JHB's Lame Excuse for a Journal - Archives
> 1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
You can, however, legislate policies that make it less attractive for the already-wealthy to get even more wealthy by squeezing everybody else. We did these things in this country, and it worked out pretty well for most Americans and let them earn a middle class income.
>2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
So you understand the problems people have with hedge fund managers, credit default swap traders, Wall Street wheeler-dealers, CEOs with cozy relationships to those determining their compensation, and others who seem to worship at the alter of Maximizing Profit? Up to a certain point most of these people do provide a useful service in allocating resources for wealth creation, and deserve compensation. However, above a certain level they are extracting more wealth than their services are worth. It gets worse when that extraction becomes detached from how they make their money and to any outside accountability for how much they stuff into their own pockets.
In those cases they are "receiving without working for", and that removes resources available to those who do the actual work.
> 3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
Get back to me on that one when you apply it to government contractors, especially ones for the Defense Department with cozy relationships with politicians and plenty of lobbyists.
> 4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
Horseshit. You don't run an engine without "dividing" the lube. If it doesn't get to all the moving parts, it's going to break down quicker and harder.
If someone never changes the oil in their car, are they being thrifty and efficient? Or a short-sighted idiot?
>5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other
>half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does
>no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the
>beginning of the end of any nation.
So is believing that statement when it's not true. Acting on faulty information rarely produces the desired results.
This from Paul Krugman's blog:
Here’s part of what the people at Heritage are claiming the plan will accomplish:
not shown: page from Heritage Foundation projection showing their numbers for how Ryan's plan will supposedly affect the unemployment rate: 6.4 in 2012 dropping to 2.8 by 2021 -- JHB
In case you’re having trouble reading that, here’s the forecast for unemployment (the red line at the right) in the context of the historical record:
Except briefly during the Korean War, the United States has never achieved unemployment as low as Ryan and co. are claiming. The Fed believes that the lowest unemployment rate compatible with price stability is between 5 and 6 percent — that is, twice what Ryan is claiming he will achieve.
Now, you may wonder how they get those numbers.
From the Analysis page at the Heritage Foundation:
CDA employed its tax models and the U.S. Macroeconomic Model of IHS Global Insight, Inc., to estimate the fiscal and economic effects of the House Budget Resolution.2 Center analysts primarily employed the CDA Individual Income Tax Model for its analysis of the effects of tax law changes on a representative sample of taxpayers based on IRS Statistics of Income (SOI) taxpayer microdata. Data for these taxpayers are extrapolated or "aged" to reflect detailed taxpayer characteristics. These data are aged for consistency with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline forecast in order to produce effective and marginal tax rate estimates with which to forecast the dynamic economic and fiscal effects stemming from changes in tax burden.3
Staff of the House Budget Committee supplied the CDA with sufficient detail on the House Budget Resolution to allow Center analysts to simulate the fiscal effects of changes in tax law and major programs and outlay categories. Details on the steps taken to incorporate these policy changes in the model are contained in Appendix 2 to this report.
What does policy simulation mean? Model simulation of public policy change requires two sets of data. First, estimates of how the changes affect outlays and revenues, which become the policy inputs to the dynamic model. Second, analysts need a baseline of economic and fiscal data that do not contain these policy changes. The model then calculates the difference it makes to the baseline when public policy changes. Thus, when we report, for example, that Gross Domestic Product increased by an annual average of $150 billion because of the policy changes contained in the Budget Resolution, this means that the dynamic model has estimated much more economic output over the amount contained in the baseline.
They give the results of this simulation (same page):
The tax and program changes behind the Budget Resolution produce much stronger economic performance when compared to the rate and level of economic activity in the baseline.6 Lower taxes stimulate greater investment, which expands the size of business activity. This expansion fuels a demand for more labor, which enters a labor market that contains workers who themselves face lower taxes. Consequently, significantly higher employment ensues.
And there we have the fantasy-based economics: a simulation is written with certain assumptions of ideology or favored unproven (or falsified) theories built-in, the simulation produces rosy numbers, and those numbers are then used to justify implementing policy based on those assumptions, as "proof" of how it's the right thing to do.
But then, the report authors and the Heritage Foundation's donors won't exactly be handed a bill to make up the difference when their projections don't pan out.
Found this via Digby's Hullabaloo blog.
The guy telling black people that it's the Democrats that have been keeping them down for the last 50 years, while filming from the dock of a decidedly upscale marina, is Grady Warren. Warren is a professional sports fisherman who makes videos and tv shows on the subject, and makes promotional videos for hunting and fishing resorts "from Oregon to Argentina". "Currently, on behalf of the First Coast Tea Party in Jacksonville, Florida, Grady speaks to hunters and fishermen nationwide on issues facing our respective sports."
(Quotes above are from his bio on the "Fishing for Freedom Triple Challenge" website. I won't link to it. If you're interested in reading more, Google the name and you'll find it.)
He's also apparently a Teabagger activist. And a pretty complete "bubble boy" about Obama, the Democrats, African Americans, Americans in general, and pretty much apparently anything that doesn't involve taking people with money to spend on fishing trips. (and maybe political issues that directly affect sport fishing, but given the rest of it I wouldn't bet too heavily on that.)
The "It's the white people, stupid" line is at 3:15, but the whole of that part starts at 3:00 (assuming you don't consider the whole video 'the whole of that part').
And the kicker is where his video came to the attention of lefty bloggers. Momma Gristle-y's "Team Sarah" (see the Hullabaloo link above).
Addendum (added in edit): I wonder how many takers he'd get to his fishing tournament if it were on the Gulf coast instead of Atlantic-situated Jacksonville?
BTW, belated welcome to DU.
I think it starts with the fact that there actually are some "sock puppets" floating in from time to time (not to mention a steady stream of trolls). It's inevitable on a basically-anonymous message board, especially one with heated, passionate discussions.
Second, once that thought is in the back of some peoples' heads, hearing a familiar refrain or line of argument from someone new rings an alarm bell, and some people have a little too much faith in their own hunches. And they'll be right just often enough to feel vindicated in doing so.
The same crap happens anywhere discussions get heated: sports forums, music forums, tv forums, etc. Nature of the beast. All you can do is notice who's doing it and tune them out, unless to crosses the line against forum rules.
What's the old Heinlein rule? "90% of it's crap, but then 90% of everything is crap." I think we actually do a lot better than that, but we still have our share of crap. So take the good stuff and let the crap flow by.
Me. And everyone else at the tail end of the Baby Boom or afterward.
Check me on this: isn't the (supposed) big crisis for SS due to all the Boomers that will be receiving it?
So Boehnhead's bright idea is to leave the "problem cohort" unaffected but cut it for everyone who will become eligible for it just as the demographic pressure on it is getting relieved.
First off, the underlying assumption is bogus. Then, his "solution" ignores his own assumptions about the cause of the "crisis".
Just another effing "divide and conquer" gambit. Screw over the younger generations but keep it "safe" for older ones. Noooooo, that won't stir up resentment at all, won't it?
Remind these people you are here and if they pull this shit you will make sure they feel the pain at election time. Even Democrats. Maybe especially Democrats. (What ever happened to taking an issue like this and using it to bash the Republicans' heads in?)
Henwood is also a contributor to The Nation and other "liberal media" that actually are liberal/leftist (e.g., Pacifica Radio)
From Dec. 1994:
Of some interest is the news, for example, that the higher the rate of immigration, the sounder the system is, since immigrants (legal or not) tend to be young, and swell the ranks of those paying into the system rather than drawing it down. Immigration, however, won't make or break the Social Security's finances. GDP growth will, since the size of the economy decades hence will determine how much money is available to pay retirees. The bankruptcy scenario is based on an assumption that GDP will grow at a rate seen only in depression decades.
As is common in the work of official seers, the trustees present three sets of forecasts, an official guess, an optimistic one, and a pessimistic one. The official scenario assumes the economy will grow an average of 1.5% a year over the next 75 years half the rate seen in the last 75 (2.9%), and a rate matched only in one decade of the last century, 1910-20's 1.4% rate. The economy grew more quickly even during the 1930s, 1.9% (1930-40). The growth rate for the trustees' optimistic vision, 2.2%, is only slightly bouncier than the 1930s rate. The pessimistic guess is 0.7%, slower than population growth, and a rate so torpid as to guarantee a war of each against all. As the graph shows, the system will go bust only if you assume decades of stagnation. If the economy grows in line with the 197394 average of 2.4%, still slower than the 75-year average of 2.9%, it will run a big surplus.
Either the trustees are deliberately projecting slow growth to feed the pension-cutting mania, or they're expressing a deep pessimism about the U.S. economy's future. Big news, whichever it is.
(the link is to the part of the page that addresses "Is Social Security Really Going Under?", but the part above deals with pension and entitlement "reform", including Peterson's arguments, and is worth a read)
From Dec. 1998:
Folks on all sides of the debate accept the basic premise, that Social Security faces certain insolvency when the baby boomers retire. Compelling "facts" are trotted out to prove the point: the system will start running a deficit in 2013, and will have spent down all its reserves by 2032. There will be just 1.8 workers for every retiree in 2075, compared with 3.4 today. We could all do better by buying stock in Amazon.com than contracting with Social Security anyway.
Taking these specious points in reverse order: there's no need to say anything about the stock market approach other than to point to the article on p. 5
The Trustees' growth projections have been trending steadily downward since the early 1980s, so much so that you'd almost think there was an intention behind the trajectory (though the system's actuaries deny any political pressure to emit bearish forecasts to grease the privatization agenda). As is typically the case with official projections, there are three scenarios -- a gloomy one, an optimistic one, and an official, moderate one. In 1981, the Trustees projected a long-term growth rate of 3.1% in their middle scenario and 2.1% in their gloomy one. In 1986, the numbers were 2.5% and 1.4%. And this year, they're 1.4% and 0.6%. The Trustees' optimistic prediction for 1998 -- 2.1% -- matches their most bearish forecast from 1981. Aren't lowered expectations a banished relic of the Carter years?
Rerun the projections with more reasonable -- though still conservative -- projections and the "crisis" largely or fully disappears. If the employment-population ratio for those aged 20-64 remains constant, a third of the projected shortfall for 2020 disappears; if it rises, because the share of women employed approaches that of men, then two-thirds of the projected deficit disappears. As the nearby chart shows, if the economy grows at a modest 2.5% rate, red ink will turn to black. And even if the official bearish projections turn out to be true, the shortfall could be made up easily by subjecting investment income to Social Security taxes, and by eliminating the cap that exempts wage income above a certain maximum ($68,400 in 1998). The reason for sparing such income from Social Security tax is that the program is supposed to be financed solely by labor, with no contribution from capital, capital already being so burdened. The "crisis" of Social Security is a political one, not an economic one.
Leading the charge is Wall Street, which would make a fortune out of privatization; no wonder financiers have been discreetly showering money on the privatization campaign. A few quick numbers will explain Wall Street's enthusiasm. Chile's privatized pension system, the enthusiast's favorite model, devotes about 30% of revenues to administrative costs, which means everything from paperwork to brokers' fees to marketing expenses. The U.S. life insurance industry is a bit more efficient, devoting about 10% of premium income to administration, which includes everything from paperwork to profits. Social Security's overhead is under 1%. About $430 billion flowed into the system's coffers this year; 10% of that would be a very pleasing $43 billion, and 30% would yield $130 billion, a windfall even by Wall Street's standards. Higher fees, lower benefits, greater gender inequity, and more risk -- no wonder privatization has to be sold with a cooked-up scare campaign.
Speaking of that productivity revolution, it's nowhere in the projections. Over the very long term, output per worker in the U.S. has grown around 2% a year. Some reputable economists project that the infotech has kicked us up to a higher rate of 2.5% a year, though that seems like a stretch. (Some boosterish business pundits are even pushing an implausible 4% rate.) Lost in their gloomy world, the Social Security Trustees are projecting a 1.6% rate of annual productivity growth through 2080—20% below the long term average. Those differences might not sound like much, but they really compound over time. At 1.6% a year, productivity in 2080 would be almost 230% of today's levels; at 2.0%, over 340%; at 2.5%, almost 540%. Obviously, the bigger the number, the better the economy will be able to afford its retirees—but the Trustees chose a very small one.
Economic growth isn't only a matter of growth in productivity per worker; it's also determined by the growth in the labor force. And the Trustees project that the growth in the labor force over the next 75 years will be about one-sixth as fast as it was between 1960 and 2004. Some slowdown is likely, since women's entry into paid labor is a trend that may have run much of its course (though just 57% of adult women are working, compared with 72% of men, so that gender gap in employment hasn't closed any more than the pay gap has).
But the Trustees' projection represents a stunning drop from historical experience, and one that can only be partly explained by the 60% slowdown in population growth they foresee. (And one reason for the slowdown in population growth is that they also foresee a sharp dropoff in immigration—important, since immigrants tend to be young, making them net contributors to Social Security.) Oddly, they're projecting that the labor force will grow more slowly than the population, even though it's grown nearly twice as fast as population since 1960. Maybe the Trustees are implicitly projecting a breakdown in the American economy's prodigious powers at putting people to work—but if that's the case, it's a big deal, and we should really be talking more explicitly about it.
It's historically and theoretically inconsistent to project a slowdown both in labor force and productivity growth; across time and space, lower population growth has often resulted in higher productivity growth. If labor is plentiful, employers are less keen on squeezing more out of the workforce and are less likely to invest in capital equipment. But this inconsistency is fully consistent with the Trustees' outlook, which is as dark as a goth teen's worldview.
When you put all the Trustees' projections together, productivity and labor force growth, you get a sharp dropoff in projected GDP growth—from a historical average of 3.4% to an extremely sluggish 2.0%, which is little better than what we saw in the Depression-afflicted 1930s. If the Trustees really expect near-depression rates of growth for the next 75 years, we should be talking explicitly about that as well. Were the economy were to grow at a more normal pace, then the Social Security system could easily pay its projected benefits with no cuts or tax increases.
But no, reply the privatizers; if growth were higher, wage growth would be faster, and therefore benefits (which are keyed to wages) would also rise more quickly, so it'd all be a wash. Someone should tell the Trustees: they're projecting no dropoff in wage growth from now to 2080 despite the sharp drops in productivity and GDP growth. And someone should also tell U.S. employers that higher productivity growth means higher wages: workers have gotten only about 28% of the productivity acceleration since the mid-1990s in the form of higher wages. The rest has gone to profits, which is very nice if you're a CEO or a big stockholder.
(if anyone can give some pointers on creating text boxes that work, I'd appreciate a PM)
His practice was in rural Pennsylvania, and during the Great Depression he did, in fact, accept a chicken (or, more often, eggs or produce) from some of his patients.
Because it was the Great Depression, and they were small, dirt-poor farmers who didn't have anything else! And he could do that because most of the people paid him money.
Bartering doesn't pay the rent on office space, insurance bills, medical supplies, personnel salaries, and all the other overhead of a medical practice. And one family can only eat so many chickens, eggs, ears of corn, zucchinis, only need its house painted so often, or whatever, so bartering can only be a sideline.
There are names for medical systems that rely on barter to function. I think "third-world" and "medieval" are sufficient to get the point across: that this is not how it should work, and anyone who suggests it is simply doesn't understand the problem.
I think when campaign fundraising time comes, it'll be time to send Sue Louden a head of cabbage.
This post is not a commentary on this matter.
This link has been posted before, but usually either far down in a heated thread or second-hand through a news article.
Therefore, to make it easier for anyone looking for the source material to find it, I'm making this separate post.
As the saying goes "the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the management".
The page currently has links to six PDF files:
1--Action By Appointing Authority
3--Attack Mission Request
5--1st Air Cavalry Brigade AR 15-6 Investigation
6--2nd Brigade Combat Team 15-6 Investigation
Covering some bullshit, naturally:
I just got "polled" by the NRA over the phone. After listening to a brief rant by Wayne LaPierre against some UN anti-gun measure (which he claimed would inevitably be used to put treaty pressure on us, which a congress "filled with anti-gun liberals" would pass, and how we don't want "third world dictators" to tell us what to do with our guns.
After that, switch to some operator for a one poll question:
"Do you think third world dictators and Hillary Clinton should determine what our gun laws are?"
(apologies if I've mis-remembered the exact question, but that is the gist of it and at least 80% word for word)
Bookmark this for when the NRA starts waving an anti-UN poll around soon. No doubt what they claim in the results will be pretty far removed from what they actually asked.
A good series on the scuttling of the middle class...
Posted by JHB in General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007)
Wed Sep 20th 2006, 12:37 PM
I originally posted this elsewhere, but for resource value it's worth repeating here (this is an update of a previous article):
One of the things I find that comes up when talking with people about the economy, globalization, etc., is many peoples' belief that it was all rather inevitable, so complaining about it is like complaining about the tide: you can do it, but it's pointless.
I don't have to wonder why they think that -- the "liberal" media has repeated the theme for nearly thirty years now -- but sometimes I wonder how it is that I became "inoculated" against this. Why am I so sure things didn't have to play out this way and that deliberate political decisions were at least as important as "the invisible hand" in bringing about what Paul Krugman called "The Great Unraveling".
Well, part of it was what I'd been reading. I can't exactly give my full reading list for the last 20 years, but I can recommend a few books that will help when it comes to fixing the "What's the Matter with Kansas?" and "Talking to an Elephant" problems.
Reporters James B. Steele and Donald L. Barlett wrote a series of articles, some for The Philadelphia Enquirer, some for Time, on how the changing economy was playing out for ordinary people. The first, published in book form in 1992, is a little dated, but that actually works in its favor now, since it's entirely pre-Clinton. The later series/books followed up on the same or similar themes, and collectively they serve as quite an information source and teaching tool when you try to explain to people just how far this "squeeze the middle" and "starve the beast" effort goes back.
Robert Fitch is a former labor organizer, reseacher, and author. (see http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/28/opinion/... for a more recent NYTimes op-ed from him)
Pick'em up at your library, or at a bookstore, and get
The Assassination of New York
by Robert Fitch
Tho original edition was from 1996, but according to the Verso site there was a 2002 (post-Guliani) update. Fitch details how the loss of manufacturing jobs and the increased emphasis on the FIRE sector (finance, Insurance, and real estate) in NYC (and similar policies occured across the country) wasn't just a natural evolution of business, technology, and globalism, but was the result of deliberate policy decisions which (further) enriched the well-connected.
America: What Went Wrong?
by James B Steele, Donald L. Barlett
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (January 1, 1992)
"Worried that you are falling behind, not living as well as you once did?..."
Chapter 1 of "America: What Went Wrong" can be found here:
AMERICA: WHO REALLY PAYS THE TAXES?
by Donald L. Barlett
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Remaindered Marked edition (March 23, 1994)
America: Who Stole The Dream?
by Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (June 1, 1996)
"Let's suppose, for a moment, there was a country where the people in charge charted a course that eliminated millions of good paying jobs..."
The Great American Tax Dodge: How Spiraling Fraud and Avoidance Are Killing Fairness, Destroying the Income Tax, and Costing You
by Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; 1st Califo edition (September 2, 2002)
"A woman forms a company to conduct "research" for the benefit of her minor children and writes a monthly "rent" check to her husband to..."
Reminder: If you’re taking the time to read them, you can take the time give them a kick
That’s our story and we’re sticking to it…until next time
Another thankless Bush Task for the National Guard…
I get all my news from Bill O’Reilly…
Don’t be alarmed…
Coming this fall…
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