Showing posts with label Paul Krugman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Krugman. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ye Auld New America: Didn't We Go Down This Road Before?

Working for someone else, fingers to the bone with no expectation of decent wages or a foothold on the ladder, is back in vogue here in America.   Even your big deal congresspersons will tell you that.  There are no greater patriots than the country's laborers, and the very, very finest--the finest patriots of all--are those who have no use for unions. The best patriot/workers understand that in America it's All for One and None for All.

And this, too:  If God wanted you to be healthy, wealthy and wise, he would have given you better parents.  It's a practice near to sin to get the taxpayers to take care of you and yours.  The taxpayers have a hard enough time taking care of the rich.

The rich have earned our blind, gushing loyalty (How, you ask? By being rich, you ninny).

You? You haven't.

Yes.  Well.  You'll pardon me for bringing this up, O ye sensitive ones who hate having to hear about the bad old days vs. the good old days, but didn't we goddamn settle this already?

Child coal mine workers, 1900s

I bring this up because Nate Silver says there's a 60% chance the Republicans will take the senate.  Nate seems to know what he's talking about but he doesn't say why the Republicans deserve to take the Senate.  That's for the rest of us to chew over.  So I'm chewing:

How many workers see something in the Republicans that tells them life will be better when the GOP/Tea Party takes over Congress?  What is it they see?

How many women see something in the GOP that the rest of us don't?  Enough to take them over the top?  What is it they see?

When the Republicans win will they finally get busy and deliver on sustainable jobs? Affordable, ethical health care?  Bridges?  Roads? Pollution? Kids?  Or will a comfortable win tell them all they need to know about the sterling virtues of capitalism and the ready acceptance of an oligarchy?

Paul Krugman:
America’s nascent oligarchy may not yet be fully formed — but one of our two main political parties already seems committed to defending the oligarchy’s interests.
Despite the frantic efforts of some Republicans to pretend otherwise, most people realize that today’s G.O.P. favors the interests of the rich over those of ordinary families. I suspect, however, that fewer people realize the extent to which the party favors returns on wealth over wages and salaries. And the dominance of income from capital, which can be inherited, over wages — the dominance of wealth over work — is what patrimonial capitalism is all about.
In Bernie Sanders' report, "Poverty is a Death Sentence", he warns:
“If people don’t have access to health care, if they don’t have access to education, if they don’t have access to jobs and affordable housing then we end up paying not only in terms of human suffering and the shortening of life expectancy but in actual dollars."
These are not revelations new to the 21st century.  Krugman and Sanders are both echoing what President Roosevelt said in his 1944 State of the Union speech, in the midst of the Second World War, when he proposed a second Bill of Rights:
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.
We've been here before.  Millions of Americans took FDR's words to heart and worked tirelessly for decades to insure that these most obvious, common-sense American rights should come to pass.  Many of them did come to pass, but now they're in jeopardy.  Now the Republicans (and, yes, some bloody Democrats) are working tirelessly to undo it all.

Millions of us see clearly what's happening again and are trying to stop it, but there are millions of distinctly separate Americans who think it's high time we give up on that old FDR course and head in another direction.  The direction they want to take us in is the same direction we were headed when all hell broke loose in 1929 and it all came crashing down.

It looks like the oligarchs might just get away with it.  So what is it they're seeing in this new, same-old plan--the plan that caused the stock market crash in 1929 and led us into a devastating long-term depression--that makes them think it's going to work this time?

The answer is, it doesn't have to.  America is the place to make money; any idiot knows you wouldn't want to keep it here.  Whatever happens to us won't happen to them.

Some setup, huh?  Makes you wonder if we shouldn't have stuck with that Democracy thing and at least given it a try.

(Cross-posted on Dagblog, Alan Colmes' Liberaland, and Political Carnival Featured on Crooks and Liars Blog Round Up)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hey, Liberals: Now is the Time to Panic

WARNING:  Cheers for Obama here, at least until Tuesday, November 6.  Don't come looking for relief from Obama luv.  You won't find it on these pages. I'm getting ready to panic and, if past history is any indication, it's not going to be pretty.

Romney/Ryan have a chance to win this thing.  That revelation is so shocking we should be calling for a congressional investigation into how right wing billionaires and clueless teapartiers were able to pull that off. (Right. . .that'll happen)

There's no way someone like Mitt Romney (businessman to the core, anti-government advocate today but not yesterday, job destroyer and giddy out-sourcer, liar, liar, liar) could actually be considered American presidential material.

There's no way someone like Paul Ryan (Old Testament advocate of female-body ownership by non-females, mathematics-deficient "policy wonk", fair-to-middlin' mountain-climber and marathon-runner, liar, liar, liar) can be taken seriously for that all-important second slot.

There are many who want to blame one person--Barack Obama--for what's been happening, but you won't find them here.  I don't want them here.  I want people who know a right wing ambush when they see one and are willing to work their asses off to defeat the real enemy--the Republicans.

There are no saints among politicians but there are plenty of sinners.  If Academy Awards were given for vicious, humanity-chewing, dishonest performances, the Republicans would win, hands down.  They're out to destroy us and half the country thinks it's nothing more than a stinkin' horror movie. (Nothing to fear, it's only pretend. Get your popcorn here.)

But some of us don't, thank God:

  • My Michigan pal Flowerchild has had enough, too.  She brings some badasses to dagblog to help us understand.
  • Reagan's money guy, David Stockman, slices and dices Romney's claim as job creator.

I'll remind us once again that Mitt Romney wants to be president of the United States and there's a strong chance he could become one.  He has no use for us.  He admits he has no use for us. We don't want a president who has no use for  us.  We've fallen pretty low but not so low we would give away our vote to a man who has made it that clear that we are not worthy of his attention.

There is no reason on earth that a man like Mitt Romney should be considered for the highest job in the land. We can stop it.  We can work to get out the vote, we can continue pulling up facts that prove Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans don't deserve this chance, and we can declare a moratorium on bashing Democrats, other liberals, and Obama (especially Obama) until after November 6.

We have seen the enemy and it isn't us.

(Addendum, 10/18:  This is big:  Daniel Ellsberg, no admirer of Obama, to say the least, calls for an Obama win.  Because, contrary to the opinion of some on the Left, the Republicans are much, much worse,)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Mainstreaming of Hate: That's Entertainment!

As a group, they are the pop culture equivalent of necrotic carrion beetles, crawling with insectile determination from one infected open wound in the American psyche to another. The wounds include fear of race, fear of foreigners, fear of sexuality, fear of difference, hysterical religious fundamentalism, violent nationalism, and paranoia. They lay their eggs in the infected abrasion, then scuttle away. When the eggs hatch, disgorging rage and discontent, they start counting money.

Michael Rowe on the Pop Culture hate mongers, "Death at the Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue", Huffington Post, June 11, 2009

There have been mutterings for years about the insidious effects the constant barrage of hate talk has on the unhinged fringe. One day's look at the internet, one day's listen to the radio, a few hours of Fox News prime time is all one needs in order to get the full picture. Hate sells. That's the bottom line.

Never mind that it corrodes our National psyche and sends the loonies to near-orgasm. . .it's fun! The people who are out there on the front lines selling hate--Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Savage, Coulter, Hannity, et al--are enjoying the hell out of the impact their carefully choreographed and mostly disingenuous rantings have on an increasing number of followers.

And their followers slurp up every spurting syllable, as if from God's lips. . .

Janet Napolitano tried to warn us in a Homeland Security memo entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment", but was so severely shot down she ended up having to apologize for it!

I wish she wouldn't have done that. I wish the White House had backed her up and let it ride. We cave to extremists at our own peril--which is exactly what her own memo warned us about.

Eugene Robinson writes about it today:
For days, some conservative commentators tried mightily to paint the memo as an underhanded attempt by the Obama administration to smear its honorable critics by equating "right-wing" with "terrorism." It made no difference to these loudmouths that the number of hate groups around the country has increased by more than 50 percent since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It didn't matter that the memo was backed up by solid intelligence and analysis. For these infotainers, the point isn't to illuminate a subject with light but to blast it with heat.
And it wasn't just the Sean Hannitys, Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world who pretended to be outraged. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele accused the administration of trying "to segment out Americans who dissent from this administration, to segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration, and labeling them as terrorists." Steele seems to have decided that telling the truth isn't nearly as important as the high-temperature exercise known as "firing up the base."
The thing is, though, that words have consequences.
There's profit for the pundits, and perhaps personal advantage for some politicians, in calling President Obama a "socialist" and calling Judge Sonia Sotomayor a "racist Latina" and claiming that Democrats want to "take away your guns" -- in creating and nurturing a sense of grievance among those inclined to be aggrieved. But what about those who might not understand that it's all just political theater?

Paul Krugman writes about it today, as well:
Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.
And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.
This set the crew at "Morning Joe" off on such a tangent, they were practically foaming at the mouth (and it wasn't Starbuck's froth). Suddenly Krugman, that past Morning Joe guest, that great American hero, that deserved Nobel Prize winner, was nothing more than a Left Wing toadie. The gushing is over.

It's an odd state we're in when supposedly reasonable, responsible, intelligent adults defend extremism from any quarter. And yet we see it all the time. We declare the First Amendment as our arbiter. Free speech, as long as nobody dies. Free speech, above all else.

Adam Liptak wrote a piece in Wednesday's NYT called "Hate Speech or Free Speech? What Much of West bans is Protected in U.S." In it, he talks about how much stricter Hate Speech laws are in Canada and other civilized countries:
A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatened Western values. The article's tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States did not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.
Things are different here. The magazine is on trial.
Under Canadian law, there is a serious argument that the article contained hate speech and that its publisher, Maclean's magazine, the nation's leading newsweekly, should be forbidden from saying similar things, forced to publish a rebuttal and made to compensate Muslims for injuring their "dignity, feelings and self respect."

Oh. My. God. Can you imagine the battle royal in this country if we came up with something similar? Wouldn't those hideously hateful entertainers have a field day with that one?? Here's more:
Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.

Well, who cares? We hate all those countries, anyway. What do they know? They're not the Greatest Country in the World.

So which one of us is going to be the first to admit that it's time to cast a new look at our First Amendment rights? What does it really mean? Are there absolutely no limits? The fomentors have gone way beyond "sticks and stones". They not only revel in the attention it brings, they're addicted to it.

There are millions of people who take to heart every seriously off-base utterance from the Right Wing extremist "entertainers", and the number of incidents caused by their acting-out is only going to increase--unless we as a society stop allowing hate speech to masquerade as amusement.

Even little children understand how hurtful words can be. We teach them not to lie or to slander. We would never condone in children the kind of language we protect in adults.

And the irony to me is this:  Those adults we're in the business of protecting? They're not worth it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama, It's Krugman. Please Pick Up

I'm usually the last one to panic when things go from haywire to havoc. I'm the one who's out there directing traffic, shushing, patting shoulders, plumping pillows, digging in my pockets for chocolate--whatever it takes.

I don't see the tunnel, I see the light at the end. If there's a rainbow in the sky, I'll look past the dark clouds and find it. Pollyanna and I are almost BFFs, for God's sake. But when I see a Nobel-laureate in Economics practically self-immolating on the White House lawn in order to be heard, I'm not just scared, I'm petrified.

I don't know if Paul Krugman is right when he says the White House is going about this banking debacle all wrong, and that we're near the edge of the Cliff of Doom. One misstep, he seems to be saying, and it's all over. He's not the only one saying it, of course. If he were, I might go back to singing my comfort songs and handing out bonbons.

There are two camps now, each of them filled with "experts", each of them plucking ideas out of thin air and calling them "solutions". Their voices are ringing across a battleground, over our heads. We hear them shouting in a strange, incomprehensible language: "TARP bailout" "Zombie banks", "toxic assets", "Cash for Trash". . .

We want at least one of them to come over to our side and give us a heads up. What the hell is going on? What's going to happen? Are we or aren't we doomed?

This was the week it all hit the fan. Lots of voices out there shouting messages to Obama, and Obama, strangely, answers back with his version of "Heck of a job, Brownie". On "60 Minutes" last Sunday there was this exchange with Steve Kroft:
    Kroft:Your Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, has been under a lot of pressure this week, and there have been people in Congress calling for his head. Have there been discussions in the White House about replacing him?
    President Obama: No.
    Kroft: Has he volunteered to or come to you and said, “Do you think I should step down?”
    President Obama: No, and he shouldn’t. And if he were to come to me, I’d say, “Sorry, buddy, you still got the job.” But look, he’s got a lot of stuff on his plate, and he is doing a terrific job. And I take responsibility for not, I think, having given him as much help as he needs.
That was wince-worthy and I was wincing. One of those could-come-back-to haunt sound bite traps that Obama should know better than to fall into .

On Monday Paul Krugman wrote a piece in the NYT called "Financial Policy Despair" He said, " If the reports are correct, Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, has persuaded President Obama to recycle Bush administration policy — specifically, the “cash for trash” plan proposed, then abandoned, six months ago by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. This is more than disappointing. In fact, it fills me with a sense of despair. "

That can't be good.

Non-economist Frank Rich wrote a column this week called "Has a 'Katrina Moment' arrived?". He said, "Bob Schieffer of CBS [asked Larry Summers] the simple question that has haunted the American public since the bailouts began last fall: “Do you know, Dr. Summers, what the banks have done with all of this money that has been funneled to them through these bailouts?” What followed was a monologue of evasion that, translated into English, amounted to: Not really, but you little folk needn’t worry about it. Yet even as Summers spoke, A.I.G. was belatedly confirming what he would not. "It has, in essence, been laundering its $170 billion in taxpayers’ money by paying off its reckless partners in gambling and greed, from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on Wall Street to Société Générale and Deutsche Bank abroad."

(Money-laundering? Isn't that illegal?)

Even-handed Eugene Robinson--no economist, either, it must be said--doesn't think we've quite reached the cliff edge yet, but he's not ruling out the possibility. In the Washington Post today he wrote a column called, "The Repairman's Burden". He said, "Geithner's plan offers private investors the opportunity to reap relatively big gains by taking relatively small risks. Some of the risk is assumed by taxpayers. Christina Romer, head of the Council of Economic Advisers, said over the weekend that these private firms will be doing the government a favor by participating in the program. But that's wrong. Investors will participate because they think they can make money. The only entity that's doing anyone a favor -- make that doing everyone a favor -- is the government of the United States. "

Romer: "private firms doing the Government a favor". Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

When they're talking about billions and trillions they're talking way over my head. I barely understand the concept of millions. I don't understand economics, or banking, or bailouts, or almost anything to do with Big Money. But what I'm hearing these days is panic and frustration among the cognoscenti. They see things that we don't see, and we're counting on them to make sure we get this right.

Somebody has to have a handle on this crisis. So far, nobody does. I don't know about you, but I would feel a whole lot better if I knew that President Obama was at least willing to listen to those whose opinions differ from his chosen few. His Washington insider choices for top cabinet positions made little old me nervous right from the start. When the new "Change" president puts former Big Business people in charge of regulating Big Business, even the dumbest among us sees trouble ahead.

So give a little listen, Mr. President. It can't hurt. These are your friends, remember. They're all talking about you, anyway. Better to have them in front of you than behind your back.