Free Markets, Free People


California’s fiscal crisis provides a stark look at the difference between today’s left and right

The situation in California is critical with government there facing a 19 billion dollar shortfall and the budget yet to be passed. It pits an admittedly "moderate" Republican governor against a Democratically dominated legislature and their differences on how to close that huge budgetary hole.

The lack of a budget is forcing furloughs and the possibility of the state again issuing IOUs instead of payments to vendors, etc.

Until the governor and legislature negotiate that budget, not much will change. And the fight is classic:

Schwarzenegger has proposed slashing spending to balance the state’s books, an approach rejected by Democratic lawmakers. Their leaders in the state Senate and Assembly are trying to draft a joint plan likely to include proposals for tax increases to rival the governor’s budget plan.

There it is. Where the governor sees government as having to yeild and reduce itself, the legislature views government – at the size and scope it now occupies – to be a nonnegotiable necessity and entitled to more taxpayer cash to preserve it as is.

Funny that the "conservative" position in this fight – i.e. the attempt to maintain the status quo – is that of the "progressive" party in California.

However, the cut spending/more taxes fight is, in a nutshell, the difference between the two parties right now.  I used to say there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two (and on many issues that’s still true) but in terms of how to balance a budget, the “reduce government/ reduce spending” approach seems to now be solely owned by the GOP.

Whether or not they’ll actually do that should they again find themselves in the position of power to do so is obviously another question entirely. 

In the case of the Democratic party – they’re now a wholly owned subsidiary of government unions, and their pandering to these unions is both short-sighted and destructive.  The party that used to be able to claim the mantle of the working man’s party is now almost exclusively the government union worker’s party.  And of course that means keeping government large and well funded.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this fight comes out – but even with Schwarzenegger representing the GOP side of things, it is clear which side is the taxpayer’s friend.

~McQ

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139 Responses to California’s fiscal crisis provides a stark look at the difference between today’s left and right

  • McQ[I]n terms of how to balance a budget, the “reduce government/ reduce spending” approach seems to now be solely owned by the GOP.

    Cynic that I am, I suggest that they own this issue in the same way that an arsonist owns fire safety when his own house is burning down.  I and many other people remember the GOP Congress under Foghorn Leghorn Lott and Denny Grand Slam as well as Bush’s big-spending ways, so it’s a bit hard to believe that the GOP has REALLY reformed and will actually cut spending and start eliminating government programs, agencies, and activities if they get control again.

    Even Ah-nold, if I understand the situation in CA correctly, is in a bed partly of his own making: after campaigning as a fiscal conservative who would clean house in the wake of the catastrophic Davis administration, he quickly knuckled under and became almost as big a spender as the dems in Sacramento.  It’s very easy to talk about cutting budgets, but it’s MUCH easier to just spend other people’s money (you get to go on all the Sunday morning shows, too!).

    And what SHALL we cut?  Who pays the penalties for decades of fiscal irresponsibility now that the bill is coming due?  The dems claim that people who have money ought to pay.  Conservatives claim that, in effect, people who DON’T have money ought to pay.  On the face of it, the dems have the compelling argument, which is why I think that we’re going to keep heading toward the cliff, at best slowing down from time to time, but still inexorably, inevitably bound for the edge, the fall, and the very hard stop at the bottom.

  • Political reality: neither side ultimately has the power to get their way.  The only solution is to cut spending and raise taxes, to compromise.  That’s what democracy is all about.  Our politicians have to stop ideological jihad and remember that our entire system is set up to pretty much assure no one side dominates — that forces pragmatic compromises.

    • Perhaps New Jersey can serve as a model.

    • OK, let me mail in a few generic, trite, semi-nonsensical sentences so you dense righties have something to lather over today.

      Political reality: neither side ultimately has the power to get their way. And the fact that the left has basically gotten their way for the last eighty years and grown government steadily larger the whole time doesn’t count. I decree it.

      The only solution is to cut spending and raise taxes, to compromise. What that means is that we wise leftists will commit to cutting spending a miniscule amount, maybe, at some indefinite time later, via some sort of Congressional limitation on future spending that’s more theoretical than real, while the raising taxes happens right away. That’s what democracy is all about, at least as far as we are concerned.

      Our politicians have to stop ideological jihad and remember that our entire system is set up to pretty much assure no one side dominates — that forces pragmatic compromises. And, of course, those pragmatic compromises always lead to bigger government. The system is absolute genius, I tell you, and assures that we eventually reach leftist utopia despite the interference of sterile, inbred, mindless, Nazi-like righties who are also code-word racists.

      Because we can just string you along, suckering you in with all this talk of how you can’t just cut spending. Why, that’s crazy talk! You can’t have spending cuts without raising taxes. They’re like ham and eggs, they go together. It’s perfectly logical. I decree it. If you don’t agree, you doth protest too much.

      By the way, did you notice how I cleverly dodged the whole issue of public sector unions as the biggest source of California’s problems? Because unions are in the tank for the whole march to the salvation of leftist utopia, I really have nothing bad to say about them. So don’t bring up how it’s impossible to compromise in California because the unions won’t do it! Just don’t start! I have not received the talking points on that from the New York Times yet, so I’m not ready to respond to that yet. I’m sure they’ll come up some perfectly wonderful multiple truth for why everyone in the situation needs to sacrifice, and why the union’s sacrifice needs to be microscopic compared to everyone elses.

      • Our politicians have to stop

        I agree. Every problem doesn’t deserve a solution from the government.

    • You don’t even pretend to pay attention.

      People cannot pay any more taxes.

      They can’t pay what they are paying now.

      Only the “clients” who live off of the system along with the public employees unions want more taxes, to sustain themselves.

      California is on the glide path to collapse.

      • Perhaps next year they should add an addition box of the 1040 form titled:

        Extras taxes your feel the government needs (because you love “The Won”) ..

        I expect 99.99% compliance with the value “0″, with only a handful of idiots sending anything in

        • HMPH!  If Captain Jean-Francois Kerry, master of the good ship “Gigolo”, is any indication, even those who DO love “The Won” won’t pay any extra.  Hell, they’ll go (nautical) miles out of their way just to avoid paying the taxes that they owe.

      • Yeah, the whole “compromise” bit doesn’t work for states like CA and NY.  The situations there reminds me of the news stories from Greece.  After the Greek government made painful spending cuts as a prerequisite for getting the bailout money it needed, Greek citizens took to the streets in protests that sometimes turned violent.  Even in the face of fiscal catastrophe, citizens were furious at the thought of having to lift their faces from the trough, if even just for a moment.

        For those with a strong sense of entitlement, the fact that CA has run out of both options and money is irrelevant.

        • Reality bites.   We’ll have to make painful spending cuts, which will only be politically possible with some tax increases.  Unfortunately, people delay doing what is necessary until its exceedingly painful, as in the case of Greece.

          • Why do you insist that tax increases are necessary?  Tax increases hurt the economy, slowing recovery from this double-dip recession.
            As Martin McPhiillips pointed out, people can’t pay more taxes.  Why do you want to drown people in more economic debt when so many millions are already struggling to tread water today?

          • “Reality bites”
            Did you find that in a book somewhere?  Cause you are NOT acquainted with reality.
            Do you deny that lowering marginal rates INCREASES tax revenue?

          • Well, do the honorable thing, Scott, and lend a hand to the beleaguered taxpayers of Maine. Then lobby to have your taxes raised when you’re working at Target.

          • We’ll have to make painful spending cuts, which will only be politically possible with some tax increases.

            And that’s worked how many times in the past, Perfesser Clueless?

      • Actually, the wealthiest 10% earn 50% of the income, and are able to evade a lot of taxes.   Moreover, while the middle class has shrunk, the wealthy earn more, and are taxed at some of the lowest rates in the industrialized world.  To say people can’t pay any more taxes is to show utter ignorance of reality.   The only solution is spending cuts painful to the left, and tax increases painful to the right — the opposite of the devils’ compromise (cutting taxes while increasing spending) that was struck in the early 80s.  If not, well, get used to the US being a fallen power.

        • Actually, the wealthiest 10% earn 50% of the income, and are able to evade a lot of taxes. So the solution is obvious. Haven’t you guys ever heard of soak the rich? And don’t start up with how soak the rich has never worked long term because it surpresses growth! Just don’t start! I have a fine, leftist multiple truth right here that says it will work this time.

          Moreover, while the middle class has shrunk, the wealthy earn more, and are taxed at some of the lowest rates in the industrialized world. And no, I don’t have to supply any links in support of that, so stop asking. I decree it. And don’t you mean righties dare start up with how California, which oddly enough is the subject of this post, has already done exactly what I said and raised taxes on rich people to higher levels than anywhere else in the country. And especially don’t start up with how that made their rich people flee in droves just like other places like Britain. I have another multiple truth right here that says industrialized countries are supposed to soak the rich, so there. If you disagree, you doth protest too much.

          To say people can’t pay any more taxes is to show utter ignorance of reality. Heck, they’re still buying iPhones, so they have something left. They’re able to buy big-screen TVs and afford nice food and stuff that a low paid professor at a moose cow college can’t afford, so obviously they can afford to have us raise taxes some more. And for goodness sake, don’t start up with any of your nonsense about how the constitution doesn’t permit a lot of the stuff we wise leftists are doing, or any of that. We’re on the way to glorious salvation in the form of leftist utopia, and we won’t let you inbred, sterile, racist, mindless righties get in the way.

          So. The only solution is spending cuts painful to the left, and tax increases painful to the right. And when I say spending cuts painful to the left, a cut of any size, even a tenth of a percent, is painful to the left because we have such wonderful intentions for spending that money to make society a better place. And don’t you dare start up about how Obamacare is an obvious spending cut that would be painful to the left, and you really, really need to stop bring up the unions, which I dodged earlier. I already told you I don’t have talking points about the unions yet.

          If not, well, get used to the US being a fallen power. Yes, if we don’t go all the way to leftist utopia, it’s doom and gloom for us, I decree it. It will be awful. I’ll never be able to get rid of the magenta caterpillars then. They’ll take over the whole town.

        • Listen, you ignorant little slob. What middle class is left is drowning in property and income taxes. The upper ten  percent are the people who have sufficient money to invest. They already pay through the nose in taxes. And when you take even more from them, you kill the private economy, which is where wealth is created. That’s also where real private sector jobs are created. Every dollar that is invested in the private economy is a live dollar. Every dollar taken in taxes is a dead dollar. At the end of the day, it is the people struggling at the short end who are left without jobs because of higher and higher taxes.

          • The upper 10% aren’t investing, they’re buying foreign consumables.   That’s why tax cuts are a poor stimulus.   The middle class are drowning because the upper class aren’t having to sacrifice at all.  They’ve duped simpletons into thinking they having wealth to invest will solve our problems.

          • The upper 10% aren’t investing…

            Who hires the bulk of the other 90%?  How can they provide jobs without investing?

            They’ve duped simpletons into thinking they having wealth to invest will solve our problems.

            Perhaps you forgot that the wealth they have to invest is wealth they earned in the first place?  An entrepreneur’s talent, effort, and time do not belong to “society” to pass around as the “enlightened leaders” see fit.
            If anyone has been duped, it’s all the simpletons who fall for the class envy crap and the theft by “society” that pretenders like you have been preaching since Robespierre.

          • Oh, dear, now it’s full blown class struggle. They’re buying “foreign consumables,” not even employing local contractors or purchasing from American stores.

            You’re such a filthy little commie, Scott.

          • “The upper 10% aren’t investing, they’re buying foreign consumables.”

            Then they won’t be wealthy for long. 
            Idiot.
            The wealthy remain wealthy, and the not wealthy become wealthy,  precisely because they invest instead of consuming.

          • Foreign consumables, like, um, $7 million dollar yachts, for example.

             

        • The key problem in CA is the government pensions. Increased taxes won’t work, the only thing that will work is reforming the pensions and getting the unions under control. The pensions should have gone to defined contributions instead of defined benifits years ago.

          • Fair points — though I think it’ll still be a mix of tax increases to get the political capacity to cut pensions and government worker salaries.

          • No, don’t take a single penny more in taxes to pay for public employee union pensions. Cut them down to the nub. Outsource or get rid of them altogether. New York State doesn’t even know how many people it has working for it. And then cut taxes. Cut every kind of tax. And if there’s a deficit in any state budget, lay into the budget with more cuts. Take these outrageous bureaucracies, all this crap down to levels that people easily lived with decades ago. And let people and entrepreneurs have the cash to rebuild the private economy, whence all wealth and real jobs flow.

            Stop this pretense that these public employee unions are anything but parasites built over decades by rent-seeking union lobbyists and corrupt state legislatures.

        • And pay considerably MORE than 50% of the tax burden.

        • the wealthiest 10% earn 50% of the income

          Actually, I think that is a bit high, but still this relatively even mixture of Democrats and Republicans (one thing that Clinton proved with his fundraising was that all the rich aren’t Republicans, not even most of them) will go out of their way to keep every last cent, until they donate it to the charity of their choice.

    • Political…and economic…reality: BIG GOVERNMENT leads to ruin.  California, Detroit, New York, etc.
      Market economics and liberty lead to growth and an improved standard of living for a free people.
      Simple, really.

      • Government had higher tax brackets and was increasing its involvement in the economy from 1945 to the mid-seventies.  At that time, correlated with the growth of government and regulation of markets, we had the biggest increase in prosperity in human history.   This was true here, in Europe and in Japan.  The reason is (as Mark Martinez explains in “The Myth of the Free Market”) that markets and states work only in accord with each other.  If the state tries to stifle markets (as in communism), you get ruin and collapse.  If markets are not regulated properly (as in recent years in the US), you get economic turmoil and potential collapse (or you get rule by organized crime).
        Nowhere have markets ever worked without having a state to regulate and tax.   Nowhere (except maybe small localities and pre-modern societies — even then there was political organization).   Even places like Social Democratic Scandinavia has seen prosperity alongside an active government.
        So, Rags, your claim is just an assertion that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

        • .. but nobody paid those higher taxes because there were more tax shelters available.  In fact, that was the whole reason JFK got rid of many of those higher rates, nobody paid them .. he gave up nothing.

        • “Government had higher tax brackets and was increasing its involvement in the economy from 1945 to the mid-seventies.  At that time, correlated with the growth of government and regulation of markets, we had the biggest increase in prosperity in human history.   This was true here, in Europe and in Japan.
          Skip the idea that a significant portion of the world was busy taking the brick rubble piles that had been factories, apartment blocks and cities and rebuilding, from pigs to pig iron, sowing machines to sewing machines, plants to power plants.  Forget that that had to happen in a very large part of Europe, and a large part of South East Asia….

          Yeah, just skip that, it had no bearing on anything like markets or prosperity.

          Another thing I noticed is you seem to think small government that isn’t sticking it’s nose in everyone’s business logically equates to take over by ‘organized crime’  – you’re kinda fixated on that meme, it’s an ongoing theme in your little treatises.

          • “Meme” seems to be a favorite word on the right.   As a theory it’s pretty bad though.  I’m just looking at reality.  I do think small government can work if it is done at a more local level where there is real oversight.  It also won’t get involved in imperialistic wars.

          • “Meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins. And it’s nothing more than a replay of the Aristotelian observation that man is an imitative animal, and that the mimetic environment is a crucial element of  cultural success or failure. For instance, we need to clean the postmodern dipwads out of our universities because the create useless mimetic models for the young talent of American society.

          • “meme’ – well, I can’t help it if you had to look it up.  It certainly has come into common use much more recently.  A lot like the term asshat.

          • “Meme” seems to be a favorite word on the right.

            As McPhillips points out, Richard Dawkins coined the term.  He is definitely not “on the right” politically (besides being an atheist and leading proponent of evolution) and I would guess you agree with him on most things politically, even if you still do believe in imaginary superstitious things.  (You and I debated the Dali Lama, Richard Bach, and such many months ago.)

        • Just a  quick fisk…I have lawyering to do…
          If your assertion is that a market economy cannot exist in anarchy…duh.
          If your assertion that we have EVER had “proper” regulation, state the time, and cite your references.
          If you are asserting that the financial collapse we now suffer from the result of deregulation, you need your meds adjusted.  Put up you cites.
          If you assert  that market economies naturally tend to organized crime…well, you can repeat above.
          Are you also asserting that New York and California are running toward ruin?  Be clear, please.

        • This isn’t a Scandanavia country, bimbo.

          The 1930s were crushed under American government. The post-war prosperity was the result of an aggressive generation that hungered for success and did what it took to succeed. They were not yet crushed with the deteriorating entitlement programs, the Great Society, and the regulation state. Among all politicians, only Reagan had the vaguest sense of what was happening and created a renewed environment for investment and entrepreneurship, and we got a quarter century boom out of it.  Reagan came along the last time people like you had their hands on the wheel.

        • Here is a strange thing Erb, I am going to actually agree with you.  Capitalism needs to be regulated, and Government does provide useful services that need to be funded by taxation.

          Here is the problem in a nutshell. Government has all the power and it will continue to grow and continue to steal ever more from the citizens, and try to do more and more and more.

          We have plenty examples of governments that just didn’t know when to stop; Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy, California, Massachusetts, ect.

          So you see, even though you are right in principle you are wrong in practice, Why? because you are not active in trying to control government, and instead you are mostly an apologist for government.

          If government is not tightly controlled it is the leviathan that takes away all freedoms and economic prosperity. And all in the good name of “progress”, “social justice”, “fairness”, etc.

          In short, you are not always wrong, but you are always misguided.

          • Actually, I’m quite skeptical of big government — I’m really more a left libertarian, skeptical of both big government and big business (I think they are actually in bed together, both enjoying the left and the right apologizing for one side and attacking the other).  If you note, I take positions like cutting spending, increasing the retirement age, cutting entitlements, and rethinking the entire budget that are very contrary to leftist ideology.  I also think progressive taxation is good, too much money is spent on the military, and the US needs to recognize that in a new globalized world system we have to cooperate more with others.   My positions do not fit completely with either side.  I’m just saying (following Walter Lippmann’s advice) that we need to listen to each other and not play ideological games.    I’m a lot closer to most of you on a lot of issues than you may realize.

          • I’m really more a left libertarian

            Like a pregnant man, an honest liar, a gentle murderer?
            On every debate or election, you always defend the big-government Democrat legislation or politicians.  Always.
            Why you continue to pretend to be what you’re not is beyond me.
            Now, do your little backflip, say something about doth protest or reality bites or times are changing.  Good little bitch.

          • Actually, you’re a notorious liar, who can’t keep his mouth shut.

        • Sheesh, Scott, are you on this again?  Do not forget,  from 1945-1970′s, most of the worlds manufacturing capacity had been destroyed by WWII and it took time to build it up again.  During all that time the US had a fully functioning industrial sector.  I am not surprised you are unaware of that as it does not fit your narrative.

          Now,  ““The Myth of the Free Market”” is crap, double crap, and more crap.  I struggled through a 100 pages with notes on nearly every page about how wrong Martinez is.  Notice, too, he is poli sci guy flailing about writing on economics.  First look at the first blurb on the back recommending the book.  It comes from an guy name Bill Harnsberger whose claim to fame is “Featured Writer, Daily Kos”.  Ooooooooooh, now there is a recommendation we can put a lot of faith in.   We should know we are in trouble when the first blurb comes from Kos.

          Now, to some other complaints.  On page xiv of the introduction, Martinez start his idiocy with “It is the job of the government, not the “invisible hand” to make sure the right environment is created…..”.  What foolishness.  Martinez does not even understand Adam Smith but he is going to reference it.  Martinez then says “the glue …. that allows goods and services offered in the market to grow in value is the government”.  Nonsense on stilts.  Then, we are told (on xv) “The mystery for the government is how to turn the dead capital of assets, such as a house, into productive capital”.  That is jaw droppingly stupid.   The government has no idea how to do that.

          This type of ignorant nonsense continues for the first 100 pages.  I loved this on page 4 “although hard work may be a virtue, hard work with government can make you rich”.  Sure, just own a bank like, say, Citi or Goldman.

          Scott, there are pages of this kind of crap, crap, crap.  The only thing persuasive about this book is that we can all be persuaded Martinez is a fool who should have followed the adage “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool….”.

          The very fact you recommend this book says very negative things about you.  I suggest you refrain from ever mentioning this book again in polite, educated, and reasonably intelligent company.  And, please do not poison your students with this crap, crap, crap.

          • *shrug*   I use it in my political economy courses, and part of it has been adopted for use in our first year experience program.   I daresay I have the training and experience to adequately judge the book.
            You also display something negative here.  You insult positions different from yours.  You don’t try to understand Martinez position and why many people think like he (and I) do on these issues.  To you intelligent people can’t have different interpretations and discuss them, you feel a need to insult and call names.   But hey, it’s easier to just call well crafted arguments that lead to conclusions that you disagree with “stupid.”  Then you can just push them aside and ignore them.   My job is to try to train people not to think that way, but to actually engage and respect views that are different than their own.

          • No Scott, I gave you three examples of  Martinez’s garbage arising in the first few pages. As I said, there are plenty more.  He does not understand Adam Smith.  He does not understand Milton Friedman.

            From what you post here, I daresay you do not have the
            “training and experience to adequately judge the book”.  The book is not persuasive as you claim.  The book is based on misinterpretation of economic theory in an effort to justify state intervention and state supremacy.  Martinez fails miserable.   I seriously doubt you have much company in  using his book for course work.

            In the first 100 pages, I did not find a single well crafted argument.  I only found wild assertions and misunderstandings.  I also found his end notes horrible.  He would reference a book and an author, but give no hint as to where to find his reference.
            I gave his book a fair try and found it tedious and wrong.  i judged it crap then and I still judge it as crap.  I don’t have to try to understand martinez’s position when he does not understand the various economic theories he tries to use.

            BTW, where else is the Martinez book used as a part of a course on the economy?

          • I have the training and experience

            Stealing pizzas, working for politicians, and doing the acanemia dance to impress other acanemics.  Sorry, none of that gets you past fundamental errors in thought or around basic moral principles.
            Decent people respect that what other people work hard to produce isn’t ours to plunder and redistribute according to some central plan.  Intelligent people understand that government involvement, besides being an immoral denial of individual choice, slows economic activity and innovation.
            For all your years of “training and experience” you still can’t provide any substantive argument to get around those simple facts.

        • We’re WAITING, Erp.

          WHERE ARE THOSE CITES….?!?!?!?

          When was there “proper regulation”???  What was the nadir of BIG GOVERNMENT???

          Name the REGULATION that HAS NOT DAMAGED more than it BENEFITTED.   Please.

          • Wow, playing the old lawyer’s game of pressing for cites, though you gave none yourself.   You made the assertion big government leads to ruin.  I gave you an historical example (biggest government growth alongside biggest growth in prosperity), cited a book, and noted only that regulation is needed for markets to work.  You’ve denied none of that.  Until you do, my argument stands unrefuted.  Yours remains only a vague assertion that big government is bad.  (Ironically, I agree that big government is bad — so is big business, all power concentrations are dangerous.   Yet somehow, they have to balance).    Also, it’s clear I got under your skin since you aren’t even patient enough to wait half a day for me to get back on line to try claiming you want ‘cites’.

          • I have cites all over this and other threads, idiot.
            I could cite the Federal Register…like you citing vaguely to an obscure…and really stupid…treatise by a Collectivist instant expert on economics.  But I’ll at least be fair.  Here’s my cite; Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell.  Smack.
            Regulation is NOT needed for markets to work.  Some basic civic structure is.  Are you REALLY that stupid AND ignorant?
            BIG GOVERNMENT is bad…or ruinous.  Only a fool would assert otherwise when we have SOOOOOO many examples before us in history and at present.
            Big business naturally attempts to couple with BIG GOVERNMENT.  Take the latter out of the equation, and what do you have?  Hmmmm….???  Can a BIG market player compel people to enter into market exchanges?  (Careful, logic question…don’t hurt yourself).
            My skin is nicely intact.  You have a well-earned reputation for throwing bombs and disappearing.  Fun for you to engage.  And, a half-day later, you STILL have not put up one cite for your BS.  (Besides an entire specious book).
            Again, when was the “proper regulation” level reached in the U.S.?  Hmmm….????

          • Read Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action.

          • Well, the funny part about people occasionally asking you where the hell you get the smoke you try to blow their a$$es is that when you actually attempt to provide a cite it’s always rubbish. It’s a good rule of thumb that you never know what you are talking about. And it’s not hard to picture you standing in front of a classroom of yawns and rolling eyes babbling away about nada, the same BS that’s been dribbling out of you for years. I just wish that your students had access to it; just so they could be confirmed in their suspicions.

    • “That’s what democracy is all about”

      Silly me. I thought Democracy was something about supreme power being invested in the people, who establish a government by free elections.

      I guess Lincoln was wrong. A democracy can exist half slave and half free. Maybe even three quarters slave and one quarter free, if that is the compromise reached. 

      • That’s a kindergarten level understanding, timactual.   There are whole books and courses about democratic theory that go far deeper.

        • That isn’t an argument.  It is transcending arrogance coupled with ad hominem.  Try again…

        • “There are whole books and courses about democratic theory that go far deeper.

          I am sure there are. There are also books and courses about comic books. 

    • Political reality: neither side ultimately has the power to get their way.

      >>>> FAIL.  Who had filibuster proof majorities only recently?

  • I hear you, Bruce. Most of the time there isn’t a dimes worth of difference between the two parties. Sometimes I dream that “We The People” take matters into our own hands and through a grass roots effort we add another amendment to our Bill of Rights; that proposed taxes only become law when they have been approved by a referendum of the people.

    But I always was a dreamer.

  • Bankruptcy for California is inevitable. The Little Dutch Boy only has so many fingers to plug holes in the dike. What will be the most outrageous consequences? First, the federal government will wind up hip deep in donating money to California. In other words, taxpayers from Maine to Alaska will be on the hook to supply more heroin to California. Second, there will be some master grand scheme to make the California pension system solvent. The solutions will likely include more federal taxpayer dollars and some manner of mandatory state tax increases. Third, at some point state courts will rule that municipalities are required by law to raise their own taxes to make up shortfalls in pension costs. It’s my understanding that union contracts are almost a first call option on government revenues under California law. I’m sure the average citizen of California will be quite pissed off when a judge rules that libraries and public pools will have to close because the city can’t afford to pay pensions and have public services. It is important to remember THERE ARE MORE OF US THAN THERE ARE OF THEM.

  • Ahnold presented such promise.  He talked a really good game when he was first running.
    A little Kennedy can really bring down the mighty.

  • I still think Big Government has maybe one more election cycle. Let’s see if Jerry Brown wins or not.

    • Brown is such a “flake” that he just might make his party “hurt” if elected.

    • I am going to disagree a little bit on Brown.  If Brown wins then the situation in California might well improve.  On social issues he has always been Governor Moonbeam, but on other issues he is rather pragmatic.

      If  he is seen as a friend by the legislature instead of an opponent like Ahnold is, then he might actually get a few reforms through.

      I remember that he was one of the few Democrats who was angry at the Davis administration and their spending.  Of course, he might just give in to everything the unions want, it remains to be seen.

      • I also think that we will see the Dems spin on a dime against their SEIU supporters if they need to.
        Right now, they think they need them, but times they is a changin’.
        Notice the Latino community coming out strongly against the Bell city council. Dems can’t ignore the Tea Party if its “en espanyol.”
        All I know about Jerry Brown is that he did not know the difference between UCSD and San Diego State.

  • …but even with Schwarzenegger representing the GOP side of things, it is clear which side is the taxpayer’s friend.
    Not to those that live in the San Francisco Bay Area or Los Angeles.

  • Schwarzenegger is hardly my ideal for politician and he’s done some really boneheaded things, but the pop culture theme for California is “he caused our economic collapse” which isn’t just historically idiotic (it started long before he was elected), but he’s done more to try to fix the problems than any governor since Reagan before him. Yet that’s the comedian/entertainer line: Damn the Governator, he ruined California.

    • I think its a very popular mental model that the “leader” control the economy.
      Maybe its instinctive familial, tribal psychology.

  • Elliot, two replies:  a) we have to balance our budget, that requires tax increases; and b) politically it is impossible to just cut — the two sides will have to compromise to get anything done.  It is not politically possible to just cut spending and not increase taxes.   Moreover, the wealthy spend a lot of money on consuming foreign goods and not necessarily investing (direct stimulus does more for the economy than tax cuts).  It’s not optimal, but spending cuts also hurt the economy.  But we have to balance the budget in a way that is politically feasible.  That requires pain from both sides, no one side can “win.”

    • we have to balance our budget, that requires tax increases;

      So, if the price of crack goes up, then that requires additional muggings and burglaries?
      A budget is balanced when you spend less than you earn. Granted, government doesn’t actually earn the money in the first place. Still, the only thing required to balance a government’s budget is to spend less than is taken. No tax increases are ever required, and even from a pragmatic point of view, tax increases hurt the economy from which you hope to plunder more in years to come.

      spending cuts also hurt the economy

      The money that Pelosi or Rangel or Murtha or Byrd would be handing out to curry favor ought to be spent by the people who actually earned it in the first place. Thus, if you cut taxes and cut spending by government, you’ll have increased spending by individuals.
      Yes, I watched the cup where you put the ball and I didn’t fall for your misdirection. Spending by earners is not only morally proper, but economically more productive. What private investors would sink money into Alaskan bridges and underutilized airports?

      • Again, you’re out of touch with political reality.  You’re lost in an ideological never-never land.   *shrug*  Oh well, don’t let the real world disappoint you too much.

        • You’re very confused.  I don’t want to be “in touch” with the disgusting exercise of rights-squashing power.  I don’t vote deliberately, because I want no part of it.  I can only look on in horror at what people like you have done to the Land of the Free.

  • Rags, you’re citing “Basic Economics” is silly.  I can cite myself, I have a Ph.D. in Political Science and an MA from Johns Hopkins in International Studies.  I know “basic economics,” one of my areas of specialty is political economy.    If removing big government makes it impossible for big business to be in bed with it, removing big business does the same thing.   In each case you get horrific centralization of power without balance.  Big business without regulation and government oversight dominates and becomes organized crime.  Big government without markets and oversight becomes dictatorship.   You see, there is no simplistic answer, and your inability to actually try to engage a real argument shows that you’re just playing rhetoric games.   That’s cute, but ultimately a bit greasy.  But I guess you are a lawyer, aren’t you…should I expect better ;-)

    • Remove business…big or little…and you don’t have the engine BIG GOVERNMENT requires.
      Remove BIG GOVERNMENT…well, we both already know the answer to that one.  One of us lacks the integrity to fess up.
      How does big business in a market economy…EXACTLY…become organized crime?  Put up an example, idiot.

    • You might have all kinds of alphabet soup behind your name…there’s no way to prove it, is there?  One thing that’s apparent; whatever you may have learned, you know and understand nothing.
      You could not clean the chalk-boards for any of a dozen real economic scholars, much less match them.  Gawd, what an arrogant puke!

      • Every lefty online has a doctorate in at least one area, is a world-traveling airplane pilot with military experience and makes millions yet somehow is the common man who had humble beginnings, never pollutes, and always recycles.

        Sort of like all the women have 36DD breasts and red hair but a waist like Dolly Parton.

    • Well you are really on a roll tonight.  I will agree again. Big business can be abusive and often colludes with government,(crony capitalism)  But once again you go wrong not with your identification of the problem, but with some of the prescriptions I have seen you spout. Many of the actions of the left, particularly in this administration will not really hurt big corporations but will certainly slow down growth and hurt start ups.

      If government is severely limited then it cannot crony up to big business. Likewise, if what regulations are in place provide an environment of even competition, then even the mightiest corporations will face competition from smaller hungrier competitors.

      I am all for helping the free market and stopping collusion, In this I differ somewhat from many modern economists who have become anti-anti-trust.

      Government has a roll to be sure but why not be pragmatic. I seem to remember a time, not so long ago when we had plenty of government oversight, plenty of taxes, but things were not quite so stifling as now. That time was like the mid 1980′s. It was a pretty good time in this country. 

      I would like to turn the clock back on this huge government to the pretty large 1980 levels. That is not too much to hope for is it?

      • I’ve been trying to reply all day to this, and every other post takes, but not this one.  So I’ll try it really short:  I agree with a lot of what you say and think that can be achieved.  The decade you want to go back to wasn’t as good as you think, though, as it was built on massive debt (deficit spending during a boom), the current account went into deficit, and manufacturing started its decline leading to the problem where we consume much more than we produce.

    • “Rags, you’re citing “Basic Economics” is silly.  I can cite myself, I have a Ph.D. in Political Science and an MA from Johns Hopkins in International Studies.  I know “basic economics,” one of my areas of specialty is political economy.”

      If that doesn’t have you pissing your pants in laughter, nothing will.  I cite myself, dammit!  Why isn’t anyone taking me seriously!?


       

    • “ I can cite myself,..”

      And you do. Often.
      But masturbation, intellectual or otherwise, is not appropriate on a family blog such as this.

  • Elliot wrote one of the most absurd sentences I’ve ever read: ” Intelligent people understand that government involvement, besides being an immoral denial of individual choice, slows economic activity and innovation.”
    Without government involvement you have no market, choice is denied by powerful actors (usually organized crime) and you have chaos and poverty.    Elliot, you really need to educate yourself, you’re out in some theoretical never-never land where your philosophy has you so in a tizzy that you’ve totally lost touch with reality.

    • Totally false, and totally a revelation of your earlier lies.
      Without a working civil structure, you can’t have a market economy.  That is NOT “government involvement”.  How did we get to the Twentieth Century if “government involvement” was necessary?  How did Holland, or Hong Kong flourish?  You are dishonest.

    • Without government involvement you have no market, choice is denied by powerful actors (usually organized crime) and you have chaos and poverty.

      So why doesn’t this work in North Korea or Zimbabwe. Besides organized crime is merely a competitor of the government.  There still is a market or markets.

    • “Elliot wrote one of the most absurd sentences I’ve ever read: ” Intelligent people understand that government involvement, besides being an immoral denial of individual choice, slows economic activity and innovation.”

      You’ve apparently mastered the ability to write without reading your own then.

    • No Scott, that is exactly why we are debating the idiocy of Martinez in the “Myth of Free markets”.    All that is required for free markets is a system of contract law and enforcement of contract law.  After that, everything is between consenting parties.  All government does is muck things up.  See the sub prime market fiasco and, in particular, Fannie and Freddie.

    • Jesus, AGAIN with the organized crime thing.   That is a pet peeve of yours isn’t ?

      Organized crime…let’s see…..You mean like boot legging Kennedys?   Charlie Rangle?   Governor Blagojevich?  Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall?  Boss Pendergast?

      You know, legislatively organized crime courtesy of big government, right?
       

    • Without government involvement you have no market

      Without government involvement, you have the potential to have a free market.  The moment government gets its sticky fingers in the cash drawer, the market is no longer free.  How difficult is that to understand?

      choice is denied by powerful actors (usually organized crime) and you have chaos and poverty.

      Choice is already, right now, denied by powerful actors.  Without your friends in D.C., Sacramento, Albany, etc.,  requiring endless paperwork and special memberships to open a store, while drowning everyone in huge taxes to pay for failed systems, do you honestly think the Gambinos or the Waltons are going to be similarly preventing free enterprise?  Without the main force of government, they can’t.
      Poverty?  That’s actually encouraged by government handouts which give incentives to live a life of squalor.  If you have no self-esteem or ambition, you can get by without having to work hard at anything.  You’ll have a roof over your head and food to eat.  Take away government, and suddenly the millions of people who didn’t care about getting an education, learning a vocation, starting a career, avoiding pregnancies, and tempering indulgences will have an incentive not to live in poverty.  They’ll be crawling out of the trailer parks to beg to pick fruit and pour concrete.  The front of Home Depot will look a lot more diverse, I imagine.

  • No, Rick, you haven’t provided any substantive argument against Martinez, you just labeled his argument.  Adam Smith understood that markets aren’t magic, he was a severe critic of the capitalists of his day, and knew that without some kind of ethical system markets would not work.   I’m constantly amazed at how people like you cite Smith as if he were arguing that markets could solve everything.  You show an ignorance of Smith here, which explains why you think Martinez got things wrong — you apparently don’t understand the issues at hand!

    • And you can’t distinguish between a moral system and government intervention.  What a complete imbecile!
      It’s apparent you think you are better than everyone else…including those who actually produce what pays your sinecure.   You are loathsome.

    • Again, no Scott.  It is clear neither you nor Martinez understand Adam Smith and the “invisible hand”.  I incorrectly assumed you would pick up on the Martinez misunderstanding.  Adam Smith would tell you the “invisible hand” refers to the allocation of goods and services based on each individuals self interest.  Friedman would further note this is signaled by the price system and that no central authority could every mimic the price system coupled with self interest.  Historically, there have been a myriad of failures of central systems.  They run the gamete from Communism to the absurd results of the Carter administration allocating gasoline and allocating way too little to the cities and far too much to the interstate exits.  So, we had gasoline in the wrong places due to government error.

      You then confuse morality with markets.  It is you who fail to understand the basic issues.  Your solution is generally “more government”.  In my copy of “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, there is nothing about government intervention into the markets.   Perhaps, your is different.  In fact, I was recently reading something on the informal contract system among 18th and 19th century pirates that was both effective and fully functioning.  That shows anarchy can have contract law without government.

      Invariably, whenever  you and the rest of the left scream about “market failure”, we find the government has heavily intervened in that market and influenced both the direction and the risk.  See, again, the sub prime crisis and the influence of Freddie and Fannie and CRA.   See also “To Big to Fail” and how this encourages excessive risk taking.  This whole financial crisis has been government inspired and created.  It would not have happened without government.

      I am in the middle of the Ritholtz book ‘Bailout nation”.  It is frightening to watch him trace the history of government bailouts and how we got to where to we are.  As he points out, the Greeenspan reputation is now “in tatters”.  I suspect Bernancke will end up with a similar tattered reputation.

      And, yes, Scott, this is a substantive argument.

      • I disagree with your interpretation of Smith.   He only used the term “invisible hand” once, and not in the encompassing way you describe.   He was talking about foreign or domestic trade, and talking about a ‘natural inclination,’ not a law of economics.   In the rest of his writings, including *Wealth of Nations* (he may have also used the metaphor earlier in his theory on moral sentiments, I’d have to look that up), he makes abundantly clear that this is no magic or natural process that leads to a perfect outcome.    Adam Smith did not consider a market to function outside of a moral/ethical framework that would limit the behavior of capitalists who, after all, have an interest in circumventing market competition.
        Also note Smith wrote in the late 1700s.  The industrial revolution was only beginning, and this was a framework of how markets IN THEORY could operate.   Theories are always simplified notions of how reality works, the complexity of the multi-causal real world means theories are a starting point, but not a complete explanation.    Even in “libertarian Great Britain” abuses by those with power led to moves towards reform and regulation.
        To call the financial crisis only the result of government and whitewash the nature of the dergulated derivative industry and the abuses by financial institutions is simply dead wrong.   That’s an ideologically inspired false interpretation of reality.   Yes, government shares the blame — to blame only banks and corporations is also wrong.  The subprime loans would not have toppled the financial system if not for the way they were bundled into financial instruments sold as save investments.   And they would not have been able to do that if the derivative markets had been effectively regulated.
        The lesson here is still that big money and big government were in bed together and the citizen got screwed.   But here big business convinced big government NOT to engage in proper regulation, thus setting up a major catastrophe.  Government is to blame for not regulating enough, in this case.
        Also, note how excessive risk taking came about because all actors thought they were passing on risk to someone else (ultimately to AIG for awhile), thus creating systemic risk.  This was not because of “too big to fail” or market interventions.     There was a false belief — Alan Greenspan admitted he was wrong to have held it — that markets would work all this out.   Well they did — but with disastrous consequences.  And that’s the problem with markets.  It’s not that they fail or don’t fail, but that corrective mechanisms often cause extensive damage to an economic system and hurt those who can afford it least.
        So don’t confuse me with someone opposed to markets or wants extensive government control.  I’m just noting that neither markets nor government are perfect, markets are not magic and they need effective regulation.

        • The consensus of the meaning of “invisible hand” is that the welfare of society is best served by the self interest of the butcher and the baker.  Nowhere can I see Adam Smith bringing in the visible hand of government to oversee the process.   Contract and tort law are enough to provide the morality you seek.  You seem, somehow, to imply some moral imperative can be introduced by government.  The fact of the matter is that it cannot because government, even if it does not start that way, will inevitably become immoral or amoral.  it has always been thus.  It is also interesting that we do complain about government and capitalist working together to ensure dominance.  That is also immoral.

          Second, as part of your riff you try to claim derivatives were the real problem.  Hogwash.  Derivatives such as MBS and CDS were developed for these markets.  No one was running around thinking up these derivatives unless they met a requirement.  These derivatives came about because of the interference by government in the housing market.   Just as an oak grows from an acorn, it was the government requirement for sub prime that caused the whole market to develop.  Remember, after the Clinton extension of CRS in the Glass-Steagal repeal, Freddie and Fannie paractically single handedly defined and occupied the MBS market.

          Now, we get to regulation.  I claim regulation is never effective nor can it ever be.  The regulator is always captured by the regulated.  He is either captured by soemthing lie the financial industry where there is ample movement between the regulated and the regulator.  Paulson, of course is an excellent example.  The second area where regulation fails is in aread like deep water drilling.  There is no one in MMS who is technically capable of regulating a fast moving, highly complex, constantly evolving technical area.  The government just cannot get the people.  Now, it is coming out the government mishandled the firefighting on  the Deep Horizon rig that may actually have caused it to sink and rupture the riser pipe.  If that is true, we have a real mess.  Now consider derivatives.  Who in the SEC would have been able to regulate CDS’s from AIG.  My guess is no one.  And that will continue to be true as long as new products, in any field, are developed.  Government regulation can never keep up.  That is why it will never work over any significant period of time and it is foolish to rely on them.  The best regulation is the elimination of “Too Big to Fail” and let them fail.  We need to put risk back into this mess, not offload it to the government and ultimately, us.

          • You deny that derivative trading was the major problem?!!   Sheesh, the subprime problem would have been easily digested without them, it was a mix of derivatives and a bubble propped up by mortgage lenders who thought they could avoid risk.   You can’t blame it all on government or on Fannie and Freddie.  To pretend those problems didn’t exist is to expose yourself as someone not serious.   Educate yourself – read *The End of Wall Street* by Lowenstein and *The Big Short* by Lewis.   Neither paints one side or the other as totally to blame, they go through how both governments and the markets/private actors share blame.  But you want only to serve your ideology right — you sacrifice truth at the alter of an “ism.”

          • There would be no significant number of “sub-prime mortgages” without government incentives.

          • You miss the point again, Scott.  You claim the problem was unregulated derivatives.  I claimed the government was unqualified and unable to regulate the derivatives because they did not understand them and could not keep up with them.   Your position that if only the government had regulated derivatives we would not have had this problem is beyond absurd.   The government could not regulate the Madoff ponzi scheme even when it was pointed out to them.  There is no way the government could have regulated derivatives they did not understand.    To claim they could and should have regulated those derivatives marks you as ‘unserious” . You have zero understanding of what it would have taken for the SEC or any other organization to regulate derivatives.  Heck, it turns out the ratings agencies could even rate the MBS offerings.
            Again, Scott, I claimed, and I continue to claim that without the CRA and Fannie and Freddie, the sub prime market would never have gotten started.  The sub prime market was not something anyone other than Congress dreamed up.  Hence, I do assign blame and responsibility to government.  On top of that without the very low interest rates maintained by Greenspan, these loans could also not have been made.  I cannot see, not do you even attempt to dispute, the genesis of the sub prime market in the hands of government.  If you are going to claim the problem is derivativex, you really need to understand and explain why these deriviatives ever came about and what problem were they attempting to solve.  You don’t even try.

            You are equally guilty of ideology when you claim regulation of derivatives was the answer.  That is nothing but, once again, the left screaming for government to save them from themselves.

  • Elliot, left libertarianism is a common label, it signifies dislike of centralized power.  Its weird how so-called libertarians in the US seem to think only government centralized power is a danger.  One especially dim-witted poster used to say things like “Walmart isn’t starting wars” as a way to say business is benign.  Yeah, Walmart is regulated and not allowed to do things like that!   You have to regulate power concentrations, whether governmental (through rule  of law, transparency, elections) or corporate (regulations, taxation, etc.)   But you get the fools on the “left” who trust government with everything and hate business, or the fools on the right who trust business as benign and hate government.  Those two  groups have more in common with each other — ideological naivete — then they realize!
    Oh, and as for Richard Dawkins — he’s unimpressive, and so is his “meme” theory.

    • But ultimately the danger from government far far dwarfs the danger from a rouge corporation.  Corporations cannot exist totally out side of the law for long and are at any rate answerable to customers, competitors and stockholders.

      They don’t have the power to tax, fine, imprison, confiscate, censor, conscritpt, or execute, Government can do all of the above.  That is why, while i agree corporations  should have liability and oversight (BP is an example).  They just do not frighten me the way government does, and you should feel the same way if you really think about it.

      • It has all been explained to him, in minute detail, over and over again. He pulls out that “left libertarian” rag when he’s trying to evade the socialism (aka big government) label.

        For Scott lies are inexhaustible.

      • I disagree.  Where you have no effective or stable government, rogue corporations become organized criminal gains, and often they morph into a defacto government.   That’s why anarchy is impossible.   The problem and the danger comes from centralized power.   I understand your point, Kyle8.  From the perspective of an advanced industrialized state used to a stable and relatively benign government effectively regulating businesses, it appears growing government is more dangerous.  And I certainly agree that with the debt, growing intervention in the economy, and intrusive laws like the Patriot Act we have reason to be concerned about big government.   Again, I’m not as far from you as it might seem reading the rhetoric in these comments.   However, I object to not acknowledging the positive role effective government can play and the importance of regulation.   I don’t want to demonize business or government, but make sure neither becomes too powerful.    Any concentration of power is potentially dangerous.

        • There is no such thing as a corporation under anarchy.
          Basically, your argument seems to be that without government, sometimes people get together and create governments, so you’d better not be without government. Do I have that right?

          relatively benign government effectively regulating businesses,

          Now you’re living in the land of fairies and elves. Government is never benign (it’s the application of force in lieu of reason) and your “relatively” qualifier is just a way to scare people into forcing the lesser of two evils.  The regulations are only “effective” in aiding those in government power to get more power, at the cost of hampering economic activity, squashing dreams, selling your children and grandchildren into bondage, and setting up major economic calamities (sub-prime mortgages are a product of government and wouldn’t exist on any scale in a truly free market).

          I object to not acknowledging the positive role effective government can play and the importance of regulation.

          You can object to rational evaluations of the facts until you’re blue in the face, but you’re just going to deprive yourself of oxygen for no good reason. Rules are important, as in basic principles of the free market, but none of that requires government, and government inevitably makes rules which are irrational and a net negative on the honest, hard-working people under its thumb.

          • Anarchy?!  OK, I can’t take you seriously.   You are so steeped in ideological faith that you don’t see the complexity of the real world.   Ciao!

          • Faith?  Faith in what?  I make no predictions that there will be no problems under free market anarchy.  I claim no benign powers to make decisions for others, have no grand plan for it all.  Furthermore, I have no illusions that anarcho-capitalism will ever supplant government on any wide scale.  I’m resigned to the sad reality that there will probably always be enough bastards to forcibly take power, and enough simpletons to cheer them on as right and proper.  But that doesn’t mean I have to give up and keep my mouth shut.
            I simply recognize right and wrong.  Using aggressive force is always wrong.  You may argue that it’s more expedient and safer, but that’s entirely beside the point.  It’s wrong and you shouldn’t endorse anyone who does it.

    • Scott again misses the point.  Walmart cannot pull out a gun and force you to shop there.  The greatest danger is not the corporation alone, nor even government alone.  The greatest danger is when government and corporations join forces.  I include big labor unions in that scenario since they are also incorporated.  How would you have liked to have been a senior bond holder in Chrysler when Obama decided to circumvent contract law and steal the bonds for the benefit of the UAW?

      That is the kind of thing you get with the “big government” intervention you like so much.  For our next topic, we can discuss how government corruption is inevitable and how the nly solution is to limit government.  See Lord Acton for a succinct description.

      • In fact, Walmart is only becomes a truly worrisome firm when it engages in rent-seeking with legislatures and gets anti-competitive advantages from them. The legislatures love that and encourage it.

      • So the answer is not to demonize just one part of the equation, but to create effective checks on both governmental and corporate power.  Limited government alongside socially responsible business practices can work.   It’s ideological BS that either the markets are magic or government bureaucracies can run the show that creates problems.

        • “Limited government alongside socially responsible business practices can work.  ”
          WOW -  REALLY???   TELL US MORE!!!!!!  and you have degrees for this?  Where can we learn such things?

          And you think YOU are the only one who has this knowledge?  That this is not the argument that everyone (and their household pets…) makes here on a regular basis?


           

        • You’re stupidity about markets is probably the essential element of the entire scope of your stupidity.

          There are no controls inherent to bureaucracies. They always run out of control and they wield state power.

          Markets are vast accumulations of buy-sell choices; they are nearly endless in their yes/no operations. No one forces you to drink Coca-Cola. No one forces you to buy a Toyota. But you are always forced to buy the public schools and the environmental protection bureaucracy rackets and the Social Security Ponzi scheme.

          But it’s not that you are ineducable, Scott. It’s that you are a liar with only two interests: Socialism and Anti-Americanism. That’s why you love the Obama regime.

          • Perhaps this is why he continues to try and use the cover of ‘organized crime’ – as a means of claiming that in a purely market driven world (as if one ever existed for any significant amount of time), the ‘corporations’ (or whatever meets the historical analogy – guilds perhaps) will employ a criminal element that will FORCE you to drink Coca-Cola and buy a Toyota.

            I think he got his economic savvy from watching Robo-Cop movies.

          • Scott is, and always has been, a fraud.

            But he’s also a semi-official liar for the Left. Hence his bi-annual pulling out of his PhD to wave around in an effort to authenticate his nonsense.

            Scott is a person, but his resemblance to the puppet Howdy Doody with a psychological problems stuffed inside its wooden head makes it very difficult to accept that he has a soul.

    • left libertarianism is a common label

      No, it’s an oxymoron bandied about by people interested in cloaking the truth more than individual liberty.

      it signifies dislike of centralized power.

      Considering your track record of endorsing candidates and legislation, you should never use any label which signifies a dislike of centralized power.
      Wal-Mart employees never have forced me to be a customer.  I can fire them.  I can’t fire ObamaPelosiReid (and I didn’t hire them in the first place, as I refuse to partake of elections for principled reasons).
      Wal-Mart is a corporation—a corporation being an invention of government, a special license.  Without government involvement, it remains to be seen if a large company like Wal-Mart would be as big or if other competitors would have kept them in check.  It is clear, however, that they wouldn’t be limiting my freedom, like your heroes in D.C. do by their very nature.
      Your stupid reference to an antiquated, one-dimensional measuring stick left over from the French Revolution speaks volumes of your ineptitude, despite all your self-aggrandizement.  Libertarianism is a set of principles, not a direction on some dullard’s political “scale”.  It’s not red or blue, left or right, fuzzy or smooth.  It’s not about trusting certain groups of people and not others.  It’s about respecting the rights of the individual: life, liberty, and property.
      You pee your pants about “power concentrations” amongst non-government entities, but the fact is that without the assistance of government behind corrupt, monopolistic corporations, those investors wouldn’t have the sort of power concentration that tramples on individual rights.  You need guns and jails for that.
      Richard Dawkins can speak for himself.  I’d be willing to wager that you’ve never actually read The God Delusion.  If you weren’t hung up on belittling someone you perceive to be in opposition to you, you might realize that you and he share some similarities when it comes to utilitarian ethics.  Like Hitchens, Dawkins’ political notions are generally misguided and often dead wrong, though they’d need lobotomies to approach your depth of non-thought in this arena.

      • Geez, Elliot, you trip all over yourself trying to hurl insults, that’s sort of funny.   Insulting those who think differently than you I’m sure gives you some sense of superiority and comfort.  But it’s certainly not convincing, it’s not logical, and it’s a bit silly.

        • I do try to be entertaining with my insults.  Anti-rights people like you can often sour my general good humor, though.
          It isn’t that you think “differently” as I can find plenty of people whom I admire and respect who think “differently” than I do.  It’s that you have bad ideas and push them with such slimy methods of argument.
          I know your game of claiming that you’re not convinced.  Beck pegged you as a catatonic skeptic long ago and he was right on the money with that one.

          • Billy Beck (to Erb), c. March 2007: You’re a scandalously stupid individual, a catatonic skeptic about everything but your own stupidity (constantly manifest in your desperate cling to “complexity” and “uncertainty” with all the firmity of dogma), and so crooked that you have to screw your pants on in the morning.

          • Elliot, I have very strong ethical beliefs and in fact inject concern for ethics in all my teaching and research.   Humor based on insults of others is vapid.  It looks more like you’re blustering to try to build up your self esteem and protect yourself from having to question beliefs you have grown very comfortable with.   That’s what I see in Beck too — a kind of defense against any kind of self-critique because his and apparently your identity is so tied up into an ism.  But ideologies are always vastly oversimplified interpretations of a very complex and multicausal world.   Nihilism and “cataonic skepticism” are not good responses to the complexity and many different possible interpretations, but grabbing onto one “ism” and simply interpreting reality through it all the time is more like religious dogma.
            If, like Beck, you want to put a wall up and simply insult those who think differently to avoid any self-criticism, then fine — live well, I bare you no ill will.   But if you ever want to really discuss issues, I find political theory and philosophy fascinating subjects and am always willing for a discussion where the crucible of logic and argumentation trumps insult and posturing.

          • I have very strong ethical beliefs

            You’ve stated your support for all sorts of disgustingly anti-rights activity.  In the past week, you’ve been beating your class warfare drum to raise taxes on high earners, insisting that it would be better for government bureaucrats to decide how to spend the money that these people (and not the bureaucrats) earned.
            I don’t care if you hide behind pragmatism, that’s not an ethical approach to dealing with other people.

            But ideologies are always vastly oversimplified…

            So every set of principles is not just oversimplified, but “vastly oversimplified”?  Every single one?
            I’m sure you make an exception for your catatonic skeptic ideological principle that ideologies are bad and that you can’t be certain (except that you can’t be certain).  That’s unquestionable, right?

            Nihilism and “cataonic skepticism” are not good responses

            Indeed they are not, which is why your catatonic skepticism is such a rotten response to others making principled arguments against your unethical stances.  (Note how Beck’s remarks about your stupidity are reinforced by the fact that you don’t seem to realize that you’re the catatonic skeptic you’ve just decried.)
            I’m not familiar with any comments here by nihilist.  That’s your straw man, and you get to tend to him.

            …grabbing onto one “ism” and simply interpreting reality through it all the time is more like religious dogma.

            Religious dogma has particular traits, like faith in things without any rational evidence.  Having principles based upon a rational analysis of reality is actually how a person of reason ought to interpret reality.  The alternative is to make things up as you go along according to whims and fancies.  If you discover facts that conflict with your understanding, then evaluate whether your knowledge is accurate.  If the application of your principles fails to reflect reality in certain cases, then go back and see where you went wrong.
            But sitting there and wringing your hands about complexity and “isms” and dogma and pragmatism is just succumbing to the catatonic skepticism you want everyone else to mire themselves in, so your ideological brethren can take advantage of all the smoke and confusion and get things like Health Care Deform passed.

            you want to put a wall up and simply insult those who think differently

            The first time you accused me of that, you were wrong.   I corrected you.  Now you’re just lying.
            It’s not that you “think differently”.  It’s that you push bad ideas which hurt people.

            I bare you no ill will

            You want the government to tax more of my money and more of the money of those people who would employ my family, friends, and neighbors.  Despite your claims of being a libertarian, you want to hurt people by taking what they produced (by force) and letting people who didn’t produce it, who don’t have the expertise of running a business in the real world, who aren’t held accountable for their mistakes.
            That’s an “ill will” in my book and you can take your pretense of just having a friendly chat over a few beers and go soak your head.  This isn’t friendly because people are suffering.  They are suffering because of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the fools in Albany, Sacramento, Detroit, Chicago, and elsewhere have been attacking individual rights with a fury…with your constant endorsement.
            You do your periodic rounds making apologies for them and trying to demoralize anyone who objects.
            It’s not friendly.  It’s not ethical.

    • One especially dim-witted poster used to say things like “Walmart isn’t starting wars” as a way to say business is benign.

      Not only does this illustrate how you engage in the very same ad hominem attacks you criticize others for making, but it also shows you to be either dishonest or addle-brained.  Go back and look.  I never claimed “business is benign.”  Some business owners and employees are definitely unethical.
      But Wal-Mart doesn’t lock me up if I choose not to buy their products.  I can go to a local store, or even choose Costco or Target, if I decide they provide better value to me than Wal-Mart.
      Could you just stop lying about what I’ve written and what I want?  Just address my arguments.

  • I have a Ph.D. in Political Science and an MA from Johns Hopkins in International Studies

    You’re a self-parody.  Ott Scerb is superfluous.

  • Without government, Elliot, there wouldn’t be a significant number of sub-primes because there probably wouldn’t be a housing market or a stable society.

    • Do you admit that sub-prime mortgages are a product of specific government programs?  If so, then you need to quit trying to blame the “free market” (which doesn’t exist) for the collapse.
      This is your false dichotomy of anarchy vs. Big Government.
      You want to insist that government is necessary to handle deeds and property rights?  OK.  Just for the heck of it, suppose that I agree that a consistent set of laws and some sort of enforcement mechanism ought to be in place.  Now, explain to me why this needs to include Freddie and Fanny, the Great Society, Social Security, Medicare, the draft, drug prohibition, gun control, Health Care Deform, Cap and Trade, etc., etc., ad nauseum?
      I thought you were a libertarian, after all.  Where’s your concern for the rights of the individual?

  • I doubt you can blame the entire subprime on Fannie and Freddie — certainly the behavior that took off after 2000 came from deregulation in the financial sector (not just derivatives).   Even then, the subprime mess would not have created such disaster without the derivative trading (the market clearly didn’t work well there!)
    In the 90s there was an effort to regulate derivatives, and it got shot down by Greenspan, Summers and the Clinton Administration.   They could have had clear regulations that would not have allowed this to develop.   Very few people understood what the financial industry created because it was built not to be understood.   They didn’t want people to understand what they were buying.   Yet that kind of action could have been regulated and prevented easily — they wouldn’t have had the chance to develop such obtuse ways of essentially stealing peoples’ 401K money and bringing down the financial system.
    Of course the real problem started in the 80s and the debt-based response to the last recession.   What we needed was a painful recession in 2000 and beyond to rebalance.  Instead Bush’s policies gave us a new bubble (and yes, Clinton’s policies helped give us the earlier dotcom bubble).

    • I have never tried to blame the whole sub prime mess on CRA and Freddie and Fannie.  What I have said numerous times is that those were the genesis of the sub prime debacle and the whole crisis could never have started without them.  No one was doing any significant sub prime lending until the government both mandated and encouraged   it.  The derivatives, in particular the CDS and the MBS were designed to mitigate risk.   That it did not work out very well was not the fault of non regulation.  AIG thought writing CDS’s was free money and they sure didn’t reserve for their liability.

      I still dispute the argument that there could have been clear regulation.  Back to AIG.  Companies have learned to reserve for expected losses on P&L insurance.  No one knew how to reserve for a CDS on an AAA rated security.   The concept of the MBS tranches seemed sound, but the underlying assumption is that there would be few defaults and they would not effect the AAA tranch.  That was why the tranch was AAA.

      I agree, and so does Ritzholtz and a lot of others, with your comment on a painful recession in 2000.  However, we cannot forget Greenspan and asset value protection.  Don;t forget the 1987 market crash, LTCM, and Savings and Loan debacle.   I do not think we can pun the blame on Bush as you so cavalierly try.  Remember, Bush tried to get control of Fannie and Freddie.  he was thwarted by Dodd, Frank, and Waters.  Funny, didn’t they also write this financial reform bill that, among other thing, ignored Freddie and Fannie.

      • I’m sorry if it looked like I was blaming Bush.  I think both parties were so concerned that a recession would look like a victory for al qaeda they tried to keep the economy booming at all costs in 2002.   I also agree with criticism of Democrats on Fannie and Freddie, and Democrats also can be criticized for not regulating derivatives (it was the Clinton Administration which thwarted that).  I don’t want complex regulations, just a clear structure that would prevent the kind of mass theft that took place when the housing bubble burst, and which would work against bubble economies.  Moreover, we have to start producing again — we can’t grow on debt any more.  I don’t think these are ideas conservatives would disagree with!