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June 29, 2010

Comments

"that may seem like a good philosophical match for conservatives"

Well, it's a good philosophical match for conservatives who choose to become sociopaths.

"and the idea that they will get their comeuppance is pleasant"

In general, I suppose, but in the specific cases, I don't find it pleasant that the "incompetent", for example, should be denied medical care as, what, justice?

Why not just kill the incompetent? I guess because the sociopaths attend church on Sunday, unless they stay in bed and read Ayn Rand, dreaming of looking up Dagny Taggert's skirt.

I find it more pleasant when sociopaths get their comeuppance.

As an aside, shouldn't the word have been "comedownnance".

The emphasis on regressive tax cuts and reductions in redistributive measures & social safety nets are justified by a belief that the market economy is essentially meritocratic, that those who earn more deserve to keep what they earn, that reducing the amount they earn distorts the necessary incentives towards difficult and expensive education, hard work, and risky investment, and that redistributive measures reward those who are unproductive, lazy, or not endowed with great talent.

Or not. I think the austerity idea is that we've already borrowed so much money that the drag on the economy to pay it back--a dollar borrowed is a taxed dollar deferred--cannot be tolerated and maintain a private sector. The "us vs. them" dichotomy is more a product of reductionist progressive mind set than it is the attitude of the country. No one likes unemployment and we all know good people who are without work. But few outside progressive circles believe more government spending--incredibly inefficient spending in which the government picks the winners--is the answer. Unless everyone who loses a job is going to be given a lifetime government job--again at taxpayer expense and doing who knows what to justify their position on the government payroll--they will only find work if it exists in the private sector. Government spending is not producing a vibrant private sector. Taking money from an employer detracts from and certainly does not enhance that employer's ability to expand.

The G20 is pretty much uniformly cutting government spending. What do they know that Paul Krugman doesn't?

A belief that those that got are more meritorious than anyone else.

How is this differennt from Social Darwinism?

How is it different from the old Calvinist belief that God shows favor or disfavor for individuals by making the good thrive and the bad suffer?

I can see how the central thesis of conservatism--that markets favor the good and punish those who deserve it-- is a handy belief for the chronically empathy-impaired.


However this conservative belief is hypocritical as well as selfish since very few self proclaimed conservatives support themselves. Example: that parasite in Arkansas who sucked up over a million dollars in tax subsidies which provided him with the income to pay for a bill board that proclaims that Democrats are the party of parasites.

All of the red states and red areas of states are full of hypocrites of that sort. Eastern Washington, where the economy is based on Bonneville Power, farm price supports, subsidized access to public land and resources, Social Security and federal jobs, is the Republican side of the state full of voters and politicians who call themselves conservatives.

No one likes unemployment and we all know good people who are without work. But few outside progressive circles believe more government spending--incredibly inefficient spending in which the government picks the winners--is the answer. Unless everyone who loses a job is going to be given a lifetime government job--again at taxpayer expense and doing who knows what to justify their position on the government payroll--they will only find work if it exists in the private sector. Government spending is not producing a vibrant private sector. Taking money from an employer detracts from and certainly does not enhance that employer's ability to expand.

Austerity does not give money to employers, it takes money away from employers.

Government jobs include teachers, firefighers, police officers, sanitation workers and doctors at state hospitals.

Those are good jobs. Those jobs are being cut because of austerity measures.

The salary money that those people would spend in the private sector would do much to help other private employers and kick up revenue and economic growth.

This is what you do in a recession. Classic Keynesian economics. Unfortunately, while our federal government injected a stimulus, our state and local governments instituted severe austerity measures which negated the federal stimulus, with overall government spending relatively flat.

The G20 is pretty much uniformly cutting government spending. What do they know that Paul Krugman doesn't?

They think that the bond market might eventually get skittish about lending money to governments absent austerity. They don't know that, they fear it. Though there is zero indication that this is happening, the bond market is actually moving in the opposite direction.

It is a mistake what the G20 is talking about, and will lead to a deeper, global slump.

Unemployment is a conservative value. That's how conservatives tell who is worthy of living a tax- subsidized life style and who isn't.

The G20 is pretty much uniformly cutting government spending. What do they know that Paul Krugman doesn't?

You could ask this another way:

"What did Herbert Hoover know that Paul Krugman doesn't?"

The answer: How do take a recession and turn it into a depression by pulling back government spending at EXACTLY the wrong time.

Enter, John Maynard Keynes. Which brings about a third variation of the question:

"What do the G20 countries and Herbert Hoover know that Paul Krugman and Keynes don't?"

Answer: see above.

Unemployment is a conservative value.

Horseshit. Utter, fncking bunk.

Slarti: Horseshit. Utter, fncking bunk.

Isn't there supposed to be a mod around somewhere to remind people of the no-profanity rule...

...oh, right.

It's more effective, by the way, to cite the tons of conservatives arguing for increasing employment than it is just to get mad and post contradictory profanity.

Of course, then you'd have to find those conservatives arguing that the important thing is spending to create jobs, a la New Deal and FDR, and not cutting public funds to slash jobs, a la ... well, modern conservatives.

Much easier just to lash out with profanity, right.

[I will quickly note that I am thoroughly unworthy compared to prior inhabitants of the front page, but that I hope to start some interesting discussions. ObWi became the blog I read first & last in large part because of the comment threads, which are a miracle of coherent, respectful, thoughtful discussion on an internet full of trolls and fanatics. In particular, there are actually non-insane discussions between conservatives & progressives here.]

John Thullen - I don't endorse the idea that people should "get what's coming to them". I just understand why that idea is appealing.

McKT - I believe you when you say that's why you oppose more spending, and I could be persuaded that it's really the major motivation for austerity measures, but I'm not convinced. For one thing, the conservative politicians opposing more spending largely supported (rather ineffectual) Keynesian measures in the form of Bush's second tax cut. For another, what they actually say frequently has what wonkie called Calvinist overtones. For instance, Senator Kyl, earlier this year:

"Unemployment insurance doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."

But few outside progressive circles believe more government spending--incredibly inefficient spending in which the government picks the winners--is the answer.

Gallup poll from June 17th:

"Would you favor or oppose Congress passing new legislation this year to approve additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy?"

Favor - 60%
Oppose - 38%
No opinion - 2%

On a "dollar spent is a taxed dollar deferred", I agree. But the same is true of a mortgage, or a business loan. Borrowing to invest is often worthwhile, especially when interest rates are very low.

I have another post on what measures I think would be effective. Permanent employment of all the unemployed by the government is not one of them.

In large part the slump in investment and hiring is because of a lack of expectation of an increase in consumer spending & business investment in the near future. It's a self-reinforcing dynamic and the private sector has shown in past slumps that it is unable to break out of it before severe damage is done - if everyone hired & invested those investments would pay off, but if only a few firms do, they are likely to lose money. In that situation the government can drive expectations of employment and therefore future consumer spending and private investment through its own spending. I think the historical record shows that as the only way to break out of a major slump like this one.

McKinney I can't agree with you on: "Or not. I think the austerity idea is that we've already borrowed so much money that the drag on the economy to pay it back--a dollar borrowed is a taxed dollar deferred--cannot be tolerated and maintain a private sector."

This is an example of taking a generally true principle and failing to see the cases where it isn't true, or isn't as relevant. If we maintain 10% systemic unemployment, we have enormous immediate problems, and won't be able to pay back our debt without massive inflation anyway. Short term government spending can definitely help with that.

The fairer response is that modern politicians (and this has to include most Democrats AND Republicans) can't be trusted to actually follow the Keynesian prescription and cut those programs, raise taxes, and dramatically pay down the debt during the expansion cycle.

You're absolutely right about that, and it is going to be a problem. We should definitely apply maximum pressure then, and call out those, including I strongly suspect many here, who won't want to do that. But those future likelyhoods (and they are VERY likely) don't change the present nor the correct course of action for the present.

The problem, and it is a problem in this country, is that neither party follows the Keynesian prescription in an expansion. Democrats spend wildly (see California and New York 1998-2008) and Republicans cut taxes precipitously and spend at a very high clip (see federal government 2000-2008). That is a political culture that is going to have to change.

But trying to change it now runs into two problems. First, it actually is the wrong prescription for the current situation. Second, you look like someone who doesn't react to the current situation out of hardhearted ideology, rather than practical minded austerity. If you are going to change the political ethos it isn't likely to be out of crazy seeming rigidity.

those who earn more deserve to keep what they earn

My personal opinion, based on my limited and not-particularly-subtle understanding of economics, is that it's not good for the country to be as deeply in debt as we are.

Maybe it's necessary in order to weather the current financial storms, maybe it's not. But in and of itself, it's better to not be as deeply in debt as the nation currently is.

So, it would be good pay that down.

The money is basically going to come from the people who live here. We will apparently be asked to make some sacrifices in order to put ourselves on a better financial footing.

The sacrifices we will be asked to make will probably include reductions in benefits like entitlements and the various "social safety net" transfer payment programs.

The sacrifices we are far less likely to be asked to make are an increase in marginal rates on very high earners.

And that's mainly because of the principle that JD outlines above. We don't want to punish people for doing well, because then they will be less motivated to contribute whatever it is they contribute to the economy as a whole.

The comment I have to make here is that some people do, in fact, earn the very high compensation they receive, and some do not.

There is a reason that some kinds of compensation are called "unearned income".

To my knowledge, there really isn't anything in our tax code or other public policy that distinguishes between the income that flows from actual entrepreneurial participation in productive enterprises -- efforts that actually do create value and employment -- and income that flows from financial speculation.

It's all just capital gains.

My prediction is that the lion's share of the sacrifices, both in absolute terms and in proportion to what folks actually own and earn, will be made by people whose livelihoods primarily comes from working.

And I think that sucks.

Rich people threaten to go Galt, and remove their productivity from the economy.

The US unemployment rate is currently 9.7%. That is the U3 number, which excludes people who have simply given up on finding work.

The U4 number includes those people. The U4 rate is 10.2%, which means that one out of every 200 people who could be working and would like to work have simply given up on finding work.

They've gone Galt. Not talked about it, not whined about it on blogs, not put it on their bumper sticker.

They've just said f**k it and packed it in, because there's no work to be had.

1 out of every 200 people in the total potential workforce of this nation is a lot of people.

Add in the marginally attached folks and the folks who can only find part-time work and the number is 16.7%.

The heart of an economy is the creation of value. Value is created by people who *do things*.

The vast majority of those people have seen none of the wealth that has been created by the incredible increases in productivity that have occurred in this country over the last generation. A lot of them have lost jobs and homes. A lot of them have gone bankrupt.

A lot of them have just said to hell with it and walked away.

People who refuse to contribute their lovely green money to the economy because they are going to have to pay an addition single-digit number of points of their return to the feds are not, IMVHO, a really serious problem. The vast, and I do mean vast, majority of them aren't going to go anywhere. They're going to bitch, and then they are going to continue to invest their $$$. Whatever miniscule handful decide they are going to cash in their chips and walk away are not going to make the economy stand or fall.

People who freaking walk away from the whole shooting match because there is simply no place for them -- that is a problem.

And the fact that there is no place for them is a very, very real problem.

I'm sick of worrying about whether wealthy people who derive their income from financial speculation feel sufficiently appreciated for their noble contribution.

We need the money, they have it. They can pony up. They can afford it, and they'll survive the gross insult of being asked to chip in.

Folks who actually participate at a hands-on level in creating businesses and jobs, I'm fine with giving them a break. But you gotta create your jobs here, otherwise no cookie for you.

But if we keep screwing the middle class, soon there will not be one, and then you will see some truly profound changes to our good old USA.

The economy is more than the f***ing DJIA.

Seb: Well said.

The challenge is to figure out what the government (or anyone else) can do which will constructively get those working class people back into real jobs. Just extending unemployment isn't it. Just adding government make-work jobs isn't it. Subsidizing companies or industries which are no longer viable isn't it -- think buggy whip manufacturers.

I don't have a total solution either, although it is obvious that some kind of training or re-training will have to be part of it. But it will have to be training that fits the people it is designed to help. Some people simply cannot, for example, learn to be software developers. Just as some people cannot, not don't want to but cannot learn to do agricultural work.


As an aside, shouldn't the word have been "comedownnance". -- Thullen

Comeuppance is the right word, John. Think wedgie. ;-)

The economy is more than the f***ing DJIA.

I won't hold my breath waiting for Jesurgislac to pearl-clutch over russell's comments with the same vigor that she did over mine.

If anyone's tender sensibilities were offended by my choice of language, I'll be glad to replace some of the offending characters with asterisks.

russell: Well said+.

I can see how the central thesis of conservatism--that markets favor the good and punish those who deserve it-- is a handy belief for the chronically empathy-impaired.

This I don't get at all. The market doesn't make moral choices. It is just the market. It provides incentives for certain behavior, most of which I agree is "good," but that is really besides the point.

I think the premise that conservatives are somehow in favor of unemployment, which is the tone of the post, is complete, utter bunk. Conservatives and liberals may differ on how to get out of this slump, but neither is in favor of unemployment.

Conservatives don't see the government as the answer to every question. It's why conservatives donate 30% more to charity than liberals. Conservatives tend to see charities as the right avenue to express their empathy. Maybe that makes certain positions on government action seem "empathy-impaired."

This seems more like "I say Communist you say Calvinist."

Then Slarti, fix the first curse word, "Horsesh*t"; cause well that's the offending one, not the fncking second one. Ya'll have called folks on that sort of it.

And it isn't because of our tender little ears, but from what I've seen posted, people reading at work. I don't buy it, but that's what it is.
---
On a more positive note, Sebastian, a-friggen-men. Everyone wants to be Santa Claus, no one wants to be the Grinch, and I don't know a way around this - raise taxes and yer doomed, don't raise taxes and you are doomed; but at least in the latter you can get some stuff done for your constituents.

Jacob:

I realize that YOU don't endorse the idea.

It's why conservatives donate 30% more to charity than liberals.

Cite, please. And, that aside, so what? It has no bearing on the effects of austerity during recession.

Conservatives don't see the government as the answer to every question. It's why conservatives donate 30% more to charity than liberals.

HSH, this is an oft-misinterpreted statistic.

It doesn't adjust for income, and it has a less-than-comprehensive definition of charity.

Our roads and bridges are in pretty bad shape according to the ASCE. Our electrical grid could use some serious upgrading for future capacity and updating with newer technologies to improve efficiency. We lack broadband communications relative to other industrialized nations. We could use more rail transit. Addressing all of these things will grow the economy over the long terms and will directly put people to work in the short term. I don't see what's so effing hard about figuring out productive ways to spend government money. We don't need to make work, because it's sitting there begging to be done. You can argue that we just can't spend the money regardless, but I don't know why we have to assume that the money will necessarily be wasted.

HSH, this is an oft-misinterpreted statistic.

Sure. That's why I asked for a cite, to get a look at the particulars. It's a silly stat on its face.

This I don't get at all. The market doesn't make moral choices. It is just the market.

I agree with this. I wish more people recognized and embraced this simple truth.

The market has exactly as much intent, and as much moral valence, as does the weather, or fluid dynamics.

Public policies, however, are all about choices. Choices which cannot be made without considering their effects on people, and which are therefore moral choices.

Whatever we do to address our national financial situation is going to have to balance a number of competing interests and priorities. We will have to choose.

Some will argue that millions of people being out of work is preferable to other costs we might incur.

Other folks will argue the opposite.

In the actual social and political context that we happen to live in, in the US, at this point in time, the folks who will prefer to pay in the coin of wasted human life and labor -- the true cost of 1 in 8 people who would like to work being unemployed or underemployed -- are going to be more likely to self-identify as conservative than not.

You may, as conservative, object to that, but it is what it is. Nobody here is making it more or less so. It's just a fact.

Perhaps you will object strongly enough to reconsider, and perhaps sever, your association with American conservatism.

If that's how it plays out, I can only applaud you.

HSH: It comes from a book, "Who Really Cares" by Peter Brooks.

Here is a write up of some of the problems with the book:

"Who Really Cares" is creating a stir in philanthropy circles -- and garnering acclaim from conservative pundits like ABC News's John Stossel and the radio host Michael Medved -- but is it to be trusted? At the AEI forum, Alan Abramson, director of the philanthropy program of the Aspen Institute, said that one should treat Brooks's sweeping conclusions with caution, given the "softness of the data" on charity in general. (He noted that Brooks himself concedes that we don't even know with certainty whether 50 percent or 80 percent of adult Americans donate to charity.)

Other scholars, like Paul Schervish, a sociologist and head of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, express doubts about the claims, though he found them hard to check on short notice. "One thing he does do," Schervish says in an interview, "is to go to different data sets depending on what he wants to be proving." Among other sources, Brooks uses IRS data, the University of Michigan's General Social Survey, and surveys conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. [...]

At the AEI session, the Aspen Institute's Abramson said that Brooks failed to note that much charitable giving in the "religious" category goes toward things "that don't have a whole lot to do with compassion or helping people in need," including ministers' salaries, church upkeep, and Sunday School. In a sense these donations are like membership dues. Set aside gifts to one's own temple, church, or mosque, Abramson added, and "I'm not sure there's a heck of a lot there," in terms of variations among different groups. (Of course, some giving to houses of worship clearly does end up being used for charity.) [...]

Brooks's red state-blue state comparisons are also drawing scrutiny. He triumphantly points out that of the 25 states that give the most per capita to charity, 24 went for President Bush in the 2004 election. And in a striking passage, he observes that residents of both San Francisco and South Dakota donate about $1,300 per family to charity, even though the average San Franciscan family makes $80,000, while the average South Dakotan family makes $45,000.

Why the difference? Brooks quotes the "director of a major San Franciscan foundation" as suggesting that "this a pretty godless place."

But John Havens, associate director of Boston College's Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, points out that once you correct for cost of living, the San Franciscan family earns only 15 percent more than the South Dakotan. Indeed, in the Boston College center's ranking of states by personal generosity -- a ranking that corrects for cost of living and tax burden -- blue states do fine: Of the top five states, four -- New York, California, Connecticut, and Maryland -- are blue.

http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2006/12/10/who_gives/

one more graff worth highlighting

"And can it really be, as Brooks says, that charitable givers are the most tolerant people in America, expressing warm feelings toward every "minority" group in the land -- including union members, feminists, and homosexuals -- if charitable givers are also disproportionately right-wing?"

We could use more rail transit. Addressing all of these things will grow the economy over the long terms and will directly put people to work in the short term.

And these are the sorts of things I'm in favor of when it comes to government spending in a recession. I think building infrastructure is a good use of the money in such circumstances.


It doesn't adjust for income,...

Eric: Yeah, but it gets worse for liberals, right? I mean, from what I understood, liberals actually had higher incomes. At least liberal families.

And, that aside, so what? It has no bearing on the effects of austerity during recession.

No, it was relevant to the "empathy impaired" comment. I don't think the motives behind the austerity measures are to hurt families.

I won't hold my breath waiting for Jesurgislac to pearl-clutch over russell's comments with the same vigor that she did over mine.

Pearls before Slartibartfast. Oh dear.

Look, Slarti, the issue for me is words which trip workplace filters (or library filters - the public library Internet connection, I find, tends to pearl-clutchingly filter websites that use words that are a shanda far die kinder). Foolish though this is, it's the way these filters are set, and furthermore, it amused me to an ironic point that of ObWing's few posting rules, there you were breaking one.

Meantime, Slarti, bc, if you're so sure conservatives are in favor of full employment, do go find the prominent modern conservatives arguing strongly that Action Should Be Taken, Money Should Be Spent, to drive down unemployment.

Mere grandstanding that "we're in favor of employment" cuts no ice, scares no bears, wins no pearls: what are conservatives prepared to spend to ensure full employment?

As HSH notes, there's no shortage of aging infrastructure that could use a New Deal run of spending.

If anyone's tender sensibilities were offended by my choice of language, I'll be glad to replace some of the offending characters with asterisks.

I can haz freaking Dingbats?

Hmmm, maybe not.

There's always the Johnny Dangerously fallback:

Bastages!
Farging icehole!

I spend too much time with jazz musicians, whenever I hear an obscenity I think something really good just happened.

Eric: Yeah, but it gets worse for liberals, right? I mean, from what I understood, liberals actually had higher incomes. At least liberal families.

No, see the Red State/Blue State comparison in the excerpts above.

Also, the generall statistical weakness.

Look, Slarti, the issue for me is words which trip workplace filters

Fine. If sh*t is one of those, you might have let us know. There are many, many instances of that having passed unnoted, and we'll buckle down and start whacking folks who let the sh*t fly, if that's an issue.

It's even appeared in the posts themselves, on occasion. Maybe we should fix that.

Meantime, Slarti, bc, if you're so sure conservatives are in favor of full employment

What does this even mean? Is there some universally agreed-upon definition of "full employment? I've seen it used when unemployment is 5% or even 6%.

Can I guarantee you that all conservatives will be willing to do absolutely everything to guarantee everyone a job? No. I don't know anyone who wants high unemployment, either.

And, of course, the set of all conservatives is not comprised solely of Republicans in public office. Or even of Republicans, period.

Maybe we should fix that.

Not being sarcastic, there. If there are real problems with sh*t and other words that have been used almost regularly in posts and comments, I am quite willing to take the time and go redact those as needed.

@ Eric
It comes from a book, "Who Really Cares" by Peter Brooks.

The fact that Stossel and Medved endorse the book should tell you all you need to know, and its not good.

conservatives donate 30% more to charity than liberals.
that wouldn't be because conservatives want the higher tax deductions, woulD it?

that wouldn't be because conservatives want the higher tax deductions, woulD it?

Don't tell those stupid conservatives that it would be more advantageous in terms of net income to not donate at all.

I don't think conservatives are in favor of unemployment any more than those who favor law and order are in favor of imprisonment, per se. I think that there is a strong tendency to think that unemployment/underemployment is a necessary corrective and provides an incentive to gain an education, work hard, and invest for the future.

Which is of course true to some limited degree, especially under normal, high-employment circumstances. Some unemployment is unavoidable (although I put the desirable level rather lower than the 5% that you usually hear) and undoubtedly has some incentive effects.

But mass unemployment is another beast altogether. During periods of mass unemployment, hard work, education, & investment do not pay off. Belief in the value of work is destroyed. Solid families do not form without reliable incomes, especially when it's men who can't get work. The effect is not a renewed appreciation for the virtues of work, but destruction of stable family values.

Nobody is in favor of that, but so far as I can see, it is conservatives (including a few conservative Democrats) who oppose measures that would reduce unemployment, and therefore it's on them to explain themselves.

I actually think things are much, much worse than they appear. Two things are responsible for keeping up appearances: the long extension of unemployment benefits, and the reluctance of banks to foreclose on houses. When those props go away a lot of people are suddenly going to be flat broke and homeless. It's going to be bad.

I'm sort of tired of people on both sides who claim that their tribe is morally superior in every way. I'm a lefty, but restrict my claims of moral superiority to the claim that leftist policies are more likely to be compassionate than rightwing ones. On the individual level I know conservatives who are personally very generous--I have no idea whether it is true that as a group they give more than the average liberal, but if it is one should probably look at the details. As someone said, giving to one's church is to some extent rather like being part of a social organization and paying dues--I know that's true of me. It's much more than that, but there is an element of this involved.

On my side I've heard liberals proclaim smugly that secular liberals have better family values in terms of divorce rates and so on. Again I have no idea if this is true, but if it is the reasons for it are probably complicated and not a reason for bragging.

conservatives donate 30% more to charity than liberals.

Not again.....

Suffice it to say that for some issues, personal and private charity is a sufficient solution, and for others, less so.

10% unemployment is about 14 million people without work.

14 million is larger than the population of any individual US state other than CA, TX, NY, or FL.

17% un- or underployment (U6) is 23.8 million people without a job, not even trying to find a job anymore, or only working part-time because full time work is not available to them.

That's more than any individual state other than CA or TX. It's about equal to the total population of the 18 smallest states combined.

It's a lot of people.

And really, you should more or less double that, because those percentages are against the working population of the country, which at 140 million is a bit less than half the total population. A lot of those folks who are out of work have dependents.

So we're *really, really* talking about a lot of people.

Nothing wrong with charity, it's just not clear to me that it scales to the problem at hand.

Nobody thinks government is the answer to every problem. Lots of us think government is a very good answer to problems that are relatively large in scope, and that have large implications for public, common, civic life.

And nothing says you can't address things through *both* private and public means.

Conservatives don't see the government as the answer to every question. It's why conservatives donate 30% more to charity than liberals. Conservatives tend to see charities as the right avenue to express their empathy.

And luckily there are more than enough well-funded charities in the US to ensure that all those out-of-work families continue to be sufficiently clothed, fed, and sheltered until things pick up again. Good work, conservatives!

Belief in the value of work is destroyed.

This.

One in every two hundred people who are able to work and are interested in working, have simply stopped looking for work.

That's 700,000 people who have, plain and simple, given up, because our economy can find no useful thing for them to do.

700 thousand.

I actually think things are much, much worse than they appear.

As always, what JD said.

"The market does not make moral choices. It is just the market."

A woodchipper or a crocodile don't make moral choices either. You get an arm caught in one or the other and they just do what they do.

Mass unemployment is a crisis for traditional values; in light of which, one might ask why those who profess admiration for those values are fighting so hard against attempts to address it.

SATSQ: IGMFY.

Re 30% more giving..."Suffice it to say that for some issues, personal and private charity is a sufficient solution, and for others, less so."

I'm pretty sure that this wasn't raised for the purpose of weighing in on whether private charity ought to be the sole solution to the unemployment problem, but rather as a response to wonkie's relatively nasty psuedo-summation of conservatism.

the reasons for it are probably complicated and not a reason for bragging

I think this probably applies (and should BE applied) to a lot of things in general, Donald. Well said.

To clarify that snarky mess of acronyms:

I don't think conservatives are in favor of unemployment. Most are simply indifferent to the real-world human impact of its dogma when enacted into policy.

This isn't even debatable. The examples exist across the spectrum of conservative ideology: being tough on crime, originalism and strict constructionism, states' rights, economic policy--pick any area of conservative policy prescriptions and you'll find a stance that places the powerful before the weak, the corporation before the individual, and a fetishistic worship of the purity of conservative principles without regard to how they impact real people.

At certain austere times in history, the economy, whose alledged pure rationality is mostly carried out by business, chooses too many losers, which can lead to irrational outcomes, like violence.

Then, the purely rational businessperson*will suddenly discover a certain type of morality with a call for the government, heretofore deemed irrational, ineffective, and inefficient in all of its other pursuits, to protect his or her rational property and life.

He might one day call and find out his previous rational decision to cut taxes and slash gummint spending lead the very government he deemed irrational to be ill-equipped to protect his rationalty.

Alternately, he may choose a few of the misbegotten losers to serve privately as his protection, which they will do happily because not being hungry seems like a rational choice, but ones hopes they wonder if using the tern "rational" to describe shooting into crowds of their fellow misbegotten losers is the right word choice.

George Will, like the arrogant, ignorant Jon Kyl cited above said the other day that unemployment compensation subsidizes unemployment.

That is not harmful or actionable in its mere utterance, but move a little closer to the 1000 people on unemployment applying for the 25 available jobs, month after month, who are also told by the same idiots that we can't subsidize hiring by business, and we can't let the government hire you, and we can't increase the money supply because it may enable your hiring which wil lead to inflation, and we can't subsidize free lentils because of the unforeseen effect it may have on the work habits of the lentil consumers and the lentil growers and the lentil charitable association, then the fact that Will is PAID for the privilege of saying such tripe could lead to some ugly unforeseen irrationalityfor George Will's tart, patrician, rational world.

He might get his sport coat sleeve caught in a wood chipper or crocodileof a whole different rationality.

* Well, most of them aren't THAT rational because they think to themsleves, being closet iirationalists: "There but for the grace of GOD, go I", as the man or the woman they just laid off goes forth into John Kyl's and George Will's ruthless rational world.

This isn't even debatable.

Then by all means, let's get cracking on not debating it.

After you, of course.

I'm pretty sure that this wasn't raised for the purpose of weighing in on whether private charity ought to be the sole solution to the unemployment problem

I may have read him wrong, but I think bc was presenting private charity as the preferred conservative alternative to government action.

Conservatives don't see the government as the answer to every question. It's why conservatives donate 30% more to charity than liberals. Conservatives tend to see charities as the right avenue to express their empathy.

One-upping wonkie's comment was just a bonus.

In any case, people don't want freaking charity. They don't want it from bc, they don't want it from Uncle Sam. They don't want to take their kids to the food pantry, they don't want to get their clothes from Goodwill, they don't want to eat government cheese, they don't want to stand in line at the grocery store worrying about what they are and are not allowed to buy with their food stamps.

People want to work.

People want to do useful, productive work, and in return they want to receive a reasonable share of the value that their labor creates.

And when things go awry, as they will, they want the burden of whatever sacrifices are required to get through the tough times to be shared across all sectors of the society, not just themselves.

Seb, JD, Eric, Russell, Wonkie, Catsy et al: first let me say that I am not an economist (but my son is and he is pretty bright). The Keynesian model, which you believe applies, if it has ever worked successfully before, has never been applied to a country (1) as large and diverse as the US with (2) the size deficit we currently have (3) during a recession of this size. The Great Depression model won't cut it since, (a) whether Keynesianism helped or hurt the US is still a matter that smarter people than me debate and (2) the raft of government services we hold as essential today weren't even imagined in 1929 or 1939. The point here is that government then was not a bloated monster with debt that approaches 60% of GDP.

The G20 isn't being advised by Milton Friedman (more pity that) or libertarian philosophers masquerading as economists. Collectively, they have a lot of smart people who have concluded just the opposite of what elected politicians want to conclude and that is, we have to cut services and benefits. Politicians, particularly European politicians, like to give stuff away, not take it back. Would they be doing what they are doing if they really, really didn't think it was necessary?

Applying the Keynesian approach when we have already spent so much money strikes me and many others as economic suicide. When austerity strikes, it is hard. That is essentially what austerity means. By definition, those at the margins, those most dependent on government largess, pay the higher price when government contracts. But incurring more debt that can't be paid back does nothing but postpone the day of reckoning.

Eric, how does austerity impact on employers in a way that is significantly different than its impact on others? With respect, you'd raise taxes across the board on most employers to keep what generic conservatives (me, for example) see as bloated government going. Tax increases definitely retard growth. We may have to have increases, but if we do, generics such as myself should only go along if, first, government spending is frozen. Then, and only then, should a tax on the better off be imposed and then solely to reduce our enormous deficit.

Then by all means, let's get cracking on not debating it.

After you, of course.

Why did I know you'd be the one to misconstrue the clear idiomatic meaning of "not debatable"--meaning an assertion so overwhelmingly supported by evidence and examples that arguing against it is a sign of either ignorance or bad faith argument--in favor of the narrow literal interpretation that something is incapable of being debated at all in some metaphysical way? It's times like this that give me sympathy for the way Jes goes off on you.

Instead of cherry-picking individual words or phrases and engaging in bad-faith literalism, why don't you try giving a shot at a substantive rebuttal for a change. You could start by explaining why any of the examples I offered--which are hardly exhaustive--are in error. I would be delighted to hear a meaningful argument for why conservative ideology--as exemplified by elected Republicans, state and federal party platforms, and the policies that poll overwhelmingly well among conservatives--does not in fact prioritize adherence to its own dogma over the real-world effects of its policies on lower-income Americans. I would love to hear someone credibly argue why tax cuts (particularly for the wealthy) are the answer whether we have a surplus or a deficit and whether the markets are up or down, but we can't afford $16 billion to extend unemployment benefits for those who can't find work in order to benefit from those tax cuts. Do tell why the emphasis in conservative policy proposals on punishment over rehabilitation and obtaining convictions over protecting the rights of the accused are not prima facie evidence of indifference to the human impact of policy as long as the policy adheres to conservative ideology.

I don't care about your personal anecdotes. I don't care whether you, personally, espouse any of these principles. It is 100% ir-fscking-relevant. The fact is that these are the priorities of the state and national Republican parties, they are the priorities of the elected conservatives in office, and they are the face of modern conservatism. You and some other conservatives might find it distasteful, but your idea of what conservatism should be is as irrelevant to the Republican party as idealized Marxism was to the Soviet Union.

If you've got something to say that credibly rebuts any of this, by all means bring it. Show your work.

With respect, you'd raise taxes across the board on most employers to keep what generic conservatives (me, for example) see as bloated government going.

No sir, I would not. I actually have said on this blog that any increase in taxes should wait until we are out of the recession.

Applying the Keynesian approach when we have already spent so much money strikes me and many others as economic suicide. When austerity strikes, it is hard. That is essentially what austerity means. By definition, those at the margins, those most dependent on government largess, pay the higher price when government contracts. But incurring more debt that can't be paid back does nothing but postpone the day of reckoning.

No, you have this backwards. Austerity hurts, but hurts worse in a recession, and can and has created depressions when implemented in such times.

Austerity hurts, but is necessary when times are going good, and tax revenues are up, and finances can be fixed without causing the economy to turn into a tailspin.

And the Keynesian model does and has worked in our country, and the debate about the Great Depression is not much of a debate at all. I've not seen any compelling debate, just people like Amity Shlaes and her fact-free advocacy on the one side, and reputable economists/historians on the other.

The G20 isn't being advised by Milton Friedman (more pity that) or libertarian philosophers masquerading as economists. Collectively, they have a lot of smart people who have concluded just the opposite of what elected politicians want to conclude and that is, we have to cut services and benefits. Politicians, particularly European politicians, like to give stuff away, not take it back. Would they be doing what they are doing if they really, really didn't think it was necessary?

I don't question the necessity, just the timing (and as an aside, European elites have been wanting to pare back the welfare state for decades, it is the voters that stop them, not their ideological leanings). And arguing that people think it necessary therefore it must be the best possible policy is not exactly persuasive.

Again, Hoover thought it necessary to implement austerity measures while in a recession and the great depression happened.

Japan did the same thing, and got the lost decade. They were not Milt Friedman. They were smart. They thought they were doing the right thing. They weren't.

Ireland did the same thing recently, and is experiencing prolonged unemployment. Ditto.

Eric, how does austerity impact on employers in a way that is significantly different than its impact on others?

In broad strokes, austerity leads to massive job shedding in the public sector: firefighters, teachers, cops, sanitation, transportation, medical, construction, etc.

Those people lose salaries and stop buying things, depressing demand.

With spending/demand down, employers are not generating sales and are not going to be hiring new workers.

This is particularly bad during a recession when demand/spending is ALREADY so depressed. That's how you create a vicious, downward spiral.

People want to do useful, productive work, and in return they want to receive a reasonable share of the value that their labor creates.

For the most part, I agree. Having managed law firms ranging from 12 to 100 employees, my sense is that about 15% of the work force, from entry level clerical staff up through licensed professionals, are and always will be modestly motivated, marginal performers. This is anecdotal, not statistical. I've had extensive dealings with local, state and federal employees. The percentage of under-motivated employees runs much higher. Again, this is anecdotal, not statistical.

And when things go awry, as they will, they want the burden of whatever sacrifices are required to get through the tough times to be shared across all sectors of the society, not just themselves.

I think this is true particularly for the 15% mentioned above and for many who work in the public sector. Most of the unemployed people I know have cut the hell out of their living expenses and are out looking for work. Asking for help from others is an anathema to almost all of them. Most of the people I know who still have jobs have also cut back and are saving against the day when they too might find themselves out of work.

Tax increases definitely retard growth.

Good, bad, or indifferent, the US economy is driven by consumer demand. I'd actually say that, in and of itself, is not so great, but what makes the wheels turn here is people buying stuff.

So, tax increases retard growth. So does unemployment.

No paycheck, no spend. No spend, no growth.

I'm fine with reducing the national debt. I'm not fine with doing it on the backs of the middle class.

McTex: Generally speaking, I'm not opposed to balanced budgets and cutting spending.

Sebastian's comment upthread is pretty much where I am. Russell too, at the top.

No sir, I would not. I actually have said on this blog that any increase in taxes should wait until we are out of the recession.

I missed that and I apologize.

Eric, how does austerity impact on employers in a way that is significantly different than its impact on others?

In broad strokes, austerity leads to massive job shedding in the public sector: firefighters, teachers, cops, sanitation, transportation, medical, construction, etc.

So, the harm to the private sector is the reduction in demand occasioned by a lay off of X percent of the public sector? Doesn't the private sector have to pay in whatever the public sector releases in net payroll? Looks like an uneven dollar swap to me: pay in $100, get back $50 spread diffusely.

Good, bad, or indifferent, the US economy is driven by consumer demand.

If you want to generate consumer demand, suspend the employee side of FICA for people earning less than 150K a year and do so for two years. And, cut the s**t out of spending. Start with the Dept of Agriculture and end fricking crop subsidies. Then wait and see what happens. No new programs, no new agencies, no new nothing. Replace one agency with another, fine. But quit growing government.

So, the harm to the private sector is the reduction in demand occasioned by a lay off of X percent of the public sector? Doesn't the private sector have to pay in whatever the public sector releases in net payroll? Looks like an uneven dollar swap to me: pay in $100, get back $50 spread diffusely.

First, not just public sector jobs. The government also contracts with a lot of private sector companies, and those companies shed jobs during times of austerity as well.

Second, I'm not sure I follow the dollar swap formula you are using. Are you saying taxation is paying in, and then public sector payroll is created, and thus the private sector is getting a raw deal?

Again, if that is it, then I reiterate: I favor balanced budgets, and getting our bloated budget in line (defense is the biggest and bloatedest and first place I would apply the scalpel). Taxes need to go up as well.

However, I'm with russell in that I would not like to see this done on the backs of the middle class/working class, and either way, we should absolutely NOT try to do this during a severe recission/unemployment crisis.

Timing matters
.
I missed that and I apologize.

I could have been clearer. Not your fault in the slightest.

What I would like to understand is what other mechanism is going to get us out of this hole.

If austerity is the solution for returning to growth, what is the specific mechanism by which austerity will prompt increases of employment?

Deflation and economic contraction will increase the size of the debt relative to the economy even without new spending, making repayment more painful.

Things aren't turning around that I can see. In May the economy added 41,000 jobs. We need it to be adding 600,000. Again, by what mechanism does austerity cause that figure to rise to the levels necessary?

Pardon my lack of particular reference, but this thread has gone from the blatantly absurd "conservatives are for unemployment" to the equally absurd "conservatives don't care about the human impact of unemployment". Conservative have parents and children and spouses and partners and friends and neighbors and they certainly care about the impact of unemployment.

Rich conservatives(particular ones who have been wealthy a long time) often are less empathetic as they often don't have the personal experience that drives the problems home. This is also true of rich Progressives.

In the halls of Congress you often get rich conservatives arguing with rich progressives; They rarely display any real empathy, it is almost always a Trading Places moment.

The personalization of these political and economic ideologies seems unproductive.

Charity, government spending and tax cuts for real businesses that employ real people are parts of the solution, in different measures based on your assessment of their potential impact.

Interestingly, the stimulus discussions we had last year had, at least, a much clearer discussion of the short and long term impacts of potential solutions, i.e. Government spending happened slower but was more efficient, tax cuts were quicker but didn't have the same multiplier, deficits risk other cosequences, etc.

This seems like a weak rehash based on the slowly building conclusion that the answer pushed through by the Obama administration was, at best, inadequate or, at worst, just extended the pain. We are not at the point we can start reducing the deficit so let's don't.

For my part, spend as much as you want on expanding the electrical grid to 10 times exxpected need, make a ten year plan to make all power delivery (for anything) be in the form of electricity in ten years, make all alternative energy research focus on creating electricity as the ultimate delivery vehicle and put all of those trades people and engineers to work. True economic and clean energy growth combined, plus a good dose of incentive for new private industry.

We should do that as we bring every troop home from the Afghanistan and Iraq as quickly as possible (months not years) and reduce the defense budget by about 25% and rewrite HCR to cover people who don't have coverage. Maybe we could save a little money too.

But thats just me.

If austerity is the solution for returning to growth, what is the specific mechanism by which austerity will prompt increases of employment?

"Root hog, or die".

The problem, according to some, is that unemployment benefits etc cause people to prefer the dole to actual employment.

So, they don't take jobs they might otherwise take.

It's unclear to me what those jobs are, exactly, and who is doing them if all of the folks on unemployment aren't doing them.

Are there sectors of the economy that are currently starving for workers?

But it would appear that the cure for unemployment is to imbue folks with a healthy dose of fear of starvation and utter financial ruin.

'Cos apparently there's not enough of that going around yet.

Marty, Catsy said:

I don't care about your personal anecdotes. I don't care whether you, personally, espouse any of these principles. It is 100% ir-fscking-relevant. The fact is that these are the priorities of the state and national Republican parties, they are the priorities of the elected conservatives in office, and they are the face of modern conservatism. You and some other conservatives might find it distasteful, but your idea of what conservatism should be is as irrelevant to the Republican party as idealized Marxism was to the Soviet Union.

So Catsy, at least, did not say

"conservatives are for unemployment"

or

"conservatives don't care about the human impact of unemployment"

I believe you're referring to wonkie, who was being hyperbolic in the pursuit of wit (which is no vice).

"Are there sectors of the economy that are currently starving for workers?"

Not disagreeing with any of your points, the answer to this question is yes. There are many parts of the IT sector where there is tremendous wage inflation pressure due to a shortage of qualified workers. Most of this is due to a sifnificant decrease in people going into IT becuase they fear their jobs will be offshored.

If you want to generate consumer demand, suspend the employee side of FICA for people earning less than 150K a year and do so for two years.

I bet that would put more cash into play, but it would do so at the cost of defunding SS by about half.

How would we make up that shortfall?

For the record, I'm not against cutting spending. I'm not against trimming back benefits. I'm not against austerity measures.

What I'm against is choosing to do so in ways that accept long-term unemployment rates at levels like 1 out of 10 people unable to find work even though they are actively looking, and an additional 6 to 7 percent either having given up entirely or able to find only part-time employment.

That is a freaking disaster in ways that extend far beyond the financial. Which is, I think, Jacob's original point.

It's our choice how we address this, and our choice who bears the brunt of the sacrifice.

When times are good, everyone should prosper, and when times are bad, everyone should feel it. That's what "fair" means.

Everybody should be taking some of the hit, not just working people.

Some people worry that the world will run out of oil. Others worry that it will run out of money. The latter consider themselves realists.

In the realist view, spending some of the world's finite stock of money to employ otherwise-idle people (on renewable-energy projects, say) would be bad for future generations: if we use up all the money now, our grandchildren won't have any money left.

Far be it from me to call some people liberal and others conservative. I can only point out that "realists" have a strange view of reality.

--TP

Why did I know you'd be the one to

Because clearly, you've already decided who I am and what I stand for.

Sorry for being Captain Obvious about this kind of thing, but it seems there's a need.

that arguing against it is a sign of either ignorance or bad faith argument

This is really the same as "not debatable", so: circular. Might as well not argue it. In fact, might as well get cracking on not arguing it. Sorry, I know: Captain Obvious.

why don't you try giving a shot at a substantive rebuttal for a change

I would, but there seems to be an overabundance of unrebuttable generalities being tossed around.

I don't care about your personal anecdotes

I don't care much for self-serving claims of how horrible conservatives are, either. But we both have to suffer, don't we?

Start making verifiable claims, and I'll respond to the facts. Or not. Make statements of opinion, and I'll respond with opinion. That's pretty much what started this whole exchange, if you care to look.

If you've got something to say that credibly rebuts any of this

Any of what? There wasn't anything there that I responded to that had anything rebuttable in it. Do your homework, and see.

Let's try another tack. Market theory posits that when the price of something goes up, more will be supplied. When applied to the labor market, there are problems. There are time constraints (24 hrs/day). Some people simply don't believe it, but I guess they get to pick and choose which markets to apply market principles to.

Then there is the fact that, at some wage, a more or less rational person will trade leisure for income. This leads to the oft cited "backward bending supply of labor curve", i.e., at some level, higher wages will lead suppliers to cut back the supply of labor.

Applied to the very rich, this would imply something along these lines: If we raised their taxes substantially, their income would be reduced and they would work more.

So my slogan is this: Get the rich off their asses. Raise their taxes.

And, cut the s**t out of spending. Start with the Dept of Agriculture and end fricking crop subsidies.

These two sentences next to each other are, well . . .

Just for the record, US direct payments to farmers are about $20 billion a year, or $200 billion over a ten-year period. Over that same period, the Bush tax cuts cost the country $2.5 trillion in revenue -- enough for 120 years of those subsidies. Just sayin'.

Also, the DoD budget is nearly $640 billion annually -- 32x as large as ag subsidies. If you want to "cut the sh*t out of spending," you're going to have to do a lot better than that.

(Also, your own state of Texas would lose nearly $400 million annually, which would probably result in additional job losses. Again, JFTR.)

Jacob Davies queries: "Again, by what mechanism does austerity cause that figure to rise to the levels necessary?"

..............crickets.

Not one of those supporting austerity here have even attempted an answer. That's because there is none.

My point - can't speak for others - was not that conservatives don't care about unemployment. My intent was to try to figure out what good-faith counterbalancing motivations are stopping conservatives from supporting measures to reduce unemployment. That they are the ones preventing it from happening is a fact, both at the political level and among the rank-and-file.

There's some IGMFY, there's some "Make the Democrats fail so we can take back Congress and maybe the Presidency", but in my experience there is little point in taking on the bad-faith motivations head-on; people acting in bad faith don't care about your arguments anyway, and I don't think anyone here is interested in defending those bad-faith motivations.

So I try to identify those good-faith arguments that are made to oppose spending, one of which I take to be a Calvinist - for want of a better term - belief about people getting what they deserve. I'm quite sympathetic to it, I think rewards are important in guiding decisions about education and hard work and investment and that of the imperfect systems available to us for determining rewards, the marketplace should usually be primary.

So having attempted to identify one reasonable good-faith argument (of perhaps several), I want to then argue against it - to say that solid evidence says that the current unemployment is not sending useful signals about the important of education and hard work, it's actually dealing a massive blow to family stability and the work ethic. I think conservatives who are in good faith motivated that way are wrong, but not that they don't care.

There's a good-faith argument about the cost to be made too, and maybe that is the major motivation for most conservatives. For politicians I have a hard time taking it as good faith given how they acted from 2000-2006, but for rank-and-file conservatives it may be another matter. (Democratic politicians do stuff progressives hate too.) I think there's a good counter to that, too, which is that mass unemployment will be very expensive, that deflation will make the debt harder to pay back, and that spending may wind up being substantially cheaper than not spending.

I agree, Marty should quit confusing himself with John Boehner, Rand Paul, Phil Gramm, Dick Armey, Jon Kyl, George Will, the entire Republican caucus and the rest.

Sharron Angle, another non-Marty, recently said that it was God's plan that she make abortion illegal even in the case of rape and/or incest. Which is another way of saying that the market doesn't make moral choices, it just is.

Life for these people is a wood chipper without an off switch, no matter who or what or how many get caught in it. Life is a crocodile and nothing should be done at any time to limit its appetite.

These people aren't Marty. I've described what they are, but why be redundant, and besides, I'm running out of synonyms for evil.

Go to MarketWatch (Wall Street Journal) and click on "The Three Biggest Lies About the U.S. Economy" by Brett Arends, their personal financial writer.

But, first, see that the stock market dropped 268 points -- the NASDAQ was down 85 -- and read the summary of why (guess, at best) it dropped. Government bond yields dropped, meaning bond prices rose.

Let's see, what's the news: The Republican Party and a few others refused to extend unemployment benefits; a program to ameliorate homelessness among male and female veterans was derailed by the Republican party and the other usual suspects, financial reform, f*cking unbelievably, is on life support; the International Bank of Settlements issued a statement encouraging austerity; Boehner wants to slash Social Security and spend the savings on eternal expensive war; the Brits and the Germans, as only they can do, are having an orgy of austerity; China, an austere people, are dying to get in on the austerity measures, you see the theme here ....


... all to impress the markets, and in the cae of the Republicans in Congress, to destroy their enemies.

What did the all-seeing markets miss today in this landscape paved with austerity that they would be so disappointed as to move their money from stocks to unproductive government bonds?

What did the all-seeing markets miss today in this landscape paved with austerity that they would be so disappointed as to move their money from stocks to unproductive government bonds?

Because of the widespread belief these are not czarist war bonds. Because they are denominated in dollars, of which there is an infinite supply. Because when all business ventures are failing, you'd have to be an idiot to turn down 30 yr. bonds promising to pay something at least. Anything.

Or because they simply, and perversely, wish to humiliate Sebastian.

Furthermore, those buying these bonds today have absolutely no regard for future generations of hapless widows and orphans and the burden this will place on them.

What I would like to understand is what other mechanism is going to get us out of this hole.

I bet that would put more cash into play, but it would do so at the cost of defunding SS by about half.

If FICA were rebated at incomes below 150K, two things would happen. First, those with jobs would have more disposable income. Second, hiring, to some unknown degree, would be stimulated because new hires could be brought in at 8% a year less. The rebate period would have to be phased back in over a 2-4 year period to avoid systemic shock, particularly at the small employer end.

A third thing that wouldn't happen is that we would avoid the ridiculous and unproductive role of the the feds deciding how the economy gets stimulated. Let the taxpayers decide, with their own money.

How to pay for it? Cap spending. No new spending, across the board, no exceptions. Downsize our presence overseas dramatically. We can debate what our standing and reserve forces ought to look like some other time, but spending more money on bringing liberal democracy to the middle east is a loser.

Further, a federal hiring freeze. Let the public sector do what the private sector does when things get tight. The best case private sector solution is not lay anyone off, but rather let retirement and attrition accomplish the downsizing. Remaining employees will have to work harder. Sorry, sometimes life is hard.

An economist could explain what I'm going to try to say a lot better: when the public sector requires the huge portion of the gdp that ours is increasingly beginning to require, it shortens the supply of money available to expand the private sector. Spending has to be cut, fans of John Maynard Keynes notwithstanding.

How would we make up that shortfall?
If we raised their taxes substantially, their income would be reduced and they would work more.

A joke, right?

The biggest problem with the whole "austerity" crap pile going on is if it's implemented, it will stunt growth, and leave us all worse off than we were before. And that will be the new normal. There's more than one equilibrium for society, and the relatively prosperous for everyone eqilibrium we've been at isn't the only, or even the most common one.

So, we get stuck at an equilibrium with 10% unemployment, and with massive income inequality, and lots of instability, and we're back where humanity has been through lots of history. And we've bleed, worked, sweat, fought, lived, and died to get away from that. And the "austerity" idiots are going to push us back into it, because of Invisible Bond Vigilantes, or because they think they'll be one of the people on top because they're just that awesome (plenty of libertarians), or because they're more interested in making sure that "unworthy" people don't get "handouts" than in helping raise the whole society, including themselves up, or because they're loyal toadies of the would-be overclass.

So, hey, cut Social Security, fire teachers and police, let our roads fall apart, but heaven forbid we borrow money, or raise taxes on the people who ran the economy off a cliff and/or have siphoned almost all of the economic growth over the past thirty years into their own giant coin-filled vaults.

This is really the same as "not debatable", so: circular. Might as well not argue it. In fact, might as well get cracking on not arguing it. Sorry, I know: Captain Obvious.

This is Palin-esque word salad, almost entirely without meaningful semantic content.

Any of what?

That's the question I just asked myself, Slart, after reading that gibberish. I have re-read your litany of tu quoque responses three times now in an attempt to find a substantial point in it--without success.

There wasn't anything there that I responded to that had anything rebuttable in it.

Pay more attention.

I made a number of empirically evaluable assertions about the priorities of conservative ideology. The party platforms and stated priorities of elected Republicans are a matter of fact and record, and the actual human impact I describe as a result of those policies is also a matter of fact and record. Countless elected Republicans are on record making both votes and statements that regard reducing the deficit and discouraging "laziness" as being more important than providing health care or unemployment assistance for families. These are facts, and you don't get to have your own. You took issue with my characterization of those facts as "not debatable", but neglected to actually offer any support for why you think my assertions are inaccurate. When challenged to provide a substantial response instead of snark, you responded with tu quoque nonsense and breezy conflation of the opinions I've stated with the facts that underlie those conclusions. You quoted a line about "not caring" about your personal anecdotes out of context--said context being a paragraph of statements about how it's irrelevant whether or not individual conservatives believe X, when X is the unequivocal agenda of elected Republicans--using it for yet another tu quoque rejoinder, and demonstrating that you didn't bother to process the context by spending half your comment whining about how I'm pigeonholing you with all those other mean people.

Because clearly, you've already decided who I am and what I stand for.

When multiple people--with different politics from different countries and walks of life, over a period of years--raise the same issues with the substance-free way you deflect and avoid debate, you might want to consider that the problem isn't with them.

Of course ...
http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2003/11/dead_right.html

"The thing that makes capitalism good, apparently, is not that it generates wealth more efficiently than other known economic engines. No, the thing that makes capitalism good is that, by forcing people to live precarious lives, it causes them to live in fear of losing everything and therefore to adopt – as fearful people will – a cowed and subservient posture: in a word, they behave ‘conservatively’. Of course, crouching to protect themselves and their loved ones from the eternal lash of risk precisely won’t preserve these workers from risk. But the point isn’t to induce a society-wide conformist crouch by way of making the workers safe and happy. The point is to induce a society-wide conformist crouch. Period. A solid foundaton is hereby laid for a desirable social order.

Let’s call this position (what would be an evocative name?) ‘dark satanic millian liberalism’:"

"A Federal hiring freeze"

The federal civilian workforce, not counting military and postal workers, has fluctuated between about 2.1 million workers and 3.1 million workers since 1946. It is currently about 2.75 million. (I'm going to do more work on this, because explaining this stuff pisses me off).

So the Federal government has roughly kept employment at steady levels despite the growth in Federal revenues (input) and expenditures (output) since 1946.

Youda thunk, given the absolute ignorant bullsh*t flung around by bullsh*tters that none of this represents increasing productivity on the part of the federal workforce.

But we need another effing hiring freeze, do we?

What are the savings from this hiring freeze?

How bout a number? I'll wager its a shotglass of spit compared to the annual Federal budget, not to mention the deficit.

Fire all 2.8 million Federal workers. How much are you saving? I have a rough idea, but I doubt anyone else does, so I'll keep it to myself for a few days.

It's less than 14 trillion, or whatever it is we need to balance the federal budget.

Put those people in line with the rest of the poor sods standing in line for the 25 jobs available in the private sector. I'm sure everyone will appreciate the competition.

Sorry, sometimes life is hard.


"But, first, see that the stock market dropped 268 points -- the NASDAQ was down 85 -- and read the summary of why (guess, at best) it dropped. Government bond yields dropped, meaning bond prices rose."

Well let's see, here are the two key announcements for todays drop:

First China's growth was measured wrong by the Conference Board

Then The new Financial Regulations create requirements for 1 trillion dollars of reserves and credit for derivatives companies

Plus consumer confidence was reported down 10 points from 62 to 52 in one month.

Not a good day of news but not a guess.

"Fire all 2.8 million Federal workers. How much are you saving? I have a rough idea, but I doubt anyone else does, so I'll keep it to myself for a few days."

Thats true John, however, for the sake of completeness there are 1 million less people in the military (1.5M from 2.5M since 1962)so we should be pretty impressed with their productivity.

In addition the average Federal employee has gotten their share of those productivity gains note here

From Marty's second link:

The group said companies will need a combined $400 billion for collateral to cover the current exposure of their over-the-counter derivatives transactions and another $370 billion in additional credit capacity to cover potential future exposure of those transactions. "If markets return to levels prevailing at the end of 2008, additional collateral needs would bring the total to $1 trillion," said ISDA in its report.
As a simpleton, I'd like to understand what this means, let alone what it has to do with a drop in the DJIA.

--TP

If FICA were rebated at incomes below 150K, two things would happen. First, those with jobs would have more disposable income. Second, hiring, to some unknown degree, would be stimulated because new hires could be brought in at 8% a year less

So, I take it that, "If business owners didn't have to pay so much in taxes they could afford to pay people more?" is no longer operational as a conservative talking point?

Bobbyp, it would be nice if you would quit with the sarcasm when attempting to club us with an economic theory which appears to be believed by about one single economist guru.

Phil, you appear to be agreeing with McKinneyTexas but it is phrased as disagreement. Isn't he saying that if people were taxed less it would stimulate the economy.

BTW, Keynes and Friedman both thought that tax cuts in a recession were a very effective stimulus.

Well, the problem with tax cuts in a recession is that people tend to want to save and pay off debt rather than consume when times are bad. The government is really the spender of last resort in these situations.
I also found it kind of hilarious that McKinneyTexas was describing with evident approval the cutting back on spending of the people he knew, when it is exactly that which turns a recession into a depression. Y'know, what is good for the individual isn't actually good if too many people do it, Paradox of Thrift kinda thing.
But, whatever, I guess at worst they'll just "heighten the contradictions" until the time comes when we line the them up against a wall and shoot them. They'll probably back down before that happens, though, like they did in the 1930's.

So, the "paradox of thrift" means we should shoot those who save?

Good to see you again, jrudkis.

No, the paradox of thrift does NOT mean we should shoot those who save. It means we have a choice:

1) Sit back, let savers save, allow demand to keep dropping, and watch even more investment dry up because no capitalist worth his salt is going to invest when demand is dropping. That will make even more people think they'd better save, reducing demand even more. Pretty soon, we have all sorts of idle productive capacity because good capitalists are not so dumb as to keep producing goods and services that have no customers.

2) Throw government into the mix: let government help savers save by offering to pay interest on their savings. In English, this is known as government borrowing money, i.e. running a deficit. Unlike all those indiividual savers, government can be confident about spending -- even spending borrowed money. By spending, which means buying things and hiring people, government turns itself into a customer for goods and services. This emboldens good capitalists to invest, it emboldens ordinary people to consume, it raises demand for labor, and all of a sudden you get what happened in 1940-45: major growth of economic output thanks to massive government deficits. (All that shooting and bombing and stuff was historically important, but economically speaking it was the massive growth in government debt, not the blood and gore, that finally pulled the US economy out of the Great Depression.)

Naturally, we can reject the choice between those two options. We can let The Economy bumble along and wait for it to sort of revive ... in the "long run".

--TP

How would we make up that shortfall?
If we raised their taxes substantially, their income would be reduced and they would work more.

A joke, right?

Not a joke at all. Google "labor-leisure."

Or think about this. Suppose you make $100/hr pre-tax, and can control the niumber of hours you work. You pay 30% in taxes, so if you work 2000 hours a year you make, after tax, $140K.

Now suppose taxes are cut to 25%. If you continue to work 2000 hours your income will go to $150K. But, gee, maybe you are perfectly happy with $140K. You only need about $187K pre-tax to have $140K after-tax, so maybe you cut your work hours to 1870/yr and take 130 extra hours (three weeks plus) off.

Would that be a crazy thing to do? Of course not. And obviously the logic applies in reverse.

I think that conservative politicians should be judged by their actions.
And this is the pattern: the conservative politician supports all sorts big government interventions that support jobs in his or her state while supporting cuts in taxes for the wealthy and blaming any budget imbalances on welfare Cadillacs or immigrants or whoever the bogeyperson du jour happens to be. The conservative politician advocates deregulation and blames any catastophes that result on everybody except the conservative politican. Whenthe catastrophe is economic and lots of people still can't find jobs and their unemployment runs out the conservative continues to shovel tax dollars to the conservative voters in his/her district but votes against an extention of unemployment benefits.

And yes I know some conservatives are Democrats and collaborate with this selfishness and hypocrisy.

Selfishness and hypocracy appear to me to be fundamental conservative values, based on how conservative politicians act.

All that shooting and bombing and stuff was historically important, but economically speaking it was the massive growth in government debt, not the blood and gore, that finally pulled the US economy out of the Great Depression

I think there is a strong argument for the destruction of all other industrial bases as one reason the government spending in 1940-45 made a difference. No one else could produce but us.

Perhaps we are just blowing up the wrong stuff this time.

No one else could produce but us.

Think about that for a minute, though. If no one could produce but us, how could anybody pay "us" to produce for "them"?

Somebody had to pay for the production of P-51s and Liberty ships and all that, and that "somebody" was "us" -- in the form of our federal government. Which paid "us" with borrowed money. Money that it borrowed from who? From "us" of course.

It's not like "we" had a lot of money to lend, in 1938-39, so you might wonder how that could possibly work. But work it undeniably did.

--TP

Bobbyp, it would be nice if you would quit..."

The pure unredeemed pettiness of that remark is simply astounding. Take two aspirin and get a good night's sleep.

Happy 4th of July

Hello, all.

It has been many, many months since I have paid a visit.

Up late with that glorious combination of insomnia and depression -- which isn't exactly being helped right now by watching Anderson Cooper's dutiful reporting on, among other things, those poor, poor oil-covered sea turtles and pelicans -- I was delighted to see that Eric gave a guest forum to Jacob, who did a fine job with it.

To quote JD: "Unfortunately, the idea is more wrong than right. Unemployment is corrosive towards the very values that conservatives hold high: family cohesion; hard work; honesty; marriage; child-raising; lawfulness."

Well said.

However -- instead of the more generic and too general "conservaties" --
I'd go with right-wing, out-of-their-mind zealot Republicans who forgot long ago, ever since the Clinton Administration, what their party once stood for, not to mention that it once held some honor and dignity.

Meanwhile, to state the obvious, this economy -- the seemingly endless 10 percent employment; the jittery Dow and all of those who shudder with it (held hostage by their unstable 401k funds and shrinking hopes of retiring sooner rather than later); May housing sales down by a record 33 percent; consumer confidence plummeting (and more Americans thinking the country is on the ominous "wrong track" than the right track in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll); the Obama Administration's continued and shameful coziness with big business and big banks -- still sucks.

To my untrained eye, I'd believe we are headed for the dreaded double-dip recession, bad news for Dems in November -- and something (along with the 72-day-and-counting BP mess, truly his Katrina) even the Great Obama won't overcome in 2012.

I can only bear witness to what I live and see.

In March and April, I enjoyed back-to-back 15-car months, a total, give or take, necessary to pay this worker's bills and have a little extra -- and the first time since the economic downslide in the car business that began in late 2007 that I achieved such solid success.

What a relief.

What a turnaround.

Not.

In May, I sold 7 cars.

June: 6.

So, you go from 30 cars in two months -- some long-awaited prosperity (and job security; I was nearly fired last December) -- to 13 cars in two months (the number needed in a single month to make ends meet).

For now at least, March and April, were a sad aberration.

I am now seeing the same shit I saw in 2008 and 2009 and, in some ways, worse: Due to the Great Recession and all of the bankruptcies and foreclosures and lst jobs and wages that have gone with it, we see bad credit after bad credit day after day.

I recenty ran a 356 -- in nine years, the only time I saw a score under 400 (mind you, ideally you'd better be at least a 650 in this economy) once, and that was a 398.

Forget it hurting my ability to make a living. I will tell you it takes a toll on you emotionally, if you have a heart -- and granted, many of my colleagues do not -- looking customer after customer in the eye and telling them they don't come close to being able to buy an automobile, revealing to them just how low their credit has fallen. (Many customers, previously 650s and above, are shocked to find out that they are no longer credit-worthy.)

Meantime, just today I had to take out a $2200 loan from my 401k -- leaving only $2200, which represents the company's match, and, therefore, cannot be touched -- in order to stay afloat after making less than $5000 the past two months.

And so it goes.

For me.

And for many million Americans less fortunate than I.

P.S. Big Russ, TP, Bernard, my dear ObWi friends -- I dropped Comcast: my new email address is [email protected]

One last thing, OT, watching the Kagan hearings, I offer this observation: Is there a bigger asshole in the Senate than Jeff Frigging Sessions?

The US unemployment rate is currently 9.7%. That is the U3 number, which excludes people who have simply given up on finding work.
The U4 number includes those people. The U4 rate is 10.2%, which means that one out of every 200 people who could be working and would like to work have simply given up on finding work.

russell, I'm going to disagree with the detail by way of agreeing with the thesis: those figures imply that 0.5% of the total population (10.2% - 9.7%) is out of work and has given up, not 0.5% of the unemployed population. It's more like 5% or so of the out-of-work population. One in twenty unemployed people has given up hope of finding work.

So you're wrong, in the sense that you're a lot more right than you thought you were.

Not that Catsy has exactly merited any response, but:

have re-read your litany of tu quoque responses

I invite Catsy to look up tu quoque, and then point out where I have done that. Or retract, as appropriate.

I made a number of empirically evaluable assertions about the priorities of conservative ideology.

I'm still stuck at zero, but: unless you've pointed out how unemployment is itself a conservative value, as wonkie claimed (and perhaps you just need to use smaller words, because I'm not seeing it), then you've failed to make your point.

You took issue with my characterization of those facts as "not debatable", but neglected to actually offer any support for why you think my assertions are inaccurate

Eh? You started out with "not debatable". And a steaming mess of assertions is not, in any universe I'm comfortable in, a fact-filled argument.

Anyway: done with you. You're arguing by assertion, and you're conflating conservative's different set of priorities regarding unemployment with a deliberate drive to create unemployment. Which doesn't even make sense on any level, because conservatives have at various times controlled Congress (and have in recent memory controlled both Congress and the White House), and bills and policies aimed at separating folks from their jobs just aren't in evidence.

And a steaming mess of assertions is not, in any universe I'm comfortable in, a fact-filled argument.

Tu quoque, Slarti.

I wonder whether 'tu quoque' now changes from the meaning 'auch du'(you too) to 'du mich auch' (up yours, lit. you me too) ;-)

A cry of bullsh*t does not qualify as tu quoque, J. But possibly you left something out in favor of brevity?

If FICA were rebated at incomes below 150K, two things would happen. First, those with jobs would have more disposable income. Second, hiring, to some unknown degree, would be stimulated because new hires could be brought in at 8% a year less.

My guess on this is that (a) is true and (b) is not.

If you put more money in most folks' pockets by way of a tax rebate, a lot of it will get spent.

If you give back the employee portion of FICA, I'm very doubtful that this will encourage employers to hire more people.

Employers hire people when they believe that doing so will make them money. In general, that is when there is demand for what they make or do that they cannot currently meet because the folks on hand can't scale up to it.

No demand, no hire, even if the labor is available at a discount.

That's my take.

There might be some indirect effect on hiring -- more spendable cash creates more demand and so more incentive to hire. There is likely also some margin where employers are on the fence about hiring and a two-year FICA holiday will push them over the edge, but my guess is that that margin is pretty small.

I'd also point out a small contradiction here. If you want the spending money benefit of the FICA holiday, you have to actually give the money to the employee. It doesn't work if the employer holds onto it.

I think you gotta pick one.

Regarding federal spending, we all have our favorite thing to cut. One man's fat is another man's meat. Not saying there aren't places to trim, just saying that noting that is the easy part, the hard part is coming to an agreement about what goes and what stays.

And as always when folks talk about "cutting out the waste": over half the budget is DOD, Medicare, Medicaid, SS, and debt service. That's where the money goes. Debt service is not negotiable (I hope), so if you want to make a really useful dent in the size of government (by which people usually mean $$$$) you're going to have to take on the military and/or the entitlements.

Good luck.

Slarti: But possibly you left something out in favor of brevity?

Yes.

Hartmut: I wonder whether 'tu quoque' now changes from the meaning 'auch du'(you too) to 'du mich auch' (up yours, lit. you me too) ;-)

Slarti responded to the truism that high unemployment is a conservative value with a steaming mess of assertions. His assertion that the original truism was the first steaming mess strikes me as a classic tu quoque.

Possibly mistaking himself for Penn, he claims this was a cry of bullsh*t, but he may have missed that Penn & Teller do spend some time demonstrating that BS is BS with fact-filled assertions.

Wonkie is right: I think that conservative politicians should be judged by their actions.
And this is the pattern: the conservative politician supports all sorts big government interventions that support jobs in his or her state while supporting cuts in taxes for the wealthy and blaming any budget imbalances on welfare Cadillacs or immigrants or whoever the bogeyperson du jour happens to be. The conservative politician advocates deregulation and blames any catastophes that result on everybody except the conservative politican. Whenthe catastrophe is economic and lots of people still can't find jobs and their unemployment runs out the conservative continues to shovel tax dollars to the conservative voters in his/her district but votes against an extention of unemployment benefits.

High unemployment is a conservative value. To claim otherwise, Slarti would have to do the work of showing that conservative politicians do not, for the most part, behave exactly as wonkie describes.

Or else, of course, flounce off the thread declaring that he just knows we're all wrong.

So, I take it that, "If business owners didn't have to pay so much in taxes they could afford to pay people more?" is no longer operational as a conservative talking point?

I wasn't aware this was a conservative talking point. It has a certain logic to it: money that doesn't go out in taxes is available for distribution to employees. The fallacy is that anything I pay an employee is not subject to tax, but it does cut into my bottom line (the trade off being that if I underpay my employees, they jump ship at the first opportunity and you can't hire quality people by paying chump change). The more salient point is that, in the aggregate, money left in the private sector, can produce expansion. It isn't guaranteed that expansion will follow since no prudent business owner will expand beyond his/her customers' willingness to buy.

But you are still off point: I am simply saying that administratively and practically, the quickest, easiest way to stimulate consumer demand is to give consumers an 8% across the board immediate increase in cash by cutting their FICA for two years and then phasing it back in over the next two to four years.

Change of subject to the labor/leisure thing: what a crock. Sorry, that's what it is. Tax people at such punitive levels that they are forced to work extra hours just to make ends meet will make the Tea Party look like pacifists.

My anecdotal experience in a fee for service industry is considerable. Generally, the fee for service industry consists of specialized trades and professional services. Still generally, the business model tends toward small to middle sized operations with a base of "journeymen" and a limited number of more experienced, long time in service owners. The other model is the solo practitioner. Again, this is someone with an established client/customer base that typically comes with substantial time in service and an established level of quality attendant to the services rendered. Thus, it is the more seasoned, experienced, i.e. older, craft people and professionals who control the customer base. The marginal hours, those over 2000, take the most out of you, particularly as you get older. Further, as you get older, your needs decrease due to having put your children through school, saved a little money and generally cut back on your costs. Further still, nearly everything a trade or profession does carries with it potential liability, whether its failing to properly fix a leak and flooding a home or committing some form of professional malpractice. And then, for the non-solos, there is the administrative hassle of being in business. The paperwork required by local, state and federal entities is astonishing. Add to that the paperwork generated by insuring, banking etc. needs that any small business requires and you have at least one full time person who does nothing but track paper, all of which the owner has to oversee. Punitive taxation doesn't inspire people to work harder, it infuriates them and causes them to seek other means of getting by, usually by significantly reigning in personal consumption and needs. Bottom line: the people this ridiculous concept targets are the least likely to be the compliant little minions the theory requires. They will do, as they've done all of their lives to achieve a degree of success and that is adapt. It is fantasy to think that the work aspect of successful professional and craft people is easy. It is the polar opposite of easy. This brilliant idea of taxing those with the most experience into submission would produce the opposite result and cause massive cutbacks in payroll and consumption. If my taxes begin to approach 50%, I simply shut down my firm, put 10 people on the street, sell our primary residence and practice law out of my satellite office at what will hopefully, someday be our retirement home. We'll get by just fine on what I can make on my own.

McKinney: Change of subject to the labor/leisure thing: what a crock. Sorry, that's what it is. Tax people at such punitive levels that they are forced to work extra hours just to make ends meet will make the Tea Party look like pacifists.

Yeah, how miserable you guys would be if you had to be taxed at the level of European countries... and work only European hours, and get only European holidays. Of course you'd also get a decent health care system and better education, if you were willing to pay for it.

If my taxes begin to approach 50%, I simply shut down my firm, put 10 people on the street, sell our primary residence and practice law out of my satellite office at what will hopefully, someday be our retirement home.

God forbid you should want to pay your share! Another conservative value: being a freeloader.

If my taxes begin to approach 50%, I simply shut down my firm, put 10 people on the street, sell our primary residence and practice law out of my satellite office at what will hopefully, someday be our retirement home.

No, you won't. You're exaggerating for effect. The entire history of your country, plus the experience of other countries filled with people much like you, suggests that this is not what you will do.

The entire history of your country, plus the experience of other countries filled with people much like you, suggests that this is not what you will do.

True. But it neatly demonstrates that aspiring to be a freeloader is a conservative value, as so many conservatives instantly start talking about becoming one if it looks like they might have to pay a fair share in return for benefits received.

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