When Atlas Shrugs

Russell Roberts, in the midst of a distinguished panel discussion that frankly does Canadian television proud, makes a very important point about the reason the Great Depression hung around so long. It speaks to the parallel between a driving lession I’ve tried to hammer into my teenaged kids and the environment a government must make for its economy. You can say it in two words. “Be PREDICTABLE.”

Roberts' observation was that business during that period of our history didn't invest in the creation of productive capacity, not even enough to replace that capacity lost to wear and tear. This, he notes, was largely due to unpredictable government policies. While one can argue many ways on the good and ill of policies pursued by both presidents during the Depression (and members of the panel swung rather widely in this area) no one said anything to counter Roberts' fundamental criticism. A key factor in business decision making is stability. A hard business environment that is stable and predictable is better than a good environment that changes by the day.


As if to amplify this point a business owner by the name of C Edmund Wright writes this article for the American Thinker. Wright states essentially that the job losses of the last month represent a business culture going "on strike", as it were, fearful of the people who have gained the upper hand in American politics. He speaks to the harm of unpredictability, noting especially the case of an Illinois company by the name of Republic Windows and Doors-

We learned just this week that getting out of business is harder than we thought. Take Republic Windows & Doors of Chicago, where being out of money and out of paying customers apparently does not give a business the right to shut down. Nor does it give that business' bank the right to withhold credit. According to the unions, Jesse Jackson and the Governor of Illinois (yes, THAT governor), this company must continue to pay its employees salaries and benefits.

People who do not own businesses, and thus have not committed their lives to the kind of independence required to be in business, can hardly imagine the horror one can feel at the thought that the government would not allow one even to stop digging the grave of one's business once it has been completed. Yet here we see precisely such a travesty.

We hear the word "transparency" a lot these days, mostly in the context of a nearly opaque organization (government) demanding tranparency of far more open organization in the business world. In that regard we see transparency being expressed in the present only. What business must see for people to be confident enough to take on considerable risk, debt, and the threat of criminal liabilty that government always hangs over one's head, is a transparency that extends into the future. Their taxes will be stable. Their wage structures will not be interfered with by outsiders. Their products will not be outlawed or capriciously regulated. Their foreign competitors will not be given a de-facto advantage in crucial foreign markets by our government's actions. There is simply no sense in the current climate that we can look forward to this kind of stability.

It is too much to expect the coming administration and congress to present what business owners throughout this country will think of as a "good" business environment. Business people, though, are a hearty lot. If times are tough many of them will still see sufficient opportunity to forge ahead with risks- IF they see a way of profiting by the effort. If they see an ever-changing rulebook and playing field, though, they will, as business people did in the 1930s, stay home and play it safe.

By the way, take the whole 35 minutes to see the discussion show at the head of this article. It's a good short review of several views of the Great depression. I wish we could get discussions like this on American television.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at December 14, 2008 7:00 PM
Comments
Comment #272032

What happened to our economy is that our ability to determine risk and return on risk has been diminished, and mostly because of a lack of good regulation, and far too much action taken in short-term panic meant to stave off political disaster, rather than well considered public policy.

Ask yourself: if we had a culture of meeting the challenges of compliance, rather than doing our best to avoid it and find loopholes, would we not have greater predictability? If we had not followed ideology to the point where we were gutting basic industries and consumer spending strength, would the economy not be more robust, Americans spending better, on better things?

If we did ourselves the massive favor of making sure the market had the good information and the proper measurements for risk, would that not have lead to better decisions about where to invest, and less chaos in terms of investments that turned out to be boondoggles when the truth was learned?

We’ve allowed the creation of a culture of deception in business, a culture of pretense and incompetence. None of these things works well for the kind of predictability that helps anybody.

The Market can only work properly if people know what will be expected of them, and are discouraged from leveraging themselves into a business unless they have the capitalization to belong in business.

Or, put another way: if a man or woman building a restaurant doesn’t have the money to build it to code, what right do they have to build it at all? If they don’t have the money to pay legitimate wages to the people who work there, wages a person can live off of in the places in involved, do they really belong in business? If they don’t have the responsible attitude to keep the place clean and free of health hazard, what good does it do anybody to have them in business? Is their right to be in business greater than the customer’s right to eat food that’s not going to put them in the hospital, even kill them?

There’s a difference between an efficient economy where people know what’s what, know what the risks are and the obligations are, and a cheapskate economy where you take your chances in a corrupt atmosphere every step of the way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 14, 2008 8:32 PM
Comment #272051

>It is too much to expect the coming administration and congress to present what business owners throughout this country will think of as a “good” business environment. Business people, though, are a hearty lot.
Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at December 14, 2008 07:00 PM

Lee,

A ‘good’ business environment? We gave way to ‘corporate citizenship’, and GRAMM gave way to no corporate oversight, and Congress gave way too many loopholes for tax dodging (most corporations don’t pay taxes, but still have the rights of taxpayers). Look where THAT got us…a good business environment to you must mean an unlimited supply of slave labor…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 15, 2008 8:05 AM
Comment #272054

Stephen,

This post of yours deserves a little special attention because everything you say with an eye toward the supposed evils of business also applies to the very real evils of government. To wit-

Ask yourself: if we had a culture of meeting the challenges of compliance, rather than doing our best to avoid it and find loopholes, would we not have greater predictability?
Does not government itself have an obligation to be transparent in its handling of the people’s business? Does it reveal to us there is no money in the Social Security trust fund, that the Madoff Ponzi scheme is a silly piddle compared to the one being visited upon us in that program, in Medicare, and in Medicaid? Where is the compliance there, Stephen? Why should people who must deal with the real issues of the marketplace have to “comply” with the self-serving whims of people who would be in prison if they operated private businesses the way they operate the public trust?

What you are pontificating about is the governmental demand that business in America practice asymetrical altruism. This is the bigotry of liberals. Atlas is strong so he should be obligated to carry the weak of the world on his shoulders, and do it in the way the leaders of the world require of him.

There has been a plethora of articles, even in liberal sources like the New York Times, pointing to the ways the GSEs like Fannie and Freddie, your government making a profit at your expense, thwarted efforts to contain and regulate the dangers of risky business practices. Where was the “compliance” there?

If we did ourselves the massive favor of making sure the market had the good information and the proper measurements for risk, would that not have lead to better decisions about where to invest, and less chaos in terms of investments that turned out to be boondoggles when the truth was learned?
In point of fact, Stephen, the answer to this is an emphatic NO. The “best” information is always the indicators we derive from the last crisis. We are great at fighting the last war, but not so good at figuring out what the best indicators are for the next one. No one on Earth had better information than the Fed Chairman and the Secretary of the Treasury but, though they had been watching numbers getting out of whack for a year, they were both surprised by the unfolding of the market crisis. That is in spite of the fact that Ben Bernanke is one of the world’s most widely respected scholars on the Great Depression.
Central planners entertain a great hubristic fantasy that they can know enough to do the right thing before the fact. The market is better at dealing with the real world in real time because individual decisions are being made on the basis of immediate local knowledge collected at every point of market contact. Interferance with that process can lead to situations like that in the Great Depression in which government interventions actually impeded America’s recovery, delaying what had happened in most of the free world by 1937 to 1945 or later according to half the panel in the video in this article. It was compliance with government attempts to keep wages artificially high, for example, that clamped down on hiring and the growth of productivity. A similar thing happened with compliance with government wage and price controls in the Nixon administration.
It is impossible for anyone to gather all the right information, or even to know what the right information is at a given moment. That means that most of the people in the market will be wrong sometimes, but so will most of the people in government. If government is in charge, though, they will foreclose the options and eliminate the advantages of the few in the market who were right while they bask in the warm glow of being men of action by pursuing the imperitives of their ignorance.

The fact of the matter is, Stephen, you can’t get over your worshipful adoration of the leadership of the governmental wise ones. They change the rules all the time. They tell us how to run our businesses, and get it wrong. They make us uncompetitive in the world and then punish us when we complain. They stupidly think wealth is money and jobs even as their actions suppress production, and especially domestic production. They lay a crust of incompetence over the whole economy. All this and YOU think we should see it as being in our self-interest to blindly follow these nincompoops!

Still, my point stands. As dull-witted and stupid as these Ivy-league governmental flakes are, if they will just set a course and keep it steady the business community of America will be able to jury-rig a recovery around their follies.

Marysdude,

People who say there has been “no corporate oversight” are just talking nonsense. All of the bank collapses so far have been a direct result of accounting oversight intersecting with accounting rules imposed after the Enron and Tyco scandals. The philosophies by which oversight is applied change from administration to administration.

What is laughable is that you insist that proper guardians of our business environment are the wolves who have eaten the content of your Social Security henhouse.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 15, 2008 9:43 AM
Comment #272068

In my humble opinion…Ayn Rand, Adam Smith and even the great Prince Machiavelli would blush at the way Republicans have dirtied this economy.

Lee, those who have eaten my Social Security are/were…Johnson, Reagan, Bush and Cheney/Bush, and the really sad thing is…they set out to do just that. It was just too much like socialism for the wealthy to digest, and Johnson just needed money to run another misbegotten war.

How weary this stupidity has become…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 15, 2008 1:39 PM
Comment #272081

Good job Lee…and right on the mark. Nearly all the discussion and disagreement on this blog centers around the differing basic political philosophies of our two major parties.

We have one party that believes in government of the people and the other party believing in people of the government. There can never be, nor should there be, any twaining of these two beliefs. There can be no compromise in principle.

Posted by: Jim M at December 15, 2008 3:30 PM
Comment #272082

Lee Jamison-
My principles are based on the notion that the market is more a system of trial and error than anything else, and that some errors are predictably bad or common enough, or come with enough historical baggage to merit prevention through legislation or regulation, rather than have the economy suffer through the repetition of such harmful, even catastrophic errors again.

I don’t worship anything in the material world, government or market. The invisible hand of the market is not on loan from some other deity in my mind, nor is government handed the divine right to rule from the other hand of God. I believe in active participation in both, and that each should be a check and a balance against the other.

Is everything so unpredictable? I don’t think so. We are not completely ignorant, nor oblivious to the past. We should realize, in no short order, than we’ve committed many of the mistakes that we committed with this current economic downturn before. Letting banks get too consolidated, for one, or any business for that matter.

Republicans only discovered the whole problem when the GSE’s went into conservatorship. We were on this from the beginning We had people on this long before the fall of Fannie and Freddie qualified it for Republican attention. That’s how people like me know that the GSE failure argument for the collapse is BS. We knew about CDS’s when your people still thought it was a digital audio format. And I think we can fairly say we saw the catastrophe coming. People like Obama knew it was a problem early on. McCain only caught on after his last statement that the fundamentals of the economy were strong.

If people had known that their investments were risky, they would have acted accordingly. But the system was rigged to make crap look like gold, to make overleveraged institutions look like good investments, to make an economy that was really wheezing like an emphysema patient look like it was healthy as a horse.

Americans needed somebody watching the store. They needed a system that people could understand, not one that would even mystify those with PhD.s. Deregulations created a system that even geniuses couldn’t figure out, where the inevitable greed wasn’t channeled by the obligations of disclosure and and responsible handling of other people’s money into profitable, constructive behavior.

Nobody’s going to get regulations perfect, but we’ve got to set up the right rules for the game, the right rules for the road so that people aren’t getting run over when the sign says walk.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 15, 2008 3:40 PM
Comment #272083

Stephen wrote; “Nobody’s going to get regulations perfect, but we’ve got to set up the right rules for the game, the right rules for the road so that people aren’t getting run over when the sign says walk.”

Stephen, just who are these “rulemakers” you would trust to get it right this time? Are they the same “rulemakers” who came up with the failed legislation (in the Senate) for the auto bailout?

Are these the same “rulemakers” who have devised all the different gasoline mixtures around the country forcing up prices, the burning of food for fuel with huge subsidizes to promote bad policy, the mandates to banks to lend money for mortgages to those without the means to repay the loans, a tax code running hundreds of pages in length that even the IRS can’t understand…and the rules requiring people to walk when they are capable of running?

Posted by: Jim M at December 15, 2008 4:08 PM
Comment #272085

Jim M-
I don’t trust them to get it right. I’m doing my best to force them to get it right. You shouldn’t put so much stock in the high-flown rhetorical fictions.

Your party (or your political persuasion, if that’s inapplicable) has made a bad habit of not being straight with folks like you about certain facts. First, it was Republicans who were in charge when the Ethanol mixtures were imposed. Second, most of the banks that ran up the huge Credit derivative leverage in the markets had little or nothing to do with the Community Re-investment Act, the supposed means by which the bad loans were supposedly mandated.

I say supposedly, because only a small part of the loans covered with with the CRA were subprime, and only one out of twenty five of the top lenders was a depository bank subject to its conditions.

And on point of fact, the loans originated under this legislation did better than average in terms of their mortgagees paying things back.

The people who wrote the laws were not mandating that people with riskier credit scores be given more loans. They were mandating that more people in neighborhoods deliberately redlined (that is excluded from loans on basis of race or other considerations, be extended mortgages. And this system worked without incident right up until the second half of the Bush administration.

As for the tax code running hundreds of pages, ask yourself a few questions: how many of those provisions were for the benefit of corporations, or people making tons of money; how many of these provisions were used essentially as backside subsidies, put together in a form seen positively by conservatives who couldn’t give out money up front?

And really, how much of this would be necessary if corporations weren’t constantly coming up with useless tax schemes that require legislation and regulation to nail down every loophole?

Regardless of the imperfections of the system, we have a choice: let it get worse, telling ourselves that’s the nature of the system, or fight to reform it, make it better. It won’t be the first time we’ve taken abyssmal govenment and improved it, made it more responsible to the needs of the people. We’ve done it before, we can do it again, and we must, if we’re committed to anything besides the ruin of our society.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 15, 2008 5:02 PM
Comment #272090

Stephen:

Americans needed somebody watching the store.

I have a couple of questions for you:

1. Can you show us a country that does this well? Do you have a country in mind?

2. Who is going to watch the people who are watching the store?

We already have a great deal of people watching the store. Of course as the economy progresses we do need to keep current.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 15, 2008 5:27 PM
Comment #272092

Lee J, on Republic Windows and Doors , severance, vacation pay and temporary health insurance were the issue, about $3500 to $4000 per employee, not “continue to pay its employees salaries and benefits”. Quoting the SunTimes article linked: “The outcome also may be a warning to companies to obey federal law on giving workers at least two months’ notice before closing large plants. Workers at Republic said they were given only three days’ warning.”

Construction is at a standstill, except that von Trump’s tower was completed the other day on the former site of the SunTimes bldg, but it’s too windy to raise the piece at the top. Another project, a new “tallest building” in North America, called “The Spire” here, has halted construction, and everyone is sueing eachother.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 15, 2008 5:55 PM
Comment #272095

Craig Holmes-
America, 1933 to 2001, saw far less devastating economic troubles than the ones we see here. We minded the store for quite some time until a bunch of people told us that all that caution was just weighing the economy down.

Now we’re paying for that impatience. As for who watches the people who watch the store? The owners of the store. And who are the owners of the store? In a Democratic Republic, it’s us.

The Market is not enough. Like I said earlier, it operates mostly by trial and error, and by the time it finally realizes what a mess it’s in, the errors could be unimagineably costly.

We should keep our eyes and ears open, and not nervously ignore the signs of history repeating in financial malfeasance. I’m not calling for a command economy, I’m calling for a configuration of the market that rewards those people who put forth a good faith effort to remain informed.

This current system works against even those who did their due diligence in research, because it allows a fundamental dishonesty to develop about the state of the economy. Look at the laws surrounding credit cards and you’ll see. When the system is rigged to make losers out of responsible people, what good is letting the market do its thing?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 15, 2008 6:28 PM
Comment #272098

Lee

Who died and let business be king? Why should the whole world be designed around business? Did Jesse Jackson and the governor you don’t want to name just pass this law yesterday? No, if it’s the law I think you’re talking about Reagan signed it 25 years ago. (We’re going to close the plant in 6 weeks, but don’t let the employees know. They might find another job.) Citizens need predictability too. Do you have any idea how devastating it can be when the only breadwinner in a family losses their job? At least let them have some notice, even if it’s not good for the business that’s closing.

Steven said something that’s bothered me about the corporate world for a long time.
“Ask yourself: if we had a culture of meeting the challenges of compliance, rather than doing our best to avoid it and find loopholes, would we not have greater predictability?”

Over and over and over again business fights compliance tooth and nail. (in the 60’s) If we have to put seat belts in every car no one will be able to afford to buy them. (in the 90’s) If we have to put air bags in every car no one will be able to afford to buy them. We have hundreds of coal fired electric plants that operate on 1950’s and 1960’s technology, Because it’s cheaper to pay the fines than to comply with the law, and add the scrubbers.
The “right” is always talking about the rule of law, but when it comes to following the law corporations will do anything they can to get around the law. The saddest part of this is the way some of our laws were wrote by lobbyists and their favorite beneficiaries. We have a health care system that’s designed to maximize profit.

On the other hand Lee, thanks for the link. Very interesting discussion. Americans should be jealous of Canadian TV. As a liberal who grew up listening to every thing William Buckley Jr. ever said, I miss real discourse. I didn’t always agree with what Buckley said, but I could understand where he was coming from. A lot of what he said made sense to me. I don’t know if it’s the partisan world we live in or what, but too many conservative talking heads on TV are just idealogs. They leave me walking away thinking “He can’t believe that himself can he?”

You can always learn more by listening to the other side.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at December 15, 2008 6:47 PM
Comment #272107

Can you think of any group of more than three members that does not need someone who makes major decisions, and who must enforce some rules? Yet ‘conservatives want ‘business’ to have free rein???

Posted by: Marysdude at December 15, 2008 9:35 PM
Comment #272113

Lee
So the business community is pouting because they might have to follow the rules? Would you prefer we do like China and let them put poison in baby formula until it gets bad press? How about tainted meat? Us Americans just hate regulations that keep us from eating maggots. And just how are they supposed to make a buck unless they can hire undocuemented workers and beat them out of SS and unemployment benefits?After all whats wrong with having them deported before payday?If you can’t dump toxins in the river or air you are at a definite competitive dis-advantage.
Seriously ,much of this angst is BECAUSE of poor enforcement of regulations. The playing fiel imbalance has had more to do with what a competitor could get away with,overseas and domestically. We need to once again start enforcing labor , product and enviormental laws and applying them to our trade agreements also. We can expect this under BHO. For those in business that cannot handle it,let them get out of business. There are plenty of honorable people to take their place. Therein lies your call for consistency.

Posted by: bills at December 15, 2008 10:22 PM
Comment #272114

Stephen:

America, 1933 to 2001, saw far less devastating economic troubles than the ones we see here. We minded the store for quite some time until a bunch of people told us that all that caution was just weighing the economy down.

And a lot of those were Democrats. Clinton for one. Robert Rubin for another!!!

Lets see, NAFTA, Welfare reform, GLB (passed Senate with 90 votes).

I would separate the numbers a bit different than you. I would put the numbers at 1033 to 1980 as a period when government was the initiator of action in our country. We had three big issues where govenment let us down. They were the Vietnam war, Impeachment, and the 1980 recession. That is when Reagan successfully argued for private enterprise to be allowed to take over. Now we are going back with Government, until we have another Jimmy Carter.


Unemployment in 19

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 15, 2008 10:29 PM
Comment #272116

Stephen:

You didn’t answer the next part of my question.

Where in the world do you see it done right?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 15, 2008 10:30 PM
Comment #272117

Marysdude:

Conservatives do not want business to have free rein. It’s all a matter of degrees. I am not interested in Slavery, or doing away with child labor laws.

You really want to ask the question is, “Are we better off now than we were in 1980.”

The answer is yes! Look at the innovation of the last thirty years.

Let me ask you this. Do you want to reregulate phone service? Are you in favor of returning to one system again?

How about this. Do you want to undo this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AirlineDeregulationAct.gif

Here is an article which discusses deregulation of the trucking industry starting I think with Johnson:

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/TruckingDeregulation.html

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 15, 2008 11:10 PM
Comment #272119

Craig Holmes
Germany does pretty well also France and the EU generally. They are all troubled economically at this point. When America sneezes the world catches a cold is an old and still true axiom.As to who the “rulemakers” will be,that would be the new solidly Democratic congress to be sworn in. You do believe in democracy don’t you?

Lee
When I lived in California I had a labor attorney for a friend. He hit upon a new strategy to collect back overtime pay for victumized workers. Instead of useing the weak labor code he used the strong business code. The one businesses depend on to protect themselves from other businesses. The precedent setting first case involved a large manufacturer of oil filters etc. You have heard of them. The company systematically refused to pay their mostly Hispanic worker time and a half for overtime. They did this for years. The company was found guilty of unfair busness practice,gainning an unfair market place advantage by violateing the law. The chamber of commerce freaked and later managed to make this type of of lawsuit more difficult The point is we should place the rule of law over the rule of the market place or powerful interest groups If you look in a dictionary you will find that as a basic tenet of liberalism and that is what you can expect at this point in history.Its the only sustainable way to achieve the needed consistancy you speak of.

Posted by: bills at December 16, 2008 4:34 AM
Comment #272133

Bills:

Thank you for your post. Wow, I wouldn’t change places with either Germany or France. We talk about our economy is crisis with unemployment. Germany tipically has had unemployment of around 10% which is at the high of our worst recessions since the great depression. Look at the below link where they are encouraged by a 15 year low of 8.4%.

http://germaneconomy.blogspot.com/2008/01/employment-and-unemployment-in-germany.html

Here is another link that compares different countries:

ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/ForeignLabor/flsjec.txt

Government oversight is important, but in the right amount. The two countries you mentioned have government oversight that is two high for me as it creates too much unemployment.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 16, 2008 11:16 AM
Comment #272135


“Are we better off now than we were in 1980.”

Doesn’t that depend on who you ask? Ask the wealthy and the professionals and you will get one answer. Ask the blue collar middle class and the working poor you will get another answer.

How many times did the minimum wage raise during the great economic expansion? How many times did the professionals see their incomes rise in that same period?

The great economic expansion included a great migration of wealth to the upper end of or our society.

I don’t blame the conservatives and liberals for increasing their exploitation of the workers. But, liberals should take a long hard look at themselves because they do claim that they represent the workers interests.

The liberals have finally managed to rally themselves in defence of one of their large unions but, they are still trying to pull the wool over the workers eyes with their comprehensive immigration reform.

The reality is that the working class should only blame themselves for their troubles. They have never wanted to take on the responsibility of governance even in this country where our Constitution puts the responsibility for doing so on them. Since the time of the first priest/king, the common people have always defered to wealth and power for governance.

About the only time the common people challange power is when they are starving or they have been whipped into a mob mentality by religious fervor. When that happens, heads usually start getting lobbed off. Even then, it is usually just a short time until a new wealth and power structure can be reestablished.

Luckily today, the power structure can just print more money to hopefully avoid the conditions that could cause civil unrest.

Once the workers wages are in parity with third world workers, who is next? The professionals? If so, what will professionals do when their incomes become the cause of inability to compete with the third world? Does anyone think that day isn’t coming?

Posted by: jlw at December 16, 2008 11:55 AM
Comment #272144

Craig Holmes-
I didn’t dodge it. America’s system doesn’t contain the kind of socialism that the other systems do, but at the same time, it’s not so permissive as the others were. So, I basically told you when we had a system that worked.

I don’t deny that Democrats participated in the set-up of the system that failed. What I would say is that they were working, as a weakened party, with a President triangulating against a hostile majority. No excuse, no exoneration there, but context: the Democrats were following the Republicans lead, trying to steal the Republican’s thunder to avoid further disadvantage in the face of the GOP majority.

This was the Republican’s bandwagon. Trust me, many Democrats were not pleased about their culture of capitulation. Recall Michael Moore’s left-handed praise of Clinton, that he was the best Republican president we ever had. He was popular because people were convinced Reagan’s legacy was the paradigm. Less government, less public investment, more market-oriented strategies, fiscal conservatism, etc, etc.

So while Democrats deserve much of the blame, we should remember that they don’t deserve much of the credit for the philosophy and political movement behind it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 16, 2008 1:20 PM
Comment #272153

Stephen:

Thank you for your candor on this issue. I think it is important for the sake of the country as we try to figure out how to go forward. Bipartisan acceptance of the past can begin a bipartisan solution to the future.

As for regulation, whenever my tax dollars are involved in a bail out or rescue, my expectation is that there will be regulation to prevent or reduce the risk of a repeat in the future. I think we should have a great debate, not over the question of whether there should be oversight, but rather what limits there should be on additional oversight. My presumption is that I would be for less intrusion than you.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 16, 2008 3:48 PM
Comment #272154

jlw:

We are better off in many ways since 1980.

Here are a few:

1. The USSR is gone.

2. We have roughly 50% more jobs in our country.

3. Inflation has been greatly reduced.

4. We created an innovation system that leads the world.

5. Business is lean and mean in terms of competitive.

6. Deregulation unleashed a huge upswell in productivity.

I think the secret here is to not throw the baby out with the bath. Enourmous good has come from deregulation. One of the problems is that on the frontier of innovation we have nearly none!! (Hedge funds come to mind). Even as we deregulated more established industries such as the phone service, transportation including airlines and trucking etc, other areas appear to be underregulated.

Total deregualtion is hogwash. For instance if you look to the 1930’s some great regulation was created. I can’t imagine even the most conservative person in the room arguing that when you buy an investment that a prospectus needs to constain relevant facts for the purchase. Transparency in public accounting. All kinds of expectations were debated in the 1930’s that laid ground work for future prosperity.

I would argue they went too far in the 1930’s which meant we needed to deregulate. I would also argue it lengthened the depression! A review of regulation is in order. I do not want to become Europe with high unemployment etc. We can review regulation and not throw the baby of economic growth out with the bathwater of excess.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 16, 2008 3:57 PM
Comment #272163

A deep and protracted Depression is very predictable. Doesn’t make it desirable.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 16, 2008 6:02 PM
Comment #272168

Craig Holmes-
Intrusiveness is exactly what we want, I think, within constitutional limits. We’re giving them taxpayer dollars, with a certain goal in mind: preventing their collapse. We want them to prefer things like fuel economy and green technology to the notion of us giving them an Alien Abduction level of scrutiny.

Look at that Treasury program, and how next to useless its been. The main reason is, we’ve been giving those morons in charge of those companies free money without many real constraints. We needed better, but certain folks, who have since lost more face and more seats, argued against that. If we are to intervene, my thoughts are to intervene with both prudence and teeth. If we need to do surgery, a dull scalpel is of little use to us.

As for the merits of deregulation? I don’t buy deregulation or re-regulation in blanket terms. My sensibility is to look at industries and technology with an observant eye. Get people on capital hill and discuss what’s going on, and what the weaknesses of the system might be. One thing for sure, though: businesses should be consulted on the effects of regulation and de-regulation, but not put in a position of dictating terms. It’s not only a matter of putting the foxes on sentry duty for the henhouse, it’s also a matter of the businesscritters not necessarily being all that wise themselves, or being parochially self interested in such a way that what’s good for them is bad for the sector or the rest of the economy. We can’t afford to have too narrow of a perspective on the balancing of all the interests.

One problem with Republicans, aside from their dogmatism on the subject of regulation, is that they generalized far too much in their policy, and never considered what the effect of their policies on balance was. I think many of our problems could have been predicted, if those in charged hand not listened only to a narrow range of parochially interested business leaders.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 16, 2008 6:59 PM
Comment #272171

Jim M -

“We have one party that believes in government of the people and the other party believing in people of the government. There can never be, nor should there be, any twaining of these two beliefs. There can be no compromise in principle.”

What a WONDERFUL example of the conservative habit of placing ideology ahead of pragmatism. They insist the world MUST work the way THEY think it ought to work…and ignore the empirical evidence that they are flat wrong - as the current economic meltdown proves.

Craig -

When you read the ‘higher’ unemployment rate for Europe, bear in mind that America’s ‘rate’ isn’t what it seems…because the government doesn’t count those who no longer are eligible for unemployment checks. If we counted those, we’d find our unemployment rate is significantly higher.

It’s just like our rate of inflation - if we calculated the rate of inflation in the same manner as it was during the Carter administration, our rate would be something like 12%. But I’m not blaming Bush for this one - it was Clinton’s administration that started it.

But in any case, our economy’s a mess, and it’s the Republican “Deficits don’t matter” mindset that landed us here…and YES, that’s exactly what Dick Cheney said: “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter”.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at December 16, 2008 9:28 PM
Comment #272172


“So while Democrats deserve much of the blame, we should remember that they don’t deserve much of the credit for the philosophy and political movement behind it.”

Stephen, which do you think Republicans care the most about, that they get the lions share of credit for their philosophy or that the Democratic Party has adopted the Republican philosophy as their means of governing.

When a new president is elected, the first thing that people look at to gain a sense of how he will govern is his cabinet selections.

Many Republicans have found little fault with Obama’s selections. They have praised his finance selections because they are deregulators.

Republicans have expressed much hatred for Hillary Clinton over the years, the exception being some of the Republicans who have served with her in the Senate. And yet Republicans have expressed their acceptance and some have praised her selection as Sec. of State. partly because of her reputation as a war hawk.

Today, the king of Pax Americana, Dick Cheney had high praise for Obama’s national defence team.

Needless to say, many Progressives don’t share the Republicans exuberance.

Posted by: jlw at December 16, 2008 10:46 PM
Comment #272174

Glenn:

Not only does Germany and France have a much higher unemployment rate, they also work far less hours and are far less productive in work per hour than American counterparts.

Also Germans and the French leave work at a much earlier age. All these issue contribute to a much lower economic growth over time. Part of this is a lack of incentive as taxes are so much higher in Germany and France.

It’s good to be an American.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 16, 2008 11:26 PM
Comment #272175

Craig -

1. Read my post again - the American government does NOT list the TRUE unemployment rate, but ONLY counts those who are currently eligible for unemployment benefits. Therefore you CANNOT say that Germany has a higher unemployment rate - you don’t know and neither do I, thanks to your government at work.

2. 43.7% of their workers work more than 40 hours/week (#11 on the list). They’re #14 on the list of countries by worker productivity. Sure, America is higher on the list than both, but Germany is by NO means the economic disaster you seem to believe. So is Germany really as bad off as you’d like us to think? Or do you simply not know what the #$%# you’re talking about? Besides, if you look at the charts, Norway is LAST on the list of hours worked per week, but FIRST on the list of worker productivity!!!!

Besides, do you really think it’s a good thing that it’s normal to have only two weeks’ vacation with your family per year, whereas most other modern democracies mandate forty-five days’ vacation for workers? Sure, the businesses would make more money if there were only two weeks’ vacation like here in America, but which is more important? More money for the company, or more time for the family to spend together while providing a living wage for those families?

Did you ever wonder what would happen if families spent more time together? Would crime increase? Would the divorce rate rise? Would children be more estranged from their parents? Or would families grow closer together because they’ve got more than a couple weeks together for some honest-to-goodness quality time?

Or is quality of life of employees’ families something that’s simply not important to you, especially when there’s the profits of companies to consider? After all, since when did an employee’s family’s happiness ever do anything for profits, huh?

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at December 17, 2008 3:25 AM
Comment #272176

Craig -

My apologies - I should have checked my ‘45 days’ claim before I posted. It’s less, but on this list of countries by normal leave time per year, we’re the ONLY country that (for private companies) has NO federally-mandated minimum number of days of vacation for employees.

Ah, but who needs vacations, right? Since when were THOSE important when there’s a profit to be made, right?

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at December 17, 2008 3:34 AM
Comment #272177
we’re the ONLY country that (for private companies) has NO federally-mandated minimum number of days of vacation for employees.

Thanks god!

Some people want to take vacations and others don’t. Shouldn’t that be left up to the individual to decide, not mandated by force?

And in a society that used to be based on individual choice, it is nice to know that some aspects of that philosophy still exists somewhere…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 17, 2008 5:12 AM
Comment #272179

Rhinehold it usually isn’t up to the individual it is up to the corporation that the individual works for. Besides wouldn’t it be wiser to have a rule of law instead of having the corporation force the individual workers to not take a vacation. Does your individual right to not take a vacation and go postal on fellow workers outweigh their right to not get shot by the stressed out worker?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 17, 2008 5:27 AM
Comment #272180
Rhinehold it usually isn’t up to the individual it is up to the corporation that the individual works for

No, that’s is incorrect. It is always up to the individual. That you find people so helpless is telling and, to be honest, very worrisome.

Does your individual right to not take a vacation and go postal on fellow workers outweigh their right to not get shot by the stressed out worker?

I’m not sure I can begin to explain to you all of the ways that statement is ridiculous. And a perfect example of why we have lost nearly all of our freedoms in the one country that was supposed to champion them.

First, you assume that not taking a vacation will cause people to ‘go postal’. That isn’t true.

Second, you assume that because a person is of a certain mind that it gives them a right to harm another, again, not true.

Finally, the reaching to find some way to keep everyone under the thumb of a government, forced to be identical little auto-bots makes me weep for the future of our children. :/

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 17, 2008 7:10 AM
Comment #272181

Craig Holms
As GC points out, unemployment figures can be mis-leading. There are other significant factors to be taken in also when comparing economies. Literacy, life span,infant mortality,vacations etc. Certainly Germany is not perfect,nor Norway,nor Japan etc. but it would be foolish for us to ignore some of their successes and approaches.
As for productivity, historically wages have more or less followed productivity gains. This has not happened for several years in the US. While remarkable productivity gains have been achieved wages have remained esentially flat with the wealth increase accrueing at the top. Had this not been the case we would not be in fix we are in IMO.


RH
Ha, Ha..I just can’t wait for your follow up leading to the remarkably Orwellian notion that more vacation time equates to a loss of freedom.

Posted by: bills at December 17, 2008 7:14 AM
Comment #272182

bills,

It is not Orwellian, it is a simple fact that taking away an individual’s right to work in a manner that they choose is a loss of freedom. Since you apparently can’t see that simple fact through your red-colored glasses, it does not make much sense to attempt explaining it to you.

Are you also of the delusion that business controls the workers instead of understanding the truth that the workers hold all of the power?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 17, 2008 7:20 AM
Comment #272188

Rhinehold -

It’s not an individual’s ‘right to work’ that we’re discussing here - it’s the company’s ability to allow vacation time…or to NOT allow ANY vacation time at all.

But I think we’re seeing a wonderful illustration here on who thinks more time with the family is a GOOD thing, and who thinks more time with the family is NOT nearly so important as profits for the company.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at December 17, 2008 9:37 AM
Comment #272191

jlw-
He’s brought along mainly centrist folks. But I don’t mind that. It’s easier to convince Republicans and right-leaning independents to go along with the needed reforms when they’ve got somebody there who won’t let Obama get too far afield.

I know we would all like the government to be arranged to our tastes, but Democracies have a way of frustrating that ambition. All that means, though, is that we need to be persuasive, rather than attempt to force things on people. Given the current environment, we have a head start on convincing people something needs to be done.

The Republicans need a bad guy to fight against, and Obama’s giving them little to fight against that they don’t look like the bad guys for opposing.

Rhinehold-
I would assume that the individual would be guaranteed some choice of when to take their vacation.

We’re not happy. We’re not getting something for the something we’re sacrificing. It used to be that people would have vacation time, the opportunity to unwind. No more.

In the interests of “productivity”, Businesses cut down on things like vacation, or encourage employees to work endlessly. But has this made us more productive, or just more busy?

No, folks won’t go postal if you don’t give them time off. But will they be as creative? As motivated? I remember reading in the latest book of Bob Woodward’s chronicles of the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq that the generals of that war would find time to relax, to unwind, even in the midst of the biggest, most important campaign. Nowadays, our Generals are workaholics who burn out and are replaced on a constant basis.

We’ve allowed the increasing pace of technology to blind us to an important fact: we’re only human, and neither body and mind works best under constant, unremitting stress.

It is important for people to be productive, but it’s also important for efforts and thoughts to be productive. One reason we have such a tendency to be deferential to other people on decisions is that groupthink has the virtue of cutting down on the time it takes to think things through.

But does that make our system more efficient? No. We’ve been working harder, but not smarter, doing less well, even as we do more and do more faster.

Which is to say, this system has made us into those automatons you so feared. We’re less creative than we once were, less concerned with virtues and other niceties that require us to actually stop and consider what the hell we’re doing.

This economy became the strained and broken thing it is now because it became more important to be productive than to be happy or right. We need a more human economy if we are to have a better economy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 17, 2008 10:04 AM
Comment #272194

Rhinehold in today’s job market it is not always up to the individual that is not independently wealthy. Most of us are forced to make choices, such as staying in the job, due to outside influences beyond our immediate control.

“First, you assume that not taking a vacation will cause people to ‘go postal’. That isn’t true.”

going postal was just one, more extreme perhaps, example of negatives reactions to excess stress. The fight or flight thing. Of course not all, not even many, but a few choose the going postal route as stress builds. Lest we forget though, it is not just going postal that is a result of excess stress.


“Second, you assume that because a person is of a certain mind that it gives them a right to harm another, again, not true.”

Rhinehold I don’t assume any such thing. However I certainly realize that we live in a nation of people that include some that would resort to violence in the belief that it would solve their problems. To think that a person would not use violence in this country because it is not a right seems to me to be rather naive based upon the typical daily newspaper stories I see.

“Finally, the reaching to find some way to keep everyone under the thumb of a government, forced to be identical little auto-bots makes me weep for the future of our children.”

Speaking of reaching Rhinehold isn’t it a stretch to think that should the government have a labor law that would mandate large corporations to include more vacation time in the benefit package it would lead to all of us becoming auto-bots? In fact it would seem to me that this corporation individualism and thinking we are violating the corporate right to not allow expanded vacation time is leading to this “auto-botism’ you write of at a much faster pace.
All hail John Galt and corporate personhood sure seems appropriate in the “Atlas Shrugs” thread, however it just isn’t right IMHO.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 17, 2008 11:27 AM
Comment #272198
It’s not an individual’s ‘right to work’ that we’re discussing here - it’s the company’s ability to allow vacation time…or to NOT allow ANY vacation time at all.

First, there is no right to work. No one, in a free society, can be forced by law to provide anything for anyone else. This includes a job or vacation, etc.

What you want to do is cross that line and say that business must provide vacation time to someone. How much vacation time? 2 weeks? 3? 10?

But further, you are preventing an individual from negotiating their vacation time with their employer. Suppose that they want to have no vacation time but want more comp time instead? Or want to make vacation time dependant upon profitability? Or any other number of things? No, instead you prevent them from entering into those agreements with another individual because the government says so. How is that freedom? How is that empowering? How is that anything but other people telling an individual how they are going to live their lives for them?

But I think we’re seeing a wonderful illustration here on who thinks more time with the family is a GOOD thing, and who thinks more time with the family is NOT nearly so important as profits for the company.

No, you aren’t. You *WANT* that to be the discussion, but it is not. I personally negotiated 3 weeks vacation for myself with the company I work for, it was not forced upon be by the government and because there is no federal mandate the company didn’t have the ability to say ‘no, government says 2, so that’s all you get’.

What you are seeing is person A and B telling person C how they are going to live their lives, including how much vacation time they are forced to take and how they are going to negotiate vacation time, or its value, with the companies they choose to work for. I know people who would rankle (and do) at the notion of vacation. They are workaholics and love working. But apparently their rights aren’t worth protecting for some…

Posted by: rhinehold at December 17, 2008 12:07 PM
Comment #272200
Rhinehold in today’s job market it is not always up to the individual that is not independently wealthy. Most of us are forced to make choices, such as staying in the job, due to outside influences beyond our immediate control.

Bull, with government assistance we have even more power to walk away from a company. A company is going to FAIL if we choose not to work for them. If their benefits and business practices are not acceptable, they will fail, because people will not work for them.

People who allow themselves to accept less are the ones who are doing those things to themselves, not the companies.

I am hardly indpendently wealthy, yet I would never work for a company that did not provide vacation, no I negotiated more than is being suggested here. Why? Because it was important to me. To others it is not as important as other things. That should be between the employer and the individual to decide upon, not the general masses imposing their wills on them.

Instead, Stephen wants to micromanage the economy and the individual that make it up by deciding upon the details of each and every American’s work contract, determining FOR THEM if it is acceptable to them or not. That’s awful nice of Stephen but I am sure many, including myself, would like you to just stay the hell away from my life and let me live it as I choose, not you.

Speaking of reaching Rhinehold isn’t it a stretch to think that should the government have a labor law that would mandate large corporations to include more vacation time in the benefit package it would lead to all of us becoming auto-bots?

Nope. When you lose freedoms and submit to the will of the masses in how you live your life, you dumb down the citizenry to no longer be able to think about those things for themselves. I can show you examples of it all over today, the results of what the New Deal and government controlled education system has wrought. Facts are not stretches.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 17, 2008 12:15 PM
Comment #272201

“We have one party that believes in government of the people and the other party believing in people of the government. There can never be, nor should there be, any twaining of these two beliefs. There can be no compromise in principle.
Posted by: Jim M at December 15, 2008 03:30 PM”

Jim M. can you show some examples of recent legislation that would prove your point? To think that either the dems or the repubs believes in “government of the people” seems to me to be a stretch. To think that conservatives have principles that include belief in “government of the people” would be to either deny the past 8 years including the “K” street scandal, or to believe that principles are only ideas to talk about and not be acted upon. The repubs in particular have favored corporate lobbyist to the point that we the people are not represented in Congress. Both parties have allowed these corporate lobbyist to buy legislation that reflects only the interest of the corporation. The Medicare prescription fiasco comes to mind.

IMHO it is worse to pretend that your party has principles but then not ensure they following through on these principles than it is to not have the pretense of principles.

BTW which party also believes in the rest of the story- “by the people and for the people” as a principle? Certainly not the repubs, well unless people translates to “in the best interest of the corporation”.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 17, 2008 12:26 PM
Comment #272203

“Bull, with government assistance we have even more power to walk away from a company.”

Yes a very bad choice to walk away from a job and try to get UI Rhinehold. In fact you don’t get UI if you voluntarily leave a job. Just for fun Rhinehold quit your job then go to the workfare office and ask for assistance. This myth you perpetrate just isn’t realistic, it is theory not practicality.

“A company is going to FAIL if we choose not to work for them. If their benefits and business practices are not acceptable, they will fail, because people will not work for them.”

Do you have any recent real world examples of this Rhinehold? I understand the theory but have not seen this mythological power actually work in this Country in my lifetime.

“People who allow themselves to accept less are the ones who are doing those things to themselves, not the companies.”

Or are in a financial position that requires them to accept less. I think of the many construction workers out of work because of the credit crisis. I don’t they they allowed this to happen I think they are caught up in bigger things outside of their control. I also think that the corporations Lee speaks of that laid off so many workers in November due to their belief that the workers voted for Obama is not the fault of the workers.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 17, 2008 12:48 PM
Comment #272206
As GC points out, unemployment figures can be mis-leading. There are other significant factors to be taken in also when comparing economies. Literacy, life span,infant mortality,vacations etc. Certainly Germany is not perfect,nor Norway,nor Japan etc. but it would be foolish for us to ignore some of their successes and approaches.

As it is foolish to ignore our successes which has be amazing since 1980 even with this downturn. Check GDP growth for USA verses Germany and France.

Besides, do you really think it’s a good thing that it’s normal to have only two weeks’ vacation with your family per year, whereas most other modern democracies mandate forty-five days’ vacation for workers?

I have traditionally taken one week off a year for the last 20 years so you are asking the wrong person.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 12:58 PM
Comment #272209

It always seems strange to me that the same folks who think business management teams are there because they are somehow superior, and deserve all those perks, want to blame those they think are not superior for business failure…does that seem strange to anyone else?

If labor is truly the cause d effect of the big three going down, doesn’t that mean that labor has been in charge all along, and should have been making the multi-million dollar bonuses, and flying in the luxury jets?

Man! Even when I try, I can’t get this meltdown to be a labor problem…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 17, 2008 1:07 PM
Comment #272211

Rhinehold-
You need not speak for what I want. I speak to that abundantly.

I am in favor of leaving a broad space of decision-making up to the businesses in this country. But you presume to speak for me and say that I want micromanagement. Maybe that’s your take on anything short of Reagan style-deregulation, but for my money, that’s not what I want.

I do want to strike a balance between government-moderated, and market managed aspects of the economy. This is not simply me saying something politically correct. I understand at a philosophical and practical level why micromanagement will not and cannot work.

At the same time, I understand this: not every emergent outcome is a good one. We can’t simply brainlessly expect the market to make every decision for us, or waste time making the same mistakes over and over again.

We managed a functional economy for quite some time with such a hybrid system. You folks weren’t satisfied with that. You tried things your way, and the results were repeatedly disastrous.

I think you fundamentally misunderstand something else: few agreements, either between employers and employees, nor between companies, nor between customers and businesses, are engaged in without some kind of law or legal structure in place to ensure fair dealing, compliance, and prevent deception. The question you must ask, as you try to push your agenda, is whether or not people see useful value in such protections. If so, you have an uphill climb to convince them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 17, 2008 1:13 PM
Comment #272212

Marysdude:

It is almost never the fault of labor. Research that I have read over the years has always placed the blame/credit at the helm of leadership.

Rumsfeld was the reason the war in Iraq was conducted so poorly not the privates and non coms.

Notice the difference that Gates and Petraeus have made?

Look to the board and the CEO’s to point the fingers. One can possibly look at the heads of the UAWs as leaders as well, and put them in with the CEOs and the Boards in placing responsibility.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 1:18 PM
Comment #272215
“A company is going to FAIL if we choose not to work for them. If their benefits and business practices are not acceptable, they will fail, because people will not work for them.”

Do you have any recent real world examples of this Rhinehold? I understand the theory but have not seen this mythological power actually work in this Country in my lifetime.

Walk around a big city for a half of an hour. Do you see any failed businesses, empty buildings, etc? Businesses fail because of a variety of reasons. Bad business plans, bad management and incompetent or not enough workers.

Take a resturaunt for example. If the company cannot keep good waiters, the bad wait staff will show to the customers who will not return. I work in an engineering field as a consultant. If the consultants are not good, if the company cannot keep the good consultants to stay, the business will fail. I have seen it many many times, especially in my industry.

The fact remains that if you are not valuable enough to a company to get what you desire, MAKE yourself more valuable. It’s a simple reality. What people want, however, is something for nothing. All of the benefits that come with being valuable to a company without actually having to do the hard work to become so.

“People who allow themselves to accept less are the ones who are doing those things to themselves, not the companies.”

Or are in a financial position that requires them to accept less. I think of the many construction workers out of work because of the credit crisis. I don’t they they allowed this to happen I think they are caught up in bigger things outside of their control. I also think that the corporations Lee speaks of that laid off so many workers in November due to their belief that the workers voted for Obama is not the fault of the workers.

Yes, they did allow it to happen by not being more valuable or changing their skillset to stay employed. If you agree to work in an industry that results in you not having control over your employment/benefits, then you have chosen to do so. Your reasons may be sound and the end result is unfortunately, but to blame ANYONE else is hubris.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 17, 2008 2:18 PM
Comment #272216

Marysdude,

There are many reasons why a company may fail, sometimes they are the fault of the leadership, sometimes the ownership, sometimes the workers, sometimes external forces, sometimes the government, sometimes a combination of all or none of these.

I am not saying that the big 3 are failing because of the UAW, I don’t think you’ll find me having said that once. The fact is that they should have failed 30 years ago and better companies reborn in their ashes, employing people with better management styles and benefits, etc. We chose to not allow that to happen (the devil you know…) and we are going to do it again. Instead of letting the market take care of the problem of bad management, we are looking to the government to fix it because, after all, who knows more about bad management than the government?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 17, 2008 2:21 PM
Comment #272217

Craig stated “We are better off in many ways since 1980.Here are a few:”

“1. The USSR is gone.”

Yet now we have a new enemy the Radical Islamic and a preemptive strike policy that has lead to a debacle over oil in Iraq. Is this better or just more of the same?

“2. We have roughly 50% more jobs in our country.”

Albeit they are lower paying with less benefits and filled by two working parents (by necessity not choice) and/or illegal immigrants artificially lowering wages for all.

“3. Inflation has been greatly reduced.”

On paper at least, and on trinkets from China. Housing, and other necessities have not been reduced when you consider the lower paying jobs of today.

“4. We created an innovation system that leads the world.”

Innovation! don’t you mean we have fooled the American public into believing the gilded age financial and economic nonsense once again that we are now reaping the repercussions for? That is just dressing up and old idea and calling it a new name, Reaganomics. I guess the rest of the world is also in a deep recession so I am sure they appreciate our leadership as China must for sending so many good paying jobs to a communist dictatorship that used slave labor and craps in it’s own nest. Some innovation to be proud of isn’t it?

“5. Business is lean and mean in terms of competitive.”

And to big to fail. So we give up any moral hazards in the capitalist system and bail them out come bonus time while these large financial institutions write the laws and screw the American public who has propped up the economy with debt (or is it death) by credit card.

“6. Deregulation unleashed a huge upswell in productivity.”

However the American worker has not been in the loop when it comes to profit sharing for this great upswing in productivity. The wealth resulting from these gains has been concentrated at the top leaving huge income disparities. How has that improved things for most of us. Myself I prefer to not be trickled on by the wealthy.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 17, 2008 2:43 PM
Comment #272219

Glenn Contrarian write; “Or is quality of life of employees’ families something that’s simply not important to you, especially when there’s the profits of companies to consider? After all, since when did an employee’s family’s happiness ever do anything for profits, huh?”

I am absolutely astonished that some believe it is the role of government to mandate employee vacations. Some say it gives the worker more family time, others say it is good for the workers physical and mental health, and other don’t even bother with a reason…simply believing that we work to much in America.

First, are we such a rich nation that we all need to work less? Would any of you on the pro side work less if it meant earning less money? Hell no! You’ll only work less if you get paid the same as you did when working more.

Secondly, are any of you seriously suggesting that working 40 hours per week is bad for your mental or physical health. I hope not, and if so…see a doctor. Each week, at least here in the U.S., still contains 168 hours. Working 40 hours leaves 128 hours. Allow 56 hours for sleeping and there remains 72 hours (3 days) for family time each week.

A simple analysis of more worker paid vacation means understanding that someone is paying those wages for vacationing employees. If a company has 100 workers with two weeks vacation every year that amounts to 8000 lost worker hours (assuming a 40 hour work week). Increase that to 4 weeks yearly vacation and we have 16,000 lost workers hours. At just $10 per hour we have a cost of $160,000 plus the cost of replacing the workers on vacation which would be another $160,000 if the replacement workers are paid the same amount.

So, a company with as few as 100 workers making low $10 per hour wages has an economic cost to the company of $320,000 with a 4 week vacation. Obviously, this cost is added to the cost of the product or service being provided by the company and is passed along to its customers.

Folks, despite the current belief that everything government provides is free…it’s not!

I recall President Sarcozy (spelling) of France advocating a change from a 35 hour work week to a 40 hour week. There were riots in the street. Once a population becomes accustomed to “entitlements”, it is nearly impossible to wean them from it if even for the need of the country.

Sarcozy’s answer was to propose legal “untaxed” overtime pay for those working more than 35 hours per week. As I recall, that proposal was warmly embraced. There is a strong lesson in this example and I urge some of you to study and absorb that lesson.

Posted by: Jim M at December 17, 2008 3:01 PM
Comment #272223

j2t2:

you sure get the negative award. As you are talking about how negative we have been in innovation, you are doing it in a medium that was only dreamed of in 1980.

In 1980 I used to rent old 16mm projectors to watch movies at home with my wife. Lastnight we watched “The African Queen” on my laptop as it was downloading.

Yes we are far better off than we were in 1980 the last time we had a crisis of this magnitude.

Look at longevity. Mercy. don’t be so negative.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 3:57 PM
Comment #272224

Jim:

Amen!

All that is happening is that economics are rebalancing. It’s no coincidence that this crisis has come when the oldest boomer are age 62 and old enough for SS.

The economy is simply discounting investments in order to keep the number of retirees the correct percentage based on our savings rate. Correct is not a value judgment, rather it is the amount we can sustain.

So now there is a much higher mark for those who want to “retire”. In the end, it all means boomers will need to work a little harder and longer in order to retire.

David has been great about pointing to the coming agewave. We have all known it is coming. Well here it is!! We are living through economics (which has no soul) making it’s adjustment.

Social Security, taxes, the stock market, GDP unemployment, the trade deficit, and the federal deficit are all interconnected. Econommics just passed (or we are just passing) the point where it is simply saying, in order to make it through the next 50 years of an aging population we are going to need to be far more disciplines as a country.

The economics bar just got raised. Forget about the 90’s when boomers were reaching their peak years and we had relatively fewer retirees, now the economy is preparing for the agewave. It is getting us lean and ready.

We will be fine. We will have to work a few more years, and maybe live on a little less and have to save a little more but it will all balance out in the end.

Economics has no soul. We can influence it, but we can’t control it.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 4:07 PM
Comment #272226

Craig negative or reality based? I don’t deny we have new electronic gadgets that are impressive, but so what? I lump them all under trinkets from China because none are made here. I dont see trinkets as the type of innovation we need in this Country. To use examples like this to make the claim that we are much better off after 30 years of Voodoo economic seems to me to be hiding the problem not confronting the problem. I consider that to be negative and to work against the good of the American people.

However I would like to be more postive, why not convince me that the 6 points I responded to are actually innovation that is good for the people of this Country?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 17, 2008 4:11 PM
Comment #272228


Stephen D., don’t you mean our pseudodemocracy where the left is only represented in the depths of a depression or when liberals play their con game at election time?

Was it the centrist liberals and center right independents that elected Obama?

I think that many of the people who voted for Obama may have a different attitude when they finally realize the Change We Can Believe In actually means Change That Liberals And Conservatives Can Believe In and that Obama will govern in a manner pleasing to Republicans. Perhaps the Republicans will nominate him in 2012. A unification president does seem very appropriate for the two parties that care so very little about what their constituents may or may not want.

That seems to be the way the two parties operate. The Democrats con the Progressives and the workers. The Republicans con the fiscal conservatives and social conservatives.


Craig, Many conservatives have been predicting the imminent demise of the socialist infiltrated Western European economy for at least four decades. It seems that the greatest threat to their economies is entanglments with American capitalists and American capitalism.

What does GDP mean to the millions of blue collar middle class workers who have lost their jobs and are being forced to compete for slave labor wages?
Apparently GDP means a lot to you and many who have benefited from this so called great economic expansion. But, what does it mean to the 40% or so who have lost their equity or had none to begin with?


j2t2, I put the chance that this Democratic Congress and President will pass a bill mandating vacations for American workers at just about 0.


Rhinehold, a society based primarily on the rights of the individual and self-determination is a society based on chaos and it cannot exist for long. This is also true of a society primarily based on stability.

I recently came across what I consider an excellent piece of comentary on the war between stability and chaos from an excellent source, a science fiction writer. I believe it would be beneficial to put it up on WatchBlog for commentary.

Posted by: jlw at December 17, 2008 4:30 PM
Comment #272229

DVD’S CD’S plasma TVs PC computers, laptop computers that are cheap to buy. A washer and dryer that is uses 80% less gas and electric and water,than a 1980 washer and dryer A 21 seer rated heat pump and air conditioners that use 70% less electric than a 7 seer from 1980 1.90 High index glass and plastic lenses for vision that are 60% thinner and lighter and less aberration that 1980 lenses. on and on and on……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..those are not gadgets

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 17, 2008 4:35 PM
Comment #272233

j2t2:

Is the Internet a gadget? How about increases in longevity? How about the a fact that more people world wide have climbed out of poverty over the last 30 years than almost any time in history?

Is a free east europe a positive? How about the iron curtain coming down?

50% more jobs not a big deal?

Are better cars a good deal? Or just a gadget?

We are talking about the big three and innovation. do you really want to drive a 1980 version car?

We are healthier, live longer and or more prosperious than in 1980. The labor particiaption rate is higher now than in 1980. The unemployment rate is far lower than in 1980.

Interest rates were over 10% in 1980. Are you sure you want to go back there?

As for Europe, you were restricted to western Europe, remember?


Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 5:08 PM
Comment #272235

JLW:

Craig, Many conservatives have been predicting the imminent demise of the socialist infiltrated Western European economy for at least four decades. It seems that the greatest threat to their economies is entanglments with American capitalists and American capitalism.

Don’t count me in with those who predict Europe’s demise. Count me in as one who believes because of large entitlments and an aging population, Europe’s economy will have relativily slow growth and will loose influence around the world.

The future goes to the young. With many national governements spending 50% of GDP on expenses, and your workers really only working part time, (Less than 40 hrs a week) and trying to retire young, it’s going to get pretty stagnant over there.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 5:16 PM
Comment #272237

One of the greatest problems Russia is facing in the future is low population growth. Craig is correct, the future goes with the young. I will add to that; the future goes with countries that encourage more work, more innovation, more entrepreneurial risk-taking, lower taxes on its citizens and corporations, fewer entitlements, better informed electorate, and less government interference in our schools, industries and private lives.

Posted by: Jim M at December 17, 2008 5:27 PM
Comment #272238

Jim M:

You are talking about the America I want to be a part of, as it’s called “The land of opportunity”.

People do not see Europe as a land of opportunity. We dare not use Old Europe (Germany, France, Italy, Russia) as our example. We dare not sit down in the easy chair and start rocking. We may never get up.

Just for kicks here is my life plan. It will take a while but I have a life coach and we are working it through. I was challenged by a book called “half time” where he challenged those of us on the second half of our life to cut our standard of living and live off of half of what we earn. (I realize that all can’t do this). Then further to work 50% of the time and donate the other half of our time.

So that is my goal. Cut my standard of living (Or increase my income), figure out how to produce that on 20 hours a week, and then launch a new career on the non profit side, and work to age 70.

I want to launch a non profit called “HUR” for the bible character. Hur and Aaron raised up Moses hands during a battle. The goal would be to be a behind the scenes non profit that would do the development work for other non profits.

We have already started one ministry called HOME. (Helping Our Military Eternally), where we support our military and do not allow politics. (That would be hard for this crew).

I am working on another called Legacy that provides $1000 scholarships to HS Seniors who in the opinion of the school staff have a record of community service worthy of being remembered.

Lastly I am assisting my best friend’s daughter (he passed away 2 years ago) in starting a third ministry/non profit called “Beacon” that will provide respite care for caregivers on the Oregon Coast.

I know I’m a right wing wacko capitalist, but I need to make some money and grow my business in order to get these things on my Bucket list done.

Retirement is for someone else. There is simply too much stuff that I need to get done before I turn up my toes.

Not that you want to hear all of this, but I will tell you one thing, I’m not going to let a crappy economy keep me from getting these things done.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 5:48 PM
Comment #272242

It seems to me that a lot of Republicans are just repeating the same lines, again and again. We can talk about how we’re maintaining a dynamic economy, but last I checked, the dynamic was going in the wrong direction.

Republicans love to talk about competition. But what of it? They allow companies to gobble each other up, so competitive pressures are reduced, and companies have less incentive to actually keep prices, costs, bureacracy and other issues properly moderated.

They love to talk about the market moderating and correcting for all kinds of evils. But it seems that the market is incapable of anticipating, much less mitigating the catastrophic failures of corporate governance and financial deception, negligence and fraud. They also seem unable to put leaders in place who know how to do anything else but make their companies look good on the stock market. Running them well, making them honest, productive, enduring financial concerns seems to be secondary to that sales/con job.

Companies have gotten so complicated, that nobody’s able to sort out what their real interests are.

The system is run according to certain rules. Whether or not Republicans are in political agreement with this is irrelevant, that is simply how it is. Rather than do away with all rules, Republicans and their Democratic allies, working off the notion that what’s good for the money makers in the market is good for the economy, have made the rules a nice cushy cushion for the rear-ends of corporate America. It hasn’t truly been a free market. It’s been more like a custom made market for those lucky enough to get a lobbyist heard on capitol hill.

Sorry to burst your balloons, guys, but that definition of the free market is absurd on its face.

Here’s what I think is a proper free market: The government serves the people’s interests, the public’s interests, with no preference or prejudice towards the bottom line of corporations until that becomes a matter of public necessity. If an environmental regulation, which has been backed by science, might harm somebody’s business, that’s tough tomatoes. If they happen to do something good for them, if the government’s decision makes them a winner, fine, great. But making them that winner shouldn’t be the first concern.

Only when we have a grave financial crisis, like say, a whole domestic industry about to collapse into the toilet, should the government act. However, before that time, government should be willing to prevent some of the truly bad behavior so they don’t end up there. If somebody had regulated CDOs and CDSes, we wouldn’t be having to bail anybody out. If somebody had put their foot down on predatory lending, there wouldn’t be millions of people in loans that can’t help but default. The automakers might have been encouraged years ago towards higher efficiency with raised CAFE standards. Instead, somebody put out a tax credit that encouraged the purchase of these gas guzzlers. Worse than that, commodities reforms encouraged a market that skyrocketed gas prices at the expense of the rest of the economy, and slammed the door on those same kind of cars in an economically pernicious matter.

The relentless partiality to the interests of business, in fact, have worked against business. The economy as a whole has become maladjusted, because these short-sighted concerns took such precedence.

The Government, to do good, must look out for PUBLIC interests, not private, not even its own. Otherwise, it gives aid and comfort to those who are obligated by law to see their own interests. Corporations are obligated by law to be responsible for their own interests, and only where otherwise obligated to do well by the public can they legally depart from the drive to make money.

The boundary between private and public interests must become a lot less fuzzier, if we are to sort this mess out. The corporations must learn how to cooperate with the rest of us once again. We are a capitalist society and should be, but that doesn’t mean public interests should be subverted to support the private interests of the few as a matter of course.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 17, 2008 6:16 PM
Comment #272244

“Is the Internet a gadget?”

Of course not Craig. I didn’t mean to imply that everything was a gadget as I was referring to your original comment and the 6 points that were, I thought, talking about the economy.

“How about increases in longevity?”
As long as you are covered by an insurance plan that will pay for coverage it is good. Those that were forced out of their homes as a result of medical problems may disagree with this item. Did you know anyone in the ‘70’s that faced this problem?

“How about the a fact that more people world wide have climbed out of poverty over the last 30 years than almost any time in history?”

While I think this is a positive I look at the cost to the American people as a negative. While we spent money and lives in Viet Nam during the ‘60’s the rest of the world caught up to us after the destruction of WWII. The resultant globalization should have had labor and environmental standards attached to any trade agreements IMHO. This would have allowed those that escaped from poverty to have not had to stew in their own juices while doing so.
Also we need to remember that the corporations that have been the driving force of globalization are not democracies and have only the goal of profit in mind Craig, not necessarily good government nor democratic government. To think that as they tear down governments around the world what will fill the void could be very dismal to most of us that prefer a democracy.

“Is a free east europe a positive? How about the iron curtain coming down?”

Of course it is a positive for the people of those countries. To bad the peace dividends were so short term.

“50% more jobs not a big deal?”

When you take in consideration facts such as the growth in population, lower pay, illegal immigration and in many cases both Mom and dad working to pay the same bills that 1 paid back then I am just not as impressed with the 50% figure.

“Are better cars a good deal? Or just a gadget?”

Better and more expensive is a trade off Craig. Do you remember buying a car in the ‘70’s and having 6 years of payments on it? Or 5 years? or 4 years for that matter?

“We are talking about the big three and innovation. do you really want to drive a 1980 version car?”

Your 6 points didn’t mention the big 3, so I was confused and responded to what your 6 points said. I want to drive a 80’s car as much as I want an ‘08 car payment.

“We are healthier, live longer and or more prosperious than in 1980.”

We are healthier by choice Craig. Wealth has concentrated to the top 1% so not all of us are prosperous, which is the problem of the trickle on economics of the past 30 years.

“The labor particiaption rate is higher now than in 1980. The unemployment rate is far lower than in 1980.”

I seem to be repeating myself here but I don’t consider both Mom and Dad working as a positive. The unemployment rate is doctored and untrustworthy who knows the truth on this one. Lower paying jobs don’t impress me as much either.

“Interest rates were over 10% in 1980. Are you sure you want to go back there?”

Craig we are in a credit freeze. Credit cards are in the 20% to 30% range for many people. In the 80’s wouldnt 30% have been a crime? If I was a bank I would be happier but unfortunately I am not a bank. But If I was I would be happy that I have no moral hazard to worry about now that we are protected by the Government. Of course that was a Reagan thing from the ‘80’s anyway.

“As for Europe, you were restricted to western Europe, remember?”

And now it is the green zone in Iraq and trillions in debt. While the Europeans may be happy others aren’t. New enemies for a different day and preemptive strike policies are not innovation in my book.

Craig we can also talk about some more true innovations such as agriculture’s gains that fended off the population bomb for as few decades. However my point is that economically speaking we as Americans are not as well off as we should be. Our economic system only worked for the top 1% this past 30 years. While we have made medical breakthroughs we are facing an obesity crisis in the youth of today, partially due to gadgets. But most pressing of all we are facing a lost of sovereignty as corporations have taken over the government of this country as they have shifted responsibility risk and liability from themselves unto the people of this Country. It started in earnest with Reagan over 30 years ago and has continued unabated since that time.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 17, 2008 6:25 PM
Comment #272245

Craig…WOW, what great plans you have for the rest of your life. I congratulate you on your willingness to help others unselfishly. I hope you accomplish all you have planned and are then surprised at how much more good you have done that has flowered from your work and good example.

God bless you and Merry Christmas.

Posted by: Jim M at December 17, 2008 6:49 PM
Comment #272249

Craig,

The ‘wall’ was coming down in any case…the cowboy hat I wear was made in China. One wall comes down and another goes up. We really need to change our ways. Hmmm…change our ways…where have I heard THAT before???

Posted by: Marysdude at December 17, 2008 7:36 PM
Comment #272259

Stephen:

I don’t see much in your post that I disagree with except probably a case of degree.

Here is what I fear. I fear becoming like Europe. Well not all Europe. Mostly countries like Germany, France and Italy because I see them declining as world powers over the next decades because of the size of their social responsibilities.

I would add to your list of government responsibilities in the economy. I think Government has a role in training our future workforce. I believe very strongly in public spending on education. Close to my heart right now are our community colleges.

Public spending on education is to me the only true way to help the lower economic levels increase their wealth. I think if you hand them a check, very quickly it will flow to the the top 1% again, who by the way pay a very large portion of our income taxes.

I wonder if instead of more regulation, what we need is regulation reform. Actually, what we really need to do is simply go back to strong lending standards. We know what those are, we just need to do them.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 9:46 PM
Comment #272261

j2d2:

However my point is that economically speaking we as Americans are not as well off as we should be.

That is a point I can support. Globalization has lifted the fortunes of millions around the world, but much of it has been at the expense of our working classes as their jobs have gone overseas.

You know, the working poor have it better than 30 years ago when I was the working poor. I helped my daughter move into some low income housing. (she is a single mom). It was nice to see a new kitchen set, and air conditioning . (optional in our climate) as well as a microwave. It was a pretty new place.

She can get medical insurance through the state for her and our granddaughter for some very low payments.

The working poor pay no income taxes now, I sure used to!!

Can/should they do better? of course. My position is that this is best done by putting money into education and not into handouts.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 17, 2008 9:53 PM
Comment #272262

MD SAID,”“the cowboy hat I wear was made in China”” the cowboy hat in 1989 when the wall came down was made in the USA. R.R. might have liked and thought of the idea, the policies were made in the 1990s.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 17, 2008 9:54 PM
Comment #272272

Rodney,

Union busting and deregulation = Reagan

Yeah, the 90’s hurt nad so have the oughts, but, Reagan not only made it all possible, but also encouraged it to happen. Bush/Clinton/Bush just piled on like a bunch of kids on the playground…do you think GRAMM would have happened without the trailblazing by Ronnie?

He brought down the ‘wall’ alright…the wall between human people and big business…the few protections we had, crumbled in the assault led by him.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 17, 2008 10:58 PM
Comment #272273


“This is the farewell kiss, you dog.”

Posted by: jlw at December 17, 2008 11:04 PM
Comment #272281

The internet is one of the last bastions of free speech. During the last campaign the ONLY place you could read the truth about Obama that the Mainstream media, caught up in their Obamessiah fervor, refused to cover. Many of those truths were investigated by and first reported by my good friend, Pamela Geller, editor of Atlas Shrugs.
———————————-
natasha

Make Money

Posted by: natasha at December 18, 2008 3:14 AM
Comment #272284

RH
You did not disapoint. Freedom through slavery. Thats not Orwellian is it?

Posted by: bills at December 18, 2008 5:29 AM
Comment #272285

It is Orwellian to call being able to negotiate your vacation benefits with your company without interference from the only group that can actually force you to do something as slavery…

By definition, workers in the US cannot be slaves because they are not forced to work for said company.

If you want to redefine words, that’s your business but if it isn’t Orwellian to do so, I apparently don’t know what is.

Posted by: rhinehold at December 18, 2008 7:15 AM
Comment #272292

Rhinehold-
How many people can actually walk up to their boss and actually negotiate with them for their wages, their benefits and everything else?

In Adam Smith’s time, you do do that. Most individuals were employed by other individuals, or sustained themselves as farmers.

What happened as time wore on is that industrialization drew people together in large numbers, automated a number of skilled jobs, and made any person’s particular value interchangeable. As such, you would have have to have a unique skill, or a unique degree of training in order to command the big bucks, and ensure benefits.

For the most part, that’s no longer true. If somebody insists on more pay, more benefits, they can be safely ignored much of the time. They negotiate from a position of weakness.

Unions are a response to labor’s being made a generalized commodity. If they try to make people interchangeable, then the natural way to get around this is to make a large portion of their workforce interchangeably resistant to their lowballing.

In a way, though, you might want to prefer a certain level of government imposed labor rules to union demands At least there you have consistency, and can say, well, the government already gives you a ton of vacation time.

What’s Orwellian is to imply that required vacation time is somehow an imposition on the worker’s freedom. The worker is free to not work, more or less, certain days rather than certain others. If you want to complain about a loss of freedom, complain on behalf of the management, since it’s they who are dictated to.

Frankly, I’m convinced that most people would not see required vacation as a loss of freedom, any more than they’d see being handed a thousand dollars with no strings attached a loss of financial freedom. It would also, likely, make them feel less guilty about taking off from work. We complain about the decay of the traditional family, yet our labor laws, more and more, have encouraged people to devote more and more time to work and being economically productive, and less to those folks. Reference little tricks like changing people’s job titles to get around having to pay them overtime when they work them more than that 40 hours. Regardless of anything else, anytime somebody can spend more time with their family, that keeps our societies marriages and relationship with their children on a more solid footing, or at least compensates those who make extra sacrifices.

Craig Holmes-
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, as one obscure gentleman once said. We shouldn’t be looking with a wary eye across the Atlantic, trembling in fear that we might be imitating them. Not the least because people there are happier than we are, if not as materially blessed

We should not be concerned with what’s ideologically preferable, but with what works in the real world. If Europe’s getting things wrong, we should not imitate them. If they’re getting things right, we should not hesitate to see if their approach will work for our country.

The one thing I do fear is that owing to this kind of ideological idiocy, we’re going wake up one morning and find that the rest of the world has passed us by, and gained most in the game. Do you want China or Europe to get ahead of us in green technology, or stay ahead? Do we really need to be sending more money outwards?

We have to be considerably more clever, more eager to try things. No more passivity. No more assumption that the holy market cannot be intruded upon without somebody getting struck dead. The time has come to open our minds and keep our eyes open as to what works and what doesn’t.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 18, 2008 8:57 AM
Comment #272365

Stephen -

What’s Orwellian is to imply that required vacation time is somehow an imposition on the worker’s freedom.

As always, you said it better than I ever could.

Y’know, my biggest goal in raising my sons wasn’t for them to be the toughest kids on the block, that they’ve got to bust their butts working from sun to sun. Sure, they can take a punch and they can work, but neither of these are the most important. In addition to learning that they should be true to the Church and that they should be good and trustworthy husbands and dads, I also felt that they should learn two greatly important lessons - one, to ADAPT to the situation, whether it be good times or hardship, and the other is to BE HAPPY.

First, how many times have I seen others insist that things MUST be the way they think it should…and in almost every case, they were unhappy people.

Second, I believe that happiness is not just an emotion, but a learned skill…and is most easily learned by understanding how to count one’s blessings.

The happiness of the general population, in my opinion, should be the ultimate goal of any government. To be sure, the people cannot be happy without security and opportunity, those two BIG THINGS that comprise the whole of conservative thought, but a third requirement should be QUALITY TIME - time to live healthily, time with one’s family, time to sit back and enjoy a gorgeous sunset or a child’s laughter.

Would that the conservatives would learn that peoples’ happiness should not be just an individual responsibility, but an actual goal of the government…with the understanding that a happy population benefits the government in every way.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at December 18, 2008 7:55 PM
Comment #272377

Stephen:

What works is checks and balances. Government intrusion in business has proven many times to produce bridges to nowhere. China is expanding because it has backed away from too much government influence. Europe at least Older Europe is declining because it has too mcuh involvement in the economy. Too much socialism and not enough initiative.

We need to stay young as a country. We need a steady flow of immigrants who wnat to come here for an opportunity. If we ever cross over that tipping point so that taxation and regulations stifles the young we are dead in the water.

It is hard to not reach for the rocking chair of socialism and lower risk. I hope I don’t live to see it.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 18, 2008 11:40 PM
Comment #272417

>China is expanding because it has backed away from too much government influence.
Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 18, 2008 11:40 PM

Craig,

And, without the Chinese government involvement, we get poisonous wheat glutin, lead in our toys and melemine in our baby formula…oh, well…better luck next time…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 19, 2008 1:58 PM
Comment #272508

Marysdude,

From time to time the Chinese make a big show of prosecuting the culprits in their scandals. it is interesting to see who these criminals are, because they were almost always local Communist Party officials.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 20, 2008 7:05 PM
Comment #272512

Stephen,

If you’re still looking in-

We knew about CDS’s when your people still thought it was a digital audio format.
This is a particularly good comment on your part. When I first started hearing about CDs I thought there would eventually be a real problem that would arise from it, because all digital formats are perfectly reproduceable. Lo and behold, I was right.

When everything was on vinyl the industry that stuck this stake in their own jugular was in charge of content and could monopolize distribution. Now they’ve screwed their own business model by bringing out products anybody can copy and distribute virtually for free.

That was clever. See? It’s hard to know what new mistakes one can make on a changing battlefield.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 20, 2008 7:40 PM
Comment #272519

Lee,

Let’s see…the biggest crooks in China are of the Communist Party, and the biggest crooks in America are of the Republican Party…I think I see where you are going with this…do you?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 20, 2008 9:15 PM
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