The Clarity That Distance Provides

This piece in the Spiegel is perhaps the best brief examination of where we are and how we got here that you will find anywhere. I’d quote it, but it is all too good to excerpt.






158 replies
  1. 1
    BR says:

    I think we may be living out Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, and Spiegel may be the first of the mainstream press to realize it. It’ll be a few years before Time or Newsweek do, though, and by then it’ll be a little late.

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    Jesus, those graphs and pics are depressing.

    The American Dream is not over; it has been redefined.

    It is no longer “anyone can make it here,” and is hereby changed to “make money no matter who you have to hurt or take from and if anyone points out the context in which you are doing so use your sticks and stones.”

    The right wing idiots who think Keynes was a radical leftist are going to be fucking begging for some weak Keynes sauce in 10 years. Or next year, at this rate.

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    __

    The sociologist Robert Putnam hems and haws, not wanting to be the kind of professor who drops names to make himself seem more important. But the issue is much too important for him to resist. “I have had the chance to discuss income inequality with George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and I can assure you both were worried about the trend,” he says.

    I’m quite sure that GWB Jr. was overflowing with perspectives on this question stemming from a great amount of work he did coming to grips with the issue, striving every day to help the poor and working stiffs have a bit bigger share of the nation’s wealth.

  4. 4
    General Stuck says:

    Could the Dream Be Over?

    Hell yes. Too long to read the whole thing but whatever precipice it is we are dangling over as a country, the wingnuts in the House are getting ready to push us over the edge. And the world to a significant degree, will go with us.

    The tombstone will read. “too young, too dumb, too full of scum”

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    @El Cid: Bush probably thought it meant that some baseball teams had lower revenues than others, and he was worried about the Rangers.

    Thought bubble over his head: “Damn Yankees!”

  6. 6
    JenJen says:

    Das ist ja echt schrechlich.

    Ich sage, nur.

    Ich bin traurig. :-(

  7. 7
    El Cid says:

    Republicans and TeaTards continue to be complete recalcitrant right wing destructive ass-hats, as well as to make words be what they are not. Such as “compromise” and phrases like ‘working with the other side’.

    WASHINGTON — Just as Senate Minority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has attempted to lower expectations in recent days by saying that Republicans can’t really accomplish anything unless President Obama is voted out of office in 2012, so too did Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) set the stage on Sunday by declaring that any lack of progress in Congress — including a possible government shutdown — will be Obama’s fault.
    __
    “I would say, Chris, it’s as much his responsibility,” said Cantor in response to a question from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about who will be to blame for a government shutdown or a default on the debt. “In fact, he is the one who sets the agenda as the chief executive and as the president of this country.”
    __
    Cantor also made clear that if there’s going to be any compromise, it’s going to have to come from Obama, who has said he is willing to work with Republicans. Cantor, however, said that Republicans will work with Obama only if he agrees with them 100 percent.

    Gosh, I hope all Democrats learn as much about how to work in a bipartisan fashion. It would only be fair, given how much Republicans cooperated during the first 2 years of the Obama’s presidency.

    Blow it all up, Randtards!

  8. 8
    Mark S. says:

    @El Cid:

    Well, Bush did say it was the greatest failure of his presidency. Or was it failing to privatize Social Security? I’ve also heard it was being called a racist by Kanye West.

    There’s a lot to choose from.

  9. 9
    goblue72 says:

    @El Cid: Only choice we have is to go to the wall and force them into a shutdown. Give them nothing, not even an inch. They want civil war, give it to them.

  10. 10
    BR says:

    @El Cid:

    You know, it’s going to be key to watch guys like Richard Shelby. Folks like him – bankster allies – are going to hear from their owners on Wall Street that defaulting on the debt would hurt the wealthy’s pocketbooks. So there’ll be a tussle between that faction and the know-nothings. I’m not sure it’ll be a public tussle, but we should be watching for one.

  11. 11
    Michael says:

    Nihilists. I hate fucking nihilists.

  12. 12
    Montysano says:

    @BR:

    I think we may be living out Kunstler’s The Long Emergency

    Kunstler’s scenario, a long and difficult transition to Something Different (and yes, I agree that we’re living it), is probably the optimistic possibility. A fast and hard crash is another possibility. Whatever. Bring it on. Until Wall Street’s fingers are pried from the global neck, until that fucker is stone cold dead, we’re screwed.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mark S.: I have always thought that Bush’s greatest failure was his Presidency.

  14. 14
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    In 1978, the average income for men in the United States was $45,879. In 2007, it was $45,113, adjusted for inflation.

    Good grief.

    I’d heard about the stagnation for the middle for the past decade in particular, but I never realized this. I mean, that’s a long time ago.

    Meanwhile the average for Wall Street has gone ballistic.

  15. 15
    debbie says:

    I think McConnell’s being more than his usual idiotic self; he knows that right wingers will buy into anything he says, but I think he misreads the Independents. They see him screwing around about the 2012 election and Obama being his biatch while people are suffering here and now, and they’re not going to like it or the Republicans.

  16. 16
    BR says:

    FTA:

    When Greenspan came to Washington in 1967, as a campaign advisor to Richard Nixon, the old order of the New Deal was still in place. The unions were powerful. Big corporations like General Motors, General Electric and ITT controlled the market. But Greenspan felt that the old order was too sedate. He placed great stock in the experiences of his friend, the Russian immigrant and philosopher Ayn Rand, who wrote about the evils of collectivist systems. “What she did…was to make me think why capitalism is not only efficient and practical, but also moral,” Greenspan said. “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”

    I never knew this about Greenspan, and somehow it makes sense and says so much about where things have been headed since the 1980s.

  17. 17
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Sheeeeeeeeeeeesh…

    That ought to be done w/ video, like a news piece on the tee vee machine, w/ a clipped female German voice reading the narration, and the words subtitled in English…

    And so what are Republicans up to today?

    Well… Duncan Hunter wants to cripple Iran NOW… apparently he’s unaware of the fact that the Chinese and Russians have allied themselves w/ Iran… or he’d like to see oil hit $175/bbl.

    And Kantor has been mumbling something about ‘defaulting on the debt’, if I’m not mistaken…

    Why in Dog’s name is ANYONE ANYWHERE taking these freaks seriously?

    Ottoman Empire… here we come!

  18. 18
    BR says:

    @Montysano:

    Unless we combine the structural problems (financial bubble / peak oil) with really irresponsible leadership, I don’t see a “fast crash” scenario. But I suppose if we have the following events or something like them – 1) a default on US debt in April due to a teatard failure to raise the debt limit, 2) a government shutdown that lasts more than a month or two, and 3) a backlash against Obama that ushers in a Palin/Rubio ticket – then I think the best hope might be to get out of the country.

  19. 19
    stuckinred says:

    Don’t mean much to people who were poor in the first place now does it?

  20. 20
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: This. So this.

  21. 21
    El Cid says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity:

    Well… Duncan Hunter wants to cripple Iran NOW… apparently he’s unaware of the fact that the Chinese and Russians have allied themselves w/ Iran… or he’d like to see oil hit $175/bbl.

    Lindsey Graham just made himself popular in Canada by urging Obama to not just bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, but the entire military structure, to destroy it, in order to make happy time for Iran’s people to liberate themselves into a calamitous collapse and sectarian civil war.

  22. 22
    The Dangerman says:

    @goblue72:

    They want civil war, give it to them.

    Since CA pulled it’s head out of it’s ass this election (at least it was a start), maybe we can secede along with, say, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii (someplace to vacation without a passport necessary). Between Silicon Valley and Boeing/Microsoft, that should leave a mark on the rest of the former United States.

  23. 23
    BR says:

    @The Dangerman:

    And a large fraction of the fresh fruits and veggies that the country produces.

  24. 24
    Steeplejack says:

    @BR:

    Source, please.

  25. 25
    IM says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Ecotopia, what?

  26. 26
    General Stuck says:

    The most dangerous thing to me is not the specific threats from people like Cantor, it is the tone coming from the wingers, especially in the House. It reeks of people who believe they cannot be faulted, nor blamed for their actions. It is the fervor of the most fervent cultist that believes whatever their inspiration, it is utterly infallible, as are they as instruments of that inspiration.

    And who can really blame them much for slipping into that hallowed state of mind. They royally fucked the country up and just two years later, the voters put them back in charge/

  27. 27
    JCT says:

    @El Cid: Yeah, and apparently the audience was horrified. Oh, and don’t forget, Graham is one of the “moderates”, whatever the hell that means now.

    At this point I cannot even remotely get my mind around what these idiots are saying, it’s that bad. Could they really be this stupid? In what reality would it make sense to attack yet ANOTHER Muslim country that has not attacked us and, by the way has 75 million inhabitants. With what military? Aren’t they still a bit busy?

    It’s truly a race to the bottom.

  28. 28
    SRW1 says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    You thought the stagnation in the median income of males between 1978 and 2007 was depressing. Have a look at the development for 20-24 year old males over that time frame: about $30k in 1970, but only about $22k in 2002.

  29. 29
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Meanwhile the average for Wall Street has gone ballistic.

    Let’s put some actual figures behind that statement, shall we?

    According to a chart I found in this article, executive compensation as compared to the average factory worker’s pay has increased from a ratio 42:1 in 1960 to a peak of 53-frickin-1:1 (531 to 1) in 2000 at the height of the dot-com insanity, then back down to a more reasonable ***cough…*** 344:1 in 2007…

    Apparently the same ratio (CEO comp-to-worker pay) is a far saner 25:1 in Europe…

    Here’s another worthwhile nugget from the article…

    It’s even more revealing to compare the actual rates of increase of the salaries of CEOs and ordinary workers; from 1990 to 2005, CEOs’ pay increased almost 300% (adjusted for inflation), while production workers gained a scant 4.3%. The purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3%, when inflation is taken into account.

    I hope that helps clarify things…

    ‘Ballistic’ isn’t strong enough of a word here…

    Grotesque… obscene… outrageous… all come to mind…

    And let’s not even get started on what this has done to company pension plans or worker benefits…

  30. 30
    jl says:

    Pretty good article, with one glaring omission that distorts the conclusion: the effect of irresponsible deregulation of financial markets. That deregulation was crucial in turning a very bad housing bust, the biggest post WWII housing bust, into a chronic and intractable crisis.

    Raghuram Rajan was right about the potentially catastrophic financial fragility of the deregulated regime, but he is very wrong, and persistently wrong, about the crisis being caused by government policies to improve credit availability to the poor. This was not the cause of the crisis. The default rate of community reinvestment act loans has remained below that of the private mortgage securities industry. I heard a guy named Wallison, supposedly the best and brightest, and most polished of the bank lobbyists, try to explain exactly how the CRA caused the mess in a youtube of a Congressional hearing, and Wallison spouted patent nonsense. It is simply not true. While Rajan is not a nutcase Chicago School borg type, I guess there is enough modern Chicago School in him that he simply cannot admit that deregulation of financial market played the key role, even though he wrote a very good and prescient paper pointing out its dangers (which one Lawrence Summers dissed rather crudely and unprofessionally, no matter what DeLong says). I think Rajan is invested enough in the modern Chicago School that he cannot bring himself to admit that any deregulation could be the proximate cause of such serious problems.

    The Petersons are the type of ordinary people ‘responsible’ for the problem, to the extent that such people are responsible. They look white, they are middle class, they have gainful jobs, they tried to do a sober analysis of the value of their house towards the end of the boom. The wife used the second mortgage for a responsible investment in increasing her human capital. It is not their fault that the price signals were so screwed up that what they thought was a conservative estimate of responsible amount to borrow on the new higher value of their house turned out to be a wild over estimate.

    The Tim Adams guy seems to be a sincere Republican hack who has little insight into the fundamental problem.

    I do not see how the American Dream is over, unless you define it very narrowly to be government subsidized suburban sprawl, and naive faith in unregulated market magic to produce an earthly paradise.

    I agree with Krugman, and Stiglitz. There is very little new in this crisis for anyone who is open minded enough to have learned the history of macroeconomics, and not dismissed Keynesian theory out of hand, and who have paid attention to developments in the economics of information and incentives over the last 30 years.. People could, and did, predict it to the extent that it could be predicted. They missed the scope of the crisis because the nature of the financial market disaster was opaque, due also to irresponsible deregulation. We are still learning the extent of the disaster as we watch the banks and the mortgage industry trash our supposedly superior system of property law, due process, and property rights as they try to finesse their lack of proper documentation and transfer of title for the mortgages.

    The article should have discussed the role of irresponsible and heedless financial market deregulation in more detail, or maybe even mentioned it (ithe article may have mentioned it, but if I missed that part it was so short and cursory that it was grossly inadequate).

  31. 31
    PeakVT says:

    I don’t particularly like the last page on currency rates. Der Spiegel is basically talking Germany’s book: if the dollar is weakened then Germany’s exports to the US will be hurt substantially, and Germany will have to deal some internal and intra-Eurozone imbalances. The reality is that the dollar needs to float freely against all currencies, because otherwise we will end up with a bigger financial and economic crisis within a decade.

  32. 32
    Keith G says:

    Unfortunately, the American dream was not enabled by characteristics inherent in the American people.

    240 years ago just as the human industrial age was dawning, this venture got it start on a chunk of turf that, geographically speaking, was damn near perfect. It would have taken a willful effort to not be successful.

    Well here we are. The resources are largely gone, oceans no longer protect, and our monopoly-like dominance of technology and intellectual development has nearly vanished.

    Not the Japs, Germans, red or yellow hoards or al Qeda are our greatest threat. With apologies to Pogo, it is us. We are the most likely instrument of our own destruction. And if it comes, it will not be fueled by our poor or our undereducated.

    It will be fueled by the comfortable-income’d entitled who will not wipe the mist of a false nostalgia from their eyes and will not help this society make the basic changes it has to make (changes being and already made by other societies) to meet the realities of the twenty-teens and beyond.

    The great shame is that there still is so much good to be had if we were to just be able to adjust to the growing problems before we get totally swamped.

  33. 33
    MikeJ says:

    @JenJen: Completely OT, but since you said your dad was a jock, has he seen Alan Partridge’s Mid Morning Matters yet? Hilariously funny, more so if you’ve spent anytime hanging out in a booth.

    If he (or you) haven’t seen his earlier stuff, make an effort to check it out.

  34. 34
    Mike in NC says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Bush’s greatest failure was his Presidency.

    Dubya sez: “Buy my new book, suckers!”

  35. 35
  36. 36
    Napoleon says:

    @General Stuck:

    The most dangerous thing to me is not the specific threats from people like Cantor, it is the tone coming from the wingers, especially in the House. It reeks of people who believe they cannot be faulted, nor blamed for their actions

    Read up on the Spanish Civil War.

  37. 37
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @El Cid:

    Oooooooops… my mistake… I was thinking of Lindsay… it’s just too frackin’ easy to get those nutty Republicans confused… and if Duncan Hunter HASN’T made that statement yet… it’s only a matter of time…

  38. 38
    lahke says:

    The article has the mood right, but their economics seems backwards. They’re effectively blaming the housing collapse on CRA, for example (ignoring that it’s been around since the 70’s), while giving less importance to banking deregulation, etc. that also drove commercial real estate into the ditch. Come on, all those shuttered strip malls weren’t the fault of poor folks.

    Wish they’d been more explicit about the sources of dropoff in social cohesion–they point it out as an impediment to turning things around, this lost feeling of community. Well, it’s due to the last 40 years of conservative emphasis on individualism and selfishness. Alexis de Toqueville commented on the social cohesion of Americans–always joining together for social, legal, and political purposes–and we had that well into the last century. It’s almost like the tea partiers are trying to recapture it by banding together, but then they remember they’re supposed to be rugged individualists, and start snarling at each other.

    I can’t imagine how the Republicans are going to respond to our crumbling infrastructure–it’s a much more concrete (sorry) example of the declining schools, economy, food safety, public health areas that they plan to starve out. Will people really still be singing the tax cut song at that point? Maybe our corporate overlords think that they’ll be safe in their gated communities while the rest of us live in the equivalent of post-Katrina New Orleans.

    Jeesh, I’m depressed.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Napoleon: Will this be on the test?

  40. 40

    @Keith G:
    The resources are largely gone
    Nope. Just locked up or denied.
    oceans no longer protect
    from whom?
    and our monopoly-like dominance of technology and intellectual development has nearly vanished.
    Not exactly. It could, but we’re not there yet.

  41. 41
    NR says:

    @El Cid: I’m calling it right now: The Republicans are going to win with this attitude, because Obama still does not seem to understand that you cannot compromise with people who are out to destroy you.

  42. 42
    NR says:

    @General Stuck:

    They royally fucked the country up and just two years later, the voters put them back in charge/

    Well, why shouldn’t they have? Obama just spent the last two years co-opting and endorsing their policies, and bragging about how many of their ideas he’d included in his legislation.

  43. 43
    JenJen says:

    @MikeJ: Thank you! We’re about to sit down to dinner (marinated strip steaks, sauteed with onion and peppers, oiled and kosher-salt-rubbed baked potatoes on the side) in just a few minutes.

    Thank you for dessert, MikeJ!!

  44. 44

    @General Stuck:

    They royally fucked the country up and just two years later, the voters put them back in *1/3* charge/

    FTFY

  45. 45
    General Stuck says:

    @NR:

    boorish troll

  46. 46
    mai naem says:

    First, watching Cantor, Demint, Paul and Pence on the teevee this morning, and then seeing the chyron on CNN saying that Obama is ready to compromise on the tax cuts, I kind of just give up. Just once, and I mean, just once, I would like to see the Dems and Obama say no compromise. I just feeling like if the Repubs said we are going to reintroduce lynching blacks, the Dems would say yes, but with conditions. This is really dispiriting.

  47. 47
    lahke says:

    @lahke:

    or what jl said up there at #30. I write too slowly.

  48. 48
    American Voter says:

    @PeakVT: Straight outta Der Schmutzige Harry. They’re saying “You guys do X, and we shoot the PIIGS — then it all falls down. So let me ask you –‘Do you feel lucky’?”.

    The Bundesbank was doing stuff like this before there was even an exchange rate mechanism, never mind a Euro and an ECB.

    Ganz typisch.</i.

  49. 49
    Mako says:

    John, I know it’s all about the page views, but seriously, these America-in-decline articles are nothing new. Still thinking of putting that dog down?

  50. 50
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Since CA pulled it’s head out of it’s ass this election…

    I hafta say… when I came time to vote (I live in CA), I was so mad that day that I just voted Dem-Dem-Dem, no matter what the position… not the best way to select a government, but I’m so grossed out Republicans at this point, I didn’t give a damn and wasn’t going to vote for a single GOOPer ANYWHERE, for ANYTHING…

    Not that I like or approve of Dems, mind you… it’s just that there’s bad, and then there’s bat shite insane…

    Yes… I noticed that too.. the state pretty much put Dems in office everywhere they were running, prolly w/ some to be expected exceptions… but Gov, US Sen, Lt Gov, … right down the line… even giving the truly dysfunctional state legislature the power to vote a budget in on less than 2/3rds…

    Someone smarter than me once said whatever happens in the US usually happens in CA first and then works its way back across the country… we shall see…

  51. 51
    General Stuck says:

    @NR:

    The obama fail troll bot, bots on. Yawn.

  52. 52
    Sly says:

    @BR:
    Greenspan was an early devotee of Rand, attending salons held in her apartment in the early 1950s. When the NYT published its review of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, which was entirely negative, Greenspan wrote a LTTE:

    To the Editor:
    __
    Atlas Shrugged is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Mr. Hicks suspiciously wonders “about a person who sustains such a mood through the writing of 1,168 pages and some fourteen years of work.” This reader wonders about a person who finds unrelenting justice personally disturbing.
    __
    Alan Greenspan, NY

    He worked at the Nathaniel Branden Institute, named after the dude who was made famous by shagging the heartless old bitch and promoting Objectivism everywhere he went, until he decided to go for someone younger. Rand apparently disliked this and disavowed him, not realizing he was merely realizing his rational self-interest. Greenspan, like a good little Randroid, disavowed him too.

    She was there at the ceremony when Nixon appointed him as the head of the Council of Economic Advisors. And she probably would have been there when Reagan made him Fed Chairman, had she not died and gone straight to Hell five years earlier.

  53. 53
    General Stuck says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    1/3 charge/

    A wrecking crew only needs 1/3 charge, to wreck stuff.

  54. 54

    @Sly:
    Hell’s too good for her, IMHO.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mai naem: Have you seen anything about the compromise that Obama is willing to accept on taxes? He has said that everyone agrees on the under $250K tax cuts, so we should pass those. Framing that as a compromise is rather clever, isn’t it?

  56. 56
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I always thought that Bush’s greatest failure was having children.

    Oh wait you’re talking about Bush Jr.

  57. 57

    @General Stuck:
    true, but let’s not join in on the “in charge” part. That’s just adopting Snowball Snookie’s bullshit.

    It was a typical midterm. Oh, surprise!

  58. 58
    General Stuck says:

    @mai naem:

    You really need to read up more and learn Obama is absolutely not willing to make permanent the high end Bush tax cuts. So using the term “compromise” is relative, and boilerplate presidential babble.

  59. 59
    MTiffany says:

    @El Cid:

    Blow it all up, Randtards!

    So long as they’re the only ones killed or maimed in the explosion, I second.

  60. 60
    nodakfarmboy says:

    @Keith G:

    How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
    At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

    -Abraham Lincoln

    Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, 1838

    http://www.thelastfullmeasure......ddress.htm

  61. 61
    General Stuck says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    but let’s not join in on the “in charge” part. That’s just adopting Snowball Snookie’s bullshit.

    LOL, well, you sort of have a point, but I’m not sure it matters all that much on a lefty blog. but i will try to use technically precise terms.

  62. 62
    batgirl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: And because we are talking about marginal tax rates, keeping the tax cuts under $250K is a tax cut for everyone, including those making over $250K. But we Americans find math hard and we Democrats suck as messaging.

  63. 63
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @batgirl: I was told there would be no math.

  64. 64
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Cantor . . . McConnell . . . Paul . . . Boehner . . . Really, any and all of them. I won’t say I actively wish for their deaths, but to paraphrase someone (Mencken? Twain?), I look forward to reading their obituaries with unalloyed pleasure.

  65. 65

    Most depressing, all around. Sigh.

  66. 66

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    Sadly, these are the people who seem to live extremely long lives.

  67. 67
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @JCT:

    It’s truly a race to right straight thru the bottom and then beyond.

    Sorry… it just reads better that way…

  68. 68
    BR says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I sincerely hope that’s how he frames it and continues to frame it.

  69. 69

    Perhaps even scarier than the anger in this country is the anti-intellectual, anti-education, anti-creativity feelings that fill much of the country. There is a hysterical cry going up, “Don’t try anything new!”

  70. 70
    BR says:

    @General Stuck:

    make permanent

    That’s the key phrase I’m worried about. If he gives them a 2 year extension to the rich tax cut, they’ll just extend it again in 2 years.

  71. 71
    Napoleon says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Of course.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Napoleon: Dammit. Does anyone have some notes I can borrow?

  73. 73
    mai naem says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: If that’s the case why not frame it that way? And BTW I have heard the other part of the compromise is increasing the level of the tax rates to a 500K or a million. And BTW, I keep on hearing about means testing SS. How many people in reality would it hit(yes, I know it depends) or is this another trojan horse of turning SS into a welfare program?

  74. 74
    Suck It Up! says:

    This is what Obama said;

    “But at a time when we are going to ask folks across the board to make such difficult sacrifices, I don’t see how we can afford to borrow an additional $700 billion from other countries to make all the Bush tax cuts permanent, even for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’d be digging ourselves into an even deeper fiscal hole and passing the burden on to our children.”

  75. 75
    NR says:

    @BR: This reminds me of the way that Obama refuses to say that he won’t cut Social Security. All he’ll say is that he won’t privatize it. Well, this still leaves him room to position himself in opposition to those mean, nasty Republicans who want to privatize SS. In order to avoid privatization, we just need to make a few little adjustments (cuts) to the program.

    He probably figures he can get people to go along with this by simply saying that it would be even worse with Republicans who want to privatize SS. And when it comes to a lot of people, he’s probably right.

  76. 76
    frosty says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity: Dem-Dem-Dem. Yeah, I’ve been doing that for about 20-odd years now. I even voted against the husband of a friend of mine for city council because he ran with an R behind his name. When another friend ran for a local race as an R … I wrote him in on the D ballot.

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mai naem: He has framed it that way in interviews. The fact that it is not common knowledge is another issue entirely.

  78. 78
    Suck It Up! says:

    For the love of God, Obama just come back already.

  79. 79
    Shalimar says:

    @JCT:

    With what military?

    This is actually depressing. Because we spend more on our military than every other country put together. We should be able to fight 3 countries at once who combined don’t have half our population. But the brass admit we don’t have the troops to do it.

    What does this say about how badly military contractors are ripping us off for things we don’t need and shouldn’t be buying? The vast majority of the Pentagon budget is basically organized theft by rich corporations.

  80. 80
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @frosty:

    I have voted for Republicans in the past… been a while, but I did… I either thought the Repub was actually better, or just wasn’t as bad as the Dem in question… if someone had knocked Harry Reid off in NV, I would not have missed Harry in the least, but Sharron Angle?

    What could some Nevadans been thinking… or drinking…?

    Or Carly over Boxer? ***shuuuuuuuuudder…***

    I would have no problem whatsoever w/ almost ALL incumbents being voted out… IF… big if… IF… the replacements were actually better…

  81. 81
    Mark S. says:

    Cantor isn’t this stupid, is he? A government shutdown would be one thing, but couldn’t the dipshit at least assure us that the House goopers wouldn’t do anything as suicidal at default on the debt? Just to remind us that he has a brain?

  82. 82
    General Stuck says:

    @BR:

    I don’t look for any of the Bush tax cuts to be extended, or made permanent before they expire in a couple of months. From listening to the now tea tard controlled House, they will except no compromise of making permanent the middle class cuts without doing the same for the rich ones.

    And Obama will not go for this. I think he will push for the middle tax cuts of Bush’s to be made permanent in the lame duck session, because that is what he promised, but I suspect he would just as soon let them all expire and blame the wingnuts, and welcome the revenue increase that will pay on the deficit the wingers hammered him on this election, and for 2012.

    I think we are headed for a showdown at the OK corral next congress, where wingers will demand complete capitulation from Obama and he will not consent. They are full of themselves right now, and believe themselves to be ten foot tall and ballot proof. When really, the public didn’t vote for them so much as vote against dems, indies over the economy and seniors scared about HCR and their medicare.

  83. 83
    JCT says:

    @Linda Featheringill: This. And it will cripple us forever.

    I’m just waiting for the line of Republican talking dolls like the infamous “Math is hard” Barbie. Imagine the possibilities.

  84. 84
    Keith G says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I am somewhat stymied by the brevity of your retorts (or maybe its the single malt whisky +3), but I’ll wade in:

    The readily available, and thereby inexpensive resources that powered the American dream are mostly gone or limited enough to make their expense an issue. Would be nice if we could do m ore with less. (sip)

    The oceans separated us from “bad people” for long enough so that we did not have to waste a whole lot of resources on defense for our first 160 years – not a small thing. Now your, “from whom?” is, it seems, a bit sarcastic. Fair enough. But imagined threats can be just as expensive as the actually variety – an just as capable of draining scarce resources. (sip)

    I am liking this. Type a paragraph and sip. I digress.

    We have more than enough intellectual and technological competition, that we can no longer enjoy the warn glow of what we once were. Our schools, our factories or labs are no longer guaranteed a level of supremacy just because they exist. Being older than you, when I was but a growing lad, certain types of education, certain types of economic and industrial processes might only be found in a handful of countries. Not so much any more.

    My belabored point was that: So many of my fellow citizens seem to think that all we need to do is find the right tax rate or adjust entitlements just so and we once again will be in the sweet spot of the American dream. They are wrong and the perpetuation of such self-serving silliness is quite dangerous.

    (sip)

  85. 85
    The Dangerman says:

    @Mark S.:

    …but couldn’t the dipshit at least assure us that the House goopers wouldn’t do anything as suicidal at default on the debt?

    Someplace, not necessarily in DC, there are some very powerful people that will not let Cantor, et al, default on the debt. If that is his tactic, I wouldn’t fly in any planes with the man.

  86. 86
    Dee Loralei says:

    @mai naem: He said in his Saturday address yesterday basically that he would not budge on tax cuts for the over 250K, other than the fact that they’d get one for their first 250K. I’m paraphrasing Benen over at Washington Monthly, if you want to go to the source.

  87. 87
    JCT says:

    @Shalimar:

    Because we spend more on our military than every other country put together. We should be able to fight 3 countries at once who combined don’t have half our population. But the brass admit we don’t have the troops to do it.

    The calculations that they used to do to ensure that we could fight multiple wars were largely based on “conventional” combat — nearly an anachronism now. And the basic premise is of course obscene on it’s face as the guys rattling their sabers so loudly won’t be involved in any fighting of course… Bush and his pals treated our military like an enormous game of Risk.

    The vast majority of the Pentagon budget is basically organized theft by rich corporations.

    Hmmmm, this sounds familiar to me…. a pattern, perhaps? Sigh.

  88. 88
    Maody says:

    My belabored point was that: So many of my fellow citizens seem to think that all we need to do is find the right tax rate or adjust entitlements just so and we once again will be in the sweet spot of the American dream. They are wrong and the perpetuation of such self-serving silliness is quite dangerous.

    This and Linda’s anti-intellectual/education/creativity/mathy/sciency comment.

  89. 89
    MTiffany says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Well then I’ll go ahead and admit that I do. And the sooner, the better, before they damage this country any more than they already have.

  90. 90
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @Shalimar:

    What does this say about how badly military contractors are ripping us off for things we don’t need and shouldn’t be buying? The vast majority of the Pentagon budget is basically organized theft by rich corporations.

    And when you think about the amount of real damage inflicted by 18 guys w/ box cutters…

  91. 91
    El Cid says:

    @Dee Loralei: I just have to repeat this.

    Cantor also made clear that if there’s going to be any compromise, it’s going to have to come from Obama, who has said he is willing to work with Republicans. Cantor, however, said that Republicans will work with Obama only if he agrees with them 100 percent.

    So, hopefully they can reach a compromise on the Bush Jr. tax cuts for the rich — meaning, do whatever Republicans want.

    That’s “compromise”. Let’s see if our billion dollar media calls them on it.

  92. 92

    @Keith G:
    First of all, thank you for your detailed response. I will attempt to reply in kind (sans single-malt, unfortunately):

    The readily available, and thereby inexpensive resources that powered the American dream are mostly gone or limited enough to make their expense an issue. Would be nice if we could do m ore with less

    True, and yet, we have ample resources if we developed them. You seem to be referring to oil, etc. I grant you that. But our ability to feed our nation is still there, as *could be* our ability to develop renewable resources.
    (as if I were sipping)

    The oceans separated us from “bad people” for long enough so that we did not have to waste a whole lot of resources on defense for our first 160 years – not a small thing. Now your, “from whom?” is, it seems, a bit sarcastic. Fair enough. But imagined threats can be just as expensive as the actually variety – an just as capable of draining scarce resources.

    Ah, but you were not referring to “imagined” threats. I refer to *actual* threats. Other than the apparent stray terr0r bomber, these still do not exist. True, imaginary threats can drain resources, but they are still imagined. I guess that’s more the point I was trying to make.

    We have more than enough intellectual and technological competition, that we can no longer enjoy the warn glow of what we once were. Our schools, our factories or labs are no longer guaranteed a level of supremacy just because they exist. Being older than you, when I was but a growing lad, certain types of education, certain types of economic and industrial processes might only be found in a handful of countries. Not so much any more.

    I am not exactly taking your tone on this one as one of respect (young whippersnapper), but here goes: this one does concern me more than the others listed above. I was a teen when names like Apple, IBM, etc. were the marvel of the world. I didn’t see a moon-landing, but some of the stuff I witnessed was pretty awe-inspiring.

    What is more concerning to me is that these other places where intellectual capacity exists are willing to do it for much cheaper (yes, I said cheaper) costs to multinationals.

    So, 1-3, friend. Cheers.

  93. 93
    jcricket says:

    The crazy thing is if the “middle class” portion of the Bush tax cuts is extended, every fscking person gets a tax cut, including the rich. We all understand how marginal tax rates work, right? So basically if you cut tax rates on all income under $250k, even those that make more than $250k get a tax break on the income up to $250k.

    And again, $250k is like what, 1% of the population?

    Anyhoo – I wonder how long the public will continue fighting to make sure that their neighbor’s lives suck as much as their own? Every time I read an article about a union or government worker with good benefits, its filled with comments from the other middle-class folk going, “My life sucks and I have no benefits, so neither should they”. Blows my mind.

    Oh, and the worst statistic in this entire Der Spiegel article is the one about 1/4th of the US children on food stamps. Richest fucking country in the world and 25% of our kids are on FOOD STAMPS and probably don’t even get enough food to not be hungry most of the time. God damn it. God damn it all to hell.

  94. 94
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Shalimar:

    I was in aerospace for a couple of decades. It isn’t just the contractors, it’s also the military’s acquisition policies combined with a bunch of generals and admirals who see weapons systems as obsolete before the people in the field even learn to use them. It’s keeping 11 Carrier Battle Groups afloat to control the world’s Sea Lanes of Commerce when the ships sailing them are flagged in anywhere but America and carry few American goods. It’s Congress ordering more C17 cargo planes every year (To keep plants open) even though the Air Force told them years ago that it doesn’t want any more C17s.

    None of that is an excuse for the cupidity of the defense contractors. Those contractors do get a hell of a lot of help from both the Pentagon and the pols, though.

  95. 95
    jcricket says:

    @El Cid: At this point compromise means giving the Republicans everything they want and more – as defined both by the GOP and the media.

    Extending the Bush tax cuts, at all, is already a compromise position. Extending the portion for the $250k+ crowd is not a compromise at all, except in the eyes of the deranged GOP, where any taxes above negative-infinity for the rich/corporations is a compromise.

  96. 96
    D-boy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I have always thought that Bush’s greatest failure was his Presidency.

    Win!

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jcricket:

    Anyhoo – I wonder how long the public will continue fighting to make sure that their neighbor’s lives suck as much as their own? Every time I read an article about a union or government worker with good benefits, its filled with comments from the other middle-class folk going, “My life sucks and I have no benefits, so neither should they”. Blows my mind.

    I still can’t figure out how we got from “if my neighbor has it, I want it, too” to “if my neighbor has it, s/he should have it taken away.”

    Vonnegut was wrong about which side of the political spectrum the world of “Harrison Bergeron” was going to spring from.

  98. 98
    El Cid says:

    @jcricket: From the venerable Davis X. Machina in one of the best short insights on the American culture of bitter prejudiced selfishness:

    The salient fact in American politics is that there are always enough people to deliver an election who would volunteer to live with their family in a cardboard box under a railroad bridge, and toast sparrows on an old curtain rod over an open fire, if you would only guarantee them that the people in the next box over—black, gay, foreign, liberal, different—don’t even get the sparrow.

    Remember, you’ve always got the crazy 27% or so of the US population (and voters) who truly want the US to be some sort of Talibangelical fascist regime, where a collapsed economy and even their own suffering is worth it just to stick it to the n******.

  99. 99
    Nick says:

    @jcricket:

    Extending the Bush tax cuts, at all, is already a compromise position

    Not really, one could argue that the lower/middle class needed a tax cut, but the rich did not.

  100. 100
    El Cid says:

    @Mnemosyne: A relative of mine once noted that he was listening to some talk show in which the subject of all the irate calls regarding the topic of how nice criminals had it in prison when they had complete health care coverage and the ordinary people don’t.

    He thought it amazing, when you stop and consider, that the host and callers’ reactions were to make sure that the prisoners suffered more, rather than thinking that they deserved better health care than prisoners.

    Curtain rods, sparrows, etc.

  101. 101
    Mark S. says:

    @El Cid:

    From the article you quoted at 7 or thereabouts:

    “Listen, are we willing to work with him?” said Cantor on Sunday. “First and foremost, we’re not going to be willing to work with him on the expansive liberal agenda he’s been about, but if he is serious about working with us on things like earmarks, for instance — which he said he would work with me on that — I’m absolutely hopeful we can do that.”

    God, like the President has anything to do with earmarks. But this has got to be the stupidest issue in the history of mankind. For all the teabaggers:

    EARMARKS DO NOT INCREASE THE SIZE OF THE DEFICIT! IT IS MONEY THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN APPROPRIATED! IT IS LIKE IF I TOLD YOU THAT I AM GOING TO SPEND $20 AT THE STORE AND YOU ASKED THAT I PICKED UP A BAG OF CHIPS. I’M STILL SPENDING THE $20. WE COULD ELIMINATE EARMARKS AND IMPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY ON ANY CONGRESSPERSON WHO TRIED TO INTRODUCE ONE AND IT WOULD NOT SAVE US ONE FUCKING GODDAMN PENNY.

    Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

  102. 102
    Backbencher says:

    While I think the article does a good job of explaining the situation we find ourselves in, I am always amazed by these articles that explain how thin the thread holding up the middle and working really is but castigates Democrats for not being willing to cut the budget of the programs that form our very frayed safety net.

  103. 103
    Jay C says:

    Cantor, however, said that Republicans will work with Obama only if he agrees with them 100 percent.

    Y’know: I used to see comments like this all over the Intertubes, and have for years, and it has almost always been quoted as a sort of parody, or satire of hard-ass Republican attitudes. Only this time, it’s not some snarky blogger saying shit like this, it’s the soon-to-be House Majority Leader (?) – and the frightening thing is, that he is serious.

    *shudder*

  104. 104
    Nick says:

    @El Cid: Afreakingmen

  105. 105
    El Cid says:

    @Mark S.: Each year earmarks cost a billion trillion dollars and are all given by Democrats to ACORN and La Raza. This is where all the budget deficits come from, along with Medicare and Social Security fraud. If you fixed all that then America would be solvent and without a deficit all the jobs would come back for some reason or other.

  106. 106
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    More criticism of firebaggers should help greatly.
    .
    .

  107. 107
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Cid:

    This is where all the budget deficits come from, along with Medicare and Social Security fraud.

    Fix’d since, given the recent gubernatorial election in Florida, it’s pretty clear the teabaggers think of Medicare fraud as corporate profits that haven’t been realized yet.

    (Edited to fix my fix. D’oh!)

  108. 108
    Nick says:

    @Jay C:

    Only this time, it’s not some snarky blogger saying shit like this, it’s the soon-to-be House Majority Leader (?) – and the frightening thing is, that he is serious.

    No, the frightening thing is the media doesn’t see ANYTHING wrong with this.

  109. 109
    kwAwk says:

    What’s interesting to me about this whole thing is that TARP was essentially an admission by Bush and Greenspan that the whole economic liberal/Friedman free market hyper-free market theory had failed.

    But Democrats by taking the responsible position and passing it without making Bush and Wall Street get Republicans in the Congress on board, the allowed the right in Congress to almost erase the admission from the record.

    Democrats and moderate Republicans took the fall for TARP in the minds of a lot of voters and the radical right got rewarded for their insane positions.

    We on the left though shouldn’t pretend that only the politicians on the right are responsible for the crash in the economy. Sure there is a lot of blame to be taken by the so called economic gurus on Wall Street, but Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac with their loan guarantees played a role in it too. And Democrats weren’t willing to reign in those entities any more than Republicans were willing to reign in the Big Banks.

    In fairness to Bush he did try to reign in the housing bubble but was rebuffed by Congress because of his one sided solution dealing Fannie and Freddie.

  110. 110
    Corner Stone says:

    @Suck It Up!: Really? Then why is Gibbs saying this:

    A day after President Barack Obama signaled flexibility on taxes following the “shellacking” voters delivered to Democrats, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama is willing to consider a compromise for a one- or two-year extension of the full roster of tax cuts, even for families earning more than $250,000 a year.
    __
    “He’d be open to having that discussion,” Gibbs said.

    Extend

  111. 111
    Mako says:

    That Cantor guy, closeted gay?

  112. 112
    NR says:

    @Corner Stone: Greg Sargent said it best on this issue:

    Can we please bag this idea that it’s somehow a “compromise” in any meaningful sense if we temporarily extend all the Bush tax cuts, including the ones for the rich? Come on. It’s really capitulation. Temporary capitulation, perhaps, but capitulation all the same.

  113. 113
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Unless there was a press briefing on Saturday that hasn’t been posted yet, that’s not what Gibbs actually said.

    Who’da thunk the right-wing media would lie to you?

  114. 114
    wilfred says:

    From the article:

    But Greenspan felt that the old order was too sedate. He placed great stock in the experiences of his friend, the Russian immigrant and philosopher Ayn Rand, who wrote about the evils of collectivist systems. “What she did…was to make me think why capitalism is not only efficient and practical, but also moral,” Greenspan said. “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”

    That’s a quote for the ages.

  115. 115
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne: It was quoted by the AP. I guess that’s right wing, who knows anymore.

  116. 116
    jcricket says:

    @Nick: I suppose. But I think a smarter argument is to say that what the middle class and poor really need is better services, not an extra $400/year in their pocket.

    Right now the government (esp. at the state level) is starved for money. These governments are cutting the services that the middle class and poor rely on for, basically, everything (schools, shelters, roads, fire protection, healthcare subsidies, etc) faster and deeper than the feds could ever hope to make up for – especially considering the majority of taxes the middle class and poor pay are regressive taxes like the gas, sales + property taxes.

    I know the Republican theory is that you cut taxes on the rich and the rest of us benefit, but that’s obviously not the case. So let’s jack up the tax rate on the rich, and pay for the services that benefit us all. But here’s the sneaky thing, when the middle class and poor starting doing better, the rich will still get richer (because our economy is dependent on consumer spending). That’s actually fine by me.

    What’s not fine is our current situation where the rich maintain their strangehold on their riches by fucking over everyone else.

  117. 117
    jcricket says:

    Cantor, however, said that Republicans will work with Obama only if he agrees with them 100 percent. commits ritual suicide after publicly admitting he’s a kenyan muslim communist terrorist and that the entire Democratic party has been engaged in a 70-year con to destroy the United States, freedom, Jesus and puppies.

    Fixed that for you.

    GOP is just like the banks. Give them everything they want, and then they still want more. Give them more, and they blame you for not giving them more sooner. Roll over and take it up the ass without lube, and they blame you for the chafing.

  118. 118
    wilfred says:

    Cantor has other priorities:

    Republican congressman Eric Cantor is arguing to make US aid to Israel part of the military budget, so it will be exempt from planned cuts to foreign aid. YnetNews Daily reports that Cantor, the only Jewish Republican serving in Congress, said that once Republicans take control after the mid-term elections, they will work towards stopping foreign aid to countries who do not operate according to American interests. This leaves open the possibility of a Republican-led congress not approving the foreign aid budget submitted by the government. To ensure that Israel will continue to receive the US$3 billion a year it gets from American taxpayers should such a situation would take place, Cantor is arguing that the Israeli portion of the foreign aid budget be transferred from the State Department to the Pentagon, making it part of the US military budget.

    Who’s going to argue with that?

  119. 119
    Nick says:

    @jcricket: People like free money. Tax cuts sound nice to them, because it means they get free money (their money) and they can do what they want with it and screw everyone else.

    That’s why tax cuts are always popular.

  120. 120
    jcricket says:

    @wilfred: I believe the word for this, which is apropos, is “chutzpah”.

    Still, it’s going to be a lonely Hanukkah for Cantor.

  121. 121
    Delia says:

    @wilfred:

    That’s a quote for the ages.

    It certainly is. I’m still trying to figure out what this bit

    “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”

    even means or what it has to do with capitalism. Not that one should expect rationality from a Randoid in any case . . .

  122. 122
    jcricket says:

    @Nick: Believe me, I get it. Everyone loves free money. Everyone loves the idea of unlimited services.

    I think the blame, sadly, is not just on the voters. I’d apportion it in thirds. 33% to the voters for their stupidity. 33% to Republicans for lying about the purpose and need for taxes and how the revenue can be achieved. But also 33% to Democrats for failing to articulate why Republicans are wrong/lying.

    Democrats have spent the last 30-40 years on the ropes, or playing defensive, or using accounting gimmicks when tax revenues go down to avoid cutting services. When Democrats stop being such wimps and start being confident and strong, we’ll start winning, and not just at the ballot box, but eventually the hearts and minds of the public (except the crazification factor, of course).

  123. 123
    Chris from Pittsburgh says:

    Good article because its distance allowed it to be nonpartisan and even a-political in its explanation of the lead-up to our current situation.

    But I think the article overstates the case for austerity (fitting, coming from Germany). While it does not come out and say it that austerity is necessary, in fact, it ridicules the things that the GOP associates with budget cuts – deregulation, lack of social cohesion and a social safety net. However, it pushes very hard the issues of market uncertainty (which Krugman refers to as the “confidence faerie”) and fears of inflation. Both arguments Krugman and a few other economists (Delong, etc) have spent months destroying, not with theory, but with the facts that they aren’t happening.

    In all, an excellent piece, but one that I think is too nervous about future problems that are unlikely to occur.

    Now, other than those two problems, it’s brutally honest about the Banana Republicdom the US is headed towards unless we do something about it.

  124. 124
    Nick says:

    @jcricket:

    When Democrats stop being such wimps and start being confident and strong, we’ll start winning

    Tell that to Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, Raul Grijalva, Carol Shea-Porter, Debbie Halvorson, Anthony Weiner, and every other Democrat who stood up and fought only to go down in flames or survive a closer than usual election in a Democratic district on Tuesday.

    Anthony Weiner lost more than a third of registered Democrats in his district on Tuesday. Are these Democrats looking for someone to fight harder?

    I do think Democrats need to stand firm and be strong, I don’t think people are going to react positively if they do. why is it so difficult to at least consider the fact that half the population are just crazy?

  125. 125
    Delia says:

    @Chris from Pittsburgh:

    However, it pushes very hard the issues of market uncertainty (which Krugman refers to as the “confidence faerie”) and fears of inflation.

    I suspect that both of these issues may be specific German cultural fears going back to Weimar.

  126. 126
    Keith G says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    A thoughtful response, thanks. I have a variance of opinion on some of the issues only in slight degrees.

    Just finished watching the first series ending of Sherlock so my mind is reeling.

  127. 127
    Elie says:

    @BGinCHI:

    While everyone is putting on their sackcloth and ashes about not everybody being able to make it here, think, where other than here can many people make it who weren’t already born there, or part of the wealthy or elite culture?

    Certainly NOT Germany
    Not Italy
    Not France
    Not Great Britain —

    Not China
    Not Japan
    Not Australia or the Kiwis
    Brazil — its multiculti but strangled by its class differences and wide income desparaties
    India — wide desparaties that make ours look non existent

    Most of the other countries besides the US have such restrictive immigration and/or do not allow much upward mobility for new entrants (or old ones who aren’t, ya know, the right kind of people)for that matter). There are multigenerational Turks living in Germany who have not been and will not be allowed to become German citizens – EVAH.

    I surely think that the US has its problems and things are tough. But I could care less what Der Speigel thinks of us and our opportunity. They should check out their own shit and most of the rest of the world. You will STILL, even after all this pain, turmoil and sliding back, have a far better chance here in the good ol US of A than any other country on this planet.

    Canada is an exception with still plenty of opportunity, etc and perhaps the Netherlands, Sweden — but even the Netherlands and Sweden are getting a bit uptight about immigration these days…

  128. 128
    jl says:

    @kwAwk:

    “Sure there is a lot of blame to be taken by the so called economic gurus on Wall Street, but Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac with their loan guarantees played a role in it too.”

    There have been federal mortgage guarantee programs for decades, and no worldwide financial panic stemming from such guarantees.. And there were plenty of real estate bubbles before there were any federal loan guarantees.

    Real estate and commodity bubbles have been with us for as long as there has been free market systems of any kind, that is, throughout recorded history.

    It took the insane and irresponsible deregulation of housing finance and financial markets to turn a big housing boom and bust into a protracted financial and economic crisis that has had, is now, and will continue to cripple economic welfare all over the world.

    A simple real estate bubble, even one as large as this one, would be much easier to solve than the current problem. The massive malfunctioning of national and international financial markets, caused by irresponsible and mindless financial market deregulation could produce a mess so big and so intractable.

    The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in their current form, are not good ideas and should be replaced. But it is simply wrong to exaggerate their role in the crisis, and dangerous to formulation of good policy, to continue to misunderstand their role in the crisis.

  129. 129
    jl says:

    @Elie:

    “You will STILL, even after all this pain, turmoil and sliding back, have a far better chance here in the good ol US of A than any other country on this planet.”

    Please do some google searches and see if you can back up that assertion with some evidence. You will find out that you are wrong.

    Edit: for example,

    intergenerational mobility higher in France, Canada and Denmark than in US

    http://www.nytimes.com/package.....ex_03.html

  130. 130
    Elie says:

    @jl:

    Jl —

    You are saying that there are many other countries with the openness to immigration, where many of their own populations have great updward mobility?

    I am willing to be schooled about where that is and I admit that my information is perhaps anecdotal but you are saying that there are a large number of countries where that mobility freely exists and that the general examples that I presented are wrong? Are you saying that immigration restrictions in the countries that I listed are more lenient than ours, that the access to jobs and opportunity in say, France (if you are not French) is the same or better than ours, or in Germany or in Great Britain?

    I am probably not going to do an exhaustive search right this minute to prove you are wrong, but can you prove that you are right with a couple of citations that my points on immigration, income disparities etc are just plain wrong?

  131. 131
    jl says:

    click on ‘country by country’ link of NYTimes graphic

    Elie: the quote I highlighted said ‘You’, and I was responding that that part. You informed commenters here (I assumed that was the referent of ‘you’) that they had a better chance here than elsewhere. I say that statement is false. That is what I illustrated.

  132. 132
    Elie says:

    Okay. Your one citation just clears any assertion that I made that many other countries do not have disparaties.

    I would like to see, if possible, whether the samples included other races and ethnic groups. Its highly unlikely that other than France, the ethnic and minority mix would equal our own for Canada and Denmark .

    Just saying…

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Elie:

    Actually, Canada is pretty darn diverse — there are plenty of black Canadians (both native-born and immigrant) along with South Asian and East Asian populations. Their population is probably more similar to ours than any country in Europe.

  134. 134
    Elie says:

    Don’t seem much on the methodology of how the samples were selected. Do you see that and I missed it?

    I am no USA USA chanter..

    I appreciate however that our “experiment” — and it is very much an experiment — is pretty unprecendented in size and diversity. Others may overtake us, for sure. But it won’t be a country of this size and mix. Not too many of us running around out there with so many ethnic and racial mixes and with so much general wealth. Distribution and fairness, access is a huge problem — still. I just hate lectures from Germans and other Europeans who then go home to enforce their own more restrictive quotas, etc.

    We are not perfect — far from it. We know that. Just don’t think that the Germans are necessarily able to do that with the most credibility in my view…

  135. 135
    Elie says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Okay, but if you saw my original comment, I cited the Canadians as an exception along with the Netherlands to having diversity and having more access and fairness.

    Point accepted. For the 24 million Canadians (scope/size and density is a bit different than ours, you have to admit)

  136. 136
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    It was quoted by the AP. I guess that’s right wing, who knows anymore.

    Yep, they are. Their former editor-in-chief, Ron Fournier, got a lot of flak for sending supportive e-mails to Karl Rove and other shenanigans, and it spilled over into their coverage.

  137. 137
    jl says:

    Here are some reports. I do not think it is fair to say that the US has definitely lower social mobility than MOST other European developed countries. The Beller Hout study, which has been widely cited, finds the US is in the MIDDLE of developed countries wrt to social mobility, rather than LOWER than most as previous studies have found.

    Nordic countries, particularly Sweden, seems to have higher social mobility than the US, even after correcting for measurement problems, and different distributions of income. Sweden is not closed to immigration, so on that score is comparable to the US on the points you raise. About half of Malmo in southern Sweden is either foreign born or second generation immigrant, and Sweden has one of the highest rates of acceptance of refugees in the world. I have spent considerable time in Sweden, and it is apparent on the streets, and in the dance clubs. Even a good old fashioned Swedish dance party with Swedish folk music or big band, or western swing (which is popular there for some reason) has plenty of people who are not ethnic Swedes.

    So I am not trying to damn the US. I also think that the mediocre or poor ranking of US in terms of social mobility is a recent development (at least for people who identify as ‘white’ ethnically) that has occurred over the last 30 years.

    I think it simply a sad and unfortunate fact that social mobility has slowed dramatically in the US since the early 1980s. We have to face it and think of ways to fix it.

    note: for URLs, I took off the h t t p : / / prefix to escape moderation.

    Intergenerational Social Mobility:
    The United States in Comparative Perspective
    Emily Beller
    Michael Hout
    Direct comparisons of intergenerational social mobility in different countries are difficult to make, because both data availability and research methodologies differ from country to country. Until recently it has been hard to compare occupational mobility in the United States with that in other countries because of differences in occupational coding, [End Page 29] but new research using comparable coding shows that the United States is at the median in terms of opportunity: lower than the most open nations, such as Sweden, Canada, and Norway; but higher than the more rigid nations, such as West Germany, Ireland, or Portugal. 42 Other research suggests that Italy, France, and Great Britain are among the other societies that now display the lowest comparative mobility rates. 43
    muse.jhu.edu/journals/future_of_children/v016/16.2beller.html

    Understanding Mobility in America
    http://www.americanprogress.or.....79981.html

    Meritocracy in America
    Ever higher society, ever harder to ascend
    Whatever happened to the belief that any American could get to the top?
    Dec 29th 2004 | washington, dc
    The Economist
    http://www.economist.com/node/.....id=3518560

    Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Consequences for Cross-Country Comparisons†
    Bernt Bratsberg1, Knut Røed2, Oddbjørn Raaum3, Robin Naylor4, Markus Ja¨ntti5, Tor Eriksson6, Eva O¨sterbacka7Article first published online: 16 APR 2007
    The Economic Journal
    Volume 117, Issue 519, pages C72–C92, March 2007
    onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2007.02036.x/full

    Edit: that is weird, some WordPress gadget put the prefix back into some of the URLs. Hope they work, I will check them. I read some commenter said that more than three URLs would trigger moderation.

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Elie:

    I think the problem is that you’re being a bit overbroad. We have more social mobility in the US in the sense that our designated underclass is specifically African-Americans, so people from other ethnic groups have more social mobility than they do in other countries.

    However, as has been shown in numerous studies lately, our economic mobility sucks ass, and a lot of native-born Americans of whatever race or ethnicity are worse off economically than their parents were. The fact that someone who immigrated from a poor village in India does better economically here than they did at home doesn’t mean that we have no problems with economic mobility here. If that guy from a poor village moves here and becomes a programmer for $35,000 a year, that often means he displaced someone else who was making $70,000 at the same job. He’s better off here than he would have been in India, but he’s still not doing as well economically as an American citizen used to do in that job.

  139. 139
    Chris says:

    @Elie: Actually, Australia is relatively open. New Zealand is a little tougher. In both cases, it helps a lot to be young and educated: those get you lots of “points” on their scoring systems. Being old and poor will keep you from getting in.

    It’s easier to make serious money in Australia, and Kiwis do go over there for such opportunities.

  140. 140
    jl says:

    Ok, the URLs with the prefixes that WP put back in work, so just click them.

    Also forgot to mention that the text under the Beller and Hout study is an extract from the article to illustrate the variation in the findings between different studies.

    I think that evidence is that, recently, the US performance on social mobility is either mediocre or poor in comparison to other developed European countries. The research is focusing on whether, say US is better or worse than other countries with relatively low social mobility, such as France.

    I don’t know of any study that shows that US is now near the top in social mobility. Anybody know of one, please post a link.

  141. 141
    Elie says:

    @jl:

    and

    @Mnemosyne:

    Thank you truly for your thoughtful and informed replies.

    Jl — very interesting and appreciate the effort that you took in looking up this information

    Mnemosyne — also, very specific and detailed in your comment.

    Both your points are accepted — that while US social mobility is not absolutely at the bottom, that it has declined and especially in recent years — which is a marker of concern..

    I certainly do not want to rest on the laurels of this country’s past for social mobility success, and hope that we are able to maintain or fairness and access to all who live here — and acnowledge that this will be an immense amount of work given our current socio/political climate. I just donot believe that it helps to hear or believe only the bad. We build from the positive and I would rather talk about what we can build on or improve about US mobility than to just capitatulate to another negative, glass is half empty, demoralizing summary. And from Germany (sorry, not that they can’t be right, just have a thing about the Germans I guess)

    So thanks for your good faith and solid citizen responses to my comments. Point/s taken but I still hold out my pride (and hope) in our countrs’ diverse experiment… I remain optimistic

  142. 142
    Elie says:

    @Chris:

    Ahh — but its neither are too keen in immigrating black people or people of any color or ethnicity…

    Aussies most of all

  143. 143
    Xenos says:

    @PeakVT:

    I don’t particularly like the last page on currency rates. Der Spiegel is basically talking Germany’s book: if the dollar is weakened then Germany’s exports to the US will be hurt substantially, and Germany will have to deal some internal and intra-Eurozone imbalances.

    The biggest risk for Germany is the US setting the example of default by quantitative easement. If the States inflate their currency by 50% relative to the Deutschmark Euro over the next few years (while deflationary forces keep the $ stable, neat trick, that), the Greeks, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, Irish, and so on will wonder why they are being beggered by an overvalued Euro.

    At some point the pain will be so great that the populist response to Papandreou will put the nationalist free-money types in power. Then watch out.

  144. 144
    jl says:

    @Elie: There is a lot of gloom on this blog sometimes, and sometimes US bashing and doomsaying that is a little over the top. I did not want to believe the recent developments on social mobility in the US when I first saw the research, but, well, follow the links and do some searches, and see what you find.

    It is unfortunate, but I think it can be fixed. I am gloomy only because I think neither major party in the US has any good ideas for how to fix it. And I don’t think recent developments can continue for several more decades without doing a lot damage to our society (OK, now I am turning into a gloomy guss!)

    Edit: but there are fixes that are consistent with a free markets and US traditions, it is just that this country has drifted away from that tradition (See the post on Benjamin Franklin and taxation on this blog from yesterday, for example).

  145. 145
    Elie says:

    @Chris:

    “Being old and poor will keep you from getting in.”

    Yeah, that is true for many countries…

    My husband and I researched leaving the US for Canada in 2004 after W won his re-election. We live just south of the border with Canada in NW WA state. Much to our surprise, its pretty darned hard to immigrate to Canada without a job or I think at the time, you needed at least $250K. You could be a resident, but truly immigrating to Canada is not that easy.

    Its a different issue that social mobility whic has many dimensions.

    I think we have to mix optimistic and realistic components in our self prescriptions for change.

    Jl, I am still not fully buying the assessment of US mobility without looking a little more closely on the methodology for adjusting for the little racial and ethnic thing we have going on here… Yeah, we can adjust for it some, but would like to see the details of how that adjustment is handled methodologically (not asking you to show it, will try to find it on my own from your links)

  146. 146
    Elie says:

    @jl:

    I think you are on to something…

    sigh

    We need to find a way to discuss this that comes from a positive place, not a fearful, negative comparison with other countries. That just defeats us.

    We need to think about this but fear right now that our elected leadership is weak and our people are unwilling or tired.

    The one thing that I like about Obama is that he has not daddied us to death. He is NOT reassuring. He does NOT tell us its all going to be ok. Mostly, he tells us to keep working. And we whine about it, but that is a fact. Our experiment is a WORK in progress. We have to keep working at it to achieve and maintain our dream for ourselves. I want to remain optimistic, and tonight I for some reason am. But I know its not that easy and I pray for us to find the will, and the luck for the future — somehow…

  147. 147
    Greg says:

    I’m delurking to speak as an immigrant from the US to Germany who has had a job in which he hired other such people. If you are a non-EU passport holder you have to get an employer to offer you a job, then have the employment office determine whether there is not some unemployed EU passport holder who could do that job instead of you. If they don’t find such a person, you can have the job. Then you’ve got residency. Getting citizenship takes longer and is complicated, but it is very similar to the rules in the US. Lots of Turkish citizens who have grown up in (and/or were born in) Germany opt not to take German citizenship because it necessitates giving up your other citizenship. This is a problem if you have unsevered ties back “home”. This is also what is stopping me. It is, of course, fair for people to disregard what I just said as well as what is in the Spiegel article if they need to.

  148. 148
    goblue72 says:

    @Elie: Neither is this country. Have you taken a look at the U.S. immigration quotas for emigrants from Africa? If you are coming from Africa, you basically need a PhD if you have any hopes of getting an immigration visa. There’s a reason why African immigrants in the U.S. are amongst the most highly educated immigrant groups – we only let their most educated into this country because when it comes to the U.S., darkies need not apply.

    If you are a northern European on the other hand, you could be functionally retards and still get a green card…

    Our shite ain’t that sweet my dear.

  149. 149
    goblue72 says:

    @The Dangerman: I went a straight Dem ticket when I voted this year. Jerry may 1,000 years old, but he wasn’t some plutocrat reactionary who’d kick his housekeeper to the curb just because she was incoveniently Mexican. Ironic, it is, that just like the nation as a whole, its our red counties which are the leeches. The blue counties generate all the 21st century jobs and pay most of the taxes and the red counties suck at the teat of the state.

    I’m hoping Jerry closes the budget hole by shutting off the spigot to every red county in the state. Let them learn what its like to stand on their own two feet and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

  150. 150
    kay says:

    @Nick:

    Tell that to Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, Raul Grijalva, Carol Shea-Porter, Debbie Halvorson, Anthony Weiner, and every other Democrat who stood up and fought only to go down in flames or survive a closer than usual election in a Democratic district on Tuesday. Anthony Weiner lost more than a third of registered Democrats in his district on Tuesday. Are these Democrats looking for someone to fight harder?

    This is just facile analysis, though Nick.

    Your predilection is to say that the louder liberals lost because they were louder liberals. The other side insists that the Blue Dogs lost because they were too conservative.

    Have you (or anyone else) looked at the demographics in these districts, specific to the district? Who came out? Was it older people? Did they come out because they were told Democrats cut Medicare? If so, that doesn’t have jack-all to do with speeches. It has to do with fear, and wanting to retain a specific benefit. Knowing what we know about midterms, and reliable voters, isn’t that the more likely scenario?

    What is the basis for claiming that Weiner lost Democratic votes based on his speeches?

    Try this: “Weiner lost because the reliable voters in his district feared they were going to lose Medicare benefits”.

    That’s my case for Medicare. Done. That was easy. My assertion has just as much validity as yours.

    “Weiner lost because people hate the health care bill”, and on and on.

    Anyone can play this game. Just pick your preferred position, and then attribute losses to the opposite position.

    It doesn’t even make sense. Russ Feingold didn’t “stand up” on healthcare. Russ Feingold didn’t run Left. Grayson did, but why then is he on the list with Feingold? Your list is contradictory. You can’t even make a coherent weak case for your preferred talking point.

  151. 151
    Nick says:

    @kay:

    Your predilection is to say that the louder liberals lost because they were louder liberals. The other side insists that the Blue Dogs lost because they were too conservative.

    My prediction is, it doesn’t matter. Democrats don’t do any better if they stop being wimps than if they are.

  152. 152
    Nick says:

    @kay: .

    Russ Feingold didn’t “stand up” on healthcare. Russ Feingold didn’t run Left. Grayson did

    what? Yes he did. Feingold defended it repeatedly in his campaign.

  153. 153
    kay says:

    @Nick:

    The exit polls on what people want are bullshit. They’re not rational. They want deficit reduction and lower taxes. They want Medicare expanded unto infinity but they hate government intervention.
    I just think we should stop looking at what they say, and look at what they do.
    Here’s what we know happened. Older people came out in numbers that exceeded younger people and minority voters, and that’s ALL we know.
    Starting with any one of the fifteen-odd premises is spin (“too liberal!” “not liberal enough!” “too loud! “too wimpy!”)
    I know it’s spin because conservatives are doing it. They’re dizzy. When you’re basing your argument on a set of non-facts, and the conclusion conveniently buttresses everything you already believe, like George Will and Rush Limbaugh are doing, you might want to take a deep breath, and look at the district or state.

  154. 154
    kay says:

    @Nick:

    Of course he defended the vote, Nick. His opponent was running on repeal. He wasn’t a major player in the health care negotiations, and he wasn’t one of the (public) Senate promoters of a more liberal bill, like, for example, Sherrod Brown.
    Your premise was that Russ Feingold lost because he’s a mouthy liberal. Feingold hasn’t been a mouthy liberal since Patriot Act passage. His issue is civil liberties.
    I haven’t looked, but I would start with this: “Russ Feingold lost because the three urban and/or liberal counties that traditionally turn out and get him elected didn’t turn out in numbers that exceeded the turn out in the vast sections of Wisconsin that are conservative”. I would start there because that’s how Feingold gets elected.
    Anything else is guessing.

  155. 155
    matoko_chan says:

    @kay:

    Older people came out in numbers that exceeded younger people and minority voters, and that’s ALL we know.

    you are exactly right. Youth made up 11% in 2010, 18% in 2008.
    And the 11% was not uniformly distributed.
    The places the youth and hispanic vote were concentrated went blue.
    Demographics is the only salient point about the midterms.
    In 1968 the electorate was 90% non-hispanic cauc.
    In 2008 it was 74%.
    In 2012 it is projected to be 70-72%.
    But it is NEVAH going to get higher.
    What the midterms actually mean is that republicans will never take the WH again, unless they can attract youth and hispanics.
    The GOP/TP is rural, old, christian and white. They can win local elections.
    They cannot win national elections anymore.
    They “surround” us, but we will soon outnumber them.

    The math here is brutal and eye-opening. If Obama in 2012 wins the same percentage of the combined black, Asian and Hispanic vote that he won in 2008 (82 percent), then in order to beat him the GOP candidate would need to win an unimaginable 65 percent of all white voters — whose numbers include such stalwart Democratic constituencies as gays, atheists, Jews and union members.
    The 65 percent threshold represents a far higher percentage than Ronald Reagan won in his landslide against Jimmy Carter in 1980, or even his history-making 49-state re-election-sweep against Walter Mondale in ’84.
    Since white voters won’t comprise larger portions of the electorate in future races, and since no Republican could compile a big enough white majority to win the election on those voters alone, that leaves only one possible path for GOP victory: more competitive performance among Hispanic, African-American and Asian citizens.

    One in four households is cell only. That is what spoofed Rasmussen-he was polling his base, rural old white xtians. In 2012 it will be 1 in 3. Those households are urban, hispanic, young…..the anti-republican demographics.
    The thing the GOP/TP should be talking about is how to appeal to hispanics and youth AND black constituencies.
    Black constituencies are important because youth and minorities wont vote for the Racist Party.
    The other insurmountable (i believe) problem is Salam-Douthat stratification. Anti-meritocratic candidates cannot win the presidency in a democratic meritocracy.
    365 to 173 ec votes is a hill too steep with Sarah Palin on your back.
    But who can they run?
    Christie is FAT, Daniels is 5’3″, Romney is a MORMON, Huck is a televangelist, Rubio is planning for 2016, and Palin is a RETARD.
    Palin is, however, running, and she will get the nom. Rove cant stop her.

  156. 156
    kwAwk says:

    @jl:

    I agree with pretty much everything you say, but I don’t think that not wanting to overstate the role Fannie and Freddie played in the crisis is a good reason to absolve them from blame.

    When you’re given access to the Federal Government’s checkbook through the power to guarantee loans in the government’s name you do have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that what you do guarantee isn’t garbage signature loans.

  157. 157
    jl says:

    @kwAwk: OK, when you put it that way. I agree.

  158. 158

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