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) -