Free Markets, Free People

Year 3 of Obamanomic brings us $1.5 trillion more of debt

Or so sayeth the CBO.  Good thing they waited until today to announce it.  Otherwise we might have heard snickering and outright laughter during the SOTU when our deficit-hawk President talked about how serious he was about reducing the deficit and the debt.

The budget deficit is now estimated to have widened this year to $1.5 trillion, the CBO said. That compares to a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

The increase in the deficit would bring it to 9.8 percent of gross domestic product, the CBO said, following deficits of 10 percent and 8.9 percent during the previous two years.

Do you remember how he promised to half the debt by the end of his first term in office?  Yeah?  Well that means he could run a deficit of $750 billion and keep his word.  Funny how that works out, huh?

The CBO’s projections assume that current laws remain unchanged. If the nation continues on its current path, the CBO said, the total national debt will rise from 40 percent of GDP in 2008 to 70 percent by the end of 2011, reaching 77 percent of GDP by 2021.

But hey, this is all the other guy’s fault, remember?  Oh, and one more point, those of you on the left having fun with Rep. Paul Ryan’s factual response?  Make sure you go find someone who can explain the ramifications of this to you, ‘kay?  And have them point out who it is that the CBO agrees with in principle as well:

“To prevent debt from becoming unsupportable, the Congress will have to substantially restrain the growth of spending, raise revenues significantly above their historical share of GDP, or pursue some combination of the those two approaches,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a blog post announcing the report.

While you’re at it, have them explain the appetite for tax increases. Wait, I’ll save you the question – there is none.  See December’s extension of the current income tax rates.  Now, given that – try to focus.  What does that leave?  Yes, they’re left with “substantially restrain[ing] the growth of spending”.  As in “no more new spending” and “cut back existing spending”.  Precisely what Ryan has been saying, isn’t it?

So when Rep. Ryan makes the point that:

Under the terms of a House resolution passed Tuesday, Ryan is to set ceilings at 2008 levels or less.

He has a good reason, one backed by the facts of the situation and not some meandering mewling from Paul Krugman.  This is the medicine for the addiction.  America has said and is saying again that the voters are not willing to give you a single nickel more until government proves it can significantly cut it’s spending habit.  No cuts, no increased taxes.  In fact, if the cuts are indeed significant enough, the perhaps no new taxes are needed at all.

Yeah, I know, living within your means like all the rest of us have to do – what a concept.



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157 Responses to Year 3 of Obamanomic brings us $1.5 trillion more of debt

  • Increasing debt during a recession can be defended, so long cuts are made once the economy starts coming out of recession.    What is not acceptable is to increase debt and deficits during an economic boom.  Unfortunately, from 1982 to 1990 government debt went from 30% of GDP to 60%.   1982 is the year we started to live beyond our means as a country.   Then from 2002 to 2007, during another boom, the debt rose again.  If we hadn’t been increasing debt during booms (when you should be cutting it), we’d have been better able to handle the need to stimulate the economy.   Key now is for the two political parties to do serious work to start cutting deficits, especially if the economy continues to show signs of life.

    • I think that we’ve been living beyond our means for much longer than that.  And I think that we’re now past the point where we can begin to balance the books without substantial pain, via both higher taxes and lower spending.  The GOP will fight against raising taxes, and Democrats will fight against restricting spending.  Paul Ryan will likely be crucified by the left and abandoned by the right for his attempts to create a plan that might actually put this country back on the road to fiscal sanity.  Liberals will dance on his political grave, Conservatives will try not to roll their eyes at the mention of his name.  Neither will propose anything that would help fix the economy, though.

      • I actually find a lot to like in Ryan’s plan.  I hope Obama is serious about making real compromises.   I think tax increases should go directly to states, and oversight of some federal programs should be given to states.   States will have minimum standards, but if they can more efficiently and cheaply meet them, they can use the extra revenue for what they want — or give tax cuts.   I think a potential compromise could involve decentralizing power and resources.
        By the way, private and corporate debt has risen as fast as government debt — the citizens have been as bad as government in living beyond their means.   That’s also a serious problem.

    • Increasing debt in a recession can only be defended if you are a Keynesian. But since Keynesianism is pure hogwash then we should not increase debt in either a boom or a bust.

      We should cut federal spending period. And not spare any area, everything should be chopped. Then we should introduce restraints upon the Federal reserve so that it can no longer manipulate our currency willy nilly which leads to a worse than normal boom bust cycle.

      • You’re saying neo-classical economics is pure hogwash?!  I daresay you’re at odds with almost all economists.
        So you say that’s OK to deficit spend in a boom, and to double debt as a proportion to GDP like we did from 1980 to1990.  I mean, Keynes would say we should even have surpluses in a boom to pay for the next time we have to stimulate the economy.   Why would you say that’s hogwash?  It’s easy to dismiss something with a name, can you explain why you do so?

        • Gawd, what a moron…!!!  “…almost all economists.”  Wonderfully authoritative!!!!
          “Everybody at school thinks you’re a poo-poo head”.

        • No, I say it is never all right to deficit finance, the only exception would be in a major war. What Lord Keynes said is immaterial to me. He was all over the place.  His original idea was to save money during a boom and spend it during a downturn, but he quickly changed his tune and advocated deep deficit spending when the Governments of England and the USA asked his advice.

          I really don’t understand the mesmeric effect that old poof has on so many people. His General theory is full of holes and Keynesian-ism simply does not work. It did not work in the 1930’s it did not work in the 1970’s it did not work in Japan in the 1990’s, and it has not worked for us recently.

          You are also quite incorrect if you assume that most economists currently believe in that garbage.  Amazingly, or perhaps not so amazingly the only ones who do believe it also happen to be socialists to some extent.

          That is the real power behind the theory. Not because it works to create prosperity, but because it give a good excuse for elites to control the economy and thus have power over people.

          • Because neo-classical economics includes much of what Keynes wrote and there is no way anyone can say it was trash.   If you say that, you are showing you don’t understand economics.   Keynes, Hayek, economists left and right added insights that economists incorporate.    Putting Keynes aside, do you really reject neo-classical economics that notes the short term stimulative effect of deficit spending, which often is necessary to stop a downward spiral.  If not, why not — and what would you put in its place?   Argumentum ad hominem against Keynes is irrelevant, neo-classical economics has many authors, and many tweaks over the years.
            It does appear that the deregulative monetarist approach has failed.   That was Greenspan’s theory, and it led to a massive orgy of credit and debt.  If you look at the increase in both private and government debt, it started in 1982 — the biggest growth of US government debt as a % of GDP was from 1980 to 1990.    Also note that tax cuts in 2001 helped turn surpluses into massive deficits.   It’s easy to take pot shots at economic theories.  As a political scientist (who does political economy) I often note how economists too often ignore politics and fall in love with their theory, thinking reality will work the way the theory says it should (not taking into account the role of politics).   So there is definitely room to criticize.    But you just dismissed much of modern economic theory by: a) falsely saying it was simply Keynesian; and b) dismissing it with an ad hominem, not explaining why or giving an alternative.

          • *sigh*
            ” If you say that, you are showing you don’t understand economics.”
            1) He didn’t say that.
            2)There are a lot of economists who don’tunderrstand economics, so he would be in good company.

            “do you really reject neo-classical economics”
            1) Once again, he did not say that
            2) Neo-classical economics may be a religion with you but there are many economists who don’t agree. People who actually studied economics.

             “It’s easy to take pot shots at economic theories.”

            True. Economists do it all the time.


          • I have to reply to my reply because I could not link to yours.  Yes I totally reject the Idea that it is possible to stimulate aggregate demand enough by deficit spending to get a nation out of a recession. 

            There is no empirical evidence to suggest that it can ever happen unless you count the spending for World War 2.  And that was a total war economy and is a special case.

            Greenspan was a quasi-monetarist and as long as he followed monetarist theory then we did pretty well. The problem is that as he got older he got further away from monetarism and he adopted increasingly unnecessary loose money policies.  This did indeed contribute to the latest boom/bust cycle, but was only a part of it.

            Of course you are right that all of the major economists have added a thing or two to our overall knowledge, that is how knowledge works. But Keynes was simply wrong in his prescription for prosperity. 

            I stand by my view that people who advocate strong government meddling in financial markets, and various tenets of central planning are not interested in what is best for society because of the horrible track record of those things.  They are interested in power (and maybe making a buck).

            Another myth of the recent downturn is that deregulation had a lot to do with it.  But there was an increase in regulation of financial markets in the two years before the downturn began.  We had Sarbannes-Oxley and a forced change to mark to market accounting.

            Now it is true that the derivatives market was mostly unregulated, but that is because it was fairly new. 

            I think that regulating the financial markets is like any other sort of regulation, it is necessary to ensure that there is a minimum of fraud and to enforce sound lending practices and to some extent protect consumers.  However, it is problematical. You can have lots of regulations, as we have for a long time now, but if the politicians are not interested in enforcement then you get a situation like we had with housing.  Where both parties in congress and in the administration were pushing  home loans to marginal buyers.

            Also you can have too many regulations which would serve to hamstring markets. And lastly, in the presence of a high regulation regime then those players with money and influence to spare will get the regulations they want so that they can use them to defeat competitors.

          • OK, I’ll reply to you as well for the same reason.   First, there was an effort to regulate derivatives, and it was squashed by Greenspan, Summers and Rubin (the Clinton White House, to be sure) because they believed markets would get it right.  That’s why Greenspan famously confessed that his world view had been wrong, economies need regulation.   The financial meltdown was because of derivatives — it fed the demand for subprime mortgages and all the rest.   Cheap credit — misguided monetary policy (again, thank Greenspan and his now debunked world view) helped keep credit far too cheap, creating bubbles.   The Bush tax cut allowed not only deficit spending during a boom, but the impact was to build the bubbles even further, which also harmed the economy.
            I don’t know how you can say that stimulating demand doesn’t lead to growth (after all, even President Bush preached that).    Deficit spending is not in and of itself harmful — a country like a business may have to borrow to set up a better future (build infrastructure, etc.).  Deficit spending pumped up the US economy in the 80s, and Europe from the 40s on shows how deficit spending can stimulate growth.   The problem is that it becomes addictive, and deficits continue after the recession, in which case they are counter productive.
            I mean, you assert a particular point, claim there is no evidence, but I don’t see what you base that on.   Look, I’ve been studying political economy for about thirty years, you’re stating that the core theories (and real world examples) guiding the study of political economy are false or unreal.    That’s a pretty bold claim.    But I can’t be convinced if you don’t back it up.  One argument against Obama’s stimulus I find strong is that the US economy has been hyperstimulated for thirty years, which caused hyper-consumerism, and bubbles.  Too much stimulus is like too much of a drug.

    • What is not acceptable is to increase debt and deficits during an economic boom.

      I agree, but if you recall back 4 or 5 years ago nobody was willing to call the economy a “boom” whether it was or not .. fearing they might bestow some credit upon the occupant of the Oval Office.  Frankly, based on AP, it’s impossible to know that the economy was ever better .. it only ever gets worse.

      • Funny how Collectivists want it both ways…at the same time.
        The “boom” Erp is talking about was the 5.5% unemployment “jobless recovery”.
        Ah, for the days of a terrible Booooosh economy…!!!  (And I HATED Bush’s later economic policy).

    • Increasing debt during a recession can be defended blah blah what is not acceptable is to increase debt during an economic boom blah blah all Reagan’s fault blah blah key now is for the two political parties to do serious work to start cutting deficits blah blah.

      There, I have now dealt out enough meaningless generalities to distract you guys from actually debating the issues, and instead helped you refocus your efforts on giving all your attention to debating me, where of course your efforts should be directed. I mean, when I’m not around, you guys just wander off into irrelevancies with “facts” and “graphs” and stuff.

      I have to say, it’s amazing how content free my posts can be and still get you guys to dance to exactly the tune I want you to by making the entire thread about me, me, me. Must be my vast godlike powers of political science.

      • Considering that Keynes (consumption driven economy) is the inverse of J.B. Say (production driven) and government controls are the inverse of Adam Smith, that’s a schizo take.
        Why am I not surprised.

    • There is no benefit to borrowing money, whether it’s a boom or bust, unless you anticipate a “profit” beyond the interest expense. Since government never has a profit, it is always bad economics to spend more than you have.

      However, I’m always impressed with Obama’s rhetoric. Nobody can every know whether he kept his 2009 promise about cutting the deficit in half, because the fiscal year will only be a few months old by the time of the 2012 election. His first term won’t end until January. So, he can say that the YTD deficit is half what it was for the full fiscal year he “inherited”.

      I think your analysis of Ryan’s statement is slightly disingenuous. It’s hardly the “medicine for the addiction”, when he merely cuts “discretionary spending” to 2008 levels. That won’t even cut the budet deficit by 10% … it will still require massive spending and add another trillion dollars to the debt. If that’s a “solution”, we’re in really big trouble.

      • No he can’t say that – the deficit in the last Bush year was somewhere in the $200 to $300 billion range. That’s the deficit amount he “inherited”. So this has nothing to do with what he inherited, it has to do with what he’s run up under his watch.

        As for Ryan – you have to start somewhere. Discretionary spending is something they can do now, with little or no effort. Defense and non-discretionary spending will require much more work. And that’s how it is being presented, so the analysis of his statement is hardly “disingenuous”. Cutting discretionary spending by pulling it back to lower levels is important both in a real sense and in a symbolic sense.

        • There is also the “turning the herd” aspect of this…  You cannot jerk the body politic around.  They have to be led, carefully.
          Ryan would be committing suicide if he jumped out in front of the national stampede to spend what we don’t have.  He…and others…will have to carefully turn the herd slowly…without a disjunction politically.

          The deficit in Bush’s last year was a product of the Dem CONGRESS that took over in January, 2007, but didn’t write the budget until the following fiscal year.
          Bush’s last deficit under the REPUBLICAN Congress was $160B and falling quickly.

    • Actually rampant deficit spending growth began by the last year of Carter’s presidency and extended until the Republicans regained congress in the mid 90’s.
      And I hadn’t been living beyond my means.  The Democrats in Congress had been spending beyond my means to support it.
      Not surprising the deficit spending growth resurged with the return of the Democrats to Congress.

      • You can’t let the President off the hook — the President signs the bills, he can veto them, and in Reagan’s case he negotiated the result.   Often Congress had a Reagan coalition majority — the Democrats had so many conservative Democrats (who would switch ultimately to the GOP) that he had a working majority in the House, and an actual majority in the Senate.   Moreover, Reagan’s own people dismissed concern for budget deficits.     The second big run up — deficit spending during a boom — was almost a wholly GOP affair, from 2001-2007.   By the time the 110thCongress came into power, we were already getting into a recession.
        Yes, blame Democrats, but it’s denial of reality to pretend it was only their fault, President Reagan was a willing participant in this, as was President Bush.   I also wouldn’t give Clinton or the Republicans too much credit for the late 90s surpluses, as that was built on a bubble economy.    It was a credit orgy, driven by misguided monetary policies from the 80s onward.   Private debt rose as fast as government debt (or faster) .

        • ” Often Congress had a Reagan coalition majority”

          It was an ad hoc majority, if you can even call it a majority.  Although Reagan got his way on some items, on the majority he didn’t. Spending, for example.

          “Reagan was a willing participant in this”

          Only if you limit the meaning of ‘willing’ to mean amenable to compromise, which I thought you considered to be a good thing.

          • Bush I tried to come to a loggerheads with Congress and let the government shutdown.  Bush was subsequently vilified.  Of course, somehow it was the Republican Congress that was vilified when the government shutdown under Clinton.
            So much for being complicit when the money stops, people can’t may their payments or whatever and the media gangs up against your side.
            Anyway, Reagan had a much bigger agenda than the budget.  Unlike most of his predecessors, he wanted to actually do something about the Cold War than the status quo.  And getting the economy rolling with cuts.  Neither of which hurt revenue picture that resulted from the tax cuts.

          • Oh yeah, almost forgot
            Reagan stamped down terrorism for a while.  The spurt of terrorism that happened in the early mid 80’s was put down and didn’t flare up again until after the Gulf War.

        • The reality is that if Reagan set his foot down and refused to sign budgets, he likely would be a largely disliked one term president, and we would still be facing the USSR.

          You can’t pretend that presidents have unlimited power. Reagan had to cut a compromise. And he did, and it was a good one on balance.

  • Marc Faber told Bloomberg News:

    Obama has done a horrible job. He’s dishonest… Foreigners laugh at Obama… He’s like a prostitute.”

    America as Eastern Europe…that’s the Obama way…
    Erp, what values does Obama share with America?

    • Just read the text of his speech last night.  He believes in the American dream, his optimism was much like Reagan’s, he believes in initiative, liberty,and limited government.   He definitely comes from the spectrum of progressives from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin, and Kennedy who believes government can be a force to help those without power or wealth have a chance to make something of themselves.   But only someone wholly ignorant about America would define that group as not reflecting American values.   He’s actually not that different from Reagan.   You guys have created a caricature in your writings and reactions, bolstered by each other as you reinforce each other’s image, that you can’t see the President for what he really is.  You’ve drank the Kool-aid, you’re believing the propaganda against him.   The left did that with Bush too — and Bush really wasn’t that bad.   It’s so silly how you polit-junkies left and right create “evil images” of the other side’s leaders, and then create rhetorical foam that you ultimately end up believing yourself.

      • Thank you for participation in our little demonstration.
        You are out of your flucking mind, Erp.  But your nuttiness shows wonderfully well that there is nothing Obama and America share in common.
        Love that you feel the need to condescend…in your loopy dissertation about “initiative, liberty, and limited government”, the puuurr and powerless…to me!
        You had to gin it up.  I could have done better (it would be BS, too), but…you wrote what you wrote.

        • Love that you need to call names.   As I wrote earlier, I believe Obama will ultimately be remembered as one of the great Presidents, given he serves at a transitional time.   Of course, any effective Democrat would be getting the treatment you guys give him here.   Four legs good, two legs bad, eh?   (Yeah, on the left they do it to GOP leaders too).   I try to take the view that leaders of both parties care about the country and have different views on how best to move it forward.   The need to think the other side wants to destroy the country or has some nefarious plot is either dishonest (made for propaganda purposes) or delusional.

          • …either dishonest (made for propaganda purposes) or delusional.

            Those are the very words I would apply to you, Erp.  I called your AMAZING BS “nutty”.
            I was being charitable.  But if you term that “calling you names”, I guess you are a very delicate flower.

          • Rags, when dealing with Scottie’s delusions, you have to take into account his chronic Dunning-Kruger syndrome.

            We never see anything from Scott except regurgitated talking points and vague generalities, and they don’t really have any significant evidence or logical support. But he genuinely thinks he’s giving us “analysis”. He lacks the skills to tell the difference.

            You have experience convincing flinty judges. I have to convince hard-eyed CEOs. Bruce once had to lead hard-edged soldiers, and convince them to do things they never thought they could do. And so on for the other people who frequent this site. We are connected to reality, and our ability to convince or lead others has been tested again and again, in the real world.

            Scott, on the other hand, had a brief exposure to the real world in the 1980s as a gopher for a senator, and quickly fled to the Cloud Coocoo Land of academia so he would not have to face reality. He doesn’t know how to craft arguments that convince real, thinking people, because he’s never had to. People in social science academia don’t test their arguments against reality, so they don’t realize that what they are doing isn’t really argument, it’s rhetoric. They understand tactical ways to argue (clever use of generalities, fallacies, disguised ad hominems, etc. and most of all the consistent use of “projection” to try and reflect any flaws in their arguments onto the other side), but they don’t really know logic and reason the way you and I would define it.

            He babbles on about his students and how they have such lively and open discussions and he’s training them in critical thinking, never realizing that undergraduates have exquisite BS detectors, and they’re mostly throwing back what they think he wants to hear to get a good grade. I took political science as a freshman, and we had one of the earnest types like Erb. We used to joke about our essays and what we said in class, because we didn’t believe half of it. But we knew what it would take to get a grade out of such people.

            He’s been coming here for years, and never brings anything original or interesting to the table. He just does it to get a rise out of the people here and feed his narcissism. He doesn’t see it that way of course. He thinks he’s engaging in argument and pleading with people to be reasonable. But what he’s never, ever been able to face is that we understand him better than he understands himself (at least in some areas), because we can predict what he’s going to do better than he can. He tells us how he’s not going to comment here any more, multiple times, and we know he’s deceiving himself. He has to come here. He craves the attention too much to stay away. On other sites, people would get tired of his tediousness and ban him, but we don’t do that here. So he takes advantage of that openness to spew the same nonsense over and over and over, not realizing that he’s talking to people so far over his head in abilities and so much better connected to the real world that it’s tragic.

            Of course, his defense that we are “calling names” and such is the only way he can respond to these charges, because they ring true. He has no defense against the charge of fleeing reality. He has no defense against the charge of saying one thing and doing another. He has no defense against the charge of being consistently wrong in tangible predictions he makes.

            So, like the true leftist he is, he tried to turn the argument back against the accuser with the “calling names” defense. As if this is some sort of glorified school yard.

            Because, for him, it is. All he knows is the glorified school yard he has chosen to spend his life in instead of coming out and facing reality. He would very much like to impose the same rules of his school yard on the discussion here. Screw him. This country is facing catastrophe because of the thinking of gooey minded leftists like Scott, they have demonstrated that they are incapable of understanding the horrific consequences of their own philosophy, and as such from this point on they deserve no consideration. They deserve nothing but mocking and derision.

          • Billy, yep.  I may lack your patience in exposition.
            No, hell, I DO lack your patience in exposition.  As with a lot of people who embrace utter BS as their creedo, he can write more fallacious nonsense in a few lines than I even care to begin to unpack.  I see it, know it for what it is, and I summarily name it.
            I’m sure it is a flaw of some kind…  Normally, someone has to pay me to spend that kind of time, and apply that kind of restraint in the face of consummate mind-crap.
            Thank you, BTW.

          • “Scott, on the other hand, had a brief exposure to the real world in the 1980s as a gopher for a senator,”

            Sorry, but that ain’t the real world.

      • Ha ha ha!  He read a bullshit speech that someone else undoubtedly wrote!  He said what he thought needed to be said to boost his own prospects not what he believes.  That’s what he always does! Reagan was consistent with his message, no matter who he was talking with.  Who the hell knows what Obama really believes. I don’t think he really knows. I’m not even sure he’s a committed socialist; I think he’s worse – someone who just wanted to be President no matter what.

        • Reagan, on meeting Bill Ayers, would have instinctively squashed him like a bug, then burned his shoes.
          Reagan, on hearing the Wrong Rev. Wright, would have repudiated him in disgust.
          Reagan understood fascist economics, and he hated it.
          Reagan fought against government take-over of ANY freaking thing, but specifically fought government take-over of health care for decades.
          Imagine Reagan having Al Sharpton as a “spiritual advisor“!!!!
          I could go on…
          But, in Erp’s fevered little “mind“, why, Reagan and Obama are two peas in a pod.

          • Yawn.   If that’s how far you have to go to try to build an ad hominem, you’re losing it, Rags.   But your reaction to Obama is typical to the reaction of the far left to Reagan.   Another thing they have common.   Enjoy the Obama Presidency!  🙂

          • You don’t seem to comprehend the distinction between substantive versus ad hominem, not surprisingly.
            Just another of the things you cannot distinguish between, having adopted the position that all things are just kinda “perspective”.  Which is both morally and intellectually bankrupt, but the way of the Collective.
            BTW, the term “Collective” should…and certainly by now…be a term with which you have acquainted yourself.  I use it in the Nockian sense.  Look it up, Professor.  Broadly, it is all BIG GOVERNMENT systems, which vary only slightly in their taxonomy (i.e., fascism, socialism, communism, National Socialism, etc.).  That is distinguished from SMALL GOVERNMENT systems, such as our charter mandates at the central government level.

      • Another difference between Obama and America.
        America is very selective about the stuff it allows in its head…
        Americans think Thomas Friedman is a weird old New York crank.
        Obama thinks he is a guru…

      • “Just read the text of his speech last night.”

        Jeebus. A supposed political ‘scientist’ who actually takes political blather seriously. You know, in the rest of the world, aka reality, actions speak louder than words.

        • Erp does not really take Obama at his word.  Nobody could.  Erp has been thrown under the Obamic bus several times now, and certainly knows by the tire-tracks across his torso that Obama is a liar of the first, worst order.
          But, being a Collectivist, it does not matter.  Obama is his “Reagan”, doncha know???

      • His “dream” is that Mommy and Daddy will take care of things.

      • He believes in limited government?  That’s a hoot.  His gov’t took over GM.  How does that fit into ‘limited’?
        What’s your definition of limited?  It’s different from mine, I tell ya.  I got ya covered here, too…. this thread is a  huge fish in a barrel opportunity.

  • Erp!!!!….
    Dude…!!!  Waiting…!!!

  • I see that the meme is that Ryan is some sort of a crank, gloomy-gus, or outright villain because he isn’t sunny and optimistic about our current national situation.  Is this what we’ve come to?  So lazy and soft-headed that we not only reject but actively villify people who tell us bad news?

    We have a $14 trillion debt that is (at present rates) going to double in ten years or less.  This isn’t merely something to be less than “sunny and optimistic” about: this is something that should be on par with Pearl Harbor as a national call to emergency action.  Instead, we’re nattering about trimming a bit here and there with the goal of getting things under control about the time our grandchildren start retiring.

    The ship is sinking, one of the officers has suggested that we might consider putting on lifejackets, and he’s being attacked for not being a sunny optimist.


    We are sooooooo screwed.

    • Talk like “the ship is sinking” never plays well in US politics.   Optimism does.   I don’t think Obama disagrees with all that Ryan said (though Ryan’s use of Ireland as a model to fear was weird — Ireland and Iceland were role models for the free market up until the crisis and high debt wasn’t its problem, nor is it Spain’s; Ireland and Iceland are proof that radical free market deregulation can lead to disaster!).     My hope, mocked as it may be here when people put on partisan blinders and/or wage ideological jihad, is that the two sides get together and say.  Hey, this is bigger than party or ideology.   We got to make some changes, and find a way to compromise and turn the ship around, to use your metaphor.   No party can do it alone, our system isn’t made that way.
      My own view, again, is that decentralization of power and resources to the states might be a way to put together a compromise both could live with.    Obama has to reach out and show the GOP he means it.   They have to reach back.   Because calling names behind partisan fences is going to only assure that things will get worse.

      • Heh –
        For two years, President Oddball has downplayed American exceptional ism, we were just another country.
        Then he pulls out 98% of the stops for his speech (he left out the Marine band playing the Stars and Stripes Forever, and the majorettes twirling American Flag batons on the backs or red white and blue painted ponnies) and YOU get all goggled eyed.
        Let me repeat a phrase from the same man 2 years ago “I won”.
        Give it up.

      • Talk like “the ship is sinking” never plays well in US politics.   Optimism does.

        • From your second link, posted without additional comment on my part:

          The Wonderful World of Denial allows someone to believe something is true, when it is obvious to everyone else it is false. … it hides the truth by using big words and grand concepts to prevent an individual from feeling unacceptable feelings (some have referred to “intellectualizion” (example)–which is a defense mechanism related to denial– as “denial gone to college”).

      • Huh.  You mean Obama reaching out to others like comparing to them as terrorists?  Like that?
        Yes, Mr. Erb, that’s just a teaser.  Come back and we’ll discuss that liberal straw man you just constructed.

  • The great comedy of the Obama era is finding a solution to the two big bankrupt entitlement programs by adding a third monstrous entitlement program. If you accept that this is but a part of the Cloward-Piven formula to crash the entire system as a prelude to full socialism, that’s not a particularly wild point of view. If, however, you see it as simple stupidity, that’s probably the better guess, although it’s never a good idea to discount the pure malevolence of socialists vis a vis America.

    That such a thing could have even happened here is testimony to a society and a political system that is cognitively dysfunctional. It’s as though we were being led by 90 IQ sociopaths.

    I urge everyone to take a ride through yesteryear, back before the Russian Revolution even, to the year 1912. Just take a gander at this. Start with the table of contents. See anything familiar?

  • The official view holds that Fannie and Freddie lowered their standards in pursuit of market share in the face of increasing competition from Wall Street. This is just another version of the standard view that the crisis was caused by greed and under-regulation—rather than being brought about by government policy.
    In his dissent to the official FCIC report, [Peter] Wallison effectively demonstrates that a key part of that is not just wrong—it’s 100 percent backwards. Fannie and Freddie were lowering their credit standards and participating in the non-traditional mortgage market—eventually buying up the credit risk of 12 million of the 27 million not-traditional mortgages—for one reason and one reason only: government regulation compelled them to do this.

  • I sometimes get the sense that the left doesn’t realize that 1890-2010 has already happened. A rule of life is that you can only do things for the first time once. We’ve tried the Progressive, administrative state, and have been trying it for years: its deficiencies are not going to be fixed by pretending in an “Ah ha!” moment that what we need is more administration. We’ve been trying Keynesianism almost continuously since the 1940s and even before the recession were at levels of government spending that Keynes experienced only during World War II: the idea that Keynes offers some sort of untried miracle cure is, to be nice about it, a fantasy. Since 1970, as Andrew Coulson points out, federal spending adjusted for inflation has increased by 190 percent, with no gains in reading, math, or science scores to show for it. None of these ideas are new. On the contrary: they are very, very old.
    The Revolution v. Reaction, Erp.

    • You realize that there has never in the history of human kind been growth in prosperity and wealth as much as there has been since 1945 to the present in the industrialized world.   In these sixty years we got to the point that the poor live better than the wealthy in much of the rest of the world, and our poor are better off than most people in human history.   All of this during the era of progressives.   So if you want to point to history and see “that’s been tried,” I’d say yes.   The result has been an unprecedented run of (mostly) peace and prosperity.

      • And you realize…well, likely you don’t UNDERSTAND…that the immediate period following WWII saw a radical revulsion against the FDR/Truman “progression”, and a return to markets.
        Not enough of a return, but enough to produce the effects you noted.
        So, it was, IN FACT, the era largely of the ANTI-Progressives.  Notable exceptions included the Nixon, Johnson, Carter, and MOST of the Clinton administrations.  Kennedy was largely a market guy.
        And we STILL did as well as you note!  That market stuff…pretty strong medicine!!!

  • Step 1: Peg the SS retirement age at your life expectancy at birth – eight years, effective immediately unless you are already drawing.
    Step 2: Eliminate Dept of Energy, Dept of Education, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others
    Step 3: Break for lunch

  • Ah, Billy, I see you’re irritated enough to go into the whole personal attack thing.  Not in the real world, just talking to students, yada yada yada.   One can just sense your irritation.  Because I have given real arguments, not vague ones.  I pointed to real historical events, economics, and REALITY.   You are frustrated because standing man to man and having to have reason and rationality distinguish between the strength of the arguments and evidence, you apparently believe you have no chance.   So you resort to ad hominems — lengthy ones in which you wear your frustration on your sleeve, hoping others will pile on like kids picking on the outsider.   Really, Billy, you’re better than that.  I know you are.   Put your emotion aside, you’re carrying grudges and imagining me as something far different than I am.   Give reason a chance, focus on the argument, the evidence, and let the crucible of rational debate make the call.   Or is that too hard?

    • Really, Billy, you’re better than that.  I know you are. 

      Yes, indeed. I am. That’s why the only person I treat with such disdain in these discussions is you. You are the only one simultaneously so disingenuous, so stupid and so smug about your supposed intelligence and intellectual honesty that the only response I know is to treat like the leftist scum you are. 

      You call it all a personal attack. But you don’t respond to the charges, because you cannot. You did flee the real world for the padded faux-reality of academia. You have been wrong about virtually all your tangible predictions. You have said you would do one thing and did another. You have contradicted yourself here, not once but many times.

      That’s the reality. I’m truly sorry, for both our sakes, that you lack the strength or cognitive capacity or whatever to face it.

      • Do you remember 2008, after the GOP convention, when McCain’s new running mate was out there for the first time? I recall Erb in a panic, showing the real deal: he’s just a leftist pushing talking points. When he acts moderate, it is only for show.

        He’s a joke.

      • Fine, I’ll answer your “charges.”
        I’m not from the “real world”…hmmm, who lives in a more real world?   What do you mean by that phrase?  OK, I worked all through college and high school, including running shifts at a restaurant, doing assembly line work, and working for a law firm.  I was pre-law, but spending three years in a law firm I decided that world was not “real” enough for me.  So I studied a year in Italy, traveling and meeting people (traveling on a very tight budget to be sure — slept in trains and train stations, made friends, learned new languages).  Then in DC I got my MA from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and started to work first as Assistant Press Secretary, then Legislative Aide for Indian Affairs and on NATO issues.   Decided I didn’t like the “unreal” world of politics where it was all power games.
        Unsure what to do I went to work as a manager for a Rocky Rococo’s pizza.  It seemed far more real than the political job.    But after awhile of that, I decide I want to teach (and get a chance to travel to Europe more, choosing that as my specialty).  It’s three years of grad school life, immersed in work, little money, but learning a field and profession.  Is that so much different than other professions?   I did get a year in Germany, which connected me to another culture, making friends and learning about life there.  Is that unreal since it’s not American?  Then, choosing to focus on teaching over research, I started working at a rural Maine college — a public liberal arts school with a heavy emphasis on teaching, and many students who are from poor or rural backgrounds.  It’s working class teaching, no academic ivory tower, no elitism.
        Is that more unreal than a law office?   Is someone who lives in the military world in a world more or less real?   Is a stock broker’s world more real?   Does the nature of one person’s professional world and experience demean his or her perspective and arguments?  Does logic not apply to all?  My wife is a CPA in the health field.   We trade work stories and experiences, many of my views on health care reform come from our conversations, not the political debates.   Neither of us would want the other’s job, but I don’t think either of us think our job is more “real.”  I also am raising two kids, that’s certainly real, especially when one has to deal with Tourette’s.  (We were skiing earlier this evening — that was unreal, unbelievably beautiful!)  Diapers, day care, dealing with school, stuff like that.  Real or unreal?  Are my experiences less valid than yours?
        There are other insults there, but you know by now that I can take any insult that gets dished out.  I don’t take them seriously because the view of you (and others on this blog) of me is so contrary to my experience with the “real” world, that I realize that you’ve created a caricature, an imagination of what I am based on how you’re reading my posts.   I realize you really believe that’s the way I am, and I’m fine with that.   In fact, I really appreciate how going into hostile newsgroups and blogs has taught me to recognize that people who have only impersonal infrequent contact in an often hostile and reactive environment will automatically turn that into beliefs that the other person has horrible traits.  Early on I had similar views about people like McQ when he’d debate in groups.  I accused him of nasty things.  But as I reflected, I realized I’m falling victim to the same thing — and it’s sort of liberating to not be angry or think of you as bad, even if you’re insulting me.   That was a good life lesson.  If anything I’m trying to return the favor.
        For all the stuff about not being able to form an argument or think, etc., well I’ve had a career (not just in the classroom, and even outside of academia) which convinces me you’re just hurling throw away arguments.   Just name calling.   However, I recognize that my efforts not to hold a grudge, not to call names back (sometimes I fall short of that) and to engage in respectful dialogue hoping to have disagreements that don’t get nasty (even if we still disagree), has not worked with most people in this forum (a few e-mail me privately or comment in a more friendly manner, but at least five or six commentators here do, as you note, have a negative view of me.   I’m not sure how to communicate differently to better show who I really am (and of course you all may be locked in your image of me, which is OK).  I am not going to simply give in and adopt your perspective.   But I’m also trying to give it the benefit of the doubt and consider why intelligent people like you all hold a view different than mine (and even if you don’t think I’m intelligent, a lot of intelligent people have views like mine — heck on my blog there have been commentators far to the left of me who attack me for being too soft on Republicans).
        I guess your complaints about being vague (to be sure, a lot of people are vague in blog comments — Kyle was vague in his attack on Keynesianism — that’s somewhat common in this medium) or not arguing good are better pointed out in an argument.   Then there is something substantive to grasp and see whether or not I’m unable to go into more depth, or if I can’t respond to an argument.   Point that out when it happens, and I’ll do my best to respond.
        And when someone is really ineffective and bad, they get no or brief notice.  The reason that Krauthammer or Krugman get so much attention (and often villification) is because they are really smart and effective writers.   Your words may contain insults, but the attention (especially seeing how politicians and other pundits get similar reactions) sends a different message.
        Let’s see, I predicted Obama would win the nomination when a lot of people here were saying Hillary, I predicted early on the problems in Iraq, I could go on and on with both right and wrong predictions.   That’s the thing about predicting the future — no one is right (or wrong) all the time.  But I think on foreign policy and general world events and the economy (I was predicting this kind of crisis for a long time), I’ll put my track record up against yours.

        • Oh one more thing about real world and academia.   I spent a summer in northern Russia, talking with people who suffered real communism.  I also spent a summer traveling across former East Germany (in both 1992 and 1995), interviewing people from all walks of life in all parts of the former East.  I learned the real experience of what communism did to people, not just economic statistics or vague condemnations of tyranny, but in affecting the whole life.  I also saw and learned just how hard the transition was, recognizing early the very difficult path towards a stable democracy and economy.
          So I read people like rags and Eliot glibly lump all “collectivists” together in an abstract manner, and I think “they have no clue on what this all means in real world terms — the difference between the Swedish experience of a social welfare program and that of the former Soviet Union or East Germany can only be done if people are thinking abstract vague terms, without knowledge of real world conditions.   So again, where does “real world” end and “fake world”  begin?

          • “So again, where does “real world” end and “fake world”  begin?”
            So, how would you interpret President Obama’s interpretation of Tea Party conservatives as ‘hostage takers’ even though their dissent is justified?  Or ‘punching back twice as hard’ and now asking for ‘civil debate’.
            Or perhaps you could explain your characterization of Obama as a great lawyer when his constitutional interpretations (he’s an alleged constitutional scholar) beg to differ?  Or even comparing his experience in the real world.  You certainly are enamored with it, given your post on your real world experience.
            So, no Scott, President Obama is not a great lawyer nor even an average one based upon real world experience.  Nor was his SOTU speech great.  It was, at best, minimally mediocre and chock full of fiscal contradictions when vetted against his actual word vs. action track record.
            Your touting your own record where you were right and ignoring your record where you’re woefully off track.

          • You know, the way you go on about your experiences you would think that noone else has ever left the farm. Get over yourself, slick, you ain’t that special. 

          • I don’t “glibly lump all collectivists together in an abstract manner”.  I recognize there all all sorts of shades and nuances among the various arguments against self-ownership.
            Furthermore, I have great sympathy for the billions of people who were and are mere victims of oppression by collectivist governments.  Just because they were born in a given country didn’t make them collectivists.  Besides the tens of millions murdered and imprisoned, even more were virtual slaves, terrorized into submission.  They knew more than any of us Americans just how evil collectivism was, how it’s strict implementation by radical socialists was murderous and destructive of the human spirit.
            Sure, you’ll find people who pine for the days of the USSR, or even for Stalin’s iron fist.  These are often people who benefited from their neighbors’ misery, or perhaps who knew nothing of enlightenment and freedom, being raised in a culture which went from harsh rule by monarchists to harsher rule by collectivist totalitarians.
            It’s the leaders, the blue caps, the Gestapo, and all the others who knowingly put their boots on the faces of humanity, who are the true representatives of collectivism taken to the extreme.
            But some schmoe who wants “free health care” and doesn’t care how he’s getting it?  No, he’s not the same.  There are truly ignorant people, some delusional, some willfully ignorant.  And, then there are people like you who tirelessly labor at trying to put a pretty face on the destruction of freedom.
            You’re one of the least effective that I’ve encountered.  You’re not very bright, your fallacies quite transparent, and it’s obvious you’re not what you present yourself to be.  Anyone who might take you at your word about your “libertarian” leanings need only look how you always, always pick the other side of the issue, from federal health care mandates to federal and international environmental mandates.  You’ll make all kinds of noises about decentralized government, but you’ll always run home to big government whenever there’s a vote.
            I’ve had many friends and co-workers who fled communist regimes.  One guy I knew told me about his family’s ordeal being dragged out of their village, made to sleep in fields while the Khmer Rouge fired over their heads at night to scare people from escaping.  A roommate in college escaped Laos and his parents had previously escaped Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign.  I had many family members and friends who served in the US military, looked over the Korean DMZ and the Berlin wall, who described to me the hair-raising experiences of close encounters with the Soviet navy.  My father-in-law fought the Nazis in North Africa and Europe.  In my grandfather’s generation, they fought in the Pacific against the Japanese Imperialists.
            I’ve read Solzhenitsyn and other accounts of Soviet atrocities.  I read extensively about the history of Indochina, the Vietnam war, the Cambodian tragedy, and others.
            When I see people advocating for big government and I call them collectivists, it’s not that I think they’re ready to set up GULAGs tomorrow.  It’s that they are pushing us in the direction where such things are far more possible and they’re either too ignorant or stupid to know better, or they’re immoral cretins who don’t care how many eggs get cracked.
            I’m also a critic of the notion that democracy and freedom are interchangeable.  As a majority of Swedish voters brought socialism to their country without a bloody revolution, so too the democratic process brought Nazis to power in Germany, Hamas to Palestine, Allende to Chile, Hugo to Venezuela, and the little madman to Iran.  One of the dangers of mob rule is that the mob often falls for the collectivist campaigners.
            But as I recognize all the variations and degrees of immorality, the shades of red or brown, and I don’t lump them all together simplistically, I do see a common thread: denying that each individual owns herself or himself.  That’s the root of the problem and it’s not necessary to spend the time to fight lengthy arguments against each different branch when I can focus on the root.
            Once people are persuaded to put aside pragmatism and all the hand-waving about “complexities”, to realize that it’s wrong to use aggressive force against other, no matter the excuse, it’s wonderful to see how they reevaluate all of the propaganda they’ve been fed by people like you.  They apply critical thinking to the foundation of these various beliefs and see how they are built on lies and mistakes.  They compare reality to the various ideological or pragmatic arguments to see where they are at fault.
            For you to pretend this is “glib” or “simplistic” is only a projection and a defense mechanism against one of the more effective techniques of showing that you’re wrong.

          • I’ll stand by my global thinking on the Collective.  Here’s why; every place…EVERY FLUCKING PLACE…it is applied, it results in human misery and destruction.
            You want to draw distinctions between East Germany and Sweden, and certainly we can.  Very different “stuff”, with a difference in APPARENT outcomes.
            But, is Sweden really a viable nation any longer?  Or has their Collectivist experiment resulted in the destruction of that poor state?  Read the “real world” stats, and get back to us on that, stupid.

          • But, is Sweden really a viable nation any longer?  Or has their Collectivist experiment resulted in the destruction of that poor state?  Read the “real world” stats, and get back to us on that, stupid.

            Comparing stats with a collectivist is a fool’s errand.  Not because they have facts on their side.  But because (1) pragmatic arguments are trumped by ethical considerations, so spending too much time poring over data is often a form of misdirection, and (2) when you measure the performance of a government, you cede many premises before the argument even gets going.  You’re playing the game by their rules.  Comparing two situations to decide which is “better”, without asking “better for whom?” means you accept the Ambiguous Collective Fallacy as a given.
            Using published statistics, particularly those based upon data provided by government, are often based upon fake data.  Economists were shocked when the USSR and its satellites turned out to be financial basket cases.  That’s because the people in power made up the numbers which were public, to hide their incompetence and to feed the useful idiots, like Scot Erb.
            Prior to Gorbachev, I had plenty of conversations with Americans who absolutely gushed over what they saw as the superiority of socialist societies.  They bought the lies.  After the truth came out, they slunk away to regroup.  Now, I’m sure they’re cheering on ObamaPelosiCare and all the abject lies about costs, savings, and the options which will be available for consumers.  Or, they’re championing the climate alarmist cause, falling for the more radical leaders whose “solutions” to the climate crisis is nearly verbatim the “solutions” offered by socialists decades ago.
            Time and again, the gullible or the determined proponents of socialist ideologies (to include the “lite” versions and the Fabian varieties), take strength from the shortsightedness of opponents, like the “conservatives” who allow them to set the terms of the arguments.

        • Misdirection, irrelevancies, obfuscation.

          No one said you never experienced reality, only that you fled it into social science academia. If you can’t see the difference between what you do, with no significant testing against reality, and engineers who must build bridges that don’t fall down, software developers who build systems that clearly either work or fail, and even salesmen that either make the sale or not, then you’re just fooling yourself. The rest of your tirade on that subject it meaningless line-drawing to obscure the point.

          And you brag about your track record by touting a prediction (Obama) that’s akin to calling a coin toss while failing to note that opinions were mixed around here as to whether Hillary would make it. Then you cite something vague and non-measurable (Iraq). You allude to other supposedly good predictions, but somehow can’t really come up with anything measureable and tangible. You fail to note the long list of things you got wrong which we all know about. Someone did a long list that I’m too busy to look up this morning, and while it did not include your recent howlingly wrong take on the 2010 elections, it did include your (repeated over and over again) prediction the Surge would fail and violence would increase as soon as it was over, your contention that Obama would cut spending his first year, and other howlers.

          Plus, you skip the one area your track record is worst and the indication for being disconnected from reality is highest: your multiple assertions that you intend to stop commenting here. Every time you do that, we just chuckle and start posting our guesses about how long you’ll stay away, because we know you better than you know yourself, and we know you can’t stay away. We know your narcissism, your need to preen over your credentials, your need to pontificate, and and your need to talk down to us forbids it. I have forgotten how many times I’ve seen the self-contradictory phrase “I’m not really commenting here …” as the introduction to yet another episode where you slink back and take up your old habits. It’s pathetic.

          • Choosing the profession of teaching, and a specialization of European politics is to flee?   How many professions involve fleeing?  Do you really think being an educator is somehow unreal?  Do you really think that studying our social world, how the economy works, why governments succeed or fail, the nature of power, etc. are all pointless endeavors, or somehow outside of reality?
            I still think you’re caught up in a fantasy of who you think I am.  You seem to have a need to tell me I’m wrong sometimes.  Yup, I am.  I was right about a lot too, especially in areas relating to foreign policy, the economy and Europe.  But you’re right a lot too.  People who make predictions get a lot wrong and usually less right.   Yet somehow you seem to think that I rate myself better than others, and you have a strong desire to try to tear me down, thinking I need more humility.  That only shows me that you have no clue who I really am.   You have a version you’ve constructed based on how you’ve read my posts and (likely) how others who think like you have responded.   I find that fascinating — it’s an aspect of this kind of communication that impacts politics and culture, as well as blog conversations.   But the reason your insults don’t bother me is that it’s not really me you’re insulting or describing, it’s a fantasy in your mind that you think is me.

          • “I find that fascinating ”

            Me too. Amazing how virtually everyone here, including some who initially defend you, come to the same conclusion. Coincidence, comrade? Nah, mass psychosis, right?

        • “Fine, I’ll answer your “charges.””

          And then you go into a long panegyric about the subject you love best-yourself, discussing at painful length only the ‘charge’ (singular, of course) you find convenient.  Of course the other ‘charges’ remain unanswered, as usual, dismissed as ad hominem attacks.

          • Just trying for a personal connection, nothing else seems to work.

          • “Just trying for a personal connection…”

            You remind me of Ted Baxter-“It all began in a little 60 watt radio station…”

            I know you never tire of thinking and hearing about yourself, but your wonderful and exciting life story gets a litle old for the rest of us.

        • “Obama is a top notch lawyer”

          Backing up that statement with actual evidence would answer a couple of the ‘charges’ made against you. Of course you would have to discuss something other than yourself or the shortcomings of those who disagree with you.

    • Whoa…Dude!!!  Heavy need for some intervention there…!!!
      Take a day off, come back and read this twaddle that you wrote, and get thee to a therapist!!!  STAT!!!

  • Passive aggressive narcissist with mild psychopathy. That he landed on the Left and in academentia is the good luck of everyone to the right and living in the real world, although there’s a pretty straight argument that the Left and academentia are either the natural landing place for such a combo or that the Left and academentia draw out such character disorders. The one advantage is that because he can’t keep his mouth shut you will get to see the wholle Left strategy of half-truths (not meaning to imply that most of it even makes it halfway to the truth) and the ever-adapting, ever-morphing narrative. He’s something of a sponge for that. He’s a low-rent model for the Leftists actually in power.

  • Elliot, you seem to see only physical force as oppressive or violent.  Structural economic force can be worse, and just as effective.
    Rags, Sweden is doing just fine, and Germany is doing superbly.  Take away a few problem states (like Ireland, who followed the US financial model, and states outside the core of Western Europe) and the EU is in a far better position than the US moving forward.

    • Elliot, you seem to see only physical force as oppressive or violent.  Structural economic force can be worse, and just as effective.

      I’ve corrected this false statement of yours I don’t know how many times.
      Aggressive coercion can be force, threat of force, theft, or fraud.  After studying and teaching “this stuff” for so long, it’s a wonder you still act as though you’re unaware of the terminology used by libertarians, Objectivists, et al..
      In your past arguments, what you dub “[s]tructural economic force” is not actual force.  It’s simply the inequalities of wealth.  Basically, you’re trying to mold a class warfare position by reclassifying it as a question of aggression, which it clearly isn’t.
      That’s what we call a category error.
      Tou keep repeating that error, time and again, year after year, despite it having been debunked long ago.  If you were more clever, you’d think of some new gimmick.

      • WTF is “structural economic force” I wonder?
        Do you think this idiot does not know that the “poor” and the “rich” as groups are constantly roiling in America?  That a person who is “poor” in this year has a good chance…METRICALLY…of being one of the evil “rich” in a decade?

        • It’s code-speak for wealth inequality.
          So, if you have some great ideas, work diligently, and move your way up to owning a business and earning quite a bit more than people who happen to live near you—people who weren’t giving you those ideas, helping you earn money and promotions, lending you capital to found a business, or otherwise making it easier for you to gain wealth—are somehow the victim of “force” by you if you only offer to pay unskilled, inexperienced workers more money.  Somehow, just the fact that they’re breathing and live near you entitles them to part of what you created, because they haven’t figured out a different way to make a better living.
          Maybe you went back in time and forced their unwed parents to conceive, to drink too much, not to help them with homework or give them life skills beyond the bare essentials.  Maybe you diverted their attention in class or corrupted the teachers.  Maybe you convinced them to drop out of school.  If so, you’re a real scumbag.
          Otherwise, I don’t see how you’re using “force” against these people not to rescue them from their own bad decisions, lack of vision, and apathy.

        • “…are somehow the victim of “force” by you if you only don’t offer to pay unskilled, inexperienced workers more money.”

          • Well, golly…  If THAT’s what he’s goning on about, I wonder what he is doing about it in his own little sphere of influence???
            Hey, Erp, what large fraction of your sinecure was paid over to the janitors at your “institution of higher” (giggle!) learning…???
            (Was that name-calling?)

        • “WTF is “structural economic force” I wonder?”

           Crypto-Marxist crap. Economic determinism.The class struggle is alive and well on a college campus near you.

      • Well, I have very little respect for objectivism, it’s a very weak philosophy.
        I’m not sure why “aggressive coercion” should be worse than “structural force.”  The way you’re defining terms is arbitrary, but those definitions shape your conclusion.   Structure makes a difference.  If you are wealthy, you can do things to stack the game in your favor (to maintain wealth) and constrain others.  That’s more effective and just as immoral as “aggressive coercion” as far as I’m concerned.
        I’ve made no errors.  I have rejected what I see as a simplistic perspective that is easily proven false by looking at history and the real world.   By your logic child labor in early sweat shops was fine, even though it meant those children could not get an education and would have none of the opportunities that the children of factory owners had.  As long as they and they’re parents weren’t forced through physical means to work there, then there was supposedly no “aggressive coercion.”  Of course, they had no real choice, there were no better jobs, so the structure of society pretty much imprisoned them.   By your definitions, that’s fine.   You can believe it, but don’t be surprised if people choose to see the world differently, and act on their beliefs.  After all, you can’t expect people to act on your beliefs and your personal opinion about morality, can you?

        • I’m redistributing your next paycheck to the “structurally unemployed” of Augusta, Scott.

          You’re volunteering, right? Standing on your principles?

        • What broke “child labor”?  Was it law?  Or was it the expansion of the economy by the market?
          Do you really want to peg your arguments on the Victorian Era, or should be get real?

          • Politics broke child labor — people realizing that it was unfair and demanding change through new laws, labor union activity and other actions.  Politics!  And, of course, it persisted for quite awhile, quite a few lives were ruined and damaged, the political action didn’t come quick enough.
            Structural differences still exist.  People who grow up in a ghetto with a poor school have more constraints and fewer opportunities than those who grow up with wealthy parents who send them to top schools.  If not for government, the free market would be undercut by wealthy actors wanting to assure their position.  That is why you have no functioning free market economy without government regulations.   When government is weak, you get mafia like organizations, or rule by big corporations who stack the deck in their favor.   People who believe the market can work without the state and regulation have a belief that is defiance of massive amounts of evidence.

          • Good gawd, you are REALLY as stupid as I fear you are.
            What keeps poor schools poor; the market or the quasi-monopoly imposed by government?
            If not for the expansion of the economy, what law…or “politics”…could have permitted the need of people to send their children to work?
            I went to a second-tier law school.  I beat Ivy League law review types in court commonly (actually, I’ve never lost a case when one was involved).
            Without some MINIMAL government, the conditions for most social actions would be impossible, including markets.
            When government is strong, it IS a mafia-like organization, as HERE.
            When it is adequate, as in the former Hong Kong, people do very well.
            So, stuff your straw-man lying BS where the sun don’t shine, idiot.

        • If you are wealthy, you can do things to stack the game in your favor (to maintain wealth) and constrain others.  That’s more effective and just as immoral as “aggressive coercion” as far as I’m concerned.

          REALLY…?!?!?  Expand on that AMAZING bullshit, Erp.  Tell us all about how that gets done!!!  Millions of Americans would LOVE to know how they could maintain their wealth, having just lost loads of it and the watch wealth we don’t even have get paid to Obama buddies.  Tell us that secret, idiot!

          • They already know.   That’s why the gap between the richest and poorest has been growing.  The wealthiest already know how to stack the deck in their favor, just like the big investment banks know who profit in places like unregulated derivatives markets.  You know why the subprime mortgage problem took off?   It wasn’t Fannie and Freddie, they got in late.  It was because big banks were buying mortgages, packaging them into mortgage backed securities, and then made more securities from the bonds backed by mortgages.  They managed to get the private ratings agencies to rate bonds that were all extremely risky mortgages rated AAA.  Realizing they had a  gold mine, they were buying mortgages so fast, they didn’t care if they were good  or bad, they needed them to make CDOs and millions of dollars.   When the subprime fell apart, the bonds were worthless.  And investors who bought AAA rated bonds (the ‘dumb money’ that doesn’t understand the way the games work) lost out big time.  But CEOs, bond salesmen, and others who profited from all this kept their money, and could use it make sure their kids got the best schools.
            It is intensely naive to think that somehow wealthy people can’t use their power for their long term advantage, and that poorer people aren’t constrained by their lack of wealth.

          • “They managed to get the private ratings agencies to rate bonds that were all extremely risky mortgages rated AAA.”
            I just call bullshit on that very curious chronology, you lying sack.
            Put up your support.
            Prior to the mau-mauing of the FEDERAL government, mortgages were among the safest investments you could make.

          • You’re lying again, Scott.

            Who forced mortgage lenders to give mortgages to people who could not pay?

            Ever hear of the Community Reinvestment Act? Ever hear of Acorn?

            And if Fannie and Freddie had not been politically manipulated to change their tough standards, these bad lending practices could not have continued.

          • “That’s why the gap between the richest and poorest has been growing.”

            You realize, being a scientist with lots of statistics and stuff, that since the poorest have zero and will always have zero that the distribution is a bit biased.  

          • “(the ‘dumb money’ that doesn’t understand the way the games work)”

            Like all those economically illiterate mutual funds, retirement plans, insurance companies, and other institutional investors? Gee, perhaps they should have hired their own economists, accountants, stock analysts, etc. 

            Take your meds, the conspiracy is getting a bit thick.

          • Well, that “gap” is a total BS measure, too.
            The standard of living…which is the truth, it’s actual…has been going up.  But, hey, Erp is not gonna let something like that affect his Marxist love-affair…
            BTW, the French middle-class standard of living would be border-line poverty here by MANY measures.

        • “You can believe it, but don’t be surprised if people choose to see the world differently, and act on their beliefs”

          YOU don’t be surprised jackass – most of the people in the world are not willing to give up their stuff to hand it out to others who didn’t earn it.

          And I’d appreciate it if you stopped suggesting to your studendt that the coercive force of government is the way to fix this problem.

    • Yeah.  Like Obama has a sterling foreign policy record.  Wow.
      You might want to look into the shape that Sweden is in respecting everything outside of GDP…or whatever the hell you are using.
      Like most of Scandinavia, they are dying nations.
      Germany has been moving briskly AWAY from the socialist ideal.  Still, as a nation, their demographic picture stinks.  You might want to read more.
      BTW, is Obama even an attorney?  I know that Shellie Obama is not.  Law school graduates are not attorneys.  Current holders of a bar card are attorneys.

      • LOL!  You dismiss Sweden’s wealth and success over decades with a Social Democratic system by pointing to European demographic trends.  Wealthy folk tend to have fewer kids, that’s happening here too (our fertility rates are about the same as those of France, but our Latino population helps because their rates are very high).  German policy has been consistent.  The Europeans aren’t socialists, only Scandinavian social democracy could be called that, but they liberalized starting in the eighties.  They are well functioning economies that recognize that extremists ideologies are unrealistic and don’t work — be they radical capitalist or radical socialist.  Not only have they done very well with this, but they look in a better position than the more free market US.  And they aren’t dying, they are thriving.

        • I did not “dismiss” anything.  You…typically…made a sweeping assertion.  There wasn’t anything in your bullshit to “dismiss”.
          Anyone who is interested can research the condition of Sweden and the other busted European nations.
          I invite them to do that, so they will see just what a flake you are.
          Marriages are uncommon.  Out of wed-lock births are the majority.  People who are employed are few relative to those who are not.
          The Swedes are not replacing themselves, as is true of Russians and most of Europe.  (Iran, too.)
          I hope to god you are offered a position in Europe, so you can go where people are “thriving”.  Be careful of the entitlement riots, though.

        • “The Europeans aren’t socialists?”

          Only an idiot and a liar could say something like that. The Germans were the first socialist country in Europe, going back to the 19th century. That’s why they were so susceptible to Hitler’s national socialism, the gross populist revolution that consumed them. After WWII they turned back to free market capitalism and rebuilt themselves and then again fell into their mommy-fascist social democracy

          • Continuing…

            They were falling apart two years ago and loosened the noose and got their growth up to 3.2% last year. That’s still crap, but it was the best they’ve done since unification. It’s another aging welfare state in Europe.

  • Elliot, what are you arguing for?  Again, you’re long on personal insults and assertions, but short on actual substance.   You seem to have an assumption that you have the morally correct view, yet you are vague as to what it is, or why it is correct.  You pontificate against other beliefs, democracy and all of that, but your support for freedom is vague and rhetorical.  It seems to be based on your idiosyncratic belief about how the world functions.   You use a term like “aggressive force” which is meaningless, it can be interpreted in so many ways.  You say people “own themselves” as if the self is an object.  People are, people are subjects and should not be owned by anyone.   It is non-sensical to say one “owns oneself.”  Moreover, you seem to neglect the social nature of humanity, how our very identity is partially constructed outside of the individual’s control.  You would be an essentially different person if you were born and raised in Cairo; there would still be  a biological entity, but it would have a different set of preferences, tastes, beliefs and ideas.   You don’t seem to recognize that.  More on that issue:    If you want to have a serious discussion on this, you can comment there too.

    • You’re an amazing phenomenon, Scott. So deeply ignorant even of the things you never shut up about.

      Does a person have a right to (a just claim on) his own life, or not? Is this a specific element of human ontology, or not? Having nothing to do with society or the state, except as a claim that society or the state is bound to respect?

      This natural right is the fundamental character of being an American and is in turn the fundamental root of American exceptionalism. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. If you own some object as your property that is less than the just claim that you have on your own life. The reflexive self-possession of one’s own life is the act of human consciousness claiming oneself by its very nature. It is also the foundation of reason itself. “The life I am living is my own; the thoughts I am thinking are mine.”

      The last time I checked in with you on this you denied that you had any such right to your own life.

      Really, that would be at the bottom of all the problems that you create for yourself, this fundamental abdication of your self, such as it is. That’s why you give off the effect of having a head full of water, with these endless repetitions of your platitudes swimming around like goldfiish.

      I mean, it’s an interesting thing to watch, from time to time, as structural pathology, but it’s not that interesting that anyone needs to see as much of it as you’ve shown in your latest return.

      • I may disagree with you on some things, Martin, but I do admire your ability to so often make your point succinctly, oftentimes elegantly.

      • He doesn’t recognize natural rights Martin, he’s made that plain.  He thinks all your rights are a function of the benificence of the state. 

        God help him, but he’d make am excellent serf.

        • You’re wrong as usual looker, but hey — much better to assign people opinions they don’t hold and then attack that, rather than to actually engage another person.  It’s sort of like the difference between going out and dating or sitting at home in your room with a magazine and…

          • So have you changed your tune, Scott? Do you now understand that you have a natural right to your own life? Because you previously denied that you did. Get yourself on the record, explicitly.

          • Couldn’t have been more than 6 months ago such a conversation occurred here.  So, either you’ve changed your stand, and are now convinced that we indeed have inalienable rights which are NOT granted to us by the state, or you’re talking out your sleeve.

            Which is it?

          • And was that an ‘insult’ Scott?  Are you accusing me of masturbation?  Just be a big boy and come out and say so.

            Conversations with you are so refreshing.

            If I felt like taking the time, which I do not, it can readily be demonstrated you posted here, on this site, that our rights were effectively nothing more than a manifestation of the generostiy of others, embodied by the authority of the State.

    • Elliot, what are you arguing for?

      Individual rights.
      Again, all the various policies which you endorse, which the politicians you favor actually implement, continue to do damage to Americans by incrementally trampling on their rights.
      If given the power, I’d never inflict such things on you or other people.  I just can’t understand why you appear to be so daft that you can’t see how what you push is hurting others.  At times, you show signs of understanding it, at which point you often opt to sneer that people who object to such rights violations are powerless to stop it.
      I may not like how many people live their lives, but until they actually harm others, I’d just as soon let them do their own thing.

      …your support for freedom is vague and rhetorical.  It seems to be based on your idiosyncratic belief about how the world functions.

      You want specifics?  I don’t think it’s anyone’s business if three men marry each other then load up a cargo plane with heroin and serial-number-free Uzis in Mexico, fly to a private airstrip in the US (without notifying authorities), and sell their goods from an unlicensed, unregistered corner store, past 6 p.m. on a Sunday.
      It’s curious that you choose to use the phrase “how the world functions.”  That suggests you’re implying that you have some superior wise leftist (to use your satirist’s lingo) insight into what’s going on under the hood that us “dense righties” just don’t get.
      Sure, we can discuss specific scenarios, but again, I go back to basics: as a rational being, it is wrong for me to aggressively force other rational beings to do things they don’t want to do, to deprive them of their rights, so long as they’re not hurting anyone else.  Yes, the world is full of all kinds of complexities, but none of that trumps the basic respect for each individual’s right that a decent person should always have.

      You use a term like “aggressive force” which is meaningless, it can be interpreted in so many ways.

      Why are you pretending that you’ve never heard such terms before?  You’ve been participating in debates with individualists for a good part of your life.  And, if you’ve ever picked up a book on the subject, you’d no doubt get around to discussions of the initiation of force.  Pretending that such concepts are “meaningless” is not a very smart strategy.
      Did you sleep through history class when the topic of wars was discussed?  Ever hear of an “aggressor nation”?  Is that beyond your experience, something strange and “meaningless” which you don’t get?
      I’m not buying your pose here.  I think you know exactly what it means and you’re just playing games.
      If I show up at your house, point a gun at you, and take your valuables, that’s aggressive force, because you didn’t initiate anything between us.  But if you kidnap my child and I go into your house, point a gun at you, and free her, that’s not aggressive force.  I’m responding to your aggression.
      By the same token, when the sheriff shows up at your neighbor’s door for failure to pay property taxes, even though she’s owned her home outright for decades, even though she went to private school, didn’t have children, didn’t vote, and paid for the things she actually used, that old lady is the victim.  She didn’t agree to the system of taking her money to pay to brainwash other people’s children in government schools.  She did take anything away from others.  She was minding her own business.  By dragging her out of her home, kicking her to the curb, and looting her belongings, the government has used aggressive force.
      How else do you think it can be interpreted?

      You say people “own themselves” as if the self is an object.  People are, people are subjects and should not be owned by anyone.   It is non-sensical to say one “owns oneself.”

      Part of your problem is with the definition of ownership.  You’re so wrapped up in all the premises of government authority that you don’t have a clear concept of what it means.  It is simply the moral authority to use something as you see fit.  By owning yourself, it means you can pursue a given career, seek adventure and travel, play music for fun, fill your veins with poison to numb your pain, spend your days playing video games and watching “reality TV”, or hand out sandwiches to homeless.  It also means you have the right to end your life.  When you own your computer, it means you can use it to connect with friends, to write books, to give out advice, to watch naughty movies, to develop products which will make you a millionaire, or to play solitaire.  You can also take an ax to your computer and destroy it.  It’s yours.  That’s ownership.  I don’t own it, so it’s not for me to decide how you use it.  (Unless, of course you’re making credible threats, stealing credit card information, or otherwise infringing on the rights of others.)
      A person is not only the flesh and the mind, but the actions, and the productive gains of that person.  I’m sure you’ve seen this video before.  Since you own your life, to murder you is to steal away your future.  To kidnap you is to take away your present.  And, to steal from you is to take away your past, since your time (which is part of your one and only life) was already spent producing and acquiring property.  The result of self ownership are the individual rights: life, liberty, and property.
      To harm you, kill you, lock you up, or take what you’ve earned is to violate your moral authority over your life.

      Moreover, you seem to neglect the social nature of humanity, how our very identity is partially constructed outside of the individual’s control.

      Seem?  No, that’s just another invention of yours, like the constant refrain of “faith” and “oversimplified”, which are baseless as well.
      I love the social nature of human beings, when they deal with each other peacefully, with reason and respect.  We can accomplish amazing things, have exhilaratingly fun times with one another, and work together to build fantastic results.
      But none of that requires that we stick guns in each other’s faces to make people participate in a system ruled by a select few.

      You would be an essentially different person if you were born and raised in Cairo; there would still be  a biological entity, but it would have a different set of preferences, tastes, beliefs and ideas.   You don’t seem to recognize that.

      Seem?  Look, you can gaze into your crystal ball all day long and make up strawmen about your opponents, but the fact is that I am aware of the philosophical faults of what you promote.  You could wish that I were stuck in a military dictatorship, surrounded by religious fanatics, so that I wasn’t here to critique your arguments.  But that’s not reality and it makes no sense to entertain what isn’t.
      The man on the street in Egypt has the same rights as you or I, whether he’s aware of them or not.  If he’s been brainwashed to believe that Allah wants him to behave a certain way, that’s not a knock on individualism.  That just means he’s a victim of circumstances.  What’s the point?

      • Elliot, you miss the point.  Your definitions and assertions are arbitrary.  Your concept of individual rights simply reflects your own personal opinion.  I respect that you have that opinion, but the moment you try to demand others adhere to the same opinion and brand them as “immoral” if they don’t, you lose touch with reality.
        The reason government got involved in regulation and taxation is partially because they realized that if the market operated on its own devices, vast numbers of people would be impoverished and lack the freedom to build their own lives.  They’d be limited by a lack of resources, their work exploited by those in control.   In such a case, people used politics to limit the powerful, with the goal of maximizing real world liberty.  An abstract “as long as no one is aggressively coercing then there is freedom” is wrong.  There are many other ways to deny liberty and individual rights than aggressive coercion as you define it, and we use politics to try to counter act them.
        And when you get into definition games ‘this gets defined as aggressive force, this is a legitimate response’ people always use obvious cases (if you kidnap my child), but those aren’t the case where conflict arises.  The cases where it’s less obvious — the way businesses operate, the way the wealthy can manipulate markets, the way the finance industry in the US created the CDO debacle — then there are tough calls to make about legitimate and illegitimate use of power.   Power is key — not force, force is only ONE way in which power is exercised.  It’s the use of power that politics must tame and control.   That means limiting powerful actors, governmental or non-governmental, for the sake of assuring freedom for those without as much power.
        Your idea of “owning yourself” remains non-sensical.  You can say all the things you say without bringing in the idea of “ownership.”  As a subject you can choose to pursue a career, enjoy music, etc.   But you are a subject living with other subjects.  That means you are always part of something more than yourself.  That’s why ownership is inappropriate.  There are things you can’t do by dint of their impact on others, and on the good of society.  The idea of ownership posits a false status for the individual; as I pointed out, individuals are also products of culture and society, inextricably bound within it, they aren’t simply autonomous disconnected entities.
        You are who you are, and have the beliefs you have because of your cultural experiences AND your individuality.  You would be different if you were in a different social context, your thoughts reflect ideas and cultural norms in this particular time and place in human history.    People in other cultures are quite often no more or less brainwashed than you, you and they (and me and everyone else) have all been impacted by our environment, it’s part of human nature.  We also impact our environment.   The idea that it’s just individuals choosing to live peacefully is missing part of the essential core of human nature and human existence.
        And that’s why the individualist/collectivist dichotomy is so off base.  There is no dichotomy, we are both — as I note my post about ‘particle and wave.’  Thinking in false dichotomies leads to false certainty and ideological rigidity.  Marxists and Objectivists are to me two sides of the same coin, ideologues who choose to look at one aspect of human nature, deny the other, and come up with a thoroughly unrealizable ideal.  History is ample proof of that.  The trick is to understand our “social” nature and the social consequences of power being exercised while also emphasizing the importance of human liberty and opportunity.  Ideologues look for a quick easy way to be certain — it may be a psychological desire to be “right,” to have a cause that gives meaning.

        • The reason government got involved in regulation and taxation is partially because they realized that if the market operated on its own devices, vast numbers of people would be impoverished and lack the freedom to build their own lives.

          Pure, unmitigated horseshit.
          IF you knew a thing about history, you’d know that the most active movers behind regulatory schemes were what Smith called “incumbents” in the markets.
          They knew, as did Smith, that the rigors of the market would always mean that they faced threats from newer, leaner, smarter players.  Regulation…and other forms of government collusion…would protect the established businesses.
          What an idiot.  (That is an observation.  Don’t feel like I’m calling you names.)

          • You know he’s sitting in Maine right now rubbing his hands together gleefully because you guys are actually engaging in his conversation, right?

            Always interesting to see the views reasserted, and for people who don’t understand what the foo-fra is about, it’s instructive and I would hope more would come away with a lean toward individual freedomes….

            But it’s wasted on him.

          • As for most of his response – it’s psychobabble.   It’s dressed up polyglot of wishy washy phrases that boil down to “it all depends”.

            Aside from his belief in the positive coercive power of government, a conviction that ‘sharing is good’ and that ‘we should be nice to everybody’, he has no principles.  In other words,
            he has a 5 years olds grasp of history and human nature with a 45 year old’s vocabulary.

          • Yeah.  I know.  WOT, but not as a foil.
            Plus, this is what I do.  It is a flaw…I know…  Scots/Irish…I eat conflict like candy.

          • Adam Smith, by the way, was very critical of the “capitalists” of his day, and recognized that markets do not operate magically.  Adam Smith was also Karl Marx’s favorite economist.  When libertarians quote Adam Smith as if he agrees with them, they show they do not understand Smith, and probably have a very warped view of history, with everything interpreted to fit their ideology.  In fact, history proves that the idea you can have a totally free functioning market and political stability is a fantasy.  It will never happen.   If you argue for it and fight for it, I guarantee you that you are doomed to fail.  It’s an effort to take abstract theory and force reality to fit it, and that doesn’t work.   I also know why you call names — it’s a propagandists’ tactic of bluster, you don’t want your argument to be looked at on its merits (that’s why you never really make an argument, you just throw out one line criticisms and assertions): reason and rational discourse is your enemy.   You want emotion and enmity because that obscures how weak your position is.
            Rags, I see right through you.

          • Everyone sees through you, Scott.

            You are the laughingstock who has redefined laughingstockery.

          • You need to re-read your Adam Smith For Dummies there, Erp.
            Adam Smith was NOT critical of capitalists, you liar.  He NEVER USED THE WORD in The Wealth Of Nations.
            He WAS critical of what he called “the merchant class”…those incumbents who, he knew, would TEND to want to shelter from the rigors of the market by CADGING GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT THEM.
            Now, I am more certain than ever I was that you are not simply a stupid man, but a liar, to boot.  But I invite EVERYONE to read Smith for themselves, and prove me or you.
            Actually, every person who considers the era around 1776 to have been preternatural in the human genius that was concentrated at that time should read Smith, who published his Wealth Of Nations that same year.  You might also find it interesting to learn was was happening in the arts and sciences during that period.

          • “I also know why you call names — it’s a propagandists’ tactic of bluster, you don’t want your argument to be looked at on its merits…”

            Another example of your ignorance and negative and condescending opinion of those who disagree with you. When we call you a moron it is because we think you are a moron, not some forensic device. Nobody here takes you that seriously, or regards ‘engaging’ with you as having anything to do with actual logical debate.

            I, for one, do appreciate the amusement and laughter you have provided. Keep up the good work. In this time of national and international crises and Worries about The Future providing comic relief is a pulic service.

        • Your definitions and assertions are arbitrary.

          Just like your repeating the lie that I’m acting on faith that the market will fix all the problems (strawman) or using an “overly simplistic” model of the world (baseless assertion), this is just another ploy.
          The definitions are commonly used in books, articles, and comments written by libertarians, Objectivists, and other types of individualists, as well as educated people who are familiar with the material.
          I simply don’t believe you that in all your years of teaching “this stuff”, reading “this stuff”, and debating on-line for ages, that you’re actually confused by the terminology.  If I didn’t know you that well, I might consider early dementia.  But the most obvious explanation is that you’re playing games.

          Your concept of individual rights simply reflects your own personal opinion.

          The concept of individual rights as I have used it and explained it is well established in the literature.  It’s not something which is “simply” Elliot’s personal invention.
          Can you just stop with the ridiculous games?

          I respect that you have that opinion, but the moment you try to demand others adhere to the same opinion and brand them as “immoral” if they don’t, you lose touch with reality.

          You’re inverting reality.  I’m not demanding others fall into line.  I’m not putting forth any blueprint for a system by which to rule others, to dictate to them how they should think.
          I’m simply pointing out the ethical fact that when you violate the rights of others, you’re doing harm to them and you should let them do their own thing as long as they’re not harming you.  That’s the very opposite of “demand[ing] others adhere to” some diktat, as you demand that people comply with the ObamaPelosiCare, environmental mandates, taxation, etc..  Over and over, when people complain that such demands by the people you support are unfair and harmful, you sneer that the complainers are “powerless” to do anything about it.

          An abstract “as long as no one is aggressively coercing then there is freedom” is wrong.  There are many other ways to deny liberty and individual rights than aggressive coercion as you define it…

          Name one.  And, don’t try the bait and switch that old FDR used with his Four Freedoms speech, trying to transition from negative to positive rights.
          Also, playing the class warfare gimmick of complaining about “structural forces” is, as I’ve explained, a category error.
          But, by all means, give it your best shot.

          Your idea of “owning yourself” remains non-sensical.

          It makes sense to rational, honest people.  If you’re not equipped to discuss topics which have been in the realm of discussions by individualists for decades (hell, I’m probably overlooking some even older source), then you really should stop trying to argue from authority.  Get the books out and read, instead of rambling on and on in ignorance.
          But I also consider the distinct possibility that, once again, you’re just pretending that you don’t understand.  All you have to do is keep saying, “it’s nonsensical” or “I’m not convinced”.  I played that game with you before, hundreds of times.

          There are things you can’t do by dint of their impact on others,

          No kidding.  I qualify my statements to reflect that.  Pay closer attention.

          and on the good of society.

          There’s no such thing.  That’s the ambiguous collective fallacy.
          Whenever there is a good, I insist that you explain, “good for whom?”  It’s a rhetorical ploy to drop that, which makes the conversation start with the false premise that people are not individuals.

          The idea of ownership posits a false status for the individual; as I pointed out, individuals are also products of culture and society, inextricably bound within it, they aren’t simply autonomous disconnected entities.

          Your mind is autonomous and disconnected from other minds.  You must learn to speak, write, use body language to transmit ideas to other minds.  But until you get wires sticking out of your head via some unheard of yet technology, you are, mentally, a disconnected entity.  Your thoughts are your own.
          Don’t confuse that with the strawman that every man is a hermit.  Nonsense.  People have all sorts of interactions, which influence them.  And, while your parents and mentors can take credit for helping you in your accomplishments, and you might feel rightfully beholden to pay them back in some way, not everyone gets credit for making you who you are.  The drunkard on skid row in Seattle isn’t part of you.  The kid flipping burgers in Corpus Christi doesn’t owe you anything or vice versa.
          With your use of terms like “society” you’re waving your hands about and trying to argue that we just can’t know who helps or hurts whom, so we should leave it up to the wise experts to cut it all up.
          No, that’s nonsensical.
          You want to encourage people to pay back their parents and mentors?  Fine.  Just don’t use a monopoly on the use of force to impose some arbitrary declaration by a subset of rulers on how much you owe, putting it all in one big cannibal pot.

          Marxists and Objectivists are to me two sides of the same coin…

          Sigh.  You refuse to apply what nature gave you to make discriminations between good ideas and bad ideas.  Or, at least you pretend to, as it serves your purpose.
          With that, I’ll bid you farewell for a few days.

          • I have engaged “objectivist” arguments in the past, but I don’t recall exact definitions because its not a mainstream ideology.  In teaching political thought, we don’t run into it except maybe an aside paragraph, it’s simply not taken seriously by serious scholars and political philosophers.  So I need you to give specific definitions, I do not recall them.  I need to see the argument, I don’t remember details.
            The idea of structural power is well established in all of the social sciences.  If you want to wave your hands and dismiss it as a “category error” then you’re simply evading the issue.   I don’t see how you can deny it, the distribution of power constrains and empowers.  The historical existence of exploitation and class is also pretty obvious and undeniable.   The notion of individual rights is complex because people disagree on what rights should exist.  To me rights are always “ought” statements, based on beliefs about reality and the nature of humans.  As such no one set of rights has ever been proven correct, it’s an inherently contestable concept.  When someone tries to posit their view as the “true” one, they are engaged in wishful/biased thinking.
            I gave you reasons of how people can deny liberty by using economic power, you don’t need physical force.  You refuse to see them, you define them away, as if sweat shops never existed, if workers didn’t have to rise up and act politically to demand their rights, if the state didn’t need to save capitalism through regulation.  I strongly suggest you read “The Myth of the Free Market” by Mark Martinez (I use it in teaching Political Economy).  He is one of the few who directly addresses the ‘radical libertarian’ argument and tears it apart.
            Your view on the mind is your personal perspective, I happen to disagree with it.   But neither of us can prove our point.  I am a philosophical idealist who believes that we are at base spiritual beings who are at base connected (if you have to categorize me, I’d probably be close to neo-Platonist).  Now, you can disagree with all these views, I can’t prove them, but to the extent that my core world view is different than yours (and many out there have core world views different than either of us) then it’s natural we disagree on these things.  I don’t mind that.  What I object to is when people make the leap from believing and holding their core values, to believing that they are themselves so smart and virtually infallible that they cannot accept the possibility other views are correct.   Once you accept that possibiity, then you realize that the way to figure out how to organize social structures is a political problem that can’t be solved by just finding the  one “right” ideology.
            I have no objection to libertarians holding their belief and acting on it, any more than I object to Marxists and others.   But a mark of intelligent discourse is when people can get outside their linguistic and rhetorical frameworks and understand and engage another one.  You try to totalize the discourse, labeling and categorizing every position within your own rhetorical framework, rejecting any effort to explore how things might look outside that ideological framework.  I do try to address your ideological framework, and explain why I reject aspects of it.   Oh, and I do discriminate between good ideas and bad ideas — Objectivism and Marxism are simply both bad ideas, in my opinion.

          • Scott, you’ve always confused typing with writing and thinking.

          • Oh, and I do discriminate between good ideas and bad ideas — Objectivism and Marxism are simply both bad ideas, in my opinion.

            In your process of discrimination, did it occur to you that Marxists are responsible for about 100 million murders, give or take?  But somehow, you conclude that Objectivism is just the other side of the same coin?
            That, alone, discredits your opinions on the matter.
            I’m not going to detail every other error in your remarks, but I’ll point out (1) I’m not an Objectivist and only mentioned them as one example of individualists, and the terminology you keep pretending to be “forgetful” about isn’t limited to that one ism, and (2) I said “structural forces” not “structural power”.  Bait and switch.  I catch you at that game all the time.
            Oh well, I’m off to the airport in a bit.  It might be a few days, or more than a week, before I get time to correct more of your errors.  But most of this is nothing new.

          • “but I don’t recall exact definitions”

            But that hs never stopped you before. 

  • Rags, take your pick:
    “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis (the story of those who saw the diaster coming)
    “The End of Wall Street” by Roger Lowenstein, or
    (my favorite) “All the Devils are Here,” by Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean.

    • A derivative…a scary word to idiots like you…is a way of pooling assets.  No more, no less.  The derivative can have no more risk than its component assets.
      By pooling those risks, you LOWER the aggregate risk IF the assets were established with NORMAL standards.  (Some mortgages are always going to fail, but they were in the aggregate the safest forms of debt, because they were SECURED.)
      When you had the FEDERAL government MANDATING…and THREATENING lenders…AND assuring (FALSELY) that they would stand behind…CRAP loans, you WOULD get CRAP derivatives.
      Also, don’t post book titles here when somebody asks you to support your BULLSHIT, Erp.  It just shows how weak your lies are…nobody is going to read a book to refute you.  Working people don’t have that kind of time.

      • Did you look up derivative on wikipedia?  Educate yourself — you’ll then be forced to confront the fact that not everything fits into your subjective personal world view.  Read at least one of those books — I’ve read all of them (Plus “House of Cards” about the fall of Bear Stearns, and a more biased “Griftopia” by Matt Taibi).  Get inside the financial system and learn about what’s really happening.   The reason these guys get away with crap like that is because people like you — who have an ideological view that business is good and regulation is bad, and who don’t take the time to really understand what’s truly happening — argue to defend them.   You’re playing the role of a “useful idiot,” arguing to defend corruption because you’ve got a simplistic world view and a lack of understanding of reality.  You don’t do any real damage in blog comments, especially in ones where the faithful are only talking to and bolstering themselves.   I don’t expect you to admit it or ever respond, but out of your own curiosity and desire to understand the economic crisis, read at least one of those books.  “The Big Short” is the most readable and explains the basics well, though Lowenstein and Nocera/McLean get into the board rooms and cover everything from Fannie and Freddie to AIG and beyond.  Taibbi would be too left wing for you, but it’s a fun read.

        • No, little prince.  I have known what a derivative is for several decades.  I have traded them.
          And, I think, despite your assertion to have read these “facts” somewhere, you are still full of shit.
          There are all kinds of derivatives.  They do not magically acquire risk in their making.  You assert alchemy.
          What you suggest happened is as much a loopy conspiracy theory as the Truthers madness.  And you teach kids!

        • More Flabber — Flabby Blabber.

          If you’ve completed such extensive reading on the subject, Scott, why are you just blabbering and offering reading lists instead of explaining to Rags what you think derivatives are?

          And if all he did was look up derivatives on wikipedia that would be more effort than you put into questions that arise here.

    • And you didn’t read any of them. Your arguments aren’t sophisticated enough to reflect the development of book length accounts. You’re faking it.

  • If your pop and sizzle is for cutting [government] and saying no [to the Obama agenda], I think that is the essence of the message of any Republican who wins. We just had the most ideological election in 30 years in the midterm. We will have a highly ideological election in 2012. It’s going to be [centered on] opposition to the liberal agenda of Obama. I think the candidate whose personality is least in the way [and can] make the case in an ideological election is [the challenger] who will do best.
    Charles Krauthammer…ideological jihadist.
    Suck on that, Erp.

  • I see Mr. Erb has propped up yet another leftist straw man… the invincible and ‘highly touted’ (by leftists like Erb and Krugman) social democracies of Western Europe.  Before I begin, I’d like to point out that Mr. Erb nor any other leftist with whom I’ve debated this…ever discussed a couple of basic facts:
    1.  Sweden’s success wouldn’t be possible without the presence of military might.
    2.  These social democracies are allowed a huge advantage in having their military protection subsidized by the U.S.
    …and then the leftists want to compare their success to ours.  Simply amazing.  Listen to the echo of the hollow liberal logic.
    Some juicy tidbits to consider:
    According to a recent study of 35 developed countries, only two had jobless growth: Sweden and Finland. Economic growth in Sweden in the last 25 years has had no correlation at all with labor-market participation…Amazingly, not a single net job has been created in the private sector in Sweden since 1950.
    Absenteeism is rampant in public and private sector jobs alike. The government provides sickness benefits equal to as much as 80 per cent of a worker’s wages. Although they are the healthiest people on the earth, Swedes now “report sick” more often than any other people. Absenteeism has doubled in the last seven years and “sick pay” now consumes 16 per cent of government’s expenditures.

    The system of high taxes and generous welfare benefits worked for so long because the tradition of self-reliance was so strong. But mentalities have a tendency of changing when incentives change. The growth of taxes and benefits punished hard work and encouraged absenteeism. Immigrants and younger generations of Swedes have faced distorted incentives and have not developed the work ethic that was nurtured before the effects of the welfare state began to erode them. When others cheat the system and get away with it, suddenly you are considered a fool if you get up early every morning and work late.

    If Sweden were a state in the United States, it would now be the fifth poorest.
    While I’m swinging my straw machete (OOOOoooooOOOoh! I’m such a vitriolist!)… I’ll add a coup de straw:
    From a policy perspective, if America follows Paul Krugman and Barack Obama in “Europeanizing” the American economy, what is most likely to happen is that levels of income will drop to Europeans ones (or lower, taking into account demographic differences). Once this happens, it is hardly a consolation that America will grow at the same pace as Europe.
    During the current recession, the US GDP fell by a 3.3%. Theoretically if the US adopts European policies and immediately decreases to the levels of EU15, its per capita GDP would fall by 26.5%, 8 times worse than The Great Recession! (in practice the convergence would probably happen through years of reduced growth).
    Here I will make three comparisons, two that have been done before (but that Krugman and his readers needs to be reminded of), and one that I believe is original.
    1. First, let us compare the latest publicly available per capita GDP of 18 western Europeans countries and the US. We see that the US per capita GDP is $45.500, compared to $33.500 for EU15. Each American produces 36% more than each member of the EU15.
    The EU.15 as a whole, which Krugman presents to his readers an economy as dynamic as the US, would be the 49th poorest state, below Alabama, a State that Paul Krugman ridiculed in 2005. Few Americans consider Alabama a dynamic state, because of the low average income (even though, hardly surprisingly, the poorer southern states have much faster per capita growth rates than the rich states such as New York). Why than should we consider Europe a dynamic region?

    Even the richer European countries do not fare well against American states (the exceptions being oil rich Norway, financial city state of Luxembourg, free market Ireland and capitalist utopia Switzerland). Denmark and Sweden barely inch ahead of Kentucky, below Louisiana, New Mexico and Missouri. Minnesota is 34.4% richer than Sweden.

    …but I digress and it’s tiring thrashing straw.  I suspect Scott will either disappear from this particular discussion (won’t be the first time) or produce a long meandering post that speaks to the fringe of an argument.


    For the rest of the gang: I’m going to cobble the high points of these two articles together and cache them under my ‘Liberal Straw Man’ category for future reference.

  • Don’t be silly Rags, I’m not talking about derivatives in general, I’m talking about how the lack of regulation created a scenario where they became the most traded as big financial industries could use their inside knowledge to stack the game in their favor.   You really need to read up on how this unfolded.  Again, I recommend the Nocera/McLean book as the best (though “The Big Short” is a joy to read).
    Eliot, I make a point teaching about the people killed by belief in ideology, and use Marxism as an example of how people can get so blinded by ideology that they think they have the right approach and can use that to rationalize atrocities.  We go over the Cambodian genocide, Stalin’s purges, and Mao’s famine.  These are things everyone should learn about.   Important to is to realize Marx thought his theory was pointing to pure human liberation and the withering away of the state.  Another lesson: utopian ideologies often lead to their opposite.  I once saw a supposed libertarian/objectivist praise people like Pinochet and Peru’s Fujimori because they were defeating leftists.  Now, I am pretty sure you would not do that, you seem true to your principles.  But there are those who take even your ideology and praise those who commit atrocities.
    It’s pretty common knowledge, Rags, that Adam Smith did not think markets would work magically — there needed to be either an ethic (the capitalists had to want the system to work and not make choices to try to circumvent markets — and most people consider the merchant class to be the capitalists, that’s how it’s usually talked about), or regulations.   Markets on their own fall apart.  That’s where there are no examples of free market systems functioning without regulations.  Where governments disappear or collapse, anarchy and chaos take over, and prosperity declines dramatically.

  • Markets on their own fall apart.  That’s where there are no examples of free market systems functioning without regulations.  Where governments disappear or collapse, anarchy and chaos take over, and prosperity declines dramatically.

    At this point, I would merely be making your idiot rubble bounce.  Holland, England, and the U.S. prior to the regulatory push by businesses COLLUDING with BIG GOVERNMENT, all provide exactly the models you (STUPIDLY) insist do not exist.

    And…AGAIN WITH THE STRAW MAN????  WTF, liar!?!?  Nobody here calls for NO government, you stinking puke (OK, now I am calling you names, but you earned them).

    • No, the cases you point to had sweat shops, exploitation and often vestiges of medieval feudalism.  They are models for nothing anyone would want.   Luckily there is zero chance we’ll go back there because citizens would revolt and politically it would lead to a rise of the left greater than you’ve ever seen.  The people won’t accept that.  No problem calling me names, you throw out insults so often they are completely impotent.   I just raise my eyebrows and say “oh well, that’s just rags, he can’t help himself.’

      • You are a fundamentally dishonest man, Erp.  Those nations were bastions of freedom at the time, and places where people would risk their lives to come and be “exploited”.  People like Milton Friedman’s own mother.
        How dare you “time-travel” and apply what those nations were like two centuries ago with now!!!  What a dishonest PUKE!!!

        • You are a fundamentally dishonest man, Erp. 

          Now you’re getting it. You can see why I go straight to insults. There is nothing to be gained by trying to argue with someone that has such an amazing combination of ignorance, imbecility, arrogance, and disingenuousness.

          He loves it, of course. He likes nothing better than to see guys sputter with borderline rage. He’s so d@mn stupid that he thinks it’s because he has bested you in the “debate”, so he gets to stroke his own narcissism and inflate his self-worth at your expense.

          Oh, and an even better example of an extreme laissez faire society is Hong Kong from post WWII 1940s until the 1990s. Went from basically a swamp with a third world city in it to one of the leading manufacturing and commerce centers in the world, with as close to a complete laissez faire government as we’ve ever seen in history.

          • I think I evoked Hong Kong a while back, but it never hurts to remind people of what a fine model it is.
            As to Erp…duly noted.  I am simply floored at the intellectual dishonesty displayed here, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been.  He is a Collectivist, for all his soft-mouth centrist posturing.  He represents them well…

  • Rags, that Adam Smith did not think markets would work magically

    Sorry, I just had to highlight this piece of GLARING perfidy…
    The greatest of the insights Smith is credited with is his model of the “Invisible hand” (look it up, stupid) that WOULD…AND DOES…as if BY MAGIC work for the benefit of all involved (and even those NOT involved)!!!!
    And, funny thing, there IS AN ETHIC that has…all these years…WORKED to constrain the darker angels of our nature.  It is called “self-interest” by Smith, and it is MUCH more subtle and benevolent than you could POSSIBLY imagine (being the IDIOT you have elected to be!!!).  (See charitable conduct).

  • You are dead wrong about Adam Smith, rags.  First, he ONCE used the term invisible hand, but it wasn’t talking about the whole market system.  You need to look it up.  I don’t think you have even read Smith, you seem to have no comprehension of what he argued, but you have the talking points of libertarians who THINK they know what Smith wrote.   You are showing ignorance of issues you pretend to know.  And no, self-interest was not the kind of ethics Smith said was needed, that would be anathema to a moral philosopher like Smith.   I over estimated your knowledge about these things.

    • Quite some audacity there, Mr. Erb.  You’ve proffered a treasure trove of false talking points about Obama’s legal prowess(with no proof), His ‘homerun’ in the SOTU (despite it getting panned on the left) and the zombie like social democracy straw man.
      I’ve posted facts in direct contrast to your social democracy straw man.  You ‘magically’ ignore them.  I’m not surprised.

    • Anyone who has read your CRAP, and my assertions, about what Smith DID say, and what he predicted vis-a-vis GOVERNMENT collusion and INCUMBENT business, the INVISIBLE HAND of the market ordering the conduct of an entire people for good, etc. is WARMLY invited to read Smith for themselves.
      They will know you for the liar you are, Collectivist puke.
      …by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.

  • Sometimes I wonder if someone else has taken his place after the election, can the person do a better job?
    I mean the situation was already quite bad before he took over.
    Peace out.

    • Even having no one in place would have been better for the economy. The CBO is pointing out that no matter what you think of how bad it was before he took over, it has been made worse by the policies he enacted.