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Pottersville Revisited

December 6, 2011

A few nights ago, as I was watching It’s a Wonderful Life for about the twenty-third time (I’m still not sure if partial viewings count toward the total), I paid special attention to the part where George Bailey finds himself in Pottersville.  This nightmarish sequence, lovingly arranged by George’s guardian angel, has burned itself into our collective memory. Today it seems more relevant than ever.

Where exactly was Pottersville? It occupied precisely the same space as George’s hometown, Bedford Falls. It even looked vaguely like Bedford Falls. But instead of a wholesome little burg filled with characters Norman Rockwell might have painted, the town had morphed into a dark and seedy sinkhole of vice, cruelty, fear and alienation. Why? Because George Bailey — the earnest, ever-striving, ever-frustrated hero — had never been born. And his absence allowed the resident plutocrat, Mr. Potter, to spread his tentacles over every last enterprise in town.

Most of us have come to regard this eternal Christmas classic as a study in good versus evil, of community spirit versus capitalistic greed. It’s a tale about the virtuous “little guy” bravely fighting corrupt private interests, in unambiguous black and white.

And yet… it turns out that director Frank Capra was a staunch Republican who routinely voted against FDR. Jimmy Stewart, almost indistinguishable in real life from George Bailey except for his spectacular Hollywood career, was a veteran Republican, too. And let’s not forget that George Bailey himself was an active practitioner of private enterprise. So maybe It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t quite the anti-capitalist screed some of us have come to believe it is.

Here’s what I think Capra is telling us: there are good capitalists and evil capitalists… capitalists who enrich the community and capitalists who enrich themselves at everyone else’s expense. When the latter breed of capitalist is allowed to triumph, the result is Pottersville — in short, economic and spiritual devastation for the “99 percent.”

Moral of the story: The good capitalists — the George Baileys of the world — are indispensable bulwarks against the unrestrained greed and ruthlessness of the big-money interests. In short, the George Baileys have to prevail or we’re toast.

Am I sounding a call to arms for America’s moderates? You bet I am.  Capitalism and its rewards have been shifting inexorably away from Main Street toward Wall Street. The Mr. Potters have seen to that. Now it’s time to fight back… to revive Main Street and cage the wild beast that is Wall Street. Moderates have to play a pivotal role in the struggle of the 99 percent against the 1 percent, or we could be in for some epochal ugliness in the years ahead.

As I write this, in the closing month of A.D. 2011, the great American middle class has been ravaged by chronic corporate downsizing and outsourcing. The “job creators” refuse to create jobs even as they sit on overstuffed cushions of cash, and their unapologetic greed is generating rancorous rumblings among the masses. The fortunate few live like Bourbon aristocrats while the rest of us watch our nest eggs crack and ooze ominously. College tuitions have soared so high that only rich kids can emerge from their four-year adventures without decades of debt dangling over their futures. And of course the poor are suffering as much as ever, with this one important difference: they have considerably more company now. That fellow living out of his car down the street used to be a contender.

To make matters worse, Wall Street and its media mouthpieces have hypnotized millions of ordinary folks into believing that unfettered corporatocracy is good for them. (Never underestimate the power of patriotism, religion, freedom and taxation to convince Middle Americans that they should cheer for the elite.)

The Republican front-runners for the 2012 presidential nomination have been a succession of clowns and robots, growing progressively nuttier in their pronouncements before their campaigns implode. But they keep coming at us. The thought that one of them might actually stumble across the finish line should be enough to wake all moderates from their slumber.

Now that Herman Cain’s quirky campaign has self-destructed, the laurel wreath of GOP leadership has descended upon the oversized head of Newton Leroy (yep, you can look it up) Gingrich. Almost a caricature of the arrogant ruling-class apologist, Gingrich has gained notice — not all of it positive — by mocking jobless “Occupy Wall Street” protesters and calling for child labor in poor communities. The ultimate Beltway insider, Newt has made a fortune playing for both sides of the K Street-Congress power axis. Yet he’s imaginative enough to position himself as a maverick in his race for the White House. (Remember, the Tea Party is supposed to be a grass-roots movement of ornery outsiders, and Newt plays the role like a pro.)

As a radical moderate, I believe that a Gingrich presidency would be unhealthful for most living things. The man still faces long odds, of course, and chances are that his wayward tongue will eventually trip him up. He’s compelling as a speaker and pontificator, but he’s not easy to like:  cocky, bullheaded and unsympathetic — especially with his legacy of having divorced his first wife while she was bedridden with cancer. He surprised a lot of us when he stood up for illegal immigrants who have led blameless lives in this country… but a cynic would dismiss his high-minded overture as a calculated appeal to moderates, whose votes he’ll have to lasso if he wants to capture the presidency. He’ll have to convince those moderates that he’s not the reincarnation of Mr. Potter.

But I’m convinced he is. And it all boils down to this: the George Baileys among us need to rouse ourselves to action and defeat the Mr. Potters before they defeat us. We need to regulate the excesses of Wall Street, force corporations to put ordinary employees on their boards, and — most important of all — break the sinister and mutually lucrative alliance between lobbyists and our elected representatives. We’ll break it by Constitutional amendment if possible, by civil unrest if necessary. But break it we will, even if it means evicting every incumbent from the halls of Congress.  The current arrangement cannot stand if we’re to continue describing our nation as a democratic republic. I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of spending the rest of my life in Pottersville.

243 Comments leave one →
  1. Rich Belloff permalink
    December 6, 2011 11:33 am


    If you actually believe you are a “moderate” I would suggest you are as unenlightned as those you ridicule. Small wonder you find Jon Stewart witty and amusing.

  2. Ian permalink
    December 6, 2011 12:20 pm

    Rich, (I note you’ve lost the fancy jewelry that dangled from your name in older posts) Well, Rick did take several recent ideology tests and passed them as a slightly left of center moderate.

    Many of us on the board find it hard to quite believe that some of our sparring partners are moderates, in spite of quiz results that would seem to show this. Hmm, interesting, why is that?

    One idea I have is that in this argumentative environment we tend to amplify our tendencies in arguing against other people’s opinions, then they do the same, a feedback loop occurs, and we all start to caricature ourselves a bit. Well, some of us here really ARE extreme and others just wind up seeming so in order to argue.

    I was in a quadrant of the Political Compass test I mentioned that contained several persons who are pretty repulsive to me, Howard Zinn, Micheal Moore, eeew, not my heros. It would seem to matter a lot how far you go in your tendencies. Some analogies occur, does one like to play violent computer games or does one like to take that tendency to an extreme and take to the streets and cause actual destruction? Whatever tendencies I apparently share with Zinn and Moore are so moderated by their, er, moderation, that the societies that would result if I were the ruler of everything or they were the ruler would be utterly different.

    I said several months ago that politics comes down to your fears. Moore and Zinn and Rick and I may actually share some of the same basic fears since we are in the same quadrant. The Dhlii lama and I are on the same side of the Libertarian axis! of that Compass test because we both would seem to fear a too powerful government. But then consider the extent of that fear and our responses to it as well as the effects of other fears we do NOT share, and we are quite unlike each other in our politics.

    Verdict: Rick is a moderate who stretches his imagination with his blog. If he ruled the world we would be all right, even most financial people.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 12:15 am

      Ian, I agree that this is a posting that Rick takes many issues and packs into another weekly blog. These issues can’t be solved in a life-time. Therefore, they are all imagination. It takes steps to get from one point to the other and that is the reality.

      As far as the compass test. I am 2.77 down and .25 right Libertarian. On the chart I am basically a Libertarian Centrist. I am somewhat on the “vertical line”, but lean slightly right.

      Yes, fear is innate and I believe it is our biggest challenge as humans to control it. It prevents us from challenging ourselves and prevents us from growing both mentally and physically. It is easy to see in my young children in their thinking or doing.

  3. Ian permalink
    December 6, 2011 12:33 pm

    As to Newt, he seems to me to be unelectable. But I thought that as well about the person who is now the Governor or Vermont, who won the General election with less than 50% of the vote, and is widely and intense disliked by many from every part of the spectrum. Some conservatives I know of bragged and laughed that they voted for him in the dem primary to sabotage the Dems. Well, Shumlin won that 5 way primary with 25% of the vote, now he is our Gov. are they laughing now? I’m not laughing, I know that.

    So, we will see, will Newt implode in the next month, will someone ask conservative women if they will vote for a ^%$#@ like him where women are concerned, and if he does implode, how can the party nominate Romney when 75% of the GOP dislikes him so? The GOP is a mess, and that is a bad thing for the country. I’d prefer they came to reality and nominated a candidate who would be a decent president, nominating a nightmare is not funny, it could come true, that nightmare.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 12:25 am

      Ian, your last statement is fear and that is a human trait.

      I share your thoughts on Newt. He has some ideas that may be positive steps, but he is not the guy to implement them. He is a “crowd-raiser” and not a solution worker. He posts ideas more than he would implement them.

      He is more educational than a “get-things done” persona. His books are where he is best at. Giving ideas and promoting them thru speeches and books.

      We need “action”, not words in order to fix this mess. I am not talking about a dictator per se. Just a person that can take “charge” and make reasonable changes and expectations in order to get this country on track. A business-like persona. One that understands the “little guy/gal” and not big government, nor big Corporations, but the 80% of businesses that are small.

  4. Rich Belloff permalink
    December 6, 2011 1:22 pm


    I am sure that what you wrote made sense, to you. That is what worries me most about it.

    As for the jewelry comment, I have no idea what you are referring to.

    Oh, and get a spell checker, please.

    • Ian, Ph.D PD., CSE permalink
      December 6, 2011 1:51 pm

      The jewelry was the pretentious “DBA” you have lost this time around.

      No typos (Strange!) but we regulars have probably got our own little world here and you just drop in for a drive by pot shot now and then, so you are not up on our little arguments.

  5. Rob Anderson permalink
    December 6, 2011 1:55 pm

    Enlightened capitalism is social democracy, Scandinavian style. I always chuckle when reactionaries refer to the Scandinavians as “communists.” Yes, and that would come as a surprise to the boardmembers of Ikea and Erricson, Volvo and Nokia.

    Pottersville is our future, if the over-heared authoritarians and right wing greedheads have anything to say about it. Those people – who are in actuality a very slight minority in this country – must be marginalized. That is the only way we can effect change.

    • December 6, 2011 7:25 pm

      While Scandinavia does represent the liberal ideal of high taxes and a deep social safety net, their governments tend to leave their economies alone.

      Further Europe as a whole and Scandinavia particularly are far more culturally homogeneous than the US.

      • December 7, 2011 12:32 pm

        How is high taxes leaving their economies alone?

    • December 6, 2011 11:58 pm

      Culture makes a huge difference. In Scandinavia there’s almost a stigma attached to displays of wealth. And nearly everyone works hard enough to live comfortably. There are few slackers and few overachievers. Result: you don’t have the extremes of wealth and poverty there that we see in the U.S. This would be the case even without the high tax rates that support social services.

      In the U.S., by contrast, we’re taught to clamor for material wealth and the goods they can purchase. Just as important, most of the people who settled here from other countries (with the exception of blacks) were looking to improve their lives one way or another. The results speak for themselves.

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 7, 2011 12:19 am

        You should talk to my cousin Chris. There are *plenty* of slackers in Scandinavia, but they don’t end up in slums or – for the most part – living on the streets. Only the seriously mentally ill wind up outdoors, and then usually only for a brief time, before they are scooped up the mental hygiene authorities.

        The point is, we can learn from what the Scandinavians do, improve upon some of their ideas. The reason we don’t is because it is not in the interest of the system that keeps us frightened and angry so as to keep us all in line.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 7, 2011 8:22 am

        We can always blame “the system” while excluding ourselves from it,

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 7, 2011 8:20 am

        Yes, Rick, if Americans were just more vituous, like those Swedes, well, then all would be fine and dandy. Alas, we are what we are, warts and all.

      • Kent permalink
        December 8, 2011 12:56 am

        Scandinavia is a poor example of the U.S. The system is way ahead on socialism. It is probably the best system Karl Marx will get to his “utopia”. A “utopia” that is Government over the people. There is freedom here somewhat. Of Course, the last thing I heard about was the idea that the men had to stop using stand-up stalls because it is something women can’t do.

        To get a better system than Karl Marx, the people have to change (mind/action) and believe “people over Government”. In this case, the U.S. has it correct. Although, we as a society today lack the commitment to group together and voice this to our Government….except thru elections.

        Also, once the people express their voices…Government must abide by those choices and if not then the Government needs to explain why it does not want to do what the people want the Government to do.

        This is the current problem here today. Too many ideas, Too many problems not being solved. People not doing any active protesting, just bitching and Government not communicating (just blaming/pontificating). Now I am bitching as a Gen X while baby boomers politicians are screwing everyone and brainwashing my Generation X, Y and the Millinials as well.

        I find it sick that baby boomers who protested in the 60’s – 70’s would rather just sit on their asses and bitch today? Is it not the idiot baby boomers who caused this mess? Is their not a sensible baby boomer who would like to stand up like they used to in the past against Government stupidity? Did our country become neutered?

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 1:42 am


      I disagree with “Enlightened Capitalism is Social Democracy”.

      I argue that:
      Enlightened capitalism is Libertarian Democracy (more people control, not Government). Which leads to the perfect utopia….Meritocracy Democracy.

      There is a struggle between Authoritarian Collective and non-authoritarian collective ideologies. Indeed! Let alone those who just want to think they can stay isolationist.

      We as humans have to agree collectively as a majority to agree to disagree not out of fear, but as a way to find the truth.

  6. Rich Belloff permalink
    December 6, 2011 3:08 pm

    Marginalized. That is such a nice phrase. Care to elaborate?

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      December 6, 2011 3:18 pm

      Sorry, asshole, but I don’t feed trolls.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 6, 2011 3:22 pm

        A troll is someone who questions your view of the world? Well, we can’t have any of that here on a moderate website! Now, you have answered my inquiry as to what you mean by “marginalized.”

        Nice going Rob!

  7. Rich Belloff permalink
    December 6, 2011 3:11 pm

    Pretentious DBA is an earned doctoral degree. Sorry I offended your sense of egalitarianism. Perhaps I should pretend to be uneducated, like you appear to be?

    • Ian, Ph.D PD., CSE permalink
      December 6, 2011 3:40 pm

      Somehow Rich I think that my own Doctorate plus two NIH postdoctoral stints (biophysics, heart muscle) trump your Data Base Administration, but I do not stick them after my name on websites for the glamour of it all (unless for humorous purposes in the case of a “know-off.”)

      Still, that is an education you have, you probably get a hard time for being a pointy head in your chosen political persuasion, No?

      Actually, I’ll admit that you have made a good point, which is that I probably should not start into the same old conversation that the regulars know so well immediately when a new topic is posted and give you “outsiders” a chance to amount to something more than a drive by pot shot before we regulars descend into our long-running debate.

  8. Rich Belloff permalink
    December 6, 2011 3:23 pm

    BTW Rob,

    When do you rejoin OWS?

  9. Rich Belloff permalink
    December 6, 2011 3:45 pm

    Doctor of Business Administation dude. If you are going hurl a needless insult, at least use the right nomenclature. Given that you worked at NIH, your arrogance is now understood.

    Moderate indeed!

    • Ian, Ph.D PD., CSE permalink
      December 6, 2011 4:02 pm

      I’m just pickin on ya Rich because of your implied attack on the left side of the center from the right and because you haven’t played much more of a hand than a quick sarcastic zing. Its an economic style, almost effortless, some might say substanceless. Your own philosophy if you would like to bloviate along with the rest of us windbags?

    • December 6, 2011 4:59 pm

      Rich: We know you disagree with us, but you haven’t given us any inkling of your own beliefs (other than the fact that you don’t like ours). You need to come clean with us.

      Here’s your chance to be more than a troll or a drive-by… I’ve written a column about Pottersville as it pertains to the American economy today. So what exactly offends you about it? That I think good Main Street capitalists should triumph over corrupt Wall Street capitalists? That I knock Congress for being in bed with rich lobbyists? That I think too many Middle American conservatives have drunk the Kool-Aid when they assume that the plutocrats are on their side? That the middle class should fight back rather than let itself be crushed into extinction? Inquiring minds need to know.

  10. Priscilla permalink
    December 6, 2011 6:57 pm

    Wow, a flame war on TNM, and I’m not in it! 😉

    I think what makes this essay appear somewhat immoderate on your part, Rick, if I may say so, is your obvious antipathy toward Republicans…an antipathy that may be warranted, except that it is very one-sided. You rarely show it toward Democrats, even when their actions and motivations are equally deserving of it.

    I am not a fan of Newt Gingrich, never have been, and I am certainly not a fan of Obama….yet, I don’t think a Gingrich presidency could possibly be any worse than Obama’s has been. And I certainly don’t think that anyone outdoes our current POTUS in arrogance, although I will grant that Gingrich is more bombastic. But that is more style than substance.

    I think that moderates, even radical ones like yourself, need to look at economic and political issues with a sober, realistic and reasonable perspective (even though doing so may make you want to fling yourself in despair off the nearest cliff). I don’t think that Gingrich is a clown or a robot, any more than I think Obama, who you have always described as an earnest and well-intentioned man, is the Manchurian Candidate….although granted, I don’t think that he is earnest or well-intentioned, either. Both are career politicians, who have acquired emormous wealth and power through the politics of crony captialism – Gingrich through the channels of elite Republicanism, Obama through the Chicago machine. And they both like their wealth and power, and they’re not going to change much.

    I think that your assumption that conservatives have drunk the Kool Aid is wrong – most movement conservatives despise Gingrich, Romney and Huntsman as secret liberals. And certainly, the “guns and religion” types are not going to be supporters of any modern day Potter.

    I’ve said this before, but I believe that moderates will never be successful as long as they buy into these partisan stereotypes and begin to exercise political power themselves. Whether that be though a tea party or occupy style movement that transforms one of our current parties, or a third party, or something else, it will look different than buying into either of our current parties’ establishment policies.

    • Priscilla permalink
      December 6, 2011 7:01 pm

      Oh, and if Gingrich is acting like a tea party guy, which I agree is snort-worthy, it just might be because the tea party has learned to exercise the kind of electoral power that moderates need to do.

    • December 6, 2011 9:24 pm

      Two Thimbs up !!

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      December 6, 2011 10:14 pm

      I agree with Priscilla, blue dog democrats are every bit as culpable for the mess we’re in as the Republicans. But anyone who argues that Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and Russell Feingold are responsible is just out to lunch. The policies of liberal democrats, while by no means perfect, do not have as their specific aim the immiseration of countless millions. Republican policies do.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 6, 2011 10:31 pm

        Those who support robbing Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul..

    • December 6, 2011 10:36 pm

      A classy retort, Priscilla, and your observations about my point of view aren’t far off base. I confess to heaping infamy on the Republicans more than I lambaste the Democrats, and here’s why: we’ve entered a second Gilded Age. The very rich, thanks to outlandish pay packages for executives and the machinations of Wall Street manipulators, have been creating what I think is an unconscionable wealth gap between themselves and the rest of the country. These aren’t the railroad and steel magnates of a century ago, who at least created something of value; most of the new 1 percent are reaping wild rewards while simply moving money around (often at the expense of the middle class).

      I’m an admirer of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon (up to a point) and even Bob Dole. So I’m not fundamentally anti-Republican; I’m against what the Republicans have become: a stubborn faction serving the interests of the privileged at the expense of the national welfare (can’t let those Bush tax cuts expire!) while convincing ordinary folks that they represent Middle America. (Hence my Kool-Aid reference.) The Tea Partiers ARE supporting the Mr. Potters when they take a stand against higher taxes on the rich.

      Believe me, if the left gained a comparable hold on the American psyche, you’d see me writing tirades against the Democrats. I’m not fond of unions (they were necessary a hundred years ago… more of a royal pain these days). I don’t look forward to the Hispanization of the U.S. I’m not a friend of affirmative action if it means I’ll lose a job opportunity because I’m a white male. I think a lot of anti-smoking and other nanny-state ordinances are meddlesome and silly. But the unions are moribund today, and I don’t see Hispanic immigrants, minority job applicants or smoking bans as raging threats. By contrast, I do see the crushing of the middle class as a pretty dire threat, and I’ll oppose any party that supports the system that’s crushing us.

      As for Obama vs. Gingrich… ehh. As you said, both are political insiders who benefit from crony capitalism as well their cozy relationships with the machines that support them. I expected better things from Obama, and I’ve cooled toward him. I haven’t whomped him in my New Moderate columns because I think he’s had to deal with an utterly impossible opposition force in Congress. But yeah, he’s just another well-connected politician who happened to be a first-class campaigner and a second-class president.

      Can moderates ever unite enough to become a viable force in politics? Someone once (and not inaccurately) compared organizing political moderates to herding cats. I’ve found that every outspoken moderate wants to form his own organization and be the savior of American politics, so it’ll take lot of ego-reduction all around for us to make a go of it.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 6, 2011 10:43 pm


        A man who straddles the middle is a man in danger of losing something important. That said, I think you are a ‘progrssive” but just don’t know it.

        I recommend Thomas Sowell’s “Vision of the Annointed.” You will see yourself there, most likely.

      • Priscilla permalink
        December 6, 2011 11:31 pm

        You know, it’s funny….we all rail against the rich on some level (witness my rants on Warren Buffett and George Soros) and we all want them to pay higher taxes. I actually don’t know anyone who doesn’t want higher taxes on the rich. Even the rich pay lip service to “paying their fair share” – or, as in Buffett’s case paying more than their secretary, or whatever damn fool thing he said.

        Very often, it’s all in how we define “higher taxes” and “rich.” Dave supports no deductions, I’m generally in that camp as well, Ian supports higher rates, Rob supports really higher rates. And on who? Millionaires? Billionaires? Two hundred thousandaires?

        I’m in favor of higher taxes, via a modified progressive tax code that eliminates almost all deductions. That would certainly bring in a boatload of money to the government. But it would be impossible to enact a flatter, fairer tax code without lowering the rates – it just wouldn’t fly. So does that mean that I am in favor of lowering taxes on the rich? No, but Ian certainly thinks that I am.

        It does seem that we forever go in circles, but I honestly believe that these issues can be resolved….that’s not to say that they will be resolved. My greatest fear is that the class hatred that is growing stronger by the day will spiral out of control, encouraged by politicians who use division in order to get elected. Wall Street is not our enemy, but as long as politicians (and their Wall St. cohorts) can keep us focused on believing that it is, they can continue to maintain their control.

      • Kent permalink
        December 8, 2011 2:16 am


        Rick, I agree with needs to take care of economic issues as they are today. Cut and raise revenue – for Governments case.

        Neither political party understands this is necessary when financial crises arise.

        Yet responsible Corporations/businesses and the American people do and have done things to cut and raise revenue.

        It is not that the “Rich” aren’t paying their “fair share”. It is that they need to “step up” and “bail out” the Government (most Americans who need help) in a time of crises. Because they are the only ones with the money.

        This should be only temporary till the Government gets it’s sh!! together. That is our real problem. There hasn’t been a budget for years since the Dems took power under the Bush years.

        Granted their are good/bad capitalists. Hey, thousands of years have past. Nothing their is going to change. Someone will have the discipline to beat someone at a game. Figure out the method and you can be a winner also.

        Priscilla. Higher taxes seem to be the only way now. Government is broke. Most people are broke. We must blame ourselves for letting these career politicians take advantage of their positions in order to manipulate the system. “Fresh ideas” come from people going into Congress, not staying in Congress.

        Now higher taxes on who? Our politicians aren’t economists. Some blame the “rich”, some blame the “poor” who own “rich” businesses. Most of these are small owners who have fewer than 50 employees and have to record their company profits on their own personal tax return.

        Our politicians are throwing crap ideas at the public and the ignorant are “eating it up” and blaming others. It’s a real tragedy.

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      December 6, 2011 11:41 pm

      I need to step in here and post a personal note in Rick’s defense. Though he is certainly conversant with the major works of earlier eras – Veblen, Hofstadter, Roszak – I believe much of the antipathy he expresses comes from personal observation. In particular, his personal observations of ME.

      I’ve known Rick since 1996, when I first discovered the web site for his book “The Cynic’s Dictionary.” I think I can safely say that he and I have become friends over the subsequent 15 years, or at least as well as two people can who have never met in person. And during those 15 years, owing to my candor in postings to his various blogs and message boards, he has had a front row seat in how the various manifestations of corporate greed have destroyed my life, all while I worked feverishly hard to avoid that fate.

      I’m typing this in a residency motel on the Central Coast of California, which I can only afford because I’ve manage to scrounge up enough Craig’s List day labor and contract work to keep a roof over my head. As recently as last week, I was homeless. I am literally an exile, an economic refugee from my home, the San Francisco Bay Area. In February of 2009 I had my own apartment and a good if unstable career as a technical communications professional. But off-shoring to India and Ireland have so completely devastated the technology sector for white collar support staff (and now even engineers) that getting a job, even one that is only half-way decent, is literally like winning the lottery. That’s how many high quality candidates are adrift in the market. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in some cases, hiring managers put resumes up on a wall and throw darts to make their final choice. It’s that bad. I would turn to the education sector, but I have discovered that the very vanishing tax base that results from off-shoring from this state means that there are very few opportunities available in that sector.

      So now I put up fences, weed-whack fields and haul dirt, between the occasional, fleeting contract job.

      And Rick has watched this happen to me – and if memory serves, at least one or two other friends of his – in real time over the last ten years, as I have been layed off from one job after another (two as a direct result of off-shoring), and endured long periods of unemployment that have stripped me of every dime I had managed to save for retirement. And because he is the fundamentally good and decent human being that he is, Rick has decided that rather than side with the plutocrats who are destroying the economy and thus the lives of his friends, he will stand up and speak truth to power. I don’t agree with a lot of Rick’s opinions about this country, and aspects of our culture, but at least with him I know that he has come to those opinions and points of view honestly.

      That’s more than I can say for anybody else around here.

      • December 9, 2011 12:11 am

        Thanks, Rob. I appreciate the appreciation. Granted that we don’t always see eye to eye (though we’ve been on the same page about a lot of issues lately), but I’ve always respected your integrity and values… not to mention your kick-ass humor.

  11. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 6, 2011 7:33 pm

    Nicely said Priscilla.


    I reject much of what you say because in the main, it is simply stereotypical. “Corrupt Wall Street’ vs.virtuous Main Street. If life were so black and white!. Moreover, I might remind you that Pottersville was FICTION, hence the notion of the town rushing to save the S and L. In reality, that did not happen and many folks lost their life savings in the Depression.

    92 yrs later, we are still arguing about the root cause of that little fiasco. Of course, on Jon Stewart, I am sure they have this all figured out!

    • December 6, 2011 9:21 pm

      We are still arguing over the causes of the Great Depression – but the progressive grade school Wall Street greed meme that Rick is now applying to the current mess and is still being taught to our kids has pretty much been rejected by most every economist and is not even a credible contender.

      It may take decades, but as we have far better data now, I am eventually expecting a far better analysis of the current mess than the ludicrous – Wall street did it meme of much of the financial Crisis commission – but then what would you expect, none of the democrats and few of the republicans were economists, Most of the members were politicians. Increasingly ordinary people grasp that the root of our economic problems is in Washington not Wall Street.

      What we have not yet grasped is that even small errors when chased by the entire market for long enough can create enormous problems. And the only force capable of moving the entire market uniformly in the same direction is government. In the real world for Every Potter there is a George Bailey placing a different bet. What scares me the most is that government created this, government bailouts have already sown the seeds for the next crisis, and further regulation ensures there will be even less opportunities for the contrary voices necessary to head these problems off. Members of this blog and politicians seem to think that the natural means the market uses to regulate itself – such as short selling, are really crimes and the causes of problems rather than the warning signs of danger ahead.

    • December 6, 2011 11:02 pm

      Rich: Sure, I simplify reality in my columns, sometimes to the point of stereotypes, because not even the experts seem to be able to fathom the complexities of our financial system. If they did, we would have avoided the crash of 2008. (By the way, I’ve always blamed liberal Democrats as well as Wall Street for that fiasco.) And yes, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was fiction, but like any good myth, it’s based on fundamental truths. What I take from the film is this: capitalism is like fire; you can use it to enhance lives or destroy them. Another theme: leading a good life often seems to be a thankless pursuit, but you might be surprised by the loyalty you generate.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 6, 2011 11:13 pm

        Living a “good” life is a reward in itself. One does this for no other reason than to please self. Any reward one attains is simply gracy. Capitalism does not pervert men’s souls, they do that on their on their own.

        If the “system” exists that will change that, we have not found one yet.

        Life is not black or white, mostly shades of grey. Besides, I have found that those who criticise the most often have feet of clay.

        Tread lightly!

      • Kent permalink
        December 8, 2011 2:36 am

        I also find that living a good life is what you make of it. Not in material wealth…although it “enhances” it, but life is about feeling happy naturally. Positive thoughts to fixing/helping.

        Perception is the key. If you look at life negatively you most likely have less friends, less opportunities and other lesser things including a possible shorter life span.

        Blaming the “rich” doesn’t make you any “richer”. Finding ways to either becoming “rich” yourself or preventing others is a more constructive measure.

  12. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 6, 2011 7:37 pm

    BTW-I am typing sans a left index finger these days, courtesy of surgery. Hence the economical prose to date.

  13. December 6, 2011 8:07 pm

    Not only is “It’s a wonderful Life” fiction, but it seems to refute the mantra here.

    Potter at his worst he seems to be a thief – and I am not aware of any defenders of free markets advocating theft.

    Having been unable to defeat Bailey in the marketplace, Potter seeks to enlist the aide of government in the form of the Bank Examiner.

    Even “Atlas Shrugged” is chock full of disreputable businessman.

    Bedford falls has its problems – but there is no government social safety net. People help themselves. Potter notes with envy that the Bailey savings & Loan has created wealth for itself and its clients. Bailey makes loans to people he expects to work hard, to make their own lives better and to pay those loans back. Bailey Savings & Loan is not a charity, it is a business investing in people.

    BS&L is an archetype for Wall Street. A substantial portion of what is the private retirement funds of many of us. Wall Street is us investing in us. Like BS&L the community benefits because what some of us save, is invested in building a better future for all of us.
    During the run on the banks George Bailey has an excellent explanation of how financial markets work.

    If the New Moderate wishes to use “It’s a wonderful Life” as a symbol of how things should be – I will be happy to go along.

    One in three voters blame Wall Street for our financial woes – fifty-six percent blame Washington – another way in which the Moderate in The New Moderate whatever it means does not seem to mean median, center, norm, or any of the things most of us associate with the term moderate.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 2:46 am


      Exactly, We the people invest in Wall Street along with the wealthy. Our retirement funds are all in Wall street. 401k’s and IRA’s. We can’t blame Wall Street without blaming ourselves.

      Government was regulating Wall Street, but the regulators were watching and downloading and “burning” porn all day.

      Here’s a website:

      you can check others on google.

  14. December 6, 2011 8:40 pm

    Newt is not my favorite candidate. For the most part like the left he believes government is the solution to our problems not the cause.

    Though I do not get the Leroy dig. TNM is zinging Newt over his name, Rich because of DBA behind his name – yet our President is Barak Hussein Obama.

    I will happily concede that the GOP seems to have fielded a troupe of dwarves. But then Barak Obama has been drowning in the presidents shoes.

    And “The Tea Party is supposed to be” – no the Tea Party clearly is a Grass Roots movement – messy uncouth, lacking finesse. If you really beleive all those middle aged people were out protesting because the Koch brothers bought them off – I have a bridge I would like to sell you. I have my own problems with the Tea Party – they have taken the wrong side on immigration – but then so have both political parties,

    You revel as Republicans contenders rise and fall. I note that it seems clear that an overwhelming majority of Republicans will vote for “Anybody but Romney”. The current sitting president is losing in the polls to “unnamed republican”. I expect this race will actually be close – barring some external trigger such as worsening problems in Europe, or China, the economy is going to improve over the next year. Not as much as it should or could. Certainly not because of anything the Government has done. Nonetheless, the President will likely benefit from an economy in Nov. 2012 that does not look as bad as it does today – otherwise the GOP could actually run Gary Johnson and win.

    I am suspicious at this point that Newt may actually have some legs. He has handled himself well in the debates. He can handle Obama. If somebody came forward and said he groped them 40 years ago – who would care ? Whatever baggage he has, is pretty well known.

    So if Newt’s talk about immigrants was just a crass apeal to moderates – what were his remarks on child labor ?

    I to do not look forward to a Gingrich Presidency – though it would be a significant improvement over the current one.

    If we can not get a balanced budget amendment whatever you are looking for stands little chance.

    I throw some barbs about the unmoderate nature of the new moderate – mostly these are a tit for tat over “Ultra-conservative” labels sprayed around here like water. But hen you go and propose a bunch of policies that whether I like or not have no chance of getting the support of even a simple majority of americans.

    I grasp that the country is not libertarian. I know I represent a minority – by most estimates smaller than conservatives and larger than liberals. I have to persuade people to my point of view – because my views do not represent that of a majority. But most here – like those at OWS are under the delusion that they do not have to persuade, to make their case because they see themselves as the 99% rather than the .01%.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 2:56 am


      You are saying the same I think about Romney. People are scared of him. Probably because he is a Mormon.

      He has a business background. He was called in to save companies time over and again from bankruptcy.

      His healthcare is sketchy, but hey, Obama all ready got it for the Nation and yea, it would be nice to have everyone pay into a healthcare system than to pay for those who won’t pay.

      It is sad that the minds of many people think that a Mormon President can force or make others Mormon. It simply will not happen. It is amazing that this “small mind thinking” applied to those who thought of Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy in the late 50″s.

  15. Jen permalink
    December 6, 2011 10:26 pm

    Please allow me to pop in and say that I so enjoy how the regulars descend into their long-running debate, as Ian said above. I came upon this site by chance and I can honestly say that your conversations inspire me to think more about my own beliefs, which is always a positive. It just seemed appropriate that I make my presence known and say thanks. So, thank you!

    • Priscilla permalink
      December 6, 2011 10:51 pm

      Jen, We rise, we do not descend 😉

      Hope to hear your point of view at some point!

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 2:58 am


  16. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 6, 2011 10:28 pm

    Vilifying and taking from the “rich” by force is of course, a popular notion, long practiced, throughout history. That said, it is interesting that no matte what system is employed, someone always ends up being at the top. (See USSR for example).

    Perhaps, we might do better to see what attributes tend to aggregate there, rather than try to stamp them out?

    Ah, no, It is easier to blame than to understand and learn!

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 3:03 am


      Although, you got to admit that with the current Government screw ups and not money, and the no money in most 99% of Americans pockets. It does make many want to go after the “rich” with “pitchforks and torches” per se, than to look inside themselves and fix the problem by kicking the jerks out of Washington and protesting like they did in the 60’s.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 7:53 am

        To be fair, it is NOT accurate to say that the so-called 1% has “all the money.” In fact, assets and income are spread around. It might be fairer to say that some have managed to RETAIN more than others.

        My neighbor has a boat, a Harely and three cars. I do not. I bet I have more “money” than he does but I also bet he is bitchin’ about the rich as we speak.

        As foe money, the Fed prints it at will so the US Govt will never run out. They know it, most of us don’t.

  17. Ian permalink
    December 7, 2011 10:03 am

    It seems to me that Rick did not vilify an entire class, instead he carefully vilified some members and made it clear that we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But that is already too much “class warfare” for some people, ah, all of the financial people are pure as driven snow and they just need total freedom and our eternal love and praise.

    There is no curing blindness, because the greed and power are real and they overwhelm the characters of many involved in money and politics. Saying so gets you called immoderate though.

    • Priscilla permalink
      December 7, 2011 11:10 am

      So, I am curious Ian….. Do you only advocate raising taxes on the “evil rich,” i.e. those who work on Wall Street? Talk about blind……(and what straw man has contended that greed and power are not real, or that they do not corrupt ? Do you read anyone else’s comments?)

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 7, 2011 12:13 pm

        It is ALWAYS the other guy, never “us” or our kind. So easy to cast stones in the other direction.

      • Ian permalink
        December 7, 2011 12:49 pm

        Talk about irony Priscilla, show me my comment on raising taxes only on the rich. And then you ask me if I read. I’ve consistently said that taxes need to be raised on the rich, almost rich and middle class, including me ( that would be the middle class.) You have taxes on the rich on the brain it does sometimes seem to be almost the only real interest you have here. That and pouring acid on Obama. I’m beginning to warm to him just reading your over the top attacks on him. Couldn’t have a worse president than Obama? You voted for a far worse one not long ago, how soon we forget!

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 7, 2011 12:57 pm

        When Congress and the POTUS shows some spine on spending and curbing their unlimited appetite for statism, I will be open to a tax discussion. I wager I will have a long wait.

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 7, 2011 12:11 pm

      No one implied that financial people are pure as anything. We are all flawed, even you!

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 7, 2011 1:02 pm

      As Milton Friedman once quipped, “Of couse, none of us are greedy! It’s always the other guy whose greedy!

    • December 7, 2011 2:04 pm

      Good grief! We moderates are like ducks in a shooting gallery here. OK, let me play devil’s advocate for a minute and describe the kind of system our libertarian friends are defending…

      Let’s say I wanted to set up my own republic and design its economic system. I’d allow the people to buy shares of companies and risk financial ruin if the shares collapse — it’s their choice. (Of course, the brokers who sell them the stocks make money even when their clients lose, so what do they care?) Then I’d set up special hedge funds for the super-rich so they come out ahead whether the market rises or falls. The money managers would reap huge bonuses regardless of results. I’d even let them package bad debts into financial “products” that mysteriously gain AAA ratings — and palm them off on their clients. And get this… we’d allow the money managers to bet AGAINST the bad investments they recommend to their clients. Pretty cool, eh?

      Same with the corporations: I’d enable CEOs to earn 500 times as much as the average worker, thanks to their friends on the board. If the company prospers under their leadership, the CEO continues to reap huge rewards. But it’s even better when the company falters: then we reward the CEO with a $60 million severance package so he’s set up in comfort for the rest of his life.

      Then… here’s the really good part… we allow the big corporations and investment banks to buy influence in government. How, you say? Isn’t that bribery, you say? Nah, we use intermediaries called lobbyists who make big donations to the representatives’ campaign funds. Naturally, they love their donors and will do anything to please them… including pass legislation to make life easier for them. What about the people who actually elected these politicians? Don’t they count? Sure they do… just not as much as the big donors.

      And let’s not forget taxes. As a famous crook once said, “Only the little people pay taxes.” Big corporations might earn billions, but we see to it that the important ones pay nothing… in fact, some of them get tidy little refunds at tax time. Where does that money come from? Well, from the taxpayers, of course.

      But doesn’t all this contribute to an unconscionable wealth gap between the privileged and everyone else? Sure, but let’s not use the word “unconscionable.” Too judgmental.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 7, 2011 2:10 pm

        Well Rick, since you enteedr my domain (Economics) let me take the first shot.

        All hedge funds make money. Hilarious. Have you actually ever invested in a hedge fund?

        I take a few more later when I stop laughing.

      • Priscilla permalink
        December 7, 2011 4:31 pm

        Exactly, Rick. Which is why I believe that grassroots movements that focus on defeating politicians that serve only themselves and their donors are the way to go. Arguing over who is greedy and who is not is useless and divisive, and ultimately plays right into the hands of the establishment.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 7, 2011 4:40 pm

        The rule makers (ie Congress and the POTUS) make deals with all kinds of interests every day (unions and banks, take your pick) even though they draw a paycheck from us. Why blame these interests when all the lawmakers have to do is say, ah, NO!

        Until these so-called publc servants are turned out and the rule book re-written, no change will occur. That is why I distrust statism in all of its forms. We have replaced kings with Congressman and nothing has changed.

      • Kent permalink
        December 8, 2011 3:11 am

        Now that is making sense to you all,

        Government is the problem.

        It controls the people, corporations, Wall street activities and all quasi-Government agencies (Post Office, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and others).

        Greed is a human trait. You are always going to have someone wanting to be on top. They question is whether you learn to be the follower to the top or the sucker.

        The sucker bitches and complains while the follower learns the discipline that the one on top used. Then you “cut off it’s head”.


      • December 8, 2011 10:10 am

        God Rick you are coming unhinged.

        You can not lose everything when you invest, you can only lose your investment.

        All businesses including Brokers do far better when their clients succeed than fail.

        Libertarians would never allow special hedge funds restricted only to the super rich – it is the left that has dictated that ordinary people can not be trusted to invest their own money and only should be permitted safe low risk investments – how well has that worked out.

        Today’s ratings companies hold a small government granted monopoly, and are highly regulated. Whatever mistakes they have made are incontrovertibly not the errors of anything even close to a free market.

        Prohibitions against fraud are part of the rule of law. If you are going to ignore what libertarians actually believe in your parody – then why not include pillaging, rape and murder too.

        Even in your distorted libertopia big business is not going to be trying to buy government – government will be weak and powerless, there will be nothing to buy.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 8, 2011 11:17 am

        Belief in “regulation” as a solution defies logic. If it were true, think of how perfect this world would be! Markets work well, when not rigged. The fact is that regulation in practice allows the markets (any market) to be rigged in favor of those who curry favor with the regulators. This discourages market entry and encourages concentration of market power.

        There is as reason it costs a $100M or so to get a drug to market and it has little to do with safety. This is also the reason why are so few drug companies of any size.

    • December 8, 2011 9:57 am

      Yes; I know. There is the deserving rich and the undeserving rich – and moderates have a special merit detector to tell them apart.

      There is no small set of simple easy to understand rules for separating the deserving rich from the undeserving – based on measurable objective criteria rather than your sense of outrage. Absent objective criteria you are engaged in no more than class warfare.

      Lost in the reports on “income inequality” was the CBO’s note that one of the results of greater income inequality is more progressive taxation – the “rich” are paying a much greater share of the cost of government than before.

      Also missing is more recent data. The recession effects everyone – including the rich. Tax receipts are way down because the rich are making far less money – so much less that projected income inequality for 2009 will be back to near 1970’s levels.

  18. December 7, 2011 12:57 pm

    I agree. Gingrich may like his voice even moreso than our current president… and look where that’s gotten us. Gingrich has a track record of putting his ego ahead of solutions. I don’t believe that between the ages of 50 and 70 someone can change their complete thought process, ego, and methodology. Of the GOP side, I strongly prefer Ron Paul. He’s often dismissed because he explains root causes and solutions as opposed to coming up with a catchy (and often misleading) soundbyte. He’s not flashy at all, in fact, I get a craving to buy Purdue Chicken when I see his picture. But kidding aside, he saw the housing meltdown coming several years prior, as well as other crises. I think we need a man that has a viewable track record, someone who has real intellect (not just oratory skills), and someone who will explain in simple and factual terms the solutions he wants to put forward. On the GOP side, he seems to be the only one left standing that has these qualifications.

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 7, 2011 1:00 pm

      Newt aside, this current POTUS apparently thinks that the way you get things done in DC is to travel around and give demonizing speaches. I think it is clear how well that has worked.

      Apparently, Clinton and Gingrich, Reagan and O’Neill worked a bit differently.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 3:15 am

      Paul is good, but old. Need new blood. Younger, but is any Gen X out there?

      Yeah, demonizing others like BO is doing is getting us no where. Proposing ideas can get us somewhere.

      I do say, Clinton is showing he is a statesmen. Gingrich has a lot of baggage.

  19. Ian permalink
    December 7, 2011 1:38 pm

    Heh, did Dhlii (or Priscilla?) send out a distress call to libertarians? We seem to suddenly be a bit overrun with them.

    Its not hard to tell who is a moderate, albeit a left of center moderate and who is one of that small Libertarian minority (the one that dhlii claims outnumbers liberal, who are 20-30% of voters, funny). There is no way that actual libertarians make up more than about 5% of the voters. Add sympathizers you may get to about 10%. Shall the tail wag the dog?

    Post away libertarian guys and gals, you ain’t moderates and I do not think you are winning here or on the larger stage.

    Rick is right on in his comments and beliefs and I for one am having a good chuckle listening to offended conservatives/libertarians squawk.

    It always cracks me up that conservatives (goes for liberals too) think that moderates should not make any comments about them, as if to criticize the loony right (left) is something only liberals (conservatives) do. News: liberals, moderates, and recently even a long list of conservatives have said most of the same things rick is saying.

    I have no idea who will win the war this time around, a weak president and a strongly divided opposition party with a long list of apparently unelectable contenders, who will be weaker in the end? Its bad for the country.

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 7, 2011 2:07 pm

      Well Ian, since you have declared Rick “right” we can all go home now. you have spoken.Seriously, your ego knows no bounds.

      As for Rick, one assumes he can speak for himself?

      • Ian permalink
        December 7, 2011 2:39 pm


        Eh, yawn. Where’s the beef? I keep waiting for you to produce something more than a one line sarcasm or a conservative or libertarian quote. It takes one or two fingers to type, your replies to rick’s previous post a month ago were were equally short and sarcastic, your finger is not the issue. If you have any substance you have disguised it well thus far. If you have something substantive to say, don’t hide your light under a basket, tell us, what do you actually believe?

        If you actually do have a Doctorate then pontification should be easy for you. Give us your best shot!

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 7, 2011 4:17 pm

        Not prone to pontification, that is clealy your game and you are very good at it indeed. You have aleady discounted all other points of view, so why pretend you want to hear any retorts. You don’t.

        You have declared Rick, “right” so what’s more to say?

    • December 7, 2011 2:25 pm

      Keep the faith, Ian. I think the Bourbons are getting a little nervous. Maybe we need to reassure them that we moderates aren’t planning to send them to the guillotine anytime soon.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 7, 2011 2:30 pm

        Were not worried Rick, we all own firearms.

      • December 7, 2011 10:04 pm


        I know that was a joke, but it is not that funny. What apparently distinguished libertarians from moderates is that we would not EVER punish someone for their thoughts, words, or views.

        The entire nation worked itself into a lather because Palin or some other GOP flunky was “targetting” political opponents.

        Yo can talk about guillotines, but some of you ,mean it.

      • December 8, 2011 12:41 am

        Dave: A handful of extremists on the left might consider reviving the guillotine, but you won’t catch any moderates (even a radical moderate like me) calling for heads. Still, the resemblance between the ancien-regime French aristocracy and our own defiant 1-percenters is starting to unsettle me. When Newt Gingrich told the jobless Occupy Wall Street waif to take a bath and find a job (as if those “job creators” are actually creating jobs), that seemingly harmless quip struck me as the American elite’s “Let them eat cake” moment. These guys can’t afford to be so flippant and insensitive. There’s a lot of pent-up rage a-brewing among all the downsized, outsourced, dispossessed former members of the American middle class, and Occupy Wall Street could be just the beginning.

        Historical footnote: Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake.” The quote was attributed to her, probably by enemies, to make her more unpopular. Today’s plutocrats don’t need anyone making up offensive quotes for them; they’re doing a commendable job of it all by themselves.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 3:21 am

      I fail to see any of this as adult conversation than childish jibber-jabber.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 3:22 am

      Are all of you Baby-boomers watching other baby-boomers destroy our country or Gen Xer’s like me that haven’t woken up to organize?

  20. Ian permalink
    December 7, 2011 3:55 pm

    There actually is a Rich Belloff DBA, he is an academic in San Diego.

    I suspect he is going to be pissed when he finds out that his identity has been stolen.

    I hope they catch the impostor.

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 7, 2011 4:18 pm

      That is me.. People are still free to move within the US, or so I am told.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 3:23 am

      That’s actually funny! hahaha

  21. Ian permalink
    December 7, 2011 4:21 pm

    “Rich Belloff DBA” you are busted.

    I hope the real Dr. Belloff is able to track you and sue you for harm to his good name.

    Sheesh, the %$#@& we have to deal with.

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 7, 2011 4:27 pm

      Are addled or what?

  22. Ian permalink
    December 7, 2011 4:42 pm

    Is this really how you imagine that an academic with multiple degrees in his 60s sounds? Can’t write a complete thought out on the subject in which you received a doctorate? How old are you kid?

    Its a pathetic attempt.

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 7, 2011 4:47 pm

      When you write something worthy of a response, I will respond in kind.

      Actually, I expect nothing but insults from you. You are quite the intellectual.

  23. December 7, 2011 5:58 pm

    OK, folks, this banter is getting just a little too acidulous (there’s a good, underused word) — especially for a moderate blog. It’s fine to get heated over ideas, but let’s try to be a little friendlier in our interpersonal relations. Think of this message board as Bedford Falls, not Pottersville.

    • Ian permalink
      December 7, 2011 6:01 pm

      Oy, Its me again, Irish blood. OK, Timeout for a week. I’ll try to reform.

      • December 9, 2011 12:16 am

        Ian, if this donnybrook gets any more violent, I might have to call you back before the week is out. We moderates are outnumbered here.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 3:32 am


      I am having a hard time understanding all the people in you blog that are commoners.

      What is your average age of commoners and what are their positions of ideologue?

      Dhlii is clearly Libertarian, Rick, you have and others have placed as a Moderate with left-center tendencies.

      Ian I think is Moderate.

      Rich is what? Right Conservative?

      Priscilla is center-right? Reformed Republican?

      I am according to the political compass a Libertarian Centrist that leans slightly right.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 7:58 am

        More libertarian than anything else. Certainly an Austrian when it comes to Economics. And, no, I don’t support Ron Paul. He is not electable.

      • December 8, 2011 10:20 am

        Ah, someone else who might actually know who Hayek is.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 8, 2011 11:18 am

        And Von Mises, Menger, and Rothbard too!

      • December 8, 2011 2:54 pm

        And if I had asked you in say 2005 what happens when significant amounts of credit are extended without properly pricing the risk you would have known the correct answer was not bliss and universal prosperity.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 8, 2011 3:07 pm

        Indeed. Understanding monetary theory gives one an advanatage, for sure.

  24. Pat Riot permalink
    December 7, 2011 11:20 pm

    You acidulous miscreants! You quarrelsome mob! Mic check! Mic check!

    All this labeling of right, left, further left, progressive…pooh! You all agree on more than you think, and you must certainly agree with Rick that we’ve got to get together to have less Potterville and more Bedford Falls—i.e. less selfishness and cold-hearted meanness and dog-eat-dog and not so much control in the hands of a few (e.g. Potter), and instead more community and humanity and justice–nobody said perfection–catch the drift of the analogy and don’t get hung up on the details, fellow Americans. Now this common sense desire less Potterville doesn’t translate directly into libertarianism or socialism or communism or Republican or Democrat or whatever you think your political persuasion is…. Moderation is not so much a political position as it is a realization that too much and too little are B-B-B-BAD!

    Let’s see if we really all agree: Ten people marooned on an island are quickly using up their fresh water supply and will all soon die of thirst. Two of the people spend five agonizing weeks hand-digging a deep, deep well, and they hit fresh water. What these two do is “sell” the water to the other eight people by requiring the others to bring them banannas and coconuts and to perform other labor in exchange for the fresh water. Now I think the Dhlii Lama and Priscilla and others, including me to an extent, would say the two deserve the “fruits” of their labor. The other eight marooned people didn’t help to dig the well. Most of us are OK with some capitalism and some free market. But then let’s fast forward to six generations later:
    The island has a population of 4,000 people.
    3,600 people can only get their hands on a cup of water every 2 days, no matter how many coconuts and banannas they try to harvest.
    346 people get an eye-dropper of water every 3 days.
    Meanwhile 54 people own the water well, have swimming pools, take 2 showers everyday, and let the hose run even when they’re not using it, the bastards!!

    Time to occupy the well!

    You see, people, that’s the unfairness Moderates talk about. It’s not anti-free markets, it’s about enough is enough; it’s not anti capitalism, it’s against socially irresponsible capitalism. Moderates aren’t naive to expect perfection. We want decent and fair, and that is do-able!!!

    • Priscilla permalink
      December 8, 2011 12:29 am

      Great comment, Pat. I have not been very clear in my own comments if I have given the impression that I believe that societies should not strive to be decent and fair. I do think that there is a role that government needs to play in both encouraging and mandating fairness and decency. Civil rights, equal opportunity, safety nets for the poor…..all of it needs to be there.

      I read somewhere recently that, if we were to expand the OWS concept of the 99% and the 1% to encompass the global population, anyone who made over $21K would be in the 1%. Clearly, when it comes to poverty and suffering, we Americans don’t know much at all. I’m not saying that people making over $21,000 should be happy that they don’t live in some god-forsaken third world country….but the reality is that America has always been the land of opportunity, not in spite of capitalism, but because of it. And blaming those who have succeeded because of the corrupt cronyism between powerful politicians and their supporters just leads us in the opposite direction of capitalism. It leads to confiscation of wealth and property and more corruption – because, after all, if we “spread the wealth,” who exactly is it who decides who gets the wealth and how much of it they get? Answer: the same friendly politicians who got us to this point in the first place.

      So, yeah, I agree that we want decent and and that it is doable. But moderates need to be engaged in the process of getting there, not just sitting on the sidelines complaining that they know best.

      Rick’s post made me think of this line from “It’s a Wonderful Life” (George to Uncle BIlly): “Where’s that money, you silly stupid old fool? Where’s that money? Do you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison! That’s what it means! One of us is going to jail… well, it’s not gonna be me.

      We need to get back to a world where those who steal and misappropriate money fear bankruptcy and scandal and prison. As it is now, if they become big government cronies, they are rewarded and bailed out, and the rest of us pay the price. And I think that we all agree on that.

      • December 8, 2011 12:46 am

        Pat and Priscilla: I’d hit the “Like” button on your posts if we had one. Unfortunately that’s all I can say for now, because I have to get up at 5:30 a.m.

      • Kent permalink
        December 8, 2011 3:39 am

        Yep, agree here too. Indeed!

        Groups of Moderates/Centrists form, Platform begin, organization rally start. All good! Yes! Yes!

        Government the dark side! Need balance! Agreed?

      • Jesse C permalink
        December 8, 2011 10:00 am

        Great posts!

    • December 8, 2011 10:22 am

      No time to dig a new well.

  25. Kent permalink
    December 8, 2011 8:55 am

    Here’s Government at work! They do such a great job. (sarcastic)

  26. Pat Riot permalink
    December 8, 2011 9:00 am

    Priscilla you add a dose of realism and I bet we could all agree with you: the United States prospered because of capitalism and we should not be penalizing success. Rick had to get up at 5:30 to take care of something. Nobody cares as much or knows as much about our wants and needs, our business, as we do. Bottom-up individual-driven capitalism will outperform top down central planning almost every time, do we all agree on that over-simplified statement? Soviet communism for example couldn’t keep the store shelves stocked with food while American private enterprise has. (just one example of many) I believe Dhlii has previously shared his distaste and distruct of top-down central planning, especially by government. I believe we all can agree that the absentee landlord or the golf-playing exec or the bureacrat in Washington or the Colonol back at headquarters or the architect not visiting the jobsite sometimes do not quite get what’s going on at the front line and do not care as much as the people on the front line. Like individual cells of a body all doing their job and contributing to the whole–that’s part of the “magic” of individual ownershop and private enterprise. But the Moderate knows that too little central planning and too much central planning can both be disastrous. So what are we to do as citizens of this disjointed, over-spent, corrupt, still vibrant, hard-working, wonderful, teetering country of ours?

    The people on that island could start digging their own wells. One way to prosper is to not need Potter, for each of us to become more independent of the corruption via our personal choices, such as not over-spending into debt and desperation. Of course many of us are already trying to make such choices. Why don’t us bloggers here on the New Moderate work on a list of things we Americans can do, including at the personal / micro level and out at the community level and then also up at the macro /political level. Let’s build from what we agree on. I think Kent is ready for a platform to be constructed. I am ready. How about we start with top 5 things we can do at the personal level, top 5 in the community, and top 5 up at the government / policy level. More practical and less idealogy, because the Moderate knows that too much of ANY idealogy can be wrong. Will this help us come to some practical concensus and eventually a “platform” ?? I’ve got to get to my job!

  27. Pat Riot permalink
    December 8, 2011 9:21 am

    Try not to look for the exceptions or absolutes. Instead, look where we can generally agree, for the most part. For instance, above I said something like “nobody knows our…business like we do…” Now I could easily find exception to my own statement. When I was a consultant there was the idea that the “objective 3rd party,” the “outside observer” could help a business improve better than it could itself because the business was “too close to itself” and couldn’t think outside their box, blah blah. But that was not the gist of what I was saying above. I was talking about furniture makers or candlestick makers knowing their own realities, their own details, better than a distant bureaucrat, about how private enterprise flourishes when people find energetic, productive niches and do their thing, et cetera. So please, fellow Americans living in a country on the edge of a cliff, don’t look for the instance where the statement wouldn’t be true if you already generally think the statement is true. I’m just saying. Damn I gotta get to work.

  28. December 8, 2011 10:18 am

    How about a look at a modern day “Pottersville” or libertopia. And damn if it isn’t right smack in the middle of China.

    So in a place where government was weak and powerless, people managed to make things work so well on their own that the people of Wenzhou went from nearly the worst poverty in china to a standard of living for the worst off that is three times better than the rest of china.

    I have no doubt that the “income inequality” in Wenzhou is substantial.
    At the same time we have a pretty good laboratory experiment here.
    Which benefits the people – particularly the least well of them most – strong government as in most of china, or weak government where the free market takes care of everything ?

  29. December 8, 2011 10:35 am

    One of my peeves about TNM is how fecklessly it treats the left.

    I am not a fan of the FDA. It was always a bad idea. The problems it was intended to solve mostly solve themselves. It is heavily biased against finding anything safe – as is government in general. It vastly increases the difficulty in bringing anything to market.
    It is a perfect example of Bastiat’s seen vs. unseen. We see the people who are harmed because an imperfect drug makes it to market. But we do not see the myriads of people who are harmed or even die because myriads of drugs not only do not make it to market – are not even dreamed of.

    This administration promised to place science before policy. Their are myriads of other instances that demonstrate compellingly that this is not the case.

    But this is glaring.

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      December 8, 2011 6:35 pm

      The problems solve themselves, do they? I don’t know your age, but it seems clear that if you’re my age (40s) or older you never knew your great-grandparents. I always wondered why my great-grandmother canned and jarred her own food, when between 1917 and 1929 my great-grandfather was first a successful master carpenter, then a mill owner. So one day when home from college for the holidays I asked her. Her reply? The food was wholly unreliable. People got sick and died from food poisoning *constantly*, and this was AFTER the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, but before it had real teeth. And I suppose “The Jungle” was just left-wing propaganda, right?

      Jesus Christ you’re a fucking moron, but a dangerous one. You’re a perfect example of the mendacity and pure menace of the right wing in this country. You would, for the sake of a theory and your own greedy and avaricious hopes for eventual riches render your neighbor’s food unfit to eat and their water unfit to drink. What makes you a moron is that you seem incapable of grasping that *YOUR* food and drink would become likewise unfit.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 7:47 pm

        Gee Rob, you are so articulate and your “logic” is so compelling, it is hard to respond. I don’t think anyone of Dr Sowell’s stature needs defending, so I won’t bother to do so. Obviously, you don’t agee with his views, but then again, both he and I are working and you apparently are not. That may explain your vitriol to a degree but it does not explain your bad manners.

        As for hiding in academia, in actuality I DO have an MBA and did have a 30 year career in industry prior to entering academia. Amazing what one can do when you put you mind to it.

  30. December 8, 2011 2:21 pm

    There is nothing you have said I can see any libertarian disagreeing with.

    I would specifically note – the POOR in the US are in the top 1% for the world, and it is FREEDOM that got them there. Many many very poor nations have deep and broad safety nets. The USSR failed. No one is immigrating to Cuba. North Koreans face guns to cross the border into China.

  31. December 8, 2011 2:48 pm

    This is definitely going to raise some hackles.
    Buturovic and Klein analysed the results of a 2008 Zogby poll that included a series of questions to gauge participants economic knowledge. The resulting paper below.

    Click to access ButurovicKleinMay2010.pdf

    There where 8 agree/disagree questions, and 5 possible answers to each question.
    For most analysis only 1 of the 5 answers was considered wrong. Filling out the survey at random should result in 1.6 wrong answers.

    The questions:
    1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
    2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.
    3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.
    4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.
    5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.
    6. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
    7. Free trade leads to unemployment.
    8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.


    There is no correlation between economic knowledge and education.
    But there is an incredibly strong correlation between basic economic knowledge and political identification.

    On a 8 question test, the following are the average number of wrong answers by political self-identification conservative-liberal was:
    Libertarians 1.38
    Very Conservative 1.30
    Conservative 1.67
    Moderate 3.67
    Liberal 4.69
    Progressive 5.66

    By political identification party:
    libertarians 1.26
    republicans 1.60
    democrats 4.59
    independent 3.03
    constitution 1.94
    green 5.88

    Overall average 2.88

    • Rich Belloff permalink
      December 8, 2011 2:52 pm

      The above surprises me not at all. Progressives specialize in “magical thinking.”

  32. Rich Belloff permalink
    December 8, 2011 2:50 pm

    I recommend this interview. Thomas Sowell is so insightful.

    • December 8, 2011 3:46 pm


      There is a tendency here (on the left) to discount anything from any source that is to the right of say Ralph Nader. Even WSJ gets labeled as extreme right. People look past the actual data and information and reject it outright because they can label and discard its source. Norquist is one of those evil right wingers – so everything he say must be wrong.
      How could anyone consider anything that Gingrich might say, when we can listen to Pelosi, Reid and the President. The pitance that the Koch’s are dumping into the political process is evily distorting it in favor of republicans and business – never mind that the contributions of Sorros, dwarf the Koch’s or that democrats get about 65% of all corporate contributions.

      So I try hard to find links and references that are neutral or even left leaning. Though once in a while something is just so juicy – such as the Wenzhou article in Reason, that I can’t avoid it.

      For the most part it is surprising how many government or left leaning sources you can find supporting rational economic principles if you look hard enough.

    • Kent permalink
      December 8, 2011 5:02 pm

      Rich, I couldn’t agree more with what you found on this “Thomas Sowell”.
      Thomas Sowell mentions that it is a discipline to be “richer” than someone else. You have to focus on yourself to save and not ask others to save for you. Stop blaming others, blame yourself and then do something about it.

      If you give your money out more than what you collect, you are poor and that isn’t the “rich” guys fault.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 8, 2011 5:08 pm

        The notion of self-responsibility is a quaint one indeed. Imagine, not counting on someone in Washington DC to dole out the goodies. What’s next, a meritocracy? Good heavens, what’s to become of us?

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      December 8, 2011 6:47 pm

      Upon what do you base your admiration? That Sowell has not had a real job in over thirty years, suckling at the corporate teet at the Hoover Institute, failing miserably to understand what a gargantuan token negro he was and shall always remain while hyporcritically attacking the EEOP and Affirmative Action? The man is a risible right wing hack, one of the very worst we have in this country (and that’s saying something), and I’m not the least bit surprised that someone like yourself finds him so “admirable.”

      Speaking of lazy-ass motherfuckers who piss on the poor, tell me Rich, why did you spend X number of years getting a *doctorate* in Business Administration when an MBA could easily have launched any one of many lucrative careers? Could it be that you hid in academia because you had no confidence you could succeed in the dog-eat-dog marketplace you so admire and zealously promote for the rest of us?

      Sounds about right.

      • December 8, 2011 9:57 pm

        Rob, this is crap.

        No one would doubt that you would not agree with Sowell, but the ad hominem, is ludicrous.

        Sowell has won numerous awards has a bachellors from Harvard, a masters from columbia and a doctorate from University of Chicago, He has written myriads of books, and published a newpaper column longer than Paul Krugman. A professor at numerous colleges and as well as working at the department of Labor as an economist during the Kennedy administration, and at AT&T later.

        No he did not win a nobel, or build a billion dollar business, but he is hardly a light weight.

        But the left most vehemently hates those minorities who have refused to graciously accept that they need help from a liberal elite, and have actually bothered to succeed on their own. And worse still ended up with libertarian values.

        Name one minority to the right of center that you do not despise ?

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 10:13 pm

        Don’t waste your time with Rob. He has lost at life and he can’t accept the responsibility for it all. To be pitied more than censored.

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 9, 2011 12:26 am


        I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to do a lot better than that. Sowell’s degrees, authorship and academic employment do not make a defense of his odious arguments and point of view. It would be like me defending Chomsky by writing that he’s an Emeritus Professor at MIT and has published many books. It’s largely meaningless.

        And by the way, I read Sowell’s column for the 15 years it appeared in the San Francisco Examiner. I was always struck by it’s simple-minded, ham-handed, “get a job” tone. It was at times much worse than even Jeffrey Hart’s tripe, which is pretty damn bad. Even Buckley sniped at Sowell a few times in his magazine.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 9, 2011 8:33 am

        Chomsky is an accomplished linguist who comments on things outside his domain. That makes him stupid.

        Sowell is an accomplised economist and sociologist that writes inside his domain. You might do well to read his books rather than a one page drive by.

        Then again, that would requie effort.

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 9, 2011 8:57 am

        A right-winger proffering academic swag as superior to good, cartesian common sense?! I think Hell just froze over…which is good news for you, as your wife will now have to give you that blowjob you asked for on your wedding night.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 9, 2011 9:00 am

        Once again, proving my point! You are fairly reflexive there Rob. Perhaps this explains your career challenges, not “off-shoring?”

      • December 9, 2011 12:00 pm


        Your attack on Sowell was at his credentials, rather than his ideas.

        I doubt anyone here would have expected you to agree with Sowell.

        “Sowell has not had a real job in over thirty years, suckling at the corporate teet at the Hoover Institute, failing miserably to understand what a gargantuan token negro he is”

        I will be happy to agree with you that a plethora of degrees and credentials do not assure quality of thought. We can through credentialed experts at each other forever, ultimately what matters is what they say.

        If you wish we can discard everyone from ivory towers regardless of their views, and stick only to people who have actually succeeded in the real world.

        I would be happy to rearrange your rant about Sowell into one about Chomsky – it would remain just as absurd.

        Sowell may appear simplistic to you, but Chomsky is self contradictory, extending Classical Liberalism into socialism is impossible, as is reconciling anarchism with statism. He is clearly brilliant, but shrugs off impossible contradictions in his own values. I would be happy to agree with him on most issues, but like most of the people here he does not grasp what his classical liberal heroes like Locke did, which is that the power of the state comes at the expense of that of the individual. For all his simplistic drivel and ham handedness, Sowell grasps that.

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 9, 2011 12:09 pm

        No, it was an attack on his hypocrisy. But never mind. I won’t be looking at this site again until Rick gets back on Sunday/Monday.

  33. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 8, 2011 7:51 pm

    Given the tenor of Rob and Ian’s post, one wonders what is “moderate” about this blog. Clearly, disagreement and dialog are not allowed in the new moderate world.

  34. December 8, 2011 8:06 pm

    I’m trying to keep a reasonably civil tone here, folks. As I said before, let’s tussle with ideas, not people.

    OK, my big question for our resident libertarian fundamentalists is this: Why do you continue to rely on classic works in economics as textbooks for our time? If I were an astronomer, I certainly wouldn’t cite works from the 1930s as gospel. I wouldn’t cite anything from before the 1980s as gospel, because the Hubble telescope and the discovery of black holes changed everything.

    If you believe that economics is a science and not one of the liberal arts, don’t you have to stay current? Globalization and the internet have changed economics radically. We’re no longer dealing with self-contained markets that function like a Swiss watch. You can read Adam Smith or the Austrians or the Chicago school as classics, the way we’d read Shakespeare or Dickens. But as guides for dealing with the whacked-out economy of the early 21st century… probably not so much.

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 8, 2011 10:01 pm

      With all due respect, your knowledge of economics is clearly zero, Rick. Who shall I reference that will suit your pallate? Spence, Friedman, Stigler, Romer, Schumpeter, Becker?

      Do you know any of these gifted men?

      • December 8, 2011 10:14 pm

        I’m not an economist, Dr. Belloff. The burden is on you to show me why libertarians talk about the works of dead economists as if they’re still holy writ. Believe me, I honor plenty of dead authors… but when it comes to a science like macroeconomics that describes a rapidly changing world, I question why you’d remain a devout follower of Adam Smith and your beloved Austrians. I’d be honored if you could answer my question instead of dropping names or knocking me personally. I think you can do it if you try.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 10:17 pm

        To be accurate, I never said a word about Adam Smith nor called did I ever call economics a “science.” If you are going to debate me, you should learn to stick to the facts!

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 10:21 pm

        Moreover, you don’t get to decide where the burden lies. You have made all kinds of silly ass assertions about economic reality that you clearly know nothing about. Where is your data, logic, proof?

        Better to admit what you don’t know than to be revealed as a fool for all the world to see.

        I can reference pretty much any economist you would like. What would that prove? Open your eyes and use your own brain!

      • December 8, 2011 10:28 pm

        Rich: Still waiting for you to answer my original question: why do economic libertarians in the internet era still cling to the theories of dead economists as if they were holy writ? Ludwig von Mises didn’t know about

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 10:43 pm

        I already answered your question. I can’t speak for all “libertarians” only myself. I read both classic economists (Von MIses, Marshall, Ricardo, Bastiat, Marx, et al) and current ones too (Romer, Spencer, Becker, Barra, Williams, Kling).

        Which ones do YOU read? Let me guess (Krugman). Yes, he used to be an economist too!
        Now, he writes for the NY Times.

  35. Of course it is me... who else? permalink
    December 8, 2011 8:25 pm

    I hate these bastard immigrants and their socialist-communist ideas from Europe and Kenya!
    We (true American born and raised) gave them welfare and they won’t shut the trump up.
    Not even Muslins (yes, this is the correct spelling) are so inconsiderate pricks when we let them came in the God country.
    What’s so hard to understand that America is the place where you have the right to have your balls kicked by the most powerful God-fearing guys in the world?
    Don’t like your balls kicked? Well, we send them to China so they play ping-pong with them…

  36. December 8, 2011 9:09 pm

    Har-de-har-har! Anyone else with an insightful opinion on why we should still be reading the works of dead supply-side economists?

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 8, 2011 9:57 pm


      IMHO, you run a lousy blog! I hope your full time gig is more substantial. Have you a moderator?

      • December 8, 2011 10:25 pm

        Rich: I’m the moderator of this “lousy blog”… a blog that seems to interest you to no end. (I must be doing my job.)

        And let’s dispense with the personal snarkery, OK? For a DBA, you’re really not adding much of substance to our discussions. I’d have more respect for you if you just responded to some of our questions and comments in earnest. I have a high tolerance for other people’s opinions… a little less tolerance for deliberate disruption. If you came here as a troll, just fess up already.

        Maybe you’d be happier friending Patye Fisher on Facebook and hanging out with her like-minded pals.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 10:37 pm

        Maybe so. What passes for dialog on this blog is calling people names and using profanity (see your boy Rob). You allow it, so it is on you. What specifically do you want to know? You are good at casting broadsides but very bad at citing data, facts, and logic.

        I had expected better!

    • December 8, 2011 10:48 pm


      Keynes is dead too. More importantly his economics has failed repeatedly.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 10:53 pm

        Keynes is dead. Wow, what a shame!

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 8, 2011 11:01 pm

        Bretton Woods was a failure, huh?

        *rolls eyes*

        The sheer baboonery on this site is making me wish I’d bought a bag of peanuts at the gate.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 8, 2011 11:03 pm

        When you get a job or can contribute something of value without profanity, you might be taken more seriously!

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 8, 2011 11:36 pm

        That’s you’ve got? “Get a job”?? Oh man, don’t you know better than to bring a cliche to a wit fight?

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 9, 2011 8:16 am

        I guess I should have said MFk’r somewhere in there?

      • December 9, 2011 12:03 am

        Bretton Woods was terminated unilaterally by the US in 1971. Whether Nixon’s reasons were good or bad it still seems to have been a failure.

  37. December 8, 2011 10:44 pm

    Robert Barro could hardly be called a classical work. Hayek, Mises and Friedman were giants of the 20th century. Olstrom one a nobel in the 21st. What you are calling old and dead economics is very much alive. This is an economic tradition that started more than 300 years ago – before Smith, that has evolved and continues to evolve.

    If by modern you mean Keynes – Keynesian economics has demonstrably failed.
    It only lives on because radically misinterpreted Keynes gives carte blanche to politicians to do what they want to do anyway – spend. Though Keynes would have chocked on what is done in his name.

    Every economist above – plus myriads of others holding similar views lived long past Keynes death. It is you not I that have trapped yourself in faith to a dead and discredited economist.

    Economics falls between science and humanities. It is similar to sociology and psychology and is even related as it is essentially the study of human behavior.
    We still study Pythagoras, Plato. Aristotle, Galleleo, Copernicus, Descate, Gauss Newton, Bohr, Freud and Einstien – all of which dies before Hayek, Mises, and Friedman.
    Should we discard everything each of these has said as inapplicable to the modern world ?

    It is precisely because these schools of economics – particularly the austrian school provide solid guidance for dealing with today’s conditions that conform well to what we know about the behaviour of past economies that they are of interest.

    Further Shakespeare has never gone out of style and still has a great deal of insight to offer even today.

    If you had even the slightest inkling of anything that Hayek has written you would choke on your swiss watch reference – Pretty much Hayek’s entire argument was that the economy is far too complex to ever be managed by humans – even with computers, that because of that only order which arrises naturally will work.

    Rob has summarily trashed Thomas Sowell – presumably he would do the same to Walter Williams,

    We live in a world with more people, but the numbers do not change how they behave. If anything Classical Liberal economics works better in the modern world – in a global economy where there is more knowledge, and more choices where it is no longer possible for communities, states and nations to dictate because even government is a commodity that can be shopped in the market.

    Rick, I am not the one stuck on a rut dogmatically adhering to false gods and false religions. My principles are relevant to the modern world and have been vigorously tested over several centuries. Smith is not some dead prophet of some dusty old religion, he is just one of the more important of thousands of economic scholars over more than three hundred years that has evolved and continues to evolve even to this day. I keep linking to economic papers literature, articles and government statistics. If I quote Smith or Hayek – the data is from the NBER or OECD. Many if not most of the articles and papers I have linked are from left leaning economists. The Romer’s or World Bank, or … because you are going to reject information from Cato or Hoover or AEI or any of those “Economic fundamentalists” without even bothering to read it.

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 8, 2011 10:48 pm

      You are wasting your time. These guys have closed minds, and one has alreadly declared Rick (the owner) as “right.”

      In matters of economic policy, there is no such animal.

      “There are no solutions (in economics), only trade-offs.”

    • December 8, 2011 11:43 pm

      Dave (and Rich, Kent and Priscilla, for that matter): I’m not arguing that socialism hasn’t failed. In its pure form, it simply requires too much artificial control over human behavior. But what I’m suggesting is that capitalism as we know it is also failing. It was on life support back in the ’30s, and it’s nearly there again today.

      Pure capitalism based on classical liberalism was an admirable system, but it reflected the rationalism and precision of 18th-century Enlightenment thinking: a neatly balanced world, with opposing forces always reaching a natural equilibrium. (That’s why I used the Swiss watch reference; it ticks away and keeps time without interference.) Today (to use a line from another classic) I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. The world has changed beyond what anyone could have foreseen even thirty years ago. What we have now is corporatism — an almost totalitarian control over the economy by a tiny minority at the top, with government compliance.

      The depradations of elite money managers have caused massive, catastrophic loss of wealth due to their deliberate gaming of the system (credit default swaps, anyone?). I blame the government, too, with its coercive plan for universal home-ownership and high-risk mortgages. Maybe the 18th-century watch would still be ticking if it hadn’t been meddled with, but it’s too late now. And both the left and right share culpability here.

      Globalization and other unforeseen forces are destroying the American middle class. What would Ludwig do? He’d probably welcome the rise of an international middle class. If the American middle class fails, it’s no skin off his nose. But I don’t know how anyone can keep pointing to sacrosanct economic theories while real people — millions of Americans — are watching their lives go up in smoke. THIS is why I question such dogged allegiance to dead economists. What do they have to tell us about life in the internet era, when centuries-old industries are dying before our eyes? How do they plan to deal with “job creators” who won’t create jobs… with educated people who have to take jobs at Walmart to survive?

      Granted, I’m not a scholar of economics (though I’ve written papers on classical liberalism). But it doesn’t take an expert to see that the system is faltering — and failing the millions of people who depend on it. THIS is why I tend to be irreverent toward the heroes of the economic right. We can’t eat theories or use them to put a roof over our heads. We need practical solutions… preferably NOW.

      • December 9, 2011 12:52 am

        Free markets are not a perfectly balanced equilibrium system, they are a system that automatically self adjusts – because it has to.

        The failure of the 30’s exactly like today is a failure of government. As I have repeatedly pointed out here – outside of grade school no one who knows anything still argues that the Great Depression was a failure of the markets. There are still competing arguments as to the causes, but market failure is not one of the choices.

        The great depression should have been at worst a severe (and short) recession but for Hoover and later FDR’s interventions.

        We have repeated the same mistakes now with similar results.
        There is no instance of a nation successfully spending its way out of economic difficulty. There are myriads of instances of prolonged and deepened economic dislocation when government has tried to do so.

        The system is failing – but the system that is failing is not market capitolism.

        Yes, pure socialism fails – but look around, impure socialism fails too – it just takes longer.

        Yes they is a strong element of corporatism in what we have now – read “The Road to Serfdom”, we are living it.
        The argument for limited government is BECAUSE big business can not buy power that does not exist.

        We clearly see the world quite differently. I wish someone had shown me the things I have learned twenty or thirty years ago – you seem intent on hiding from them.

        I do not doubt your sincerity – but you keep proposing solutions that have failed time and again.
        There is only one way you can prevent the the capture of government power by special interests – limit the power.

        We are all looking to improve things – If your ideas were truly new, I might even reluctantly agree to try them – but their not.

        Once again !! Wall Street – whatever its failures did not bring our economic system down. The trigger for all of this was the housing crisis.

        Housing prices did not tank because of Credit Default Swaps or AAA ratings, or Mortgage Backed securities, or CEO salaries. Our indecipherable mortgage terms or ……

        They tanked because people started defaulting on their mortgages and the housing market plummeted.

        We destroyed Trillions of dollars of illusory wealth in housing – and you want to fixate on the markets inability to take that big a hit without hiccuping. Those dead economist predicted almost 100 years ago that when you create a credit bubble you will have a severe recession.

        Keynesian economics blames recessions on collapses in aggregate demand.

        To my knowledge there is not an actual economic theory that blames recessions on the supply side.

        As to what Mises or Hayek or …. would do – they would recognise all free trade even unfree trade ultimately improves things for almost everyone.

        It is hard to see at the moment because we are in difficult times – and unless we deal with it those times may get worse, because we still have some incredibly large government mistakes to rectify. But despite this “income inequality” lunacy, the real wealth of every single quintile has indisputably risen significantly in this country over the past thirty years, Further still most people in the bottom three fifths have moved up over that time. This is normal, regardless of where we start most of us move up the ladder until we are seniors. The only group with more losers than winners is the top tier. Few people stay there long.

        The system is not faltering – atleast those parts outside the sphere of government.

        As to those dead guys – most of our successes and failures were well understood more than a century ago. There is little in Smith and nothing in Bastiat that has been found lacking in more than two centuries. We have polished the apple, more deeply explored some of the out of the way caves, but no credible challenge to the fundimentals has survived.
        In fact the modern era and its successes and failures strengthens our knowledge of the correctness of that antique knowledge.

        There are more people, the world is more interconnected and global, but that makes markets work better not worse.

        We are talking economics – but the real underlying principles are those of individual liberty – that is why libertarianism and market economics are inextricably linked.

        I do not know why you do not get it, but whatever freedom you can take from one person – no one has. It does not matter whether that freedom is economic or other otherwise. As the chinese are slowly discovering, freedoms are inseparable. You can not have economic freedom without political freedom – but the converse is equally true. If you take away economic freedom, you take away all other freedoms too.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 9, 2011 8:28 am

        Rick, You conflate capitalism (ownership of private propery) and the use of free markets. One clearly could argue that we have moved very far from having either in modern day America. Large interest groups have figured out that as statism grows, they have no choice but to try and manipulate/buy the rule makers. This allows them to play in a rigged market.

        If they don’t do that, their competitors will. This is what passes for competition in many “markets” today. If you want to know why many “markets” don’t work, it is because they aren’t markets in most respects. Most humans would prefer NOT to compete economically many will jump at the chance to avoid it (see unions and protective tariffs).

        It is easy to point fingers at the shadowy bankers but the entire banking system was established and designed by the State. Who do you think really loans the US Govt much of their funds?

        That would be the Federal Reserve.

        Who set them up? Who gave them the power to print the US dollar?

      • December 9, 2011 10:05 am

        Dave and Rich: OK, NOW we’re talking about actual ideas in a way that could lead to some constructive discussion. (Wipes brow.) Yes, we all agree that we’re dealing with a strange hybrid system that combines government influence with private enterprise. As to which sector is responsible for this mess… it’s one of those chicken-or-egg arguments. A right-of-center person would insist that the private sector is gaming the system only because government meddling left them no other choice. A left-of-center person would argue that the combustible nature of capitalism, including the dominance of huge trusts, the periodic popping of bubbles, and the lack of safety nets gave the government no choice but to intervene and reduce some of the inequities of the system.

        My inclination is to take what we have and modify it so that the playing field isn’t tilted toward the rich OR the poor. Right now I believe it’s tilted toward the rich: low taxes, abundant loopholes, corporate “buying power” in Congress through lobbying, special perks for corporations and “high net worth individuals.” Even Obama is in bed with Goldman Sachs (and they call him a socialist?).

        This is why I sometimes sound like a lefty when I rant against the abuses of the plutocrats. What’s interesting is that I don’t think you guys are any fonder of our rigged system than I am. So where do we go from here?

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 9, 2011 11:13 am

        Gut government power. There are tons of ways to do that but that is the essence of the challenge. If the NBA has crooked refs, you put them in jail.

  38. Priscilla permalink
    December 8, 2011 10:50 pm

    For what it is worth, this year’s Nobel laureates in economics were awarded for work very critical of Keynesian models and supportive of what most refer to as “supply side” theory. The thing is, terms like “supply-side”, “trickle down” and “voodoo” economics are overly simplistic and/or derisive terms that tend to emphasize certain aspects of the school of thought that are easily politicized.

    There are no quick fixes in an economy like ours. Just as many claim that the Obama stimulus was too small or wasn’t given time to work, supporters of cutting marginal tax rates claim that it is a long term strategy and cannot be judged by its short term effects on government revenues. The full positive effects of lower marginal tax rates are not observed until labor and capital markets have time to adjust fully to the new incentive structure.

    I don’t think that it is any more foolish to study and analyse the works of brilliant economists who may be dead, any more that it is foolish to read and study the works of dead philosophers, political scientists, poets, scientists, etc. Sure, there have been changes in the world…but when it comes to human nature, there is very little new under the sun, and the more things change, the more they remain the same (there, I have exhausted the relevant cliches of this topic)

    Anyway, the language and attitude is lacking in some civility today.

    • December 9, 2011 1:49 am

      Government can not fix economic downturns – but its efforts can make them worse.

      But the economy can and often has recovered both quickly and sharply from worse than this. Three factors effect the duration of a downturn:

      The nature of the bubble that caused it. The collapse of the tech bubble caused barely an economic hiccup – alot of people lost alot of money, but the economy as a whole ignored it. It would be hard to conceive of a worse place to have a bubble than housing.

      The extent of government efforts to prop things up. Contra Keynes the evidence is mounting that government spending is not only ineffective it is actually pro-cyclical – it makes things worse.

      Uncertainty. Normal market uncertainty after a collapse is relatively short lived. Shrewd investors are already betting on the future before things have hit bottom. Government uncertainty is a bigger problem. In-addition to ineffective stimulus this government has passed new laws, regulations, and shifted policies significantly. The economic effects of these are still far from understood. Top that off with European instability and an unwillingness of either party to honestly grasp the magnitude of the spending problem this government has, and you get what we have now.

  39. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 8, 2011 10:51 pm

    Apparently, nuclear physics could not possibly work since it was conceived by a dead guy during the pre-internet world.

    Geez, Rick, get over yourself! You went to NBHS.

    • December 9, 2011 9:24 am

      Rich: I never said we’re supposed to ignore the economists of the past… just not treat them as inerrant scripture. We’ve been exposed to conditions that the old economists couldn’t have dreamed of. (Just as physicists have discovered subatomic particles that Einstein didn’t know about.) We can respect the pre-internet economists and still read them, but they’ll serve us only as springboards for our own solutions. You know, the “standing on the shoulders of giants” thing?

      • AMAC permalink
        December 9, 2011 10:56 am

        A Newton quote. I like!

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 9, 2011 11:07 am

        And I have said twice that I read current economists on a daily basis. Where are we disagreeing?

  40. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 8, 2011 10:52 pm

    Nice work, Priscilla. What is a nice girl like you doing in a joint like this?

    • December 9, 2011 2:55 am


      As much as I appreciate your bringing more balance to the left tilt of this blog, this is not TPM or Daily Kos. Most are left of center here – but only tepidly so. And once in a great while a point gets through.

      Further, though there is too much ad hominem, and even a tough of south park or monty python as a substiture for argument, so far the worst I think I have been called is Ultra-Conservative which is pretty mild compared to most left leaning blogs.

      Anyway, my point is I would like to see you stick arround, and I would like this blog to remain semi-civil but uncensored, and I think the odds of that decrease if you feel compelled to respond in kind to every biting remark.

      Libertarians are prevented by principle from imposing their values on others – a principle absent in all other ideologies. We are stuck with persuasion, since force – even that of a democratic majority is proscribed.

      And it is hard to persuade somebody when you have pissed them off – even if you think they asked for it.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 9, 2011 8:39 am

        I appreciate your sentiment. That said, I have been cussed at and attacked for having the nerve to earn a doctorate and teach for a living. Apparently, these activities make me unfit to comment on matters economic.

        Go figure.

  41. Priscilla permalink
    December 8, 2011 11:39 pm

    Hey Rich, I’ve been around here for a while (actually, I may be the most tenured commenter here) ….. Rick is a great writer and a pretty amazing blogger. The comments section here certainly gives lie to the stereotype of “mushy moderates,” but is usually reasonably civil, as internet sites go.

    Nice to “see” you again, btw 🙂

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 9, 2011 8:17 am

      Thanks. I am hoping for a increase in civility.

    • December 9, 2011 9:31 am

      Thanks, Priscilla. I go out of my way to upset the old stereotype of the bland, accommodating, “mushy” moderate… it must shock some people to realize that moderates can be opinionated.

  42. Pat Riot permalink
    December 9, 2011 12:29 am

    Thank you Priscilla for your calm, well-articulated post above. Even if I don’t always agree with all your points (of course not), I always appreciate the way you express yourself. Regarding above, agreed there are no quick fixes. It takes different amounts of time for some causes to reach their effects. You speak the truth!

    And of course there’s value in reading works from authors dead or alive, but Rick was misunderstood. He wasn’t originally saying there was no value in reading works of dead economists. Rather he was asking something akin to “where do you posers get off referring to the works of dead economists as if it what they wrote was the unwavering word of God?” (he said holy writ).

    Furthermore, there ARE things new under the sun that are total game changers. Although human nature might be much the same or only slightly evolved, there are new denominators in the world that have changed the equation for economic theory and have rendered some theory obsolete. As a small example off the top ‘o me head, I hear many referring to GDP. GDP was a decent measure of prosperity in the U.S. in the 40s, 50s, and 60s when the American workers were sharing in the wealth. Now that the American workers have been largely left behind (not just jobs overseas but robotics and other advanced technologies also having pushed out the American workers), GDP is now more a measure of how the owning class is doing, not “the American people.” That’s a considerable difference, and yet I see economists on TV comparing GDP throughout history as though GDP was a static factor.

    Finally, wow, this format often quickly degenerates to the level of the playground or sandbox—a bunch of PhDs in the sandbox: “I’m smarter than you; listen to all the authors I’ve read!!! Listen to me! You’re stupid!” This is supposed to be a discussion format. Discussion. Some of you should have read less and socialized more. Pathetic. There are some fine, articulate contributors to this blog. I’d like to discuss a practical Moderate agenda with them. I think we need a password protected online forum so we can leave the trolls cursing at other cyber strangers and mumbling to themselves.

    • December 9, 2011 2:20 am

      Robots and what have you are just todays things that change everything. Increases in efficiency and productivity are inherent in capitalism. Todays robots are yesterdays automated looms.

      Change, increases in productivity, the ability to create the same goods with less labor, are not in any way new. In fact it is trivially provably impossible to improve our standard of living without them. The only way there can be more wealth for each person is if on average each person creates more wealth.

      Performing a task with less labor means more labor is available to perform a different task – one that we did not even conceive of before.

      The relevant number is not GDP but median household income PPP (purchasing power parity) where the US is second only to Luxemborg. BTW that is median not mean for the income inequality nazi’s.

      We live in an era totally unlike the one that preceded it – just like every generation for the past four centuries.

      If you beleive that automation or global competition are the road to ruin – you have not been reading enough dead economists. Not only was that fallacy refuted almost two hundred years ago, but the converse is true. Go to Walmart and ponder the vast amount of wealth that cheap foreign labor makes readily available to us. Yet our median income is higher than ever and rising, so we are able to afford even more of that increasingly affordable wealth. Nor is this new, it has been going on for about four centuries.

      • December 9, 2011 9:38 am

        Dave: You make a good point about each generation having to adapt to new conditions. That’s true up to a point… but some generations face much more cataclysmic changes than others. Right now we’re going through an upheaval comparable to the industrial revolution — and it’s all happening in the space of a single generation, whereas the industrial revolution was spread out over the better part of a century. I also wouldn’t be too sure about the continuing rise in median income. Maybe our mean incomes will rise because of the stupendous gains at the top… but it’s pretty clear that the middle is suffering. Not 99%… maybe more like 75%, which is more than enough.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 9, 2011 11:09 am

        I would totally disagree with this statement. I think you our current situation (whatever that really is) has been repeated ad naseum throughout history.

      • December 9, 2011 10:55 am

        Some aspects of the pace of change have accelerated dramatically, and some have slowed down. Growth overall is a bit more than half of the 19th century, and that was probably half the 18th, though the quality of data gets poor as we go backward in time.

        Ultimately the disruptive change you fear is limited by growth. Absent growth nothing changes, and with slower growth there is less change.

        I would be happy to agree that changes today are cataclysmic, but I am not so sure I am ready to discount the changes of the past. Our parents generation had a world war, the birth and death of communism, the cold war the threat of nuclear armegedon, mass production, the electrification of the country, the automobile, the airplane, the computer, the transistor, ……

        We have the internet, the information age and the 2nd or third era of globalization.

        BTW I am not arguing that capitolism is not disruptive, only that the change and disruption are both natural and not new.

        Finally, you can raise MEAN income by stupendous gains at the top, but to increase MEDIAN income which is what is most commonly tracked, you must move large blocks of people further up the ladder. Because of the way wealth is distributed in the US

        moving the median requires increasing the wealth at the bottom.

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 9, 2011 8:35 am

      Well, yes, we would not want any dissent would we? Back to the smooth prose from Rob?

  43. December 9, 2011 2:42 am

    Why is everyone here suddenly channelling the looters in “Atlas Shrugged”,
    After we are done imposing the “Anti Dog-eat-Dog Act”, will it be followed by the “Anti-
    Greed Act”, or the “Equalization of Oportunity Act”.

    I may be fixated on dead economists, but I am not the one reading from the villains script in a 50 year old book by another dead author.

    Do you understand that none of your arguments are new – even the cliches are old – Older than Keynes. Many of them have been refuted more than a century ago by people far smarter than I.

  44. Pat Riot permalink
    December 9, 2011 7:55 am

    Dhlii, you are a ponderous fellow, a prince, the prince of nay-sayers, the dhlii-lama (too funny) and the Black Knight! You just like to argue. (brings to mind another Monty Python skit, “no it doesn’t” “yes it does” !) You are an educated, articulate contrarian, but often you are slightly, curiously askew of the thread of the discussion. Your two posts above are terrific examples because I agree with most of what you wrote, but you wrote it as a counter to my previous, but you pick for argument where there is none.

    Your opening about robotics is a prime example. I make a statement along the line that GDP doesn’t mean the same thing in America when the owners of production aren’t using the American workforce, and in doing so I mention jobs going overseas and robots, Note I didn’t make a statement for or against robots, or for or against increases in efficiecy and production, but then it’s obvious that you wished to counter me so you get into your stodgy dhllii-lama mode and start expostulating.

    Another one of your intelligent bu askew ideas is that Moderates will try to bring about some dreamed of but unachievable fairness through the anti-dog-eat-dog act. Now that’s fairly witty of you, but you’ve had that idea stuck in your head for awhile now. Open your mind for a minute. Turn away from the volumes on your book shelf and open up your mind. See what I’m about to say and follow it to my point. Here’s a very non-Polyanna way to achieve fairness: use collected tax dollars to fix roads and dilapidated housing here in America where the taxes were collected. That move would help the Americans trying to live in the dilapidated areas. Now I’m ready for you to find statistics that say fixing dilapidated housing is actually not a cost-effective solution, and then you would be focusing on the dilapidated housing and missing the point that getting to fairness is about decisions about how we use our money and energies and not about some Polyanna fairness legislation.

    I wish I had more time to examine you and help you because you are an interesting subject, but I’ve got to go out and help stimulate the economy.

    • December 9, 2011 9:46 am

      Pat: Yes, Dave is a natural contrarian (so am I, to an extent), but at least he’s a civil contrarian. He can wear me out sometimes with his eternal opposition, but he’s always earnest and well-informed. I can actually learn from him.

      By the way, I think you’re right about the questionability of counting overseas production by “American” companies as part of our GDP. What drives me insane about this issue is that the libertarians can’t see any problem with starving out American workers. Yes, we enjoy those cheap goods at Walmart, but eventually it’ll come to the point where the average American has to revert to a barter economy.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        December 9, 2011 11:11 am

        Rick, you abiility to oversimplify complex issues is amazing. As is your ability to speak for others.

      • December 9, 2011 11:22 am

        Rich: I’ll just cut the “over” from “oversimplify” and take your comment as a compliment. Somebody needs to simplify this convoluted mess and speak for others who can’t speak for themselves. So thanks, bud… I’ll be back on Sunday.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 9, 2011 10:49 pm


        What did you do to piss this guy off? Rich is on a mission. I am gone for one week and come back to The New Libertarian!

    • December 9, 2011 10:39 am

      Pat I think my response was complete on point.

      My understanding of your post is that things are somehow different now. I used robots as an example because you did. But it really does not matter what the root cause of producing more wealth with less or cheaper resources – particularly labor is.

      My point was that improved productivity always results in more available labor. This is not only normal, it is what a free market economic system will continuously do.

      In twenty, fourty, sixty, one hundred years, there will still be people claiming that the latest change – whatever it is makes everything different and the old rules no longer apply.

      Beyond that we all want things to get better, for ourselves, for those with less, and for those with little or no ability to help themselves.

      Some of us grasp that things have gotten better – much better, for everyone.
      And little if any of that improvement has come as the result of government.

      My personal fears for the future are not of hedge fund managers, or greedy CEO’s – on its own the economy will recover. It will continue to create jobs and wealth – even for the least of us. The gigantic problem for our future is that government has promised more than it can possibly deliver. If we do not do something about it now, we have built in place already government fiscal problems that will overwhelm the economy for decades to come.

      Even presuming that we could raise taxes without causing economic damage – any additional revenue we can possibly get needs to pay off the credit cards – or atleast reduce the rate at which we are racing towards their limits.

      As to dilapidated homes and roads, I trust that people will do for each other and themselves what they need to do to improve their own lives. We create the wealth, and it is that wealth that is spent to make the improvements you want. Either we spend it ourselves, each of us making our own choices based on our own needs, or government takes it from us and spends it as it choses. This is at the heart of the conflict between top down central planning and spontaneous order.

      There is an unbelievable amount of complexity involved in the process of creating and delivering every single thing that we buy. The free market manages every bit of that with great efficiency and little waste for all the things in your life that you need and want. Adjusting quickly to changes in your desires, and needs. This all works so well that none of us even notice it. Left in the market money will find its way to where it is needed – over and over again. Even the accumulations of of the “rich” are all still actively engaged in continuously improving life for all of us by providing each of us with what we need and want.

      The first step when government does anything, is to take resources that are already actively engaged in the market at improving our lives in the ways each of us have decided are best for us, and remove them. It does not matter where government gets what it spends it still comes from the rest of us. To consume something must be created, and as government creates no wealth what it spends must reduce what we have available to ourselves.

      The roads and houses you have government repair may be good things, but they come at a cost in other good things that would have happen but now do not. They come at the expense of the things that each of us would have chosen for ourselves.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        December 10, 2011 9:45 pm

        This format is challenging. It’s not difficult for the points posts to be misconstrued. In-person conversation is still best with it’s tones, gestures, expressions, and other nuances, including the ability to say,”no, no, I’m not saying that, I’m saying this…so don’t go down that tangent…” But at least this format allows us to attempt to discuss with people from diverse locations.

        Dhlii, as I said in some manner some months back, you and I (and most people I suspect) share a preference for private enterprise over governmen. You, however, seem to have an unflagging confidence in the marketplace, in free markets, such that the marketplace will always naturally work itself out, especially when government gets out of its way. I’m speaking in rather general terms, but this is what you believe, correct? Furthermore, in your post above, and previous posts, it seems you believe in a kind of “natural order of things” such that there’s been trouble before and there will be trouble again and things will work themselves out as they have before according to the principles that things naturally obey, et cetera, especially free markets.

        Since this is a challenging format, I should give you a chance to confirm or ammend the way I’m paraphrasing your beliefs in free markets.

        I too have faith in free markets and free enterprise, more than in inefficienct goverment, but your faith in the way things operate comes across as “absolute” because you use absolute terms such as “always” and “everything” and you state things as though they are undeniable facts.

        Don’t you allow that some innovations are total game changers, such that the “natural order” that existed for eons suddenly doesn’t exist? For examples: the way Monsanto is trying to control global food productin is unpredented. Genetically-modified food has reached a whole new level nver before seen. World population is unprecedented. The Internet is a game changer as it has eliminated many gatekeepers. When men fought with swords there was a level of courage involved in marching directly to one’s enemies.It’s a different type of decision to launch laser-guided smart bombs directed via satellite, is it not? Do you really think that some of these changes, taken to their ends, will still just allow new forms of labor and further innovation, as changes always have? Don’t you think there is a point of no return? Do you agree with the following general statement: “Some things are continuing as they have for centuries, but other things have changed into something altogether new.”

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 9:48 pm

        I believe that innovation continues at an irregular pace. That said, government can inpede or assist same. Paul Romer at Stanford has done nice work in this area. See New-growth theory for more info.

  45. December 9, 2011 10:33 am

    I have to get ready for an out-of-town weekend, so I probably won’t be adding any more comments until late Sunday. Be good in my absence, and let’s try to avoid character assassination and other unpleasantries. In other words, stay centered!

  46. Priscilla permalink
    December 9, 2011 8:47 pm

    Dave, although I hope you are right about the economy recovering on its own, and agree on some levels that it is certain to do so, I have some serious concerns about how that recovery will look, particularly if Obamacare goes into effect and the government continues to stonewall basic entitlement reforms (no, Ian, I am not talking about ending SS or Medicare…I’m talking about reforms that will enable us to keep them).

    Right now, hundreds of thousands of young college graduates, even those with truly marketable education and skills, are being frozen out of the professional job market. Unemployment among twentysomethings is somewhere between 12-20% depending on how the reporting is done, and that does not count the many young folks who are working at low paying jobs in service industries and retail, because they cannot find jobs in their chosen fields…or staying in grad school, accumulating more student debt, hoping that they will have a leg up on a good job by the time they finish their degree. Many journalists are starting to refer to them as the “lost generation,” and that is not far from the truth. How many of them will be in their 30’s by the time the job market recovers, having postponed marriage, family, house-buying, etc, and will be competing against new twentysomethings with updated and upgraded resumes in addition to the still working baby boomers that are afraid to retire, or cannot afford to.

    It’s easy to say that people will have to adjust to these changing realities, but there are long term side effects that our society will have to deal with if we don’t rapidly turn things around. Just as one example, I have recently read that the number of young Americans leaving the US for better opportunities in India and Hong Kong, among other places, is growing exponentially. A close friend of mine has a daugher and son-in-law in Hong Kong….they have made their home there, are raising a toddler, and they are not planning on returning any time soon if ever.

    I guess I am not so much disagreeing with your faith in the free market as I am asking whether there comes a point where political solutions must be implemented in order to get back to a point where the free market can work. And what, if any, political solutions would you support?

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 9, 2011 9:52 pm

      The issue is that many of these so-called political solutions may very well have created the issues you cite.

      It is certainly appealing to thing that pols can solve problems but there is precious litle evidence that this is possible.

      • Priscilla permalink
        December 9, 2011 11:43 pm

        Yeah, I do agree with you on that, Rich. And I guess that I am grasping at straws, hoping that there is a quick fix for joblessness, when I know that that is not the case.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 8:58 am

        I wish it were so also. No one likes to see misery in their fellow human beings. Alas, the allure of quick fixes is what pols deal in.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 10, 2011 11:02 pm

        I agree we shouldn’t look for the quick fix, but we should expect some quick response. I would like to see people put to work immediately by the government (in a temporary capacity). I think that if we put these people to work, we will just be putting the tax dollars right back into the economy and we could provide some immediate relief for the misery. Instead of more welfare, let’s build some housing, bridges, monuments, etc. I know this is treating the symptoms minus the cure, but I would like to see it.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 9:48 am

        I believe that was the exact premise of “shovel ready.” How did that turn out?

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 9:49 am

        There is a pipeline that MIGHT get built with private capital sitting idle as we speak. Perhaps we can call Obama and ask him what the holdup is?

    • December 10, 2011 1:51 am

      I would be happy to agree with imposing political solutions – if they worked.
      But as with myriads of other government interventions, we waste alot of money, and expend alot of effort on solutions that often make things worse. The political pressure to do something – anything, regardless of whether it is effective or not in order to be seen as doing something is incredible.

      Even now both parties are pontificating over the economic disaster that will befall us if we do not extend unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cuts.
      Unemployment is procyclical – it makes downturns last longer, and unemployment worse. While I am personally happy to benefit from the current tax breaks, they are incredibly regressive in nature and therefore have little or no economic impact.

      Current unemployment is 8.6%. in 1981 it was 10.8, it was over 15% for most of the depression and peaked at 25%. While current unemployment is high, it is not unusually high. Much of the 70’s had unemployment rates in the mid 7%.

      Congress and the president are fighting over unemployment issues as if they know or can do anything about it. What little they can do they won’t.

      It will be very difficult to bring unemployment down so long as we are willing to extend unemployment benefits nearly infinitely. There is plenty of data to show that only a small percent of the unemployed find employment until they are withing two weeks of running out of benefits.

      The minimum wage hurts – particularly for those groups with the highest unemployment, the young, minorities, …

      The “stickiness” of wages is the accepted cause of unemployment even in Keynesian models.

      Even Keynesians grasp that recovery and employment return when the market clears.
      Market clearing means the all the artificial gains of the boom are destroyed.
      When government policies act to cushion or even prevent market clearing, the result is to prolong the pain. There have been many more severe recessions, but few lasting this long.

      Wages are particularly important – our worst and longest economic suffering directly corresponds to those instances in which government moved most strongly to prop up wages. Hoover aggressively lobbied business to maintain wages – which they did, at the expense of increased unemployment.

      The cascade of unemployment in this mess began as minimum wage increases took effect. This preceded the market crash. The decline started with highschool and college students BEFORE the end of the summer work season. And spread to the rest of the lowest wage earners – before the market collapse.

      The economy will likely improve before unemployment does. It does not have to be that way, but it has been so long as we do not allow wages to float.

      For the record in prior instances when wages were allowed to decline in a recession, unemployment was lower and wages recovered coincident with the recovery of the rest of the economy.

  47. AMAC permalink
    December 9, 2011 10:35 pm

    Rich, Rob:
    Does attacking people make you feel any better? It doesn’t help the discussion. 160 comments and almost nothing worth responding to.

    If the site is so terribly run, choose to leave. Or, choose to stay and discuss.

  48. AMAC permalink
    December 9, 2011 10:47 pm

    As to the article…
    This is one of my all time favorite movies. Unfortunately, I think that neither approach by Bailey or Potter is what is needed or wanted. I think you have to have both (minus the illegal action of Potter!). In war, you need warriors. Some of the supervisors and managers I hired were terrible people, but very effective management people. I think we need the Bailey’s of the world in politics and a more moral version of Potter in business.Opposing forces can produce some pretty impressive results.

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      December 10, 2011 4:23 am

      Really? So I suppose you don’t mind the occasional massacre in your workplace, right? *rolls eyes*

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 9:00 am

        I don’t think he said nor implied anyting of the sort.

    • Pat Riot permalink
      December 10, 2011 12:27 pm

      AMAC, good observation about Bailey vs. Potter, about people. It has taken a variety of personalities to make commerce move to this point in history. What combinations of personalities will it take for America to avoid collapse? Batten down the hatches!

      • Priscilla permalink
        December 10, 2011 12:44 pm

        It is a good observation…makes me think about the fact that, in all of the reverential odes to Steve Jobs after his death, very few of them made mention of the fact that Jobs was not a very nice guy. In fact, most who knew him described him as a monumental jerk; mean and secretive, obsessively competitive, even with his friends. He denied paternity of his oldest child for over 2 years (while she and her mother lived on welfare), although, by all accounts, he knew that she was his. But he was certainly a genius and literally millions of people are employed directly or indirectly because of what he accomplished.

        So, who knows, maybe it WILL be a Potter, not a Bailey, who saves us from collapse

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 2:16 pm

        The moralists among us keep looking for a hero to save us, Another Kennedy, Roosevelt, Lincoln. I would suggest that these are largely myths, built up for those still looking for utopia and utropian leaders to take us “there.” I suggest we stop this search and find someone who can at least make the government excel at a limited number of esseential tasks. Personally, I am not looking for another father to take care of me.

        I don’t know if Steve was a “nice guy” and candidly, nor do I care. I wasn’t his son nor did I work with him. I do care that he created some cool stuff that I use and that is what commerce requires.

        Merry Christmas to all, to all, a good night!

  49. AMAC permalink
    December 10, 2011 5:45 pm

    I don’t understand the masacre comment. What I was trying to say is that I admire and have always strived to be a good businessman and a good person. When the time comes where the two are at odd, the business usually comes first, and probably should. My argument is that for the politicians, the opposite should be true. When the two are at odds, the people should come first. That’s the difference I see between the “Bailey’s” and the “Potters”. I think that my business background is unique in that I worked in a management capacity for a company pre and post- IPO. I can assure you that the two are dramatically different. I never had to worry about what an analyst might report pre-IPO and had no idea the impact of a major analyst reporting pessimistic prospects. That being said, I learned through experience that what is good for the people, is only mostly good for business. There are many examples of when the two are at odds, and in that case, it is usually in the best interest of the business (and the economy) to side with the business. The problem with politics (and maybe you could argue the same with human nature) is that the business interest is usually served when the two are at odds. In the political spectrum, I think the people should always be the primary interest. Lobbyist, PAC’s, etc. see to it that politicians retire with full pockets and empty value sets to serve those business interests. The two forces should have some friction to try and balance the scales in everyone’s best interests. My expertise is in mathematics, but more than a decade of upper management experience (primarily operations management) for a F50 company (50 preferred stocks of F500) which shaped my beleifs. I don’t claim to speak for moderates, but I do think that I speak from a moderate standpoint. I don’t want to cut of the hand that feeds us (rich, business, etc.) but I do want to fight for the middle class, working class, etc. I want a balance between the two interests. I don’t have faith that if business always wins, that is best for all, and I also don’t think that if we hand everything to the working class (myself included) that business will survive. I just want a balance to both interests with preference given to different sides in different capacities. In war, I want a warrior. I also might want a priest to keep him in check!

    Sorry so long.

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      December 10, 2011 6:03 pm

      Let me make myself more plain: When the corporate bloodletting began in earnest in the 1980s, there were some men who would not take it lying down. The only tragedy is that they took innocents with them, that is to say, those who were not directly involved in firing them or laying them off. At the time I recognized these “going postal” incidents for what they were, a kind of individualistic revolution, 9mm guillotines served up much sooner than one would expect based upon a close reading of history.

      But here we are, more than a quarter century later, and the truth of it, all of it, couldn’t be more obvious. The Occupy Movement is, for the time being, non-violent. That’s understandable, given our cultural memory of the 60s. But that memory has blind spots. If the bomb that the Weather Underground was preparing for the Marine Ball at Fort Dix had gone off there instead of in the basement of the building in which it was being built, history would have been much different. Indeed, it can be said that everything happened as it should have, for the country was not ready for such a bold act. But that is no longer the case.

      I have often chuckled as I’ve read about OWS members’ outrage at police violence. Evidently no one told them they were living in a police state, yet I have known that for two decades. Now they know it too. What they choose to do with that knowledge remains to be seen.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 7:15 pm


        You are simply bitter. I get it. It is also clear you blame others for your fate. That allows you to escape reponsibility for it going South on you. The thing you have to ask youself is this: Who is always around when YOUR life craters?

        Police state. The folks in North Korea might disagree with you on that one.

        Grow up!

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 10, 2011 7:24 pm

        Fuck your mother, bitch. I hope you and I never meet in person, because the result will be…revolutionary.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 9:24 pm

        Everyone is brave, on the Inet. In person, not so much.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 10, 2011 10:22 pm

        I agree we are not completly free like in libertopia, but I wouldn’t say we are in a police state. I am comfortable with effective, strategic regulation of the free market. I know that a few of our commentors will say that is an oxymoron. I agree that right now the elite seem to control the country for now, but I think we just need to focus on sending some more “Bailey’s” to congress (or Mr. Smith’s!). We don’t have to find the sigular hero Rich spoke of, but we can find a group of good people to look out for the middle and lower classes (which aren’t well represented in the lobbyist community).

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 10:31 pm

        Believe me, I would LOVE to go to Congress for ONE TERM only. That is the only way to tell all the special interests to KMA (read Unions, big business, big oil, big Ag, etc etc.).

  50. AMAC permalink
    December 10, 2011 9:39 pm


    I don’t have a problem with your leftist ideas. I like to hear from the left, center, and right on this site. You and Dhlii are polar opposites and equally far what I believe and how I perceive the world, but I do appreciate your political views just the same (although do not regularly agree). You could be so much more compelling and interesting if you cut out the anger from your posts.

    I don’t think their is such a thing as a self-made man. I have been fortunate in my life, and I know that it has not been a singular effort. I benefit from a modest but excellent upbringing and a perfect support structure (family, friends, past and present co-workers), and have also had very positive mentors in business and education fields. Equally, I do not think that your unfortunate circumstances are your own doing. I am sure that their have been many circumstances that have lead to your situation (some in your control, and many not). I hope that you can turn things around and am glad that you have shelter, which is different from the last time we communicated here. I hope that you can find a positive outlet for your anger. Nobody gets to where they are without help, whether where they are is a good or bad place.

    I don’t want to people to believe that I think we are floting in life at other’s mercy, I just recognize that their are circumstances in and out of our controll. That being said, I don’t ever advocate violence to solve issues. I am not a pacifist, but I believe violence is the result of failure on the part of the aggressor (except in the case of self defense). I think you know that, you are just obviously frustrated (and understandably so) with your current position in life. I wish you the best.

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 10, 2011 9:49 pm

      Violence is thr first response of the weak, and the weak-minded.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 10, 2011 10:02 pm

        So is attacking via the internet. I can see that you were attacked through various posts, but you also came in attacking. As you yourself have stated, their are few right and wrong answers; but you seem very quick to attack the ideas of others. I am sure that even though the libertarians are taking over this site, your views and expertise are welcome. I am speaking for myself when I say that I hope you can post in a context of your experience and expertise and less venom. You are continuing to prod everyone on this site. I am not a libertarian, so obviously we will not agree on everything. We can still have a dialouge. It has been a painful learning experience, but I have learned not to engage angry people on a blog. It’s bad for the ticker! Unless we want to discuss ordinary differential equations or differential and integral calculus, my opinion is not going to carry that much weight. But I think my opinion can be valuable, and so can the others. You baulk at Rick for entering your domain of Economics, when his opinion can be valuable.

        Let’s all take it down a notch or seven!

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 10:09 pm

        Personally, I am not angry at anyone. I don’t enjoy being attacked and cussed at because I don’t agree with Rob or Rick. My livelihood has been attacked and I have been attacked since I got here.

        I get Rob is unhappy with his life but I am not responsible for his misery. He uses profanity and now threatens me with violence. Perhaps, you should direct your advice his way? He seems to need therapy.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 10, 2011 10:29 pm

        I believe I said the same thing to him a few posts up. I am not the voice of the site, just reason. If you didn’t start it, you could still end it. We have all had moments of anger directed towards each other here at TNM (myself included), but sooner or later, we have to collect ourselves.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 10, 2011 10:33 pm

        I am fine with that!

  51. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 10, 2011 10:33 pm

    Assuming Rob will not tell me to f*** my dead mother!

    • AMAC permalink
      December 10, 2011 10:38 pm

      LOL! That may not be as reasonable of an assumption as one would think! I make no gaurantees.

    • AMAC permalink
      December 10, 2011 10:42 pm

      Having been through two CBA’s, I am a little hardened towards attack of integrity and personal values. I just like this site for its ability to give voice to my political views. I hope to keep returning for those purposes.

  52. AMAC permalink
    December 10, 2011 10:54 pm

    Fo whatever it’s worth, economics seems to bring out the worst in out conversations. It’s good that we are all so passionate, but not as productive as the conversation could be. I think that it is because economics is closer to faith than science (in my opinion). When we feal that our faith is being attacked, we become very defensive (also myself included). Obviously, I am no economist. It’s just that in the hard sciences, there is usually not such a variation of cause as in economics. It seems 10 experts have 10 different opinions on the matter (from my limited perspective). I am not afraid of change, but I am afraid of unrestricted free enterprise (maybe unjustifiably, maybe not). I have no doubt business could flourish absent government interference, but I am not confident we all would receive the benefits. That’s the problem I have trying to understand the libertarian ideology. I do enjoy hearing from the libertarian wing of this site though. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it does help to hear from all sides.

    • Priscilla permalink
      December 11, 2011 8:59 am

      That’s an interesting statement, AMAC – ” I have no doubt business could flourish absent government interference, but I am not confident we all would receive the benefits.”…It is sort of related to my plaintive query – before the mudfight broke out – about how to help the younger generation deal with the toll that high unemployment is taking on them. I think that Rich’s and Dave’s answer, although unsatisfying is ultimately the true one. Not the one we want, and not the one we hope for. And that is, in the context of your question, that the “benefits” of government interference almost always come at someone else’s expense, creating a new problem that has to be fixed, which in turn creates yet another problem and another messy “fix.”

      The other thing I notice about the left/liberal wing of this site is that “government Interference” is always understood as “government regulation” or, for that matter “law and order.” I don’t think that most mainstream libertarians or fiscal conservatives are opposed to laws and regulations that protect workers from abuse (child labor laws, for example or true anti-discrimination laws), and they do not oppose enforcing laws against graft, theft, insider trading, etc. (By the way, RIck, the exemption from insider trading laws that many congess members have afforded themselves might be an interesting topic for a post).

      The opposition is to government interference in the free market that changes the dynamic of how capitalism works, thereby interrupting normal business cycles and causing all kinds of unintended consequences which people then want the government to “fix” and so off we go.

      The frustration – on my part, anyway – is the absolute religious certainty that people like Ian have that they are absolutely right, absent any concrete evidence to support their belief. I am always willing to hear the arguments of all sides – I would dearly love to have someone convince me that the government could mess with the business cycle and it would WORK. But it has never happened yet, at least as far as I can tell. I will defer to Dave for a better and more detailed response, being that I am not a libertarian, nor do I have a religious attachment to any ideology, but that is my shot at it.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 9:52 am

        Well said, indeed! And BTW, there is nothing wrong with being a libertarian. Most of the framers of the Constituiion would likely be considered same.

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 11, 2011 9:47 am

      Net/net, govt intefernce is often taken to benefit a select few mrket competitors or interest groups at the ultimate expense of the consumer. Ironically, the excuse often cited is “consumer protection.” The other is to insure “fairness.”

      If regulation were always to keep markets free and competitive, libertarians would be all over it. Alas, experience shows this not to be the case.

  53. Anonymous permalink
    December 11, 2011 9:26 am

    There is reason it is called “going postal”. The causes of workplace violence rarely if ever have anything to do with money, or layoffs. Postal workers are the employees of the left’s hero – government.

    People are rarely willing to fight and die for money, but frequently do so over freedom.

    I do not see this great conflict between business and people. Plenty of people in businesses large and small make poor choices with respect to other people – employees customers – and eventually they pay for it. It is in the entanglements with government where the natural consequences of bad choices are supressed.

    Though I am not resorting to making bombs I am as unhappy about the “police state” we live in as Rob. But that was created by government not corporate interests. Prohibition created organized crime, and the war on Drugs has made it powerful, global, and destroyed our rights in the process.

    Most if not all bad behavior on the part of business is self regulating – business that does not treat its customers well tends to lose customers. The strongest argument against slavery is that it is horribly unproductive. You can only get so much from people with a whip. Most of us will work hard for an abusive employer as necessary to meet the needs of our families – and we will be gone at the first opportunity. Our wages are guaranteed only by the wealth we create, unproductive employees are bad business. Productivity can not be maintained in an abusive environment.

    Again contrary to the views of the left, labor is not an infinite resource – further there are always more uses for labor than there is labor available. This country has grown from a few million people to several hundred million – in some instances increasing radically in very short periods of time. All of us are children of immigrants – most of us are the children of later generations of immigrants. People who took the crappy jobs at the bottom no one else would do – exactly like the mexican immigrants today. Yet the country absorbed them and employment grew – radically. We have and will continue tofind ways to do more with less labor – and employment grows. Even in this recession employment is growing – just not as fast as the growth in labor.


    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 11, 2011 9:55 am

      Nicely reasoned. Thanks!

    • Pat Riot permalink
      December 11, 2011 10:30 am

      Good post, Priscilla. You give a rational albeit partial overview of the various viewpoints that keep bouncing off eachother on this blog. Unlike some of those more entrenched in their idealogies, you are able to step back and DISTINGUISH—thank you– between types/kinds of goverment regulation–the “good kind” that protects workers and the “bad kind” that interferes with the productive flow of capitalism. (good/bad: hey we sometimes need to keep it simple for brevity.)

      Others lump all regulation together which is a kind of labelling or stereotyping/prejudice which causes words to have automatically negative connotations, such as the words “government” (always fouling thngs up and causing problems; forget it has protected us and also ALLOWED industries to function) or “industry” (the anit-establishment foks see industry as evil, always polluting; forget it gives us things that help us survive, like food and tools and shelter, etc.) and “regulation” (always gets in the way; forget it weeds out the fly-by-night posers/sheisters (sp?) and enables QUALITY, which is part of the reason rich people from all over the world still fly here for American hospitals/doctors.

      Idealogues think some things are ALWAYS BAD and some things are ALWAYS GOOD, but in reality the things idepend on the CONTEXT and how much of the thing or how little, and Moderates get that but idealogues, including ones at this site, just don’t seem to grasp that.. A Moderate can be a “constitutional libertarian” while realizing that industry left completely alone will eventually result in the 1800s coal mines, the meat packing industry before Upton Sinclair, and strange modern pockets of feudalism. Just look at all of history. The rule of law, as imperfect as it is, is a result of the good side government, which comes from good people, like the amazing but not perfect Founding Fathers, but it doesn’t come from supply and demand and markets, it just doesn’t.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 10:56 am

        The devil is in the details. I don’t put much stock in “good or bad’ people. I do look at incentives. Look at the incentives of politicians or the local town official vs the local Target store manager.

        If you don’t like what Target is offering, you have many options. If your local school system bites, you can do what? Move? File a complaint? Run for the school board?

        The point is that overall, markets simply work better WHEN allowed to. And, they don’t insure a perfect or “fair” outcome. What does?

      • AMAC permalink
        December 11, 2011 12:36 pm

        I agree Pat. There are interests that the private sector will not protect. Yes, there are things that might be in their best interest (long term) but they are things that are difficult to measure in monetary terms. If the private sector would provide us all with what we need, why did Ike have to build the highway’s? Why did government have to legislate and enforce so many fair labor practices? Yes, certain regulations might restrain growth or prophet; but I think many are necessary. Nike was performing just fine while benefitting from child labor in Maylasia. Even though this has come public, there seem to be few reprocusions for Nike. Yes, they were contracting the manufactoring to Maylasian factories, but should they not also be responsible?

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 12:49 pm

        Perhaps Nike should not employ children in Malyasia. Perhaps they would be better off with no compensation or foreign investment. Applying our standards to a nation with apparently little income might actually leave them worse off.

    • AMAC permalink
      December 11, 2011 12:49 pm


      I just have trouble accepting the premise that any government action is logically equivelant to harm to a group of people. I don’t believe that the government can do nothing to help. If the government could cut out money from their current budget to put a few million people to work, why could this not help (As long as the work is not taking away jobs current citizens hold)? Would that fix the recession? No, but it could ease the pain of a lot of people (and put tax dollars back into the economy.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 1:26 pm

        Using your logic, the govt can employ everyone to do anything. I think that has been tried and has falied (see USSR, China, Cuba, NO Korea) where standards of living declined in absolute terms.

        Taking resources forceably from one group and giving to another has never worked as an economic system. Moreover, printing currency to do it (counterfeiting) simply reduces everyone’s standard of living, all things being equal.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 12, 2011 5:17 pm

        I think you misunderstood my point. I did not mean jobs other companies could not do. I meant work that is not contracted out or being currently performed. For instance building a monument not contracted out. I would be fine if the government only indirectly put people to work through special government contracts putting the money directly into the hands of small business that could stimulate some short term growth. I know this isn’t the best way to jump start the economy, but I am talking about putting people to work as an alternative to extending social services for those out of work.

  54. Pat Riot permalink
    December 11, 2011 12:20 pm

    Oy! So much ground to cover when people with different perspectives use words/language! Seeing different parts of the same reality. It’s like groups of people looking at a freight train rumbling by. Some people focus on the locomotive powering the train and others say “yeah but it wouldn’t get far without the tracks” and still others say “it wouldn’t do much good to anyone if it weren’t pulling cars full of products” and then another group says let’s not forget the men who labored to lay the tracks and then also “the capitalist at the top with the vision…” Of course It’s ALL of those things depending on one another to exist.

    So, yes, overall markets simply work better when allowed to, as in without unnecessary regulation that hampers productivy. But markets don’t work well when they are not within the context of a lawful society. Go to Columbia where “growth” means drug cartels kicking unarmed citizens off their land so they can expand their enterprise. Are you free market folks out there taking some things for granted? I say yes you free market folks are taking many aspects of the context for granted. Look at the whole train and how it came into existence, for Pete’s sake.

    I suspect the use of the word “fair” above is at least slightly derogatory. I think this site needs a glossary to distinguish terms. Is there one? “Fair” to a Moderate doesn’t mean “equal,” nor does it mean spread around fairly equally, nor should it mean redestributing money from one group to another, nor does it negate capitalism or ownership of the fruits of one’s labor, nor does it expect that people won’t suffer or lose or get the short of end of some sticks. “Fair” to most Moderates these days–in today’s contect in America–means something akin to “some control over run-away corruption and monopoly so that the country can benefit from more competition.” There, I used “more competition”–something you worshipers of free markets usually like!

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 11, 2011 12:44 pm

      Free markets (indeed society as we know it) assumes and needs rules and boundaries and no credible libertarian that I know would suggest otherwise. That is the role of government and we need those rules. We are really focusing on when govt intrudes in order to try and “rig the outcome” in one way or another. Usually, this is at the behest of an interest group that ALWAYS presents some compelling reasons (which just so happen to be self-serving as well-See the American Medical Association for an example).

      Fair is an interestng word that I avoid whenever I can. It is not “fair” that I am not 6 feet tall but I am not. The conversation usually goes down hill from there. It is not fair that most new business ventures fail but is also not fair that we expect the few who do win to carry the rest of us on their backs because they had the nerve to actually succeed. Is that fair?

      Also, I would point out that statists almost always acuse libertarians of “worshipping free markets.” Personally, I don’t worhip anything but I do like freedom and keep my eye peeled for those who would remove it.

      Monopolies are fascinating to study. Almost always, they exist with the support of, or by direct action of, govt. See publc schools or thr USPS for examples.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 11, 2011 12:59 pm

        But the USPS does not hold a monopoly. They are actually partially privitized which is why their losing so much money is suddenly such a problem. The financial marketshare belongs to UPS, the largest shipping company in the world (a US born and ran company) and FedEX (also US and increasing in market share at expense of UPS and USPS). How can USPS be a monopoly when they are not even the largest in their own country? With the increasing demand from us for internet payment and automatic withdrawal, I don’t forsee the USPS becoming a major player in the shipping industry anytime soon. I know this was just one example, I was just excited at a topic I had some experience in!

        Also, I see that education is a necessary service that government should provide. Should it be reformed to reward success and punish failure? Absolutely. However, I do think that every citizen deserves to be educated, and I don’t think the private sector would meet that need.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 1:31 pm

        THE USPC has a legally mandated monopoly on all US surface mail. No one else can touch your mailbox, by law. In fact, the law mandates the size and shape of your mailbox and the USPS can refuse to deliver your mail if don’t have the right box.

        This monopoly used to extend to overnight mail but FEDEX got around that by calling it a package (overnight delivery). That is why the overnight letter comes in a package and has to br dropped at your door.

        While the USPS is “privatized” it actually is not a private entity. It is controlled by Congress, which has to approvr its rates.

        Kind of like Fannie and Freddie, a little big pregnant.

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 1:33 pm

        We will disagree on WHO should provide education to our masses. Vouchers would work better imho.

      • AMAC permalink
        December 11, 2011 6:45 pm

        I am fine with a viable voucher system. We have one now for low performing school districts since NCLB legislation. We would still have government paying for education and they would no doubt have oversight if they are paying. It seems like education would become more of a USPS entity. Also, I wonder what would happen to rural areas where it might not be profitable to open an education facility in that system. I think it would be more productive to let the private sector in public education than the other way around. If we could give vouchers for more viable reasons than just low performance, that would increase competition in schools. This would probably increase the instance of students moving into private schools with public money, if they were to meet the standards of some of those schools. The area in which I live has very low performing privat shcools. I have heard the North East has a better representation, but I don’t know that for sure.

  55. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 11, 2011 12:46 pm

    Re: corruption, lets start at the top. Who will police Congress and/or the WH?

    Can the state police itself well? I doubt it.

  56. Pat Riot permalink
    December 11, 2011 1:56 pm

    Now we’re qualifying somewhat and getting somewhere! Good posts above, Richard. I believe libertarians, moderates, and most American political persuasions dislike or despise when government intrudes for the benefit of one interest group at the expense of another, though there will be much disagreement about which instances of this might be for the “common good.” “Common good” will be as troublesome for some as the word “fair,” which we should probably abandon becasue it gets misconstrued and rubs too many the wrong way.

    Above you mention corruption at the top, Congress and the WH, and that’s a real concern, but of course that’s also not really the top. Appropriate to our debate, elite owners of global corporations are at the top, not governments anymore, and now we come full circle to Pottersville, and more fertile fields for discussion…

    • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
      December 11, 2011 2:43 pm

      I would disagee with the comment about who is at the top. It is fairly easy for a CEO to go to jail and/or lose his/her job. In fact, it happens everyday (the avg corporate CEO lasts 3.5 yrs I believe).

      Now, how many Congressmen or Presidents end up in jail? Almost none. It is hard to chalk this up to the inherent morality of politicians.

    • Priscilla permalink
      December 11, 2011 7:33 pm

      My feeling is that once we agree to top-down solutions, we are pretty much at the mercy of powerful and self-interested cronies of both the corporate and political persuasion. The one thing we can count on is that money will be taken from those who have earned it and spent in ways that will enhance the re election prospects of those who have taken it. And not much else. Theoretically, the Obama stimulus could have been spent on projects that would have targeted areas of idle resources and increased governmnent spending on projects that were not already approved in various stages of completion. If that had happened, perhaps some jobs would have been created. But, the stimulus money, for the most part, went to fund general expenses (i.e. prop up pension funds, school projects already in progress,infrastructure repairs already on the drawing board, grants already awarded. This is where we got the phrase “jobs created OR SAVED” as a measure of success for the multi billion dollar slush fund.

      This was not merely a “mistake” on the part of the current administration, this is what happens when government spends money. And it would have happened under a Republican president as well. The oft-reviled Ben Bernanke was appointed by Bush, after all.

      Looking for ways out that will target the most successful earners and businesspeople is just a red herring. We already have a progressive tax code, albeit one which allows rich people many loopholes. Demagoguing those rich people as selfish and evil, rather than tightening the tax code that allows them to avoid paying their share is a political tactic not a sound economic strategy.

      • Priscilla permalink
        December 11, 2011 7:36 pm

        I curiously seemed to have forgotten how to punctuate in my above comment, so I hope it makes sense……..

      • Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
        December 11, 2011 9:13 pm

        well said: It is the old shell game.

  57. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 12, 2011 9:17 am

    From economist Arnold kling:

    “I was explaining to someone at dinner the other night that I came to Austrian economics in a very odd way. I did not study the sacred texts. I spent the prime of my career outside of the academy, experiencing the behavior of organizations. I saw first-hand the challenge that large organizations have in dealing with innovation. I saw the tenuous grasp that bosses have over their organizations. Above all, I saw how impossible it is for top management at firms to have the sort of information and control that is casually assumed in mainstream economic models. It is a relatively small leap from that insight to the insight that government officials also lack the information that they need to exercise the sort of control that is casually assumed in mainstream economics.

    I came to Austrian economics because that is how business in the real world felt to me.”

  58. AMAC permalink
    December 12, 2011 5:18 pm

    Is this a record yet? 240 and counting.

    • December 12, 2011 5:57 pm

      The record is 285 comments for “Occupy Wall Street: Not for Lefties Only” back in October. We’re getting close, but the commentary has cooled down, and I have a feeling the old champion will still be standing.


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