Suck on this, peasants

American politics is haunted by the specter of undeserving poor and working class Americans living beyond their means on someone else’s dime. It’s not just strapping young bucks buying t-bone steaks with food stamps, it’s strapping young bucks buying flat-screen tvs with credit cards they can’t pay off, strapping young bucks gorging themselves at the Applebee’s salad bar with their inflated union wages, strapping young bucks buying houses with CRA-mandated subprime loans, strapping young bucks suing doctors with lawyers on retainer, strapping young bucks getting elective surgery with their taxpayer-subsidized health care. It’s an all-purpose paradigm — it explains why welfare and single-payer health care are bad, why we need “tort reform” rather than health care reform, why the bankruptcy bill was good, and why we had a recession even with Galtian geniuses like Greenspan and Rubin in charge of everything.

It’s not just CPACers who think this way, it’s the sober, serious Villagers who talk constantly about “entitlement reform”. Tom Friedman:

But now it feels as if we are entering a new era, ‘where the great task of government and of leadership is going to be about taking things away from people,’ said the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum.

Let’s leave aside the question of why Tom Friedman thinks it’s appropriate to ask a “foreign policy expert” about domestic economic matters. Dean Baker:

Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman apparently doesn’t talk to anyone who has ever taken any economics. There are no serious forecasts that do not project that productivity will continue to grow for the indefinite future, and many project that productivity will grow at a more rapid pace than it did in the years from 1973-1995. This means that there is no reason, except incompetent economic management and/or the continuing upward redistribution of income, why the vast majority of the population should not experience improvements in living standards. This would mean an increase in both public and private services.

No one likes the idea of American working people improving their standard of living, but that is what is supposed to happen as productivity increases.

(via Atrios)






83 replies
  1. 1
    Dave C says:

    Unless it has plans to be first in line with a donation of its palatial estate, the Mustache of Understanding can go fuck itself with a rusty tweezers.

  2. 2
    cleek says:

    This means that there is no reason, except incompetent economic management and/or the continuing upward redistribution of income, why the vast majority of the population should not experience improvements in living standards.

    there is no reason, except gravity, why i should remain in this here chair.

  3. 3
    Josh Huaco says:

    Because calamity and war and forced sacrifice were the values crucible that forged the Superdeeduperist Generation, and everyone but me we all should strive to be just like them.

  4. 4
    leo says:

    First, the ‘flat world’ people told us we could do without making stuff here in this country because we could then concentrate on the profitable new technologies.

    Now, they’re turning around and saying, oops, just don’t expect to be as wealthy as your parents were (back, you know, when we used to make stuff here).

    Sounds like bait ‘n switch to me.

  5. 5
    JenJen says:

    Deep Thought Apropos of Nothing: But Tom Friedman has an obscenely large house.

  6. 6
    Ed in NJ says:

    In Friedman’s defense, the gist of the article (as I understood it) was that we live in an era where the political discourse is so poisoned that the idea of raising taxes to continue public programs is a non-starter.

    Of course, it’s because of pundits like Friedman that we are the way we are, but I’m sure that’s besides the point to him.

  7. 7
    Silver says:

    Can’t that stupid fuck go visit a whorehouse in the Caribbean with Sally Quinn’s son and leave the rest of us alone?

    Fuck…I read about a guy like Roger Ebert this morning, I don’t need to be hearing Tom Friedman’s thoughts on anything, unless it’s how hanging from a meathook in Times Square by his eyeballs feels.

  8. 8
    Mark S. says:

    Mustache:

    So “Obamism” feels at worst like a hodgepodge, at best like a to-do list — one that got way too dominated by health care instead of innovation and jobs — and not the least like a big, aspirational project that can bring out America’s still vast potential for greatness.

    Does Friedman realize that spending one-sixth of our GDP on health care is a big part of the reason we’re in trouble? A lot of our problems would be a lot more manageable if we brought our costs down to what other industrialized nations pay for health care. You would think a guy who jet sets with foreign elites would know this.

  9. 9
    muddy says:

    Victor Davis Hanson addresses this with his usual insight:

    Steaks and all.

  10. 10
    muddy says:

    I must have done something wrong, I don’t see the link, Here ’tis:

    http://www.victorhanson.com/ar.....21410.html

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    You left out “strapping young bucks screwing our wimmen.”

  12. 12
    Chyron HR says:

    @Mark S.:

    A lot of our problems would be a lot more manageable if we brought our costs down to what other industrialized nations pay for health care.

    But the 20th century sent us a memo saying that soshulism failed! Every other industralized nation on Earth just hasn’t gotten it yet!

  13. 13
    JGabriel says:

    DougJ:

    No one likes the idea of American working people improving their standard of living, but that is what is supposed to happen as productivity increases.

    And has not been happening for the past 30 years*. Or at least the standard of living hasn’t kept pace with productivity increases.

    (*Yes, during the Clinton years there was a brief period where median income started to catch up to productivity, but it never caught up to par, and then actually fell, as we all know, after Bush fils came into office.)

    .

  14. 14
    demkat620 says:

    I’d give anything for one of these so called journalists to confront this asshat with his suck on this asshattery.

    Does he still feel that was a good idea cause I’m telling you, watching James Baker call for spending cuts and nobody mentioning the war spending pisses. me. off.

    When we can spend a trillion dollars killing people and can’t figure out healthcare we are fucked sideways.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    God-damned bunch of worthless shit-heads parading as wise men commentators.

    The American economy for the past 30 years has been turned into a channel to divert increases in national wealth into the hands of the super-rich as opposed to the incomes and benefits of the vast majority.

    And shit-head billionaire spouse (or at least billionaire for a while) little Tommy Friedman is among the aggrieved upper and upper middle classes who think we’re hurting ’cause too much of us ordinary schmucks got nice stuff.

  16. 16
    c u n d gulag says:

    Or, “Where da white women at?”

    The “Great and Powerful Mustache of Truth” has spoken!
    What did he say?

    “Suck on this!” American workers, and you newly poor, formerly middle class, people.
    God, does he suck! The world is not nearly as flat as his head.

    And then, on that same day, to make the “Week in Review, the “Weak in Review,” Rich and MoDO were off. Him, I read religiously. Her, I take with a grain of salt. A shot of tequila and a slice of like usually helps when I read her, too!
    I did like the Kristof article on health care and journalism, though. Good reading!

  17. 17
    El Cid says:

    By the way, the connection between productivity and worker income is a question of power, and not of economics. No one has to share their productivity increases with the workforce.

  18. 18
    Michael says:

    1. It is always OK for CEOs and bankstas to worry obsessively about how much money they are going to get from the hard, hard work of being decisionmaking decisionmakers and making their casino bets from the gut. They are to be encouraged to mass their wealth and numbers together in corporate combines to attempt to influence public policy to their own financial and political gains.

    2. It is unreasonable class warfare for lower and middle class people to worry about how much income they make and wealth they generate from producing actual goods and services at the risk to their bodies and mental health. It is evil for them to mass their wealth and numbers together in union campaigns to attempt to influence public policy to their own financial and political gains.

    Rinse, wring, repeat, and you’ve got the GOP domestic economic campaign in a nutshell.

  19. 19
    bemused says:

    I’m all in favor of entitlement reform….for corps, banks, wall street, the wealthy/super wealthy & other elitists who are gobbling up all the cash leaving the rest of us & the country without a pot to pee in.

  20. 20
    Michael says:

    Productivity gains are only to inure to the benefit of our upper-class masters, donchaknow.

    Living in pre-Peron Argentina is teh awesome!

  21. 21
    doxastic says:

    Don’t forget the strapping young bucks going to college with Pell grants (bonus: whose presence on campus is immediately chalked up to affirmative action).

  22. 22
    Betsy says:

    DougJ, you forgot, it’s not just the strapping young bucks, it’s also the lazy brood mares living high on the hog driving cadillacs on the welfare money that they shrewdly keep raking in by having too many babies.

  23. 23
    Josh Huaco says:

    This isn’t surprising, as a great deal of political discourse in this nation in the past several decades has been some form of the ‘White Hands’ ad. (“You wanted that t-bone steak/wide screen tv/low interest mortgage/elective surgery/college degree. You deserved that t-bone steak/wide screen tv/low interest mortgage/elective surgery/college degree.”)

  24. 24
    James E. Powell says:

    So long as Friedman and his mustache are taken seriously, we are doomed to have a government that will not consider policies that help people. We will continue to have a government of the ruling class, by the ruling class and for the ruling class.

  25. 25
    Silver Owl says:

    So sayeth a propped up pompous fool. If Friedman were actually paid for the quality of his work, he’d be visiting food banks and living on the streets.

  26. 26
    robertdsc says:

    Where da white women at?”

    Whenever I see Harold Ford, I imagine him saying that.

  27. 27
    r€nato says:

    No one likes the idea of American working people improving their standard of living, but that is what is supposed to happen as productivity increases.

    CLASS WARFARE!

  28. 28
    Rock says:

    I consider it incompetent that a columnist can discuss “taking things away” from the populace and neglect to mention approximately 3 decades of flat household wages in real terms. And, moreover, how household income now involves twice as many hours as it used to, not to mention the huge reduction in retirement benefits that American workers have already seen.

    Perhaps, most tellingly in an article about entitlement reform, how can Reagan’s payroll tax increase of 1983 not be mentioned?

    It seems like the taking away of things has been going on for a while.

    Does anyone else find it odd that the working class is group of people that must tighten the belts and sacrifice in these difficult times? It’s amazing no alternative can be thought of….

  29. 29
    JGabriel says:

    demkat620:

    Does he still feel that was a good idea cause I’m telling you, watching James Baker call for spending cuts and nobody mentioning the war spending pisses. me. off.

    Bush’s tax cuts for the rich account for almost 3 times the cost of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars as a percentage of the deficit going forward. But nobody wants to raise taxes on the rich?

    That’s what pisses me off.

    .

  30. 30
    Niques says:

    And if you add up the money every. single. “welfare queen” and “strapping young buck” gets from the system, then compare it with just. one. wall st. thief’s bonus tally for one year . . .

    or to just. one. self-proclaimed “entitled” elite’s untaxed hidden funds . . .

    hmmmm.

    A thief in an Armani suit is just a well-dressed thief.

  31. 31
    Rock says:

    On the topic of taking things away, I’ve now seen news that at least 3 states (Illinois, Nevada, and Utah) have legislative initiatives to reduce the number of public school days and/or years in order to save money. I assume this movement is not limited to these 3 states.

    I’d like to see a comprehensive article about this phenomenon someplace. It’s sadly fascinating to see a nation blabber on about being globally competitive while potentially deciding to reduce the quality of the educational system rather than raise taxes. I’ll be very interested in seeing how this plays out, because a lot of people need their kids in school in order to be able to work — I imagine that’s where the staunchest opposition will come from to school reduction. Next year, when states don’t have stimulus funding, I think we’ll see a raft of service shutdowns.

  32. 32
    Cat Lady says:

    where the great task of government and of leadership is going to be about taking things away from people

    They can start by taking Tom Friedman’s brain droppings away, please. What has he ever produced? The man will forever be known as a joke for his idiotic six month predictions and for saying “Suck. On. This.” That’s it. If any of these self-important hacks had to earn an honest living they’d all fucking starve under a bridge.

  33. 33
    harlana peppper says:

    Oh, just fuck these people! Friedman is a delusional pompous ass. He can “suck on” a live wire

  34. 34
    bayville says:

    Nowhere in Tommy’s warmed over sermon can I find the words “Iraq War”. Must be an editor’s decision.

  35. 35
    WereBear says:

    The suffering is bad enough in the short term, but what of the end game?

    Who will be able to buy the goods they want to make money selling?

    They never think of that, do they?

  36. 36
    Spork says:

    hmm. Can I post yet, or am I still stuck in spam? Just testing here.

  37. 37
    demo woman says:

    How much is it going to cost the American folks to bail out Tom’s wife’s company. They will still be able to enjoy their palace while the little folks pay.

  38. 38
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    If any of these self-important hacks had to earn an honest living they’d all fucking starve under a bridge.

    Damn straight. They have spent their lives producing nothing of value. When I had a factory job I knew that I was producing something of value. When I went home at the end of the day I could tell myself that I made something that someone was going to buy and use. Blue collar manufacturing jobs helped to justify the existence of the white collar types and the jobs they performed. We made shit for people to buy and they kept track of the financial side of things. Once that stuff was sold it went on to create more jobs as it had to be regularly serviced, occasionally repaired and needed replacement parts made for it. That in turn justified even more white collar jobs to handle the financial side of it.

    Now we have lots of white collar people who move piles of paper around and few blue collar manufacturing workers doing anything at all. People like Friedman are the talking heads who kept selling everyone on how great the future was going to be for them, covering for those who were systematically looting the system for themselves at the expense of those in this country who actually did productive work.

    They were amplifiers playing the tune of the Pied Piper for everyone to hear but now they want us to forget that. Not gonna happen.

  39. 39
    Steeplejack says:

    __

    Let’s leave aside the question of why Tom Friedman thinks it’s appropriate to ask a “foreign policy expert” about domestic economic matters.

    He was over to the mansion for dinner, and they had quite the interesting conversation over brandy and cigars in the library afterwards.

  40. 40
    Mike G says:

    Pundits moan and pundits bitch,
    “Our rich are too poor
    And our poor are too rich.”

    Let’s leave aside the question of why Tom Friedman thinks it’s appropriate to ask a “foreign policy expert” about domestic economic matters.

    It’s a slight improvement on quoting a taxi driver in Marrakesh.

  41. 41
    jl says:

    What a disappointment. Friedman wrote a very good and needed column on global warming last week.

    But now we have this dreck.

    This boob does not know one damn thing about economics.

    Glad I just read reviews of his World Olve Flat Tree Whatever Cliche economics books. It would have been a waste of time.

    Friedman seems to be operating off of the Lump o’ Stuff fallacy, which is transparently goofy and stupid, unlike the Lump of Labor Fallacy.

    The Lump o’ Stuff fallacy is that for awhile, for reasons totally unexplained, there was all this stuff, see. Now there is no stuff, so we have to cut back.

    Cripes, a sixth grader should do better than that.

    And what is this crap about: “And in these past 70 years, leadership — whether of the country, a university, a company, a state, a charity, or a township — has largely been about giving things away, building things from scratch, lowering taxes or making grants.”?

    If Friedman had, maybe tried to coherently think through all the stuff packed into that sentence, and maybe talked to a competent economists, he might have built a decent column around it.

    But, no.

    He probably got smashed at a party last night and had to churn out some crap to meet his deadline.

    He should have called in sick.

  42. 42
    jl says:

    Is our precious edit function working? I tried to edit my last comment to correct the inevitable (for me) typos. And nothing happened. Then I think I clicked Request Delete, by mistake, and nothing happened. Then I tried to edit again and nothing happened.

  43. 43
    Jennifer says:

    American politics is haunted by the specter of undeserving poor and working class Americans living beyond their means on someone else’s dime.

    Not only that, but they can’t decide whether all activities in pursuit of wealth should be legal or not. As I wrote in comments here, CPAC attendees seemed to be in agreement with Beck that any constraint on how someone wants to make or spend money is an intolerable restraint on Teh Free Hand™.

    On the one hand, they want to make sure the dusky types get nothing; on the other, they’d like to do away with all laws that say “you can’t become wealthy by selling drugs or stealing other people’s stuff.” Which lines of work, of course, they assume are all carried out by dusky types.

    Which is it, teabaggers?

  44. 44
    Jrod says:

    At least the field of Randroid hacks who will blame the American people for their own decline because the lazy parasites worked eighty hours a week rather than innovating up a free energy machine or credit default swaps or something, and therefore the worthless scum should be grateful that they’re thrown enough scraps to survive, that field will continue to grow.

    The truth is, the masters of the universe no longer need an American middle class to do business. If our domestic economy grinds to a halt, they’ll continue making money. Since we’re no longer really a part of the great American economic engine, we’ve become nothing more than targets for looting. That’s not the worst part, though, at least in my eyes. The worst part is that we’re all being taught that if we’re broke it’s because we’re lesser people, failures of human beings.

    I don’t know how to turn that back around, and until we destroy the paradigm of wealth = morally good, poor = morally bad, the will to restore and even grow the middle class won’t exist. At best we have a couple generations before the idiots who think like this die off. However, since it won’t be long before our schools are so broke that the textbooks will be donated copies of Atlas Shrugged, I fear that this cancerous idea is here to stay.

    This is the future of the United States: the lower class continues to swell with people falling from the middle while unemployment continues to rise, kept in check by a greatly expanded and militarized police force, weaned on the idea that the poor are subhuman, shiftless garbage.

  45. 45
    RareSanity says:

    @Steeplejack:

    He was over to the mansion for dinner, and they had quite the interesting conversation over brandy and cigars in the library afterwards.

    Don’t forget the troop of young Vietnamese boys, flown in from Vietnam, that performed their native “Naked Innocence” dance.

    …wait, did I go to far?

  46. 46
    Steeplejack says:

    @RareSanity:

    I thought they were booked at the Limbaugh compound.

  47. 47
    Napoleon says:

    @Rock:

    Perhaps, most tellingly in an article about entitlement reform, how can Reagan’s payroll tax increase of 1983 not be mentioned?

    And in addition it should be mentioned that the idea was the excess tax would be banked and when the boomers retired and SS went into deficit the amounts that were overpaid would be used for them. Now that the time for the elites who passed that tax have to live up to their end of the bargain they are seeking to renege.

    By the way I graduated from college in 83 and the vast majority of the years since then I max out on my FICA contributions, but haven’t made much in excess of that number. I bet you I am in the .01% that would get screwed worst if the government fails to live up to their end of the bargain which is going to require raising taxes on the rich.

  48. 48
    Mike in NC says:

    I’d kill to be a strapping young buck paid minimum wage to clean Tom Friedman’s swimming pool.

    This is the future of the United States: the lower class continues to swell with people falling from the middle while unemployment continues to rise, kept in check by a greatly expanded and militarized police force, weaned on the idea that the poor are subhuman, shiftless garbage.

    I was thinking of the movie “Escape from New York”, but this is pretty close.

  49. 49
    RareSanity says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Yep, they were on loan. So it all came full circle for the economist.

    There are so many en tundras in those two sentences, I lost count

  50. 50
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Gov’t spending on UE bennies about to end, unless they’re re-upped, which they will be. So I ask….at what point should the gov’t stop re-upping these bennies? 1 year? Until UE hits (fill-in-number) percent?

    At some point….dudnt the gov’t have to cut peeps loose?

  51. 51
    jl says:

    @peach flavored shampoo:

    Well, I would guess we do have to ‘cut the peeps loose’ from unemployment benefits, if you are a celebrity pundit like Friedman who believes in the Lump o’ Stuff theory of economics and society.

    After all, those UE benefits come from that mysterious Lump o’ Stuff, and it will run out some day, right? It’s looking mighty small now. Better cut everything.

    So, yeah, why not cut them loose until the Lump o’ Stuff just gets bigger some year or other? I guess we just have to.

    (/snark)

  52. 52
    bob h says:

    Actually, the great task of government and leadership is going to be to raise taxes.

  53. 53
    Nick says:

    @Josh Huaco:

    Because calamity and war and forced sacrifice were the values crucible that forged the Superdeeduperist Generation, and everyone but me we all should strive to be just like them.

    You mean the same generation that went to college to get an education to get a good job to start a family AND got healthcare when they retired on the government’s dime?

  54. 54
    Annie says:

    How about we take the farm entitlements away from half of the Republican leadership, including Lady Michelle, and defense entitlements that helped make Republicans like Cheney extremely wealthy?

  55. 55
    Mark S. says:

    @Jrod:

    The truth is, the masters of the universe no longer need an American middle class to do business.

    I don’t know. I may be hopelessly naive, but it seems to me that the elites used to understand that they needed a middle class else there would be a revolution. Of course, it seems the elites have co-opted populism as well now, since our vanguard consists of idiot teabaggers who demand policies that ensure the elites don’t pay any taxes.

  56. 56
    vwcat says:

    Part of why the ‘blame the victim, the poor and disabled, ect.’ mindset was begun was because the Corporations saw that manipulating the gullible public into believing that big business was good, created jobs and gave to charities. The evil poor and unions, ect., were sucking the blood and life out of the economy and country.
    This diverted and over time ingrained the thinking towards not blaming business and banks for the economic problems that arose but, those that made it happen. The poor forced the poor banks into lending.
    Also, it played into the country’s growing self absorption. The whole ‘what about me and it’s all about me’. It played on older white resentments. It played on a need to hate others and focus on self and greed.
    And it also plays a huge role in why our politics and society is no longer working.

  57. 57
    LuciaMia says:

    Nothing shrivels my weary heart more than listening to over-entitled rich guys gassing on about people supposedly getting a free ride via the government. Last week or so, Steve Forbes was on Fox (what else) lamenting about students getting government assistance to go to college and how that was just such a bad thing and blah..blah..blah.
    Yes, I’m sure he worked so many part time jobs to pay for his private school tuitions and then on to Princeton. Just like his multi-millionaire father, and his father before him….

  58. 58
    maus says:

    Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman apparently doesn’t talk to anyone who has ever taken any economics

    Do these “serious economists” carry his first class baggage? Do they drive his cabs? Then why the fuck does The Mustache care what they have to say?

  59. 59
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Jennifer: I doubt very much that teabaggers want to see drugs legalized. That’d go against their “moral” creeds.

  60. 60
    b-psycho says:

    @Jrod:

    it won’t be long before our schools are so broke that the textbooks will be donated copies of Atlas Shrugged

    Which would be comically ironic, considering the philosophy espoused in them…

  61. 61
    Brachiator says:

    @muddy:

    Victor Davis Hanson addresses this with his usual insight

    You’re joking, right? Hanson typically distorts history in a vain attempt to make comparisons to an ancient empire and a modern democracy. Hanson would be strained to compare ancient Rome to 19th century Britain, let alone the United States.

    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) —

    Now we have lots of white collar people who move piles of paper around and few blue collar manufacturing workers doing anything at all. People like Friedman are the talking heads who kept selling everyone on how great the future was going to be for them, covering for those who were systematically looting the system for themselves at the expense of those in this country who actually did productive work.

    The irony is that we have fewer people “moving paper around” or producing things. The invention of the computer spreadsheet, for example, led to the elimination of huge numbers of middle management accounting clerks, and consequently a huge number of middle class jobs. And as newspapers and magazines die, thousands of people who move paper around by writing stuff and even more thousands of people who made money printing, delivering and selling the stuff that was put on paper no longer have any useful employment.

    Similar patterns are rippling through other industries.

    I don’t know. I may be hopelessly naive, but it seems to me that the elites used to understand that they needed a middle class else there would be a revolution.

    I don’t know. There is a core of the elite who are firm believers in oligarchy, and they see it work. Dubya and his cronies had huge admiration for Saudi Arabia and Mexico, two societies that function with a thin, middle class. Of course, the Saudis are able to buy off a large segment of its lower classes, while Mexico uses the United States as a relief valve to push out those who it would otherwise exploit.

  62. 62
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mark S.: Believe it, they no longer think they need a middle or working class to produce wealth. The jobs and factories sent overseas produce goods that can be sold. But they are produced by lower paid workers and the government gives the companies tax breaks and incentives for shipping and salaries and stuff. The managers who needed secretaries and administrative assistants now need only one or two. Yes, there are productivity gains yet to be seen, but they will not increase salaries or benefits because they will enable companies to off-load even more staff.

  63. 63
    PurpleGirl says:

    From the NY Times: Millions of Unemployed Face Years without Jobs.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02.....wanted=all

    I read only some of the comments, which are disgusting. A lot of arrogant people out there. I wanted to use a rusty pitchfork on many of the writers.

  64. 64
    Jules says:

    Jesus.
    If there is one thing I can’t stand is fat fucks who live in mansions they did not actually pay for themselves discussing how we would be better off if the poor and middle class were just willing to do without.

    What a wanker.

  65. 65
    TenguPhule says:

    From the NY Times: Millions of Unemployed Face Years without Jobs.

    I see an army looking for a leader and an enemy.

    The Wallstreet Overlords really don’t see those burning stakes in their future, do they?

  66. 66
    Nutella says:

    Maybe the Mustache is cranky because his wife’s company is going through the biggest real-estate bankruptcy in U.S. history? Next thing you know he’ll be down to his last billion.

    They did get a takeover offer of $10billion last week but I’m sure Tom and his buddies can figure out a way to skate by that and get bailed out by the taxpayers instead.

  67. 67
    Badtux says:

    @Mark S.: the elites used to understand that they needed a middle class else there would be a revolution.

    But that was back when the Soviet Union existed, when Communist revolutions were happening all over the globe, and it was understood that the only way for the fat cats to save capitalism was to quit being so damned greedy for a while or Amurka would go that way too. That’s why Europe has all those el-neato social services that we don’t have over here on our side of the pond, it isn’t because their leaders wanted to provide for their people out of the good of their heart, it was because they were much closer to a Communist revolution in the aftermath of WWII due to all the hardships of the post-war reconstruction period and they had to go further to appease their peasants into not revolting.

    Without that alternative to their greed and venality, the fat cats now believe they can literally do anything they want to impoverish the peasantry because the peasantry won’t have any sort of ideological framework to use for a revolt. I mean, “health care just like France, except without as much snobbishness” isn’t exactly a revolutionary slogan that rouses a man’s blood, not like rabble-rowsers waving red flags and shouting “Workers of the world, unite!”, “Viva la Revolución!” and “Power to the people!”. And the hairless monkeys that infest this planet seem to need such revolutionary slogans to spur them to action, “Be nice like Canada!” doesn’t inspire much besides ennui.

    – Badtux the Revolutionary Penguin

  68. 68
    jcricket says:

    I wrote about this on the other thread, but the solutions to our problems aren’t that hard, and won’t bankrupt anyone. Sure, if you take tax increases off the table we’re f’ed and the only way to fix things is to rape the already beaten-down middle and lower (economic) classes.

    But simply by raising corporate taxes, taxes on the rich, etc. back to slightly higher than Clintonian levels, along with application of a few existing and choice regulations, and we’ll be fine (outside of Medicare). Part 2 is cutting the defense budget to a reasonable size. Part 3 is controlling Medicare costs (this is kind of a biggie). I favor a single-payer like Canadian system with all kinds of intelligent incentives (moving away from fee for service, comparative effectiveness research, etc.). This is not trivial, but again, lots of choices to choose from where people have already largely figured this problem out.

    The only thing that’s hard about any of this is political will. There’s no rocket science, we’re not inventing a new way of taxation, or healthcare, and we’re not the first to blaze this ground.

    But yeah, if America can’t pull its head of out Ayn Rand’s moldy ass, we’re fukz0red.

  69. 69
    MTiffany says:

    American politics is haunted by the specter of undeserving poor…

    Undeserving poor? Talk about pleonasm! What other kind of poor person is there?

  70. 70
    MTiffany says:

    @TenguPhule:

    The Wallstreet Overlords really don’t see those burning stakes in their future, do they?

    No, because they quite clearly see them in ours. Think what Sarah -Puppet- Palin plus unlimited corporate campaign funding equals.

  71. 71
    JGabriel says:

    @MTiffany: Actually, “underserving poor” is an allusion to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion — at least that’s the earliest use of the phase of which I’m aware. Eliza’s father has a comical and rousing monologue arguing that the undeserving poor have needs just as great, and in fact greater, than the deserving poor.

    .

  72. 72
    JGabriel says:

    MTiffany:

    Think what Sarah Puppet Palin plus unlimited corporate campaign funding equals.

    An extreme right-wing Eva Peron without Juan’s stabilizing influence?

    .

  73. 73
    Brian J says:

    Friedman says we need to accept more entitlement cuts than ever. Is that true? It seems like health care, which is by far the biggest drain on the budget that is actually an entitlement (the defense budget could probably be cut as well, but it’s not an entitlement, technically), will only drown us if we continue to accept the waste. Let’s say reforming fee-for-service practices, for instance, will save us hundreds of billions but not really reduce quality by much, if anything at all. Who will lose in that situation besides those whose incomes depend on it?

  74. 74
    Mark S. says:

    @jcricket:

    I agree with all of your suggestions, but aside from letting the Bush tax cuts expire, I don’t see our worthless government doing any of them. This country is really becoming ungovernable, thanks mostly to our horrible Senate but with a major assist from our corporate media.

  75. 75
    Will says:

    Badtux,

    Except Americans do have an alternate ideology – fascism. The teabaggers are all but begging for their Man on a White Horse, and when he comes along we’ll get a nice dose of right-wing utopia, South American style.

    If there’s anything to be grateful for, it’s that all right wing leading lights are all losers and morons. We have the full cast of freaks for a fascist regime – the morality police, the propaganda ministers, the mistresses of pain, the bloodthirsty colonels – but no one with the charisma to wear the “El Jefe” hat.

  76. 76
    Yutsano says:

    @Brian J:

    Let’s say reforming fee-for-service practices, for instance, will save us hundreds of billions but not really reduce quality by much, if anything at all. Who will lose in that situation besides those whose incomes depend on it?

    Interesting you should say that. I saw my eye doc last week, and somehow the topic of health care reform came up. He is of the opinion that reform isn’t going to happen until the providers get fed up with the games the insurers are playing and demand a new system. He also said that something changes now or it will have to later. Whether he was willing to take the hit in the pocketbook wasn’t entirely clear, but as he has a busy practice in a nice building I think he’d do all right. It was just sweet to hear him come out strongly for reform.

  77. 77
    Mike in NC says:

    We have the full cast of freaks for a fascist regime – the morality police, the propaganda ministers, the mistresses of pain, the bloodthirsty colonels – but no one with the charisma to wear the “El Jefe” hat.

    Enter the zombie corpse of Ronald Reagan, stage right.

  78. 78
    jcricket says:

    @Mark S.: You’re not gonna get an argument for me – I’m pessimistic about our ability to do anything to fix this. In fact, a large portion of Americans seem to believe the government’s too big and helps too many people already.

    The fact that there are thriving private sectors in such socialist hellholes as Norway and France and Germany – with their rich safety nets and universal healthcare (and paid for daycare, and guaranteed vacation, and secure pensions) – seems to be escaping us.

    Look at California. People want all the services, but are unwilling to pay the taxes. That doesn’t happen elsewhere. People in Norway pay super-high taxes, and they bank a huge portion of their sovereign wealth from oil, and they get a ton of services. There’s now a debate about lowering taxes after like a decade of surpluses, but everyone gets the connection (high taxes for high services).

    I guess, in short, 30+ years of Republican demonization of government, combined with 30+ years of wishy-washy Democratic response, worked.

  79. 79
    Badtux says:

    @Will: Touche’. I suppose the teabaggers could be the brownshirts of a new regime. Still, teabagger slogans like “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!” tend to be rather… incoherent. I’m sure they’re good enough for the 27%’rs of crazification nation but there’s no agenda there, nothing to make the majority of the people stop and say “wow, that’s a good idea!”. I don’t see any “Great Leader” stepping forward anytime soon because none of those who are conservative enough are crazy enough to embrace these nutters. Even the shambling zombie of Ronald Reagan is too liberal for these folks — remember, Saint Ronnie of Raygun cut-and-run from Lebanon after some Marines got kablooied there. Liberal traitor!

    – Badtux the Snarky Penguin

  80. 80
    Ian says:

    American politics is haunted by the specter of undeserving poor and working class (who are constantly ignored and unserved)

    Fixt

  81. 81
    timb says:

    @jl: Lloyd and Jamie Diamond better watch out when that happens; there will be riots in the street.

    Oh, sure, your Limbaugh types will make sure vast amounts of the rioters turn on “un-American” types in their midst and other demagogues will blame “the others.” (Lost is more than a TV show!) Somewhere, though, some benighted soul will turn groups loose on the Wall Streeters. Happened in the 30’s.

    You take away a person’s hope; you end up with someone depressed. You take away hope for a better life for his/her kids; you end up with anger.

    BTW, Friedman’s column is not about the poor eating cake. It’s about the lack of political will to govern the country….to raise the taxes, for instance. I too was struck by simpleton nature of his logic, but he wasn’t parading around screaming the poor have it too good; he was parading around saying the days of free money for all Americans are over, because the elites cannot govern.

  82. 82
    Koz says:

    “….strapping young bucks suing doctors with lawyers on retainer….”

    No you idiot, it’s strapping young bucks suing doctors with lawyers on contingency. Lawyers on retainer cost money.

  83. 83
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    Friedman yammering about entitlement reform should qualify as obscenity in most jurisdictions.

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