Shut Up & Be Grateful

One of the greatest gifts we can have is the capacity to be grateful. It is good for our own mental health, good for others and good for society. Good people are grateful for what they have. A-holes are perpetually pissed off because they don’t think they get all that is coming to them.

All of us get more than we "deserve" because we stand on the shoulders of previous generations, who built our country, our civilization and our institutions.

We need to make our own contribution, to leave something on the table for others today and for future generation tomorrow, to NOT take all we think we deserve right away. In the end, we really can be responsible only for what we do or choose not to do.

I am grateful for the opportunity to make my contribution. I try to do what I should do, my duty, w/o thinking much about what I deserve to get for it. When I used to think about such things, I would sometimes get more than I thought I earned, other times less. Thinking about it was not worth the effort, beyond my pay grade, so now I just get what I get and adapt to that. I have a simple analogy. If I put money in a vending machine and nothing comes out, I don't complain. If I put money in the machine and two cans of coke come out, I don't give one back. And I have a simple recipe for contentment. I try to make sure my needs and wants amount to less than my capacity to satisfy them. In other words, use less than you have.

Before somebody gives me a hard time about taking care of the less fortunate, let me say that if you do what you should do you will be helping the less fortunate. Chrissy & I have a specific program of philanthropy. We put it into our budget. The less fortunate are benefiting from the extra we produce. Presumably, if they are good people, they are grateful for that and working to bring their own needs and wants in line with their own capacities.

Being "less fortunate" doesn't relieve you of your duties or imply that you are owed anything.

That is why I don't like it when people use the term "give back" when talking about their charitable work. That implies that they took away something in the first place. Being grateful for what you have and wanting to do good where you can does not necessarily imply a debt. If I give money or time to the less fortunate, it is not because they "deserve" it and I don't "owe" them anything in particular.

What we all owe ourselves and our society is to do our duties. It is simple but not easy. We need to do the tasks before us well and joyfully. Do what you do in such a way that you don't complain and don't need to explain or apologize. All honest work is honorable, but you should try to do the kind of work you are best suited to do. People do not possess the same intelligence, talents, habits or temperaments. No two people are equal. Things that are easy for some can be impossible for others. The good person is one who is doing what he does best and is doing his best at that job. The goal is not to be "as good as" others, but better at what we do well. We presume that others will be better than we are at what they do best. We have the affirmative responsibility to find that and to do it. If we find these things and work hard at them, we are usually happy and we deserve to be. Nobody can give it to you and you shouldn't ask. Contentment with achievements is earned.

If most people or even lots of people do this sort of thing, society is good. When people do their duties, other things take care of themselves - or more correctly, people doing their duties have taken care of them. So be grateful for others doing what they should & grateful if you have found your place. If you have not yet found your place, look for it, but you cannot demand it.

Posted by Christine & John at December 25, 2011 8:29 AM
Comments
Comment #333514

C&J, I suppose a liberal would kick the teeth in on a non-giving vending machine. A centrist, on the other hand, would look for a number to call or contact the responsible manager for the machine. Surely, the vending company doesn’t want to suffer a faulty machine and you would be doing a favor to future users by making the problem known.

Based on your article, I can’t be sure that you live your life as suggested. I suppose Rum is still the favorite apertif in Brazil and flows freely this time of year?

Otherwise - - - Merry Xmas, C&J

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 25, 2011 3:24 PM
Comment #333515

Roy

The machine thing just ain’t worth the trouble.

I suppose my basic philosophy is don’t bother me, don’t bother you.

I tell my kids and my colleagues that there are two categories of things. One is your business, which is a fairly small set. This is where you should concentrate your effort. The other category is much bigger. It contains those things that are not your business. Some of these things are very interesting and maybe important, but you can’t reasonably do much about them, so you should try not to think too much about them or waste valuable time.

I observe that loser spend lots of time on things that they cannot reasonably effect to the detriment of those things they should be working on.

Of course, like everybody else, I do not live up to all my plans and ideals, but I am good at what I do and I try to improve.

The national drink, BTW, is not rum. It is a rum like drink called cachaça. I drink that to be courteous. When I drink as I want, however, I prefer good old American bourbon - Jim Beam Black, Wild Turkey or Old Forester. I like whiskey, so I don’t drink too much of it.

Posted by: C&J at December 25, 2011 4:03 PM
Comment #333537

Dunno, C&J, that ‘going along to get along’ thing sounds a bit Ron Paulish. But your observation that “I observe that loser spend lots of time on things that they cannot reasonably effect to the detriment of those things they should be working on” is daid on. I may be afflicted with some mea culpa there.

I do so approve of your liquor taste, even as I try to steer clear of meat balls, anything Italian and booze. Of course, like everybody else, I do not live up to all my plans and ideals…

Years past I was hanging on to a tram railing at the top of Sugar Loaf, couldn’t of drove a needle up my arse with a ten # sledge hammer. When what do I see but an older man, in his 60’s maybe, and a young boy, couldn’t have been more than 13, climbing up over the summit with picks and ropes hanging off them. Big time lesson in humility right then.

Even so, to this day I believe they were both mad dog crazy.

I think such lessons in humility have pulled me to the center, writing for content rather than shock and awe, realizing there are people, to the left and right, who often put out very good ideas from which to pick and choose to support. Further, being the only centrist in the South and possibly in the Newnited States it makes it easier to broach such bold reforms as AVC and abolishing CP. Plus, a large enemy is easier to see, etc.


Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 25, 2011 9:52 PM
Comment #333552


Yes, we should all be more like Bob Crachit.

Posted by: jlw at December 26, 2011 12:27 AM
Comment #333553

C&J, four beliefs in the harried life of a centrist:

First, you believe in Santa Claus
Then, you don’t believe in Santa Claus
Three, you are Santa Claus
and lastly, you look like Santa Claus.

Otherwise - - -


Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 26, 2011 12:31 AM
Comment #333563

jlw


Bob Crachit should have been proactive in trying to improve his situation. I do not advocate being passive in all situations. Being positive and having the capacity to understand usually gives you MORE power to improve your situation, not less. His positive attitude, however, made life more pleasant for his family and those around him.

I try to apply these principals in my own life and it works for me. I am still often surprised how much people are willing to help me and give me when I am nice to them and figure what I want to do fits in with what they want to do.

There are people who are nasty and should be thwarted when possible, but most are okay.

Even in your example, Scrooge is not really a bad guy. He has taken the wrong path that has not helped him be happy. Maybe if Crachit had been working on this proactively through the years he could have helped Scrooge see his true interests w/o the help of four ghosts. He might also have innovated with better algorithms to increase productivity making himself more valuable and obviating the need to work on Christmas eve. Scrooge evidently understood a balance sheet and could have been convinced of the superior value. Beyond that, if Scrooge had not succeeded in building a profitable business in the first place, there would have been no surplus wealth that was later used to help the poor and give Tiny Tim the operation he needed to save his life.

Posted by: C&J at December 26, 2011 6:57 AM
Comment #333566


C&J, you gave a dose of self-centered selfishness combined with the Christian work ethic.

Well, there are some commendable things to be said about the Cwe, but the reality is that it has been replaced by the ethical principle that has been coveted by the upper crust of society since civilization began, the doe-ray-me ethic. It has evolved into a what is good for the goose is good for the gander situation in which both now have a voice without some having to engage in bloody revolution to have their voices heard.

Making more money and getting paid more money for one’s production is the driving force of our society, from top to bottom.
The guy at the top wants less impedance to his accumulation of the wealth that is created, while the guy at the bottom wants a larger percentage of the wealth for his production.

For a second I thought you were going to say, “Scrooge is not really a bad guy,” just misunderstood.

If Scrooge had invested some of his hoarded wealth to improve his business, his community and his employee’s welfare, chances are his business would have been even more successful and probably was after his transformation.

Owner, worker, consumer, the three people responsible for creating wealth. When all have an equal say, we will be on our way to creating the society that Christian ethics calls for.

Posted by: jlw at December 26, 2011 2:58 PM
Comment #333567

jlw

There has been a change since the old days of production. The guys at the bottom produce very little these days. That is one of the problems. If the bottom 20% goes on strike, nobody cares.

Re Scrooge - he probably should have reinvested in new technologies and methods.

Owners, workers and consumers certainly should not have an equal say. They have different points of view & skill and things change. Often the owners ARE the workers. And often the people in charge these days are not owners. Everybody has to satisfy the consumers.

The problem is that they all are movable concepts, which is why we rely on market choices.

Bob Crachit, BTW, was a “computer”. He did what calculating machines do today. Today both Scrooge and Crachit would be out of jobs, replaced by a webpage.

Posted by: C&J at December 26, 2011 4:59 PM
Comment #333568

jlw

BTW - I am not sure what you mean by Christian ethic of work. Some interpretations of Christian ethic lead to lack of real effort. Those vows of poverty and all that from the Middle Ages probably retarded progress for a thousand years.

If you are talking about the Puritan work ethic that has helped so much with American prosperity, it does not treat workers, owners etc as equals in their say over the firm. All have the duty to work to the best of their ability, much as I mention above. And all have the right to fair compensation, but fair compensation is NEVER equal compensation for those who play different roles.

Posted by: C&J at December 26, 2011 5:05 PM
Comment #333569

We are pretty much the frog in ever hotter water. As the inequality factor spirals few are doing more than complaining, maybe threatening to vote against an incumbent, etc. To get the needed attention its necessary to ramp up the inequality factor, sort of peer into the future, etc.

The EX-CEO of Tyco Intl could serve as an exemplar for inequality factor. He grew the company to manage over 600 companies, threw money at shower curtains, vacation homes, yachts and all the trappings. His CEO pay ramped up so fast that it caught the eye of the IRS. He, like other corrupt CEO’s forced to do a few years in jail, will soon be back on the street with access to his stash of cash and the good life.

But, as the Gilded Age II came to fruition, TYCO pales in comparison. Monopolies and conglomerates have the world economy to hide behind, players on a much bigger stage. Today, the wealthy control some 40% of the wealth. Best the Roman elites could ever do was 16%. They just didn’t have the tax lawyers and legislative loopholes available to top mgr’s today.

But, the big question is, at what point will the frog start kicking? When the 1% own 60%, 80%, 90%? At what point will the frog become too cooked to kick? We seem to kick the can down the road on the debt, budget, pipelines, etc. No reason not to do the same with income inequality.

I think it will take a 3rd party with a diff pol …

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 26, 2011 6:20 PM
Comment #333570

“Shut up and be grateful?”


Be grateful about what? Rising inequality? The selling off of our government to the highest bidder? Two wars fought by our youth and never funded by our billionaires who instead pay  a smaller percentage of their wages in taxes then just about ever? Do you want to tell the dismembered Iraqi or Afgan War Vet coming home to no jobs to be grateful for record corporate profits and increased concentrated wealth while the dollars to support the infrastructure of the country he fought for are drying up because we don’t want to increase taxes on anyone?

And I speak as someone doing quite well but as one who was born into a country when wealthy people DID put more back and equality was far greater. I specifically believe my success to have been far more likely having grown up in the 60’s then in the current day.

Posted by: muirgeo at December 26, 2011 6:42 PM
Comment #333572

muirgeo

Be grateful for what you have and try to change things you think are wrong in a positive way.

I find that the more people complain about the big things that they cannot influence, they less they tend to do about the things they can affect.

Besides, being grateful is good for you. It makes you healthier and more successful.

I have given you a gift of good advice. I have done my small part for you. If you choose to be unhappy, that is your business. But it is a choice that you made. It is not thrust upon you by others.

I recall a piece of very good advice I got from a Marine in Iraq. We were sanded down by the dust on one of those forward operating bases and I was bitching. I complained that it sucked. He told me to “embrace the suck” and enjoy what I had. He was right. I couldn’t stop the sandstorm or get rid of the noise, but I could influence my own reaction to those things. I could choose to be miserable or not. I chose not. Instead, I chose to be grateful for having something decent to eat and for the gift of time.

Posted by: C&J at December 26, 2011 8:25 PM
Comment #333574

Wish I could blog like that, muirgeo. My beloved 3rd party would be chock full of centrists ready to take it to the corpocracy. Anyway, the frogs ain’t going to take the heat forever, IMO. I’m hoping for a large anti-incumbent vote this time around. Beyond that, it would be fool-hardy to leave an administration in power for more than four. Time for a changing of the Czars, so to speak.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 26, 2011 8:39 PM
Comment #333577

Dang C&J,

You are the War Vet I am talking about. Thank you for your service. THANK YOU! I am amazingly grateful for what I have but I don’t want to be told to shut up and I will not shut up. I served in the military (active but stateside during the first Gulf War) but nothing to the likes of what you and others have seen on the front lines. The jerks on Wall Street who’s wealth we ALL are protecting and subsidizing often make millions stealing from the productive economy while heroes like yourself put forth so much more while asking for and receiving so little. This infuriates me. There is no billionaire on Wall Street who’s put up 1/100th of what you put up but there are plenty who profited from the wars while getting their taxes cut… all while young men were killed and maimed to protect their fortunes.

My home made bumper sticker says;

IRAQ VETS
THANK YOU

….in as large a type as I could get on a single page. No parades, no big celebrations for their return and NO billionaires stepping forward to fund such needed efforts. I’m grateful but I’ll never rest with these jerks taking advantage of the country so many fought and died for… (my father included… Combat Vet of the Korean War). With all due respect I will not shut up until I see those who build and labor and fight for this country share a little more in its rewards instead of letting the top 400 people own $1.6 trillion of wealth alone… that’s ridiculous. There’s no need and no excuse.

I AM truly grateful for all that I have… it’s indeed more than I deserve. My goal is to see the hundreds of millions below me lifted up more fairly and those with ridiculous amounts of wealth protected by the rest of us putting back in a bit more. It’s not simply a matter of complaining. It’s a matter of defending what is right. It’s a stateside war more relevant to our country’s survival (with all due respect) then anything going on in the Middle East. It’s a matter of pragmatism. If we don’t correct these inequalities and start paying for the things this country needs by taxing excessive wealth our country will continue to sink further and further into oblivion. I will not allow that to happen quietly… there is too much to lose… I will not shut up specifically because I am so grateful for what I do have.

Posted by: muirgeo at December 26, 2011 11:31 PM
Comment #333579

C&J, an understandable and rational decision when in a position you can’t change or control. But, we are here, going to hell in a handbasket but, we don’t have to except it as our fate, we can change things. Therefore,

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 27, 2011 12:45 AM
Comment #333583

muirgeo

No, not military. Bad guys did shoot in my general direction, however, and blow things up nearby. I spent a year (2007-8) living & working with the Marines in Iraq, in Western Anbar province during the surge. I was part of the “diplomatic surge”. I got to know and love the Marines (and our Iraqi allies too, BTW). They protected me on patrols, gave me a helmet, body armor and good pair of boots and they provided the good advice mentioned above. We worked on understanding the “human terrain” so that we could apply our efforts at points of greatest leverage and I talked to our erstwhile enemies until they got so bored that they started to cooperate just to have some rest.


Re the “shut up” I have to use suck things to get attention. My first headline was just “be grateful” but nobody paid attention.

I don’t think people should shut up generally. I don’t like it when people complain about things they cannot or will not change. I especially hate it when people identify the wrong target for their anger and just protest. There is no effect or honor in that.

muirgeo & Roy

Let’s think about how to make real changes. I was very fond of the idea of an “ownership society”. It was successfully caricatured and destroyed by leftist in 2005, and perhaps it was poorly presented by the Bush folks, but IMO the best way to ensure general prosperity is to create conditions where individuals can create and hold wealth. Wealth, as opposed to income, allows you to weather life’s misfortunes better and also gives you a degree of independence from all sorts of authorities.

IMO - many of the leftist protestors are going in exactly the wrong direction. They want government guarantees to prosperity and income. What government gives and controls, it can take away.

IMO (too) - the Obama folks have been incompetent and craven. The health care reform extended coverage but did not - specifically did not - address the problem of rising costs. We were served a bait and switch. They said that they were after the rising cost and then served up their ideological coverage extension w/o addressing cost. Costs will rise. It was a Trojan horse to more government.

They also completely messed up on financial reform. They did not go after the root causes. Instead they vented anger and left the same fat cats in charge as before BUT now with greater government cover.

SO what makes me angry is this synthetic anger and stupidity on the left. I work hard, in my own little way to diffuse and ridicule this.

We should always look at what things do, not what people say they will do.

I do not think that the Federal government CAN solve all the problems we ask them to solve. The best we can do is get them out of some of the businesses and understand that some problems will be with us always and some we just have to address ourselves.

Re corporate personhood - corporations are necessary parts of an advanced society. We need to have institutions that can limit liability and spread risk. No intelligent person could invest $10 in a firm if it meant that his whole fortune was at risk. If we abolished corporations, we would be unable to raise investments needed for anything bigger than could be done by partnerships.

This would lead to a general economic collapse followed by government taking up the role of investor and risk taker. We have seen this kind of thing in the tyranny of the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. It is truly horrible.

The middle ground is to make sure that nothing is “too big to fail”. This means sensible laws that make it difficult to grow too big. Generally speaking, government simply needs to withdraw support for the giants. In the finance field, perhaps do not guarantee deposits for firms beyond a certain size.

Governments worldwide have created an interlocking web of moral hazard, where people are guaranteed protection.

Posted by: C&J at December 27, 2011 7:17 AM
Comment #333585

I am thankful and grateful for everything in my life. My dad had a 4th grade education and I have 2 college degrees. I was in the military from 1966-1970, I survived and wouldn’t change those 4 years for anything. I spent 36 years working for one of the largest corporations in America, and enjoy the American dream life of retirement and spending the winters in Florida. We have 2 kids who are very accomplished and certainly don’t need mom and dad’s help. I became a Christian shortly after getting out of the military and God has blessed us abundantly and again, I wouldn’t change any of my life and experiences for anything. I was fair with people during my life, I worked hard, and I now rest. I can only thank God for all He has done for me and no matter what befalls me; I have an eternal home to look forward too. JMHO and I will be glad to now “shut up” and listen to others.

Posted by: Bill in Florida at December 27, 2011 11:30 AM
Comment #333587

Shut of and be grateful, really?

Re corporate personhood - corporations are necessary parts of an advanced society. We need to have institutions that can limit liability and spread risk. No intelligent person could invest $10 in a firm if it meant that his whole fortune was at risk. If we abolished corporations, we would be unable to raise investments needed for anything bigger than could be done by partnerships.

C&J you have mentioned both extremes yet leaver us no room for the answer to this problem. How conservative of you. How protective of the corporate oligarchy that threatens our democracy.

Why not some middle ground. Instead of your “abolishing corporations” idea why not limiting corporations by taking away their “personhood”. It is after all a business entity not a person. Each person that is a shareholder, officer or employee of the corporation doesn’t lose any rights just the business entity that is all these people collectively.

Why not a charter that doesn’t allow corporations to own other corporations, ie holding companies.

Why not allow for those that reap the rewards to take the risks, I for pone am tired of socialized risk and privatized rewards. If the chamber of commerce wants to influence legislation by contributing to individual legislators why not assume the risk of bribery, coercion or influence peddling?

Large system failure is what you claim is the problem with government yet it seems you do not acknowledge this problem with large corporations and conglomerates.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 27, 2011 12:53 PM
Comment #333590

Bill, I’m of the same generation and have had a fulfilling career and life The years from 1950 thru 1980 were about as good as we could have it, IMO. More jobs than workers and little economic competition from around the world. All that rapidly began changing with Reagan and the era of ‘greed is good’ and globalism.

Yes, we had it good, real good. But, what about succeeding generations, grandkids, etc? First generation to do less well than the preceding generation. Reason? muirgeo summed it up pretty well. And, being in full pessimistic mode, the worst of it is in front of us. Untenable debt, states just now starting to feel the loss of tax base due to real estate, an education is going to be beyond reach for so many, ad infinitum. Crunch really won’t be felt until 2013-15 and the doldrums will continue for decades.

So long as life was good for all I never gave politics a thought, couldn’t name my reps, never been to a town meeting. I generally voted in the presidential elections. But, as the corpocracy worked in the global economy thru NAFTA & the AFTA’s, North American Union, etc, and with the loss of so many jobs I began to kick around a bit (frog in hot water analogy). I leapt from the boiling water during Bush II’s admin, realizing that Regan’s promise to control the border was fallacy and that globalization was going to be pursued, pedal to the metal. Compounded by the deregulation of commodities/financials, top 1% with 40% of the wealth, upper income up 450% since the Reagan era while the workers have attained 26%, and falling, over the same period and the Iraqi war for oil. I’ve since become a robo-frog, flaming red and bleating like a dragon with the onset of the ‘big scare’ tactic that the ‘world was falling’ and we needed to stimulize the world to save us. A tactic I refer to as ‘working to break the back of the middle class worker’ so that we may begin to compete in the global economy, the LCD factor so to speak. IMO, there was lots of ways to approach globalization other than a hail Mary pass.
Now, C&J may believe that I’ve chosen the wrong target - - - “I especially hate it when people identify the wrong target for their anger and just protest. There is no effect or honor in that.” But, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the source of the problem, that being ‘we have the best government money can buy’, stems from the money influence in gov’t/politics, directly related to our inability to achieve REAL campaign finance reform, all brought about thru Corporate Personhood law.

C&J, I do wish either www.reclaimdemocracy.org or www.movetoamend.org would publish something definitive on corporations after corporate personhood. Corporations did very well before they were ‘persons’ and will continue to do so as non-persons.

Good post, j2t2.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 27, 2011 2:02 PM
Comment #333591

j2t2

It depends on what you mean by personhood.

But let me start with the basic point - “Why not allow for those that reap the rewards to take the risks” - the limited liability corporation is one of the most important developments. W/o it we simply could not have an economy more complex than we had around 1800.

It allows investors to make small investments and spread their investments. Investors do indeed take a risk, but it is limited to their investments. Otherwise a $10 stock investment could cause you to lose your life savings. It makes risk proportional. If you invest $10 you could lose the entire $10. But they cannot come after your house.

I have left “no room for the answer” because there is no room for the kind of answer that some people seem to think is okay.

The corporation must have the right to make contracts, limit liability of shareholders, own, buy and sell property and have “rights” that would not allow the state or others to arbitrarily take their property.

Right of free speech are not simple. The corporation would need the right to communicate within its area of business. A corporation must have a corporate policy and so would need to capacity to publish that and explain it. This will often bring it into the political realm. For example, a corporation would need to right to explain that a new law would adversely affect its business.

Re owning others - corporations expand their expertise by buying others. Some firms, like Berkshire Hathaway are in the business of aggregating other firms. There are laws on the books that regulate these things, but I would not want to abolish it.

Re the large system failure - the “failure” of our system is relative. In 2008, we suffered a massive loss of wealth which resulted in - no widespread famines, no extensive political violence, no upsurge in crime … Our failure is pretty tame compared to those of other systems in the past. W/o corporations acting as they do we are looking at mega-failures almost too big to imagine. Well we can imagine them. We have the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany or the multitude of rotten little failed states.

The corporation is one of the main pillars of our modern economy. It cannot be dispensed with. The consequences are not just people being a little poorer as they are since 2008.

I do agree on the OVERT political influence. IMO ONLY flesh and blood individuals should be permitted to make political contributions. Corporations, unions, NGOs and PAC would all be excluded in an ideal world. I am not sure how to make that happen, however. And if you could, how would you stop rich guys from funding political action just inside the law?

Political action is nearly impossible to police.

For example, I think natural gas exploration could be essential to our prosperity. That is not a political stance, but it well could be.

BTW - many of the key “inventions” on which our society is based are largely uncredited. Let me name a few.

The concept of the limited liability corporation
The invention of differential calculus
The development of a theory of probability
Double entry accounting

All of these things are necessary for a functioning modern economy. Lack of such things is one important reason why the splendid civilizations of Greece, Rome, China or the Middle East never got up to the industrial age. Take any of them away and we are back in the Middle Ages.

Posted by: C&J at December 27, 2011 2:14 PM
Comment #333592

Very good post, j2t2.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 27, 2011 2:15 PM
Comment #333594

Evidence of more frogs leaping from the hot water.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/01-14

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 27, 2011 3:47 PM
Comment #333595


C&J, I would like to see some evidence that before corporate personhood, a small $10 investor could be liable for his entire wealth.

I believe it was the people who formed the corporation, applied for a charter, who could be held liable for any wrong doing or damages caused by the corporation they owned.

I can see applying leniency if damages aren’t a result of willful acts, but corporate personhood encourages willful acts that cause harm, by limiting the liability for committing them. The to big to fail banks and companies like BP epitomize this behavior of limiting the liability of owner/management at the expense of small investors, taxpayers, and consumers.

The bankers get a bailout, the homeowners get foreclosed, the workers and consumers get the economy, and the taxpayers get a bill.

Times change, human behavior does not.

Ask any conservative and they will tell you that passivity produces suckers.

Posted by: jlw at December 27, 2011 3:56 PM
Comment #333597

jlw

That is the nature of business w/o corporations. When you invest in a venture as a partner, you can be liable for much more than your investment.

You allude to a problem with your own second question. Those who charter the corporation do so to achieve the benefits of limited liability. You and ten friends might want to invest some money in a hotdog stand, but none of you wants to be all in. Then suppose you need money and sell to another investor. Should you still be on the hook, or should the new investor. Now you see how this works.

In a corporation, you put the money you invest at risk and enjoy the benefits in relations to that. You don’t expect to make $1 million for a $10 investment nor should you expect to lose that much.

Corporate officers are responsible for their own criminal acts.

Re the bailouts - We need to protect the integrity of the financial system. I agree that the Obama folks should not have rewarded many of the bad actors. But bailing out homeowners would have been a practical impossibility.

I lost a thousands of dollars when the market went down. I would like to have that money “back” but who do you propose should give it to me? Keep in mind that I am not selling my house and that it is worth more than it was when I bought it in 1997, BUT it is worth less than it was in 2006.


If you don’t think I deserve to be bailed out, why should you bail out someone who bought a house in 2005 that he couldn’t pay for? Or what if I had chosen to sell the house, piss away the “profit” and then buy a house in 2005 so that I would now to “underwater”

Not so easy, is it?

Posted by: C&J at December 27, 2011 4:21 PM
Comment #333600

I appreciate what Bill of Florida said, however I do not understand why Roy Ellis blames Reagan for laws that were passed by a Democratic controlled Congress? For the past 3 years we have been listening to the Democrats blame a Republican controlled Congress for all the ills of Obama, (but wait a minute, the Democrats controlled both houses the first 2 years of Obama’s presidency and the Senate for the past year). So Reagan was blamed for ruining everything when Democrats passed the laws; and Republicans are blamed for the laws Obama and the Democrat controlled Congress passed. Is anyone confused yet? Yes…. but we are using liberal logic. And to top it all off, it was Clinto who signed NAFTA into law.

Re/AFTA:

“President Barack Obama’s push to expand an Asia-Pacific trade accord gained momentum at a summit in Honolulu with agreements from Japan and Canada to join what would be the largest American trade deal.

Obama said nine Asia-Pacific nations aim to reach a Trans- Pacific Partnership accord within a year in what would be the biggest U.S. pact since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Japanese leader Yoshihiko Noda and Canadian premier Stephen Harper told the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit they will join the talks, which may help the U.S. regain influence lost to China in a region that’s leading global growth.”


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-13/obama-pushes-trade-deal-in-bid-to-bolster-u-s-foothold-in-asia.html

Roy Ellis, do you mean this AFTA?

“The North American Union (NAU) is a theoretical economic union, in some instances also a political union, of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The concept is loosely based on the European Union, occasionally including a common currency called the Amero or the North American Dollar.

While the idea for some form of union has been discussed or proposed[1] in academic, business and political circles for many decades,[2] government officials from all three nations say there are no plans to create such a union and no agreement to do so has been signed.[3][4][5] The formation of a North American Union has been the subject of various conspiracy theories.”


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

Roy, your batting a thousand on conspiracy theories and false information.

Again, good post Bill in Florida; I am in a similar situation and very blessed.

Posted by: TomT at December 27, 2011 6:52 PM
Comment #333605

Obama inheriting a mess reminds me of the practical application of a sports coach.

When a coach takes over the position of head coach he inherits the team situation. At that point he continues with the same approach or changes things for the better of the team. He does not blame the former coach. He goes about to make a winning situation with the team.

Apply that to Obama. So he inherits a bad situation. One of his problems is that he continues to blame the former coach for the ills he is working with. Reality says fix the problem with good leadership. Hopefully the owners of the team will fire him next year. This applies to many in Congress also.

Maranatha

Posted by: tom humes at December 27, 2011 8:29 PM
Comment #333616

TomT, ok, lets go back to Carter and the Panama Canal giveaway as the point of origin for globalisation. I wouldn’t quibble with that.

The current admin is no more, or less of a problem than previous admins. Corpocracy is the overlying problem and I try to focus my postings toward removing the money influence from govt/politics.

TomT, it’s real clear politics that the only reason the NAU didnt’ become policy/law is that the people would not tolerate it. Done mostly in secret much of NAU policy has been adopted into other agreements. The southern border today is a mish-mash of NAFTA/NAU and IMF agreements.

Maranatha, the best we can do at present to limit the Corpocracy’s ability to focus power for more than four years at a time. Voting incumbents from office offers some impediment.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 27, 2011 11:21 PM
Comment #333619

j2t2, great comments.

I’m grateful for the love of friends and family.
And I’m grateful that lots of people are now completely aware that the system has been rigged against them in favor of the needs of the 1%, rather than the 99%.
It’s very good to know at long last that I’ve been far from alone in recognizing this fact.

Occupy Wall Street! Occupy America!
Indeed, Occupy the Planet!
Happy Holidays to the 99%!!!

And remember brothers and sisters, they can’t possibly arrest all of us! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at December 28, 2011 12:15 AM
Comment #333623

Re the 1%


South Park has a good episode about the 99% and the 1%

http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s15e12-one-percent

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 6:36 AM
Comment #333624

Yeah, and it’s amazing that they nailed the reaction from the 1%.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 28, 2011 7:52 AM
Comment #333627

Gratitude. For what? For the past thirty years, people have lost more and more ground. Should we be grateful that it’s been taken away from us?

Adam Smith did not build the concept of the market on anarchy and a bizarre lack of enlightened self-interest. He acknowledged that people don’t just work for somebody else’s sake, to give somebody else their fortune. People work for their own sake. They toil to raise their families and feed their kids.

For years, people thought that if they conceded certain things to the rich, they would prosper in turn. They conceded regulations, tax cuts and various other kinds of appeasement to them, believing that if the economy prospered, they would get their share. Folks don’t like the rich that much to do it out of mere gratitude or altruism.

The rich did not deliver on their promises. The rational response to this is to try some other way, but Republicans continue to insist that people defer to them as they once did. The trouble is, the Republicans haven’t earned that deference.

People are beginning to understand that they are being stuck with the costs, and denied the benefits. How are they supposed to respond? Oh thank you, please let these people walk over me yet again?

It’s perfectly natural for people to want to even the playing field. Nobody’s going to look at a situation that disadvantages them in somebody else’s favor, and feel grateful that they’re being put in that position. They’re not going to see the unaccountable behavior of the richer and more powerful, and the harm it causes them, and shout “Hallejujah!” The real question is not whether people are going to correct the imbalance- they will, trust me! No, the real question is whether you wait until they’re motivated to do this by brute force, or whether you find a way to settle the disagreements with them peacefully.

Unfortunately, lacking real interest in lowering themselves to dealing with the rest of us like that, the upper class in this country would rather just wait our anger out over this, and stall us on reforms. They’d rather we do as we’ve done for quite some time. The trouble is, people remember having it better, so they’ve got no reason to be grateful for what they have, since what they have is less than what they had.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 28, 2011 11:11 AM
Comment #333630

Stephen

Not surprised at your opinion. Sorry for you, but it is up to you.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 11:24 AM
Comment #333635


Sorry for you has been the last words of many an aristocratic type.

The level needed to trigger the majority to say the country is going in the wrong direction is quite low compared to the level needed to get them to act. The level needed for action has been set to near revolutionary proportions by the fact that the people have no political recourse for changing the direction.

Both parties will be running a change candidate in the next presidential election.

Posted by: jlw at December 28, 2011 1:42 PM
Comment #333636

Unfortunately, I don’t think many of us are surprised by your opinions either, Jack.
That: “sorry for you, but it is up to you” attitude is exactly what is being discussed in: this article.
Once in a while it seems helpful to ask yourself: Whose Side Are You On?
Do you think George Bailey and his collective Building and Loan had the better idea? Or do you think Mr. Potter was right? What man had the better plan, and where would you personally rather live? Should this nation be filled with places like Bedford Falls that work for the 99%? Or Pottervilles that are only designed to work for the 1%?

Posted by: Adrienne at December 28, 2011 1:43 PM
Comment #333637

jlw

I agree that the country is going in the wrong direction. I think we do indeed need change. I don’t understand how Obama will be able to run again as a “change” candidate, now that he has a record to run on (from).

Adrienne

The reason I feel sorry for some people is that their hatred makes them unhappy. If you cannot find something to be grateful about in a country like the U.S. it says more about you than it does about others.

Beyond that, you have to create wealth before you can distribute it. You cannot be generous with other people’s money. I find that (as we discussed many times) that those who call loudest for government to do the most are often those who personally do the least.

You may also consider that the central theme of “It’s a Wonderful Life” was to teach George Bailey that he had a lot to be grateful for, despite his recent setback.

Re “Wonderful Life”

I recall that we talked about George Bailey before. Potter was a poor businessman. I would not side with someone who destroys wealth, as Potter seems to have done, while grabbing only for himself. A good businessman creates wealth and takes a fair share of it.

George Baily seems a better businessman. Although we never know for sure, it seems as it Potter inherited his fortune and subsequently just benefited from his position as a rent seeker. Bailey built and maintained a profitable business. He, however, should have dumped Uncle Billy a long time ago. Putting somebody like that in a fiduciary position borders on malpractice.

As I have tried to explain on many occasions, I side with the majority of the people who want to increase the wealth and productive capacity of our country through their own efforts. George Bailey’s customers were not a bunch of deadbeats occupying the park outside the Building & Loan. They held down steady jobs, volunteered for military service and volunteered for charitable work. In short, they behaved much like Tea Party members and other good citizens.

I dislike the idle rich and the idle poor. I don’t like people who want something they did not earn, whether they are rich or poor and I don’t like people who complain about things w/o taking the personal effort to improve them.

The free market is not “every man for himself”. It is about voluntary relationships. People form voluntary associations to accomplish goals they feel are valuable. Some of these associations are for profit; many are not.

The Building & Loan is a voluntary association. Government does not coerce George Bailey into granting loans or provide his capital. He makes reasonable business decisions and evidently most of the borrowers pay their loans, since the building and loan remains a going concern, profitable enough to carry dead weight like Uncle Billy and able to pay reasonable salaries to George and the employees.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 2:23 PM
Comment #333638

C&J-
I think you’re blaming people, in essence, for wanting better than they have. You’re saying they don’t want to earn it. Bull, they feel they’ve more than earned it, in many cases, and have been denied it by those who have their hands on the purse strings, who can take what they want whether or not they truly earned it.

Folks have been made to work longer hours for pay that hasn’t changed enough in the last few decades to keep up with what folks have to deal with.

At your income bracket, you don’t feel it. You CAN budget money for charity. Whatever you want to call it, to assuage your sense of property, you have the money to spare to be generous to others. Other people, though, at lower incomes, more or less have to spend everything they got. For them, disposable income is a thing of the past, and its a hand to mouth existence.

This is what you want us to be grateful for, with our fortunes gone this way.

You know what? Folks will have to manage their happiness however they can, but it certainly doesn’t get easier to be happy when you feel the strain of being pulled into poverty everyday, even if you did nothing to put yourself in that position. A lot of people have suffered for the misbehavior on Wall Street, and elsewhere, yet those people seem stubbornly resistant to being held accountable. Perhaps you want people to be happy, not so motivated to go after those they see as wrecking things for everybody else, but the truth is, you can’t wave a wand and demotivate these people. They want something better. They’re sick of suffering for somebody else’s failure to take care of their own business, and if they’re not willing to end these destructive behaviors, then I tell you what, they’re going to stop minding their own business.

If you want to prevent government from growing too much, then it’s essential that things run smoothly enough so people don’t see the need.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 28, 2011 2:34 PM
Comment #333639

Stephen

“Bull, they feel they’ve more than earned it” - Yeah, lots of people feel that way. I read that something like 90% of drivers think they are above average. People think a lot of things about themselves.

Re my income bracket - I worked up to my income bracket. I was “in poverty” for many years. Chrissy and I bought our first car when I was twenty-eight years old. When we were poor, working at McDonalds and such, we still managed to budget money for charity.

I have money to “spare” for charity because I have been a good steward of what I had. I think that is better than if I had not done so. Others benefit from my planning.

I want people to be motivated to create wealth for themselves and others. I want people to be motivated to use less than they can, so that they can benefit their society.

Median income has risen by around 30% since 1980. This is MEDIAN so it means that at least half of the people have benefited. Presumably, at least this half has sufficient income to plan for the future.

The government has been growing. It has not worked. Obama policies rewarded the financial industry fat cats, even has his rhetoric eviscerated them. Obama policies busted green energy, even as he poured billions into the firms (and pockets) of supporters. Obama health policies extended coverage while doing nothing to control costs or pay for it. This is what we GET with big government.

I know the theory of an omniscient big government sounds good. Hope is always pleasant to contemplate. experience gives us something else.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 2:49 PM
Comment #333641

“Since 1980, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has increased 67%,[6] while median household income has only increased by 15%. An economic recession will normally cause household incomes to decrease, often by as much as 10% (Figure 1).

The current crisis began with the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble, which caused a problem in the dangerously exposed sub prime-mortgage market. This in turn has triggered a global financial crisis. In constant price, 2010 American median household income is only 0.75% higher than what it was in 1989. This corresponds to a 0.04% annual increase over a 21-year period.[7] In the mean time, GDP per capita has increased by 32.5% or 1.35% annually.[8]”

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


When we throw in the fact that up to 1980 household income was usually derived primarily from one person in the family working whilst since 1980 the number of people working in a household has doubled, puts the issue into perspective. When we have two people working we need two vehicles,as well as insurance, maintenance and repairs on two vehicles and so on. The real loss is evident. We can blame the social issues that have arisen since since 1980 on “morality” or a lack of “divine favoring” but the real issue is it is twice as hard today to make a decent living for the family as it was for us boomers that started out in the ‘70’s.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 28, 2011 5:09 PM
Comment #333642

j2t2

Most social indexes have improved since 1980. Crime rates are lower, teen pregnancies are lower.

I am not sure that the number of earners has increased. The labor participation rate for women was not low in 1980. It has increased, but the rate for men has decreased.

Your source is also playing a little with statistics, comparing 1989 (a good year after the Reagan boom) with 2010 (two years into the Obama doldrums)

I talked about 1980, we could use 1981 (when Reagan took office) if you want an even number. That gives us the 15% rise you mention. That is pretty good.

You also have to recall that we are not talking about the same people. People like you and me made 15% less than people do now at the same level. But we have improved as individuals.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 6:01 PM
Comment #333643

j2t2

BTW - I really don’t want to defend Obama’s poor stewardship of the economy. I am just pointing out that despite the recent troubles, there has been a lot of progress.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 6:03 PM
Comment #333645

C&J-
I’d like to see you try and prove your claim that green energy is a bust, given the increases in Solar Power., or the increases in Wind power.

Your people take one failure, and blow it up into the collapse of an industry. Solyndra is not the whole green energy market. It was one part. Obama’s administration could have bailed it out, to avoid the awkward questions, but it didn’t.

The failures you need to back up your allegations aren’t materializing. Sorry.

You know what else isn’t materializing? Relief for the resentment of Wall Street. You say Median income has increased by 30% since 1980. The average pay for an executive in America has increased 20 times faster.

Put another way, an executive sees an increase in their income every year equivalent to two thirds of the rate for the increase in median pay over thirty years.

So, you can take your thirty percent, and then get another 570% increase before I start seeing things as equitable.

Or maybe I can put it another way. If I made 35,000 dollars a year in 1980 (neat trick for an infant!), and I increased at the rate of the median income, I would be seeing 45,500 dollars a year.

If my pay increased at the rate of the average executives, I’d be seeing six times that amount, or 210,000 dollars a year.

That’s an increase of 10,500 as opposed to an increase of 175,000 dollars.

So, you tell me, am I just imagining inequality here? Tell me why I should be thankful for the stewardship that asks for six times the salary, yet has left this economy in a worse shambles than it’s been since my grandfather was a kid?

As for my theory? Your theory is like an ethnic slur in its accuracy. Sure you can find a liberal who wants government to do everything, just like you can find a lazy, good for nothing, black person. But finding one black person like that doesn’t make them all Stepin Fetchit, and your small examples of government-besotted liberals doesn’t equate to every Democrat being a closet totalitarian.

What we want is for people to get their heads out of their backsides, and recognize that the system is BROKEN. Not simply non-ideal, but dysfunctional. It’s encouraging an economy basically based on a set of lies, lies told to consumers about their investments, to institutional investors about what they’re investing in, to everybody about the security of the loans, and to the economy itself concerning how much things are worth, and how much economic activity is actually justified.

The market itself is being crippled by this atmosphere of dishonesty, while those running the company remain largely untouched by the consequences of their failure to properly guide and manage the companies. Their status as corporate leaders serves to lend them credibility that their actual skills and behavior as leaders can’t pay back in kind to their companies or to the economy as a whole.

I don’t mind the folks who make an honest buck, who earn it for doing something genuinely helpful for people. I don’t mind having a light touch on regulation. What I mind is a theory of governance applied even when it’s results tell us that theory has been invalidated.

The theory that markets could police themselves has been invalidated by the results. Now is not the time to be thankful, not for a system that remains teetering on the edge of disaster. I will be damned if I will be satisfied with this kind of economic mediocrity. Now is the time to demand answers, accountability, and for people to wake up to the fact that their self-interests will not defend themselves.

If you’re not angry with the way things are, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. The current order of things is simply unacceptable.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 28, 2011 6:08 PM
Comment #333647
Most social indexes have improved since 1980. Crime rates are lower, teen pregnancies are lower.

C&J, you are right,we are the incarceration nation, crime rates are lower.

http://www.thehalsreport.com/2010/08/a-flawed-system-u-s-boasts-highest-prison-incarceration-numbers-in-world/

You may refer to it, dishonestly I might add, as the Obama doldrums but the fact is it is much more than that, C&J.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/a-decade-with-no-income-gain/

Posted by: j2t2 at December 28, 2011 6:55 PM
Comment #333649

j2t2

Obama gets responsibility for the economy 2 years into his presidency. So we can blame Bush from start of 2003- start of 2011. This last year has belonged to Obama, so we can call it the Obama doldrums.

Of course, if we add in those two years Bush and Reagan look better too, since both “inherited” downturns.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 7:41 PM
Comment #333656

Stephen

You are not imagining inequality. I don’t think, however, that you have figured out the right causes or solutions.

Re Wall Street - yes - too much money. Why did Obama allow and even enhance bonuses, leave the system as it was, all the while complaining loudly. The words are right. The actions wrong.

Re solar, wind etc - these were and are developing. The U.S. was the world’s biggest wind energy producer in 2006, with Texas having the most capacity. With all the Obama money, we have now fallen to #2.

The Obama money is having no effect on development, except that backing politically connected firms is probably hurting.

Again, the words are right, but the actions are not.

Re “The market itself is being crippled by this atmosphere of dishonesty, while those running the company remain largely untouched by the consequences of their failure to properly guide and manage the companies.”

Obama has been president for three years. Democrats controlled both houses of congress from 2006-2010 and still control the Senate. Not much action, but lots of words.

In fact, Obama rewarded executives at Goldman-Sacks by giving them 100 cents on the dollar. He allowed AIG bonuses and bonuses for execs at Freddie and Fannie.

We may agree that crooks are in high places. These high places are now controlled by Democrats. Your people have not kept their promises.

Re being angry - yes - like most Americans I am angry at Obama for not doing a better job. I hope we vote him out next year.

Re the median wages - I $3.35/hour working at McD in 1980. Adjusted for inflation that is $5.78. The same job would now pay me $7.25. But if I was still working there for that same money, there would be something wrong with me. My income has risen a lot since then. Your frame of reference is wrong. You are assuming no change in personal circumstances.

The real point of reference is that someone starting out in 1980 made $5.78. A person with similar skills today starts out at $7.25. You don’t feel that they are sufficiently better off. But you cannot say they are worse.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 9:52 PM
Comment #333659

Jack,

You are clearly suffering from a very bad case of “normalcy bias” — but many who are responding to this post (including me) are obviously not. Until you can realize we’re in a whole new landscape economically and can begin talking to us in a way that is far more connected to our modern reality, it’s just not worth trying to have this conversation.

Re: “It’s A Wonderful Life”

George Baily seems a better businessman. Although we never know for sure, it seems as it Potter inherited his fortune and subsequently just benefited from his position as a rent seeker. Bailey built and maintained a profitable business. He, however, should have dumped Uncle Billy a long time ago.

You reveal quite a lot about yourself here, although I don’t think you even know it. The fact is, you don’t know the first damn thing about what “It’s A Wonderful Life” actually represents. It’s true as you say, that we’ve talked about this film before — but the fact is, you didn’t know anything about it back then either. Although, Rocky obviously did.

First of all Jack, George Bailey was NEVER a good businessman — in fact, he didn’t want to run that business at all, but felt he HAD to keep it going. Neither was his father who built the Bailey Brother’s Building And Loan in the first place a good businessman. George’s father, Peter Bailey NEVER had a profitable business, but only scraped by his entire life. Indeed, with the (fictional) Bailey Family, their lives NEVER actually revolved around business or profits AT ALL. These people were very clearly all about Human Decency and Collectivity.
Secondly, who do you think the Bailey Brother’s of the Building And Loan were? One of them happens to have been “Uncle Billy.” Good people like the Bailey’s don’t DUMP their Uncle Billy — because they LOVE that man deeply — no matter if he’s a little bit eccentric and confused, and forgetful, and prone to making mistakes.

Just to prove what I’m saying, here’s the pertinent part of that script that lays it all out:

POTTER: Peter Bailey was not a business man. That’s what killed him. Oh, I don’t mean any disrespect to him, God rest his soul. He was a man of high ideals, so-called, but ideals without common sense can ruin this town. (picking up papers from table) Now, you take this loan here to Ernie Bishop… You know, that fellow that sits around all day on his brains in his taxi. You know… I happen to know the bank turned down this loan, but he comes here and we’re building him a house worth five thousand dollars. Why?

George is at the door of the office, holding his coat and papers, ready to leave.

GEORGE: Well, I handled that, Mr. Potter. You have all the papers there. His salary, insurance. I can personally vouch for his character.

POTTER (sarcastically): A friend of yours?

GEORGE: Yes, sir.

POTTER: You see, if you shoot pool with some employee here, you can come and borrow money. What does that get us? A discontented, lazy rabble instead of a thrifty working class. And all because a few starry-eyed dreamers like Peter Bailey stir them up and fill their heads with a lot of impossible ideas. Now, I say…

George puts down his coat and comes around to the table, incensed by what Potter is saying about his
father.

GEORGE: Just a minute –– just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You’re right when you say my father
was no business man. I know that. Why he ever started
this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I’ll never know. But neither you nor anybody else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was… Why, in the twenty-five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn’t that right, Uncle Billy? He didn’t save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter. And what’s wrong with that?
Why … Here, you’re all businessmen here. Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers?
You… you said… What’d you say just a minute ago? …They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait! Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken-down that they…
Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about — they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!

POTTER: I’m not interested in your book. I’m talking about the Building and Loan.

GEORGE: I know very well what you’re talking about. You’re talking about something you can’t get your fingers on, and it’s galling you. That’s what you’re talking about, I know.
(to the Board)
Well, I’ve said too much. I… You’re the Board here. You do what you want with this thing. Just one thing more, though. This town needs this measly one-horse institution if only to have some place where people can come without crawling to Potter. Come on, Uncle Billy!

George leaves the room, followed by the jubilant Uncle Billy. Potter’s face is grim with hatred. The
“frustrated old man” remark was gall in his veins.

POTTER: Sentimental hogwash! I want my motion…

Again, this takes us back to that age old question:
Which Side Are You On?

I’m somebody who thinks a lot like the Bailey’s. Somebody who might get mocked for my “high ideals”, or for being a “starry-eyed dreamer” simply because I think that the needs of the people should always come first. That indeed, in the final analysis — when all of us look back on our lives — this is really all that truly matters.
So to me, the Bailey’s truly represent the correct side of the equation. The side of 99% — the side that I’ve always been on.

You unfortunately, with your comments, often sound a hell of a lot like a Mr. Potter (1%). Maybe you just like to talk real tough here? Maybe you aren’t actually like this? I hope not. But anyway, you should be aware that this is how you will often be viewed when you disregard reality, and disregard the all the people who are right now struggling, by talking the way you do.

However, you’re far from alone here. Many other people on the political right in this blog often sound exactly like this, too.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 29, 2011 1:53 AM
Comment #333663

Adrienne

A profitable business is one that produces profit sufficient to support its continued existence. Profit is the price of survival. If the business was NOT profitable, it would not survive. Simple tautology.

We don’t know if Potter’s business had a higher or lower return on investment than George’s. We know Potter started out way ahead.

Let me give you a real world example of a poor businessman - Donald Trump. He started with a big pile of money and over the course of his career did not really add to it. The old saying that “if you are born on third base, don’t think you have hit a triple,” applies to Trump and may apply to Potter.

Your problem is your definition of business. You have a very strong moralistic streak. You define right as bad and left as good and then fill in the necessary details.

I see profit and business as the tool by which we produce wealth. When I see a movie like “Wonderful Life” I see how that tool would have to be deployed in real life. Frank Capra might have wanted to tell a Christmas story, but he used the society as a backdrop.

I repeat something you need to understand. A business that does not make a profit ceased to exist. The Building and Loan existed through many years, therefore it made a profit.

You don’t think “a lot like Bailey”. He did his duty to his business. He made profits sufficient to keep his business in operation. He was a wealth creator in the private sector.

My comments, supporting the creation of wealth by ordinary people, praising voluntary association and giving George Bailey credit for turning a profit for almost twenty years through one of the worst downturns in US history may sound like Potter to you, since you see things in Manichean terms of your own definition.

Frankly, you are more like Potter. A centralizer who would put a higher authority in charge of planning the economy.

Don’t mistake being “starry eyed” with being ineffective and incompetent or being able to accomplish goal with being nasty. At the end of the day it matters more what you accomplish than what you say you want to do.

George Bailey ran a successful (i.e. profitable) business for almost two decades. He invested his own funds and those of his shareholders in voluntary association. People of the town around him volunteered for military service and most of them were religious. They prayed and went to church. Everyone believed strongly in the principles of private property and most seem to have paid their debts, even in very hard times.

In short - the heroes of the film you seem to set as one of your North Stars are ALL conservatives in most of their behaviors and attitudes. And the villein is the kind of crony capitalist who would live off government policy, the kind of guy who would be making the big bucks on a firm like Solyndra. You are looking at the fairy tale aspect of a classical film w/o understanding the context.

The free market fills people’s heads with impossible ideas, like that they can own property and make lives for themselves w/o depending on the largess of states or benefactors.

You are impressed by what people say they are going to do; I am impressed by what they really do. This leads to different conclusions. Your method is better in literature; mine in better in life.

Please try to look beyond the fairy tale aspect to the real result and you will see the world differently. It will make you more successful and a better citizen, one more able to make positive contributions, as George Bailey did. If he had given away all the firm’s money or made bad loans, he would not have been in a position to help anybody. You CAN be both good and practical. In fact, if you are not practical you cannot be good, in any but the religious sense, because you will not produce useful results.

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 5:52 AM
Comment #333673

Jack,

“George Bailey ran a successful (i.e. profitable) business for almost two decades.”

Perhaps we watched different movies.

The “Bailey Building and Loan” was on the verge of collapse throughout the entire movie. George was constantly giving up his dreams (and his money to fulfill those dreams) to bail out the business, even when he could have allowed it to fail at any time, and gone on with his life.

And, oh BTW, isn’t that what the Conservatives wanted to do in 2008?

But allowing the business to fail would have let Potter, the banker (and majority stockholder in the building and loan) wreck the lives of his fellow citizens.

George wanted to commit suicide because he believed he was a failure, and he believed his $15k life insurance policy will bail out the business yet again.

The “moral” of the movie is selflessness, and that “no man is a failure who has friends”.

The synopsis;

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/


So, in reality, how exactly does this fable actually fit into your last post?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 29, 2011 9:49 AM
Comment #333674

C&J-

You are not imagining inequality. I don’t think, however, that you have figured out the right causes or solutions.
Re Wall Street - yes - too much money. Why did Obama allow and even enhance bonuses, leave the system as it was, all the while complaining loudly. The words are right. The actions wrong.
Re solar, wind etc - these were and are developing. The U.S. was the world’s biggest wind energy producer in 2006, with Texas having the most capacity. With all the Obama money, we have now fallen to #2.

I think we would have fallen a lot further if we had taken your route, because the economic collapse sucked all the air out of venture capitalism. Unless you magically expected the bankrupt financial sector to suddenly finance all that green power, it wasn’t going to happen.

Obama, by the way, didn’t enhance bonuses, the Bush Administration did, by insisting that no strings be attached to the disbursement of funds, something Obama changed once he assumed the presidency, part of the reason the financial sector paid us back so quickly.

Obama did not leave the system as it was, pushing Wall Street Reform as part of his legislative agenda in the first two years. He might have gotten better, but of course there are too many people in Washington who are of a like mind to the conservative movement, and Obama can only move the law that can get through the filibusters. Even now, your party is holding up any appointment of a permanent head to the CFTC, demanding that the law be watered down.

While you make generalized claims on what Democrats have done, as if there is no difference, I’ve been observing what Republicans and Democrats really have done. Have Democrats in Congress fallen short on their promises? Yes. Does that make them as bad, or worse than Republicans? Not a chance, not at this point. Democrats actually got some things done, made attempts at reform, some successful.

The Republicans remain defiant in the face of public opinion, though, thoroughly resisting the wake-up call that the collapse represented, claiming that the best way to get back to prosperity is to simply reinforce the status quo, and avoid making regulatory changes or whatever. Your party’s been the one consistently defending those bonuses and outrageous pay-outs.

Your anger at Obama is farcical. You pour your outrage on him for things your own party did, and did worse. Obama has done a very good job, considering that, with your blessing, your party has hamstrung him and obstructed him at every turn. And for what? So your people could turn around and make us look good by comparison? Not content to have just the worst Presidency of recent times on their record, it seems the Republicans are set to add one of the worst Congresses on record to their legacy.

I mean, hell, that 7.25 an hour wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the Democrats. That was their policy change. If it hadn’t been done, minimum wage would have been stagnant or worse in comparison to what it was in 1980.

I was illustrating a disparity by doing the numbers, which were themselves just abstract. The numbers tell us something significant: that a greater share of wealth is going to the top, while wages below remain stagnant.

That’s something to be angry about. Much better thing to be angry about than being angry about a lack of results from somebody you’re actively trying to deprive of achievements and power.

As for profit and It’s a Wonderful Life?

You talk disparagingly of centralization and all that in relation to Potter, but do you realize that Potter’s concern was entirely private? He wasn’t some government stooge, he was a capitalist, through and through.

He was a banker unfettered by notions of responsibility to his community, willing to play games with people’s lives, put them in perpetual debt, keep them in poverty to suit his own profit.

The Trumps and Potters are precisely the folks who asked for the deregulation of the markets and the banks, and precisely the folks those regulations you helped destroy were meant to constrain, the people who feel no social responsibility to choose paths to profit that don’t end up causing huge collateral damage around them.

The error, I think, is to think of things merely in financial terms, that a regulation can’t be good if it harms a company’s bottom line. Fact is, sometimes people pad their bottom lines by doing unethical, deceptive, and immoral things. They might cut corners on sanitation if they’re a meat-packing plant, on safety if they’re a motor vehicle company, on accountability if they’re a bank.

People don’t always approach profit in a moral manner, and worse yet, those who don’t often fail to be punished, leaving them as winners that others emulate to share in the good fortunes. When we write laws that favor profit over people, that forget the need to go beyond the economic in measuring what’s wrong and right, we encourage those kinds of competitors to dominate the markets, and their immoral behavior becomes a part of the culture reinforced by their ill-gotten gains.

The markets alone cannot make our economy, much less our society just. Yes, George Bailey’s kind of entrepreneur and banker is possible in such a system, but the question is, is he as probable as he should be, or does the system encourage more people to take up Mr. Potter’s ideology and business practices?

The market, by itself, can only encourage people to do what’s profitable, and it often doesn’t punish those who think too short-term, to blindly in moral matters. It cannot ensure that people will act responsibly towards their fellow citizens.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 29, 2011 10:47 AM
Comment #333675
Obama gets responsibility for the economy 2 years into his presidency. So we can blame Bush from start of 2003- start of 2011. This last year has belonged to Obama, so we can call it the Obama doldrums.

Of course, if we add in those two years Bush and Reagan look better too, since both “inherited” downturns.

But to call it the Obama doldrums gives one the impression that there is something the president could do to create jobs C&J. You and many other conservatives tell us that is not possible. Of course you and they are wrong but to have it both ways just doesn’t sit well. It gives the impression that if we cut taxes again, or deregulate some more that we would not be in the doldrums. Which of course is silly. It makes one think that if we just left the unemployed to sink, cause after all they did it to themselves, are lazy and don’t want to work, then we would be out of the doldrums. Of course this is just more silliness from our conservative representatives in Government and on the radio.

If we are to ever solve problems we need to at least “bumper sticker” the issues correctly. How do you expect conservatives to understand the issue if we resort to such…. oh I see we don’t. Keep them watching Faux and listening to Limbaugh so repubs can gain power, for what it didn’t work so well the last time.


Now both Bush and Reagan did inherit downturns and GWB did leave us with much more than a downturn, it was a systematic failure C&J. That is the difference C&J. It’s funny you are comparing both Reagan and GWB as they do have the reputation for destroying job growth in this country and leaving the mess for others to clean up.

What you also fail to understand is the lack of job creation during the previous decade is due to conservative policies, policies that are now ingrained into the American mindset. It will takes years and a whole lot of grief to rid the country of this wrongheaded conservative nonsense. Adding to it by using incorrect “bumperstickerism’s” doesn’t help. I suggest we call this era “rewards of conservative actions”.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 29, 2011 11:13 AM
Comment #333676

Rocky

There was a lot of talk that the firm was on the verge of collapse, but it endured for more than twenty years, providing a decent living for George and his growing family, the employees and even for someone like Uncle Billy.

From the profits of the Building and Loan, George was able to save enough to plan a trip around the world, even if circumstance prevented him from going (such world travel was very expense back then). The business also provided enough to pay for a good college education for Harry.

Again, if you look at norms of those times, this is a good result.

We also don’t know how much George could actually have earned absent the family business. He has lots of dreams, but evidently only a HS education. He would have been hiring out as a laborer.

“George wanted to commit suicide because he believed he was a failure, and he believed his $15k life insurance policy will bail out the business yet again.” - of course, he was mistaken on both counts. He was not a failure and his insurance policy would not have bailed out anything, since all insurance policies have suicide clauses.

As I asked Adrienne, you have to look beyond the words.

But not matter how you look at it, the movie is a celebration of personal responsibility. Government doesn’t bail out Bailey. That is done by his neighbors and his rich friend Sam Wainwright. The good people of Bedford Falls volunteer for military service, are religious, believe in private property and rely on local community in their small town. In short, the people of Bedford Falls and the Baileys would probably be Tea Party activists today.

More to the point, the Baileys and the people of Bedford Fall are more like me than the leftist ideal that Adrienne seems to read into it.

Stephen

My route would have been to support TARP, which I did, but then demand that those who benefited from the earlier trouble NOT be rewarded. My route would have been to reform the system so that no firm could be too big to fail.

Re the Bonuses - read the history. Secretary of the Treasury Geitneer insisted on benefiting the fat cats. Obama agreed. The money was paid out when Obama was in charge. It really is Obama’s baby. He really cannot blame Bush for this one.

RE Democratic promises - they did not “fall short”; they raced in the wrong direction, making bad situations worse.

RE Potter - I know that Potter’s firm was private, but probably benefited from Obama style crony capitalism.

I also know that the Bailey firm was also private.

One private firm is centralized and rule based. The other has decentralized leadership. I prefer less centralization; you take the opposite. So you are a Potter supporter, not me.

I think it funny that “your people” take a story like “Wonderful Life” where the hero is a business owner struggling against centralizing power; the people are religious; they do military service; most are property owners and nobody seems to consider marching in protest. You take all these things as support for centralizing, big government control.

In today’s world, Bedford Falls would be a Tea Party center and the Baileys would be local TP leaders.

j2t2

I do not think presidents create jobs - but liberals do. They insist on blaming Republicans for jobs losses and credit Dems with gains. I am just speaking your language.

When you go to a foreign country, you have to learn the language to communicate. Liberals are not “foreign” but they do have their own language, that I have learned. One reason I can sting you guys so well is that I can speak in your terms.

Obama told us he was “saving and creating jobs”. He lied. You can choose which reason. He either lied because no president can create jobs or he lied because HIS programs did not create jobs. Either way.

Re Bush and Reagan - I put them in the same group because they both inherited poor economies. Reagan was a great success. If only Obama could do half as well. Bush was doing better in his third year than Obama is doing now. Comparing Obama to the great Ronald Reagan is indeed silly. But if he comes in at the Bush level, most people would be surprised. Suffice to say that Obama is looking more like Bush than Reagan right now.


Obama inherited a hole and dug down deeper.

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 1:24 PM
Comment #333683

Jack,
Rocky and Stephen did a good job addressing many the things I would have said, so I’ll go on to this:

There was a lot of talk that the firm was on the verge of collapse, but it endured for more than twenty years, providing a decent living for George and his growing family, the employees and even for someone like Uncle Billy.
They were all just barely scraping by with that business — all along. From beginning to end.
From the profits of the Building and Loan, George was able to save enough to plan a trip around the world, even if circumstance prevented him from going (such world travel was very expense back then). The business also provided enough to pay for a college education for Harry, George then gets married, and because he never got to go on his world trip
No, you’ve got it all wrong. George worked at the drugstore for Mr. Gower, and had ever since he was a young kid. That’s where he got the money for his college education — he’d saved it up himself for many years. But then his father died, so he takes over at the Building and Loan and gives all his money to his brother, so he could go to college — with the understanding that Harry will eventually take over the Building and Loan after he graduates so that George can finally go to college.

But then when Harry graduates from college, he brings a wife home with him, and she’s got a father with a glass factory and the father-in-law wants Harry to go work for him. So George, not wanting to deny his brother that opportunity (even though Harry says he wants to honor their agreement), never does get to go to college.

George then gets married, and by this time he’s managed to save up $2000 so he can finally go on that trip around the world he never got to take previously — for his honeymoon. But then, on the day they’re leaving to go, there’s a run on the bank (the start of the Depression) and he has to use all of the money to save the Building and Loan.


We also don’t know how much George could actually have earned absent the family business. He has lots of dreams, but evidently only a HS education. He would have been hiring out as a laborer.

Nope, George was a bright guy and would never have had to live in a Potterville shack — although a lot of his friends and neighbors would have without the Building and Loan. As a result of his brother marrying into a wealthy family as a result of his going to college (at George’s expense) — Harry could have got George a job at his father-in-law’s factory. Or failing that, George could have gone to work for Sam Wainwright — his wealthy friend.

In fact, it seems like you’ve basically missed the whole point of the story! What the angel shows George is what would have happened to most of the people of Bedford Falls if he hadn’t been there, and hadn’t sacrificed a great deal for the town. Without the Building and Loan and him keeping it going, Bedford Falls would have turned into Potterville — a place filled with a lot of unhappy and desperate people.

But not matter how you look at it, the movie is a celebration of personal responsibility.

Wrong again. It’s a movie celebrating collectivity — of how people’s well-being is actually a collective effort. Of how we’re supposed to help each other and help to hold each other up. Of how the kindness and selflessness of good people can hold entire communities together. And, it’s also a movie about how the selfishness of the Potters of the world (1%) can completely wreck the happiness of many (99%).

Government doesn’t bail out Bailey. That is done by his neighbors and his rich friend Sam Wainwright. The good people of Bedford Falls volunteer for military service, are religious, believe in private property and rely on local community in their small town. In short, the people of Bedford Falls and the Baileys would probably be Tea Party activists today.

The Tea Party doesn’t believe in community (outside of religion), nor in collectivity in any sense. They believe in a strict political doctrine of Every Man For Himself, and anything that doesn’t fall neatly within that doctrine is immediately smeared as “socialism.”

More to the point, the Baileys and the people of Bedford Fall are more like me than the leftist ideal that Adrienne seems to read into it.

There are lots of “George Bailey’s” at OWS — people who know when the Potters of the world are running rampant — hurting themselves, their communities, and their entire nation.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 29, 2011 4:33 PM
Comment #333684

Adrienne

Re the building and loan - it is a simple fact that a business that does not make profit goes out of business. the fact that the building and loan staying in business providing income to the Bailey family and its employees indicates that the firm made sufficient profit over a period of more than twenty years. This is just true. It is not subject to debate. Do a little research on your own if you don’t understand profit and loss. If a firm cannot make enough money to pay its expenses over a significant period of time, how do you think it continues to survive for more than twenty years?

If you find a way to do that, please let us all know, since you will have found something as significant as a perpetual motion machine and I am sure you will win a Nobel Prize.

I didn’t know that a kid could make such big bucks working at a drug store. That Mr. Gauder must have been richer than Croessus and why was anybody poor in Bedford Falls if a kid could make enough for a world travel honeymoon - in the 1920s, by working in a drugstore.

George’s savings of $2000 would be $25216.57 today, adjusted for inflation. A kid being able to save that much by working part time at a drug store is really amazing.

Re personal responsibility - George takes a lot of personal responsibility. So do those around him.

You have a very narrow point of view. Evidently you see personal responsibility and working with others as somehow mutually exclusive. I understand that the two go together. A team requires everybody to play their personal role.

We of the 99% tend to understand this. The 1% sometimes thing something else.

What I celebrate is people working together in voluntary association. You want to use the coercive force of government to regiment and regulate. I am for freedom. I am not sure what you advocate, but freedom it is not.

What you know about the Tea Party is … nothing. The Tea Party people - as a group - believe strongly in community. The voluntary associated celebrated in its a wonderful life.

I have been to Tea Party rallies and talked to people. They are not what you think.

My experience with people who preach about the evils of TP are people who don’t know them well. Beyond that, people who preach about how we should raise taxes on others and make others pay, are rarely themselves generous with their own time and money.

I don’t doubt there are some George Bailey types among OWS. There are just more among Tea Party activities and probably in the general population.

BTW - you betrayed a little bit of free market belief when you write “Nope, George was a bright guy and would never have had to live in a Potterville shack”. So then you do believe that individual merit can overcome economic challenges. We are to some extend masters of our own fates.

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 5:10 PM
Comment #333685


C&J, the movie was an advertisement for decentralization? Nice try.

I thought it was about fair vs unfair, greed vs good, morality vs immorality. If Potter had been a moral person, there would have been no story.

Capra said, he did the movie because of his concern for the trend away from God, towards atheism.

Atheism is a choice not To believe. An atheist can be moral or immoral.

Religion can be a highly centralized institution which dictates to the masses from on high, demands adherence to a rationalized moral code, demands limits on individual freedom and individual choice. Religion can be used.

It was a story about personal responsibility and community vs amoral greed and immoral behavior.

Centralization is a necessity which is both good and bad.

“In today’s world, Bedford Falls would be a Tea Party center…”

Last year Bedford Falls would have been a tea party center. This year it would be more OWS. Bedford Falls was in New England, not Texas. And, the people of Potter’s Field were depicted as hard working, honest people, trying to live the American Way, rather than good for nothing poor rainbow people who lie to get a mortgage.

Obama, Geithner, big bonuses? Yes!

A vote for Obama is a vote for Potter? Yes!

A vote for Romney is a vote for Potter? Yes!


Posted by: jlw at December 29, 2011 5:34 PM
Comment #333688

BTW

George Bailey was born around 1909 (Harry was born in 1911). That would make George 20 years old in 1929. He was working at Bauer in 1918 (the year of the Spanish flu), but we doubt that a kid of nine or ten could be working full time or had been working there very long. So let’s say he worked at Gauer’s for ten years (to 1929) That means he managed to save (in today’s dollars) more than $2500 a year, every year.

You figure that little George had to go to school and study. He could not work more than a few hours a week during school, so if he could save $2500 a year, he must have made good money and had few other expenses, i.e. the old man was paying.

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 7:09 PM
Comment #333689

jlw

The movie celebration traditional American values. It described people in a small town, who went to church, volunteered for military service, owned their homes (and paid the mortgages)and worked in voluntary associations to improve their community.

This is why people like it.

Indeed, it is also a morality play that contrasts Potter’s greed & dishonesty with Bailey’s honesty & community spirit. In that respect it is neither conservative or liberal. Liberals can be greedy or not, as can conservatives. All of us think greed & dishonesty like Potter exhibited is bad.

Potter was like the big bankers who got rewarded by Obama. We all have agreed that we are against that.

Re Tea Party v OWS - there is significant overlap in their goals. Their methods differ. Beyond that, Tea Party was (still is) a lot bigger.

I don’t think anybody in Bedford Falls would camp out to protest. They would be too busy with their jobs and families to have that leisure time.

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 7:18 PM
Comment #333691

Jack:

Re the building and loan - it is a simple fact that a business that does not make profit goes out of business.

You’re being dense here. The Bailey Brother’s Building and Loan in the story is much like a Credit Union, Jack. You do understand that, yes? It means the money was collectively held and tied up — people bought shares in the company.

the fact that the building and loan staying in business providing income to the Bailey family and its employees indicates that the firm made sufficient profit over a period of more than twenty years.

Enough to stay afloat, but not enough to make them wealthy. As George explains how tight things were in the scene when the run on the bank is unfolding:

GEORGE: No, but you… you… you’re thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a safe. The money’s not here. Your money’s in Joe’s house… (to one of the men) … right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin’s house, and a hundred others. Why, you’re lending them the money to build, and then, they’re going to pay it back to you as best they can. Now what are you going to do? Foreclose on them?

And he also says this:

GEORGE: Tom! Tom! Randall! Now wait … now listen … now listen to me. I beg of you not to do this thing. If Potter gets hold of this Building and Loan there’ll never be another decent house built in this town. He’s already got charge of the bank. He’s got the bus line. He’s got the department stores. And now he’s after us. Why? Well, it’s very simple. Because we’re cutting in on his business, that’s why. And because he wants to keep you living in his slums and paying the kind of rent he decides.

The people are still trying to get out, but some of them have stood still, listening to him. George
has begun to make an impression on them.

GEORGE (cont’d): Joe, you lived in one of his houses, didn’t you? Well, have you forgotten? Have you
forgotten what he charged you for that broken-down
shack?
(to Ed)
Here, Ed. You know, you remember last year when things weren’t going so well, and you couldn’t make
your payments. You didn’t lose your house, did you? Do
you think Potter would have let you keep it?
(turns to address the room again)
Can’t you understand what’s happening here? Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling.
Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicky and he’s not.
That’s why. He’s picking up some bargains. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We’ve got to
stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.

The Building and Loan was never flush with cash, and neither were the Bailey’s. But that was okay with them, because they believed in collectivity and community.
In fact, when Potter tries to get George to come and work for him, we find out that the family business really wasn’t making the Bailey’s rich:

POTTER (laughs): George, now that’s just what I like so much about you. (pleasantly and smoothly) George, I’m an old man, and most people hate me. But I don’t like them either, so that makes it all even. You know just as well as I do that I run practically everything in this town but the Bailey Building and Loan. You know, also, that for a number of years I’ve been trying to get control of it … or kill it. But I haven’t been able to do it. You have been stopping me. In fact, you have beaten me, George, and as anyone in this county can tell you, that takes some doing. Take during the depression, for instance. You and I were the only ones that kept our heads. You saved the Building and Loan, and I saved all the rest.

GEORGE: Yes. Well, most people say you stole all the rest.

POTTER: The envious ones say that, George, the suckers. Now, I have stated my side very frankly. Now,
let’s look at your side. Young man, twenty-seven,
twenty-eight … married, making, say … forty a week.

GEORGE (indignantly): Forty-five!

POTTER: Forty-five. Forty-five. Out of which, after supporting your mother, and paying your bills,
you’re able to keep, say, ten, if you skimp. A child or two
comes along, and you won’t even be able to save the ten. Now, if this young man of twenty-eight was a
common, ordinary yokel, I’d say he was doing fine. But
George Bailey is not a common, ordinary yokel. He’s an intelligent, smart, ambitious young man — who
hates his job –– who hates the Building and Loan almost as
much as I do. A young man who’s been dying to get out on his own ever since he was born. A young man… the smartest one of the crowd, mind you, a young man who has to sit by and watch his friends go places, because he’s trapped. Yes, sir, trapped into frittering his life away playing nursemaid to a lot of garlic-eaters. Do I paint a correct picture, or do I exaggerate?

GEORGE (mystified): Now what’s your point, Mr. Potter?

POTTER: My point? My point is, I want to hire you.

GEORGE (dumbfounded): Hire me?

POTTER: I want you to manage my affairs, run my properties. George, I’ll start you out at twenty thousand dollars a year.

And of course George turns Potter down — because a good guy like him doesn’t want to work for the greedy, evil, callous (and racist) Potter’s of the 1%, because his heart belongs to the 99%.

I didn’t know that a kid could make such big bucks working at a drug store.

He could save that much if started working there when he was ten years old — which is exactly what we see in the beginning of the film.

That Mr. Gauder must have been richer than Croessus and why was anybody poor in Bedford Falls if a kid could make enough for a world travel honeymoon - in the 1920s, by working in a drugstore.

The money he saved from working for Gower was for his college education, not the honeymoon trip. He saved the money for the honeymoon (that he never took) after working at the Building and Loan during the years that his brother Harry was going to college.

George’s savings of $2000 would be $25216.57 today, adjusted for inflation.

I think the amount of money he had for the trip is just a device they used — because the story would have ended there if he hadn’t had enough to save the Building and Loan when the Depression hit.

You want to use the coercive force of government to regiment and regulate.

Yes, I want the government to regiment and regulate the 1% — because they’ve proven over and over and over again that they are too greedy and cannot be trusted with anything.

I am for freedom. I am not sure what you advocate, but freedom it is not.

I’m for freedom too — I’m just not for the kind of “freedom” that wants to continue to allow the 1% to crush the 99%, taking everything for themselves leaving everyone else with nothing.

What you know about the Tea Party is … nothing. The Tea Party people - as a group - believe strongly in community. The voluntary associated celebrated in its a wonderful life.

I know plenty about the Tea Party — I’ve spoken with many these people, and I’ve also read their comments because they are all over the web.
They’re Christian Libertarians for the most part who consider freedom to be best encompassed by the idea of Every Man For Himself.
This is reflected by the fact that they don’t like anything done collectively to help communities, states, and the nation at large. They hate and want to end Medicare and Social Security — which they disparagingly call “entitlements” — even though people have paid every day of their working lives for those things. TP folks don’t want any regulations on banks and they hate the healthcare reform law even though it’s designed to stop insurance companies from terminating people’s coverage when they get sick, and stops the companies from refusing people coverage by claiming every sickness is due to a “pre-existing condition.”
Tea Party folks think it’s a good idea to repeal child labor laws, and minimum wage laws and all of the laws enacted to protect our environment. They also hate anything with the word Public in it, such as Public Education, or Public Universities, or Public Television, or Public Transportation, or Public Libraries etc. — because they claim the government doesn’t know how to do anything right, thus everything should be privatized and for profit.
They hate things like Head Start for poor children, and Planned Parenthood for poor women — who usually don’t have any health coverage at all, and thus, no reproductive or gynecological health care without that program. At the same time, since they’re rabidly Christian they hate the idea of abortions — so I have to assume they want to force lots and lots of poor women to give birth to children without having any ability to see a doctor.

I have been to Tea Party rallies and talked to people. They are not what you think.

I get the strong impression that a huge number of Tea Party folks tend to be wealthier and living in a very comfortable bubble (or simply propagandized and rather clueless). And, that because their political views negate all sense of community and collectivity, they think it’s perfectly acceptable to be cold, hard-hearted and callous whenever they talk about the needs of lower middle class and poor people — be it about jobs, education, health care, old age, sickness, etc., etc.

Beyond that, people who preach about how we should raise taxes on others and make others pay, are rarely themselves generous with their own time and money.

Actually, you’re wrong. People with less money are more empathetic than rich people are, and they’re also more generous than the rich.

I don’t doubt there are some George Bailey types among OWS. There are just more among Tea Party activities and probably in the general population.

I think this is just wishful thinking.

BTW - you betrayed a little bit of free market belief when you write “Nope, George was a bright guy and would never have had to live in a Potterville shack”. So then you do believe that individual merit can overcome economic challenges. We are to some extend masters of our own fates.

Individual merit can sometimes have the power to overcome massive economic challenges, yes. But far more often, this is not the case. There are literally teeming hordes of extremely bright people who are completely unable to overcome their economic challenges, no matter how hard they may try.

As for George Bailey, he was simply lucky and that’s why it seems unlikely that he would have ever had to live in a Potterville shack. He was lucky that his brother married a rich girl that had a father who owned a factory, and he was lucky to have had a wealthy friend like Sam Wainwright who he grew up with and who clearly liked him a lot.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 29, 2011 7:48 PM
Comment #333710

Adrienne

I understand how the Building and Loan works. In a such an arrangement, people who make deposits are also share holders. This does not affect the idea that the organization must make more than it pays out. If it fails to do this, it will do out of business. The difference between the money going out and the money coming in is profit.

The building and loan made enough to stay in business. I never said that it made the Baileys wealthy, but it provided a good income that allowed them to buy their own home and raise a family. This is what most small businesses are supposed to do. My guess it is also the reason why you work. I know it is why I work.

You don’t need to quote dialog from the film. I have seen it many times. Besides, you seem unable to understand what is being said. In your quote, George is simply describing how a bank works.

I also stipulate that Potter is a bad guy. I think he is also a bad businessman. He is not creating wealth.

Re the Tea Party - your strong impression is wrong in details. The TP members tend to be older and better off than average, but not usually rich. Their demographic profile is very much like George Bailey - small business, older than the US median, married with children, resident outside major cities, and church going.

RE rich and poor - I said nothing about that. I simply said as you quoted, “Beyond that, people who preach about how we should raise taxes on others and make others pay, are rarely themselves generous with their own time and money.”

Are you saying that the poor are the only ones who want to raise taxes on others and make others pay?

Studies consistently show that people who advocate greater government interference in the economy are less personally generous at various income levels. Most people are neither rich nor poor, BTW.

We members of the 99% mostly fall in the middle. Most of us pay our taxes, but don’t think that they are too low. Most of us would be willing to pay more in taxes, but we are afraid that people like Obama will piss the money away w/o giving us true value. We don’t hate government (I personally love government) but we fear it is being perverted by cronyism and inefficiency. Most of us sent out kids to public schools. We want them to work, but we fear that the educational establishment is more interested with protecting obsolete jobs than teaching our kids. We working members of the 99% are active in our communities. We volunteer, we engage in voluntary association to improve our society. Many of us give significant amounts to charity and we have done this for years. We working members of the 99% are the ones who pay most of the bills for everybody else.

Or if you want a George Bailey paraphrase, it is people like me who do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.

I think it is cute that a few people camp in the park. I don’t see them myself, but Chrissy and my sister have told me about them. They don’t mind the camping, but the drumming and chanting are getting a little old.

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 8:50 PM
Comment #333865

Jack,

“The building and loan made enough to stay in business. I never said that it made the Baileys wealthy, but it provided a good income that allowed them to buy their own home and raise a family.”

The home they bought was a dump. It was abandoned.
There is a scene between George and Mary where he throws a rock through one of the few remaining windows. Their honeymoon in that house requires their friends to “fix it up a bit”.

If I was to interpret anything in the story it would be that the house was bought with “sweat equity”. I would also say that George was driven in his sense of selflessness.

Just how does that square with the Ayn Rand “the individual should ‘exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.’” view of the emTea partiers?

It has been said of Capra that “Like his contemporary, director John Ford, Capra defined and aggrandized the tropes of mythic America where individual courage invariably triumphs over collective evil.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” did not resonate with audiences when it was released, and while it was nominated for five Academy Awards, it was a box office flop, and had to wait for TV to gain it’s current popularity.

Now I hate to break it to you, but this movie is merely a fable.

I suppose this fable is open to any interpretation, and you are quite welcome to do so, but the story is what it is.
To read any more than that into a 60 year old movie is just so much mental masturbation.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 30, 2011 9:17 AM
Comment #333866

Rocky

They were able to buy it and they were able to fix it up. In the scene where the kid is playing the piano, you notice it is a nice house and they have amenities like a piano.

And the Building & Loan has supported the Bailey family for at least twenty years. Most small businesses fail within five years, so Baileys are doing okay.

I am not saying George is rich. I never said he was selfish. On the contrary. He is portrayed as a good man who had a wonderful life. He had enjoyed lots of spiritual happiness and enough material success that he owns a home and is able to raise a family in relative comfort, even during the Depression.

Re the fables - I wrote about being grateful. Jlw brought up Bob Crachit and Adrienne brought up a wonderful life. They evidently thought there was a lesson in these things. I merely pointed out that they took the wrong lessons by looking at these stories in childish terms rather than thinking more about the circumstance.

Beyond that, Adrienne seems to want to equate people like me with Potter. She see the world in very stark terms. I am just pointing out that the interpretation is full of crap. I never expect her to actually understand nuance, but I figure you do.

People make decisions based on their mental models. Most of these models are based more on literature and fiction than they are on reality. That is why we have to address such things when they are brought up.

I will also say again that community is much more than government. Most of what we think of community is voluntary association. Government does not create community. It is a beneficiary of communities and should limit its activities to supporting the creation of communities by the people.

As I also point out, it is my opinion that many who advocate increased government involvement do so to compensate for their own lack of involvement.

I get mildly annoyed at people like Adrienne who keep on telling me that I am somehow not a good citizen, when I am 99% sure that I give more to charity, volunteer more and generally contribute more than the people she praises. That is why I zap her.

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 9:40 AM
Comment #333873

Jack,

“I will also say again that community is much more than government. Most of what we think of community is voluntary association.”

IMHO, the theme of the movie is that no man is an island. The only “selfish” person in the entire movie is Potter. Unfortunately, other than not getting his way, he doesn’t really “get his” in the end.
Also unfortunately, the movie doesn’t really tie up all of the loose ends. We are left to assume that the building and loan will continue to struggle, and the fight with Potter will continue. The only conclusion is that, for the moment at least, George finally recognizes that he is a part of a community that appreciates the fact that he did exist, and that he made a difference.

Now, all that said, and perhaps it’s redundant to say it, but we can accomplish more together than we can separately.

“People make decisions based on their mental models. Most of these models are based more on literature and fiction than they are on reality.”

Frankly, I am not one to make decisions based on fairy tales.
Reality is weird enough.

I think people put way too much faith in what they read, and not enough in what they observe around them in every day life.
Of the the things I have learned of life these are some that are important;

Most people assume too much.

There is no “reality” in reality TV.

Virtually all of what is in movies, literature, and fiction are illusions, and are meant for entertainment purposes only.

The only people who win with “self-help” are the self help gurus themselves.


Einstein said;

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 30, 2011 11:14 AM
Comment #333876

You are right re the community theme. I emphasized that too. I could not make some people understand that being in favor of large government is not the same as being in favor of community.

Most of those who work hardest in community are not working for the government.

I think the biggest and one of the more hateful myths that liberals tell themselves is that conservatives are more selfish or greedy. studies of giving and volunteering behavior indicate that this is completely false.

When pointing out the aspects of “Wonderful Life” I was merely pointing out that it is not a fairly tale about those who support big government being more virtuous.

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 11:56 AM
Comment #333877
I do not think presidents create jobs - but liberals do. They insist on blaming Republicans for jobs losses and credit Dems with gains. I am just speaking your language.

This perhaps explains a lot C&J when we stop to analysis the issue. Conservatives do not believe the government and by applying good government the president can create jobs. Truthfully the facts back this up when you look at the track record of conservative presidents since the days of Nixon. On the other hand “leftist” believe the government and by applying good government the president can create jobs. This is also truthful when we consider the track record of those “leftist” presidents of the last 50 years.

The wiki link below is the source of my info and also presents a realistic view of the “president creates jobs” issue C&J.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobs_created_during_U.S._presidential_terms

Liberals are not “foreign” but they do have their own language, that I have learned. One reason I can sting you guys so well is that I can speak in your terms.

It has been my experience that most all of us here in this country use the English language to communicate C&J. The real difference is how the language is manipulated by conservatives using propagandist like Frank Luntz to fool movement followers into drinking the kool aid. Remember Al Haig and Reagan speak. We also consider truth and veracity as higher qualities to be observed when using the language, something that seems to be less honored in conservative speak. ;)

Obama told us he was “saving and creating jobs”. He lied. You can choose which reason. He either lied because no president can create jobs or he lied because HIS programs did not create jobs. Either way.

This is an excellent example of what I was referring to in the paragraph above C&J. The inability to recognize that the stimulus kept us out of a depression by conservatives. What you are saying is tax cuts don’t work when Obama signs them into law but they do at all other times. You are saying when Obama signs into law a bill that keep local and state government jobs from disappearing it is not saving jobs. This is just hatred for the government when it does what it is supposed to. It is the mindset that creates failure for the country. It is conservatism.


Re Bush and Reagan - I put them in the same group because they both inherited poor economies.

Yes but Reagan’s was due to the inflation of the ‘70’s GWB to a business cycle downturn right?

Reagan was a great success.

Yes if you view success in the short term as a true success. The US was going through a dramatic increase in oil prices during the ‘70’s which gave rise to inflation. Although Reagan gets the credit for controlling inflation Carter’s policies were the cure for the inflation of the ‘70’s. Reagan did away with the Carter era energy policy that in the short term reduced gasoline prices dramatically but in the long term hurt the country as we gave up on energy policy that would cut demand. Borrowing from future generations to make one’s presidency look good short term is a valid reason for comparing GWB and Reagan.

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

If only Obama could do half as well.

That is how the conservatives view things I guess C&J. To me the real issue should be “If only Obama could get us onto a long term path to prosperity in a global economy”. But alas with conservatives tying his hands for their own political gain it seems a rather difficult task.


Bush was doing better in his third year than Obama is doing now.

Yeah and how did that work out. Robbing the next generation seem to be a reoccurring conservative SOP. This short term, next quarter CEO thinking doesn’t work for government as it does for corporate America IMHO.


Comparing Obama to the great Ronald Reagan is indeed silly.

How true C&J. The great Ronald Reagan only exists in the minds of glassy eyed conservatives. He was like the pied piper in that he led the naive down the road of make believe. Many TRC’s are still there today, in this fantasy land of WWRD. It has had a terrible and lasting effect upon the country as we slide ever closer to the edge and the conservatives continue to slide ever further to the right.

On the other hand the “decent as a president but certainly nothing near great” Ronald Reagan and Obama can be compared. Just look at budget deficits , oh and lets not forget GWB in this one.

But if he comes in at the Bush level, most people would be surprised. Suffice to say that Obama is looking more like Bush than Reagan right now.

See above he actually is more like Reagan IMHO than GWB.

Obama inherited a hole and dug down deeper.

C&J, how are we ever going to fix the problem if we cannot even identify the problem correctly? By anyone’s measurement ‘11 is up from ‘09. Yet you incorrectly claim the hole was dug down deeper. So one has to ask is this just misinformation, half truths and/or outright lies to continue the manipulation of conservative movement followers or just an honest mistake on your part?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 30, 2011 12:23 PM
Comment #333889

j2t2


As I have written on many occasions, I believe that good government can create the conditions that allow people to create jobs. In your chart, BTW, it looks like the all time best job creators were Harding/Coolidge.

But the author of the Wiki article is ignorant of economics. He/she takes the very first day of the term and seems to think that the president’s policies immediately apply or within a few months. I would like to see the figures with a two year lag.

The jobs track record is just pure BS. I understand that liberals believe this kind of stuff. Ask yourself, however, from the time you conceive of a new venture to the time you hire your first employees. Lots of the economic growth of the 1990s, for example, came as the result of Reagan ear restructuring.

Re the language - you believe presidents can create jobs directly. I do not. But when I talk about presidents creating jobs (and showing Obama failing) I am just speaking your language.

RE the stimulus keeping us out of a recession - I do not believe it did. It “worked” based on the self referent models of those who created it. These are the same guys who said their plan would keep unemployment below 8%. Not much reason to have confidence in these confidence men.

RE Bush success v Obama - we know how Bush worked out. Obama is doing worse so far. Unless he improves a lot, he will do worse.

RE digging deeper - recessions end. The government’s role in fixing the problem was done with TARP. The recession would have ended with a stronger recovery by now. Obama additional stimulus, failure to reform the financial system and health care debacle retarded the recovery, i.e. destroyed or prevented the creation of new jobs.

Obama hoped to take advantage of the recovery the way the rooster takes credit for the sunrise. Unfortunately, his own polices made the recovery weaker and gave him less to crow about.

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 3:12 PM
Comment #333894

Jack:

In your quote, George is simply describing how a bank works.

No Jack, he was actually describing how collective businesses like Credit Unions and Building and Loan’s work as opposed to how private banks work.
George described how he didn’t have very much cash sitting in his vault, because most of the money was all tied up in everyone’s property. He described how in such a situation, both the business and the people who invest in it are actually dependent on each other — and that they have a choice whether or not to treat each other with kindness and respect when hard times hit. And that it’s better when businesses work FOR people instead of against them, and that people who stick together and have faith in each other can be a powerful force against wealthy behemoths of the 1%, as represented by Potter.
And in those quotes, George shows how he is opposed to the way the wealthy 1% (Potter) behaves when it comes to doing business. Because the Bailey Brother’s Building and Loan’s attitude toward doing business is in fact the complete opposite of Potter’s insatiably grasping and greedy, shameless and remorseless attitude toward making money.

Re the Tea Party - your strong impression is wrong in details.

No Jack, it isn’t.
And Rocky fully understands this too when he says:

the Ayn Rand “the individual should ‘exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.’” view of the emTea partiers?

The Ayn Rand philosophy is the Tea Party’s mantra. There is proof of it in all that they politically advocate, and it’s very silly to try to deny it.

Studies consistently show that people who advocate greater government interference in the economy are less personally generous at various income levels.

Links please. And I’m hoping you’ll omit “studies” done at places like the American Enterprise Institute.

Jack:

“People make decisions based on their mental models. Most of these models are based more on literature and fiction than they are on reality.”

Rocky:

Frankly, I am not one to make decisions based on fairy tales. Reality is weird enough.

I think Art informs people and society in very powerful ways. And that it always has. Great works of Art are frequently potent reflections of real life and the truths contained within it. The more a piece of art reveals or highlights such truths, the more it seems to resonate with humanity in general. And the longer such art continues to resonate with succeeding generations of people (long after it was made) the more it seems to reflect the deepest of truths, and the ways that those truths move us as human beings.
Books like Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (which jlw mentioned earlier) and films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” are clearly those kinds of works of art. Both have stood the test of time very well, and they are read and watched all over the world as a result.

Rocky:

Einstein said;

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Rocky, here’s my all time favorite Einstein quote:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Posted by: Adrienne at December 30, 2011 3:48 PM
Comment #333897

Adrienne

The quote is virtually the definition you find of banking in Economics 101. He is describing the mechanism by which loans work in BANKS and other lending institutions. The major difference between a bank and an S&L is that shareholders overlap with depositors. In “Wonderful Life” Potter is evidently a major shareholder in the Baily S&L, so the institution has a mixed ownership. In the movie, George implies that Potter will charge a higher interest rate and require more money down. Otherwise the business is the same.

This is the textbook definition of banking. Does it sound like what George said if you add in the personalization?

“We give a bank our money to keep it safe for us, and then the bank turns around and gives it to someone else in order to make money for itself. Banks can legally extend considerably more credit than they have cash.”

I suspect that you are always so angry because you really don’t understand how things work. Google “how banks work”. After that we can talk about banking with a little more understanding on both sides.

Re Generosity - we have been through this too many times for me to explain it to you again. Google “conservative generosity” “who gives charity by state”, or “who really cares” and follow the links.

If you read some of these things, you will come to a more complete and nuanced understanding of our world. Maybe not.

Re Potter - We all dislike Potter. He is the villein. We are supposed to dislike him. The whole story is set up that way. In the real world, people like me do much more to keep the Potters in check than a bunch of clowns camped in the park and crapping in the nearby gutters. The difference is how much we understand the system and can handle concept more complicated than chanting hey-hey-ho-ho and banging drums.

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 4:36 PM
Comment #333899

You’re the one who sounds incredibly angry, Jack. Maybe it’s because you can’t actually provide any proof of what you’ve claimed with this outlandish stuff: “people who advocate greater government interference in the economy are less personally generous at various income levels”, and because you know that the Tea Party’s philosophy and Ayn Rand’s are one and the same — the total opposite of the concept of what community actually means.

The quote is virtually the definition you find of banking in Economics 101. He is describing the mechanism by which loans work in BANKS and other lending institutions. In “Wonderful Life” Potter is evidently a major shareholder in the Baily S&L, so the institution has a mixed ownership. In the movie, George implies that Potter will charge a higher interest rate and require more money down. Otherwise the business is the same.

George is highlighting the difference between a bank and a lending institution such as his Building and Loan. In fact, during that bank run, George needed to be every bit as petrified as every one of his depositors. He didn’t have enough cash in his vault — in fact it is revealed that the bank (owned by Potter) had called their loan and Uncle Billy had handed over every cent of their cash, which was still less than what they owed. If all the depositors to the Building and Loan had run over to Potter to sell their shares (Potter is paying fifty cents on the dollar), George would have been immediately out of business. This is why he needed to depend on his neighbors and their sense of right and wrong, because Potter wanted to become the majority shareholder in order to kill off the Building and Loan, and thus, own the entire town.

I suspect that you are always so angry because you really don’t understand how things work.
If you read some of these things, you will come to a more complete and nuanced understanding of our world. Maybe not.

LOL. You start getting nasty like this whenever you know I’ve been making points you can’t actually argue against.

In the real world, people like me do much more to keep the Potters in check than a bunch of clowns camped in the park and crapping in the nearby gutters. The difference is how much we understand the system and can handle concept more complicated than chanting hey-hey-ho-ho and banging drums.

Uh-huh. We’ll see. I think the verdict is far from in on how much the OWS movement is going to be able to create much needed change. That being said, what has become clear is that the Tea Party platform and their anti-worker agenda is no longer popular, nor is it the main topic of discussion in America. I realize how much that must bother those folks. However, those mocking OWS (as you do above) still can’t erase these 10 Winning Moments for the 99% in 2011.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 30, 2011 5:54 PM
Comment #333904

Adrienne

George is explaining how lending works. It can be the same definition of banking in general.

I try not to be nasty to you because I like you. I actually like almost everybody who writes here. I really didn’t like Aldous, who I thought was an idiot. I am glad he is gone. There was another useless guy called Captain something who I thought was a shithead. Jane is on my nasty list for what I consider a personal insult, but other than that… I understand that some people don’t like me, but they seem to feel the need to read what I write and then tell me that what I write is not worth reading, so we are just confused. You have been okay and I would mourn your loss if you stopped writing. That said.

The reason you think I am getting “nasty” with you is that, IMO, you seem smart sometimes but cannot seem understand nuance. You identify good guys and bad guys and after that you think the job is done. You take a very partisan approach after that, supporting “your side” as you would in a sporting event. I am at a loss to explain that life is not like that, except in sports or partisan politics. I provide you links. I let you get your own research. I point out the main definitions, even in what you yourself provide me and still you cannot understand.

Sometimes we are talking numbers. For example, a median is by definition (not left or right) the center data point. If the median rises, it cannot be because only the top 10% got richer. In the example of “Wonderful Life”, when we talked about the $2000 George saved working at the drugstore (as you said), which was 40% of a price of a home at the time. It just doesn’t make sense that a kid could earn that much. Clearly the Baileys made money, no matter what the commentary says. These are not complicated numbers and the way they add up is not my opinion.

You dismiss this as a “device”. Maybe it is. But an important “device” is that the Baileys are not poor for their time and place. Since the whole family is dependent on the Building and Loan, it is a profitable business.

This is another truth - not left or right - a business that remains in business for more than twenty years is profitable. This is not an opinion. If it was not making some money it could no more exist for twenty years than you or I could live for twenty years eating less than we needed to survive.

Re the Bailey/Potter line of business. It is not my opinion that lenders lend money to others and that they keep only a small amount of cash on hand. This goes for banks and S&Ls. This is what George explained. This is what they explain in economics 101. This is how it works. If they don’t do this, they are not in the lending business.

The reason I cannot argue against you, with all due respect, is that you don’t have the basic understanding some of these concepts, extending even evidently to math, and you refuse to learn. You call all these things political or opinions. It seems to me that 2000=2000 among both Democrats and Republicans.I sometimes do talks to freshmen & sophomore classes. Our exchanges reminds me of that. But most of those kids do their homework.

I try to point you in the right direction with questions, but you just cut and paste more stuff that doesn’t prove the point. I know it annoys you when I actually read the sources you provide and find they don’t say what you think they do, but that is what responsible people do.

Please answer this simple question for me and yourself. Do you think that banks have vaults full of money equal to the outstanding deposits? If you believe this, how do you think they make money? Don’t take my word. Use your brain on this. We know that George = good and Potter = bad.

BTW - lovable Uncle Billy was behind this screw up too. It is unlikely he had a legal responsibility to turn over all the money before COB and paying part would not have discharged his responsibility in any case. Keeping this guy in a fiduciary position is irresponsible to the depositors and shareholders.

RE OWS - good luck. I hope they can force the Obama folks to be more responsible. If they can help bring reform to the banking sector, that is good. I just don’t have much confidence in what they can accomplish with that method they are employing. Beyond that, when I hear interviews with OWS members, they don’t seem to understand what they are talking about. Many seem to want to get their own loans forgiven, a valid personal goal but hardly inspiring.

We 99% of the population are getting a little sick of that 1% that camps in our parks. Most of us support their broad goals, to the extent we can figure them out. But the methods are tiresome.

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 7:24 PM
Comment #333905
But the author of the Wiki article is ignorant of economics. He/she takes the very first day of the term and seems to think that the president’s policies immediately apply or within a few months. I would like to see the figures with a two year lag.

Actually C&J the author includes the next fiscal year and the start of the presidential term. Yes when handed lemons like Obama has been the two year figure you mention would be more accurate but then 2 more years only shows just how bad the conservatives were the last time around, right?

Re the language - you believe presidents can create jobs directly. I do not. But when I talk about presidents creating jobs (and showing Obama failing) I am just speaking your language.

By signing into law certain bills yes the president can create jobs indirectly. By using the budget to promote jobs certainly a president can create jobs. Conversely a president can also cause damage to the economy and curtail job growth as Reagan did when interests rates were so high during his time in office.

Perhaps conservative ideology cannot deal with the government being effective but then that is more a defect in conservative ideology than in government.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 30, 2011 7:34 PM
Comment #333907

Jack,
You’re playing dense again — I think on purpose.

At the start of this argument you said you thought George Bailey was a “good businessman” and you’ve claimed the Bailey family were doing great, but it is more than clear they weren’t.
The George Bailey character is portrayed as a great guy, but it is also very clear that he (and his father before him) clearly were not very good businessmen. What happened during the run on the bank revealed how far they were in the red. They had allowed so much of the money that was coming in to become tied up in lending and building that they weren’t solvent and held absolutely nothing in reserve. To avert total disaster, he was forced to use all the personal savings he had in the world — right out of his own pocket. The Building and Loan’s debt load with the bank (Potter’s Bank! — the guy who had long wanted to bury him!) was clearly far too high — and he had put the Building and Loan (and his depositors too) in a precarious position.

You say:

Baileys are not poor for their time and place.

I say they were barely making it.

Since the whole family is dependent on the Building and Loan, it is a profitable business.

I think it could have been killed and buried by Potters bank at any time. Because George, while a great guy, wasn’t a really a knowledgeable businessman at all. He had stretched himself too thin, and wasn’t running it like a profitable business.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 30, 2011 8:33 PM
Comment #333908

j2t2

Presidents can create conditions that help create jobs. I must have written some close variation of this sentence a thousand times. But this process takes a lot of time and is unpredictable.

Our Canadian neighbors, for example, are doing relatively well because of reforms ten years ago. Brazil is benefiting from reforms made in 1994. Australia did some sensible things about ten years ago and is now growing. The guys in power get credit when the reforms start to work. But the idea that policies could create sustainable jobs within months of taking office is just silly.

On the other hand, it is possible to most things wrong and still be really lucky. Argentina is in such a position now due to high commodity prices. But they will crash again.

I have a forestry theory of government. The good forester knows the environment, chooses the right trees, makes sure they are in the right places, protects them from pests, fertilizes as appropriate. But then mostly has to wait.

Changes come slowly. My fifteen year old pines are going into a fast growth stage. It is not because of my recent great leadership. I could spend a lot of time running around in frantic activity, but not much would change. If I interfered enough, things would get worse.

I would also say that I have limited choices. I can choose from among some species of pine or oak, but I really cannot grow bananas, no matter how much everybody wants them or thinks it would be a good thing.

Re the two years - no doubt this would improve Obama’s performance, but not that much. Obama started his third year with 9% unemployment and will probably end around the same place. Reagan “inherited” 10.4% in his third year and ended with 8.3%. More than two full points. Nobody did that well before or since.

Bush started his third year with 5.8 and ended with 5.7. Clinton had 5.6 in ended in 5.6 in 1996. Carter went from 5.9 to 6%. These are statistically unchanged, but anything under 6% is pretty good.

So if we look at it after policies could have a chance to work, Democrats do about the same, maybe a little worse.

This is a better measure than the Wiki figures, but still too simple a picture of a complex situation.

BTW - re interest rates under Reagan - didn’t you explain the Paul Volker vanquished inflation and Reagan didn’t. Well, if you credit Volker, which I do too, you have to recall that the tool he used was interest rates.

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 8:35 PM
Comment #333909

One more thing — George Bailey was a bad businessman, but for all the right reasons.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 30, 2011 8:45 PM
Comment #333912

Adrienne

I think being a good businessman goes beyond mere profit. You assume that I believe otherwise based only on your stereotype of conservatives. For me a good businessman is one who creates sustainable wealth, as I explained. As I also explained, I do not believe (from the sketchy evidence) that Potter created sustainable wealth. He was a rent seeker. Therefore, by my estimation, George Bailey is a better businessman than Potter. Potter started rich. We don’t know what his ROI would be. Maybe like Donald Trump, he is just running down his capital while acquiring more property that doesn’t produce significant return on investment.

A run on a bank does not mean the bank is in the red. As we explained, a bank never has enough cash on hand to pay all depositors. If a large number show up at any one time demanding their money - this is a bank run - any bank will crash.

The bank survived the run and came back, indicating that it was not running in the red.

It is possible for a prosperous firm to have insufficient cash flow. In fact, one of the biggest dangers for fast-growing firms is that they outgrow their cash.

I will say again, if a firm remains in business for 20+ years, it is profitable by definition. The Building and Loan was solvent, by the definition of solvency.

Re just getting by - a family in the 1930s who owned a home, was able to support a large family, owned luxuries like a piano, a private automobile and could afford to pay for at least one person to go to college was doing better than getting by. BTW - after Harry got that good job, why didn’t he pay George back?

I grew up in a family that was “getting by”. We didn’t have a car, piano and we went to college by working and taking loans. And that was in the 1960s when people were richer in the 1930s. To me the Baileys look well off. I suppose if you come from a richer background they look poor.

Re George using his own money - consider what he was doing. He paid money to pay depositor for which there existed collateral in the form of mortgages. George cannot legally give his own money to the Building and Loan. He can buy shares (as Potter was doing) or he can add to capital. In either case, there is a double entry in the books. What George did was what Potter was offering to do. He would have lost no money when the firm remained solvent, as it did for at least an additional seventeen years. He would have increased his personal stake in the firm’s ownership. One of two things happened after that. Either shareholders paid George back or George expanded his ownership. In other words, George did what Potter was doing.

If you were looking at the 20+ year history of the Building and Loan and the quality of its post WWII investments, you would probably consider it a decent investment. If I lived in the area, I would invest, on the condition that Uncle Billy get a job where he didn’t have to count money or remember complex tasks.

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 9:09 PM
Comment #333932


C&J, I think there is a fairly wide spread agreement that Obama has helped the banks. There should have been little doubt of that when he retained Geithner and Summers in his cabinet.

There should also be a wide spread agreement that Bush helped them even more, that Clinton also helped them, and that nothing has benefited and enabled the to big to fail banks more that Republican philosophy and policy.

Neither conservative or liberal? That’s right, progressive, the good people of Bedford Falls elected Roosevelt four times.

George may or may not have been a progressive, but there can be no doubt that Potter was a conservative. He exuded his conservative values. Potter declared George a namby pamby bleeding heart that feels for the next to worthless riff raff. That’s classic conservative. We hear it every day from the we are better than you conservatives, the self-described true Americans.

Posted by: jlw at December 31, 2011 4:07 PM
Comment #333936

jlw

Potter is the classic conservative stereotype as held by liberals.

As we have discussed, conservatives give more to charity than liberals, are more involved in their communities and generally participate more as citizens. Potter does none of these things. He also seems to be a rent seeker and not a wealth creator.

George has the demographic attitudes of today’s conservatives. He is a small business owner who has run a business successfully for more than twenty years, living in a small town, who supports the military, attends church & believe strongly in private ownership of property.

Both Potter and George would probably be conservative voters in today’s America, although with different motivations. Uncle Billy would vote liberal and Violet Bick would be occupying Wall Street.

You may recall that Jimmy Stuart and Ward Bond were among Hollywood’s most active conservatives (when there were still a few more of them).

I understand that my pointing this out makes liberals feel bad. Your definition of conservative is whatever you don’t like in American society. But that is not true.

Posted by: C&J at December 31, 2011 5:25 PM
Comment #333944

jlw:

George may or may not have been a progressive,

A person portrayed the way George Bailey was HAS TO BE a progressive at heart. Who but a progressive would have wanted to give a leg up to all the poor folks in his community, and showed no bias toward them due to their creed or nationality? Who else would show nothing but kindness to a woman of somewhat questionable morals like “Violet”, giving her money when she’s flat broke — even when George had a large family to feed and care for and didn’t really have extra cash to give to anybody?
Only progressives did/do such things.

but there can be no doubt that Potter was a conservative. He exuded his conservative values.
Agree. No doubt whatsoever. Conservative/Tea Party/Ayn Rand values all the way.
Potter declared George a namby pamby bleeding heart that feels for the next to worthless riff raff. That’s classic conservative. We hear it every day from the we are better than you conservatives, the self-described true Americans.

So true, but it’s also obvious they don’t like to recognize themselves as taking ruthless and hard-hearted stances toward other people. Even as they’re saying utterly shocking and heartless things, they refuse to see themselves as anything but perfect examples of America-At-Her-Best. We may see the narrowness of their views with perfect clarity, yet whenever we try to call them on this, they think we’re the crazy ones.
It’s extraordinarily frustrating.

Jack:

As we have discussed, conservatives give more to charity than liberals, are more involved in their communities and generally participate more as citizens.

YOU keep claiming this (and you have long claimed this), but have never been able to produce any shred of proof that can be attached to such a sweeping claim. Face it, this really nothing more than your opinion, and it is based only on what you wish to be true.

Btw, Happy New Year to you both — and to all at Watchblog!

Posted by: Adrienne at December 31, 2011 8:04 PM
Comment #333945

Adrienne

“A person portrayed the way George Bailey was HAS TO BE a progressive at heart. Who but a progressive would have wanted to give a leg up to all the poor folks in his community, and showed no bias toward them due to their creed or nationality? Who else would show nothing but kindness to a woman of somewhat questionable morals like “Violet”, giving her money when she’s flat broke — even when George had a large family to feed and care for and didn’t really have extra cash to give to anybody? Only progressives did/do such things”

I have done ALL these sorts of things. So have many people I know of all sorts of political persuasions. It is what good people do with THEIR OWN time and money.

The difference between progressives and conservatives is the dominant means we choose to do these things. The conservative view is to lean more on voluntary association; progressives favor government action.

Re being “hard hearted” I have done that too. Sometimes it is the right thing to do. I have had to fire several people. It is always a hard decision, but you have to think of the common good.

I would have fired uncle Billy, for example. He seemed very nice, but he was clearly incompetent and probably a drunk.

Now you have to understand the different systems at work. In his capacity as a leader, George needs to address the Billy problem. Billy is hurting the team. Billy himself, if was a good man, should recognize his problem and seek tasks that do not require memory or math. George, in his role as a family man or a private individual, is free to help Billy find a different job, help him find a place to live etc.

But he has no moral right to use the resources of the relatively poor people of the Building and Loan to support less competent members of his family.

Re conservatives giving more to charity - I gave you the types of words to Google. I did that so that you could see the broad types of data available, since I figured that you would suspect any article I linked to. The data is clear and consistent.


Posted by: C&J at January 1, 2012 6:03 AM
Comment #333947

Adrienne,

“I think Art informs people and society in very powerful ways. And that it always has. Great works of Art are frequently potent reflections of real life and the truths contained within it. The more a piece of art reveals or highlights such truths, the more it seems to resonate with humanity in general. And the longer such art continues to resonate with succeeding generations of people (long after it was made) the more it seems to reflect the deepest of truths, and the ways that those truths move us as human beings.
Books like Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (which jlw mentioned earlier) and films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” are clearly those kinds of works of art. Both have stood the test of time very well, and they are read and watched all over the world as a result.”

OK, I will give you that “art often imitates life”.

However, I have found that the reverse is rarely true, and while I am capable of being moved by a painting, a movie, a story, or a piece of music, I can honestly say I have never had a “life changing” moment as a result of viewing or reading or hearing “art” (though the Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 1972 came pretty close, but the reason for that was something else entirely).

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 1, 2012 11:09 AM
Comment #333948

Rocky

Lord knows that I hate to side with Adrienne against you, but I believe in the power of literature, stories and myths.

We really cannot tell the difference between “true” events and mythic histories. Most of what we believe about history is based on fictional accounts. And we are cognitively incapable of telling the difference between reality experienced and “reality” vividly imagined.

Inspiring literature or music has moved people to great heroism and violence. I am not saying that you watch a movie and immediately go out and copy the behavior. But our synthetic experience over time shapes our attitudes and then our behaviors.

A while back, I studied the perception of George Armstrong Custer. He died in 1876, so nobody alive today has ever known anybody who knew him personally. We have gone through several myth cycles based much more on literature and movies than on history. Besides some very good archeology done on the Little Bighorn, we our understanding (or lack) of the basic event has not changed for 130+years.

Most of us base our perceptions of Custer on movies we saw. If you liked Errol Flynn in “They Died with their Boots on” Custer is a hero. If you watched “Son of the Morning Star” he is a villain. In “Little Big Man” he is just stupid. The list goes on.

When I studied the history and visited the places, it was clear that all of these accounts have some truth and some myth. But the actual history doesn’t make as good a story. So we all simplify it based on movies and literature.

Sometimes an account of literature becomes “the truth” and makes people react. When I was studying Custer, it was part of a more general study I was doing on “Last Stands”. Consider the case of the 300 Spartans. This last stand has inspired people for 2500 years. Marines I knew in Iraq discussed the details of the battle of Thermopylae and that ancient heroism helped inspire their.

We know of the brave 300 by the writings of Herodotus. It was Herodotus we gave us the lines that when the Persians said their arrows would blot out the sun, that the Spartans said they would gladly fight in the shade among others.

Did the Spartans say these things? We don’t know. Neither did Herodotus. He wasn’t there and those who may have heard the actual quotes were all massacred by the Persians. Herodotus put into their mouths what other thought they would have or should have said.

Just one more example - Shakespeare;s Henry V at Agincourt. The speech inspired the British during the dark days of the Blitz. Do you think that Henry really said “we few, we happy few …” or the part about those not there holding their manhood cheap.

He probably said the middle English equivalent of “Shit, there sure are a lot of Frenchmen out there.” But British pilots facing a Luftwaffe ostensibly superior in every way needed inspiration, not reality.

We look for examples that are greater than real people. Most of us never get to be great at all. Some happy few has a few moments of greatness in a generally mediocre life. Literature can help magnify this to be an inspiration for us all to be better.

Posted by: C&J at January 1, 2012 11:55 AM
Comment #333958

Jack,

This is all well and good, but you miss my point.

IMHO, if we truly believed in the righteousness of our actions, it would be unnecessary to draw on others for the inspiration to accomplish those actions.

You are either right, or you’re not.

Just my opinion.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 1, 2012 5:55 PM
Comment #333960

Rocky

I don’t think we “draw on them” but they help set our norms.

There are times when I don’t know what is right, things that are beyond my experience. So I consult the experience of others. I tend to read biographies, which are in theory history, but if you read a couple biographies of the same person (cf Custer) you realize that they are also a form of literature. Sometimes when I think I know what to do, I realize it is part of something I internalized a long time ago based on what I read. This is the value of an education. If we already knew how to do everything, we wouldn’t need to study anything.

Our attitudes come from somewhere. Often they come from these places.

Think of how much the fictional “Wonderful Life” seems to have influenced Adrienne. It also is a type of shared experience. We disagree about the meaning, but we have a common reference.

I have a funny example. Years ago I was working with some computer guys. They were setting up a network that had, in my opinion, some significant flaws. They were treating me like an idiot (as computer guys often do with laymen) until I figured out how to speak their language.

I said to them “you guys must be Star Trek Next Generation Fans”. They allowed that they were. I said, “Remember the Borg, when Hugh came back into the system and crashed it? My concern is that something like this.”

It was amazing. They immediately understood my concerns and addressed them.

Fictional character also provide patterns for us to copy. We get to know them, sometimes better than real people we know.

Literature is also they way we talk to the dead, i.e. get to benefit from the experience of past generations.

Posted by: C&J at January 1, 2012 7:38 PM
Comment #333963

Jack,

“I don’t think we “draw on them” but they help set our norms.”

Yet you cite “The 300” and Henry’s (Shakespeare’s) fictional speech at Agincourt. Were you aware that the real Henry demanded silent reflection from his men before the battle, under pain of losing an ear? It has been said that he also stated he would rather die in the battle than captured and held for ransom.

“Think of how much the fictional “Wonderful Life” seems to have influenced Adrienne.”

It was a good movie, and even though I liked the movie well enough to discuss it intelligently, it didn’t affect me one way or the other.

I suppose I am different than most folks.

I am not a leader, but I make decisions based on the information I have, and act on them. It’s just the way I am. I don’t reflect on anything other than my experience to get me through.

Oh, and I make very few mistakes using this method. Otherwise people wouldn’t hire me to do the type of work I do. This has given me a pretty good sense of self, and it has served me well through the years.

All that I have stated here and above is what I believe. I have faith in myself.

What happens with others is for them to figure out and do what’s right.

I am not saying I recommend my way to anyone else, but it has worked for me.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 1, 2012 9:33 PM
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