Delusions of Mediocrity

Ladies and Gentlemen. If you ever want to know just how deeply some people drink of the Obama Kool-aid, take a look at this image someone just sent me.

I know that’s probably hard to read, so I’ll take the claims one at a time so you can appreciate the delusion:

Three million new private sector jobs. This number sounds accurate enough. But over 40 months, that’s less than population growth. Job recovery has been very slow under this Administration, far slower than any previous recession since the Great Depression. You can argue it could have been worse — I wouldn’t, but at least it’s an argument. But I really wouldn’t be talking about jobs with this guy.

Smaller government. By what standard can you say we have smaller government? Is government spending less than it did before? Nope. Does it have less power than before? Nope. It has slightly fewer employees, but that’s mostly on the state level.

$2 trillion deficit reduction. Maybe in Fiscal Fairy Land, where you project that the Iraq War will continue forever and future Congresses will exercise the spending restraint that current ones won’t. And even this is only after the Republicans dragged him kicking and screaming to the table. But $4 trillion has been added to our debt in the last three years and he walked away from Simpson-Bowles. Again, I wouldn’t be talking about deficits if I were you.

Health Care Reform. Fair enough. He did it. Of course, he came up with something even worse than we had before. But in LiberalLand, doing something is the most important thing.

Wall Street Reform. See above. It was written by the two Congressmen most involved with the banking industry. And the “too big to fail” banks are larger than they were when Obama took over.

Saved the US Auto Industry. By screwing over investors in favor of unions, yes. And only if you assume the industry would have disappeared in a normal bankruptcy, which I don’t.

All “bailout money” returned, with interest. All right, now I’m really starting to get pissed off. First off, what’s with the fucking quote marks? It was bailout moeny. This isn’t some Tea Party delusion. This was fact. And that it has been paid back is a myth. Many of the banks did so from other federal funds. And Fanny/Freddie are still hundreds of billions in the red. Really, I wouldn’t talk about bailouts if I were you.

Three new trade agreements, Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, Killed Osama bin Laden, Rescued American hostages: I have no complaints here. All true. All accomplishments. He dragged his feet on the trade agreements but … they are in place now.

Toppled Gadhafi without an American casualty. I’ll give a little bit of credit. But let’s also note that this was done without Congressional approval in violation of the War Powers Act, something even Rachel Maddow called him out on.

Unified the world against Iran. Uh, OK. Still hasn’t stopped them, has it? Maybe in his second term, he’ll send them a strongly worded letter.

Has the Arab League watching Syria. No word on who is making the popcorn. Just last week, we saw an absolutely brutal atrocity committed by the Syrian government. The Arab League sat on their hands.

No tax dollars spent on BP clean-up. Semi-true. The taxpayers do finance a fund to cover any liability for spills over $75 million. And really, this is like saying he didn’t wet the bed. The taxpayers shouldn’t be paying to clean up BP’s mess. It’s not like there was some great public clamor that Obama resisted. So he didn’t do something we weren’t planning to do and that one wanted done anyway. What does he want, a cookie?

More deportations than Bush. True enough, but illegal immigration has been slackening due to the weak economy.

Fewer regulations than Bush. It’s only year three. And many of the regulations, like those connected with Dodd-Frank, have yet to be written. And really, let’s just stop this right here. Saying “I was better than Bush on issue X” is like saying you’re skinnier than Roseanne Barr. There were innumerable issues where Bush screwed the pooch. I’m really not that impressed that you gave it some foreplay first.

Support’s states’ rights on medical marijuana. As you can guess, this is what set me off. I startled the cat with my cry of, “What the fuck!”. Barack Obama has been horrible on medical marijuana as we have documented many times. His agencies have threatened forfeiture of people who lease property to legal dispensaries. His IRS has disallowed business expenses for clinics. They have launched numerous raids and clinics in Denver and Washington have shut down out of fear of raids. They rebuked the Ogden memo. It is right here where this piece of shit crosses from “propaganda” to “outright brassbound lies”. Much of the other stuff — deficit reduction, for example — is “true” in Washington’s reality (e.g., $2 trillion off projected debts == $2 trillion in deficit cuts).

But this is a lie. This is false. This is bullshit. And anyone who says this needs to smacked upside the head with a lighted bong. I’ve recently seen this lie coming up in numerous places, including the mainstream media and the Center for American Regress. The Administration, having throughly violate their promises on pot, are now trying to persuade us that, no, they really kept their promises.

You can’t stomp on lies like that hard enough.

Ended the War in Iraq. On Bush’s timetable, but sure.

Reduced military spending by $500 billion. Isn’t that the same thing as the above?

Increased veterans’ benefits every year. Because we know how much Congress fights against automatic benefit increases.

Saved the world from global financial collapse. Oh, really? Look, you can’t blame Bush for TARP and then claim credit for the supposed effects of it. And I would say that global financial collapse is still very much on the table.

Hired more border patrol agents than Bush. Hey, this one is true! Amazing that one of the few true claims on this involves … expanding government.

and he quit smoking. Well, OK. Good. Although he is slowly driving the rest of us to drink and smoke.

Now let’s list the things not on there: funded green energy initiatives that funneled money to politically-connected interests like Solyndra and Tesla; massively expanded the drone war including the targeted assassination of an American citizen; entrenched policies on indefinite detention and rendition; blew the stimulus on tax cuts for people who don’t pay taxes and subsidies for the states; has been spent most of three years campaigning for four more; made numerous goofs on “Polish death camps” and bows to various royalty; continued the expansion of federal raids to include raw milk and guitars. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Debunking is fun but what really alarms me is the thinking behind that graphic. Only a handful of those are true and even those often include governmentspeak distortions. And several of those points: smaller government, TARP paid back, medical marijuana — are outright lies. You have to be deranged to take some of Obama’s biggest failing and proclaim them as successes.

And they think we’re crazy.

  1. In the last three years of my job I didn’t have Valerie Jarret doing all my thinking for me while I watched ESPN and campaigned to keep my job.

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  2. So do you suggest we go back to the republicans who created 1 million jobs in 8 years? Besides corporate profits are at RECORD levels right now.

    This again?

    1) You seem to keep harping on George W. Bush, as if that’s the only alternative. We all think Bush sucked. As I said above, saying you’re better than Bush is like boasting about being the smartest Kardashian. It’s a REALLY low bar.

    2) Who cares about corporate profits? The real question is why are these profits not being invested in growth?

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  3. You know what I have not done to keep my job in the last 3 years?

    1. Tell several lies every day.
    2. Blame my predecessor for things that happened on my watch.
    3. Multiply spending and somehow pretend it was a cut.
    4. Talk about how cooperative I am with my opponents at work while trying to force them to agree with me.
    5. Blackmail entire industries into cooperating with me.
    6. Argue for confiscating anything from myself or others.
    7. Misquote and meddle in private citizens’ lives.
    8. Make every tangentially relevant news item a political football.
    9. Smoke a single cigarette.

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  4. Dear georgebalella:

    Hal is in the mist of re-establishing his non-liberal creds.

    PLEASE STOP FUCKING WITH HIS EFFORT!

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  5. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  6. WHAT??? Who cares about corporate profits??? I thought that is what capitalism is ALL about? Profits…and they are at record levels!!! YOU guys are the ones that claim corporations grow the economy and provide jobs. So answering the excellent question you asked, ” why are these profits not being invested in growth?” is key.

    They are waiting for November.

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  8. There is NO more wiggle room and forcing more money to the top while destroying middle class wages and thus demand will send us back into a Hoover like depression.

    Maybe if Obama starts smoking again, with a cigarette holder, wears wire rimmed glasses. gets a wheelchair and becomes president 3 more times… oh wait a minute they fixed that last part didn’t they?

    Look at the Asian stock market Monday morning, and closely watch Europe in the next three months.
    Hoover will be deemed a piker compared to what we have now, and my gut still says most of this was easily avoidable… might be some of it could have even been intentional.

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  9. Yeah, George, let’s just keep the party in power that spends 1.4+ trillion a year more than they take in. That will improve things.

    Didn’t hear you complain when (the UAW-owned) GM annnounced that THEY were moving 1000+ jobs overseas recently. Some consistency would be nice from the left………..

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  10. Saved the US Auto Industry

    This is one that pisses me off. For the love of Zod, Chrysler and GM do not the auto industry make.

    A facebook friend linked to an article once about the bailouts titled, “How Obama Saved Capitalism” or something like that. My friend loved and praised the article and how people should thank Obama. I pointed out to him that the author was trying to get us to believe that Obama saved capitalism by not allowing it to work. Fucking idiots. I need new friends.

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  13. What’s gonna happen in November Harley?

    O fucking Jesus fucking H Christ with tits on a pogo stick…..
    its make or break time, if Obama is re-elected, then they are “the producers” are gonna take their money and run….
    IF Romney wins, then they got breathing room, for now, and will start reinvesting. No one here , well on the libertarian side, thinks Romney is the fucking Archangel Michel, come to throw Lucifer into the pit, but we do know he will not be driving the freight train to hell, socialism that the big O wants. A best or worse, Romney will apply the brakes a bit and maybe slow it down some.
    now George, Cm, quit being obtuse twats. If you require me to fucking explain this to you, then you are f-ing hopeless.

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  14. now George, Cm, quit being obtuse twats. If you require me to fucking explain this to you, then you are f-ing hopeless.

    Yep, that’s apparently the substitution for the explanation. Yawn. Is that really all you’ve got?

    Obviously I’m aware of the vague utopian theory. I’m much more interested in the reality of what’s meant to happen and how. As I say, it makes much more sense to me that Romney will be able to deliver a lot more ‘socialism’ than Obama, because he won’t be obstructed by Republicans.
    Really what other option does he have? How does driving down demand even further (by cutting back on lower and middle class spending) provide an incentive for those with money to invest? Who will be buying those goods and services? Where do they appear from all of a sudden?

    I know, the answer is that I’m retarded. Yeah ok. Good one.

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  15. ok you have lost me….hes gonna force down demand by?

    A (faster) recovery requires an increase in demand for products and services – doesn’t it? Isn’t consumer spending around 60-70% of the economy?
    If so, where is this increased demand going to come from via orthodox right-wing economics?
    If you reduce Govt expenditure by pulling back on welfare and tax relief on the lower to middle classes, what is that going to do to demand?

    I think Romney knows this. He’s not going to do anything different to Obama (and what virtually all economists advocate). As they’re finding in Europe, austerity alone isn’t going to solve anything. However some people seem determined that it’s a magic silver super-bullet.

    If I’m completely wrong, fine. Instead of just consistently getting enraged, why isn’t a discussion possible? Why not take it as a given that I’m “fucking hopeless”, or however else you wish to describe it. I don’t really care.

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  16. Harley,

    Why would “the producers’ be complaining? Why would they run if Obama gets re-elected? They are currently making RECORD profits? Last time the republicans were in charge the stock market went down 25% in 8 years. Since Obama has been in it is up 50% in 4 years. I have a lot of money in the stock marker Harley. I do not want to go back to losing 25% in 8 years? I like being up 50%in 5 better.

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  17. That’s pretty much how things work. Just like how it was easier for Clinton to push for welfare reform.

    Dancing Queen:
    A Republican congress forced Clinton to throttle back on “Da gubmint cheese”. Probably Gingrich’s biggest success.

    Or for Obama to leave Guantanamo open,

    Obama made a campaign promise that every American with more than 2 firing synapse knew was a lie. There is no other place to keep them, securely that is. And everyone knew it.

    Kimpost, your entire ‘claim to fame’ here at RTFTLC is trying to twist American history, especially recent history, in an attempt obscure facts and discredit even moderate thought.
    I find your particular brand of dishonesty much more pervasive than any thing CM link bombs us with.

    And yes, one of your recent misconstrued facts was just a few months ago when you posted that *Clinton was impeached for getting a blowjob* At the time my response was “NORDICK PLEASE!” In fact that was my first inclination of what a slimy little operative you really are. Smug little prick too,

    Making me admit I have more respect for CM than you has left a bad taste in my mouth that only Neshoba Co, moonshine will fix.

    Personal attacks aside F U

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  18. I have a lot of money in the stock marker Harley. I do not want to go back to losing 25% in 8 years? I like being up 50%in 5 better.

    Can you show us how your portfolio rose 50% in 5 years? (don’t need specifics)
    Didn’t the bottom drop out of the market starting mid Sept. 08?

    Are you even remotely aware of what’s happening in the Asian market AND in all of Europe?

    Are you kin to Kimpost? Seriously. It’s a fair question.

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  19. If so, where is this increased demand going to come from via orthodox right-wing economics?
    If you reduce Govt expenditure by pulling back on welfare and tax relief on the lower to middle classes, what is that going to do to demand?

    And here we have the prime example of Keynesian stupidity – also known as “how I know you don’t understand basic economics”……

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  20. A Republican congress forced Clinton to throttle back on “Da gubmint cheese”. Probably Gingrich’s biggest success.

    Clinton campaigned to “end welfare as we know it”.

    In May 1991, Clinton said “opportunity for all is not enough… For if we give opportunity without insisting on responsibility, much of the money can be wasted and the country’s strength can still be sapped. So we favor responsibility for all. That’s the idea behind national service. It’s the idea behind welfare reform.”

    http://www.mediamouse.org/news/2007/06/bill-clinton-an.php

    And here we have the prime example of Keynesian stupidity – also known as “how I know you don’t understand basic economics”……

    Yawn. Yes yes, we’re all well aware that you refuse to take part in the discussion because it’s so far beneath you. But there may be someone who doesn’t consider themselves to be so superior that they wouldn’t even consider lowering themselves.
    AGAIN I’m not even advocating an economic strategy, I’m asking you guys to explain some more detail about yours.
    I’m beginning to think you don’t understand basic discussion….

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  21. lol Dean Baker

    You f*cking idiot

    Try playing the ball instead of the man Poosh.

    And no we don’t expect rich to invest or create jobs because they are nice, we expect them to do so because it is in their self interes… you know why bother.

    Keep going. How are jobs created if there is no additional demand?

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  22. I wasn’t calling Dean Baker a f*cking idiot…

    If you’re calling me a fucking idiot for quoting him, how is he not a fucking idiot?
    Ah, just another one to ignore there Poosh.

    And, as Harley put it, wow …. just wow…

    Business as usual here then…..

    *crickets*

    *tumbleweed*

    *more crickets*

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  23. Sorry CM been out for a bit. I’ll bite. Government spending financed by borrowing doesn’t increase anything. It just moves money around. The money has to come from some where. Either it’s borrow or printed. If printed then it is a tax on everyone via inflation. If borrowed, then it diverts money that would have gone somewhere else. The Chinese used to be our biggest creditors. They obviously want to invest money in the United States. They have done so with a mixed portfolio of government debt and private investment. If there is no government debt to buy, then the money invested in private markets increases (the money will go somewhere, they aren’t going to stuff in under a giant mattress outside of Shanghai) spurring private sector investment and demand.

    There is also an enourmous psychological effect. People right now are scared so they are very conservative with their money. When they becomed convinced that a robust recovery is on the way, then they will spend more money. One thing that makes people think that recovery is NOT coming is a federal government that borrows about 40% of what it spends and has no plan to stop doing so. Eventually, even for the US, the credit is going to dry up. For all we know it already has (the biggest buyer of US debt in the past few years has been the federal reserve). If the fed hadn’t been buying who is to say the the rest of the world would have.

    Currently, according to my rough calculations-assisted by wikipedia (sourcing the IMF, CIA and WOrld Bank) wikipedia the US federal government’s debt is about 20% of world GDP and increasing. Do you really think the rest of the world is going to continue to stand in line to finance the US debt? Where’s the limit when every other nation in the world starts telling us “thanks, but no thanks” Again, we might already be there. We don’t know because the fed has been buying so much.

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  24. Really, stimulus, not to simplify it, but sometimes I really don’t see the difference between just sending more money to France, so they can buy more Windows PCs from you guys. What’s the difference exactly?

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  25. For some reason my comment didn’t show up yesterday. Anyhoo…

    Don’t confuse demand with desire or need. Merely wanting or needing a product is not enough. You must have the purchasing power and the willingness to buy it to constitute effective demand. And how do you acquire that purchasing power?

    Production is the key. It must come first. Always. You must produce in order to consume. Trying to solve this vague problem of “aggregate demand” will have us chasing our tail for years to come (we’ve damn sure been doing it for these last few years). You must let people produce so that they will be able to trade for the things that they want.

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  26. Speaking of Obama -

    Obama lied, Hope and Change Died.

    On the evening of January 11, 1996, while Mitt Romney was in the final years of his run as the head of Bain Capital, Barack Obama formally joined the New Party, which was deeply hostile to the mainstream of the Democratic party and even to American capitalism. In 2008, candidate Obama deceived the American public about his potentially damaging tie to this third party. The issue remains as fresh as today’s headlines, as Romney argues that Obama is trying to move the United States toward European-style social democracy, which was precisely the New Party’s goal.

    In late October 2008, when I wrote here at National Review Online that Obama had been a member of the New Party, his campaign sharply denied it, calling my claim a “crackpot smear.” Fight the Smears, an official Obama-campaign website, staunchly maintained that “Barack has been a member of only one political party, the Democratic Party.” I rebutted this, but the debate was never taken up by the mainstream press.

    Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that Obama was a member of the New Party. He also signed a “contract” promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office.

    Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago chapter read as follows:

    Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.

    Consistent with this, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, with January 11, 1996, indicated as the date he joined.

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  27. Sorry CM been out for a bit. I’ll bite. Government spending financed by borrowing doesn’t increase anything. It just moves money around. The money has to come from some where. Either it’s borrow or printed. If printed then it is a tax on everyone via inflation. If borrowed, then it diverts money that would have gone somewhere else. The Chinese used to be our biggest creditors. They obviously want to invest money in the United States. They have done so with a mixed portfolio of government debt and private investment. If there is no government debt to buy, then the money invested in private markets increases (the money will go somewhere, they aren’t going to stuff in under a giant mattress outside of Shanghai) spurring private sector investment and demand.

    Hi hist_ed, hope you’re well. Thanks for the response.
    Borrowing by consumers also just moves money around. One of the main reasons for the horrible last 4 years is debt-fuelled consumption (I’m not saying it’s the only reason). Surely none of us want to get that old predictable disaster rolling yet again?
    People will only want to invest if they see a return. If companies are not expanding and there is no sense that they will, the Chinese or whoever isn’t going to invest in that private market.
    Even if they do invest, surely where that money actually goes makes a substantial difference? From what I can tell (what I’ve read), that investment is increasingly going into capital and not labour. This is why unemployment and wages have gone nowhere for a while.
    Unless sufficient money is invested in labour, jobs aren’t created, and existing employees don’t see a rise in their real wage. So there is no additional money flowing back (demand).

    The May Business Outlook Survey was recently released. This says that even where production is increased, 80% of the time no additional employees are added. It also says that by far and away the two most significant factors restraining hiring was
    (a) expected sales growth is low
    (b) firms want to keep operating costs low

    There is also an enourmous psychological effect. People right now are scared so they are very conservative with their money. When they becomed convinced that a robust recovery is on the way, then they will spend more money. One thing that makes people think that recovery is NOT coming is a federal government that borrows about 40% of what it spends and has no plan to stop doing so. Eventually, even for the US, the credit is going to dry up. For all we know it already has (the biggest buyer of US debt in the past few years has been the federal reserve). If the fed hadn’t been buying who is to say the the rest of the world would have.

    What you’re talking about is obviously ‘confidence’. Romney will bring more ‘confidence’ because he won’t be obstructed.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if Congress gridlocks this year — if it simply gets nothing done — the economy will take a $607 billion hit in 2013 as the Bush tax cuts expire, the payroll tax cut expires and assorted spending cuts kick in. Falling off that “fiscal cliff,” they predict, will throw us back into recession.

    Romney and the Republicans are not likely to reach 60 seats in the Senate, but they won’t need them. The major issues on the table are budgetary. That means they can be considered using the budget reconciliation process, which can’t be filibustered. So if Republicans can maintain party unity — and they usually can — they’ll be able to govern effectively. And there’s no way that they’ll permit the Bush tax cuts to expire or the debt ceiling to lapse. Investors, knowing that, would likely stop worrying about the debt ceiling the moment a Romney win became clear.

    Now, Republicans could still push the economy into recession if they pass an immediate austerity budget that slashed spending in 2013. And, given Republican rhetoric about how slashing the size of government will lead to more growth because the confidence fairy will come out and persuade businesses to spend more, you might think that’s exactly what they’ll do.

    But Romney, though he often buys into that sort of nonsense while criticizing Obama, knows better. Time magazine asked him about cutting spending in 2013. “If you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5 percent,” Romney said. “That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression. So I’m not going to do that, of course.” You couldn’t have gotten a clearer definition of Keynesian budgeting from Obama.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/the-keynesian-case-for-romney/2012/06/04/gJQAIETuDV_blog.html?wprss=rss_ezra-klein

    If Romney wins, the proof will be in the pudding. If he does what Obama can’t (because the GOP won’t let him for political reasons), then it’ll confirm that they don’t actually have an alternative to Keynesian economics.

    Don’t confuse demand with desire or need. Merely wanting or needing a product is not enough. You must have the purchasing power and the willingness to buy it to constitute effective demand. And how do you acquire that purchasing power?

    Production is the key. It must come first. Always. You must produce in order to consume. Trying to solve this vague problem of “aggregate demand” will have us chasing our tail for years to come (we’ve damn sure been doing it for these last few years). You must let people produce so that they will be able to trade for the things that they want.

    How does this purchasing power magically appear, other than via debt?
    As above, people aren’t producing primarily because expected sales growth is so low and they understandably want to keep operating costs low (so real wages will probably decline). There are other reasons obviously, however they are the main two. Even where production is predicted to pick up, 80% of it involves hiring no more people.
    Keynes: “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.”
    So it’s not as thought Keynes was even anti-austerity. He just didn’t believe that doing it during a recession made any economic sense. If the GOP gets to call the shots after November, we’ll see if they agree. McCain’s economists certainly agreed at the last election.

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  28. Keynes: “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.”

    That’d be great if it weren’t for the fact that the democrats tend to spend even more everytime there’s a boom… then whine and bitch when anyone suggests we actually try to save for the slump, or worse, that when the slump hits, we lower spending to match the incoming amounts. That’s essentially the crux of what is killing states like California… the place has been dominated by Dems at the state level for a long time and they’ve spent us into massive debt. Now we’re being killed (at many city levels too) by the huge promises they mad in pensions during those boom times as the returns on the money that was put into them turned out not to be anywhere near as high as their (ridiculously crazy) assumptions.

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  29. That’d be great if it weren’t for the fact that the democrats tend to spend even more everytime there’s a boom… then whine and bitch when anyone suggests we actually try to save for the slump, or worse, that when the slump hits, we lower spending to match the incoming amounts. That’s essentially the crux of what is killing states like California… the place has been dominated by Dems at the state level for a long time and they’ve spent us into massive debt. Now we’re being killed (at many city levels too) by the huge promises they mad in pensions during those boom times as the returns on the money that was put into them turned out not to be anywhere near as high as their (ridiculously crazy) assumptions.

    Doesn’t sound Keynesian for a Govt to increase spending during a boom, especially if that spending is entrenched permanently (pensions etc). Keynes aside, it just doesn’t make sense (as is cutting back during a recession). Booms are logically the time to get govt debt down and cuts in place. Surely it’s more political acceptable then too. It also buys more room/ability t expand and assist the economy when a recession inevitably hits.
    Didn’t Clinton sign off those welfare reforms (which he campaigned on) during boom times?
    Didn’t Dubya spend like there was no tomorrow during the good times early to mid last decade?

    Miguelito, where does additional demand, required to revive the economy, come from? How exactly does it happen? If Govt debt is out, does that mean it relies on private debt?

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  30. Liberal thinking:

    Boom economy: “Holy shit, look at all this money!! Spend, baby!!”

    Bust economy: “Holy shit, we’re running out of money!! Spend, baby!!”

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  31. Miguelito, where does additional demand, required to revive the economy, come from? How exactly does it happen? If Govt debt is out, does that mean it relies on private debt?

    Let’s pose a question in which we only give wrong answers to choose from and see if they catch on…

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  32. Liberal thinking:

    Boom economy: “Holy shit, look at all this money!! Spend, baby!!”

    Bust economy: “Holy shit, we’re running out of money!! Spend, baby!!”

    I’m hardly a ‘liberal’ then. As I said, I definitely believe governments should take the boom opportunities to cut fat, restructure, streamline.

    Let’s pose a question in which we only give wrong answers to choose from and see if they catch on…

    I didn’t give the only possible answers. Feel free to provide the “correct” answer. Or continue with your current awesomely impressive tactic if you like.

    Interesting piece in the Economist about taxation in relation to equality:

    …rising inequality is a destabilising political force, which may encourage future governments to expropriate wealth through heavy taxation. That threat could discourage saving and investment now, something a weak economy cannot afford. Paradoxically, a progressive tax on capital in the present may lead to more investment by keeping inequality in check and by convincing firms that their wealth is (mostly) safe over the long term.

    Fretting over high capital-tax rates still makes sense, not least because capital is highly mobile. If countries differ in their approach, firms may simply invest more in those with more congenial rates. But from a global perspective, as inequality rises, having taxes on capital income will look increasingly attractive—and, by some reckonings, more sensible than previously thought.

    http://www.economist.com/node/21554181

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  33. Pushing aside specific politics, isn’t there something wrong with the intense sort of materialism that many people are infected with? I hear time and time again from different governments and pundits that people need to “get out there and spend money” < what!?

    I just think it's common sense for most people to save money (purchase power, or whatever you want). It's, at least I thought, drilled into us via our genes. Yet we're being told to spend, spend spend. Something is just wrong here.

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  34. Pushing aside specific politics, isn’t there something wrong with the intense sort of materialism that many people are infected with? I hear time and time again from different governments and pundits that people need to “get out there and spend money” < what!?

    I just think it's common sense for most people to save money (purchase power, or whatever you want). It's, at least I thought, drilled into us via our genes. Yet we're being told to spend, spend spend. Something is just wrong here.

    Yeah it is interesting. People do LIKE to consume, and the economy fundamentally relies on people consuming (as much as possible). Personally I can’t deny that I enjoy spending money. However I also recognise the severe dangers of personal/household debt. My wife is more of a spendthrift so having her around is excellent (there is indirect pressure on me to watch spending I might otherwise partake in on shit I don’t need).

    Isn’t materialism a part and parcel of the economic system we have though? Materialism is effectively and efficiently promoted absolutely everywhere because the economy relies on people to buy shit to keep going. Debt is encouraged (because otherwise people won’t spend enough to enable ‘growth’). Lenders go out of the their way (bending over backwards) to entice people to borrow so they buy shit they don’t need. Therefore: debt-fulled consumption ‘booms’.

    I don’t think “save save” is in our genes at all. I think the whole system is completely man-made, so we have nothing like that in our genes. However from the minute kids are born these days they’re constantly bombarded from every angle with reminders to buy everything, and that borrowing to pay for it isn’t just ok, it’s expected. I think if we’re hard-wired for anything, it’s to be susceptible to bombarding consistent clever messaging. As parents we have an ever-growing responsibility to explain the system to our kids before they get into trouble. Earn the money before you spend it. By the time they get to an age where they can get a credit card, gotta hope they translate that into: “only spend on the credit card what you can pay off by the time it’s due”.

    On the other hand, governments aren’t households. They have completely different reasons for being, and operate different economically. The much-hated Krugman:

    …all these conversations followed the same arc: They began with a bad metaphor and ended with the revelation of ulterior motives.

    The bad metaphor — which you’ve surely heard many times — equates the debt problems of a national economy with the debt problems of an individual family. A family that has run up too much debt, the story goes, must tighten its belt. So if Britain, as a whole, has run up too much debt — which it has, although it’s mostly private rather than public debt — shouldn’t it do the same? What’s wrong with this comparison?

    The answer is that an economy is not like an indebted family. Our debt is mostly money we owe to each other; even more important, our income mostly comes from selling things to each other. Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.

    So what happens if everyone simultaneously slashes spending in an attempt to pay down debt? The answer is that everyone’s income falls — my income falls because you’re spending less, and your income falls because I’m spending less. And, as our incomes plunge, our debt problem gets worse, not better.

    This isn’t a new insight. The great American economist Irving Fisher explained it all the way back in 1933, summarizing what he called “debt deflation” with the pithy slogan “the more the debtors pay, the more they owe.” Recent events, above all the austerity death spiral in Europe, have dramatically illustrated the truth of Fisher’s insight.

    And there’s a clear moral to this story: When the private sector is frantically trying to pay down debt, the public sector should do the opposite, spending when the private sector can’t or won’t. By all means, let’s balance our budget once the economy has recovered — but not now. The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/opinion/krugman-the-austerity-agenda.html?_r=1&smid=fb-share

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  35. Referencing Krugman as anything other than a complete moron is an automatic loss for any argument.

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  36. How does this purchasing power magically appear, other than via debt?

    Ha! I’ll be waiting for you to provide a list of banks who are willing to give people a loan without the means to repay it!

    Why would you think this happens magically? Is it the same magic that is somehow supposed to raise a worker’s productivity when there is a hike in the minimum wage?

    Directing the economy back to good times through policy and regulation is like teaching a hatchling dove to fly. I don’t know how to do it. Neither do you. Nor does Obama or Romney. You may toss the little birdie into the air, but that ain’t flying. And he will come crashing back down to earth. If you leave him alone he will eventually take off not because of your instruction but in spite of it. So please back off and quit fucking with it!

    There are things that our dear leaders can do to help the economy heal itself–predictable (preferably lower) taxation and fewer regulations and hoops to jump through for starters. And don’t even get me started on occupational licensing.

    Keynesian spending programs have yielded horrible results many times over the years. They have deepened and lengthened our economic woes yet we keep going back to that same idea that taking water out of the deep end and pouring it into the shallow end will raise the overall level in the pool. Nobody can ever tell us how much should be spent. They just tell us in hindsight that it wasn’t enough. Still there are talks of another stimulus.

    “The first need is to free ourselves of that worst form of contemporary obscurantism which tries to persuade us that what we have done in the recent past was all either wise or unavoidable. We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.”–F.A. Hayek

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  37. Thanks Dick, however I’m trying to get beyond ideology into detail. We just don’t seem to be able to get there. All I keep hearing and reading are the same vague utopian mantras. How exactly does the bird pick itself up and fly away? What are the mechanisms and how are they triggered?

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  38. Referencing Krugman as anything other than a complete moron is an automatic loss for any argument.

    Be honest, it doesn’t really matter what I post, the sheer act of posting is an automatic loss as far as you’re concerned (of course you’re not avoiding the substance, no way, that could never be). So what difference does it make?

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  39. No, the problem is you keep linking and referencing economic idiocy/idiots. Your adherence totally discredited Keynesian theory is one of your primary problems. It’s simple, Keynesian economics are backwards – instead of describing how people actually behave with money, they describe how Keynes thought they should act with money in order to support socialist economic theory along with its massive government controls of a central bank. Much of Keynes wanted people to do has been pointed out as being extremely destructive to the individual in the short term – the consequence being that nobody does it.

    Once you accept that the very premise of everything Keynes ever posited on economics is ass-backwards to reality, the rest is easy.

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  40. By the time they get to an age where they can get a credit card, gotta hope they translate that into: “only spend on the credit card what you can pay off by the time it’s due”.

    That’s exactly what I do, except for a few very rare cases where I carry a balance for a very short period. I know a lot of people that do this as well. You get to reap all the rewards and pay no interest. It’s great. I learned to be more fiscally sane from my family and schooling (private school), and then on my own by making a few mistakes early on and seeing how debt can pile up (at much smaller amounts thankfully). Now we’re racing to constantly protect/save people from feeling that pain and people aren’t learning anything… well, other then that being responsible in the USA anymore means you get stuck with the bill while the irresponsible get various bailouts.

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  41. This will be my last post on the matter.

    This:

    Thanks Dick, however I’m trying to get beyond ideology into detail.

    is bullshit.

    If this were true you would have a completely different line of questioning. If this were true you would be able to admit that the stimulus, bailouts, cash for clunkers, etc., were failures. Yet you keep reverting back to your fundamental stance that the gov’t could (and should!) do something to improve the economy. That is why you want to know the “mechanisms and how they are triggered.”

    The problem is that the economy is not like the engine of a car that, while being a complicated machine made up of many parts, may take a simple solution to repair a broken one. The economy is just a word to we use to describe the trade and interactions of 300+ million people. Why you believe that anyone can posses the knowledge necessary to smooth over, spur or stimulate the hundreds of millions of decisions that people make on a daily basis is beyond me.

    Here Don Boudreaux links to an article in the WSJ but it’s the quote from Bob Higgs’s new book that might explain my point better.

    If you were really trying to get beyond ideology you would not be asking the same questions of those who are the architects of this dismal recovery we’re experiencing which, by the way, was predicted to bring U3 down to around 5.8% by now. If you wanted to get beyond ideology you might want to show an iota of critical thinking and introspection and ask yourself if meddling with the economy was a wise thing to do in the first place.

    How exactly does the bird pick itself up and fly away?

    The question is not “How does it do that?” The question is, “How does it know to do that?” It’s not about the physics that takes place when it flies. It’s about how it acquires the knowledge to do so in the first place. Since I do not and could not ever know how it figures this out, you might be better off asking the bird.

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  42. No, the problem is you keep linking and referencing economic idiocy/idiots.

    That’s so unbelievably disingeniuous. When I link them I quote whatever it is they say and I wrap a question around it. I’m assuming most of you disagree with what is being stated. However instead of a sensible discussion/answer you just say “idiots” or “idiocy”. Anyone can say that. Can you explain why and how the alternative would lead to a better outcome?

    Your adherence totally discredited Keynesian theory is one of your primary problems.

    Then you haven’t been reading my posts properly. I don’t ‘adhere’ to Keynes. By far and away the biggest thing I’ve been posting are questions about the ALTERNATIVE TO KEYNES. 99% of what you guys post is ridiculing what you don’t agree with. Where is the alternative? All you have is bitching and vague ideology responses. Yes, I know your theory, but how does it work in practice? I’ve asked that like 100 times, but nobody seems to know. Now I get given names of people to read who just seem to provide the same vague ideology responses….

    Once you accept that the very premise of everything Keynes ever posited on economics is ass-backwards to reality, the rest is easy.

    No, that just sounds as ideological as someone rigidly adhering to Keynes and rejecting everything else. You’re doing EXACTLY what you inaccurately accuse me of doing.

    Seattle Outcast, how do policies which continue to increase wealth accumulation at the top, and don’t lead to any real wage increases for the lower and bottom (and in fact reduce their ability to spend by cutting support systems) boost the economy? How does that happen? How does the overall economy benefit? And if most of the population has the same (or less) to spend, how are jobs created?
    Come on, use just 5% of that time and effort you spend slagging everything and provide some specifics around those questions.

    If this were true you would be able to admit that the stimulus, bailouts, cash for clunkers, etc., were failures. Yet you keep reverting back to your fundamental stance that the gov’t could (and should!) do something to improve the economy. That is why you want to know the “mechanisms and how they are triggered.”

    It’s not my “fundamental stance” at all. I’ve linked to what some economists say, I’ve listed my questions about how the alternatives are meant to work, and nobody is able or willing to even begin to explain. I’m not saying “the government should improve the economy”, I’m saying “if the government steps away from improving the economy, specifically how does it improve?”.
    I really don’t know how I can be clearer about this. If you guys want to continue to fail to explain (for whatever lame reason you like) then it won’t be because I haven’t asked.

    The economy is just a word to we use to describe the trade and interactions of 300+ million people. Why you believe that anyone can posses the knowledge necessary to smooth over, spur or stimulate the hundreds of millions of decisions that people make on a daily basis is beyond me.

    People are very clear about some specifics. Lower taxes, less govt spending. Apparently those moves are fundamental to help the economy. I want to know how they do that, specifically. I’m certainly aware that they are part of an overall belief system. But how does that belief system translate into actions that revive the economy and lead to sustained growth (that isn’t propped up by unsustainable debt)?
    People are very very clear about what won’t work. That seems to be all they post about. But where are their solutions, if they’re so very clear about it all?

    If you were really trying to get beyond ideology you would not be asking the same questions of those who are the architects of this dismal recovery we’re experiencing which, by the way, was predicted to bring U3 down to around 5.8% by now. If you wanted to get beyond ideology you might want to show an iota of critical thinking and introspection and ask yourself if meddling with the economy was a wise thing to do in the first place.

    Again, what is the alternative? How does the alternative work, in practice?
    Or are you saying that the results of the alternative don’t matter, it’s just a matter of principle?
    My questions ARE the right questions to ask to prompt people to explain how the alternative works better.

    The question is not “How does it do that?” The question is, “How does it know to do that?” It’s not about the physics that takes place when it flies. It’s about how it acquires the knowledge to do so in the first place. Since I do not and could not ever know how it figures this out, you might be better off asking the bird.

    I think “how does it do that” is a perfectly reasonable question, particularly in the face of such firm belief that Keynesian spending is so wrong. If people are going to advocate a system, they should at least be able to explain how it works in reality and what the impacts will be. Otherwise it’s pure ideology.

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  43. Hey CM. Since you don’t have a bias toward any economic theory, why don’t you research your questions above and let us know what you think?

    It seems you say you have no bias, but all your questions come from the point of “prove Keynesian theory wrong.” That point of view during questioning automatically frames the debate.

    Why not investigate yourself and let us know what you think? You obviously are a smart guy, well read etc. Why not do some due diligence yourself, then point out the pros and cons of both theories?

    I, for one, would like to read that…no sarcasm.

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  44. Hey CM. Since you don’t have a bias toward any economic theory, why don’t you research your questions above and let us know what you think?

    I have. I don’t see any answers that make sense.

    It seems you say you have no bias, but all your questions come from the point of “prove Keynesian theory wrong.”

    I’m sure we all have bias. But I don’t ‘adhere’ to any branch of economic thought. In this current economic situation, all I’ve heard from the right (aside from saying that Keynesian answers to a slump are all wrong) are vague and ideological.
    I’m coming from “prove Keynesian theory wrong” because it’s not much of a discussion if you come from nowhere. And, as I say, some of it makes sense to me, and seems to be what pretty much all the experts say too.

    That point of view during questioning automatically frames the debate.

    Not at all. My questions are: if this Keynesian stuff is so very wrong, what do you want to happen, and why? How will this work in practice?
    How is that framing the debate? If you could answer that I’d be grateful.

    Why not investigate yourself and let us know what you think? You obviously are a smart guy, well read etc. Why not do some due diligence yourself, then point out the pros and cons of both theories?

    Apparently I’m a clueless fucking moron. That’s what I keep being told in response to my questions above. I have investigated myself. I haven’t found anything close to the level of detail required to answer those questions. I see criticism and non-specific alternatives.

    I, for one, would like to read that…no sarcasm.

    Sure, but why is it seemingly impossible for people to answer my simple, specific, questions?
    I don’t think for a second that people could have such strong beliefs about something without knowing the mechanics and what the consequences are. People surely can’t possibly hold the belief that the reality/results don’t matter, it’s only the principle that counts? Can they? I’m assuming not because by default I assume people are reasonable/logical/rational. But if that’s the case, why are they so unwilling to articulate the mechanics/consequences of their economics? Revealing it won’t lead to any deaths or physical harm. Literally nothing bad will happen.
    None of the potential Republican candidates, including the winner, seem to be able to explain it either. Romney put out a huge document about his economics that had very little in the way of specifics/detail. It was the same usual vague stuff. At least what has happened (stimulus etc) is specific and it can be assessed.

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