Common Right-Wing Lies

by Ben Hoffman
  • A lot of right-wingers claim Obama promised that unemployment would not go above 8 percent if the stimulus was passed. Eric Cantor claimed: “We were promised. The president said we would keep unemployment under 8.5 percent (if the stimulus passed).”

    Here are the facts: The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan report included a graph that projected unemployment rates without the stimulus would peak at 9% and with the stimulus at just under 8%. That is not a promise; it is a projection, an estimate, a prediction. Claiming it was a promise is crazy talk. It’s like claiming the weatherman lied when he got a forecast wrong.

    Read more
  • Lie: Reagan’s tax cuts resulted in increased revenues.
    Fact: Reagan’s tax cuts resulted in decreased revenues. His tax increases resulted in increased revenues.

    1981 – the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981. The biggest tax cuts in U.S. history.
    1982 – The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. Repealed much of the tax cuts of 1981, raised unemployment taxes, doubled taxes on cigarettes, tripled taxes on telephone service.
    1982 – Highway Revenue Act of 1982 increased the gas tax through 1988
    1983 – Social Security Amendments of 1983. Increased Social Security taxes.
    1984 – Deficit Reduction Act of 1984. Increased taxes on exports and business expenses.
    1986 – Tax Reform Act (TRA) of 1986. Decreased individual taxes but increased corporate taxes.


    Source
  • Lie: Obama’s spending has resulted in a huge budget deficit.
    Fact: Obama is responsible for only a small sliver of the deficit.

    The recession resulted in reduced tax revenues and increased spending on safety-net programs. The federal debt was doubled during the Bush administration and now we’re paying almost 400 billion a year just on the interest on the debt. Obama has required Congress to pay for any new programs it passes in a restoration of the “pay as you go” system.

    Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.

    About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.

    Source

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109 Comments to “Common Right-Wing Lies”

  1. This is an excellent post, well researched and well presented. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who sees things this way.

    Too bad no one else will listen.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

  2. Mr. Hoffman,

    I say that you are wrong. Look at the facts.

    Christina Romer, Obama’s Chair, Council of Economic Advisers co-authored the Romer-Bernstein Report that was used to SELL the stimulus package. The numbers were used to JUSTIFY the $787 billion spending. Here is Romer in her own words.

    http://change.gov/newsroom/entry/video_christna_romer_explains_a_new_report_about_job_creation/

    Here is the actual document.

    http://www.ampo.org/assets/library/184_obama.pdf

    The graph making the prediction.

    Page 4, Figure 1

    You said, “with the stimulus at just under 8%. That is not a promise; it is a projection, an estimate, a prediction. Claiming it was a promise is crazy talk.”

    Again when the Obama team was trying to sell the Porkulus bill to skeptics, this report was cited. To now claim that this is not a failed promise is, to use the words of Senator Hillary Clinton “really require a willing suspension of disbelief.”

    • A prediction is not a promise, no matter how you spin it.

      • Whether it was a promise or a projection is not the central point in my opinion. I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect the president to make such broad promises about the economy. The relevant points are 1) the administration obviously missed the boat with unemployment blowing past their estimated peak without the stimulus package and 2) it is open to debate whether or not the stimulus was effective. There is no way to accurately measure “saved” jobs and the well-publicized problems with recovery.org should make taxpayers wonder about how their money is being spent. No doubt some jobs are “saved” when you throw $787 billion at it but at what cost? Perhaps the money would have been better spent with payroll tax cuts or other stimulus measures that put money directly back into private hands rather than through wasteful government-run programs. At the end of the day, the point regarding the projections is that the administration’s credibility is rightfully questioned.

  3. Mr. Hoffman,

    “A prediction is not a promise, no matter how you spin it”

    Does this also apply to all of the “predictions” the President has made concerning the Health Care legislation? I particularly ask about the cost savings projections,,err “predictions”of the Health Care legislation.

    Does this also mean that all of the Team Obama “predictions” about Global Warming if Climate Change legislation is not passed are subject to the same 27% error rate that the unemployment “prediction” was?

    Instead of calling the right wingers liars, who are holding this administration accountable, you should have just admitted that your hero’s economic team got their numbers wrong. Your side would have taken a short term hit, but longer term your credibility would still be intact.

    President Obama already has a major problem with his believability. Your knee jerk reaction to legitimate criticism is not becoming, even for a Democrat.

  4. Actually, Alan, did you read the documentation you cited? It supports Ben’s position, not yours.

    The words on Page 4 are: “[W]e expect the proposed recovery plan to have significant effects on the aggregate number of jobs created, relative to the no-stimulus baseline.” Note: “expect,” not promise. And also note, “relative to the no-stimulus baseline.”

    And again on page 5: “is predicted to be” — not a promise.

    And again on page 6: “there is considerable uncertainty in our estimates.”

    And yet again on page 8: “[W]e expect the jobs created by spending on infrastructure, education, health, and energy to be concentrated in 2010 and 2011.”

    Those are four direct quotes from YOUR source supporting what Ben is saying. There is not a single quote from your source supporting what you are saying.

    Let us disagree on policies, where we must. But we cannot disagree on the facts.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

  5. Center Square,

    “Actually, Alan, did you read the documentation you cited? It supports Ben’s position, not yours.”

    Guilty.

    I find the document boring and not easy to read. I merely picked out the relevant point, which was the graph projecting the unemployment rate with and with out the stimulus.

    I think that you are losing sight of the purpose of Mr. Hoffman’s original post. It was to call right wingers liars. If the shoes were on the other hoofs you guys would be all over this. Admit it.

    Again this report was used to sell the stimulus. Since it’s predictions have been off by 27%, it is legitimate to criticize it.

    Also the jobs created or saved is so murky that it can’t be proven.

    Do not forget that billions in tax dollars and millions in jobs are at stake when you are wrong.

    Again these bad predictions put in to question all of the arguments this administration makes concerning cost reductions in health care and costs of global warming legislation.

    In other words, as we right wingers have been saying since January, Obama is full of it.

    • [I think that you are losing sight of the purpose of Mr. Hoffman’s original post. It was to call right wingers liars.]

      This is the lie: “Obama’s spending has resulted in a huge budget deficit.” You’re using the economic forecast to set up a straw-man. Try staying on topic.

    • [I find the document boring and not easy to read. I merely picked out the relevant point, which was the graph projecting the unemployment rate with and with out the stimulus.]

      This statement defines the problem with right-wingers. The said document isn’t overly complex and is actually written in fairly plain language, but it’s still a difficult read for the uneducated. So they look to Fox and other right-wing media outlets for talking points.

      Sad. Sad for our country and sad for them.

    • [Again this report was used to sell the stimulus. Since it’s predictions have been off by 27%, it is legitimate to criticize it. ]

      Alan, you weren’t criticizing it; you were citing it I believe.

  6. You’re being politically disingenuous, Obama’s ADVISORS promised it: “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan” from Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, the vice president’s top economic adviser. Their report projected that the stimulus plan proposed by Obama would create between three and four million jobs by the end of 2010. The report also includes a graphic predicting unemployment rates with and without the stimulus. Without the stimulus (the baseline), unemployment was projected to hit about 8.5 percent in 2009 and then continue rising to a peak of about 9 percent in 2010. With the stimulus, they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009.
    And it didn’t happen.
    By a long shot.
    “Forecasts of the unemployment rate without the recovery plan vary substantially. Some private forecasters anticipate unemployment rates as high as 11% in the absence of action.”
    But “action” got us practically the same result and we spend Billions we don’t have.
    So where are the jobs?

    • [So where are the jobs?]

      They are all over the place here in Colorado. All one has to do is drive on the highways and see the new construction work going on, paid for with stimulus money.

      • So that’s why 169,000 people lost there jobs in November. They weren’t in your neighborhood.
        And that still doesn’t explain how the advisors to the president were wrong.

      • Indy – 169,000 jobs lost is actually a very very good number. Here are some other recent job loss numbers:

        From Jan 08 to Jan 09 – 2.6 million jobs lost.
        For Dec 08 – 524,000 jobs lost.
        Last quarter of 08 – almost 2 million lost or about half a million a month (see Dec).

        This is serious improvement. We were bleeding jobs last year.

  7. Mr. Hoffman,

    “This is the lie: “Obama’s spending has resulted in a huge budget deficit.” You’re using the economic forecast to set up a straw-man. Try staying on topic.”

    So the $787 billion stimulus had no effect on the deficit? Whatever you’re smoking, I have two.

  8. For once, I agree with Alan. Of course the stimulus package had an effect on the deficit: since the stimulus was passed, the federal budget deficit has gone DOWN quite a bit. Here is US Treasury website that gives all the monthly data going back forever: http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/index.html.

    In summary, it shows that deficits averaged:

    * $142 billion per month in the first four months of the current fiscal year (the Bush months);

    * $149 billion per month in the second four months (Obama’s first months in office, including the TARP II and stimulus months) — so, a very slight increase of $7 billion per month;

    * $122 billion per month in the final four months of the fiscal year — a better than $20 billion per month improvement over the first third of the fiscal year presided over by Pres. Bush.

    So it seems that Alan is dead right: the stimulus package has indeed had an effect on the deficit. It just happens to be a favorable one.

    Listen, Alan, my man, I understand your ideology-based rage and resentment. But if you want to translate that into persuasive argument, you need to stay within the bounds of the facts. If you dislike what Obama is doing, present your complaints with accurate factual support.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

  9. Here is another intersting factoid, offered for no particular reason whatsover. Since the market low in March 2009, the value of the S&P 500 has risen by nearly $4 trillion. Kind of puts the stimulus package and TARP and Obama deficits into perspective, doesn’t it?

    • Since the market low in March 2009, the value of the S&P 500 has risen by nearly $4 trillion. Kind of puts the stimulus package and TARP and Obama deficits into perspective, doesn’t it?

      Since the stimulus has been passed and for as long as Obama has been in office, the Saints haven’t lost a football game.

  10. Lie: Reagan’s tax cuts resulted in increased revenues.
    Fact: Reagan’s tax cuts resulted in decreased revenues. His tax increases resulted in increased revenues.

    I don’t think that you have that one right. Can you show me what numbers you are using to justify the fact that revenues went down? The only year that I see revenues really going down was in 83; pretty deep in the recession at that point.

  11. Okay, I’ll wade into the tax cut/federal revenue swamp. The DIRECT effect of tax cuts is inherently less federal revenue: The guy making $100,000 used to pay $50,000 in taxes; now he pays $36,000. Less.

    The question is whether cutting the marginal tax rate causes economic growth which, by generating more federal revenue, more than offsets the lower marginal rates.

    The evidence is inconclusive. Federal receipts during the 1980s — Reagan’s years, roughly — rose at about 1.8% per year, far LESS than the historical average. [Source: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/17/reagan-and-revenue/%5D. If the theory is correct, why did federal revenue grow so slowly during those years?

    Then there is the case of the Clinton tax increases. That was followed by a boom in the economy and a boom in federal tax revenues. If tax cuts CAUSE federal revenue increases, shouldn’t tax increases CAUSE a drop in those revenues? [Source: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/taxes-and-revenues-another-history-lesson/%5D

    Any theory must be reconciled to the facts that Reagan’s tax cuts led to a smaller than normal tax receipt growth, while Clinton’s tax increases led to greater than normal tax receipt growth.

    (Then, there is this ideological question I would pose to all conservative tax cut proponents: If the result of tax cuts really is growth in federal revenues, then why do you WANT tax cuts? Your own reasoning says that cutting taxes grows the federal government. Doesn’t that run counter the limited government principle?)

    To me, the conclusion is obvious: a growing economy is what increases tax revenues. Economic growth has been preceded sometimes by tax cuts, sometimes by tax increases. There is no clear relationship between the two.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

    • The DIRECT effect of tax cuts is inherently less federal revenue:

      That is true only if “the guy” stays making 100k. The thing is, when taxes are less, businesses expand and more people make more money. In some cases, people are actually hired providing a DOUBLE benefit. Not only are they paying taxes, they are no longer on the “County”.

      Federal receipts during the 1980s — Reagan’s years, roughly — rose at about 1.8% per year, far LESS than the historical average.

      Again, I don’t think this is accurate. I have it that revenues increased at about 8% a year, a little more actually. And if you were to take out the recession years, holy moly!

      Source: http://www.bls.gov/

      the conclusion is obvious: a growing economy is what increases tax revenues.

      Here we agree. When you tax something, be it beer, cigarettes or growth, you will get less of it.

      • The issue of tax receipts is totally irrelevant in my opinion. I think tax receipts under Reagan could have taken a dip, but so what? To care about that is to buy in to the fallacy that higher tax revenues are inherently better (That’s related to the fallacy that a larger government is a better government). They are not! What is relevant is aggregate wealth.

        If the government is taking in less tax revenue, it is because 1) the economy is shrinking or 2) taxpayers are keeping more of their pay. Number 1 is bad, but number 2 is good.

        GDP is composed of consumption plus investment plus government expenditure plus net trade (exports minus imports). If government expenditure as a percentage of GDP grows, it is generally considered bad. It has a crowding-out effect on private investment. Private investment improves productivity, increases capital formation and generally expands GDP in real terms. Government expenditure, especially if it consists of mostly transfer payments, does not. It may push up nominal price levels in the short-run but in the long-run, it does not have a significant positive effect on real GDP growth compared to private investment (which is the real source of wealth creation).

        Using BEA statistics, from 1981-1988, the U.S. experienced 3.37% compounded GDP growth in real terms (2005 dollars). During the prior eight years, the U.S. experienced 2.89% compounded growth and during the following eight years the U.S. experienced 2.73% compounded growth.

        So overall wealth increased quite nicely during the Reagan presidency. So what if tax revenues decreased? If people kept more of their paychecks in their pockets, isn’t that a better option?

        Bottom line, to focus on tax revenues as a measure of economic well-being is to miss the forest for the trees. Step back and look at the big picture. If tax revenues shrink because the pie is shrinking, that is bad. If the pie is steady and tax revenues are shrinking, that is good (because citizens keep more of their wealth and the potential for capital formation exists through private investment). If the pie is growing and tax revenues are shrinking, that is very, very good.

      • [The issue of tax receipts is totally irrelevant in my opinion.]

        That’s like saying the issue of income is irrelevant, as long as you still have room on your credit card.

      • that’s missing the point ben. your comment is saying that government receipts are all that matters. again, that just buys in to the fallacy that the government is all. as long as individual wealth is increasing, that is good. it doesn’t matter as much how the pie is being divided as long as it is growing. your issue is your infatuation with big government. GDP (i.e. national income) is not just government taxes! the more productive part is the part that private citizens keep. according to your logic, if the pie is $1 and the government gets $0.20 (and citizens keep $0.80), it’s better than if the pie is $1.10 (and the government keeps only $0.10 (and citizens keep $1). that’s illogical, unless you’re feeding at the government trough. people are better off if GDP (i.e. national income) increases, NOT necessarily if government receipts (which is only a SUBSET of the national income) increase! again, you are losing sight of the forest for the trees.

      • also, look at the GDP numbers according to BEA. are you going to argue that the country was worse off growing GDP at 3.37% in real terms? would you prefer 2.89% or 2.73% real growth instead???? do you think that 3% growth??? tax receipts show an incomplete picture of national wealth and to focus on it doesn’t show the whole picture. heck, if we just moved tax rates up to 90% and tax receipts exploded, would you argue that we are better off???

      • sorry. my cat jumped on my keyboard before i finished editing my message above. my point is that a larger GDP growth rate creates more jobs, creates more wealth and makes citizens better off. income is relevant ben, but you need to look at the whole income picture, not just a subset. that would be like looking at just your capital gains or just your interest income and ignoring your wages in your personal income calculation.

  12. In order to make money, one must spend money. In order to decrease the deficit we need jobs, in order to get jobs we need to spend money, that money doesn’t come from thin air. However, we have not even seen the full effects of the stimulus package as not all of it has been spent (if I read my news correctly).

    As to the topic of lying right-wingers – they feed those that follow them propaganda to further perpetuate the chaos in government so as to demoralize, demean, and destroy. They wish for nothing but negative outcomes – instead of searching for a way to find to better our country.

    Great post! Can I trackback to it in a repost on my site?

    • Spending money is not the same as investing money. There is something called a return on investment. Spending a dollar to give someone a fish is not the same as spending a dollar to teach him to fish. Unfortunately, the government tends to spend on the former and crowd out the latter (the private sector). I saw a town hall meeting on tv where a black woman commented that a vast majority of black people wind up on food stamps at some point in their lives. She was critical of liberals who were so often willing to provide social programs like food stamps but were reluctant to spend money on charter schools (and annoy their union backers) and other programs that would allow poor blacks to actually break the cycle of poverty. Sometimes programs which seem compassionate in nature only create a sense of dependency. Government spending tends not to be the most enlightened. Private investments, because they tend to be profit-driven, create more aggregate wealth which is ultimately good. Redistribution programs ultimately shrink the overall pie and mean less aggregate wealth. Having a bigger piece of a smaller pie is not necessarily good.
      As for lying right-wingers, of course they must be demonized. Their criticisms should automatically be ignored because if they don’t agree with you they must be wrong and uncaring. I would recommend reading “Who Really Cares” by Arthur C. Brooks. In fact, when it comes to compassion, it is arguably conservatives rather than liberals who are more compassionate. Liberals just tend to talk a big game.

      • [There is something called a return on investment. Spending a dollar to give someone a fish is not the same as spending a dollar to teach him to fish.]

        True, that is why the cost of higher education needs to be addressed. There is no greater return on investment than higher education. Educated people earn far more than those without, which means more money to spend and more tax revenues collected.

        Also, if all the fishing jobs have been outsourced to China, what good is knowing how to fish? We need some protectionist policies to bring jobs back to the U.S.

        The stimulus bill has created and saved a great number of jobs. Working people spend their incomes and pay more in taxes, which helps to stimulate the economy, albeit a government propped up economy is not a healthy economy, but something needs to get the ball rolling.

  13. The Center Square,

    ” Since the market low in March 2009, the value of the S&P 500 has risen by nearly $4 trillion. Kind of puts the stimulus package and TARP and Obama deficits into perspective, doesn’t it?”

    Now you left wing Socialists think the stock market is important. When Republicans were in charge and the stock market did well you class warriors would say that all of that created wealth was only going to the rich and the Wall Streeters.

    WELL that is happening more NOW than anytime in the last 9 years, Einstein. Wall Street profits are up because of job cuts. So under your hero Barak Hussein Obama, the average Joe has lost his job so that the investors can get rich. Gold man Sachs, the ultimate rich guy fat cats, have done very well in 09. Who was President again, during that time ?

    Got answer to these facts?

    • [So under your hero Barak Hussein Obama, the average Joe has lost his job so that the investors can get rich. Gold man Sachs, the ultimate rich guy fat cats, have done very well in 09. Who was President again, during that time ?]

      You’re like a broken record, Alan. Why is this so hard for you to understand: Our economy collapsed before Obama took office. The TARP bailout was approved before Obama took office. No matter how many times you blame Obama for these problems, they still began with the Bush administration. You can’t rewrite history.

      Obama’s biggest failure so far has been continuing the failed policies of the Bush administration and not implementing new regulations when he had the chance. He should have restored Glass-Steagall by now and should have busted some trusts to get rid of these entities that have been deemed “too big to fail.”

      Of course, in a few days we’ll hear Alan try to blame Obama for the failed economy again.

      • The TARP bailout was approved before Obama took office.

        But not spent. Obama has spent it; Bush approved it. And no one thought we would buy a car company with it.

      • [But not spent. Obama has spent it; Bush approved it. And no one thought we would buy a car company with it.]

        Wrong. Henry Paulson handed out 100s of billions of TARP money and he can’t explain where a lot of that money has gone. He should be in prison for ripping off the country. The money that went to GM is a loan and they have already started paying it back. Letting GM fail would have made a bad situation worse. Not only would all the GM employees be out of work, all the small and medium sized companies that manufacture parts for the cars would have been driven out of business.

      • Henry Paulson handed out 100s of billions of TARP money

        Both Administrations have handed out 100s of billion of dollars.

        he can’t explain where a lot of that money has gone. He should be in prison for ripping off the country.

        I agree. All government officials are not to be trusted with our money!

        Letting GM fail would have made a bad situation worse.

        Even with the money we gave them; GM did fail. They went through bankruptcy.

        Not only would all the GM employees be out of work, all the small and medium sized companies that manufacture parts for the cars would have been driven out of business.

        Not true. With or without GM, the demand for cars would be the same. CIf GM went away, other remaining companies would pick upo those people and those contracts.

  14. Okay, here’s my summary…

    The administration’s message was NEVER that unemployment would be contained below a given ceiling. The message was that wherever it was going to peak, the stimulus package would cause that peak to be lower, by some millions of jobs. The significance of the analysis they presented was the difference between the projections with and without the stimulus package. Not where the peak was going to be; that has been coopted for political purposes by people who dislike the president’s policies.

    The point of the stimulus package is that it is job-creating. Will it matter if the unemployment peak is 10.5% versus the, say, 12% it would have been without the stimulus — as opposed to a peak of 9% versus the 10.5% it would have been without the bill? No. Either way, in that example, the peak is 1.5% lower than it would have been without the stimulus package.

    Let’s put our thinking caps back on: does ANYONE think that deficit spending by the federal government creates NO jobs in the short run?

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

    • The administration’s message was NEVER that unemployment would be contained below a given ceiling.

      Yes it was. I know likes playing with the word “promise” here and I’m not gonna bite on word play. But clearly Obama made it clear that unemployment would reach a specific peak. And we blew right by that.

      does ANYONE think that deficit spending by the federal government creates NO jobs in the short run?

      I think you are right. The government CAN create jobs in the short run. The problem is in the cost of that. For every $ the government spends on a job, that is one less $ for someone in the private sector to create jobs.

      Also, don’t forget, the government doesn’t “Produce” or “Create”. Unlike you and I who could start a roofing company and grow that business, the government doesn’t/can’t do that. They try–see USPS and Amtrak–but they fail.

      • Let’s all re-read what Obama actually did promise:

        1/3/2009 — “Obama has pledged to ‘create or save’ three million jobs over the next two years”: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/us/politics/04stimulus.html?_r=1

        1/21/2009 Here is what Moody’s had to say about the administration’s plan: “With the stimulus, there will be 4 million more jobs and the jobless rate will be more than 2 percentage points lower by the end of 2010 than without any fiscal stimulus.” Note the absence of any ceiling on the unemployment rate. http://www.economy.com/mark-zandi/documents/Economic_Stimulus_House_Plan_012109.pdf

        2/12/2009 — “will create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years.” From the White House’s own statement: http://kstp.com/kstpImages/stimulus_state_jobs1.pdf

        6/8/2009 — “600,000 new jobs by the end of summer”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/08/obamas-stimulus-promise-m_n_212420.html

      • [Also, don’t forget, the government doesn’t “Produce” or “Create”. Unlike you and I who could start a roofing company and grow that business, the government doesn’t/can’t do that. They try–see USPS and Amtrak–but they fail.]

        Pino: These things don’t produce or create. They do, however, spend lottsa money (mostly in the private sector), hire permanent staff, buy things, build buildings (with private contractors usually), not to mention how profoundly they contribute to the public good.

        * Libraries
        * Public Parks and Beaches
        * State and National Parks
        * Public Zoos

      • [For every $ the government spends on a job, that is one less $ for someone in the private sector to create jobs.]

        You really have no idea what you’re talking about. The government contracts with private companies to do most work. Highways are built by private companies. Concrete is poured by private companies. Steel is provided by private companies. Fabricating is done by private companies.

        Once people have jobs, they spend money on items supplied by private companies, which creates jobs, and fuels the economy.

      • Libraries

        Operate at a loss. In now way can an organization that operates at a loss be said to “produce” anything.

        State and National Parks

        Many Parks are no longer open due to budget cuts.

      • The government contracts with private companies to do most work. Highways are built by private companies. Concrete is poured by private companies. Steel is provided by private companies. Fabricating is done by private companies.

        Those jobs already “exist”. The fact that the government can’t manage money to fund them does NOT mean we “Ought” tax even MORE money to fund those jobs that we already funded.

        I get the fact that government need people to work in it, but the primary function of government is not growth in the same way that private industry’s role is growth.

      • Ahhh – guess we should define produce and create. And maybe benefit as well.

        [Libraries: Operate at a loss. In now way can an organization that operates at a loss be said to “produce” anything.]

        Such organizations can deficit spend but ‘loss’ is not a concept in the non profit world. Deficit is the word.

        The only criteria you are using is financial – and the profit model at that. Human existence, a sturdy culture and a viable civilization have more criteria than that. (You’ve surely heard of intellectual capital? It’s the basis of patent law.)

        Churches and most charitable organizations operate at a loss – you know, the ones we’re famous for contributing to?

        All the ‘too big to fail’ operations who recently spit in our faces – they were for profit orgs who operated at losses bigger than we can imagine. How is that superior to libraries? Public parks?

        And by the way, it’s perfectly okay for USPS to operate, as you say, ‘at a loss’. I underwrite them with my tax dollars and get a pretty good bang for the buck. (guess that should have been phrased in the past tense; USPS was semi-privatized a few years back and they are in fact operating at a huge loss now. And of course, we still subsidize them.)

        And as to subsidies – do we want to lift them? I’m thinking corn and oil.

      • Such organizations can deficit spend but ‘loss’ is not a concept in the non profit world. Deficit is the word.

        But they are not providing anything that anyone wants enough to pay for. They take a $100 bill and turn it into something less than $100.

        The only criteria you are using is financial – and the profit model at that. Human existence, a sturdy culture and a viable civilization have more criteria than that.

        For government purposes, the only thing to be considered is to ensure the rights and safety of the people. In the case of a library, the government is offering a service that people don’t want. Either the actual users of the library won’t pay enough to keep it open, donations won’t meet the gap. It’s a service the users don’t want enough and the rest of us don’t donate too.

        Think of it this way. Would you walk to your neighbor, rob him at gun point only to take that money and buy books for your other neighbor?

        Churches and most charitable organizations operate at a loss – you know, the ones we’re famous for contributing to?

        They are private donation based institutions. The money they take in is brought in voluntarily; not by force.

        All the ‘too big to fail’ operations who recently spit in our faces – they were for profit orgs who operated at losses bigger than we can imagine. How is that superior to libraries? Public parks?

        I feel we should have let them fail. It was government, both democrat and republican, that did that to us. Ishy ishy.

        And by the way, it’s perfectly okay for USPS to operate, as you say, ‘at a loss’. I underwrite them with my tax dollars and get a pretty good bang for the buck.

        You wouldn’t say it was a “bang for your buck” if you knew how many bucks it took to keep that money pit open.

        And as to subsidies – do we want to lift them? I’m thinking corn and oil.

        Yes. The free’er the market the better.

      • Well, Pino, it seems you are a full-blown libertarian. Which is fine. I just don’t beleive that is what this country is about nor has it ever been. My reading of history shows government intervention from the very first day in all areas. The states, especially the western states, were quite libertarian in the early days. But they became part of the Union and that meant accepting federal authority. And laws.

        Your beliefs mean you do not. And where does that leave you as an American?

      • Your beliefs mean you do not. And where does that leave you as an American?

        What are you talking about?

        Of course I feel that we need laws. We need laws to maintain the Liberty of each of us. We need laws to ensure that voluntary contracts entered into by “market actors” are upheld. That is, when I buy a bushel of corn from you, I get a full bushel of corn, not some wheat or oats thrown in to “make weight”.

        I feel that laws should enforce the right of property. That is, what I make I get to keep. My land, my work,, my ingenuity and my harvests are mine to do with as I please.

        I fundamentally object to me passing a law that requires you to labor for MY benefit. Which is vastly different than you laboring and creating lumber while I labor to create beef and we trade in a market thereby benefiting both.

        Clearly government has a role. Laws need to be passed AND enforced. What I fail to understand is how you feel it is somehow acceptable to rob your neighbor at force of gun in order to take that money to buy your other neighbor a book. Or health insurance.

        Nothing Ought be considered a “Right” that requires another man have his labor be forcefully taken from him.

      • [That is, what I make I get to keep. My land, my work,, my ingenuity and my harvests are mine to do with as I please.]

        Yep, right-wingers are pro-welfare. They don’t want to have to pay for roads, schools, libraries, parks, highways, bridges, the police, the fire department, garbage pickup, the military, the national guard, agencies that ensure our water and food are safe to consume, that the air is safe to breathe…

        [Also, don’t forget, the government doesn’t “Produce” or “Create”. Unlike you and I who could start a roofing company and grow that business, the government doesn’t/can’t do that. They try–see USPS and Amtrak–but they fail.]

        But the government can hire your roofing company, and the government can prevent larger companies from engaging in unfair business practices that could drive your company out of business.

        As far as the USPS, they do a pretty good job around here.

      • i would add several points to this discussion.

        government does have a role to play where it comes to public goods like libraries and public parks or externalities like pollution. there are expenditures that arguably need to be undertaken that might not otherwise be undertaken by the private sector.

        ben and moe are correct that government spending does trickle to the private sector and add to gdp via national consumption expenditures. but ben and moe seem to totally miss pino’s point about the incredible inefficiencies of government spending.

        one case in point is the davis-bacon act which requires that construction projects using federal funds must pay union wages. it doesn’t matter if the market price is lower, the government will still pay the higher wage. that is inefficient. some studies i’ve seen have estimated that davis-bacon drives up the cost by 10-20%. if you are a consumer, would you willingly pay 10-20% more for an identical good or service that can be purchased cheaper? in this time when unemployment is so high, shouldn’t we be concerned about creating more jobs rather than fewer by overpaying a handful of workers?

        another case in point is jack murtha’s airport in johnstown pennsylvania. murtha spent $150 million of taxpayer money to build an airport that only runs three daily flights, and only to washington d.c. at that. fewer than 30 passengers use that airport on a daily basis. i believe they received funds to build a second runway (totally unnecessary) and a new radar system. does anyone in his right mind think this was a productive use of taxpayer money??? so what if some construction jobs were created in building that airport? there are still millions and millions of dollars tied up in unproductive physical capital that could have been used elsewhere! as pino said, the government spends money on things that people don’t really need. if that route was profitable, some private company probably would have done it already. as it is, i think taxpayers will face ongoing expenses to continually subsidize that boondoggle.

        i don’t mean to only pick on democrats like murtha because republicans like ted stevens were just as guilty with his infamous bridge to nowhere. something like that is destruction of capital pure and simple and not what we need in this time of economic crisis. the private sector would not invest in negative rate of return projects like the government would.

        because of all the special interests running amok in washington, the capital allocation decision is not efficient or logical. yes, deficit spending may create jobs but private spending does too. and private spending will produce goods and services that people actually want and at less cost. so if we do engage in deficit spending, i think it would be better to provide tax breaks to private businesses rather than put valuable capital into wasteful government projects. some government spending probably is necessary but the bulk should be in the private sector where they will spend more intelligently.

      • [i think it would be better to provide tax breaks to private businesses rather than put valuable capital into wasteful government projects. some government spending probably is necessary but the bulk should be in the private sector where they will spend more intelligently.]

        Tax breaks for companies that hire new employees is part of the stimulus being proposed right now.
        http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-announces-proposals-accelerate-job-growth-and-lay-foundation-robust

        I agree that a lot of government spending is wasteful, but tax cuts for large corporations usually just goes into the pockets of the CEOs. At least building “bridges to nowhere” create jobs.

      • some of tax cuts may go to ceo’s, but they also go to shareholders too. personally, i prefer more cuts for small businesses and for individuals (like the payroll tax holiday some conservatives have suggested).

        government spending may create jobs but again, what’s the point of spending money on things we don’t need?? it’s just disguised welfare to build a bridge to nowhere. you’re allocating scarce resources to projects that don’t earn any sort of return or benefit to society. and the only ones who benefit are the pals of the legislators who get the contracts anyway.

        if you return the money to the citizens (the individual taxpayers since you seem to have something against corporations) then they can decide what they value most and spend money accordingly. spending money on things you want increases social benefit. government spending, even if it creates jobs in the short-run, will result in a net destruction of capital (and social benefit) in the long-run if it is used on things people place no value on.

        heck, if the government paid people to slap lipstick on pigs, it would create jobs. but again i say, so what?? who cares about lipstick on pigs? if however, the government gave that money to the taxpayers, they may decide they would rather spend the money on a better breeding program for pigs. that could create jobs and it would improve yields on pig reproduction. that would likely lower price and increase demand and make society better off. resources are allocated to where people place value and they wind up better off.

        i disagree that we should look to government programs, even if wasteful, because they create jobs when better alternatives may be available. i think we should trust private citizens to make intelligent choices. we don’t need a big brother deciding what is best for us. we need to do something, but we need to do it intelligently and not haphazardly and not influenced by special interests (that absolutely adore government spending programs where there is no accountability).

      • Tax cuts don’t stimulate the economy. Look at the enormous tax cuts pushed through by the Bush administration. They did nothing to create jobs. Right now, people are deep in debt, so tax cuts will give people money to pay down some of their debt. That won’t create jobs. And people who are out of work don’t benefit from tax cuts.

        As far as tax cuts for businesses, that only works if they’re tied to hiring, which is what Obama has proposed.

        The spending on infrastructure does a lot more good than spending on military. Once bombs are exploded, they’re gone forever, but building bridges (ones that are useful) are used for decades. Money for renewable energy will advance the science and will eventually get us off oil. Money spent repaving highways improves their usage and creates jobs.

        The jobs created by the government puts money into the economy, which stimulates growth. Getting banks to start loaning again will result in new business ventures and growth.

        [i think we should trust private citizens to make intelligent choices.]

        You have to remember that half the population has an I.Q. of less than 100. Those people can’t be trusted to make intelligent choices.

      • [Tax cuts don't stimulate the economy. Look at the enormous tax cuts pushed through by the Bush administration. They did nothing to create jobs.]

        you have such an aversion to facts. tax cuts don’t stimulate the economy? did you not look at the GDP figures i supplied? those come from the government itself. do you think higher GDP growth is not stimulating? is slower GDP growth better in your mind?
        they don’t create jobs? unemployment went from 7.6% in 1981 to 5.5% in 1988! those are facts! they are quite easy to find and you should really look them up before you jump to conclusions.

        [The spending on infrastructure does a lot more good than spending on military.]

        i don’t disagree about military spending (which i never even mentioned btw) but it is a common good which must be provided for regardless.

        [Money for renewable energy will advance the science and will eventually get us off oil. Money spent repaving highways improves their usage and creates jobs.]

        yes that’s true, but industrial policy is usually wasteful. government doesn’t always know what’s best for the country. if renewable energy is something people value, they will choose to spend on it and allocate resources accordingly. repaving highways is good. but again, i keep stressing this because i don’t think you listen, it’s only good IF people use that highway! paving a highway people do not use is destruction of capital. how can you justify destruction of capital? you can create jobs WITHOUT destroying capital.

        [You have to remember that half the population has an I.Q. of less than 100. Those people can’t be trusted to make intelligent choices.]

        that is so so condescending. who should make the choice for them? you? you call that a democracy? that’s a dictatorship! your true colors show. people should be free to make their own choices and even their own mistakes. to think that a handful of people should decide for the majority is pure tyranny. i can’t believe i’m hearing this! that is amazingly patronizing and against everything this country stands for. americans fought for freedom to escape the tyranny of non-representative government and you want to put it back in place.

      • [you have such an aversion to facts. tax cuts don’t stimulate the economy? did you not look at the GDP figures i supplied? those come from the government itself. do you think higher GDP growth is not stimulating? is slower GDP growth better in your mind?
        they don’t create jobs? unemployment went from 7.6% in 1981 to 5.5% in 1988! those are facts! they are quite easy to find and you should really look them up before you jump to conclusions.]

        You have an aversion to logic. First of all, correlation is not causation. Second, after Reagan’s massive tax cuts during his first year, he raised taxes every year after that during his administration as well as repealing most of the tax cuts for the middle class that were in the initial tax cuts. After the initial tax cuts, we had near record unemployment. As he raised taxes, employment fell. So using correlation, tax increases result in job creation. :)

        But what really happened during the 80s? We had a mini tech-boom. The PC gained in popularity as the price fell (which generated programming jobs), everybody was buying VCRs, color TVs, Walkmans, and several other tech products. So that probably drove the economy more than anything.

      • @M

        I sort of agree with you on this:

        [ . . . one case in point is the davis-bacon act which requires that construction projects using federal funds must pay union wages. it doesn’t matter if the market price is lower, the government will still pay the higher wage. that is inefficient.]

        The conditions of that act are antithetical to solving our current problem. So adjustments should be made. But regulation of some sort is necessary to prevent abuse of workers and to assure continuance of the middle class, without which a government becomes unstable.

        Here’s another area where I agree with you but draw a different conclusion:

        You say [another case in point is jack murtha’s airport . . . does anyone in his right mind think this was a productive use of taxpayer money???]

        Not only was it not a productive use, it was also abuse by Murtha, verging on the criminal. Where I disagree is in terms of what it means. To me it means somebody is getting away with something that is wrong. So as it’s an abuse of the system, I am reluctant to condemn the system itself. Also, airports are a hybrid enterprise – airlines can’t operate without air traffic control and all the other things in place to make their function possible.

        Your points about efficient use of capital are, I must admit, beyond my Econ 101 (fifty years ago) but sound awfully clinical to me. And a bit idealistic. Is that an off the wall reading?

      • Moe,

        I think you are correct that generally one must be careful about condemning a system based solely on a handful of cases. It really requires deeper thought.

        My personal issue with big government is that too much concentration of power easily leads to abuse. Murtha’s actions do border on criminal, but it’s hard to get a consensus in Washington to condemn this behavior when so many of his colleagues are probably guilty in some way too. I believe as Thomas Jefferson did, that smaller government is better and less abusive. Push the authority and responsibility back down to the state level.

        Does it mean that state governments are less susceptible to crime? Of course not. But the damage is more compartmentalized and contained. If state politicians abuse the system, the damage will mostly be contained within the state, rather than spread across the whole country (e.g. only Pennsylvania taxpayers would have paid for something like Murtha’s folly rather than all of us; I’m certain he would have heard it at the polls if that happened). It would then be up to state voters to hold their own politicians accountable.

        I’m not sure if you are aware that prior to the 17th Amendment in 1913, Senators were elected by state legislators rather than voters. There’s something to be said for voters having a direct say, but there are also problems. Prior to 1913, since Senators were appointed by the state legislators, they had to vote according to how each state wanted them to vote. They were solely responsible to the elected officials of a state and the interests of the state.

        Nowadays, the link is still there, but far less strong and usually most important only every six years when elections come up. Now Senators can collect contributions from just about anyone, anywhere. Special interest groups have a field day. That dilutes a Senator’s loyalty in my opinion and further weakens a state’s hold on the federal government.

        In some ways, I think I prefer the old system, where Senators were essentially employees of their state and directly accountable to their state rather than free agents open to the highest bidder. It certainly wouldn’t be perfect or foolproof but at least the scope of their mischief would be better contained I believe.

        Anyway I digress. Am I idealistic? Maybe in some ways. I just believe that this country has so much untapped potential. If we could just do away with the waste and the corruption, we could really achieve some significant and good things for all of society.

      • @M: This thread is becoming a little unmanageable – I keep getting lost! And on top of that, yesterday I wrote two brilliant replies to a few of yours and and they were disappeared by the bandersnatch who lives in my PC and exists to torment me. And of course, I can assure you that they were brilliant, well thought out, pure prose and would have converted everyone on this thread to my exact way of thinking.

        You say :
        [If we could just do away with the waste and the corruption, we could really achieve some significant and good things for all of society.] And that my friend is why I said you are idealistic. Which I consider a good thing. We need aspirations else the entire enterprise is useless.

        These discussions are we all get into here are, I don’t think, so much a matter of wanting less government or more government; I think what we want is BETTER government.

        Corruption and abuse will always be there and the only thing we can do is punish it. (Unitl next time!) And it exists at every level from the small town mayor who hired his brother in law to lay the roads, to Murtha, to the Pentagon. Human nature persists.

        I believe the way to better government is public financing of elections. Take away buying access to (and sometimes the votes of) congress. It is a tragedy for us all that these congress critters began raising money for the next election cycle the very day after they take the oath. That serves us poorly. It’s be nice if instead of spending half their time sucking up, they could just go to work.

  15. I am getting tired of addressing the mindless comments on this board, though someone has to be the voice in the wilderness. Otherwise you folks merely repeat and amplify your own left wing ideas.

    The way you excuse Obama’s PROMISES is amazing. The man says things and when they prove to be false, you still have faith in him. Well I give you credit for loyalty. That’s it.

    There are natural cycles to economics. I know you people were not taught that in Karl Marx University. The economy should be well in to a natural recovery because a lot of the debt structures that helped cause the collapse are being unwound.

    Do you like that phrase ” unwound “? If you had a background in anything financial you’d know it. Add to that the deflation that came with the recession and costs for businesses are down.

    So why aren’t we further along in the recovery? Because businesses are frozen. They are afraid to hire. Obama-care and cap and tax has them scared to death about their future costs.

    Mr. Hoffman, Economics 101. If you raise costs on business, you kill jobs. Maybe you could e-mail that fact to your Community Organizer Hero, who is running the country.

  16. @ Alan: Actually, my application to KMU was rejected, so I had to settle for an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. Then, came my own professional experience owning a company of $40 million annual revenue and 900 employees. Maybe I can still dream — maybe KMU will confer an honorary degree on me later in life.

    “The man says things and when they prove to be false…”??? I just posted links to all the President’s relevant statements. Read them. Just read them. You will not find where he promised what you say he promised. It does not exist.

    This President is not perfect, and is making a number of hugely risky bets. These need to be debated in a serious and thoughtful manner. Unfortunately, instead of that, we have too many people who approach it exactly as you do: “I so completely disagree (or agree) with the President’s ideology that I am entitled to disregard, distort and otherwise twist the truth to align with my views.” With such people, there can be no constructive dialogue. You are welcome at the grown-ups’ table any time you’re ready.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

    • [. . . an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. Then, came my own professional experience owning a company of $40 million annual revenue and 900 employees.]

      Well, TCS, you have proved Alan correct. You obviously have no idea at all what you are talking about.

      • I must take offense at Moe’s comment above implying that this country was founded with federal authority at its core and that you are not a true American if you do not accept that. History does not show that. In fact, the 10th Amendment was written expressly to restrain federal authority. The country was founded with states granting power to the federal government (the enumerated powers) and not the other way around. The basis of the constitution was that power resided with the people and with the states, not the federal government. In fact, that was an early point of contention between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson believed, and rightly so, that too much concentration of power would lead to tyranny and wanted states to retain the majority of power. Hamilton, on the other hand, believed in a strong central authority and wanted America to become a strong imperialist country. In effect, he wanted a strong executive branch which would have been in effect, a monarchy patterned along the lines of British rule which this country had just fought for freedom against. He advocated power concentrated among the few to determine what was best for the many. Unfortunately, as one columnist noted, “we honor Jefferson, but live in Hamilton’s country.” It is amazingly arrogant to think that someone is an American only if they agree with you. That’s absolutely not what the Constitution is about. The federal government is NOT the final authority of this country, the Constitution (and through it, the people) is.

      • @M –

        [It is amazingly arrogant to think that someone is an American only if they agree with you. That’s absolutely not what the Constitution is about. The federal government is NOT the final authority of this country, the Constitution (and through it, the people) is.]

        You are right. My apologies to Pino. I should have made my point without getting accusatory. Or even personal.

        As for ‘living in Hamilton’s world”, I believe we straddle the aspirations of both Hamilton and Jefferson and that from time to time we shift the balance a bit. And I see a tension between those interpretations of ‘who we are and should be’ as a very good thing for us as a nation in the long run.

  17. The Center Square,

    “@ Alan: Actually, my application to KMU was rejected, so I had to settle for an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. Then, came my own professional experience owning a company of $40 million annual revenue and 900 employees. Maybe I can still dream — maybe KMU will confer an honorary degree on me later in life.”

    What are you doing here? Don’t you have better things to do?

    You don’t talk like one of the evil rich, but I bet you are. Did you give all of your 900 employees fully paid health care, you swine? I bet you didn’t. I bet you just live in your big mansion on the beach, and use your Chuck Berry to e-mail your slave drivers to crack the whip on the peons. :).

    I am fully ready to sit at the grown ups table as soon as I find it. I’ll check out your stuff. I can’t quite figure you out. Either you are not being honest or you are one of those rich liberals who voted for Obama to ease your guilty conscience.

    I don’t have those hang ups. I am not rich and I lost all of my liberal views when I got in to the real world and figured out who the BSers are.

  18. Wow, do you always judge people, armed with almost no information?

    I am a person of modest means. I started the company in 2001 with no money, and built it from nothing. I have had to personally guarantee millions of dollars of debt to fund it. I take enough out of the company to support a pretty typical middle-class suburban lifestyle, and everything else is reinvested.

    I offer health insurance to all full-time employees, but no, it is not 100% company paid. Depending on their job classification they have to pay anywhere up to 50% of the premium. We have had to switch plans three times in the past five years, and have had to raise the deductibles and make other adjustments, merely to have any plan. We have a 401k plan with a nice company match. I did all this before the company ever turned profitable.

    If you’d care to provide me with an email address, I’ll send you some information about my company.

    I am not hard to figure out. I have no hidden agenda. I have one bedrock belief: That politicians prey on unthinking Americans — like you and your counterparts on the left — by feeding you a steady diet of distortions and twisted ideology. And because people don’t stop to process it, to THINK, an army of idiots like you elect your posse of morons; and an identical army of left-wing idiots elect their posse of morons. We are stuck with useless wastes of public space like Pelosi, Boehner, Cantor and Rangle. The only people who win are the politicians, while the real needs of the country go unaddressed. Great. Just great.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

    • [I have had to personally guarantee millions of dollars of debt to fund it. I take enough out of the company to support a pretty typical middle-class suburban lifestyle, and everything else is reinvested.]

      To me, that is what America is all about. You can start a business and build it by reinvesting in it.

      Too many corporations these days are only concerned with profits. They ship manufacturing jobs overseas to maximize profits. They try to make products cheaper, even if it affects quality, just to boost their bottom line. That’s because the CEOs only answer to the shareholders whose only interest is profits — often short term. Along with the short term gains comes bonuses for the CEOs.

      Back before Reagan and Bush cut taxes on the wealthy, once you hit a certain income, it made more sense to put the money back into the company since much of it would go to taxes instead. Now, people just milk the companies for all they can.

      • Too many corporations these days are only concerned with profits.

        Do you understand that these corporations, in their unending quest for profits, have created a society that is the richest in the history of the world? We have food and shelter in abundance. And even after paying for our food and shelter, we have more left over money to purchase items that lead to a significantly higher standard of living.

        Quite simply, each of us has won the ultimate lottery; to be born in America during this generation. The reason for this? Government? No.

        Profit. The concept that people will labor in order to produce what the people want. That when you spend your money, someone is willing to make a product to compete for that money.

        Profit is a tool to ensure that we continually produce better and less expensive goods.

      • [Do you understand that these corporations, in their unending quest for profits, have created a society that is the richest in the history of the world?]

        Are you aware that we are in the midst of the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression? Do you ever look at your ideology in the context of the current state of our country? Do you ever look beyond your talking points?

      • Are you aware that we are in the midst of the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression?

        This isn’t even as bad as the recession in the 80′s. I seriously think that we should ban BOTH parties from the phrase:

        WORST ECONOMIC CRISIS SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION

        sheesh.

      • [This isn’t even as bad as the recession in the 80’s.]

        That has to be the most uninformed statement I’ve heard in a long time. While it’s true that Reagan caused the S&L crisis, which necessitated its bailout, the banking crisis of the past few years has been far more severe and expensive, and the job losses have been far worse.

        While the economy was bad during the 70s and 80s, culminating in unemployment in the early 80s that was higher than even today’s high unemployment, we ran the risk of our entire economy collapsing last year.

      • [each of us has won the ultimate lottery; to be born in America during this generation. The reason for this? Government? No.]

        Pino: I would venture that the answer is actually YES. The generation who created the world we live in were educated on the GI bill. They owned homes because tax policy encouraged it. When they got businesses going, they transported their goods on the Interstate highway system.

        And in those homes and factories they could count on clean water, affordable electricity and – ahem – mail service.

        And my generation got computers and internet and VELCRO thanks to the Federal government investments and ingenuity.

        I’m cool with all of that

  19. The Center Square,

    Ok, you are not the typical liberal who souls I’ve been trying to save from the hell fires of progressive BS.

    I can’t see how you can call Pelosi and Rangel ( together with Boehner and Cantor ) useless wastes, and then be for Obama.

    You are too much of a contradiction. I know the people on my side and I know the enemy ( everyone else almost on this board ), but you are trying to play the middle. To call me unthinking and then not ball out out everyone else here is a joke.

    Just admit you are on the other side 100%.

    • Alan, what’s your main source for news? Just curious.

      • I would submit for comment that it is not necessarily the sources of news that should be in question. The closed ideological prism from which all Alan’s insights flow would be more interesting venue to parse.

    • Maybe if you stopped thinking of all of us as your enemies, we could actually find common ground.

      • That is really a nice thought Sleepy, I just do not see it happening.

        Their system of thought, is a way of life, it comes with a spectrum of beliefs and core values that colour every aspect of their interaction with society.

        I would recommend reading Moral Politicsby George Lakoff to understand the obstacles in the way of finding common ground between conservative and progressive people.

    • Alan – I’m with Sleepygirl. There are contradictions everywhere. They appear regularly on this board but all that proves is that we’re all human. Life is full of compromise. Politics is called the ‘art of the compromise’. People cannot share the same planet without compromise.

      We see what happens when they refuse to find their common humanity (Taliban anyone?). And not to go all Disney here, but we need to work together, instead of separating into tribes whose sole reason to be is to fight the other tribe.

      We all better be more than that, or we’re sunk.

      TCS has it right – the political class, with few exceptions, are not really on our side. They’re riding the euphoria of power and celebrity, where it’s all about them.

    • [Ok, you are not the typical liberal who souls I’ve been trying to save from the hell fires of progressive BS.]

      Yep, conservatism is a religion for right-wingers.

    • @ Alan: The reason I am not challenging the opinions of your “enemies” is the same reason I am not challenging yours. I’m okay with your opinions. But I do challenge your information when it is inaccurate, and would challenge theirs if I saw major inaccuracies there. But you don’t debate that way. You challenge information with opinion.

      (You will see another post from me here in a moment that may make you feel a little better, though.)

      My whole point here is underscored by your statement, “I know my enemy.” You view the left wing as your enemy. The left wing views people like you as the enemy. As long as that extreme partisanship persists, we cannot progress as a country.

      What is your goal? Do you think you can persuade the entire left wing to change their views? Do you think you can persuade centrists to your view? Whose mind do you hope to change by your vitriol, judgmentalism and lack of sound reasoning? At least I have a goal that COULD work: To persuade people to set aside unthoughtful knee-jerk partisanship for a thoughtful dialogue.

  20. BH: Too many corporations these days are only concerned with profits.

    Pino:Do you understand that these corporations, in their unending quest for profits, have created a society that is the richest in the history of the world?

    At what cost though? Unbridled imperial war, gross human rights violations, the plunder of sovereign nations around the globe. Not mention the institutional callous exploitation of the poor and the greatest disequilibrium between the rich and the poor in the industrialized world. The richest, but certainly not the most civilized. Woo haa!

    Pino says:Quite simply, each of us has won the ultimate lottery; to be born in America during this generation. The reason for this? Government? No.

    Actually yes. The nasty Guv’ment is directly responsible for your wealth by providing and maintaining the climate for you to prosper as an individual.

    Profit. The concept that people will labor in order to produce what the people want. That when you spend your money, someone is willing to make a product to compete for that money.

    You missed the other side of profit which is the exploitation of labour, integral to the production thereof.

    Profit is a tool to ensure that we continually produce better and less expensive goods.

    Wow, what a beautiful bright shiny exposition of capitalism. Let us not think of the over consumption, the exploitation and destruction of the environment. Just keep buying and you’ll be fine.

    What a repugnant ethos to hold dear. Perhaps we should join Pino on Libertarian Island.

    • Arb – I have a vision of BOB waking up in a fine little house with a driveway and phones on the desk and a fridge and faucets and all those fine things. Great cars in the garage.

      And after opening a room temp fridge, he goes to the phone to call repair and there’s no dial tone. So he gets in his car and drives to the end of the street and there’s no more street. Anywhere!

      So he goes back home, and pours some scotch in a glass, topping it off with a little water – which comes out of the tap all brown and smelly.

      And that, my friends, is my view of Libertarian Land.

      • As with objectivists, libertarians indulge in many assumptions and when debating often move the goal-posts around because like any Utopian ideal, it is merely that: an ideal. One of the useful characteristics of libertarian doctrine is that it is an extremely mutable set of ideals that practitioners can morph to have any features necessary to ‘argue’ with.

        We had a version of libertarianism…it was called Feudalism (you can throw despotism in the mix as well), the logical endpoint of libertarianism.

      • [We had a version of libertarianism…it was called Feudalism (you can throw despotism in the mix as well), the logical endpoint of libertarianism.]

        It could be said that Russia had a libertarian economy since the fall of the U.S.S.R. Basically they had a free market economy. The result was widespread organized crime controlling almost everything. People longed for the days of communism. Now they are looking to China as an economic model.

  21. Mr. Hoffman,

    “Alan, what’s your main source for news? Just curious.”

    FoxNews of course. Throw in some Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck. Now this is just the everyday common news. When I need some intellectual firepower as say when I need a translation of the latest Obama speech, then I bring out the big guns. Charles Krauthammer is even better educated than Obama. He evolved from a liberal in to a conservative.

    He knows all of the word tricks that you over educated, under intellectual Liberals substitute for clear thought. If some on this board would only read his columns, the quality of discourse would rise out of the abyss.

    Then there is the Wall Street Journal, though I admit to not reading it very often lately. Lastly I subscribe to National Review magazine. Which is where I get an awful lot of facts that your side has never successfully disputed.

    Oh, I left out one, because it is a negative. MSNBC. I watch them from time to time and just believe the exact opposite of whatever they spew.

    The Arbourist,

    “We had a version of libertarianism…it was called Feudalism (you can throw despotism in the mix as well), the logical endpoint of libertarianism.”

    You really don’t have a clue what you are talking about, do you? Libertarians believe in minimal government. Feudalism is where a Monarch divides his Kingdom up among sub rulers. The two have nothing in common.

    Despotism is absolute rule by one person, such as Stalin, Chavez, Castro, and Kim Jong-il. These were the logical endpoints of Socialism. They sure did not get their birth from Libertarians.

    Perhaps you could give us all an example in world history where Libertarianism ended in despotism?

    sleepygirl,

    “Maybe if you stopped thinking of all of us as your enemies, we could actually find common ground.”

    I am sure you are a very nice lady. However, we are absolutely bitter enemies in the arena of ideas. We are each sure that if the other side prevails, it will be the ruin of American civilization. Unless one of us surrenders their principles we will always be ideological foes.

    • Alan, I asked you where you get your news — not where you get your opinions. You right-wingers don’t know the difference between news and opinion. That’s because you don’t like facts that don’t support your opinion, so you deem them useless.

    • [We are each sure that if the other side prevails, it will be the ruin of American civilization.]

      It almost was. We’ve seen the near total collapse of our economy, our military stretched near the breaking point, our country deep in debt. We’re not out of the woods yet. The Reagan and Bush administrations may still result in the end of our country as we know it.

    • Alan Scott said:You really don’t have a clue what you are talking about, do you? Libertarians believe in minimal government. Feudalism is where a Monarch divides his Kingdom up among sub rulers. The two have nothing in common.

      Unbridled capitalism which seems to be intrinsic to most flavours of libertarianism results in one thing: Monopolistic oligarchic control of wealth of society. There is no “free” in the free market because the very nature of the market concentrates wealth into the hands of the very few.

      Look at US politics ever wonder why after 8 years of Bush and CO practically none of the social conservative platform was advanced? Why? Because the ruling elites are fiscally conservative but, relatively speaking, socially liberal.

      Perhaps you could give us all an example in world history where Libertarianism ended in despotism?

      Of course not, libertarianism has not ever been implemented, nor will it ever be implemented. It is not a practical way to run a society, unlike socialism which has many practical applications, and is doing great in many locations:Cuba, Venezuela, Nigeria, Canada, Sweden, Norway, [...].

      • @ Arbourist: I think it undercuts your credibility to characterize Cuba, Venezuela, Nigeria, Canada, Sweden and Norway as examples of socialism doing great. Cuba, Venezuela, and Nigeria are rife with poverty and human suffering, and I would hate to hold any of them up as indicative of “doing great.” Canada, Sweden and Norway each have an unusually large dose of government social support systems, but maintain complex western capitalist economies. That is not socialist in any classic sense of the word. In fact, I resent it when right-wingers here brand the actions of our government as ‘socialist’ these days, for the very same reason.

        http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

      • It is not a practical way to run a society, unlike socialism which has many practical applications, and is doing great in many locations:Cuba, Venezuela, Nigeria, Canada, Sweden, Norway, [...].

        The only nation that can come close to competing with the United States is Norway. The others aren’t even close. I see that you acknowledged Nigeria was a bad call, but Venezuela and Cuba?

        ALERT: Shameless self promotion in progress!!

        For my explanation, go see my response at:
        http://tarheelred.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/the-world-compared-to-the-states/

  22. Unbridled imperial war, gross human rights violations, the plunder of sovereign nations around the globe.

    American citizens have never tasted the the bitter fruits of war.

    Where, in America, are you finding gross human rights violations? I contend that the average citizen of America has more liberty and freedom afforded to her than any other citizen of any other nation at any time in the history of this planet.

    Plunder of resources? What, on earth, are you talking about?

    The nasty Guv’ment is directly responsible for your wealth

    I am responsible for my wealth. You yours.

    exploitation of labour

    In a free market, with Liberty extended to all, no one is exploited. No one can be exploited.

    the job losses have been far worse.

    It’s not even close. We have lost far fewer jobs relative to the working force this time around.

    The generation who created the world we live in were educated on the GI bill.

    A fraction of the people who built the world we live in were educated on the GI bill. Fewer even still wouldn’t have been educated if not for that bill.

    They owned homes because tax policy encouraged it.

    And Fan and Fred incented them. Which led to the “GREATEST ECONOMIC CRISIS SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION” See Ben above.

    they transported their goods on the Interstate highway system.

    No one I know advocates for the complete end of the Federal Government.

    We had a version of libertarianism…it was called Feudalism

    What on earth are you talking about. The serf in Feudal societies had ZERO individual Liberty. They didn’t own land, own their homes, their crops or their livestock. Many of them didn’t own their life. They couldn’t sell their goods at a market for a price they could negotiate. They couldn’t buy or sell property.

    Further, in a Feudal society, it is total control vested in a “Lord” or King. There isn’t even one similarity between Libertarianism and Feudalism.

    • Arb:Unbridled imperial war, gross human rights violations, the plunder of sovereign nations around the globe.

      Pino: American citizens have never tasted the the bitter fruits of war.

      An excellent point Pino. Precisely because the US has not been occupied or ravaged by war historical amnesia (willing or not) is a key feature that ties into many debates. Being a hegemonic power also tends to cut off access to dissenting points of view as any Empire marginalizes criticism.

      Pino:Where, in America, are you finding gross human rights violations?

      There are many. A small sampling can be found here,here and here.

      I contend that the average citizen of America has more liberty and freedom afforded to her than any other citizen of any other nation at any time in the history of this planet.

      Agreed. Those freedoms,however, are being eroded by the elite corporatist forces that control and influence much of society. No amount of rugged, heady, individualism will usurp their control of society.

      Plunder of resources? What, on earth, are you talking about?

      The US exploits the world for its own interests. It is not a feature unique to the US, but rather of all empires, Mongol, Roman, British et cetera. Consider the US actions in the southern cone. The insights of Smedley Butler and his book War is a Racket provides some insight into the idea the the US does indeed engage in plunder.

      Arb: exploitation of labour

      Pino:In a free market, with Liberty extended to all, no one is exploited. No one can be exploited.

      This condition does not exist. So why postulate this as an answer to the idea of exploitation which, in fact, does exist?

      Do you really want a “free market” a return of the Robber Barons and massive monopolies, because that is what unregulated “free markets” lead too.

      This is not just an ahistorical blip, similar free market policies (aka The Chicago school of neoliberalism)in Chile and Argentina essentially destroyed those countries economically.

      So no matter where you move the goalposts on the idea of a unregulated free market and liberty – the result is disaster.

      Pino said:What on earth are you talking about. The serf in Feudal societies had ZERO individual Liberty. They didn’t own land, own their homes, their crops or their livestock. Many of them didn’t own their life. They couldn’t sell their goods at a market for a price they could negotiate. They couldn’t buy or sell property.

      And this would differ from living under a authoritarian, monopolistic, plutarchic society, the direct result of “free market” policy, how?

  23. You said to Arb:
    [I am sure you are a very nice lady. However, we are absolutely bitter enemies in the arena of ideas. We are each sure that if the other side prevails, it will be the ruin of American civilization.]

    And with that Alan, I quit even trying to engage with you. You sad, sad man.

  24. Ms. Holland,

    “And with that Alan, I quit even trying to engage with you. You sad, sad man.”

    Sorry to hear that. What I try to engage in is honesty. It may be brutal.

  25. Mr. Hoffman,

    “No, you engage in battles of emotion. Honesty plays no role in your use of facts”

    I don’t know, I guess what you are doing is called projection. You project on to me what you are guilty of.

    You do this so that you and also Ms. Holland do not have to deal with what I say.

    If I am full as of crap as you think, it should be very easy for an intelligent, educated, sophisticate such as yourself to take my so called facts and debunk them. If you can, I have no ego problem admitting I am wrong. I believe you have that problem.

    So as I always say, take my words and prove me wrong.

  26. The Center Square said: Cuba, Venezuela, and Nigeria are rife with poverty and human suffering

    Absolutely. But both Cuba and Venezuela have made great strides toward reducing human suffering despite vicious economic sanctions held in place at the behest of the United States. Why are they punished, because the system they chose to develop their nations was not capitalism. I would say both are doing great precisely because of the situation they are in (that is having a hegemonic power actively work for their downfall).

    Canada, Sweden and Norway each have an unusually large dose of government social support systems, but maintain complex western capitalist economies.

    All three possess a strong overlay of what could be termed socialist policies. It is in that light I made the reference. I realize they are all mixed economies, but all are working examples of how some public control in the economy is a good thing.

    Now if we were talking the pure application of Socialism which is where the public or workers control the means of production, I would be off target. However, in Venezuela, many major industries have been nationalized so Venezuela does fall closer to the socialist ideal.

    Nigeria …

    I’m not sure what I was thinking there, they are a relatively well off African nation, but economically their system does not support what I was saying. That is what you get for trying get off ‘just one more post’ before bedtime.

    Whoops ;)

    • Why are they punished, because the system they chose to develop their nations was not capitalism. I would say both are doing great

      Just a taste:

      Caracas, July 22 – Venezuela, a traditional coffee exporter that boasts one of the best cups of java in South America, may have to import coffee for the first time ever this year or face shortages, industry experts said.
      Daily News Alerts

      - We respect your privacy -

      Producers say rising costs and prices fixed by the government have caused production to fall and illegal exports to rise. The government says poor climate and speculation by growers and roasters is to blame.

      “There is a serious shortage,” Pedro Vicente Perez, coffee director with the national agricultural federation, Fedeagro, told Reuters.

      “This is the first time ever Venezuela will have to import large quantities of coffee,” Perez said.

  27. Mr. Hoffman,

    Turnabout is fair play. Where do you get your news from?
    :)

    • I get my news primarily from the N.Y. Times, the Washington Post, and the PBS News Hour. (and local news from the Denver Post) The Times did have some credibility issues after helping Bush’s push for war in Iraq, but they are still relatively unbiased.

  28. The Arbourist,

    “But both Cuba and Venezuela have made great strides toward reducing human suffering despite vicious economic sanctions held in place at the behest of the United States. Why are they punished, because the system they chose to develop their nations was not capitalism. I would say both are doing great precisely because of the situation they are in (that is having a hegemonic power actively work for their downfall).”

    I think you are leaving out relevant facts from your analysis. If Cuba and Venezuela were merely Socialist democracies such as Sweden or Germany, then you would be right. If the people continually vote themselves Socialism in open elections, then fine. Everyone has a right to be stupid.

    You know that is not the case in Chavez and Castro land. They are dictatorships who oppress their people and destroy economies just to hang on to power.

    To say that these countries are doing great and that all of their problems are because of the US persecution, betrays a colossal ignorance. Chavez has taken over much of the Venezuelan private economy and mismanaged it in to the ground.

    The few parts that are still in private hands tend to be controlled by Chavezs’ friends and are totally corrupt. There was an article in yesterdays WSJ about how the gov. was seizing some private Venezuelan banks owned by a Chavez crony. They only did this finally to save them and protect the whole system from collapse. Yep they are doing great.

    • You know that is not the case in Chavez and Castro land. They are dictatorships who oppress their people and destroy economies just to hang on to power.

      Elections in Venezuela. Internationally monitored I might add as well.
      Perhaps the US should give it a try.

      Chavez has taken over much of the Venezuelan private economy and mismanaged it in to the ground.

      The Venezuelan economy is doing as well as to be expected since the US initiated melt down. It certainly not being run into the ground as you opine.

      To say that these countries are doing great and that all of their problems are because of the US persecution, betrays a colossal ignorance.

      Now what was that about in an earlier post about sticking to the facts and proving the argument wrong? Something like this?

      So as I always say, take my words and prove me wrong.

      So rather than engaging in ad hominem attacks (AS:’betrays a colossal ignorance’)prove me wrong or at least try to stick to the arguments as your opinion of my perceived ignorance has nothing to do with the validity of my points.

  29. I read the documentation you provided links to in this excellent post. The mean spirited manipulations and manifesto of lies that the right wing is spinning is astonishing.

  30. The Arbourist,

    ” Elections in Venezuela. Internationally monitored I might add as well.
    Perhaps the US should give it a try. ”

    “The Venezuelan economy is doing as well as to be expected since the US initiated melt down. It certainly not being run into the ground as you opine. ”

    This board is getting long and tired. I hope that I am not the only one here who finds these statements ridiculous.

    You explain to me how fair elections can be when you silence your media critics.

    http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/osc/chavez.pdf

    You also apparently have no problem with a dictator who has no term limits.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/16/venezuela-presidential-term-limits-vote

    He can indefinitely use the levers of power to buy the leadership.

  31. The Arbourist,

    “The Venezuelan economy is doing as well as to be expected since the US initiated melt down. It certainly not being run into the ground as you opine. ”

    It most certainly is. Hugo Chavez has been fortunate because of the oil price boom of the last few years. He has been sucking money out of the oil industry to pay for his socialism and foreign adventurism. Much of Venezuelan oil is extra heavy and requires foreign investment to extract and process.

    Hugo the clown has so angered foreign oil companies with his theft and corruption that now keeping foreign money and expertise is a problem going forward, in light of the collapse of oil prices.

    As far as economic conditions, here are statistics.

    Inflation 2005=16%, 2006=13.7%, 2007=18.7%, 2008=31.9%, 2009 projected =30%.

    If you are interested in learning something about Venezuela, I will be happy to post 3 or 4 links to help you.

    • To add to Alan’s post, Venezuela oil productivity was 3.2mm barrels of oil per day in 1998 before Chavez took office. By the end of 2008, it was estimated to have fallen to 2.2mm barrels per day. Remember, in 2008 we saw sky-high oil prices and Venezuela had less to sell on the open market. Their productivity has experienced a steady decline under Chavez’s regime.
      Also, there were newswire reports that the state oil company PDVSA had $13.9 billion in unpaid bills to other companies at the end of 2008, a 146% increase over the prior year. When they should have been flush with cash (witness American oil companies like Exxon-Mobil) they were struggling to pay bills. A number of international companies had to halt service and write off services rendered because of lack of payment.
      I agree with Alan. Chavez is running the country into the ground.

  32. ML106,

    Thank you for your support.

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