Saturday, June 18, 2011

Where people are a priority

"In the United States, we paid the equivalent of 8.2 percent of our economy more in social spending out of our own pockets than the people in other rich countries did that year. So the savings we enjoyed on our tax bills were more than offset by what we paid for those things our counterparts bought with their taxes."
9 Countries that Do It Better - AlterNet

The war over reality

"[T]he parties are increasingly divided over reality itself: over what is actually true, not only about hard science but also social science and simple policy facts such as the contents of the health-care bill."
Reality Bites - The American Prospect

Monday, June 13, 2011

When facts are just a means to an end

"Intellectualism, science, and knowledge itself is only valuable [for conservatives] to the extent to which it can shore up the ideological beliefs of the speaker or the listener. Facts that might subvert those assertions are simply dismissed."
The Conservative War on Facts - Daily Kos

The problem for conservatives is that they're wrong

"Low tax rates. Profits for so-called 'job creators.' Spending cuts. The three things that conservatives say are most necessary for achieving a healthy economy are all occurring at historic levels. If conservatives were right, there could be no way that the economic situation could be this bad on either side of the pond. But it is, and that leads to one inescapable logical conclusion: conservative economic policies are not good for job creation or the overall economy."
If Conservatives Were Right - Daily Kos

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Government spending does not diminish freedom

"If freedom, as the conservatives seem to insist, comes down primarily to the quantity of government spending, then a country such as Sweden, where government spends quite a lot, would be less 'free' than a right-wing dictatorship that had no welfare state and no public schools — but also didn’t allow its people to speak, pray, write or organize as they wish."
Romney’s Flawed View of Freedom - Washington Post

America, the learning impaired

"But we’re special. We’re Americans. We’re exceptional. If we want to learn how to keep healthcare costs from devouring the economy, we don’t need to study the methods used by comparable countries -- because no other countries are comparable to us, in our virtue, our wisdom, and our divinely inspired founding. No, instead of sending fact-finding commissions to other nations to meet with their medical experts, we’ll turn to the Federalist Papers, and try to deduce what Hamilton, Madison and Jay might have said about physician reimbursement rates."
The Case Against "American Exceptionalism" - Salon

Free markets don't exist

"Free-market economists may want you to believe that the correct boundaries of the market can be scientifically determined, but this is incorrect. If the boundaries of what you are studying cannot be scientifically determined, what you are doing is not a science.... Their ideological cloak is to pretend that their politics is not really political, but rather is an objective economic truth, while other people’s politics is political. However, they are as politically motivated as their opponents."
There Is No Such Thing as a Free Market - Truthout

Monday, April 25, 2011

If they don't quit patting themselves on the back, they're going to hurt themselves

"Yes, I make good money, but I work hard for it." People have got to stop saying that as if it explains everything. Lots of people work hard. They just don't get paid well for it. One does not axiomatically lead to the other.

Of course, many people love to believe that they control their own lives completely, and any good thing that happens to them is due to their own innate wonderfulness (l'm looking at you, Ayn Randians). Maybe the one good thing to come out of the current financial mess is that some of them have, at long last, been disabused of this ego-inflating illusion.

Also, it's odd how many conservatives in Congress are admitted Rand fans. They obviously believe they're part of the heroic "producer" class. That's absurd. They're in *conservatives in Congress,* for God's sake.

Btw, this is not to argue that people don't make bad decisions or are not in the least bit responsible for their circumstances. It's just to say that many people make plenty of good choices and still can't afford to live in this expensive world. Also, if we have any pretense of compassion, we need to make *some* allowance for simple human error. (And the "right choices" are not always so obvious when you're young or in the thick of things.) The bottom line is that our society *needs* a safety net, because a) in this imperfect world, the rewards don't always go to the good or follow from good choices (sometimes it seems precisely the opposite); and b) if we have any pretense of honoring the intrinsic worth of human life, it must be regarded as unacceptable for any one of us to go without the fundamentals of life: food, shelter. and medical care.

But then the Walton family couldn't buy quite as many platinum-plated butt scratchers

"Walmart and other low-wage employers are poster-children for free-market hypocrisy, claiming that the 'market' dictates they pay poverty wages while shifting some of their labor costs onto the taxpayer. A 2004 study by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce estimated that just one Walmart store with 200 'associates' costs taxpayers over $420,000 per year in government assistance to the poor."
If Walmart Paid its 1.4 Million U.S. Workers a Living Wage, it Would Result in Almost No Pain for the Average Customer - AlterNet

And it's not just health care that's been commodified

"How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as 'consumers'? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered...almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car--and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough."
Patients Are Not Consumers - The New York Times

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The conservatives' Bizarro-world morality

‎"There is one idea that explains Republican behavior: moral disgust at income redistribution.... Opposition to the progressive income tax is at once a sacred and a hidden value for Republicans, and thus one that makes compromise nearly impossible. You cannot bargain with a partner whose stated goals are merely pretexts....

"The great irony of the recent triumph of [Ayn Rand's] vision on the right is that it takes place in conditions just the opposite. The poor and working classes have languished for decades, while the rich pull in unimaginable sums. This is the atmosphere that has paradoxically given rise to the right’s fervid class warfare."
The Triumph of Taxophobia - Democracy

Yep--somehow it keeps coming back to Rand. The attraction is baffling to those of us who do not experience what Randians apparently do, i.e., an unquestioned sense of superiority to the 99.9999999 percent of humanity who are not them. I mean, radial solipsism and comically distorted egos I can almost grasp--winning!--but this is flat out psyhopathology:

‎"She wrote of one of the protagonists of her stories that 'he does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people;' and she meant this as praise."

‎"From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To the gas chambers--go!'" - Whittaker Chambers, in a 1957 review of Rand's novel published in--wait for it--William F. Buckley's "National Review."

Note to Paul Ryan: this is not the kind of change we can believe in.

A meaningful deficit fix

"Estimates of how much would be saved by extending Medicare to cover the entire population range from $58 billion to $400 billion a year. More Americans would get quality health care, and the long-term budget crisis would be sharply reduced."
Medicare Isn't the Problem -- It's the Solution - Salon

I have an ideology. And so do you

"There’s an old joke to the effect that you’re an ideologue; I’m just being sensible. The point is that everyone has an ideology — which is another way of saying that everyone has (a) values and (b) some view about how the world works. And there’s nothing wrong with that."
Everyone Has An Ideology - The New York Times

Who decides "deservingness"--and why?

A recent conversation reminded me of this: the virtue of government safety-net programs vs. individually directed "charity" (beyond the sheer financial and logistical inadequacy of the latter) is that public programs provide objective criteria by which to evaluate need, as opposed to the erratic and often inaccurate patterns of distribution that would result from individual taxpayers' underinformed and often biased suppositions as to what another person's circumstances or degree of "deservingness" might be (see, for example, Reagan's fictitious Cadillac-driving "welfare queen," a story that all too many believed unquestioningly because it played to their preconceptions and prejudices).
Eight Great Myths About Welfare -

Monday, April 4, 2011

Slouching towards America

"The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years...went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance)."
‎"When you look at the sheer volume of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent in this country, it’s tempting to see our growing inequality as a quintessentially American achievement—we started way behind the pack, but now we’re doing inequality on a world-class level. And it looks as if we’ll be building on this achievement for years to come, because what made it possible is self-reinforcing. Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth."
Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% - Vanity Fair

Where do they find these people?

"It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair
The Truth, Still Inconvenient - The New York Times

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rewriting the libertarian gospel

"Countless factors beyond our choosing influence our [abilities,] ambition and effort, such as our upbringing, our family’s work ethic, our childhood experiences, subconscious insecurities, social milieu, career fads, role models, parental and peer pressure, available life paths, lucky breaks, and other contingent factors. It is not clear how much of it is our own doing, however militantly we may hold the illusion that we create our own life story...."
‎"Even if we somehow leveled socioeconomic disparities, the winners of the race would still be the fastest runners, due in part to a natural lottery. People are often born with certain talents and attributes—for instance, oratory, musical acumen, physical beauty and health, athleticism, good memory and cognition, extroversion, etc.—that give them unearned advantages. Are their wins not as arbitrary from a moral standpoint as of those born with silver spoons in their mouths? Further, is it not our dumb luck that our society happens to value certain aptitudes we may have—such as the leap and hand-eye coordination of Michael Jordan, sound-byte witticisms of talk show hosts like Jay Leno, or the algorithmic wizardry of Sergey Brin in the Internet age?"
"n Rawlsian terms, the problem in America is not that a minority has grown super rich, but that for decades now, it has done so to the detriment of the lower social classes. The big question is: why does the majority in a seemingly free society tolerate this, and even happily vote against its own economic interests? A plausible answer is that it is under a self-destructive meritocratic spell that sees social outcomes as moral desert—a spell at least as old as the American frontier but long since repurposed by the corporate control of public institutions and the media: news, film, TV, publishing, etc. Rather than move towards greater fairness and egalitarianism, it promotes a libertarian gospel of the free market with minimal regulation, taxation, and public safety nets.[10] What would it take to break this spell?"
What Do We Deserve? - 3 Quarks Daily
‎"It just so happens that I was in the right place at the right time. I really wouldn't have made a difference if I were born in Bangladesh. Or if I was born here in 1700. The odds of me being born here, in this time, were 1:50. And I just got lucky as hell. I won a lottery. Stick me some place other else and I could say I know how to allocate capital and value business. But they'd say, so what?" - Warren Buffett (investment guru; #3 on Forbes' 2011 list of world's richest people)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The "dumbest idea in the world"

"Only in the English-speaking world, with its tradition of radical libertarian ideology, could a head of state like Margaret Thatcher declare: 'There is no such thing as society.'"
The Failure of Shareholder Capitalism - Salon

Friday, March 25, 2011

Like conducting a Gallup poll on gravity

"[T]he rise of Idiot America today represents -- for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power -- the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they're talking about."

Greetings from Idiot America - Esquire

Defining crime as price rather than punishment

“'The purpose of limited liability is to protect people from being responsible. If we put the assumptions about how we organize business in other areas of our lives and politics, people would be aghast.'”
How Wall Street Crooks Get Out of Jail Free - The Nation

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You have to be asleep to believe it

Carlin Knew the Rich Just Want More - The Cap Times

It's the 10-percenters' world. We just stagnate in it

"Americans haven’t accepted the status quo. Rather, they’re unaware of it. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely and psychologist Michael Norton recently asked people to estimate wealth inequality in this country. As it happens, most Americans think wealth is distributed vastly more equally than it actually is, and yet they would like something more equal still: When given a choice between various options, they chose the one most closely resembling Sweden, followed by the world in which every quintile has exactly 20 percent of the wealth. Only 10 percent chose our world. But the problem, as Hacker and Pierson point out, is that the political system isn’t listening. It’s time it did."
The “Hood Robin” Economy - Democracy Journal

Adam Smith, liberal

On businessmen:
"[F]or all they may talk of freedom and fairness, [they] 'generally have an interest to deceive and even oppress the public.'”
On progressive taxation:
"The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state."
On "big government:"
"Government has the duty of 'erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public works which may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society....'”
On full employment and high wages:
"What improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable."
Das Capitalist - The American Conservative

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Failure by design

Monday, March 14, 2011

The true price of everything

The Cost of Overpaying: How High CEO Salaries and Income Disparity Affect Our Wealth, Health and Happiness - AlterNet

Are these guys telling the truth?

"[T]he fiscal issues are just an excuse for ideologically driven policies to lower taxes on well-off people and business while reducing government programs. Yet only occasionally do journalists step back to ask: Are these guys telling the truth?"
What If We're Not Broke? - Washington Post

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why cut a useless weapons system when you can cut housing for the disabled?

The Pentagon's Biggest Boondoggles - The New York Times

A good refresher course

Government Success Stories - Liberalism Resurgent


Free Market Failures - Liberalism Resurgent

Coolidge was wrong

‎"As are most people around the world, most Americans are, first and foremost, caring and compassionate. That our government is so far adrift from representing such humane values speaks to why so many Americans feel so alienated from it. That so many in government and the media, and at least one of our two political parties, are so wholly invested in using government as but a means of manipulating and consolidating wealth speaks to why so many are so cynical about it. Being good at business does not qualify one to serve in government. Wanting to make the world a better place for as many people as possible does....

"Businesses are in business to make money. They are not in business to be nice. There are many responsible business leaders, but many of the world's largest and most successful industries depend on exploiting workers, despoiling the environment, manipulating and otherwise taking advantage of consumers, and squeezing out every possible penny of profit.... That is why the public good needs defending from them. That is why capitalism itself best thrives when protected from its own exigent excesses. Government is the vehicle.

"Modern democratic and republican forms of government were invented to protect people from despotism, to defend human rights, and to give the public good access to political power. Those that would put businesses in charge of government have it exactly backward. Those that deem business executives by that experience qualified to lead government have it exactly backward."
The Business of the Government - Daily Kos

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our reverse-Robin-Hood economy

"Now we are told that everyone must sacrifice to bring state and federal government budgets in line. But somehow the sacrifices once again all fall on those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Once again businesses are given tax cuts, money is found to increase spending on roads, but education, health care and help for the poorest in our society are cut."

The Crisis Is Our Unwillingness to Make the Rich Pay Their Share - The Cap Times

It's the economy, stupid

"Teachers did not send U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico, India, and China. Nor did they lose billions of dollars of other people’s money by gambling in deregulated financial markets. They did not deplete the public coffers by cutting taxes on corporations and the rich.... As our economy has suffered because of these ruinous policies, so have our schools."
School Woes Rooted in Boardrooms, Not Classrooms - Common Dreams

Friday, March 11, 2011


Class Warfare, Illustrated - Daily Kos

Today’s Republicans just aren’t into rationality

"[I]f you’re serious about deficits, you shouldn’t be pinching pennies now; you should be looking for ways to rein in health spending over the long term. And that means taking exactly the steps that had those G.O.P. staffers sneering."
Dumbing Deficits Down - The New York Times

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When shareholder capitalism triumphs

"It's one thing for a nation to be downwardly mobile during a recession. It's quite another to be downwardly mobile during a recovery - but that looks to be precisely what's happening."
Where's the Economic Recovery? - Washington Post

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's nice to see it in pie-chart form

Republicans Lie A Lot: Here's the Proof - Daily Kos

What now?

"This legacy of the privatized welfare state, with hidden public subsidies for services the government funds directly in other countries, lets Americans venerate the 'free market' and misunderstand the role of government -- and makes progressive organizing harder."
What comes after Wisconsin? - Salon

"‎Decades of research have shown that the economic pyramid is flatter in countries where unions are stronger. In economies as different as Canada and Germany, a sturdy union presence has helped reduce income inequality. The reason isn't just that unions defend their members. They also create changes in social norms, such as pressures for nonunion employers to match union gains."
The Wisconsin Union Fight Isn't About Benefits. It's About Labor's Influence - Washington Post

Monday, March 7, 2011

What "everyone knows" is wrong

‎"[T]he notion that putting more kids through college can restore the middle-class society we used to have is wishful thinking. It’s no longer true that having a college degree guarantees that you’ll get a good job, and it’s becoming less true with each passing decade."
Degrees and Dollars - The New York Times

"Free lunch" economics tells people what they want to hear

Economics vs. Fakeonomics - Huffington Post

Friday, March 4, 2011

We can still screw this up

How to Make Sure the Unemployment Rate Keeps Dropping - Salon

How to Kill a Recovery - The New York Times

David Brooks: living in the immaterial world

"Even in a strictly meritocratic system, surely not everyone can be an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, a columnist for the New York Times, or some other successful creative in one of the world’s innovation hubs. What is Brooks’ vision for those who fail to succeed in this thrilling new world? He never says."
David Brooks' Bias Toward Elite Values - Salon

Draw your own conclusions

"[E]thnocentric whites are more likely to push for cuts in food stamps, to favor reductions in spending on welfare, to oppose increasing benefits to women on welfare if they have additional children, and to favor strict time limits on public assistance."
Ethnocentrism and Small Government Hypocrisy - Think Progress

The heart of what's the matter

‎"The Story of Stuff" people have put out another video that, despite the self-consciously breezy tone, manages to hit its target squarely. To tweak Reagan's famous line, "Money *is* the problem."

But it's easier just to blame the teachers

Great interview cratering the "blame-everything-on-the-teachers" discourse so beloved by the the right.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Diane Ravitch
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Destroying tomorrow's middle class in order to protect today's rich

"According to the Tax Foundation, most Republican-voting states receive more in federal funding than they pay in federal taxes, while most Democratic-voting states receive less federal money than they pay in federal taxes. That means traditionally blue states like California are now perpetually subsidizing -- or in Ryan's parlance, 'bailing out' -- traditionally red states like Indiana. Thus, federal aid to states could actually reduce the state-to-state subsidies conservatives say they oppose.

Congressional Republicans will undoubtedly ignore these facts."
State Crises Mean New Language of Deceit - Salon

When will America's teachers learn to sacrifice like the heroes of Wall Street?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in the Dairyland - For Richer and Poorer - Teachers and Wall Street
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Saving lives, one tax dollar at a time

Who Drives Innovation? - The American Prospect

What the right needs is better ideas

Obama Calls the GOP's Bluff - The New Republic

There may be hope after all

"What explains this huge gulf between what members of the the public see as common sense and what their democratically-elected representatives impose on them?

"A lot of it can be explained by money. It's not a coincidence that elected officials support more defense spending, given the size and influence of the military-industrial lobby. Nor is it surprising that they are wary of increasing taxes on the people who pay for their campaigns.

"By contrast, most of the things the public wants to spend more on -- job training, education, humanitarian aid, energy conservation and pollution control among them -- don't have wealthy corporate constituencies."
Study: Public Sees Both Parties Cutting Deficits the Wrong Way - Huffington Post

Responsibility won't get you headlines

"Such [good] ideas are off the table because the current rage is not for figuring out how to make government work better - a cause that once united governors of both parties - but for cutting back even its most basic and popular functions."
No Glory for Governors Trying to do the Right Fiscal Thing - Washington Post

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One down, 100 million to go

A well-known conservative (the esteemed Richard Posner) has actually changed his economic thinking based on evidence and reason. What is the temperature in hell?

How I Became a Keynesian - The New Republic

It's time the rich paid us back

‎"Though many multimillionaires fancy themselves self-made men (and women), the truth is that they all have profited from investments that American taxpayers have made over the decades, and even centuries."

Budget Crisis? Duh, Tax the Rich! - In These Times

How Democrats Can Become Relevant Again (And Rescue the Nation While They’re At It) -

Monday, February 28, 2011

Saving the middle-class will require a radically different conception of trade

America's Trade Policy of the Absurd - The American Prospect

Repeat after me: Obama. Was. Right.

"There is now broad agreement that the bailouts worked, stabilizing the financial system and preventing an even deeper crisis."

Bailouts Are Shaping Up to be Cheaper Than Expected - LA Times

Germinal, American edition?

"Last weekend's demonstrations do not necessarily reflect a new sense of class consciousness, but they do suggest the potential for it. The idea of a class system where only a handful can ever be truly wealthy intrudes awkwardly on a culture rooted in notions of self-advancement, personal reinvention and rugged individualism, even if it is closer to reality. Old habits die hard."

Wisconsin Is Making the Battle Lines Clear in America's Hidden Class War - The Guardian


"Lose the future"

"[P]oliticians — and especially, in my experience, conservative politicians — always claim to be deeply concerned about the nation’s children.... In practice, however, when advocates of lower spending get a chance to put their ideas into practice, the burden always seems to fall disproportionately on those very children they claim to hold so dear."

Leaving Children Behind - The New York Times

The sound of a dozen libertarian billionaires moaning in ecstasy

Why Can't All of America Be More Like Mississippi? - The American Prospect
"Why is this model of economic growth so appealing to the Tea Party? For one, it tends to jibe very well with the Ayn Randian belief in producerism: the idea that 'job creators'—business owners—are the only source of economic growth in society, and that everyone else—the workers, government employees, and the poor—are just 'useless eaters' shackling those who exercise individual initiative....

"The problem with this theory is that it won’t work: Economic development experts usually deride 'Moonlight and Magnolias' approaches to job creation, noting that they track the outmoded first and second 'waves' of basic economic development theory—which emphasized crude economic races to the bottom—as opposed to third and fourth 'waves' that focus on worker skills, quality of life, public-private partnerships, innovation, and sustainability. If Wisconsin and other states—not to mention the country as a whole—end up adopting these atavistic economic ideals, they will simply begin to resemble the dysfunctional Old South societies that spawned them in the first place."

Dixie Madison - The New Republic

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The payoff is priceless

"That’s not to say there is no fiscal mission in the right’s agenda, both nationally and locally — only that the mission has nothing to do with deficit reduction. The real goal is to reward the G.O.P.’s wealthiest patrons by crippling what remains of organized labor, by wrecking the government agencies charged with regulating and policing corporations, and, as always, by rewarding the wealthiest with more tax breaks. The bankrupt moral equation codified in the Bush era — that tax cuts tilted to the highest bracket were a higher priority even than paying for two wars — is now a given. The once-bedrock American values of shared sacrifice and equal economic opportunity have been overrun."

Why Wouldn’t the Tea Party Shut It Down? - The New York Times

The real motivation

Trashing the Lessons of Watergate - The New York Times

Spreading the ignorance around

"One of the biggest problems we have in dealing with the budget is the gross level of budgetary ignorance on the part of the public that I detailed last week. But an even bigger problem is that Republicans in Congress appear to be just as ignorant about the actual impact of the grandiose spending cuts they repeatedly claim they are going to enact immediately. In coming weeks, everyone is going to get a very fast and very rough education on the real effects of slashing government spending."

GOP Cuts Budget with an Axe Instead of a Scalpel - The Fiscal Times

"‎"[Studies have shown that] giving people correct information not only had little effect on changing their misperceptions, in some cases it actually increased them.... I would like to believe that most people will make the right decisions given the correct information. If that is not the case, then we have a far more serious problem than just the budget deficit. It calls into question the fundamental basis of democracy itself."

Voter Ignorance Threatens Deficit Reduction - The Fiscal Times

The Budget Fight Continues - The New York Times

The Misinformed Tea Party Movement - Forbes

Friday, February 25, 2011

The GOP: Advancing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society

Shock Doctrine, U.S.A. - The New York Times

Don't believe the high-tax hype

The Breakdown: Why Aren't Corporations Paying Their Taxes? - The Nation

The only legitimate demonstrators are the ones they agree with

For such noisy "supporters" of democracy and the Constitution, the Fox crowd seems strangely unfamiliar with the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition government for a redress of grievances, i.e., to protest. And naturally you heard none of this reality-impaired echolalia when the Teabaggers were putting their multitudinous forms of illiteracy, civic or otherwise, on public display (
Fox Slams WI Protests But Cheered Tea Party Protests - MediaMatters

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do they really need AM and FM?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
A Less Perfect Union
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

It'll cost us

Working for the Shutdown - Slate

The battlefield is bigger than Wisconsin

Wisconsin Is Only Part of the GOP War Against Unions - Washington Post

An innovative definition of “shared sacrifice”

Priorities? GOP Governors Shift Burden To Poor, Middle Class To Pay For Tax Breaks For Rich, Corporations - ThinkProgress

Very comfortable reasoning for the very comfortable class

The Overselling of Education - The American Prospect

They only call it class warfare when we fight back

'Pampered' unionists? Really? -

Eight charts that explain everything that's wrong with America

It's the Inequality, Stupid - Mother Jones

Things would have been different

"Thirty years of free-market evangelism have convinced nearly everyone—even middle-class voters who keep getting the short end of the economic stick—that the policy preferences of the business community are good for everyone. But in practice, the benefits have gone almost entirely to the very wealthy."

Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About - Mother Jones

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How bad have things become?

"One of the things I noticed reading through the letters was the pervasive sense of loss, not just of employment, but of faith in the soundness and possibilities of America. For centuries, Americans have been nothing if not optimistic. But now there is a terrible sense that so much that was taken for granted during the past six or seven decades is being dismantled or destroyed."

At Grave Risk - The New York Times

Balancing the power

Nice observation by Ezra Klein in todays WaPo:

"Unions are not just about challenging the 'might and greed' of private-sector CEOs, but about recognizing the different incentives faced by managers and workers, and about correcting the tremendous power imbalance between those who can be fired for asking too many questions or demanding a different bargain and those who get to do the firing and would prefer a more submissive workforce and a status quo that they've created and defined."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Maybe the problem is that private sector workers make too little

Do Wisconsin's Workers Make Too Much? - The New Republic

Hate is stronger than logic

"It’s almost surrealistic. But decades of relentless Republican hate-mongering against the government has done its job.

Never mind that it was government that pulled off the greatest feat of social engineering in history. In 1900, only 4% of Americans graduated from high school. By 2000, more than 80% did. It was this mass educated public that made possible the most technically sophisticated economy in the history of the world.

It was government that won both World War I and World War II, leaving the U.S. economy astride the world like a colossus, able to harvest the fruits for decades. It was the government GI Bill program that educated a generation of young people to ultimately defeat the Soviet Union.

It was the government that wired every house in the country for electricity during the Great Depression, setting up the largest household consumer-goods market in the world in the 1950s: home appliances. And it was government guarantees for home loans that set off the greatest building boom in the history of the world: suburbia.

It was government that paved more than 3 million miles of road between 1930 and 1960, making possible the massive economic boom associated with automobiles, mass mobility, and more. It was government research that invented the graphical user interface and the Internet.

None of that matters.

Hate is stronger than logic and more than anything else, Republicans love their hate. It’s the only thing that gives them power."

When a Country Goes Insane - Common Dreams

No, they're not obsolete

"...[T]he decline of unions over the past few decades has left corporations and the rich with essentially no powerful opposition. No matter what doubts you might have about unions and their role in the economy, never forget that destroying them destroys the only real organized check on the power of the business community in America. If the last 30 year haven't made that clear, I don't know what will."

Why We Need Unions - Mother Jones

Organizing Is a Right, Not a Privilege - The American Prospect

There's just one problem...

Alternatives to Austerity - The Guardian

It's not about the budget. It's about the power

Wisconsin Power Play - The New York Times

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The long road down

An oldie well worth revisiting:
"Dubbed 'median wage stagnation' by economists, the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973 – having risen by only 10 per cent in real terms over the past 37 years.... Worse is that the long era of stagnating incomes has been accompanied by something profoundly un-American: declining income mobility."

The Crisis of Middle-Class America - Financial Times

Run for your lives!

You can believe him, because he's an expert.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If they can break the unions in Wisconsin, they can break them anywhere

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A trillion-dollar bonanza

"Wall Street and its servants on Capitol Hill have lusted after Social Security's revenues for many years. And they regard the current uproar over the budget as a fresh opportunity to get their hands on a trillion-dollar bonanza. Given their record in recent years, it is all too easy to imagine how badly that would work out for everybody -- except them, of course."

Why Are Some Pundits and Politicans Hell-Bent on Underminig Social Security, in Spite of Its Success and Strength? - AlterNet

Friday, February 18, 2011

The GOP strategy is out in plain sight

Sledge to America: The Republican Strategy - Common Dreams

Unraveling the Great Paradox

"Our children’s children will look back and see that just a few years after the deregulatory agenda of anti-government ideologues resulted in a horrific recession, American politics somehow became even more dominated by anti-government zealotry than ever before."

The Submerged State - In These Times

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One big, happy family

"Criminal justice, as it pertains to the Goldmans and Morgan Stanleys of the world, is not adversarial combat.... Instead, it's a cocktail party between friends and colleagues who from month to month and year to year are constantly switching sides and trading hats."

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? - Rolling Stone

Is there a solution? Tiabbi identifies one almost sure-fire (and highly appealing) possibility:
"[O]ne has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to the experience of incarceration. 'You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,' says a former congressional aide. 'That's all it would take. Just once.'""

Our moral evolution is toward liberalism

Why Being Liberal Really Is Better Than Being Conservative - AlterNet

Dirty tricks are big business

How Big Business Subverts Democracy - The Guardian

How much are you worth?

As U.S. Agencies Put More Value on a Life, Businesses Fret - The New York Times

At the first sign of trouble, sacrifice the poor

The GOP's Medicaid Ambush - Mother Jones

Screwing the Poor - Mother Jones

Funny--'moderate' deficit hawks only seem to screech at progressives

Deficit Hawks and the Games They Play - Washington Post

It's a growing field

Agnotology (n): the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt.
Shibboleths - Crooked Timber

If we can't raise taxes, maybe we can tax the bumper stickers about taxes

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
You're Welcome - Balancing the Budget
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Also keep in mind: cutting the budget is easy if you completely ignore the consequences: The Right's Painfully Stupid Approach To Budget-Cutting - AlterNet

A pretty good guess

The Secret Weapon of the Rich: Money - Mother Jones

Of course, you also have to consider the element they associate with: Government By The Rich - ThinkProgress

We need to start in-sourcing CEOs

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

As unions fall, so falls the middle class

"Instead of other citizens clamoring for what unionized workers have, organized labor is being asked to give up its hard-won pension and health benefits--of the sort that citizens of other advanced capitalist countries enjoy as a right."

Champions of the Middle Class - The American Prospect

Monday, February 14, 2011

First, the facts

What's Civility Worth? - The American Prospect


Um, you know that whole "Republicans would repeal the child-labor laws if they could" thing we say? That was really meant as humorous exaggeration, not as a dare. Missouri state Sen. Jane Cunningham, Charles Dickens salutes you.
SB222 - Modifies the child labor laws

The GOP's mandate? Repeal the laws of arithmetic

"[The] Pew [poll] also asked people how they would like to see states close their budget deficits. Do they favor cuts in either education or health care, the main expenses states face? No. Do they favor tax increases? No. The only deficit-reduction measure with significant support was cuts in public-employee pensions — and even there the public was evenly divided.

"The moral is clear. Republicans don’t have a mandate to cut spending; they have a mandate to repeal the laws of arithmetic.

"How can voters be so ill informed? In their defense, bear in mind that they have jobs, children to raise, parents to take care of. They don’t have the time or the incentive to study the federal budget, let alone state budgets (which are by and large incomprehensible). So they rely on what they hear from seemingly authoritative figures.

"And what they’ve been hearing ever since Ronald Reagan is that their hard-earned dollars are going to waste, paying for vast armies of useless bureaucrats (payroll is only 5 percent of federal spending) and welfare queens driving Cadillacs. How can we expect voters to appreciate fiscal reality when politicians consistently misrepresent that reality?"

Eat the Future - The New York Times

Friday, February 11, 2011

Yep, it's true

"[A] former Fox News employee who recently agreed to talk with Media Matters confirmed what critics have been saying for years about Murdoch’s cable channel. Namely, that Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, virtually every news story is actively spun by the staff, its primary goal is to prop up Republicans and knock down Democrats, and that staffers at Fox News routinely operate without the slightest regard for fairness or fact checking."

"We Were a Stalin-esque Mouthpiece for Bush" -- Fox News Insider - AlterNet

Excellent work, Republicans!

"It promises to be one of the most irresponsible budget documents ever issued by a House majority."

Beyond Reason on the Budget - The New York Times

The Headsmack Report, part deux

Voters Say Election Full of Misleading and False Information - World Public Opinion

Sadly accurate

Came across this as I was reading a pretty amusing takedown of lunatic would-be philosopher and eugenicist Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. It's worth a read:
After Constantine decided he needed support from the semi-literate multitudes, Christianity saw a rapid transition from the religion of hicks to a mainstream institution. And why not? Its followers were encouraged to shun worldly possessions, exhorted to deprive themselves of comfort and enjoyment. They considered poverty a virtue, strife a condition of salvation. They condemned themselves to hardship, and embraced a disenfranchised loserdom — which the powerful were more than happy to oblige.

Not only were the pious driven toward their paradise through a gauntlet of misery, but they were smug in the assurance that it was a reward of which their masters would be deprived. I’m sure the wealthy cried themselves to sleep, on their featherbeds, next to their mistresses.

It suits our modern ownership class that the average, the mediocre, should aspire to an opulence as distant and unlikely as a magical afterlife, while undercutting themselves and the rest of us in the interim. Affluence is the new Heaven, and for most it’s as much a fiction as the old.

And this:
For centuries, the superiority of the “Anglo-Saxon race” (honkies, crackers, WASPs; those neither brown nor Catholic) was a “scientific fact.” It wasn’t just “obvious” at the time that human evolution was a progression toward some ideal end (whiteness), but coincidentally, the researchers who’d determined this found that they belonged to the very ethnic group they’d concluded to be the apex of all life on earth. Bully for them! Likewise Rand pictures herself among the capitalist chosen ones. All the manufacturing and transportation executives are gonna need a terrible novelist to play minstrel, and serenade them with affirmations. The elite’s — and presumably Rand’s — big gripe about the masses is that they refuse to know their place.

Incidentally, since 800K copies of this stinker are sold each year (barring those folks either coerced by collectivist teachers, tricked by the glassy-eyed zealots in their lives, or overcome with paroxysms of morbid obligation — i.e. me), there’s apparently an enormous chunk of humanity ready to join the select few — the elect, so to speak.

Which raises the question of what constitutes “superiority,” since so many people are burdened with unwarranted confidence in their abilities. Here on Earth, the economy is complicated, and fucking with regulations can create opportunities for an economic minority to game the system; regardless of the bill of goods Randroids are being sold about merit (by billionaires growing fatter on subsidies and tax breaks). Our economy collapsed partly in thanks to the repeal of Glass-Steagall; a law meant to protect the hard-earned money of the middle and lower classes — while it appreciates at a miserably slow rate in commercial savings accounts — from the risks surrounding the disposable capital wealthy dick-heads stick into investment banks.

The top 25 hedge fund managers make $800K an hour, while the purpose of their jobs remains largely obscure, apart from their — and their clients’ — bottomless avarice. It’s like a video game; it happens because it can, because of bugs, loopholes and mistakes, not because it makes sense. A person can have a billion dollars, but I don’t believe anyone can earn it — unless they squirt fucking cancer vaccine.

And finally:
The justification granted to Rand’s characters is totally predicated on the ideas that: (a) the collateral benefit to society, which is incidental to the heroes’ solipsism (e.g. transportation, affordable and quality goods), outweighs their antipathy to that same society; and (b) that these few could do it all themselves if they wanted to, relying on an interchangeable workforce solely for menial labor (justifying exploitation). I gather that in Ayn’s view, most people scarcely deserved to live, let alone earn a wage that’d grant them opportunities to pursue ambitions beyond mindlessly grinding away their lives for the rich.

But this isn’t Gattacca; career counselors don’t scan fetal DNA to determine job potential. As soon as the playing field is skewed by things like class, race, and geography, the pure ideal of a meritocracy flies out the window. Reality is messy, so she tries to force it into the architectural planes that get her so hot and bothered.

If Rand is wrong about how the world works, her heroes are just assholes, rather than assholes with a supposedly just cause. Unfortunately for us, people take this drivel seriously, and we’re living in her world now.

You won, you morons.

Rand's ideal man: Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman - Michael Prescott

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Should we care when business complains about burdensome regulation? Not a lot

"By definition, a regulation is a government requirement that business uphold responsibilities to the public at large that, left to its own devices, business would rather avoid. If business leaders were naturally inclined to sacrifice their companies' narrow interests whenever these conflicted with those of the general population, regulation would be unnecessary....

"The idea that the business world's needs get ignored in Washington is perpetuated by business so it can fulfill even more of its needs, real or imagined. To take it at face value, as Issa at least pretends to do, is pure fantasy."

Darrell's Delusion - Slate

Ask the guy who did it

Need To Reduce The National Debt? Just Ask Clinton - The New York Observer

Anti-health-care rulings are a blast from a bad past

"...[N]othing in the Constitution even remotely guarantees a right to be a free rider and to shift the costs of one’s health care to others. So rather than directly claim such a right, the law’s opponents resort to states’ rights.

In this respect, Judge Hudson and the Virginia attorney-general are situated squarely within a tradition—but it’s an ugly tradition. Proponents of slavery and segregation, and opponents of progressive labor and consumer laws, similarly invoked states’ rights not because they cared about the rights of states, but as an instrumental legal cover for what they really sought to defend—the rights to own slaves, to subordinate African-Americans, and to exploit workers and consumers."

Is Health Care Reform Unconstitutional? - The New York Review of Books

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another liberal-socialist-Nazi ploy to avert catastrophe

"Repealing the act, which opponents have branded 'Obamastroid,' has been the cornerstone of the GOP agenda since the law's passage last August. Throughout the 2010 elections, Republican candidates claimed that the Democrats' plan to smash the space rock and shield citizens from its fragments was 'a classic example of the federal government
needlessly interfering in the lives of everyday Americans.'"

Republicans Vote To Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed For Earth - The Onion

Friday, January 28, 2011

Walk the walk, you gasbags

Repeal Health Care? Give Up Your Own First! - Credo Action

Conditioned to shop

"The trillionaire-making strategies you encounter are so insidious because of how normal they’ve become. You’ll find them creeping into your life not only explicitly, in magazines and commercials, but implicitly, in the way other people around you -- even people you love -- expect you to live."

How to Make Trillions of Dollars - Raptitude

The myth of a failing Europe

"The lesson of the Irish debacle, then, is very nearly the opposite of what Mr. Ryan would have us believe. It doesn’t say 'cut spending now, or bad things will happen'; it says that balanced budgets won’t protect you from crisis if you don’t effectively regulate your banks — a point made in the newly released report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which concludes that '30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation' helped create our own catastrophe. Have I mentioned that Republicans are doing everything they can to undermine financial reform?"

Their Own Private Europe - The New York Times

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The new anti-elitists: despising the idea that things - or they themselves - could be better

"Who, then, is guilty of elitism...? The main culprits turn out to be people [who adopt] aesthetic, intellectual, or political values that demur from the money-making mandate that otherwise dominates society."

Revolt of the Elites - n+1

Another nice observation: "It’s my fiduciary responsibility to increase shareholder value is our I was just following orders...."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

We lack not just civil discourse, but honest discourse

"This isn’t about angry blog posts or verbal fisticuffs. Since Obama’s ascension, we’ve seen repeated incidents of political violence. Just a short list would include the 2009 killing of three Pittsburgh police officers by a neo-Nazi Obama-hater; last year’s murder-suicide kamikaze attack on an I.R.S. office in Austin, Tex.; and the California police shootout with an assailant plotting to attack an obscure liberal foundation obsessively vilified by Beck.

Obama said, correctly, on Wednesday that 'a simple lack of civility' didn’t cause the Tucson tragedy. It didn’t cause these other incidents either. What did inform the earlier violence — including the vandalism at Giffords’s office — was an antigovernment radicalism as rabid on the right now as it was on the left in the late 1960s....

Have politicians stoked the pre-Loughner violence by advocating that citizens pursue 'Second Amendment remedies' or be 'armed and dangerous'? We don’t know. What’s more disturbing is what Republican and conservative leaders have not said. Their continuing silence during two years of simmering violence has been chilling."

No One Listened to Gabrielle Giffords - The New York Times

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

...and Boehner says, "Na-na-na-I-am-not-listening-to-you"

CBO Says Health Care Repeal Would Deepen Deficit - Washington Post

Meet John Boehner, corporate tool: The Crying Shame of John Boehner - Rolling Stone

Conservonomics: truly a turd the size of Texas

The Texas Omen - The New York Times

They're crazy and they have guns. And microphones.

"Can we see the hands of all the kids taken from their parents because they didn't get flu shots? How about all those people rotting in jail because they didn't cooperate in compiling the census?"

Land of the Paranoid - Washington Post


From Colbert: "The signature drink at the Reagan bar is the 'trickle-down,' where the bartender keeps giving your drinks to the rich guy next to you until he vomits in your glass."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

GOP is vowing to do what it does best: making someone miserable

"Republicans benefit from the fact that memories are short and statutes of limitations shorter.... [Now they] are back in control of the House, ready to run interference for the rich as recklessly and belligerently as ever."

Get Ready for a G.O.P. Rerun - The New York Times

LATE ADDITION: The Corporate House - The New York Times