Find out what’s wrong, get it right

The Moustache has a point…but only up to a point:

LONDON burns. The Arab Spring triggers popular rebellions against autocrats across the Arab world. The Israeli Summer brings 250,000 Israelis into the streets, protesting the lack of affordable housing and the way their country is now dominated by an oligopoly of crony capitalists. From Athens to Barcelona, European town squares are being taken over by young people railing against unemployment and the injustice of yawning income gaps, while the angry Tea Party emerges from nowhere and sets American politics on its head.

[….]

We are increasingly taking easy credit, routine work and government jobs and entitlements away from the middle class — at a time when it takes more skill to get and hold a decent job, at a time when citizens have more access to media to organize, protest and challenge authority and at a time when this same merger of globalization and I.T. is creating huge wages for people with global skills (or for those who learn to game the system and get access to money, monopolies or government contracts by being close to those in power) — thus widening income gaps and fueling resentments even more.

Put it all together and you have today’s front-page news

(And what better way to soothe populist anger and frustration than by putting a hedge-fund backed Galtian in charge fo everything!)

Yes, it’s true that the middle-class is getting squeezed by huge global phenomena. Despite Friedman’s caveats about access, he sees most of them as essentially positive and inevitable — the world is flat, you know the drill.

The truth is, though, that people are rioting and such in the west because of the current economic crisis, and not much of the current crisis in the west was caused by globalization, except insofar as one considers the creation of the Euro a form of globalization. The United States is in a crisis caused by the collapse of the real estate market and certain segments of the financial world, combined with an ineffectual neo-Hooverist response to these collapses. The European is in a crisis having the same origins, only with an even more Hooverist response and a poorly-conceived currency system on top of it.

This isn’t the ignorant luddite protectionists battling enlightened elites; no, political elites fucked up and people are mad as a result. These fuck ups are not the inevitable result of neoliberal economic policies. You can support free trade without being a Hooverist, without thinking that American real estate prices would never fall.

This is why I can’t get that into the neo-liberals versus social democrats thing. I mean, yes, Matt Yglesias is a smug, entitled, objectively pro-McSuderman fuck, who wanks too much about barber’s licenses, but he’s never advocated Hooverism and he never insisted that American real estate prices would go up forever.

This is also why I think all the “is Obama a real liberal or not” stuff is dumb. Who cares? Liberal or not, the ACA is projected to save a lot of money and give a lot more people access to health care. Liberal or not, the stimulus wasn’t big enough to kick start the economy (EDIT: I supported the stimulus and think it did some good, my criticism is that it was too small and included too many tax cuts). That’s what matters.






138 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    I was following along, not exactly agreeing but following, until the last paragraph.

  2. 2
    Lolis says:

    The stimulus got me a job with the state of Texas. I got the job in May 2009 because Governor Perry used stimulus funds to fill in his budget and therefore did not slash a bunch of state jobs, as he is now doing. The stimulus did work. Let’s not promote the stimulus did not work BS. It saved thousands of state jobs for teachers and firefighters and created many other private sector jobs.

  3. 3
    Trentrunner says:

    ACA will be effectively dismantled by 2016.

    We are so fucked.

  4. 4
    Trentrunner says:

    Oh, and Obama’s approval just dipped below 40%, an all-time low, according to Gallup.

    I for one will welcome our new hair overlord Perry.

  5. 5
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Liberal or not, the stimulus wasn’t big enough to kick start the economy.

    I still wish that people who feel this way would couch it in different terms, e.g., “the stimulus kick-started the economy, but it could have done so much more, which is why we need to kick-start it again.” Instead of fussing about how it should have been bigger originally, advocate for why we need to take up the same strategy all over again, and stimulate more now.

  6. 6
    Danny says:

    @Trentrunner:

    If you think that is mandated by fate, then yes we’re screwed :)

    We got to fight, each and every day.

  7. 7
    Kane says:

    Friedman is slowly discovering that the flat earth is grossly unbalanced.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lolis: It is always hard to sell that action “x” was good because it prevented things from getting worse. IMO the stimulus was sufficient to stop the freefall, but not sufficient to get things properly restarted.

  9. 9
    Linnaeus says:

    This is why I can’t get that into the neo-liberals versus social democrats thing. I mean, yes, Matt Yglesias is a smug, entitled, objectively pro-McSuderman fuck, who wanks too much about barber’s licenses, but he’s never advocated Hooverism and he never insisted that American real estate prices would go up forever.

    Are you saying the difference between neoliberalism and social democracy is a false one? Because I’m inclined to disagree, though you are correct in pointing out that Yglesias is not a Hooverite. I may disagree with him on some things, but he is not that.

  10. 10
    Danny says:

    I think the public unrest in the UK, the Arab Spring and elsewhere is a good reminder why the big entitlement programs were put in place in the first place and with at least some Galtian buy in. A compassionate society that takes care of its weakest individuals is a more stable society.

    Revolts and unrest was the norm back when the economy and individuals were really left to fight for themselves. Libertaria is a society where the downtrodden masses would be at your door ready to torch the place in a recession such as this one. The Galtians have forgotten about all that, simply because the modern welfare state is taken for granted. But should they ever implement their full agenda they’ll come to regret it.

  11. 11

    Has Friedman ever responded to the thesis that a large portion of the income gap is accounted for by the tax code and other government policies (like propping up the professional class)?

  12. 12

    What Jim Hightower wrote:

    You see, despite the GOP’s ideological claptrap about corporate executives being “job creators,” it’s ordinary Americans who actually create jobs by spending from their paychecks. This is why our obtuse policymakers need to quit pampering the rich and fussing over budgets.

    Well worth a quick read.

  13. 13
    jheartney says:

    Theoretically, if a ruling elite screws up badly, democracy provides the means for replacing them. The problem is that they weren’t replaced, for various reasons. The same Villager idiots still own political discourse, the same crooked banksters hoover up most of the economy’s productivity, and the same politicians play the same good-cop, bad-cop routines to stay in power. Why should they try to do any better if even the most spectacular screw-ups have no career impact on the perpetrators?

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The Village (to include the Moustache of Understanding) is wall to wall fuckups.

    Every swingin’ dick in the Village (to include the females) is a fuckup. All of them. They are navel gazing, self absorbed idiots who imagine that their received conventional wisdom is the last word, period.

  15. 15
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @jheartney: Well, you know, the rulers are all against abortions, so if you would just give them one more chance…

  16. 16
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Linnaeus:

    Are you saying the difference between neoliberalism and social democracy is a false one?

    No, just one that isn’t so important right now. I am a social democrat, but I can’t fault neoliberals like Yglesias (or Jon Chait) these days.

  17. 17
    The Dangerman says:

    The stimulus worked to a point, but didn’t kickstart the economy because there is a segment of the population that is happy to sit on their massive reserves of cash in an effort to remove a sitting President.

  18. 18
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Trentrunner: Obama should have been pointing out the Republicans’ attempts to stop anything helpful passing, and highlight the differences between the parties, as opposed to trying to co-opt their absurd talking points/policies.

    Judging from the Times’ article on the White House’s economic policy debate, Obama is either clueless or wants to lose. Things aren’t magically going to get better any time soon. It will take proactive policies to help pull us out of this mess, not neo-Hooverism.

  19. 19
    Ed Marshall says:

    The neolibs v. social democrats debate always turns into a fight about “pity-charity liberalism” vs. more labor militant folks. I do not understand that fight, have pity-charity liberalism and support labor.*

    * These are the good neolibs v. social democrats fights. The bad ones involve people who are using shitty definitions of neoliberalism completely different from what self-described neo-libs would identify with.

  20. 20
    Sly says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I was following along, not exactly agreeing but following, until the last paragraph.

    Arguments over what politician is liberal or neoliberal or progressive or centrist or whatever are undertaken by non-politicians because non-politicians live in a world where practical motivations and methods of political action are invisible.

    In other words, a progressive examines whether a policy proposal adheres to orthodoxy or it doesn’t. If it does, then the politician who articulated that policy is progressive. If it does not, then the politician who articulated that policy is something other than progressive. The problem is that there are other factors involved in both crafting and implementing policy, but these factors are largely invisible to the vast majority of non-politicians, even those who are politically-minded, so they do not enter into the equation.

    The result is view of reality that is oversimplified to the point of being blatantly wrong. Much like everything that Friedman writes.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The problem with neoliberalism is it’s based on yet another misreading of Smith. “Free Trade” only works between equals, in cultural commitment to a fair and equitable society that strives to create stability, not deliberately sow chaos in order to derive personal short term profit from it.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Ed Marshall says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Whose neoliberalism? A good neoliberal is going to object to that and say that your prescription is *exactly* what their policy aims are. The neoliberal is going to say yes, what we are going to do with the losers in what we are proposing is some sort of transfer from the gains to make the thing Pareto efficient. The problem is that the neolibs strike deals with conservatives who don’t give a damn about the losers and the transfer never happens.

  24. 24

    The truth is, though, that people are rioting and such in the west because of the current economic crisis, and not much of the current crisis in the west was caused by globalization, except insofar as one considers the creation of the Euro a form of globalization.

    I have to object to this one. One of the underlying forces behind the crisis was too much capital chasing too few viable investment opportunities; too much money in too few pockets is a prescription for speculative bubbles and excessively risky investments. That has everything to do with wealth concentration at the top of the pyramid, which has been driven by globalization. A contributing factor has been China (and to a lesser extent other developing industrial nations) deliberately chasing a policy of massive investment over increased consumer spending. Globalization may not have been the immediate cause of the crisis, but its fingerprints are all over the underlying causes.

  25. 25
    Dino says:

    Shorter mustache: “The middle class is in this predicament because they can’t grok string theory.”

    While it is technically right up to a point, the real reason for this shit storm is philosophical not vocational, as per Doug’s rant.

    Villager/Davos discourse certainly lacks the “We have met the enemy and he is us” realization.

  26. 26
    stormhit says:

    When you’re going on and calling people who are clear unambiguous liberals “fucks” while at the same time calling out firebaggers, you look like kind of an asshole.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    boss bitch says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    Obama should have been pointing out the Republicans’ attempts to stop anything helpful passing, and highlight the differences between the parties,

    Every poll during and after the debt ceiling shows that Americans know this.

    as opposed to trying to co-opt their absurd talking points/policies.

    Obama’s record and speeches proves that this is a flat out lie.

  29. 29
    Yutsano says:

    @jeffreyw: I count ten. Slow feeding day?

  30. 30

    @Ed Marshall:

    The problem is that the neolibs strike deals with conservatives who don’t give a damn about the losers and the transfer never happens.

    QFT. Matt Yglesias is terrible about this kind of thing. He’s always for the latest greatest ideas about charging people for things they now do for free or moving to a more regressive tax system or whatever, with the argument that we’ll turn around and make it more fair with a subsidy to the poor people who get screwed. I always want to scream at him (but can’t because of his fucked up posting system) that it’s never going to happen, the charges will go up but the extra money will go to lower the top income tax bracket or something equally useless. I’ll believe that we’re going to get those hypothetical benefits from neoliberal tinkering when the subsidies to the poor come first and the changes in policy that screw them wait until after the subsidies are up and running.

  31. 31
    Maude says:

    @boss bitch:
    And Obama said that the stimulus was to prevent going off the cliff not to start a recovery, but some forget that. It seems that a lot of what Obama says is either not heard or it is forgotten.
    He starts the bus trip this week. The Righties are going to whine about it.

  32. 32
    burnspbesq says:

    @Carl Nyberg:

    One persons “thesis” is another person’s delusion.

    Do you seriously believe what you just wrote? And if so, doesn’t the complete absence of evidence to support it bother you, even a little bit?

  33. 33
    Downpuppy says:

    Thereisnospoon, at Digby’s, did the best smashing of this shite I’ve seen. Lots of Greider & Phillips quotes, and a relentless finish:

    The overgrowth of financialization and its subsequent collapse not only in the U.S. and the Anglosphere but worldwide, combined with misguided austerity reactions worldwide in response to that financialized collapse, combined with trade policies in the U.S. designed to favor corporate expansion over middle-class interests, combined with supply-side tax cuts in the United States, are almost entirely to blame for the sorry state of affairs in the United States and the world.

    Friedman’s explanations are bogus lies. But they are the taken as gospel by the members of both the Democratic and Republican parties at the highest levels in Washington, D.C. Many Democrats in Congress and local Democratic activists nationwide know better, but ultimately have little voice in the final process of creating national economic policy.

  34. 34
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @stormhit:

    you look like kind of an asshole.

    Feature, not a bug.

  35. 35
    Danny says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That’s the main reason why I’m in the social democrat camp rather than the neoliberal camp. I’ll support neoliberal policies when they’re an improvement on what we already have. But where there are tried and proven progressive policies in place neo-liberal alternatives often seem to perform worse at achieving the goal (common to both camps) of improving peoples lives and getting a more fair and better society.

  36. 36
    Wannabe Speechwriter says:

    The best analysis of the problems of neoliberalism comes from Kevin Drum last week. Basically, for neoliberalism to work, the other side has to be willing to sacrifice their sacred cows as well (ex. we’ll agree to privatize this system in exchange for a tax increase on the wealthy). However, because the other side is not willing to give an inch, neoliberalism can’t work and politics is trench warfare.

    I think the best example of this is education “reform.” We could bring about some major changes to schooling by changing teacher job security in exchange for better pay. However, because conservatives ultimate goal is not to improve the way students learn but to bust the teachers’ unions, siding with people like Michelle Rhee (like Yglesias does) does great harm to progress in this country…

  37. 37
    chrismealy says:

    PPACA is $50-$100 billion per year in transfers to middle class. That should be a comfort to anyone still grousing about the public option.

    The point of the social democratic vs. neoliberal debate is that the neoliberals don’t link policies to political strategy. It’s not enough to have good policies, you’ve got to have the specific constituencies that will support and maintain them. Neoliberals think they can transcend politics and adopt policies that work for everyone. That’s hopeless. You’ve got to pick a side and fight for them, and fight against the other side.

    I’m not going to get mad at MY either, because Some Should Do One, Others the Other.

  38. 38
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @jheartney: Knowing this country, if there are riots it will be done in the AA or Latino communities, and the response from Forbes 400 on down to Cooter in the backwoods is to shoot them all. Lets face it America when it comes to class, most Americans would rather protect the fantasy of them being rich than to face the reality of being poor. And most shmucks think they one day can nosh with the Kochs. And if “democracy” can be saved by a man on horseback who can quote scripture, well hells bells, they would rather live under the whip of a Christian overseer. Praise Jesus!!

  39. 39
    Vizsla1086 says:

    A great deal of the crisis was, in fact, caused by globalization. Jobs migrated eastward precisely because labor costs were far less in Asia. As manufacturing jobs left (taking with them all the support industries needed to nurture them) the void was filled by lower-paying service jobs.

    That, in and of itself, caused harm to the middle class, but far greater than that were the productivity gains that came along with turning the economy into a services-based one. Jobs right and left were replaced by automation, by the cloud, by increasing ways to trim service industry costs.

    One can argue that all of these changes were in some manner inevitable, but arguing that globalization isn’t at the center of the East-ward movement of jobs, power and money suggests one hasn’t got a grasp of what’s actually happened.

    IOW, Doug, I’m not sure what your point actually is given that you’ve got the facts substantially wrong.

  40. 40

    @Trentrunner:

    Oh, and Obama’s approval just dipped below 40%, an all-time low, according to Gallup.

    Not according to Gallup’s daily potus polling. Today it is 42 percent. Which is a few points lower than most other single polls.

  41. 41
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    who wanks too much about barber’s licenses

    I have never understood this obsession of his with barber’s licences. This is a good example of a problem (bad barbers) being regulated (that is, made regular, standard) in order to enhance the public good and to take away yet one more confusing situation where you’ve got this “buyer beware” stuff going on of deliberate opacity being perpetrated corrected by an attempt at transparency, that is, providing more, and more reliable, information about the choices in the marketplace. FUD sucks. Work to eliminate it.

    While it’s true it creates a cost of entry into the fabulous, lucrative career of hair cutting, EVERYTHING has a “cost of entry” which usually means education. As long as transparency is maintained, this should not be a problem.

  42. 42
    Samara Morgan says:

    yes, Matt Yglesias is a smug, entitled, objectively pro-McSuderman fuck

    and so is freddie. yet he’s a front pager here.

  43. 43
    Hill Dweller says:

    @boss bitch: Have you read the Times article I referenced? Their internal economic debates are absurd. They actually believe spending cuts are both politically and fiscally beneficial. Hoover looks like a Keynesian compared to this bunch.

    Try and educate the American people instead of letting their ignorance dictate economic policy; hammer the republicans for blocking Fed/Treasury/Commerce nominees; explain the decimation of the middle class; explain our trade policy, and how it is catered to corporate America, not workers; talk about income inequality and wealth concentration, and the havoc it wreaks on a country; explain how local/state/federal layoffs undermine any economic momentum; explain the need for short-term stimulus, that even private sector economists are calling for now.

    There are a lot of things the administration could propose and/or say, but the administration doesn’t appear to have a plan(nor narrative/explanation) for getting out of this mess.

    People are desperate for someone to speak to their needs and empathize with their plight. Obama has the skills and intelligence to be that guy, but I’m not sure he has the courage to step out of his comfort zone.

  44. 44
    jeffreyw says:

    @Yutsano: Actually, they are really going at it today. I have refilled that feeder already.

  45. 45
    cmorenc says:

    @Danny:

    Libertaria is a society where the downtrodden masses would be at your door ready to torch the place in a recession such as this one. The Galtians have forgotten about all that, simply because the modern welfare state is taken for granted. But should they ever implement their full agenda they’ll come to regret it.

    Not necessarily, because the one government function they fervently believe in is use of its police powers to protect private property and the way the “natural free market order” deservingly distributes it. They always presume that they will be able to hire enough willing proles to be public police or private security forces to suppress any rebellious impulses among their peers before it can get far enough to truly threaten the glibertarian social and economic order. Furthermore, their strategy is to co-opt a sufficient portion of the proles into buying into glibertarian notions of how society should work, both by stroking their dreams that they too somehow might earn a way into becoming wealthy themselves, and by simultaneously stoking their resentments against anyone whom they can be convinced is a drag on their efforts and chances to do so. Which is pretty much exactly what has occurred with the rise of the “Tea Party” with the financial support of rich glibertarians.

  46. 46
    Danny says:

    @General Stuck:

    Gallup has had the worst numbers of late for Obama with Rasmussen having him hovering around 44% and cbs, cnn etc at 48%.

  47. 47
    Samara Morgan says:

    The truth is, though, that people are rioting and such in the west because of the current economic crisis, and not much of the current crisis in the west was caused by globalization, except insofar as one considers the creation of the Euro a form of globalization. The United States is in a crisis caused by the collapse of the real estate market and certain segments of the financial world, combined with an ineffectual neo-Hooverist response to these collapses. The European is in a crisis having the same origins, only with an even more Hooverist response and a poorly-conceived currency system on top of it.

    well…that is what you think. The three factors i see operating are peak oil, social media, and the end of American power.
    The global freemarket is WAI. Jobs are moving to cheap labor. The “freed” market is teleologically incapable of improving the human condition–it only improves the condition of the overclass. For a while Americans were the global overclass. But jobs moving to cheaper labor is cannabilizing the middle class worker in America.
    Peak oil has already occurred– the Bush admin covered it up while they sought to create client states and allies in MENA.
    The old model of American hegemony has failed. America just spent 4.4 trillion dollars for nothing.
    And social media is driving the riots in BOTH the UK and the Arab peninsula.

    so what happens next, DougJ?

  48. 48
    Dave says:

    These fuck ups are not the inevitable result of neoliberal economic policies.

    Funny, because in nation after nation neoliberalism has been visited upon, these are precisely the fuckups that result.

    I think you’re plainly wrong here, DougJ.

  49. 49
    Hill Dweller says:

    @General Stuck: The Gallup daily rolling poll for Aug. 8-11 is at 39% approve/54% disapprove.

  50. 50
    Elie says:

    @jeffreyw:

    You’ve got so many hummers, Jeffry! What kind are they?

    Our have gone for the year (Rufous)

    Me be sad. Took down the feeders today…

    Well, we had a one day holiday to recharge the anti-Obama venom sacks, and I see they are working just fine again.

  51. 51

    Obama has the skills and intelligence to be that guy, but I’m not sure he has the courage to step out of his comfort zone.

    black guy gets his self elected president IN THIS COUNTRY passes one progressive bill after another without nary a shred of republican support. Took the enormous risk of the ObL raid, that could well have become a pol disaster.

    Has stuff like this going on from the so called failed stimulus bill, and gets no credit from our progressive betters who wank all day from canned firebagger talking points. And has to deal with that, IN ADDITION to the right wing talking points, that also claim Obama fail, just from the other end of the burning candle.

    Courage? what do you know about courage? not a damned thing but typing nonsense on a blog.

  52. 52
    Riggsveda says:

    ACA’s mandate is going to The Supremes now, and there’s at very best a 50-50 chance Kennedy is going to decide it’s constitutional. This could have been avoided if Obama had come out of the gate from jump, fighting for the public option that was in his detailed online campaign plan for health care reform. He chose instead to take the easier way and appease the insurance and medical industries immediately with a mandate, allowing the whole Rube Goldberg contraption to rely on that mandate holding up the rest of the machinery. Without it, the system fails—any attractiveness based on affordability is out the window. But a robust public option would have acted as a backup and saved the system. Yet everyone who settled for the ACA as it passed whistled past the graveyard about how there would be opportunities later to fix the areas the rest of us were howling about. Some of us knew then that that was as likely to happen as pigs flying out of Max Baucus’ butt, given the political climate, and unfortunately, all our fears are now coming to fruition.

  53. 53
    Danny says:

    @cmorenc:

    I’m sure they imagine private property will be kept safe in Libertaria, but history is full of examples of what happens in societies where too large sections of the public are living on the margins and deep economic depression strikes.

    You either get chaos or you get some Hitler or Stalin to save us from chaos.

  54. 54

    @Hill Dweller:

    Okay, I was going by Polling.com and they have it still at 42 percent. But that is stiil lower than most other polling

  55. 55

    @Riggsveda:

    More Canned nutroot talking points. Why don’t you all just come out for Perry and be done with it. Instead of dumping steaming pile after steaming pile of liberal concern trolling bullshit.

  56. 56
    Danny says:

    @Riggsveda:

    The Public Option: Apply it to your ass and it will cure cancer and aids. Did I get that right?

  57. 57
    Riggsveda says:

    @General Stuck:

    “Canned nutroot talking points.” That’s very nice. And “steaming pile after steaming pile…”? Did I come on here and insult anyone? Did I write some ad hominem fact-free equivalent of shit-flinging? Maybe you need to get out more, and learn how to engage in a civilized exchange of opinion, because you evidently can’t do it here.

  58. 58
    Elie says:

    Oh no! Here we go again arguing about why there was no public option — why Obama didn’t make it happen with the magical wave of his wand…

    Hey — y’all are too much.

    Its a beautiful day here and I am going outside to enjoy it. Crab season is open and the tasty crustaceans are going to be on plates with corn and butter….

    We are very blessed to have Obama as our President today. Very blessed. I think how it might have been with McCain and Palin and all the extremely frivolous critiques about public option or not, this or that tweak or style point — would just be so beside the point of the catastrophe we would surely be in.

    Even now, some of you assholes would seemingly welcome the election of the Klowns we just discussed on the right…but you will help that to happen by kneecapping Obama and giving the right their talking points.

    Well, have a nice day. I’m outahere rather than read your garbage.

  59. 59
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Dave: yeah, hes wrong.

  60. 60
    jl says:

    Yes, Friedman is up ‘to a point’ the point where he starts talking nonsense comes very soon. The sun has actually made an appearance during the weekend in the SF Bay Area, so I will type this quick and hope some sense comes through the typos.

    The most important thing to note though, and this is a very important point, more important than the rest is, there is a fiendish meteorological plot to deny the SF Bay Area sun on the weekends. You see this for a month at a time. Sunny afternoons M through F, then ‘marine layer’ up the wazoo all weekend (‘marine layer’ is a California euphemism for crummy foggy cloudy weather). Anyone know what Dr. Evil is responsible for this outrage?

    Oh, yeah, Friedman.

    I think the subtext to Friedman’s thesis is that the poor working and middle class are losers, and we need to be nice with the losers so they don’t hurt the productive class. (Edit: and access to more information, and better cheap tools that these lesser losers have to organize makes them more dangerous.) And I think that is BS.

    The main stick Friedman uses this is his very vauge and imprecise notion of globalization, which among neoliberals indicates some kind of wonky progressive movement towards more economic efficiency. But since NAFTA, and since the movement by the US towards bilateral agreements to substitute for the stalled multilateral approach, this characterization of globalization is very doubtful.

    A high proportion of these bilateral ‘trade’ agreements, and the last multilateral agreements are broad applications of inefficient intellectual property doctrine, inefficiently broad international corporate investment insurance, tendentious and bad faith gaming of what is competitive practice versus protectionism, and carve outs of speccial protection for international tax havens. And all these things make it easier for international corporations and the very wealthy to extract quasi rents from governments and populations.

    Little of these trade agreements that are any kind of free trade that will help, say, a farmer in the Middle East or Africa or Latin America, and, say a agricultural equipment manufacturer in the US.

    And as several commenters above said, Friedman cannot even mention that role of crony financial corporate capitalism in his piece. So the fact that it is easier for, as a random example, big commercial real estate interests to escape the consequences of their boo boos much easier than an small businessperson, a new college graduate, or any of the ‘lesser’ people completely escapes him.

    The point in this column that Friedman stops having any useful insights for information comes very quickly, IMHO, also too.

  61. 61
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Elie: meeeee too! AMG that sounds amazing.

    but i dont get to eat until sundown.
    ramadan kareem, Elie!

  62. 62
    Danny says:

    @Riggsveda:

    Did I write some ad hominem fact-free equivalent

    You floated a fact-free assertion that a strong public option would magically “save” a PPACA sans mandate, and you implied sans facts that there was a viable path to get a strong public option through congress.

  63. 63
    jeffreyw says:

    @Elie: All of these are Ruby Throats, they are all we ever get. They begin to show in ever increasing numbers in April, become scarce during a month long nesting period, then go crazy until late August-early September when the numbers dwindle. A sighting in October is rare but is becoming more common with the gradual warming. The seasons are skewing.

  64. 64
    Hill Dweller says:

    @General Stuck: I don’t disagree with any of that, but despite one of the most productive first 2 years in Presidential history, people only give a shit about the economy, especially when it is bad.

    Yes, the stimulus did what it was supposed to do. Hell, it looks even better after the new BEA numbers came out recently, showing the recession was far more devastating than originally thought. But I doubt anyone but a small fraction of the public even knows about the revised BEA numbers, nor the effectiveness of the stimulus. Obama should have been explaining this from the start.

    Narratives are important. Reagan’s policies were terrible, but he could sell them. Obama has the rhetorical skills to do the same thing.

    This current batch of the Republicans are bat shit crazy, and their policies are fiscally suicidal, but the beltway stooges aren’t going to say it. Obama needs to paint a stark difference, and give the American people a path forward. Play the populist. Paint every policy as helping the average worker. Give them a narrative and weave your policies/solutions into it.

  65. 65
    Elie says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    Best wishes for Ramadan…

  66. 66
    aisce says:

    @ maude

    And Obama said that the stimulus was to prevent going off the cliff not to start a recovery, but some forget that.

    odd then, that it was officially called the recovery act. and promoted endlessly as such.

    but perhaps that was just some nefarious fifth columnist in congress that changed its name on the president when he wasn’t looking?

  67. 67
    Hill Dweller says:

    @General Stuck: I should have said Aug 11-13, not Aug 8-11. Nevertheless, the approval/disapproval numbers are accurate.

  68. 68

    @burnspbesq:

    Do I believe cutting taxes on rich people while increasing taxes on the middle-class and below ha contributed to income inequality in the United States?

    Yes.

    Do I believe that government has propped-up the incomes of the professional class through credentials and other means?

    Yes.

    Does Thomas Friedman ignore factors and ideas that undermine his pet theories?

    Um… yeah.

  69. 69

    @Riggsveda:

    Maybe you need to get out more, and learn how to engage in a civilized exchange of opinion, because you evidently can’t do it here.

    No thanks, had that conversation on this blog about a million fucking times, and it still steaming piles of bullshit. You must be one of those sensitive gentleman who deliver their crap with a smile and handshake for civility. And expect special treatment and “respect” for pissing down our backs – albeit civilized – and tell us it’s raining. Won’t wash here. We are barely house trained and most awesomely un civil when such is the case. Take that Obama not fighting for the PO, that we have heard a million or so times, and stick it where no civilization exists.

    And besides, there just isn’t the time for more of this flogging the same old tripe that is way past, where in the present and near future, we have flesh eating zombie wingnuts pounding on our door.

  70. 70
    Elie says:

    @jeffreyw:

    Interesting…

    Our Rufous hummers show up in March/April, migrating up from CA and Mexico. They go crazy in May/June and we have the babies feeding at the feeders in throngs, sometimes 10 little ones on a feeder.

    Its become very clear to me that our nectar and nectar in general, while important, is less interesting than bugs. The nesting period ends with a surge of new spring bugs — gnats etc and they love those things. Once the “kids” are out of the nest, they frequent the feeders less and less — even the prime, fresh brewed, uncolored nectar I make from scratch in batches… they clearly prefer (as I would), true flower nectar and bugs (they are flycatchers)

    They are wondrous and their arrivals and departures mark the calendar for me in a special way. Like you, we’ve gotten a couple of stragglers into the winter, but I think some of those are ill or confused, even as winters warm slightly, there are no bugs, nothing for them to eat…

    One year I hope to attract Ana’s hummers but hasnt happened yet…

  71. 71

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I have never understood this obsession of his with barber’s licences.

    He sees that there are some jobs, like doctors and dentists, where licensing requirements are used anti-competitively to drive up prices. This has convinced him that all professional licensing schemes function the same way, so he goes out of his way to find other professions that have licensing requirements that readers might think are silly as a way of criticizing professional licensing in general. He never bothers to check to see if there are good reasons why those other careers require licenses, and ignores it when his readers point out good reasons why they do. It reflects both an inability to grasp nuance and an excessive belief in his own cleverness to the point that he feels fine ignoring valid criticism of his ideas because it’s coming from people who miss the brilliance of his point.

  72. 72
    Elizabelle says:

    Forget the Moustache of Understanding.

    Steve Pearlstein, WaPost columnist, is SHRILL today. His column is a thing of beauty.

    Blame for financial mess starts with the corporate lobby

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....print.html

    Another great week for Corporate America!

    The economy is flatlining. Global financial markets are in turmoil. Your stock price is down about 15 percent in three weeks. Your customers have lost all confidence in the economy. Your employees, at least the American ones, are cynical and demoralized. Your government is paralyzed.

    Want to know who is to blame, Mr. Big Shot Chief Executive? Just look in the mirror because the culprit is staring you in the face.

    J’accuse, dude. J’accuse.

    You helped create the monsters that are rampaging through the political and economic countryside, wreaking havoc and sucking the lifeblood out of the global economy.

    … What started as a reasonable attempt at political rebalancing [through corporate lobbying and funding think tanks, etc.] turned into a jihad against all regulation, all taxes and all government, waged by right-wing zealots who want to privatize the public schools that educate your workers, cut back on the basic research on which your products are based, shut down the regulatory agencies that protect you from unscrupulous competitors and privatize the public infrastructure that transports your supplies and your finished goods. For them, this isn’t just a tactic to brush back government. It’s a holy war to destroy it — and one that is now out of your control.

    Viva Stephen Pearlstein. Who’s now retired from the daily WaPost and teaching at George Mason U in Fairfax, VA.

  73. 73
    JGabriel says:

    @Elie:

    One year I hope to attract Ana’s hummers …

    Me, too!

    Oh, wait, I think you might mean something different than I do …

    .

  74. 74
    Elie says:

    @JGabriel:

    Heh, heh, heh…

  75. 75
    eemom says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    you may be interested in the argument we are having on the previous thread.

  76. 76

    @Hill Dweller:

    I can sign on to this comment as being thoughtful and productive. Leave off the personalized characterizations of Obama like, “lacking courage” and we will get along fine.

    And you answered your own question with this

    This current batch of the Republicans are bat shit crazy, and their policies are fiscally suicidal,

    Yes they are. And they run a chamber of congress and cannot be ignored when they do batshit crazy things like hold the debt ceiling hostage for a couple of months, that soaks every ounce of pol oxygen available to do other things. Obama is taking it to the wingers in full campaign mode now. Maybe you should listen to a speech or two or recent note. And will be bringing forth new jobs bill proposals, now that the deck is cleared from tea tard hijinks.

    And besides the mediocre polling on overall approval, all of the polls, every one of them makes clear that Obama and the wingers themselves, have defined themselves into the public’s shithouse for their little game of chicken with default recently.

  77. 77
    jl says:

    Also too in addition, my problem with neoliberalism, from a numbers state econ geek perspective, of the Kthug, Stiglitz, Galbraith (and I think it is fair to say also, the Arrow, Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, Oliver Blanchard, Donald Saari) axis, is that economics is too soft a science for wonky technological calculation to be sound basis for policy for issues that involve macroeconomics and many issues of social policy and design.

    Sort of like trying to use a plastic picnic knife to cut kindling. So, it won’t work very well. Especially when practiced by people like Yglesias, who don’t seem to know as much philosophy or economics as they think they do.

    Speaking of Yglesias, it amazed me to read a recent post of his that said, if I interpreted it correctly, that he felt that neoliberalism was here to stay, and the road to success for liberals. And he had decided that his ‘main chance’ was to be a wonky technnocratic neoliberal pundit.

    Lordy, what a think to say in the middle of the sequence of severe and dangerous failures neoliberalism over the last fifteen years. To me it is like a general witnessing the aftermath of Cold Harbor or the beginning of WW I and saying that perfecting the mass frontal assault is the wave of the future.

    I quite reading Yglesias, he is just too shallow and smug. We already have one Micky Kaus, so that niche is taken anyway. Sometimes what he says is so difficult to decipher that it takes too much effort anyway.

  78. 78
    Danny says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    Still, we’re talking about one days number from a three rolling average daily poll. If we check out pollster.com we see that while Obama’s been trending lower 40s in some polls, no other poll has had him below 40 even once. It’s not a significant event, apart from him being in the mid-low forties. If the trend continues, then yes.

    We could instead reflect on the fact that USAToday never opted to headline with the daily trending of Gallup or Rasmussen a single time during King George II:s reign of terror.

  79. 79
    Baud says:

    @General Stuck:

    And will be bringing forth new jobs bill proposals, now that the deck is cleared from tea tard hijinks.

    Agree with your post. Unfortunately, whatever the jobs proposal is, the blogs will buzzing about how inadequate it is, rather than focusing on how the GOP will be opposed to doing even that much.

  80. 80

    @General Stuck:

    And besides the mediocre polling on overall approval, all of the polls, every one of them makes clear that Obama and the wingers themselves, have defined themselves into the public’s shithouse for their little game of chicken with default recently.

    Grammar disaster alert. Was trying to say that the wingers got the blame and anger from the public for the debt ceiling nonsense, not Obama.

  81. 81
    Elie says:

    @General Stuck:

    Knew what you meant to say :-)

  82. 82
    jl says:

    My God, I saw a shadow outside! Amazing. I have to go.

    But one more point. One of the harmful effects that economics has had on the general intellectual climate is the damage it has done to the idea of any kind of non market social decision making. There are two parts to it.

    First, is the idea that the atomistic individualistic view of how actual decisions are made, and resources allocated in society is an accurate description of reality. An example of this problem is Prof. Brad DeLong (and Krugman was always doubtful about this assumption even when he was a nasty corporatist globalizer in the nineties, rather than a commie as he is today).

    Edit: though DeLong has recently said he was wrong and has changed his mind, and I recommend reviewing his recent posts on this issue.

    Second is the dismissal of any social decision making process other than the market, based on a poor understanding, and ideologically biased misinterpretation of the some theoretical results on group decision making and elections. Recently, the misuse and misinterpretations of things like Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem on social decision making has started to be corrected.

    I think neoliberalism, along with a lot of economic conventional theoretical and empirical wisdom since the mid 1960s will be seen as a failed intellectual enterprise. Right now there is a void regarding how to fix it, because useful avenues of thought have been closed off due to the pall cast by very serious intellectual mistakes coming out of mainstream economic thinking.

    OK, I run out to gape at the sunshine now.

  83. 83
  84. 84
    cmorenc says:

    @Danny:

    I’m sure they imagine private property will be kept safe in Libertaria, but history is full of examples of what happens in societies where too large sections of the public are living on the margins and deep economic depression strikes.

    Their assumptions have tended historically work so far in the US, but I agree there is an unpredictable tipping point beyond which it will break down rather quickly and severely. A bit of history the glibertarians have always pushed back against, but lately with aggressive vigor, is to deny that FDR’s New Deal had any constructive effect in the 1930s (they actually attempt to blame him for prolonging the Depression with his interventions). One important factor they willfully ignore is that FDR’s New Deal interventions defused a potential revolution of exactly the sort you referred to by those driven into the margins by a severe downturn. Never was the American public less hospitable to big capitalism and more receptive to true socialistic ideas than in the early 1930s (it’s important to remember that though Stalin was leader of Russia then, Russia simply was not seen as any sort of looming threat by many in the public until shortly after the end of WW2). FDR literally saved the United States for the continuation of capitalism, by instituting enough of a social safety net that people could feel comfortable continuing to buy into the overall system, and any revolutionary impulses were defused and dissipated.

  85. 85
    Casey Macdowell says:

    As a Brit, what is happening in the cities is obviously disgusting – and just goes to show the state the UK is in. The scum that can be seen in the TV images exist throughout the whole country – and tend to be the offspring of immigrants that treat the country as some sort of joke even though it looks after them more than they deserve. The vandalism is just vindictive – not anything else. They do it because they can.
    Next year is Olympic year, and it will be interesting to see what happens then. The police here are too soft. We all know that. Arm them – and I reckon things would be different.

  86. 86
    harlana says:

    @Elie: you know, this whole thing about how you can’t express what you’d like Obama to do, when we all voted for the guy and will do so again, I don’t see the harm, I don’t see why it’s so offensive and intolerable, it’s not like the WH is pouring over this blog or something and trembles at every criticism. I’m not one to come here and criticize the president but if others want to that’s ok, they’re just blowing off steam. It’s certainly not damaging to the WH in any way. That’s sort of what a blog is for, whether we want to admit it or not.

  87. 87

    @jl:

    I quite reading Yglesias, he is just too shallow and smug.

    Smug, definitely, but I’m not sure he’s too shallow. He comes up with interesting, reasonably deep thoughts often enough that he seems worth reading. I guess it depends on how willing you are to skip over him riding his personal hobby horses to death to get to the good stuff.

  88. 88
    Citizen_X says:

    @cmorenc:

    the one government function [Libertarians] fervently believe in is use of its police powers to protect private property and the way the “natural free market order” deservingly distributes it.

    That never ceases to amaze me. Those that yak endlessly about “liberty,” “statism,” and “government coercion” applaud* so vigorously upon seeing the single most iconic symbol of brutal state power over a repressed citizenry: armored cops beating and gassing the unruly poor.

    *Or whatever verb you prefer.

  89. 89
    Ruckus says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    This always seems to be the issue. Never what do we do next, always what should we have done?
    What was done worked, up to the point that it wasn’t enough. It was far better than doing nothing. We didn’t do nothing, we just didn’t do enough. The answer is easy, do more of the same. The not just hard but really, really hard part is getting it done. With the tools we have to work with that is going to be pretty close to impossible.

    And yes the pun was intended.

  90. 90
    Ed Marshall says:

    @jl:

    Almost all those economists are neoliberals. Krugman wrote “in Praise of Cheap
    Labor”. I thought that was a steaming pile of shit, but it’s funny that the anti-neoliberals are enlisting these people like they are allies.

  91. 91
    Ruckus says:

    @Casey Macdowell:
    Arm them – and I reckon things would be different.

    Move over here and tell us how that looks.

    Militaristic force is not the answer. Really fixing at least some of societies ills does help. Less wealth redistribution to only the upper 10% helps. Real opportunity instead of very little to none goes along way to calming those in a society who start, live and die without any. Those immigrants most likely are immigrants because where they come from has even less opportunity than where they end up. You can fight them coming or you can make the whole society better. You don’t get both.

  92. 92
    Elie says:

    @harlana:

    You know, I generally agree except so much of the time, its the same damned boring and poorly thought out critiques over and over. Also, don’t know about you, but how does the ongoing negativity help anything? Unless we are also addressing barriers to progress or success, its just non stop kvetching. I find that kind boring to read since so much of it is the same lame ol lame ol shit.

    Yeah, it would be maybe even more boring to read nothing but praise and “happy talk”. I don’t want to see that either and it stifles interesting discussion. That said, its there some way to have intelligent critique without making everyone feel that the sky is contantly falling and handing out non stop negative energy? I’m all ears for something I can do something about, or realistic action points to address a deficiency. Not so interested in re-litigating old shit — especially old wrong/inaccurate shit.

  93. 93

    In the debt ceiling bill, despite deep cuts to government spending with more to come, President Obama and Congressional Democrats increased spending for Pell Grants.

    In Texas, during a round of deep budget cuts that laid off over 50,000 teachers, Rick Perry and Republicans made sure to increase funding for anti-abortion clinics and “resource centers.”

    http://www.texastribune.org/te.....on/day-14/

    I just don’t think the distinction can be any clearer.

  94. 94
    Samara Morgan says:

    @jl:

    I think neoliberalism, along with a lot of economic conventional theoretical and empirical wisdom since the mid 1960s will be seen as a failed intellectual enterprise

    this is absolutely correct.

    First, is the idea that the atomistic individualistic view of how actual decisions are made, and resources allocated in society is an accurate description of reality.

    this is the problem.

    Social brain hypothesis and social network theory have pretty much discreditted this….yet the neo-libs keep trying to push that free market crapology.

  95. 95
    Josie says:

    @General Stuck: I was just watching a documentary on killing OBL and had some of the same thoughts. The military people were saying that his decision was the gutsiest thing they had seen ever from an American president, and one said he would never want to play poker with President Obama. I think continuing to try to govern this ungovernable country takes unbelievable courage and patience. I hope to heaven they are rewarded.

  96. 96
    Keith G says:

    @Casey Macdowell:

    The scum that can be seen in the TV images exist throughout the whole country – and tend to be the offspring of immigrants that treat the country as some sort of joke even though it looks after them more than they deserve.

    I saw a good amount of fair skinned chaps in the videos. Were they immigrants from Finland?

    The violence was indefensible. Your statement is not much better. I hope you guys can find a way to heal.

  97. 97
    marginalized for stating documented facts says:

    Liberal or not, the ACA is projected to save a lot of money and give a lot more people access to health care.

    Do you have any hard evidence to back up this deliberately deceptive (and almost certainly untrue) statement?

    The magic weasel words here are “is projected to.” The ACA “is projected” by wildly overoptimistic polyannas to save trillions. Those projections depend on lots of things happening which will not happen in the real world.

    Let’s take some specific examples.

    Here’s the rosy-eyed projections made upon the passage of the ACA by doctors (and PhDs) Orszag and Emanuel on 16 June 2010:

    But these savings will be illusory if we do not reform health care delivery to bring down the long-term growth in costs, and the ACA puts us on the path to doing just that. In fact, it institutes myriad elements that experts have long advocated as the foundation for effective cost control. More important is how the legislation approaches this goal. The ACA does not establish a rigid bureaucratic structure to be changed only episodically through arduous legislative action. Rather, it establishes dynamic and flexible structures that can develop and institute policies that respond in real time to changes in the system in order to improve quality and restrain unnecessary cost growth.

    So what are the cost-control elements of the ACA? First, some reforms aim to eliminate unnecessary costs to the system; these include measures against fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which the Department of Health and Human Services predicts will return approximately $17 in reduced spending for every dollar invested2 ($7 billion over 10 years, according to the CBO).3 Administrative simplification under the ACA will reduce unnecessary paperwork and create uniform electronic standards and operating rules to be used by all private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid — saving the federal government an estimated $20 billion over 10 years2 and saving insurers, physicians, hospitals, and other providers tens of billions of dollars a year (according to the U.S. Healthcare Efficiency Index). And the ACA ensures a pathway for approval of generic biologic agents that is expected to save the government more than $7 billion, and citizens and insurers additional billions, over 10 years. An estimated $1.1 billion will be saved in Medicare by calculating payment for complex imaging studies under the assumption that the machines will operate not just 50%, but 75%, of the time. And about $135 billion will be saved in the first decade by eliminating unjustified subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans.

    First, notice the weasel words and bogus wriggle language. ACA “puts us on the path” to control health care costs. Right. And Dubya “put us on the path” to leave Iraq, he just never actually did. “Put us on the path” is bogus bullshit language that means nothing. What counts is actual results.

    Second, let’s debunk Orszag and Emanuel’s claims one by one. Which isn’t hard to do, since they’re so transparently dishonest.

    “…some reforms aim to eliminate unnecessary costs to the system; these include measures against fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? But when we examine the total cost drivers in American medicine, they aren’t fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. According to CBS news, medicare & medicaid fraud comes to a grand total of 60 billion dollars per year out of 2.2 trillion dollars per year spent on U.S. health care. That’s a whopping 2.7% of total U.S. health care costs.

    Meanwhile, take a look at the article An insurance industry CEO explains why American health care costs so much, Ezra Klein, Washington Post, November 2009.

    Take a look at those charts.

    In France, a routine doctor’s visit costs $31. In America, it costs $151. In America, a CT scan costs between $951 and $1800 while in the Netherlands, a CT scan costs $258. In Germany, a dose of the drug Lipitor costs $48, while in America, the same dose of the same drug costs $334.

    The drivers of sky-high health care costs in America are obvious and well known, and the ACA non-reform does nothing about them. Routine doctors visits cost grotesque amounts of money in America because in America, the AMA acts as a corrupt cartel which artificially restricts the number of doctors who can enter medical school in order to artificially inflate the salaries of American doctors. Studies prove that American doctors make roughly twice what doctors in France or Germany or the Netherlands makes: an average of $230,000 per year in America compared to around half that in Europe. The ACA does nothing to eliminate the AMA’s anti-competitive cartel and restraint-of-trade practices which artificially create a scarcity of doctors in America to grossly inflate the salaries of U.S. doctors.

    Again, Obama’s ACA non-reform does nothing to force the U.S. government to re-import drugs from overseas, or to require the U.S. government to negotiate drug prices with big pharma to lower the cost of drugs. So the cost of American drugs explodes out of sight and the ACA contains no provisions to stop it.

    And again, CT scans cost a boatload of money because imaging companies sign sweetheart deals with non-disclosure agreements with hospitals, locking in high prices and preventing other potential providers from knowing costs, so they can’t compete. Hospitals do this because imaging companies are usually run by consortiums of doctors, who make fantastic profits off the services their labs provide to clinics and hospitals. Once again, the ACA does nothing to reduce these costs, because does nothing to ban sweetheart contracts and non-disclosure agreements hospitals sign with their service providers.

    Christina Bernstein, a medical-device engineer and independent sales representative based in San Francisco, sells disposable surgical tools made mostly out of plastic that she estimates are manufactured for about $40 each. These are marked up and sold to hospitals for as much as $350, she said, for a single use in a surgery on a patient.

    “But if you were to get a detailed bill of what the hospital was charging the insurance company for the insured patient, those things get marked up to something like $1,200,” Bernstein said. “It’s ridiculous. There’s no open competition.”

    Source: “Experts warn of growing power of medical cartels,” Carolyn Lockhead and Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Feburary 2010.

    Explain how the ACA will reduce those kinds of outrageous costs.

    It won’t. Plain and simple. The ACA does nothing to reduce the basic drivers of costs in American health care — monopolies, cartels, anti-competitive sweetheart contracts and non-disclosure agreements, the AMA’s cartel which artificially doubles the salaries of American doctors while artificially reducing the number of doctors in America, and so on.

    Keith Smith, an anesthesiologist and co-founder of the Oklahoma Surgery Center in Oklahoma City…points to the `preferred provider organizations,’ or PPOs, that he contends have morphed into medical cartels that make deals with insurers to monopolize care in their region.

    `My prices at my facility are most of the time 70 percent to 80 percent less than the same procedure across town at a not-for-profit hospital,’ Smith said. `Yet Blue Cross and any number of insurance companies are not the least bit interested in contracting with me. And we’re not fly-by-night. We’ve been in business 13 years and have the top physicians in the city. All I know is something smells.’

    Source: “Experts warn of growing power of health cartels,” op cit.

    Explain how the ACA will break medical cartels like this.

    It won’t.

    As a result, contrary to the rosy cost-control projections of the obots, here’s the reality about the ACA non-reform bill, which does nothing to control the real costs of American medicine:

    In 2014, the year that the majority of the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will become effective, growth in health care spending is expected to reach 8.3%, according to estimates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

    The ACA is expected to boost demand for medical services, particularly for prescription drugs and physician and clinical services, the CMS noted. By 2020, the federal government’s share of health care spending will increase to 31%, up from 27%, currently. Average annual growth in national health spending is expected to be 0.1 percentage point higher (5.8%) under current law compared to projected average growth prior to the passage of the ACA (5.7%) for 2010 through 2020.

    Source: Health Reform NetNews, 2010.

    Of course the obots will hysterically deny these projections, claiming that Health Reform NetNews is some far-right front organization. The fact of the matter remains that despite the ACA, health costs continue to skyrocket in America. Our current GDP growth rate has been revised downward to 0.1% per annum; that’s as near zero as makes no difference. Subtract America’s current GDP growth rate from the growth rate of health care costs (5.8% per annum) and you get an annual rate of increase in health care costs of 5.7% ex inflation and ex GDP. (Core inflation is now at zero.)

    This means that, using the rule of 72, the real cost of health care will double within 14 years even with the ACA. Since our calculations includes not only inflation but GDP, this means that the percentage of GDP America spends on health care will double within 14 years if America’s GDP growth rate and its health care costs continue to increase at the current rate. (Simple logic: if your total health care costs increase but your GDP doesn’t, then the total percentage of GDP spent on health care must increase. At present, GDP isn’t going up very fast, while health care costs are exploding. And all economists now project a “lost decade” of very low U.S. GDP growth going forward as far as the eye can see due to the ongoing ecnomic crisis in America.)

    Right now, America spends 16% of its GDP on health care. Unless we get an economic miracle and our GDP suddenly starts growing at double-digit rates (Maybe someone wants to speak up in favor of Mitt Romney’s delusional claims that tax cuts will magically create economic growth? No? Didn’t think so…), 14 years from now America will be spending 32% of its GDP on health care.

    Explain how that can happen.

    That’s unsustainable. Pure and simple. Even if we cut all U.S. military spending to zero tomorrow (which will NOT happen), that would save only 1.2 trillion dollars per year. And doubling American health care spending over the next 14 years (5.7% real growth rate after inflation and after current anemic miserable GDP growth of 0.1% per year) requires us to come up with another 2.2 trillion dollars per year.

    Bottom line?

    Claims that the ACA will control health care costs are lies, pure and simple. All the available evidence shows that the ACA will do nothing to control costs.

    Likewise, claims that the ACA will provide health care to millions of people who currently don’t have it requires that states magically find the money to provide medicaid to all those millions of people the ACA dumped into their laps. But out here in the real world, states are undergoing a massive fiscal crisis, and with their revenues collapsing, states are cutting medicaid payments, not increasing ’em. Look at California. California is talking about zeroing out MediCal. States from Maine to Texas are frantically slashing Medicaid expenditures to stanch their bleeding red-ink budgets.

    Facing relentless fiscal pressure and exploding demand for government health care, virtually every state is making or considering substantial cuts in Medicaid, even as Democrats push to add 15 million people to the rolls.

    Source: “States Consider Medicaid Cuts as Use Grows,” New York Times, Kevin Sack and Robert Peak, February 18, 2010.

  98. 98
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Elie: yes, the past is dust.
    its pretty pointless arguing about what Obama should or shouldn’t have done.
    He did what he could.
    And he did his best.

    but AMG the emoprog trolls are so boring. you are right, they need new material.
    :)

  99. 99
    Josie says:

    I just wrote a comment that is in moderation and have absolutely no clue why. Help!

  100. 100
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Keith G: the UK riots have a lot in common with the Tea Parties, actually.
    White christian nativists with a grudge against government and immigrants.

  101. 101
    Dollared says:

    @Ed Marshall: Bingo!!! That is why neoliberalism is a complete failure. It is an extremely effective trojan horse for pure “free market” thinking to ruin your society, however.

  102. 102
    Jewish Steel says:

    @harlana: (from previous thread)Yeah, I feel ya. Esp if you’ve been unemployed. That is so draining. I wish I could help!

    I’m in Mclean Co IL, a red county in a blue state, myself. Birthplace of Adlai Stevenson.

    Still, I’m putting this whole election cycle squarely on your shoulders. Get cracking and do not disappoint me! (I kid)

  103. 103
    Joel says:

    Yglesias bugs me too, sometimes, but he’s about as good an ally as you’re going to get. He’s friends with McCardle. Well, so what, I have McCardle-like friends, too. Sometimes you don’t get to choose.

  104. 104
  105. 105
    Samara Morgan says:

    @marginalized for stating documented facts: /yawn

    same style of argument that was levied against civil rights legislation.
    baby steps, dude, baby steps.
    One thing i do know is that conservatives fear universal healthcare like the Doom of Sarnath.
    Because it means the end of the republican party.

  106. 106
  107. 107
    wrb says:

    @marginalized for stating documented facts:

    So?

    It also won’t end obesity.

    It does make health care available for those with preexisting condition and a lot of other good stuff.

    One step at a time.

  108. 108
    WaterGirl says:

    Okay, twitter users, question for you:

    I noticed that Cole hadn’t posted any BJ threads today, so I wondered if Cole was burning up the twitter-sphere again. (while ignoring us, by the way)

    So I clicked my bookmark to Cole’s twitter feed through my browser – so far so good. Then I leaned over my laptop, and up popped a window that showed me responses to Cole’s tweets. I clicked “close” thinking i would see some obvious way to open it again, now that I knew it existed. Nothing.

    I have no interest in actually being on twitter and following anyone, but I would like to be able to find that window again on Safari. Anybody know?

  109. 109
    Elie says:

    @General Stuck:

    Sure reads like it…

    Need to print it out… just ran out of toilet tissue

  110. 110
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Joel: you are confused…you cant choose your RELATIVES.
    you can choose your friends.
    if you have mccardle-like friends you have chosen badly.

  111. 111
    Samara Morgan says:

    @WaterGirl: make a twittername and follow him. its painless, as long as you never tweet.

  112. 112
    Keith G says:

    @Elie:

    Yeah, it would be maybe even more boring to read nothing but praise and “happy talk”. I don’t want to see that either and it stifles interesting discussion. That said, its there some way to have intelligent critique without making everyone feel that the sky is contantly falling and handing out non stop negative energy?

    There is. Simply engage others on the facts and not on an (or your) interpretation of their subjective frame work. If they are wrong, tell them how the facts do not support their statement (or ask them to explain what supports their conclusions). Do not evaluate their attitude or call them names. As in:

    Even now, some of you assholes would seemingly welcome the election of the Klowns we just discussed on the right…but you will help that to happen by kneecapping Obama and giving the right their talking points.

    WWOD?

    What would Obama do?

  113. 113

    Oh Noes!!

    Obama lost his base. But not the real one. The one with the dem votes

    Democratic Base Solidly Behind Obama
    A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds President Obama’s base is behind him with 70% of Democrats saying they’d like to see Obama as their party’s presidential nominee next year.

    Notes pollster Keating Holland: “In 1994, only 57% of Democrats wanted the party to renominate Bill Clinton, and he went on to win the nomination and a second term two years later.”

    But but, NO PO. no messaging.

    Yawn, somebody pass the emoprog sauce.

  114. 114
    Alex S. says:

    @marginalized for stating documented facts:

    I think they included the “fraud and abuse” language to counter the republican demands of tort reform. Of course, that only saves a relatively small amount of money, but hey, it was pretty much the only idea the republicans offered.
    The exchanges will at least provide some competition, but it’s true that more competition in the drug market would have done some good.

  115. 115
    wrb says:

    A lot of agitation at NRO for a plan that does nothing

    A month ago here at NRO, my EPPC colleague James Capretta described the real plan by which the president and his allies aim to close the fiscal gap. Their goal, says Capretta, is to work by stealth, so voters never fully realize that the government has adopted their strategy. The first part of the plan involves taxing “the rich” for Medicare and health insurance, but without Reagan-style indexing of taxes to inflation. That way, inflation-driven “bracket creep” will raise health-care taxes on the middle class without congressional Democrats ever having to vote for new taxes. (See Ross Douthat on this today.)

    The second part of the plan involves IPAB-imposed price controls and the large-scale rationing of health care that implies. But to work, IPAB’s authority has got to extend beyond Medicare. The idea, says Capretta, is to wait until the massive financial strains brought on by Obamacare bring calls for cost control. That’s when the Democrats will push for IPAB’s authority to be extended beyond Medicare to all of Obamacare, at which point we’ll be very close to a single-payer health-care system with Canadian-style rationing.

    The president’s speech last week tracks well with Capretta’s predictions. Obama promised tax hikes for “the rich,” and vaguely alluded to plans to expand IPAB’s powers as deficits mount. Of course, even as he laid the groundwork for strengthening IPAB, Obama gave no real hint of the massive health-care rationing that would imply. And at the moment, the Congressional Budget Office predicts little or no savings from IPAB’s price-setting, so Obama’s speech came off as an unserious reply to Ryan. But as Mark Hemingway points out, Obama’s IPAB plan makes sense if we see it as “a Trojan horse” for a regime of “command-and-control rationing” quietly installed over the long term.

    Rationing, death panels, socialism, and deception. It’s all there. When Sarah Palin first raised the “death panel” issue, she was referring to end-of-life counseling. But IPAB is the real death panel (as Palin herself later noted), a body of unelected bureaucrats with the power to cut off care through arbitrary rules based on one-size-fits-all cost calculations, just as in Britain. IPAB is the key to socialized, single-payer health-care, which is and has always been Obama’s ultimate goal. If Republicans remain unwilling to point out Obama’s unavowed socialist aims, they will be thrown onto the defensive by Obama’s class warfare rhetoric. That spells defeat in 2012.

  116. 116
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Keith G: WWOB?

    not talk about crap that already happened.

  117. 117
    Anya says:

    @Casey Macdowell:

    The scum that can be seen in the TV images exist throughout the whole country – and tend to be the offspring of immigrants that treat the country as some sort of joke even though it looks after them more than they deserve.

    Interesting then that CNN is reporting (Shock over ‘respectable’ lives behind masks of UK rioters) that those arrested were predominately white:

    Before they started appearing in court, most people assumed London’s rioters and looters were unemployed youths with no hope and no future.
    __
    “Most interestingly of all, they were predominantly white, and many had jobs.”

  118. 118
    aisce says:

    @ matoko

    Because it means the end of the republican party

    yes, because conservative politics have obviously been eradicated in places like europe and japan. clearly.

    and remember how medicare guaranteed that the elderly would vote democrat in every election forever and evermore? good times. good times.

  119. 119
    Bruce S says:

    “I mean, yes, Matt Yglesias is a smug, entitled, objectively pro-McSuderman fuck, who wanks too much about barber’s licenses, but he’s never advocated Hooverism…”

    That’s a fully credible defense of Comrade Yglesias – but frankly the thing that bugs me most about him is the whiny, listless affect when I force myself to watch a few minutes of Y-Man engaging some rancid little right-wing shit on Bloggingheads. In these cruel months, though, Matt and Social Democratic Me are totally on the same side.

  120. 120
    Anya says:

    @harlana: I don’t think anyone is saying that criticism of the President is off limits — what we are tired of is the constant criticism of Obama and turning every issue into “Obama sucks!”. I wish people would spend half the energy they spend on criticizing the President into putting a spotlight on the wingnuts who are destroying this country.

  121. 121
    Professor says:

    @Casey Macdowell: You are an idiot and liar. This disturbance had nothing to do with immigrants or race. You are as ignorant as David Starkey. Please check out the backgrond of the UK cabinet ministers, Do you think they know what being poor means? Please next time you want to denigrade UK citizens, please know the facts. Do not spew absurdities like the wingnuts in the US.

  122. 122
    Keith G says:

    @Samara Morgan: That would be a truly unique way to run a blog that spends so much time talking about what has just happened in politics.

  123. 123
    hamletta says:

    @Elie:

    Crab season is open and the tasty crustaceans are going to be on plates with corn and butter….

    You use plates? Amateur.

  124. 124
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Keith G: dude, not about what JUST HAPPENED.

    I’m talking about old stale shit like HCR. that was last year. why talk about it?
    time travel to the past is impossible.
    everyone agrees, Dr.Carroll, Dr. Hawkins and Ibn Arabi.

  125. 125
    Samara Morgan says:

    @aisce: i didnt say conservative politics.
    i said the republican party.

    you know ima believer in red/blue genetics. there will always be conservatives.

  126. 126
    Canuckistani Tom says:

    @Keith G:

    I saw a good amount of fair skinned chaps in the videos. Were they immigrants from Finland?

    Nope, they were sober :)

    (I’m half Finn on Mum’s side)

  127. 127
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Professor: the UK riots have a lot in common with the Tea Party.

    Simon Moore, a researcher with the Violence & Society Research Group at Cardiff University in Wales, thinks there’s one factor that may be uniting all the rioters: The perception that they have low status. In research he conducted last year with colleagues at the University of Warwick, Moore found that low economic rank — being poorer than others in the same geographic region — rather than actual poverty, which is defined as not being able to afford things you need, elicits misery.
    __
    Along with misery, a fair amount of research has found that low status also leads to feelings of animosity, Moore said. “[Yet] another area of work suggests low status elicits stress, and this is implicated in aggression,” he wrote in an email. [Is Rage a Mental Disorder?]
    __
    Martin Luther King Jr. had a similar take on the psychology of the disenfranchised: “There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”

    American teabaggers are feeling disenfranchised; by government, by academe, and by culture.

  128. 128
    Elie says:

    @hamletta:

    Heh heh heh…

    You are right …

    I just got the whole recipe down for the crab though…

    We clean them down on the beach into a bag, first breaking their shells in half with a sharp knife, which kills them instantly and humanely. They then go into the pot with the good ol sea water that they lived in and a little old bay…

    Corn, obviously in separate pot…

    We usually walk up from the beach and eat on the deck but sometimes we set up on the beach…

    This also conincides with berry season when we can make good berry crumble with ice cream for dessert.

    The northwest sucks for good tomatoes though..

  129. 129
    WaterGirl says:

    @WaterGirl: If anybody cares, I started trying combinations of keystrokes until I found the one that worked: option-click.

  130. 130
    marginalized for stating documented facts says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    I’m talking about old stale shit like HCR. that was last year. why talk about it? time travel to the past is impossible.

    Excellent!

    Spoken like a Dubya supporter.

    Superb logic.

    I’m talking about old stale shit like HCR torture. that was last year. why talk about it? time travel to the past is impossible.

    So it made no sense to urge Dubya to ban torture in 2006, since we’d been doing it for years. Good thinking.

    I’m talking about old stale shit like HCR the 2003 Iraq invasion. that was last year. why talk about it? time travel to the past is impossible.

    And it made no sense to protest American troops in Iraq in 2004, because that was so, like, last year.

    Ooooohhh. Good logic there, brainiac.

    You obots really are making exactly the same arguments Dubya supporters made in 2004 and you are using exactly the same kind of warped twisted reasoning.

    “Let’s not talk about the past” (So why worry about torture and the Iraq invasion and Dubya stealing the 2000 election and the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the massive corruption of Bush admin officials and the gross violations of the constitution by extraordinary rendition, etc.?)

    “We have to live in the present” (So ignore all the blunders and insane follies the president committed a year or two years ago, and instead let’s discuss only the blunders and insane follies the president is going to commit in the near future.)

    “…Old stale shit…” (Yes indeedy, old stale shit like the constitution of the United States of America, old stale shit like Obama breaking essentially every single one of his campaign promises, old stale shit like Joe Biden writing the USA Patriot Act back in 1995 long before 9/11, old stale shit like Obama appointing an ex-RIAA lawyer as solicitor general of the united states, old stale shit like Joe Biden continuing to enthusiastically support the failed and futile War on Drugs with long-debunked bullshit like Biden’s ridiculous claim that marijuana is a “gateway drug” long since disproven by medical research…)

    In fact, this classic cartoon from The pain–when will it end?” could easily be updated as “Everything I know, I learned from the Obama administration.”

    “Plead ignorance…” (No one could have predicted that Obama’s stimulus was far too small — except that all the best economists DID predict that.)

    “Pre-emptive strikes…” (Obama’s invasion of Libya, Obama’s ongoing war-crime drone murders of women and children in Pakistan, etc., etc., etc.)

    “Baldfaced lying…” (Take your pick: Obama’s claim in the 2008 campaign that “health care mandates are not the answer,” then his reversal; Obama’s claim that he was in favor of the public option; Obama’s claim that he advocated continued presence in Afghanistan in order to fight Al Qaeda when the army’s own reports shows that there exist less than 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan today; Obama’s claim that he was going to cut back on DOJ-ordered DEA raids on state medical marijuana dispensaries when in actual fact Obama has stepped up those raids…the list goes on. And on. And on. And on.)

    “Flat denial…” (Obama admnistration’s claim that the stimulus was adequate, Obama administration’s claim that we’re headed for 6% unemployment by November 2012 instead of 10% unemployment, and once again, the list goes on)

    “Meaningless re-shuffling of associates…”

    The reshuffled national security team President Barack Obama introduced on Thursday will be charged with fighting not only the overseas war in Afghanistan but also budget battles on the home front over Pentagon spending that has ballooned into a fat target for deficit hawks. His own re-election campaign approaching, Obama turned to a cast of familiar and respected officials for the most sweeping reworking of his national security team since the opening weeks of his presidency. He invoked the political upheaval and violence roiling the Middle East, the nearly 10-year-old Afghan war and the hard cost-cutting decisions ahead as the country tries to reduce its crushing debt.

    (Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. More endless unwinnable war in Afghanistan, more endless unwinnable war in Libya, more endless Pentagon military spending to buy Rube Goldberg superweapons that don’t work…what has changed?)

    “Never admit error…” (Obama’s administration refuses to admit it blundered in staying in Afghanistan, refuses to admit it screwed up in negotiating with the tea partiers over the debt limit increase, reguses to admit it’s making a massive mistake with ongoing drone attacks in Pakistan, refuses to admit it’s economic policy is catastrophically mistaken, and on, and on and on…)

  131. 131
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @marginalized for stating documented facts: Yeah, I am going with this being the new face of mclaren.

  132. 132
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: In her defense (this is my new shtick)getting glazed with margarine for the sin of plainly stating facts that are well documented?

    That would make anybody cranky.

  133. 133
    opie jeanne says:

    @jeffreyw: Last night’s supper, with homegrown peas and potatoes:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/s.....hotostream

  134. 134
    Elie says:

    @opie jeanne:

    Opie, that looks like a right nice Sunday dinner.

    Just got a new recipe for fried chicken in food & wine that was based on an old southern recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

    Have you ever had pasta and peas ala Tuscany? Have a great recipe for it and its stupid simple but really reflects the flavor of all the ingredients (lots of peas, parmesan, a little pancetta and onion)

  135. 135
    marginalized for stating documented facts says:

    Rule of thumb:

    Obots fervently believe an interlocking set of falsehoods about history and economics (much like Khmer Rouge or Maoists on the left, or John Birchers or Tea Partiers from the right), they are immune to facts which challenge their world view; and they tend to reply with a combination of insults, rebuttal by making stuff up, and changing the subject.

    As usual, no obot has even made an attempt to debate me on the facts. As usual, we get nothing but name-calling, changing the subject and making stuff up.

    It’s instructive to observe the process at work on this forum, since it encapsulates the degenerate and dysfuctional nature of American political discourse today.

  136. 136
    Emma says:

    @marginalized for stating documented facts: What facts? You live in an alternate Universe. The rest of us live here. Different rules apply.

  137. 137
    chopper says:

    yeah, i’m going with the new mclaren also. the douchiness just drips off the dude’s chin in the same way.

  138. 138
    jl says:

    @Ed Marshall:

    If you want to call anyone who uses mainstream economic theory for anything at all a neo liberal, then you might be right. But by now neo liberal refers, politically, more to centrist very serious people like Tom Friedman, Alan Simpson, etc.

    As for Krugman’s In Praise of Cheap Labor, peoples’ views do change, and Krugman has said several times that his views changed on globalization more towards those of, for example, Stiglitz and Rodrik. Examples are not hard to find:

    ” In 1995 I also believed that the effects of trade on inequality would eventually hit a limit, because at a certain point advanced economies would run out of labour intensive industries to lose… What has happened instead is that the limit keeps being pushed out, as trade
    creates “new” labour-intensive industries through the fragmentation of production. ”

    Trade and inequality, revisited
    http://www.voxeu.org/index.php.....comment-31

    ” international finance has, for the last 15 years, been a source of problems rather than solutions. Whatever we may say about the principle of free markets… we have had these disruptive large capital flows. I think that a poor track record is the main obstacle for a country like China, which will not be in any rush to liberalize or open up its financial markets because similar countries that have liberalized have seen very unpleasant crises as a result. ”

    The Story of Surplus: The Forces Behind Trade
    Journal article by Paul Krugman; Harvard International Review, 2004

    Krugman is not right about everything, no one is. And I freely admit that he is not really a super lefty social democrat, though he was much more in favor of unions in general, and was even in the 1990s than DeLong was, or people like Yglesias are now.

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