Free Markets, Free People

"…we’re about to face a situation that will destroy our cultural and economic underpinnings…”

For those of you who have not taken the opportunity to listen to this week’s podcast, the above was part of the summation of our situation by Dale Franks. I’d recommend you listen to the whole thing.

No one knows in detail what will happen in the next few years. The number of variables is too high. But the general outline is clear. In the near term, the US and about half a dozen European countries have unsustainable debt curves. That unsustainable debt is going to cause financial catastrophe not in a decade or two, but sometime in the next few years.

Given the interconnected nature of the world’s trade and financial system, that catastrophe is likely to spread rapidly. Even countries whose sins have been modest, such as Germany, will be caught up. Countries who depend on the US and Europe for the money to drive their economies, such as China and India, will be caught up. It’s going to be very, very messy, and a lot of people are going to suffer.

The participants in the podcast all agreed that there isn’t any obvious politically feasible way to reverse course. I agree, and I have a few comments to add.

I see the following as the biggest three groups involved in the political decision making, from largest to smallest, with some overlap among them:

(1.) The "rationally ignorant"* – those who don’t pay that much attention to politics, and have at best a vague understanding that we have a problem. These people, to the extent they think about it at all, believe that shuffling some things around a bit, electing some different people, and passing a few laws will fix whatever is ailing us.

They believe in such a “solution” because that’s the way things have gone their whole lives. Somehow the ruling class has always managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and keep things humming. They won’t believe this process will fail until it does. 

There are even quite a few Republicans in this category. They can generally be identified by their fixation on finding "the next Reagan".**

(2.) The ones who have some glimmering that there’s a problem, perhaps because they are unemployed, mired in debt, or both, but have a convenient scapegoat in mind. That’s usually "the rich" and "the evil corporations", though for Republicans, it might be Obama, Barney Frank, George Soros, or whoever. Like group 1, they believe it’s easy to fix the problems – just come down on the scapegoat, and everything will work out.

(3.) The "ruling class" as defined by Codevilla. This group is mostly convinced of their own magnificence, and thus believe if the right people are in charge (which usually includes them personally), then they can solve any problems. The ones in this group with enough situational awareness to realize the magnitude of the problem also realize that it’s pointless to do anything significant to try and solve it because that would get them cashiered from the ruling class. So their efforts are in mitigation, obfuscations, and generally stretching things out until they are retired from the game.  

Given this breakdown, we can talk all we want about who the GOP is going to nominate for president, but it really doesn’t matter. We have too big a cohort of people in this country who either believe we don’t really have a serious problem, or think there is a serious problem, but believe the cause is a boogieman of some kind that must be vanquished.

There’s a good reason they believe that. They are kept in the dark by a mainstream legacy press desperate to cover up the failings of the left-leaning governing style preferred by the vast majority of journalists.

In fact, none of the ruling class – which includes the politicians, journalists, academicians, lobbyists, staffers, and the like – has any motivation to tell the harsh truth about the trouble we are in. As I said above, they have a strong disincentive to do so. If they did, the other members of the ruling class would turn on them. They would likely lose their livelihood.

We’re also fighting ingrained culture. We have two generations that have been raised to believe that, ultimately, someone else is responsible for the essentials of their lives. They believe they are supposed to retire in their fifties or early sixties, with a pension followed by Social Security. They believe they are supposed to relinquish concern for healthcare costs when they turn 65. They believe that if things get bad enough in their lives, unemployment, and later welfare, will keep a roof over their head and food on the table. They’ve been trained to believe this by a ruling class that has been assuring them since the 1930s that they have the fundamental right to a soft life.

These people do not want to think about a world where these things are not true. It would be exquisitely painful to worry about those things. So they don’t. They ignore the warnings of the "radicals" who trot out the debt curves and the demographic stats. It’s easy enough to do that – the supposedly smart reporters ignore them too, if they don’t come right out and ridicule them. The abysmally ignorant social scientist cohort produces yet another round of "analysis" purporting to prove everything is OK, or at least would be if those rich people would just give up some more money. The political class assures them that it will be all right if they just keep electing the right people.

This state of affairs has no exit except catastrophe so major and undeniable that it affects most people personally. By then, it is virtually certain that the world financial system is past the point of no return in its current form.

I’ve stopped trying to talk to people around me about what is happening and likely to happen. I would have to spend hours removing the false assumptions they hold before I could even start. Plus, as I mentioned, they don’t want to believe what I need to tell them. It’s just too painful.

We are about to see a crisis that will set back living standards in this country to a level many alive today have never seen. The only reason it probably won’t get down to subsistence level is the technology base that we have. But we’re probably going to see stagnation, crumbling infrastructure, high unemployment, inability for most people to build any significant assets, and possible civil violence if the problem becomes so severe that it starts affecting the food supply (which I hope won’t happen).

I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does either, about how we will get through the chaos and what things look on the other side of it. I see three major categories of possible outcomes, and there may be more. But that’s a subject for another post.

(*)When I used the term "rational ignorance" in a comment at Daily Pundit about five years back, Bill Quick picked it up and had some unkind things to say about such people. (Daily Pundit is undergoing a platform change, so I can’t link to the page. It was on June 10, 2006, and I’ll link to it once the site over there is back to normal.) I understand Bill’s take, but unlike him and some other opinionists on the right, I don’t use it pejoratively. I use it the way economists originally intended: simply to mean people who are unwilling to invest the time and cost to become informed about the real underlying state of our political world.

It is expensive to become so informed, and the payoff for any individual is small. The aggregate effects, as we are seeing, may be horrendous. That doesn’t change the underlying economics. A political system that relies on individuals to invest the time to become informed about complex political issues, out of a higher understanding of their civic duty, is as doomed to failure as a system that expects individuals to commit to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". In both cases, such an expectation crashes up against the behavior of real people, i.e., human nature. For me, this is one of the cornerstones of my strong belief in highly limited government – it’s the only form that allows people to not know much about the political world because that world is pretty simple. We just have not figured out how to make limited government stable in the long term in the face of rational ignorance plus plus the cohort of moochers that’s present in every society.

(**)While I grant that Reagan was better than many alternatives, including the pathetic scold he replaced, at best he gave us some breathing space to solve the underlying problems of a decaying welfare state. He didn’t really make much progress in actually solving the long term problem, and his inability to get Democrats to cut spending led to some significant contributions to our debt problems.

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36 Responses to "…we’re about to face a situation that will destroy our cultural and economic underpinnings…”

  • They’ve been trained to believe this by a ruling class that has been assuring them since the 1930s that they have the fundamental right to a soft life.
    This goes back to my oft made observation that when people romantically wish to live in Medieval Times, they never want to be “serfs”

  • I’ve stopped trying to talk to people around me about what is happening and likely to happen. I would have to spend hours removing the false assumptions they hold before I could even start. Plus, as I mentioned, they don’t want to believe what I need to tell them. It’s just too painful.
    Wow ! So true. A recent example was when after weeks of negotiations with the Republicans on the Hill over the debt, our illustrious President addressed a joint session of Congress for his latest $400+ billion “spending program.” The disconnect from reality was so .. flaming.
    You’d have thought that he just finished paying off the debt, instead of kicking the first down payment (of many necessary) to pay down the debt to a “super-committee” which is about to fail with it’s “deal” on a non-binding plan.

  • Parallels with Confucianism:

    History shows a frightening parallel to the way our education is going everywhere in the world today. It is the decline of the world’s most creative, most advance, and most exciting civilization, that of China in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Until then, China had led the world in the arts and the sciences, in medicine and in mathematics, in technology and in statecraft. The reaction against independent thinking and artistic creativity that followed the invasion of the Mongols in the thirteenth century imposed the Confucian system of purely literary and purely imitative “liberal education” to the exclusion of everything else. Within a century China had become sterile and had lost her capacity to do anything new, to imagine anything new, to perceive anything new. We are, I am afraid, on the same road–and we have traveled very far along it.

  • “They believe in such a “solution” because that’s the way things have gone their whole lives. Somehow the ruling class has always managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and keep things humming. They won’t believe this process will fail until it does.”

  • Reagan’s greatness revolves around defeating the USSR without going to a hot war (except in remote places like Central America, Afganistan, Angola, etc).

    Reagan couldn’t fix our domestic problems given that he always had a Democrat controlled Congress.

    Our problem is that it will take control of the House, Senate, and White House to enact the needed changes. Reagan only had the White House, and weak control of the Senate (for 6 years).

    Since the early 30s at the latest, the best government we could combine would be POTUS Reagan, the ’95 Congress, and that leaves out the Senate. The best Senate I can think of is a mushy RINO Senate.

    Of course, this all comes back on the voters, who have gotten what they wanted so far.

    • @Don S – Not really — I worked in DC for a Republican Senator in the eighties, and the GOP had solid control of the Senate. Moreover, the House was in Reagan’s camp thanks to the large number of Dixiecrats, a now extinct species of conservative Democrat (they’ve since converted to the GOP). This gave Reagan a solid block of Congressional support especially during his first term. Your “best system” will never be, just as the “best system” for a very liberal Democrat will never be. The reality is that the US system lives or dies with compromise. If compromise is possible, problems get solved. If ideological jihad sets in, well, decline becomes enhanced…

      • @scotterb @Don

        Scott, The GOP at most controlled 55% of the Senate. GOP control varied from 53% to 55% down to 53% and then dropped to 45%.

        Obama had trouble with a Senate that was 60% Democrat. Given the inherent moderation of the Senate, a 55% GOP Senate hardly constitutes GOP control.

        The House Democrats of the Reagan era may not have been the batshit crazy Democrats we deal with today, but they were hardly in Reagan’s lap. Hence the deficits of the era, which would invariably be blamed on Reagan even though they were the fault of the Democrats.

        Finaly, the problems we face are the result of compromise.

        • @Don S @Don Well, I daresay that when I was working there, for a GOP Senator, we (I was Republican at the time) had a pretty strong working majority. The filibuster wasn’t so abused back then either. Dixiecrats did give Reagan a working majority for most of what he wanted, so he had a friendly Congress.

          Read David Stockman’s book “Triumph of Politics” from the mid-80s. He describes, and I recall, that the Republicans and the Reagan Administration didn’t care about deficits. They didn’t think they mattered. They didn’t try to push for spending cuts. The result was massive deficit spending while oil prices were dropping hyper-stimulating the economy. Private debt started to boom then as well. In 1981 public and private debt together was about 170% of GDP — historically “normal.” In the 1980s it started a rise to 250% by 1990, 350% by 2006, and I believe it’s near 400% now. Credit card debt took off after 1981, and after 1990 residential debt sky rocketed. The US had virtually no foreign debt in 1981, now public and private foreign debt is over $14 trillion, about 100% of GDP. Even when we had very brief balanced budgets in the late 90s private debt continued to soar. These are problems that started in the early 80s, but have gone on for thirty years. You can’t mess things up like this unless it’s a bipartisan effort.

          So I do not blame Reagan alone, I do not blame the Democrats alone. This crisis is a bi-partisan construction. Reagan was a part of it, so was Tip O’Neill. So was Bill Clinton, so was Mitch McConnell. And given how our system operates I guarantee you that compromise is the only possible way to devise a solution, neither side is going to get to impose their view on the other. Moreover, I don’t think either side “gets it.” I think ideological thinking has blinded both left and right to weaknesses of their own side and made them think all the problems are caused by the other side. The founders created a system that can only operate through compromise. That’s the American way.

  • <i>I’ve stopped trying to talk to people around me about what is happening and likely to happen. I would have to spend hours removing the false assumptions they hold before I could even start. Plus, as I mentioned, they don’t want to believe what I need to tell them. It’s just too painful. </i>

    A good example is how Clinton “balanced the budget”.

    In fact, Clinton’s plan was:

    1) Spend 100% of tax revenue
    2) Spend 100% of SS revenue
    3) Spend another $200B on top of that.

    Newt et al had a better plan:

    1) Spend 100% of tax revenue
    2) Spend part of the SS revenue
    3) Call the unspent SS revenue the “surplus”.

    Bill didn’t balance anything, unless it involved some plump intern’s chin. If anyone did, it was newt, and he really only reduced the deficiet (which reached a min of about $17M in 2000).

    Further, this was achieved due to a nice lining up of the econmic “stars”. The 2001 “surplus” was even worse then the 2001 “surplus” of -$17M. Whoever won in 2000 was gonna run deficits, even under the government’s crooked accounting.

    The real issue is growing government spending. Non defense spending even grew under the newt plan.

    • Should be: “The 2001 “surplus” was even worse then the 2000 “surplus” of -$17M.”

  • I’ve been saying this kind of thing on my blog since September 2008. I’m actually slightly more optimistic now than I was then — but only slightly. Interesting you bring up Reagan. It was in 1981 that we started to amass high levels of debt. That not only includes government debt (debt to GDP ratios went from 30% to 60% in the 80s!), but also credit card debt and private debt. That’s also when financial deregulation led to the capacity of the banking sector to create fancy things like CDOs and ultimately the killer synthetic CDO that helped create financial chaos. The current account also went into deficit for good around that time and except for a brief respite in the early 90s (of about a year) has been declining ever further. Yes, there are 30 years of structural economic imbalances to deal with, and such systemic change will shake the fabric of society. As I type this my Globalization class is writing an essay about whether or not we’re witnessing the end of the Westphalian state system and a shift towards a new kind of global political organization. For all our disagreements, I think you are correct about the severity of the situation and the lack of “realism” of people who should know better from all over our political and socio-economic spectrum. I’m not ready to predict gloom and doom as a certainty, however — but an era that started in the early eighties is passing; American and global politics will never be the same.

    • @scotterb Listen, you stupid fool. Those of us who actually understand the dynamics have been saying it a lot longer than 2008 – over 25 years in my case. We’re the ones who said Obama would make it worse, while you blathered about how wonderful he was and he thought like you and was going to cut spending and similar stupidities.

      We’re the ones who predicted that the Tea Party reaction would have severe electoral consequences because of the very issues we’re discussing, while you dismissed them as a small number of fringe fanatics.

      You told us it wasn’t “politically feasible” to raise the debt ceiling without raising taxes, and you were wrong again.

      So don’t show up here trying to sell your pathetic take on things as having any connection to reality. Oh, sure, you’ve talked out of enough sides of your mouth over time that you can, with a clear conscious, claim to understand what’s going on. But it’s just a pathetic attempt to convince yourself that you have any value in your chosen field, when the facts that (1) you’re wrong on almost everything you predict, and (2) you’re working at a third rate college teaching bored undergraduates despite your vaunted advanced degree, tell anyone exactly how mediocre you are.

      • @Billy Hollis @scotterb Billy, Billy, Billy…

        Your thinking is so “20th Centrury”… The wise Revolting Eloi are pointing us to a new dawn, instructed by the Erps of the world.

        Everything will be fine. Trust Erp and his faculty lounge brain trust.

        • @Ragspierre @Billy You know, Rags, we really need a faculty lounge here, but at “third rate colleges” we don’t get those. Bummer. But I think you miss the point of my post if you read that I’m saying “everything will be fine.”

      • @Billy Hollis Ah yes, the insults. Well, I can give you notes from my International Political Economy courses from back in the 90s that echo all this (though I can’t say I was expecting this back in 1986, so kudos to you for that). I don’t think you can credit the tea party with 2010, and right now they seem to have faded with approval numbers below 20%. Also I remember people hear harping about the low approval numbers Pelosi’s Congress has, but now they have dropped even farther! If Democrats come back in 2012, will you credit OWS?

        What amazes me is the fact you seem to need to call me names. That says more about you than it says about me. If you were really confident of your supposed far superior intelligence and understanding of the issues, you wouldn’t feel compelled to lash out with gratuitous insults. I keep a blog going back to 2008, and an earlier public one to 2004 where I make my predictions and stand by them. I think I have a pretty good track record! What was funny is when you guys jumped on me for being wrong about 2010 comparing a prediction I made in March to one McQ made right before the election!

        Sigh. This is what’s wrong with political discourse. So much bitterness, insults, and posturing, so little actual discourse. I think you deep down know that you aren’t such an intellectual superior, that I do understand these issues, and my perspective is very different than yours. Rather than actually defending your views with logic, it’s easier to call names. How superior of you.

        • @scotterb @Billy “Sigh. This is what’s wrong with political discourse. ”

          Except you don’t discourse, you lecture, down your nose, as if you’re the only person on board who has a brain or any discernible life experience. You wave counter arguments away with a flick of your wrist, and you constantly appeal to the authority of your college degrees as if they were passed to you from Moses who received them from the Lord, and as if no one else here HAS any advanced degrees themselves. We are NOT your students, at a minimum, we are your equals and if you were interested in discussion and not pontificating and lecturing, you would take 3 seconds before you call people silly, or their arguments silly, and consider other word choices.

          that’s for starters, as I have absolutely no conviction that any of that sunk in, I’ll terminate at this point.

          But for giggles, why don’t you go spread some of your wisdom across the Arab Spring posting, another of your slightly less than stellar predictions.

        • @looker @Billy I’m not the one claiming to be superior and calling the other stupid and hurling insults. Disagreement is good, we learn through disagreement. Who keeps bringing up degrees? I hardly mention it, you guys mention it all the time. It’s like you’re so fixated on what I do for a living that you imagine your stereotype of an ‘arrogant academic’ and just assume your imagined interest is correct. I’m not claiming any authority or superiority here. I don’t believe I’ve ever treated you with disrespect, or called people names or claimed I was superior. Anyway, I think that the Arab transition is going as well as can be expected — it’s a long term process, no one expected quick moves to western style democracy. But it’s still a good thing, probably something that was inevitable. I suppose I could go post on that if you really want a substantive discussion.

      • @Billy Hollis Raising the debt ceiling isn’t feasible without raising taxes? Where did I say that? I thought the debt ceiling should be raised as a matter of course without it becoming a major issue. My argument was that meaningful debt reduction and entitlement reform will require tax increases to be feasible. For such a superior intellect you seem to have forgotten the basics of that discussion. You might question whether or not your other memories of my claims aren’t similarly flawed.

        • @scotterb @Billy Classic Erb. When confronted with a list of stupidities, you nitpick one, ignore the rest, whine elsewhere about being insulted, puff up about how you just want to have real discussion (when a decade of evidence proves otherwise, as looker noted), and then revert to the usual smug self-satisfied blathering.

          Guess no matter how bad things get, some things will never change.

        • @Billy Hollis @scotterb @Billy It is important to have constants in life.

          Erp being constantly…well…Erp certainly counts. Like the Northern Star. Except wrong.

        • @Billy Hollis @Billy In my experience when people feel compelled to have the level of bravado you show with insults and personal attacks flying, but refuse to actually discuss issues, then that’s usually a sign that such folk are afraid of a real discussion. In your case it may not be that, it could just be you’ve let your imagination run wild.

          But you do put something on the table, a supposed “list of stupidities.” While I’ll gladly admit to having said stupid things at times, and anyone wanting to go through all my comments ever looking for stupid comments certainly could find a bunch (though I suspect that’s true for everyone who speaks there mind and isn’t afraid to go on a limb at times), the “list” you provide is striking in its blandness.

          1) Tea party. I believe they are a fringe, they are also losing steam and have low favorabilities. They did have an impact in 2010 thanks to economic conditions. They also prevented the GOP from getting the Senate in Nevada and Delaware. They also are the most vulnerable Republicans for 2012. I do think, as do many people, that they’re on the fringe. I agree they had an impact especially on the GOP House elections. If I said they wouldn’t (I don’t recall saying that), then I was wrong and will gladly admit it.

          2. Given the post, it’s pretty clear you don’t think one person can change the economy. I do think Obama prevented a much deeper initial slide and saved a lot of states, which is one reason the economy has been perking up lately. This is a disagreement I’ll be glad to discuss if you wish – I do think his policies have helped. I also think it’s clear he was willing to cut spending — he called for domestic spending lower than any level since Eisenhower, and he was willing to do so in a deal with Speaker Boehner that was 85% spending cuts and 15% increased revenues (taxes). He wanted to cut spending, but not without getting something from the GOP in return, that would have been misguided policy and political suicide. The GOP was so afraid of any closing of tax loopholes that they rejected massive spending cuts and even entitlement reforms in order to play politics. If you disagree, that could also be a topic of rational discussion.

          I’ve pointed out you were wrong in my position on the debt ceiling. And that’s it. That’s your list?! Yet you go over the top about how I have no connection to reality and am “wrong on everything.” I think you’re over-compensating in your reaction because you know what you’re saying isn’t true but somehow you’re irritated by me and you just want to lash out. I’m sorry I’ve irritated you, but I guarantee you that the person you’re attacking isn’t me, it’s a creation of your own imagination.

        • @scotterb @Billy Do you ever have anything different to say? You’re like a d@mn parrot. “Squawk. Erbie want a real discussion. Squawk.”

          You say the same things over and over and over. No matter how many times it’s explained to you that it’s impossible to have a “real discussion” with you because you lack the cognitive capacity to understand rational argument, you just keep up your “more in sorrow than in anger” routine. I guess it’s to bolster your own self-respect, because anyone who reads this site regularly knows you’re full of it, so it can’t possibly be to persuade anyone here.

          You claim you don’t insult, but you’ve called QandO readers things like inbred and Goebbels-like. Now, either you have no memory or you’re just a liar. We’ve pointed out such inconsistencies a hundred times, and you always have some lame rationalization.

          I stand on stage in front a thousand people regularly and take any questions they ask on contentious issues in my industry. I’m not the least bit afraid of a real discussion, as long as the person involved is capable of it. Which certainly does not describe you.

        • @Billy Hollis @Billy Re-read your first paragraph only insert your repetitive insults. You seem to need to respond, yet you don’t want to do anything but insult.

          I think you know I could pit my knowledge of politics and economics against you; I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have in life if I “lacked the cognitive capacity to understand a rational argument.”

          To your complaints: I meant “inbred” as a metaphor — when like minded folk constantly bolster their common perspective and then attack as ridiculous anyone who gives a counter, that thwarts the kind of clear thinking that real disagreement creates. The metaphor “inbred” means that such behavior does for discussion what inbreding does for genetics. I meant it as a criticism how that style of debate; I did not mean anything about your readers personally. I apologize for using the metaphor carelessly. I also admit that I do make comparisons to Goebbels, but I’ve done that about Obama too: http://scotterb.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/triumph-of-will/ (toward the end of the post). If I see something that reminds me of Goebbels tactics, I state it. I do have to say that given what you dish out in the form of insults it’s surprising that you are so sensitive to these minor ‘insults.’

          But I’ve had moments of weakness where I’ve been irritated and thrown out an insult. That happens to everyone. I’ll plead guilty to that. I don’t think I do it very often.

          The irony in your last paragraph is that you do what you accuse me of doing — bragging about my career and background and that I have to deal with discussion every day. The difference is I don’t hide behind a lame “you are incapable of rational thought” insult. I generally think your posts are pretty good and you show intelligence, even if at times I think you have a wrong read on the issues.

          A word of advice: if you really think someone isn’t worth spending time on, ignore them. That’s what I do — and there are people and even commentators to my blog who have annoyed me and I stopped responding. Because if you show a need to insult you’re sending a message that you’re taking me far more seriously than you claim to be.

        • @scotterb @Billy See, you do that every time someone actually puts up something solid to counter a claim you make. You say I’m afraid of a discussion, I give a very generic counter to show how stupid you claim is, and all you can do is whine about something irrelevant.

          You’ve done it before. You claim I can’t communicate well. I point out books and speaking, etc., and your lame-ass comeback is “Methinks thou doth protest too much.” As far as I can remember, that’s the only two times I’ve put up something from my background to counter your blather, and you come back with self-righteous BS both times.

          http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?Entry=8283

          You’ve *admitted* having fun coming here and irritating people. That’s sick, Scott, and that’s why I do my best to make sure everyone here knows what you are. You contaminate threads with generic pap, with self-inflating, pompous nonsense, and they become all about you as we try in vain for the nth time to point out how ridiculous you are.

          Ignore you? How often do I respond to your stupid garbage? A few times a year, just to let you know that you are pond scum, which is a tiny minority of the threads you contaminate. Ignoring you, as I do most of the time, doesn’t stop you from degrading every discussion you get involved with. Oh, if it only did.

        • @Billy Hollis @Billy I think you communicate just fine, I enjoy your posts, I think you’re a smart guy, even if I disagree with you sometimes. Your insults are way too over the top to be effective. However, if you look at any discussion I’ve been involved in you’ll see that I’m not the one who starts the insults, I’m not the one who degrades the discussion, and I am the one who tries to stick with issues and respond to what the person says, trying never to take it personally. I believe that people too often imagine an opponent in a discussion like this as a caricature, filling in with imagination (usually negative if the opponent has irritated them or disagrees) almost the whole picture because you can’t really know someone from this limited communication.

          I don’t post to irritate you, but to show a different perspective, to break into what seems to me to be a kind of groupthink on the issues (to retreat from the more insensitive metaphor). The fact you all get irritated and like to throw out insults seems bizarre. What adult calls people “pond scum” says “you can’t think rationally” and hurls what you write. I mean in the real world people stop doing that after 9th grade. Yet you think that makes you look good and me look bad. In a crowd dominated by those who think like you that might work, but if you tried to pull this in neutral territory, well…

        • @scotterb @Billy “I think you communicate just fine…”

          Then why on the other thread did you say “You don’t communicate well, Billy.”?

          See, that’s you in a nutshell – saying whatever comes to mind that you think might bolster a rhetorical case *today*. Then brushing it off with a lame excuse or rationalization whenever someone points out your contradictions.

          Like you’re about to do right now…

        • @Billy Hollis @scotterb @Billy I’m sorry if that comment bothered you. Apparently I didn’t think you communicated something well in that discussion. Yes, I do say what I think today. But I’m not brushing off what I said in the past, I’m apologizing. To be sure, that is a very mild criticism compared to your insults of me, but hey — if it bothered you, I’m sorry.

  • Indeed, it was a great (and as described–pessimistic) podcast. In recent months the podcasts have finally become a Sunday night routine for me!

    The cast’s description of the flow of our current economic/political events and their natural progression couldn’t help but bring Hayek to my mind. Then the allusion to a “strong man” becoming necessary to keep us fed, etc., immediately took me to Stop 10 on the Road to Serfdom:

    http://mises.org/books/TRTS/

    I’m certain the crew here has a better critical understanding of Hayek than I and checking Road against today’s events like a Nostrodamus quatrain seems an elementary fearmongering cliche.

    But maybe if the “rational ignoramuses” could invest a little time to read even this comic version of the text it may help? Maybe ask them to help turn the wheel of the bus now that they may realize we are sailing through Stops 8 and 9?

  • This is as depressing as it gets. I look at the useful OWS idiots and I want to bulldoze the worthless lot of the useful idiots. Not a handful of them can tell me about why solyndra. Jon Corzine and a Visa ipo are newsworthy. Or maybe they could and don’t care. Either way I know there is no convincing them much like there is no convincing the erbs of the world. And I really dont want to convince them or even interact with them anymore. When things go pear-shaped it’s going to be ugly. Unless 2012 brings some kind of miracle, the economic screwjob is inevitable. And when we are weak, you’ll see the little pissants like Iran act up.
    Kick the can down the road some more boys…