible circumstances to walk it out of desperation, chased by the monsters of our own creation.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 30, 2010 10:14 PM
Comments
Comment #301380

Stephen

Nature doesn’t “punish” anybody, although your metaphor is okay.

The Iraq case is interesting. It is true that too much irrigation ruined some of the soils, but there also was significant climate change. It got warmer and drier.

But the most interesting thing is that the soils can be restored to productivity, although you might not bother. The things that work well at low levels of technology are often not so much in demand at higher levels.

Our technologies of today will indeed give way to better ones. But right now fossil fuels are too cheap. That is why we use them. We need to raise the prices of fossil fuels. If the price of fuels represented their true long term costs, people would make better decisions.

We do have to be careful with how we do things, however. Many centrally made decisions don’t really catch all the nuances. For example, sometimes measures that increase energy efficiency do not lower energy demand, since people increase use to spend at similar levels.

Re Katrina - I do blame government. We have known for decades that New Orleans was unsustainable in its lower neighborhoods. Anybody who watches History Channel or Discovery has seen some of the reports. We should never have built in some of these low lying places and w/o government support nobody could have afforded to do it. Government sponsored public works projects and flood insurance subsidies push people to these places.

You may recall the old saying, “To err is human, but to really mess up on a big scale you need government help.”

Posted by: C&J at May 30, 2010 11:50 PM
Comment #301381

C&J-
Well, we can say that nature doesn’t show much mercy to those whose actions leave them vulnerable on a certain front. We are dependent on the resources of nature, and also feel the effects of nature as creatures of it. Technology only provides us with protection from that to the extent that the laws of physics and the laws of nature allow it to.

Nature also doesn’t protect us from our own foolishness.

It might be easier to convince people of things, if nature itself actually had the intelligence to punish with rational intent in mind. Then nature could teach us deliberate, precise lessons, rather than have human beings learn them randomly and inconsistently.

Which is why, really, we need environmental regulation. If somebody’s going to teach lessons to folks about poking the beast that is nature with a stick, it’s best that it’s we who teach the lesson, as fellow human beings, rather than indiscriminate, disproportionate nature.

I’m reading a book about engineering challenges by Henry Petroski. One of the points he makes clear is that many problems are engineering problems. And engineering problems, by their nature, are fraught with difficulties. We can’t make totally perfect decisions, but we should learn from our mistakes, and unfortunately, the lesson you seem to draw is that we should just give up in the face of these problems. I don’t think we have that option.

New Orleans and its neighborhoods, for all their inopportune siting, remain a gateway to the Gulf of Mexico beyond for a huge amount of goods, and a large amount of fuel. Even if you give up parts of New Orleans for good, you’re faced with the problem of replicating the economic value and utility of New Orleans.

Where do you reconstitute those industries. Where do you resite those pipelines and refineries and whatever else? How do you move people out, where do you move them to, and how do you anticipate the future effects of Global Climate Change in your designs? No doubt, many hidden errors and problems await any such projects.

You blame the government for letting people settle in those lower neighborhoods. Well, that’s nice and neat. But what If I told you that many of those places settled to where they are? And what if I also told you that many of the place in the Netherlands deal with being below sea level just fine. The main difference is, they don’t screw around on how they handle the engineering challenge of keeping those places dry and safe from storms.

One example of where bad engineering made things worse is with that Industrial canal, which helped funnel water down through the neighborhoods, to the detriment of the city.

So, they got rid of that.

I’m saddened by your approach to government. It’s not that I’m a flag waving fan of just pushing it in at any opportunity. Rather, if anything goes wrong, your notion of what government should do seems to always be, get the hell out of dodge. Rather than perfect behavior, you encourage negligence and disregard. Since government doesn’t go away at anywhere near the rate you would have it leave, your approach is a recipe for decadence, and carried out long enough, collapse.

I will not say that government can do everything, or do everything right. But getting things right in this world isn’t always an option. Sometimes you need government to intervene, and when you do, you will have to deal with human errors, and nature’s surprises, and you can either choose to give up and suffer the consequences, or solve the problem.

I want problems solvers in charge. I don’t want people who are looking for an excuse to get out of doing something.

As for flood insurance? As far as I’m aware, flood insurance policies encourage people to settle in low risk zones, as the closer you are to a higher risk place, the higher your premiums are, and the lower your chances of getting a policy.

We’re not going to get handed a perfect world anytime soon, so we should do what we can with the technology we have, and make lemonade out of the lemons we are handed. If you want to sit around in bored/frightened despair, that’s fine. I will push for a government that can help people when that’s possible.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 31, 2010 1:04 AM
Comment #301382

C&J

In 2004 I was lying in a hospital bed. I watched as reports about the Indian Ocean Tsunami came in. As estimates of 50,000 and then 100,000 and finally 230,000 dead I was thinking:

You may recall the old saying, “To err is human, but to really mess up on a big scale you need government help.”

I mean without government assistance those people never would have lived there.

It all makes so much sense, now. If only we had a Sumatran type government, we’d be much better off.

Posted by: gergle at May 31, 2010 9:57 AM
Comment #301386

Stephen Daugherty,
It was a pleasure to read this article. The absence of partisanship was refreshing.

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 31, 2010 12:14 PM
Comment #301393

Weary Willie-
Thank you.

Even back when I was a Republican, I was for environmental measures and energy efficiency, because from my point of view, these weren’t political issues, but practical ones instead.

On so many issues, my perspective is similar. When I started writing here, my main theme on Iraq was not letting the screw-ups happen again, but also dealing responsibly and maturely with the problems we already had.

On the economy, same thing. I’m no fan of big complex books of regulations, but I’m also not a big fan of systems out of control. What good is it to invest or start up a business when you’ll be at the mercy of the secondary effects of somebody else’s screw-ups?

For the sake of the profit of a few, we’ve built an economy and an infrastructure that profits decreasingly few people. I don’t know about you, but that’s something that’s got to change. The economy should profit as many people as possible. And our infrastructure should be built so that we can support ourselves without inviting disasters like we have in the Gulf.

We can disagree about how this must be done, but done it must be. We all have to face this challenge, or we all face the consequences.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 31, 2010 1:22 PM
Comment #301395

Gergle

As you know, I love government and think it so precious that we should not waste it by using it too much. It is necessary to have government for lots of things and necessary not to have so much government for others.

I was thinking re government intervention in New Orleans. Most of it was good. But government investment allowed the extension of the city in places where nature would not support long term occupation.

Stephen

Nature doesn’t show mercy because nature doesn’t have a personality. We personify nature as a metaphor, but we should be careful not to take it too literally. We can do some things that are sustainable for a while, but nothing lasts forever, in nature or in human affairs.

My idea of government is sort of like the Hippocratic oath - first do no harm. Government does many great thing. It also created serious environmental hazards by subsidizing behavior that would otherwise be impossible.

Sometime things go wrong BECAUSE of and not in spite of our best efforts. And often yesterdays solutions are today’s problems. This is where government has trouble. It is hard for government to change course and abandon things that were mistakes or were excellent ideas that no longer make sense.

Take the example of New Orleans. A city about half the size of New Orleans in 2004 is viable and sustainable. But Federal subsidies in the form of flood control, subsidized insurance and the moral hazard of disaster relief have pushed it beyond what it would be and can be sustainably.

I like the idea of insurance being calibrated to risk. If government doesn’t step in, people will not be able to afford the insurance to build on sensitive places like flood plains and barrier islands. We wouldn’t have to make it illegal. Only the very rich and/or stupid would build. We would have de-facto nature preserves.

I think we can agree that government should not subsidize private individuals to despoil nature for their own gain. Public works projects have made America the great country we are today. It is the essence of good judgment to know when there is enough and when there is too much.

Posted by: C&J at May 31, 2010 1:31 PM
Comment #301397

C&J-
If most engineers, scientists or whoever took your angle on things, we would never have gotten anywhere. If you’re human, you are going to screw up. Science, engineering, government- none of these work all that well if you’re scared off by the prospect of failure.

No, what you have to do is learn from failure, because nobody will ever succeed every time, and thereby determine the golden road.

What sustains New Orleans is not flood insurance, it’s the fact that it’s the first port on the Mississippi river that is accessible from both land and sea. It was built there for that reason, and it stays there for that reason, not because of some moral hazard of flood insurance. The population to keep that up is attracted there by the industry that its key location attracts.

In my opinion? Rebuild the levee to defend against the next category four or five storm, and at the same time, draw up plans for the successor city, the port facilities to replace it.

But don’t doubt this: it won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy with your party deciding that no government intervention can work, rather than actually doing something and seeing what comes of it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 31, 2010 1:51 PM
Comment #301399

Stephen

I am not disagreeing with you. New Orleans SHOULD be there. It is natural place for a city. But it doesn’t have to be as big as it is or in all the locations.

Much of the areas that were still not rebuilt a year later, probably should not be rebuilt. If we allow larger areas of flood zone, i.e. place where the water can go, we can make it work.

IMO - the New Orleans situation had addled the brains of liberals. I know this is a provocative statement, but let me explain. In their haste to blame Bush and “protect the poor”, liberals staked out an dumb position on rebuilding all of New Orleans. It doesn’t make economic sense to do that and it doesn’t make ecological sense to do it. The part of New Orleans that was built up before 1900 is mostly above sea level and sustainable. In the last century, they built in places that were wetlands and wet forests. These places helped protect the built up areas as well as water purity and wildlife. The hurricane gave us an opportunity to make up for the mistake we made over the course of a long time.

This is the kind of thing that liberals would generally welcome. Just do the smart - and sustainable - thing.

Posted by: C&J at May 31, 2010 2:06 PM
Comment #301400
New Orleans and its neighborhoods, for all their inopportune siting, remain a gateway to the Gulf of Mexico beyond for a huge amount of goods, and a large amount of fuel. Even if you give up parts of New Orleans for good, you’re faced with the problem of replicating the economic value and utility of New Orleans.

Where do you reconstitute those industries. Where do you resite those pipelines and refineries and whatever else? How do you move people out, where do you move them to, and how do you anticipate the future effects of Global Climate Change in your designs? No doubt, many hidden errors and problems await any such projects.

Baton Rouge?

Posted by: Warped Reality at May 31, 2010 3:11 PM
Comment #301402

C&J wrote; “In their haste to blame Bush and “protect the poor”, liberals staked out an dumb position on rebuilding all of New Orleans.”

Absoutely correct although I don’t believe you will ever get agreement by the libs. Libs talk a good game and Mr. Daugherty speaks eloquently about making government work. But, when it comes to political power they almost always choose more government over sound people decisions.

Barry and company, with all their bloated spending have not been able to raise our productivity. The public sector is growing and the private sector is dying.

Public sector wages are reaching two to two and one half times wages in the private sector. Since the public sector relies completely upon the private sector for everything, it is obvious this can not continue. Even St. Barry can’t work that miracle.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 31, 2010 3:47 PM
Comment #301403

Warped

They don’t need ALL the place. Lots of the place remained and still remains unreconstructed for the last five years. That seems to indicate that they were not crucial.

Posted by: C&J at May 31, 2010 3:48 PM
Comment #301406

Royal, Can you produce any factual documentation for what is IMHO misinformation?

“Public sector wages are reaching two to two and one half times wages in the private sector.”


“A chief executive officer of a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 index company was paid, on average, $9.25 million in total compensation in 2009.”

http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/

“Effective January 1, 2001, the annual salary of the president of the United States was increased to $400,000 per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance.”

Posted by: j2t2 at May 31, 2010 4:23 PM
Comment #301413

C&J,

As I sarcastically pointed out Sumatra, Indonesia did nothing to support people living on the coast where 230,000 were drowned by the tsunami.

People have lived in New Orleans much longer than there has been an America. They have moved out south of New Orleans to cheap land, like everywhere. They have easy access to their ocean related jobs in fishing, the oil and chemical industries and shipping. Government didn’t create the dams to create New Orleans, they created the dams to protect wealthier landowners. The people of Grand Isle and others had no protection. Rarely, if ever, do damns get built to protect the poor. They may inadvertently get included in a protected area.

Nice theory, that New Orleans exists only because of government, but not supported by history or facts.

I agree coastal insurance pools probably should not exist, or at least be subsidized by government.

Posted by: gergle at May 31, 2010 7:19 PM
Comment #301414

A lot of people are not aware that there are people living 100 miles south of New Orleans

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=A%20map%20of%20Lousiana%20and%20Grand%20Isle%20map&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl

Posted by: gergle at May 31, 2010 7:26 PM
Comment #301416
Weary Willie- Thank you.
Even back when I was a Republican, I was for environmental measures and energy efficiency, because from my point of view, these weren’t political issues, but practical ones instead.

I’m very interested in when you were a Republican! Environmentalism wasn’t a Republican issue. What made you a Republican?

On so many issues, my perspective is similar. When I started writing here, my main theme on Iraq was not letting the screw-ups happen again, but also dealing responsibly and maturely with the problems we already had.

My opinion on Iraq is, political. I believe there aren’t as many screw-ups in Iraq as has been claimed!

On the economy, same thing. I’m no fan of big complex books of regulations, but I’m also not a big fan of systems out of control. What good is it to invest or start up a business when you’ll be at the mercy of the secondary effects of somebody else’s screw-ups?

Everybody will screw up when the rules are changed. Local government will respond to local issues in a timely manner. Waiting for a federal infrastructure to respond is wagging the tail.

For the sake of the profit of a few, we’ve built an economy and an infrastructure that profits decreasingly few people. I don’t know about you, but that’s something that’s got to change. The economy should profit as many people as possible. And our infrastructure should be built so that we can support ourselves without inviting disasters like we have in the Gulf.

I agree. If we were to look at our ancestors history, and compare it to our present history, we would find many parallels. I’m afraid! I may be called a nut, but none-the-less, I’m afraid! But that’s no reason to stay behind. That’s no reason to ignore this challenge.

We can disagree about how this must be done, but done it must be. We all have to face this challenge, or we all face the consequences.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 31, 2010 01:22 PM


This Gulf Coast Oil Spill is a relatively small issue. The health of our Flag and our property will be determined by our vote, not by an oil spill. Our history will be determined by our vote in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. It is our responsibility to stay alive for that long and it is our responsibility to pay attention to our history.

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 31, 2010 8:02 PM
Comment #301418

Gergle

I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this. New Orleans exists because it is in a good location. It is just too big and it was allowed to grow too be because of heroic public works and subsidies.

My general point of view, as always, is that I believe in letting people make the choices they think best and should suffer the consequences or get the benefit. If people want to build on flooding lowlands, I would let them. But let’s not help where it doesn’t make ecological sense. IMO, if people have to pay for it, they won’t do it so much. But if we spend the government’s money to create nice, cheap places near the coast, of course lots of people will take us up on the offers.

Posted by: C&J at May 31, 2010 8:41 PM
Comment #301419

Stephen D., the nub of it is this: The corporations invent and develop the technologies to stretch previous boundaries. When going before the authorities for permits and licensing, they, of course, assure the regulators that they have it all under control. Being new technology, the regulators are in a poor position to say NO, we will not allow the corporations to innovate because we, the regulators, cannot fully comprehend the risks associated with this new technology. Such a stance, is inevitably, and nearly invariably, indefensible in a political climate in which corporate dollars are pulling electoral strings.

Hence, we arrive where we are, with millions of tons of nuclear waste with no way to effectively get rid of it out of harm’s way, and no way to protect it all from those with nefarious motives, and of course the BP catastrophe, Exxon-Valez, Mountaintop leveling which contaminates streams and rivers and drinking supplies for decades thereafter, and red tide blooms resulting from the agricultural fertilizer run-off into our great rives, just to mention a few. The Hudson River is again contaminated, and L.A, still, decades later, cannot extricate itself from injurious smog in hot summer months.

The Goal here is to remove oversight and regulation from politics and political agendas, and to allow academics with no vested interest to assess risk/reward of new and risky innovation, and deliver a hierarchy of recommendations for the politicians to accept exclusively, ranging from taxing the corporations as insurance premiums to insure funding for catastrophic consequences, to declaring the rewards of the new technology are not worth the risks associated with it, under any circumstances, given the current state of technology and associated risks.

This is entirely doable. All it takes is an educated and well informed electorate to insist upon this course in exchange for cashing in their anti-incumbent vote for an incumbent vote. In other words, all it will take is for Americans to grow up to the demands of a democratically elected government with universal suffrage. A tall order, to be sure. But, entirely doable, if the people organize around their voting responsibility and take serious their charge as voters to become informed and vested in their government and who runs it for, or against them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 31, 2010 9:40 PM
Comment #301422


Gigantic mounds of pig manure from corporate pork factories accompanied by billions of flies.

The well is just one of many disasters associated with our oil culture. We have all contributed to it and benefited from it.

Our oil, chemical, military, materialistic, consumptive, hedonistic, TV, government corruption culture is who we are. It is how we got to that well in the Gulf.

Some will tell you that you have to accept the bad to get the good. They will tell you that to do otherwise is to risk destruction of the economy.

Although we have wised up in some ways, there is still a ways to go and heavy resistance remains stubbornly in the way.

We should utilize other alternatives and wait till the wind and solar technology improves.

That’s like saying that:

We should stick with the horse and buggy until the model T technology is more developed or we should stay on the ground until the Wright bro’s come up with the 707.

Posted by: jlw at May 31, 2010 11:05 PM
Comment #301423


Gigantic mounds of pig manure from corporate pork factories accompanied by billions of flies.

The well is just one of many disasters associated with our oil culture. We have all contributed to it and benefited from it.

Our oil, chemical, military, materialistic, consumptive, hedonistic, TV, government corruption culture is who we are. It is how we got to that well in the Gulf.

Some will tell you that you have to accept the bad to get the good. They will tell you that to do otherwise is to risk destruction of the economy.

Although we have wised up in some ways, there is still a ways to go and heavy resistance remains stubbornly in the way.

We should utilize other alternatives and wait till the wind and solar technology improves.

That’s like saying that:

We should stick with the horse and buggy until the model T technology is more developed or we should stay on the ground until the Wright bro’s come up with the 707.

Posted by: jlw at May 31, 2010 11:07 PM
Comment #301425

David

Over the past four decades, the entire industry has produced about 62,500 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. If used fuel assemblies were stacked end-to-end and side-by-side, this would cover a football field about seven yards deep.link

jlw

You can use these alternatives today if you want. You can make your own home solar and wind powered. I suspect you don’t because of the high cost. That is why everybody doesn’t do it too.

We are developing alternatives and sometimes very quickly. But they are still more expensive than fossil fuel based solutions in most cases and/or less convenient.

Your example of the horse and buggy and airplane is flawed. In fact we DID stay with horses until automobiles developed that were cheaper to use and/or more convenient than horses. We might have been better off sticking to and developing rail technology rather than going so fast into planes and automobiles as our dominant transport.

Energy choices are not all or nothing, on or off, events. We use a portfolio of choices. Old tech persists WITH new.

It took nearly 400 years for England to covert from wood to coal. The U.S. didn’t get more energy from coal than from wood until 1884, and still has not really left the age of coal, since more than half of our electricity comes from coal fired thermal plants. Things take time for a variety of reasons.

Many enabling factor are necessary for an energy transformation to take place. A resource that cannot be brought to market is useless and sometimes transport is a limiting factor. That was the problem for natural gas. Oil and gas are often found together.

In the old days, the oil could be shipped in tanks or barrels.There was often nothing they could do with the gas, so they just flared it. Gas couldn’t be transported until particular alloys and welding techniques developed that could move it under pressure and this didn’t happen until the 1930s. Even then, it took time to construct the network. W/o these things gas was useless even if it was essentially free at the well-head, demonstrating once again that a resource is not a resource until the technology is available to make it so. see link

Posted by: C&J at May 31, 2010 11:29 PM
Comment #301431

C+J, I agree, the government should not be subsidizing people poor decision making. The destruction brought by Katrina provided us with the opportunity to relocate many people/industries to more sustainable locations. Stephen suggested that NO’s location near the mouth of the Mississippi meant that such a relocation would be nearly impossible. I was only suggesting Baton Rouge as a perfectly reasonable alternative. I’ve never been to Louisiana, but from what I’ve read Baton Rouge’s port is accessible from the Atlantic Ocean and can easily serve as an alternative to New Orleans just like how it did from 1763 until 1803 (When France/Spain controlled New Orleans and British Colonists/Americans used Baton Rouge instead). Of course we need to be careful not to repeat the mistakes that led to parts of New Orleans being below sea level in Baton Rouge or any other alternative location.

In fact we DID stay with horses until automobiles developed that were cheaper to use and/or more convenient than horses. We might have been better off sticking to and developing rail technology rather than going so fast into planes and automobiles as our dominant transport.

Actually, government had significant role in the decision to use automotive technology. Robert Moses inspired many in the government to begin subsidizing automobiles at the expense of rail and other forms of mass transportation. It was a poor decision and a rare example of government being the problem rather than the solution. Unfortunately, government is inexorably intertwined in transportation policy. We hear many people berating how Amtrak’s revenues do not cover it’s costs, but we never hear a peep regarding the massive amounts of money that goes into highway spending that is not derived from user fees.

Posted by: Warped Reality at June 1, 2010 12:11 AM
Comment #301432


C&J, yes, I would, but I can’t afford it. I imagine I’ll be gone from here before I can afford it.

The trick down process is one of those factors associated with new technology. The wealthy were lighting and heating their homes with gas and electricity before others in our society were. Rural America waited quite sometime for electricity. It required government intervention.

IMO, the implications of a possible enormous negative impact on our economy resulting form oil shortages implies that this may be another instance when government intervention with the market and trickle down is called for. I doubt that I can afford the technology even with government help, but many will.

Another implication, perhaps the concept of personal transportation is one that many low income Americans will no longer be able to afford.

Posted by: jlw at June 1, 2010 12:43 AM
Comment #301433

C&J-
Now, this is what puzzles me: how does a government know what is the right size for a city to be? That’s a rather complex equation, and one I think imposes much more burdens on personal freedom than engineering for long term sustainability.

I don’t think Liberals actually staked out a “rebuild as is” strategy. We were for setbacks from the levees, and for strong rebuilding away from it. But when that chance was there, Bush did not take that opportunity to change things for the better.

And would Republicans take that chance now?

There are a lot of things that went wrong and are still going wrong with New Orleans. will have to face up to that at some point. But what kind of government would be ready and willing to face up to that challenge.

Don’t call it conservative, don’t call it liberal. Call it appropriate. Do the people who care about politics and its effects have the ability to look past their own favorite ideas?

Royal Flush-
What does anything you said there about choosing more government over sound people decisions mean? Go and read what I wrote, and I guarantee you, that’s fairly close to the consensus of most liberals.

We’re not against “sound people decisions.” It’s the unsound corporate decisions, the ones that seem to leave us in the lurch time and again this last decade, that we don’t like.

As far as raising our productivity, Tell me, has the Gross Domestic product been increasing, or decreasing, these past few months?

Weary Willie-
To the contrary, Willie, environmentalism once was a Republican issue. Nixon founded the EPA, Bush 41 gave us a Clean Air Act.

I grew up Republican because, frankly, that’s whose leadership I grew up under. My problem became that the politics became more about bullying those who were different, and my kind of differences became the kind of thing they bullied most. How can a person who respects sciences, and technological development stand still and applaud the gutting of good science and the refusal to admit to the truth of good scientific study when he sees it?

And how can somebody who admired the deft foreign policy of Bush and Reagan love politicians who spouted conspiracy theories about the UN?

I just couldn’t find much to love about it. I believe in preserving what’s good about American society. I don’t believe that gets done by a contrarian resistance to admitting when things don’t work. In fact, that often destroys the very things we seek to protect.

Look at what happened with the Catholic Church. They were afraid of the secular humanists using reports of child molestation against them. At the very least, they were afraid of such crimes reflecting poorly on the Church. But ironically, the years of cover-ups and continued abuses have function to gut trust in the Church and it’s compassion for its flock.

Same thing with the military and Iraq. Many sought to defend the soldiers against a negative reaction at the homefront. So they kept secrets, downplayed problems, attacked critics, and kept policy going on the same course in spite of growing evidence that things were going wrong. In doing so, they helped create a media environment that gutted trust in the Bush Administration’s claims on the war, they helped build considerable resistance in the public to further continuation of the war. In failing to change the policy, in fact, the seeds of the chaos that came after were sown.

The passion of my opposition to Bush came from the degree to which he was screwing things up, really, the degree to which things were getting worse and our institutions failing, because he valued political triumphs over practical ones, over problem solving.

Now take this oil spill. You think it won’t be a major issue. I guarantee you, it will be. Polling results tell us people are paying attention to this. Elections matter, but what makes them matter are the events that shape the public consciousness.

Despite their best intentions, Republicans and those on the right have supported policies that have been very destructive and dangerous for the institutions in question. I would argue that in some cases, we will find that those policies dealt a lethal blow to what they wanted to save. I’m sure Republicans wanted to open up oil drilling, make it profitable for their friends. But what will likely end up happending, if BP doesn’t get this spill under control, is a long term, intolerable, hateful environmental disaster that’s going to get worse and worse before the final concrete kill is achieved.

And even before then, even if they get it solved, there’s still a lot to reckon for.

Maintaining a constructive equilibrium is necessary for true conservatism to work, in my view. Same thing for true liberalism The fear of accountability often breeds monstrous reckonings.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 1, 2010 12:46 AM
Comment #301434


Warped Reality, have you ever heard of the Standard Oil, General Motors, Firestone conspiracy to destroy the electrical mass transit systems and replace them with GM buses riding on Firestone tires and fueled by Standard Oil?

The three companies were found guilty in Federal Court and each fined one dollar.

Those buses were everywhere in the 50’s and 60’s, belching black noxious fumes. Many of the trolley tracks are still there, buried under bricks, concrete and asphalt.

A look into the future. Vacuum tube mass transit systems, at 350-400mph.

Before the U.S. highway system, many roads were built for profit by automobile associations and clubs.

First there was the numbered U.S. Highway System, then the Interstate Highway System and now it is time for the new Electrical Interstate Highway System if we are going to stick to personal transportation. I expect we will.

Posted by: jlw at June 1, 2010 1:10 AM
Comment #301435

C&J

It is just too big and it was allowed to grow too be because of heroic public works and subsidies.

As JLW says, heaping piles of pig manure. How big is too big, and how did your royal highness determine this?

As the map shows, it wasn’t heroic public works that caused people to move to the Mississippi Delta. It was big business that caused New Orleans to grow to it’s larger size, as Mr. Republican points out, it’s not government that creates the jobs for people.

Posted by: gergle at June 1, 2010 1:38 AM
Comment #301459
have you ever heard of the Standard Oil, General Motors, Firestone conspiracy to destroy the electrical mass transit systems and replace them with GM buses riding on Firestone tires and fueled by Standard Oil?

The three companies were found guilty in Federal Court and each fined one dollar.

Those buses were everywhere in the 50’s and 60’s, belching black noxious fumes. Many of the trolley tracks are still there, buried under bricks, concrete and asphalt.

I sure do know about this conspiracy, although it’s influence in destroying public transit is sometimes overstated. Men like Robert Moses played a far greater role. I’m lucky enough to live near Boston, the city with the largest light rail network remaining in the country, although today’s system is only a shadow of it’s former self. What’s really interesting is that many of the former trolley lines were only “temporarily suspended” and still appear on modern maps of the system. A few years ago when I worked in Boston it was common for me to meet tourists wishing to take the Green line to the Arborway, one of the most well known parts of Frederick Law Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace including the Arnold Arboertum, Franklin Park Zoo and Forest Hills cemetery (final resting place of William Lloyd Garrison, William Dawes, ee cummings, Dr Joseph Warren and others). Every single subway map shows the E branch going there, however I have to inform the tourists that service along the E branch south of Heath Street is “temporarily suspended” and that they should take Bus #39 or the Orange Line subway and walk the remaining distance. Restoration of streetcar service to this vital destination was one of the environmental mitigation projects promised when we built the Central Artery Tunnel (the Big Dig), however government obfuscation and heel dragging has delayed the project decades into the future.

Posted by: Warped Reality at June 1, 2010 3:04 AM
Comment #301463

C&J

Houston was hit by Hurricane Ike a couple of years ago. I was without power for 13 days. I bought a generator last year. The storm was centered on Chambers county to the east of Houston. It is largely rural. Several people who did not evacuate were killed on the Bolivar pennisula.

Of course, Galveston was destroyed in the 1900 storm when several thousand people drowned due to storm surge. They responded by building the Sea Wall. It protects the main part of downtown Galveston from storm surges, but not flooding. since the elevated tides enter from the bay side of the island. The west end of the island, now heavily developed is not protected at all. Most houses along the coast are built on stilts. I went to the coast a couple of days after the storm. The road leading to San Luis pass (at the west end of Galveston) was wiped out. We had to drive along the beach, through tidal pools, and sand dunes to get to a friends house. The house sustained some roof damage and lost the ground level room, which was anticipated. Along the way I noted beautiful homes on stilts destroyed as the the surge washed out the beach under their stilts and the houses sank unevenly, or entirely washed away.

Galveston never recovered fully from the 1900 storm. Houston dug a ship channel and became the major port in the region. The petrochem industry, has built up around the coast and Galveston Bay because they need large quantities of water and shipping facilities. Dow Chemical was built during WWII to supply magnesium, which was derived from sea water, for explosives.

Houston is now the 4th largest city in the country.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/news/specials/hurricane/7030757.html

This article illustrates how these things come about. Damage occurs. People already live here due to economic necessity. Some engineer comes up with a band aid. I wonder if the Dutch should just abandon their entire country?

The point being, people gravitate to areas for economic reasons, not government subsidies. The government subsidies come as political influence sways leaders to protect the people and businesses already there.

Posted by: gergle at June 1, 2010 3:12 AM
Comment #301469

C&J, the volume is one factor, the toxicity of the volume is quite another. The longevity of its toxicity, yet another. Trying to diminish the threat of nuclear waste by paointing an image of it all placed in A FOOTBALL FIELD, the Stupidest image ever, IGNORES and is therefore IGNORANT of the other relevant factors.

May I remind you that it takes only a few grains to deform babies, make a person deathly ill, or ruin a child’s health for the rest of their life. And you want to diminish the import and threat of our nuclear stock piles? Truly, puzzling!

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 1, 2010 10:21 AM
Comment #301470

Mr. Remer wrote; “The Goal here is to remove oversight and regulation from politics and political agendas, and to allow academics with no vested interest to assess risk/reward of new and risky innovation, and deliver a hierarchy of recommendations for the politicians to accept exclusively…”

Please inform us as to where to find these informed academics with no vested interest. They disappeared with the Passenger Pidgeon.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 1, 2010 11:47 AM
Comment #301471

Royal Flush, spoken like a true partisan.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 1, 2010 11:50 AM
Comment #301474

Royal Flush-
Well, it’s not a perfect world, but you can find people who study the subject without the kind of industry ties that would lead them to hesitate to make a decision that would benefit the public interest but harm the bottom line of a particular industry.

Just because we can’t find pure people doesn’t mean we have to stick with folks who have a conflict of interest regarding regulating the industry.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 1, 2010 2:04 PM
Comment #301475

Thank you Mr. Daugherty. I am not only concerned about academics with industry ties, but also those who depend upon government for their continued funding. Finding one with neither tie would indeed represent the needle in the haystack.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 1, 2010 2:22 PM
Comment #301483

Royal Flush-
A conflict of interest is where a person has two different loyalties at work that would tend to compromise what one does in one or the other venture.

Given that government can take both positions, based on who is in charge at a given moment, there is not an inherent conflict of interest between somebody accepting federal dollars and doing quality research.

Given that people freely came up with research indicating the presence of global warming during Bush’s administration, despite his administration’s well publicized problem with AGW science, I would say your average scientist accepting federal dollars would feel free to come to a conclusion on the merits, unlike an oil-company lobbyist or official who would feel peer pressure to be easy on his friends, his old company, his colleagues.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 1, 2010 5:27 PM
Comment #301487

Keep your rose colored glasses Mr. Daugherty. I will continue to carefully scrutinize any research from academia dependent upon government largess for their funding regardless of political party in power.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 1, 2010 6:26 PM
Comment #301494


Even with my rose colored glasses on, I have no problem discerning the fact that the moneys lavished on academia, with or without industry ties, pales in comparison to moneys lavished on corporations profits by the taxpayers.

Posted by: jlw at June 1, 2010 8:13 PM
Comment #301498

Gergle

It costs too much to maintain at that size. That is my opinion. Obviously Louisiana lawmakers have been able to get the contrary opinion accepted and massively funded.

I think that the expansion of New Orleans into the areas that are now or soon will be under sea level is an ecological and economic disaster. That also is my opinion. People were able to move there in such numbers only because of massive Federal spending – that continues to grow. We should have left more of it in a natural state, protected the wetlands and the mangroves and everybody would be better off – at a much lower price.

Warped

Unfortunately, I don’t think it was a RARE example. New Orleans and the wetland destruction is another. I just spend the weekend fighting mulitflora rose and various sorts of vines on my farm. These (multiflora rose, kudzu etc) were introduced as part of a government program.

Government can do big things. Often they are good big things; sometimes they are not and then they are big problems.

Jlw

Perhaps some rural areas should not have electricity at subsidized rates. We have pushed all these things way out and with them came development that has been very costly for the environment and the economy. Does it really make sense to string lines two or three miles to reach a couple who wants to live in the woods? What about other infrastructure that goes with that? Do you think it is a good idea to have a state maintained road that reached miles into the woods to let that guy drive to and from his isolated house?

I don’t have a definitive answer re when it is too much, but it is a valid question.

Stephen

Please see above. IMO it is fairly clear that New Orleans is too big to be reasonably sustainable on the land where it is. Let’s make ALL the costs public and have a debate re whether or not we want to spend those Federal funds. All I am certain about is that local governments and private individuals would NOT pay their own money for it. That tells you something.

BTW – I doubt that my position is a “Republican” position.

Posted by: C&J at June 1, 2010 8:22 PM
Comment #301500

Royal Flush-
You know what? Try examining it based on good, basic science!

Bush was re-writing scientific reports to suit his political agenda. Did it change what was true? No. It doesn’t change ocean currents or temperatures. It doesn’t change what models reality best.

People can prefer what theories they want, but the scientific method isn’t built on partisan sensibilities. You can’t pick and choose according to what party or ideological alignment you’re loyal to.

Basing everything on what you think the politics of it are is a recipe for disaster, because operating in denial for political purposes is nothing new. Reality has its inconvenient consequences, as we see now in the Gulf. Did it matter that the Republicans put their full faith and trust in the market’s ability to prevent BP from screwing up an operation like this? Not one bit. The laws of physics were always going to determine what would properly hold the pressure for that well, what concrete plugs, linings, and procedures would work, and what wouldn’t. Those physical laws have no loyalty to party, nor corporate bottom line. These are laws you can run afoul of, but not break.

And we’re all going to be punished, one way or another, for BP’s actions.

So, tell me again, who should be in there, the person whose allegiance is to a method for properly discerning the relevant physical facts, or someone whose allegiances are to ultimately irrelevant politics and corporate policy?

C&J-
Tell me, what is the basis of your opinion? Are you a civic planner? An expert on the economics of running a port, or at least on Demography?

As for whether people would pay their own money, the question is confounded by the fact that this massive disaster struck the city. Houston was and still is a sustainable city, and we couldn’t necessarily afford to repair everything in a timely fashion. The whole point of disaster remediation is that almost nobody pays to build a city this way unless they’re recovering from a disaster.

Which is why the stinginess and inefficiency of the Bush Administration, and the subsequent rhetoric about small govenrment was particularly galling to people. It seemed to people more ways for your party to excuse it’s failure, even make ideological hay out of it. This while people suffered, while they remained in trailers that stunk of formaldehyde.

You ever wonder how your party became so unpopular?

The position of taking the disaster as a verdict on the city is not a platform position of your party, but all too typically, it was a unofficially spoken and written commentary by folks in your party.

You can doubt all you like, I can come back with sources that said things like what you said and worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 1, 2010 10:00 PM
Comment #301501

Stephen

Neither of us are demographers or planners. And even if we were, our “expert” opinions still would not necessarily carry the day. This is a political/economic decisions. There is not right answer.

You advocate bringing New Orleans up to its previous population levels. Why? It seems to be doing okay now that many of the people have moved away.

But if you want to do it, Obama is now president. He was elected in 2008. If he wants to overcome the legacy of Bush, all it takes is money and will power. He can continue to subsidize the destruction of the coastal wetland environment if that is Obama policy. You cannot blame Bush for this anymore. The power and the solution is now entirely in Obama’s hands. He is the decider. Why hasn’t he decided in the way you propose?

For the record, I oppose subsidizing building on sensitive wetlands, barrier island and mangroves. I think the government should get out of this business. If I could create money from nothing and deploy it to this task at no cost, I would not do it. This has made me unpopular with some friends from New Orleans. We no longer speak of it. But that is what I believe is the right thing.

Posted by: C&J at June 1, 2010 10:19 PM
Comment #301502

BTW

Anybody still staying is a trailer four or five years after the disaster is a hopeless case anyway. They should have moved out a long time ago and stopped leaching off the government.

Posted by: C&J at June 1, 2010 10:22 PM
Comment #301512

C&J,

I’m just curious what you’d say when a fire burns down your forest, an unusual tropic low moves in a rains for 30 days on Virginia, washing away your home, bankrupts your insurance company, and injures you in way you are unable to find work. The stock market collapses and wipes out your bank and savings, and President Ron Paul declares government pensions invalid?

Is living in a government trailer for 4 or 5 years too long for you? How much time will you need to recover in those circumstances?

I love how people can pass judgment without knowing any of the facts. Have a great day, but beware the weather.:)

Posted by: gergle at June 2, 2010 12:52 AM
Comment #301516

C&J, displayed a rare side of prejudice in saying, “Anybody still staying is a trailer four or five years after the disaster is a hopeless case anyway.”, without a care or concern for the relevant facts of the individual case, before passing judgment. Ignorance is always the defense of the prejudicial which assuages cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 2, 2010 1:41 AM
Comment #301517

Stephen D., you are wasting your arguments on Royal Flush. He doesn’t believe, by his own example, in the potential for intellectual honesty, which is far, far more prevalent in the academic world than he could possibly admit to, even if confronted with it. Thieves buy lots of locks with good reason. Honest folks in bedroom communities have little need for even using them. The difference is entirely psychological. One projects onto others what one knows to be true of oneself. It is unavoidable in human nature.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 2, 2010 1:47 AM
Comment #301522

C&J-
There is no one right answer, but there are answers that are more right than others. I don’t think these are answers that can be found well through political philosophizing, because any city you build, any industry you have to support will have to be supported according to the conditions on the ground, and according to the needs of the population necessary to serve that function. These are engineering questions, really, and we don’t need our primary decision-making criteria to be political, based on amateur, partisan preconceptions.

I don’t advocate bringing NOLA back to previous population levels, so much as I advocate letting the city set its own population levels. But in the meantime, if we can manage it, we need people back away from that level, not built up to it, and we need that levee strong enough to withstand the storms of the future, if we’re not simply going to yank people out of there this minute.

If we’re going to build a replacement city, let’s start doing the scientific and engineering research right now start figuring out what the challenges are going to be on an empirical basis.

As for people living in trailers? I’ve never had it that bad, but I think you underestimate just how bad some people have it, and just what a devastating blow Katrina was to many lives. It’s not merely an abstract question for many of “get-up-and-go”, of gumption. Sometimes you get put in a position where you’re doing all you can simply to keep your head above water. I’ve had some bitter personal experience with that over the last decade. Let’s quit with the moralizing. Lets deal with these disasters in a timely and thorough fashion, so that fewer people are sunk into this situation by circumstances beyond their control. I know the Republicans like to pretend that everything is a consequence of one’s moral character, but the reality is, **** happens, and if you justify being stingy in the name of teaching the lazy a lesson, you’ll put even more people in a position where they are trapped by their circumstances.

Do that on a large enough scale, and you increase the unsustainability of our system as whole, because you’re letting people’s ability to sustain themselves become degraded in the pursuit of their proper education about moral hazards.

Government should not encourage dependence, but it sure as hell shouldn’t stand idly by as circumstances knock people down from self-sustaining earnings and livelihoods, and it shouldn’t wait for the collective misery to compound itself.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 2, 2010 8:25 AM
Comment #301523


C&J, keep talking about gaming the welfare state.

Perhaps we shouldn’t subsidize people for having wives and children. I worked off and on for years with a man that knew exactly what side of the pick board to get on and the only time he was in a hurry was to get on the pick board first. That didn’t bother me to much because I liked to work. It didn’t bother me to much when each year, Uncle Sam took $1500 from me and gave it to him, but that $1500 per year sure would come in handy now. From my point of view, a progressive flat tax would have been real handy.

I don’t know what it was like when rural electrification was first started up, but today, if you want any company to string lines two or three miles into the woods to your home, you are going to pay for it.

Where I live, the state doesn’t maintain roads that stretch for miles to someones home. If their is only one or two homes on the road, the township isn’t going to grade it unless a township trustee lives on it. If that is the case, forget the grader. Their roads are paved.

Perhaps urbanites and suburbanites should consider all the ways that they are subsidized. How about all those highways and bridges? How about those parks where you all commune with nature?

Posted by: jlw at June 2, 2010 9:03 AM
Comment #301527

“Even with my rose colored glasses on, I have no problem discerning the fact that the moneys lavished on academia, with or without industry ties, pales in comparison to moneys lavished on corporations profits by the taxpayers.”
Posted by: jlw at June 1, 2010 08:13

Thanks for agreeing with me jlw. Now, you are only arguing who gets the most pork.

Mr. Remer writes; “Thieves buy lots of locks with good reason. Honest folks in bedroom communities have little need for even using them. The difference is entirely psychological.”

I am quite certain Mr. Remer is one of those “honest folks”. To prove his point perhaps he would consider running an ad in his local newspaper advertising that his home has no locks.

One could use Mr. Remer’s agrument on broader terms to advocate disbanding our military. US honest folks should have no fear of the world either…it’s entirely psychological. OH…WAIT…I do believe Barry is already going down that path.

Mr. Daugherty wrote; “…if you justify being stingy in the name of teaching the lazy a lesson, you’ll put even more people in a position where they are trapped by their circumstances.”

I love it when liberals use the word “stingy” in spite of tens of trillions in public debt, much of it used to help the disadvantaged. For liberals, it’s all about spending other peoples money to make them feel better. You see, it’s the other guy whose stingy, not them. I wonder how much liberals willingly take from their own pocketbook to help others? Take a look at the tax returns of some of the leading liberal politicians and discover what they give to charity. Very little.

Can Mr. Daugherty honestly call American’s “stingy” with their wealth in helping the disadvantaged in this country and around the world?

Liberalism, as being practiced by many in this country, merely provides the political platform for theft. It is a mental disorder that is contagious if not stamped out whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 2, 2010 2:19 PM
Comment #301536

Royal Flush-
A mental disorder that must be stamped out?

Look, if we’re talking mental disorders, you have no room to talk.

Who’s hordeing ammunition and gold in preparation of Armageddon? Who are the folks who are imagining, if DADT is repealed, a wave of soldiers getting handjobs forced on them while they sleep?

Who are the folks who listen to a woman, who when confronted with a Gusher in the gulf, crows that it vindicates her call for oil drilling in a precious wilderness area? Despite the fact that she explicitly supported offshore drilling when criticizing the President for not going far enough with his plans?

Who are the folks who are so addled as to actually think that cutting taxes increase revenue, despite the fact that this policy has never worked as intended?

Who are the folks whose response to the spectacular failures of big segments of the economy is to call for fewer rules and regulations, less oversight, when government interference hasn’t proved to be the problem.

I could go on about mental disorders and the right. But I don’t, and you want to know the reason why? Because it’s patronizing as hell, and good honest people can belief foolish and crazy things. I believe at least some of those people can be reached by reason and logic, despite everything, and that people like you, who charge in and tell people they’ve got a mental disorder because they don’t agree, have already lost the argument before it’s started. After all, if a person thought something was crazy to start of, why would they believe it?

Me? I think people get into situations where their information is limited, or where their sources (like all too many in the right-wing punditry or among its politicians) are either nuts themselves or looking to manipulate people. Add some long term political mistrust and reasonable people can become very unreasonable and ill-informed.

Which is why I respond to folks who are hostile like you with facts and not just party jargon. I mean, how would that every convince you of anything, anyways?

That’s really the thing.

You talk of stinginess in the face of ten trillion dollar debts, but I can tell you that seven trillion of it came from your party’s leadership, which you’re asking us to restore after having changed absolutely nothing about your party’s policies. And no, the Tea Partiers are no different, their policies just seem like the previous ones on steroids. How is that supposed to save the fiscal situation? When our basic problem is that people are not paying for the government they’re getting, not paying for that government is more like theft than asking people to pay for it, when the nation’s economy can afford it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 2, 2010 5:10 PM
Comment #301548

Jlw

We ALL benefit from government, which is why we have it. We all - most of us, although a shrinking number – also pay for government. I have never argued that we should have no government, but that we should be smart about it.

I have also noticed that many times the people pushing for government expansion are those who don’t really think THEY will pay for it. They often are looking to maximize their own return.

It makes a lot of sense to string electric lines, or bury them, where there are lots of people. It makes sense to build roads where lots of people will use them. Some water works makes sense. But not all. The market is actually a good measure for this. If it is going to cost $1 million to bring one person electricity or sewers, it is waste of money. The guy would not pay for it himself and we shouldn’t pay for him.

I like the idea of making people pay for extra infrastructure. It may limit sprawl.

I see both ends of this. I live in a densely populated suburb, but I own rural land with several miles of roads that I have to maintain. Actually, I don’t maintain them well, but that is my business. I don’t expect the state to do it for me or bother me about the quality. Come to think of it, the homeowner’s association maintains the roads in our complex. The state doesn’t have to do that either.

“unless a township trustee lives on it. If that is the case, forget the grader. Their roads are paved.” You have given an example of why government is often a problem.

Posted by: C&J at June 2, 2010 10:02 PM
Comment #301549

David, Gergle and Stephen – addressing your similar points.

Nobody should need to stay on the Federal emergency relief for five years. I don’t have to know about their circumstances. It is clear that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

If all those things happened, I would move somewhere else. Of course IF all those things happened, we would be near the end of civilization anyway, so your hypothetical doesn’t work well.

I would also point out that it is very unlikely that a fire would burn my entire forest because it is decently managed for that sort of thing. Beyond that, in five years it would grow back to a large extent and it would be hopping with deer and quail.

I also argue with the hypothetical “what if you lost everything” idea. Back luck and disaster can befall anybody. But if it keeps on happening to you and you just cannot recover when others around you can, maybe look to your own decisions. You make preparations during the good times to weather the bad ones. Most people do just that.

I know people in Mississippi and Louisiana who lost their whole houses. One of my old friends lives in Pascagoula and he couldn’t even find the place where his house had been except by using GPS. That is the extent of the destruction. He and his brothers built a new one, a bit higher up. Most of the good people of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have done that sort of thing. Makes you wonder about those who have not.

There is an old saying that “Misfortune usually enters through an open door.” Bad things happen to good people, but smart people have some backup plans that don’t include living in a government-provide trailer for five years and complaining about the smell. If you are subsisting on the kindness of strangers, you should at least have the good manners to be grateful.

BTW – re trailers – some people want to live in trailers. I have no trouble with that. It is living in FEMA trailers on our money that I don’t like.

Posted by: C&J at June 2, 2010 10:04 PM
Comment #301569

C&J-
I know I will pay for government expansion. But here’s the thing: it happened under your watch, too, but you folks weren’t willing to pay for it.

You can talk about smart government, but the sum effect of a generation’s worth of political change, lead by your people has been a government that doesn’t react to problems until they become major crisis events, problems that no government is capable of untangling all at once.

Talking about the market is one thing, but the market is merely the sum of a whole lot of private decisions, and its behavior doesn’t always make sense, or work positively. When people are ignorant, or the financial instruments are too complex, the ability of the market to govern itself is reduced.

I agree that nobody should have to stay or be staying on Federal Emergency Relief for five years. But when a response is negligent to a disaster like this, the economic scars are great. I doubt most people are still on that Federal Emergency Relief, but I can bet you that there are people on unemployment, on government assistance, who are working much poorer jobs, who have seen their livelihoods dry up because of the anemic federal response under Bush to Katrina.

That would be my point: that there is a kind of Golden Hour to disaster relief and mitigation, an opportunity to rebuild almost to parity for an economically sensible cost, which goes away as the economic consequences of an essentially trashed economy take hold.

These are systems, and I think the Republicans and conservatives underestimate the cost of letting them recover on their own.

There is no city in the nation that is invulnerable. My city was flooded out by TS Allison, grazed by Rita, and hit dead center by Ike. As a city on the Gulf Coast, we take that risk. But would it be wise to just let our city devolve back to what is left after a disaster, to just give up on what is destroyed? No. And there would be economic consequences, not just here, but in the rest of the nation, to letting Houston hang in the breeze.

It’s not merely charity. It’s maintenance. No nation, not society can long remain in full bloom if the results of disasters are not fixed.

We can talk about relocating New Orleans residence and functions to higher ground. But we have to admit that this is a real world issue, not just an ideological one, that it’s going to cost money to do this, and people are going to have to do the engineering work to extend the infrastructure in that direction, if it’s feasible.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2010 8:25 AM
Comment #301579

“When our basic problem is that people are not paying for the government they’re getting, not paying for that government is more like theft than asking people to pay for it, when the nation’s economy can afford it.” Posted by: Stephen Daugherty

I rest my case… The liberal/socialist mind is one that believes the problem is never too much spending but rather, not enough revenue. Ask the individual who is deep in debt from too much spending. Is the problem with their spending or the fact that they don’t earn enough money to support their spending habits.

The prudent person with no mental disorder has financial goals and a plan to accomplish those goals. The plan includes an examination of what they spend compared to what they earn.

Not so with those mentally disordered minds. They spend first and magically believe that somehow the income will increase to match the spending. They can just go to their employer and ask for a raise, not because they have become more productive or more valuable as an employee, but simply because they need more. Now, if you’re the federal goverment you can go to your employer (taxpayer) with gun in hand and demand a raise.

So it is with the liberal/socialiast politician whether R or D. Just spend the money and ask the taxpayers for a raise. In their disordered minds these liberals are convinced that the problem is not too much spending but rather, stingy taxpayers.

My neighbor is in financial trouble, not because he lost his job or had his income reduced. His problem is simply spending too much. He purchases a new car every two years. Has a nice boat and motor home. His family eats out at least twice a week and they take nice vacations. Well and good…no problem there. Now, he simply doesn’t earn enough to support this lifestyle. How absurd would it be for him to ask me to come to his aid and expect me to give him my money? I wouldn’t let the man and his family starve…I would provide food if necessary, but I surely wouldn’t use my savings to pay his bills.

Would you…would anyone who doesn’t have a mental disorder?

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2010 12:33 PM
Comment #301590

Solving our deficit problem is going to require raising taxes AND cutting spending across the board.

Neither the GOP nor the conservative movement promises this. They promise to increase military spending while cutting taxes that are already at 50 year lows. This is not the solution, this is the type of thinking that has got us into this mess. The national debt to GDP ratio was steadily improving from the end of WWII until 1980 when Reagan brought his conservative revolution, and we’ve been down the tubes ever since then.

At least the Democratic Party is willing to put all methods of reducing the deficit on the table, including raising revenues as well as cutting defense spending.

Why don’t we have a rational discussion about our budget. Here’s Obama’s proposed budget for 2011.

What do you want cut?

I’ll share my ideas:

The three of the four biggest spending areas are Defense and Social Security/Medicare.
I’d raise the age of eligibility for Social Security/Medicare to around 80 years (rescinding benefits to people aged 65-80). Will it anger a lot of Senior Citizen voters? Hell yeah, but it’s one of the things necessary to balance the budget. The retirement age should have been adjusted for increases to life expectancy, but it wasn’t. Not everyone who reached old age was supposed to receive benefits, only people who lived to extraordinarily old age.
Next, the military. After the conflicts in Iraq & Afghanistan end, I’d remove spending on nearly all our conventional military abroad. This means shutting down all the foreign military bases and reducing the number or personnel. Faraway countries should pay for their own defense instead of relying on the US. Also, there are no credible conventional military threats to the United States. Beyond our NATO allies, there are no countries with the resources to stage an invasion of US territory.

There’ll also have to be cuts to the welfare state (“income security”) as well as the other parts, but what I’ve put down is a start.

Posted by: Warped Reality at June 3, 2010 2:37 PM
Comment #301592

Royal Flush-

I rest my case… The liberal/socialist mind is one that believes the problem is never too much spending but rather, not enough revenue.

Is that so? Funny. This liberal (not socialist) mind never thought about it that way.

Literally. I think in terms of a balance. You keep costs down, and that keeps the spending you do for the good of the country both sustainable and popular. Deficits have never made liberals popular.

Republicans, though, are always willing to argue that keeping taxes low during a period of high chronic deficits is a necessary good. The effect on deficits by your tax cuts, though, have always been aggravating effects, and the economy’s never grown fast enough to geometrically undo the shortfall that your tax cuts arithmetically create.

Supply side tax cuts never work. Yet this continues to be your policy.

Democrats, by contrast are willing to both raise and cut taxes. We raised some taxes to pay for Healthcare Reform. At the same time, we cut taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars as part of the Stimulus plans. In fact, by size, that is one of the largest parts of the Stimulus. Did you realize that?

But we did not rely on tax cuts alone, like the Republicans wanted. We understand, unlike you, that tax policy is not a panacea.

Ask the individual who is deep in debt from too much spending.

Interesting way of phrasing that, eh?

Let’s review the facts: the spending is mostly yours, and mostly made in concert with that Tax cut.

One of the primary causes of this huge deficit, though, is the reduction of expected revenues by the economic crash. We anticipated growth in our budgets that essentially did not come to pass.

Now, we could resolve that part of the deficit and save hundreds of billions if the economy somehow recovered. But no, you’re going to stick to your stubborn theory, in spite of the evidence. Kind of nice to be able to argue with a clean conscience without consulting the facts.

The prudent person with no mental disorder has financial goals and a plan to accomplish those goals. The plan includes an examination of what they spend compared to what they earn.

Tell me something: why did the nice, stable, sane conservatives drop what they earned and raised what they spent? Answer me that, and I can tell you when I’m going to take fiscal advice from folks like you.

Now, if you’re the federal goverment you can go to your employer (taxpayer) with gun in hand and demand a raise.

And when you show up at your employer’s door, the people, having been forewarned have a pink slip attached to the door and the police waiting. What is it about the electoral system that you don’t understanding? Anybody who raises taxes without some political justification is going to get hammered. But you pretend like Democrats would be oblivious to this. That’s highly unlikely. Otherwise, why would so many Democrats have cooperated with Bush on his tax cuts?

As for mental disorders? You don’t have one, but I don’t think any conservative has room to think after apologizing for the GOP’s behavior this last decade. Democrats were not this irresponsible. Ninety percent of the spending increases of the last decade came from your side of the aisle, and no matter how you try to equivocate, everybody knows it was you folks who started us back on this tortured trail of ruin.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2010 3:04 PM
Comment #301604

“…everybody knows it was you folks who started us back on this tortured trail of ruin.”Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2010 03:04

Well…thank you very much for concurring that even with the dems in charge we are back on the trail of ruin by over spending.

For conservatives it is quite simple and elegant. We believe in limited government. We believe it is reasonable and lawful to pay taxes for needed and limited government services. Beyond that, we believe that the individual American is best qualified to spend what they earn as they please without interference by government.

I will help feed my brother when he is in need and I will also help my brother learn to feed himself. That is true charity. For government to keep handing out fish with no help in learning how to fish is obscene.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2010 5:12 PM
Comment #301609

Washington will spend $30,543 per household in 2010—an increase of $5,000 per household in just two years. Federal spending and deficits are increasing at levels unseen since World War II.

Over the last decade, Entitlement spending on programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security has reached a record 14 percent of GDP;

Discretionary spending has expanded 79 percent faster than inflation as a result of large defense and domestic spending hikes;

Anti-poverty spending increased 89 percent faster than inflation;

K–12 education spending rose 219 percent;

Veterans spending grew 107 percent;

and Medicare jumped 81 percent.

More than 41 cents of every dollar Washington spends in 2010 will be borrowed. This year alone, Washington is projected to spend $3,618 billion, tax $2,118 billion out of the economy, and run a $1,500 billion deficit. The President’s budget plan shows annual deficits averaging just under $1,000 billion for the next decade—a level of borrowing that would cause the national debt to double.

Mr. Daugherty…Rising spending—not low revenues—is driving the long-term budget deficits. By 2020, spending is projected to be 6.2 percent of GDP above the historical average, while projected 2020 revenues are 0.2 percent of GDP above the historical average. Thus, the entire expanded budget deficit will be caused by rising spending, rather than by falling revenues—even if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are extended.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2010 8:19 PM
Comment #301614

RF,
With the taxes at their lowest levels in over half a century, I think low revenues are playing a significant part of our fiscal troubles. In order to fix this problem we need people who are willing to cut spending and increase taxes at the same time. Conservative candidates will not do what is needed to balance the budget.

BTW, do you have a source for your projected budget numbers?

Posted by: Warped Reality at June 3, 2010 8:43 PM
Comment #301631

Royal Flush-

For conservatives it is quite simple and elegant. We believe in limited government. We believe it is reasonable and lawful to pay taxes for needed and limited government services. Beyond that, we believe that the individual American is best qualified to spend what they earn as they please without interference by government.

Let me be blunt with you on that talking point: it’s not only untrue, it’s a monstrous lie.

You didn’t give people back their own money. You took out a loan in their name, gave them that money, but neglected to tell them that they will now have to pay that dollar back in the future, plus interest. You stole from their wallets. Any Republican who proposes to give back money to the American people to spend as they see best out of this deficit are pulling a con job on their constituents. That a simple.

Obama at least has the honesty to tell people the truth: deficit dollars must be paid back, and that will include the stimulus. He had the honesty to include in his budget trillions of dollars of spending that the Republicans you support (or at least choose not to attack) would have left hidden.

And he’s not pretending, like you are, that the deficit problem is not related to issues like healthcare and the economy, that revenues are not dependent on people being employed and paying taxes from their checks.

Republicans continue to operate as if there is no deficit, as if a dollar returned in a time of deficit is one thy’ve given you back free and clear. That’s not the case. You are lying to people when you say you are giving them back their money.

It’s not that Republicans lack for good intentions, but they are paralyzed or motivated to go in the wrong direction by a system of rhetoric masquerading as a consistent ideology, masquerading as a proven, workable approach to fiscal issues. I do not think that it is a bizarre coincidence that every time that Republicans have been generous with the revenues of the federal government, these huge deficits come up.

I say generous with the revenues of the federal government, because essentially you can’t pay people back money they never paid into the system in the first place. You’re merely allowing them to get government they didn’t pay for, and that does two things, negative things to fiscal responsibility. One, it creates a bad political situation where folks are neither willing to tick people off by raising taxes, or by cutting spending.

And two, it creates a disconnect for people between what they have to pay, and what they get.

I mean, the fundamental reason why you can’t people behind spending cuts is that they never feel the addition of a program in their pocket books. They never have to ask, is this tax increase worth what I’m getting for it?

Because they don’t ask that question, they don’t concern themselves with what the government spends. Conservatives worry that people might actually be content to allow that spending if they like the program. But at the same time, conservatives often offer the same thing, to get in good with these people, but they don’t force people to make a value judgment based on cost.

In fact, that’s a big part of the reason Bush decided not to pay for the war, and his rubberstampers in Congress went along with him. Like Johnson before him, who presided over both the Great Society reforms, and the Vietnam War, he didn’t want people feeling it in their pocketbooks, weighing the value of the war against what it cost.

If you want people to rein in spending, force them to pay for government now by raising taxes on them. Quit decieving them by telling them that you’re helping them to keep their money while you’re forcing them to pay it back at a future date with interest. Let people make a decision based on a cost-benefit equation, rather than only wishful thinking and a popular ideology of irresponsible spending practices, like your party has demonstrated over the last generation.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 4, 2010 8:23 AM
Comment #301637

C&J and Royal Flush,

The people who lived in FEMA trailers for 4-5 years did not own boats, motor homes and buy a new car every two years.

They didn’t have the means to evacuate. Understand? They didn’t have the money to get away from the Hurricane.

They don’t have the skills to find new jobs, rebuild houses assuming they had one to start. Some are disabled. It appears neither of you have any concept of poverty, and the limited choices it leaves you. Frankly, that lack of knowledge informs your political positions, and explains the I got mine, screw you attitude that is in many of your posts.

Royal Flush says he wouldn’t let them starve, but I have my doubts. When he loses his house and moves to a shelter, out of sight, out of mind. Royal Flush rails against taxes to support welfare. This is money that feeds and houses people, and not much else.

I’m sorry you fellows have such disdain for people with mental health issues, drug addiction, and physical disabilities that render them unable to work or support themselves, but they do exist. They don’t have property to sell, skills to employ, or family to rely on. I pass a number of them on the streets every day here in Houston. Some of them are Katrina refugees. Some of them are veterans. One homeless woman turned up dead in a bayou a month ago, near my house. She panhandled near my house. She was likely murdered. That is the reality of life on the streets.

Posted by: gergle at June 4, 2010 11:24 AM
Comment #301643

WR wrote; “In order to fix this problem we need people who are willing to cut spending and increase taxes at the same time. Conservative candidates will not do what is needed to balance the budget.”

You may be surprised that as a conservative, concerned about the future of our country and our future, I would be in favor of cutting spending and increasing taxes. I would want absolute guarantees that the money saved by cutting spending actually went to pay off our debt. No more of this sham accounting as occured in the health care debacle. Imagine, taking money from Medicare, already trillions in the red with unfunded liability to create another huge and soon to be deep in the red, new government program.

And, I would expect every American to participate in the pain of increased taxation.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 4, 2010 1:05 PM
Comment #301647

Mr. Daugherty wrote; “I say generous with the revenues of the federal government, because essentially you can’t pay people back money they never paid into the system in the first place. You’re merely allowing them to get government they didn’t pay for.”

While I disagree with nearly everything you wrote I will just address the above outrageous paragraph. Are you referring to the nearly 50% of Americans who pay no taxes now but receive generous and sometimes bloated government benfits?

He also wrote; “The people who lived in FEMA trailers for 4-5 years did not own boats, motor homes and buy a new car every two years.”

What in the world are you doing here? I used an example of my employed neighbor and you twist it into having something to do with people in FEMA trailers. I enjoy our friendly political sparing Mr. Daugherty, but please try to stay on the same page I’m on.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 4, 2010 1:17 PM
Comment #301648

gergle wrote; “Royal Flush says he wouldn’t let them starve, but I have my doubts. Royal Flush rails against taxes to support welfare.”

Gergle…I will match my personal giving to the disadvantaged with you anytime. Liberals believe they are being charitable when they see their tax dollars help others. Forced giving is not charity…it’s called taxation.

And…I don’t rail against taxes to support welfare. I rail against the liberal/socialist philosophy that encourages and keeps folks on welfare.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 4, 2010 1:23 PM
Comment #301689

As you point out, the people still living in the trailers are the kinds of people who were having trouble before the hurricane. They are having trouble after. For some of them the trailer may be better accommodations than they were accustomed to having, which is why they are loath to leave.

So the hurricane was not a big factor in their previous or current suffering. And we have entered a different sort of discussion.

Royal

This is the constant refrain. Study after study shows that conservatives are more generous than liberals at almost every income level.

Liberals like to think that it is possible to be generous by giving away other people’s money that they coerce through taxes. I recall that you cannot claim to be generous by giving away somebody else’s money.

IMO liberals assuage their personal guilt by demanding collective generosity and giving themselves credit for being virtuous.

Posted by: C&J at June 4, 2010 9:32 PM
Comment #301692


Of course, If humans know anything by now it is that societies cannot be virtuous.

Conservatives have the right solution.

1)repeal welfare laws

2)repeal minimum wage laws

3)virtuous Christian charity by the good Samaritan individualist. Just like the good old days.

I had a speaking roll in the church play when I was a child.

Alms….Alms for the poor…Alms….Alms for the poor.

Posted by: jlw at June 4, 2010 11:10 PM
Comment #301693
You may be surprised that as a conservative, concerned about the future of our country and our future, I would be in favor of cutting spending and increasing taxes. I would want absolute guarantees that the money saved by cutting spending actually went to pay off our debt.

If this is truly your position, then you would reject conservative political candidates, may of which sign “no new taxes pledges” and/or refuse to even consider reducing the size of defense spending. Conservatives that claim that the budget can be balanced solely through cutting “unnecessary” spending are dishonest. We’ll have to cut a lot of “necessary” spending in order to balance the budget. It’s going to piss a lot of people off, but we have no choice. You mention making everyone feel the pain of increased taxes; I’d like to amend that to say that everyone will also feel the pain of the spending cuts.

The problem with our current discussions is that the time to do this cutting is after the economy recovers from the recession, not when the recovery is still incomplete and fragile. We do not want a repeat of 1937.

I’ve said many times that I expect the Democrats to shift from rescuing the economy mode to balancing the budget mode for FY 2012. If the economy is not strong enough at that time to withstand the spending cuts, then that is indication that the current stimulus plans were not adequately carried out and new leadership is needed.

Posted by: Warped Reality at June 4, 2010 11:17 PM
Comment #301694

Royal Flush,

Gergle…I will match my personal giving to the disadvantaged with you anytime.

You know that’s great, you turn it into a personal badge and contest, but the sad fact is charitable contributions don’t get the job done, which is why a social safety net was created. Perhaps if you educated yourself a bit rather than trying to impress us with the size of your “charity”, your statements might be seen as humane.

And…I don’t rail against taxes to support welfare. I rail against the liberal/socialist philosophy that encourages and keeps folks on welfare.

Pray tell us what that philosophy is that encourages keeping people on welfare? I can’t wait to hear this nonsense.

C&J,

So the hurricane was not a big factor in their previous or current suffering. And we have entered a different sort of discussion.

Umm, actually traveling away from family and surroundings, or traveling back, loss of structures of support, and having to readjust and fight for consideration is contributing to suffering. I would have loved to hear you say you weren’t suffering in the Superdome, with it’s overflowing toilets.

The discussion is the same one. Aid to the poor and disadvantaged. Those devastated by a disaster. If you think the poor can recover like the wealthy, you are truly uninformed. The wealthy didn’t need help. They got out, and had insurance. They had options. This is something you don’t seem to comprehend, or perhaps choose to ignore since it might lead to higher taxes, or greater responsibility. A self serving philosophy, but not an uncommon one.

I didn’t need FEMA for Hurricane Ike. I was working two or three days after Ike. I didn’t have power for 2 weeks. My house was intact. I had to clean out the fungus in my frig. I lived with friends for two weeks, who had power. I bought a generator since then. My friend’s beach house was damaged by Ike. (Same one’s I stayed with) They don’t live there. They visit it on weekends. They were insured. They got the house finished last winter. They didn’t need FEMA either. That isn’t the purpose of FEMA.

Posted by: gergle at June 4, 2010 11:26 PM
Comment #301717

gergle writes; “You know that’s great, you turn it into a personal badge and contest, but the sad fact is charitable contributions don’t get the job done, which is why a social safety net was created.”

My statement was that I would not let a hungry person starve as gergle suggesed and proved it by mentioning that I give much to charity without government taxing it away from me. Call it a badge if you must, I understand envy. For me, it’s the Christian and American way. What’s the excuse for liberals being so stingy with volunteer charity?

I have written many times that for liberal/socialists it’s mostly about “feeling good” about themselves. Not content to do the right thing by themselves, they demand that government take up the role of benevolence on their behalf. With nearly half of the adult popluation not paying any federal income tax at all, and with many of those receiving earned income tax refunds while paying no taxes, please don’t lecture me about charity or challenge my chairitable giving as something for which I expect a reward. As the old saying goes…”pay up or shut up”.

gergle speaks about a social safety net. Is living on government handouts meant to be pleasant and rewarding? Is it meant to be everlasting? Is it meant to encourage folks to stay on the government teat for generations? The liberal/socialist would have us believe we don’t spend enough on poverty. Trillions have been spent and the problem only gets worse. Barry and his liberal/socialist supporters are fond of talking about doing those things in government that work. I hear Mr. Daugherty talk about that all the time. Well…has it worked? Do we find our costs in the war on poverty, fought over the last 50+ years receeding or increasing. When will this policy begin to show results? NEVER…NEVER…NEVER. NO INCENTIVE, NO RESULTS.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 5, 2010 12:38 PM
Comment #301719


Let me see if I have the assumptions right.

Welfare has done nothing to relieve poverty.

Poverty is actually worse than it was before welfare was created.

The reason there isn’t enough charity to take care of the needy is because liberals won’t give to charity.

Every one of these assumptions is incorrect.

The day that conservatives forget about their desire to return to the good old days, and propose a solution for welfare that will truly work towards eliminating poverty; is the day that I will be all ears and I imagine the people will be as well.

Posted by: jlw at June 5, 2010 12:55 PM
Comment #301723

jlw

Welfare has done a great deal to alleviate poverty. The problem is that we do NOT count welfare in poverty calculations. So we talk about the poverty rate as unchanging when actually physical poverty is mostly gone in the U.S. if you count it by world or historical standards.

Gergle

Please see above.

Poverty and being poor are not the same. Being poor just means that you don’t have money. Most of us have been poor at times in our lives and may be again.

Poverty is a state of mind, a set of habits and a complex of beliefs. Most people pass through being poor; some people stay because of their habits, attitudes etc.

We have a hard time alleviating “poverty” because we just hate to admit the causes are these habits. I am not saying it is the “fault” of the victim. Maybe they have never learned good habits. BUT you cannot solve the problem until you change the culture of poverty. Five years in a government trailer is a long time. Money doesn’t do it. You could hand each of these guys a check for $50-100,000 and you would mostly just stimulate business in the booze cans, lotteries and racetracks. A year later “poverty” would be back because it never left the minds of the recipients.

We have to have the courage to tell the “victims” that their condition may not be their faults, but it is their problem and that they have to change their habits before they or anybody else can change their lives. But who can do this? I anticipate all sorts of criticism just for bringing it up, but we all know I am right.

Posted by: C&J at June 5, 2010 1:26 PM
Comment #301733

Of course you are correct C&J. Do we require any work of the able bodied who receive government benefits? Do we require drug testing on them as we do on most of the employed? Do we continue to increase welfare as unwed moms continue to have more babies? Do we continue to encourage more illegals into our country by providing free and better living conditions than those they left at home?

The mentoring we do provide is primarily aimed at convincing them that voting liberal will keep the welfare checks rolling. Do we change our educational system to recognize that not every student is college material? Do we encourage learing a trade in our schools?

Poverty continues to be a blight on our nation because our political class wishes it so. So called Political Solutions nearly always requires no participation by those on the receiving end…just more from the paying end.

The BS about the US being the richest nation in the world as somehow justification for the wasting of trillions of dollars must and will end.

I am willing to provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need unable to work. All the rest can fend for themselves or accept training for a minimum wage job, even if it is hoeing potatoes, cleaning our streets and parks, doing menial work in hospitals and nursing homes, serving in our armed forces, etc.

The generational addiction to welfare can be stopped by instilling a work ethic. And a work ethic can not be instilled in an individual with no work requirement. If one must work and receive the minimum wage for their welfare benefits perhaps the brighter of them may come to realize that if they have to work to eat they might as well work hard, learn something and get off the welfare rolls.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 5, 2010 2:33 PM
Comment #301734

The incessant search for cheap labor, nullifies the argument that all people in poverty have to do is alter their habits and they will no longer be in poverty.

If Republican economic policy could be fully implemented, there would be twice as many people in this country that needed to change their habits to avoid poverty.

Changing their habits is what a majority of Americans should do, but if they did, this great consumer society would come crashing down on their heads.

Welfare is the best solution we have come up with. It puts extra income into the recipients pockets which they promptly put right back into the economy. Some middle class workers might not like this arrangement, but the corporations and other businesses do.

The middle class has it’s own opportunities to game the welfare state. Taken as a whole, everything is geared towards the consumer excess based economy.

Posted by: jlw at June 5, 2010 2:47 PM
Comment #301735

Occassionally I need the help of some labor to do things around my mini-ranch that I am unable or unwilling to do myself. I go the town two miles away and there is always 15 to 30 Mexicans milling around a certain area who hire out as day labor. I know for certain that many of them are illegal but I hire then anyhow and commit a crime.

But you know what…never, in over 15 years have I gone to town to hire a day laborer and found in the mix an unemployed American. The able-bodied American welfare recipient is stitting at home on his/her arse drinking beer and watching television or sitting on their front porch watching the world go by. Drive around your neighborhood and I will wager you’ll find the same thing.

When I was a kid I mowed lawn, shoveled snow, and did any other job available in my neighborhood to earn money. I picked cucumbers in season and had a paper route. Is it illegal for kids to do this today as I certainly don’t see much evidence of it around here. OH, Yeah…I know, the kids need time off from the arduous school year. They must have their pool time, hoop time and mall time.

Folks…wake up. Government, if allowed, will make us all slaves.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 5, 2010 2:48 PM
Comment #301736

jlw wrote; “Welfare is the best solution we have come up with. It puts extra income into the recipients pockets…”

Good Grief…extra income. Welfare for a liberal/socialist mind is being described as income. Extra income implies that there is other income. What would that be?

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 5, 2010 2:52 PM
Comment #301739

Their extra income RF is selling drugs or their food stamps. jlw if they work they don’t get any welfare money just food stamps.

Posted by: MAG at June 5, 2010 3:21 PM
Comment #301762


My, my, what mirth the choice of a word can produce.

“Their extra income RF is selling drugs or their food stamps.”

Again, stereotyping conservative style. Some people do sell drugs, often to your children, and food stamps, most don’t. Some of those who sell their food stamps do so to their middle class siblings or other relatives. Being forced to provide proof of identification would help but not eliminate the problem.

The low income workers and people at the bottom are also the victims of crime more than anyother class. Are there people that are to lazy to work? Damn straight there are and most of them don’t receive government assistance unless you count the assistance they get from Sheriffs, prosecutors and judges. They get caught, serve a little time and are released over and over. They prey on their working class neighbors and their own families. They inform for the sherrifs, get wired up for the prosecutors, and get slapped on the hand by the judges. Then it is back on the street, looking for victims.

As mag pointed out, those that work don’t get money. The majority work and they receive food stamps, some housing assistance, heap and health care for their children. Some of them may get health care with the new law, but there again, many won’t be able to afford it without the government supplementing corporate insurance profits at middle class expense. I would imagine that many of them may have lost their jobs in this recession.

And, conservatives also like to claim that the people at the bottom could afford to provide for their families in this costly society even if their wages were cut in half by eliminating the minimum wage laws, if they would just get rid of their bad habits.

RF, I did all those things you did to earn money to help support my younger siblings. Many of those jobs are now performed by adults at children’s wages.

You conservatives won’t have to concern yourselves about your social spending taxes much longer. More and more people are qualifying for government assistance and their long term job prospects are dwindling rapidly. We will soon be in the position where the government is overwhelmed by the problem and may have no choice but to eliminate much if not all of the social safety net. We are going to have an even larger number of jobless people.

This nation is going third world and it has nothing to do with welfare or social spending. Ask your multi-national corporations. Once they break us, it will be much easier to break Western Europe. It is really quite simple, the more consumers there are in the world, the less important any one group of consumers is.

Better yet, ask the liberals that sold the workers out to the conservative multi-national New World Ordered Economy for what? Open borders and uniculturalism? No more war? Perhaps they should have consulted the 35%-50% of the population who support the current system, many of whom make good returns on war materials.

You all think things will be great and wonderful for you and the whole country then, don’t count on it.

Posted by: jlw at June 5, 2010 7:59 PM
Comment #301767

jlw

The problem is that we have structural poverty. It is indeed habits that create it.

We all know “poor” people who do not live in poverty and people with adequate income that do. These guys still living in government trailers must be no good of really, really unlucky.

Posted by: C&J at June 5, 2010 8:42 PM
Comment #301775


C&J, the welfare reforms that Clinton signed into law went a long way towards rectifying structural poverty. The New World Economy and this recession is bringing it back. It is going to get worse and likely permanent.

No one trying to raise a family on the minimum wage is living the life of the Joneses even if they have no bad habits at all.

Most of the people at the bottom are good people, but yes, there is a large group, possibly 25 to 30% that because of drug abuse or just plain laziness are the kind of people no one wants to know. Most of them are not receiving welfare benefits or they don’t for long. Young women who get addicted to alcohol, crack, pain pills, or meth usually end up loosing everything, including their children. I know three sets of grandparents raising their daughters children. Two of them are low income and they get government assistance to help them raise their grandchildren.

I know these people, the good ones and the not so good.

Conservatives want to portray all of them as lazy addicts when the reality is that the majority are hard workers that lack the ability or the drive to compete for your position. They are labeled as inferior human beings with little or no value in our great capitalist system. It is as you say, a values judgement.

It isn’t these people, it is the fact that capitalism uses it values system to judge them and some in government have intervened on their behalf.

Posted by: jlw at June 5, 2010 10:46 PM
Comment #301779

jlw

People with generally good habits do not long earn only minimum wage. I will stipulate the occasional bout of extraordinarily bad luck. But if you are still making minimum wage after a couple years work, you might consider getting another job or moving somewhere else.

It is all based on choices. You mention people having kids and using drugs etc. These are choices. In the case of the grandparents, the bad choices of their children got them in the mess, but it is still somebody’s choice that caused it, not an act of God or fate.

We need to recognize and address the problem behaviors, because if we don’t do that, nothing else really works.

BTW - I don’t label as inferior anybody who works and takes care of himself. I don’t care for those who don’t, however.

I also think that government programs have a great capacity to cause harm to the poor if they enable bad behavior. I understand it is a hard balance. We need to stigmatize destructive behavior w/o crippling the person doing it. For example, teen pregnancy is stupid. While we don’t want to bother the girl who does it, we have to create some immediate sting. It might be better to stigmatize the behavior and come down hard on one, rather than make it seem okay and get five girls doing the stupid thing.

Remember, as you yourself imply but won’t say out loud. some people are just not smart or experienced enough to see the implications of their actions. Doing thing like quitting a job or having an illegitimate baby at 15 are stupid for a person who thinks clearly, but may be attractive to someone who doesn’t.

Posted by: C&J at June 6, 2010 1:04 AM
Comment #301784

Royal Flush,

Just curious why you don’t hire through a temp agency instead of hiring illegals? I’m guessing you don’t really want immigration reform either, then? I hired some guys here in Houston to help me move, one was black, the other white from a temp agency at $10 an hour. I think they got paid less than $8 an hour (this was several years ago). I paid them extra cash on the side because they did a good job. I didn’t check their immigration status. They said I should have picked them up without going through the agency.


I hire an hispanic man to mow my lawn sometimes. He speaks with an American accent, and works full time at a nearby industrial company. He took his kids to Mexico this past winter to visit his family there. He does the work on weekends to make extra income. He wears a hard hat, safety glasses and uses professional mowers. I’ve never checked his immigration status, however.

Posted by: gergle at June 6, 2010 11:11 AM
Comment #301789


C&J, the median income for my county is around $25,000 per year. Does that suggest to you that people here can move up from minimum wage in a couple of years?

I don’t know what it is like now, but 10 years ago we had the finest nursing school in the country. The local hospital pays nurses half the national average.

WalMart is one of our major employers. They start people at $8 per hour. There are only a handful of jobs at WalMart that are 40 hours per week. They have no problem finding people begging for work.

Our unemployment situation is permanently in the double digits, even before the recession which has started to hit here.

Our youngest and brightest are our number one export. That is the main choice offered to us. It has been the way of life here for many generations. The capitalist economic system has no use for us, only our resources. Capitalism is not one of those things that is a matter of choice.

When it comes to morality, the poor are the only ones who can’t afford it.

Did you see the news article about the rising cost of food being devastating to the poor nations? That is your capitalist morality choice, a world that produces more food than is needed, used to enforce poverty.

IMO, the bright people know that our current model of mass consumption capitalism is a dead end street. And, if this ‘values’ capitalism continues it will very likely result in the advancement of socialism.

Even Adam Smith was against large corporations.

Posted by: jlw at June 6, 2010 1:07 PM
Comment #301797

jlw wrote; “This nation is going third world and it has nothing to do with welfare or social spending. Ask your multi-national corporations. Once they break us, it will be much easier to break Western Europe. It is really quite simple, the more consumers there are in the world, the less important any one group of consumers is.”

That’s an interesting concept but how does it work? MNC’s wish to break us (the consumers) and somehow us broke consumers will be able to buy their products. I’m confused…please explain.

gergle writes and asks; “Just curious why you don’t hire through a temp agency instead of hiring illegals? I’m guessing you don’t really want immigration reform either, then?”

Last time I checked with my local temp agency they didn’t have anyone for clearing brush, washing windows and hoeing weeds.

You’re not a good “guesser” on my position on immigration reform.

gergle also wrote this about the workers he hired thru a temp agency…”They said I should have picked them up without going through the agency.”

Hmmm…how would you have known about them or their location if you had not hired them thru the temp agency first? Sounds fishy to me.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 6, 2010 3:24 PM
Comment #301799

jlw

I am not particularly fond of any large organizations, be they corporations, unions or government. With corporations, however, if they get to big and inefficient, they lose out.

Take the example of GM. It was once the biggest and most powerful corporation in America and probably in the history of the world. It lost touch with its customers and made bad decisions and now it is “government motors”. Which lead to the danger of big government. A firm may pay for its bad decisions by losing money. Government can fund failure almost forever.

re minimum wage - maybe people should leave for better opportunities. We should be interested in developing people, not places. Some places are not viable at their current population levels. Americans move to improve their lives.

Posted by: C&J at June 6, 2010 3:35 PM
Comment #301802

C&J:

With corporations however, if they get to big and inefficient, they loose out.”

This must be in reference to the big banks.

“We should be interested in developing people, not places.”

Isn’t that what we do, develop people?

People like NYC, LA, Miami, and people like Citi, BP, and WSJ.

Model citizens.

Are we talking about developing people or developing model work units. Remember, it is not the guns, it is the murderers.

It is like I have said before, come up with a better people development theory to replace your, throw the bums out into the street and make them work for their daily bread theory. It has been tried before, company thugs, cops, and soldiers.

Posted by: jlw at June 6, 2010 6:58 PM
Comment #301811

jlw

They lose unless government bails them out. Then it becomes a GOVERNMENT problem, doesn’t it? That is what I am talking about.

My theory is not “throw out the bums”. It is VERY different from that. I do NOT think that government is being run poorly by bums. I think government is overextended and even with perfect people running it, it won’t work on that scale.

re places v people - there is no reason to maintain people in places that no longer make sense. At some point it makes sense to tear down an old house and build a new one.

I moved from the place where I was born because there was not enough to do. Should the government have created a job to keep me there? Frankly, life has been much better since I moved. Americans move. That is how our ancestors got to America in the first place.

Posted by: C&J at June 6, 2010 8:51 PM
Comment #301833

Royal Flush-
Have all the temper tantrums you want, but since we instituted those policies, poverty’s fallen by half.

What, did you expect a surrender ceremony on the deck of the Indianapolis?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 7, 2010 1:56 PM
Comment #301839


C&J

“They loose unless the government bails them out. Then It becomes a government problem,”

In the case of GM, I agree, they should have never been bailed out. That would have been regrettable for the workers, but justice due the management for discounting the market and the shareholders for not addressing the management issue until after most of the damage had been done.

I would like to say the same about the banks, but their government involvement has basically infused their protection into law. They control the economy, not the market.

If the government had done what Republicans are now advocating, this nation would be in the Depression rather than hovering just above it. Just as in the thirties, that would have a lot of people asking tough questions of capitalism.

I agree that government is over extended. Their desire to represent the people is over shadowed by the philosophy that what is best for the capitalists and the corporations is what is best for all of America. They are rewarded handsomely for their adherence to that philosophic point of view.

From a profit point of view, which of course is the only point of view that can be considered, it made since to use technology to drive people off the land and into the factory cities. Then when the automobile and the Interstates made it feasible, the creation of suburbia. A new trend is country estates for the well to do suburbanites, not just the wealthy.

I as well, had to leave home to find better opportunities or face a minimum wage life with few opportunities for advancement.

RF, the American consumer is still the top dog. The promise made was that shipping manufacturing jobs would result in less expensive products for American consumers. That hasn’t really materialized, even the WalMart price slashing bandit has been retired or semi retired. Instead, What the American consumers actually got was cheaper products and even poisonous products.

In addition, IMO, the loss of the manufacturing base has harmed the governments tax revenues and it has made a poor ability to produce jobs even worse.

Now, while the Chinese are financing our spending, our consumers are helping to subsidize their growing consumer base. That Chinese consumer base, within a decade or so, will be larger than ours allowing for more forceful austerity measures on American consumers.

Now we here that the price of doing business in China is increasing and the probable (actual) outcome is higher prices for all consumers in the world. Which IMO, because of China’s monetary policy, will be less harmful to the Chinese consumers, and because of our consumer debt, more harmful to American consumers.

Posted by: jlw at June 7, 2010 5:47 PM
Comment #301853

jlw

The secret is to decouple firms so that the failure of one doesn’t knock out all the others, like bulbs on those old-fashioned Christmas tree chains.

We have created a big moral hazard by protecting and even forcing bad decisions. Both Democrats and Republicans pushed banks and others to lend to bad credit risks in order to increase home ownership among people who couldn’t afford to own homes. They are STILL doing it.

Posted by: C&J at June 7, 2010 9:10 PM
Comment #301893


C&J, That is only half, actually a third of the truth.

Yes, the government played it’s role similar to what you suggest. But it doesn’t explain the Larry Summers housing derivative, the big Wall Street banks and their role in creating a new industry, the mortgage sells industry. That is when the bad loans really started showing up. This is when the private sector, the mortgage sellers began the practice of not verifying incomes and ability to pay and started writing the low starting interest rates with huge variable rates, then bundling the good with the bad. The big banks just couldn’t get enough of them to use as collateral.

The third and sad part is that many of the people who were foreclosed on could have afforded to own homes. They just couldn’t afford two or three times the home at the high variable rates.

The whole system set up by the government, was designed and manipulated in a way that help the profiteers more than the people that they were supposedly trying to help.

The government could have helped people, especially low income people, own homes by providing very low fixed rate loans and insuring that they buy a home that they can afford, but where’s the profit in that.

Nothing can screw a good intention more than profiteers.

I am not anti profit but profiteering in a manner that does serious harm to others is criminal as far as I am concerned.

Of course, It has all been swept under the rug and covered up now. No politicians or bankers are going to prison because they have the power and the right to screw the people in a way that is all legal.

Posted by: jlw at June 8, 2010 12:17 PM
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