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« My simple question to President Obama about his very complicated Syria policy | Main | The networks must call the Republican campaigns' bluff »

November 01, 2015

Comments

Peter G

I've noticed this about myself. I spend most of my time these days arguing about the nuance of politics and policies on the left with lefties. There just wasn't much point in debating issues with people who insist I respect their views on the cheesy nature of the moon. Which is not to say I don't follow them or engage when they enter the fray but you never really learn anything from the interactions. It's just entertainment.

Peter G

If I could get copy and paste to work on my antique iPad I would provide a direct link to a lovely piece by Driftglass posted at Crooks and Liars. Check it out. It's not short but is exquisitely on point and, as always, funny too.

The Dark Avenger

Ask, and I shall be given unto you:

So having scared the hell out of his friends and colleagues just two weeks ago with his terrifying public truthblurt about the ugly reality of the American Fascist Party you will be relieved the learn that Mr. Brooks of the New York Times has successfully fought his way back to sobriety and passed his mandatory Beltway Both Siderist urine test with flying colors (which, admittedly, is an odd way to pass a pee test.) He has been pronounced once again 100% Very Serious by the friendly, professionals at the Villager Nervous Hospital for the Temporarily Forthright and earned his Two Week Broder Chip for successfully abstaining from sharing uncomfortable truths in public.


http://crooksandliars.com/2015/10/david-brooks-marcos-golden-elixir-salesman

The Dark Avenger

it for I.

there's already one commentator with a swelled head, no need to be another one.

Peter G

Thanks much. Every time I fall for Apple's tempting offer to upgrade my Apple devices to functionality they throw a curve. I've always admired Driftglass's way with words.

teabow

here? crooksandliars.com/2015/10/david-brooks-marcos-golden-elixir-salesman

Bob

After spending a few hours suffering media navel-gazing about the CNBC debate I'm forced to agree with both Republicans and media navel-gazers: The debate did suck and it was biased. The format, questions, follow-up, and control by moderators were all surreally dismal. There were too many people on the stage with too little time to do anything but a desperate stab at standing out, which was completely the fault of the RNC. The moderators sometimes didn't know where their own questions came from (Trump's web page for example), and the default rule seemed to be if candidates' names were mentioned they automatically had as much time as they could wrangle to respond, not necessarily in answer. Maybe it would have been impossible for anyone to control all the spin and phony outrage, but the CNBC crew showed all the assertiveness of rubber duckies.

What everyone so far has danced around is that the media bias was, almost entirely, corporate "news" bias. The questions weren't designed to inform the viewers, but to illicit conflict, sensationalism and ratings. Republicans want rightist moderators and they should get them. Whoever they could agree would be either the most representative or have the most conservative gravitas *would* understand the candidates' points of view better. That doesn't mean they wouldn't bring their own biases or go for ratings, though. In most cases they'd probably take those things to new levels. Primary voters' favorites would whip up frenzies of reactionary nuttiness, and they'd hate conservative intellectuals just as much as any other intellectuals.

The part of media bias that remains after the corporate type could be considered liberal, depending on how it's defined. No reporter or commenter from a reputable outlet is going to ask a question like "exactly how absurd is the idea of global warming" or "in your view how is the Constitution based on Christianity" because that person would soon be out of work, friends and possibly family. Even in mainstream media there's a floor.

Peter G

As little respect as I have for most people who call themselves journalists it is hard to see that any proposed alternatives could possibly be better. So they decide to use Republican moderators. Which moderators would those be? The people who Cruz named who despise the Republcan establishment? Or someone from the establishment? Since there is no possible person who could satisfy their disparate requirements the only alternative acceptable to a majority of these candidates (and whoever it is must be satisfactory to the leading outsiders Trump and Carson) is allow the candidates to write their own questions. And how pray tell will these allow them to eliminate candidates if they are not even nastier to each other than the journalists? Having determined how they want to do this they will then have to sell this joke to the networks. I wish them luck.

Bob

Exactly. The clown show is going to cry like a tacky decorator painting no matter what: http://img3.etsystatic.com/008/0/6195627/il_fullxfull.390838835_4x79.jpg

David & Son of Duff

Yeeeeeees, well, this post was a perfect example of the liberal bias in action. What it all amounts to is - 'I'm right(or to be precise Left, you're Right and therefore wrong, yah, boo sucks! Great thinking!

And if current American society is the example of social democracy at work then if I were you I would seriously consider emigrating to Syria!

The Dark Avenger

Sorry, David, but to take you seriously, one would have to be more deranged than the average Trump supporter.

Bob

Paradoxically, you're right. But it's only because you're a Brit conservative and relatively less wrong than the US variety, which is remarkable in its ability to be wrong about everything. It's the advantage you have of living in an older society that's dragged the backward further along. Plus you have remnants of monarchy to distract you.

David & Son of Duff

So you're trying to tell me that 60-odd years of Rooseveltian social democracy has really, really improved American society, that the Eisenhower 50s were a vile aberration which have now been swept away to the sunlit uplands of, er, well, what you have now!

Peter G

Hmm bias is an interesting thing is it not. Take the Theory of Evolution, a scientific theory to which no exception has ever been found and which has the profound predictive power that all theories must have. We can now estimate very accurately how long an evolved resistance to a new pesticide or antibiotic will take to develop. And yet to the nitwits anyone who dares to subscribe to actual science is a "liberal". That would be PM's point. Failing to believe in crank economic theories or asking simple questions about tax policies that create deficits rather than reduces them means you have a liberal bias. And that your brain works properly. I'm sure you heard the debate proposal to go back to the gold standard. What idiot believes that is possible?

Bob

The current Republican Party would whine like little girls denied a dolly over Eisenhower, who started several large government programs including the national highway system and shut up Joe McCarthy. And yes, Social Security has helped keep the aged out of poverty and is probably only the best know great success of the New Deal.

Bob

And by the way, the top tax rate under Eisenhower was around 90%.

Peter G

Massively so. Are you trying to tell me that having large numbers of your senior citizens spending their final years in abject poverty is the mark of an advanced civilization? Before you do surrender your pension rights.

David & Son of Duff

Entirely by coincidence this arrived in my In-box this afternoon:

""The right way of looking at this problem is to regard inflation as an economy's reaction to a continuous and multiple strain on its resources. It is a reaction to extravagant and impatient claims; to a tendency toward excess in all fields and among all classes; to inconsistent and confused economic, financial, and social policies which disregard all time-tested principles; to the presumption of taking on too much at one time; to the recklessness of always drawing more bills of exchange on the economy than it can honour; to the obstinacy of always wanting to combine what cannot be combined.

People want to invest more than saving allows; they claim wages higher than those corresponding to the rise in productivity; they want to consume more than current income can pay; they want to earn more with exports than the latter can yield the economy by way of imports; and on top of all this, the government, which should know better, keeps extending its own claims on the economy's strained resources. Demands proliferate while the necessary cover of goods is missing. If any man should continually sin against all the rules of reasonable living, some organ of his body will slowly but surely suffer from the accumulation of his mistakes; the economy, too, has a very sensitive organ of this kind. This organ is money; it softens and yields, and its softening is what we call inflation, a dilatation of money, as it were, a managerial disease of the economy.

The trouble is that we lack counterforces of a spiritual, moral, and social nature. In the realm of ideas we no longer have definite convictions and guiding principles; in the realm of interests the anti-inflationary front is neither strong nor broad enough to meet the inflationary one, and, as we have seen, the welfare state makes gaping breaches in the front of those who have a vital interest in suppressing inflation. Wages and pensions geared to the cost-of-living index do the rest. The result is that respect for money and its inviolability has lost its force."

– Wilhem Röpke, A Humane Economy (pp. 217-218)

The Dark Avenger

Inflation hadn't been a problem here for a while, David. In fact. I hVe known of cases where people were able to save and have a considerable income sream until interest rates went doNow it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this — in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything — even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.


http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/ikesocial.asp

As for your quote, it is utter rubbish.

The Dark Avenger

Sorry about the mess: here is the quote again

Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this — in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything — even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

Bob

Aside from having us admire the cloying, moralistic verbiage, what point are you trying to make? Welfare states always cause inflation? We have evidence against that right now in the US where inflation has been dropping since 2012 and has been around zero for the past year even while Obamacare is kicking in. Do you know the general outlines of Röpke's work?

"Unlike many mainstream Austrian School economists, Röpke and the ordoliberalists conceded that the Market Economy can be more disruptive and inhumane unless intervention is permitted a role to play."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_R%C3%B6pke

David & Son of Duff

"Much has contributed to the undermining of the respect for money and its value. Immeasurable damage has been done, above all, by that revolution in economic theory whose disastrous effects we have already stressed. Its destructive work can hardly be undone now, but we are at least entitled to expect repentance and frank confession. Let us hope that the time will soon come when Keynes, to use one of Jacob Burckhardt's expressions, will be recognized as one of the great intellectual ruiners of history - like Rousseau and Marx."
– Wilhem Röpke, A Humane Economy (p. 219)

Bob

Röpke wasn't always wrong:

"It is a grave mistake, said Röpke, to assume that the market is an autonomous system that can maintain itself without a legal, ethical and institutional framework. Without that framework capitalism will degenerate into corporate capitalism. The lines between economics and politics will blur: rather than trying to please consumers, entrepreneurs will try to win the favours of
politicians and civil servants."

http://www.worldcommercereview.com/publications/article_pdf/861

Bob

On second thought he was still wrong. Corporatists don't give a damn about winning the favors of politicians, they just buy them.

David & Son of Duff

Well, of course, which is why the wilder elements of the 'libertarian' free market' movement are as daft as all you control freak socialists. In fact, you cannot have a functioning market without contract law which needs must be backed up by a central authority. Alas, that is the lever seized by the socialists as a means to inflict their pottiness in all sorts of other areas usually with dire and unforeseen results - well, unforeseen by them because, alas, most socialists are not too bright.

The Dark Avenger

You actually believe there are control-freak socialists?

I think you should check your Merlot to make sure it wasn't contaminated with any antifreeze, David.

Whenever you start ranting about socialism, or demonstrate a POV more suited to what we now call middle school here in the States, I think of this quote from the series Dr. Who.

"You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit the views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."

Now, the control-freak Christians who want to tell women both here and elsewhere what that can and can't do with their bodies, you'll not say a word against them, will you?

Bob

You're ignoring the fact that Röpke is given much credit for bringing back the West German economy after WWII and in that context it developed largely into the Social Democratic Party of Germany which is still a dominating force. With your mention of "control freaks" you seem to be stuck in the idea that socialism is how the old USSR operated. It was actually based, for the most part, on statism. You share that misconception with our conservatives.

David & Son of Duff

@ Bob: It was Ludwig Erhard who led the wrecked post-war German economy back into good health and he did so by applying free market principles operating under the rule of law. Of course, with all of the inevitability of rain following sun, the German socialists moved in later to introduce one of the most expensive welfare states anywhere. Happily for the Germans, their fellow Europeans fell for the idea not just of a common market but a common currency which, given the basket-case condition of most of the Med participants, means the value of the euro was, is and will continue to be, feeble. Thus, on the back of a weak currency the Germans export their Mercedes and BMWs at vast profit. As the late Lord Ripley put it, very accurately and succinctly, the EU is "a German racket!" If the Germans had to operate on an undiluted Deutschemark their industry would implode.

Socialists believe that socialist governments can spend *your* money better than *you* can. Thus, they take as much of it away from you as they can and, after slicing off a handsome allowance for their salaries, pensions and perks, they then set about misspending it in the usual governmental fashion.

You and others on this site thoroughly approve of this racket and thus re-enforce my belief in the wisdom of that old American saying, "Never give a sucker an even break!" And please don't tell me about socialism, I lived through it and it was total and utter crap and reduced my country to "the poor man of Europe" - until "that woman" came along and with the approval of the majority of the British people swept most of it away. Now we are amongst the most successful of European nations. QED!

Bob

"Wilhelm Röpke (October 10, 1899 – February 12, 1966) was Professor of Economics, ... and one of the spiritual fathers of the social market economy, theorising and collaborating to organise the post-World War II economic re-awakening of the war-wrecked German economy ..." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_R%C3%B6pke

The idea we want 1950's England here is silly, and we've just lived through a series of events that prove so-called "free market" economics don't work, just as they didn't work in Chile as implemented by the "Chicago Boys" and are currently wrecking our state of Kansas. You're being a bit presumptuous about what we think here.

The Dark Avenger

Socialists believe that socialist governments can spend *your* money better than *you* can. Thus, they take as much of it away from you as they can and, after slicing off a handsome allowance for their salaries, pensions and perks, they then set about misspending it in the usual governmental fashion.

Where as extreme free-market fools will cut taxes in hope that the mystical faith in the power of the free market will come through and bring prosperity to all involved.

Take a look at Kansas if you want to see the results of David's Austrian economics come to life:

Kansas lawmakers concluded the longest legislative session in state history Friday night by approving a slate of regressive tax hikes that will balance the state’s budget by targeting low-income workers and their families.

More than half of the $384 million in new revenue expected from the tax hike will come from cigarette taxes and sales taxes, two policies described as “regressive” because they fall more heavily on lower-income taxpayers than on the wealthy. Even though everyone who shops will pay the new 6.5 percent sales tax rate – up from 6.15 percent in previous years, and the 8th-highest of any state according to the Tax Foundation – the move is regressive because poorer shoppers already have to stretch each dollar farther than their more flush counterparts.

The state offers a limited tax credit for grocery purchases to low-income families that slightly offsets the unevenness of the sales tax impact. But that credit is capped at $500 and cannot be claimed by families earning over $30,615 a year. A family of four that earns too much to qualify for the credit will pay nearly $700 a year in sales tax payments on their food, according to a Kansas City Star analysis of Friday’s bill that found the bulk of the burden falls on people making less than $50,000 annually.

Families with more slack in their budgets to absorb the sales tax hike are also getting to retain the vast majority of the windfall delivered to them in 2012 and 2013 by Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Those packages drove rates up for the poorest 20 percent of the state, provided a very small net reduction in tax liabilities for middle-class earners, and gave about $20,000 a year on average back to the richest hundredth of taxpayers.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/06/16/3669801/kansas-sales-tax-hike-budget-deal/

Seems like the Republicans are acting like Socialists in Kansas, David. Any indignation left over for these economic terrorists?

David & Son of Duff

@ Bob: Riiiiiight, so I can take it then that the number of government agencies in the USA and the number of Federal employees has actually dropped over the past, say 50 years? Or even the past 10 years! Still, why worry, they are working for you, right? And they know better than you how your money should be spent so nothing to see here just move along. Er, but God help you if you have any objection! Who knows, you might find a swat team outside your house at 3.00 in the morning just like your innocent fellow citizens did in Wisconsin recently! America, Land of the Free - just so long as you don't go up against the Feds - have a nice day!

@ DA: Given your description, DA, and assuming it is accurate, what on earth makes you think I would approve of what is going on in Kansas? Unlike you lot here who swallow anything whole provided it has a Democrat label on it, I consider Republican/Tory governments to be as much of a potential risk to my well-being as any Leftie government. Your problem is that you think governments are your friends. They are not. Potentially they are your worst enemy whose malevolence is only exceeded by *foreign* governments.

The Dark Avenger

So you're the nihilist then? Of course, if you want a country with no Republicans, Tories, or and Democrats, or even a government, you could do no better than Somalia. Somehow, though, I think you would miss the order a functioning government can bring to modern life.

Bob

The number of total federal employees has been dropping since 1968:

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/historical-tables/total-government-employment-since-1962

The rest of your comment has paranoid overtones. I'm worried about you David.

Bob

Also worth mentioning is that last year the rating of Kansas bonds was dropped 3 notches because of the budget shortfall caused by the tax cuts. So Brownback has gotten the state even further into the hole.

David & Son of Duff

Please, please, Bob, tell me you didn't swallow those government stats whole! Let me give you a clue - 'contractors and grantees'. Now go and do the sums again!

No, DA, I am anything but a nihilist. What I am is a deeply suspicious and sceptical observer of governments in action be they Right or Left. Although naturally, the Left being believers in Big Government make me the most uneasy.

The Dark Avenge

Sorry, David, but you can't have it both ways, saying at one minute that you think Republican/Tories are as untrustworthy as Leftie governments, then "clarifying" your statement to say you the Leftie believers are the most untrustworthy.

As for Big Gvernment, George Bush the Crappier expanded government in a big way after 9/11, yet I have yet to see any Lefties welcoming this expansion, nor are there any conservatives here who denounced it, including yourself.

Funny how that works. Both sides do it, except when they don't.

A

David & Son of Duff

Well, DA, you make my point better than me. *ALL* governments of whatever colour are always and forever to be treated as potential enemies, but their malignancy can be rated as follows with the worst coming last:

1: Elected Right-wing
2: Elected Left-wing
3: Non-elected anything
4: Imposed foreign government

It goes without saying, of course, that they all share the same characteristic of wanting more and more and yet more power! Of course, we can't do without them but, for f**ks sake, we don't have to love them the way you lot bow and scrape to 'Ol' Big Ears' and his ghastly gang just like a bunch of medieval peasants in the presence of royalty!

Bob

Sorry, David, but in my scheme of things contractors and grantees are not the same thing as people directly employed by the government. I'll give you a hint. Look into our privatized prison system and the results. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Your magical "free market" has led lobbyists for the prison industry to push for the criminalization of things like petty drug crimes. I know it's difficult for a conservative, but try to grasp some nuance.

Bob

I really should know better. Contractors and grantees are not subject to the will of voters, only their bought sponsors in government. You're right about one thing: All government should be viewed with suspicion. Many of our conservatives believe that the religious and patriotic rhetoric used by their favorite politicians means they're unconditionally good and on their side. Very few leftists see things that way.


The Dark Avenge

Sorry, David, but without some sort of government civilization isn't possible.

"All governments are bad, but left wing-governments are worse than right-wings governments" isn't political thinking, except from a dull child's POV.

The Dark Avenger

I can show you comments from lots of leftists who don't bow and scrape before Obama like conservatives on your side of the pond used to do for ol' Big Head Maggie Thatcher, David.

But hat would involve bringing in reality to your world, wouldn't it?

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