Austerity In Greece

Not working out so well:

With thousands of police reinforcements on duty to shield her from rowdy protesters who see her as the archvillain of the euro crisis and their national pain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was greeted by the Greek prime minister as “a friend of Greece” and tried to reassure the Greek people that she was here not “as a teacher, to give grades” but rather as “a real partner.”

Unpersuaded, furious Greeks held rallies and protests that included a job walkout by civil servants, including teachers and doctors. Some banners at the rallies read “Don’t Cry for Us Mrs. Merkel,” and “Merkel You Are Not Welcome Here.” A small group of protesters burned a flag bearing the symbol of the Nazi swastika while four protesters dressed in Nazi-style uniforms drew cheers of approval as they rode a small jeep past a police cordon.

Ms. Merkel’s visit stands as the high point thus far of her recent efforts to show a renewed dedication to European solidarity after years of harsh words and increasingly strained relations within the European Union. But it coincides with a report from the International Monetary Fund that underscores the challenges that lie ahea.

Greece would miss its five-year target for debt reduction, the report said, with total indebtedness falling only to 152.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2017, against the goal of 137.3 percent, according to The Associated Press. Moreover, Greece is not expected to begin generating surpluses to begin paring the debt until 2016, two years later than hoped.

At a joint news conference with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Ms. Merkel said Greece must make good on its commitments to creditors but acknowledged the suffering that the Greek people had endured as the government forced through deep spending cuts in the midst of a recession that has lasted for years. But she said the country was headed in the right direction. “I am convinced that the path, which is a difficult path, will lead to success,” Ms. Merkel said.

Suffer, little children, and all will be well. Meanwhile:

But I did want to weigh in on the just-released first chapter of the new IMF World Economic Outlook (pdf), which contains among things a meditation on multipliers. Basically, the Fund looks at the severity of the downturns in countries practicing severe fiscal austerity and says, gee, maybe fiscal policy has a big impact after all.

OK, I’m being a bit unfair. Olivier Blanchard, the chief economist of the Fund, who co-wrote the relevant box, has always been of the view that fiscal policy has serious impacts. But there was a widespread determination in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis to dismiss the notion that in a liquidity trap there are large impact of fiscal policy, positive or negative. Those of us who argued that we were now in a very Keynesian world were definitely marginalized in practical policy debates.

But we were right — a fact demonstrated not so much by stimulus as by anti-stimulus, which has had all the negative effects traditional Keynesian macro said it would.

Unfortunately, a large part of the political spectrum remains determined not to learn that lesson

Sigh.

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75 replies
  1. 1
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Deficit fetishizer Bobo wants to cut Medicare and asserts that Republicans have a better plan. Forget the Republicans if we got rid of all the Pundits we would have a better democracy.

  2. 2
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Austerity does not lead to growth. Practicing austerity in the midst of recession or a slow down is akin to bleeding a patient to cure him.

  3. 3
    Ben Franklin says:

    Not going well in the UK, either

    http://www.rttnews.com/1978988.....nding.aspx

  4. 4
    Ash Can says:

    I dream of a day when economists and policy makers around the globe embrace those three little words: “Keynes was right.”

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    Since I have sworn off network news for the next few weeks, I have been watching France 24. (I’m on antenna) The crowds are overwhelming and Angela is not welcomed. It does appear that German business men want to buy up Greece land and companies on the cheap. I can’t understand why the folks would be upset with that.

  6. 6
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Not to worry. Future POTUS Moderate Mitt will enact a large stimulus program known as the invasion of Iran. As long as his kids don’t have to do any fighting and Rafalca gets to keep her tax break. You know, for Freedom.

  7. 7
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Ash Can: He was right about the stock market too, instead of being an efficient market, where a stock price reflects all the information, it is more like a
    beauty contest
    .

  8. 8
    Anoniminous says:

    The IMF – after 5 years – has figured out what any reasonably intellectually capable iguana knew at the start:

    [From the Financial Times, no linkie]

    The IMF disputes government’s use of the fiscal multiplier. While governments tend to use a multiplier of 0.5, the IMF’s now looks at multipliers in the range of 0.9-1.7. “This finding is consistent with research suggesting that in today’s environment of substantial economic slack, monetary policy constrained by the zero lower bound, and synchronised fiscal adjustment across numerous economies, multipliers may well be above 1.” That means each euro of savings depresses GDP by more than a euro.

  9. 9
    japa21 says:

    One of the things I hear RWNJs say is that Obama’s policies will turn us into another Greece. When I ask how that is supposed to happen, since it is the GOP which is pushing for all the austerity now rather than later, the typical response is “Shut up…just because.”

  10. 10
    R-Jud says:

    @Ben Franklin: Beat me to it. And at the Tory party conference, happening right here in my adopted hometown, they’re doubling down on it.

    David Cameron has made clear that the government has no intention of easing up on its austerity programme, insisting that Britain does not need a ‘Plan B’ despite concerns expressed by the International Monetary Fund.

    There’s also this amazing brainwave from the Chancellor– give up your employment rights in exchange for tax-free shares! You don’t REALLY need that maternity leave anyway:

    Osborne told the Conservative party conference in Birmingham that the new “employee-owner” status would be optional for existing employees but existing companies and new startups could choose to offer only this type of contract for new hires, making it a compulsory condition of employment. Fast-track legislation will be introduced so firms can use the new type of contract from April 2013.

  11. 11
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Obama should have offered a full throated support of stimulus spending and attacked Romney for being a deficit peacock. Obama has to let go of the Chicago School economics.

  12. 12
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @JPL:

    Greichenland!(tm) (A wholly owned subsidiary of Deutschland)

  13. 13
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @R-Jud:

    Employees’ rights is a bunch of commie lies anyhow. I mean, if they had rights, they’d be working for themselves. QED, bitches.

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ash Can: How can anyone make a reputation that way? Developing a sophisticated model that explains why Keynes is wrong is the way to go. Especially if it is counterintuitive and requires people to ignore empirical data.

  15. 15
    The Moar You Know says:

    That Merkel would even go to Greece, given what she’s inflicted on the citizens thereof, shows a tone-deafness and arrogance that’s frankly worthy of the jerk who tried to give her a shoulder rub a few years back.

    Really a first-class asshole move, to take a trip just to lecture the people who you’re bankrupting.

  16. 16
    wrb says:

    @Anoniminous:

    The whole FT article is worth a read. You can access it here:

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0.....z28ozjPdyH

  17. 17
    R-Jud says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: Plus, we all know that shares only ever go up in value. Never down. Nope!

  18. 18
    cathyx says:

    Only the 1% are surprise by this. And they don’t care if it works or not.

  19. 19
    David Hunt says:

    I don’t know where I read this (LGM?), but a few years back a fellow wrote that Angela Merkel was extremely lucky that the bar for Worst German Chancellor in History was set so high…

  20. 20
    David Hunt says:

    Forget the Republicans if we got rid of all the Pundits we would have a better democracy.

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Unfortunately,I think the democracy and pundits and like God and the Devil. IF they didn’t exist already, we’d just invent them.

  21. 21
    mdblanche says:

    @Anoniminous: Considering that the IMF is less intellectually capable than an iguana, that ain’t bad for them.

    Here’s to hoping those crowds shock some sense into Merkel. Unlikely, I know, but maybe somebody could say to her “Do you know who else inspired such hostility on his last foreign trip?”

  22. 22
    muddy says:

    It sucks for Greece that they didn’t initiate WWII and then get re-built afterwards. Clearly they were not thinking ahead. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Germany and Japan have a lot of industry.

  23. 23
    LanceThruster says:

    The short version of my understanding of these crises of debt is that money can be created out of thin air to bail out the masters of the financial universe so that they can still get their substantial bonuses (how else can companies retain the qualified people that brought about the meltdown in the first place?), but to actually infuse the economy with money that will have a definite beneficial ripple effect is somehow the height of fiscal irresponsibility.

    Or am I missing something here?

  24. 24

    We should watch carefully. Greece is a practice run.

    Once the assets of Greece, then Spain and Italy are ‘harvested’ like so much wheat, we’re next.

  25. 25
    Anoniminous says:

    @wrb:

    I have objections to the FT’s Internet policies, so I don’t link to it.

  26. 26
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Remember, when people shriek about us becoming the “next Greece” – the problems in Greece are entirely based around the fact that they had to balance the budget overnight. Voluntarily balancing the budget overnight will give the exact same result – a Depression, typically with >20% unemployment.

    That reminds me: between the Balanced Budget Amendment, the Gold Standard, and defaulting on the Debt Ceiling, there are no fewer than three mainstream Republican policy demands that would lead to complete and total economic collapse. Food for thought, during an election year and all.

  27. 27
    Ben Franklin says:

    @R-Jud:

    You an ex-Pat living in UK?

    Surprisingly, the IMF recognizes austerity only, to be a loser.

    Carlo Cottarelli, the head of the IMF’s fiscal affairs department, said critics of austerity, such as the US economist Paul Krugman, should be taken seriously, but were misguided in thinking that international money markets would accept indebted countries overspending to boost growth.

    He said markets may accept stimulus packages by the US and UK in the short term, but could panic at a later stage, causing a catastrophic economic event.


    He said countries should move gradually to balance their budgets to protect vulnerable members of society from the worst effects of austerity
    .

  28. 28
    MaximusNYC says:

    John, who is the second blockquote from? There’s no link.

  29. 29
    meander says:

    If this goes on much longer, I’d expect to start seeing reports of ancient artifacts disappearing from museums with underfunded security budgets, with these artifacts ending up in plutocrats’ private collections. Or the museums will hold massive auctions to raise money for the state. “Next up, the Parthenon…”

  30. 30
    quannlace says:

    Since I have sworn off network news for the next few weeks, I have been watching France 24.

    I think I’m gonna give MSNBC a rest for a while. It’s a shock when I tune in my local network broadcast, and discover there are actually other news stories happening around the country and I don’t have to listen about the Pew poll for another 23 hours.
    *****
    I guess those producers really are gluttons for punishment. ‘Atlas Shrugged, Part Two’ in theaters this Friday.

  31. 31
    daveNYC says:

    @R-Jud: Because who wouldn’t want less rights in return for potentially worthless shares in the startup company that also pays your wages. The worker gives up something, and in return is handed an increase in financial risk.

    Is there a reason that the UK hasn’t punched the current government in its metaphorical junk yet?

  32. 32
    mdblanche says:

    @R-Jud: Where is this conference being held? I don’t think it said in the article and the dateline for some reason is Tokyo. Though Tokyo would make sense I suppose. If I were Cameron I wouldn’t want to risk running into too many members of the British public either.

  33. 33
    R-Jud says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    You an ex-Pat living in UK?

    Yup. I’m on the very southwestern edge of Birmingham. City centre in one direction, fields and hills and woods in the other. Tolkien used to live behind my local pub.

  34. 34
    Ben Franklin says:

    @R-Jud:

    You should check out Craig Murray’s blog. Dissident former Ambassador to Uzbekistan.

  35. 35
    R-Jud says:

    @mdblanche: It’s being held here in Birmingham. I don’t have any reason to go into the city centre this week, but my training partner does, and she’s annoyed by the extra traffic.

    @daveNYC:

    Is there a reason that the UK hasn’t punched the current government in its metaphorical junk yet?

    The Liberal Democrats could, in theory, pull the plug on Cameron any time. But they won’t, because they know they will cease to exist as a party after the election that would follow. It looks like we’re stuck with these asshats through 2015, barring mass rioting.

    ETA: Also, too, it’s not like the Labour Party is offering much in the way of an alternative. At least they won’t try to sell off the state forests like the Tories did.

  36. 36
    Anoniminous says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    Note “the markets” are the same people who lent money for non-productive purposes: fueling a Housing Bubble, buying submarines, & etc., having no hope of generating an Internal Rate of Return capable of earning money to re-pay the principle and interest of the loans.

    If there is anything we should know by now is “the markets” are mentally retarded

    @mdblanche:

    Not likely. The German press has done a swell job of propagandizing the “scruffy, improvident, southener” meme. The fact Greece is a pass-through entity for German banks is deliberately suppressed.

  37. 37
    MikeJ says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    That Merkel would even go to Greece, given what she’s inflicted on the citizens thereof, shows a tone-deafness and arrogance

    She didn’t go for the Greeks, the trip was for domestic German consumption. The Germans love the idea of telling all those lazy, swarthy Mediterranean types what’s good for them. The Germans love her in large part because of shit like this.

  38. 38
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @LanceThruster:

    The short version of my understanding of these crises of debt is that money can be created out of thin air to bail out the masters of the financial universe so that they can still get their substantial bonuses (how else can companies retain the qualified people that brought about the meltdown in the first place?), but to actually infuse the economy with money that will have a definite beneficial ripple effect is somehow the height of fiscal irresponsibility.
    __
    Or am I missing something here?

    As I understand it (caveat: I am not an economist) there is a useful distinction to be made between monetary policy as decided upon by central banks, and fiscal policy as decided upon by governments.

    Governments don’t get to just make up new money out of thin air, they have to borrow it from somebody. The wisdom of doing so then depends on a variety of factors which dictate what rate of interest the govt in question has to pay and how that rate and the resulting debt service load compares with the multiplier effect that spending those borrowed funds has on the local economy, how much leaks out into the global economy, what this produces in terms of increased tax revenue, etc.

    Central banks on the other hand do get to just create new money out of thin air. Who they can give it to depends on the rules governing that particular central bank.

    Today we’ve got two sorts of problems, one is that unlike the US most governments around the world are not in a position to borrow funds at a low rate of interest, so they are not in a very good position to apply their own fiscal stimulus directly to their economies, instead they have to rely on somebody else doing it, by way of stimulating the larger global economy which benefits everybody. Realistically the US is the only government in a position such that it can afford to stimulate the global economy via a fiscal stimulus paid for using borrowed money, so if we aren’t doing it then a whole lot of folks including the Greeks are shit-out-of-luck. The second problem is that while the Fed here in the US has pursued a mildly stimulating monetary policy, they haven’t pushed those funds out into the real economy, instead the free money they’ve created has mostly been sucked into the giant black hole that was the circa Fall of 2008 balance sheets of the major banks, and meanwhile the monetary policy of the ECB has been out-and-out contractionary.

    So until somebody figures out a way to get both the US Fed and the ECB to pursue an inflationary monetary policy AND to push that money thru the hands of the banks and into the hands or real people, and/or we break the fiscal policy deadlock here in the US in favor of a very large fiscal stimulus, then everybody is screwed. And neither one of those positive outcomes looks politically realistic, at least until such time as a global war break out. That would be fun!

  39. 39
    muddy says:

    @meander:

    “Next up, the Parthenon…”

    The Brits already have the statuary from the Parthenon.

  40. 40
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @R-Jud:

    You don’t REALLY need that maternity leave anyway:

    It’s a well known fact that maternity leave is for pussies.

    Actually, since the Repup party’s view of women is that they should be barefoot, pregnant and chained to the bed with just enough slack to get to the kitchen, it’s no wonder they don’t see any need for some librul concept called “maternity leave”

  41. 41
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    Ms. Merkel said Greece must make good on its commitments to creditors but acknowledged the suffering that the Greek people had endured as the government forced through deep spending cuts in the midst of a recession that has lasted for years.

    I ought to check the forex websites & find out how many euros you can get for one acknowledgement-of-suffering (ACK) these days.

    Shorter Angina Merkel:

    I feel your pain. Now empty your pockets, slackers. Schnell!!

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    It appears that Angela also made a fashion faux pas. The jacket she wore today was the same one she wore when Germany beat Greece in the World Cup.

  43. 43
    PeakVT says:

    It’s a shame that the Greeks didn’t have the guts to vote in Syriza. Everything that has happened since then was predicted.

  44. 44
    ericblair says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Not likely. The German press has done a swell job of propagandizing the “scruffy, improvident, southener” meme. The fact Greece is a pass-through entity for German banks is deliberately suppressed.

    That’s my understanding as well: the German banks have got a ton of money in shitty Greek/Italian/Spanish real estate and other ventures that should be written off. However, in Germany it’s politically impossible to bail out the banks directly, so you squeeze and if absolutely necessary bail out these countries so that you can then grab the money right back as paybacks to German loans.

    You’ve got to remember as well that a whole lot of Greek businesses weren’t exactly innocent victims here, and a whole bunch of money got lent out by idiots in London and Frankfurt to scam bullshit projects in the middle of nowhere, and the endemic chummy nepotism in the local governments didn’t help matters either. So now everybody, guilty or not, is being shaken down for every cent the northern governments can work loose.

  45. 45
    mdblanche says:

    @Anoniminous: I figured as much. A man can dream though.

  46. 46
    PeakVT says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I basically agree with you, but it’s not true that governments can’t create money. They can, but usually they assign that authority to a quasi-independent central bank because everybody knows that, sooner or later, a particular government/administration will abuse the currency printing press. In Europe, they made the mistake of assigning the authority to create currency to a body that is entirely independent of everybody … except German bankers.

  47. 47
    Brachiator says:

    Greece is a tough case. They have been trying to skate by on huge amounts of debt and an incredibly lax and inefficient tax system. Trying to shoehorn their predicament into the narrow gates of stimulus vs austerity doesn’t really work.

  48. 48
    KXB says:

    @quannlace:

    Among the broadcast networks, I think CBS does a decent job. Yes, they give polls more time than is needed, but they do cover the non-DC parts of the country. For one week over the summer, they covered the increased violence in Chicago and efforts to deal with it.

  49. 49
    PeakVT says:

    @JPL: I find it very hard to believe that wasn’t deliberate.

  50. 50
    ericblair says:

    @PeakVT:

    In Europe, they made the mistake of assigning the authority to create currency to a body that is entirely independent of everybody … except German bankers.

    Was listening to a BBC podcast about this: actually, it was the French who pushed hard for monetary union and the ECB after the reunification of Germany, to rein in the German banks and government and ensure they didn’t financially take over Europe.

    Didn’t work out so well.

  51. 51
    1badbaba3 says:

    @David Hunt: Shape-shifting Obama and his time machine have much to answer for.

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: Aw ,snap!

  52. 52
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @PeakVT:

    In Europe, they made the mistake of assigning the authority to create currency to a body that is entirely independent of everybody … except German bankers.

    Good point. Governments create money thru a trusted proxy, and the rules governing the proxy are hard to change (otherwise why bother?). Which means you have to be careful setting up the proxy. The old adage about be careful what you ask for

    Ultimately all of this is describing Marquess of Queensberry rules. What really drives policy underneath it all is the threat of social violence from below. I normally don’t like to paraphrase Mao seeing as how he was a liar and a mass-murdering tyrant, but Monetary policy flows from the barrel of a gun seems apropos here. The reason we are getting austerity is that nobody in the West is willing to give up their lives in order to suicide bomb rich people. Yet.

  53. 53
    eemom says:

    On behalf of my people, fuck Merkel and fuck Germany.

    She’s lucky she had that tight security. Hatred of Germany has, shall we say, some deep roots in Greece.

  54. 54
    mds says:

    @PeakVT:

    It’s a shame that the Greeks didn’t have the guts to vote in Syriza.

    Yeah, but if they had done that, the Greek neo-Nazi party wouldn’t be ascendant right now. And for the guys calling the shots in Europe right now, having populism hijacked by violent authoritarian reactionary corporatism is still infinitely preferable to commies. Hence all the open pronouncements from the governments of Germany, the UK, etc, that Greece had better not vote Syriza.

  55. 55
    eemom says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Exactly, and Greece is just the kind of place where, in the immortal and awesome words of Mark Knopfler, you’ll see desperation explode into flames.

  56. 56
    PeakVT says:

    @ericblair: I agree that France wanted the currency union, but my understanding is that a restrictive charter for the ECB was the price that Germany extracted. And beyond that, by basing it in Germany (and probably staffing it heavily with former Bundesbank employees, though I don’t know that), the ECB is attuned to German banks far more than it’s nominal governing structure would suggest.

  57. 57
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Yes, it’s all been unspeakably cruel but that’s okay because it was also pointless, in fact more than pointless, it made things worse.

    The thing is that this should be a point made in the campaign here: Romney and Ryan are proposing polices that have a real life test in other places in the world, most notably the UK, and the test has shown that they’ll derail our slow recovery and plunge us back into recession like the Tories did.

    Except that it can’t be used as a campaign point, because if you mention Greece, Spain, or anywhere really, everyone in this country just knows that it was all their fault with “the spending”.

    Double sigh.

  58. 58
    Chris says:

    @muddy:

    Germany and Japan not only got rebuilt, but they both adopted (or had to adopt) the American economic ideas of the time – a.k.a. New Deal Keynesianism. Can’t help but think that has a lot to do with how well they turned out, compared to, say, Russia after the Cold War, which went on a binge of Thatcher/Reagan kool aid, with all the disastrous results that entailed.

  59. 59
    Anoniminous says:

    @ericblair:

    Should the Greek government and businesses borrowed the money? No. Should the Greek government and businesses have been given the loans? No.

    Greek economy has been a basket case since independence. Every twenty years or so they’ve crumpled under the weight of dud loans. And usually, as I understand it, for the same reason: the loans were used for one-offs and not for investment in sufficiently productive activity capable of generating excess funds to pay the loans off. Deutsche Bank, et. al., loaning money to the Greek government to, e.g., fund a massive military build up … such as submarines, WTF does Greece need submarines? … way beyond the economic capability of Greece to support was either criminally negligent or idiocy.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @eemom:

    You’re making me want to watch “The Guns of Navarone” again. What a pity Amazon and ITunes only let you buy, not rent it. (In the old days, I’d go to Blockbuster or better yet Hollywood Videos, but nooo…)

  61. 61
    Chris says:

    @mds:

    And for the guys calling the shots in Europe right now, having populism hijacked by violent authoritarian reactionary corporatism is still infinitely preferable to commies.

    Dear God, I really hope the twenty first century isn’t just about establishment neoliberalism vs insurgent quasi-fascist nationalism.

  62. 62
    LanceThruster says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I truly appreciate you taking the time to fill in the details. What I don’t know about financial policy could fill a book or two (making me suitable for a GOP candidacy, but not much else).

  63. 63
    Anoniminous says:

    @eemom:

    Don’t blame “Germany” for the policies and actions of the German Ruling Elite. There are plenty of Germans protesting. You don’t hear about it for the obvious.

    If it’s any comfort, the Germany economy is stagnant and heading into a recession. For some reason reducing the ability of consumers to purchase goods has a Bad Effect on German company’s sales.

  64. 64

    @Chris:
    Weird how the 21st century seems to really want to “rhyme” with the 20th.

    Granted, we’re only 1/8th of the way into this one.

  65. 65
    danimal says:

    @quannlace: Part of the evil brilliance of Fox News is that when the news cycle turns ugly for Republicans, they manufacture a “baby in the well” or a “kidnapped blonde” to promote 24/7 to change the subject. MSNBC would be wise to learn this trick if they want to match up with Fox News.

  66. 66
    eemom says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Point taken, but it’s the same issue re, for example, people hating the US for various reasons. At what point do you distinguish a people from their ruling elite?

    ETA: I notice your comment re loans addressed the Greek government and businesses and not “the Greeks” in general as many have done here before, so I give you points for “walking the walk.” : )

  67. 67
    muddy says:

    @Chris: Just so. My dad used to say that maybe the Germans and Japanese won the war in the end. Usually after being mad that the US didn’t have
    a public health plan.

  68. 68
    GregB says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    Once the pain kicks in then the scapegoating will begin in earnest.

    We know that the masters of the universe aren’t responsible, it’s the moochers of the 47%. and the government.

    Every lunatic shitheel wingnut wants to put their toys to use.

    Boss Limbaugh was intimating just this last week.

    The real danger of the polls closing in is that the GOP have been revived and now we know that they’ll simply not believe that they aren’t entitled to win.

    Ugliness is what they do.

  69. 69
    mdblanche says:

    @mds:

    And for the guys calling the shots in Europe right now, having populism hijacked by violent authoritarian reactionary corporatism is still infinitely preferable to commies.

    This seems awfully familiar…

  70. 70
    LanceThruster says:

    @mdblanche:

    Almost like we’re condemned to repeat it.

    When I see MOTU’s looking to return to the days of old and the damage to the nation and the world they helped engineer, I think of the quote from the Masterpiece Theater series, “Private Schulz.”

    Germany was about to collapse and they were all ditching their uniforms as they were about to slink away.

    Major Stan Neuheim: [raises glass in a toast] To the Third Reich!
    Private Gerhard Schulz: [wan smile] It was fun while it lasted?

  71. 71
    The Moar You Know says:

    Dear God, I really hope the twenty first century isn’t just about establishment neoliberalism vs insurgent quasi-fascist nationalism.

    @Chris: No, just the first half of it will be.

    The second half will be the tattered, starving remnants of humanity eating each other in the wake of the global environmental catastrophe that was the 2039 eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano.

  72. 72
    Chris says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    At least the twentieth century roundhouse-kicked both those things pretty thoroughly by the time it was halfway through. Be nice if our century gets a liberal movement that can do the same.

  73. 73

    @GregB:
    Ya know, I scoff a lot at the Alex Jones types.

    But if we were living in the third quarter of a decades-long plan to to ‘harvest’ assets ‘locked up’ in the middle classes of the First World, through debt and right-wing politics…

    …this is pretty much what it would look like.

    And there’s no one more qualified to lead the US Harvest than W. Mitt Romney.

  74. 74
    Chris says:

    @LanceThruster:

    Almost like we’re condemned to repeat it.

    Partly related – was reading up on U.S. history on the Internet recently and was really struck by how much the twentieth century had followed in the footsteps of the nineteenth.

    About a quarter/third of the way through, you had a class “revolution” that drastically increased the voices of the white underclass (they became politically enfranchised with Andrew Jackson, economically enfranchised with Franklin Roosevelt). Both events were followed by an era of Democratic dominance (the party of that populist revolution in both cases) as the opposition struggled to get its shit together. Another third of the way through the century, you had a racial “revolution” with the end of slavery under Abe Lincoln and segregation under Lyndon Johnson. Both of those things succeeded, but were way more controversial than the previous class revolution had been, led to the mother of all White Backlashes, left a country bitterly divided, and allowed the East Coast Rich Guys who’d lost the class conflict to reassert their control over the nation.

    History may not repeat itself but holy crap does it ever rhyme.

  75. 75
    LanceThruster says:

    @Chris:

    I winced re: the blindness of our leadership when I saw Thomas Frank speak on C-SPAN’s BookTV on “Pity the Billionaire” (http://www.tcfrank.com/). He talked about the many proactive and successful steps implemented after the Great Depression and how the lessons learned are being ignored today. Rhyming history is quite an apt description.

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