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Jul-26-2011 06:29printcomments

Capitalism only works for the ca-pittle-ists

Even George Orwell in 1984 did not imagine this degree of intrusion into private lives.

Flaming c
Courtesy: 4iphonewallpapers.com

(CALGARY, Alberta) - Americans love freedom. They love it so much that they’ll even pretend they have it, when they haven’t had it for very long time.

Are you free? What are you doing next Monday morning? You can, in advance, map out your whole day, your whole week, your whole life. That’s the one freedom that Americans (and Canadians) have—the freedom to do as they’re told. (The same mapping applies if your shift starts at 4pm or at midnight.)

I know people, as I’m sure you do, that have worked for years, even decades at the same company, even perhaps at the same job. You can ask them: Where were you on Tuesday, July 24, 1990 at 1015 am?

“Why, unless I was home sick or at a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment, I was there at my desk with the XYZ Corporation”, or—at the shop; on the assembly line, etc. Are these people free? Don’t insult yourself. As an employee, you’re free to go in every day at a time specified by your employer. You take coffee and lunch breaks at their direction and go home when they allow you to. You may have some choice about when you take a vacation, but it’s a pseudo-freedom—you still have to work a specified number of days per year.

In FDRs acceptance speech for the presidency in 1936 he said:

An old English judge once said: ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ Liberty requires opportunity to make a living—a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.”

Americans are, almost completely, necessitous people.

In the movie “Taking Care of Business”, Spencer Barnes (Charles Grodin) says to his boss: “When I’m not working, I don’t know who I am. I don’t even know what to do. I don’t know what to think. I hate my life.” Then he quits his job.

Or, Tom Cruise as “Jerry Maguire”: He says: “I hated myself. No, here’s what it was. I hated my place in the world.”

There’s a good reason for most people to hate their jobs. They’re on somebody else’s leash. More to the point, they’re on the consumption/money leash wherethe thing about money is it makes you do things you don’t want to do and that, in the vast majority of cases, is your job.

Human beings are animals, but only in a biological sense. We have consciousness and awareness of the world around us. We have hopes and dreams that we sometimes actively pursue. As social beings, we have developed religious and ethical systems to deal with the issues of fairness/unfairness as we perceive them. We can (most of us) feel compassion for others. And some of us who feel compassion recognize that, our society, believes compassion to be a weakness and overcompensate with callous and cruel behaviour towards others. We all, at one time or another, experience that in the working world. Studs Terkel began his book Working (1974):

This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence—to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around. It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the many of us.”

From what I’ve observed in the nearly four decades since, things have only gotten worse, overall, for the average working man or woman. The productivity of the American worker has gone up considerably in the last four decades, but wages themselves have stagnated and even declined.

Dean Baker, co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, began a report Behind the Gap Between Productivity and Wage Growth with:

Much has been written in this business cycle regarding the rapid increases in productivity and the stagnant growth in wages. From the peak of the last business cycle in the first quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2006, productivity increased by 17.9 percent, an average growth rate of 3.2 percent per year. But real wages have barely moved, with the average hourly wage for production and nonsupervisory workers increasing by just 1.2 percent, an average annual growth rate of just over 0.2 percent.

He wrote that in February, 2007 and we all know what happened the following year and how things have steadily worsened for working men and women since then. There are fourteen million people officially unemployed. This does not consider those who are underemployed working at low paid jobs far below their experience or skill levels—or ordinary living needs.

Business has handily recovered from the 2008 Recession/Depression. The median annual pay for the top executives at the 200 largest companies was $10.8 million. (median—the middle—half received more, half received less) Cash bonuses (not stock options) are up 38%. Cash bonuses for the highest-paid CEOs are at three times prerecession levels. The average American worker was taking home $752 a week in late 2010, up a mere half percent from a year earlier—after inflation, workers were actually making less. The median pay raise for chief executives last year was 23 percent.

We all need a certain amount of money to meet our basic needs and a little more to enjoy our lives outside of the working treadmill. We do have to work. The question is: how much do we need to work.

We definitely don’t need the endless gew-jaws that business trots out for us for us to consume. They don’t produce such things for the good of humanity or even the country, but rather to maximize their profits. Realistically, capitalism only works for the capitalists. Do we need new cars? No, they are a manufactured need. Automobiles should routinely last decades but in order to keep the economy expanding, cars were once built with what was called planned obsolescence, in addition to the psychological aspect of changing styles and colours and the appeal to status. We are what we drive.

Look at the numbers: The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. From a rough calculation, that works out to an average wealth for those 150 million people of less than $10 each. And with what the capitalists have done to the global economy over the last few years, it’s only going to get worse. The bad news is that Bank of America is now in a declining position and potentially able to be the initial domino to bring down the entire global economy! ( Curse the geniuses who gave us Bank of America )

(You can follow up with Frank Rich’s column of August, last year Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party , Nicholas D. Kristof’s recent column, Bonuses for Billionaires,and Paul Krugman’s current column The Lesser Depression )

If you think you lack freedom under this regime, technology has made it worse. Companies routinely use background checks, credit reports and even Google searches to learn as much as possible about an applicant’s life outside the workplace. A year-old company called Social Intelligence now trolls the internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years. They then put together a dossier on the person and give it to the prospective employer. Even George Orwell in 1984 did not imagine this degree of intrusion into private lives.

_________________________________

Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class — a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably on a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves — writing and trying to make the world a better place




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Mike August 2, 2011 6:52 pm (Pacific time)

Yes I was very lucky to have been born in America, and to two parents who were very successful. They jointly motivated me and my siblings all through our formative years and beyond. We are all very thankful. If America fails, as many people seem to want to happen, I imagine it would be in the distant future. Also regarding Americans private lives being scrutinized by private business, yes that is being done to an increasing degree with the passage of time. But it is our government that has been the biggest offender in this area. Obviously as governments get bigger, the individual loses more freedom with that growth. Fortunately there are movements that are gaining in strength to reverse that process. As far as background checks, well I have been in the military and received a high security check whereas investigators went back and even talked to my early grade school teachers, neighbors and all other people I seemed to have interacted with, even on a marginal level. My fingerprints and DNA are on several databases. It goes with the job territory for me and has not caused me any difficulties. We probably have over 30 million people (that's the size of Canada's population) that are completely off the grid in terms of being ID'd by any government agency, including an underground economy that if taxed would probably put us in the black. So why is the government not going after this group? They say they are, but they are not. I wonder what their reasoning and/or endgame is? Do you have any ideas on this matter?

My only thought in this direction is that it would make government significantly larger and the money is just not in the budget. 


Mike August 2, 2011 9:37 am (Pacific time)

Should we tax personal wealth as well as income? How about all those highly paid athletes and those in the entertainment industry, should we have the government have a special tax for them? Good luck going after these people.Taxing the extremely rich won’t solve the problem either in the near term or long term. The rich aren’t responsible for creating this mess. I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination. The rich aren’t responsible for this mess, neither are the middle class, or the seniors or our veterans. Yet, all of these classes of individuals will get punished by Washington because Washington couldn’t rein in the excess spending and debts they have incurred on current and future generations. The problem is not revenue, it is the completely out of control government spending. The democrats in charged of the purse strings from 2007-2011 demonstrated to me that the government is capable of spending any amount that can be raised and then some. It makes zero difference who is taxed or how much you tax them if the government insists on spending 40% + more (and increasing!) than they raise in revenue.Raising taxes on the Rich is a tax increase on all Americans. Even the poor. Most business are owned by the rich. Raising taxes on them would force them to raise prices of services and products they produce. Who pays the tax increase, you do. Got it? Aside from the idea that a rich person owes you or anyone else anything is the root of greed and evil that has corrupted this society. Anger is rampant now because people don't have a clear idea of what their own property is. The poor think a rich person's money is partly theirs, so they vote it away. The rich get tired of being raped, so they are angry. I'm not rich, but I have no debts and substantial savings because I led a careful life and studied for years to get a job that pays well. The poor now think I owe them and I should give more. Sorry, people who are careful and work are the solution, not the problem! There will always be those petty jealous individuals who have serious personality disorders that attempt to create class warfare, they will always fail here in America.

Class warfare will erupt on its own, like spontaneous combustion. No one will be able to accurately pinpoint where it started or its proximate cause.

So, you're comfortable. If you examine your own life I'll wager you'll find that luck played a considerable part in your monetary evolution. You didn't get where you are as a result of your sparkling wit alone. The first piece of luck is that you were born in the United States and not some third world country. Take it from there and you'll discover that a lot of poor people you denigrate as having "serious personality disorders" were just unlucky--born in the wrong neighborhood, wrong skin colour and, even if  white, with the wrong parents. 

The psychological cause of America's fall will be hubris. 


Marci Young August 1, 2011 7:44 pm (Pacific time)

You're a Republican troll and I can't understand what you're even doing at this site. I will not approve any more of your comments.


Marci Young August 1, 2011 12:16 pm (Pacific time)

 Nobody works for a poor man- only rich people can create jobs....Insecure business moguls like Warren Buffet occasionally spout anti-affluence nonsense like   the rich “…should be paying a lot more in taxes.” If Buffet won’t   defend the rich, I will. I love rich people.

 Is it part of your delusion that the sentiment is returned? Any calls from the Koch brothers, lately, or even ever? Do you actually believe that if some super-wealthy person like the Kochs could increase their own wealth by crushing your family's business, that they would hesitate for even a nanosecond?

 I wish them well and I hope they get richer.    I specifically love rich people who live in a capitalistic society like America. The richer they become, the richer, healthier and happier everyone else   becomes. Unlike rich rulers in a monarchy or, worse yet, wealthy dictators, American capitalists are the average person’s best friend and entrepreneurial   inspiration.   Wealthy Americans do not rule over other Americans.

 Of course the wealthy Americans rule over the rest the citizens. What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it?

 The Constitution does not grant them special privileges or royal titles. Unlike Queen Victoria, who tried   to tap into a fund for low-income families to heat Buckingham Palace, rich Americans don’t receive public funds to heat their mansions.

 If the rich paid taxes at the same rate as an average wage earner, no one could complain. But then they wouldn’t have gotten immorally rich. Like a household, it costs a basically fixed amount to run the country. What the rich don’t pay has to be paid by everyone else. The rich are indirectly using public funds to heat their mansions

 Let’s say you bump into your old college roommate at a baseball game and you ask him how he’s been. He says, “I’m doing well. I started my own tech firm.   I’ve hired a little over 500 hundred people.

 He’s become rich because he has 500+ people working for him. Do you honestly believe that a single person can somehow make it on their own?

 Oh, and remember how I was always so frugal? Well, I broke down and bought a Lamborghini. I’ve always wanted   one. I figure I’ve earned it.”   Unless you’re multi-millionaire Michael Moore, you wouldn’t hate his guts. You wouldn’t jealously snap, “Well, I’m glad you’re having fun making piles of money and splurging   on yourself.” You would be happy that he pursued his passion, worked hard, took risks and is now helping hundreds of families put food on their tables.

 ”Helping hundreds of families put food on their table?” Wake up and smell the coffee. By working, the heads of those families are earning their own food. And the capitalist, if he is worth his salt, would be doing his best to reduce the worker’s wages or move his company to a right-to-work state where it has been shown conclusively  that workers get lower wages and receive fewer benefits compared to states where unions are allowed. Capitalists like to be capitalists, but they resent if if the workers themselves try to increase their own share of the nation's wealth

No   one increases their wealth by hoarding it under a pillow. At the end of the day, wealthy people—whether they are self-made or heirs

 Self-made? No such thing. Even Bill Gates is not “self-made”. A genius nonetheless, but he did not invent anything. Even the operating system that he sold to IBM and is the source of the bulk of his wealth was invented by someone else. From previous comments, I understand that your families wealth, to whatever extent it exists, comes from auto dealerships. How much wealth would your family have if their had not been thousands of ordinary workers building those cars, then transporting them to your dealership, where you have other workers selling and repairing those cars?

 must take some level of   risk by investing their money if they wish to become wealthier. When wealthy Americans are confident in the economy, they invest more aggressively, they   expand their businesses faster, they lend more generously and they spend their wealth more freely. This behavior produces innovative technologies, loans and   jobs so that millions of other people have access to homes, cars, vacations, higher education and high-tech toys. We hurt ourselves by envying, over-taxing   and slandering the rich. Anti-wealth public policies will only persuade independently wealthy Americans to shut down their businesses, stop hiring and retire   early to their hammocks in the tropics. On the other hand, if we “love” the rich, we will receive the love back in the form of ample jobs, loans, innovations   and investments.   Let’s love the rich—and the aspiring rich—by implementing pro-business tax reform that motivates them to take risks, invest and create jobs. For, as Justin   Timberlake sings:   “What goes around, goes around, goes around   Comes all the way back around” The ultra rich already pay the vast majority of taxes

This is a common delusion about taxes. Virtually ALL taxes are paid by ordinary people. If a business pays taxes, notice that the profits are always figured after tax. The taxes the business appears to pay are considered as an operating cost (you surely experience the same thing in your family business)  and that cost is built into higher prices--which ordinary people pay. Did David Tepper of Appaloosa Management actually earn $4 billion in 2009? Do you want us to believe that he is 80,000 times smarter or works 80,000 times harder than the person who actually works 40+ hours a week and takes home $50k/year?

It's the liberal overspending that is our problem, let's just cut it   and spend only for our citizens and dissolve several federal agencies, beginning with the Dept. of Education and the Dept. of Agriculture. Develop our energy   resources and pull all our military overseas back home.  By the way that computer monitor you're now viewing was invented and marketed by a rich capitalist...you like it?

What capitalists don't understand (and they don't understand it because they don't have to) is that they are completely and totally dependent on society and everyone in it. Without tens of millions of people as workers and consumers, what would they have? Here's a thought experiment. Put any billionaire you can think of on an otherwise uninhabited desert island (like Robinson Crusoe) and ask yourself how "wealthy" they would become. Could they even survive? Something to think about. 


Allen August 1, 2011 9:27 am (Pacific time)

Daniel I'm quite familiar about what the limitations of any social science are, including Economics. My past comments were in response to your statement " Unless you provide the names of these economists and links to their papers (or where they can be found), your comment is just an opinion with little or no substance or validity." I have found over the years that for some individuals, their opinions, especially when based on ideological dogma, can never be changed regardless of any new evidence that becomes available. For example Daniel, we here in the states are dealing with an economic situation that some believe will be solved by raising our debt ceiling (it will be raised in a matter of hours). Many of these people who want this to happen use President  Reagan as an example because he had it raised a number of times. (please note Obama had it raised two times since he's been in office, and in 2006 he voted against raising it as did literally every democrat). When Reagan was president, our debt was 42% of GDP, it is now nearly 90%. Reagan was promised future deficit cuts by a democratic congress, it never happened. So right now we have an excellent example of how our political system works, and this conflict is good in my opinion. Some of what is happening falls under the heading of Political Science (and also many other social science disciplines), these events are not easy things to measure, but it is reality, just like looking at FDR's policies and comparing them to Obama's policies in real time. Sure times are different, but the same thing is happening once again, the incompetents are in power, and they will once again be replaced. Carter is an excellent example of how America can recover when bumbling idiots get into leadership positions. The free market and capitalism is the driving force that corrects our system when it gets out of whack. Ditto for your country, I believe.

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? 


Allen July 31, 2011 6:22 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel I've been rather busy today, and don't have my other references that augment the UCLA economist's study handy, but it boils down to a take it or leave it attitude for those who have no formal background in economics. Of course you must know that computer models at this level are made for those who are professionals in the economics field, and know how to understand and replicate the design, problem statement(s), methods and conclusions within their study. For example some organizations, groups and individuals have been going by some computer models regarding global warming data that shows upper atmospheric heat build up. Last week NASA just recently blew the prevailing warming models away regarding high atmosphere heat dissipation. I have no post graduate background in economics or the climate/meteorological sciences, so I take my time and research those sources that provide data that allows for weighing conflicting info. Those with an agenda are easy to spot, at least for me. These Economists at UCLA are simply giving academia, and the interested laypeople, their perspective, which really is not new, just more researched than past studies from my experience. Most learned people have always considered WWII grew us out of the FDR malaise. What will grow us out of the Obama malaise will be when we boot him out of office. This current economy is his, as are the "gun-running/Fast and Furious criminal acts that call for a special prosecutor immediately. As far as Thomas Sowell's aricle, I just enjoy the no-nonsense of this African-American intellectual, he always uses good arguements formed by common sense coupled with facts, while his detractors use emotional supposition that fail to distract intelligent individuals. Alas, it's a horse to water scenario, and one is free to drink or not. Darwinian decision-making is part of the freedom process, I guess.

 You're laboring under the mistaken belief that economics is a science which it is not and probably never will be. Just like psychology. Galbraith wrote:

“Economists, on the whole, think well of what they do themselves and much less well of what their professional colleagues do. If a scholar probes deeply into a small section of the subject, he is fairly certain to mistrust, as superficial, the man who ranges more widely. The latter, in turn, will think the specialist lacking in vision or what is called reach. By knowing ever more about ever less, he will seem to risk becoming quite ignorant. Those who are mathematically inclined see others in retreat from rigor. The others think those who manipulate symbols impractical. The statisticians believe those who prove points deductively to be dangerously intuitive. But, by their colleagues, those who are controlled by numbers are often thought unduly cautious or even dull. It is exceedingly fortunate for the psychic health of the profession that inadequacy lies so uniformly with others. The situation in the other social sciences is said to be equally satisfactory.” 

Your opinion (it's not strong enough to be called a conclusion), that those who don't understand the world as you think you do, are somehow afraid of the truth, is reminiscent of the old lady watching the troops march past: "Look everyone is out of step but my son, John."

 


Kevin July 31, 2011 1:53 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel maybe you have a different perspective in Canada as per the "majority" of us Americans in regards to background checks? Note I was born in Canada and have dual citizenship. See the below analysis. Also for decades now insurance companies have done comprehensive checks on people before they issue insurance ranging from vehicle, business, home, health, life, or any other type. For those who lead responsible lives they generally benefit with lower rates. Incentives bring out the best in responsible people most of the time. Like not dropping out of school is a good start! "Only 18% Favor Law Prohibiting Employers From Considering Criminal Background When Hiring...Those who make less than $40,000 annually are more supportive of the law compared to those who make more. There is little difference of opinion between government and private sector workers on this question. There's also virtually [NO PARTISAN] disagreement over the law..." http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/jobs_employment/july_2011/only_18_favor_law_prohibiting_emp
loyers_from_considering_criminal_background_when_hiring

You make a strong case for the power of business propaganda. The amount of information that businesses have about you and use against you is a significant violation of your privacy. But I guess you don't see  the bigger picture. 


Allen July 31, 2011 9:14 am (Pacific time)

Daniel the below links (the second link is also quite informative, hope you enjoy the info) provide the insight you were requesting as per some Economists' assessments on FDR's economic policies. Regarding the surplus that the Republican congress had left for President Bush, possibly you are not familiar with that time period, or other time periods in our nations history regarding our economy, and the dynamics that influenced it? "Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt." "FDR, Barack Obama, and Failed Policies." http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/FDR-s-Policies-Prolonged-Depression-5409.aspx // http://thenewamerican.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/5056-fdr-barack-obama-and-failed-policies

 Okay, Allan, I explored your references and you have not even come close to convincing me. Your link to the New American is a publication of the John Birch Society. Zero credibility there except, perhaps, among extreme right conservatives.

I did, however, watch the full hour of Burton Folsom on YouTube and it was for people such as Folsom that Ferdinand Lundberg coined the term “counter-savant”. He wrote in The Rockefeller Syndrome:

“Allan Nevins of Columbia University wrote several books on John D. and the Rockefeller family. It was in the course of doing work for the five Rockefeller books that Nevins developed the interesting thesis that the American corporate adventurers to whom Matthew Josephson gave the enduring name of ‘The Robber Barons’ were in fact American heroes, builders of the American civilization and democracy. He invited other historians to follow in his footsteps in this thesis, but so far nobody has conspicuously accepted. And if anyone does, one will be able to see the American intellectual horizon further muddled.

“I have given writers like Nevins the sobriquet of ‘counter-savants’. A savant, or man of learning, is devoted to increasing knowledge. And knowledge has the function of deepening understanding. A counter-savant, however, is a man of knowledge who uses his knowledge, for reasons known only to himself, to obfuscate understanding, to confuse readers. The fact is that Nevins’ corrective portrait of Rockefeller is not only false with respect to the central character, but frustrates understanding with the unsophisticated reader.

What makes such work especially bad is that professors are in fact highly regarded by Americans even though they may make defensive jokes about them and refer to a barber, bartender or bordello pianist as ‘professor’. At the same time Americans commonly deride Germans for their supposed overdeference toward professors and other authoritarian figures; it is a common American notion that Germans even click their heels and salute uniformed hotel doormen. Yet it is Americans, more than Germans, who are apt to take just about anything as gospel that a professor—or colonel—says, without analyzing the proposition on its merits.”(p. 145)

On the Depression, John K. Galbraith wrote in The Age of Uncertainty:

"In the years following World War I, there was a sharp speculation in farm commodities and farm real estate—the boom of 1919-1920. The Federal Reserve Banks looked on tolerantly while banks made loans that financed this boom. Then came the crash of 1920-21. Now the Federal Reserve clamped down on bank lending and helped to make the resulting depression worse. In 1927, as the great stock market boom was getting under way, it eased credit… This helped finance the stock market boom and thus made more severe the crash of 1929, although other factors were more important. After the Crash, during the great deflation of 1929-32, the Federal Reserve continued to worry about inflation.…

“Gradually during the Depression interest rates were brought down; by 1931 the discount rate at the New York Reserve Bank—that rate at which banks could borrow—was 1.5 percent, hardly a usurious charge. The Federal Reserve bought government bonds on a considerable scale, and the resulting cash went out to the banks—open market operations again. Soon the commercial banks were flush with lendable funds. All that remained was for customers to come to the banks, borrow money, increase deposits and enhance the money supply. Recovery would then be prompt. Now came a terrible discovery. The customers wouldn’t come. Even at the lowest rate they didn’t think they could make money. The banks wouldn’t trust those who were so foolish as to believe they could. That is how it was during the Depression. Cash simply accumulated in the banks. Soon they had billions which they were able to lend but couldn’t. The banking system had worsened the boom and made worse the crash. Now, when the Federal Reserve decided to act, nothing happened. Yet more remained to be learned about the management of money.” (pp. 191f)

And, on the railroad era, Michael Kazin, reviewing Richard White’s book Railroaded, concludes: “The history of American capitalism is stuffed with tales of industries that overbuilt and overpromised and left bankruptcies and distressed ecosystems in their wake: gold and silver mining, oil drilling and nuclear power, to name a few. The railroad barons wielded more power than other businessmen in the Gilded Age. But their behavior revealed a trait they shared with many of their fellow citizens: too much was never enough.”

And your two economists from UCLA, it turns out come to their conclusions on the output of a computer model. The only way to test the validity of a computer model is to verify with another model and replicate the results. Economists like to think of themselves as scientists when they are far from such. As economist Leonard Silk wrote in Economics in Plain English:

"Economists try to do what all scientists do—observe certain aspects of the natural or social world, gather data to measure those aspects, construct theories to explain the data, and test the theories against reality to validate or invalidate them. On the whole, however, economists do a weak job at all this. They commonly spend vast amounts of time observing each other's articles rather than reality. Their data are poor, and they devote little time to improving them. Their theories are rigid and mechanistic. And they rarely discard them unless some academic or government position is at stake." 

My essential issue with conservative writers is they just drink each other’s bathwater, without trying to substantively refute credible opponents.


BG July 30, 2011 6:24 pm (Pacific time)

Frankly Allen why waste time with an interloper? Informed people know the story, and going back to the recent national elections, and those in various states, these leftist Americans are fading. A Canadian interloper is at best, non-relevant to anyone, so let them spit in that headwind of ignorance, or go to Calgary and have a frank one on one chat. Be peaceful and friendly to our poor little neighbors who get our scraps.


Allen July 30, 2011 9:57 am (Pacific time)

Daniel Johnson when FDR took over as president the economy was starting to turn better as per some economists, then his ongoing policies simply turned things far worse. The Economics Department at UCLA, along with other economists have prepared a number of peer-reviewed research papers on FDR and have concluded it was his policies that took a bad situation and made it worse. These UCLA economists are not exactly hard right conservatives. In regards to Clinton, he never had one policy (not one) that he put into effect that improved the economy. In fact it was his act of raising taxes that he said he would not do that created an economic downturn and allowed the good guys to come into power and improve everyone's quality of life. He simply signed congressional bills provided by a conservative congress. It was his Sec. of Treasury Rubin, along with Barney Frank and others who compelled banks via innendo of being bigots (including Freddie and Fannie) to issue subprime loans. Subsequently when an economic downturn developed (they always happen) these loans became the proverbial straw as foreclosures began and continued at a high rate. When Bush saw the democrats assume congressional power in 2007 the unemployment rate was at 4%, and when he left office it was 4.5%. Obama has increased spending by an incredible amount, out stripping tax revenue at a faster and faster rate. This overspending is trending at such a high rate that we must start making cuts ASAP It's amazing to me how so many people have been swept up by such obvious misinformation, but at least more and more people are realizing that they have been deceived by those on the left. All legitimate national polls have been showing that. Are you familiar with the pollsters Gallup and Rassmussen? The latter one has the best track record. Currrently Obama has a negative -21 approval rating, and it's been dropping pretty steadily. So all this blaming of the republicans has not been working.

Unless you provide the names of these economists and links to their papers (or where they can be found), your comment is just an opinion with little or no substance or validity. It doesn't matter what Clinton did or did not do in office; he left a budget surplus and W promptly began to the run the country into the ground, from which the country is no where near recovering.

 


Mark July 29, 2011 6:40 pm (Pacific time)

It's the Obama policies that have caused this crisis. Look back at the economic cycles, we have always had up and down periods, but they have always gotten worse when the collectivist's versus individualist's have been the main policy makers. FDR is the best example. If not for WWII we would have continued that Kenysian malaise for who knows how long. Currently Obama and his wrecking crew are using policies that have been proven failures, though many more everyday are realizing that is his intention. The "gun-running" his administration created will in time be his undoing, that's why they are using the debt ceiling as a distraction. Obama's numbers are dropping quickly, so he will soon become a lameduck a year or so before he gets the boot. In terms of the big corporations doing well and the small ones not, that is totally wrong. Approximately 2/3's of our corporations are 50 or less employees and they are simply waiting for some actual leadership before they can really continue/formulate a business plan and start hiring. They need leadership in DC with business friendly policies. Maybe if we dropped our corporate tax rates 50% we would actually generate more tax revenue. There are past models showing that it works. We have a spending problem, and that is what must be dealt with. As far as wide disparities of income, well that's the system, and it works better than any other system. Have you read the latest on the UK healthcare system? By the way we have hit the tipping point in that over 50% of workers do not pay income taxes. If we taxed at 100% of all those making over $250,000, we would not make a dent in the current "yearly" federal budget. Class warfare is simply not going to work for the majority, for there are now too many news outlets that inform people and also provide them with primary sources to verify, rather than the leftists who at one time had the monopoly in their disinformation schemes. America will be back stronger than ever, it is our form of government that helps creates our wealth, for it allows the individual to achieve, while the opposing philosophy stifles the individual.

Interesting revisionism. FDR was elected president after the Depression was in full swing--following the pro-business policies of three, count 'em, three Republican presidents. Obama was elected president following eight years of Bush/Republican malfeasance. Bush, by the way, inherited a budgetary surplus from Clinton which he completely destroyed.

You asked if I had read 1984. Indeed I have, and you could easily double for Winston as you try to change history to fit a current agenda. 

FYI, SN does not have, or approve the use of, a memory hole 


Mark July 29, 2011 1:52 pm (Pacific time)

After looking at the theme in this article once again, maybe the writer just does not understand the free market system? Supply and demand? But class warfare, well you understand that, but have failed to realize that it gets no real traction in American society, nor up there in Canada as the voters there sure showed you. Maybe even the Cubans would be in full disagreement also? Have you seen the latest economic moves going on there? As far as what passes as good and wise business practices, well yeah, one needs to check people out. We got in our current economic crisis because of the class warfare the "bubba's and bimbo's" who got the subprime loan fiasco into gear. Just check the differences between commercial real estate and residential real estate markets back in the late 90's and you'll see what happens when you don't check people out. Just the same we have probably over 20 million illegals and an underground economy that is way up into the billions of untaxed income, so Orwell's 1984 is not even close, nice try, but quite wrong writer.

Don't check people out? You don't get it, do you. That's free-enterprise  in action. And you see who the winners are: The denizens of Wall Street are back to billions in bonuses and for the rest of the population--20% unemployed or underemployed. One point five cheers for capitalism.

What? You don't believe in total free-enterprise, winner-take-all economics?  Say it ain't so.


Mark July 29, 2011 6:35 am (Pacific time)

Dan did you read 1984? The idea that America is beyond is foolish to the nth degree, but then England on the other hand...or any non-democratic country...


Douglas Benson July 26, 2011 8:09 am (Pacific time)

I just cant agree that business is doing great now Dan. Oh the big businesses are ,the capitalists are,but the smaller businesses are still taking huge hits . The company I work for most of the time is wondering if they can even keep the doors open much longer. They have gone from doing 10-20 million in business and 150-200 employees to practically nothing with about 10-15 employees [and they are wondering from week to week if they will have a job tomorrow].
To say workers havent seen wage increases is also false ,and Im starting to wonder if we have priced ourselves out of the market at this point . If you dont love what you do I can see where you might think of yourself as a wage slave . Hey you can allways quit ,and be a king of the road. Peace

You're right, Doug. The big companies are doing okay. Everyone else? Phht! 

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