Free Markets, Free People

Today’s good news

One more time for those who continue to believe all these Tea Party demonstrations are founded on the right and favor the Republicans:

A majority disapprove of both political parties, their leaders and most members of Congress, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

Attitudes are reminiscent of those in 1994 and 2006, when control of Congress switched from one party to the other.

The favorable rating for the Democratic Party has fallen to its lowest level since Gallup began asking the question in 1992 —its standing has dropped 14 percentage points since President Obama’s election — but the Republican Party fares no better. Three of four Americans say they are dissatisfied with the country’s direction.

It isn’t just anti-incumbent fever, it is anti-party fever.  How many times do I have to say that these Tea Parties are the tip of a very big iceberg and it doesn’t necessarily represent just the right-wing?  I’d certainly say that for the most part you’ll find very few from the left in there because their nominal party of choice is in power.  But these protests probably represent the big middle more than any I’ve seen in my life time.

I know I sound like a broken record when I continue to say that what happened late in ’08 and early ’09 with the financial crisis, TARP, the bailouts and the takeovers slapped a whole bunch of people awake.  I travel – a lot.  And I’m around everyday Americans constantly.  And I hear them talk among themselves.  Normally it’s about the vacation they’re on,  something personal in their lives, sports – whatever.  But rarely if ever is it about politics, government or the like.

Until now.  Now I hear it constantly.  I hear older couples traveling together, for instance, in a small town diner in Tennessee talking about how big government is going to ruin us.  I hear people in a BBQ joint in Alabama concerned about their financial future and saying government needs to get out of the way.  I hear a hotel worker in the lobby of a Hampton Inn – a hotel worker – complain that this country is going to the dogs. I don’t know their party affiliation, if any, but I do know they’re pissed.  I never hear that stuff usually, and trust me, I’m attuned to hearing it if it is being said.  Politics is the last thing most people talk about in public.  But there is a growing grassroots dislike for all that is the federal government and those that represent it.  I’m not talking about violence, certainly not at this stage, but definitely a desire to do something about it.  While the elite like to wave off the “I want my country back” crowd as ignorant rubes (or thugs, or angry white men, or nazis, or brownshirts or terrorists) who just don’t know what what’s good for them or what they’re talking about, that sentiment simmers not that far below the surface.   People are concerned and people are getting angrier.  I use the word “angrier” because they’ve been somewhat angry about this for some time.   They’re getting angrier because they no longer just perceive their being ignored, they flat know they’re being ignored.  And that really pisses them off.

Look at the cite above – 75% of the nation thinks we’re on the wrong track.  That accounts for most Democrats (the 25% not mentioned) and Republicans probably make up another 25 to 30%).  So that leaves 45 to 50% of the country unaffiliated and not at all happy with either party. And of course, remember, Democrats assumed that the election and ascension of Obama and their assumption of power was all that was necessary reverse that (because, you know, it was all about Bush). Well it didn’t, and in fact, it has gotten worse.  That says something about the “wrong direction” with which the people are dissatisfied.  The last administration and especially this administration have vastly expanded the size, scope and cost of government and racked up record deficits and debt.  As that has happened this number has gotten worse.  It’s not hard to figure out what they’re dissatisfied with, is it?

I think it could be safely assumed that at the moment their dissatisfaction is more likely to fall most heavily on the party in power, but if Republicans assume that means they’re in the driver’s seat, they’re simply wrong.  Right now, if you look at the “my Representative deserves to be reelected” those numbers are below 50% and over 10 points lower than in ’94 when the GOP rode to victory in midterms because of dissatisfaction with Democrats. No matter how many times the GOP tries to sell it, this isn’t “just like” ’94 and they better figure that out quickly.

The rubes aren’t as dumb and certainly not as uninvolved as the political elite would like to assume they are.   How the anger they now are feeling will work itself out remains to be seen.  But, despite the assurances of the ruling class that by November this anger will all go away, especially if the economy turns around, this anger is not likely to dissipate.  So we’ll see how it goes – whether it is an anti-incumbency midterm or a dump the Democrats midterm.  While I’m sure a bunch of Democrats are going to be dumped, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a good number of Republicans lose their job – especially if they start waffling on the repeal promise and their principles.  Their losses may put a Democrat in office, but it will be because another candidate took the Republican on and split the vote.  And, if it is because they again abandoned their principles, deservedly so.

The politicians like to talk about how corporate America needs to change its culture.  Well there is no establishment in this country more ripe for major cultural change than that in DC.  And what I hope to see in November is an aroused electorate slap the crap out of those complacent scalawags and start that cultural change rolling. A pipe dream – maybe. But it may actually be one of the last chances the people have of “taking their country back”.



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54 Responses to Today’s good news

  • “So that leaves 45 to 50% of the country unaffiliated and not at all happy with either party.”
    The real mystery is that there are still people who support the Republican or Democratic Parties in any way, shape or form.  Perhaps with the dwindling number of duopolist dead-enders, i.e. those who support the senseless reproduction of the Democratic-Republican two-party state, people will finally wake up to the fact that the Democratic and Republican Parties represent interests diametrically opposed to those of the people of the United States, and hostile to rights, liberties and the rule of law.

  • I hear older couples traveling together, for instance, in a small town diner in Tennessee talking about how big government is going to ruin us.  I hear people in a BBQ joint in Alabama concerned about their financial future and saying government needs to get out of the way.  I hear a hotel worker in the lobby of a Hampton Inn – a hotel worker – complain that this country is going to the dogs.

    These are most likely the same folks who, over the past 50-60 years, voted that government the power they now hold. They are getting a rude wake-up that when you pull the tail of the lion you’re likely to get eaten alive. The have ignored Jefferson’s admonishment to, “..jealously guard the Jewel of Liberty”.
    Folks often say people vote their pocketbook, but for the past couple, three generations, they’ve been voting themselves into other folks (“The Rich”) pocketbooks.

    • Right.  And it doesn’t surprise me that in deep south, deep red states like Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, etc., these people are suddenly upset with big government.

      • Judging by kin still holed up in Yankee land, they aren’t happy either.
        And what are we in Texas?
        Okay, we’re Texas, whole nother country.  Seriously, never mind, I forgot myself for a minute.
        (Kinky for Governor)

      • Yep, those deep red states like Tennessee. Home of Al Gore. And which presently has a Democratic governor. And which has a congressional district in Nashville that hasn’t elected a Republican since 1875. Deeeeep red.

        • Tennessee isn’t a red state?

          • Riiiight. Those facts I mentioned, such inconvenient things they are, eh? Hey, did I mention that there were three Democrats from Tennessee in the House who voted for Obamacare? Yep, we’re just solid red, all right. At least to outsiders who don’t really know anything about the state.

          • Well, the Governor is a Democrat, the  Representatives in the House are mostly Dems, and the rest of the federal and state legislators are pretty evenly split.  That pretty much makes TN a purple state, doesn’t it?

            Don’t forget that two of TN’s biggest cities (Nashville and Knoxville) are fairly liberal areas.  Overall, TN is pretty middle of the road; kind of like the Delaware of the South.

          • Those facts I mentioned, such inconvenient things they are, eh?
            Your facts are pathetic.  Al Gore!?!  Couldn’t even carry his home state in 2000.
            Three of nine Congressmen voted for HCR – that’s 2-1 against.  Texas had ELEVEN of TWELVE Democratic representatives voting for health care – and as we all know, Texas is a middle of the road state [eyes rolling].
            You are delusional if you think Tennessee isn’t a red state.  Does this look like the color red to you?
            Every state, including here in Texas (a purple state in your mind I guess) have counties and cities with Democratic representation. And Texas had a D for governor not but last decade.
            Your outliers do not nullify the rule.
            No matter how independent you think your state is.

          • That pretty much makes TN a purple state, doesn’t it?
            No, it doesn’t.  Again, here in Texas, our two largest cities, Houston and Dallas, have quite the substantial liberal enclaves themselves.  And Austin, our state capital, is liberal as hell, and we have a good number of Dems in the State houses too.
            None of that makes Texas a purple state.  And none of what your stating makes Tennessee a purple state either.
            Just look at the electoral map people… Jeebus.

          • Ummm … TN is a whole lot smaller than TX, and Nashville comparatively dwarfs Austin regarding state politics.  Face it, Pogue.  TN is not a “deep red” state no matter how you want to slice it.

          • Ummm…  No it’s not, Michael.  No matter how you try to slice it.
            Look at the map, buddy.  Look at the counties that went blue.  4 of 95.  Four of freakin’ ninety-five counties went blue.  Even Georgia had a higher rate for Obama.  And you wouldn’t suggest that it’s purple, now would you.
            And, Tennessee had a higher percentage of McCain voters than Texas.  The numbers don’t lie.  It’s southern, it’s conservative, and it’s RED.
            How can anyone with a straight face suggest that Tennessee is a purple state?

          • But you’re only looking at the presidential election.  That’s pretty limiting, don’t you think?  When one reviews the entire spectrum of electoral choices, TN isn’t terribly “red”.

            And comparing TX to TN really doesn’t make much sense.  The rural, more conservative, areas of TX comprise a much greater extent of the population than the comparable areas of TN.  It may be hard to believe, but while TN may be “conservative” in the strictest sense of the word, it’s really not a “deep red” state.  In the very least, it’s not a partisan state like TX.

            If you want to make a comparison with another state, then KY, NC, AK or MS would be better comparisons, and amongst them is it’s still pretty middle of the road.

            I’m not trying to suggest that TN is “liberal” by any means, but it really isn’t “deep red” as you are asserting.

          • Yep, Tennessee is so red it went for Bill Clinton. Twice. Unlike Texas, I might add, which went Republican in both those elections.

      • Well, yeah, except the three couples in the diner in TN were snow-birds (I have an ear for accents and they were definitely MN or close by). The diner is just off I65. The 2 couples in AL were local and the woman in the Hampton had just stopped what she was doing to listen to a early morning news report saying that despite the promises health care premiums might go up. Interestingly, she was black and not happy.

  • One more time for those who continue to believe all these Tea Party demonstrations are founded on the right and favor the Republicans:

    Is this statement supposed to suggest that they are not “founded on the right and favor the Republicans”?
    Because the poll you site doesn’t necessarily prove that.  If the poll had been conducted exclusively among Tea Party protesters, then the poll would support that statement.  But it wasn’t.  So it doesn’t.
    I know, I know… I’ve seen the pictures of the occasional signs at these rallies reading “Republicans are no better” and “Republicans too.”  After all, who could possibly be pleased with the Republicans?  But if given the choice, I’m quite sure that the vast majority of these protesters would cast their ballots for Republicans over Democrats – in any election year.
    Of course, I don’t have a poll handy to back up that claim.  But of course, neither did you.
    And about that poll you site.  Did you happen to notice the favorable ratings?  That republicans fared better than democrats by only one lousy percentage point?  Senate republican leader is ahead just by two over Reid.  And Nancy Pelosi is actually ahead of Boehner by 7.
    I agree with you that there is definitely an anti-incumbent mood among Americans.  Which is always a good thing IMO.

    • Pogue, I gotta ask, are you (a) in favor of, or (b) against, the TEA party movement?  I’m curious because, even if most of the movement leans towards the GOP, the message has consistently been one of federalism (i.e. the federal government needs to butt the f*** out and let the States handle have more control) combined with fiscal conservatism.  What exactly is it with which you don’t agree?

      The fact of the matter is that the TEA party movement has much more to do with getting the feds to back off, slow down, and let us live our lives than anything else.  Is there something in that philosophy with which you disagree?

      • There is nothing in that philosophy of which I disagree.
        But I gotta ask you: What in my comment would cause you to ask that?
        Because all I did was,
        a) point out that the poll McQ sites doesn’t back up his claim that the Tea Party movement isn’t “founded on the right and favor the Republicans.”
        b) express an opinion that the vast majority of Tea Party protesters are currently, and most likely always have been, Republicans.  I think it’s naive to suggest that these are mostly independents out there.
        and c) point out that the poll numbers suggest that the Dem politicians aren’t faring all that much worse than GOP pols.  And even Pelosi is ahead of Boehner.
        None of which detracts from the validity or the genuineness of the protestations.
        I hope this isn’t the case here, but I find many occasions when people believe that if I wish to take something out of column A, then I must want to place it in column B.

  • The GOP needs to understand that if they regain any semblance of power, they need to deliver on some of these issues.

    Or they’ll be bounced in short order.

  • Not exactly sure how one would go about this (perhaps something like an on-line petition), but how about a “Contract AMONG Americans”:

    “I, the undersigned, do solemnly pledge and promise that I will not vote for any candidate for federal office, whether incumbent or challenger, no matter what his party affiliation, who does not promise to reduce the national debt by at least 5% per year, every year.  I further pledge and promise that I will hold these people accountable by refusing to vote for them ever again if they fail to meet this goal for any reason, regardless of any other votes or positions they take.”

    Simplistic, perhaps, but the fault is not with the wardheelers, liars, thieves and perverts that we elect: it lies WITH US for electing them in the first place.

  • I totally agree with you, Docjim505. Until we start to elect better people to these offices, we cannot expect a better result. We’re pretty much following the textbook definition of insanity: Do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

    To that point, not sure if you guys have seen this video, but here’s a perfect example of the type of numbnuts we elect to positions of power within our government.

    All I can do after seeing this is shake my head in disbelief.

  • The Tea Party may have some impact, but they won’t get what they want, enough votes in Congress to do anything, which is probably a good thing, since beyond healthcare, they really don’t know what they want.

    The want us to adhere to the Constitution – great, me too!
    They want lower taxes – great, me too!
    The want less government instrusion into our lives – great me too!
    They want the debt to go away – great me too!

    On the specifics of how to get these things done, they are tabula rasa.

    There is no hope of getting to a balanced budget without addressing these three non-discretionary spending items and one discretionary item. These four areas account for most of our federal spending, and in fact, in 20 years, just these programs alone will surpass all federal revenues based on the current tax rates.

    Social Security

    So to say you want a balanced budget is meaningless unless you say what you will do with the programs above to get there. If you make spending from the new healthcare reform bill disappear, it doesn’t even touch the problem.

    You are correct that the fault lies with us, as a nation, we really, really like these programs, but we really, really, hate paying for them. So our political pendulum swings between two parties that ignore the real problem and do other things that think they can actually get done.

    Tell me how the Tea Party people would vote if you had a candidate that promised to meet their objectives by slashing the aforementioned programs. I’ll give you a hint, these are the people that are mad about spending cuts in Medicare.

    In other words, the Tea Party would vote against anyone that actually laid out a plan to meet Tea Party objectives, so would pretty much everyone else.

    The practical way to solve this is by making SS a needs based program, expand Medicare to age 0, and redesign defense to cost half what it costs now. Something for everyone to hate, but also, something for everyone to love.

  • Never do we hear from President Obama, Professor Erb, or any other Progressive a scenario that explains exactly how we will one day catch up with our runaway expenditures.  Just generalizations and references to those  nations who are apparently getting away with it.   Why not ever any specifics on such an important matter?  The answer is obvious once you scope in on it.
    While one can never get a Marxist to admit it, Professor Erb and President Obama do not give a damn if our current economic system survives.  In fact, they hope it doesn’t!  The Marxist revolution depends on broke, frightened souls who have nothing to lose and who turn to government to make things OK for them.  Not being able to earn our way out of President Obama’s spending spree is just not a threatening  issue for a Marxist.  If  we can’t…hey, that will facilitate the revolution!  We will have done away with the moneyed class that stands in the way of  “progress” by inflating and taxing their wealth away to provide benefits for the common man.  To Hell with them.  Bankrupting them is much tidier than killing them.
    What other reason explains Professor Erb’s (and other Progressives’) nonchalance about the massive spending for entitlements and huge, out of control deficit?
    Don’t think so?  OK.  Test a Progressive out on spending a great deal of money on something that maintains a free market, encourages people to be self reliant, gets government out of our lives or creates equal opportunity without attempting to equalize results. The purse strings snap shut.  All that nonchalance about spending disappears.  According to them, we just haven’t the funds for that sort of thing.  It won’t “work”.
    The rubes are starting to wise up.  That is why we see a nod from the President toward offshore drilling, etc.  The rubes must be kept confused and uncertain about the trend of things or they might stop the revolution.  Too many voters are beginning to see President Obama and the Progressives as the Socialists that they are.
    And all of Professor Erb’s Liberal Narrative crap about “changing demographics” and the “demands of modern life”?  Wake up, rube.  It’s just a cover for “government giving to each according to his needs”.  Needs determined by the government.  Classic Marx.
    Once the “iron rice bowl” is complete and all the government workers (which now includes all health workers, soon to be all energy workers), academics and teachers are reliably voting Democratic to maintain their rice bowl, Independents won’t be needed any more and they will come for them.  Right now they still need them, hence the talk about off-shore drilling, etc.
    TARP has turned into a giant iron rice bowl funding mechanism (know many academic or government types who have been laid off?).  Taking over student loans facilitates the next generation of government workers signing up for the iron rice bowl.  Look around.  What is the trend?  See it changing under Democratic rule?
    Just how is the government ever going to pay off its debts, Professor Erb?  Details please.  Until you have an explanation for that, you stand revealed as the Marxist that you are.
    It’s not too late, but if President Obama is allowed to placate us just a little longer, it will be.

  • I explained a practical approach above, though politically I doubt it could enough support to happen.

    A lot of this is “Only Nixon could go to China” stuff. Republicans can’t fix social programs, Democrats would crucify them (in campaign ads) for even saying they’s like to do it out loud. Democrats can’t touch defense, or the GOP would destroy them in political ads. But if they both stopped fighting their little power wars long enough to think of the good (and survival) of the country, they could do it together.

    We really could be effective with only spending 5 times as much as the next largest military spender. We could do fine cutting SS payroll taxes to 3% (both sides with no cap) and making SS a needs based program, and I think needs would be limited with private accounts earning people retirement nest eggs that would generally far exceed what SS could ever offer. And we would do fine with expanding Medicare to year 0, bringing the cost per insured down dramtically, and for people who want no more than the basic, bringing health insurance costs down to a payroll tax cost of 7 or 8% (both sides).

    The question is, will we fight our partisan turf battles while the house is burning down, or will we come together and put out the fire?

    • No, you did not offer a practical approach.  Roosevelt made Social Security for all so that it would not be subject to the masses eliminating it.  Same with LBJ and Medicare.  Your “practical” suggestion is telling people who have made forced contributions all  their lives and have been promised a particular benefit, “just kidding”.  That is hardly practical.  If you got your wish for a “practical” program”, it would not be long before it would be gutted because it no longer had a constituency.  If the people who pay for it, get nothing from it, it will have a short life.  that, of course, would solve the entitlement problem.

  • I saw exactly this sort of pronounced anger in my upstate New York town, a liberal enclave that went heavily for Obama.

    The local school board, essentially a tool of the teachers union (the teachers in the district earn about twice the median income of the community, before benefits), decided that it wanted to do a $50 million renovation of the Middle School. In a supremely cavalier fashion it went about promoting the project, which needed approval in a district-wide vote by taxpayers.

    The district’s ridiculous annual budgets are routinely approved by about 2 to 1, with about 900 votes for and 450 against, as about the usual results.

    One member of the board was out busily attacking anyone who spoke out against the plan, and the rest of the board behaved as though this was a “for the children” automatic vote.

    Then the wave hit on voting day. I was standing on line at the high school with Mrs. McP and some friends and the folks had come out en masse. The district got its usual 9oo-plus votes, but the “No”s stacked up at app. 2500. And those “No”s, I saw them on line (and the lines were out the door from when voting began at noon until it ended at 9 p.m. and they needed an extra hour to get everyone to vote with three of the machines already maxed out), and they were grim-faced and pissed off.

    That’s what happens when people are pushed too far.

  • “That’s what happens when people are pushed too far.”

    Yeah, they change from people with D’s in front of their names who don’t solve the problems and create new ones, to people with R’s in front of their names that don’t sove problems and create new ones.

    And vice-versa.

    The Tea Party candidates are just as political (not practical) as R’s and D’s. None of them are willing to take the risk of actually addressing the problems, just more platitudes about the size of government, taxes, and gubment takeovers.

    Let one of them tell us how they would balance budget and watch the Tea Party people run away from them as fast as they can.

  • Funny how the right calls Obama a socialist while the left is angry at him for being too much a centrist.   When people go into over the top rhetoric like some of the comments above, they will definitely turn off the center.
    Note that The Economist was one of the publications that warned about the US consumption culture and coming economic turmoil.   Now if their current analysis is right and the US has indeed turned a corner, the economy will start improving, and Obama will cruise to re-election in 2012:     Note the suggestions about shifting away from taxing investments to taxing consumption.   Of course, now I’m sure The Economist will be harangued as some wild leftist socialist magazine.

    • You might have a valid argument if you noted the right, the moderate Democrats, and the independents called Obama a socialist while it is only the far left that calls him too much a centrist.  See Hamischer at Firedoglake.
      The writer of the Economist article, like you is basically dreaming.  There is far more left out than included.  We are not going to see a V recovery.  At best, we will see a very elongated U that will do little for employment in the next three years.  On the one hand, we want consumers to save more and spend less, but somehow the economy is supposed to grow at 3% even though we have borrowed 10% of GD to bet that 3%.  That cannot continue and you, Scott, know that.  So does the Economist.  We do have a nice manufacturing base, but it is in airplanes, farm equipment, and construction equipment.  There is only so much of that to be exported.  We don’t manufacture a lot of consumer equipment because our labor costs are so much higher, but the left wants them even higher to solve the “income inequality” problem.  Might there be a conflict here?  BTW, the Economist article is not an analysis as you claim.  it is more wishing and hoping.
      No Scott, you are once again guilty of what you complained about earlier this week.  Treating your wishes as fact.

    • Once again, when challenged Professor Erb votes “absent”.

    • Marxist Professor Erb cites the latest feature of the Liberal Narrative, economics sector:  “Don’t worry about the deficit, economic recovery is afoot and the recovery  will surely enable us to pay off everything we spend now.”
      We are all sick of the metaphor of the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Professor Erb’s “analysis” calls to mind a metaphor of all of the deck chairs from the Titanic perched precariously on one rowboat, with the captain heartily shouting:  “Don’t worry, when me make port after the coming storm we will easily be able to unload them at a nice profit.”
      What is needed is a little perspective.  How about a routine economics article from 1999?  Read it, though you won’t believe it, given the contrast to today’s economic news:
      Here is a quote from the article:  “The announcement this week that the US would pay back debt before it matured created a bright spot on an otherwise dull Wall Street – understandably so, since it will be the first time this century that the US has paid back debt early [my emphasis]. But it raises questions as to how durable the move of the US into fiscal surplus really is.”…”If President Clinton’s genius as a communicator can push home the message that paying down debt helps US families more than unfocused tax cuts, then the effects will go far beyond the States. Mr Micawber would be proud of him.”
      Mr. Micawber (Dickens):  “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, expenditure twenty pounds  nought and six, result misery.”
      We’ve come a long way, baby.

  • You do know that foreign labor was ALWAYS cheaper, all that differs now is that we do not impose tariffs to protect our labor base.

    I am agnostic on protectionist tariffs, except to the extent that I would compare outcomes with respect to the only economy I care about, America’s, in the pre and post free trade environments.

    Let me ask you this, how is this working out for us?

    • No, foreign labor has not  “ALWAYS cheaper”.   Europe was not “cheaper” after WWII.  They just had a destroyed manufacturing base.  Asian labor may have been “cheaper” for years, but they did not have the invested capital base to increase productivity, so that the cost of labor in the product was less.  And, that is if they even had the know how to build the product.  To further indicate how silly your claims are, consider the cost and quality of cars built in the US by Asian manufacturers to those of GM and Chrysler.  GM and Chrysler now exist on the charity of the US taxpayer.
      You may be agnostic on tariffs, but you offer no alternatives.  You either have free trade or you have tariffs.   Tariffs simply spread the costs over everyone in an attempt to save some jobs.  usually at a very large cost per job.
      So, how is the search for a third way working out for you?

  • Hmmm, whose economic analysis is stronger — the world’s top economic publication who saw earlier bubbles and was spot on in warning about the current crisis, or an internet commentator who tried to somehow deny that the Reagan Administration saw a massive increase in debt and deficit spending?   And given you dismiss The Economist rather than really consider the possibility, I suspect you are the one guilty of dreaming that your wishful thinking is reality.   More economists are thinking that we are moving outside the worst days.  I agree we have to cut the debt, but we also needed to stimulate the economy.   We’ll see.   But you seem to want to dismiss all potential good news, and that suggests that you might not be open minded on this.

    • The Economist is Time magazine with a British accent. I threw my last copy away twenty years ago. Occasional visits to its web version have never convinced me that I made a mistake. And if you’re impressed by it, Scott, there has to be something wrong with it.

      One hopes for economic recovery, but the deficit and debt are crushing and the so-called stimulus (nearly a trillion bucks when the interest is factored) was a political payoff. Everyone knows that now, even the fools who supported it. It was crap.

      The health care monstrosity, likewise, will be a drag, although at least now that it’s passed the goose that lays the golden eggs will do her best.

      What we have, basically, is a socialist government at war with the very concept of America.

      • “What we have, basically, is a socialist government at war with the very concept of America.”

        And Erb applauding and defending it’s every move!

    • I assume that was a reply to me, Scott.  You were the one who misinterpreted the numbers from your Wikapedia reference ,  not me.  I just pointed out you did not seem to understand the difference between public debt and gross debt.  You had to be so confused to claim the 60% number.  I guess you just aren’t used to be actually checking your references.
      Second, the Economist was not the only one foreseeing the financial problems.  If you want, we can start looking at them.  You can start with Steve Keene, Hussman, Ritzotz, Zero Hedge, Tanta at Calculated Risk.  The list goes on and on. There were plenty of people who warned in 2005  things were not sustainable.   The ones who missed it are the same ones who are predicting a V shaped recovery.   Economists thinking we are “moving out of the worst days”, is not the same as a V shaped recovery.  John Maulden is still hoping for a “muddle through” economy, but recognizes poor government could ruin even that.  But, “muddle through” or elongated “U” make mincemeat of your claims of Obama being reelected by acclamation because of an expanding economy.  You are still guilty of equating hope with fact.

      • Mr. Poly Sci has been predicting the recovery now for over a year.  At some point of course he’ll be right, and we’ll hear all about it then.  Until such time, he’ll continue to subsist on the  outright lies and fabrications figures of the administration and the happy talk numbers they trot out every month (quietly reevaluated to lower unhappy numbers generally several days after the opening more optimistic versions) as proof that Obama and his assembled brain trust are suupper-geniuses and all will soon be well.

        • Well, you know, we are technically in a recovery. It’s just the lazy people of America who are still in a recession. They refuse to work.

          Meanwhile, hardworking government workers, workers who know how to work and work hard at their work and do a lot of work as workers, are doing very well!

        • We will have a recovery, the question is whether it’s sustainable.  Unless we shift away from the consumption oriented “something for nothing” culture where people thought getting rich was easy — all you have to do is buy stocks or real estate — to one where we produce and export, we’ll drift from crisis to crisis.  This recovery will be due to a large stimulus, based on borrowed funds.  That can spur growth, and presumably that will increase state revenues.   But unless there are real efforts to cut budget deficits once growth starts, and restructure the economy, the recovery will be short lived, and the next crisis even more difficult to solve.

          • It doesn’t get any goofier than that.

            I particularly love the bobblehead segue from consumption to investment.

          • We will have a recovery….gee, ya think, with an eternity for a time frame, I’d say that’s a very very safe bet.
            Ah, all we have to do is produce and export – any suggestion what we might produce and export?  Build entire industries from the ground up shall we?  Create demand in foreign markets for products that only America can produce cheaply?  What century do you think we’re in or are you planning on the jobless rate staying at 9.7% for 3 or 4 more years while we build design and build products, markets and demand in this whole produce and export scheme of yours.
            “restructure the economy” – ah, green jobs perhaps?   How shall we restructure this, put the kulaks to work on collective farms?  Create another TVA?  Another WPA?  Get more people on the push brooms behind the other people on  push brooms behind the other people on push brooms?  What the hell, besides a airy wave of the hand with a missing fairy wand is that statement – ‘restructure the economy”.
            And there’s your tried and true standby – “unless real efforts to cut budgets the recovery will be short lived”, but you left out how you’ll be surprised and disappointed if Obama doesn’t DO that, usually you toss that in there too.
            “large stimulus” presumably by government – so, larger than LAST year’s LARGE stimulus?  How large is it going to have to be?  How much are we going to have to borrow to achieve this payoff?   So you’re still on the idea that only the government can make this better, and getting them to stand out of the freaking way would be foolish and dangerous because markets don’t really work do they.
            Ah I forget, you’re a professor, not a DOER, all of these complicated real life things are left as academic exercises for the reader.  My mistake, Carry on.

      • Funny how you emphasize “wikipedia reference” making it sound like some kind of smear.   Those numbers are accurate, that was the easiest place to refer you too.  And I did not misrepresent them at all.  Debt to GDP ratios are a common measure.  I teach Comparative Political Economics and we use that measure to compare states and their economic policies all the time.   In what way do you think I’m misunderstanding them?   And believe me, I’ve had to do extensive research on these issues for both academic papers and to prepare for classes, so I’ve checked my references.
        You are right that plenty of people were warning of problems earlier (my current research in fact is, in part, looking at media coverage of those warnings, and why they weren’t heeded).   But look at what you are doing above.  You cite a few economists who have pessimistic forecasts, and then claim that “makes mincemeat” of a claim that Obama will have an expanding economy.  The truth is, of course, economists disagree.  That’s why in my post I noted “IF these predictions are right…”  Only a fool would claim they know for sure what will happen, economists disagree.  My own view is that we likely will see expanding jobs by 2012 and an economic upsurge.  However, I don’t think that will last, and we could be facing another crisis by 2014, especially if there is no confidence that debt will be brought under control.  A hazy part of the forecast is the strength of the dollar — one would think it would weaken due to growing debt.   Yet today it’s $1.35 to 1 Euro, relatively strong compared to the recent past.   The dollar’s strength also depends on what people expect from other economies and currencies.
        So nobody knows.  But if the more optimistic economists are current — and they might be — then Obama will have the same fate as Reagan, whose approval ratings were only 38% as late as early 1983 (WSJ).  If the most pessimistic predictions are right, he’ll have trouble.  If it’s a mix, it’ll be close.   Today’s job numbers — the best in three years — aren’t enough to swing the debate either way.  They were good, what one would expect if things are turning around, but not definitive.  I’d advise you to recognize that the future is still uncertain.    You are the one equating hope with fact because you do not qualify your view with an “if this is correct.”  You assume you are correct, that is equating fact with hope.  I know that uncertainty levels are high — and that stimulus money historically does lead to growth, and there is reason to think this recession will behave like past recessions.   There is also reason to be skeptical.   But neither of us knows for sure what will happen.

  • Rick – re: Social Security – My proposal to change SS has two elements, not just the one you mentioned, and I think this makes a significant difference in the debate surrounding it. I agree that simply to make SS needs based would be a mistake, a big one. But that is not what I suggested. My idea is to make SS needs based, which would dramatically reduce the year over year funding required to pay recipients, but ONLY if you combine it with private accounts. In simple terms, we pay 12.4% of each gross paycheck in SS taxes, I would reduce this to 4% for the needs based program, and push the remaining 8.4% into private accounts. This could obviously not be done overnight, it would have to be phased in over 20 to 30 years. However, I would gladly give up my claim on the $200,000.00 I have paid in SS payroll taxes in exchange for having my own dollars working for me for the next 20 years. The difference here is that we would have private accounts AND the safety net. As long as the forced savings remain compounding, there should be very few people who require the needs based payouts.

    re: protectionism: It is ridiculous to take my assertion that foreign labor is ALWAYS cheaper and mangle it’s meaning  to infer that I meant that ALL foreign labor is always cheaper. Since you seem to need this clarification, there is ALWAYS somewhere outside of the US where labor is cheaper. As to your car manufacturer comparison, I honestly have no idea what point you were trying to make. However, I can tell you that while there was definitely a slump in US car quality, that is long since over, and US cars meet or exceed foreign car quality, whether they were built in the US or not. Moreover, I would like for you to consider what Toyota found with it’s experiment in cheap American labor. (Sorry McQ for yet another insult to the South)  Toyota built a new plant in Canada a few years ago (2005). The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs. Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project. He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained – and often illiterate – workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use “pictorials” to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment. “The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario,” Fedchun said. So not only is our overly expensive healthcare system driving employers out of the country, and our poor investment in education driving employers out of the US, it is so bad that they are being to places where the labor wage costs are actually higher. We can build great quality products in the US, but you don’t get great quality workers in the states where the education quality is lowest.

    This country used tariffs to protect the America labor base for 200 years, with solid, consistent growth throughout that period. From 1980 forward, with the advent of globalization, the reduction and eliminationof tariffs, NAFTA and GAT, that perpetually growing middle class has stagnated. We ARE doing the world a favor by opening up the worlds greatest consumer market to them, and in return, we get $29 chainsaws, but necessities that cannot be efficiently imported, healthcare, education, food, have inflated enough to wipe away gains from cheap manufactured goods, leaving Americans, for the first time in our history, with a lower quality standard of living that preceding generations. The path we are traveling is essentially allowing countries like China to grow at our expense as they exhaust our consumers of their expendable income, which will eventually lead the our consumer market being displaced by their own, and ironically, when that happens, those countries will enact protectionist policies to protect their base, taking away these new markets from us, leaving us an exhausted, broke, second world nation. But the corporations won’t care, their fortunes are not tied to the US labor or consumption base, because of free trade, they can go where the profits are.

    Oh, and by the way, it is a wonderful joke for you to complain about US car manufacturers living off the charity of taxpayers. Those Asian manufacturers you hold in such high esteem were built on government subsidies and draconian tarrifs, even while the US had tariffs on foreign vehicles making entry into the US more difficult than domestic brands, US products were essentially banned from their countries. When we started buying Toyotas and Hondas and Datsun here in the US, GM, Ford and Chrysler could not sell cars in Japan. To this day, China, Japan, and many countries that we allow to sell unfettered in the US carry tariffs and VAT taxes that increase the cost of US goods by 30 to 60%.

    Free trade my Irish arse.

    In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

  • You know, I understand Rick’s point about Social Security, but given the demographics, drastic measures may have to be taken, including telling people their forced contributions are dependent on need.   Simply put, if as I hope we do have a spurt of economic growth, it’ll be short lived unless we make dramatic structural adjustments to the budget and our economy.   I don’t think it’ll be easy either — I suspect we’ll need strategic investments, which costs money, tax hikes, and large cuts.   All this will have to be done so as not to throw the economy back into recession, timing is important.   But crisis makes the unthinkable suddenly thinkable.  It depends on how bad things get.   I’m not as sold on private accounts — those seemed like a good idea when investment appeared to be easy money — just buy a broad based mutual account and watch it skyrocket.  Now I’m not sure how well most people would be with the private accounts (and what will happen to stock prices and the like when the boomers start pulling out money from retirement accounts instead of putting money into them?)

  • Well, OK, harumph.  I will withdraw the charge about Marxism.  Professor Erb has actually demonstrated concern about the deficit and has stated a hope that the economy is able to recover.  We still haven’t seen similar concern from the White House, which proceeds merrily along on its way to bankruptcy by planning the cap and tax, oops! energy  bill.  I have inside word from Washington that they are working on making it appear bipartisan and that doing so is proving to be difficult.  No sh*t Sherlock.

    • Erb is a Marxist. He has two footings: socialism and anti-Americanism. Everything else derives from that. He tries to hide it, but he’s not currently fooling anyone.

      He detests America.

    • I’m a philosophical idealists (ideas are the stuff of the world), Marx was a philosophical realist.  Marx was a materialist, believing material mechanisms gave the world meaning.  Again, I’m an idealist on that question, and spiritual.  Marx thought the economy drove everything.   I think culture is the dominant force, and that culture actually shapes economics.  I do think Marx had some insights about structural power/social structures.   He was a 19th century social scientist whose views were, typical for that time, grandiose and overly ambitious.  I believe he really thought his theory would lead to human liberation, but his theory set up a rationale for idealists to use government to impose their will in the name of a theorized better future.  The result is up to a hundred million dead.   To me, Marxism is a major reason why I avoid ideology and prefer pragmatism.

      • You’re a confusion wrapped in blabber:

        “I’m a philosophical idealists [sic]…Marx was a philosophical realist…his theory set up a rationale for idealists to use government to impose their will…”


        One does not believe in the inexorable logic of history, Scott, without being an idealist.

        And Marxism was always at war with bourgeois culture and took even more pronounced steps into culture war before you were born, such that it is now the main angle of its attack. You know that and pretend otherwise.

        Marx was himself was always hellbent on attacking culture.

        Gramsci: cultural counter-hegemony.

        The guy who wrote a ’70s hipster classic, I can’t remember the author’s name but the title was, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg (app.),  had a great term for your sort of blabbering: roof-brain chatter.

        • Marx was not an idealist, he believed that material forces lead to laws of history that were inexorable.  If you call Marx and idealist it’s like calling the Pope a practicing Jew.
          Gramsci is hated by orthodox Marxists because he attacks their materialist/determinist perspective.  Gramsci had a lot of insight into the how a hegemonic discourse emerges, but his counter-hegemony seems to me to be just as bad.  If the battle is between different discursive narratives, then truth is sacrificed to whoever can win the political battle.  If that’s the case, then society will lose.

          • Scott, there is no basis in materialism on which to hypothesize laws that determine historical outcome. That is German idealism, par excellence.

            See: Hegel (from whom Marx took the formula for his historical dialectic and simply changed the branding to “materialism” and in effect creating a synthetic creature that could be called materialis idealism).

            Marx was always a purveyor of pure nonsense, as are his successors, assigns, and heirs.

            Also, all that Gramsci did with his “cultural counter-hegemony” was re-emphasize Marx’s attack on bourgeois society and its norms. Gramsci was responding to the failure of the masses to rise up in revolution, and he was blaming it on the strength of cultural institutions. See Marx’s On the Jewish Question for his fundamental attack on the Judeaic roots of the West as just one of his attacks on culture.

            And today’s cultural Marxism is familiar to everyone paying attention. You’re concern with culture has its roots right there.

          • Also, I just want to reiterate again: You are a Marxist and your two interests stemming from that are socialism (by definition) and anti-Americanism (as the point of interface with your struggle).

            Blabber all you want. Let your eyes roll around in your head all day long. That is all that you ever have and ever will boil down to. Your “spirtuality” notwithstanding, which is so weak in any case that you cannot even claim for yourself a natural right to your own life. Who knows, maybe you are a Budhist Marxist, or some other bizarre synthesis concocted in the faculty lounge. But the bottom line is that you have no business being in front of a classroom, and the fact that you are is testimony to the corrupt process that puts people like you in that sort of position.

            But your true value to the world is your inability to shut your mouth. As one of the characters in my novel says, “Lies are inexhaustible,” and I offer you as a footnote to verify that.