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Over the weekend, Barry Ritholtz over at the Big Picture blog had one of the most thought provoking posts I have read.  It's titled "Investing in a Post-Fact Society (a/k/a, Were the Good Times a Mirage?)".  It is a post I will be chewing over for quite some time.  I asked him if I could use it to riff off of and he said yes (Being a good lawyer, I still have the email!).  Below is part of the post and then some of my own thoughts.

From the Big Picture Blog:

One of the concerns we have expressed here over the years is that there was much more -- and less -- to the post 2001 recession recovery than met the eye.

Several years ago, this was a controversial position. We first suspected we were on to something, however, when the many critics of this view found it much easier to use epithets  (negative, naysayer, perma-bear) than to do the credible critiques of our positions, or any kind of critical  analysis.  It reminded me of an old lawyer's joke: "When the facts go against you, stress the law; when the law is against you, emphasis the facts; when your case has both the law and the facts against it, call the other lawyer an asshole."

As of March 22, we are still in the early stages of any sort of widespread understanding about this post-recession recovery cycle. Many people are just starting to realize how much fertilizer has been spread around.

Many of the stated economic gains have been a false ghost. Whether it was overstated job creation (NFP), understated inflation (CPI) or "inflated" growth (GDP), a shocking amount of the debate about the economic expansion has been primarily spin.

That's what attracted me to this book by Farhad Manjoo: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. That such a book is even necessary boggles the mind. Consider the myriads of benefits and standards of living  improvements we have seen from the reality-based community -- and by that, I mean Scientists (Physicists, Biologists, Medical Doctors) and Engineers (Technology, materials and mechanical). Why so many people would turn their backs on this belief system leads me to Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Philosophically, I want to explore -- beyond the legitimate gains mentioned above -- a nagging question about the spin and artifice. Why have we as a nation been increasingly reluctant to confront objective reality? What is it about the present social mood, political leadership, and economic environment that has so totally led us to a world of denial? Up is down, black is white, good is bad -- its all very Orwellian.

.....

I have long railed against superficial headline data that belied the weakness underneath. There were a parade of syncophants and cheerleaders who, despite knowing better, continued to cheerlead punk data. These pundits, politicos and pinheads are now confronting the ugly reality they can no longer ignore. Consider the progression the motley crew of fools and liars went through: First they denied what was happening, then we got the whole contained thingie, then they blamed da Bears. Now, they have unwittingly embraced Marx, and have successfully pled for the central planners to rescue them from their own stupidity.

~~~

Here's my question: Are we stuck with these fantasists? Has Truthiness replaced Truth? Are we going to be saddled forever with these  damaging, hallucinatory hacks?

This is something I have experienced as well.  There are three sets of data have led me to continually question the strength of the latest economic expansion.

First, there is debt.  Although there was continued talk of the budget deficit narrowing, the US government continued to issue record amounts of debt.  Currently, total debt outstanding is $9,392,204,908,953.75.  Here is a table of total debt outstanding, at the end of the federal government's fiscal year.

09/30/2007   9,007,653,372,262.48
09/30/2006 8,506,973,899,215.23
09/30/2005 7,932,709,661,723.50
09/30/2004 7,379,052,696,330.32
09/30/2003 6,783,231,062,743.62
09/30/2002 6,228,235,965,597.16
09/30/2001 5,807,463,412,200.06
09/30/2000 5,674,178,209,886.86

First, I must give a huge hat tip to Calculated Risk who originally pointed this fact out.

Secondly, something about the story that "the deficit is decreasing" and record amounts of debt didn't add up.  Simply put, how could a country that is borrowing this amount of money actually be balancing the budget?  The real answer is the budget is nowhere near balanced and hasn't been for some time.  

Secondly, there is job growth.  Simply put, the total amount of jobs created in this expansion is the lowest of any expansion since the end of WWII.  Yet, we kept being told this economy was the "greatest story never told."

Finally -- and in correlation to the jobs issue -- wages have been stagnant for this expansion.  Here is a graph of real (inflation-adjusted) income from the the Census Bureau:

If things are so good, why is real median income stagnant?  

All of the above points -- debt, jobs and income -- are all readily and publicly available verifiable data points.  Whenever I have brought them up in analysis no one has ever told me I have my facts wrong.  Yet there are people who completely ignore these facts and continually argue for policies that would make these facts worse.  What in the hell is going on here?

I have a pet theory which is pure conjecture.

Since 1980 the US has implemented a very conservative to centrist economic program.  Under Reagan, Bush I and Bush II we had a "conservative" agenda.  By conservative I am referring to "supply deny-side" economics along with massive financial deregulation.  Under Clinton we have a centrist economic program (Clinton was center left and Gingrich was center right making the program pretty centrist).  In other words, conservative economic policies have been implemented in one way or another for a continual period of time.  Yet the latest expansion -- and the last 9 months in particular -- have highlighted the fact that conservative economic policies are not the panacea they were advertised as.  In fact, they create some pretty serious problems (so to extremely liberal policies, but those policies create different problems).  

The Right Wing Noise Machine is well aware of these facts.  They can read numbers just like us.  Larry Kudlow (and other Republican economists) knows where the St. Louis Federal Reserve's website is.  But that doesn't matter.  They can't believe that their wonderful polices actually created the current problems.  So they engage in spin rather than analysis.

Compounding this problem is the Republican dominance of the AM radio dial.  I live in Houston Texas and all be have on AM radio is Republican talk radio all day long.  All day long.  Once those folks get on theme, they all repeat it ad infinitum until it becomes fact.  I swear to God, if Rush Limbaugh said "the sky is purple today" within four days there would be a discussion on all the Republican talk radio shows about how the Democrats caused the sky to turn purple.

The point I'm getting to is the right wing noise machine has a lock on certain types of "information" distribution.  And they use it to maximum advantage.  They have dumbed down the conversation in multiple ways and done incredible harm to this country's political dialog.  

And I have no idea how to stop it.

Originally posted to bonddad on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:25 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  2008 will be a revolutionary election. (32+ / 0-)

    The leadreship elected MUST attend to the needs of The People at the expense of The Corporations.

    I'm all for Capitalism, but Supercapitalism must end.

    Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

    by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:43:39 AM PDT

    •  Elections aren't revolutionary. (15+ / 0-)

      Capitalism comes in one flavor. There is no such thing as supercapitalism. Even my spell checker rejects the word.

      Capitalism is an economic superstructure that depends of the productive infrastructure to generate a return on investment, thus increasing the amount of capital to be invested. Period. No super. Just plain old vanilla capitalism.

      Don't count on your hero to do anything at the expense of the corporations. They are what put him where he is today.

      •  Supercorporations can be eliminated in one step: (36+ / 0-)

        An SEC regulation that would limit the share price of a publicly-traded corporation from rising above the level that it's market capitalizaion would exceed some threshold amount, say $1B or $10B.

        As the stock price approaches this limit, the company's board would break it up into pieces, each of which would have it's own independent, publicly-traded stock, and when taken as a basket, could still increase in value beyond the threshold market cap limit.

        It would be like the 1984 AT&T breakup, but without the judge deviding how it should be done. Remember that the Telecom Revolution came about because of the AT&T breakup, and led to more competition, more jobs in telecom, more services available to consumers with lower prices.

        In short, by breaking up Supercorporations, Capitalism wins, employmees win, and consumers win.

        All from a simple SEC regulation. It's simple, and everybody wins.

        Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

        by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:10:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting idea (8+ / 0-)

          Corporate power needs to be reigned in. Corporate management also needs to be made responsible to shareholders and that will require federal intervention. The best way may be to require a certain level of managerial responsibility to owners for all publicly traded corporations. Delaware does not meet that standard today, so they will either have to reform their laws or see every publicly traded company leave the state for incorporation purposes.

        •  Interesting idea. (19+ / 0-)

          I've always thought that when one company gets so large that they are essentially a monopoly., they should either be broken up, as was done with Standard Oil and AT&T, or they should face the threat of being nationalized so that the monopoly is forced to work for the citizenry under government control rather than against it by using their monopoly to gouge customers.  

          I would suggest that cable companies who are basically monopolies in certain areas fit the latter category already.  In my city, Time Warner faces no competition and they can and do charge essentially whatever they want.  It doesn't cost $80 per month to provide TV service as Time Warner charges.  The reason the bill is so high is because Time Warner carries billions of dollars in debt which we the customers get to pay off.  They expanded so rapidly that they took on huge amounts of debt, but because their monopoly status guarantees them a high cash flow, banks continue to lend them money to buy even more companies since the banks know that cable customers will be forced to foot the bill for this overaggressive expansion.

          I would like to see a judge decide how companies get divided however, because trusting these corporations to do it on their own only invites more of the 'clever' accounting tricks we've already seen with Enron and the like.  Also, many of the companies formed from the breakups of Standard Oil and At&T have simply remerged in a different form.  

          Anybody ever wonder how Exxon-Mobil was allowed to exist?  These were two companies formed by the forced breakup of Standard Oil in the first place.

          "The meek shall inherit nothing" - F. Zappa

          by cometman on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:52:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Standard and AT&T are the worst models (6+ / 0-)

            Those companies were allowed to keep their regional monopolies and expected to eventually compete with each other. That did happen with Standard, though the companies exploited their local strengths to try to compete elsewhere, but it never happened with the Baby Bells.

            •  Are you kidding? I can get local phone service (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dennisl

              from a number of companies now, not to mention Internet local phone.

              Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

              by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:16:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Now (6+ / 0-)

                But what you never could get it Ameritech service in a Bell Atlantic area or Pacific in USWest. They refused to compete against each other.

              •  Crumbs (11+ / 0-)

                After many years, the "Baby Bells" finally have found long distance and cellular so profitable that they're willing to compete with each other in those markets, leaving the local markets to newcomers. So a couple decades or so after the AT&T breakup, there is indeed competition for local service, long distance and mobile. But the "Baby Bells" that compete are now consolidated into a duopoly of Verizon and AT&T for consumers, though there are about a half-dozen long distance wholesalers competing.

                Internet local/LD phone is very new, and a result of cablecos having their own TV monopolies from which to launch competition against Verizon and AT&T. It's still very small.

                You want to see how competition really works in telcos, look at the DSL industry. Which did see several competing corps finally use the legal requirements for the incumbent telcos to allow access by competitors to the incumbent network equipment. Once the newcomers actually defined a market by educating it and delivering value consumers could understand, the incumbent telcos used all kinds of anticompetitive advantages (like blowing off hookup schedules only to competitors, making their incumbent service look better to consumers), until they drove the newcomers out of business.

                The success of the AT&T breakup in fostering competition actually shows just how powerful is even a little breakup that opens a crack for competition (and therefore innovation). It therefore shows how powerful is the monopoly in preventing competition/innovation. If the DoJ had broken up AT&T into several national corps which had to compete geographically, we would have had much faster competition and innovation. FWIW, we'd also have much less problems with telcos abusing their access to our communications, like warrantless FISA violations etc.

                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:32:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  I have two thoughts on this... (9+ / 0-)
          1. Exactly, the mechanism that creates 'efficiency' in markets is competition. As entities compete prices go down to their lowest sustainable levels (in theory the lowest price possible given overhead + some minimum level of profit). However precisely because it introduces efficiency by reducing profits and forcing corporations to do more with less as well as stay ahead or at least on par with any new products by competitors competition is loathed by companies, especially the larger more established ones. As with any constructed system, the incentive becomes finding ever more creative ways not to compete. Buyouts, mergers, collusion of incredible variety is virtually endemic in todays markets in my experience. Strategies for eliminating competition is the ultimate (meaning last, not greatest) method in which companies compete. As 'market penetration' grows and the pressure to compete lessens, costs go down, profits go up, and shareholders smile.
          1. In a world were Bankers (read corporations) control the money supplies of nearly every sovereign nation, how can you pick any sort of arbitrary market capitalization cap? Choose one currency and they'll find their way to do most of their business in another. There is nothing corporations do better than find ways to skirt around the rules. They truly are engines for the elimination of competition. I think this sort of idea is on the right track, but as with any group you want to 'regulate' you need regulators who are every bit as smart as the people working against the regulations, or it will never amount to (a hill of beans?) much.
          •  The answer to both questions is that... (8+ / 0-)

            all competitors will have to play by the same rules, even if it is an arbitrarily chosen rule.

            The real winners will be smaller companies who no longer get crushed by the Walmarts of the world. Sorry, but I'd rather live in that world that the one we have now.

            Large-cale buyouts and mergers will not be as lucrative as before because of the market cap limit. So what? Gordon Gekko-types will make less money? Boo Hoo.

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:25:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe instead of.... (11+ / 0-)

            an arbitrary market cap, they should not be allowed to control more than a certain percentage of the market they compete in.

            This poses problems as well.  Once upon a time, corporations were not allowed to own other corporations, but now they are.  So how does one decide what market a company like GE competes in?  Are they a media company?  An electric company?  A defense contractor?

            "The meek shall inherit nothing" - F. Zappa

            by cometman on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:27:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, that was exactly my point. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              opinionated, bluebrain, kurt, Jimdotz, ghett

              That you need to be very careful on the rules you set and make sure they are amendable in the future because as soon as the rules are made, very smart people will be forced into working overtime to find ways around them. The incentive to avoid competition and the rewards, are just too great.

              Only when you can make the penalties high enough, the laws smart enough and the enforcement quick enough, that you can cause the cost of trying to avoid competition to be prohibitively risky, do you win and get the genuinely fair and competitive market so many dream of.

            •  Hard to define "a certain percentage"... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              3goldens, kurt, Serpents Sorrow, ghett

              which is why I like the market cap limit idea. There's no guessing:

              (Market Cap) = (# of Shares) x (Share Price) < $1B

              No ambiguity at all.

              Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

              by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:39:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  True, but depending on what a company does.... (5+ / 0-)

                it could be possible to have a monopoly in a certian industry without reaching the market cap limit.

                A company that sells airplanes at several hundred million a pop is going to reach the market cap limit a lot faster than a company that sells chewing gum, but the chewing gum company may have a monopoly regardless.  

                Those probably aren't the best examples to use, but I'm just trying to say that different industries have varying amounts of overhead needed to produce and distribute their products.  The machinery a company like Boeing needs to produce an airplane would probably justify a market cap of a billion dollars before they even produce one plane, whereas a small factory can produce a hell of a lot of chewing gum but their real assets would be a fraction of a company like Boeing's.

                Obviously I don't have all the answers either, but this is a good discussion.  Perhaps the answer to these problems could be found in bottom up discussions like the one we're currently having rather than from top down decisions like the bad ones Greenspan and now Bernanke continue to make.

                "The meek shall inherit nothing" - F. Zappa

                by cometman on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:00:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  But how do you define profit (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jimdotz, Serpents Sorrow

            What if you were to run a company that makes just enough cash to stay afloat, and the 'profit' is in the form of a stronger consumer base in a carbon neutral environment that reused all waste products?

            Obviously that wouldn't work for most 'shareholders', but surely the government would see a profit in not having to subsidize as much healthcare as fewer health problems would exist given less pollution.

            Why can't we simply admit that socialism would be able to address sustainability and regulatory issues in was that capitalism simply can't?

            Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

            by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:35:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I am not anti-capitalism... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CharlieHipHop, Serpents Sorrow

              I'm just anti-SUPERcapitalism.

              And I'm all for Socialized Civilized Medicine, too.

              Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

              by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:41:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  There Are Definitions (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kurt, Jimdotz

              Profit is defined by public accounting rules. Shareholders are interested in those profits being maximized, while actual income/expense realities work to minimize those profits. So the profitability of a coropration is fairly clear when it's run according to proper rules.

              The rules can be rigged, but that argument means nothing can ever be made right and proper, if you ignore efforts to keep the rules correct. And at the size of "supercorps", you need serious conspiracies to either evade the rules or pervert them. That's why government oversight of supercorps like Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Tyco, etc all relied on corruption. Which corruption is enabled by corporate profits (usually boosted by hidden debt) sizeable enough to compete with the governments overseeing them (by lobbying, evading and bribing them).

              We already have socialism: for corporations. We also have socialism for individuals, to keep them from complaining about the larger (and much less necessary) socialism for corporations. Less socialism would be better. Especially the kind that centrally plans how people react to and exploit market conditions.

              Government has a basic role in protecting people's rights, including commercial rights (like affordable food and selling labor in the market). It even has a role in operating "natural monopolies", like infrastructure that would only waste redundant facilities (like the water supply or national railroads). In fact, we're sophisticated to know that since a "monopoly" doesn't have to own 100% of a market to control and abuse it, likewise a government operating in a market can stimulate competition that "polyopolies" (like cartels or just duopolies) tacitly avoid.

              But more socialism means more monopolies, in government hands. Since those hands also control military, police and justice monopolies, including commercial monopolies in a socialist mix paves the roads for tyrannies to rush right over.

              I'd rather have a relatively inefficient mix of socialism and capitalism than an efficient road to tyranny, whether we call it "communism", "fascism" or anything else.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:48:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  A thought (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jimdotz, Serpents Sorrow

                (and I hope I just clicked on the right reply to)

                If state run enterprises are allowed to be privately owned, but only by individual citizens, and with a maximum %age owned by any given individual, could we not gain the benefits of both systems?  Or if ownership was restricted to some mix of those and pension funds?

                I think my idea is more to simply get single individuals from owning massive chunks of given entities such that they unduly influence corporate direction and responsibility.

                Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

                by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:59:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Worst of Both Worlds (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jimdotz, Serpents Sorrow

                  With that model, you've created government monopolies no longer tempered by even public ownership. Instead, that operator (with the deepest pockets in the country, the general budget, and a legislature that can compel any favorable policy) is now operated for the primary benefit of some private individuals (any corporation's primary benefit is to its shareholders, as required by law). Shareholders don't generally compete for anything but shares of ownership in their corporation. If you remove that competition, too, with maximum shareholder %s, then there's no competition whatsoever. There's no way to prohibit collusion of those shareholders into blocs, which would just dominate the operation of the state corporation.

                  Your proposal seems exactly backwards to the public interest.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:11:17 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  We'll see (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jimdotz, Serpents Sorrow

                    by watching New Zealand.

                    SRE's have been common there, and it looks like a push is on to have Kiwisaver (a plan to push superannuation savings by creating a gov't run stock club as I see it) and similar plans be the primary investors if privatization goes forward under National thanks to a recent ruling change by Labour about strategic assets.  Of course National could just dump the strategic asset idea once they hit power, and allow foreign control of such anyway.

                    They (National) privatized Telecom and the rail system the last time they were in power, and it was a predictable disaster for actual Kiwis, with costs soaring and maintenance being ignored.  I think they also privatized the electric grid, and maintenance there also was ignored for profit such that rolling blackouts are expected this coming winter.

                    Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

                    by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:41:42 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Russia (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dauphin, Jimdotz, Serpents Sorrow

                      We've already seen how privately owned government corporations can be awfully abused, in Russia. Even when the shares were issued to all citizes (who then sold them to richer buying blocs).

                      NZ != Russia != US. So we'll be able to look at the differences between the implementations and results, as well as their common features.

                      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                      by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:11:31 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  There Is A Way (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jimdotz, Serpents Sorrow

            I describe how to "normalize" the threshold to allow regulation to successfully compete with reasonably sized corporations in my other post "% of GDP Threshold".

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:35:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Dear Nonparticipant: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jimdotz

               Since you were absent, the right to service your customers and your IP have been auctioned off on our front steps.

                          Yours Truly,
                                       Bob Bureaucrat

        •  % of GDP Threshold (6+ / 0-)

          An SEC regulation that would limit the share price of a publicly-traded corporation from rising above the level that it's market capitalizaion would exceed some threshold amount, say $1B or $10B.

          For that rule to be closely derived from the actual nature of the problem, the threshold should be in GDP. We can tell that $10B corporations are too big, but that's because we have an intuitive sense of how big the market is, how big is the government to oversee them, how big are small companies that can innovate, how big are people's personal economies that are in their market. $10B is an arbitrary number that's really in terms of those other (arbitrary, at a given time) numbers.

          The US GDP is about $13T (of about $48T global), though those numbers have been more like $12T/35T in the past, when supercorps were already too big to handle. So the threshold in those terms would be something like at most 0.1% of GDP, or 0.03% of global GDP, whichever is smaller, to generalize a $10B 2008 threshold.

          In fact, there is probably a more close correlation to the state GDP, because corporations are actually creatures operating at the state level (where they're incorporated, and which governments run most of their regulation, including taxes like sales tax). So that 0.1% of US GDP threshold might be something like 2.5% of the average US state GDP.

          And that proportion finally starts to approach the real matchup: the size of the corp operating in a state compared to the size of the state government regulating it. I'm not sure the corp's market cap is really right metric, though that's related by P/E ratio (usually below 5:1, especially at large scales) to the corp's earnings, with which it can defy regulation. So ultimately maybe the threshold number is related to the state government budget, which must be required to be larger than the corp's operating budget available in that state. The NY state budget:GDP was in 2006 about $105B:900B, or about 12%, and is probably on the high side. If the threshold is set to cap earnings at 1% of the state budget, that's close to the 0.1% of state GDP, which makes that argument seem stronger, even if it's maybe too simple. There might even be a good argument for prohibiting supercorps to operate in any state where it overwhelms the state government's budget for regulating it, (corp earnings over 1% of state budget), or remaining chartered without breakup in any state where the state oversight budget for all corporations HQ'ed there is less than 100x as big as the corp.

          I wouldn't be surprised to see that state budgets for overseeing corporations are something like 1% of their total budget on average. And further that corps HQ'ed in them have larger drains on the budget than just those operating there. So the real number might just prohibit any corp from operating in a state which has a smaller budget for overseeing all corporations of its type (in-state or ex-state) than the discretionary budget (earnings) for fighting that oversight.

          In any case, I think you're definitely on to the specific nature of the problem, and an approximate solution. If we look carefully, we probably can find a simple statement like that for just how to keep these supercorps from overwhelming our governments that protect us from them.

          And by "protect us", I mean private individuals and their smaller corporate competition. And since breaking up these large corps has typically seen the combined value of the resulting separate corps exceed the value of the old unified corp, I think there's a very powerful economic argument to make to shareholders that can counter the appeal of the giant corp to its executives. If that argument penetrates, actually redesigning the corporate regime could be a lot easier than it might first appear.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:22:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I can certainly live with the idea that the limit (0+ / 0-)

            should be a percent of GDP in spirit, but to make an effective, simple rule, a specific dollar value needs to be assigned.

            As time passes, and GDP grows (hopefully), the maeket cap limit could easily be adjusted by revising the SEC regulation from, say, $1B to $1.1B.

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:29:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Annual Specifics (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus, Jimdotz

              The general rule and a specific number aren't mutually exclusive. Every year, when the state passes its budget, the rule could be easily computed into a specific threshold.

              One interesting side effect of this approach is that the largest corps would finally have an incentive for their state budgets overseeing them to grow larger, to allow the supercorps to grow larger along with them. If that oversight were effective in using its larger budget, which would probably mean targeting the largest corporations for oversight to reduce the overhead of overseeing many smaller corporations instead, then the largest corps would be more properly overseen. That could mean that even as they approach the threshold, the supercorps would be operating more cleanly.

              That kind of convergence of consequential results tends to validate a model.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:54:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  This solution would presume (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DocGonzo, kurt, Jimdotz

              a reliable GDP

              Many of the stated economic gains have been a false ghost. Whether it was overstated job creation (NFP), understated inflation (CPI) or "inflated" growth (GDP), a shocking amount of the debate about the economic expansion has been primarily spin.

              Before any solution based on GDP is implemented, there would need to be some overhaul of what constitutes GDP or at least a mechanism to require that GDP be factually stated.

              "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

              by SueDe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:53:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, Yes (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jimdotz

                Of course any solution to any US economic problems absolutely depends on accurate econometrics.

                I'd say that long jailtime for making fraudulent statistics would help. Conspiracy busts that send collaborating political Party personnel to jail, and that can decharter the parties themselves under racketeering laws, would also drain the swamp.

                Someone's got to start somewhere, and any method that makes those economic measures accurate (without just forcing them towards zero) would be worth a lot of pain.

                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:21:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Not being an economist, most of this is way over (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Robespierrette, 3goldens, Jimdotz

            my head, but I have a question:

            How do we regulate anything when most major corporations that do business in this country are international now.

            Wouldn't regulation in this country just cause them to move even more of their business offshore?

            If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

            by TKH on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:42:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The answer there is to limit ALL corporations... (5+ / 0-)

              that want to do business in the US to the same market cap regulation.

              It will be fair to American companies, and we'll be doing the world a favor, too.

              Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

              by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:46:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree that this is a great idea. Watching (4+ / 0-)

                corporations grow, for some time now I have had one simple question: Growth can not continue forever, where is it going to end? Will there eventually be ONE mega-corporation that runs and owns everything?

                It's not good enough any more to just "do as well as last year" they must continue to expand. Even corporations that show marginal gains are gobbled up by larger corporations because their shareholders want MORE.

                Corporate GREED! Don't you just love capitalism.

                If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

                by TKH on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:59:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Not only fair... (3+ / 0-)

                we would instantly create a huge demand for more skilled and unskilled workers and increase the competitive nature of the marketplace by leaps and bounds lowering prices and fostering new product development everywhere.

                As an example, every time one telecom eats another one, if the employees of the eaten (read bought) telecom are lucky as many as 1/3 of them will be hired into the buying company. My mind boggles at how many more jobs there would be under a GDP or similar size cap.

              •  In a perfect world, limiting corporate profits, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jimdotz

                by whatever means, makes absolute sense, but in reality...it ain't gonna happen.

                America is increasingly becoming irrelavent as far as corporate profits. YES...for now, we are the largest consumer nation in the world. We can push our weight around and dictate what corporations that operate within our borders do because there is a large profit to be made, BUT that is rapidly changing.

                We have turned from being the richest nation in the world to being the largest debtor nation in the world. Our clout is rapidly deminishing and being replaced by those of the EU, China, India and others. That's one of the reasons our dollar's in the toliet.

                Pretty soon, instead of dictating terms with corporations, we are going to be dictated too.

                If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

                by TKH on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:46:57 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Which is why my idea has nothing to do... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DocGonzo, TKH

                  with profit. The corporations will do their thing (regulated for safety of all sorts, I hope) but they will do it at a moderate size, or they get broken up.

                  Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

                  by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:58:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jimdotz

                    How will they compete with larger overseas competitors who would still have economies of scale available to them?

                    It has a lot to do with profit.  You can do this with a service industry like a telco but not with manufacturing enterprises.

                    Best Wishes, Demena

                    by Demena on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:13:13 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Not Really Limiting Profits (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jimdotz, TKH

                  The plan you're referring to doesn't limit profits, but rather the market capitalization (the total value of the corporation measured by the cost of all the shares needed to buy it).

                  I think a better control is indeed indexed to corporate profits. Because those profits are the discretionary amount a corporation can use to evade government and inherent market controls.

                  But neither really limits the profits. What they limit are the size of the single entity making the profits. Since the remedy is just to require the shareholders to split the supercorp according to their own preference, so long as it then operates below the threshold (in whichever terms), the resulting entities are able to make those profits. The competition will preserve a better balance between value delivered to their markets and the profits they derive from it. In fact, the combined value of the multiple resulting corporations is typically greater than the value of the old single supercorp. The resulting corps work smarter because of the competition, less wastefully, and are forced to entrepreneurially explore other markets/niches for diversification and expansion.

                  Since the result would be better overall for corporations (most of whose shareholders do face competition from a few shareholders' supercorps) and for increased overall shareholder value (even if in more total corps), the economic self interest is evident. There's more risk, though there's more reward. Which is usually a logjam solved by government leadership, and occasionally often even justifies government risk mitigation (liability assumption, loans, subsidies, etc) to get people past the immediate (but lesser) gratifification they're addicted to. That's what government oversight of markets and industries is for.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:30:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  OK Doc...you've obviously thought about (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    DocGonzo

                    this for some time. I like people that think a lot. If you say it will work, who am I to say differently. THEREFORE, I nominate you to the postion of "Secretary of American Economics".

                    Everyone who wants to form a corporation will have to go through your office and those corporations that now exist will have to adhere to your rules and policies, or they will be heavily fined or sold for pennies on the dollar.

                    Unfortunately there is no salary, office, or chauffer driven limo, but I'm sure that, even if you have to work out of the back of your car, with your determination, you can straighten those bastards out.

                    If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

                    by TKH on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 10:08:31 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I Got a Million of Them (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      TKH

                      Counting that one, a million one. I make 'em up on the spot.

                      But I crank them out through my own political/economic philosophy, which is what would be called "libertarian" if that term weren't polluted to mean just "shoot someone with impunity". I find the Constitution to be a nearly magically perfect document (because it's amendable) - with the exclusion of the shortsighted and perverted 2nd Amendment. The simple principle that humans have rights which we create governments to (more or less properly) protect, that those rights are inalienable (so alienating us from them makes people ungovernable), and that's all we can coerce from one another, makes for a simple set of tests for justice.

                      Which corporations nearly totally fail. They're synthetic "persons" created by the state for organizational and economic convenience. Much like the synthetic "rights" created by the state for property monopolies like copyright and patents, they are compromises with transient societal conditions that are too easily perverted from their initial limited introduction. Corporations should never have more "rights" than humans, and synthetic property monopolies should never trump real property rights. It's obvious from the origins of corporations in a railroad/newspaper monopoly fraud that the entire edifice which now controls so much property and power is illegal. And even the original limits offered to numb people's acceptance of these new superior "fellow citizens" are now ignored, like corporate charter revocation (disbanding a corp when its operations exceed its charter, or other violations).

                      So actually from my point of view, the ways to control corporations (and generally administer power) are all inherent in the Constitution, so long as its understood as implementing the basic American principle of "no government power except as explicitly created under the Constitution", along with accepting "government is the only legal monopoly" but not requiring government to be a monopoly except when necessary.

                      Keeping it simple means I can crank out new applications of policies on demand. If I were to be put in charge of such a reform, I'd happily spend about 4-5 years collecting the median salary of all Federal employees, and mainly just eliminate all kinds of bureaucracy that subsidizes corporations and protects them from legal challenge to their creep to superiority over humans, and rebalance the artificial property monopolies of copyright and patent back to the minimum necessary "to promote science and the useful arts".

                      And then, once corporations and humans were back in our rightful places among reasonable property rights, I'd happily make a huge fortune privately in that properly competitive environment.

                      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                      by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:16:16 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jimdotz

                There are now many international regulations (many started by the USA) that might not permit this.  Restraint of trade, protection etc.  Something along those lines would be used to prevent it.

                Best Wishes, Demena

                by Demena on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:09:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Sure (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              opinionated, Jesterfox, Jimdotz

              And they can try to take their customers with them.

              That's why we need to forbid companies from doing business in the U.S. from countries that have corrupt or exploitative regimes.  There's no need to impose tarrifs to protect our economic borders.

              The wealthy can leave this country all they want.  We won't miss them because they aren't what makes this country great.  In the immortal words of Tyler Durden:

              We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not... fuck with us.

              Turn the teleprompters off! We need leaders, not news anchors.

              by slippytoad on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:58:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  They're All US Corporations (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jimdotz

              In order to do business of any scale in the US, they need to be US corporations. They have to incorporate an entity in a US state that can sign contracts and do business locally with domestic counterparts for all their other business operations, like advertising, delivery, debt collection, etc.

              Only foreign businesses that ship direct with US delivery services which have foreign delivery corporations the foreign producer does business with can avoid having a US corporation "front". Those tend to be small. And they're still regulated by trade rules. So if total escape turned out to be a shelter (and worth losing even the vestigal "US product" marketing advantage), we could close the loophole by assigning tariffs prohibitive to foreign supercorps.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:59:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Yes but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jimdotz

          The supercapitalists will point out that while you're chopping up American corporations, Chinese, Japanese and European corporations will continue to grow larger, eventually gobbling up their American competitors.  It has to be imposed internationally or it won't work.

          With all his noble qualities...man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin--Darwin

          by MadScientist on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:36:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have a hard time believing that Europe... (0+ / 0-)

            (socialist heathens that they are) couldn't be persuaded to go along with it.

            If Europe and the US (and Canada, I also presume) then boycott any other Supercorporation, they will change their ways, too.

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:49:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  We also need strictly-enforced laws against... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Robespierrette, Jimdotz

          ... interlocking directorates.

          Teddy Roosevelt and Louis Brandeis were right about this a hundred years ago.  It's time to do it, already!

          •  Good Point... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            opinionated, Jesterfox

            Again, it's simple. If you sit on the board of ONE publicly-traded corporation, you can't sit on the boards of any others. Done.

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:11:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Interlocking directorates were different then (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jimdotz

              The problem then was that these directors had large investments not only in the company they were directors for, but also for nominal competitors. The interlock created an illegal trust in all but name.

              For many years in the second half of the 20th Century, there were no effective boards. Executives stacked the board with employees, retirees and cronies. New regulations have made it harder to have insiders on the board, but executives still run the companies with little regard for the board. Multiple directorships are no problem if you are a director in unrelated businesses.

        •  I was thinking a 30 day minimum stock trade (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jimdotz

          law.

          You can only invest in a stock if your hold it over 30 days.

          The current stock market is not performing its function of providing capital to create businesses.

          It is nothing more than a glorified casino.

          Rick
          08 Preference - Obama
          -9.63 -6.92
          Fox News - We Distort, You Deride

          by rick on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:47:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jimdotz

          what a great idea.

          /not

          Regulating capital prices would send capital fleeing this country, the dollar through the floor and the economy into a depression. If done by a Democratic President it would guarantee at least a generation of Republican control of the government. Its the kind of thing that only a Karl Rove could hope for.

          •  Capitalists will abandon the US Consumer??? (0+ / 0-)

            NOT

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:18:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  They will and are. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jimdotz

              As can be seen when the saudis formally drop the dollar as the currency oil is priced in.

              NPR even had a weeklong segment that talked about this a week or so back.  Emerging markets are trading amongst themselves more and more, leaving the US completely out of the loop.  China and the Middle East have massively expanded trade ties, again dropping the US from the loop.

              Capitalists go where the buying power is, and with the dollar in free fall, it's not here.  Like it or not China, India and other countries are the new place to be for capital.

              Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

              by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:24:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  We, as a country, are living way (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Demena, drbloodaxe, Jimdotz

              beyond our means. The only thing that has kept America the "greatest consumer nation" in the world is CREDIT. That is quickly coming to an end.

              We are spirling downward to a third world status and countries like China and India are on the rise. We are the richest country in the world in name only. We don't really have a pot to pee in.

              We are a debtor nation. Instead of loaning money to foreign nations from our giant surplus (which we don't have), we are borrowing the money from China to loan to lesser nations. Our infrastructure is being sold off to foreign countries and being leased back to us.

              We are in deep shit and the American consumer just doesn't know it yet (or refuses to realize it).  

              If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

              by TKH on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:32:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Capital is already fleeing this country. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dauphin, Jimdotz

            My own included.  I just switched my IRA's over to global and international funds with at most a 20% exposure to US stocks, and have been buying foreign currencies for some time.

            Ditto, the dollar is already through the floor and still sinking, and the economy is depressed.

            His ideas may not be great, but they're no worse than what's already been going on.  Will we see a generation or more of Dem control thanks to the crap Reagan started and the Bushes gleefully continued?  I'd like to think so.

            Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

            by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:21:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jimdotz

              but the data does not support your headline and while what you do with your IRA is important to you it doesn't matter much in a world of multi-trillion dollar capital flows.

              Net foreign capital investment into the US in the past year averaged about $3 billion a day.

              And maybe you haven't had time to notice but the dollar has taken a nice bounce up recently. The next round of rate cuts are coming and it won't be the US Fed making them. Look for the dollar to rally here as the problems in the European banking system which have been hidden by their weaker regulatory regime come to the surface.

        •  What You Suggest... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drbloodaxe, Jimdotz

          would have virtually no impact on the problems inherent in capitalism.

          At the most, if everything went exactly as you hope, which is unlikely, these regulations would lessen the ability of a corporation to gain monopolistic advantages in the market. They do nothing to change the ownership of the corporations.

          The costs of breaking-up every corporation above a certasin market capitalization would be enormous, and the resulting inefficiency would be paid for by employees and consumers.

          This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

          by Mr X on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:06:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A short term problem at best... (0+ / 0-)

            Once Corporate America comes to terms with the new reality, it will be just fine.

            If you have futher issue with who owns corporations, I would say that's another problem for another time.

            Let's all compete at the same scale first, then we can reassess the remaining problems.

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:21:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  What is the point of breaking up an organization (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jimdotz

          that does its job right? All we have to do is to turn large corporations into non-profit enterprises and keep their know-how intact.

          •  I don't want to end capitalism... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            unclejohn

            or corporations. I just want to make it easier to compete, and thereby make the corporations more responsive to society's needs.

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:15:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's a fine sentiment, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jimdotz

              but it runs contrary to the way capitalism works. We humans are always fighting a rear-guard action against the corporations that we have created, for one simple reason:

              The optimizing principle which allows capitalism to survive - return on investment - runs contrary to the optimizing principle for human survival - providing food, clothing, shelter, etc. for living beings.

              When a corporation has to make a choice, it will choose based on its optimizing principle, not ours.

              Any coherence between society's needs and capital's needs is merely tangential.

              •  It's only contrary to UNREGULTED capitalism. (0+ / 0-)

                Futher, the optimizing principle of Capitalism is return on investment, yes, but that means making a Profit (ie, Dividends), NOT the corrupted version that emphasizes increasing share price.

                That thinking is what has completely corrupted the whole system.

                Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

                by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:46:12 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You make a good point. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jimdotz

                  As long as it is possible to make an acceptable ROI from productive investments, that is where capital will congregate. However, when productive investments fail to generate an acceptable ROI, capital will search for it elsewhere. The situation in the OECD countries since the late-60s to early 70s has been that ROI from productive investments has been steadily decreasing, encouraging capital to flee to non-productive investments, what you call "the corrupted version that emphasizes increasing share price".

                  Capital did not move to these "corrupt" investments out of choice, but out of necessity. Productive investments are not, by and large, "worth it" anymore. You cannot force capital to return to productive investments if they don't produce reasonable returns.

                  According to the economists that I quote in The end of capitalism as we know it, there doesn't seem to be a scenario that will result in a turn around for the current three-decade-long decline in ROI on productive investments.

                  That leaves us in an uncomfortable mess, at least from the point of view of capital. We can continue the saga of recurring bubbles and busts, with bailouts from the public purse, or we can leave capital to fend for itself.

                  In the former case, we, the taxpayers, will be repeated looted to pay for the fact that speculation does not produce real wealth, whereas capital demands access to real wealth to survive. In the latter case, masses of capital will die, bringing about the "end of capitalism as we know it".

        •  How about a sigmoid curve? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Anne Hawley, Jimdotz

          I'm a biochemist by training, and one of my jobs as a grad student was growing E. coli for various nefarious purposes.

          One of the tools available to us is knowledge of how bacteria grow in aqueous media, derived from the many decades scientists have worked with bacteria and from basic biological principles.  We call this the Bacterial Growth Curve.  The link I provided has some very good background and information on this, which I will paraphrase below.

          Basically, bacteria grow in a pattern which shows up a lot in biology and science in general:  a Sigmoid Curve.  The population starts small, then starts growing exponentially.  Eventually, the population starts having trouble finding resources to continue reproducing, so the population stabilizes.  When the population runs out of resources and starts poisoning itself with its own waste products, it crashes.

          When a scientist wants to get a batch of healthy bacteria from a growth flask, we take the bacteria in the middle of their exponential growth phase, when the slope of the curve is steepest.

          It might be a bit of a stretch, but I wonder if corporations work along similar lines.  Rather than thinking in terms of reproduction and food resources, we think in terms of innovation.  Rather than death, we have stagnation and monopolization.

          Are there numbers which can describe the growth and performance of a corporation in the same manner in which we describe the growth and performance of a bacterial colony?  Could such data be used to identify a point at which the corporation is healthiest?  Would that be the point at which to carve up the corporation into smaller corporations, to ensure maximum economic health, competition, and innovation?  Does the analogy to bacterial growth hold any water?

          Thank you.

      •  And My Spell Checker Rejects The Word "Obama" (11+ / 0-)

        Elections aren't revolutionary.

        Capitalism comes in one flavor. There is no such thing as supercapitalism. Even my spell checker rejects the word.

        But I still believe that he exists.

        And I believe one of the unfortunate facts of life is that the 1980 election of Reagan WAS revolutionary.  It turned out to be a revolution that harmed the people, but it was revolutionary nonetheless.

      •  Ok, so there is no such word as SuperCapitalism. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        opinionated, Dauphin, Demena, Jimdotz, netguyct

        Maybe the correct "spelling" of the word would be Super-Capitalism.

        Are you saying that our pre-Reagan economic system was not capitalistic? It was distinctly different than the current one. Allowing a single term for the two systems simply blurs an obvious difference.

        Our pre-Reagan economy was most certainly not communistic, feudal or hunter-gatherer (unhyphenated, that's not a word either). I assert that, prior to Reagan, our economy was regulated capitalism.

        If you can accept that, then our current approach does require a currently nonexistent, descriptive term.

        How about, Unregulated Capitalism, Greed-driven Capitalism, Monolithic Capitalism ... or ... or SuperCapitalism.

        ... an older, white, male, Democrat (in so far as the party supports individual freedoms).

        by Juan4All on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:30:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think it was Jerome A. Paris who (11+ / 0-)

          made the very keen observation that our current socio-economic model depended on "unlimited growth in a closed system." (or it was a comment in one of his recent diaries)

          Unlimited growth in a closed system, an economy with a finite number of participants, depends on an unlimited supply of money. The illusion of an unlimited money supply created to support the model required that the nation's demand for cash be fed through debt until THOSE limits were reached.

          Cancer cells are normal cells that mutate and begin to grow and replicate without limit.
           
          Unlimited growth in a closed system, like cancer, eventually kills its host.

        •  Unregulated capitalism has been (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, Jimdotz

          around for a few centuries. The New Deal regulations were a blip along the way. Reagan began the process deregulation, since the prospect of acceptable ROI on productive investment collapsed with the end of the Long Post-War Boom. ROI on productive investment and the rate of growth of GDP have been dropping since the end of the 1960s, and the only sure way to make a profit now is in speculation. It's all capitalism, with or without regulation. It's not useful to throw around made-up economic terms when the ones we have describe the economy fairly adequately.

          You might find my recent diary The end of capitalism as we know it worth reading to better understand where we are today.

      •  Actually, founding fathers intended just that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz

        a revolution every four years.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

        by zic on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:47:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There is, however (7+ / 0-)

        a difference between regulated and laissez faire capitalism.

        We need the regulated kind back.  All this deregulated claptrap about companies 'policing' themselves simply doesn't work for anyone but the shareholders.

        Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

        by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:51:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed Uncle John (7+ / 0-)

        but what I think Jim is getting at (pitch in if I got it wrong, Jim) is more control over what is defined as 'private' --open to the maw of capitalism--and how open that maw can be. In other words, Nabsico might still be able to make all those wonderful products and sell them to us in pretty packages for profit but

        The owners will be taxed in some reasonable proportion to what they make at the business. They will be required to pay their workers fairly AND provide for a decent retirement plan.
        And the FDC will have much more power to inspect and control their products.

        That's just for stuff we decide capitalism can do. There will be stuff that capitalism should no longer be allowed to do because it was insane to think private enterprise could handle it anyhow:

        Healthcare, tops that list.
        Followed by stuff we already know capitalism can't do...

        Education
        Security / Defense(no more mercernaries running our wars)
        Police
        Government
        Emergency Response
        Major Infrastructure

        Yeah, capitalism makes a mean latte, but why we decided that the profit motive could determine who gets care in this country and who doesn't is beyond insane. This flavor of socialized  or mediated capitalism has been tried in Europe since the end of WWII and appears to be reasonably successful.

        If you have doubts, let me point you to the relative strength of that 'socialized' Euro, compared to the puny ass value of that 'Capitalism uber alles' Dollar.

        You can lead a conservative to facts--but you can't make him think.

        by DelicateMonster on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:03:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is reasonably private when our power exceeds (9+ / 0-)

          our biological boundaries? The idea of private possession of anything stems from a primary assumption of reasonableness.

          Our collective and individual degree of power has grown so substantially and rapidly during the industrial revolution that we are now in a completely different situation than the one experienced by Adam Smith, when he wrote the Wealth of Nations. Is it reasonable now to think that energy production and can be considered private when the degree of energy production has effects so far beyond, making it not really private at all, individual and species production and use? What we really have is a purely social model of privatization and economics that has been outstripped in its applicability by the degree of power, measured in externalized effects on the planets biological productivity, that we have created.

          The European approach to Capitalism has been able to adjust to this fact much better than the U.S. model because the real needs of people have more impact on the overall functioning of the economic/political system. Biology is king, not cash, until we create a system that acknowledges that fact in the core of its construction we are going to be functioning in a post fact system.

          Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

          by Bob Guyer on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:31:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Great comment (4+ / 0-)

            Especially liked this question:

            Is it reasonable now to think that energy production and can be considered private when the degree of energy production has effects so far beyond, making it not really private at all, individual and species production and use?

            Follow up question... Do such effects include global warming and the extinction of the human race, perchance? Indeed, that term that gets bandied about by economists... 'externalities' has always been suspect in my book. External to whom? The human race? Every species on this planet?

            No, it is not reasonable at all.

            You can lead a conservative to facts--but you can't make him think.

            by DelicateMonster on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:43:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  External to whom? The right question! (3+ / 0-)

              External to an economic system that does not acknowledge that it is derivative of human social reality which is in turn derivative of the complex construct of biological life. The Economic system we have today rests on the primary fallacy that it is independent of

              The human race? Every species on this planet?

              , the facts argue that it isn't.

              It is amazing that we are so reluctant to include the fact that the economic system is a dependent human social construct and that all human constructs are dependent on the biology of the planet, thus putting it into proper perspective. Exchange is common to all life but there is no necessity that the human exchange we call economic life be organized as a massive privatization and excessive accumulation process. It isn't surprising that Bondad finds a discontinuity between fact and operation of our system, just that he does not find the deeper discontinuity in the construction of the system.

              Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

              by Bob Guyer on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:15:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  "externalities" is just another way (0+ / 0-)

              to say "privatized profit, socialized risk".

              Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

              by alizard on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 02:03:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  DM, you argue for solutions beyond the scope (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DelicateMonster

          of my original proposal. While I agree with you that the Free Market is not the place for our society to manage the items on your list, my main point is simply our Capitalist system itself.

          American Capitalism itself (not to mention American Society) has been poisoned by the dominance of Supercorporations.

          My solution is intended to fix American Capitalism, and is not meant to address how we integrate it into society.

          Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

          by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:31:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This model assumes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz

        AT&T and Walmart are not meaningfully different from the little laundromat on the corner.

        In any honest reckoning, I think that's false.

      •  Spellcheckers do not define language (5+ / 0-)

        Language is created by those who use it.

        I speak with the authority of my Bachelor's Degree in English Literature.  Choose your weapon.

        Turn the teleprompters off! We need leaders, not news anchors.

        by slippytoad on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:59:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I applaud you, sir (0+ / 0-)

          for having found a use for an English Lit degree ;)

          Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

          by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:28:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, because it's so lucrative (0+ / 0-)

            To be the only guy in IT who turns off grammar check because he doesn't think Bill Gates should be checking his grammar.

            Turn the teleprompters off! We need leaders, not news anchors.

            by slippytoad on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 04:36:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  actually, grammar check will be in OpenOffice 2.4 (0+ / 0-)

              which is the very next version. Spellcheck has been there as long as I've used it.

              Personally, I'd rather have someone I have more confidence in than I have in the Microsoft corporation checking my grammar.

              As for spelling, how many dictionaries have you seen in a word processor that you have not been required to add specialized words to?

              However, your commemoration of the MS monopoly is on-topic for this discussion, though I'd rather personally commemorate the gaping holes in that monopoly its bad decisions (VISTA!!!) are creating.

              Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

              by alizard on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 02:17:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  slippytoad, what do you think of my idea... (0+ / 0-)

          to reform our awful English Spelling system?

          Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

          by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:37:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're swimming against a strong tide (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know that that would work.  Spelling is more than character order, and the sounds of these characters is more fluid than you might think.  Having learned to spell in Korean I've gained some insight into such things.  Korea's alphabet was designed from scratch so has more logic in it than most, but the spelling weirdness of the English language is, believe it or not, the product of the printing press and English snobbishness.  "Correct" English spelling and pronunciation seems to have been designed as a shibboleth to separate the upper from the lower classes, and frozen in the past as our spelling system is, it continues to be our written record of the language even as the sounds of the language evolve past it.

            I mean, it looks good on the surface, but I read 900 wpm with the spelling system we have in place.  If you want to see a glimpse of how spelling has evolved, find you a copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in Middle English.  

            Turn the teleprompters off! We need leaders, not news anchors.

            by slippytoad on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 04:34:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'll ante up my PhD in nuclear physics. ;-) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jimdotz
      •  actually, they ARE (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz

        Technically, the US has a non-violent political revolution every 2/4/6 years

        We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

        by ScrewySquirrel on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:08:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually "elections" and "capitalism" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz

        have no connection. One is the political system. The other is the financial / economic system.

        Corporations have been taken on before (interestingly around the turn of a century) by the Trust Busters. When anyone gets too big for their own good, someone else tries to take them down, whether out of the challenge, to become famous themselves or simply a sense of justice.

        Something must be done about the economic rules of the game, because corporations are concentrating wealth amoung of precious few people, while damaging the infrastructure of the country.  Outsourced factories are a loss of infrastructure, for example.

        Capitalism must be balanced and regulated, otherwise it runs amuck.  This is not a nation built upon "ever higher profits" but a nation built on "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," of "Liberty and Justice for all."

    •  Then, You, Sir.. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MTgirl, 3goldens, EthrDemon, sravaka, Jimdotz

      Either do not understand, or are the enemy of the working class.

      I'm all for Capitalism

      Again and again we are exposed to the argument that "with the right regulations, capitalism can be made acceptable." This argument contains the implicit statement that capitalism by itself is dangerous and bad and must be fettered. That is true, so why not remove the offending system and replace it with a socio-economic system that serves the majority of our people?

      Capitalism is not the same as free enterprise. Capitalism is not necessary for small businesses to flourish. A capitalist system works for capital. Capitalism concentrates wealth and power by design.

      This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

      by Mr X on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:18:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're going to have to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz

        work our way back through regulated capitalism to get to socialism, though.  I don't think the country would be able to step directly from our current state into socialism, even if Bernanke seems to be heading there.

        Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

        by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:29:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A Serious Discussion... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sravaka, drbloodaxe, Jimdotz

          of how we get from here to there is beyond the scope of a few comments.

          I believe that we will wrest the reigns of power from the capitalists in the same manner that Charlton Heston said we would get his guns. Most likely this will only come about as the result of a total economic collapse.

          This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

          by Mr X on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:38:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jimdotz

          Socialism has only killed a couple hunderd million people in the last century, lets give it another chance.

          It works so well in Cuba and NKorea after all.

          •  It works well (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            adigal, 3goldens, Mr X, Jimdotz

            in scandinavia, most of europe and quite a few other spots.

            Cuba's ills have much more to do with our decades long embargos.

            And btw, socialism is an economic theory, not a political one per se.

            You can compare socialism to capitalism, not socialism to democracy, which is why there are socialist democracies.

            It's about who controls the economy, not about who controls the military, which is where Cuba and N Korea have problems.

            Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

            by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:16:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Socialism... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jimdotz

            has never killed anybody.

            Misguided and wrongheaded people and despots who have claimed some socialist ideals while enriching themselves, have killed people. None of these deaths was the result of any aspect of socialism.

            This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

            by Mr X on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:29:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Socialism will never work...Too many (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, Jimdotz

          damn greedy people in this world. Too many individuals who want to do it their own way. Too many filthy rich people who would never let it happen. Too many places to go where no ones going to give a shit about how much money they refuse to redistribute.

          It may be a great idea, but realistically there will always be greedy people who will take advantage of those want equality.

          If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

          by TKH on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:00:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pure socialism cannot work... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TKH

            human nature involves SOME measure of Self-Interest, and so any large scale economic system MUST incorporate it or it will not survive. OTOH, we are also social creatures, and that, too, must be incorporated to help those who simply cannot compete. Right now, I think Europe strikes the best balance.

            Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom. -- Barack Obama

            by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:09:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  What nonsense (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz

        Capitalism disrupts capital.

        If capitalism only concentrated capital, IBM would dominate the information technology business. There would be no Microsoft.

        Of the 30 companies that made up the Dow Jones Industrial Averages in 1929, only one exists today, General Electric, and it has completely changed its business.

        JP Morgan had a lot large share of the total capital base in 1907 than does Bill Gates today.

    •  but you'd never vote for nader (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jimdotz, Sheffield157

      so whatever.

      If the solution has never been to look at yourself, how is it that you expect to find it anywhere else?

      by glutz78 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:13:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Democrats forced junk mortgages" (20+ / 0-)

    I heard it on one of the network talk shows yesterday and thought it a peculiar argument, and an hour later heard it again on CNN - another talking point circulated within the well-disciplined GOP propaganda machine, I concluded.

    "Facts? Don't need any stinking facts ..."

    Laugh or you'll cry!

    You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

    by Clem Yeobright on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:43:51 AM PDT

  •  the growth on household income (29+ / 0-)

    from 36K to 48k is mostly more hours worked (second income) rather than more pay. I think it would look much worse if you could show how much the average per hour income has fallen over than time period. Also that childcare costs have actually eaten up most of that so-called gain.

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:44:05 AM PDT

    •  Pardon my ignorance here (5+ / 0-)

      but how does the 'household income number' account for 2 earner households?

      I'm guessing that the number of 2 earner households would have been rising in the 1970's & 80's, but since  the data only goes back to 1967, it's a bit unclear.

      •  household income (6+ / 0-)

        measures the combined pre-tax income of all memmbers of the family over 15.

        Currently 42% of households have two working adults included. Most Families in the top two quintiles have an average of 2 working adults. Most families in the next two quintiles averages 1 working adult. And the bottom quintiles less than 1 full time wage earner.

        fact does not require fiction for balance

        by mollyd on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:44:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This brings up another question... (0+ / 0-)

          What if we added demographic shifts into the picture.

          What if we looked at that graph in terms of the age ranges of the boomer generation (and others) and the likely times during their lives when they were singles, likely to be married, likely to have adult children living with them?

          Are some of those 'upturns' simply because more people were forming bigger households through either marriage or adult children moving back in?  Is our latest little rising tail on that graph simply because more and more kids are returning to their parents' houses, rather than living solo?

          Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

          by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:01:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Is it adjusted for inflation? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      freelunch, Janet Strange, lurks a lot

      I assume those household income data are. But with or without an inflation adjustment, these data argue powerfully against supply-side economics once you consider the steep rise in income disparity over the same time period. That is, not much has "trickled down"! The uber rich really do inhabit a different universe from the working class, yet the wealthy class are the ones driving the narrative and manipulating the working class into voting against their own economics interests. oy...

      •  It says it is. (4+ / 0-)

        Right above the graph it says 'real' (inflation-adjusted).

        But I don't know if it uses the 'new' method of calculating the CPI that drops food and energy costs out of the picture, or the traditional CPI that includes such.

        Dropping food and energy costs out seems like such a total sham to conceal the fact that purchasing power was dropping so precipitously because of increases in both.

        Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

        by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:04:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have a fat beagle at home :) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        freelunch, 3goldens, fatbeagle

        But he's gotten a bit more exercise of late, and when he rolls on his back, I can see his ribs every so often now :)

        Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

        by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:26:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The upper-middle class carries the water (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens, drbloodaxe, fatbeagle

        for them... and as compensation just barely are allowed to keep their gains.  They look at the middle-class in horror at what could happen if the top 1% stops letting them enjoy their latte.

        Might think that living on 120K is tough on the coasts. Try living on under half that.

        fact does not require fiction for balance

        by mollyd on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:35:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Health insurance too (6+ / 0-)

      Health inusrance costs are skyrocketing!  Subtract average health care costs from median incomes and graph that.  My gross income may have gone up, but my net income (with insurance deductions) goes down annually.

  •  The centrist years (5+ / 0-)

    (ie the Clinton Administration), seem to have achieved a pretty good economic record on the criteria you are using for evaluation.

    Government debt was decreased, jobs were created, and wage growth went up.

    I'm not sure you can lump them in with the years of conservative policies.

    Also, to be fair, the Reagan-Bush years - where the deficit grew more slowly and wage growth did not stagnate during expansions, were a different kettle of fish than Bush II - perhaps because of a democratic congress or perhaps because Bush I was not a true movement conservative and was willing to raise taxes when needed.

    It does go to show however just how disasterous our current Bush has been

  •  I think its a "Pre-Fact" world (12+ / 0-)

    I think the facts have been held back from the Americsn people. I think the facts are just starting to come out after long years of spin.

    Why anyone would listn to Kudlow is beyond me, same as why anyone would listen to Bill Kristol

    If Liberals REALLY hated America we'd vote Republican

    by exlrrp on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:46:32 AM PDT

  •  I believe Bush II set out (15+ / 0-)

    to enslave the American People and increase his power. Many of those jobs that were created were low paying jobs all the while higher paying jobs were sent overseas.  This kept and keeps us working hard at keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. Few have time to even think about what the Gov. is doing. Rec'd.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:50:48 AM PDT

    •  Bush is far to foolish to have a reachable goal (8+ / 0-)

      He is, in many ways, the worst president we have ever had, not only because of his delusions about Iraq and the economy, but because he just doesn't care. Even Herbert Hoover made an attempt to undo the damage caused by the errors that happened in the '20s, Bush does nothing but feed his fat friends.

    •  We are limited to two resaonable positions (20+ / 0-)

      either the whole theory of conservative economics is terrible wrong and this dislocation goes back to at least 1980 (I would argue it begins in 1973 with Nixon floating the dollar) or the Market God theorists are fundamentally right about it all and George W has been just incompetent enough to ruin their party. I think its the former and I think its important to understand that, however disgusting Bush II has been, it is the "Reagan Revolution" that has failed us, not just the last 8 years.

      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:21:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  bankrupting our economic system is part of the (2+ / 0-)

      Straussian fringe of neocon agenda. Recall Norquests infamous "small enough to drown in a bathtub" comment? He's seriously Leocon and meant every damn word of that.
       No one seems to want to talk about just how deep in the shitheap we really are but instead keep going back to the bailout last week. that was soooo last week. what about this week? i personally feel we're in for a total meltdown, what do these republican fucks have to lose by allowing it to occur?
      i had to look up these lyrics because i feel them to be very appropriate: BLACK FRIDAY

      When Black Friday comes
      I'll stand down by the door
      And catch the grey men when they
      Dive from the fourteenth floor

      When Black Friday comes
      I'll collect everything I'm owed
      And before my friends find out
      I'll be on the road
      When Black Friday falls you know it's got to be
      Don't let it fall on me

      When Black Friday comes
      I'll fly down to Muswellbrook
      Gonna strike all the big red words
      From my little black book
      Gonna do just what I please
      Gonna wear no socks and shoes
      With nothing to do but feed
      All the kangaroos

      When Black Friday comes I'll be on that hill
      You know I will

      When Black Friday comes
      I'm gonna dig myself a hole
      Gonna lay down in it 'til
      I satisfy my soul
      Gonna let the world pass by me
      The Archbishop's gonna sanctify me
      And if he don't come across
      I'm gonna let it roll

      When Black Friday comes
      I'm gonna stake my claim
      I'll guess I'll change my name

      impeach-it does the body good impeachment-it isn't just for blow jobs anymore impeachment-i can say no more i expect no less

      by playtonjr on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:04:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Norquist's foolishness (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        acquittal, 3goldens

        Norquist is apparently too foolish to realize that the government he wants to drown made it possible for his acolytes to become very rich.

      •  A very good point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens, FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph

        And one of the things that I think Bush slid into power on was that people didn't believe he meant his own campaign promises.

        The righty fruitcakes did, but enough indies and dems figured that they were just empty campaign spew that we didn't get enough votes out to decisively keep him out.

        He meant what he said.  Every idiotic stance, every faith-based rather than reality-based meme.

        As a whole, people still fail to believe that lunatics on the right actually believe their own lies.  It's along the lines of 'lie big enough' and people will believe it because they can't believe the leaders would really lie so much.

        Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

        by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:47:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  good point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, drbloodaxe

          one of the most outstanding characteristics of republican voters is that they believe their politicians and it takes a hammer hitting them in the head to make them even question their leaders.  How long did it take for democratic voters to get pissed off at Congress for not moving forward with impeachment...what? maybe 3-4 months.  With republicans it takes them years to start wondering if their representatives are lying or deceiving them.

          Orwell meet George the 43rd

          by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:12:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Or... (0+ / 0-)

          People vote for Republicans for whatever asinine reasons (tribal affiliation, taxes, racism, not wanting to be "a fag") with the secret hopes that their extremities will be tempered by a healthy opposition, so they can still cling to the righteousness of their positions and complain about how their parties legislative victories have been thwarted by those no-good Dems.

          My other car is a pair of boots.

          by FutureNow on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:49:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  and health care is part of the picture (7+ / 0-)

      it's really hard to quit your shitty job, or go on strike, when your health care is tied to your job.

      I personally think that removing health care from the employer/employee relationship would really strengthen labor's position.

      You can't wear a flag pin in jail.

      by whitewidow on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:15:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Strengthen Labor's Position (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens

        Yes, decoupling employer/employee health care would empower the workers, thus the reason the powers to be will fight universal health care tooth and nail.  Also why you see big business which would seemingly benifit from not having to pay for their employee's health care not taking an active role in getting universal health care implemented.

        All men want to be rich. Rich men want to be king. And the king ain't satisfied till he rules everything. Springsteen

        by howd on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:28:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Any tool used too often, fails (9+ / 0-)

    Reagan and the Bushes have tried to hide the failures of their economic policies under the Keynesian stimulus of deficits, deficits, deficits. As with any tool used too much (Bernanke, are you listening?) the deficits are such an addictive fiscal tool that they aren't available or effective when needed.

    I don't think that all of the conservatives are stupid, but they have chosen to use irresponsible fiscal and monetary policies because they have bought into their biggest lie, the lie that taxes are bad. Taxes are neither good nor bad. They are necessary and they have to be collected at appropriate levels. The modern Republican party has jettisoned all sense and long-term responsibility. Apparently, they buy the eschatology of some of the millennialist religious folks and don't expect to have to worry about 5, 10 or 100 years from now.

  •  It's more Brave New World than 1984. (20+ / 0-)

    While the far-reaching bleakness of '84 is dramatic enough to appeal to many's image of dystopia, here we live in systems too nuanced to compare to such a simple model.  Corporations have more to do with our psychology than the government itself, while the separations between the two diminish. We are drugged up the wazoo on anti-depressants to get through the week, financially maxed out to get through the month, but we are fighting a war on drugs and told we should shut up and enjoy the scenery of this great economic model.

    As for the denial we're in denial about so many basic things... that eating protein bars and apples is a "meal", that stress is ok but smoking is not--driving a car is ok, nobody shames an adult for driving a car--that paper bags for every possible element of the purchase is the sustainable thing to do, that buying a house an hour or so from the city is sustainable.  They may not say sustainable, but that's a matter of illiteracy: it's the basic idea any person can put a finger on without ever having it explained to them.

    Because it's the only way we'll all live, and live with dignity.

    Republicans believe in gvmt. intervention for bankers and investors, I believe in intervention for the meek and lowly -- Nulwee.

    by Nulwee on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:59:12 AM PDT

    •  your posts are rocking this morning (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, buckeye blue, DBunn, jds1978

      The whole idea of the "end of history" turned out to be an unsustainable global culture based on shopping, entertainment, and s__t food.  I don't know what's coming next, only that it will have to be very different.

    •  I'll mostly agree with that (5+ / 0-)

      But I'd much rather have folks using paper bags than plastic.  Reused cloth would be far better, but at least paper isn't adding to the never-biodegrading mass of plastic on the planet.

      What I'd REALLY like to see is a move away from marketing every fricking form of liquid in plastic containers.  All those damn plastic bottles of liquid soap, laundry detergent, milk, juice, even bloody be damned water.

      Perhaps we simply need a shift from disposable containers for all liquids to a refilling station setup at supermarkets, where either you bring in your tide bottle and refill it, or trade your milk bottles in to be sterilized and reused.

      If somebody could start a store with no plastic that isn't one of the few kinds that actually are biodegradable, I'd be in heaven.

      Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

      by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:49:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Disconnect Between Production and Disposal (4+ / 0-)

        I'm spinning off topic, but this point hits close to home.

        We've totally disconnected the marketers, producers, and retailers from the consequences of the disposal of the products we buy and the disposal cost is paid for by property taxes, for which my family pays more than our share because we don't buy overpackaged crap, compost food waste, and recycle everything else.  (go figure why when I put clean steel out the recyclers don't accept it)  I hardly ever put out more than one kitchen bag of household trash a week, and it's mostly full of used plastic bags.

        There should be a punitive deposit on every container coming out of the supermarket and anyone selling the product should be required to accept and recycle the waste.  Wake up state house! Our current nickel deposit is a joke, it has not changed in 3 decades and it's exempt for non-carbonated beverage containers.  Quit playing games and either fix it or eliminate it!

        Those plastic water bottles are the worst.  Our lives are littered with them.  I see people in the grocery line with cases of bottled water and wonder what household budget logic could there possibly be?  Go ANYWHERE where a group of people have congregated for any length of time, wait until they disperse, and the appalling litter of empty water bottles is right there in your face.

      •  hell they even (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nulwee, drbloodaxe

        now sell beer and booze in plastic bottles. And, is it me or do we now use more petroleum based plastic containers and packaging than we did in the late 70's when we had the last high oil prices, therefore making us more oil dependent, despite somewhat better fuel economy in vehicles, and less use of oil in heating, electrical generation and industrial processes.

        Oh, and by the way, they can manufacture plant-based plastics that biodegrade. There are corn-starch packing peanuts that dissolve in water, and in the 30's, they used to make plastic trim in automobiles from soybeans. What about hemp plastic, or paper to wrap things in?

        "Without our playstations, we are a third world nation"-Ani DiFranco

        by NoMoreLies on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:31:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And most of us have pensons/retirement $ (6+ / 0-)

      invested in these same corporations, buying our silence, as well.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

      by zic on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:51:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One of my best friends (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zic

        recently told me he owned Halliburton stock.

        Pragmatic, yes, but really disillusioning that he would countenance making money on a company that routinely defrauds the country and is so soulless as to allow our troops to be electrocuted and poisoned because they only care about profit.

        Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

        by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:49:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Phillip Morris is still consiered a good stock. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drbloodaxe

          As are McDonald's, Coca Cola, and Microsoft.

          Go figure.

          It used to be that to form a corporation, it had to be in the pubic good.

          Now, it just has to suck from the public.

          And that sucks big time.

          On the other hand, we become so caught up in the corporate culture of large corporations that we oft overlook -- and wrongly brand -- small companies with the same prejudices.

          job creation, wealth creation, innovation, and growth happen in small biz. And we ought to be pushing for small business supports fast and hard here.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

          by zic on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:05:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Financial Growth vs. Population Growth (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      howd, NoMoreLies, drbloodaxe

      Our population grows at under 1% a year yet our financial market wealth grows at over 5% a year.  We're either printing money or someone is getting robbed of their wealth.

      The national debt chart is a clear indication that the unborn are the ones who are getting robbed.  What wonderful Christian principles from the party of god.

      •  If you are ever in Louisville (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nulwee

        visit the house Thomas Edison lived in to get a feeling for life for the average person around 1850.

        Life can get better and with more things and more space.

        •  Incremental Growth vs. Boom and Bust (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nulwee

          I have a hard time phrasing the context of population growth vs. wealth growth.
           Technology, productivity, and readily available raw materials and energy have made our lives better, our products cheaper, and have kept our wealth growing but I can't help but think there's a sustainability limit we've exceeded in our perpetual quest for more, more, more.

          How much financial growth can the food production market as a whole provide if the population grows at only 1%.  We can only eat so much food so marketing tricks and externalization of workers wages and safety, the environment, food safety, and a host of other things are where the growth is extracted.  We've optimized the production of things like a pair of socks to the point where growth is gained by saving pennies a pair by offshoring to slave labor in an industrial sewer.

          I really don't understand how, in a closed system, the stock market can grow perpetually at the current rate.  Since 1970, the dow has grown 1300%, almost 35% a year on average.  On average, has the quality of our lives increased 1300%?  Can we all, on average, expect our retirement 401ks to grow at 35% a year until retirement?  Seems like that requires a leap of faith that makes believing in santa claus more realistic.

    •  Anyone who's travelled overseas, (0+ / 0-)

      if they have a sense of perspective at all, will tell you what a strange country this is to come home to.  Visit a foreign country with a non-western lifetsyle, and after a while it feels much more natural than life in the US.  At least that's the culture shock I felt returning to the US after my last trip.

      Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law." - Bushy McSpokesperson

      by gatorcog on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 10:50:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of the things (16+ / 0-)

    they have managed to do is fundamentally change the nature of the conversation by changing the terms of the debate. John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out the following:

    "It is my purpose in the comments to urge that in the larger world of
    social thought and action we must allow for a serious element of what,
    in a professionally cautious way, we may call innocent fraud. It is
    innocent because most who employ it are without conscious guilt. It is
    fraud because it is quietly in the service of special interest. One
    begins with "capitalism," a word [that] has gone largely out of
    fashion. The approved reference now is to the "market system." This has had the effect of minimizing, indeed deleting, the role of money,
    wealth, in the direction of the economic and social system; it breaks
    with long and adverse connotation going back to Marx. Instead of the
    owners of capital in control or those with the delegated authority
    there from, we have the admirably impersonal role of market forces. It would be hard to think of a change in terminology more in the interest of those to whom money accords power. They have now a functional anonymity. Most of those resorting to the new designation, economists in particular, are innocent as to the effect. At most they see a new bland descriptive terminology, Money and wealth are not singled out for attention..."

    -John Kenneth Galbraith, "The Commitment to Innocent Fraud," 1999

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:02:45 AM PDT

    •  Yes (4+ / 0-)

      We've also seen that most businesses are controlled by people who are using other people's money, but not treating it properly. Look at the increase in pay of executives and compare that to the returns to the investors. Investors are getting the short end of the stick.

    •  Ownership Society Best? (0+ / 0-)

      The classic debate was between labor and owners.  Who got the wealth created by labor using machines?  

      The market society said that this would be controlled by a free market, not an unfettered market.  Government has a role in insuring a free market.  

      The classic solution to the labor owner question was posed in Black/White or Capitalism and Unions.  Alternate possibilities include Consumer Coops, Producer Coops, Employee Owned Companies, Small Entrepreneurs, etc. in addition to the Corporation.  The ownership society put the thumb of law on the scale to favor the Corporation.  It also favored monopoly over the role of competition maintained by the market economy.        

  •  Remember Al Gore's "Assault on Reason"? (25+ / 0-)

    This is the whole point of his book. The major advantage Western European culture has had over Asian, African & native American cultures for most of the past 500 years is simply a willingness to dispassionately accept facts and reality for what they are, rather than forcing it through a cheese grater of religion and mythology. Okay, the West stil did this, but a lot less than other cultures.

    All that is changing now. Beginning in the Reagan years and accelerating under Bush/Cheney, America is now the culture seeing the entire world through a distorting filter that prevents rational discussion of critical issues like global warming, mounting debt, and the middle class meltdown. It's China that has become dispassionately, unsentimentally realistic. Okay, they're also evil when it comes to potential profit (see poisoned pet food and tainted Heparin), but the principle is basically the same. The coming century is likely to belong to China because their leaders are simply seeing the real world accurately. Bush/Cheney? Fantasy world.

    •  Excellent book, recommended reading! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whitewidow

      The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

      by mojo workin on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:17:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Evil? (6+ / 0-)

      I know nothing about evil.  Maybe the national "perspective" of nations like India and China is this--that there are simply billions of people, in a system that cannot support that.  The engine itself is growth, another anti-person reality.  Westerners refine this engine, unleash it on the world, and now there are millions of "expendable" people according to the Western Economic-Religious-Political balances.  These people have poverty behind and ahead of them, and rapidly dwindling resources.  

      If the Chinese or Indian "national perspective" is anti-social--unconcerned for the rights of others--it's because we've outgrown our ability to meet people's needs.

      It is impossible to meet everyone's needs now.  There's nothing more compassionate about pretending otherwise.  While the gap should be lowered to the smallest possible degree (and who knows how far it can be lowered), what technological limitations don't prohibit, political and economic ones will.  What those don't stop, disinterestedness  will.

      Elie Wiesel wrote that the opposite of love is not hatred, it's indifference.

      Republicans believe in gvmt. intervention for bankers and investors, I believe in intervention for the meek and lowly -- Nulwee.

      by Nulwee on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:18:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remember - traders operate on two underlying (12+ / 0-)

    principles:

    The trend is always right

    When you are on the wrong side of the trend, rely on the greater fool theory.

    The equities markets were in a great bull market for much of the Bush administration. Why shouldn't they be? Financial companies had cheap credit, no oversight (external or, as we find, internal) and a huge new expansion caused by the decapitalization of the US and the creation of the Chinese economy.

    All the charts were "to the moon". As long as the home equity was being used to finance consumption or, in many cases, being taken to invest in the equity markets (another issue no on has addressed), the charts could go there.

    Kudlow, et al., have to keep their story up because until the greater fool steps in and buys all the crap the big investors have, the big guys can't get out.

    The CNBC watchers are, they hope, the next fool to sit down and the table so a lot of these people can cash out and move to the side and watch the slide.

    Democracy is the only form of government wherein the people receive the government they deserve.

    by tjlord on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:09:52 AM PDT

  •  you're reading the wrong economists. (0+ / 0-)

    Try someone from Amherst or the New School, or someone  with the World Social Forum.

    The ruling class has been dividing whites and blacks for 400 years--it is nothing new.

    by Kab ibn al Ashraf on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:13:22 AM PDT

  •  Atlas Shrugged Response - Refuse to Contribute (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, Clem Yeobright

    By word said or unsaid, deed done or not done, to their causes.

    And that prescription can be taken a little way...or long, long way up the ladder.

    I am here because of Ashley.

    by cskendrick on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:14:59 AM PDT

  •  Comments expanding/supporting the thesis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, PsychoSavannah, drbloodaxe

    are all well and good.  But does anybody have any possible answers to bonddad's concluding, implied question?  Does anybody have any idea how to stop it?  MSM recognition of the existence of objective reality (as opposed to their "he said, she said" model) would be a start, but that seems hopeless, at least currently.

  •  Tighten up a few Libel and Slander laws (7+ / 0-)

    and Rush et al would take care of themselves...

  •  This is news? (6+ / 0-)

    Jeebus, where have you been the last ten years?  

    Incidentally, this is how it stops working.  When their own ox is being gored, then the now-complaisant GOP minions will get a clue.

    •  except they don't get a clue (6+ / 0-)

      they blame it on Libruls and Clinton. Now that it's really bad, they are willing to accept that it might be Bush, but only that he is personally responsible, not that it is a failure of the entire conservative philosophy. As evidenced by previous comments that Democrats forced them to underwrite crazy mortgage-backed securities and that the war is good for the economy. AAARGH!

      I think that media reform is the only way to change this. The propaganda is too strong. Nobody is every called out for lying or being proven wrong.

      The repetition is too powerful. Look at social security. It is now conventional wisdom that the system is broken and going bankrupt, and that no young people can expect to collect. Try telling any average person that social security is not in crisis. They will laugh at you and look at you like you are an alien.

      Facts are no longer relevant. Conservatives have been trained to respond to facts by attacking the messenger and then turning back to their leaders in the media for the real facts. They have no ability or desire to analyze anything for themselves. When facts are inconvenient, the source is simply labeled as suspect.

      You can't wear a flag pin in jail.

      by whitewidow on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:03:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks bonddad, I love you stuff n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drbloodaxe, brentmack

    Sean

  •  the most painful fact of all (6+ / 0-)

    Here's the most painful fact:  as a nation, we're broke.  The party's over.

  •  Clinton Panel (18+ / 0-)

    Hillary Clinton just announced her Big Idea: to create a blue ribbon panel on the housing crisis chaired by Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin.  Obama's team needs to hit this hard and fast: if there are any two people to whom the birth of our current economic mess can be lain its these two.  Rubin was behind the removal of regulation from the banking system.  Greenspan was Mr. Bubble, creating the credit inflation that is current crashing down upon us.  

    Hillary looks at the world through the rose-colored glasses of taking us back to some golden age that her husband created.  She neither understands nor cares what the cause of our current situation is.  She merely wants to be seen to be "doing something."  Obama needs to attack her on this now, both to blunt this perception of action and to make it clear how very wrong she is.

    You can fool some of the people some of the time....

    by dmoore on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:23:23 AM PDT

  •  Republicans (8+ / 0-)

    are insane.

    Southern Baptists are particularly insane.

    Emotionally and psychologically, they're teenagers with raging hormones - totally invested in themselves, willing to pick a pointless fight with anyone, unable to take responsibility for their actions, and completely blind to empathy or any sense of collective responsibility.

    I don't think anything can be done. I have a hope that when the US population recovers in a couple of decades, it will remember these ass clowns and their policies for at least a couple of generations.

    But you just know they're going to try to blame anyone except themselves, because that's what they do.

    The only - long-term - way to stop the madness is to round up everyone who's a teenager and force them to do community service abroad. Not only will they get to see the real world, and meet real people outside of their tiny little mad worlds, but the humanitarian aid would do a lot to make the US respected again.

    Likely? Not so much.

    But without some kind of organised political effort, the US will be dead as a viable country within a decade.

    "Be kind" - is that a religion?

    by ThatBritGuy on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:29:50 AM PDT

    •  Not so long ago, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drbloodaxe

      I would have lumped "conservative Christians" with our crazy political establishment, as you've done.

      But today I think that would be a mistake. If the two were ever inseparable, they no longer are. In this country, growing numbers of conservative and evangelical Christians are clearly chafing at the Republican agenda.

      A couple of years ago, I happened to attend what can only be described as an evangelical Protestant service in my neighborhood. It was vibrant and the pews were packed. What stood out in my mind was this young pastor attacking Walmart. That didn't form the body of his sermon, he did it as an aside, in a knowing way: "Of course, I hate Walmart, and all the greedy corporations, and if you're good Christians, so do you."

      I think it's a rising wave, this antipathy for traditional Republican ideals among conservative and fundamentalist Christians. We'd be foolish not to ride it.

  •  It's all about the dollar (5+ / 0-)

    It is worth about 1/2 of what it was worth at the beginning of the Bush admin.

    Once you explore the real implications of that, this whole economic scenario makes sense.

    The crash has already occured, it is over now.

    We missed it.

    Your stocks are worth 1/2 of what you thought they were worth.

    Your house too, and the money in your wallet as well.

    On the other hand, the national debt is only half too!

    That simply means that once the gov't stops printing new money like toilet paper, then the results of the crash will be felt.

    •  Yes and no? (0+ / 0-)

      I agree that we've already crashed.  But I don't think that precludes us continuing to crash to even newer and lower levels.

      I truly feel 9/11 was the catalyst for the crash.  We were still living in an inflated dreamworld prior to that, but 9/11 was the pin that burst the balloon, by giving us a glimpse of our mortality, as it were.  Other countries took a long hard look at the reaction of the US markets to fear and didn't like what they saw.  Our dollar started dropping quickly and I don't really think it's stopped, because even at 50% off, it's probably massively overvalued.

      I've been putting aside money from paychecks for a while now, and buying New Zealand dollars, Euros, Brazilian Reals, in addition to dried foods and canned goods.  It's the same survivalist mentality I used to make fun of in the 'gun nuts' with their camo gear and their distrust of the government.

      Who knew they would turn out in their paranoia to be perhaps the most clearsighted of all of us :P

      Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

      by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:19:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bonddad, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zic, 3goldens, whitewidow

    If you haven't read it yet, I recommend: "The Right Wing Noise Machine" by David Brock.  It taught me a great deal about how our media got this way.

    Then, to learn more about the media reform movement, (if you haven't already), please visit:
    http://www.freepress.net/...
    http://www.fair.org/...
    Also worth a visit:
    http://www.savetheinternet.com/
    http://mediamatters.org/

    THANKS for all you do.  

  •  They get away with it because most people are (4+ / 0-)

    Math challenged and math phobic. They are also numbers challenged and numbers phobic, even though they all believe they have a "lucky" number!

    All I want is....Impeachment followed by Imprisonment!

    by Temmoku on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:33:16 AM PDT

  •  Self-Correcting If We Make It (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, whitewidow, jds1978

    Now that the free money's running out, the antifact people's free ride is running out. And it's hitting the wall, none of this "boiling frog" luxury.

    Facts like starvation, homelessness and unaffordable illness can't be spun. When there's no money to pay for Fox Noise or gas for the pickup to run the AM radio, the facts will rule again.

    I think it's time we let these pathological Red Staters eat some sand. We needed them to be neighbors for our missile bases and grow our surplus crops during the Cold War, but they want Star Wars and giant agricorps (staffed with Mexicans) instead.

    Let them eat guns. While we've got the power they've burned through, let's get rid of the laws they kept that wasted millions of people's lives imprisoned for harmless drug use. Then let's rigorously police them whenever they drive drunk or misuse a gun. While they're in jail we can give them the highschool and job training they skipped because their Welfare State taught them to freeload instead. Then let's tax them after they're released to pay back the cost of reprocessing them.

    And let's tax their churches. All the churches. There is absolutely no defensible reason for everyone to subsidize the promotion of superstitious faith that does no good, but is the generator of the "post-fact" world.

    Once we kick away the un-American Potemkin village that our ancestors constructed to out-propaganda the Soviets, and run this country on the simple model of a free America that pays its way and knows what it's talking about, the facts will finally agree with the policy. Because the facts aren't going away - they're getting tougher.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:34:02 AM PDT

  •  Using 1974 as the point of departure (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, JohnnySacks, drbloodaxe

    there have been essentially no real wage gains in 34 years (I think it's .4% a year).  The fact is that ever since we had to compete globally wages have held stagnant because workers simply are not (nor will be) in the kind of monopoly position they were in during the 1945-1973 boom period of American manufacturing hegemony.

    •  1980 As The Energy Independence Departure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drbloodaxe

      Thanks Ron, for planting the seeds of 28 years of our collective wealth bleeding to the richest terrorist nation on the planet, Saudi Arabia and the most morally reprehensible companies in the world, petroleum products.  All to enable your trickle down economic bullshit.

  •  I just watched (6+ / 0-)

    Alex Pollock on cspan.  I don't know who he is or what he does but he was feeding the viewers a bag of s---.  One lady called in and said the only solution is to regulate corporations so that they won't cheat because left alone to capitalize they cheat and use nefarious means to get ahead as we have seen through out our history, specifically she mentioned the Robber Barons.  He went on to say the the Robber Barons got a bad rap.  They were really good because they created such wealth and benefits for our nation.. There was no rebuttal to say that they would have created wealth while regulated because that is their function and desire.  they don't have to be running over the populace to do well.  This guy was spreading icing over the steaming pile and expecting people to go for it.  This is the theme I have noticed for quite a while.  Of course it is like having a parent panic, if that happens then the family falls apart.  I don't want a parent, just the truth.

    "Do you want to tumble? Let's tumble." Stephen Colbert

    by tobendaro on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:35:58 AM PDT

  •  I'm not sure who (4+ / 0-)

    actually believes things are that great.  The stock market certainly doesn't -- the last eight years have been the worst eight-year period for US stocks since the 1930s.  

  •  Paul Wolfowitz (6+ / 0-)

    I read in Failed States pg. 134 that Paul as ambasseder to Indonesia. Destroyed Indonesia economy by deregulating the banking system. This put tens of million of Indonesians in abject poverty. Indonesia was the largest critic of Pauls tenure at the world bank.
    I believe that what we assume to be incompetence is actually some nefarious plan. I'm alone in that assumption but we shall wait and see.

    Hating the rest of the world for corp. profits when they ship my jobs overseas and evade taxes doesn't make my children any safer.

    by ghett on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:44:12 AM PDT

  •  I simply deplore all the myths that rule our (5+ / 0-)

    lives and I think most, such as "welfare queen drives a Cadilac," started in the 80s. But others "facts," such as sanitation workers in NYC are making $25,000" at the beginning of the 80s also caused many to turn against the unions.

    During the late 70s and the 80s, it seemed that the "dog eat dog" world became the norm and workers' profit sharing plans became lost retirement benefits and "downsizing" was widespread after "efficiency studies."

    I remember in 2004 someone, who lives in a rented house and works nearly seven days a week, simply stated "the rich should not pay any more taxes than the rest of us." Of course, he was defending Bush's tax cuts.

  •  I don't know sh*t about this finance stuff (6+ / 0-)

    But Bonddad's questions, last year, encouraged me to think stuff out and realise there ISN'T any sense behind what happens in the Fed, Wall St, and the 'shadow banks'. That 'experts' were as screwy as politicians and used car salesmen.

    As it sits today, I've held on to my principal by taking it away from 'them'.  We're almost free and clear, and every dime we make will soon BECOME pricipal. This ongoing conversation has saved my retirement, and I'm willing to bet that a 'grassroots' financial program is the best hope for us all.

    "If you don't leave, I'll get somebody who will." -Raymond Chandler

    by slowheels on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 06:51:13 AM PDT

  •  Bonddad (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, drbloodaxe, karmsy, slowheels

    I love your diaries because you understand your subject so well that are able to explain it to someone like me.  Of course, this means you scare the crap out of me most the time.

    Today is no exception.  

    I guess, eventually, these people will finish ruining the country and then they will be run out on the rails that brought them in.  All things come to an end.  Good and bad alike.

  •  Very interesting. (3+ / 0-)

    I want to read Manjoo's book now.

    Re: the non-fact-believers:

    They can't believe that their wonderful polices actually created the current problems.

    They can't believe? or don't care? or things are working out perfectly for them, shock doctrine style. Are these "current problems" really so bad for them in the short-term? I want to know about income and capital gains for the top 1% as we 99% have been struggling more and more these past years. Yes, some of the superrich may be taking a hit now, but are they or have they been overall under BushCo?

    Seul l'incrédule a droit au miracle. - Elias Canetti Road2DC

    by srkp23 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:04:39 AM PDT

  •  Agreed! (3+ / 0-)

    Live in Dallas every station Talk radio, should just be called Right Wing radio. I talk to my family about Progressive policies and all I am told is "they" are going to cost me money. I say what is this war causing you. Deaf ears!

  •  How to stop it (5+ / 0-)

    If you are looking for an answer I sure can't provide....the American public is sufficiently innoculated against reality.  Limbaugh et al are part of the corporate apparatus which controls the airwaves to a great extent and continually casts the spell.  The silent majority still is not feeling sufficient pain, my fear is once we get to the point of sufficient pain we will be deep into life threatening crisis on a wide scale.

    Time waits for no one, the treasure is great spend it wisely.

    by mojavefog on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:05:36 AM PDT

  •  Welcome to the Post-Modern world. (7+ / 0-)

    Back in the early 90s, my Right Wing father and I had a disucssion that I will never forget.  Essentially, I was trying to get him to view things from the perspective of other people. He would have none of.  There is a "truth" he said, explaining that his cultural truth was truth enough for all people in all times under all conditions, etc.  He railed against what he considered "post-modernism" and the companssion or understanding he thought that implied.

    I dont think he ever understood what "post-modern" meant (and it can be argued that no one really agrees on what it means).

    In my mind, we reached post-modernism the day Bush was appointed President.  The era of "truthiness" is a stage when facts dont matter, when there is a depthlessness to the entire society and leadership is all about superficiality.  The macabre has become normal (we are actually debating if water boarding is OK or not!!!) and subjective knowledge is more important that objective knowledge.  

    Chomsky defined (and I think, described) post moderninity as "meaningless".  

    I dont claim that all post-modernism is a bad thing but it's tools have set us squarly in the society Orwell described.

    The Right-Wing 'shock doctine' crowd are the ultimate post-modernists.

    •  I wonder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens

      I don't know about your dad, but most of the people in the USA who buy into this indifference to others tend to think of themselves as good Christians. I wonder what they thought of Jesus' teachings that this is a morally wrong view? I wonder what they thought of the communism in Acts?

      •  Pick and choose. (4+ / 0-)

        You're well aware how easy it is to pick and choose from the Bible.  Tossing out the compassion parts of the Bible is very easily done.

        Interestingly, my Dad was essentially an atheist or agnostic for 30 some years and defined himself only as a Capitalist.  As an adherent to the religion of capitalism, he felt indifference to others was a requisite.  The poor deserved to be poor, for example.

        (He's a complex person because he can be incredibly compasionate for many people but huffs and puffs as if he is not....)

        Its only been in the last 7-10 years that he has started going to Church again. Every year, he seems more religious and I feel that the lack of compassion has grown the newfound religiosity.

        Its worthy of a novel.

  •  This is a consequence of people (11+ / 0-)

    having no respect for basic decency, no sense of history, no respect for knowledge nor wisdom, and who reserve contempt for even the concept of social responsibility and social justice.  

    A very dangerous process begins once a political movement has rationalized casting aside the principles of human decency and integrity.  When the only objective is money and power, and that end justifies whatever means necessary, then lies are built on lies as truth can only get in the way of the obsessive grasping.

    The lies eventually become so pervasive that even the conservative league of liars begin to fool themselves.  Lying and self deception then become systemic.  When the fog of lies and self-deception becomes too thick see reality, charting a proper course for the system becomes all but impossible.  Collapse is assured if reality is denied for too long.

    I believe the most apt metaphor for what the  "conservative" movement has done, since Reagan at least, is that of selling one's soul to the devil.  Beyond selling their own souls, the right-wing has sold the soul of America in its pursuit of money and power.  

    It is time to claim it back because the soul of America was never theirs to sell in the first place!

    The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

    by mojo workin on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:16:55 AM PDT

    •  humanism is expensive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drbloodaxe, karmsy

      for those with wealth. Religiosity that places the "blame" on God's shoulders justifies rapacious policies.

      fact does not require fiction for balance

      by mollyd on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:23:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This reminds me of a documentary... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckeye blue, drbloodaxe

      I watched this weekend called 'Human Ape'. The purpose of the show was to demonstrate a lot of the most recent research in primatology that has worked to find out what the dividing lines between apes and humans really are. One of the best experiment series at the end of the show showed how chimpanzees, though they are a social species see other chimps by default as competitors vs collaborators. The Chimp basically saw the other chimp as a tool to get what he/she wanted. Human children on the other hand would assume, as early as one year old that another human would want to help them. So if you pointed at one of two cups the child would assume the food was there and find it, but the chimp would try both cups. Only if you were reaching for the cup like you wanted what was in there, would the Chimp go for it immediately. The conclusion was simple: human collaboration for shared rewards is an important factor that separates us from the Apes.

      Yet we are here on this blog precisely because this truth is not universal, not all humans act that way, not all of us collaborate. I find that very interesting, in a sad sort of way.

  •  All these facts are correct in practice (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeekCa, Neon Vincent

    but they don't work in theory.  That's the problem here!

    -5.13,-5.64; When pygmies cast such long shadows, it must be very late in the day. -Gian-Carlo Rota

    by gizmo59 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:17:19 AM PDT

  •  The way you "stop" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    montpellier, Neon Vincent

    the right-wing noise machine from "dumbing down" the country's political dialog is by doing just what you're doing. Publicly challenge their self-serving interpretations. Debunk Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Use the internet. If it wants to survive, eventually the MSM is going to have to get the idea that the progressive angle on any issue is serious and important.

  •  The disconnect between (9+ / 0-)

    the reality in the US and the public dialog about that reality must surely be the greatest propoganda accomplishment of all time.  I truly cannot take listening to most of what passes as "news" or commentary.  I only see the situation changing when we come to the complete collapse, which is probably pretty soon.  

    The Long War is not on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. It is on the American people.

    by Geonomist on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:27:41 AM PDT

    •  I agree (4+ / 0-)

      I can't listen to it or watch news or commentary anymore.  It is so bad it is truly intolerable.  And Wall Street's wild 400 point jump after the fed rate cut and bailout of Bear Stearns is really disconnected from the toxic monolith of derivative thingies floating out there like Vger from the first Star Trek movie seeking its creator and ready to destroy the earth because it doesn't believe carbon based units created Vger.

      Orwell meet George the 43rd

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:33:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Allow me to gently suggest... (2+ / 0-)

    that you haven't been "over the wall" in a while to see what's really going on in the GOP.  It is falling apart over criticism of the fiscal policies of the Republicans.  Conservatives are feeling very betrayed right now (and I think with good reason).  If you examine what conservatives say they stand for and compare it to what the Bush administration and the Republican led Congress actually did one must conclude that the Republican leadership isn't conservative at all.

    If you look at the frustration Democrats feel now over how Congress has refused to impeach Bush, stop the war, end torture and close Gitmo, etc. then you begin to understand how conservatives have been feeling.

    John McCain is a very weak candidate,  and the GOP is fracturing along the fault lines.  There has been no rise of a credible third party effort (strange, given the timing has never seemed better?).  You know, in thinking about it, if the Dems nominated a white male of the same caliber as Obama and Clinton, this race would be over before it began (perhaps he doesn't exist?).  Neither race nor gender could have been used against the Democratic candidate to bait the "bigot vote" turnout.  The only thing that can galvanize the GOP now into solid general election competition is... Clinton hatred.

    I'd like my Bartle Doo with extra Chizzle please.

    by jokertim777 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:28:19 AM PDT

    •  Conservatives elected Bush Twice (5+ / 0-)

      They are stuck with him because they let themselves be pushed around. They don't get to say that he isn't a real conservative now that he managed to be the most incompetent president ever. They have to take complete responsibility for the man they voted for.

      The fracturing is particularly intense because the fiscal conservatives, neo-cons and loons feel comfortable dissing the religious/social conservatives because they backed an economic moderate. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the social conservatives stayed home in November. They may finally understand that they have been used all this time and will never get a thing out of it.

      •  I believe they feel duped. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neon Vincent

        Not so sure they were bullied into voting for him.  They claim his rhetoric was conservative, but his actions were not.

        I don't think being lied to is the same as being "pushed around."  Sure, you can bash them for being naive in thinking that Bush would govern the way he said he would, but that sword cuts both ways.  They aren't the only voters who have ever been sold a "bill of goods."

        From my perspective, it seems neither social nor fiscal conservatives like McCain, he is pretty much down to one leg of the GOP stool (insert "stool" jokes here).

        I'd like my Bartle Doo with extra Chizzle please.

        by jokertim777 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:55:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe in 2000 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drbloodaxe

          What's their excuse for 2004. They knew him then.

          •  I think I'll pass... (0+ / 0-)

            on trying to take this any further.  You seem a bit too judgemental for unbiased analysis of the dynamics of the GOP side of the race.

            They're all evil anyway, right?

            I'd like my Bartle Doo with extra Chizzle please.

            by jokertim777 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:20:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Only in one way (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              3goldens

              Democrats are slightly more willing, though not willing enough, to dump bad elected officials. Republicans appear to be more willing to let party leaders decide and stick with that decision. That causes more problems for Republicans when things don't work well.

              A president as unsuccessful as George W Bush would have had a strong primary opponent in 2004 if he were a Democrat (see 1980) and 9/11 hadn't allowed him to ignore all of his mistakes. Without 9/11, he might have even been opposed in a Republican nominating fight (see 1976).

              I do think that the Republicans have too many bad actors in elected and leadership positions, but I there are plenty of good, honorable people in that party as well. I also think that Democrats have too many corrupt and amoral elected officials. They need to be cleared out as well. Richard M. Daley may be the best place to start. Even if he isn't personally corrupt, it appears that he is tolerant of a party machine that is in it for itself and nothing else.

            •  Actually, I do think most of them are greedy (0+ / 0-)

              which I consider a serious evil.

              My new bumper sticker: Cheney-Satan '08

              by adigal on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:34:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  They still spend hours mocking Hillary's laugh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drbloodaxe

      and Obama's grandmother story. They are all standing behind McCain. I never doubted it for a second.

      My new bumper sticker: Cheney-Satan '08

      by adigal on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:33:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The lock has always been there... (3+ / 0-)

    When my grandfather was born, there was only print media. Unless you lived in a big city, you got your news from one newspaper. The "news" was what it printed.

    When my father was born, the newspapers were still there, and radio was becoming popular. As local stations sprang up they got their (briefly summarized) news from national networks; you still got the bulk of your news from the newspaper.

    When I was born, there were four TV stations on our dial. Radio was still the same, but it was mostly only heard in the car. The local TV news spent 30 minuted covering fires and mayoral elections, network affiliates played another half-hour of "news" that was increasingly vetted by the large corporations who owned the networks, and most large cities were down to a single newspaper.

    Now, there are hundreds of TV stations -- but almost no news -- on our TVs. Huge corporations have taken over most of the radio stations, and they use them to push their right-wing agenda. Most major newspapers have also been absorbed into corporate printing presses, and are cutting their reporting end editorial staffs.
    This is just more of the same... so what's left?
    Us... but we have competition!

    In the 21st century, obvious truth competes on an equal footing with blatant lies. Schools teach the (non-existent) controversy between evolution and fundamentalist "science." The economy is "growing" even though people are getting poorer and the government is borrowing the "growth" from Chinese banks. "The surge is working" unless you're an Iraqi... or an American soldier on your fourth tour.

    How to stop it?
    I dunno.
    I doubt we can stop it.
    I think we're fucked.

    I'm not a Democrat, I'm a liberal. Democrats go to meetings.

    by willie horton on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:28:44 AM PDT

  •  I have a pet theory as well. (6+ / 0-)

    Capitalism is a system designed to create wealth, not prosperity. Whatever prosperity we have had is based on two things: the spoils of World War II which spoils lasted for almost thirty years; and little pieces of socialism (social security, medicare, Glass-Steagall, TVA, industrial unions, unemployment insurance, FHA, FDIC, rural electrification, etc.) jammed between the bricks of capitalism to keep the damn retaining wall of the ruling class's palace from tumbling down. In fact, supply-side economics itself is the worst thing that could have happened to the ruling classes, which now has become apparent as it became harder and harder to maintain the addiction to ever larger injections of wealth.

    China will discover soon enough what we are beginning to discover ourselves: that the addiction to the crack cocaine of capitalism (cheap resources and cheap money) can not go on forever, that only the dealers get rich, that life might not be as exciting once the resource-induced delusions stop, but there are benefits to sanity. But to reach that sanity, a certain level of catharsis is required as one kicks the habit. I shudder to think, in our case, what that catharsis might bring, but it might make China's Cultural Revolution look like a polite debating society.


    -7.25/-6.41 Consumerism is the disease that allows the ruling classes to thrive; therefore, not buying is a political act.

    by sravaka on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:29:57 AM PDT

  •  Correct on AM radio (9+ / 0-)

    My city just got its first progressive station and they seem to be doing OK. Air America it ain't, but it's a good start.

    The subject of AM radio is one that deserves far more attention. When you actually listen to these crazies, people like Mark Levin, you realize just how dangerous it is to have most parts of the country blanketed with talk radio that is uniformly hard right wing.

    Liberals and Democrats are routinely accused of traitorous conduct and sedition, both in general as a group and specifically as named individuals. There is no balance at all here. If you listen to talk radio out in the heartland, then you get a 24/7 diet of "liberals are communists, liberals love terrorists, liberals will destroy your health care," and so forth.

    We need to start talking about the Fairness Doctrine. Urgently. And little wonder that some conservatives in Congress are working to pass legislation to prohibit the Doctrine's enactment. They do loves them AM talk radio. I'll close with a keen observation:

    When Edward Monks, a lawyer in Eugene, Oregon, studied the two commercial talk stations in his town (Eugene Register-Guard, 6/30/02), he found "80 hours per week, more than 4,000 hours per year, programmed for Republican and conservative talk shows, without a single second programmed for a Democratic or liberal perspective." Observing that Eugene (a generally progressive town) was "fairly representative," Monks concluded: "Political opinions expressed on talk radio are approaching the level of uniformity that would normally be achieved only in a totalitarian society. There is nothing fair, balanced or democratic about it."

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:32:30 AM PDT

    •  Fairness doctrine (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Neon Vincent

      The fairness doctrine in its current form will never pass, and frankly I'm not sure it should.

      The problem has never been the opinions of the hosts; the problem has been their presentation of half-truths and outright lies as facts to an audience who possesses neither the intellectual curiosity/capability to fact check them. And saying they should be exposed to other opinions gives the far right a "free speech" talking point to rally around.

      We need to revise the fairness doctrine to allow them to present their opinions as much as they like, but not allow them to present lies and spin as truth without being required to correct it.

      Some examples using actual quotes from Hannity's show:

      Opinion: I believe the Democrats are rooting for this country's defeat. (It's a garbage opinion obviously, but it's still an opinion and he has every right to spout it.)

      Outright Lie: They can defund the war if they want, it'll just snatch guns and bullets out of our troops hands as they sit there in the desert (This is utterly false and he should be fined heavily, daily, until he retracts it.)

      Half Truth: Bush's job creation record is one of the best in history. Since 2003 <x> jobs have been created (However, Bush took office in 2001, and if you add those two years in, Bush's job record is one of the worst in history.  Again, he should be fined heavily, daily, until he makes that correction.)

      We need to focus the fairness doctrine (maybe even rename it to the "truth" doctrine) on making sure these hosts tell the truth. It has the dual advantage of both focusing on the actual problem and removing the political obstacles and stigma that comes from trying to force more airtime for alternate opinion.  Who's going to be against truth?

      •  Heh (3+ / 0-)

        IF we put a truth doctrine in place, they'd go from 80hrs a week of programming to a 15 minute infomercial once a month.

        Got a problem with my posts? Email me, and let's resolve it.

        by drbloodaxe on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:05:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Given the choice... (0+ / 0-)

        I'd rather have the Fairness Doctrine. If there were stricter controls on content, we'd have some First Amendment problems, and enforcement would require official listeners and fact checkers and that's starting to feel a bit hinky.

        Fairness means you get to say what you like, but if it is partisan politics, then the other side gets at least some rebuttal time. Not perfect, but better than what we have now.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

        by The Raven on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:49:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  What makes me sad (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Bensch, The Raven

      is when I go home to Central PA and everyone I thought was normal and decent when I was growing up is still just addicted to that shit.  It's like they never grew up. Talk about remaining static.

      "God is not on the side of the heavy battalions, but of the best shots."- Voltaire

      by armenia on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:39:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cracks me up that my nieghbor says liberal media (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven

      is the blame for all the woes in this country; yet he spends all day driving a truck.

      There is no liberal programming on AM in this part of Pennsylvania - there are 7 clear-channel AM stations within 100 miles of here, and then there is WBZ out of boston a few hundred miles away.

      But my neighbor says the liberal media is what pisses him off...

      How would he know?

      AM radio and the conservative rant that "liberal media" is nothing different than blaming witches for crop failures. It's a phantom scapegoat and nothing more, but it works like a charm to at least keep peeple smiling while they look for the witches.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:17:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Easy (0+ / 0-)

    Every time they say something factually inaccurate; which is often- whack them with a large fine, and continue it daily until they offer a public correction.

    The station owners will quickly learn to keep them factually in line.

  •  If things are so good, why is real median income (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nonie3234, drbloodaxe, Neon Vincent

    stagnant?

    Because all the money that could be going to raises for employees is instead going to corporate profits.

    I read an article not long ago about how many large corporations have huge cash cushions right now. (for example, it said Microsoft could pay for 1/2 of the offering price for Yahoo without bank financing, they have that much cash on hand)

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -7.28

    by solesse413 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:36:10 AM PDT

  •  I'm sorry, I don't know either (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rilkas, Neon Vincent

    It seems to me that there is no market for facts. If there were a market for real news, then there would be somebody filling the niche. But instead, we have gossip and propaganda.

    Taking Daily Kos back, one anti-McCain diary at a time.

    by bhagamu on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:38:00 AM PDT

    •  interesting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Vincent

      Yes I agree an important question is how to interest people in reality enough that they want to buy it.

      I look at my parents. They sit down every single morning to read two newspapers. They have done this their entire adult lives as far as I can tell. Of course, the quality of print media has declined, but they are still making it a daily habit to remain informed and to understand the world as it is.

      Why do they do this? What is it about their generation (born in the 1920s) that led people to want to look at reality rather than disappear into fantasy?

      "I used to believe in the oneness of all religion. But now I believe in the noneness of all religion."

      by rilkas on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 07:55:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Leadership is important (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adigal, 3goldens, drbloodaxe, Neon Vincent

    More important than many people obviously realize.  When you have the leader of the free world sweep one of the largest corporate fraud meltdowns in the history of the world completely under the rug, when that leader and his entire party talk tough to your face about reform and then run for cover when the cameras aren't rolling to give more tax breaks and government handouts to the worst offenders, just what, exactly, does everyone friggin' expect?

    This is nothing more than Republicans' chickens coming home to roost.

  •  WHY? WHY? WHY? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adigal, drbloodaxe, Serpents Sorrow

    You can’t yell Fire in a crowded theater.  Freedom of speech is limited to prevent you from causing injury where there is no danger.  

    You can’t advertise that your product will in fact cure cancer when in fact it will not.  Freedom of speech is limited to protect consumers from fraudulent lies that will deprive them of cash and cure.

    Why, why, why are there not similar protections provided during campaigns and on "informational radio broadcasts".  When Rush the Lush declares that "the economy is growing" or "job growth is exceptional" he is making fraudulent statements.  When Republican attack ads come out saying John Kerry "voted to raise taxes 278,648 times" not indicating that 278,596 of those times were actually procedural votes or voting against a cut in taxes, they are committing fraud.

    If we can be protected from injury both financial and physical – shouldn’t we be protected from those who would lie to us in order to continue "controlling the minds and wallets of the masses"?

    Next Issue – How to control corporations.  Here’s one idea that I’ve discussed before with friends.  Currently the CEO’s of most large corporations are looking for very short term profit vs long term growth in order to drive their bonuses and in fact damaging the corporation with their shortsightedness.  CEO pay and bonuses are determined by "the board".  The Board is determined by votes of shares.  The shares are held by you and me who automatically without thinking register proxies allowing "the board" to vote for us.  Why not simply put through regulations (I know – dirty word) requiring the pay for the top 10% (2%, 5% whatever) of wage earners in a corporation and all bonuses over $25,000 ($100,000, $250,000 whatever) be determined by stockholder vote requiring at least 80% participation and not allowing any proxy voting.  The same regulation could set the same voting requirement for board members and any decisions to buy or sell other corporations.  Our "ownership" society is actually nothing but a wink and a nod to us unless the "ownership" responsibilities are placed in our hands as well as the 137.125 shares of stock.

    Oh well – just some thoughts!

    •  Executives need to (0+ / 0-)

      take their bonuses in corporate stock that can't be sold off in more than 5% incements in any given year and not get bonuses larger than the amount bought privately in the open market during the option period.

  •  Welcome to the Global Economy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeekCa, drbloodaxe, dark daze

    American can no longer depend on the national economy to create decent jobs for unskilled workers. Many of these jobs can be done by anyone, anywhere in the world. Increasingly, this is also the case for some white collar workers as well.

    So, despite relatively low unemployment (though not fantastic), the US labor force is no longer able to exert much pressure to raise wages because they aren't just competing with Americans.

    Real wages have increased some, but not nearly as fast as productivity. Increasingly productivity gains are captured by capital. From 2000 to 2007, productivity rose nearly 20%, but total compensation rose only 5%.

    The wage picture also looks worse than the total compensation picture because wages don't include benefits, the cost of which have risen substantially. A good chunk of the growth in total compensation has gone to the health care industry in the past 8 years.    

    •  it goes back (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snafubar

      to trade policy which a $700 billion dollar trade deficit...well that's annually.  Let's bear stearns socialized bailout at $280 billion..kind of big number....umm $125 billion annually on war that's a lot of money

      $600 billion pentagon budget that's a lot of money

      A $150 billion tax 'rebate' that's a lot but not like those other numbers

      But $700 billion trade deficit...oh no problem...snark

      Orwell meet George the 43rd

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:42:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why would it be OK to bail out Bear Stearns (0+ / 0-)

        at $280 billion, but not to bail out the homeowners who caused their crisis?

        Because if we bail out BS and then keep the houses we foreclose on, BS will get back on it's feet and then the mortgage bankers can actually sell the houses that were foreclosed at some value at some point down the road and make more on top of that.

        Neat trick, eh?

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:12:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Vote Progressive & Create a Bumper Sticker (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rilkas, adigal

    Vote Progressive: to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and some sort of regulation.  Powerful Media Monopolies are killing us.

    Bumper Stickers: This could be an in-your-face counter meme campaign if worded well.
    For Instance: Republican Recession...Who Profits?:
    Monopoly Media Mucking up Minds;  oh well I'm sure you all can do much better.

    March on DC with our pitchforks? This will be of course our fall back position.

  •  An "expansion" that left most Americans untouched (5+ / 0-)

    The jobless Bush "Expansion"

    A vote for Hillary will help to put a woman in the White House.....Cindy McCain

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:09:10 AM PDT

    •  But the Bush 'touch' is coming (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens

      Bush has piled up ruinous debt. For 8 years he has been busy writing IOUs to the Treasury and transferring the loot to his corporate buddies. The day of reckoning on all that debt is fast approaching.

      This is why I think the next president will be a one term wonder. He will get blamed for the results of all Bush's ruinous policies as the economy rapidly crumbles. Wiil it be fair -- no. Will it happen, my guess is yes.

      Anyone for a quick game of Chess.

      by CitizenOfEarth on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:43:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "The Denier In Chief" (3+ / 0-)

    is the answer to his question.

    False faith, or "optimism" as George likes to call it.  Believing everything will right itself, so's I don't have to git ma hands dirty.

    Iraq? - no problem, Rumsfeld is on top of it.  Freedom is on the march!

    Afghanistan? - no problem, NATO is on top of it.  Keep watchin' American Idol!

    The economy? - no problem, Bernacke is on top of it (AND, he worked over the WEEKEND!!).  Keep investin' in that stock market folks!

    The deficit? - no problem, the U.S.'s checks are still good.  Keep usin' those credit cards, folks!

    Global warming? - no problem, it's just scientists bein' worriers.  Keep drivin' those SUV's folks!

    Why have we as a nation been increasingly reluctant to confront objective reality? What is it about the present social mood, political leadership, and economic environment that has so totally led us to a world of denial? Up is down, black is white, good is bad -- its all very Orwellian.


    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room! - President Merkin Muffley

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:13:54 AM PDT

  •  don't you just love (3+ / 0-)

    how they don't round off over 9 trillion dollars, and have to include the cents?  Insult to injury, no?


    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room! - President Merkin Muffley

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:17:51 AM PDT

    •  partilarly rounded to the penny, when that (0+ / 0-)

      particular coin is under consdieration to be abandoned altogether since it costs $.07 to make a penny that is only worth $.01

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:10:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  1st Amendment. Our System Is DESIGNED to Work (0+ / 0-)

    this way.

    Nobody can even think there is anything wrong with the system.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:25:38 AM PDT

    •  A better solution would be to reinstate the FCCs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hyperstation

      "fairness doctrine" which requires equal time be given to opposing views.

      When the Reagan administration did away with that one rule, they laid the foundation for what talk-radio has become today. The Reagan deregulation of the airwaves led directly to this fantasy land of lies.

      Similarly, deregulation of the Savings and Loan industry led directly to the collapse and government bailout of that industry.

      Today, deregulation - and willfull non-regulation of new instruments - of the banking and credit industries has led directly to the current collapse of the banking system and to more government bailouts everyday.

      The answer is to return to the system of regulation that we KNOW - factually - works, regardless of the ideological (false) rantings of the right wing.  Their concepts have been proven failures over and over. They are factually wrong. Their policies do not work.

      Yet they spend millions day after day, spreading their lies. Fat old white men lies.

  •  a squeaky wheel country (0+ / 0-)

    When the country is guided by those with the most time, money and power, then time, money and power is what will be rationed to the rest of the people.
    When that same group controls the airwaves, we fall into an Orwellian Groundhog Day that fogs all dissent and any efforts to understand logic and facts.
    There's a reason that rulers have used dumbing down in the past as now. It works.
    There is one way to fight it. Educate and ridicule. At every occasion, ridicule and emasculate. Maybe those little dicks will shrink so fast, they'll choke on their Viagra.

  •  Growth. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drbloodaxe

    Growth in this recovery has been lower than the sixty-year average for growth. (Over recoveries and recessions.)
    That menas that we have been going backwards.

    Look here for some data and references to more.

    "The three main issues in this campaign are Iraq, I raq, and Iraq." -- Bill Foster

    by Frank Palmer on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:31:37 AM PDT

    •  growth? (0+ / 0-)

      I must admit that I've never grasped economic basics. But, something I've always wondered is how can there be any company/nation state with unlimited growth? Doesn't there have to be crashes, leveling off, etc? I wonder whether it isn't simple American arrogance that expects our economy to continue to grow at huge rates.

  •  The Fairness Doctrine is Hannity's big fear (8+ / 0-)

    He goes on and on about how mean lib'ruls want to take away his First Amendment right to lie, cheat and convince people to vote against their own self interest.

    I commented on another diary the other day how they do it: simple soundbites, such as "greatest job creation in years," "no new taxes," etc., repeat it over and over (which always reminds me of Canterbury Tales, where the Pardoner says the "yokels" love a simple tale,) don't ever give figures and call anyone who has figures a "liberal," "socialist," "America-hater," and have no one on the radio presenting an alternative view. They have a clip of Hillary's laugh and her talking, and they echo it and repeat it, for about 30 seconds at a time. They did it with Obama's speech and Wright's sermon. Over and over and over.

    It works, so we have about 30 million people who hate Democrats and are incapable of critical thought, and who think it would be great if they could somehow get rid of all of us.

    My new bumper sticker: Cheney-Satan '08

    by adigal on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 08:32:17 AM PDT

    •  Eventually "We" will wake up (0+ / 0-)

      A few years ago those of us screaming at the top of our lungs were called nuts. Eventually the left came around to recognise the blatantly obvious reality. Now the job is to make them see that scolding people who could care less if they're scolded so long as theyre cashing checks wont work.

      We cant turn america into a democracy again without first destroying the plutocratic/corporatist propaganda machine. You do that by creating Consequences for promoting falsehoods. Media who report falsehoods should face severe sanctions. Until that happens we're just mosquitoes trying to annoy the beast into changing its path to the feast.

      I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

      by cdreid on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:06:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sustaining profitable growth (5+ / 0-)

    One of the things that I took from Klein's "Shock Doctrine", was that the bull market of the 80's & 90's was fueled, in part, by the gobbling up of previously public enterprises by the large multi-nationals; at fire sale prices. This helped inflate the stock prices of these multi-nationals; without a corresponding change in the company's fundamentals. IE, investors saw that the multi's had increased their reach by buying smaller fish at very low prices; and expected that this would lead to a equal rise in profits.

    Except that as a strategy, it's not sustainable. Yes, you'll get some short term growth; but in the long term those fundamentals come back to haunt you. Additionally, when your entire growth strategy is built on buying these companies, what happens when there are no more to buy? What happens to your P&L statement then? (Can you say 'crash & burn'? I knew you could!)

    And, this completely ignores the human cost associated with the selling off of once nationalized assets... loss of jobs, poverty... and when the sell off is imposed at the point of a gun... loss of life.

    How do we promote sustainable growth that provides for a socially just society, rather than the oligarchy we have now?

  •  here's how (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LillithMc, Serpents Sorrow

    They have dumbed down the conversation in multiple ways and done incredible harm to this country's political dialog.  

    And I have no idea how to stop it.

    Re-regulate media.

    Remember what media news was like before Ronnie Raygun set us free with deregulation?

    Prior to WWII Americans regulated radio and Germans didn't. That worked out so well for the Germans it's easy to see why Karl Rove wants to follow that template.

    Related reading:

    http://www.amazon.com/...

    In the book cited above, Sunstein offers what I found to be a useful ideas on how to provide the best arena for optimum freedom of civic speech.

    Another relatively obscure book:

    http://www.amazon.com/...

    Boyle was a WWII war correspondent, among other things. The book I've linked to above includes a stunning report of a Nazi war crimes trial in Frankfurt. Boyle provides context for her report by making the following chilling observation. During the war the Germans had been so utterly deceived and befuddled by Nazi propaganda that by the end of the war they believed nothing that they could not confirm with direct observation. So, for Germans, the Frankfurt trial was far more important than the ones held a Nuremberg. Because to regular Germans the people involved in the Nuremberg trials were as remote as George Bush is to average Americans these days. So they never quite trusted those events. The Frankfurt trials, on the other hand, were oh-so-local, and, for that reason, were persuasive to regular non-famous, non-wealthy Germans in a way the events at Nuremberg never were.

  •  strikes (0+ / 0-)

    strikes will start happening as seen here
    http://www.qctimes.com/...

    Inflation is the usual result of illusion.  Fiat economies are an illusion by their very nature, but we have taken them to new heights, and I am afraid the fall may not be pleasant.

  •  The debt vs. deficit issue isn't new. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdreid

    Kossacks have been pounding away on this for years.  The impact of the Iraq war and wealth transfer to the rich is clear. $550 billion dollars per year +/- 25 billion dollars (5%) from 2003 on, and nearly in that range in 2002.  What I find puzzling is just how stable this number has been.  You would expect more fluctuations in the number if the economy was growing or shrinking, but it has remained remarkably constant.  The number in 2007 was down a bit (I suspect due to the fact that the administration was ballyhooing the "decline" in the deficit) but the Fed borrowed a quite remarkable 55 billion dollars on Oct 1.  That leads me to believe that there is more than one way to manipulate the numbers in your favor when you control the mechanisms of government. If you shift that one day charge to the 2007 fiscal year, you're right back in the middle of the $550 billion dollars +/- 5%.

  •  If Kudlow is an economist then I'm a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CitizenOfEarth, 3goldens, JML9999

    brain surgeon .

    •  Crudlow! He had to mention Crudlow. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens

      That hack makes my blood boil. But I love it when he debates  Robert Reich.  Reich smacks him on his snout with a virtual rolled up copy of the facts. It's almost  too easy for Reich.

      Anyone for a quick game of Chess.

      by CitizenOfEarth on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:34:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  don't compare economists with doctors (0+ / 0-)

      economists don't get sued for malpractice. And in fact since its a faith-based discipline, all you need to find others of simalar inclination willing to buy your particular flavor of voodoo.

      fact does not require fiction for balance

      by mollyd on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:48:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Modest proposals (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Sheffield157

    If the Democrats don't screw it up, there is a very real possibility of a realignment of Congress. And, depending on how they handle the next four years with a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, there is a possibility of extending that realignment in 2010.

    There are a couple of things we can do in that time, policywise, that would yield fantastic benefits in the short and long term, for Democrats, For Americans and the world. Looking at the long haul, it would also benefit the Republicans depending on how they handle it.

    The policy proposals:

    1. Universal Health Care. The skyrocketing costs are largely due to the way the system is organized today. Simply put, we, as a society, don't need to enrich insurance companies and medical suppliers or even doctors on the scale which they are currently enjoying. What we need is health care available to everyone on a scale that mitigates the costs of delayed medical care. Universal, in other words. This is a democratic solution, and we need democratic institutions to implement it. More about that later.
    1. The New Energy Infrastructure. An energy infrastructure relying upon renewable energy sources, distributed generation, new battery technologies and a whole host of efficiency technologies will, after the initial investment, yield enormously reduced costs into the future, for energy, manufacturing, and transportation. However, the energy system needed requires a different kind of management system than the one corporate America wants to offer us going into the future. More about that later.
    1. Free Public Education. It is long past time that America has an educational system that suits our needs. We need free, public education at all levels. We need it for pre-schoolers, and we need it for doctoral programs, and everything in between. We do not need, as a society, an industry that saddles every college educated person with an enormous debt during the most productive years of their lives. We do not need, as a society, an educational system that monetarily punishes people because they became engineers or scientists. If we can create an independent banking system, we can create an independent educational system. No one wants a socialized, centrally-planned education system run from Washington, but "leaving it to the states" is obviously not providing what we need. How to create an independent educational system that preserves federalist checks and balances? More on that later.
    1. A Free Press. It makes no sense to turn the press over to the government. Why then, does it make sense to turn the press over to government-chartered corporations? This is what we have done. Because we have done this, we have a press which has become sycophantic and deferential to corporations and the government instead of being the independent watchdogs and preservers of information and history that they should be. Let us create an independent educational system, and let that independent educational system be the guardian of the press instead of letting government-chartered corporations be the guardians of the press. To prevent a centralization of the press, we need an educational system that is governed by republican principles. More on that later.

    These are the Big Four. There are byproduct policies, industries and progressive changes that go along with the Big Four, but those are the central policies.

    For all of these changes, it is not just the applications of technology and re-organization of authorities and public investment that is needed. We need a new paradigm of corporate organization, utilizing republican principles, democratic checks and expansion of the franchise of corporate power.

    We can begin to implement the policies above, but without a fresh re-organization of corporate power, the efforts will fail. In some cases, the efforts will fail because of entrenched corporate interests who will resist change, but that's not the primary obstacle.

    The primary obstacle is the question of corporate authority itself. How should it be constituted? How shall it be a function of republican society? Who establishes corporate power? What are the obligations, to society, of corporate entities? Finally, what is the best structure of organization, for corporations, to implement the above policies?

    My modest proposal: We need constitutional amendments to replace the body of corporate law which has permitted anti-republican, government chartered entities to assume otherwise unconstitutional powers. We cannot permit anti-republican, government chartered institutions to exist. We must reform corporate organizational structures to re-install republican checks and balances both external and internal, for corporate organizations.

    By constitutional amendment, we must abolish multiple-title holding by corporate officials. We must abolish interlocking directorates. We must abolish perpetual and dynastic majority shareholding. We must limit the shareholding interest of corporate officers. We must abolish the issuance of stock as if the stock value of a company were a personal ATM for executives. These are a few of the republican reforms needed.

    Also needed is a republican system of corporate organization that decentralizes power and asserts the power of the public over the corporate charter. The People grant corporate charters, and it is beyond arrogant and abusive for corporate officers to implement policies which abuse the public for the benefit of the corporate officers! This is true whether it pertains to pollution issues, labor issues, wealth distribution issues, legal issues or influence over elections. In fact, it is true pertaining to ANY issue, since the People are sovereign.

    Republican Society thrives, progresses, and maintains the rule of law because the divisions of power within it checks the errors, self-dealing and corruption of individuals or groups of individuals or factions. The Anti-Republican model of organization that persists within corporate institutions operates hierarchically, and fosters anti-republican practices characteristic of Elitist Societies. With this model, the fox watches the henhouse. As we have seen, corruption, self-dealing and error are rampant.

    This contradiction was tolerated while corporations did not dominate our society so completely as they do today. But we are at a turning point. We have seen what kind of society would be implemented by an unrestrained effort to impose corporate dominance in all areas of society, overcoming republican checks and balances in every sphere.

    What's worse, the corporatist movement has borrowed it's ideology from every imaginable anti-republican philosophy. It has borrowed from Soviet ideology, from Fascist ideology, from theocratic ideology, from imperialist ideology. It has even borrowed from international criminals like the mafia. ANYTHING BUT republican philosophy.

    The long list of abuses of power and crimes by the Bush Administration resembles the train of complaints by the American colonists against King George. Then, as now, the source of power was the corporate charter and it's abuses.

    The Republican Party is a fraud. It is not a "republican party." It is a motley coalition of war-profiteers, military fantastists, social aristocrats, bigots and theocrats. Along with the policy changes and the constitutional changes, we must prosecute the neocon cabal and disrupt the fascist movement. Only then will rank and file Republican Party members come to the realization that they must put the "republican" back into the Republican Party.

    CHANGE is needed. This is what the CHANGE that we need looks like. Many of our fellow countrymen have been deceived by the neocons. We cannot demonize them for that. We must punish and bar from power the deceivers, but welcome our countrymen back to the fold, so that we can build a better world together.

  •  re: right-wing radio and conservative media (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LillithMc, Serpents Sorrow

    There is no magic bullet but there are ways to level the playing field.
    First, reverse the disastrous trend toward media consolidation by reviving restrictions on media ownership by one corporation in a geographic area.  Then revive the fairness doctrine in some workable form.  
    Throughout the process, alternative media needs financial support from all of us.  Corporate media will never address economic issues from a neutral vantage point.

    One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own. James Baldwin

    by CarolynC967 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 09:42:11 AM PDT

  •  when reality meets spin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    reality will rule. When the spindoctors say hour after hour that the economy is not in a recession and yet the listener has just lost their job, or value in their home, or can no longer afford the health insurance and neither can any of his neighbors, the listener will stop listening to the spindoctor. After that, the listeners stop consuming and the economy comes to a halt. The check in the mail come May will be used to pay bills or bare necessities. The fed will have no more tricks up its sleeve and the rest of the world will avoid us like the plague.

    The spindoctors will then have no choice but to face reality and deal with it like the rest of us. The truth will be told, only after everyone else already knows it though.

  •  This has bothered me for a long time (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4jkb4ia, BDA in VA, 3goldens, ratzo, LillithMc

    I am a high school librarian, and the most crucial part of my job (and my favorite part) is going into classes preparing to do research projects and teaching critical thinking about sources of information.

    Maybe someday I'll post a diary about this, but for now, I'll just say that it is very, very difficult to teach the current generation about the difference between trustworthy and untrustworthy information.

    They have grown up in a media and political environment in which whoever shouts the loudest, bullies the most effectively, or has the coolest graphics is the winner.  They have come of age during a Presidential adminstration that openly boasted of their ability to rewrite reality to its own specifications.  

    Reality TV hasn't helped either:  things that are fake are made to look real, and things that are real (i.e. the war in Iraq) look as fake and distant as a war movie.  A badly produced war movie.  Meanwhile the 24-hour screaming news cycle has made unimportant things look crucial (Natalee Holloway) and desperately important things (the erosion of our constitutional rights) invisible.  Or risible.

    And once the epistemological horses are out of the barn, where all information is roughly equal, and all facts are a matter of opinion and rhetoric, it is very hard to get them back in.

    When it comes to economics, it's over most people's heads (mine, at least).  So it's even easier to accept the interpretation of someone on the teevee who's going to explain it in the simplest terms: theirs.

  •  Why can't they be sued for endangering the public (0+ / 0-)

    It would seem to me that given the foreseeable public health and welfare consequences of the lies they serve up that at the very least a lawsuit would expose their lies more?

    I acknowledge that this is a slippery slope, but well-publicized a class action suit would at least provide some public analysis of what they say?  IS this not a possibility?  I would be more than willing to contribute to a legal fund that sued Clear Channel for endangering the public welfare.

  •  What would happen if (0+ / 0-)

    we all skipped one credit card bill in unison?

  •  To know how to stop it (0+ / 0-)

    you would have to ask why people believe that the economy is good when their own personal economic situation is not so good. The people in Ohio and Pennsylvania whose communities have been eviscerated probably cannot be convinced that the economy is good.

    In part people do not have the tools to judge whether the economy as a whole is good or bad. Whether Wall Street is doing well or poorly is an imperfect measure. People are not encouraged to be interested in whether the economy is working for everyone but whether they can compete with others. As long as they are doing this they can believe the economy is OK.

    At least in exurbs, people have chosen to have a fact-free environment. They have chosen to create their own reality. They do not have anything in their own lives to challenge media narratives of any sort, much less the ones which are flattering to them.

  •  "how to stop it"...don't step on the gas pedal... (0+ / 0-)

    the sooner this out-of-control vehicle crashes, the better...help add momentum to it, or let it do so on it's own delusional design/mechanism...

    it will crash, a law of nature for things out of control

  •  The Fed just jack-knifed a fuel truck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zackamac

    onto the fire!

    Allowing investment banks to have an unlimited credit line means The End!!!!!!

    Wake up people!!!!!!

    Market manipulation has only just begun!!!!!!!

    Abolish the Fed! Yesterday!

    Weimar, people! Weimar!

  •  One of the best diaries (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, YucatanMan, zackamac

    I've ever read here.  

    "The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes." - Stanley Kubrick

    by Inky99 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 10:20:13 AM PDT

  •  Probably OT, but a few years back there was a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    discussion about "the end of history" arguing, as I understood it, that "everything" is documented, therefore it is more actual record than historical interpretation.  A flawed concept, imho.  This "post-fact" era is exactly why it was/is flawed.

    So, wow!  Post-fact.  An incredibly important concept, perfectly named.

    Thanks for the diary.  This is why I really like this site. I would have never found this on my own.  I also wish that there was a way to get facts out to people that do not have access the internet.  Broadcast media doesn't do it, and newspapers seem to balance the 90% view with the 10% view.

    It's full of stars... T. Roosevelt: Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.

    by Terra Mystica on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 10:22:25 AM PDT

  •  Two major problems with our current economy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    Are the lack of government regulation that has allowed the Mortgage meltdown, and the amount of money we are printing.  Make no mistake that our own government is causing the current inflation, not the Saudis.  We have to print money to pay for the war and bail out companies that were horribly over-leveraged.  It's just like a giant push broom--sweep the problems down the line so the next administration has to deal with it.  

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    So who is fueling the stockmarket right now?  Just all the idiots who think the latest fed steps are actually "working"?  

    * 4000 * http://icasualties.org/oif/

    by BDA in VA on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 10:34:18 AM PDT

  •  Get on TV or the Radio, Bonddad. (0+ / 0-)

    Get any associates you know with similarly objective outlooks to write blogs also.

    It's obvious the business reporters are either right wing shills or just plain dumb.

    We need more people like you to point out the truth.

  •  JP Morgan Chase is a two name poem (0+ / 0-)

    Once there were Rockefellers;
    they ruled the sun.
    Their flagship bank was Chase;
    and there was none.

    Chemical, Manny Hanny and
    "whew" Citi got in trouble.
    The bailout of the A-hole Stearnsers,
    is just the latest bubble.

    Tsk, tsk 'mispricing risk' quoth Alan, Henry and Ben, these tout's euphemism for the day.
    "If we had approved private accounts then, oh then,
    we coulda, stuffed em with CDO's and let the true suckers pay."

       

    You know those trey stupid socialistic European countries that provide safety nets for their citizens? They're kicking our butts.

    by cognitorex on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:03:32 AM PDT

  •  Great discussion start, bonddad. (0+ / 0-)

    I struggle with this myself as I talk to Republicans who still say things like "We have no good candidates to vote for". When I talk about what Obama has done to generate interest in politics and make changes they say "he'll only make things worse".

    No amount of coaxing for a "why" does any good. They just ignore my request for a reason.

    And these are fundamentally good people who believe Rush and Sean and friends. I'm floored whenever I hear it.

    My problem is that there are many people like this in CA 42nd where I'm running. They don't have or make time to read information that would allow them to connect the dots of the real world consequences of the policies of the Bush administration.

    In the end, it comes down to the information they get and we all know where that comes from. A vision of America that is fact-based must have as it's base a way to get them valid information and shut out spin, lies and 1st grade analysis of facts.

    This weekend I read a right-wing blog which I can't remember who called the swift boat tactics against Kerry in 2004 free speech as if the mere existence of a right means that it trumps fact. I think he honestly believed it was enough. How do you straighten out someone like that who also has an audience who thinks he makes sense?

    Latest Blog Button

    Step up and take on the challenge.

    by Ron Shepston for Congress on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:04:55 AM PDT

  •  Bondad, I wish I could bring you to my town (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hyperstation

    to meet my neighbor. I just spent another two hours with him the other night. It's a bizarre experiment in diplomacy of mine to talk to a guy who is so unconscionably wrong and to see if I can still be on good terms with him. Ten years later, we are, but I'm feeing sick inside.

    Last Thursday's talk was about Reagan. The Greatest President Ever. FDR was a fraud, and the government must be hands off like Reagan insists. (But constitutional Amendments to ban Gay Marriage are apparently not hands-on). And the paragraph I can't erase from my brain is how many times he said Reagan had everything perfect, and then Bush 41 raised taxes. Bush 41 ruined everything Regan did, Clinton rode on the benefits of Reagan's tax cuts because Reagan's efforts were only just starting to work when Clinton took over, and Clinton's tax raises started the recession Bush 43 inherited. Bush 43 had no choice to run a deficit because of 9/11, and only a Return To Reagan with even lower taxes will save us from destruction.  

    Debt, Deficit - he doesn't know the difference - but taxes must be cut again so that things will be as good as Reagan once had them, and any deviation from this path will be our doom.

    I can't change these opinions.

    He sincerely believes that Al Gore is single-handedly conducting a UN-sponsored Global crusade to crush the US economy through environmental regulations (pointless since Global Warming is a hoax, he believes Democrats and only Democrats make money from governmental regulation) for the sole purpose of creating a UN - run World government.

    He also claims he has a 1983 Mercury Cougar and a 1967 Mercury station wagon both with V-8's that both get over 30 MPG., which is why we don't need hybrids.

    He says he ran Biodiesel in his delivery truck and his fuel consumption doubled.

    He told me he personally believes in wind power, but it's the greenie enviromental wacko liberals that are preventing further construction of wind-farms because the greenies don't like the way they look.  

    And he also says that there are more trees in Pennsylvania now in 2008 than ever before, because he sees them all the time when he is driving his delivery truck.

    Sammy Hagar wrote a song titled "There's only one way to rock", which includes the line "mental masturbation". My neighbor has been married for over 40 years and they're happy, but it's pretty clear that he's still stroking himself inside his head to believe these things.

    And finally, Simon and Garfunkel wrote in "the Boxer" "Such are promises all lies and jest, Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest"

    When I point out to this man that the deregulation he is so proud of and so adamant is the solution to all of our woes, that it was deregulation of the banking industry that led to much of the consequences of the subprime crisis, he won't budge.

    We can argue facts, figures, and history until we consume all the air in the room, but we can't reach people like this man, and he is not alone.

    Where do we go from there?

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:08:00 AM PDT

  •  CPI (0+ / 0-)

    I remember feeling a disconnect when I first heard in February that the nominal CPI was up 4% for the year. It didn't jive with what I was experiencing at the supermarket and witnessing at the gas pumps. I found out a couple of days ago that the CPI was revised in 2005 to exclude energy and food prices, and energy and food prices were up +18.9% and +4.5%, respectively, for the year. It left me wondering, what is the value of using the CPI as a measure of consumer inflation when energy and food prices are left out? Most families spend about one-third of their income on food. I don't know what it is for energy.

  •  collpase, destruciton, starvation, death, etc. (0+ / 0-)

    are all pretty effective ways to stop the bullshit.  However, depending on who survives to write the history, it is always questionable what will really be learned from it all.  There are still major debates about the causes of the Great Depression, although it is pretty clear that conservative lassiez faire economic policies bought us to it.

    Maximum wealth extraction by the "owners" and other assorted players has been the agenda for quite some time.  Do they know something that we do not, or, are not willing to say?

    This century is predicted to be, well, really fucking bad for humanity by many in the know.  Resource shortages, energy shortages, wars for resources+energy, global climate changes.   Global climate change is also speeding the extinction rate of species and spreading new pest and disease vectors into other areas.  From these, food shortages, starvation, refugees, wars, then die-offs.

    Does anyone really believe we will be able to solve or lesson these problems while criminals and traitors like these neo-cons run rampant and, well, Capitalisim+Global Free Trade exploits us all in our race to the bottom with the very few riding the heard on top?  I do not.

    It's pretty clear what's been going on at this point.  Whether a talented demagogue like Rush Limbaugh is a fool exploited by the very few or a player in the know for an insidious agenda, I really no longer care.  The result is the same, our destruction so the few assholes may survive.  

    If we do not start developing a cohesive workable theory that really takes a hard look at the last 30 years--conservative economics, political movements, benefactors, think takes, stolen elections, etc.--   agendas and players used to put it all in place then we will never stop it before it is too late. The sooner people really understand this, the sooner  proper corrections can be made and the right heads start to roll.

    A good start, this diary, to raising some key points.

    You don't negotiate with fascists, you defeat them in the name of democracy. --Ambr. Joe Wilson

    by FightTheFuture on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 11:47:37 AM PDT

  •  I dont know how you do it Bonddad (0+ / 0-)

    I have been suprised over time at how many Kossacks "got it". Actually saw the reality, the class warfare, behind the far right agenda that has become "centrist economic policy". We've been a part of an open and so far successful attempt to turn america back into a plutocracy with added elements of fascism. But for a very long time when you stated the truth, even amongst so-called leftists, you were branded a conspiracy theorist. A communist. Whatever discrediting attack would work.

    Its' been very hard to watch the corruption of America. For a person to actually work in the field, know the evils being pursued around him, and have the stomach to face it day after day and still speak the truth is astonishing. Good job.

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

    by cdreid on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:00:57 PM PDT

  •  KPFT - Houston Pacifica (0+ / 0-)

    Houston has a great Pacifica Station - don't upset your blood pressure listening to AM radio

    We are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy unless it obstructs interstate commerce. - J. Edgar Hoover

    by tiponeill on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:00:59 PM PDT

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