This is an interesting development.
I follow Kelly Carlin on twitter because she’s smart, funny, cute, and GEORGE FUCKING CARLIN’S DAUGHTER. So when she said something on twitter tonight, it reminded me of something we’ve posted numerous times, but really should be recognized as the most accurate political analysis of the last three decades. This:
For three decades, the rich have been getting richer and richer, having their taxes cut, while the middle class has been getting screwed. This is no accident:
This is by policy design. And now, living up to the Shock Doctrine, when the economy is in crisis, they are clamoring for more tax cuts while preaching austerity and entitlement reform out the other side of their mouth. Their poster boy Paul Ryan, the guy Sullivan and Klein slobbered over for months for his seriousness, put forth a plan that straight out said what they were going to try to do- cut taxes for the rich, slash entitlements, and give it to the rich. Like the man said, it’s a big fucking club, and you ain’t in it.
So every time tonight when you hear them, in between the Reagan hand jobs, when they wipe the Santorum off their mouths and start talking about entitlement reform, listen to George Carlin:
They’re coming for your social security!
And the folks in the media are glad to give them an assist, all while Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie and the leather jacket/hipster glasses crowd chant about Democrats and class warfare. Entitlement reform means fucking you out of your social security and health care. Period. In their world, you’re lucky to be a Wal-Mart greeter.
I’ve been having them for breakfast, and after getting used to the odd texture and the initial trauma to my digestive system as I “cleansed” (we’ll just leave it at that), I have decided I quite like them. So far I’ve been using kale, tomatoes, celery, carrot, lemon, sometimes spinach, sometimes banana, and I throw in a little flax seed and then a touch of old bay seasoning for taste. In just two weeks, in conjunction with a new exercise regime (I’m logging an hour a day on the exercise bike, walking tons, and other things), I’ve not only lost a few pounds, but my BP is down a few points (it wasn’t bad to begin with), I wake up more alert and with more energy, I find my mood is more positive (not that you would notice here), and I no longer need a nap in the afternoon. I even tried to nap the other day just BECAUSE I LIKE TO NAP, and I couldn’t.
Not sure how much to attribute to the exercise or the smoothie, but I will just assume it is a synergistic effect. Regardless, it is a rather easy lifestyle modification, and I plan to stick to it. KALE- NOT JUST FOR DINNER ANY MORE.
So share with me your green smoothie recipes. I’m thinking I might use some fennel and maybe beets tomorrow.
The markets are tanking. Again. And it’s in part because they expect us to screw up. Again.
That, at least, is what J.P. Morgan is saying. Part of what’s driving the market down is that the company announced that it was cutting its global growth forecasts by a full percentage point for 2011 and 2012. Why? I’ll let them explain:
There are three main reasons for our downgrade. First, the recent incoming data, especially in the US and the euro area, have been disappointing, suggesting less momentum into 2H11 and pushing down full-year 2011 estimates. Second, recent policy errors – especially Europe’s slow and insufficient response to the sovereign crisis and the drama around lifting the US debt ceiling – have weighed down on financial markets and eroded business and consumer confidence. A negative feedback loop between weak growth and soggy asset markets now appears to be in the making in Europe and the US. This should be aggravated by the prospect of fiscal tightening in the US and Europe.
In other words: Growth is weak and policymakers are hurting rather than helping. The debt-ceiling debate hurt. The dithering response to the euro zone’s debt crisis hurt. And the expected austerity in both the United States and Europe is going to hurt even more. J.P. Morgan notes that one reason they think the United States might tip back into recession is that in the first quarter of 2012, there will be “an automatic tightening fiscal policy if, as our US team currently assumes, this year’s fiscal stimulus measures will expire.”
Someone should probably put Krugman on suicide watch, because he’s only been screaming about this forever.
This is another one of those days when I read the NY Times and just want to bang my head against a wall:
Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin “Bianca” platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years.
Even with the economy in a funk and many Americans pulling back on spending, the rich are again buying designer clothing, luxury cars and about anything that catches their fancy. Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering — they are zooming. Many high-end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price.
“If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?” said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon, and the former chairman and chief executive of Saks.
The rich do not spend quite as they did in the free-wheeling period before the recession, but they are closer to that level.
The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases compared with the year earlier, even as overall consumer spending on categories like furniture and electronics has been tepid, according to the research service MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. In July, the luxury segment had an 11.6 percent increase, the biggest monthly gain in more than a year.
Yeah. That’s a real shock. What part of HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF WEALTH SINCE THE 20’s DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? Jeebus:
As you can see, the nation’s income distribution may be quite lopsided, but its wealth distribution is even more so.
The top 1 percent of earners receive about a fifth of all American income; on the other hand, the top 1 percent of Americans by net worth hold about a third of American wealth. (Note that the top income earners are not necessarily the same people as the top net-worth Americans — after all, lots of high-net-worth people don’t work or have much else in the way of sources of new income.) Wealth-related inequality has also been relatively stable over the last few decades, whereas income-related inequality has been growing since the ’70s.
Why is there more inequality in wealth than in income, both today and yesterday?
Remember that wealth accumulates over time. The highest earners are able to save much of their incomes, whereas lower earners can’t. That means high earners can accumulate more and more wealth as time goes on (assuming they don’t blow it all, of course).
Higher-earning Americans also have the resources to pay for better tax preparation, which helps them reduce their taxes and save even more money. On the tax front, note also that people who have already accumulated wealth stand to earn a lot in capital gains, which are also taxed at a lower rate.
Our Galtian overlords have the most money they ever have, their taxes are at the lowest levels they have in many decades, and they have plenty of money to blow on luxury items. Why? BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALL THE FUCKING MONEY. It’s no coincidence that luxury items are flying off the shelves while concomitantly, the middle class is slowing down their spending on food, furniture, etc. In fact, this is precisely the point many dirty hippies have been trying to make- we are never going to have an economic recovery until some people other than the Kochs and Warren Buffet have money to spend. And with unemployment at astronomical levels and with the official government policy to make things worse with austerity and then hope a magical unicorn comes sliding down a rainbow showering jobs on the middle class, it is going to stay this way. Fer fuck’s sake.
Meanwhile, while all this is going on, our elites are blowing sloppy wet kisses to wingnuts like David Frum who finally realize “Hey- Maybe Krugman knows what he is talking about and Stephen Moore and the other hacks at the WSJ are clueless.” We’re so screwed.
As we head towards either the completely unforced self-immolation of default, or the almost as self-defeating response of belt tightening amidst a recession, it’s worth taking yet one more swing at the piñata: does the US have a debt/deficit crisis?
There are lots of ways to say “no.”
Here’s Kthug, debunking yet again the myth of out-of-control federal spending. DeLong reminds us (yet again)that the bond market thinks our debt is nothing to write home about. Karl Smith reminds us that the US is borrowing money at a rate that amounts to a negative real return — which is to say that right now it is cheaper for the US to borrow than to pay cash for what it buys.
Now, via Zachary Karabell writing at Time.com, we learn of a new way to parse the blunt truth: we have real policy challenges facing us — mostly how to get sufficient — hell, any — growth going in the economy that could lead to actually getting our fellow citizens back into paying jobs. But what we don’t have is an unsustainable debt burden, as revealed by perhaps the most direct metric of all: how much it costs us as a percentage of GDP to service the supposedly unprecedented, unsustainable flood of red ink in which the United States is (not) drowning:
…what matters about the debt isn’t the dollar amount per se, but how much it costs us to service it. And by that measure, the debt isn’t nearly as big a problem as it’s being made out to be.
Yes, the federal debt has grown by nearly $3 trillion dollars in the past three years. And yes, the dollar amount of that debt is quite large (in excess of $14 trillion and headed toward $15 trillion should the ceiling be raised). But large numbers are not the problem. The U.S. has a large economy (slightly larger than that debt number). And, crucially, we have very low interest rates.
Because of those low rates, the amount the U.S. government pays to service its debt is, relative to the size of the economy, less than it was paying throughout the boom years of the 1980s and 1990s and for most of the last decade. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that net interest on the debt (which is what the government pays to service it) would be $225 billion for fiscal year 2011. The latest figures put that a bit higher, so let’s call it $250 billion. That’s about 1.6% of American output, which is lower than at any point since the 1970s – except for 2003 through 2005, when it was closer to 1.4%.
Under Ronald Reagan, the first George Bush, and Bill Clinton, payments on federal debt often got above 3% of GDP. Under Bush the second, payments were about where they are now. Yet suddenly, we are in a near collective hysteria.
Yup…for a debt burden that in budgetary terms is about half of what Saint Ronnie dealt with, we are now contemplating dismantling the safety net and gutting the investment in education, research and infrastructure that are essential for any future economic security for our country and our kids.
The good news is that this comes from an unequivocally MSM source. The bad news is that the Village, for the most part, has failed to convey to the American people that what we are seeing is simply the smokescreen the GOP is using to hide its pursuit of policies that it could never sustain in the full light of day. Too much of our government has fallen into the hands of fools and knaves. And the press — not enough of it, even now — has left it way too late to confront that fact.
And yes, as Karabell and the others have noted, the Democrats have either gone along with too much of this nonsense, or else mounted ineffective opposition to the folly, avarice and/or pure stupidity of their opponents. But consider the alternative — and, it seems to me, we gotta work, however resentfully, as hard as it takes to hold what we have and to grab the House back fifteen months from now. “Not that bad” may be cold comfort…but your modern GOP is terrifyingly worse.
Image: Jacques de Gheyn (II), Vanitas Still Life, 1603.
The broadest measure of the economy, known as the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of less than 1 percent in the first half of 2011, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. The figures for the first quarter and the second quarter, 0.4 percent and 1.3 percent respectively, were well below what economists were expecting, and signified a sharp slowdown from the early months of the recovery.
The government also revised data going all the way back to 2003 that showed the recession was deeper, and the recovery weaker, than initially believed.
Murkins tighten their belt when times are tough, the government should too. It’s just common sense.