Democrats & Liberals Archives

Sticking Yourself Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I’ve been long saying it, but the Republican’s biggest political problem is that it wants to change things more radically than the American actually want it to. In a certain sense, your average American is more conservative. Now Obama had to do a lot in order to keep this country from going over the brink economically, and his actions gave Republicans the opening to make him look like he might be taking things too far. But Republicans? You don’t have to make a Republican look like they’re going too far, they’re quite willing to do so themselves.

And if they do so, they will not look that good, to be sure.

Republicans have provided no shortage of evidence to the American people that they're the ones who want to push the envelope, that they aren't the ones who will end up compromising. Obama and the Democrats, meanwhile, have shown quite a bit of willingness, sometimes too much willingness to make a deal for some folk's tastes. The result is unsurprising. More than half of Americans in a recent poll would blame the Republicans. Less than a quarter would blame Obama.

I would say that what Americans wanted in 2010 was for change to hurry up and get here. But what they wanted wasn't necessarily one party's change or another. Democrats were just conveniently hanging in their, in power, so they got hit like a pinata.

That doesn't mean people just flatly turned against everything the Democrats believed in, but Republicans have been too eager to push their agenda as if they had.

More than anything, they're probably worrying people, rather than gaining their confidence. They're not seeing a jobs agenda, they're seeing anything but. They assumed Republicans would so something, likely, but so far, in the ten weeks of the New Republican House majority, they've haven't done much at all to create jobs.

And they likely won't. They painted themselves into a corner on that, and have limited themselves to tax cuts, which after ten years of Bush Tax Cuts, probably doesn't sound like the Jobs creator it once was. A lot that the Republicans say about their policies, favoring the rich, favoring certain flavors of energy, don't carry the oomph they once did (speaking of which, shouldn't somebody tell Anne Coulter that the point of radiation therapy is to kill the tissue the radiation is aimed at?

I don't think the effects of higher gas prices, the horror created by the Oil Disaster in the Gulf, or the Nuclear scare from the Fukushima plants is going away soon. It's become sort of the bad joke there that whenever a major environmental disaster occurs, Republicans are there with bells and whistles on to say that this means that regulations should only be lifted more so.

Of course, how do you change your opinion on something like that? How do you push something like that with such enthusiasm and disdain for naysayers, and then back down from that, without a problem? The answer is, you don't. People hang on your words, and being inconsistent in what you say becomes an issue for you.

But, I would offer, being inconsistent with reality in your decision-making is likely to cause you worse trouble in the long run, and Republican budgeting is no exception. Republicans could have just let the tax cuts for the rich slip away. You wouldn't be seeing guys in top hats living in cardboard boxes, and you wouldn't be having to cut not merely what Obama's budget was set to be before, but what it has to be now, now that you've stuck a few hundred billion back on for each year. The Republicans in Washington are climbing out of a hole they dug for themselves.

And it seems like they're trying to do it on the backs of your average American. Folks who probably thought when they elected Bush and the Republicans they'd be getting folks who would keep the budget in balance, rather than blow the roof off of it like a fiscal Chernobyl. They probably took Republicans at face value on their economic policies, on their tax cuts. What they got instead were policies that clearly did not work, and results which flatly contradicted what they claimed they would do. Instead of taking the economy to new heights, they took it to new depths. Instead of Reaganomics working, they failed again.

Now we are asked to close up those big budget shortfalls by absorbing what economists say will at least be 700,000 jobs and a couple points worth of diminished growth. By Republican's strange calculus, the economy is supposed to recover from this flat arithmetic loss by means of the magic calculus of smaller government. Somehow, being tossed on the street, charged more in fees, going without social services, losing unemployment benefits in a time of chronic unemployment is supposed to help people invigorate the economy.

Republicans didn't use to be this doctrinaire. When he saw where the numbers were heading, Reagan raised taxes. When unemployment hung around, even Republcians voted to extend it. You could get some give and take out of the Republicans of the Gingrich era sometimes, though there was more take than give.

But now, Republicans insist that people accept their harsh policies without complaint, and that all these petty cuts to NPR and other Liberal mainstays aren't political. But the truth is, rather than sufficiently handle the crisis, which would require them to go into ideological teritory, like higher taxes, that they don't want to go into, the Republicans are simply going to exploit the crisis at hand for their political benefit, much like they criticized Rahm Emmanuel for saying. The difference will be that they will exploit the crisis to do things that hurt people, that folks will feel in their pocketbooks. And that, really, is that has them squeezed, politically, in Washington.

That, and the fact that the political message was nowhere near as unambiguously positive for them as they thought. Let's be clear: Obama is still in charge, and in fact became more popular when he passed a raft of legislation during the lame duck session. Could it be that his breaking of the enforced inaction in the Senate helped him like a stronger, more active leader? Meanwhile, Democrats still have power in the Senate, so if they don't like a bill, it goes nowhere. In fact, the Goldman Sachs report that circulated, reporting one to two points of "fiscal drag" on growth, pretty much says that they believe the bad economic effect unlikely for that reason.

Even modest cuts, though, will produce economic pain we don't need. The timing is simply bad. Ideally, you want to remove deficits, cut down debt. But we aren't in ideal times. We're in one of the worst economies since the great depression, and that took the better part of two decades to recover from, with a strong stimulus at the end, and a lot of enforced economic controls.

So, to put it plainly, Republicans are causing major political headaches for themselves, and by being so rigid ideologically, cutting off any escape from the trap they've built for themselves.

I'd enjoy seeing this sink their political chances, but the problem is, they've pushed aside a lot of good ideas and urgent action to get this economy back in order in order to once again try their previously failed experiments in reshaping the American political landscape. We're in this trap with them. And you know what? I think, at this point, a lot of Americans want out. They've paid the consequences for their second thoughts, and the Republican's second chance. Soon enough, it will be the GOP's turn to pay for their stubborness at the polls.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 18, 2011 5:54 PM
Comments
Comment #320364

Stephen

How much more in taxes are YOU willing to pay? Do you want to kick in an extra couple hundred dollars a month in income taxes, maybe a dollar a gallon in gas taxes? Don’t you think that will cause you some economic pain?

The trouble with government spending is that eventually you run out of other people’s money and/or eventually you cannot borrow any more from your children.

Let me ask another question. If Democrats are elected to big majorities in 2012, is it your idea that they can/should continue to spend? Is that what we can expect?

The Democrats control the Senate and a Democrat is president. Obama is supposed to lead. He is not. Indeed the Democrats are playing the spending game very well, asking Republicans to propose cuts and then criticizing them. But what is the alternative? More taxes? I repeat the earlier questions, How much are YOU willing to pay?

Posted by: C&J at March 18, 2011 8:38 PM
Comment #320371

C&J,

I am willing to spend more in taxes, and we have a pretty decent income. Matter of fact, I think a mandatory 1% increase in taxes should be instituted across the board, after exemptions but before deductions. It would put the onus of the majority of taxes where it belongs…on the wealthy.

One thing no one is mentioning is that most of the wealthy people make most of their income from investments. They only pay 15% in income taxes through capital gains, if they pay anything at all. Where is the equality in that?? Their low tax rate is bought and paid for, yet they want the capital gains rates lowered? So they can pay even fewer taxes??

I’ll bet you are also the first to scream about abortion but are unwilling to support these children through social programs when their parents can’t or won’t.

You guys are quite hypocritical, you know?

Posted by: CC at March 18, 2011 9:11 PM
Comment #320372

I think the real question is how much are you willing not to pay? We as a country have obligations to meet. What is being proposed by the right will not make a dent in the budget it’s just smoke and mirrors. But what it will do is hurt a lot of people for a ” couple hundred bucks”. Dare I even say maybe cause people to die. But I guess that’s OK as long as the wealthy can live in there 20000 square foot homes.

Posted by: Jeff at March 18, 2011 9:15 PM
Comment #320377

C&J-
Your people deliberately and knowingly put this whole thing out of balance, creating an expensive, though perhaps necessary new entitlement, funding two wars without any kind of tax increase, an unusual event in American history, and you expanded the federal government considerably besides, without asking for the taxes then.

I think we could have taken it. It would, however, have put political pressure on your administration to watch what was happening with the money. When the funding of government isn’t out of pocket, folks looking at the government spending numbers don’t ask as many questions. Why not? It’s not their money paying for it.

The Rich need to pay more. They’re saving it, anyways, not creating the kinds of jobs they were supposed to. Rather than continue to belabor that failed economic hypothesis, we need to start placing more the burden of payment for government on the shoulders of those who expect so much say in how it runs.

As for spending?

America has declined, and the decline is what forces the deficit on us. The Average American doesn’t get paid, in proportion to their bills, what they used to. American businesses no longer build as many products, and the Republicans don’t seem to mind when we lose out, and have to put money in other foreign country’s pockets for products we could produce here. Republicans don’t seem to mind high gas prices so much as low oil company profits. They blocked rules changes intended to rein in excessive speculation on the oil markets, and maintained, despite their talk of oil being a free-market winner, their policy of subsidizing the oil and gas industries.

If it’s about spending, and you tell me we can’t spend any more money than we already are, then I’m telling you we should change what we spend on, and increase spending on the programs that will help us get ahead as a country. We should keep more of those foreign students who come to get advanced degrees here in the country so we don’t braindrain over the other oceans. We should change the culture of encouraged mediocrity, where a failure to strive ahead of one’s peers is conflated with being an egalitarian, and ambition to do something, learn something becomes the mark of an elitist.

Your party seems to be the party of desperately clung-to status quo, where the government isn’t allowed to lead this country to do great things, where the government isn’t there to keep this country from having to repeatedly pay the cost of irresponsible, unproductive speculation.

I want my country to stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars to make people who did idiotic things with our economy whole, and start putting that money to use making our country rich instead, by investing in the technologies that will have people buying American not just here, but in all those developing countries of the world.

I want my country to stop blinding itself to its problems, and start using its ingenuity to solve those problems, avoid them, and turn the problems that become crises in this age into both rarer and less severe events.

You guys are always saying America is number one, that America should be on top.

I believe instead of making those boasts emptily, we should put our money where our mouth is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 18, 2011 9:56 PM
Comment #320380

Stephen

So how much are you willing to pay more. Give me a number. Is it $100 a month, $200, $500? And how much are you willing to pay for gas?

This BEFORE deductions doesn’t make much sense. We sold some timber this year. We got just under $25,000 for the wood. But because of the drop in timber prices, we lost money, since we paid around $30,000 for those trees in 2008. Should we not deduct the cost of growing the timber and the cost of acquisition? I don’t know what deductions you are talking about, but with the exception of home interest, my deductions come from things that represent costs of making money.

Capital gains is also a specific thing. The “wealthy” BTW - pay capital gain rates of 20% and it may go as high as 28% if you figure in AMTs. What is the rate you pay on taxes? I bet it is a lot less than 28%. Beyond that, you can make “capital gains” w/o actually making any money. Some people noticed this on mutual funds in 2008, when they paid capital gains taxes even though their funds were worth less on Dec 31 than they had been on Jan 1.

There are two sorts of people who clamor for higher taxes. There is a small group of super rich folks who have so much money it doesn’t much matter to them how much they pay and there is a much larger group who doesn’t really intend to be hit very much by higher taxes and/or expects a net benefit to themselves. The first group you COULD call patriots (although a guy with 5 billion doesn’t really sacrifice much even if he pays $1 billion). The larger group is selfish, but hides that in rhetoric about the common good.

I rather like your 1% idea, but let’s make it really across the board, to include everybody.

Re productivity - conservatives care a lot about that. If you think I am not talking about the same things you are, let me remind you that the only way to build wealth for the whole society is through productivity. It is Democrats who scared the crap out of investors in the last couple of years and made people timid about investing.

I think you don’t understand that investments create wealth and people invest because they want to get something back. It is a lot easier to sit on your ass and NOT invest. Investments are risky and you have to work on them. I made decent money in financial investments, but I don’t do it anymore because I have become to lazy to work at it. The returns are not worth the effort, IMO. The more you tax, the more people drop out.

You talk about investment in technologies. Government can help with basic research, but tech investments are made by … investors. I don’t think Bill Gates worked for nothing. If you leave investing to government, you get things like the Soviet Union. We are getting far enough away from those old nightmares that we forgot how bad they were, so let’s look at more recent government programs like ethanol. Or what about that hydrogen economy we heard about in 2001? Still waiting. There is no magic in government spending. It is one of the less efficient ways to deploy resources.

You talk about greedy businesspeople. If someone could develop a fuel that was cheaper than gasoline and more convenient, how rich would this guy become? If people are really so greedy & alternatives are easy, why have they not done this thing? Government didn’t force those guys to make Google. It didn’t manage the creation of Facebook. It sort of discouraged the use of new technologies to get natural gas.


Remember, government has a crucial role in creating conditions for the people to prosper, but it cannot create prosperity.
Jeff

I pay lots in taxes and last year we (C&J) gave more than $7000 in charity, a kind of voluntary tax. I would be willing to pay more IF I thought the politicians would not piss it away. I have no such confidence at this time.

I ask the “how much” question because I think most people who claim they want higher taxes are dishonest. Like Stephen, they figure they will make money on the higher taxes, since they will fall on the wealthy. Unfortunately, the wealthy are often also the wealth and job creators.

Posted by: C&J at March 18, 2011 11:11 PM
Comment #320388

To C&J:

Just a short response.

Other people’s money. Such a tired and misleading phrase. It sure affects some people though. Every dollar that goes to the government is “other people’s money”. Lets get real here and realize that without “other people’s money” we would have no government. As you have said in the past it’s a matter of degree, and how it’s used. That’s where we disagree. Let’s leave that phrase alone for a while.

Posted by: womanmarine at March 19, 2011 8:34 AM
Comment #320390

The flaw in your logic is this: people don’t create jobs out of the blue just because they got some tax cut. That’s a ridiculously altruistic thing to do and people don’t tend to do that. Instead, what really happens is people create jobs to make money. Otherwise they just save their money and get done with it. So, a tax cut will not create jobs in times like these because the cuts to the rich’s taxes won’t change the fact that there aren’t customers for those businesses.

If folks already felt like making those jobs, already had the resources, they would’ve done it already, being as rich as they are.

If the idea is that taxing the rich might prevent them from creating jobs, or make them not feel like it? Well, first, if they’re rich, they already have excess money, or should have it, if they’re managing their finances well. Second, though, making money is quite a strong and elegant motivation for action, and the record shows that even in times of higher taxes, people are willing to hire people, if it seems like a good opportunity to profit. But a tax cut?

Thing is, you’re trying to incentivize a person towards this altruism, but you really don’t do anything to ensure that they’ll follow through.

I mean, if a business did that, they’d be gone soon. You wouldn’t hand somebody big money for a service without a contract to bind them, now would you? These tax cuts, in terms of jobs, are no better than that, and the evidence I’ve seen says that the Rich pocketed the money, and proceeded to produce the fewest jobs per year of any time since WWII, when they started measuring. Historic lows in taxes have not created historic highs in job creation. Quite the opposite. Even in good times it wasn’t effective.

I have a little theory about that. By making profit easier, the Bush Administration obviated the need for hard work for the rich to make more money. They didn’t have to create as many businesses, as many jobs, or as much economic activity to get the same amount of money. Now I wouldn’t recommend just drop-kicking the rate into the stratosphere, but I do think we should pay attention to the fact that if a person can live in greater comfort by doing less work, by being less productive, they probably will.

I think if we really want to create jobs quickly in the short-term, get growth going real fast, it’s like the old adage: If you want something done right, do it yourself.

We have to structure rewards to create the anticipated behavior not just flinging out whatever solution we have into the great beyond and just hoping it works. I don’t think that the rich have the altruism or the lack of means to really make taxes the problem.

What keeps them unmotivated is a market where businesses don’t succeed very easily and where where it doesn’t really profit them all that much to actually hire people. You need customers to make such an investment worthwhile and unfortunately your party’s policy is focused on making those customers poorer and less willing to go out there and spend money. You’re basically, by tightening the government’s belt, tightening everybody else’s with it and that doesn’t bode well for the fiscal future.

The Rich, by their nature, can afford to be volatile. They can afford to spend lavishly one second, and cut back dramatically the next. In 1987, when the stock market crashed, very few Americans were out of work, because most customers remained capable of spending, and most businesses remained capable of making a profit. The Poor and Middle Class will spend, generally, what they take in. Money will move through their hands, because in most cases, they’ve got less of a choice.

They’ll work if they can, most of the these people, because there’s a stigma to being financially insolvent, financially dependent. The folks on welfare are not admired, not considered lucky-duckies. Some of the visuals in rap videos, with expensive cars, big houses and whatever else, are an advertisement for the rewards of wealth and success. Very few people want to be the lowest folks on the totem pole, the folks who are first suspects to the police, who are more likely to go to prison, get addicted to drugs, or whatever else. Even among whites, you know who gets made fun of the worse? The rednecks. Not farmers and workers- they get glorified by the culture. But the “white trash?” They are endlessly lampooned, and always have been. Not that they should be, but if everybody’s looking for somebody else to disapprove of, the rain of spit falls hardest on those below everybody else.

Nobody wants to be poor and powerless.

For the first time in decades, people are really feeling the consequences of the elitist policies they’ve spent the last few decades being told would be good for them. They’re seeing how a Wall Street unbound can create economic disasters that put them out of a job, drain their retirement accounts, and destroy commerce.

It wasn’t an out of control budget that did this. In fact, almost half the reason the budget has this high of a deficit is the bad economy. It wasn’t just the housing sector collapsing because of all the bad loans.

It was because so much of our economy was not built on the basis of productive behavior, on the basis of folks making money doing something that gave something or did something for somebody else for that price. It was all about leverage and driving up prices irrespective of reality. They even engineered the system to make it easier for them to produce more bad loans, with the notion that people in perpetual debt would become a theoretically steadier source of income than the folks who paid off their loans and then stopped paying.

Of course, the reality was, people did pretty much what the rich do when it’s not in their interests to keep paying for something. They walk away.

Your folks have misinterpreted the pattern of incentives, and allowed those incentives to become patterned on doing things that are actually dangerous to our economic wellbeing. Your policies over the past few years have discouraged rises in wages, encouraged the rise in debt finance. They have discouraged regulation, encouraged the banks and finance companies to take risks with their investor’s money they had no business doing. And with the way your people regulated Derivatives, or didn’t, Americans were blind to the activity and the chaotic complexity of a huge part of our economy, preventing market judgments from discouraging such further dangerous risks.

You folks talk about letting the market manage itself, but the truth is, the market doesn’t manage itself. Many aspects depend upon companies being obliged to tell you what’s happening with the business, how the fundamentals are doing. Derivatives, though, are a Dark Market. That’s literally the term. So much of the information can be kept by these banks and hedge funds to themselves.

Market forces, therefore, do not operate, and a huge part of our economy is vulnerable to inordinate risk and complexity-related effects.

Until the law is changed to require investors and customers to be informed of what is really going on, what risks are being taken, what losses are being suffered, the market as we know it will not function like it’s expected to.

I look at the markets as the Republicans and conservative Democrats have shaped them, and I see a triumph of wishful thinking and obsessively clung-to theory over hard analysis and observation of actual events and outcomes.

We haven’t resolved the problem that got us in this mess in the first place, and with the complexity of those problems and the lack of real market controls, it will happen again.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 19, 2011 8:58 AM
Comment #320400

Stephen: that’s the problem with the whole “trickle down” economics thing. People that buy into that actually seem to believe that a corporate executive, when given breaks and “incentive” to create jobs, will put that good will back into the market. It’s a ludicrous falsehood. The one good thing about the collapse of the financial markets over the past few years is that it’s presented bold PROOF of what an absolute lie “trickle down economics” is. At a time when people were getting laid off at staggering rates and these businesses were on the verge of going bankrupt, they were giving their executives RECORD bonuses. In our current situation, with rising unemployment rates all over the country, it was recently found that “bonuses” for corporate executives in the US have risen by some 30% on average. If you give a corporation a tax break, the people in charge of it will look at the extra income as a bonus for the people in charge, and will do nothing to create jobs or stimulate the economy themselves.

I will say, however, that I don’t think Republicans are trying to change anything radically. I think they’re trying to do the same things we’ve always done; the conservative ones that is. Conservatives are fighting any changes every step of the way because it makes them look good to their voters. Supporting change means risk. Risk may not include a final benefit. Even if our current state of affairs in the US is unsustainable, conservatives know they can give the public what they want (ie: promises of things being the way they used to be, etc) without giving them any truth. Liberal leaning people, on the other hand, seem to seldom have the teeth or juevos to actually force any issues of change even if they have a good idea and a majority.

Posted by: Jared Skye at March 19, 2011 2:36 PM
Comment #320405

Mr. Daugherty writes; “I’ve been long saying it, but the Republican’s biggest political problem is that it wants to change things more radically than the American actually want it to.”

Thanks for the laugh. If one believes that many Republicans are conservative, and if being conservative means “slow to change”, then Mr. Daugherty gets it wrong in his first sentence.

He writes; “…in the ten weeks of the New Republican House majority, they’ve haven’t done much at all to create jobs.”

Unemployment is down Mr. Daugherty and the improved job market is due to private hiring, not government spending. Libs and dems want more government jobs, the American people don’t. He writes; “…(Republicans) have limited themselves to tax cuts…” OH, really; what tax cuts has the new house called for? I believe it is all about spending cuts.

He writes; “Republicans don’t seem to mind when we lose out, and have to put money in other foreign country’s pockets for products we could produce here.”

What a hypocritical statement. Are we not putting money in other foreign country’s pockets for fossil fuel we can produce here? I guess that’s different somehow.

Mr. Daugherty then goes on to expound on free market capitalism. I may agree that he knows something about film production, from his comments in another post, but I have not seen any evidence of business acumen. What successful business has he started or even managed?

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 19, 2011 3:43 PM
Comment #320408


Boehner has a woman problem, which one will he go to, Nancy or Michelle?

Before the election he just had to say no. Now he has to produce center right legislation with Nancy or go far right with Michelle and shut down the government.

C&J, how much did people like Rockefeller an Carnegie give to charity?

Excess + charity = social programs.

After allowing the banks to go unregulated the government had no choice but to bailout the banks to protect itself.

Posted by: jlw at March 19, 2011 4:03 PM
Comment #320410

jlw, I like your formula. Let’s apply it to government.

Excess (none) + charity (lots) = Red Ink.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 19, 2011 4:19 PM
Comment #320414

“Re productivity - conservatives care a lot about that. If you think I am not talking about the same things you are, let me remind you that the only way to build wealth for the whole society is through productivity.”

C&J perhaps in the old days but anymore productivity gains are not being shared with the work force. Perhaps when you say “the whole society” you mean ” except for those that work.”

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2007/05/it.html

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/03/05/number-of-the-week-workers-not-benefiting-from-productivity-gains/


“It is Democrats who scared the crap out of investors in the last couple of years and made people timid about investing.”

C&J are you sure about that? It seems to me this was election time empty rhetoric coming from the extremist on the right. The reality is the stock market tanked in ‘08 to a low of 7400 and has since recovered to around 12000 today. Why would you think people were not investing in the stock market? I think you may have corporations mixed up with people, as corporations are setting on huge amounts of cash instead of hiring workers but that is actually due to a lack of demand isn’t it?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 19, 2011 6:07 PM
Comment #320416

Royal Flush-
If one believes many Republicans are conservative? Ah, yes, belief. If you believe conservatism means radically rearranging society, changing longstanding decisions, unleashing a flood of corporate money that had been barred from the public discourse for generations, trying to destroy institutions left and right…

How do you define Conservatism? I define it as something more than just a label slapped onto something. Conservatives are careful. Conservatives are conscientious. They play it safe. They value the stability of society and commerce over the indulgence of new ideas and new fads in public culture. They stand for traditional values, mainstream sensibilities.

I have seen the Republicans become more ensnared with fringe groups, more obscure religious sects. They have taken traditional rules of civility in both society and in the halls of government, and thrown them out, justifying it by external and internal threats. They have taken actions that have created much instability in both society and the business world. They have run over ugly details and unexpected results as if nothing was there, and seem surprised when the fiascos mount. Today’s conservatives are trying to change the country radically from what it’s been for the better part of the last century.

Too many of todays self-described conservatives, really, have very little they want to preserve, very little about themselves they want to hold back. They take all the liberties, sexual and otherwise, that liberals do, but with none of the open-mindedness.

It’s a brand name now, with very little to back it but marketing.

Unemployment is down Mr. Daugherty and the improved job market is due to private hiring, not government spending.

Three things.

First, regardless of who is in control, not many governments are hiring, because they depend on revenues, which are down sharply, with much spending still on the books. Private companies don’t have that restriction.

Second, unemployment is down. But what the hell do the Republicans have to do with that? By this time in Obama’s first hundred days or so, the Stimulus package was already law. The stimulus had a measureable effect that multiple independent sources beyond the Democrats own can testify to.

Just what the hell have the Republicans done? Can you name the legislation? The act of Congress? You don’t get the Lame duck session, that was us. You don’t get the tax cuts, because the tax cuts were already in place, and have been demonstrated to have done very little to create jobs, even in better times.

The Republicans did, however, insist on tax cuts over and above what the Democrats did, using their influence to force the President to maintain the tax cuts for the Rich for another two years. Useless, but expensive, and the Republicans, even in their cuts succeed, will have put the country in a deeper hole, fiscally speaking.

As for Government jobs? I think what Americans want are people employed, customers coming back. Not everybody is so fiercely in hate with with the idea of the government employing people as you are.

What a hypocritical statement. Are we not putting money in other foreign country’s pockets for fossil fuel we can produce here? I guess that’s different somehow.

That oil you’re talking about is at the bottom of a rock formation. I can’t put that in my gas tank, and won’t be able to until somebody pumps it up. But, by that time, the market will have changed. A whole lot of other oil will have been pumped up, and consumed, and the oil that comes up won’t simply stick around here. It’ll get shipped to the rest of the world, since the oil markets.

So how will that keep us off of imported oil? It won’t. It’s what the lobbyist friends of your Senators and Representatives tell them to say so the companies that employ them have more oil fields to profit from.

At what profit to me, or all the rest of the Americans out there? We won’t pay much lower prices, if at all. In the end, oil is a doomed resource, fated to dwindle away.

As for me expounding on Free Market Capitalism?

I guess you didn’t want to answer that particular issue, di you? Look, I’m rather knowledgeable about cognitive theory and sciences, but it doesn’t take my familiarity with something like that to know that if you don’t know what’s going on with a market, your ability to manage risk is diminished, and if you can’t know anything?

Well, then you’ve got no protection from being screwed at all. I think of a free market as being one in which you have a reasonable amount of information to make your decision by. Otherwise it’s just a house of games with loaded dice.

This is simple common sense. Why I have to successfully run a business before I can amke that simple, intuitive point is beyond me. What experiences am I missing, pray tell, that actually falsify what I say there? I mean, there’s a difference between a market where you can’t know everything, and one where you can’t know anything, where there is no legal right to find out what you need to know to keep from getting screwed.

Efficient markets depend on information. The less information, the less efficient. I’m not one of your business elite, but that much is clear to me.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 19, 2011 6:20 PM
Comment #320418

It’s quite obvious that Mr. Daugherty is not an equity investor who does his homework.

Corporations selling stock must provide an audited prospectis. If you rely upon someone else to do your investing then be certain that they can read a prospectis and examine very carefully their historical record and investing philosophy.

The information is out there for those not to lazy to find it.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 19, 2011 7:42 PM
Comment #320420

RF, Your formula left out a large exponent and altered another.

CCR = government excess (none) + charity (more) = red ink (lots)

CCR = conservative counter revolution, euphemistically known as the Reagan Revolution for propaganda purposes.

Why would the Republican party, upon gaining control of all the branches of government, completely abandon any since whatsoever of fiscal discipline, drive the deficits through the roof, insist on a no strings attached bailout of the financial sector and leave this country in god awful shape if not for the purpose of waging war on the social spending of the government, the unions and anything that is not deemed progressive by the market?

This fantastically non fiscal discipline on the part of the Republican party was accompanied by a market assault on the workforce in the form of massive outsourcing of labor and a corporate sponsored invasion of illegal low wage workers which, coupled with the Republican inspired recession has greatly increased the need for government assistance. Indeed, because of the lawlessness of government, even the illegals are entitled to government assistance, driving the costs even higher.

Both performances where enhanced by an ever increasing financial takeover of the public airway outlets by conservative interests and a proliferation of conservative spun realities.

Least I be remiss, there where plenty of powerful Democratic politicians who either bought into or were bought into this scheme that has caused so much damage to our country and our society.

Posted by: jlw at March 19, 2011 8:33 PM
Comment #320422

jlw wrote: “Why would the Republican party, upon gaining control of all the branches of government, completely abandon any since [sense]whatsoever of fiscal discipline, drive the deficits through the roof, insist on a no strings attached bailout of the financial sector and leave this country in god awful shape..”

Royal Flush,

I think that you would probably agree that actions speak louder than words. So, what is the answer to jlw’s question?

Posted by: Rich at March 19, 2011 9:05 PM
Comment #320424

Royal Flush-
Oh dear, I must be so ignorant not to realize that the law requires disclosure on stocks and bonds issued by corporations. I mean, I never learned about it… say, before middle school.

Give me a break. Do you know, by the way, that there are no such requirements on derivatives? That they don’t have to tell anybody crap, according to the law? That’s what I’m talking about. I mean, you do know the difference between a Derivative and a stock, right? (Of course, if we’re talking a stock option, that actually is a derivative)

Look, if you got some real lessons to teach me, go ahead and teach me, and stop insulting my intelligence with this elitist bull****. You don’t have to be a businessman to understand profit and loss, supply and demand, disclosure and “you’re in the ****ing dark”. If you got some special knowledge, have at it. Otherwise, stick to answering my questions on the merits.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 19, 2011 9:28 PM
Comment #320433


That should be obvious, because jlw has no since.

Posted by: jlw at March 19, 2011 11:07 PM
Comment #320435

j2t2

re investors - I am an investor and the Democratic rhetoric of 2009 scared me. I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing. I heard that others were acting similarly. Obama started to talk a little more pro-business in late 2009 and the elections of 2010 indicated that the swing to the left was at an end or would moderate.

You and I could argue about whether or not the fear of leftward lurches was justified. I am telling you with certainty that I felt that fear and that I believe that other investors felt the same.

I know that left-leaning people think that investors are just greedy. Assume that you are really right about that greed thing, why would all of us greedy guys not want to make money if we thought it was likely we could?

Womanmarine

The government is run with our money. You are right about that. But the decisions about spending it are made by people spending other people’s money on other people. They don’t always try to get the best deal.

When most of the people on this blog call for more spending and higher taxes, they really don’t expect to pay for it. Stephen essentially admitted that when he says the wealthy should pay. He could have added that the wealthy should pay his share.

President Kennedy said that we should ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for out country. Americans can do that many ways, The options include serving in the military and paying more in taxes than you take out in direct services. I assume from the name you chose that you have served in the military. Nothing better than a Marine.

But most Americans do not serve anymore, the way that our fathers & grandfathers did. And almost half of all Americans pay no net taxes, i.e. they get back more in direct benefits than they pay in taxes. So we know what there country is doing for them, but what are they doing for their country?

What I see in our great country is a growing sense of entitlement w/o a corresponding sense of responsibility. It is not a Republican or Democratic thing. But I get annoyed when people call for higher taxes when they don’t think they will have to pay them. And it is even worse when these higher taxes will go primarily for services enjoyed by these non-taxpayers. And the final insult if when these guys getting services they did not earn, or did not earn at the level they are getting, call those paying for them greedy.

Posted by: C&J at March 20, 2011 12:12 AM
Comment #320439

“re investors - I am an investor and the Democratic rhetoric of 2009 scared me. I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.”

Bad year to sit and do nothing C&J. I to invest in the stock market. I chose not to listen to the conservative hubris regarding the “uncertainty” due to the dems being in office. Not being a smart investor I had a 40 % return that year.

“I know that left-leaning people think that investors are just greedy. Assume that you are really right about that greed thing, why would all of us greedy guys not want to make money if we thought it was likely we could?”

Such stereotypes C&J. Wanting a decent return on an investment isn’t greedy what you do to get the return may be. Again, prudent investors should learn to not believe everything the conservatives put out. It is mostly politics and fear mongering. This attitude you speak of is one reason why investors are looked down upon C&J. When these big investors sit on the sidelines they are in effect disloyal to the country that protects them from the world. I believe the depression could have been much shorter had these wealthy Americans did their share in the mid-thirties.

Bear in mind that despite your dem loathing the market did come back.

“What I see in our great country is a growing sense of entitlement w/o a corresponding sense of responsibility.”

But entitlements aren’t growing C&J they are diminishing for the poor and middle class. What I see is a growing sense of selfishness disguised as liberty without the corresponding responsibility.

“But I get annoyed when people call for higher taxes when they don’t think they will have to pay them.”
C&J who believes they won’t have to pay? The middle class and poor have been stuck with a ever increasing burden.

” And it is even worse when these higher taxes will go primarily for services enjoyed by these non-taxpayers.”

Most taxes should be going to pay down the huge deficit created by the war effort and simultaneous taxes cuts that put us into debt. The lowering of tax rates to investors to 15% in an effort to create jobs has failed, C&J so when do we start paying out fair share?

” And the final insult if when these guys getting services they did not earn, or did not earn at the level they are getting, call those paying for them greedy.”

Lets face it C X&J if you are talking SS and medicare then it seems to me this mythology of “guys getting services they did not earn” is wrong as you can’t really get services from these entitlements unless you have contributed to them. If you are referring to corporate welfare then you may have a point.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 20, 2011 1:54 AM
Comment #320441

j2t2

My point is that we WANT to invest. If we do not, it is because we are made cautious by some conditions. When Obama and Pelosi talk such trash about business, it scares off business.

“When these big investors sit on the sidelines they are in effect disloyal to the country that protects them from the world. I believe the depression could have been much shorter had these wealthy Americans did their share in the mid-thirties.”

This is a totalitarian statement. Government leaders do not own citizens in America. Investors want to make money. They are using their best judgment. In the 1930s, New Deal rhetoric scared them off. More recently it was the Pelosi-Obama stuff. In a democracy, leaders must convince people to do things. Hitler, Stalin and Mao can just call people disloyal and take their stuff. We are better than that.

Re taxes - the poor don’t pay taxes. In fact, you have to move up to around the 50th percentile before people pay in more than they get in direct benefits.

RE paying down the debt - I would pay higher taxes to do that, but we need to address entitlements. They make up 2/3 of the budget. Entitlements can suck in all our money and still ask for more.

What is “our fair share”? I pay more in taxes than I do for housing and food combined. Chrissy and I pay thousands of dollars more just because we are married.

Re SS and medicare - Chrissy and I will not get back as much as we paid in. Poorer people will get more than they paid in. In theory, these are “saving” or insurance programs. The reasons that they are mandatory is because we all know that they are actually redistribution programs.

Some redistribution is good and necessary. But it is hard to take seriously the moral protestations of people who do not pay their “fair share”.

Ask yourself how you serve the country. Few Americans actually serve in the military any more. People avoid jury duty and other civic duties. And if you are not paying as much in taxes as you are taking out, what are you really doing?

Your country owes you the rule of law. It should also provide basic infrastructure. It is nice to get more, but you really are not entitled to it if it means taking from other citizens.

Posted by: C&J at March 20, 2011 11:07 AM
Comment #320442

j2t2

I think we are also talking about the difference between charity and entitlement. We give thousands of dollars in charity because we like to do it and help. But in return, we expect the recipients to behave reasonably and be grateful in some way. If I take something from someone else, I try to be nice to them and I am grateful.

When I see “protesters” demanding stuff, they are not being grateful or reasonable. It puts us in a different relationship.

If I buy a hamburger at McDonald’s and pay the full price, we have a transaction for which neither of us really should be grateful, but even in these cases, good manners requires us to smile and be pleasant. People getting free stuff should be at least as polite. Screaming protesters just are beyond the pale.

Posted by: C&J at March 20, 2011 11:30 AM
Comment #320443

C&J-
Well, what was scaring me at the time was the collapse of our economy. Just who do you think Democrats were talking to with that rhetoric about business? Do you expect folks to be nice to Wall Street after one of the biggest financial catastrophes in modern history?

You know, you’re supposed to get a hard time when you screw up things at that magnitude, when the taxpayers have to bail you out. Instead of submitting to reasonable, precautionary reforms to prevent this from happening again, Wall Street instead acts like we should all just put this matter behind us.

The operative question is, how long do you think they can actually get away with it? I would answer until the next financial disaster, or near-disaster. Do you understand that there is a certain level of patience people have with the system, and that your people are wearing it thin?

The operative question on taxes is, why should the rich have all the fun with lower taxes? I mean, you insist that rich people pay less taxes by more than half than they did in Kennedy’s time. What Democrats did was turn around and say, “If you’re not making all that much money, but you’re working, here’s a tax credit, to encourage you to keep at it.”

But of course, the rich, having refused so much generosity from the government in the form of tax cuts, tax credits, and subsidies are in such a great position to tell the working poor that they’re shirking their duties and should not be receiving that money. Is that, about the shape of your argument?

You talk about a sense of entitlement, but your side continues to believe that oil companies that foul hundreds of miles of coastline, nuclear companies whose failures could jeopardize the future habitability of population centers, and Wall Street banks and financial companies whose behavior almost led us into a great depression, and who abused taxpayer dollars even while they were being bailed out of their own disgraceful fall, are entitled to police themselves. It’s almost a bad joke that any time something critical fails, or something very messy goes south, there is a Republican who’s going to come out and say that what we need at this point is less government, more decision-making power of the people who just failed to do things right, having been given greater room to do so.

If there is a culture of irresponsibility, it’s being led from the top, and it’s being enabled by the people in both our parties who have come to believe that it is best to defer on how to run this economy to those who stand to profit from the way the decisions might go. How many more examples do we need of the failure of the markets to regulate all these relevant industries?

Personally, I’d love to be able to pay higher taxes, to have that kind of an income bracket. But as of right now, if you tax me more, you’ll be cutting into money I need to live on. Already, I’ve seen the mortgage service company raise what my family has to pay on our house, and I have student loans coming due. It’s all I can do sometimes just to make sure my family stays fed. You can live in relative comfort, and wonder, in the midst of that comfort, why others do not think as you do about why the lower classes should should bear more of the burden. Well, let me tell you why: because the same people who you excuse from carrying more of the burden turn around, and charge us more for electricity, for gas, for insurance, for the food we eat, and the roofs over our heads. We pay more healthcare, and carry greater debts on our head, especially if we were so industrious as to go out there and get an education.

We already carry more of the burden of this economy on our backs than we really should, and the people in both our parties, but mainly yours, who supported these measures, supported the easing of the burden on the rich, have made it to where a class of people that once had money to spend, now has to fight to keep money in our pockets.

Who do you think I sympathize with, the man who complains about lucky-duckies that pay negative effective taxes, or the poor person for whom that tax credit is a badly needed blessing?

Here’s what I think: Americans still by and large believe in Capitalism, myself among them, because we remember a time when things were better, when the Middle Class got more of a fair shake, when we had more in the way of relative comfort. We remember those times, and those times keep us fond of this Capitalist system of ours.

But for your average person being born today, or with the last decade or two, what do you think the outlook is? Will they be able to get a job when they get older, will they able to get an education? Will their economy be thriving, or will it be plagueds, as it has been in my memory, by repeated, catastrophic collapses, preventable ones at that?

You talk of leaving them greater debt, but I tell you this: if the math on your party’s proposals is right, then it stands little chance of putting any kind of reasonable dent in our debt or deficits. But if our economy improves, if we can raise up the fortunes of this country quickly enough, that will cancel out a large amount of that debt, and enable this country to better take the strain of paying off the rest by austerity.

The question that I pose to you, is how much patience will remain for Republicans, for Wall Street, for Capitalism itself, if things continue to get worse for people who have fewer golden memories of the glory days of American Post-War Capitalism? You can’t force people to support a system that consistently fails them, and if you insist on imposing a system on them that is inherently broken, but which you insist represents the only real version of proper capitalism, just what incentive do you think folks will have to reject socialism?

You may think you’re forcing them to put that option off the table, but in reality, you’re just refusing to recognize that in America’s marketplace of ideas, there is a demand for something better than the current system, and people, if denied the ability to get a reformed version of Capitalism, may just decide to let the old system die, and live with something else.

I have something of a conservative streak in me. I don’t like large deficits or uncalled-for, unpaid for increases in spending. But I like even less the prospect that folks you like you, that the Republicans are going to ignore the glaring problems in our economic system, in our government, and just keep on riding these policies of yours, until our economy and our nation itself is ridden into the ground with it. I wish to preserve free market capitalism (as it’s properly defined) and a relative degree of freedom for people and our businesses.

I do not think that the current course of action among the Republicans is a conservative one, a careful one, a prudent course of action. I look at it, and I see an set of actions and statements that reflect a radical desire to reshape the economy and the government in the image of the Republican’s agenda, and inordinate trust in previously failed policies often tried before to deliver the results that will confer legitimacy upon that agenda.

I don’t see a preservation of what is best in society, and and an advancement on the other fronts. I see a political agenda that has been taken so far in the direction of individual self-gratification that even glaring threats to the public good are ignored for the sake of letting some keep their bottom lines full and their pockets lined. I read quotes of that poem from Yeats, The Second Coming, and I can’t help but hear the words “The Center does not hold.”

Any conservativism under which the center does not hold, where such catastrophic events are allowed to occur without efforts to hold people accountable or reform the mistaken, malicious, or irresponsible behavior is no conservatism, but merely the fevered defense of privilege against the right of the people to demand that others live up to the responsiblities they promised to keep of their own accord.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 20, 2011 11:53 AM
Comment #320444
Re taxes - the poor don’t pay taxes. In fact, you have to move up to around the 50th percentile before people pay in more than they get in direct benefits.

What’s the source of this statement?
I already know about 45% of Americans have zero income tax liabilities, which I think is what you are referring to. However, that’s quite a bit different from saying they get more in benefits than they pay in taxes. Remember that these people still pay payroll and other taxes. Also I believe the number is distorted because it divides the number of income taxpayers by the total population. This means that children and other dependents are included as “people with zero or negative income tax liability”.

I don’t know if anyone has done a really comprehensive analysis of how different income groups benefit from government services. However, I imagine the top income groups benefit the most. The military, the courts and a whole host of other organizations (USGS, NOAA, FDA, CDC, etc) do a great deal to protect the interests of the wealthy, often because they have more at stake in this economy if something goes wrong (and all these organizations are focused on making sure nothing goes wrong, or that we are prepared for it when it does come).

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 20, 2011 12:21 PM
Comment #320447

“This is a totalitarian statement. Government leaders do not own citizens in America.”

Not at all C&J, it is merely a recognition that those that do well in this country due to the nature of our government need to sometimes step up and become a bit more grateful for the benefits they have received. By not being part of the economic recovery, because they decided to sit on their money, they actually made the problem worse. Nothing was said about government owing people or any thing about confiscation.

“Investors want to make money. They are using their best judgment.”

Seems to me they were led around by conservative misinformation if they did not get into the market near the bottom and allowed the tactics of fear to rule their better judgment.

“In the 1930s, New Deal rhetoric scared them off. More recently it was the Pelosi-Obama stuff. In a democracy, leaders must convince people to do things.”

In the 30’s decent wages scared them off. The rise of unions scared them off. The thought of having to pay fair wages and have decent working conditions scared them off. It seems to point to the major flaw in the system, in that capitalist make their money at the expense of those they are able to control and abuse under the guise of “innovation” and “efficiency”. But that is a whole different conversation C&J.

” Hitler, Stalin and Mao can just call people disloyal and take their stuff. We are better than that.”

Well if you had thoughts of these guys based upon my previous comment then “disloyal” was probably the wrong choice of words to use to describe this thought. Ungrateful, uncaring or non patriotic perhaps would have been a better choice.

“Re taxes - the poor don’t pay taxes. In fact, you have to move up to around the 50th percentile before people pay in more than they get in direct benefits.”

That is due to the inherent problems associated with the predatory capitalism ushered in with Reganomics, C&J. Perhaps we need to rethink the overall conservative plan so the poor and middle class will be making enough to pay income taxes.
You also may need to bear in mind that the poor and middle class do pay sales taxes as well as SS and medicare taxes in each and every paycheck.

“RE paying down the debt - I would pay higher taxes to do that, but we need to address entitlements. They make up 2/3 of the budget. Entitlements can suck in all our money and still ask for more.”

Entitlements need some work C&J. Why would the conservatives pass their revisions they did to medicare in’03 and not attempt to finance the additional costs associated with the big pharma giveaway?

The problem here is denial IMHO. Medicare and medicaid are insurance programs that are simply underfunded. When was the last time these rates were raised to reflect actual costs? Private health insurance has risen two fold or more the past 10 years or so yet these programs have not kept pace with the private sector. The problem is revenue in this case. So I would think the entitlements should be a separate part of the budget and be dealt with different that the military and non discretionary portions of the budget.

“What is “our fair share”? I pay more in taxes than I do for housing and food combined. Chrissy and I pay thousands of dollars more just because we are married.”

Consider yourselves fortunate C&J. It seems to me you have paid off the note on your house or the payment is so low that many young people starting out today with much higher payments cannot afford the taxes due to the higher costs of housing they pay with their smaller incomes. These same families with a couple of children have higher food bills that a couple with grown children not at home. You probably remember the challenges you faced at the same point in your lives as these younger people are now facing so perhaps you are paying your fair share now.
Anyway my point is simply that we can afford to be grateful for the ability to pay our fair share as many cannot.

“Re SS and medicare - Chrissy and I will not get back as much as we paid in.”
We all should be so fortunate, C&J. The truth is we never know what the future holds, so I hope your assumptions prove true.

” Poorer people will get more than they paid in.”

Depends on a lot of variables doesn’t C&J? Some poor people may get more than they paid in but do they really win? It seems to me that being poor is it’s own penalty most of the time. They may be less healthy an not live as long or because of the poor neighborhood be subject to violent crimes or…… Be thankful.

“In theory, these are “saving” or insurance programs. The reasons that they are mandatory is because we all know that they are actually redistribution programs.”

The reason they are mandatory is because the benefits extend to all of us as does the responsibility to pay. Those fortunate to be healthier now never know when the screw will turn and they find themselves in need. Some make it so far in life they do not need these programs and some make it part way and find they do need it, sometimes through no fault of their own. It is hard for me to view our basic social safety net as a sinister plot for redistribution of wealth C&J. Perhaps I am just not as conspiracy minded as most of our conservative friends.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 20, 2011 2:48 PM
Comment #320450

What’s funny to me is how the same people that go around talking about how much they love America and how great it is, are the same people that automatically tell all Americans to go fuck themselves. Patriots without a sense of national unity.

Posted by: Jared Skye at March 20, 2011 4:06 PM
Comment #320451

Stephen

Let’s forget the class rhetoric.

I think of our society as a team. We all have roles to play. We are responsible as individuals and as members of the team. We don’t expect everybody to bring all the same talents. In fact, we benefit from the diversity. Sometimes we have down times and our teammates carry us. Sometimes we are carrying our teammates.

The team will not function if people act too much in their individual interest, but if individual interests are not satisfied the team will also fail.

I think we probably agree that we are relying too much on fewer and fewer individuals to carry the team.

We probably frame the system differently. I look at it from the productive side; I suspect you are more on the consumption side, i.e. wealth creation v wealth consumption.

IMO - we can categorize people broadly into those who think of wealth in static terms and those who think of it in dynamic terms.

Wealth is not out there. It has to be created through human effort. You have to balance creation with distribution and we want to have as many people creating as possible.

I probably dislike the idle rich more than you do. I also dislike the idle poor. IMO - if you are not doing something useful, you are … useless.

j2t2

Re totalitarian systems - a agree that people should step up, but I disagree that government leaders always know what is best. I believe that tea party activists stepped up to stop the lurch to the left that would have left us all poorer and less free. I know you disagree. But society works better when we all do NOT pull in the same direction. Pulling in the same direction is not an American way.

One people, one country, one leader is not an American idea. It sounds better in German.

BTW - did you believe we should all pull in the same direction when Bush was proposing his “ownership society”?

re judgment - I am not saying that judgment of investors is always right. But you have to let the people make choices. I do not believe Obama or Pelosi understand my situation better than I do.

Re the 1930s - wages remained too high too long. That is true. The same goes for home prices today. Things are worth what the person buying thinks they are.

I dislike cheap labor because it encourages dumb things. If labor price becomes high enough, buyers replace workers with machines, processes or they do w/o it. You can price yourself out of a job.

re being poor - I do not think poor is a “natural condition”. It is based on choices made or neglected.I am always surprised how much many of our poorer friends consume. The link between income and consumption in our society has become weaker.

Warped

The idea that the rich benefit so much more from government is a kind of redistribution argument, i.e. the government protects the rich from the the depredations of the poor. It goes only so far.

The “rich” pay more in taxes, both in absolute and relative terms. They drive a little more, but not that much more, on public roads. They tend less to send kids to public schools. etc.

Please refer to what I wrote above about a team. If the rich guy is doing nothing useful, I don’t like him. But it is more likely that the poor person is not doing very much, which is why he stays poor.

The bottom line is I want everybody to pull his own weight as much as possible. Nobody deserves a free ride.

Posted by: C&J at March 20, 2011 5:00 PM
Comment #320454

“Re taxes - the poor don’t pay taxes. In fact, you have to move up to around the 50th percentile before people pay in more than they get in direct benefits.”

This statement irritates me. It applies only to federal income taxes. It fails to take into account total taxes paid. The additional taxes include: payroll taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, user fees, etc. When those, mostly regressive taxes are taken into account, the differences in the tax burden by income class are dramatically reduced. Based on analysis of data for the 2008 year, The total federal, state and local effective tax rate for the richest one percent of Americans (30.9 percent) is only slightly higher than the average effective tax rate for the remaining 99 percent of Americans (29.4 percent). http://www.ctj.org/pdf/taxday2009.pdf

Posted by: Rich at March 20, 2011 7:39 PM
Comment #320455

“I believe that tea party activists stepped up to stop the lurch to the left that would have left us all poorer and less free. I know you disagree.”

Actually I more than disagree C&J. When I think of the tea party I think of freedom works, when I think of freedom works I think of it’s leader, Dick Armey. When I think of Dick Armey I think of the Contract on America and his time in the Congress and realize it is all talk and no more freedoms for those that are not part of the wealthy elite. It is blind ideologist following failed ideas and that, in a nutshell, is the tea party,IMHO. This “lurch to the left” saved us from the borrow and spend economic failure of the far right during the ‘00’s, IMHO.

“One people, one country, one leader is not an American idea. It sounds better in German.”

C&J you seem to be leading us on another wild tangent, my friend, a rather scary tangent at that. With the recent upsurge of actions by conservative and tea party activist in ridding the nation of the dems and heading us towards one party rule it sounds just to “conservative misdirectionish” to hear you say just the opposite of the trend in conservative thought.

“But you have to let the people make choices. I do not believe Obama or Pelosi understand my situation better than I do.”

Of course not, but then neither did the tea party leaders spouting the nonsense you believed to be true. Did Obama tell you not to invest or are we just hunting for reasons to bash Obama for the failures of the conservative ideology that has left us in debt and disrepair.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 20, 2011 8:54 PM
Comment #320456


Yes, the country is like a team, where the super star gets the banana split and everyone else is fighting over the crushed nuts.

The disparity in wealth seems to suggest that it is more like plantations with masters, overseers, and slaves with crackers on the side.

Posted by: jlw at March 20, 2011 9:18 PM
Comment #320462

C&J-
Look, you’ve been telling people for years that if they defer their interests to those of the rich and powerful, that they would keep their jobs or get new ones. That if they let tax cuts be passed which didn’t benefit them for the most part, that they would see more jobs offered, better working conditions, etc.

Those things, promised, did not happen. In fact, in many cases, people saw job losses even after they did everything that was asked of them. And it’s not their fault. The truth is, the market wouldn’t let these people rationally subvert their interests far enough to equal the low-wage competition for those jobs.

Or put another way, if you need such and such an amount of money to pay for your house, pay for your credit card, pay to house, feed, and school your children, and so on and so forth, you’d be nuts, wouldn’t you, to accept anything less than what allows you to sustainably maintain that lifestyle.

So, there was a point at which the market would not allow these people the flexibility to bargain any lower.

At the same time, the loss of productive jobs creates a situation where people, again, following their interests, can no longer pay others as much to enjoy the fulfillment of those needs and wants.

Then somebody tightens the screws by hiking utility rates, by hiking local taxes and fees to pay for economy-driven short falls, by letting mortgage companies abuse their customers with outrageous fees and scurrilous charges… well you get to a point where you’re squeezing both sides against the middle, raising the necessary income to maintain a certain socioeconomic status, while at the same time forcing other people out of work by shipping jobs overseas to folks they can’t possibly bargain so low so as to outbid.

And since the two thirds of our economy depends on consumer spending, this formula of labor flight and overwhelming capital demands has a naturally corrosive effect on the economy, and its stability.

If you read Adam Smith’s book, he sets out that this is an integrated system, that the pushing is happening from both sides. The workers wish to cover their expenses, plus a little profit, and the management and stockholders want the same. Only, the stockholders want to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to squeeze the labor market, but then have the economy recover, too.

To simply expect people to sit around and watch their interests go to hell is unrealistic.

Winning such a battle only ensures greater tension, not final resolution. You think the Walker Collective bargaining controversy is going anywhere? It might have gone away if Walker had acknowledge the problem and compromised, but now he’s both alienated non-Republicans, and forced himself into a position where he must defeat the unions in order to satisfy his promises and not look weak in light of his belligerent words.

Most Republicans have done the same, and they will pay the same price for it.

See, the thing here is there are ways to see to your interests, that while not perfect translation of your wishes and desires, takes you closer to that actual manifestation. If only the perfect victory on your interests will do, you will miss the countless ways in which you could either get deference and capitulation more easily, or even better, fulfil their needs at the same time they take care of yours. While you can get much short term power by being stubborn and resistent, long term, robust power depends upon negotiation and compromise, especially in politics. When fewer people feel it necessary to take from you to win, surprisingly enough, people take less from you.

Republicans spend too much time try to take from liberals, trying to destroy them. They really should ratchet things down, allow themselves both room to manuever and give the others less incentive to destroy what you set up in turn.

Make peace, C&J, even if its the difficult option at them moment. Make peace, because it’s easier to get concession from a friend than an enemy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 20, 2011 11:48 PM
Comment #320466

Rich

About 20% of the population doesn’t earn any income. Any taxes they pay is just a paper shuffle from one government account to another.

Some of the other taxes you talk about are also netted out. Payroll tax, I assume you mean SS, goes back to the lower income payers. Check the figures sometime. If you pay in the maximum, you make a little more than someone who paid in the very minimum, but it is a redistribution scheme.

Your source is a little misleading. It takes the top 1% and compares it to the whole rest of the distribution. Are you advocating a special high rate for the top 1%? I don’t mind hitting up George Soros and all those celebrities for a little more money, but it would not yield as much as you think on that 1%.

But look at the figures as your thing states them. The bottom 20% pays 18% (even if we take that figure, which is not really correct) the top 20% pays around 30%. Now lets figure out real numbers. According to your chart, somebody in the lowest 20% pays $2,224 year, while the top guy pays $446,505. Notice the difference?

j2t2

I believe we all know our own situation best, which is why I believe in maximum freedom to chose and do not like politicians choosing for me.

re tea party - the leftist rhetoric has been worse lately. All of us good guys reject threats of violence from both sides.

jlw

Your old fashioned paradigm stopped being true years ago. Today it is the poor who tend not to work and the non-poor who put in the longer hours.

Stephen

I have been telling people for years that the best thing is to make their own decisions and NOT defer to the powerful. You got this one backwards.

I want people like you and me to have to choice about how to spend their money and set their own priorities. I prefer not to have these decisions made for me by politicians or even by a majority vote of my neighbors.

I agree with you and I don’t expect people to sit around while their interests go to hell. And we see that they will not. That is how we got all those tea party activists. It is why the American people elected Democrats in 2008 and then changed their minds and elected Republicans in 2010. Nobody has lock on this. About this we agree.

We disagree about the size and scope of the state. I think you and I know better what we want and need than politicians do. I want government to do big things that we cannot reasonably do for ourselves or do in voluntary associations, but I don’t need government to rule my life. I believe that we rule government; government does not rule us. It is merely a tool that people use, not an end in itself. Government should work to make sure that you and I can pursue prosperity and happiness, but it is our business to actually attain these things or not.

Posted by: C&J at March 21, 2011 3:15 AM
Comment #320467

C&J-
So why not support tax cuts that go directly to oneself, rather than to some other fellow? If you support tax cuts for the rich, on the premise that they are the best to make decisions that stimulate the economy, you’re implicitly knocking your own ability to spend the money wisely.

Democrats, let me remind you, put as part of their stimulus plan tax cuts to the middle class that raised what they could spend subtly. Rather than give people a windfall that they’d blow all at once (like most people would, rich or poor), The Obama administration did the same, instead, over many paychecks, subtly increasing most individual’s buying power.

But what part does the average individual have in big money transactions on Wall Street? Truth of the matter is, how people arrange finance nowadays can greatly increase or decrease systemic risk. When there’s a never ending flow of hedging, accounting tricks and ratings scams, then the market has no real moderating effect on what’s being done.

So, I support disclosure, which allows for moderating market effects to come in. I support standardizing exchanges for derivatives beyond commodities futures. I support bringing in the law to regulate actual behavior only where people have been shown to have trouble helping themselves, and to limit conduct that is egregious, and has no redeeming social effect.

Very few liberals actually think the way you think they do. The propagandists and speechwriters of the GOP, though need enemies to justify the extent and radicality of their efforts to deregulate and then in turn regulate for industry benefit. So, Democrats become control freaks.

I don’t really want the bother. I want stability, I want people to know the risks, not be deceived by those who profit from their taking risks when they shouldn’t. The rule of law is essential to a working market, to keep the participants honest, and the exchanges as fair as they can be reasonably made. If you weren’t so overwhelmed with false impressions about what most Democrats want, you’d realize that we are not so much unlike you.

As for the size and scope of the state? I don’t really have a value in mind. Do you? But I do have a sense of what should and shouldn’t happen in our society. I have the sense that our food and drugs should be safe to consume, safe to use. I have the sense that our airplanes should fly without running into each other or dropping out of the sky. I have the sense that we shouldn’t tolerate a lot of reckless behavior around nuclear power, because as we can see, though it’s safe when under technological constraint, nuclear energy is not a tame beast when the technology fails.

I have the sense that we need warning of Tsunamis and volcanos, and tabs kept on the active faultlines.

I have the sense that with limited spectrum space, we need a coordinating body to make sure people don’t just take it up willy-nilly. We need those who make commercials to be held accountable for what they say, and those who peddle products made responsible for their safety and reliability.

So on and so forth. We’ve already experimented during our history, in many cases, with trying things out the other way. Now, if you can show me that it’s not necessary to regulate a certain thing anymore to keep things going, that the market can keep things in line, then you can withdraw the regulation. But if the idea is, we tear out gobs of constraints at the behest of those that these laws and regulations are supposed to keep in check? Well, then we need to talk. Not everything a person might want would be good for them or other people, and if their decisions can effect a lot of other people’s lives, as drug manufacturers and healthcare companies do, then reckless cuts might put a lot of folks in a world of pain.

I believe in regulating carefully, and deregulating carefully. I believe that the best way to operate is to prevent crises from occuring, and thereby remove the temptation that comes during desperate times to go overboard with the laws, not observe financial or fiscal realities. Conservatism has become more about not facing what motivates people to be more liberal, what motivates people to seek a larger government presence, rather than dealing with those pressures in an alternative way. The GOP is too beholden to its past, a past when it was the party that stood for the interests of the wealthy and the powerful. It needs to develop a social conscience, before its lack of the same compells people to vote it out of power until it develops one.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 21, 2011 7:13 AM
Comment #320469

Liberty versus Socialism

Some will argue that health care is a matter of liberty. Some will argue that Social Security is a matter of liberty.
Some will argue that providing for the poor is a matter of liberty.

All of these so called “liberties” have a price tag associated with them and the price must be paid by someone. That someone, is the taxpayer. When a burden is placed upon the taxpayer to take care of someone else it is not liberty, but rather…socialism.

There is no moral argument that justifies using the coercive powers of government to force one person to bear the expense of taking care of another. And, I challenge my liberal and democrat friends to find the line or phrase in our founding documents that declares otherwise.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 21, 2011 1:57 PM
Comment #320470

Royal Flush-
By your logic, we should have the states pay for military bases within their borders, and exempt other states from having to pay for those outside thier borders.

After all, that is forcing somebody to take care of somebody else, in this case, by providing for their defense.

The point of a democratic republic like ours, if you think about it for a second, is to deal with precisely the kind of issues you’re moaning and groaning about, and to give the majority of people their chance to say no to proposals meant to help some folks at every taxpayer’s expense.

You say there’s no argument for it. I say you’re just overestimating the authority of your opinion. Fact is, we are not isolated from the effects, say, of not having social security or medicare. Not having these puts additional burdens on citizens who have older relatives, and who in times past would have had to take them in as destitute boarders when they could no longer work, if their work wasn’t lucrative enough to afford them a pension, or a pension they could live on.

It also means that where they don’t retire, they don’t yield jobs to younger workers, workers just beginning their lives and beginning their families.

The justification of helping others at everybody’s expense is that by helping other people, we make the economy a much less harsh place, improve public health, and make the workers who don’t bear the burden of their parents much happier and healthier people, making them more productive.

The constitution states that we wrote it in order to provide for the general welfare. Now you’ve demonized that term, but as the founders meant it, it meant, “the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity.”

Now how would taking away social security checks benefit the average person, in the course of their lives? Should we go back to a time when the older relatives crowded in the house with the children, when the burden of the elderly was directly placed upon those whose parents could no longer work? Will the wellbeing of the country increase, with the destruction of Medicare, as old folks die away?

You’re always talking about letting the market decide. Well, you know, we tried that before. We tried letting the market decide, and it damn well near was the death of Capitalism. We have to decide for ourselves, in part, where the limits are to our spending on the general welfare. But that should be a decision this government is allowed to make.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 21, 2011 2:19 PM
Comment #320474

Free market capitalism and legislative restraint produced a great country. It was not until FDR in 1937, that the wise words of George Washington were forgotten. Those words…

“Let there be no change [in the Constitution] by usurpation. For though this, in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

James Madison stated that the “general welfare” clause was not intended to give Congress an open hand “to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare.” If by the “general welfare,” the Founding Fathers had meant any and all social, economic, or educational programs Congress wanted to create, there would have been no reason to list specific powers of Congress such as establishing courts and maintaining the armed forces. Those powers would simply have been included in one all-encompassing phrase, to “promote the general welfare.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 21, 2011 2:57 PM
Comment #320475

I do understand the motives of liberals and some democrats and republicans for promoting the taking from one American to give to another American beyond just the political motive of being reelected by purchasing votes with taxpayer money.

Some see a direct monetary benefit for themselves. For others, it makes them feel good to help the unfortunate with other people’s money.

If that is your motive and inspiration at least have the decency to declare yourself a socialist. If not, please explain.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 21, 2011 3:17 PM
Comment #320476


C&J, The paradigm is still true for the most part. I think that your just confused because of wealth’s commitment to place a large portion of it’s tax burden on the middle class.

The main difference between the person in the top 20% and the person in the bottom 20% is that the guy on the bottom has less than 0.1% of the wealth while the guy at the top has 90% of the wealth. Contrary to popular belief, it is those at the very top who do not work. Nearly all their income comes from investments. In addition, their wealth is for the most part protected. Their primary concern certainly isn’t taxes, it is Madoff’s and even then the government does try to recoup their investements. They can buy tax protection, but it is hard to protect themselves from themselves.

The fact is that the majority of the poor do work. Do you know what the requirements for government assistance are for a married couple? I doubt it. Do you know what is required of women to continue receiving government assistance if they have a third child? Do you know how many retired people drawing S.S. are eligible for government assistance?

There are perhaps 1% to 2% at the very bottom who thieve for a living, they don’t get government assistance and no one hates them more than the working poor who are the thieves victims. There are another 1% to 2% who deal drugs for a living. The thieves are their best customers. Some of the dealers also receive government assistance until they are caught and sent to prison. Many of them go to prison for cheating the government assistance programs. How can a poor person buy property, new cars and sock away thousands in the bank if you have no income. The welfare investigators want to know.

Would you dispute the fact that police protection in your neighborhood is superior to that in the poor neighborhoods? How many drug dealers are selling to your kids on the corner? How many drive by shootings occur in your neighborhood. How many children in your neighborhood are collateral damage on their way to school. How many of your kids go to school in an atmosphere of violence and fear.

I know, it’s the poor’s fault they live in these conditions.

Do you think there is a possibility that IQ might be a mitigating factor in regards to the status or the abilities that a person might have? If it is true that the average IQ of the poor is below the average Americans, do you think they deserve to be sxxt on and sprinkled with Christian charity?

If you think about it, the poor are rather passive aren’t they? Most of them don’t have are reason to vote, but if they did?

I don’t think the right hates the poor even though they call them lazy good for nothing bastards who won’t work even though the minimum wage pays them twice what they are worth. I think you scapegoat them because you hate those who try to help them using the government rather that good old fashioned Christian charity.

Posted by: jlw at March 21, 2011 3:27 PM
Comment #320477

I think you scapegoat them because you hate those who try to help them using the government rather that good old fashioned Christian charity.
Posted by: jlw at March 21, 2011 03:27 PM

What a strange notion to believe that “the right hates the poor”.

I did find your statement revealing. Let me paraphrase…liberals try to help the poor and disadvantaged using other peoples money through government.

Now, this “government” you describe hardly resembles the one our founders placed into practice. What you describe is democratic socialism, not a democratic republic.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 21, 2011 3:41 PM
Comment #320478

Royal Flush-
What a coincidence. Yeah, we should have just let the deflationary death-spiral continue, like Hoover was doing.

No, I don’t think any and all programs Congress might want to create. But within the reasonable bounds of the constitution, it is one purpose towards which acts of Congress can be directed, if the Preamble is to have any meaning.

But of course, the preamble has no meaning by itself, and the General Welfare clause, as it is today interpreted, provides the government with authority to levy a tax for the general benefit, as held in Helvering v. Davis. Since no state is favored over another, and Social Security is ther for everybody, it qualifies.

Additionally, as is noted in the article:

“Congress did not improvise a judgment when it found that the award of old age benefits would be conducive to the general welfare. The President’s Committee on Economic Security made an investigation and report, aided by a research staff of Government officers and employees, and by an Advisory Council and seven other advisory groups. Extensive hearings followed before the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the Senate Committee on Finance. A great mass of evidence was brought together supporting the policy which finds expression in the act…The evidence is impressive that, among industrial workers, the younger men and women are preferred over the older. In times of retrenchment, the older are commonly the first to go, and even if retained, their wages are likely to be lowered. The plight of men and women at so low an age as 40 is hard, almost hopeless, when they are driven to seek for reemployment.”

Ask most people today: nothing about the merits of that conclusion have changed.

The decision I cite above wasn’t come to by some left-wing court, but by a court that had a majority of Republican appointees. It’s interesting how so much of the culture of today’s Republican Party reaches back to old traditions and a sense of ancient justification, but then turns out to be rather recent it its vintage. Perhaps the GOP today seeks to cover itself in glory that it hasn’t truly earned for itself, be the true heirs to the ideology of the framers, when really the framers thought of things in different ways from them.

It’d be interesting, you know, to get your opinion on Thomas Jefferson’s letter here. If all the founders are infallibly wise, then surely his perspective on religion should rule yours.

Of course, knowing your religion, hell, knowing mine, his statements here seem as provocative as any that Bill Maher might make!

We can deify the framers, stick them safely in Elysium, shrouded in glory, all having received a divine inspiration on what the constition meant that completely agreed, but while they lived, these people were contentious, and had all sorts of different opinions. Even on the General Welfare Clause, Madison disagreed with Hamilton, and George Washington took Hamilton’s side. Jefferson and his successors came up with different views.

Also, if your view is that if the Framers intended the Congress only to have the power given by direct enumeration, based on the notion that they otherwise wouldn’t have bothered, you then have to explain why there are is an equally explicit list of powers denied to Congress. If we were assuming that Congress must be denied all but the powers listed, does that logic also demand that when given a list of equally explicit exceptions, that we should given Congress any power not listed?

If there was no way that the following interpretation was possible, according to that logic, why the Tenth Amendment? What would the necessity be of having to explicitly reserve powers to the states by that amendment if by default, those powers would be denied it anyways?

Reasoning from the correspondence of the Framers has its limits, especially when it comes to figuring out the limits of interpretation of the law.
The decision I cite above wasn’t come to by some left-wing court, but by a court that had a majority of Republican appointees.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 21, 2011 4:34 PM
Comment #320479

jlw-
Yeah, it seems Republicans are still attacking welfare over a decade after they passed the legislation that ended it as previous generations knew it.

If you can’t find something real to attack, you can just chase a misconception, an out of date picture of the way the government’s working.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 21, 2011 4:37 PM
Comment #320480

Interesting link by Mr. Daugherty to Jefferson. I thought he was a founder of our country and not a theologian. OH, well.

Shall I place Mr. Daugherty’s name on the list of democratic socialists, socialist, or something else? The liberal definition of the welfare clause places no limits on government growth and power. The $14+ trillion we have in debt is a mere drop in the bucket should they be allowed to find the clause authorizes any entitlement they wish be bestowed upon those they favor at the expense of others.

If I have earned $1 Mr. Daugherty’s government will demand half or more to give to someone who earned nothing. It is fair say they. It is just say they. It is constitutional say they.

Twenty percent of GDP in taxes is no longer enough to pay for the government of the liberals.

It will soon reach twenty-five percent and then fifty or more percent. At some point, government will just falter and fail as my quote by Washington above predicts. And, the tired old liberals on WatchBlog will be still arguing about where to place the blame and from where will come the next handout.

They are a sad bunch indeed.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 21, 2011 5:28 PM
Comment #320485

Stephen

I believe in tax fairness for all. If we cut taxes, I think we should do it for all. I am not jealous of the “other guy” who has more money than I do, nor do I think “the other guy” who has less than I do has any reason to resent what I have.

BTW - I am not advocating a tax cut at this time. I expect taxes will need to rise a little. But it should be done in a way that affects all tax payers.

I believe you when you say that you don’t want government interference in everything. But I also understand that you consistently advocate providing the tools of manipulation and interference to politicians. I don’t trust them, neither Democrats nor Republicans. If you give them the power, they will use it.

You also advocate equality of results by advocating the type of regulations you like. Forced equality of results is immoral, since people are all different in their talents, inputs and energy.

jlw and Royal

As Royal knows and is trying to tell jlw, you cannot be generous with other peoples’ money and government cannot be generous at all. At best, government “charity” which involves taking from some with the threat of coercion, is like a bad parent, who gives w/o asking for good behavior.

Re the poor - IMO luck is surely involved, but poverty is generally the result of choices. It does the poor no favor to allow everyone to believe poverty is somehow a completely random event. That allows those making poor choices to continue to make them, maybe w/o understanding the consequences.

I have been poor and I have been not poor. I am glad that when I was poor, I didn’t believe that my poor condition was beyond my control. It would have become a self-fulfilling idea.

Stephen

Re welfare reform - it was one of the best things done in the 1990s. But I have always shared credit with Bill Clinton. People like the late Teddy Kennedy and the great Nancy Pelosi predicted widespread suffering. They were wrong, but now that time has passed a new generation of soft headed people want to give away other people’s money to those they feel more worthy to have it. Tyranny dies hard.

Posted by: C&J at March 21, 2011 7:18 PM
Comment #320490

“Free market capitalism and legislative restraint produced a great country.”

What is your definition of great Royal, as I am sure you believe this nonsense? Defining 1937 as the turning point makes you sound as if you know nothing of the economic history of this country or you have forgotten it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States


http://247wallst.com/2010/09/09/the-13-worst-recessions-depressions-and-panics-in-american-history/

It was the people of this country that produced a great nation, Royal. The people who gave the next generation a better life than they had not those that seek to exclude others. The people that fought for the right to decent wages and work hours not those that made their money on the backs of the working class. The people that fought the wars to keep the nation free, not those that profiteered off of the war effort.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 21, 2011 8:46 PM
Comment #320491

BTW - our friends at Greenpeace are at it again. They are comparing our president to Hitler. The language of this clip is Portuguese, but the signs are in English. Watch to the end and see the way they are. I put this up because sooner or later somebody on this blog will use the picture and claim it is a tea party rally. Greenpeace - bringing you fear and loathing for more than a quarter century.

http://g1.globo.com/bom-dia-brasil/noticia/2011/03/ambientalistas-no-chile-protestam-contra-viagem-de-obama-ao-pais.html

Posted by: C&J at March 21, 2011 8:48 PM
Comment #320493

“I put this up because sooner or later somebody on this blog will use the picture and claim it is a tea party rally”

C&J you watch way to much Faux news. And possibly swilling just a wee bit to much of the kool aid if you think this picture you linked to could be….

Posted by: j2t2 at March 21, 2011 9:32 PM
Comment #320497

j2t2

Look at the last frame where it shows the guy with a poster showing Hitler and Obama with the caption “same shit; different asshole.” I expect to see that picture appearing someplace attributed to TP. Just pointing out that it is Greenpeace, generally not a organization associated with conservatives.

Posted by: C&J at March 21, 2011 10:19 PM
Comment #320500

Royal Flush-
Obama had 9 trillion dollars of debt dropped in his lap, and a deficit large enough to add trillions more every year, before he even got into office, and the reasons for it are fundamentally rooted in Bush policy.

But you can’t say that, can you? You can’t admit that there’s little different between what your party did to screw things up, and the way you’re trying to keep it now. You’re so used to fighting to maintain these policies, that not even hollowed-eyed fatigue from all the BS will allow you to realize that your people blew it, and ironically enough as you’ve said we’d blown it.

Your ideology no more protects America from further debt and deficit than a pair of wings taped to your arms makes you capable of flight.

Sorry, applying your budget philosophies is what has us in a monstrous deficit right now.

Now, the consequence of leaving things in the status quo, or even enacting your policies as passed by the House will not be a recovery. In fact, your party only predicts the deficit will be resolved in fifty years.

How does such a policy actually prevent further endebtedness by this country? It’s a con. It’s looking like you’ve got the budget under control, when in reality, it’s nearly as bloated as the government you despise.

Losing hundreds of thousands of jobs will not help the economy. Grinding people into the dirt with austerity will not help it.

The sad bunch are those who rage at others for the faults they cannot see in themselves. the worse are those who slime and slander others in order to turn people against them for the sake of such tragic policies.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 22, 2011 1:23 AM
Comment #320504

Mr. Daugherty, since you wrote your last comments in the wee hours of the morning I can understand why it makes no sense. The debt we carry can not be lain on anyone’s shoulders alone as you well know. Both parties had their noses in the pig trough. It is just plain silly to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude.

You may wish to live in the past and just sit on your “pity-pot”. Conservatives wish to get on with the future and end this run-a-way spending and begin to live within our means.

I define “our means” as as the historical amount of tax revenue which was around 20% of GDP.

Liberals and some dems and reps define their role in government to be one of just spending other peoples money. And, some believe, he who spends most gets reelected.

Times they are a-changing. The last election indicates that the mood of the nation is for fiscal sanity. Congressional leaders and a president who advocate, and devise plans for this to happen will stay in office. Others…won’t.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 22, 2011 12:22 PM
Comment #320505

“Look at the last frame where it shows the guy with a poster showing Hitler and Obama with the caption “same shit; different asshole.” I expect to see that picture appearing someplace attributed to TP.”

Why? What network other than Faux would stoop to such things as intentionally misidentifying crowd footage? What blog/news outlet other than Breitbart has a reputation of this type of video hacking on such a regular and reoccurring basis?

Why when there are plenty of the same type of signs that actually are from tea party rallies?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 22, 2011 1:41 PM
Comment #320506

Royal Flush-
*Sigh*. You never miss an opportunity to argue at a person’s expense, do you? They’re either too tired, too liberal, too insane, or too whatever to be right.

Of course, if you add up all your cuts, and all the things you’ve done to increase the deficit in the past year, the Arithmetic remains unfavorable to you, whether I’m sleep deprived or not, crazy or not, dumb or not, liberal or not.

You understand? The fatal flaw in your argument is the irrelevance of those qualities to the truth of what was said. The shortfalls created by renewal of the Bush Tax cuts for the rich are numerically greater than your cuts.

Your people instituted the Drug Benefit and the Medicare Advantage plan, as it’s currently constituted. Since both programs provide something useful for people, they’re not likely to go anywhere.

The Wars that you created are a big part of the deficit, including the rises in Defense Department spending. They’ll probably be done or dramatically reduced by the middle of the decade, but we can only hope.

The big part of what has our deficits up at such a high number are:

1) More honest accounting- The Obama Administration counts on budget much of what Bush and the GOP kept off-budget. Put another way, the increase in spending is greater.

2) Inclusion of one time charges- Charges, in this case, like TARP and the Stimulus Package, which will not be a regular feature of future budgets. Your people going after stimulus money to apply to the deficit is pretty much pointless. After it’s spent, and spent here, it’s done. It’s a target picked for political visibility, not for its real effect on deficit levels in the future, or debt levels going forward.

3) The Ongoing effects of Policy changes created by the Republicans: Bush Tax cuts (including both those parts we wanted to keep, given the economy, and those we were willing to do away with), the expansion of Medicare without corresponding offsets, the waging of a worldwide war on terror, with two major wars going on within it, also without corresponding offsets. You can deny the effects of these, but the effects remain. Wishful thinking cannot change that revenues would be higher without the Bush Tax cuts, for years before and years to come, than if Bush had simply stuck with the status quo. It also cannot change that paying for the programs, while a pinch in the wallet to the average person, would have been better for both economy and the fiscal picture.

4) The Economy. in 2009, the figure was that 40% of the deficit was due to the economic downturn. That’s hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit, trillions over the long run, that can be avoided if we simply don’t allow the economy to remain in its current slack state.

5) Past Deficits contribute to future deficits. Bush’s bills are coming due, over the course of the next decade or two, and we have to pay them. What, you think we got those tax cuts for free? Every tax cut, in the end, costs the money you would have paid, plus interest. It costs the taxpayer more to spend money in this way.

And Republicans chose to spend in this way.

It’s a funny thing. Get a special interest like a pharmaceutical industry involved, and what will the Republicans do for the taxpayers? They’ll forbid bargaining. Or what about medicare advantage? The idea was that insurance companies, being private, would be more efficient. Except, it’s both cost more, and besides, Republicans voted them subsidies that went to no benefits, for the privilege of running these programs. Medicare itself would have run them with much less overhead.

Republicans barely practiced oversight at all during the hottest parts of the Iraq war. Whole pallets worth of money went missing. We contracted out services that once were done more cheaply in house. We let contractors in Iraq get away with virtual murder, making shoddy construction.

I mean, really, you can boast and brag about being thrifty, but if your behavior doesn’t match, if you simply assume you’re better at cutting costs, it doesn’t matter.

I mean, your party had pretty much total control of Congress for most of the time between 1994 and 2006. You had the Presidency, too, for six of those years. you forget how aggressively and jealously you protected your power, kept your own council. Sure a lot of Democrats went with it, and they should be ashamed of themselves, too. They should, and many have, changed the policies they supported before.

But your people are too interested in covering your butts to realize that your efforts will never be sufficient, especially if the policies you fight to continue perpetuate the problems.

The mania over tax cuts is a good example. By now, most people should understand that in a time of deficit, you don’t deliberately throw away revenues, if you can’t guarantee an offsetting benefit.

You talk about fiscal sanity, but since your policies don’t recognize fiscal reality, they don’t deserve the compliment.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 22, 2011 2:43 PM
Comment #320507

I read this interesting quote from Obama in Brazil.

OBAMA CALLS FOR OIL DRILLING…IN BRAZIL

President Obama is finally calling for offshore drilling….in Brazil. Obama told a group of Brazilian businessmen at a CEO summit during his trip to South America over the weekend they should begin drilling in their offshore oil reserves so the United States can be a paying customer in the future, adding that the United States would help them do it.

“We want to help you with the technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely. And when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers. At a time when we’ve been reminded how easily instability in other parts of the world can affect the price of oil, the United States could not be happier with the potential for a new, stable source of energy.”

Obama’s comments come as his administration refuses to lift a 7-year ban on offshore drilling here in the United States and continues to demonize the oil and gas industries as energy prices continue to rise and unemployment still hovers around 9 percent. Let’s not forget Obama has blocked access to U.S. oil and natural gas production by issuing a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and has revoked onshore leases since taking office. Don’t be fooled when the administration says they have been working to open up energy resources in the United States as the administration has only issued three permits allowing for deep water exploration, not drilling.”

From: Washington Beat

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 22, 2011 4:05 PM
Comment #320509

Royal Flush-
Let’s not forget that this year, oil production in the gulf and in the United States is the most it’s ever been, and we’re importing less than half of our oil for the first time in a long time.

As for developing Brazil’s resources? There’s a fellow named Hugo in South America who doesn’t like us much. The Brazilians like us better. If we get our oil from Brazilians who like us, isn’t that better than relying more on an oil supply that profits and supports a man like Chavez?

Obama’s foreign policy makes sense to those who don’t simply repeat what corporations say to get more of their product sold.

Since Obama hasn’t really prevented oil production in the Gulf (increased it, actually) and since Brazil is friendlier to us than Venezuela at the moment, I don’t know why, rationally speaking, you have a problem.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 22, 2011 4:20 PM
Comment #320510

Sorry Mr. Daugherty, you missed the whole point. Perhaps, if you read it again at 1:30 AM, the meaning will become clear.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 22, 2011 4:28 PM
Comment #320514


Royal Flush,

Obama had no choice but to shut down drilling in the gulf temporarily. BP screwed that up and they still haven’t cleaned up the oil on the bottom of the gulf.

Obama and the oil companies are tight. They are among his bigest contributors. That moritorium will be lifted despite the dissapproval of some states. As Stephen points out production in the Gulf has increase.

Obama’s plan calls for drilling from Northern Deleware to Central Florida. Not even Bush was willing to authorize drilling off the west coast and southern Florida, and the west coast from Mexico to Washington.

If the price goes to low it will be harder for Obama to get his nuclear program up and running, especially in light of recent events.

So Obama wants Brazil to start drilling, hire American companies, and buy the equipment from American companies. What a terrible thing to do.

Let’s be frank here, conservatives are going to attack Obama no matter what he does.

Posted by: jlw at March 22, 2011 6:47 PM
Comment #320515

“…they [Brazil] should begin drilling in their offshore oil reserves so the United States can be a paying customer in the future, adding that the United States would help them do it.”

Royal Flush,

Obama is pushing off shore oil drilling in Brazil for two reasons: it will produce American jobs and it will increase the availability of oil from friendly sources. There is nothing sinister in his comments. The American jobs come from providing technology and oil equipment to Brazilian companies involved in the drilling. The US Export-Import Bank has an agreement with the major oil company in Brazil to provide up to 2 billion dollars in loans to purchase US produced oil technology and equipment. The loan, contrary to right wing media claims, is not a taxpayer funded loan and is intended to capture export opportunities for US companies.

The sarcastic comment about “the United States can be a paying customer in the future” is nonsensical. Oil is traded on an international market. US produced oil is not cheaper than Brazilian oil or oil from Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Rich at March 22, 2011 7:14 PM
Comment #320516

Sorry all, apparently none of you understand how idiotic Obama’s statement was.

I am happy the libs and dems still support this puppet to the oil companies. And I am sure many of you are overjoyed we now have three wars going on. But, I am confident we’ll be hearing from Mr. Daugherty how good this all is for our economy.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 22, 2011 7:46 PM
Comment #320517

Rich, the sarcastic comment was a quote by Obama.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 22, 2011 7:48 PM
Comment #320518

Royal Flush-
And perhaps if you read what I write without simply looking for an opportunity for an ad hominem argument, you would understand that so much of your rhetoric and your sources are stuck on word games, rather than paying attention to policy realities.

Like for example, big spending programs, enacted without offsets like external spending cuts or taxes, increase the deficit. Well, Democrats enacted the Affordable Care Act with a combination of those, and as a result, where the Republican’s big healthcare initiative raised deficit spending, our initiative actually lowered it. Y’all talk about Obama’s trillion dollar spending bill, but Obama found that hundred billion a year from other places, and by doing that, spared our budget the damage your party’s Medicare bill did not.

If you’re playing the word games, you might think that Obama added to the deficit with his Healthcare Reform, and you might not realize how big a part the Medicare additions, passed by a Republican President and a Republican Congressional majority played in actually creating the deficit.

If you pay attention to the facts, you’ll know otherwise.

Obama’s encouraging the use of friendly energy. Do you prefer asking your friend Hugo for more gas, and giving him more money?

With only a few percent of the World’s reserves, we cannot pretend, as long as we rely on oil, that we can avoid such choices.

Pretty soon, we’ll have to make another choice: what do we do before oil shortages make it too expensive to travel or trade.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 22, 2011 7:50 PM
Comment #320519

Mr. Daugherty writes; “Obama’s encouraging the use of friendly energy.”

Good Lord man…is there nothing friendlier than our own fossil fuels.

What claptrap have you been pretending to read that would lead you to believe that we only have a few percent of the worlds reserves. It must be crowded down in that hole you and many other libs are burying your heads in. Come up for a breath of reality.

Your guy in the WH is doing exactly the opposite of what many of you expected and yet you follow him blindly and continue to support his bullshit fence sitting. This guy is a loser…for you and the country. He should be impeached for dereliction of duty and being AWOL. I don’t think one can be impeached for simply being stupid.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 22, 2011 8:11 PM
Comment #320520

Royal Flush,

No, that is your sarcastic paraphrase of Obama’s actual statement.

Posted by: Rich at March 22, 2011 8:37 PM
Comment #320523

“He should be impeached for dereliction of duty and being AWOL.”

Reagan proved those aren’t impeachable offenses, didn’t he?

” I don’t think one can be impeached for simply being stupid.”


GWB proved that didn’t he?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 22, 2011 10:07 PM
Comment #320526

Royal Flush-

Good Lord man…is there nothing friendlier than our own fossil fuels.

Oh, I agree. I just don’t have the level of naivete about the oil markets required to indulge that fantasy. So, if we’re still going to have to import oil, why not get more of it from a friendlier country than Venezuela?

Whose information am I reading? That estimate comes from the CIA.

There could be more, but if we wanted, say, to equal the reserves of Libya, we’d have to find at least two and half times more than we currently have to equal their reserves. And Venezuela? We’d have to find five times more oil than we currently have to match them.

You can’t tell me that we could really increase the proven reserves (that is, the ones we’re better than 90% sure of at today’s prices and technological capacity, by such margins, especially since, I would think, that the oilfields we’re discussing already, the ones that have been found, are included in those proven reserves.

We consume about 25% of what the world consumes. The math is simple, cruel, and remorseless on this.

Consider the oil sands in Canada. It’s a water and natural gas intensive process, and so expensive that when oil prices dropped in the wake of the economic meltdown, they actually had to scale back their production capacity. Apart from the environmental and carbon emissions issues here, these reserves, which put Canada at #2 on the list of nations with proven reserves, depend on the oil remaining high priced. Without such a high price, much of the exploration becomes uneconomical, and reserves drop.

Prices are going to whipsaw back and forth on that basis, especially where political turmoil puts some of that supply at risk.

So, creating the right conditions for other countries, friendly to us, to develop greater reserves, is not a bad thing for us. The question you really want to ask yourself is who you want to have to depend upon until we replace petroleum as a main source of our fuels.

That’s reality, RF. My head isn’t in a hole, yours is, because most of what you know about oil reserves, you get from politicians and oil companies who are trying to sell people on busting the wilderness piggy-banks to get at more oil. You didn’t grow up in a family like mine, where my uncles worked in the Oil and Gas industry, and my Grandfather was an exec who ran refineries. Hell, even my father sold cathodic protection for the oil pipelines. You didn’t grow up learning about how oil actually got extracted and used.

Take that oil from Canada. It’s nice to have it, sure, but it’s going to take more to refine it, because that **** is real thick, Bitumen or very heavy crude.

When you run oil through your refinery, you look to separate and react it out into different components with different boiling points, with the lightest, most volatile components going to the top, and the heaviest, most viscous products, like Asphalt, coming out of the bottom.

If your oil is particularly heavy, you do what is called Catalytic Cracking to get the lighter hydrocarbons out of it. Look at this graphic. Note where the gasoline has to come from.

When people commented on the economic impacts of the conflict, they remarked that Libyan crude oil was Light and Sweet, They were saying that it had more of the lighter fractions. Contrast that with the oil sands, which are almost solid, basically what we might colloquially call tar.

You’re going to have to do a hell of a lot more work to get that stuff both out of the ground, and in a usable form.

The sweet part is about sulfur content. Sweet is low, Sour is high. Guess what? Athabasca Tar Sands are very sour.

You get a lot of sulfur content, you have to get it out, and that makes Tar Sands an extra expensive hassle that only becomes worth something when gas prices are high.

Brazilian crude would be far lighter, far sweeter, yet still plentiful. And you know what? It will be developed whether we want it to be developed or not. Those reserves there are huge, and could put Brazil in Saudia Arabia territory. Do we want to be in well with them?

Gee, I wonder. Light, easy to process crude, as opposed to more reliance on either Venezuela, or Canada’s heavy, hard to process crude.

Those wells in the Gulf will get drilled, sooner or later. We just need to make sure that the mistakes of the Deepwater Horizon don’t get repeated. You, it seems, would rather fight a public relations battle after every major accident, rather than actually deal with the reality that every such accident’s going to be a disaster for the reputation of oil drillers, and actually force them to ensure that the worst doesn’t happen again.

But I guess you need grist for your Obama-Hatred mill. If you can’t grind out a sinister or derogatory meaning out of every action he takes, you can’t get sufficient revenge for all the criticism Bush got. You want him, need him to be stupid and feckless.

Sorry. Just because you need him to be terrible leader doesn’t make him one.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 23, 2011 1:39 AM
Comment #320536

It gets even better.

First, the Export-Import Bank board does the approval, and its largely made up of Bush appointees now.

Second, to use the loan, Petrobras has to buy American.

Third, it hasn’t been used yet.

Fourth, as the linked Forbes article says:

the drilling ban that was in place in the Gulf, off the coast of Florida only, was signed by President George W. Bush in 2006 under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, hardly an anti-oil president.

You don’t say?

But wouldn’t George Soros profit? Not necessarily, not if he was keeping his money in Petrobras.

If an investor, like Soros, had any worthwhile tradable knowledge of the loan facility, he would know that Petrobras is going to use that loan to purchase millions of dollars of services from Transocean, for example, and would invest his money there. Because if that were the case, once a hypothetical Petrobras-Transocean deal was announced, Transocean’s shares would jump. Petrobras shares, having a debt to pay, would be more likely to decline.

The Article goes on to say that Petrobas was banned from drilling under the moratorium just like everybody else was, in terms of their finds in the Gulf of Mexico. If they take advantage of the loans, American companies will profit, including the same kind of companies that work on drilling rigs here in the US.

See, Republicans are confusing people by acting as if the oil is sold sort of like a product manufactured here. You know, you produce the oil here, you get first use of it, then you send your excess off elsewhere. Doesn’t work that way. The oil gets put on the international market. So, even what we drill here goes elsewhere, to the nearest available buyer.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 23, 2011 3:35 PM
Comment #320544


Royal Flush, I did not vote for Obama because I knew that the very best we could expect from him was Bush lite.

In 1995, the Republican Congress, in addition to shutting down the government, passed legislation to end the 23 year ban on the export of Alaskan oil. In 1996, Clinton made it official. After the oil companies got their wishes, the cost of exporting oil to Japan increased, ending their desire to do so.

The reason we export oil from the Americas is because it is cheaper to do so because of transportation costs, not because the oil is cheaper than Saudi oil. Increasing production in the U.S. will increase profits not lower oil prices because the market sets the price.

Do you think that we should ignore the market and force the oil companies to sell Americans American oil for less.

Unless we start taking this problem seriously we are going to find ourselves in a position where oil can’t be extracted as fast as we are consuming it. What happens to the price then?

The price of oil is already driving transportation costs higher and higher. It is beginning to have a detrimental affect on big business and it is even worse on small businesses.


Posted by: jlw at March 23, 2011 6:19 PM
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