Saturday, November 8, 2008

The next Depression

This promises to be a crisis of epic proportions.

People are comparing it with the Great Depression, but there is one huge difference: during the Depressions US still had it manufacturing base intact. It was a financial and social crisis, but the country had robust physical infrastructure to cope with it.

This is not the case today: US infrastructure is largely gone, and we're very quickly losing our R&D base.

I've realized how far this has gone when I took a trip to Taipei in 2003. For a large part of its history, Taiwan was one big factory. Products were designed in the United States and built here. By 2003 however manufacturing has moved on to the mainland China, and R&D moved in: we visited 5-6 companies that were building routers, and they were all purely R&D shops with manufacturing outsourced to China.

Quanta Computer in Taiwan is the largest laptop company in the world. You probably have not heard about it: the laptops that it designs (in Taiwan) and makes (in China) usually sell under Dell, SONY, and HP brand names. In 2006 it produced roughly 60% of all laptops made in the world. It also makes servers: about 40% of them.

Back in 2006 the joke that went around Microsoft was this: "Dell people think that they outsourced the manufacturing to Quanta, and Quanta people think that they outsourced marketing and distribution to Dell". Very true: a lot of what's left in the US is just that - marketing and distribution. We no longer make stuff - we just buy and sell it. With the money borrowed from Chinese.

The end of 90s were a brief respite: the pyramid scheme of .com boom had temporarily returned engineering to the top. Not for long: the enrollments into computer science programs are now below 1995 levels, US high school scores in math and science rank around 20th place in the world - below most European and a few Asian countries.

The universities churn out people who are largely incompetent. When I was interviewing graduates in China, it was immediately obvious that although there was a wide distribution in intellectual capabilities, they have all studied hard and came out of school with solid knowledge of computer science and math.

When I interview college graduates here, there is the same wide variety of IQ - and almost universal lack of basic training. At school they mostly had worked in large teams where there was one nerd that did everything, and everybody else managed process and collected customer requirements.

Our social protection net is in probably worst shape it's ever been since the New Deal. The unevenness of income distribution is as high as it's ever been: an average CEO makes 400 times the income of an average worker. This is compared to 20-40 range it's been throughout much of the history: the growth took off when Reagan lowered the upper tax bracked from 70% to 28% (it has since moved back a little to 36%).

The income distribution here is more similar to the Middle Ages than to any modern developed society.

The insane compensation packages at the top are the source of our current predicament: they incent a rationally-behaving CEO to maximize the short-term profit (after which he or she simply cashes out) at the expense of the long-term risk.

Meanwhile, the number of people lacking basic health insurance is as high as it's ever been, and the percentage of people who qualify for government assistance is as low as it's been as well, with state budgets weakened to the breaking point.

So now that we're in financial crisis, we don't have either manufacturing, or R&D capacity to lean on, nor health care or protection net to carry us through the bad times. To wit: even illegal immigration from Latin America is at its lowest point in decades.

We're in deep trouble.

So what do we do? The future depends on the new Democratic administration's willingness to take the reins, and do it vigorously.

They have the power to do a lot: strong majorities in Senate and House, and the Presidency. What they do not have is time: if the country is not on the right track in two years, if there's no improvement in the situation - beyond any reasonable doubt - they will lose the mandate, and the Obama government will be powerless.

Democrats should be quick, effective, and ruthless. Any talk about bipartisanship must end now: there's simply no time to reason with the Republican wackos in Congress - the moderates of that party are now largely gone anyway, and what's left are the crazies from the slave states, both geographically and mentally.

First and foremost, the Democrats need to take control of the media. They should push through legislation that breaks down enormous conglomerates that serve primarily corporate interests, the Rupert Murdoch epmire being first and foremost focus. Something akin to trust-busting efforts of Teddy Roosevelt, only directed at Faux News.

The discourse in the country must move away from infotainment that feeds the idiots the line that they are the greatest, smartest, most hardworking idiots in the best country in the world to actual information and informed deliberation. And yes, fewer ads :-)!

In parallel, they should break the lobbying industry. Now or never! The Deomcrats are at an enormous advantage today: with the strength of the grass root, they can survive (and win) without the lobbyists, unlike the Republicans. This will help the Democrats to solidify their power, and the government to start making the decisions that are actually good for the people, not industries and foreign countries.

Nationalize the health care. The elephant in the room that is never mentioned when the rising costs are discussed is that the lion's share of the money goes to the doctors. It's not to the malpractice insurance (<10%). Not the equipment, and not the drugs: the bottom quartile of doctors in this country make more money than the top quartile of the engineers. There's no reason for this other than the current broken health insurance system, which disintermediates the costs.

Fixing the health care is one of the few instances where the interests of the corporations and the people are identical (the fact that the companies have to pay the health care costs of their workers in the US puts them at a huge disadvantage compared to their competitors in Europe). The nationalized healthcare will give the voters immediate benefit, and the reason to vote for Democrats again in two years.

Invest in the education - big time. Literally, pour money into it. The teachers should have one of the best paying jobs in the country, and right now it's one of the worst. As a result, US's Sunday school education is better than the regular one, and we keep churning out religious fanatics. Better education correlates negatively with voting Republican, so investment here should help Democrats keep on their power.

Create massive programs for public works - and research investments. Energy independence, putting a man on Mars, rebuilding the physical infrastructure of the country - all at once. Massive spending is the only thing that can arrest the spread of the financial crisis, keep it from turning into multi-decade depression. Luckily, we're so behind in terms of progress, that the opportunities abound.

Finance these public works by devaluing the dollar and raising the taxes in the upper income bracket. The dollar os way too expensive, and it does not help: the paper should not stand in the way of the progress. Especially when much of the paper is held by foreing investors anyway :-). Cheap dollar will help revitalize manufacturing and R&D here in the US.

Higher taxes will restore the right set of incentives for the executive class: instead of get-rich-quick scheme, being a CEO will be what it was before here, and what it is now anywhere else in the developed world: a respectable, highly-paid job with high responsibilities.

Protect domestic manufacturing and R&D with tariffs. It's a myth that a country can live on moving the borrowed money from one pocket to another. To survive, we need to start - for once - making something useful again. And there's no way to do it without the base. Let's have the industrial revolution again!

Finally, investigate the abuses of the previous administration. Iraq, the torture, the wiretapping, the role of lobbyists in government must not be swept under the carpet: there's a wonderful opportunity to (1) get a lot of Republicans in jail where they belong, and (2) create and reinforce in the public mind the mental equivalency between the words "Republican" and a "crook". This association could last for a generation or two - it is very much in Democrats' interests to not pass on the opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true communist:

1) Punish the capitalists who are willing to take risks by redistributing their wealth to the "masses"
2) Be ruthless & muffle the media and free-speech.
3) Legislate where and when companies can advertise.
4) Socialize medicine by making it government run. The government knows how to innovate and run complex businesses after-all. And the government is far better at choosing what Dr. my family can see than myself.
5) Put the government in charge of all innovation including space exploration. Squash Space X and other innovators in the name of spending all those tax revenue.
6) Ignore the power of global markets by implementing protectionist tarrifs.

And lastly conduct a witch-hunt and purge. Find those scapegoats and punish the hell out of them. Ignore the fact that the systems in place are FAR more complex than a few individuals.

I am proud that my country has elected a black president. I am frustrated that the Republican administration made some stupid moves. I am hopeful that the results of this election will dampen the extremities of both parties and enable true collaboration. To assert that we're doomed and the only way 'out' is through socialism is naive extremely polarizing. It is exactly the kind of extremism you associate with the "slave states".

Sergey Solyanik said...

Socialists! Scary! They will make off with your childred! They'll come after them at night! You're not safe until their heads are mounted on my wall!

"Through the mist
Through the woods
Through the darkness and the shadows
It's a nightmare but it's one exciting ride
Say a prayer
Then we're there
At the drawbridge of a castle
And there's something truly terrible inside
It's a beast
He's got fangs
Razor sharp ones
Massive paws
Killer claws for the feast
Hear him roar
See him foam
But we're not coming home
'Til he's dead
Good and dead
Kill the Beast!"

Otherwise I am sorry, but you need to travel outside the US once in a while. And I don't mean Mexico. All I described exists - and works very well in Europe.

I don't know whether they are communists or not, but they seem to live longer, healthier, and happier lives than people here...

dzembu said...

Serg for THE TSAR!!!!


We need a wise and ruthless ruler!!!

+1 on education and health: that were a good things about Russia.

I duno about government choosing a doctor, but I never had to wait 3 month to see a Pediatrition in mother Russia. Many countries have it now and it is not worth than here.

... but if you ask me, I am not sure I know the solution, but I suspect it is not very simple.

BadTux said...

You must be thinking of those poor Scandinavians, Serg... I mean, they got that socialist medicine thingy going. They got those high taxes and stuff. They probably live in grey dreary cities, eating mush for supper, in impoverished dreary nations where everybody is poor and stuff, under a tyrannical dictatorship right?

Errr... not so much. Norway is, of course, a democracy. Turns out that one in 85 Norwegians is a millionaire, as vs. 1 in 125 Americans. *AND* they get free health care. *AND* they get free university tuition. *AND* they have the world's best infant mortality figures. *AND* they have the world's longest lifespan. And their cities are beautiful rather than being ugly and dirty and dreary like so many American cities (seen Pittsburgh or Cleveland lately?). And income inequality is relatively low -- with living wage laws and high taxes, the middle class actually control more of the national income than the upper class, and unlike here in the United States, the middle class is seeing their standard of living improve, not decline.

Yes, that evil socialism thing is just SOOOO terrible... surely we can't have any of that here in America because, well, people would be healthy. And happy. And we can't have that, right? I mean, it contradicts the entire Puritan ethic upon which America was founded, which is motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped. Eeek!

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Anonymous said...


Sergey Solyanik said...

Dead Anonymous,

See the comment right above yours.

I wanted to delete it as spam, but it seems to fit right :-)...

nathan2209 said...

Sergey, I was quite shocked to read this post of yours.

First, let's talk American ideals. State control of the media is a clearly violation of the 1st amendment. In America we don't silence those who disagree with us. We combat them with free speech of our own.

Ever read Thomas Jefferson? For him and the rest of the founding fathers, a 70% top marginal tax bracket would have been seen as criminal. There is nothing in what you advocate that in any way resembles the original vision of what this country was to be. Federalizing everything is against the spirit of the constitution. I have to wonder where you get your love of big government. Were there no lessons to be learned from the the Soviet Union, the 30's, the 70's, the failures of Europe?

So socialism works great in Scandinavia? Why doesn't it work in Germany or France equally well? Both countries suffered higher unemployment during the 90's then we currently have even in a recession. The Scandinavian countries have good numbers in terms of wealth and health. But you cannot make a simplistic statement that "therefore we should be the same". For one, these countries have are relatively small and homogeneous. Second, these countries are imploding in terms of population. To sustain their economies they have to import so many people with, in many cases, anti-western values, that you should expect major changes in the years ahead.

And have you ever considered that Europe's successes might actually be attributed the the extent to which they *aren't* socialist countries. The successful countries BadTux mentioned such as Norway and Sweden both rank in the top 30 in terms of Economic freedom. See Economic Freedom Index Their tendency to confiscate wealth (Fiscal Freedom) is the only thing holding them back. Their other scores are about as high or higher than the U.S. For example, Freedom from corruption is higher in both Sweden and Norway than in the U.S.

Why don't you include upward mobility in your calculus of what makes for a good country? In the U.S. we have an interesting phenomenon that I doubt you'd hear about from Paul Krugman. There is incredible movement between income brackets. Our lowest 10% of income earners are not the same people from one decade to the next. Our poor people *leave* the ranks of the poor. Likewise, the people in the top 10% get nudged into lower brackets because so many entrepreneurs (like the guys who started Microsoft) force them out. I know many a good people who spent some time in the poverty bracket only to emerge stronger than ever and with a humbling experience to serve their humanity to boot.

I place a higher value on upward mobility than on equalizing health and incomes.

Lastly, you have written a few times about the current "depression". I invite you to learn about America's Great Depression, the causes of it, and the reasons why it was prolonged.

One of the 3 primary causes was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. Yes, a Tariff! And this is one of your prescriptions for solving our recession? And among the reasons Roosevelt had more unemployment in 1938 then when he took office in 1933 was his...79% top marginal tax rate! Oh, and his stimulus programs like the WPA and the CCC crowded out private investment and did nothing for the economy for ten years. I realize that Krugman believes that FDR's mistake was to not spend enough. But his Nobel prize doesn't make him right about everything.

If spending is the key, explain the 1970's to me. Explain the Soviet Union's central planning.

A word about health care. The problem we have is the 3rd party payer system that was created in the 1940's as a side effect of yet another misguided Roosevelt scheme: wage controls. Since employers couldn't lure people with higher wages, they found a tax loophole that allowed them to offer tax-free health benefits. You know Sergey, sometimes the biggest of problems have the easiest of solutions right under your nose. One little tweak in American law would solve the health care cost issue within two years: make all health care tax deductible *whether or not* your employer pays for it.

There is so much here that I would love to expand on, but I suppose a comment is not the right place for it.

I invite you to read my latest blog and post a comment. I do like to learn from left-wing thinkers. Mostly, though, the differences end up being about values, not differences in intellectual capacity.

BadTux said...

Hi, Nathan! Let's go look at some data:

1. The public airwaves are licensed. I am not allowed to start a radio or television station and broadcast my own views. I agree, speech of our own is the way to counter hate speech. That's why I advocate a return to the Fairness Doctrine, which says that all views, not just the views that are most profitable, should get a hearing on the public airwaves.

2. Thomas Jefferson is not the person to talk to, you need to talk to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Paine, who actually created our system of government (Jefferson only wrote the Declaration of Independence and had negligible impact on the U.S. Constitution that created our nation). Hamilton is quite specific that government needs the ability to tax in order to properly function, and that tax policy is a quite valid way of managing the wealth of the nation.

But frankly, talking about dead white men in an agrarian society of 200 years ago isn't particularly useful anyhow. They knew nothing about economics back then. They thought gold was wealth (it's not -- you can't eat gold -- wealth is food and clothing and land and other goods that you can actually use, gold is just a shiny metal that makes a convenient token for a system of exchange of real goods). What I'm concerned with is what works, and a 70% top tax bracket worked -- our nation was at its wealthiest when we had a 70% top tax bracket.

3. France and Germany's unemployment rate was *not* higher in the 1990's than that of the U.S. if you properly adjusted the measurements. Here in the U.S., if you work one hour a week you're counted as "employed". In France and Germany, if you don't have full-time employment you're counted as "unemployed". The proper measurement to use is the U-6 measurement at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which closely tracked the French and German measurements.

And regarding European culture and values, the biggest problem there is racism. We've done a darn good job of accepting immigrants and devising a common culture here in the productive areas of the United States (as vs. the decrepit trailer park flyover states, which produce little besides wheat, cotton, and hate). European racism is an embarrassment. But it has nothing to do with proper way of managing an economy, other than that it is impeding proper management of their economies.

4. The "economic freedom index" that you reference is numbers hand-picked to return the conclusion that its authors want, and isn't particularly applicable to any particular means.

5. Your revisionism on the root causes of the Great Depression is noted. I realize that this is what your Party commissars have told you about the Great Depression, but it simply isn't true. The WPA and CCC did *not* crowd out private investment and employed millions of people and headed off a Communist revolution that *would* have happened in the winter of 1933 if FDR had simply done a Herbert Hoover and said, "let them eat cake". People do *not* willingly starve to death in a country which has tons of "surplus" food being destroyed at the same time. Yes, the United States was only inches away from a Communist revolution in 1933, and would have had one if your preferred mechanisms for dealing with the Great Depression continued. Furthermore, FDR WAS SUCCESSFUL AT ENDING THE DEPRESSION. By 1937, industrial output, wages, and employment were all at levels similar to 1928 (which was not depression). Then he listened to people like you, shut off the taps, balanced the budget, and threw the economy back into recession in 1938 -- thereby proving that your nostrums simply *DO NOT WORK*.

This is the DATA, dude. Go look at it.

As for the tariffs, the tariffs were extremely damaging to Europe, but not all that damaging to the United States' economy. The US was pretty self-sufficient back then, with its own oil, its own manufacturing base, and an unsurpassed agricultural sector, and furthermore had South America as its own personal market for manufactured goods (South and Central America were basically comprised of U.S. client states back then, the U.S. would send in the Marines any time one of them got uppity, kill the leader who got uppity, and install someone more "acceptable").

6. Individual health insurance is currently not obtainable here in the United States if you have ever had any kind of serious health problem. Here in the local paper, a woman in her 50's who works in a dance studio for $24,000 per year wages was bitten by a rattlesnake and received a bill for $150,000 from the hospital. Your suggestion that this problem could have been solved by making her health insurance deductible is ridiculous. No private insurance company will sell health insurance to a woman in her 50's who has ever had a lumpectomy and she could not afford the $900/month for the state high risk pool. Once again you are suggesting that people should just willingly die in service to your ideology. Well, sir, here is what I say, your ideology is vicious and inhumane and contrary to human nature, just as Communism was, and just like Communism needs to be dumped in the trashbin of history.

And yes sir, this is a difference in values. I value people over money and if ideology will kill people, I dump the ideology, not the people. You value money over people and willingly will watch people die rather than violate your precious ideology . I cannot see any reconciliation between the two and thus will not visit your blog.


BadTux said...

Oh yeah, forgot: Upward mobility no longer is rampant in the United States. The Netherlands has more upward mobility than the United States, for cryin' out loud. When I was a child poor kids could get free college tuition to help them get out of poverty and state colleges would accept anyone and give them the tutorial classes needed to make up for the bad schools in poor areas of the state. Now, they're prohibited by law from giving any sort of financial aid for those tutorial classes, thereby locking poor kids out of college and making sure they stay poor and in their place. At least in European countries they give the poor kids the chance to become well-paid craftsmen instead. Here in America, though, our rulers would rather import Mexican slaves rather than have a class of well-paid craftsmen. Mexican slaves don't complain about unsafe working conditions or file complaints with the Labor Department if you don't pay their wages on time. The situation for poor people in the United States frankly is worse now than it has ever been, with virtually all avenues for escape from poverty shut off by institutional means. I'm glad I escaped when I did, because I wouldn't have been able to do so today -- the free college tuition program I took advantage of in order to get my education simply does not exist anymore. (And lest you call me a "freeloader", I have a six-figure salary and every year pay more in taxes than the entire cost of my college tuition for the five years it took me to get through college, so I'm paying back in spades, but that was back when America believed in investing in its youth, rather than believing in locking them up in prisons).


nathan2209 said...

I will concede where possible. I do wish though, that you would put more effort into understanding my views. You won't even visit my blog? I here all the time about how conservatives are "willfully ignorant". Are you 100% sure that I have nothing to add to your knowledge? Well, I am not so proud as to believe the same of you. Thanks for reminding of the fact that our unemployment stats don't figure in underemployment perhaps as well as they do in Europe. I will have to trust you on that. I know Krugman is big on underemployment. I myself believe that we do need a healthy fountain of jobs for beginning workers, part time students, etc. I think unemployment statistics need not count those people.

Point 1: public airwaves. I thought you might bring up the public ownership of the airwaves. I see where you are coming from, but I do not see a great market for liberal talk, nor do I see a cabal to silence liberals. Therefore a fairness doctrine is really not about free speech but about forced listening. Air America, if popular would fill the airwaves 24/7. There is no lack of freedom here. Fox news is just one of many cable networks most of whom are left of center. Cable isn't even a public resource. So Sergey here can't even use that to defend his stance. Anway, I know you don't see the Fairness doctrine as a violation of the 1st amendment, but I do.

2. Thomas Jefferson. I agree that Jefferson had little to do with framing the constitution. I just finished reading Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton...a really good book BTW. He would be turning in his grave to see what liberals have done with the "promote the general welfare" clause. He definitely would have denounced limitless deficit spending. So Jefferson wasn't a big player? How about his political partner James Madison who *is* known as the father of the constitution. Madison about had a heart attack when he saw what Hamilton did with the Treasury.

3. France and Germany. Your point on underemployment is well taken. I'd like to see what the stats look like adjusted for those kinds of things. But I do know that these countries have such strict labor laws, that employers have to be very cautious about hiring.

4. Economic index. So this index just arrives at a predetermined conclusion? From what I know of those countries, the index seems pretty accurate at describing the relative freedom of doing business. This isn't an equality index. I know full well that there can be trade-offs between equality and freedom. The predetermined conclusion of the index...was to measure economic freedom.

How do I know that your alternative method of measuring employment also doesn't suffer from the desire to convey a predetermined outcome? And those oft cited statistics about uninsured in the U.S.? They too have a predetermined outcome. A better measure than health insurance coverage is to measure the number of people, insured or not, that received the care they desired. The millions of uninsured are not going without healthcare of some sort.

5. Great Depression. Why do you assume that I'm learning about the depression through my "party commissars?" Is that how you learn about it? I agree with you that Hoover helped cause the great depression. He screwed up. You add up his income tax hike, the tariff, and tight monetary policy, and you get disaster. Interestingly, Sergey was being a Hooverite when he suggested the 80% top tax bracket and a tariff. Look it up. Roosevelt, to his credit, eventually reduced the tariff.

And you told me to "go look it up" regarding the 1937 depression within a depression. I was fully aware that a tightening of fiscal policy helped cause it. I agree with you that 1937 was not a good time tighten fiscal policy. What Roosevelt should have done was lower the tax rate and risk the deficit.

6. Health insurance. You did not seem to grasp my point. 3rd party payers (your employer) have injected warped incentives into the system. Please don't underestimate the willingness of human beings to overuse a resource that somebody else pays for. (It's sort of the Tragedy of the Commons for healthcare) Remove that, and health care costs will right themselves to sustainable and affordable levels. And please don't put words in my mouth. Did I say I was a libertarian? I do support a health care safety net of some sort. But there has to be choice in terms of level of service. Some people value better care than others and are willing to pay for it. Since I value freedom, I must honor that. I have toyed with the idea of expanding VA hospitals to the poor, but I realize that rural coverage would be poor. I'm still thinking about it. But I do not want all of my healthcare paid for by the Federal government. Nor do I want to subsidize anyone else but the truly poor.

BadTux, what if my ideology actually means better overall prosperity, peace, technological advancement, and freedom? I believe it does. And I believe yours and Sergeys, if unchecked, leads to stagnation and less freedom. Whether or not I'm right, do you think it would be fair for me to say of you: "you would willingly will watch people die rather than violate your precious ideology"

In these kinds of discussions we should try to be civil and remember that the other guy also wants what is best for humanity. Rare is the person who is actually looking to destroy society. I would never believe that of you...though I believe that inadvertently, your ideas would destroy much that I value.

I came here to make friends...especially liberal ones. I seek out that which I don't understand. But if there is no reciprocation, I'm going to say good bye too 1-800-Magic.

BadTux said...

Oh my, let me start from the bottom.

"what if my ideology actually means better overall prosperity, peace, technological advancement, and freedom?"

And what if I shit gold pellets when I poop in my toilet?

I mean,read the news. Your ideology has led to the collapse of the American middle class (declining family income for the past eight years), two wars that show no sign of ending within our lifetimes, a gigantic national security apparatus that requires me to produce my internal passport in order to travel around our country (shades of the USSR!)... let's face facts, the only way anybody could say what you just said with a straight face is if they're an idiot or a liar. Your ideology has led to national disaster. So let's get on with it:

6. Health insurance: "3rd party payers" -- what part of "individual life insurance is not purchasable by people with pre-existing conditions" eludes you? As for your nonsense about "choice", people do not choose to be sick or injured. It just happens. That 55 year old lady who was bit by a rattlesnake last week didn't choose to be bit by a rattlesnake. It just happened. People choose to get treatment for health care problems in much the same reason that people choose to breathe -- because if they don't, they die. And that 55 year old lady didn't choose to be uninsured and receive a $150,000 bill from the hospital that bankrupted her and has resulted in her now living in her car. No private insurer would issue her insurance because she'd had a breast lumpectomy ten years prior.

I mean, that's reality, guy. Real life. Not ideology. You need to get away from your hate radio and your Faux News and start looking at reality. And reality is that the U.S. health care system is broken and isn't going to be fixed with your free-market nostrums -- they've been tried before and they do not work. The only thing that works -- anywhere in the world -- is what you deride as "socialist medicine". France has the best health care system in the world, surpassing that of the United States on *every* measure of health care access and outcomes, for *less* than the United States. But in your world, apparently France does not exist. Dude. Join the world the rest of us live in. Please. Delusional thinking does nobody any good.

6b: Regarding your proposal for a "separate but equal" system, one for poor people that is tax-funded, one for everyone else: I seem to recall another time when "separate but equal" was the solution. Funny, the black schools set up by "separate but equal" never seemed to have as much equipment in their science labs as the white schools set up by "separate but equal", and the black schools set up by "separate but equal" never seemed to have the quality of facilities of the white schools set up by "separate but equal", and ... well. It eventually came to the point where the U.S. Supreme Court had to admit reality: that "separate but equal" inherently sets up a slave class and a master class and thus violates our Constitution. You would set up "separate but equal" for health care access -- and indeed you and your ideologues have done so -- but the result is that thousands of people are dying while you and your ilk spew ideological reasons about why it is a GOOD thing that they are dying.

I mean, you did it in this post too -- spewed ideology about why it is a GOOD thing that people die for lack of access to health care. I'm sorry. We just have a difference in values here. I place people over profits. You, apparently, place profits over people. I don't see any way to reconcile that.

5. Tax cuts? Yet more failed ideology. There were a total of EIGHT tax cuts during the Bush Administration. That worked out good, didn't it? Meanwhile, our nation was at its most prosperous and capable -- able to send a man to the moon, able to maintain gigantic armies overseas, etc. -- when the top marginal tax rate was over 80%. But hey, that's reality, and because it conflicts with your ideology, you can't admit reality.

4. The measure of unemployment I use is the U-6 number issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (*not* by a partisan group cherry-picking statistics to fit their own partisan goals). I suppose in your universe the BLS is a Communist conspiracy or something. Sigh. Reality. It'd be a good idea, y'know?

3. France and Germany certainly have their problems, and you will not find me calling them a utopia. On the other hand, they certainly are not the socialist hellhole that you seem to think. Have you ever even *BEEN* to France or Germany? Or, heck, for that matter, have you ever been further than fifty miles from your mommy's basement? Sergey and I have experienced life outside the United States. You, apparently, would rather listen to your Party commissars about how awful life outside the United States is, rather than actually go and see for yourself how people live outside this country. Hint: Once you've lived elsewhere, you'll come back and realize that half of what you hear on the radio and television is utter nonsense, just propaganda, because it nowhere matches what you actually experienced living in a foreign land.

2. Dead men who knew nothing of economics are irrelevant to how to solve the current economic crisis, regardless of how much you suck on their toes in your daydreams while pumping with your other hand.

1. Public airwaves: You *are* aware, I'm sure, that I cannot get my views onto the public airwaves because, well, in my area all radio stations but one are owned by right-wing businessmen who out-bid left-wing businessmen for the frequencies? The one frequency *not* out-bid by right-wing businessmen is our local Air America affiliate. You appear to believe that rich businessmen buying frequencies and then using the power of the government to arrest anybody who dares contest their ownership of the public commons by airing contrary views on the public airwaves is "free enterprise". In your world, freedom apparently only exists for the rich, not for the rest of us. Why are you so afraid that the rest of us might get a voice on your right-wing radio stations? Are you scared of our ideas? It appears that your definition of "freedom" is, "freedom to agree with right-wing ideologues". Any ideas that contradict yours literally are not allowed in your bubble universe of hate radio, Faux News, and right-wing web sites.

The problem is, when you spew ideology and ignore reality, you're spewing fail. Ideology is what caused the downfall of the Soviet Union. My cubicle mate is from the former Soviet Union and is constantly amazed that I can talk to my teams in China without any sort of censorship or going through a Party representative. He says that mere peons like him in the Soviet Union were not allowed to talk to foreigners except in the presence of a Party official, for fear of ideological contamination. I think it is telling that you right-wingers have such a fear of ideological contamination too, so afraid that you literally bought up all the radio frequencies to make sure that your peons aren't contaminated by other ideologies. Of course, we all know how well that worked for the Soviet Union. Hint: It collapsed. That's what always happens when you set up ideological barricades like that, but you ideologues never seem to learn that reality, not ideology, is the only answer...

Finally: You can find me at Badtux's blog. If you reciprocal-link me I'll do the same for you, just let me know. I've done a *ton* of research on the issues we're discussing, and if we want to go further, that's probably a better place. You'll find that I'm open-minded about everything except stupidity. My only ideology is reality -- what works in the real world. As long as you decide to operate in reality, you're welcome to stop by.

nathan2209 said...

BadTux, I'll consider your offer to reciprocate over at your blog, but the reason I picked this blog is that I see an overall higher level of civility and some restraint in the use of name calling and profanity.

I thought your comments do exhibit a good degree of knowledge but the underlying theme is "there is only one way to skin a way"

I'm glad you have such great experience and knowledge. You see some interesting patterns in history and in the data. But you don't leave much room for others to see different patterns in that same data.

I'm looking for liberal thinkers that appreciate my values and, if those values differ, you can agree to disagree without having to write me off as simply "an idiot or liar"

BadTux said...

Well, y'know, I'm not one of those moral relativists, so I have to disagree with you on whether appreciating different values that lead to the unnecessary deaths of people in service to ideology is a good thing to do. It's like telling me that I should appreciate the different values of the Taliban rather than condemn their ignorance, hate, and bigotry. I'm sorry, but when you have a moral philosophy, an ideology, that kills people, I do not have any appreciation, or at least not an appreciation of the parts of your ideology that results in dead people. I don't care how many famous people dead for hundreds of years liked your ideology. If your ideology kills people, it is immoral and wrong.

As for the language I use, well. I didn't march up to the armed services recruiting station in 1983 and volunteer for our military in order to defend censorship. It's interesting how one side is allowed to call the other side traitors and enemies of the nation, but the other side is accused of "incivility" if they use the words "liar" or "idiot" to describe someone who can't read Friday's unemployment report, look the numbers, and realize that we're in the year 1930 of a new Great Depression that 8 years straight of tax cuts (to the point that 50% of Americans pay no taxes at all) did not prevent and that more tax cuts won't do anything about. Defending a policy that caused eight straight years of declining median family income and did nothing to head off the greatest economic crisis since the original Great Depression would require me to be either a liar or an idiot, and I'm not any less judgmental towards others than I would be towards myself if I discovered myself defending such a bone-headed idiotic notion.

So anyhow, since Sergei doesn't seem to read his comments very often, you might want to discuss issues of morality somewhere else. Heck, I might even let you do a guest posting on my own blog. You might find your reception to be a bit chillier than you're accustomed to, given that you come from a side of the blogosphere where anybody who does not toe the line of the Party Commissars is immediately banned (I tried twice to have a Free Republic account and once to have a Red State account, in both cases I was not spouting the line of the Party Commissariat and thus was banned), but maybe you can learn something. Like, you might learn that people who volunteer for the U.S. military generally cannot be dismissed as "traitors" or "enemies of the nation". Or you might actually have something useful to say. I doubt it, but I *have* learned a few things from right-wing types before. Not anything about economics, granted. But as someone who loves guns, I'm always happy to have a nice discussion about the best carry weapon and such :-).

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