Creating Prosperity

Former ENRON adviser Paul Krugman has one opinion. Other experts have others. Nobody really knows if/how the stimulus worked or what to do about the jobless recovery. Meanwhile, whole countries could go bankrupt, pulled down by their bloated spending and sovereign debt. Others continued to grow even in bad economic times. We have PIGS & PIIGS but also BRICS & EAGLES. What should we do?

Nobody can understand the workings of the economy in all its complexity so no comprehensive plan is possible and trying to make one is undesirable. This does not mean that nobody is planning and making decisions. On the contrary, the system works best when millions of people make decisions based on their own priorities using knowledge that cannot be aggregated in any way that others can properly understand by any individuals, but their interactions serve to aggregate.

The general philosophy is that decisions should be made by those closest to the situation at hand. These are the ones who have the most interest and information.

The trick is not to make a comprehensive plan, but rather to get the incentives and options right. This usually means getting the costs and benefits properly aligned.
Government has an instrumental role to play - an instrumental role, NOT a management role. That means that government has the responsibility to create conditions and infrastructure of prosperity, but not to decide what people will do or who will participate.

If you look at successful business clusters, you always find strong government involvement. But the type of involvement is what separates successful clusters such as the Research Triangle in North Carolina or the Greenville-Spartanburg clusters in South Carolina from monumental failures of intervention like Detroit. In successful places, government acts as a catalyst but does not get involved with the day to day business. Successful clusters also don't build monuments to their success or celebrate it until after they have had it. In successful clusters, governments make decisions based mostly on market conditions. In unsuccessful ones they make political decisions based on political criteria.

I think the key to success is the understanding of the roles of business and government. They are not competitors and their roles are not interchangeable. Government creates conditions whereby its citizens can create wealth. Within that context, individuals and firms create wealth based on their private priorities. Government can take some of that wealth in the form of taxes, which it should use mostly to maintain the conditions that ensure the continued creation of wealth and the protection of liberty.

Government's record in trying to manage business is abysmal and often fatal to many of the people nearby. Until the failures of communism, fascism and Nazism, it was generally believed among intellectuals that government COULD plan better than firms and individuals. When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev warned that "We will bury you" he really thought that his planned economy could be more productive than the free market and many experts agreed with him. Through the 1960s, lots of people even in the West thought central planning was a good idea.

Few people believe that today, but sometimes their actions and things they advocate do not reflect their understanding. In fact, it is very hard for politicians and bureaucrats to keep their hands off. They are rewarded when they seem to be taking strong action. But we can do a lot of good IF we keep in mind our limitations and proper roles. Don't ask government to do more than it is capable of doing well but recognize the need for it to do something, while recognizing that doing the wrong thing is worse than doing nothing at all. Nobody said it would be easy to decide.

And any politician who tells us that he/she created jobs is misinformed. Politicians cannot create jobs, or more correctly they can only create jobs by taking opportunity and jobs from one place and moving them to another. What government can do is to create conditions that allow people and firms to create jobs. This indirect route is less satisfying politically, but it is the only way to prosperity.

This link talks about some successful clusters.

Posted by Christine & John at August 21, 2011 7:40 PM
Comments
Comment #328045

Good Evening C&J,
While I understand what you are saying with the concept of clusters, does it make sense to consolidate the technology of a particular field in a geographical location? This makes it very susceptible to terrorist activity thus creating a security risk with in a country. Silicon Valley is an example of one of your clusters that was very successful until the collapse of the IT bubble.
Seems to me a more diversified work force is not only more stable over the long run but could also lead to more innovation as well. It is the discussion of ideas, problems and successes from differing societies that leads to creative thinking.
There is also the possibility of missing the person who may have the intuition to find the cure for disease, or the engineering capability to create the next generation space drive or even a personal hovercraft for all to use that would have little environmental impact.
It is almost like having laborers, serfs, farmers, fishermen, taylors, etc. each person having a particular niche and place to be….classes of people. This could end up being more restrictive then constructive in the long term. At least in my opinion.

Posted by: Kathryn at August 21, 2011 9:32 PM
Comment #328048

Kathryn

The clusters are voluntary. I would agree that it would be very bad to make some kind of requirement to concentrate.

The advantage of clustering is that people can talk to each other and bounce ideas. Even in the age of internet, actual physical proximity still makes a difference for innovation.

Innovation tends not to come from large groups. It is almost always small group that then expands. In fact, one way government kills innovation is by demanding that it be spread equally too quickly.

Re diverse work force, we need a diverse overall workforce but that doesn’t mean that each part should be diverse.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2011 9:59 PM
Comment #328051

Wow.

Nobody’s knows anything about economics? That may be projection.

The fact we haven’t yet entered a depression is fairly clear evidence that stimulus did work.

The effects on the economy of many things is known. Whether there is political will to be self serving as the Republican party has been to the detriment of the US economy is another issue. If you want to sway a mob of idiots, you declare leading economists idiots and then offer something that any economist knows is idiotic to make anyone who actually cares about leadership and responsible government look like the enemy.

When you leap from the NC triangle to Nazi Germany, that may be a new brand of logic that I just don’t follow. You could just say Democrats are Nazi’s and cut through the flowery language, but that might make your post look as stupid as it really is. I suppose it’s much better to talk around the dumb, that way maybe you’ll make your audience dizzy enough to swallow a load of nonsense.

The funniest part is the usual Republican bait and switch which claims Democrats are advocating collectivism. Really? Where is that plan?

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at August 21, 2011 10:17 PM
Comment #328052

BTW, Krugman gave advise to Enron on the economy. Kenny-boy was Bush’s and Phil Gramm’s buddy. Maybe you forgot that.

http://www.pkarchive.org/personal/EnronFAQ.html

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at August 21, 2011 10:24 PM
Comment #328053

Tom

If you feel I compared Democrats to Nazis, you just don’t know what you are talking about. I didn’t even mention either party. I also didn’t declare anybody an idiot.

Evidently the subtly and nuance is beyond your comprehension. I called government instrumental to prosperity and mentioned that all successful business cluster feature strong government involvement. If you think this means calling the government an enemy, I guess your thinking is beyond my understanding.

Your posting indicates that you are fighting an opponent that your created in your own mind. You can probably beat that opponent, but it is sort of like dating yourself, if you get the drift (probably not).

Read again what I actually wrote. If you have a problem with that, we can talk. If you want to defend central planning or ignoring incentives, feel free.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2011 10:31 PM
Comment #328062
Former ENRON adviser Paul Krugman has one opinion. Other experts have others. Nobody really knows if/how the stimulus worked or what to do about the jobless recovery.
This is nonsensical blather not subtly and nuance. It also contains a dishonest smear about Paul Krugman which IS attacking the well-known Democrat backer.
Government’s record in trying to manage business is abysmal and often fatal to many of the people nearby. Until the failures of communism, fascism and Nazism, it was generally believed among intellectuals that government COULD plan better than firms and individuals.
More blather and creating strawmen. Who believes that? When? Nazism was not economic theory and didn’t fail because of economics. In the current economic situation your party’s idealism is to limit government to the point that corporatism is even more dominate than it is today. That smacks of fascism if anything does. Central Planning is exactly what the Fed does. It has given us a much greater stability than much of the rest of the world. It is the only thing keeping us afloat at this moment given the obstructionism of the right. You are right no one believes in the nonsense at the beginning of your post, yet time and again your posts gnaw away at the corners of sensible government controls on the economy. You aren’t stupid, but your subtlety only hides your knee jerk idea that government is mostly bad, in general, and only the elite wealthy business class should be in charge and receive governmental largess. You are quite smart to hide your disdain for those less well off than you, as you blame them for their economic plight. It isn’t a very enticing viewpoint and should be hidden, if you wish to have any legitimacy. I haven’t created the mumbling class of pretenders that espouse vaunted ideas that seem to be smart, but in fact, are self serving drivel. Posted by: Tom Jefferson at August 22, 2011 1:34 AM
Comment #328066

I assume that these ‘conditions’ the government can create to help industry are low taxes and low regulation. That sounds good but are taxes and regulation really holding back private industry? Are they worse than in boom times? Maybe some fresh thinking is required in this day and age.

Yes, government doesn’t need to manage but it sure would help in so many ways if they could somehow fund helpful infrastructure projects that are beyond the scope of private industry. State government spending on construction has fallen off a cliff and without the federal stimulus this time it is going to reverberate through every industry.

And yes that attempt to discredit Krugman was below the belt.

Posted by: Schwamp at August 22, 2011 7:53 AM
Comment #328068

Tom,
“Former ENRON adviser Paul Krugman has one opinion. Other experts have others. Nobody really knows if/how the stimulus worked or what to do about the jobless recovery.
This is nonsensical blather not subtly and nuance. It also contains a dishonest smear about Paul Krugman which IS attacking the well-known Democrat backer.”

Are you saying Paul Krugman was NOT an advisor to Enron? From your link in comment 328052:

“1. What did I do? In early 1999 I was asked to serve on a panel that offered Enron executives briefings on economic and political issues.” You don’t consider that advising?

Posted by: tdobson at August 22, 2011 8:47 AM
Comment #328069

C&J,

We are dealing with the collapse of the private sector financial capital markets and the continuing unresolved private sector debt that is threatening banks and whole countries that have socialized that debt, i.e., Ireland.

Conservatives’ single minded and myopic focus on government spending and deficits ignores the elephant in the room. It was the private sector financial markets and economy that collapsed. It was not profligate government spending that caused the collapse. Current public deficits are a symptom not a cause of our economic problems.

Advocates of a strong federal fiscal stimulus, such as Krugman, are not arguing that government is a more efficient or effective spender but rather that it is the necessary spender of last resort when the private sector is unwilling or unable to generate sufficient aggregate demand to meet potential business ouptut. This is particularly true when monetary policy of almost zero Fed interest rates are insufficient to stimulate borrowing and an increase in the money supply to support aggregate demand. That “traitor” Bernanke has only been pushing on a string to get credit (debt) flowing in the economy.

Conservative are taking a free political ride on the country’s economic problems. They avoid like the plague any specific policy discussions on the economy as a whole and jobs in particular. If government can’t create jobs, as asserted here, then why talk about it? Its a strategy of nihilism. A strategy of nothingness.

C&J, you talk vaguely about government providing infrastructure and setting conditions for economic growth. But what are the specifics? Are you advocating massive government investment in energy, transportation, education, urban/business clusters, etc. What are you going to do about the private household debt and bank insolvency that is strangling not only the US economy but that of the world? What’s the conservative plan for resolving the financial debt problem and stimulating the economy?

Posted by: Rich at August 22, 2011 9:15 AM
Comment #328070

tdobson,

If you read Tom’s statement, you would realize that he stated that Krugman was an adviser to Enron on general economic matters.

Posted by: Rich at August 22, 2011 9:18 AM
Comment #328071

Rich,

This is what C&J said:
“Former ENRON adviser Paul Krugman has one opinion. Other experts have others. Nobody really knows if/how the stimulus worked or what to do about the jobless recovery.”

And this was Tom Jefferson’s quote:
“This is nonsensical blather not subtly and nuance. It also contains a dishonest smear about Paul Krugman which IS attacking the well-known Democrat backer.”

Where is the dishonest smear about Paul Krugman?

Paul Krugman advised Enron on economic AND POLITICAL matters per the link that Tom Jefferson supplied.

Posted by: tdobson at August 22, 2011 10:46 AM
Comment #328072

tdobson,

You apparently missed this post of Tom’s: “BTW, Krugman gave advise to Enron on the economy. Kenny-boy was Bush’s and Phil Gramm’s buddy. Maybe you forgot that.”

Posted by: Rich at August 22, 2011 11:08 AM
Comment #328073

tdobson, had C&J meant to identify Krugman in a non insulting way he could have said Nobel prize winning economist or NYT opinion writer or some such from Krugman’s lengthy and impressive resume. Instead he choose to highlight a rather brief few months during which he was on a board of advisers for Enron. A cheap shot for someone so sensitive that in the previous thread felt Texas, not Rick Perry, was attacked for no apparent reason by liberals.

Myself I thank C&J for bringing to the front this non-issue from 2 decades ago by mentioning Krugman and his brief association with Enron. Who BTW was the only economist mentioned in this article by C&J. However it is a good time to bring other more current Enron associates to the forefront isn’t it? How about Rick Perry who accepted 25k and appointed an Enron employee to the Texas PUC in return.

“Mr. Lay sent a $25,000 donation to Texas Gov. Rick Perry the day after the governor appointed Mr. Yzaguirre, the former president of Enron de Mexico, to head the PUC last June.”

http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/archive.cgi?read=16978

Posted by: j2t2 at August 22, 2011 11:15 AM
Comment #328074

tdobson,

Sorry. We are apparently on the same wavelength as to the facts of the discussion. I would only add, speaking for myself, that C&J’s mention of Krugman as an Enron adviser was a less than subtle attempt to connect him to the scandal and discredit him. Tom’s post was to point out that Krugman role with Enron was simply as an adviser to the Board on the general economic and political conditions of the country. Krugman had no role in advising Enron in its operations, organization or financial transactions.

Posted by: Rich at August 22, 2011 11:18 AM
Comment #328075

C&J I think they missed the point behind the whole article. I have found that any plan, no matter how well though out, itemized, detailed, etc is nothing more than something to deviate from. It gives you a starting point and a general direction. You may end up at a totally different conclusion than was expected however.

As for today’s economics - they are too complex and interconnected on a world scale to be able to point a finger at any one thing. Greed, mismanagement, and turning a blind eye to fiscal reality on a personal level(ie personal debt) are all factors. Then there are the political factors - Iran, Syria, Iraq, Japan, etc and Natural disasters that strained several countries reserves.

Playing the blame game like a bunch of school kids is useless and a waste of time. Personally each state needs to look at what it needs to get solvent and work to that end. The ‘government’ will either stand or fall in the process. in the end fewer people will be hurt in the long run if we would look to our neighbors and take care of ourselves first instead of interfering with everyone else.

Posted by: Kathryn at August 22, 2011 11:37 AM
Comment #328077

j2t2,

I was a Staff Sargeant in the Army. I was awarded a bronze Star and an Army Commendation medal with a “V” device for valor. Are you saying it is insulting to me to be called a former soldier without mentioning my accomplishments?

Posted by: tdobson at August 22, 2011 12:42 PM
Comment #328080

No I’m not Tdobson. But to compare apples to apples lets say instead of former soldier the introduction was along the lines of, as an example, former soldier accused of beating his wife, even though the bruises were a result of a fall from a bicycle.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 22, 2011 1:38 PM
Comment #328082


Tdobson, no, it is like saying that a soldier that served with valor should be courtmartialed for assisting a wounded enemy.

If the worlds economy collapses into another Great Depression, there is a distinct possibility that capital may not be making any more decisions.

Posted by: jlw at August 22, 2011 2:00 PM
Comment #328084

C&J wrote; “Your posting indicates that you are fighting an opponent that your created in your own mind. You can probably beat that opponent, but it is sort of like dating yourself, if you get the drift (probably not).”

Thanks for the best laugh of the week.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 22, 2011 2:15 PM
Comment #328088

Jack’s attack on Krugman is pathetically weak — but of course, he knows that. All of his wildly silly smears of this sort are always done with the clear purpose of inappropriately and wrongly attacking people on the left. Meanwhile, everyone knows damn well that Enron was a dishonest company run by dishonest Republicans, who gave and raised massive amounts of money to fund their dishonest Republican friend’s political campaigns.

Government can take some of that wealth in the form of taxes, which it should use mostly to maintain the conditions that ensure the continued creation of wealth and the protection of liberty.
Bernie Sanders lays out some taxes that need to be collected from insanely wealthy corporations in this article: Bernie Sanders: “Guess Which 10 Companies Aren’t Paying Their Share” Posted by: Adrienne at August 22, 2011 3:18 PM
Comment #328090

j2t2,

“No I’m not Tdobson. But to compare apples to apples lets say instead of former soldier the introduction was along the lines of, as an example, former soldier accused of beating his wife, even though the bruises were a result of a fall from a bicycle.”

If that was the senerio, then the lack of the mention of my achievements wouldn’t be an insult, just as the lack of Paul Krugman’s achievements is not an insult.

Posted by: tdobson at August 22, 2011 3:49 PM
Comment #328092

adrienne

“Jack’s attack on Krugman is pathetically weak — but of course, he knows that. All of his wildly silly smears of this sort are always done with the clear purpose of inappropriately and wrongly attacking people on the left.”

this is comical. since when is stating a fact an attack?
while you whine about the left being attacked, you do the very thing you rail against.

“Meanwhile, everyone knows damn well that Enron was a dishonest company run by dishonest Republicans, who gave and raised massive amounts of money to fund their dishonest Republican friend’s political campaigns.”


case in point. my but don’t we paint with a broad brush.


“Bernie Sanders lays out some taxes that need to be collected from insanely wealthy corporations in this article:”

ahhhh yes bernie sanders an admitted socialist. that’s a man i want economic advice from.

Posted by: dbs at August 22, 2011 4:18 PM
Comment #328094
since when is stating a fact an attack?
C&J elevated a minor detail about Krugman’s past in order to diminish Krugman’s credibility. This is usually considered an ad hominen attack. Krugman has a very deep resume; it makes no sense to mention his brief & marginal relationship with Enron instead of his much more substantial accomplishments including winning the Nobel Prize, writing a widely read NYT column, writing several best-selling books, etc.

It’d be like calling Dick Chenney the shooter of Harry Whittington instead of calling him former VP, former secretary of defense, former minority whip, former congressman, former CEO of Halliburton, etc.

Beyond that, I agree with most of what C&J had to say.

Posted by: Warped Reality at August 22, 2011 4:53 PM
Comment #328096
If that was the senerio, then the lack of the mention of my achievements wouldn’t be an insult, just as the lack of Paul Krugman’s achievements is not an insult.

Tdobson, I agree that the lack of mentioning achievements in and of itself is not an insult. However when C&J decided to use the Enron slur as opposed to anything else the purpose was to denigrate Krugman, to attach his name to Enron so that those than don’t know any better assume he actually had something to do with Enron. It is a cheap trick from the Frank Luntz school of propaganda.

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

Posted by: j2t2 at August 22, 2011 5:15 PM
Comment #328098

Rich

I favor government spending on infrastructure. I also believe in the business clusters, but that is a local government responsibility.

I have thinking a lot about taxes. I pay high taxes and could pay more. But I think that it is too often wasted. I am not much interested in redistributing income or wealth. I want government to create the condition whereby people can make income and create wealth.

The key to government spending should be increasing the capacity of production. I fear that many big government advocates want to use it to create greater equality of outcomes.

J2t2 & Rich
I was indeed trying to give Krugman a kick in the pants. When I wrote this, I had just finished watching him on TV giving a sanctimonious pronouncement blaming others for the economy. He was an opinion leader when the bad things were going on. I wanted also to show that ENRON was a bipartisan disaster and that back in the 1990s experts on the left as well as the right thought ENRON was okay.

J2t2
Re the wife beating analogy – the recent bruises might have been the result of a fall off a bike, but if the guy had helped repair that bike he still would be complicit.

Adrienne

See above. I indeed did kick Krugman on purpose, as you guys do regularly with people on the right. It was kind of fun. I can understand why you guys enjoy it so much.

Kathryn
I agree that many missed the point. This is very common. I admit that I opened the door for it with the snide comment re Krugman, but it would have been the same anyway.

Warped
You know if I had not mentioned Krugman nobody would have commented. I have to give the audience some of what they come for.

Posted by: C&J at August 22, 2011 5:34 PM
Comment #328099

j2t2,

So, let me be sure I understand. Calling Paul Krugman an Enron advisor (even though he said he was) without listing his greater achievements is a slur?

Where can I get a copy of the liberal playbook so I can keep up?

Posted by: tdobson at August 22, 2011 5:45 PM
Comment #328101

“The key to government spending should be increasing the capacity of production.”

C&J,

Our current economic problems are not due to a lack of production capacity. It is due to a lack of consumer capacity to purchase the products.

Henry Ford recognized, a long time ago, that increased productive capacity is meaningless without an increase in the purchasing capacity of the consumer. He didn’t pay a generous wage simply out of the goodness of his heart.

In recent decades, though, capital has captured virtually all the economic benefits of productivity increases. Wages have remained flat and have even declined from a relative perspective despite a period of substantial productivity advances.

This has resulted in a consumer economy increasingly dependent upon debt for purchasing power. The recent collapse of the largest equity support for that debt (housing) has seriously impaired consumer demand. Indeed, it has impaired our financial system. Our banks are struggling to maintain solvency and the federal government and the Federal Reserve have assumed or guaranteed much of that toxic debt impairing their fiscal condition.

In my opinion, this is the problem that conservatives wish to sweep under the rug. Supply side economics has resulted in an imbalance between demand and productivity capacity. Trickle down needs to become pour down in order for the system to flourish.

Posted by: Rich at August 22, 2011 7:06 PM
Comment #328105
Warped You know if I had not mentioned Krugman nobody would have commented. I have to give the audience some of what they come for.

Sad, but true. It is fun to bash public figures; both sides of the aisle do it. You just can’t be surprised when your opponents point out that it’s an ad hominen.

So, let me be sure I understand. Calling Paul Krugman an Enron advisor (even though he said he was) without listing his greater achievements is a slur?

Where can I get a copy of the liberal playbook so I can keep up?

Krugman spent a few months as a part-time consultant on matters unrelated to what tarnished the Enron brand. Shining the spotlight on this brief period instead of the rest of Krugman’s illustrious career is simply an ad hominen attack. It’s a tactic used by both sides, but no one should expect the other side to stand by idle as one of their own has his/her reputation attack unfairly.

Posted by: Warped Reality at August 22, 2011 8:33 PM
Comment #328106
I wanted also to show that ENRON was a bipartisan disaster

I don’t know all the details regarding ENRON during the ’90s, but Krugman’s brief time as a part time consultant hardly makes the Enron disaster bipartisan. From what I’ve read, Pete Wilson was far more important in the lead-up to the ENRON meltdown.

Posted by: Warped Reality at August 22, 2011 8:36 PM
Comment #328107
I wanted also to show that ENRON was a bipartisan disaster and that back in the 1990s experts on the left as well as the right thought ENRON was okay.

C&J if you are using Krugman to make Enron a bipartisan disaster you are grasping at straws with this strawman, IMHO.

Re the wife beating analogy – the recent bruises might have been the result of a fall off a bike, but if the guy had helped repair that bike he still would be complicit.

Perhaps so C&J but that doesn’t mean he beat his wife.

Where can I get a copy of the liberal playbook so I can keep up?

Seems to me tdobson that you need the conservative playbook if you cannot discern what C&J was doing here.

Just follow the previous link and do some research on Mr. Luntz tdobson and you will see conservative movement leadership and how it deceives you on such a regular basis.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 22, 2011 8:42 PM
Comment #328109

Speaking of the Enron debacle, it is amazing to me in retrospect how lightly those guys got off. They basically criminally defrauded the whole state of California. It was always treated as some corporate misdeeds. High finance out of control, etc. In reality, it was a criminal enterprise attacking a sovereign state of the US for profit.

Posted by: Rich at August 22, 2011 9:15 PM
Comment #328110

Rich

Ford was right. Keynes was only partly right. It is not demand alone that does the job. It is the right kind of demand, productive demand.

Investments are things that can be expected to yield more than they cost. Other things are mere consumption. We need consumers, but consumers are only that, consumers.

Government should invest in things that allow more wealth. An improved road, for example, will cut the costs of commerce, improve access and allow people to create more wealth. Giving a consumer money so that he can buy more beer just moves around the money.

Ford gave more money to productive workers. He made them more productive as well as making them consumers. He increased wealth production capacity. It would not have yielded the same happy result if he had given out money randomly to workers and non-workers alike.

Wages have not really stagnated as much as you think, but other costs have gone up, principally health care and employment costs. These are not counted in wages by the worker, but they add to the cost of the worker to the employer.

There has also grown up a premium for skills. As medium skilled jobs are replaced by computers or machines, we have to pay more for skills and less for unskilled labor. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it is reality.

Warped

ENRON grew to be a monster during the Clinton era, when Democratic appointees were the regulators. It only crashed a little while into the Bush time. As Obama might say, Bush inherited the problem, he did not create it.

ENRON was a superb political player. Its business was based on arbitrage of regulations. That is why they were strong supporters of Kyoto. Government controls created the environmental that ENRON used. It was an unintended consequence of regulation.


Posted by: C&J at August 22, 2011 9:47 PM
Comment #328112

C&J,

I see, some Democrats were courted by ENRON until they adopted the conservative mantra of deregulation which led to disaster.

I educated myself by reading this:http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A37287-2002Jan12¬Found=true

It appears politicians from both sides were in ENRON’s pocket, but the GOP received slightly more money. Also, Ken Lay seemed to support the GOP over the Dems.

Posted by: Warped Reality at August 22, 2011 10:18 PM
Comment #328113

C&J,

Once again, you do not either know history or ignore it for the purpose of attracting an audience, making a false argument, or simply lying. Enron was a Texas phenomenon, and yes, while there was Democratic complicity, it was largely a Texas Republican contingent that fought for and won Enron’s influence.

I think this indicative of the sincerity of many of your posts. It may be fun for you, but also places the value of your comments where they belong.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at August 22, 2011 10:27 PM
Comment #328118

Warped

ENRON’s business was based on arbitrage among regulations.They did not seek deregulation but rather different types. That is why they were so interested in politicians.

Tom

It is interesting that most of your left leaning colleagues say ENRON ruined California, yet you say it was a Texas thing. ENRON operated in interstate markets. That was their business. The Federal government regulates interstate commerce, especially energy. ENRON grew to its monster business during the 1990s. During the 1990s, Clinton was president and the regulators were run by Democratic appointees. Is there anything here you don’t understand or think is wrong?

So given these facts, what would you conclude about ENRON? Would you still think you could call it a Texas or Republican thing?

Re ENRON and Krugman - that too is a fact. It is not the main part of the post, which you didn’t understand anyway, so not much use in doing anything differently.

Posted by: C&J at August 23, 2011 6:32 AM
Comment #328119

C&J this collusion between federal regulators in the ‘90’s and Enron, do you have any proof of that or is it speculation? This tenuous link to bipartisan corruption isn’t quite the same as the out front bribe Perry accepted as Governor of Texas to appoint Enron people as regulators IMHO. Even the debacle in California was with state regulators not federal.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 23, 2011 7:24 AM
Comment #328120


C&J, states are heavy regulators of electrical energy. States are where Enron’s aggressive buy politicians to get deregulation was primarily focused. Four states in particular, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California. The company bribed politicians in all these states. The company had a ringer in the Governor of Texas. Bush was used to contact governors and other politicians from other states touting Enron and urging them to do business with the company.

Yes, Enron was bipartisan. Isn’t every corporation? Paying politicians for favors is a way of life. Citizens allowing politicians to act in this manner is a way of life to.

Posted by: jlw at August 23, 2011 7:27 AM
Comment #328121

C&J,

Attempting to make the Enron scandal a bi-partisan issue is ludicrous. What was the “Enron Loophole?” Who are Wendy and Phil Gramm? What role did Wendy Gramm play as Chairperson of the Commodities Future Trading Commission in establishing a regulatory black hole for trading in energy futures. What role did Phil Gramm play in attaching a last minute rider, promoted by Enron, to the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000 exempting electronic energy commodity markets from government regulation? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/business/17grammside.html

Posted by: Rich at August 23, 2011 8:23 AM
Comment #328123

C&J,

Parsing my sentences to draw your conclusions is rather nonsensical. I stated that a Texas contingent was largely responsible for gaining Enron’s influence on Congress, FERC and the markets to be more specific. There were also Democrats that aided in their fraud, but not Krugman. Please argue with what I actually said rather than trying to parse and twist my words.

But then you wouldn’t have a valid argument, so I suppose you work with what little shred of hope you have to salvage such a dumb argument, which is what I stated from the beginning.

Government can do things which create jobs, and in recent history has saved jobs which wouldn’t exist without government intervention in the markets. That part of your post is valid. The sneering and dismissive parts are just more of the same old elitist claptrap. However, that doesn’t forward your political self serving agenda to hand over more power to the elitist corporacy.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at August 23, 2011 9:30 AM
Comment #328126

TEST

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 23, 2011 1:18 PM
Comment #328134

Jack:

ENRON’s business was based on arbitrage among regulations.They did not seek deregulation but rather different types.

No, that’s a lie. Enron did seek deregulation. Both at state and local levels — and got exactly what they wanted.

That is why they were so interested in politicians.

They were most interested in lobbying, supporting, and funding Republican politicians — because Republicans just love deregulation.

It is interesting that most of your left leaning colleagues say ENRON ruined California,

Yes, Enron’s crimes ruined California’s economy. Clearly they did.

yet you say it was a Texas thing.

Enron was a Texas company, based in Houston.

ENRON operated in interstate markets. That was their business.

Enron lobbied Pete Wilson to pass the kind of deregulation legislation they needed in order to be able to pull their scams. Wilson did. They proceeded with their scams as soon as Wilson left office.

The Federal government regulates interstate commerce, especially energy.

Which is why it would have been helpful for Bush to have stepped in to assist Grey Davis while Enron was ripping off this state. Bush could have, but completely refused — after all, Kennyboy had given and rounded up huge amounts of money to him get elected. Enron continued ripping off this state for as long as they could, until they were finally indicted, tried, and convicted for just some of their many crimes. California ended up 45 billion dollars in the hole.

ENRON grew to its monster business during the 1990s. During the 1990s, Clinton was president and the regulators were run by Democratic appointees. Is there anything here you don’t understand or think is wrong?


There’s quite a bit wrong there.
From Wikipedia’s page on Enron:

Enron traces its roots to the Northern Natural Gas Company, which was formed in 1932, in Omaha, Nebraska. It was reorganized in 1979 as the leading subsidiary of a holding company, InterNorth which was a highly diversified energy and energy related products company. Internorth was a leader in natural gas production, transmission and marketing as well as natural gas liquids and an innovator in the plastics industry. It owned Peak Antifreeze and developed EVAL resins for food packaging. In 1985, it bought the smaller and less diversified Houston Natural Gas.[5]

The separate company initially named itself “HNG/InterNorth Inc.”, even though InterNorth was the nominal survivor. It built a large and lavish headquarters complex with pink marble in Omaha (dubbed locally as the “Pink Palace”), that was later sold to Physicians Mutual. However, the departure of ex-InterNorth and first CEO of Enron Corp Samuel Segnar six months after the merger allowed former HNG CEO Kenneth Lay to become the next CEO of the newly merged company. Lay soon moved the company’s headquarters to Houston after swearing to keep it in Omaha and began to thoroughly re-brand the business.

From Wikipedia’s page on Enron’s CEO Ken Lay:

Lay worked in the early 1970s as a federal energy regulator. He then became undersecretary for the Department of the Interior before he returned to the business world as an executive at Florida Gas Transmission. By the time energy was deregulated in the 1980s, Lay was already an energy company executive and he took advantage of the new climate when Omaha-based Internorth bought his company Houston Natural Gas and changed the name to Enron in 1985. The much larger, better capitalized and more diversified Internorth was then used as an asset to propel his efforts at Enron.
Posted by: Adrienne at August 23, 2011 3:23 PM
Comment #328137

Just to be perfectly clear here: Wholesale electricity deregulation began under George H.W. Bush, but Clinton also extended it and allowed it to move to the retail level. Also, let’s be clear about something else: Ken Lay was friend of both George Bush AND Bill Clinton and gave money to both of these men for their political campaigns. Bush however got a lot more.
As a progressive, I’ve never had any problem being completely honest about the actions of DINO’s like Bill and Hilary Clinton — who in many ways were really no better than having Republicans sitting in the White House.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 23, 2011 3:49 PM
Comment #328141

Adrienne
Since you mentioned the electricity thing - why should I have to pay the electric company a monthly fee to keep my current meter instead of getting one of their so-called SMART meters?

Posted by: Kathryn at August 23, 2011 5:14 PM
Comment #328144

j2t2, JLW, Rich

I never said the regulators were corrupt, just lax. The point is that Democrats were guarding the store when it was robbed.

The Feds regulate interstate commerce. ENRON’s business was all across state lines. There is no way a governor of one state could have protected anything if the Feds were at it.

Think of how Obamacare was passed based on the Interstate commerce clause. Now consider a firm that REALLY is doing business interstate.

Rich

By 2000 ENRON had already done the things that made it collapse in dishonor. A law passed in 2000 and signed by President Clinton that year would not have changed the outcome.

Adrienne

I am not lying. Maybe what you write is a lie, although I would give you the benefit of the doubt and consider it merely misinformed.

ENRON was in the arbitrage business. It made its money by working between and among various regulations that made energy different prices in different jurisdictions.

When you say the word “regulation” you assume that the regulations work. ENRON worked the regulations.

And MOST of its growth came in the 1990s.

One more thing - you talk about DINOs like Bill Clinton. You seem to have soured on Obama. Is there ANY national politician (one that has actually won some elections) that you DO respect, or are your politicians completely theoretical?

I ask that because, like you, I have never met or even heard of a perfect politicians or a perfect anybody. Unlike you, I accept the reality and try to make improvements from there. Bush, for example, was a terrible guy, except compared with Kerry. We have to make choices. I thought Clinton was a good president, BTW. Is there any president you think was good?

Tom

I only parse your sentences to show what they mean.

I have one more parse in “old elitist claptrap”. I am advocating spreading decision making. Elitist is to believe a few politicians or bureaucrats will make better decisions for people than they will for themselves.

Posted by: C&J at August 23, 2011 6:05 PM
Comment #328145

Kathryn,
Good question — isn’t it supposed to saved the companies money and make their business more efficient? So why don’t they have to foot the bill for these meters?
As for the benefit or lack thereof to the consumer, there seems to be two schools of thought on the Smart Meters.
Some people swear that the meters are nothing but a scam and that their utility bills have jumped way up ever since they got them installed. Others are claiming that the meters give consumers the kind of accurate info that allows them to better gauge their energy usage and they can subsequently bring their bills down.
Personally, I haven’t gotten one yet. I’ve stayed on the fence about the Smart Meters because I’ve been hearing from too many friends the former, rather than the latter.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 23, 2011 6:06 PM
Comment #328146

Jack,
Here’s a reprint of an article that appeared in the Washington Post back in 2001. Fact: Enron lobbied like crazy for deregulation. Period.
Campaign Gifts, Lobbying Built Enron’s Power In Washington

As for politicians I like — I’m a Progressive, so I like the Progressives. If they can wear that label honestly, I usually tend to like them.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 23, 2011 6:19 PM
Comment #328149

Adrienne

You should be libertarian. Read that article you so helpfully supplied. It shows how ENRON made money running among the regulations and regulators. They were a political organization using political power to gain what they would have been unable to do with their own power in the market. Your article shows lots of Ds and well as Rs. It was a bipartisan problem.

The best way to prevent firms and powerful individuals from using politics is to create fewer rules so that clever firms and individuals cannot play one against the others. I think that politicians and businessmen will often behave badly if given the opportunity. Take away their opportunities.

Re progressives - can you give me a couple examples of real world successful politicians who would meet your high standards?

I respect that you want to apply high standards to our society. But the way to do that is not through the concentration of power in the hands of politicians and regulators. These guys are captured by powerful and clever interests, such as ENRON. People are not bad but they are self interested or at least have their knowledge and priorities limited by their own experiences. When you concentrate power, you create the option of corruption.

This is the reason you cannot think of progressive politicians who are both nationally successful and up to your standards. When politicians get in positions of concentrated power they start to make choices based on their priorities. These are not always corrupt or even bad, but they get more and more out of touch.

The way to protect liberty AND diminish corruption is to disperse power so that the one making the decisions is the same guy one suffers or benefits. Politics often gives benefits to those who don’t have to pay for them and makes people pay for benefits they would not want to give to others or even want for themselves.

ENRON, among others, took advantage of rules to leverage its power and profits. It got close politicians and regulators to create conditions where it could prosper at the expense of others. By the end, it was not really selling products at all, but influence. It leveraged a system of rules and regulations that distorted energy markets. We all find this odious, but with different conclusions.

Posted by: C&J at August 23, 2011 7:01 PM
Comment #328151
You should be libertarian.

No, you should be Progressive! :^) Hahaha!
I could NEVER be a libertarian — I don’t believe in a dog-eat-dog world where social and economic justice cannot exist. I hate the whole idea of anarchy on behalf of the rich, designed solely for such people to get even more despicably wealthy than they already are.

Your article shows lots of Ds and well as Rs.

You mean some DINO’s and lots of R’s! Come on, you know it’s true!

It was a bipartisan problem.

Somewhat — I’ll allow that. But it was and still is overwhelmingly a Republican problem — because as I said, they’re the ones who LOVE deregulation. In every way, shape and form.

Re progressives - can you give me a couple examples of real world successful politicians who would meet your high standards?

Sure. From the present day, I admire people like Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, John Conyers, John Lewis, Barney Frank, Al Franken, Barbara Lee, and Sherrod Brown. Of those no longer in office yet still very active I like people such as Russ Feingold, Alan Grayson, Howard Dean and Al Gore. From the past, I admire people like Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette and Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone.
Of the presidents, the closest we’ve had to a true Progressive is FDR.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 23, 2011 7:51 PM
Comment #328154

Oh, and as for how to get rid of corporate political-influence buying? We need the kind of government where money isn’t the only thing that gets to talk. So we need strong campaign finance reforms, and to outlaw corporate lobbying, and we should impeach Supreme Court Justices that bring us things like the Citizens United ruling.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 23, 2011 8:03 PM
Comment #328155

Adrienne

I also like FDR and I feel like Fighting Bob was a distant cousin. These “progressives” of the past were muscular in the way that modern ones are not. Both were against public sector unions, for example. Both feared the deleterious effects welfare. And FDR wasn’t afraid to deploy deadly force even in the absence of legal basis to do it. I thank him for his efforts in 1940-1.

I don’t like most of your current list. I liked Paul Welstone and Russ Feingold is a man of true integrity. The others … Although I have to say that I like Dennis Kucinich. I think he is nuts in most ways, but he is honest in his own ideology and he has the courage of his convictions.

I think Al Gore is more along the Clinton model. He became much more operationally progressive only after his chances for high office were gone.

Re libertarianism - It is not a governing ideology any more than progressiveness is. But giving people choices does not mean dog-eat-dog. People can and do things that do not maximize their personal gain. The question is whether or not you want to apply government coercion to the process.

We will never create a perfectly just system, mainly because our concepts of justice are very different. If I were to create a “perfect” just system and you were, they would be very different. Assume that neither of us would live in that system or know anybody who would. We were completely disinterested. It would still be very different. Since no two people can really agree on justice, the best bet is to give people the freedom to choose as much as possible.

Posted by: C&J at August 23, 2011 8:08 PM
Comment #328156
Re libertarianism - It is not a governing ideology any more than progressiveness is. But giving people choices does not mean dog-eat-dog. People can and do things that do not maximize their personal gain. The question is whether or not you want to apply government coercion to the process.

J,

I’ve always wondered why you prefer to label yourself as a conservative when it seems like you wear libertarian robes much better.

Posted by: Warped Reality at August 23, 2011 8:16 PM
Comment #328157

Adrienne

Re your latest comment - who would control all that money? Government bureaucrats can be as craven as business people. Corruption in government is the biggest single reason why countries remain poor. Even non-corrupt bureaucrats have their own priorities and ideas. They cannot help but put them into practice and it will be reflected in their choices.

When we reformed campaign finance, we threw more power to rich chieftains such as George Soros or the Koch brothers. I include both ends for fairness sake. They don’t have to spend directly on campaigns. They can support “issues”.

You also throw power to celebrities, who can command attention w/o spending much money.

So you take power from political parties, which at least have a connection to the people and throw it to free radicals such as Soros, Koch or maybe Lady GaGa.

I also think there is too much money in politics. But the money is following the power. If you want to money out, take away some of the attraction.

If you have an infestation of cockroaches or rats, it is a good idea to clean up the food or garbage that is attracting them.

Posted by: C&J at August 23, 2011 8:16 PM
Comment #328158

Warped

You got it. Libertarianism is not a viable governing ideology. Government is based on the capacity to apply coercion. A true libertarian really cannot govern. Libertarianism is a useful antidote to overgrown government, but it cannot actually run the show.

Besides, I have to admit to a kick-ass streak. Sometimes I think it is necessary to flex some muscle in ways that libertarians would find unacceptable.

Posted by: C&J at August 23, 2011 8:20 PM
Comment #328159

Abolish Corporate Personhood/Money Is Free Speech law. Implement REAL campaign finance reform where legal donations are from the individual to some federal and state entities for accounting/disbursement to candidates/parties. Problem solved.

Adrienne, I think I luv you - are you a goil?

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 23, 2011 8:55 PM
Comment #328165
I only parse your sentences to show what they mean.

No, you parse sentences to make them say what you want them to mean, dishonestly, like this entire thread of yours. Since it is quite clear you are incapable of admitting to your own errors and making a sound argument, readers will be able to discern they can dismiss much of your post, and better understand the techniques you use to make unsound arguments.

Thanks for demonstrating your dishonesty.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at August 24, 2011 12:00 AM
Comment #328166
“progressives” of the past were muscular in the way that modern ones are not.

I’m surprised you would like either, Jack. They once stood for everything you now claim to dislike in government. As for me, I’m a great admirer of progressives who weren’t or aren’t afraid to call things the way they honestly see them. Whose rhetoric actually reflects their true thoughts, ideas and feelings, rather than act as mere political lip service (this is my beef with Third Way aka DLC aka Blue Dog Democrats like the Clintons).

Both were against public sector unions, for example.

Roosevelt and La Follette lived in a different time entirely. Both of these men were big union supporters, although they were definitely against the idea of unions for public employees because back then they feared the idea of those workers being able to call widespread general strikes (which was happening frequently amongst other workers at that time) — this was something which they obviously thought would be dangerous to the public welfare.

However, I think that if they were living now in our own day and age where we have so many people on the radical right claiming that government should be “drowned in a bathtub” since it’s considered no good at accomplishing anything at all, and that therefore everything should be privatized and placed into the hands of wealthy capitalists, these men today would likely be all in favor of public unions and fighting for the people who are in them who are systematically having all their rights striped from them. In fact, I think both men would be horrified to see the massive inequality in income distribution between the rich vs. the middle class and poor, and I don’t think they could have ever a foreseen a time when so many on the political right would sneer at the idea of workers earning living wages when they do tough jobs such as teachers and hospital workers, firefighters and police.

Both feared the deleterious effects welfare.


What are you talking about? There was no such thing as “Welfare” when those guys were alive. But there were lots and lots of extremely destitute people that they knew it was their duty to help.

And FDR wasn’t afraid to deploy deadly force even in the absence of legal basis to do it. I thank him for his efforts in 1940-1.

Aside from what he did to Japanese Americans (which was shameful and dead wrong), Americans should thank FDR for his efforts all through WWII. It’s very doubtful that the vast majority of presidents this nation has had would have been up to the enormous tasks and challenges that were involved, but FDR handled them brilliantly.

I don’t like most of your current list. I liked Paul Welstone and Russ Feingold is a man of true integrity. The others … Although I have to say that I like Dennis Kucinich. I think he is nuts in most ways, but he is honest in his own ideology and he has the courage of his convictions.

I’m not at all surprised you don’t like my list, Jack. :^)
I think that integrity is a progressive hallmark, and yeah, it is usually pretty easy to pick us out in a crowd by the fact that we do possess the courage of our convictions. Progressives have always been willing to be way more badass and far more outspoken than our rather more polite liberal brethren! :^)

I think Al Gore is more along the Clinton model. He became much more operationally progressive only after his chances for high office were gone.

Indeed he did. I wouldn’t have included him but for the fact that Al Gore actually found himself as a true progressive after acting like a polite liberal for too many years, and then having his presidency stolen from him. Living through adversity seems to give birth to the best kind of progressives: strong of purpose, unafraid to speak their minds — because what on earth have they got to lose?

Re libertarianism - It is not a governing ideology any more than progressiveness is.

I disagree completely. Progressives have always had the best possible ideology for governing America. Because with us the needs of We the People will always come first and foremost — and we wouldn’t dream of leaving anyone of us out of the picture. We know there must be room for all kinds and sorts of people, that there must be opportunity and ways to advance for Everyone. Progressives truly believe that the concept of ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’ should expand to apply to All, rather than only some.

But giving people choices does not mean dog-eat-dog. People can and do things that do not maximize their personal gain. The question is whether or not you want to apply government coercion to the process.

Ah yes, “Choices” that always put wealth in the hands of a few rather than in the hands of many. Typical rightwing claptrap. Only wealthy people talk this way — and those who don’t know any better than to parrot the talking points that the wealthy have indoctrinated them with. This mentality is what progressives have been fighting against from day one — and we’ll never stop fighting.

We will never create a perfectly just system, mainly because our concepts of justice are very different.

I honestly fail to see where the concept of justice (social or economic) enters into the picture on the political right — and when I say this, I mean all during the twentieth century, or in our modern era.
The right has fiercely pitted themselves against so very many of our citizens: The poor and middle classes. Union members of every kind. Women in the workplace. Women in the military. Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People, and all of those folks in the workplace and military. Anyone who isn’t of the Christian faith. Atheists and Agnostics. Scientists. Educators. Liberals and Progressives.
Basically anyone who isn’t Conservative, White, Heterosexual, Christian and Wealthy is sh*t out of luck if they want to be represented by anyone on the political right.

If I were to create a “perfect” just system and you were, they would be very different. Assume that neither of us would live in that system or know anybody who would. We were completely disinterested. It would still be very different. Since no two people can really agree on justice, the best bet is to give people the freedom to choose as much as possible.

I find this funny! I truly think that right this very moment our country is pretty close to living in the “perfect system” for those who are Conservative, White, Heterosexual, Christian, and most of all, Wealthy.
Congress is so corrupt and bought off, this nation is so run by and for the select wealthy few, everything has been so deregulated/unregulated, and we are so lacking in strong, progressive leadership and have been for so very many years that I consider it not quite, but pretty damn close to being the ultimate Conservative Libertarian dream.

Re your latest comment - who would control all that money? Government bureaucrats can be as craven as business people.

First of all, We the People can start by voting out any politician who has been in Washington any longer than six years. The longer they tend to stay, the more corrupt these people tend to become. And that’s why at present we can’t trust them with controlling the money. Those who are honest and aboveboard should be allowed to stay, but there are so few, and they are the exception, rather than the rule. Secondly, since Congress is so fond of cuts when it comes to We the People, then they too need to have their salaries and perks cut, reduced, or stalled in the very same way that the vast majority of ours have been.

And personally, and I know that this may seem completely outrageous to so many of you on the wealth-worshipping right, but I honestly don’t think anyone who has more than a million dollars in their bank account should even be allowed to run for political office — because that kind of wealth renders politicians completely out of touch with reality. Or perhaps what I should say is, it makes politicians too out of touch with OUR reality. The reality that the vast majority of us average-earning taxpayers have been forced to live in as a result of political incompetence and mismanagement under the direction of the wealthy.
Let’s face it, if We the People truly want balanced budgets then we should start by electing the kind of people who have had some sort of actual experience with REALLY NEEDING to do exactly that, yes? So the next time they see those really expensive political TV commercials, billboards and signs — they need to vote for other guy/gal. Because the serious and earnest one who has a lot less money to spend is probably going to end up being a far better bet.

Corruption in government is the biggest single reason why countries remain poor.

No doubt. And Corruption tends to go hand in hand with wealth, callousness, and hard-hardheartedness. It always has and always will.

Even non-corrupt bureaucrats have their own priorities and ideas. They cannot help but put them into practice and it will be reflected in their choices.

Yet, if the choices they make are aren’t working for most people, they can and should be voted out.

I also think there is too much money in politics. But the money is following the power. If you want to money out, take away some of the attraction.

It’s even worse than that, in my view. I think the money and power are working in total conjunction with each other — on both sides of the aisle. That’s why MOST members of Congress need to go. NOW.

If you have an infestation of cockroaches or rats, it is a good idea to clean up the food or garbage that is attracting them.
Indeed — and hooray, for once we can agree! At the moment we have got a very serious infestation. Definitely time to vote out the cockroaches and rats in Congress, and take out the damn garbage. This country is choking on both. Posted by: Adrienne at August 24, 2011 12:58 AM
Comment #328167

Roy Ellis:

Abolish Corporate Personhood/Money Is Free Speech law. Implement REAL campaign finance reform where legal donations are from the individual to some federal and state entities for accounting/disbursement to candidates/parties. Problem solved.

Yes. Totally agree with you, Roy.


Adrienne, I think I luv you - are you a goil?

Heh. Yes, I am. In fact, and even better, I’m a woman! ;^)

Posted by: Adrienne at August 24, 2011 1:03 AM
Comment #328170


Roy, why do you think people would be encouraged to donate to such a fund. What would stop the corporations from donating huge amounts to the fund, wink, wink.

C&J, some people propose to try to create a better, MORE just society. Some people claim there is no such thing as a PERFECTLY just system. It is like one person asking a question and getting a, possibly deliberately selected, answer to a totally different question from a person who claims to be addressing the question asked.

Is it possible to create a more just society? Yes.

Is it possible to create a perfectly just society? Possible but not conceivable.

There are two kinds of dog eat dog. The kind where the strong dogs devour the weak ones, prey upon weakness, and the kind where the weak ones pack up and devour the strong ones, seek revenge for being treated like prey.

The more that the strong become dissociated from the weak, the more likely it is that one scenario will occur followed by the other. “Let them eat cake” could possibly be the ultimate in dissociation.

There is big capitalism and small capitalism. Small capitalism is mutually beneficial for country and community.

Big capitalism is primarily geared to profit, with country and community being considered liabilities more often than not. Example, Halliburton was banned, by U.S. law from doing business with Iran, Iraq, and Libya. That did not prevent Halliburton from circumventing U.S. law to make profit from providing services to our enemies. While our troops were fighting the Nazis, Chase Bank was helping the Nazis launder loot. While our Air Corp, with the highest U.S. casualty rates of the war, was bombing Nazis ball bearing factories, an American ball bearing company was selling them to the Nazis.

In a more just society, Rockefeller, Goering, Herman’s cousin, and their associates would have been hung.


Posted by: jlw at August 24, 2011 1:47 AM
Comment #328172


That Dick Cheney as well.

Posted by: jlw at August 24, 2011 1:53 AM
Comment #328190

Just when you think you’ve seen/heard it all; Karl Rove on O’Reilly last evening beating up on the President for hiring Jeff Imelt (GE) to chair his jobs creations effort. Imelt moved GE’s entireXray group to China and has worked a deal to build several next generation avionic technologies into a commercial Chinese aircraft that will likely compete with Boeing at some point. The joint venture is with the state owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Wasn’t that long ago that Bush was trying to sell airports, port security and such to foreign entities. Surely, that’s the height of hypocrisy. But, probably not.

Jlw, campaign finance reform can only happen thru a new 3rd party with a diff - - -.

Real campaign finance reform would mandate that for President/VP all legal donations be from the donor to an entity such as the IRS for legal/accounting/disbursement to qualified candidates. Much the same for state level candidates; all legal donations would be made to a state treasurer office and be responsible for legal/accounting/disbursement to qualified state/local candidates.

No donor limits, the audit trail is broken at the receiving entity. Funds from donors would be bundled and disbursed equally among qualified candidates.

Political parties could still operate getting funds from wherever BUT, ALL campaign donations would have to be from donor to selected agency.

A person might donate a million for the presidential election but the million would be disbursed equally to qualified candidates.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 24, 2011 12:36 PM
Comment #328199

Adrienne, From a fellow progressive’s viewpoint post 166 is about as inspiring as it gets. You echoed my sentiments in ways I would never know how to put into words. I am with Roy, I think I LUV you too. lol! I would be fine with cuts just so long as the playing field is leveled first. Take back from the wealthy the Bush tax cuts plus the amount that the working classes have already lost as a result of wealth based economic malfeasance. Let’s make them sweat a little so they think twice about taking advantage of us again. Once the wealthy have payed a proportionate share we can then sit down and talk about making cuts that affect all classes of society on an equal basis. In other words I think we, the working classes, have already given far more than we should ever have been held accountable for. Protecting the wants of the wealthy on my back, just so they can continue to eat steaks and caviar for breakfast, lunch and supper doesn’t fly with this progressive. It is time we had some strong leadership in this country that recognizes the need and is willing to take a strong stance against the greed induced immoralities of these thoughtless money mongering monsters.

Posted by: RickIl at August 24, 2011 5:20 PM
Comment #328201

Rogert RickIl, many folks recognize that as a nation we are in bad straits. Most all recognize that corporations and international trade are highly desirable, necessary.

But, neither should be the tail wagging the dog, which is what we have now. Rule by Corpocracy and government being pretty much run through the commerce clause of the Constitution. GE’s Imelt comes to mind.

Up with the problem: money influence in gov’t and politics.

Solution: remove the money influence by abolishing corporate personhood and money is free speech law. Follow that with the implementation of REAL campaign finance reform whereby all legal donations are from the individual to authorized federal/state entities or quasi entities, responsible for validating/accounting/bundling and disbursing funds to qualified political candidates.

I think the majority would agree with that. But, the kicker is that it will take a new 3rd party with a diff - - - to drive such reform thru to legislation.

Corporations/wealthy elites aren’t just going to go along to get along. They will fight any change to the status quo. Corporations and their minders have had over 200 years to get this right and they aren’t going to relinquish easily.

It will take a 3rd party designed for 21st century politics, IMO.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we truly deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 24, 2011 6:39 PM
Comment #328202

Tom

Maybe your words don’t mean to others what you think they do. I have had long experience with people not saying what they meant to say and then getting upset when the definitions are put to them.

Mostly I just ask questions about the inconsistencies, which you answer with anger and personal attacks. I seriously resent the charge of dishonesty, BTW. I try to tell the truth the way I see it. If you don’t to see that, it is your problem not mine and if you don’t like what I write I would invite you not to come back. I get paid the same zero dollars whether you read or not. I assume your personal attack is unintended, but if you persist I will have to ban you from commenting on my stuff.

Adrienne

The difference between a life giving medicine and a deadly poison is often in the dosage & when conditions change so must responses. I think that explains how we can agree on these past leaders and disagree about the current ones. When FDR was acting, the Federal government was much smaller than it is today. At the time, we needed more. We also were a much poorer and less developed country and government had to take over some roles that most people can now do for themselves or in voluntary association.

I also think that we ran out of many of the “honest and hard working poor”, i.e. FDRs policies gave people opportunities and willing people took them. My father was in the CCC. It was a hard life, but it helped. Today we don’t have many people willing to do those hard things. If you recruited for a CCC today, you wouldn’t get many poor people signing up for those conditions.

Re public unions – they both were afraid that public unions would come to dominate politicians and would not be constrained by losses like a private firm. Public unions could, they feared, dictate terms. This has come to pass. FDR and Lafollette were prescient.

Re welfare – they used to call it out door relief. Roosevelt worried that if it was applied to liberally it would erode the work ethic of many of the recipients. Once again, the man was prescient.

Re use of force – we agree in our admiration of FDR. But I am thinking of his pre-war actions specifically. He authorized US force against Germany before we were in the war and so on his own authority. The USS Ruben James was sunk in 1941 – before we were in the war – while escorting ships bound for Britain.. The German battleship “Bismarck” was sunk with the help of a US Navy pilot flying for the British – again BEFORE we were in the war. This would be illegal today and actually was also illegal then. But Roosevelt did the right thing.

Re perfect society – I think people on the right find ours a far from perfect society. I also think that you are engaging in your own stereotypes. There are different people and groups on the right as on the left. Most of us don’t much care if the people running things are white, black, male, female or anything else. What we care about is that they believe in limited government and give people freedoms to choose their responses in return gain or suffer the consequences.

In my “perfect” world, race, gender or sexual preference is simply irrelevant. I also recognize that it is unlikely that equality would exist in that perfect world, since if we have diversity of choices and ideas we will inevitably get a diversity of results. Diversity is a synonym of inequality and I like diversity.

Re wealth worshiping – I wish I has a million in the bank. In return I would be happy not to run for office. I don’t like riches. Chrissy (the C) gives me a hard time because I have some of the same shirts for twenty-five years. I still have a suit the remembers Ronald Reagan (which still fits BYW) and I generally commute by a bike I bought in 1997. In fact, I bet my consumption is below that of most Americans. I find that many people who have good incomes have similar habits and tastes. That is one way we got good incomes. We just don’t spend as much as many others and we like to work. When you have habits like this, you naturally get richer, not RICH, mind you, but well-off.

I don’t like rich people particularly and I strong dislike ostentatious shows of consumption. But I think attempt to stop such things are probably worse than tolerating them.

No doubt. And Corruption tends to go hand in hand with wealth, callousness, and hard-hardheartedness. – I have found much callousness and hard heartedness among the poor. I think it is probably spread fairly evenly in the population. I would observe that some people are unsuccessful because they are nasty or have bad habits and cannot get along with other people. This trait seems distributed a little more heavily among the poor.

“Yet, if the choices they make are aren’t working for most people, they can and should be voted out.” People like us don’t even get to know what they are doing. And SHOULD is a key word. In fact, they are not always or even usually voted out - anywhere. America is actually better than most places for this, BTW.

One more word re progressivism. It requires that people trust their government and each other to do the right thing most of the time. This works in a country w/o much diversity, since everybody can understand the motives of the others. I grew up with this feeling of community in Wisconsin and lived with it for some years in Norway. I also saw it break down in both places when ideas and people started to be more different. People are willing to help others who they think needs it, but they don’t want to be ripped off or taken advantage of.

A progressive agenda can work where community is strong AND homogeneous. That is why it did relatively well in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota or the Dakotas. I would argue that the world changed. Not only did we become a more heterogeneous society, but we also benefited from the achievement of many progressive ideas. We no longer live in the society of the early 20th Century that provoked the progressive reaction. But some of the idea have pushed too far after having achieved the goals. Some government regulation is necessary. Too much is tyranny. A medicine becomes a poison.

Jlw

Re a more just society – we all want it and work on it. We can agree on many things being odious and other things good. Very often we disagree about the methods.

For example, we all would like to get rid of poverty. Some people think that direct government intervention can do that. I used to think that, but then I lived through the 1970s where I observed that government poverty programs often exacerbated the plight of the poor. So I now believe that in most cases indirect intervention, i.e. creating conditions of prosperity, will be better because the roots of poverty are cultural more than economic.

I believe also that the pursuit of perfection is often used as an excuse to do little useful to do good.

You give examples of big business that has done bad things. I agree. ALL humans are subject to corruption and all human systems will break down at times. That is why I believe in NOT concentrating power. Business should be balanced with outside power as should government. We have experience with over-powerful business leaders, such as Rockefeller as you mention. We have examples of over-powerful government leaders, such as Hitler, Mao and Stalin. Our task is to walk the path between anarchy and tyranny.

Posted by: C&J at August 24, 2011 6:39 PM
Comment #328204

“Re public unions – they both [Roosevelt, LaFollette, were afraid that public unions would come to dominate politicians and would not be constrained by losses like a private firm.”

C&J,

Adrienne has this right. They were afraid of general strikes shutting down public services, particularly public safety related services. The Boston Police strike was still a recent event in their time. It set back public union organization for decades. Indeed, it wasn’t until the 60s that police and fire were unionized in any significant fashion.

Posted by: Rich at August 24, 2011 8:37 PM
Comment #328206

I am surprised that in any discussion of great progressive leaders that Teddy Roosevelt has not been mentioned. If there was ever a progressive that didn’t just talk the talk but walked the walk, it was him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Nationalism

Posted by: Rich at August 24, 2011 8:55 PM
Comment #328209

Rich

Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. Do you disagree?

The Teddy Roosevelt example shows a problem with moving historical figures to the present terms. Roosevelt believed in kicking ass, and his foot was aimed not only at business but also at troublesome people in places we would now call the developing world, lazy people, weaklings and hyphenated Americans. Most of his attitudes were bellicose, which I enjoy but which would not be embraced by most liberals today.

Posted by: C&J at August 24, 2011 9:44 PM
Comment #328213

C&J,

Public unions which evolved after the trauma of the Boston Police strike generally contain no-strike provisions, particularly for public safety positions. That protects the “special relations and obligations” of public servants toward the public. Other than that limitation, I see no inherent reason that a government entity cannot bargain with a unionized segment of its work force. Is contract negotiation beyond the skill set of government?

“Most of his [Teddy Roosevelt] attitudes were bellicose, which I enjoy but which would not be embraced by most liberals today.”

If only progressives had such a voice and a politician of such courage to speak and act on behalf of progressive causes today.


Posted by: Rich at August 24, 2011 10:31 PM
Comment #328214

Roy, I am a longtime advocate of serious purposeful campaign finance reform. However we have to face the fact that no current party or legislator that I am aware of is willing to give the idea any serious consideration. Not even the tparty who self proclaims themselves as the party of pragmatic ideals is pursuing the effort. IMO any entity serious about ushering in an accountable govt would recognize the need for reform before all else. It is also my opinion that Americans are becoming ever more aware of the need and viability of a new voice to represent and tackle this countries needs. I can not believe that the masses will tolerate the social and economic degradation caused by a dysfunctional congress forever. I wonder, will congress have the good sense to recognize the day when the people have simply had enough of their childish behavior and say to hell with the lot, it is time to give someone else a chance to run this country. I know I myself certainly have entertained the idea on more than one occasion.

Posted by: Rickil at August 24, 2011 10:40 PM
Comment #328216

RickIL thanks for your kind words! I agree with what you’ve written above, and I too believe we may well end up needing a new Progressive Party to represent the interests of average Americans, since the Democrats seem to be abandoning the needs and demands of their progressive base bit by bit with every passing year.

Rich, thanks for backing me up — and you’re absolutely right about the 1919 Boston Police Strike having a lot to do with influencing the views of even extremely progressive politicians such as La Follette and FDR.
That strike truly put the fear of god into the status quo from coast to coast (these were the Red Scare years, 1918-1920), because well over a thousand Union Men in Boston walked off of their jobs to show their support for the policemen who who were demanding union representation and decent wages, and who went out on strike from the force in an attempt to secure both.
The incredible fear and anger over what those cops dared to do was also reflected in the fact that many of those policemen who were fired from their jobs as a result of the strike never got them back — even after the Massachusetts legislature voted to let them be excused and reinstated twelve years later. The Boston Police Commissioner wouldn’t allow a single officer to return to the force even though it had already been over a decade since the strike had taken place.
It’s really great knowing there is someone else here who is interested and knowledgeable about American labor history! So much of what tend to take for granted (and many of the rights that we see slipping from our grasp in this nation today) grew out of those early labor struggles. It’s vitally important history — and sadly (and perhaps intentionally?) they don’t teach much of that history in schools.
Btw, I agree that Teddy Roosevelt was a staunch progressive in many important ways. Yet as I’m sure you’re aware, he was a bit of a two-sided coin of a man, since he was also quite regressive/reactionary, too.

Jack, thank you for the discussion, and for your replies. As I’m certain you know, I really can’t agree with too much of what you wrote. :^)
But tonight I really don’t feel like spending the rest of the night on the computer arguing over politics, so I think I’ll just leave you guys with a couple of badass progressive tunes.

I’m leaving this song for Rich — it’s by the Dropkick Murphy’s and it was written about the Boston Police Strike of 1919: We Got The Power

And I’m leaving this Patti Smith tune for RickIL, and jlw, and all you other progressives with good hearts and clear vision for a more just society:
People Have the Power

Goodnight, gentlemen.
A.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 25, 2011 1:02 AM
Comment #328220

Would be great to see a party rise up with a mission for campaign finance reform.

IMO, there is just no way to implement CFR without first turning off the money spout. A new party would be a wasted effort over the long term unless it is developed in ironclad rules to prevent co-option.

The solution is removal of the money influence.

First, a party must be established that is co-opt proofed.

Second, corporate personhood law must be abolished so that corporations no longer have human rights.

Third, campaign finance reform should be implemented whereby only legal donor is the individual.

Following that we could all back to partisan bickering and la la land and live happily ever after, IMO.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 25, 2011 11:09 AM
Comment #328232


C&J, there are some with incurable diseases who can live long and fairly good lives if they continue taking their poison in medicinal strength.

There are some who, upon feeling better, try to delude themselves and others into believing they are cured and no longer need to take the medicine. Soon the disease returns to full strength, some times it is even worse.

In the last few decades, we have seen the incurable being weened off their medication and the results of that weening is obvious to many, deregulation, stagnant wages, upward mobility of wealth, a world wide search for the cheapest and least regulatory production facilities, savings and loans, .com, housing, huge tax breaks with massive unfunded spending and huge deficits.

Some say it is not dishonest to blame the medicine, rather than a steady reduction in the dosage.


Posted by: jlw at August 25, 2011 4:59 PM
Comment #328286

C&J,

Like always when people run out of arguments, they bring out fascist tactics and limit speech. If you can demonstrate where I attacked you personally, provide it. A dishonest argument is dishonest, no matter who makes it. Making additional false statements does not back up a dishonest argument.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at August 27, 2011 2:03 PM
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