« 21 Years in Captivity | Main | I Wanna Remember to Remember to Forget You Forgot Me »

September 30, 2008

Comments

Hey, if Dan Riehl wants to experience pain in order to develop his and his family's character, I suggest they move to Baghdad. His words and actions have done so much to promote the development of Iraqi character, I think it's only fair that Dan share in all those great benefits.

Some of the alarmists out there might want to take a moment to consider all the ramifications here. It may sound harsh, but the Great Depression produced many things - one of them was called the Greatest Generation.

OH FOR F*&#'S SAKE!

I've been solidly against this bailout bill, but if the alternative is another goddamn generation of flag-saluting, draft-embracing, McCarthyite know-nothings who produce litters upon litters of neurotic hippy children...

Just f'ing sign me up right now.

Does this mean Dan Riehl loves the New Deal too?

consider all the ramifications here. It may sound harsh, but the Great Depression produced many things - one of them was called the Greatest Generation.

Aside from Riehl's crypto-medieval moral construction (suffering is good), there's the simple fact that a Depression Mentality produced, in relatively short order, the Worst Generation, which he bemoans. The common and ridiculous notion that these generations are somehow discrete from each other reveals how inebriated with vanity are some cohorts of our culture. We strangle on vanity. Lotus land!

Has everyone interviewed Sarah Palin?

I was fairly sure that the "greatest generation" thing was a result of winning WWII, not a result of surviving the Great Depression. See, say, here, for confirmation, or here, or, perhaps, any of the books on the topic.

And I don't think the Great Depression contributed to us winning WWII in any way.

What I'm quite sure of, and any historian of the Twenties and Thirties, most particularly any economic historian, can confirm, is that the Great Depression produced Nazism's hold on Germany. See, say, here.

And who doesn't think that worked out fine? It gave us the Greatest Generation.

But Dan Riehl couldn't be wrong, so it must be everyone else who is wrong.

slaney black says it best.

It may sound harsh, but the Great Depression produced many things

When my dad was a kid, his Christmas present each year was a tangerine and a new pair of overalls. His old overalls became his work clothes. He was only allowed to wear shoes for dressup. The rest of the time he went barefoot. He didn't feel that poor, because nobody he knew had things any better.

My uncle (mother's brother) had a full basketball scholarship to Columbia. He had to pass on it because my mom's family couldn't afford to lose the income he brought in by working. He never did go to college.

My mother in law's folks couldn't afford to keep both her and her brother, so the two of them took turns living at her uncle's farm. Being a farm, they always had food, even if they also had no money. Her brother went during the summer, because he was stronger and could work harder. She went during the school year.

Her father got sick of looking at the family he couldn't support every damned night, so he left and told them that if he didn't find work, they'd never see him again. Luckily, a few months later he got a job working rubber in Akron. He wrote back and told them to pack up the house and come there. That's how my wife's family ended up in Ohio.

Quaint, ain't it? Almost like Dickens. Good times, indeed.

It's true, we all (individually and collectively) live on credit to such a high degree now, that it sometimes makes me wonder if there's any real value under our economy, or if it's all just an insane pipe dream. So, there is a reasonable point buried deep, deep, deep down under Riehl's scolding, sanctimonious language.

But basically, Dan Riehl can kiss my ass.

Thanks -

Dan Rhiel, while wrong as usual, is not alone. you see "LET IT FAIL" everywhere these days.

because of the way this bailout was presented, most people have their backs up at the prospect of the caricatured 700 BILLION FOR GREEDY BANKERS!! version of the plan.

Well, I play footsie with "Let it Fail," but not for any moralistic reason. No one seems to really know how the current crunch happened, not in terms of systemic analysis; my concern about a bailout now is that it sets a precedent for more bailouts, ever more expensive ones, at ever-diminishing intervals.

I feel like a monster every time I contemplate this, but like Russell I've gotten to wondering if there's any there there; if the crisis is caused mostly by assets leveraged so far beyond any conceivable real value that a great big chunk of the aggregate collateral value doesn't even exist. Bailing that out strikes me as a perfect model of Gresham's Law.

My uncle (mother's brother) had a full basketball scholarship to Columbia. He had to pass on it because my mom's family couldn't afford to lose the income he brought in by working. He never did go to college.

My mom graduated HS early and got a full 4-year scholarship to college and couldn't go because her family couldn't afford busfare to and from school a few times a year. So, despite intelligence and huge motivation, she didn't go to college either. I'm sure it was good for her, though.

"Personally, I've always preferred the idea of trying to make myself as decent as possible, rather than waiting for catastrophe to do it for me. But if people's lives have to be destroyed in order to produce a new "Greatest Generation", I hope that people like Dan Riehl, who think that this sort of character-building through national catastrophe is a good thing, are disproportionately represented among them."

Argh! The problem with hoping for political catastrophes to help things in the long run is that the political/social response is unpredictable. Even if you think that the New Deal was almost entirely good (and I would say that it was pretty much a 50/50 mixed bag) that is pretty much a best case scenario. History has plenty of other scenarios to draw on.

Hitler’s Germany.

Stalin’s Russia.

Mao’s China.

The Reconstruction South.

If you think the mortgage bankers were taking risky bets, you have no business playing the ‘hope it causes a social revolution with results I like’ game.

Were you thrilled with the US response to 9/11? Want to bet that a social revolution will benefit the left and not the right?

Yikes.

What Sebastian said (with an 85/15 split on the mixed bag ;)

The "conservative" idea that adversity is good on balance because it strengthens us is well analyzed in John Holbo's classic review of David Frum. (Warning: about 100,000 words long.)

I was fairly sure that the "greatest generation" thing was a result of winning WWII, not a result of surviving the Great Depression.

Yeah, but the Great Depression created Hitler, who started WWII, which created the Greatest Generation. Conservative causation 101. One then sees that these suffering is good conservatives (paincons?) as auditioning for a part.

"Quaint, ain't it? Almost like Dickens."

My mom's parents -- I'm totally vague on the story, she more or less refused to talk about it -- either died or abandoned her -- think it might have been one of each, but I really don't know -- and she and her brother Harry lived on the streets of Manhattan, for quite a while, during the early Thirties, as children, doing what they could to survive.

I'm told that my Uncle Harry would make inquiries of customers in stores, or even on the streets, as to what they were shopping for, and then would do his best to high-tail it at top speed to the nearest store selling the whatever at top price, and then run back, and offer it at a slight mark-up.

And he and my mom did the apple-selling thing.

My mother was taken in by the parents of a friend she made, and she lived in their closet, doing their cleaning, pretty much like Cinderella, for a few years. Circa age 9-13 or so.

But she was able to get back into public school, and eventually go to one of the city colleges, and become a teacher.

I could never get her to speak more than a handful of sentences about it.

Good times.

"(Warning: about 100,000 words long.)"

More like about 8,000.

I must have told you a million times not to exaggerate!

I'm such a spoilsport. (With a fair eye at word counts.)

OK, just when I think my levels of political cynicism can't go any higher, something comes along like this:

The RNC was cutting TV ads blaming Dems for the bailout bill while the negotiations were in progress to try to pass it.

The closest parallel I can think of is the Japanese diplomats who were negotiating with us while Yamamoto's strike force was already en-route to Pearl Harbor.

<you either borrow it, or the government in the form of hard working taxpayers should make sure you get yours in the end.

And it'll serve you freeloaders right when all those hard-working taxpayers lose their jobs and can't support you any more.

Hey!

The Reconstruction South weren't the worst of times for *some* people, you know...

How 'bout Post-Reconstruction South?

Herbert Hoover explains the views of his Secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon, which Mr. Riehl appears to share:

. . . the “leave it alone liquidationists” headed by [my] Secretary of the Treasury Mellon, who felt that government must keep its hands off and let the slump liquidate itself. Mr. Mellon had only one formula: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” He insisted that, when the people get an inflation brainstorm, the only way to get it out of their blood is to let it collapse. He held that even a panic was not altogether a bad thing. He said: “It will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people”...

I would imagine that a lot of stores would normally be preparing for the Christmas shopping season by laying in inventory round about now. And I would imagine that that will be a lot harder to do if they can't get credit.

Heh. Those Christmas shipments arrived at the West Coast ports in July. I wonder how much closer to their destination on shelves they will get.

Also, the Depression mentality led my grandparents to live in fear and frugality until they died. Dedicating constant thought to frugality and scrimping is not a good quality of life.

"Dedicating constant thought to frugality and scrimping is not a good quality of life."

Word.

CaseyL: I have no problem with wondering whether the crisis is real. That seems to me to be an excellent thing to wonder about, whether it is in fact real or not.

But Dan Riehl seems to think it is real -- "let it burn" would make no sense in the absence of a real fire. Needless to say, that's the part that bothered me.

One more thought: in advocating a life of hard consequences rather than easy comforts, Riehl is channeling the Unabomber.

"Needless to say, that's the part that bothered me."

Once again: "I'm all right, Jack."

Too bad about those suckers, but lessons need be taught.

Always to other people.

"One more thought: in advocating a life of hard consequences rather than easy comforts, Riehl is channeling the Unabomber."

Well, he was opposed to leftism. And a kind of conservative. He wanted to conserve the pre-Industrial Revolution lifestyle.

Quote: "6. Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general."

Etc.

I'm told that my Uncle Harry would make inquiries of customers in stores, or even on the streets, as to what they were shopping for, and then would do his best to high-tail it at top speed to the nearest store selling the whatever at top price, and then run back, and offer it at a slight mark-up.

With apologies, Gary, I don't get this. A customer is in a store, Uncle Harry asks them what they want from that store, he gets it at "top price" and offers it at a mark-up?

Why would the customer buy from Uncle Harry and not the store they're in? I can see Uncle Harry buying the McGuffin for the lowest price, but not the highest.

Am I missing something?

rea: Great quote! My God, how history repeats itself. Mark Twain on American imperialism. Herbert Hoover on the meltdown.

When I was a kid, I totally dug gloomy historiographers (Toynbee, Spengler, Vico). I sort of feel like we might be witnessing one of those epochal moments people remember for a long while. If last week the most concentrated centers of power in our country were clamoring that this crisis was the equivalent to the barbarians being at the gate, then our response this week was as unthinkable as a failure to mobilize, born of an inability to muster the political will to mobilize.

our response this week was as unthinkable as a failure to mobilize, born of an inability to muster the political will to mobilize

The 'failure to mobilize' starts with the people who proposed the intervention. They needed to have a humbler approach: let's work this out together, here are the protections to address legitimate concerns, etc. Instead, spring it on Congress as a deadline approaches and use threats rather than explanations. Given the context and history, who could trust that the whole thing wasn't just taking advantage of a real-world problem to spring another power grab?

Even if the provisions for equity, transparency, etc. were b.s., if they'd been included in the original proposal, the thing would have passed on the first go-round.

"Am I missing something?"

No, I screwed up what I wrote. I meant to write " to the nearest store selling the whatever at a lower price," (or simply below a price he'd propose to the person) and somehow absent-mindedly typed the opposite.

I do this sort of thing even more when speaking; this is why I'm not big on catching people out on verbal gaffes. :-)

Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for catching my error.

Nell: Given the context and history, who could trust that the whole thing wasn't just taking advantage of a real-world problem to spring another power grab?

You do realize that your statement there is an almost exact mirror of what some on the right are saying? I say almost, because they think it might be a manufactured problem, created to grab power. Going back to the Cloward-Piven Strategy first discussed in 1966.

As a public service, I bring you your funny/scary RW link of the day. Jim Simpson. I leave it to you to apportion the funny/scary ratio.

I worry that people who presumably don't know better will look at the Dow's near 500 point jump today and figure talk of an economic crisis is much ado about nothing.

And I'd almost bet that the 500 point re-tracing, as they say on Wall Street, will only embolden the House Republicans even more.

A 500 point jump?

John McCain must have no idea where he stands now.

(Actually, I'd like someone who knows better than me here could explain such a one-day gain. In normal times, I'd accept the notion of "bargain hunting" -- but these aren't supposed to be normal times.)

still down 3200 for the year...

(Actually, I'd like someone who knows better than me here could explain such a one-day gain. In normal times, I'd accept the notion of "bargain hunting" -- but these aren't supposed to be normal times.)

There is no explanation. 99% of the headlines you see that say "Dow up XXX points on YYY news" or "S&P declines GGG on fears of MMM" are just B.S. Are there unexpected events that move markets? Sure. But they don't happen everyday. Yet everyday you'll find AP/Reuters headlines explaining the previous day's move in the markets. Day to day movements in the markets are very random.

still down 3200 for the year...

Good news for John McCain!

Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for catching my error.

No problem, and you're welcome.

Day to day movements in the markets are very random.

To a major extent. But is there any doubt that yesterday's tumble was triggered to a major degree by the bailout fiasco?

"But is there any doubt that yesterday's tumble was triggered to a major degree by the bailout fiasco?"

That's what I was thinking.

So why did the Dow gain back all but 2 percent or so today?

"I leave it to you to apportion the funny/scary ratio."

Mostly funny. As I mentioned here, and numerous times here, these people are simply completely bumf*ck insane. They talk themselve into a frenzy over nothing, and then get outraged that no one but themselves take their crazed hallucinations seriously. It's a media blackout!

Yeah, that's because the "connections" between Ayers and Obama are competely glancing and trivial. Their whole premise is nuts.

And their "evidence" consists, for the most part, of using a lot of alarming adjectives. One reads through Stanley Kurtz's alarming articles, and finds, for all that he's allegedly gone through 70 feet of documents, that there's nothing there.

wave 1: contrarians/bargain hunters/people thinking about how nice the Caymans will be in 2040. Larger numbers than usual because it was a nice bottom.

wave 2: people who thought the contrarians knew something they didn't.

wave 3: panicked investors.

Bedtime: Maybe because the market is manic depressive - really euphoric one day and the next suicidal.

I have to say, Steve, that "American Thinker" (indeed!) piece is one prime piece of kookdom.

I'm beginning to believe that there are a quite a few people who are not quite sane and these kind of times really bring them out of the woodwork. I'm just praying that the really sane people out there can control the situation, otherwise we are in for a wild ride.

Thanks, OCSteve. I just about spit my coffee out when I got to the flow chart.

Jim Simpson sounds like Larry Sinclair's retarded little brother.

david k: even better than the flow chart is this para. that comes shortly thereafter:

"Conspicuous in their absence are any connections at all with any other group, moderate, or even mildly leftist. They are all radicals, firmly bedded in the anti-American, communist, socialist, radical leftist mesh."

So I ask myself: why are moderate or centrist groups absent from the flow chart? Is it because none of the people in it have any connection to them? No. To pick an example at random, consider, oh, Barack Obama:

He's connected to the University of Chicago, and thus to the Chicago School of economics, and thus to the conservative economic policies of the Pinochet regime. The long hand of Piven and Cloward extends so far??? Yes!

Also: the Harvard Law Review (which connects him to Antonin Scalia, who is hereby revealed to be a pawn of Bill Ayers!!!, as am I), Crown Publishing (they put out his first book), the Democratic Party, and -- well, you get the idea.

I also like this, which is a clue to what is to come:

"Yet, no one to my knowledge has yet connected all the dots between Barack Obama and the Radical Left."

Oh, and OCSteve: you're back! Yay!

"I just about spit my coffee out when I got to the flow chart."

Yeah, the flow chart really sells it.

"Yet, no one to my knowledge has yet connected all the dots between Barack Obama and the Radical Left."

I don't understand why Mao Zedong isn't on this chart.

But at least he worked George Soros in.

A shame actual leftists won't find this more convincing. Obama might pick up more votes from all the leftists disgusted with how terribly centrist Obama is.

For instance, this person linked me the other day, and explains here that "of course, Obama is not going and has never gone 'to the left' at all. He'd have to swing sharply to the left even to be a centrist. His positions, as I argued here yesterday and earlier, are significantly to the right of the majority of Americans. In the course of the campaign he has made this more and more explicit."

This is the common view of any actual leftists, let alone real radicals.

But, then, lots of them don't vote, anyway. The system is too corrupt, man, and both parties are nearly identically right-wing. Etc.

But that Simpson is a funny guy: is he related to the Simpsons?

I don't get quite the kick out of reading right-wing loons that many here do, and even less so when I'm told that what I'm saying is the left-wing mirror of it. If you tell me your remark was tongue in cheek, OCS, I'll take it as intended. But next time use a smiley or something.

The idea that a crisis might be taken advantage of by the Bush administration to amass unchecked power in the executive branch is not exactly a fringe thought at this point. Just look at the legislative history of the Patriot Act, the Iraq War resolution, the Military Commissions Act, and the Protect America Act (FISA gutting 1), to name a few.

I'm not amused by the stunts of the Republicans in the House, even if I didn't and don't support the bill voted on yesterday. I'd like some serious acknowledgement that if the crisis is as severe as they say it is, the administration's representatives ought to have come to Congress with a considerably humbler approach, including an admission that the Treasury Secretary and Fed Chairman had made some mistakes that they needed help to correct.

(Actually, I'd like someone who knows better than me here could explain such a one-day gain. In normal times, I'd accept the notion of "bargain hunting" -- but these aren't supposed to be normal times.)

Three Things:

1) The market isn't that rational over the short term;
2) A decision that they overreacted yesterday, and they'll still get their bailout;
3) The SEC's decision that companies don't have to follow FAS 157 if they don't really want to.

I suspect that the third point played a big roll, but I'm of the opinion that that's really just a subset of 1). In the long run, playing hide the pea with your asset values isn't a winner.

"But at least he worked George Soros in."

Along hilzoy's lines, I was thinking Soros to Karl Popper to Wittgenstein (via a poker), to Hayek (second cousins, I think), to the Mont Pelerin Society. And little known to anyone except Wikipedia, that evil cabal included 26 economic advisers to... Ronald Reagan.

Gary: But that Simpson is a funny guy: is he related to the Simpsons?

Sadly, his bio states: Jim Simpson is a former White House staff economist and budget analyst.

Googling, it looks like 87-93. Late RR through Bush41. Yikes!


Nell: If you tell me your remark was tongue in cheek, OCS, I'll take it as intended. But next time use a smiley or something.

I thought that was clear enough Nell, but I’ll try to remember that next time.

Yeah, the flow chart really sells it.

My first thought was that it looks like it was done with MS Paint or the equivalent. What – no access to Visio? I mean, dude, if you’re going to sell me on a deep seated conspiracy spanning generations at least give me a semi-professional looking presentation…

Funny; I think that living through the Bush Jr. Republican years has already helped form a new generation of Americans doggedly resistant to the problems of yesteryear.

“Take for instance the question how far mankind have gained by civilization. One observer is forcibly struck by the multiplication of physical comforts; the advancement and diffusion of knowledge; the decay of superstition; the facilities of mutual intercourse; the softening of manners; the decline of war and personal conflict; the progressive limitation of the tyranny of the strong over the weak; the great works accomplished throughout the globe by the co-operation of multitudes; and he becomes that very common character, the worshipper of ‘our enlightened age’. Another fixes his attention, not upon the value of these advantages, but upon the high price which is paid for them; the relaxation of individual energy and courage; the loss of proud and self-relying independence; the slavery of so large a portion of mankind to artificial wants; their effeminate shrinking form even the shadow of pain; the dull unexciting monotony of their lives, and the passionless insipidity, and absence of any marked individuality, in their characters; the contrast between the narrow mechanical understanding, produced by a life spent in executing by fixed rules a fixed task, and the varied powers of the man of the woods, whose subsistence and safety depend at each instant upon his capacity of extemporarily adapting means to ends … One would attends to these things, and to these exclusively, will be apt to infer that savage life is preferable to civilized; that the work of civilization should as far as possible be undone, and from the premises of Rousseau, he will not improbably be led to the practical conclusions of Rousseau’s disciple, Robespierre.”—John Stuart Mill

There are any number of reasons that we don't want a depression (Hell, I've been in one ever since I got married! (rim-shot)). But the basic idea that we need periodic reality checks has some merit. The main questions in my mind are - five years from now, will the bailout look like a necessary action or just another ill-formed giveaway? And does America have enough collective sense to learn from this fiasco?

Huh:

The chart puts Barack Obama at the epicenter of an incestuous stew of American radical leftism

I think he exaggerates; looks more like he's at the epilowerrighthandcorner, to me.

he's at the epilowerrighthandcorner

Slarti wins the Internet.

Thing to remember about the "Greatest Generation": They weren't old enough during the Depression to really grasp what was happening to them.

So their memories of the Depression are going to be romanticized a bit. I'm sure if my GG (foster) mom were here, she'd be telling me about the "good old days" then. She used to say during the energy crisis that we'd all be on horses.

Of course, now at 45, I'm horrified at the thought of a horse-based city; I can think through it.

Many can't.

Pain is part of life; it is something that creates experience, which instills wisdom.

I don't wish for pain. I really don't want to experience some of the negative consequences of what's happening now, but if I'm protected from it by the government then it is a violation of many of the principle tenets of our foundation; and I lose that potential wisdom.

The most I can do is secure my own life and future by ensuring that I'm not overextended and contributing to the problem at hand.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad