Makers and takers

Sometimes Sully’s more Randian than Burkean:

The new cultural divide will not be on guns, gays and God. It will be between the makers and the takers, the producers of wealth and the recipients of redistribution. And it will be about tempering the over-reach that the Democrats will be unable to resist.

(A) Why not just call the Democrats “moochers and looters” and be done with it?

(B) If the divide really becomes the rich versus the poor — the top 10% versus everyone else — how can that not benefit Democrats?

(C) Anyone who thinks that Republicans will ever stop using the three G’s with at least some success is out of his mind.

Update. Good point from JGabriel in the comments:

Well, the producers of wealth are the people who make things: the workers. And the wealthy are the recipients of redistribution.

How the opposite became such a common assumption that we automatically know Sully is saying the opposite, that the Democrats are the “moochers and losers” is really, when you think about, quite strange. And, yes, I know it’s the result of nearly a century of GOP and upper class propaganda, but doesn’t make it any less strange.






97 replies
  1. 1
    maryQ says:

    Something is not quite right about this. I read it and thought WTF? One of his readers rightly took him to task.
    I really can’t figure out whether I am a maker or a taker.

  2. 2
    chrismealy says:

    In the context of recent events, who the fuck are the takers? It’d have to be the banksters.

  3. 3
    matt says:

    Wouldn’t makers be the one that actually produce wealth, workers, and the takers be the ones that economically exploit that production?

    Maybe a little too marxist for Sully though.

  4. 4
    steve s says:

    Given the amount California, New York, etc pay in taxes, vs how much Alabama, Arkansas, etc receive in federal aid, the Dems appear to be the makers and the GOP the takers.

  5. 5
    JGabriel says:

    DougJ:

    The new cultural divide will not be on guns, gays and God. It will be between the makers and the takers, the producers of wealth and the recipients of redistribution.

    Well, the producers of wealth are the people who make things: the workers. And the wealthy are the recipients of redistribution.

    How the opposite became such a common assumption that we automatically know Sully is saying the opposite, that the Democrats are the "moochers and losers" is really, when you think about, quite strange. And, yes, I know it’s the result of nearly a century of GOP and upper class propaganda, but that doesn’t make it any less strange.

    .

  6. 6
    Ash says:

    I like how he replied that "it’s not as bad as it sounds." DOH! There’s really no way to just explain that nugget of asshattery away, as hard as he might try.

  7. 7
    valdivia says:

    This is good, a reader pushes back hard against this taker-maker distinction.

    edit–duh some of you had already mentioned this. sorry for the repetitiveness.

  8. 8
    Martin says:

    Overreach? That’s awfully relative. Anyone think the income disparity in this country will ever get remotely close to what it was in the 50s under Ike?

  9. 9
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    If the divide really becomes the rich versus the poor—the top 10% versus everyone else—how can that not benefit Democrats?

    …if the Democrats DLC it up and side with the rich just like the Redoublechins do? Then it’s a toss-up. Still.

  10. 10
    TheFountainHead says:

    Sullivan has been scattershot of late. During the election, he had a lot of very concrete things to focus his attention on, and that clearly improved his ability to have a consistent theme. Now it seems that a post-election, post-Prop. 8 Sullivan doesn’t know what the hell he thinks and is jumping from rock to rock looking for a spot from which to launch his invective towards a new target. Hope he finds one soon because he is orders of magnitude more readable when he really has his teeth into something.

  11. 11
    Ash says:

    @TheFountainHead: Maybe he’ll latch on to the marijuana issue. I can practically envision his eyes bulging out of his head with anger everytime he writes about it.

  12. 12
    freelancer says:

    I respect Sully’s opinion a lot of the time, and as a spur of the moment blogger, with the frequency that he does post, there’s inevitably gonna be some rat feces in there.

    His Dissent poster rightfully takes him to task, and he acknowledges maybe it wasn’t as sensitive as it could have been. I’m not apologizing on his behalf, but it seems to me, Sully, like so many other of the people I read everyday, are very aware that they have the capacity to say stupid shit, sometimes on an hourly basis. John mentioned something like this in a thread either yesterday or the day before.

    There are many who consider him an asshat or a tool, but I only believe that this is the case when he’s usually writing about the Pristine, Scholarly, and Sacrosanct nature of the original intentions of_____.

    a)Christianity
    b)Conservatism
    c)all of the above

  13. 13
    Adam says:

    Well — the difference between the "makers and the takers" can’t be *that* obvious, because upon reading that I thought that Sully had finally seen the light.

    It’s good to know that all is still right with the world.

  14. 14
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    As it stands, Citibank, BofA, Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc. are looking an awful lot like takers. It’s going to take a shitload of making before they break even.

    And we need a "Randian Bells" category: "Hark! I hear a Randian Bell! It’s going Dung! Dung! Dung!"

  15. 15
    Silver Owl says:

    Well the makers can then be the takers too. I’m surprised that the makers have not realized that if they are all that super and the center of the economic universe then they can be their own revenue resources as well. So far that is not working out so well for them.

    The blankness of their brilliance is stunning.

  16. 16
    TheFountainHead says:

    @Ash: I would hope so too. It’s right up his alley for a number of reasons, and it’s part of the larger issue of our justice system and how it’s been so mis-handled.

  17. 17
    tammanycall says:

    Poor Sully, does he really think mainstream GOP will embrace him in his lifetime?

  18. 18
    Incertus says:

    The new cultural divide will not be on guns, gays and God.

    He just can’t handle not being a Republican, can he?

  19. 19
    TR says:

    And we need a "Randian Bells" category: "Hark! I hear a Randian Bell! It’s going Dung! Dung! Dung!"

    Dung? Well, there certainly is a lot of bullshit involved.

  20. 20
    beltane says:

    One thing that can be said in Sully’s favor is that he does listen to criticism of his more ridiculous ideas-like this one. Now he will have to come back tomorrow and explain himself.

  21. 21
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    It will be between the makers and the takers, the producers of wealth and the recipients of redistribution.

    Such as, between the bankers, and the people?

    Works for me.

  22. 22
    whetstone says:

    a post-election, post-Prop. 8 Sullivan doesn’t know what the hell he thinks and is jumping from rock to rock looking for a spot from which to launch his invective towards a new target.

    Close to the target, but it’s more like he’s waiting to find out what’s just ahead of the CW so he can catch that wave. Sullivan has a few strict opinions, mostly things which benefit himself. I happen to agree with a lot of them, but that doesn’t mean I have much faith that he came by them for any reason other than expediency.

    He doesn’t know what he thinks because it’s not clear what he should think yet. So he writes a bunch of pretty-sounding BS about the eternal verities of conservatism to kill time – and the reaction from sensible people is "say it, don’t spray it."

  23. 23
    jcricket says:

    Sully really thinks of himself as some great philosopher, wrestling with serious issues, but his inability to come to grips with how people, political parties, religious institutions, etc. work in reality makes his philosophy about as useful as those he derides (Foucault, for one).

    Frankly, he’s not even that interesting or original in the abstract. Sure, he knows more about catholic theology than me, but who gives a shit?

    And you can bet dollars to donuts that whatever Sully reflexively opposes, he’ll eventually begrudgingly accept, with a mea culpa or apology along the way. His opinions about government intervention in health care are a great example. It’s sloganeering libertarianism + dissatisfaction with the notoriously underfunded NHS in Britain = only the free market health care will work (despite all evidence to the contrary and the fact that the NHS is about the least likely model for the US to emulate/turn into).

  24. 24
    LD50 says:

    Sometimes I honestly think that if the GOP finally accepted gays and gay marriage (and maybe pot, too), Sullivan would embrace them wholeheartedly and forgive everything else they do.

    Tho of course, there’s no risk of this happening.

  25. 25
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @LD50:

    Sometimes I honestly think that if the GOP finally accepted gays and gay marriage (and maybe pot, too), Sullivan would embrace them wholeheartedly and forgive everything else they do. Tho of course, there’s no risk of this happening.

    If we get ’em hooked on the pot first, the other stuff will follow naturally. At least that’s how it works with meth.

  26. 26
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    I know it’s the result of nearly a century of GOP and upper class propaganda, but that doesn’t make it any less strange.

    It is strange. That century is characterized mostly by the advance of progressive policy throughout the Western world.

    What’s more, that progressive policy is aimed pretty much at broadening and reinforcing a wider middle class, while providing a safety net for those who are struggling to reach that middle class.

    Being against that would seem like a fool’s errand, but there you have it, the Great Conservative Movement, whose grandest moment was the brief delusion of Trickle Down Economics.

    I must have missed the class where prosperity in any period was shown to be the product of conservative policy.

    The Great Reagan Prosperity? The Great Bush Prosperity? Did I miss something?

  27. 27
    RSA says:

    If the divide really becomes the rich versus the poor—the top 10% versus everyone else—how can that not benefit Democrats?

    You mean, if everyone recognizes this existing divide? 10% of American families own 80% of American wealth. That’s a pretty serious division.

  28. 28
    TheFountainHead says:

    And you can bet dollars to donuts that whatever Sully reflexively opposes, he’ll eventually begrudgingly accept, with a mea culpa or apology along the way.

    I’m not sure that’s fair. He’s been relentless on torture and Gitmo. You might say he waffles, I’d say he acts like most people…fires from the hip and then aims. Certainly our beloved John has done that on a few occasions.

  29. 29
    ed says:

    The U.S. is less economically mobile than the U.K.

    Sully’s such a wanker.

  30. 30
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @jcricket:

    Sully really thinks of himself as some great philosopher, wrestling with serious issues, but his inability to come to grips with how people, political parties, religious institutions, etc. work in reality makes his philosophy about as useful as those he derides (Foucault, for one).
    Frankly, he’s not even that interesting or original in the abstract. Sure, he knows more about catholic theology than me, but who gives a shit?

    Took the words right out of my mouth.

    So to speak.

    I have seen this Sully person on tv, and I cannot fathom why anyone pays any attention to him at all, ever. I can’t fathom why in this day and age there can’t be a core of intelligent, effective reporters and pundits to lead the way. The only thing I can conclude is that idiocy just is easier to market.

  31. 31
    DougJ says:

    I love Sully’s blog. It’s one of the best out there.

    At the same time I agree with a lot of the criticism of him.

    In sum, he can be an idiot, but he’s a hard worker and he has very good instincts about certain things.

    Edit. I’d add that his greatest strength as a blogger is that he provides lots of interesting details. Whereas his greatest weakness as a thinker is that it’s all pie-in-the-sky Burkean bullshit.

  32. 32
    freelancer says:

    I was going to say Torture, but FountainHead beat me there. He’s begrudgingly acknowledged his past cheerleading for the War, but on the issue of War Crimes, torture, and human rights abuse, it would appear to me, he wants Bush and Cheney in jail as much as Code Pink does. (Then he pisses me right the hell off and pulls a no-true-Scotsman logical fallacy, and claims that those guys: the administration, the current GOP, are not REAL Capital-C Conservatives.)

    PS. Which according to his philosophical beliefs may even be true, but the one guy out in a tent in the woods claiming the truth when everyone else is inside at the two-minutes hate, just looks like, well, an asshat. He needs to find a new brand.

  33. 33
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @DougJ:

    Okay, but … that’s the same reason I used to love Mad Magazine when I was a kid.

    Idiots, but …. just great, funny idiocy.

  34. 34
    someguy says:

    Well, the producers of wealth are the people who make things: the workers. And the wealthy are the recipients of redistribution.

    Exactly. The workers should get to keep the proceeds from their work.

    That century is characterized mostly by the advance of progressive policy throughout the Western world.

    As we’ve gone backward, at least since 1980.

  35. 35
    DougJ says:

    Idiots, but …. just great, funny idiocy.

    I wouldn’t put it quite so harshly, but there’s a bit of truth to that here.

    For one reason or another, I find myself checking Sully’s blog all the time. So I have to credit to him as a blogger.

  36. 36
    Ricky Bobby says:

    I read Sully daily and have for years. His stuff is a good mixed bag from all over the place, it’s what makes him interesting. HOWEVER, occassionally he does come up with something outrageously stupid like this and I’m sure that his readers (and this blog) will make him think about what he is saying and retract a lot of it.

  37. 37
    Brian J says:

    I wonder what people like Sullivan would say if he read some of the stuff by guys like Dean Baker, who point out that the conservatives are redistributionists just like the Democrats, except that they usually push wealth upwards. Is he in favor, for instance, of knocking down barriers for the professional classes, so that doctors from another country can come here a lot more easily, possibly lowering costs for a family’s health care? Will he push for it? If not, then why not?

  38. 38
    DougJ says:

    I wonder what people like Sullivan would say if he read some of the stuff by guys like Dean Baker, who point out that the conservatives are redistributionists just like the Democrats, except that they usually push wealth upwards.

    Sully’s completely innumerate. There’s no way he understands stuff like that. That’s why he liked the Bell Curve stuff so much.

    In fairness, most commentators are innumerate.

  39. 39
    Montysano says:

    @freelancer:

    Then he pisses me right the hell off and pulls a no-true-Scotsman logical fallacy, and claims that those guys: the administration, the current GOP, are not REAL Capital-C Conservatives.

    I keep hearing about them, but exactly when did these Capital C Conservatives a) actually exist and b)actually govern? St. Ronnie? Nah, big spender. Nixon? Sorry, foreign adventurer. Eisenhower? Um…. 90% top tax rate. I’ve been hearing about this mythical beast my entire fucking life. The few who do exist (Paul, Goldwater) are told by the GOP to fuck off and piss up a rope.

  40. 40
    Silver Owl says:

    I’m still baffled why today’s conservatives/republicans want to try and establish an aristocracy when it always turns out so poorly for them. Aristocracies have always been killed and thrown through out human history. It is a losing proposition for survival.

    The whole reason the United States even exists is because an aristocracy was hunted, killed and removed. I’m not getting the whole disconnect. lol

  41. 41
    jcricket says:

    @TheFountainHead: I will grant you that his opposition to torture is admirable and has been there for quite a while. And it’s nice that he’s able to change his mind occasionally after being shown he was wrong for the 1000th time. The way I see it the score is:

    Andrew: 2
    Rest of the world: Infinity.

    Plus, his water carrying for the conservative movement is (in a small sense) what got them in a position to authorize torture to begin with. Without people like Sully going "liberals are going to mount a fifth column" and cheerleading for a religion and party that hates gays, the GOP would have a lot harder time claiming to represent any more of America than the crazies.

    It’s like how I don’t get all warm and fuzzy that the Catholic church is anti-death penalty and anti-torture/war. While those stances are "correct", their stance on condoms, homosexuality, their failure to act and/or conspiracy regarding sexual abuse amongst the ranks of their priests make their record, on balance, absymal. That’s how I think of Sully.

    Again, I read him because out of all the "conservatives" he’s at least a reasonable human being (if not all that smart of a political thinker).

  42. 42
    jcricket says:

    Sully’s completely innumerate. There’s no way he understands stuff like that. That’s why he liked the Bell Curve stuff so much.

    The operative word isn’t liked, it’s: fully accepted, vigorously promoted and still solidly believes.

    It’s quite possibly the thing that makes me doubt whether I should even be reading him. Even his vote for Bush the first time around and his fifth column comment don’t make me as angry as his full-throated defense of the idiocy that is the Bell Curve.

  43. 43
    Badtux says:

    I am a maker. I make things, whether it’s a mounting bracket for cruise control on a KLR-650 motorcycle or a cluster management framework for replicated NAS systems.

    My net assets are around $20K total. That’s it. My debts are pretty close to wiping out my assets. That’s typical of every maker I know — we make things, but we don’t benefit from them. The takers do — the Wall Street mavens who make millions in bonuses, the CEO who lives in a mansion, the finance people on Wall Street, none of whom have ever made a thing in their life except hot air and bullshit.

    So: Who’s a maker and who’s a taker, indeed.

  44. 44
    Comrade Jake says:

    I’m kind of astonished folks are making this big a deal out of what was basically careless phrasing on Sully’s part.

  45. 45
    Church Lady says:

    While workers help to create wealth, they are not the creators of wealth. That would be the person that provided the idea and the necessary capital to start the business up, pays all of the various local, state and federal taxes required of all businesses, pays the rent, utilities and all other operating overhead, is responsible for the repayment of any bank loans and pays employees in the form of a paycheck and benefits. If you are in a position to do all of these things, I enthusiatically encourage you to take the leap and do so. As an employer, you stand to reap the rewards of success. On the other hand, you also take the risk of failure and stand the chance of losing a lot more than a job.

    Granted, this scenario does not necessarily apply to all large corporation executives. On the other hand, do you really not think that someone like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Frederick Smith deserve the wealth that they have accumulated from the successful companies they created?

  46. 46
    CalD says:

    It gets easier and easier to understand some of the excesses the French Revolution, doesn’t it?

  47. 47
    Ash says:

    @Montysano: Those "Conservatives" exist, they were just never actually in charge of anything. It’s not their fault that stuff is basically only good in theory!

  48. 48
    Brian J says:

    Sully’s completely innumerate. There’s no way he understands stuff like that. That’s why he liked the Bell Curve stuff so much.

    Most of what I’ve seen of Baker’s writings haven’t involved a lot of numbers in a way that most people would find difficult to understand. It’s more like a Krugman column or blog post than anything else. Granted, I haven’t checked out a lot of his think tank’s papers, so maybe they are different, but from what I’ve seen of his various blog posts, he makes his points in a non-technical way.

    I think the biggest thing about Sullivan is that he tends to be fairly extreme in his opinions, no matter what they are about. He’ll be the guy who’ll get in your face, whether he’s arguing about something unimportant or something as serious as an election.

  49. 49
    rock says:

    While workers help to create wealth, they are not the creators of wealth. That would be the person that provided the idea…

    Oh please. Let’s not argue that capital is somehow morally superior to labor. That’s insipid, just like most simplistic economic theories that do not reflect the complexity that is reality

    The reality is that the "wealth" is not created in this country without both labor and capital working together. Let’s not pretend that everyone able to make capital investments are the people with "the idea". That’s a bit of Randian foolishness. Let’s take Steve Jobs, who is apparently as good a CEO as you can find. Wozniak had as much or more of the "idea" for Apple as Jobs had. Pixar existed prior to Jobs capitalizing them. In Apple’s current regime, Jobs is not solely or even mostly responsible for their product innovation. Most of that product innovation comes from employees that have relatively tiny amounts of money. Jobs has had an amazing career and I applaud his contributions to computing and technology and I don’t begrudge him his money. But he did not make things on his own. And his greatest contributions came before he had gobs of money. Was he a maker or taker when he and Woz were working in a garage?

    Having money and the ability to make capital investments does not identify anyone as a "maker" or "innovator". Sheesh.

  50. 50

    Oh please. Let’s not argue that capital is somehow morally superior to labor.

    Oops, you just pulled the entire rug out from under the GOP.

  51. 51

    I’m sorry, but I had to dump on poor Andrew. Seriously, I will never read his shite again. And here’s why.

  52. 52

    @Comrade Jake:

    This is not the time for "careless" comments. "makers and takers" is not a "careless" comment. Fuck Sully. Seriously, I will NEVER read him again, and I’ll happily contact his advertisers to express my displeasure. My family is blue collar. My parents are retired, but hurting. I’ve seen the types of tactics corporations try to pull. If Sully can’t figure out that his conservative ideology is shite, then he deserves whatever is coming his way. Seriously. "Makers and Takers" my ass.

  53. 53
    gwangung says:

    The reality is that the "wealth" is not created in this country without both labor and capital working together. Let’s not pretend that everyone able to make capital investments are the people with "the idea". That’s a bit of Randian foolishness. Let’s take Steve Jobs, who is apparently as good a CEO as you can find. Wozniak had as much or more of the "idea" for Apple as Jobs had. Pixar existed prior to Jobs capitalizing them. In Apple’s current regime, Jobs is not solely or even mostly responsible for their product innovation. Most of that product innovation comes from employees that have relatively tiny amounts of money. Jobs has had an amazing career and I applaud his contributions to computing and technology and I don’t begrudge him his money. But he did not make things on his own. And his greatest contributions came before he had gobs of money. Was he a maker or taker when he and Woz were working in a garage?

    Yuppers.

    Don’t mistake me; being able to lead a collective activity, decide which products are the best use of the company’s time, get the most out of workers, get good products to market, etc. etc. is a very valuable skill. Plenty of people with great ideas with no idea on how to turn inspiration into product in people’s hand; that ability is precious and valuable.

    But by the same token, organizational skill by itself is worthless. That by itself MIGHT make you a survivor, but it won’t make you an innovator or maker.

    I think it’s most clear in artistic enterprises. The producer is the organizer and financial person; he/she organizes and is a vital cog. But you just can’t swap out the creative people like actor, writers and directors; they’re not interchangeable parts. They all have to work together to be a top performer.

  54. 54
    Jim says:

    @Comrade Jake: "careless phrasing?" That kind of "careless phrasing" permeates and defines conservative thought and policy. People’s value is judged by the amount of money they make. Those who make enough are "makers" or in Limbaugh’s view "productive" while those who do not make enough are "takers" or "leeches" feeding off of the productive ones. It is emblematic of the warped sense of values that conservatives have. I like Sullivan’s blog, and he’s an interesting guy, but I don’t get any sense that he has the slightest clue what it is like to be in the middle class in America.

  55. 55
    Badtux says:

    While workers help to create wealth, they are not the creators of wealth. That would be the person that provided the idea and the necessary capital

    Uhm, dude. I’ve taken multiple products from initial Idea (yes, *MY* idea) to market. The people who become wealthy from this are… well, CEO’s, Wall Street investors, yada yada yada. Not me.

    And saying that providing me with pictures of dead Presidents in exchange for taking my output is "making" something is nonsense. Giving me pictures of dead Presidents isn’t making anything, all it’s doing is moving pictures of dead Presidents around. The notion that a picture of a dead president is making something is ludicrous — the picture of the dead President doesn’t "make" anything, it just gets traded to someone who *is* a maker in exchange for a good or service created, mined, farmed, or performed that the taker takes in trade for the picture of the dead President.

    You are confusing funny colored toilet paper with real wealth, which is the goods and services in an economy. That funny colored toilet paper is, well, toilet paper. *Useful* toilet paper because it stands in proxy for real wealth that a maker somewhere makes, the chain of barters needed to maintain a modern economy would otherwise be untenable. But if you provide this toilet paper to a maker without actually making a good or service yourself to be the real wealth that the toilet paper is a proxy for, let’s be blunt: You’re a taker. Your ability to adeptly accumulate pieces of fancy toilet paper doesn’t make you any less of a taker, it just means you’re good at taking from the real makers, the people who create the actual goods and services.

  56. 56
    CalD says:

    Ah, to live in Andrew Sullivan’s Saturday Evening Post America, a place where captains of industry still knew or even cared what business they were in. A magical America it was, where CEOs still brought leadership and value to a business in line with their compensation packages; where corporations that succeeded often did so at least in part because of their senior management teams, not in spite of them.

    How delightful it would be to revisit those halcyon days, before an ivy league MBA became a license to steal; before the America’s boardrooms and executive suites devolved into criminal conspiracies, hellbent on fleecing stockholders of every dollar they could skim off the top in salaries and bonuses obscene beyond the wildest dreams of avarice, carting off tens of million of dollars in years when companies lost billions on their watch, using China as a pawn shop for our industrial infrastructure, sacrificing the long-term viability of businesses entrusted to them on the altar of short term bumps in stock prices for cashing in options — and all the while, getting their asses roundly kicked up the street and back down it, every day of the week, by foreign competitors orders of magnitude more competently run by management teams making a minuscule fraction of what we paid these assholes to run our own industrial and financial sectors into the ground.

    Yeah, those were the days… or that might have just been a movie I saw once. Come to think of it, Jimmy Stewart might have been in it.

  57. 57
    jcricket says:

    @rock: 100% "fuck yeah" – the idea that there’s some group in the "top" 10% that can get along without the contributions of the "bottom" 90% is just ludicrous.

    Again, enlightened self-interest would say that those in the top 10% would want to put more money into the pocket of joe-average consumer (bottom 90%). Given that 75+ of GDP is consumer spending, that extra money would worm its way through the system, adding to the revenue of companies, which would enrich the shareholder class and CEOs through fatter corporate profits and higher earnings-per-share.

    With the exception of consumers digging themselves deeper into debt, the shareholder/CEO class would have had their money pipeline drying up years ago as consumers were forced to retrench when their income streams ran out (since none of us have gotten any "real" raises in the last 10 years).

    But that’s just me thinking my crazy shit.

  58. 58
    Church Lady says:

    @rock – I never inferred that capital is superior to labor. The two must go hand in hand in order to create a successful enterprise. I just begged to differ that labor is THE producer of wealth, as stated in the comments. A laborer cannot make a widget unless someone else has created the company and all that that entails that then affords the laborer the paycheck for the job making the widget.

  59. 59
    jcricket says:

    My family is blue collar. My parents are retired, but hurting. I’ve seen the types of tactics corporations try to pull.

    Oh, my parents are solidly white collar (doctor, teacher) and they’re hurting too. My parents saved tons of money, and yet the market is killing them right now (you can’t be all in bonds at 65 and hope to have your savings last 35-40 years). And the corporate version of medicine has made my dad’s income drop (when considering inflation) every year for the past 15 years. So with the exception of how the tiniest sliver of America has been making out, the modern economic system is fundamentally broken for everyone.

    BTW – Josh Marshall had an interesting post recently about the "social contract possibly being broken". We’re all fine with someone making $45,000 and someone else making $45,000,000 if the person making $45k can afford your normal middle class lifestyle (somewhat a in-flux definition).

    But when someone’s are making $45m and they tank the economy, causing many others to make $0 – you’re goddamn right there’s gonna be some class warfare.

    If the rising tide truly lifted all boats, the middle class or even poor would be OK with the "titans of industry" earning even more ridiculous salaries. But that’s not what happened.

  60. 60
    jcricket says:

    My family is blue collar. My parents are retired, but hurting. I’ve seen the types of tactics corporations try to pull.

    Oh, my parents are solidly white collar (doctor, teacher) and they’re hurting too. My parents saved tons of money, and yet the market is killing them right now (you can’t be all in bonds at 65 and hope to have your savings last 35-40 years). And the corporate version of medicine has made my dad’s income drop (when considering inflation) every year for the past 15 years. So with the exception of how the tiniest sliver of America has been making out, the modern economic system is fundamentally broken for everyone.

    BTW – Josh Marshall had an interesting post recently about the "social contract possibly being broken". We’re all fine with someone making $45,000 and someone else making $45,000,000 if the person making $45k can afford your normal middle class lifestyle (somewhat a in-flux definition).

    But when someone’s are making $45m and they tank the economy, causing many others to make $0 – you’re goddamn right there’s gonna be some class warfare.

    If the rising tide truly lifted all boats, the middle class or even poor would be OK with the "titans of industry" earning even more ridiculous salaries. But that’s not what happened.

  61. 61
    Calouste says:

    Sullivan is still in the "conservatism can’t fail, it can only be failed",
    mode and it doesn’t look like he is going to get out of that soon.

    Btw mr. Sullivan, I take it you consider yourself a maker? So what do you make exactly? Enough hot air to float Yankee Stadium doesn’t count.

  62. 62
    AustinRoth says:

    This is like listening to people discuss quotes from The Communist Manifesto.

    Hell, it IS people discussing quotes from the The Communist Manifesto.

  63. 63
    Church Lady says:

    @Badtux – If others are getting wealthy bringing your ideas to market while leaving you behind, I would venture to suggest that you might need to find better legal representation in negotiating contracts. If you’re getting screwed, repeatedly, you might want to question why.

  64. 64
    wasabi gasp says:

    For a taker, jcricket is making a boatload of cents.

  65. 65
    Silver says:

    Wait until the Republicans get elected again, the Atlantic goes out of business (who the fuck wants to read McArdle anyways?) and Sullivan has to start paying out of pocket for anti-retrovirals…

    He’ll be back in the loving embrace of the NHS before you can say "bareback".

  66. 66
    Badtux says:

    Church Lady, you do not know the realities of the modern economy. Reality is that there are an infinite number of ways to screw you out of your founder’s shares. For example, at one of my former employers, the CEO first had the company take out some loans secured by all of the company’s assets, then resigned and purchased the corporation’s outstanding debt, called it in and forced bankruptcy, and was the only bidder at the auction for the corporation’s assets because it was a new product that had not yet been released to market so nobody else knew how to value it. Then he flipped the debt to new lenders and basically had himself a free company, screwing the founders of the company out of all of their ownership shares in the company.

    Maybe in your ideal Randian world this never happens. But I can count the number of actual creators here in the Silicon Valley who got rich from their work on the fingers of two hands. The people who get rich are the salesmen, the marketers, the CEO’s and financiers, the people who are good at manipulating the law in order to take what was created by other people, not the people who come up with the ideas for products and actually create them. The takers, not the makers, are the ones who become filthy rich. And unfortunately that is true of the economy as a whole — those of us who are honest makers simply can’t get ahead, we end up being salarymen whose creations are taken by others in exchange for pictures of dead Presidents given to us by people who have no skills for anything other than figuring out how to take more efficiently than anybody else.

  67. 67
    Indylib says:

    @Incertus:

    He just can’t handle not being a Republican, can he?

    Can’t really call him a Republican cuz he can’t vote, cuz he can’t get citizenship due to his HIV.

  68. 68
    TenguPhule says:

    If you’re getting screwed, repeatedly, you might want to question why.

    Lack of shooting the Bankers, the CEOs, the salesmen and the lawyers.

  69. 69
    mclaren says:

    This gets highly amusing when you take it literally. The "makers" are quite clearly the 2 coasts, all blue states; the "takers" are the bible belt and panhandle and deep south, all red states. To be absolutely realistic, "going Galt" would mean the blue states stop propping up the red states with tax monies. I’m sure these people don’t realize that’s what they’re advocating, but it’s unintentionally funny nonetheless.

  70. 70
    Rosali says:

    I’m still waiting to see if he calls the city Mumbai or Bombay.

  71. 71
    Xenos says:

    The "makers v. takers" dichotomy falls apart with the slightest analysis, yet it rings true for people who go out looking for comforting moral systems that justify their selfishness.

    I wonder how Randian twerps ever have children – it is not morally uplifting to have kids, but it makes unavoidable the basic unfairness of any economic system. One child may be well suited to financial success, another may be happier working in a field that pays poorly, another may be disabled and need social support to live in safety and dignity. You want each child to live well, and pursue the life that best suits them and makes them happy, not to have the fear of financial disaster haunt them all their days. In this dystopian predatory capitalist society we have now, even the most successful feel insecure. WTF.

    What sort of sociopath would not want a basic level of support and safety for all their children, whether they be ‘successful’ or not in life?

  72. 72

    The new cultural divide will not be on guns, gays and God.

    Christ you can practically hear the poor SOB whimpering. "Oh please let them stop demonizing me and go pick on someone else."

    I’m not a student of history but I do know that in the past bad economy = shrieks of "Dey tuk r jobs!" and random acts of violence against whoever dey happens to be, often while claiming God hates the nasty brown/yellow/Irish pigs.

    The best Sul can hope for is a cultural divide on guns, [not gays] and God. Of course gay is already on the way to being the new black so all he’s done is make a fool of himself (again) and set himself up for (another) huge disappointment.

  73. 73
    sam1 says:

    main street equals makers, wall street equals takers.

  74. 74
    Nancy Darling says:

    This thread is exactly why I read BJ. You all are smart with just the right amount of clever snark thrown in. I swore off Sullivan during the primaries because, as a woman of a certain age, I just couldn’t stand the Hillary hatred that he spewed. There was a fair amount of HH going on here, but it never got as bad as Sullivan. I have gradually drifted back to reading him because he DOES have an interesting mind. Maybe someone can tell me why Sully just doesn’t admit that he is really an Episcopalian—it’s hard to see any difference with Catholic masses if the priest is not a woman and his "peculiarities" are certainly more accepted there. Indylib, I believe he is a citizen, but could be wrong.

  75. 75
    Xenos says:

    @Nancy Darling: Maybe someone can tell me why Sully just doesn’t admit that he is really an Episcopalian

    Sully is Irish. Too much bloody history with names like Tudor and Cromwell for that to be a tolerable option. Are there any gay-affirming Orthodox sects?

    This conversation always comes around to gay sects.

  76. 76
    kay says:

    @Nancy Darling:

    I stopped reading him after the Palin inquisition. I took it personally. I looked like she did while pregnant, and I wore loose clothing and scarves, and I didn’t tell anyone in my work circle until I felt like telling them.

    The only time I saw Sullivan on television he was on with Hitchens. Hitchens said Hillary Clinton was responsible for genocide with this ridiculous argument and no proof, and Sullivan sat there, afraid to dissent and offend the great Hitchens. It was hard to watch.

  77. 77
    John S. says:

    The people who get rich are the salesmen, the marketers, the CEO’s and financiers

    Overall I agree with you, but what a load of bullshit that bolded part is.

    I’ve been in advertising my entire career, and nothing could be further from the truth. You see, we marketers create IDEAS and cogent communications, so that the makers of products clearly convey the benefit of their creation, so that salesman have effective materials and talking points to use in their sales and so that CEOs and financiers can rake it all in from the success of a well-marketed product. For providing the vehicle for all this, we marketers get DICK. Because everybody wants to pay us "by the hour", and nickel and dime us for even that pittance. Because in the minds of too many people, if you have Photoshop and a computer, you’re an advertising executive, so why should you have to pay top dollar for something you can do yourself?

    I wish I lived in this bullshit construct of yours, where marketers are raking it in. I wish I got paid for what my ideas were WORTH instead of how many hours I spent executing them. But such is not the case. Perhaps because the notion of what marketing is has become so watered down and commoditized that you buy into the worthlessness of what I do, but if you have brought products to market like you claim, you should know better. While great marketing can only do so much (i.e. it cannot shine shit), a good product only becomes great with good marketing. I have seen many products FAIL for not recognizing this. You can have the most amazing product in the world, but it doesn’t just magically sell itself – not even in the Internet age.

    So do me a favor, and rethink this statement of yours. The ideas that marketers come up with are worth a hell of a lot more than we get paid for them.

  78. 78
    Jules says:

    This is good news for Trenton!

    http://www.stanglpottery.org/makesbridge.jpg

  79. 79
    Svensker says:

    Andrew is often silly and hysterical, and makes pompous — and wrong headed — pronouncements just before he trips over his clown s h o e s. But he will admit when he’s wrong, he has a good sense of humor and there’s something else…it seems like underneath the often silly ass, there really is a nice guy (albeit confused, with massive ego disconnects). I often shoot him angry e-mails, but check his blog 3 times a day, cuz you never know when he might unearth a nugget.

  80. 80
    Svensker says:

    Oh, dang, I forgot "s h o e s" is a banned word. Help,I’ve fallen into moderation and can’t get oooooouuuuuuuttt…..

  81. 81
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    William Faulkner advised writers to "Kill your darlings." Sullivan’s piece validates Faulkner’s advice. "Makers and takers": it’s slick, shallow, bumper-sticker thinking. Because it divides the country into an elite and a lower class (While handily impugning the latter) it satisfies both Sullivan’s religion and his Republicanism.

  82. 82
    wilfred says:

    Sullivan was, is and forever will be a self-important, history challenged gobshite.

    Referencing anything he writes just begs the question of who actually gives a shit.

    @Indylib:

    Is this true: a person can’t become a US citizen if he/she has HIV? How can that be?

  83. 83
    comrade thalarctos says:

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. –Abraham Lincoln, 1861

    How far the GOP has strayed…

  84. 84
    bartkid says:

    >Good point from JGabriel in the comments:
    >Well, the producers of wealth are the people who make things: the workers. And the wealthy are the recipients of redistribution.

    I had the same thought as JG, but then I remembered how ironic – in the Alanis Morrisette way – it is that Mr. Sullivan has an Orwell quote at the top of his blog:

    To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.

    Nose 1.
    Andrew 0.

  85. 85
    kay says:

    @comrade thalarctos:

    Lincoln isn’t his hero. Thatcher is.

  86. 86
    geg6 says:

    Ah, Sully…the most infuriating and fascinating guy on the Internets (with the sole exception of our John).

    Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.

    He’s a truly lovely writer with a very fine mind that takes some astounding twists and turns. I sometimes want to grab him and kiss him for his bravery in hanging it all out there, warts and stupidity and vulnerability and all. And other times, it’s those exact same things that make me want to punch him in the throat.

    He particularly makes me nuts with his masochistic relationship with Catholicism. I understand his yearning for the order and beauty and mystery that the Church represents because I grew up in such a Catholic enclave with one parent who never questioned the Vatican and one that acquiesced to that while not really buying it. But it is that same background (I was a non-believer with nothing but disdain for all of it from a very early age and often got secret validation from my dad for it) that makes me stunned that he can’t get past all that and see that the Church despises him and all he stands for as a person. It’s quite sad and desperate and infuriating.

    And that’s just one of his many contradictions that keep me heading back to his site, regardless of how incensed he makes me sometimes. That he’s aware that he has this effect and is willing to shine a light on his own faults and own up to being fallible is what I find most admirable.

  87. 87
    Ted says:

    The pointy-haired boss is the ultimate maker and poor Dilbert is the taker because, you know, Dilbert would be nothing without PHB to give him instruction on how to produce…

  88. 88
    Rosali says:

    Here’s Sullivan’s post on his HIV+ status and citizenship and travel.

  89. 89
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Well, the producers of wealth are the people who make things: the workers. And the wealthy are the recipients of redistribution.

    This is why I much prefer the economist model of profit. To them the accounting "profit" returned to the entrepreneur to cover their risks and reward their incentive are costs. What’s left over after that is profit. The distinction matters because we need to have a real discussion as a society about what an equitable cost to the system is for the entrepreneur’s skills. We have to reward those good at creating and running organizations that make useful things. Otherwise we won’t have any workers making much more than one-off hand made things.

    What we have now is a system that incentivizes the upper management (I won’t sully the word entrepreneur here) to act in on a dangerously short term calendar. And we reward them richly whether they totally screw up or not. THAT needs to be fixed. Fix that and the redistribution problem fixes itself.

  90. 90
    Northern Observer says:

    This whole economic meltdown has me questioning the basic legal structures of the economy and the economic unit: the firm. Now if you take your typical mum and pop operation say a shoe maker or a starbucks franchansee, the basic wage differential between the line worker and the owner of the company is about 10 to 1. What I question is wherether this gap is ‘necessary’ or ‘natural’ for the private economy to function. A lot of economic theory is based on the premise that it is, and I am starting to think that this assumption of free market wages, is bunk. This suspicion becomes ever stronger when you look at larger firms where the wage ratio goes up to 50 to 1 or 100 to 1.
    These high owner/manager wages look like malinvestment based on social convention and legal convention, rather than a free market wage for entrepreneurial talent or top management talent.
    A recession should reduce the cost of such labour, but it hasn’t, which tells you something in of itself.

  91. 91
    marge says:

    Capitalism is about taking risk. That is why the owner of a business makes more than the workers. The workers work for a wage. They do not face the legal responsibility for the business nor do they face the financial responsibility. However, we are now taking the risk out of the equation by bailouts. Additionally the compensation that management has been taking lately is way out of balance.
    There was a comment above about the marketers. They may come up with great ideas but they do not take any risk putting those ideas into the marketplace.

  92. 92
    Dustin says:

    @69

    And what about the Upper Midwest, or have you written off anyone not on the east and west coast? Because, quite frankly, you bastards couldn’t continue to feed yourselves without our crops, and we’re just as, if not more, progressive in this part of the country than your own state (whichever that may be). So lay off the "coasts are better" shit, it just pisses the rest of the blue states off.

    @ 91

    So basically you’re admitting that capitalism, in theory, is about taking risk but in practice is far from it? Because from where we’re sitting as a nation the system’s broken. And what’s this about marketer’s not taking risks? They sell a product, effective advertising, and if they’re product is not effective they won’t make additional sales. They’ll go out of business. How you can go around thinking that’s anything but risk is beyond me.

  93. 93
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @geg6:

    This is my relationship with Sully, as well. He has moments of absolute genius that I will quote, ad infinitum. Then something like this arrives, and I wonder what he’s smoking! I know he’s a Thatcherite, though I’m not sure why, anymore. His absolute revulsion for The NHS completely mystifies me. He could have afforded the top of the line AIDS treatments at home, I think. My question is, would he have needed to? Not being a Brit, mores the pity, I don’t know what the system would have afforded him for his taxes? Anyone?

    You know he realizes that many in this country need more help than they are ever likely to get. Why is a public option program that helps someone like me keep my health strong such anathema. It’s basically fairly obvious that the "market" ain’t cutting it for at least half the uninsured in this country.

    I find him endering and infuriating. Like the brother you love to death when you don’t want to hit him with something hard!

  94. 94
    Interrobang says:

    A laborer cannot make a widget unless someone else has created the company and all that that entails that then affords the laborer the paycheck for the job making the widget.

    So, uh, the self-employed small tradesperson, freelancers, contractors, cottage industries, barter transactions, and sole proprietors don’t exist in your world? You could, if you were abstracted enough, say I make widgets, and I certainly don’t always take a paycheque from a corporation in order to do it. Sometimes it’s a direct transaction between more-or-less autonomous individuals, no "companies" (except maybe in the broadest legal sense, in that some individuals have business licenses) required.

    Labour can exist just fine without capital, actually. Humans did it for most of human history before capitalism was invented. Capital only seems indispensible because they rigged the system to be that way.

    But what do I know? I’m a pinko who is trying to step outside of that system as much as is possible.

  95. 95
    gex says:

    @Church Lady: Labor is the producer of wealth, in that the value of what is produced is greater than the costs of producing it. This production by the worker is what creates wealth. Capitalists my get the whole venture going and keep things running by providing some start up money to pay for workers or inputs, but WORK is what creates wealth, because it is the only part of the process that creates anything.

    Go start a company, and put $1000 bucks in the bank. Just don’t hire any workers. Let’s see how much "wealth" your freaking capital creates then.

  96. 96
    mclaren says:

    "Capitalism is about taking risk paying off legislators with campaign contributions so they pass sweetheart laws that let you create a monopoly and run your competitors out of business. That is why the owner of a business makes more than the workers. " — Marge

    There, fixed that for you.

  97. 97
    Cerberus says:

    @marge:

    Uh…here, I know the reanimation process is a little disorientating, but I would advise you to read this newspaper. A few things have occurred in the last 8 years that make you sound really stupid.

    Seriously, what is with the zombie myth that it is the CEOs who risk anything with their companies? Every single worker has the same story no matter their importance of being downsized to maximize short-term stock manipulation and other demonstrations to the shareholders. That is, the workers and labour have always been the ones to take the penalties of poor business decisions and downturns. Aka, reward is privatized and risk socialized. When was the last time that an owner really did lose his entire livelihood because of a "risky" decision, especially in the big boys. Every CEO has golden parachutes, massive bonuses, plus the retirement worthy rewards from just a year’s worth of bad work. Even the ones in jail for out and out crimes against humanity seem to live better than most of their workers if they even make it to jail to begin with and they broke the law.

    And furthermore, considering the lower class, those with the manual labour that drives every other aspect of this economy are in perpetual debt and considering that soaring education classes have made debtors of most of the middle class as well, what exact risk is taken by the wealthy in incurring minor debt? How does that differ from the debt taken by the lower class to survive, to make it through another day or in undertaking any attempt to move between classes on the strength of one’s one drive and intelligence? Exactly how is it that after 30 years of draining the lower and middle classes’ wealth completely from their savings by stagnating their jobs and universalizing the experience of being deprived from employment without reason or merit, the rich can complain that they "take risks" and are at "more risk"?

    What? Is the only "risk" worth mentioning is the risk that the employee you screwed over will come back and shoot you for stealing his livelihood to remove fully any form of actual risk you might suffer?

    But I encourage the Rand heads to spew more of this crap. The anti-commie talking points has worked well in their favor before, but with more and more people growing up having no clue why the Cold War was supposed to be so specifically evil, the sheer hateful stupidity of the Rand-bots might allow us to actually talk about Marxist theories again and see whether or not they were right about the modern state of capitalism and whether or not they can help temper the dehumanizing calculations of "free-market" ideas.

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