Obama, Clinton & Rain Dancing

What if Obama wins the most delegates while Hillary gets the popular vote? W/o Republicans to blame, Dems are getting a taste of their own medicine. Some are becoming avid Clinton-bashers. Obama claims he wants Clinton to stay and he said something else I admire, “I don’t want to make a promise that I can bring back every job that’s left Johnstown. It’s just not true. Some of those jobs aren’t going to come back.”

Of course he tried to backtrack a little later, but he stumbled onto the truth. No politician can create productive jobs. All politicians can do is create long-term conditions that facilitate job creation. Anything else just moves resources around and creates a net job loss.

In pre-scientific societies, people believed the weather was controlled by gods and sprits. When it didn’t rain for a long time, the local shaman would get his boys together for a rain dance. It didn’t do any good from the meteorological point of view, but it gave the people a spectacle and made them think the authorities were doing something to fix the weather problem. Eventually, it did indeed rain and the dancers claimed credit.

Although we are less superstitious about many things, most people still fall for the modern equivalent of the rain dance. Hillary gets up there in her best blue collar accent and decries the high cost of everything and the trouble some people are currently having finding work. She does the rain dance. Obama is a bit more sophisticated (as his comment above indicates) but he dances too. Even John McCain dances, although more stiffly and with less enthusiasm.

The rain dance of old really caused no harm and was kinda cool to watch. Tourists still enjoy the reenactments. (Maybe future tourist to Washington will watch reenactments of politicians making grand promises.) Economic rain dances, however, have the potential to cause real harm because the government has the power to misallocate resources and create mazes of regulations that hinder the creation of jobs.

It is no fun for politicians to admit that today’s conditions are the result of things that happened five, ten, twenty or more years ago (often from things government didn't plan or control) and that the best they can really do today is plant a seed that might yield fruit ten years from now. Politics is a zero sum game that thrives on blame and credit taking. The long term for politicians is no more than two years and usually only a few months, so most politicians do not think much about the future except as a rhetorical device. This is the fundamental weakness of politics and the economy.

Much of our confidence in rain dancing politicians comes from way back in the 1930s, the New Deal. Some of the New Deal programs did good. They survived. Most failed. They are gone and mostly forgotten. The thing to remember is that the New Deal programs did NOT end - and probably did not even mitigate - the Great Depression. 1937 was one of the worst years. The economy stumbled up and down until increased demand & production provoked by WWII brought it out. The great liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith used to joke that Hitler was responsible for the world economic recovery. In other words, it finally rained and the dancers took credit. We should be careful with this dancing. A little is fun; a lot is dangerous.

Posted by Jack at March 30, 2008 2:17 AM
Comments
Comment #249523

Jack, Obama saying that she can stay as long as she wants is a statement of fact not a statement of his desires or as you put it “wants” for her.

In fact, I think you need to read deeper. What would you have said if Hillary had come out and said Obama can stay in the race as long as he wants?

Would you say she WANTS him to stay in or that she was saying that to make it appear his removal was in inevitable and her victory over him is virtual certain?


I believe that by stating Hillary can stay in as long as she wants…..Obama is stating a fact in such a way as to be a back-handed slap that really reads: “her defeat is inevitable”.


All this nonsense about presidents creating economies is just that, partisan nonsense. What did Bill Clinton do to create jobs? Raise taxes and sign the republican balanced budget bill? Just how did higher taxes create new jobs?

Posted by: Stephen at March 30, 2008 3:33 AM
Comment #249524

Stephen
I agree that Bill Clinton did not create any jobs, although he did a competent job in the economy, mostly because he was limited by the Republican congress. Remember 1992-4 were bad.

Hillary of Obama will have a Dem congress and lots of potential to do harm.

Posted by: Jack at March 30, 2008 3:43 AM
Comment #249526

I agree. My wife and I have moved half our retirement assets overseas. If we see higher taxes, bigger government, punishing regulation….we will move more money overseas. No need to go down with the ship.

Posted by: Stephen at March 30, 2008 4:03 AM
Comment #249531

Stephen said: “Just how did higher taxes create new jobs?”

They didn’t. What they did do is balance the budget creating more revenues than expenditures during a robust economic upturn. A concept entirely foreign to the majority of Republican politicians in office.

I hasten to add, Bill Clinton would likely not have created a balanced budget without a Republican majority in the House negotiating his position.

Hillary Clinton obviously has no intention of balancing any budget. Her campaign spending promises so exceed the ability to collect revenues, balance is not possible.

So far, there is no indication Obama will balance the budget either. However, Obama acknowledges the national debt cannot be allowed to continue to grow as Republicans have allowed it to.

McCain might balance the budget, maybe; if he can justify doing so while keeping to his world hegemonic vision for our military. If he does both, he will be a one term president, that is for sure. The required spending cuts which benefit voters and their children’s future, would guarantee that.

I don’t think it is politically or economically feasible to balance the budget in the next 4 years anyway. America’s needs are great, and our economic tax revenue generator is not robust. However, this does not mean that the next president should not exercise a major veto threat against unnecessary spending.

Obama and McCain are both committed to their definitions of unnecessary. Clinton is committed to reducing the costs of Iraq, and earmark spending, but, there is an enormous amount of other ‘unnecessary’ spending that must be addressed.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 30, 2008 9:35 AM
Comment #249532

Jack said: “Hillary of Obama will have a Dem congress and lots of potential to do harm.”

Not nearly as bad as Bush and a Republican Congress which broke all historical records for budget busting in record time. 4 Trillion dollars added to the national debt in the 8 years of a Republican president should be a Guiness Records Book entry.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 30, 2008 9:39 AM
Comment #249533

Stephen, you call investing in foreign governments and corporations for personal gain a patriotic American act?

Just curious. Is it unpatriotic only when non-Republicans do that?

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 30, 2008 9:43 AM
Comment #249541

Jack

Your claim of dem rain dances causing harm seems a bit unrepentent in view of our current state of a republican created economic condition. Republican rain dances have produced a crop of record debt bought about by a seemingly bottomless pit of infinite unrepaid borrowing against the future.

I have seen no valid republican plan for a correction of their irresponsible practices. Only a call for more of the same injections of hundreds of billions of dollars of tax payer money into the system to encourage more irresponsible spending. In other words a continuation of the problem at hand.

I think it is obvious that at some point the price will have to be paid for years of spending beyond our means. Our current economic condition is such that it really does not matter who is doing the dance. We as a country have irrationally spent ourselves into an inescapable reality. That reality says that all must eventually suffer to some degree in order that we can return to a rational economic condition. All the rain dances are merely postponing the inevitable.

Posted by: RickIL at March 30, 2008 12:45 PM
Comment #249543

Jack,
I must admit that I honestly don’t understand what you wrote all that well - especially when you got to the rain dancing part. What does Rain dancing have to do with the Democrats?

I’ve read Galbraith’s quote,on several occasions, and while it been frequently been taken out of context, I simply don’t see how you can draw any type of association with the Democrat Party.

One can say what one wants, but Bush has had his eight years with a Congress more or less at his beck and call, and all I have to do is read the headlines to know just how great a job he and his people have done. (hear me laughing? - Probably not, as I am am really crying)

Our economy is “slow” (his words not mine - what country is He IN?) ; we’re in a war, no one was prepared for, that we were lied to about, and don’t want to be in - especially now that the lies and misconceptions have finally become obvious; we have a mistrust of not only if the White House, but all our leaders as well.

It has become obvious Bush now doesn’t have the foggiest what’s the truth and what isn’t, that no one actually believes anything that he or his people say. NOT the American public, or the rest of the world.

Is having no trust in ones’ government really a good thing? And Republicans think this is a healthy government? Is it any wonder a lot of people don’t trust Republicans - and in particular Bush?

If the trust level between the White House, and it’s people is bad, what about the trust level between the rest of the world? It doesn’t take an idiot to see that the US, and the trust level of the rest of the world is just as uncertain.

Bush has MANAGED in EIGHT years to change the world image of not only our great country but that of the American public. No minor accomplishment after we have spend the previous 200 years doing the opposite!!

We are no longer the nation to strive to emulate, we are the nation to fear!!!

Where we were once a respected, peace seeking, caring nation, now we are a nation to distrusted, the great avenger, (even if it is in the wrong country), the aggressive almost cult oriented nation fiercely planning to make not only our entire nation but the rest of the world follow our dictates, as long as those very mandates come from the likes Bush and his self-righteous conservatives.

This is a good thing for our country? I don’t belive so. Whether Obama or Clinton can help undo the damage done, but I honestly don’t know. I do seriously doubt that McCain will be able to help get us out to the mess we are now in.

Unfortunately, McCain is a Republican, thinks like a Republican, and will continue to to follow the lead of of his predecessor. In particular Iraq. Heaven help him now that he has actually gotten has Bush’s support.

Congress will block McCain right and left, simply because it hates Bush, and the mess he’s created -
the mess that will follow most of them through out all their upcoming elections.

While health care is a primary concern of mine, I am more concerned that I don’t get bombed by a so-called ally!!! (thanks to our illustrious president )

Stephen,
While I’ll grant you that Obama’s comment comes across IMO as being rather arrogant, one must admit, that only an arrogant person, (and probably somewhat insane to honest) would actually run for President.

Posted by: Linda H. at March 30, 2008 1:03 PM
Comment #249544

RickIl

Yes, we have spent way too much. The current crop of candidates are promising to spend even more.

The rain dances do not postpone the problem; they make it worse.

I like what Obama said - that government cannot bring back those jobs. We need more of that truth telling. The same goes for the mortgage bail out.

The danger of our debt is NOT just governmental. Most of it has to do with simple overspending. This can be self correcting if we let it. Already the price of gasoline has caused a decrease in consumption. We need NOT to save drivers or borrowers. We need to stop promising that we can fix through politics what can be done only with hard work and some sacrifice.

Posted by: Jack at March 30, 2008 1:12 PM
Comment #249545

Linda H

Perhaps it would be a good thing is the Dem congress blocked McCain. Remember the first two years of Clinton were not good. It was not until he faced a congress of the other party that he moderated his views and started to work at real solutions. When Republicans took control of all three parts of government, they started to act like Democrats. They spent way too much. The solution is to spend less, not more. The Dem congress since 2006 has not been as useful to Bush as the Republicans were to Clinton.

My post is about making promises that no politician can keep. Government cannot make us prosperous. I fear that the current crop of candidates has forgotten that. Bill Clinton famously said that the era of big government over. Hillary Clinton has forgotten that.

The rain dance metaphor is just an old business term. When the boss does something you cannot reasonably do, you sometimes need to do a rain dance – take a lot of action you know will probably produce no results – and wait until conditions change. In the original context, a rain dance did no good, but it gave people something to watch, it gave the authorities something to show the people

Posted by: Jack at March 30, 2008 1:21 PM
Comment #249547

“Government cannot make us prosperous.”

No but rational policies of the government can pave the way to prosperity for all. On the otherhand irrational policies, such as we had with the repubs leading the charge, can pave the road to economic diaster.

Its funny Jack you mention raindance and “take a lot of action you know will probably produce no results.” Sounds like the past 7 years when you think about Iraq, Katrina, WOT, and all things neocon. What would lead us to believe that the senile oops senior senator McBush would lead any better. Sorry to rain on your parade but I kinda doubt we as a country will be dancing in the rain should McSame win the election. Perhaps we should take a raincheck on your man as we are already heading into a “rainy day”. :)

Posted by: j2t2 at March 30, 2008 2:07 PM
Comment #249548
they started to act like Democrats

Bullshit, Jack. Much as you want to distort it, they acted like Republicans.

What a sorry attempt at an excuse for Republican actions.

Posted by: womanmarine at March 30, 2008 2:10 PM
Comment #249554

j2t2

If you read the original post, you will notice that I mention that long term government can create conditions for prosperity. But the rain dancing going on has to do with quick responses to the problems we face today. Take the mortgage problem. By the time government action kicks in, the problem will be over. The Bush Administration has proposed a general rewriting of regulations, some of which date back to the 1930s. That is a long term solution. Freezing interest rates or bailing out individual borrowers is a short term dumb program.

Womanmarine

The Dems were elected two years ago. How have they changed the course? Who among them is calling for LESS overall spending?

Republicans have controlled both houses of congress four of the last eight years. We have not seen any heroic Dem efforts to curb spending either when they were in oppostion or in control. They are now promising higher taxes and higher spending.

Posted by: Jack at March 30, 2008 3:05 PM
Comment #249556

Jack:

he said something else I admire, “I don’t want to make a promise that I can bring back every job that’s left Johnstown. It’s just not true. Some of those jobs aren’t going to come back.”

Of course he tried to backtrack a little later, but he stumbled onto the truth. No politician can create productive jobs. All politicians can do is create long-term conditions that facilitate job creation. Anything else just moves resources around and creates a net job loss.

Jack isn’t giving the full picture, or Obama’s full quote in this article, so allow me to fill in the blanks he is (perhaps intentionally) leaving out here.

I read a newspaper article about this yesterday. It happened in Johnstown Pennsylvania, and a woman was addressing Obama, describing to him how her job had been outsourced to India. She blamed the free trade policies that have taken so many American jobs, and asked Obama if there was anything he could do about it.

Obama replied:

“I don’t want to make a promise that I can bring back every job that’s left Johnstown. It’s just not true. Some of those jobs aren’t going to come back. What I can do is try … to create an environment in which jobs are being created. They may not be the same jobs that left and don’t come back.”

Obama wasn’t “stumbling onto the truth” in that reply, he was simply telling that woman the truth. And on his website he has a good plan to create such an environment, which entails addressing quite a few issues and problems simultaneously.

If Obama is elected the next president, that woman in Johnstown, and so many other folks just like her, are going to get the kind of help they need, in order to be able to help themselves going forward.
If John McCain is elected however, that woman and so many others are certain to be sh*t out of luck.
Because while the GOP touts the wonders of the “free market” (which so often extracts a heavy price) at every opportunity, they don’t believe they need to trouble themselves worrying over how the average person will find a way to make ends meet. They never have, and they never will.

Linda H:

I’ll grant you that Obama’s comment comes across IMO as being rather arrogant,

I’m afraid I’d probably sound arrogant too, if I were in his shoes. Most of us should realize by now that Clinton is being delusional or perhaps simply vengeful — because she has no chance to win now without totally destroying the Democratic party, or hurting our nominee’s chances in the general. I also don’t respect that fact that she is continuing to demonstrate a such a willingness to lie to her own supporters about what’s really going on. In fact, Hillary is now trying using calls for her to face the reality of her loss as a fund raising tool! She’s playing the martyr being attacked for no reason among her supporters — all of whom seem totally unable to do the math, or grasp how she’s attempting to take the nomination away from the rightful winner.
FYI, Obama was declared the winner of the Texas primary last night. Didn’t Bill say tell us she needed to win both Texas and Ohio to stay in the race? Well, she lost Texas, and she’s telling us she’ll fight all summer long, and fully intends to take this all the way to the convention. It makes no sense. Or maybe it does — maybe it’s sheer nastiness of the sore loser variety.
Btw, Slate has recently put up The Hillary Death Watch

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 30, 2008 3:25 PM
Comment #249560

VV, good reply and comment. Jack has been at this for some time and has become a pretty competent spin artist.

When it comes words, Obama doesn’t stumble. He may err upon occasion in his reference, or to adequately express his intent, but, the man doesn’t stumble around looking for the right words, as our current president so often has done.

Noticed McCain got himself an excellent speech writer. His speech on foreign affairs was finely crafted, to present Bush’s policies as McCain’s while dressing them up with minor insignificant differences to make him appear to be un-Bush.

There was no mistaking his words and intent however. al-Queda is in Iraq to kill Americans, and that is why we have to remain in Iraq. In other words, we don’t want to leave al-Queda all alone in Iraq with no targets. What failed logic. Upon which is built the other part of his foreign policy. We must fight them there so we don’t have to defend against them here. But, we have already spent 10’s of billions defending against them here and made public transportation a pain in donkey for Americans to boot.

He wraps it up with Bush’s domino theory, saying that we must install and maintain democratic, not autocratic regimes everywhere in the world, since McCain says the days of supporting ‘benign’ autocrats just didn’t pan out.

McCain may be more dangerous for the world and America than GW Bush. Bush at least relied upon others for his misinformed foreign policy decisions. McCain seems committed to Bush’s policies as if they were his own, and he is aiming far beyond the Middle East with his words to China and Russia as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 30, 2008 5:05 PM
Comment #249561

Jack pontificated: “The Dems were elected two years ago.”

No, it was Nov of 2006, 1.5 years ago, and they didn’t take office until Jan. 2007, which means they have had the majority for only 14 months.

Such liberties spin artists take. Why risk credibility is such a manner?

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 30, 2008 5:09 PM
Comment #249563

David

I am looking ahead to Nov, sorry.

Beyond that, people around here have no trouble blaming Bush for the economy of 2001, which was not even a whole year (at the end) of his time.

BTW - I did not say that Obama stumbled in his words; I said he stumbled onto the truth. Politicians sometimes stumble onto the truth, but then they usually dust themselves off and get back on their way.

VV

I think Obama was telling the truth. I was just a little surprised he said it. I said that I agree that government can help create conditions for job growth. I just do not think they can do so very specifically targeted nor can they do it quickly. Some places will probably NEVER be as relatively prosperous in future as they were in the past. That is just the way it is. Politics cannot change that and should not try. People count; places not so much.

I left my native Milwaukee and did much better than I probably would have had I stayed. In the U.S. we don’t expect the jobs to come to us; we go to the jobs. That is how our economy grows, changes and adapts. That is one reason our unemployment rate is so low compared to continental Europe, where people move less easily.

Posted by: Jack at March 30, 2008 5:35 PM
Comment #249568
Where we were once a respected, peace seeking, caring nation, now we are a nation to distrusted, the great avenger

What a load of tosh! What were all of those terrorist attacks against the US before 2001 coming from then? Why were we seen as ‘the great Satan’ before 2001?

I seriously wonder if people have any sense of reality or history at all anymore…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2008 7:07 PM
Comment #249569

“The Bush Administration has proposed a general rewriting of regulations, some of which date back to the 1930s.”

Jack are they also proposing quasi-privatization of the regulators by moving it to the federal Reserve?

Seems the problem of rewritng the regulations at this time is that we have “free market” uber capitalist in the administration’s cabinet and department heads. Not that they cant be trusted but with the track record of the past 7 years why should we trust them now? Every thing they have done to date has been at the expense of the middle class.

I notice they have insurance regulations incorporated into that mix putting it the federal control and taking it away from state control.

“Freezing interest rates or bailing out individual borrowers is a short term dumb program.”

Jack if you want to keep the ship afloat dont you have to bail at both ends? If all the water goes to one end of the ship it will still sink.


Posted by: j2t2 at March 30, 2008 7:15 PM
Comment #249576

David, you are confusing patriotism with my economic well being.

Maybe it IS patriotic to abandon failing US systems when they fail and thus provide the economic incentive to FIX THEM.

The idea that it’s patriotic to sacrifice my personal wealth just because you screw up the economy is silly.

Over half the worlds economy is now OUTSIDE the US. In my opinion all Americans who save in 401K’s, Ira’s etc ought to have half their money OUTSIDE the US so they can benefit from the global economy. Just use foreign equity and bond funds. If I can pay my bills because I invested wisely, I’d say that’s patriotic too.

Would you call John Kerry, Bill Clinton, or Obama unpatriotic simply because we know they own overseas investments?

Posted by: Stephen at March 30, 2008 10:01 PM
Comment #249577

Jack,

“We” have not “All” spent too much. I, like many americans have been responsible. My house will be completely paid off in less than 6 years. We refinanced at lower rates and took no cash out. We shortened the period of the loan at refinance time by 10 years. so the cut we got by going to a lower rate we essentially put against a shorter term loan.

Our credit CARD is paid in FULL every month so we never pay them interest on our purchases.

Our new car is a less expensive USED car that gets 50% more mileage per gallon than our old car.

We never take a vacation or purchase anything until we have SAVED for it.

And we put 16% of our income into retirement accounts investing in broadly diversified index funds and bond funds as well as real estate and gold in smaller proportions. Our goal is to remain invested for as long as we live and to live off the income our investments will produce after we retire.

The democratic controlled congress is now going into it’s second year of big spending and FAILURE to control spending, cut spending, balance budgets, Fix medicare, Fix social security, Fix Health care, etc. Two years of failure on the dems part by the time the next president takes office. I wonder why the left keeps crying about the spending THEIR congress is doing and blaming it on Republicans?

Posted by: Stephen at March 30, 2008 10:11 PM
Comment #249578

David:

VV, good reply and comment.

Thanks.

Noticed McCain got himself an excellent speech writer. His speech on foreign affairs was finely crafted, to present Bush’s policies as McCain’s while dressing them up with minor insignificant differences to make him appear to be un-Bush.

I agree. Twas a lovely shade of coral lipstick McCain and his speechwriters were smearing upon that same old Bush/Cheney sow that’s been stinking up and defecating all over America for years.
Glen Greenwald wrote a recent article about that foreign policy speech that I thought nailed it for exactly what it was. Here’s the link, if you’re interested: Bush and McCain’s shared foreign policy approach

Jack:

I did not say that Obama stumbled in his words; I said he stumbled onto the truth.

But you’re wrong, because when someone reads the full quote, rather than your shortened version, they should be able to immediately see that Obama wasn’t stumbling, or trying to dance around the truth. He was telling her directly what he intends to do as president that will hopefully help her to help herself out of the current situation she has found herself in — through no fault of her own.

I think Obama was telling the truth. I was just a little surprised he said it.

I’m not surprised at all. Maybe you haven’t noticed that Obama has not been making a lot of empty promises during this whole primary season Jack, but I have. He’s been truthful about the problems regarding the State of the Union that the next president will be inheriting, as well as truthful in answering peoples questions on the campaign trail. He even readily admits that he’ll probably make a few mistakes along the way. I appreciate that, and I’m sure many others do too.
I also admire the way he is asking We the People, both in Washington D.C. and all across America to open up a dialog so that we can begin to pull together to address and then find a way to deal with the many problems we are facing. In other words, Barack Obama is not just promising people a bunch of things when he’s telling us what he intends to do as president, he is actually asking for something from all of us to make those things work. He is clearly expecting us to help ourselves and each other after all these years of negative partisan division and unwillingness to work together, by asking all of us to adopt an attitude of mutual honesty and respect.
In my experience, this is what the best of leaders try to do — be honest about the challenges that they and we are facing, yet make people aware that not only should they do their best to work together, but that they must do so in the right frame of mind. That way the outcome will be good for everyone, and indeed can be something that all will take pride in accomplishing together.

No doubt this approach that Obama has been taking during his campaign is something he realized and saw working very well during his stint of community organizing on Chicago’s South Side. Organizing good outcomes for large groups of people always takes this kind of approach, and everybody doing their part to make it happen.

I said that I agree that government can help create conditions for job growth. I just do not think they can do so very specifically targeted nor can they do it quickly.

Sorry, but this really sounds like a complete cop-out to me. It’s “no, we can’t” rather than “yes, we can.” Personally, I think it’s often much easier to take on targets that are focused in very specific ways, rather than try to do a bunch of gigantic things in a sweeping fashion. And with the former approach, you have the benefit of being able to gauge what might work best, before throwing out ultimate answers and solutions (and the money they’ll take) to a problem, while the latter is a good way to make giant mistakes that waste of lot of time and money on things that don’t work well.

Some places will probably NEVER be as relatively prosperous in future as they were in the past. That is just the way it is. Politics cannot change that and should not try. People count; places not so much.

I strongly disagree, and again that sounds like a total cop-out. Places and communities DO matter. All of them matter. And the entire reason that our government exists is to make sure that places and communities of people in America can stay strong and be healthy, and work together, and solve problems, and grow prosperous together.
To form a more perfect Union.

I left my native Milwaukee and did much better than I probably would have had I stayed. In the U.S. we don’t expect the jobs to come to us; we go to the jobs. That is how our economy grows, changes and adapts.

No. Forcing people to uproot all the time for their work is how places and communities are destroyed. Those who leave might become better off, but many feel they pay the price of losing the support of the people they know and love; while the people left behind become stuck in wastelands of poverty and despair, wondering what happened to their place, and the community of people that used to make it what it was.

America can do better, and work better together than that. We did so in the past, and we can do so again. But it takes the desire, the right attitude, and some damn good leadership at the helm.

Politicians sometimes stumble onto the truth, but then they usually dust themselves off and get back on their way.

I don’t see too much stumbling, but I do see plenty of goodwill, sincerity and truth coming from Barack Obama.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 30, 2008 10:20 PM
Comment #249585

Stephen

I use “we” liberally. I am with you. I have behaved prudently and so I don’t have those problems with mortgage or debt, but many of our neighbors have been less responsible.

Perhaps I did fall into the Dem trap of equating all Americans with those who have gotten themselves in financial trouble, but we are in the same boat as those guys so it is also our problem.

VV

I understand that your love for Obama clouds you view, but perhaps you know of the quip that people sometimes stumble onto the truth but they dust themselves off and move along. I am sorry if you think Obama is above even gentle ridicule, but I can assure you that I was giving him as close to a compliment as he is apt to get and that I will be thinking of innovative ways to ridicule him in the future, and I am pretty good at that sort of thing, so you may want to get used to indignation.

I even make fun of people I like and politicians I support. Some people see this as a personality flaw, but Barack is not off limits to me.

Re creating jobs in the short term – NO we can’t. I suppose if Obama creates extra loaves and fish he can use that to pay workers, otherwise all the money has to come from somewhere else.

Re Places v people – you can disagree but you would be wrong. Our country and the world is getting richer over time. Almost all Americans are better off today than their counterparts were fifty years ago. But the relative positions have changed and for some places the glory days are over. I suggest you travel a little bit and see some cities that used to be world centers and are now, at best, tourist centers where people look at the old buildings and what used to be.

Your perspective is very narrow, BTW, if you believe that a person should be tied to the place where they were born of grew up. When I graduated from college, I looked for opportunities all over my country. Those who limited their job search to Milwaukee and its suburbs had fewer opportunities. This is not politics. It is just true. No – we can’t create equal opportunity everywhere.

Finally, your remembrance of cooperation past is touching. Since 1992, no presidetn has won a big majority of the American voters and in three of the last elections nobody won even 50%. In my adult life, the only president that won by a really large margin was Ronald Reagan, so presumably that would be the time of maximum unity. It wasn’t all that united. We are a little worse off today because liberals so vehemently hate President Bush. They will get over that and hate somebody else soon enough.

Posted by: Jack at March 31, 2008 2:06 AM
Comment #249587

“We are a little worse off today because liberals so vehemently hate President Bush.”

And a lot worse off because the cons and neocons didnt.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 31, 2008 2:38 AM
Comment #249601

Jack,

“Our country and the world is getting richer over time.”

I hate to seem picky over this point, but where are these “riches” actually coming from?
This planet is a sealed system.
You and I both know that wealth cannot be created from thin air, and countries cannot just create more money and declare everybody “richer”.
The amount of resources on this planet are finite. There are very few people that actually own the majority of them, and they don’t seem willing to share.

“Almost all Americans are better off today than their counterparts were fifty years ago.”

This statement is completely subjective. We live in a country that depends on an ever expanding economy to survive, and “better off” depends mightily on your point of view.
Other than the vast progress in medical care, which, BTW, a great many of us cannot afford, how much has truly changed in the last fifty years?

If your “better off” has to do with acquiring “stuff”, I would submit that you are probably living in a dream world, and need to wipe those rose colored glasses once in a while.
In the world I live in “stuff” doesn’t truly matter, and if we as a people stopped buying “stuff” the American economy would collapse like so many playing cards.
If your “better off” has to do with acquiring money, I would submit that money, especially in America, is just paper, and, if the poop hits the fan, it has very little intrinsic value, unless, of course, you have bushels of it to buy food.

Posted by: Rocky at March 31, 2008 12:17 PM
Comment #249606

As someone who has lived for 67 years I know that everyone I knew as a child and young adult were better off than today by any standard.

Moms stayed at home and cared for the children mainly because it was possible to do as dad made enough after-tax money to support the family.

Good medical care was available even in my small hometown of 800 people. We had no insurance and could pay the doctor or hospital with what we earned and saved.

The elderly and infirmed were cared for, with love, by family or by the community.

No TV or internet meant that families spent more time talking and being with each other. Crime was non-existent, except for the occasional public drunkenness or speeding ticket.

Schools had discipline and students were expected to, and did learn the basic necessities to earn a living.

I could go on but you get the idea. And no, I don’t believe we can return to those days as too many changes in the American psyche and manner of governing has changed.

Posted by: Jim M at March 31, 2008 1:41 PM
Comment #249607

“They will get over that and hate somebody else soon enough”

I don’t know Jack, I’d be willing to bet that they will continue to blame Bush for everything and anything well into the next decade.
The man can create hurricanes, you know.

Posted by: kctim at March 31, 2008 1:56 PM
Comment #249610

Rocky

Wealth is largely a human creation. Nature has potential wealth which may or may not be useful in a particular human cultural context. Having oil on your land was of no or even negative value until humans developed machines capable of using oil.

The amount of resources going into a unit of GDP is dropping in any case. Much of my wealth (and probably yours) is tied up in intellectual property, which requires almost zero additional resources.

So we are all becoming richer in the goods and services we can command.

I agree with you re definition of better off. Having things, beyond a certain level, doesn’t make you happier. But more people have the option. A person with an income near the poverty level can, if he wants to, enjoy the material standard of living similar to that of a middle class person fifty years ago. Most people will not take advantage of this wealth. That is a cultural problem. Personally I look down on hedonists, but most people seem to want to engage in such behavior, so it is none of my business from a political sense.

Anyway, I see your point and I agree with it, but I think it is beside the point of this discussion.

Jim M

See my reply to Rocky. People today can do those things today. The level of medical care from 50 years ago is simple to acquire. My mother died of cancer in 1972. Today she would probably survive, but if you want the standard of care of 1972, you can still get that.

In any case, most of the things you are mentioning are cultural issues. I like the simpler life too. But not everybody agrees.

Posted by: Jack at March 31, 2008 2:22 PM
Comment #249617

Jim M, I agree with a lot of what you say, but a big part of the change is that people actually don’t want to live like they did 50 years ago.

I doubt that many African-Americans or professional women, for example, would actually want to deal with the circumstances of 50 years ago. Women stayed at home, many of them feeling trapped and unfulfilled, while huge numbers of men were working themselves half to death in dirty and dangerous workplaces and dropping dead in their fifties—far more than now. Of course, the amount of smoking, drinking, and lack of consciousness about healthy eating and exercising that was more prevalent then than now probably had something to do with it too.

And when you say “good medical care,” I know you’re not talking about modern medicine with all of its expensive drugs, high-tech equipment, and highly trained specialists. It sounds more like you’re talking about those friendly small town doctors you see in the movies who’d make house calls with their little blag bags and stethoscopes around their necks. If people were content with that level of medical care today, our health care debate would be a whole lot simpler.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 31, 2008 3:56 PM
Comment #249618

Jack:

Wealth is largely a human creation.

And so is poverty.

Nature has potential wealth which may or may not be useful in a particular human cultural context.

Yeah, people just need to find ways to extract the potential wealth of nature when useful.

Much of my wealth (and probably yours) is tied up in intellectual property, which requires almost zero additional resources.

Trying to acquire that intellectual property however, is a different matter entirely.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 31, 2008 4:06 PM
Comment #249619

Jack:

So we are all becoming richer in the goods and services we can command.

All, excepting those of us who aren’t.


Having things, beyond a certain level, doesn’t make you happier.

And not having things beyond a certain level can be deadly.

But more people have the option. A person with an income near the poverty level can, if he wants to, enjoy the material standard of living similar to that of a middle class person fifty years ago.

That’s bunk. However, Bush has been giving the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans the opportunity to return to the material living standard of the Gilded Age

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 31, 2008 4:23 PM
Comment #249620

LO and others, I would be extremely happy to return to the life of the 1940’s and 50’s even with the advances in health care keeping many alive today who would be otherwise dead.

My philosophical outlook values the quality of life, not the quantity. Certainly people are living longer lives today, and if you could have lived in the 40’s and 50’s you would readily see that longer lives have not added to the general happiness of people today.

Think about all the folks who depend on the horrible affects of medication, debilitating and disabling medical procedures and such to maintain a breath of life. Is that really living. Think about the millions of folks who can’t function without a pill to lift them up and another pill to let them sleep.

Think about the crime and violence prevelent today as opposed to my youth. Yes, we had newspapers and radio back then so it wasn’t as though we were ignorant of what was going on.

Think about not worrying about your child being raped or becoming addicted to drugs by the pusher preying on our children today.

Think about the freedom and confidence to leave your home or sleep at night without locking your doors or setting intruder alarms.

Think about the lack of government regulation in every aspect of your life.

It’s just not possible for someone my age to describe how life was so much better back then to someone in their 20’s 30’s or 40’s today. We worked hard and felt good about it. We valued our neighbor and helped when one needed our help. We respected our teachers and ministers and elders because they deserved our respect and honor.

I won’t bore you with any more nostalgia.

Posted by: Jim M at March 31, 2008 4:32 PM
Comment #249621

Jack:

Personally I look down on hedonists, but most people seem to want to engage in such behavior,

Oh, so do I. We should start giving jail sentences to some of the greedy hedonists who caused our current economic meltdown.
We had Alan Greenspan telling everyone that they should take out adjustable rate mortgages, while everyone in the Bush administration was selling the “ownership society” and saying that housing prices were going up and that there was no bubble. These are the first people who should be issued orange jumpsuits and chained together so they can go pick up the trash on our nations poorly maintained freeways.

The level of medical care from 50 years ago is simple to acquire.

Sure, it’s just that paying for it can be a real b*tch.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 31, 2008 4:46 PM
Comment #249623

One of my links above doesn’t work. It was the reply to Jack’s claim about how we are all becoming richer in the goods and services that we can command. Here’s the link again:

States Are Hit Hard by Economic Downturn
Many Cutbacks Felt by Most Needy

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 31, 2008 5:22 PM
Comment #249635

Jim M,

I can’t help but read what you’re saying and realize that I feel exactly the same about the 70s and 80s as you do about the 40s and 50s. And I can remember my great grandpappy saying exactly the same stuff about the 20s and 30s.

You say you’re 67. Has it occurred to you that maybe the world isn’t getting worse so much as we’re getting older? I can definitely understand why the world might have appeared simpler and more hospitable to you when you were a child and teenager. That’s only natural. The 40s and 50s probably had points that were better than later decades, but later decades had their good points too. I mean, during the 40s the world was a mess in lots of ways, what with the war going on. And I don’t need to lock my doors at night where I live now.

Also, you say that the government wasn’t involved in everything we did back then, but with war rationing, Jim Crow laws, and in many other areas, that wasn’t true for lots of people. Some people really did live in a Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best world, but there was still a lot of poverty, injustice, crime, and turmoil for lots and lots of others. I’m glad if you never had to experience that as a kid, and I didn’t either in the 70s or 80s. My guess is that a whole lot of today’s kids will grow up and look back at now as the best time in their lives too.

Posted by: Liam at March 31, 2008 11:01 PM
Comment #249636

“I don’t know Jack, I’d be willing to bet that they will continue to blame Bush for everything and anything well into the next decade.”

Just like all those right wing Clinton bashers did for so many years, kctim, its like a do unto to others as they do unto you thing. I guess the surprising thing is why would you expect anything different?

Posted by: j2t2 at April 1, 2008 12:27 AM
Comment #249639

Stephan said: “David, you are confusing patriotism with my economic well being.”

No. I asked a question. Unless asking questions defines confused, I think you assumed far too much.

You answered my questions as I knew you would. Thank you. Your reply gives me your rationalization quotient: anything that harms this country while helping other nations is acceptable to you provided it profits you. Rationalization quotient of about .85. Don’t be offended, mine is about .65.

All American consumers and taxpayers have a rationalization quotient in excess of .60. .50 means they hold their nation’s value and needs equal to their own and won’t rationalize one as of greater priority than the other.

Republicans are responsible for trillions of US dollars having been exported overseas to the detriment of our economy and people and to the enormous political, economic, and strategic benefit of other nations like China, India, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. China dictated terms at the end of last year to both Bush and Paulson on trade, threatening to put 1 Trillion dollars of US debt instruments on the open market. Bush and Paulson immediately retreated from their tough talk and insistence that China float the Yuan, like the good puppets of Chinese foreign policy they made themselves into.

I suspect now you would oppose Democrat’s fair trade policies for Republican’s free trade policies, so called, for they are not free at all. We are losing ground and paying other nations for the privilege of enriching their nations economically and have been for a very long time now. Tax Americans to militarily defend Europe as the EU became more independent of the US and developed its own United States of sorts, is precisely the kind of policy Republicans have promoted since the Nixon years. And the costs have been adding up and only recently have exceeded Americans ignorance threshold to become blatantly noticeable.

Thank you for your responses. I like to know who I am debating and what the weaknesses in their value systems are for debate purposes. You have been most generous with your reply.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 1, 2008 3:52 AM
Comment #249640

VV

We seem to agree on many of those points. However, I don’t think poverty is so much a human creation as a lack of it.

The interesting question is NOT why poverty persists, but why it has not persisted for so much of the human population. Before the rise of industrial market economies, almost everybody lived in what we would think of today as abject poverty in terms of the wealth they could command. This poverty cycle had persisted for thousands of years and suddenly (in historical terms) it changed.

Re intellectual property, I don’t only mean our own educations, but all the things we are using right now. This blog is a type of intellectual property. It cost almost nothing in physical resources to create the thing that gives you many hours of pure joy to read.

Re being richer – almost every American has access to more goods and services than someone in his similar position a generation ago. Have you notice how well welfare recipients are dressed these days? I could show you pictures of my lower middle class childhood and you would notice we had patches and holes in our shoes – and it was not a fashion statement. It was even worse for our parents.

And a person living near the poverty line today has access to goods and services similar to that of a middle class person 50 years ago. We have just become so used to things like air conditioning, color TVs, VCRs, cars etc that we think of these luxuries as normal.

Re hedonists – I think you and I are not defining the term that same way. There are many rich people who are not hedonists and many poor ones who are. In fact, in my experience being a hedonists often is what prevents people from becoming more prosperous. They p*ss away their money and do not postpone gratification. Do that for a couple of years and you become poor.

David

I think it is prudent to diversify your investments. I keep around 1/3 of my portfolio in foreign stocks. I expect a lot of foreigners have investments in America. The world is not a closed system. We can all get more prosperous together.

I think you do hit on the free rider problem, however. The Chinese, Europeans etc, owe us big time for the security we provide. The only reason China or Germany can be a wealthy trading nation is because the U.S. and it allies protect the trade routes. They do not pay their way. Unfortunately, this is the way it is with great powers. We Americans sheltered behind the Royal Navy for 100 years – and complained about it the whole time.

I believe this time of American protection is coming to an end. As the European, Chinese etc have to start paying for their own defense, they will miss “U.S. hegemony” and the services we provide. Well ALL benefit from the protection. It is just that we (Americans) pay a disproportionate share. I have been unable to figue out how to make them pay their fair share, as long as the U.S. was so predominant. I think that they will begin to fill in as we are less able to do it. Just like the U.S. did as the British power declined. You may recall, however, that the transition period (roughly 1910-1950) was a b*tch.

Posted by: Jack at April 1, 2008 7:20 AM
Comment #249646

J2
Deep down, I knew it wouldn’t be any different, especially after the 06 elections. But I guess a part of me was hoping that all their talk over the last 8 years would apply to their own when they got power.
But, instead of a “real change, real people can believe in,” we are going to get the same “party change, that partisans can believe in.”

Oh well, another 4-8 years of the same old crap can’t be all that bad, can it?

Posted by: kctim at April 1, 2008 12:33 PM
Comment #249677

This is interesting, although controversial:

About electability

Posted by: womanmarine at April 2, 2008 3:04 PM
Comment #249709

Jack said: “We can all get more prosperous together.”

Not with 43 million uninsured Americans, or high school graduation rates in some urban areas as low as 50%, or the inexorable march toward proxy parenting by forcing parents to work and farm out parenting to the schools and neighborhood.

Some, Jack. Not ‘all’ by any means. But, then that is Republicans natural order, that some may profit and prosper on the servitude and indebtedness of the masses in their employ. You are so good at hiding your Party’s Darwinian philosophical roots and your apologist role in defending them.

Fortunately, I and a host of others are acutely aware of those foundations and their deceptive ends. Apologize on, Jack, and we will continue to expose what lies beneath the apologist comments and arguments.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 2, 2008 8:58 PM
Comment #249721

David

Yes - some people do better than others. I believe in working and improving my performance. If we do our jobs well, that helps the total economy because we are producing goods and services that others want and need. We should help everyone contribute. I do not appologize for being smart, working hard and not being profigate with the money I earn. I am proud of that.

My (and your) hard work and good behavior is not the cause of others dropping out of HS, having kids outside marriage or not having insurance. I do plenty to help such people and I share the wealth I have created with various “good” causes.

I don’t know what behavior you think I am trying to appologize for. Is it working hard? Maybe working smart? Maybe doing my duty to my country? Is not borrowing more than we can pay back a flaw, saving money a sin? Perhaps you think it is a bad idea to share the wealth w/o government forcing you to do it. I think these things are a higher calling than the command and control.

Yes, you caught me. I am a good citizen and most people cannot live up to that so I have created inequality. Some people now suffer from low self esteem in comparison.

Posted by: Jack at April 3, 2008 1:32 AM
Comment #249731

Jack the apology I refer to is your support of the people who created 3.5 trillion in new national debt for my and other’s children to shoulder. I refer to your apologetic support for the people who brought us Iraq, which took more good American’s lives than the 9/11 attacks did. Your support of a party that trashed opportunities of millions while generating the largest amassing of wealth by the wealthy in 7 years, than any other 7 year period in American history. I could go on, but, your comment obviously does not seek a laundry list of GOP failures.

Your commentary is ever the apologist trying to defend against the reality and history of your Party’s elected official’s, which you supported then, and continue to support now.

An internal memo was released this week demonstrating the White House’s intent to exempt the CIA from torture limitations. Can’t wait for your apologetic take on that bit of concrete evidence. In the past your apology was that it was not the White House but a handful of misguided individuals in the lower ranks responsible for torture by our government’s agents.

Quick, get out the revision machine. Look forward to it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 3, 2008 6:34 AM
Comment #249741

David

Iraq was poorly implemented. There are many reasons for that. I won’t apologize for the decision to remove Saddam, which made sense given the evidence of the time. Beyond that, we do not know what would have happened if we had decided not to go in. This was a very dangerous situation with no very good options. The Democratic cut and run strategy now would be very irresponsible.

Re wealth creation, do check your figures. The seven years of the Clinton Administration created inequality faster. Inequality actually fell during the first years of Bush. Inequality growth is a worldwide phenomenon that has been going on for 50 years. The rich pay a greater % of the taxes than they did back then. Party politics seem to have little effect on inequality.

The debt is a smaller % of GDP than it was at most other times in the last 50 years. The big threat is entitlements. My party tried to deal with that in 2005. Dems and others stopped all progress. I think you should be the ones apologizing for that. We could handle the debt we have now; the entitlement will strangle us.

Of course, I will take credit for the fact that we prevented new major terror attacks in the U.S. since 9/11. Some of what people call torture may account for that. I don’t feel bad that the mastermind of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden’s associate suffered some pain and in return provided information that saved American lives. My candidate for president has spoken out against those things, however, and I will go with his opinion on this. Frankly, I don’t care that much about this subject. Very few terrorists suffered anyway. It never became widespread.

Posted by: Jack at April 3, 2008 9:49 AM
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