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Posted at 8:33 AM ET, 02/26/2011

Open Thread

By Greg Sargent

This new ad the unions are airing in Wisconsin -- the hardest hitting one yet -- comes very close to suggesting that Governor Scott Walker contemplated violence against protesters in his conversation with the fake Koch, and hammers him for wielding the threat of layoffs as a political tool against state employees who have already agreed to the fiscal concessions he wants:

The ad, at bottom, is designed to paint Walker as an irredeemably ideological, insulated and even tyrannical figure who has gone rogue and can no longer even hear outside voices suggesting reasonable compromise.

By Greg Sargent  | February 26, 2011; 8:33 AM ET
Categories:  Labor  
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Comments

"...irredeemably ideological, insulated and even tyrannical figure who has gone rogue and can no longer even hear outside voices suggesting reasonable compromise."

You say that like it is a bad thing. Any number of candidates won their offices in this way. This is your Republican Party ticket America, the party of Palin, of Limbaugh and Beck.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Do WI voters think they got something other than what they "collectively bargained for" in Walker?

Does WI have referendum and recall?

What states are in great shape fiscally and wrt unemployment?
If there are any, we should be reading a feelgood story every now and then, about what works.

Or did the banking crisis so cripple the rest of the economy that the public anger over TARP bailing out the perps while abandoning the victims is justified, but aimed at the wrong targets?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 26, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Read it carefully, read it in entirety, both sides will Gree.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/what-conservatives-really_b_825504.html

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Mark the banking crisis is at bottom a real estate crisis and yes, it is pervasive, it is non-partisan and we are doing nothing about it, everyone is just watching as the damage is ongoing in all 57 states.

"Like the Bear Stearns executives, Mr. Mozilo had written his share of e-mails expressing worries about some of Countrywide’s loan practices.

He called one of Countrywide’s subprime products “the most dangerous product in existence, and there can be nothing more toxic.” The government argued that Mr. Mozilo had a legal obligation to share that information with investors."

No one goes to jail...

"His voice rising passionately, he said finally, “Countrywide was one of the greatest companies in the history of this country.”
Which is a final reason Mr. Mozilo would have been difficult to prosecute. Delusion is an iron-clad defense."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/26/business/economy/26nocera.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I would have said the foreclosure crisis was the result of the banking crisis, not vice versa. The packaging of all manner of debts in CDOs that could not only be bought and sold, but bet upon, created a float of "money" much greater than the total amount of money in the world, and exponentially greater than the value of mortgages that were shaky.

If it were a simple real estate/mortgage crisis, it would have been small enough to handle through FHA, and localized primarily to CA, NV, FL, and AZ.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 26, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

"...irredeemably ideological, insulated and even tyrannical figure who has gone rogue and can no longer even hear outside voices suggesting reasonable compromise."

Welcome to the world of the Tea Party. These know nothing "luddites" will destroy the very fabric of this country if they are not stopped and soon.

Governor Rick Scott's decision to NOT accept over 2 Billion in Federal money for our high speed rail, which already has right of way along the I-4 corridor..i.e. no nasty Eminent Domain battles...it was literally shovel ready and would provided thousands of needed "quality" jobs is just another example of ideological stupidity.

The DICKtator Scott promised to listen to the feasibility studies before making any decision. LIE. He listened to a libertarian think tank and killed it without ANY of the studies completed. His excuse was the liability for Florida taxpayers if the project failed. There were more than a half dozen PRIVATE companies who were willing to step up and accept the liability, in addition the Feds promised the money would be given without liability...no need to return a single penny of it to the Feds if the system didn't draw enough riders.

Meanwhile the short sighted pinheads like Scott and his tea party acolytes use arguments like...at $3 a gallon X 75 miles I can get my family of four to Disney cheaper than on a train. This is the perfect illustration of how the luddite tea party pinheads think. First...I just paid $3.50 a gallon for gas yesterday with the price rising dramatically daily. 2nd I-4 has become incredibly congested...it is now one of the most dangerous highways in the state with death and destruction on a daily basis...yeah get your family to Disney cheaper...yesterday but not TOMORROW you luddite morons. And of course that presumes you'll actually get your family to Orlando without an horrible accident claiming their lives.

Scott did this because of tea party fanaticism not because of any genuine concerns. As the quote I used describes..Scott is an irredeemably ideological, insulated and even tyrannical figure. He is simply out to gain some measure of revenge because the Feds had the audacity to bust the crook for his rampant Medicare/Medicaid fraud. If people don't wake up to the moronic tea partiers we might as well flush right now because our country is going into the sh!tter!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

@Mark in Austin

AMEN to your 9:12AM post!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

shrink

Yves Smith does a pretty little take down of Nocera's NYTimes piece this morning. I'm sure you'll appreciate it.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/02/nyts-joe-nocera-defends-failure-to-bring-wall-street-execs-to-justice.html

Posted by: lmsinca | February 26, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

(from yesterday's Secret Service thread)

"I wasn't aware of what Cao said, but I have to wonder why Tao considers that some oddball living in Vietnam, spouting rubbbish on a blog, is the equvilent of an elected Congressman holding a townhall meeting.

I view Cao in much the same way that I view JakeD'sClaw, or Bilgeman Kaddafi,

And I see no reason to CaoTao to any of them."

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 12:33 PM

LOL!!!

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

rukiddin7, my definition of "shovel ready" includes building plans actually drafted and approved. Do you even know how much STATE money would have to be expended before literal ground breaking? Do you know what the word "literal" means?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The money built around toxic real estate products certainly was what the banking crisis was all about, but the TARP ended the banking crisis in this country, except for small banks with too much exposure to the still falling real values in their loan portfolios.

Many big banks made record profits last year. Meanwhile, there will be more home foreclosures in 2011 than in 2010 and nationwide, housing prices continue to fall. The only thing that can stop the fall in housing prices is, in turn, growth in living wage jobs.

And as we discussed in the days of Obama's inaugural, his continuance of the Bush economic policies adding Larry Summers etc., more tax cuts, stimulus etc., all of that required another bubble to work. Too bad, we needed a non-bubble job driver and we still do, though many argued and still do that government has a very limited tool kit for creating job growth.

This is true to the extent America wants its small, ineffective (ineffectual) government and believes only the charlatans of industry can create jobs. But what if they choose not to and they have? Then what? Cling to your guns and religion America, it is going to be all you have left.

The chart from Blow's column I linked to (a lot) last week tells the story of the success of socialism in the northern euro model.
I have a hard time believing we can no longer compete with Germany.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

mark-in-austin, were you opposed to Reagan firing the air traffic controllers?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama accurately described the basis of American democracy: Empathy -- citizens caring for each other, both social and personal responsibility -- acting on that care, and an ethic of excellence. From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions and empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one's fellow citizens.

The conservative worldview rejects all of that.

Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don't think government should help its citizens. That is, they don't think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have 174 bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility."

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

@clawrence

I LIVE in Florida and so yes I understand the amount of state money involved. It had already been APPROVED by a REPUBLICAN legislature. It would have been LEVERAGED dramatically by accepting the Feds money...it's tens of thousands of decent paying construction jobs....it's the growth of business at the train stops and more JOBS...but why would a job killing CEO like Scott know the first freaking thing about creating jobs. He has never created the FIRST job...he bought hospitals and then CUT JOBS!

I expect this from you though Clawrence...you have ZERO vision of the future you ARE one of the know nothing Luddites I describe. I just thank God your type and the tea party know nothings weren't around in the 50's to torpedo Ike's Interstate Highway proposals..or I'd be driving to Michigan on congested US 41.
Clawrence get your head our of your "past"!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

lmsinca, shouldn't you be headed to Pershing Square (the rain has let up a bit out here, but it rained hard overnight)? Did you get snow?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

And wealthy corporations awash in profit, along with banks sitting on vast amounts of money but refusing to lend, have their pre-repudiation pf social responsibility all wrapped up with a pink bow. "Our responsibility is to the shareholders," they say, "our imperative is the maximizing of profit." And so they don't hire, though they could, and they don't lend, even though lending would be profitable.

Social responsibility? That's for Europe. That's for countries where workers aren't fearing for their lives. Social responsibility isn't free market.

And millions whose lives are in the act of being destroyed support this ideology.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Ruk, save your breath. Jake is an idiot and a troll. Just ignore him like the rest of us. He's not worth anyone's time.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

rukidding7, if I'm a Luddite, at least admit that this project is not "literally" shovel ready. I think that your Governor employed people directly in order to buy hospitals too.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

claw

I'm only 45 minutes away from LA, City Hall, so we're leaving about 10:45. Lots of rain, too many clouds to see any snow yet. We've only had snow here once in the 32 years I've lived in this community so I doubt we'll see any.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 26, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Truth in advertising is being violated here.

Why don't they just tell the truth, in a nutshell??

"Us bureaucrats are getting fatter and happier off your tax dollars, all the time, thanks to our Democrat unions. We appreciate the taxpayer generosity and we want all you voters out there to be sure to vote Democrat, in the future, so our gravey train will never stop running".

There it is. It's a simple truth. It will clarify the situation. Then the voters will cast their ballots in a Democratic way. Who knows? They may decide to kick those miserly Republicans out and restore the Democrat unions to their proper place.

Tell the truth! It will set you free.

Posted by: battleground51 | February 26, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca, all good until the attempt at rehabilitating Spitzer, this isn't about this or that prosecutor, this is a direction America has chosen to take, an unspoken bipartisan agreement. "...the failure of Team Obama to force management changes on the industry in early 2009 was a fatal error. It has embedded and emboldened a deeply corrupt plutocracy." True that.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

As to businesses not expanding / banks not lending, it's due to the uncertainty (in large part from government). The BEST thing to stimulate private growth right now would be PERMANENT Bush tax cuts and additional investment / capital gains tax cuts.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

lmsinca, drive safe and try to keep dry. A few years ago, I drove to Riverside and there was light snow falling on the 91 Freeway!

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Scott Walker's Lying Beady Eyes;

Check them out.

I understand that on Groundhog Day; Beady Eyed Hosni Walker saw his shadow, and predicted Six Decades of Nuclear Winter For Wisconsin's Teachers and Nurses.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Governor Scot Walker who do you really work for?

Posted by: bcinaz | February 26, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

As to businesses not expanding / banks not lending, it's due to the uncertainty (in large part from government).
---------------------------------------------
You are aware that these same businesses expand and invest all over the world, in countries where there is more uncertainty and where they have less control of the governments. They are expanding, investing and **hiring** heavily in all the BRIC's (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Do you honestly believe these countries are more certain than the U.S?

The U.S. is still seen as the safest place to invest on the globe as seen by the recent rush into U.S. Treasuries during the current Middle East dustup. In case you don't know what safety means--it means predictability that you will get your money back.

You should question some of your beliefs and test them against common sense. Forget ideology. Just look at the facts.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Live shot from downtown L.A. on channel 4 just now shows clear skies for now.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

bcinaz, were you opposed to Reagan firing the air traffic controllers? You probably didn't like Gov. Brewer trying to actually deal with illegal immigrants either. You should question some of your beliefs and test them against common sense. Forget ideology. Just look at the facts.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I read this last night and someone linked to it earlier this morning. For all you tax wonks I think it's a must read, looking at you Mark. I know ABC has tried to make this point several times and I've come at it from the back door of why these compensation packages have been unfunded, which is not actually much of a problem in WI compared to other states. You could think of it along the same lines of what the Feds did with our SS money. If your state and federal government spends your money rather than put it into the fund where it belongs, or makes bad investments with your money, how is that then the worker's fault?

""The key problem is that journalists are assuming that statements by Gov. Scott Walker have basis in fact. Journalists should never accept the premise of a political statement, but often they do, which explains why so much of our public policy is at odds with well-established principles.

The question journalists should be asking is "who contributes" to the state of Wisconsin' s pension and health care plans.

The fact is that all of the money going into these plans belongs to the workers because it is part of the compensation of the state workers. The fact is that the state workers negotiate their total compensation, which they then divvy up between cash wages, paid vacations, health insurance and, yes, pensions. Since the Wisconsin government workers collectively bargained for their compensation, all of the compensation they have bargained for is part of their pay and thus only the workers contribute to the pension plan. This is an indisputable fact.""

http://tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8EDJYS?OpenDocument

Posted by: lmsinca | February 26, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Mark Shields said last night, on PBS, that there are nine states, which do not permit collective bargaining for School Teachers, Nurses etc.

Here is the payoff:

Those nine states have worse budget deficit problems, than all the states that have public employee unions.

By the way: does anyone have any figures that compares the average salaries of Teachers, to Private Employees, with comparably levels of Education on their resumes.

It is easy for tools like Hosni Walker to throw out average private sector wages, which include high school dropouts, and compare them to the salaries of school teachers, but that is just a dirty trick.

Compare their salaries to workers who have advanced degrees.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

edit; comparable levels.....

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Liam-still, you can start here:

AVERAGE TEACHER BASE SALARY: Public School: $49,630. Private School: $39,690 ( Digest 2009, Chapter 2, Table 75)

www.edreform.com/../K12_Facts/ - Options

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else really think that Gov. Walker was serious about the baseball bat or other violence against protesters?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

It is easy for tools like Hosni Walker to throw out average private sector wages, which include high school dropouts, and compare them to the salaries of school teachers, but that is just a dirty trick.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Putting aside the Wisconsin issue for the minute--

I actually remember a time when people compared salaries in order to motivate people to aspire to a **higher** salary. I remember when I was motivated to go into industry because it paid more than public accounting. And then, management in high technology companies were making more than management in PoDunk USA, so that motivated people to go into technology. Etc.

Now, we compare salaries in order to claw people down to the lowest number. It is sad that we have come to so little in this country.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Claw, claw away!

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Look. Both conservatism and liberalism are ideological fantasies. Conservatives will never be happy as long as government does any spending and taxing. Liberals will never be happy until the government is involved in every aspect of human activity. The problem we have in America today is that we have elected majorities of politicians from both of these extreme views and there is no longer an active, vibrant center.

This country will never get back to business and full employment and social stability and economic confidence until we start electing sensible, decent, moderate, thinking people who know how to sit down with one another and come to agreement on sensible, moderate policies that promote the broader interests of the people insted of pandering to mindless fringes who have nothing of substance to offer.

Posted by: jaxas70 | February 26, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Here, here, jaxas. Why do you think that the extremes have driven out the dealmakers? There have always been extreme ideologues, but I don't remember a time when they have been so fully in charge. Extreme ideology now has full control of the language. Dealmakers (moderates) are now called squishy and indecisive. To me, it feels like we have handed our national car keys to the drunks at the local hangout.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

jaxas70, every conservative allows for federal government revenue and spending on national defense.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Moderate defined as midway between far right Democrats and nutty right Reublicans?

I'll pass.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

China, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam are all investing heavily in education, transportation and newer, greener forms of energy. People in these countries fly into modern, traveler-friendly airports where a business man or tourist can board a high speed train right at the airport and travel to their destinations in comfort and modern service conveniences. In America, we are mired in silly, juvenile confrontations based on fringe ideologies that are going to get us nowhere. While their schools are turning our engineers, technicians and all manner of highly educated, well trained personnel, we engage in whacking off to the juvenile burblings of fat, swilly radio and television hosts who get fatter and richer keeping this unproductive squabbling going.

I fear that soon, America will wake up and look around to find that the rest of the world has moved on and we are still mired in adolescent testosterone slinging at each other. America is going nowhere. And we are going nowhere because we have elected some of the dumbest people on this entire planet who still think that our schools should be teaching from the Bible instead of from well versed books on physics, biology and history.

Posted by: jaxas70 | February 26, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Clawrence12, if only that sentiment were true. It isn't. All one has to do is read the transcript of Scott Walker's conversation with that fake David Koch to see what he is interested in.

Look. Your own posing here indicates the level of rigidity in thinking this new crop of conservatives have. You allow for revenues for National Defense? We spend far, far more on national defense than all other nations combined. Yet, look at how fearful we are? Do we feel secure? If we did have a level of security in our lives, what in the world are we doing padding down people at airports and why do we have vested interests and their bought and paid for politicians--like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld--pushing for more and more spending on obsolete cold war weapons we no longer need? Why do we steadily increase funds to intelligence services that seem to be able to tell us nothing about what is going on in the world.

Conservatives are flat out unqualified to stand up and talk about spending when they continue to flack for such obsolete weapons and such unproductive spending as we are doing in the Pentagon and our intelligence services. Not only that. We are going to have major instabilities right here in our own country if we keep seeing the sort of unfair policies that conservatives are promoting when they demand sacrifice form the least among us while pampering the rich and powerful.

I predict that conservatives are going to be on the losing side of a major public outrage if they don't man up to powerful wealthy and business interests. I just hope it doesn't translate into just taking us too far in the other direction.

Posted by: jaxas70 | February 26, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

America is going nowhere.
---------------------------------------------------
I'm afraid it's worse than that. We are going down. We used to aspire to things: higher wages, buying a house, getting an education, leaving something for the grandchildren. Now, we're told that Americans don't have a God given right to a job (Carly Fiorina), that Americans don't have a God given right to a house (the financial industry), that Americans don't have a God given right to an education (tuitions spiralling out of the reach of anyone but the mega wealthy). And Americans don't have a God given right to healthcare (GOP).

Of course, I play with the language (God given right), but you get the idea. We don't aspire to much of anything. We are mired in a poverty mentality--suck it up and hang on and hope that someone **anyone** saves us, and it looks to me like business has all fled to those other countries, never to return. In my lifetime, we have gone from the great boom of the 50's and 60's, through the despair of the 70's and 80's, into the biggest expansion of all history in the 90's and 00's, and into the greatest financial disaster of all time in 2008. I'm afraid our story has been told and it's over.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Pearls from "THE CRETIN FROM THE GULF OF TONKIN":

"Well, when sheet-white Bush was running up deficits and bailing out banks there was no tea party and no take-back-our-country talk."

"sheet white"? What is that supposed to mean? Quick, give me some adjectives that go with black to describe Obama. Nothing like elevating the conversation.

Everything about cao is white except the occasional things he has shoved up his rear-end.

--------------

and then this:

Ruk, save your breath. Jake is an idiot and a troll. Just ignore him like the rest of us. He's not worth anyone's time.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 9:48 AM
=========================================

"Just ignore him like the rest of us." You must realize that "the rest of us", in cao's mind, means him and DDAWD and the sock puppet jprestonian. At the Fix, he was continually chastised by other liberals for trying to tell them to whom they should or should not respond---and for demanding any number of other posters be banned, even though he was the one most frequently banned.

As far as "not worth anyone's time", that certainly applies to cao as concerns intelligent discussion of the issues; but if you're looking for the most comedic combination of ignorance and arrogance to be found anywhere on the web, then cao's posts are without parallel.

Liam accurately nailed cao as "some oddball living in Vietnam, spouting rubbish on a blog." What is amazing to me is that people like cao and DDAWD are so heavily invested in trolling this blog, that they will download software to prevent them from reading other people's posts---even though they always seem to know what those people have posted---rather than simply scrolling past what they supposedly don't want to read. I guess it's part of the echo chamber syndrome which effects so many liberals.

-------

And a caothien9 aka noacoler blast from the past:

"I have no recollection BB but I was probably talking about the work ethic of Indian programmers in India, which is deplorable . . . I figured you were taking about the body odor that was so familiar around Microsoft in 1989-91, before hygiene was added to new employee orientation. In any case you're confusing honest reportage with bigotry .. my current manager is Indian, I like the guy, we get along and we can even argue and keep it civil. I've gone to bed with Indian men, which I wouldn't do with a people I'm prejudiced against."

No bigotry there. If you said that African-Americans or Latinos, as a group, had deplorable work ethics, bad hygiene and horrible body odor, it would just be "honest reportage" as long as you believed it and had liked or slept with at least one member of the group. Priceless!

Posted by: Brigade | February 26, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

In America, just look at what allowing private markets to dictate our growth does to us. In other more advancing countries, growth is being managed in a way that maximizes efficiency and matches technology to human activity. In America, growth is unmanaged, chaotic and dependent on satisying the profit motivations of the few rather than the needs of the public. In our major airports, transportation services are unwieldy, disorganized and seeming directed at maintaining profits for a few powerful economic interests. A business man in Hong Kong boards a hi-peed train at the airport and is instantly transported to his destination in comfort and with an eye toward maximizing service.

America will not dominate this century if we don't wake up and recognize that government has to be involved in investing in new, modern, well managed infrastructue. Otherwise, just turn everything over to these ideological fanatics who want to have a system that benefits a few powerful wealth benefactors.

Posted by: jaxas70 | February 26, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

jaxas70, do you have a cite to actual dollars, yen, Euros spent on national defense by all other nations combined?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

@jaxas,

And ironically, part of the reason businesses are investing in these emerging economies is their transportation infrastructure. We sit here arguing about the efficacy of high speed rail, for example, while other countries are implementing it and business are investing and hiring there.

I'm afraid we are too soon old and too late smart. And too soon unemployed and poor.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The question journalists should be asking is "who contributes" to the state of Wisconsin' s pension and health care plans.

The fact is that all of the money going into these plans belongs to the workers because it is part of the compensation of the state workers. The fact is that the state workers negotiate their total compensation, which they then divvy up between cash wages, paid vacations, health insurance and, yes, pensions.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 26, 2011 10:17 AM

========================================

But this "total compensation" is paid for by taxpayers, whose elected officials are now saying that they need to reduce the "total compensation" or start laying off people.

Other questions journalists should be asking is whether elected officials should be fleeing the state rather than doing their jobs, and whether public employees should be getting fake scripts from unethical doctors while they stay home and get taxpayer money for doing nothing.

Elections have consequences. Democrats lost in Wisconsin. When the HCR debate was raging in Washington last year, what would liberals have said if a handful of Republicans could have stopped the whole process by just going on an extended vacation from which they would not return until they got their way. Are we okay with government shutdowns? That's, in effect, what is being promoted when government employees decide to stop doing their jobs because they don't approve of the way the political winds are blowing.

Posted by: Brigade | February 26, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"Now, we're told that Americans don't have a God given right to a job (Carly Fiorina), that Americans don't have a God given right to a house (the financial industry), that Americans don't have a God given right to an education (tuitions spiralling out of the reach of anyone but the mega wealthy). And Americans don't have a God given right to healthcare (GOP)."

Hi 12bar!  Hope all is well with you! Really interesting comment!  Where are those rights that you state above, documented?  What I mean is, where is the, for lack of a better word, "legal" reference too them?  I've looked in the Constitution but don't see them. Are there Supreme Court references to them?  Just want to find out where they're officially chronicled. Thanks in advance.;-)

Fantastic comments everyone!  Great reading!  Many thanks!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"This country will never get back to business and full employment and social stability and economic confidence until we start electing sensible, decent, moderate, thinking people who know how to sit down with one another and come to agreement on sensible, moderate policies that promote the broader interests of the people insted of pandering to mindless fringes who have nothing of substance to offer."

__________________________________________

The economy will get back to business and full employment and social stability and economic confidence once residential real estate bottoms.

Posted by: sold2u | February 26, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I thought Reagan was correct to fire the ATCs.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 26, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

@troll,

If you read the next sentence you will see: "Of course, I play with the language (God given right), but you get the idea. We don't aspire to much of anything."

Apparently, I was a little ambitious that you would "get the idea". Rise to the higher concept, please, if you could.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

America will not dominate this century if we don't wake up and recognize that government has to be involved in investing in new, modern, well managed infrastructue. Otherwise, just turn everything over to these ideological fanatics who want to have a system that benefits a few powerful wealth benefactors.

Posted by: jaxas70 | February 26, 2011 11:42 AM
======================================

First, you need something to invest. We're broke. Have you looked at the national debt? How much of the budget is discretionary spending? What do you want to cut so you can invest the money in "new, modern, well managed infrastructure?" The first stimulus didn't work out too well. Social Security is in trouble because "the government" squandered the surplus on---what?---new, modern, well managed infrastructure? Now, liberals seem to think that raising income taxes on the Kochs while, according to Robert Reich, cutting everyone else's taxes will lead to a new era of broad prosperity.

Posted by: Brigade | February 26, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u,

When do you think residential real estate will bottom? I have been told by people who style themselves as experts that it will drop another 50%. Do you have a prediction of how much more it will drop, and how long that might take?

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"Apparently, I was a little ambitious that you would "get the idea". Rise to the higher concept, please, if you could."

Thanks for your response 12bar, much appreciated! And I will try to aspire to the higher concept.;-). What I'm curious about, in response to your well reasoned comment, is do you believe that those things you cited as rights, housing, employment, healthcare, should be considered inalienable rights, as in, guaranteed by the Federal government? Thanks in advance!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks in advance!
--------------------------------
No thanks necessary. I stand by my previous post. Either you get it or you don't. If you want to chase down a rabbit hole, you'll go alone.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"--------------------------------
No thanks necessary. I stand by my previous post. Either you get it or you don't. If you want to chase down a rabbit hole, you'll go alone."

Thank you for your response. I appreciate your consideration. Your comments are always interesting, often provocative and always a pleasure to read.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Brigade, on top of all that, I'm not even JakeD and accusations by those who actually use multiple screen names are the height of hypocrisy.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@12Bar
"When do you think residential real estate will bottom?"

I'd love to hear sold2u also.

My sense is not until citi, wellsfargo, et.al. TBTF banks either eat or (are forced) to disgorge their worthless RE paper.

Prices even here in beat-down Albany/Troy/Schenectady are damned laughably high, and the stock is worth shyte.

The TBTF Banks, with the approval and assistance of the Obama admin, are keeping Res/RE prices artificially high because if they revert their portfolio[s] to its true street (heh) value their balance sheets go to Tripoli.

Its for two reasons: So Mr. Obama can claim TARP saved our azzes from "The Next Great Depression" which will be true when pigs become aerodynamic. And so Wall St can and will again overflow Mr. Obama w/2012 campaign$$$.

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@jaxas

While I am in agreement with most of the points you make may I take exception to your overall thesis about the "extremes" on both sides of the aisle. It seems to me the "extreme" is coming from the right. e.g. You posted...

"Liberals will never be happy until the government is involved in every aspect of human activity."

That is simply untrue. It's Republicans who campaigned on jobs jobs jobs and then immediately went to work on what? Trying to rescind a women's right to choose...who is getting in someone's human activity there?

Smoking weed? The Dem's could certainly do a better job at legalization and TAXATION of that commonly used product but the R's would be apoplectic. Who is interfering in my right to choose?

Freedom from religious influence in our education system...which party tries to promote the religious idea of creative design or whatever they're calling it these days and which party promotes science as in Evolution?

Well this list could go on and on...it's not the liberals who are being extreme Jaxas but the Conservatives who are now driven by the tea party luddites who have their heads firmly up their pasts!

As to your points about defense spending Jaxas...dead on..with a minor correction. The U.S. is close to spending more than the rest of the world combined but actually we only spend about 46%..not quite above that 50% mark. Still your point is valid if you follow the links and see how much we spend compared to China, Russia, or any other nation on earth. We have become a nation of bed wetters driven by fear, paranoia and the M.I.C.

http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

We DO SPEND FAR MORE than China, Russia, England, France and the next ten countries COMBINED! It's just sheer lunacy!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@ 12BB,

the indicator I like to use is the ratio of median house price to median income. From the 70s until the mid 90s, it was steady as a rock at 3.0. Maybe a quarter at 3.1 or 2.9, but a pretty tight distribution.

In the late 90s, that ratio broke away from historical norms. The latest NAR data (Q410) is median house price 170.6k. I believe the latest median income data is from 2009 and it was something like 49.8k.
So, the ratio is 170.6/49.8 or 3.42. So housing is still about 12 - 13 percent overvalued.

The thing is, I have never seen a market go from ridiculously overvalued to fair value without taking a detour into ridiculously undervalued territory. So, would I fall out of my chair with shock if prices declined another 25%? Probably not. Reminds me of the tech bubble, where stocks like Ask Jeeves went from billion dollar market caps trading on page views in 1999 to micro caps trading at a discount to net cash on the balance sheet in 2003.

The way the market feels to me is like the fixed income markets were in the summer of 2008. Sellers are sitting on the offer, pulling their offers after getting no interest, but not aggressively hitting bids. Buyers are few and reticent. The markets are being called down, but not a lot of trading is taking place. There is a ton of supply on the sidelines not being actively shopped, but everyone knows it is there. The market will bottom when all that merchandise finally trades. It will happen once the banks finally say "uncle" and force the issue by driving the market to a low enough level to get strong-handed investors interested. If I was a hedge fund manager, I would be raising capital for such a fund right now, because it probably happens in the next year or so. Get investors to agree to a 5-year lockup, run it with 5:1 leverage - total no brainer.

Washington is still in denial that "if we can just stop the foreclosures, the market will bottom here." That is like saying in 2000, if we just stop the margin calls, Cisco will bottom at $50 a share. Markets don't work like that.

Posted by: sold2u | February 26, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

mark-in-austin, I agree (obviously).

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Tao, interesting measurement tool. Some of that ridiculously low housing value will come from too strict a lending standard, i.e., overcompensation, but I also think that once we work through that home value will stll be lower due to overabundance, stricter lending standards, lower wages as well as the likely removal of home mortgage deduction as part of a tax overhaul scheme. I think your 25% still to go is not low enough, maybe 40%ECG to drop, and it will be decades before their values return to even close to what we had in '06-'07. Just my $.02.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I've been gone for a week but I've tried to scan past threads to catch up but perhaps I've missed what to me is a truly pressing story regardless of party or political persuasion.

I'm linking a story in my hometown paper but I suspect it could be in any or your papers today...

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/area-drivers-feeling-pain-at-the-pump/1153809

"At a Sunoco station on S Howard Avenue in Tampa, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded rose from $3.17 Thursday morning to $3.29 later in the day. Down the street at a Circle K, it went from $3.09 to $3.31."

WHOA! That's close to a 10% increase in a SINGLE DAY! WTF is up with that? I realize the C.W. is that the unrest in the M.E. is to blame. But look at the list of the top oil producing nations.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/countries/

1 Russia 9,934
2 Saudi Arabia 9,760
3 United States 9,141
4 Iran 4,177
5 China 3,996
6 Canada 3,294
7 Mexico 3,001
8 United Arab Emirates 2,795
9 Brazil 2,577
10 Kuwait 2,496
11 Venezuela 2,471
12 Iraq 2,400
13 Norway 2,350
14 Nigeria 2,211
15 Algeria 2,126

Saudi Arabia is obviously critical to the mix but considering oil is a fungible product and 9 of the top 15 producers are nowhere near the M.E. again I ask WTF is going on?

I'm seriously curious. What function do the "traders" of futures serve in the entire process. It's not like they are "financing" the exploration or extraction...the countries and companies doing this are already incredibly wealthy from their black gold. I can't help but think this is just ANOTHER example of "traders" screw!ng the rest of us with their financial games.

Is there anybody out there smart enough to teach me how this works. I understand supply and demand but how do prices go up 10% in ONE DAY when there has yet to be any serious disruption in supply, summer hasn't arrived no driving season YET...winter has largely passed no stocking up of home heating oil and so demand is certainly not spiking.

Supply relatively constant...demand at a seasonal low point..prices go up 10% in one single day...again WTF?

This story is being reported currently as motorists feeling pain at the pump...yeah..but what is REALLY at stake is our economic recovery. I wish it were in Obama's power to release billions of barrels from our strategic reserve in one big rush to absolutely scr#w the speculators. I'd love to see them all go bankrupt!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

TMcW,

The 25% metric was sold2u.

My metric was swine (4legged) darkening the skies over the NYFed in Manhattan.

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u

Thanks for your analysis of home prices and their present overvaluation. Your ratio of house prices to median income makes sense. I'm not certain however that we're not in..to borrow from Huxley..a brave new world and that ratio may have to creep up a bit.
We've certainly been squeezing the middle class since 1977 and so the ratios may change.

But I do concede you make a very convincing case for your 25% figure.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"The 25% metric was sold2u.

My metric was swine (4legged) darkening the skies over the NYFed in Manhattan."

Hah! Funny. And sorry for the misattribution.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@ RUK,

The North Sea Brent contract went from $106 to 117.5 on the Libyan demonstrations. The market is anticipating a disruption to Libyan production so prices went up. If no disruption materializes, prices will fall back.

Re the gas stations, IIRC, most of the Eastern ones are priced off of NS Brent, and the western ones are priced off of WTI. WTI is trading at a huge discount to Brent because there is virtually no capacity in Cushing, OK and the refineries are switching over from manufacturing heating oil for winter to manufacturing gasoline for the summer driving season.

Posted by: sold2u | February 26, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

@ RUK, that 25% figure is a guess. I think prices have to fall another 12% or so to hit fair value. That number I have some confidence in. But where it finally bottoms is anyone's guess. Once markets go into that final bottoming stage they take on a life of their own. Could it be another 25% from here? Sure. Another 35%? Sure, why not? In my experience the bottoming process is short and sharp. Prices could drop 20% and recover 15% in a single quarter. And from my experience anyone who says they bought the bottom is lying.

Posted by: sold2u | February 26, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

This whole headache-inducing thread has nothing to do with the union ad but is a great example of right-wing obfuscation. The phone call laid Walker bare as a puppet of powerful interests who will stop at nothing to do the bidding of his corporate paymasters and will happily accept any bribe they throw his way. His statements are impossible to defend and he should be brought up on ethics charges. And don't call me a partisan liberal, I am equally disgusted with Harry Reid declaring war on prostitutes and Obama signing an extension of the Patriot Act. The populist uprising sweeping the world will not stop at our borders and the corporate media's blackout of coverage of domestic protest will only make the corporate media more irrelevant.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | February 26, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u

Thanks for your attempt at explaining our oil price quandary. I appreciate the math you just provided but who are the people paying this 117.5 based simply on the "fear" of disruption in Libya. Libya doesn't even turn up in the top 15 of the world's oil producers and yet the simple "fear" of disruption causes a 10% hike?

It seems to me the system is faulty when "fear" can drive the price so quickly. Perhaps we do need to form some kind of OPEC like organization to purchase and stock oil. A Co-op if you will...since we are the major consumers perhaps we should be building huge storage areas, such as those already in existence for our "strategic oil reserves". Perhaps they could then be put to use to purchase at low points and release at sudden spikes.

I get the math you present but I do not get the system that allows a 10% hike on pure speculation. I don't mind the laws of supply and demand...but when pure speculation that does not reflect supply and demand takes precedence...well perhaps sold2u I'm just paranoid. :-)

Libya is not in the top 15 of world producers...do we not believe that the Saudi's and Russians and others would not step in to sell just a little more oil to maintain balance and the world economy in the process.

Lastly sold2u are you like me...very worried that if the oil keeps spiking our economy is due for more than a simple double dip but a real crisis? What are you thoughts about the future here.

BTW sorry for my snarky response yesterday about taxes...I forgot you were one of the rational conservatives. My apologies.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u,

I have no argument with your market indicator. Sounds reasonable to me. A sharp selloff 25-35% more isn't unreasonable. Do you have a guess about how long that could take?

Most of us want to have some idea when the misery index is going to turn the other way because this sure feels bad.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u

Sorry to keep picking your brain on this subject but it actually concerns me even more than the foreclosure bubble that still has to be deflated.

If oil prices stay above $100/barrel for any length of time I worry for our fragile, flimsy recovery.

And so can you teach me about refining capacity. Are we adding enough capacity?
If not why? Even though you are a Conservative I trust your honesty and so if it is a regulatory problem similar to Nukes you can let me know. I can't really believe it's a capitilization problem because the entire oil industry stays awash in a sea of cash. Do we have enough capacity in the right places?

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

For stock investors, Berkshire Hathaway reported today. Money quote from his letter:

"We will need both good performance from our
current businesses and more major acquisitions. We’re prepared. Our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy."

So Warren's going elephant hunting. Wondering where...

Posted by: sold2u | February 26, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@ruk and sold2u,

I also share dread about the price action of the oil market. I have two questions that come from my ignorance how the oil markets really work.

1. Why is there so much volatility in the oil market? This is ruk's question. Is speculation too large a part of the market?

2. Why are consumers paying the spot rate for gas? Why don't consumers have some ability to hedge ahead?

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

2. Why are consumers paying the spot rate for gas? Why don't consumers have some ability to hedge ahead?

Great question 12Bar. I wonder why a 10% spike in the price of a barrel of oil can so immediately be reflected in the price of a gallon of refined gas. The gas in the pump has ALREADY been paid for...if Libya are any other crisis does ACTUALLY increase the price..as it has apparently on North Sea oil that new price shouldn't show up until it reaches the refiners and finally the distributors...or at least one would think so...again the gallon of gas I purchased yesterday ALREADY had the cost reflected...now they're going to speculate at the pump?

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Oil prices are the 500lbs gorilla in the economic room. It's getting scary!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/26/oil-prices-small-business_n_828503.html

Every penny increase in the cost of a gallon of gas tears more than a billion dollars from the economy each year, experts say. It takes those dollars out of the hands of people who might spend them in their communities -- at restaurants and craft shops, or on the services of the local carpenter -- and sends them instead to large oil companies.

Given that consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of economic activity, that's a considerable concern: Recent surveys have shown marked improvement in so-called consumer confidence, but as the numbers increase at the gas pump, so does worry about the future, sowing a new reluctance to spend.

"I don't think the economy is going to contract, but it is going to cause consumers and business to rethink their spending plans and hiring for this year," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, who until recently stood out as one of the more optimistic forecasters. "Uncertainty and instability will cast a big cloud."

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@ruk,

I understand the concept that what you pay at the pump is for the **next** gallon of gas, but it still amounts to the spot rate. Consumers are like the flea at the end of the dog's tail--we get the wildest ride of all.

No business would pay the spot rate for an important commodity. They hedge. I know I could buy oil or gas contracts and do my personal hedging, but I've always wondered why some enterprising business doesn't facilitate it for the average person who is not a commodity trader.

When CA went into its energy crisis, which was all manufactured by the way, the utilities were forced to buy electricity at the spot rate. This forcing was thanks to the same energy lobbiests convincing the state lege that this was a **great** idea and putting it into law was an even **greater** idea. When CA finally smartened up, changed the law to allow hedging, **that day** the crisis was over. Hmmmm.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u,

I have no argument with your market indicator. Sounds reasonable to me. A sharp selloff 25-35% more isn't unreasonable. Do you have a guess about how long that could take?

Most of us want to have some idea when the misery index is going to turn the other way because this sure feels bad.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 1:23 PM
========================================

Don't you think the bottom in home value depends on the particular area in which the home is located and how over-valued the property was in the first place? I would imagine the Las Vegas bubble was a lot bigger than the one in Tulsa. I know when I inquired if my property taxes might go down along with the value of my home, I was told that property values in my neighborhood were doing quite nicely thank you. LOL. Who'd have thought?

Posted by: Brigade | February 26, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"Now, we compare salaries in order to claw people down to the lowest number. It is sad that we have come to so little in this country."

Bingo. Course, to the GOP mind, all taxes should be lowered. Its a race to the bottom with the GOP leading the way.

Don't forget the very *real* possibility is that they want to undermine anything with "public" in its name/purpose and replace it with private. There is so much evidence of this. Thereby, making us all beholden to markets and shareholders.

When assets (natural resources, bandwidth, schools, etc)are held in the public good, they are beholden to the voters at large-not to a minority of whoever can "afford it".

It is contrary to the conservative POV for there to exist publically held anything and they will scapegoat anyone or anything to kill it off.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 26, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@ RUK, we are not really adding refining capacity. The reason isn't so much regulatory - nobody wants a refinery in their back yard. And most people in the industry think there is too much capacity as it is.

The pure refiners (Valero, Tesoro, Sun, Holly, Frontier, Western) have to compete with the integrated oils. (Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, Lukoil, Marathon) With all of those huge, well financed competitors, you will not get pricing power. It is impossible.

And while crack spreads are abnormally high at the moment (crack spreads are the difference in value between the final refined product and the oil) they have historically been much lower. It is a business with high fixed costs and competitive pricing. Refiners are merging to stay competitive (the latest is Holly and Frontier). Marathon is splitting its E&P and refining business.

I would go as far as to say notwithstanding current crack spreads, refining is generally a lousy business.

Posted by: sold2u | February 26, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Tao gets in touch with his Inner Tea Party Fool, and claims that TARP belonged to President Obama!

Tao, you poor lying Right Wing sad sack.

Bush; requested TARP in the fall of 2008, and distributed most of it, before Obama became President.

Be sure to ask the priest to forgive your Big Lies today, so that you can start telling them all over again, in the coming week.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Don't you think the bottom in home value depends on the particular area in which the home is located and how over-valued the property was in the first place? I would imagine the Las Vegas bubble was a lot bigger than the one in Tulsa. I know when I inquired if my property taxes might go down along with the value of my home, I was told that property values in my neighborhood were doing quite nicely thank you. LOL. Who'd have thought?
---------------------------------------------------
I don't speak from great personal knowledge, but I understand that real estate values are now depressed even where there was no bubble. My personal expert (my mortgage broker son in law) points this out as a particularly troubling aspect. He practices in both Georgia and Utah, neither particularly bubbly, and in both states have declined significantly. He is extremely bearish on the real estate market.

As an aside, he was telling me that there are laws coming into effect that will further depress the market. One has to do with compensation rules for lenders which will eliminate all flexibility. He says if Congress cuts F/F, that will be the end of the real estate market. And he's a Republican. He says Congress does not know what it is doing. While creating laws to increase competition, they will result in the exact opposite. It's interesting to talk to someone who is actually on the front lines of lending.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Interesting reading here today. Here's something else interesting: it's from INC magazine about entrepreneurs thriving in a socialist country.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20110201/in-norway-start-ups-say-ja-to-socialism.html

Every U.S. politician should read this.

Posted by: LeftCoast5 | February 26, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

This Koch Front http://voices.washihttp://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/economyunemployment/ngtonpost.com/plum-line/economyunemployment/Group is currently running Union busting ads on Wisconsin TV stations.

"Koch Front Group Americans For Prosperity: ‘Take The Unions Out At The Knees’ "

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/25/afp-union-knees/

"In a speech earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference, Americans For Prosperity-Michigan Executive Director Scott Hagerstrom revealed the true goal of his group and its allies like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) efforts. Speaking at CPAC’s “Panel for Labor Policy,” Hagerstrom said that AFP really wants to do is to “take the unions out at the knees”:

HAGERSTROM: It’s easy to go out there and fight taxes and increased regulation, you know we send out an action alert on taxes to AFP and we get thousands of people to respond. You send out one on a more complicated issue and it just doesn’t quite resonate…We fight these battles on taxes and regulation but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles. "

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@12Bar

"I understand the concept that what you pay at the pump is for the **next** gallon of gas,"

Then your understanding exceeds mine...but that's probably true in many areas. LOL

I would love to be able to price my wife's Crown and Bridge work as a reflection of what the NEXT crown will cost. I would love to say to our patients...well our lab costs may be this at the moment but given the rising price of gold they're bound to go sky high and so I'm going to add 10% to the cost of your crown in ANTICIPATION of what our lab costs will be in the FUTURE.

Seriously...I haven't given it a lot of thought but outside of "commodities" I don't know where this kind of pricing exists. I don't pay Volvo the price of next years' model this year. I'm sure many will jump aboard with examples of where this occurs in our economy and I've already conceded that it is the norm in "commodities" I'm just not sure why. It seems like "middle men" are involved who are jerking prices around in a manner that is not really connected to the laws of supply and demand.

However I must say...if someone wants to pay 10% more for their crowns or dentures or simple restorations because next year they "might" be more expensive...I know a great dentist in St. Petersburg who'll be happy to add that 10% to your bill. :-)

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

" - BANK OF AMERICA: In 2009, Bank of America didn’t pay a single penny in federal income taxes, exploiting the tax code so as to avoid paying its fair share. “Oh, yeah, this happens all the time,” said Robert Willens, a tax accounting expert interviewed by McClatchy. “If you go out and try to make money and you don’t do it, why should the government pay you for your losses?” asked Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. The same year, the mega-bank’s top executives received pay “ranging from $6 million to nearly $30 million.”

- BOEING: Despite receiving billions of dollars from the federal government every single year in taxpayer subsidies from the U.S. government, Boeing didn’t “pay a dime of U.S. federal corporate income taxes” between 2008 and 2010.

- CITIGROUP: Citigroup’s deferred income taxes for the third quarter of 2010 amounted to a grand total of $0.00. At the same time, Citigroup has continued to pay its staff lavishly. “John Havens, the head of Citigroup’s investment bank, is expected to be the bank’s highest paid executive for the second year in a row, with a compensation package worth $9.5 million.”

- EXXON-MOBIL: The oil giant uses offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Although Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in taxes in 2009, not a penny of those taxes went to the American Treasury. This was the same year that the company overtook Wal-Mart in the Fortune 500. Meanwhile the total compensation of Exxon-Mobil’s CEO the same year was over $29,000,000.

- GENERAL ELECTRIC: In 2009, General Electric — the world’s largest corporation — filed more than 7,000 tax returns and still paid nothing to U.S. government. They managed to do this by a tax code that essentially subsidizes companies for losing profits and allows them to set up tax havens overseas. That same year GE CEO Jeffery Immelt — who recently scored a spot on a White House economic advisory board — “earned total compensation of $9.89 million.” In 2002, Immelt displayed his lack of economic patriotism, saying, “When I am talking to GE managers, I talk China, China, China, China, China….I am a nut on China. Outsourcing from China is going to grow to 5 billion.”

- WELLS FARGO: Despite being the fourth largest bank in the country, Wells Fargo was able to escape paying federal taxes by writing all of its losses off after its acquisition of Wachovia. Yet in 2009 the chief executive of Wells Fargo also saw his compensation “more than double” as he earned “a salary of $5.6 million paid in cash and stock and stock awards of more than $13 million.” "

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/26/main-street-tax-cheats/

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@ruk,

I'm no pricing expert, but I think you see this kind of anticipatory pricing when there is huge volatility. In the 70's and 80's when inflation was a problem, you did see prices of everything (groceries, clothing, cars, probably dental work) reacting in anticipation. That's the problem with volatility--everyone gets nervous and jumps out there with pricing increases.

Volatility is the problem. Why is there so much volatility? Speculation does play an important part in these markets, but is there too much speculation? I think that is a legitimate question. How much of the dollar volume is created by investors (whatever you call traders with a vested interest in oil) vs. hot money?

Example of volatility:

Oil Settles Near $97 on Rumors Gaddafi Shot

Oil sank from 2-1/2-year highs near $120 a barrel Thursday in a late-day rout, dragged down by an unsubstantiated rumor Muammar Gaddafi had been shot and Saudi Arabia's assurances it can counter Libyan supply disruptions.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Climate change at the doorstep
Norfolk, Va., is already experiencing the effects of sea level rise. How is the city dealing with a problem that could soon hit home for all of us?

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Worrying about foreign Oil price fluctuations is the same as worrying about about the proper arrangement of the deck chairs on The Titanic.

The Oligarchs have ordered full steam ahead into the Iceberg.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday; mass protest rallies against government corruption in Iraq. At least a dozen protesters kill by Government forces.

Today:

"Attack shuts Iraq's largest oil refinery, kills 1"http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110226/ap_on_bi_ge/ml_iraq

Well, thank God, The Republicans were able to borrow Two Trillion Dollars, and Piss it away in Iraq, or else some American Middle Class workers might have earned a little of it.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

We all know, now, that Walker was a Trojan Horse for Koch Industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He has dishonored the voters of the State of Wisconsin. In these difficult economic times, he has chosen to side with the insulated rich and to sow the ill winds of disunion, disharmony, a form of pestilence and war. He has lost all standing. It is too bad Wisconsinites have to wait until November 2011 to recall him...and the majority of his co-conspirators in their legislature.

Posted by: dozas | February 26, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@12Bar

I do understand what you are saying about volatility and you gave some excellent examples. I guess one of the things that peeves me is that the speculation seems to go in one direction..although I'm sure some astute trader or well informed person like sold2u will provide an example of when oil was "shorted".

The last line of your post is why I do not understand a 10% jump in North Sea oil because of what is going on in Libya.

"and Saudi Arabia's assurances it can counter Libyan supply disruptions."

It's not that the Saudi's love us...they need us and the rest of the world to have economic stability so that we can AFFORD to buy their oil. They are sharp businessmen, not supporters of U.S. F.P. but supporters of the U.S. economy because they NEED us to be successful.

I think the one ace in the hole we may hold in this entire "commodities" game is that we have the ability to produce copious amounts of foodstuffs. Yes there are other countries such as Brazil and Argentina in our own hemisphere that also can produce a lot of food...but given the disruptions already caused by droughts..and the predictions that global warming is going to lead to more droughts and more food shortages and the fact that
almost one BILLION people in the world are already malnourished we may have something more valuable than oil. Of course that doesn't address the water shortages. OMG sometimes I'm glad I'm 63..there are some really huge problems facing our planet!!!

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

"No one really knows how many people are malnourished. The statistic most frequently cited is that of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which measures 'undernutrition'. The most recent estimate, released in October 2010 by FAO, says that 925 million people are undernourished. As the figure below shows, the number of hungry people has increased since 1995-97, though the number is down from last year. The increase has been due to three factors: 1) neglect of agriculture relevant to very poor people by governments and international agencies; 2) the current worldwide economic crisis, and 3) the significant increase of food prices in the last several years which has been devastating to those with only a few dollars a day to spend. 925 million people is 13.6 percent of the estimated world population of 6.8 billion."

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

dnahatch1, I posted a few on-topic questions above.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Liam,

Golly, am I red-o-face!

TARP is W's?

Great Googly Moogly, all bets are off!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Obama voted for TARP.

President Obama administered $350Billion of the remaining TARP funding when he took office.

Geithner and Bernanke are, uh, still there.
Geithner after reports that he signed off on taxpayer $18Billion to AIG's CDO swap clients.

Everyone of the corporations you cite above from ThinkProg got TARP money from Obama.

GE's CEO Immelt is one the biggest Obama money men, second only to the exec-suite at Goldman.

Read something other than your own comments...its broadening.

Leave my priest out of it.

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

@ruk,

I agree with your main point that the wild price fluctuations in the oil market are not rational from the explanations. I think there is too much hot money in the market, swinging it from stop to stop (from prior highs to prior price support levels) to take out all sorts of stops. I still wonder if it would make sense for regulators to limit how much hot money, or in some way, reduce the volatility.

Talk about volatility the other way: in 1999, oil was selling for $10 bbl. I was buying contracts everytime the price dipped below $10. My broker was telling me I was committing suicide because some famous oil expert said it was going down further. Best trade I ever made.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

One reason I haven't been posting about Wisconsin is that it seems that the Wisconsinites have things under control.
It also seems apparent that Walker's huge blunder has frightened other R Gov's like Kasich, Cristie et al into backing off on the union question.

I do hope Wisconsinites are able to recall Walker. The scumbag obviously deserves the ignominy and embarrassment of being recalled.

The next big question will emerge here in the Sunshine state. People have already had enough of Tricky Ricky and his dictatorial ways. A REPUBLICAN state senator is contemplating a lawsuit of the bald one's decision to turn down the $$ for a high speed rail project that had already been approved by a REPUBLICAN majority in our legislature. He's fouling our waters by rescinding rules for septic tank inspections, he's going to add to our economic malaise by cutting thousands of jobs in our state government...our park system is under assault...in short Floridians may have had enough "tea" to last them a lifetime.

While the tea party is a flash in the pan or a blip in our history...it will be interesting to see if the TPers can take the entire Republican party down with them....Perhaps the R campaign slogan for 2012 should be "Remember the Whigs"!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Tao,

TARP was a Bush Bailout of your Wall St. Robber Baron Puppet Masters. Now you are starting to sound just like Jake D's Claw.

I see you are also trying to hang the actions of Bush appointee to chair the Fed, on Obama.

Next; you will try to blame Obama for having appointed Allan Greenspan.

Be sure to say an act of contrition, and renew your tank of Holiness gas, before you speed of to rob from the poor, to give to the Koch Brothers once more.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

@tao

I certainly accept your comments about Obama and the disappointing way he has handled "Wall Street" or should I say backed up "Wall Street" over the average American.

However Obama is simply Republican lite..that is to say tao you are stuck with the same conundrum as me on the left...

Who're you're goin trust? GHOSTBUSTERS!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

PS Taos,

When your clergy stay out of politics, and the sexual lives and reproductive decisions of all, then I will leave them out of it, but as long as those protectors of child molesters, on a global scale, keep trying to deny people their equal rights, I will continue to go after them.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Liam

W is gone.

The Wall St. Robber Baron Puppet Masters are still there and Mr. Obama is the current willing marionette.

I'll say an act of contrition.

You do a double Jameson's and kick your dog.

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

U talkin' to me or New Mexico?

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Tao, you hypocrite. You never complained about what Bush, Greenspan, or Bernanke were doing to the financial system. But now, you are so upset, that Obama has not waved a magic wand, and reversed it all, over night.

If Obama were a Republican, you would still be observing a vow of silence.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

@ABC Don't know if you'll drop in this weekend but I love these weekend threads because of the freedom of topic choice.

In fact after missing a week of PL I realize I enjoy the weekend threads and the late night posts more than the rest. The posts that are confined to specific issues seem to be very predictable to me...the right takes their position and the left assumes theirs.

Late at night however...and certainly on the weekends...we have some terrific "philosophical" discussions about principles rather than simple politics.
Folks like Tao can engage polar opposites like Cao and Troll and the other righties also bring their "thinking caps" and leave their talking points behind. Many on the left do the same thing. I love the weekend and late night threads.

Which leads me ABC to thank you for your recommendation of Jane Smiley's "The Age of Grief." I finished it on my weeks journeys and it was truly excellent. She is a talented writer and so now I'll have to dig up her Pulitzer Prize winner.

HOWEVER....Yes she did write the Age of Grief from a male first person perspective but I found it to be a "universal" perspective. That is to say I didn't really pick up any masculine traits. Not a deficiency in her effort, merely an observation on my part. IMHO men and women have FAR more in common than different, but there are some significant differences. The writer in our group for example was trying to capture a male hockey player. She had a few errors because of her female perspective. Not to rekindle that debate or be disagreeable...simply sharing an observation.

My goals as a writer..and perhaps therefore reflected in my appreciation of literature...are to shine a light on the "human condition". I'd love for my readers to either gain a new insight or perhaps have a long buried insight come to the surface...as in...yeah..that is true.
Smiley was excellent at that. But from the standpoint of "sexual identity" I felt I "learned" more about the perspective of gays in her first two short stories...but then perhaps Cao would be better suited to make that judgment than me. We'll have to recommend Smiley's "Age of Grief" to Cao and get his reaction.

BTW for anybody who enjoys excellent literature...ABC was spot on with her recommendation. Read Jane Smiley's "The Age of Grief".

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

TARP is not the problem. TARP was the bandaid.

The financial crisis perpetrated by our Wall Street friends was the bayonet that gutted us. Then President Bush stuffed TARP into the hole to stop the hemorraging, which it substantially did. Pres. Obama kept TARP stuffed into the hole. Good for both of them.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Two Trillion Dollars Borrowed, to fund the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Of course it really paid of because: "The Surge Worked". It worked so well, that Defense Secretary Gates, a lifelong Republican, just said:

""In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it."

-- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, quoted by the New York Times, speaking to West Point cadets."


But don't worry your heads about that Two Trillion that was borrowed.

The Koch Bros will repay it out of the checks of Civil Servants.


Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"TARP is not the problem. TARP was the bandaid."

@12Bar I do not disagree with your observation. But may I play the "devil's advocate' for a moment.

What would have happened if our leaders had decided to bail out all the individual citizens scammed by the "lending industry" rather than the folks who actually perpetrated the disaster.

I realize that John Q. Public also made horrible investments..purchasing houses at multiples of their income that were unaffordable in the long run.

Perhaps I believe in relative morality. That is to say a Priest who takes advantage of a young altar boy is guiltier than a simple pedophile. Bill Clinton was far guiltier than a simple intern for getting that hummer...the "banksters" who crashed our economy knew better and therefore are far guiltier than the guy working down at the plant earning 50G's a year with very little financial education...but who did we bail out...the experts...ahhh but what's new about that...the common man..the little guy..historically has always gotten the shaft from the oligarchs.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

@12Bar
"Good for both of them."

Agreed. The TBTF patient now seems stable.

Schedule surgery.

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Time to leave...and I close on a positive note. I'm getting ready to head to the beach for a burger and a wonderful sunset walk with my lovely lady. Temps in the low 70's...a breeze off the gulf..I've already put in an hour of "spinning" class and so I DESERVE that beer and burger...a nice romantic walk...and who knows I might even get lucky tonight. :-)

I know TMI but I thought some of you might enjoy a vicarious thrill especially if you're still stuck in the frigid northland.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 26, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@ 12BB

We had a financial crisis because we had a real estate bubble. If we had not had a real estate bubble, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Why did we have a bubble? The Fed, the government, Fannie and Fred, banks who originated mortgages that were simply meant to be refinanced and not amortized, bond managers who were compensated on assets under management and not profitability, but most importantly, a belief on the part of John Q Public that housing was a sure thing and couldn't go down.

I do find it ironic that the baby boom generation, who disproved the theory that you can't lose money in the stock market ended up disproving the theory that you can't lose money in residential real estate. And they will disprove the theory that you can't lose money in long-term Treasuries as well.

Posted by: sold2u | February 26, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

@ruk,

If the problem was that all the financial entities were in imminent danger of collapsing (think a bunch of mountain climbers linked by a rope and one starts going over the cliff), then keeping the entities from collapsing was the first thing to do. That's why letting Lehman collapse was such a big mistake, although I understand that at the time, that was not well understood by the Treasury.

The people who lost their homes are victims to be sure. Had we helped them first, the financial entities still would have collapsed. I'm only making the point which course of action was required first.

Once TARP stabilized the banks, which it did thank God, then the next course of action could have been to help the people. There were some weak attempts but they failed due to poor design (or poor intentions, I don't know which).

Don't think it doesn't gall me that we were forced to bail out the outlaws who robbed us. But, I think we had to do it, or at least, there was no appetite for taking the gamble. If the bankers were all shot at sunrise, I would not object (purely hyperbole to those who like to get excited).

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

It is well documented that the Bush White House, including Hank Paulson, knew that a financial meltdown was coming. They were aware of it, in April of 2008, but kept quite about it.

I suspect that they were hoping that the crash would not take place until after the election. Had they taken action, when they first became aware of the impending disaster: after all Lehman Brothers was the 8,000 Ton Canary in the Coal Mine, they would have been better able to arrange a soft landing. Of course they preferred to put the Global Financial system in peril, by trying to stall, and maintain a cover up, until after election day. Time ran out on them, and that is why Hank Paulson got down on his knees and pleaded for the Bush TARP Bailout immediately, in order to avoid A Great Depression.

Don't let the Right Wing Handmaidens of the Oligarchs get away with rewriting history, so soon after it happened.

For cripes sake. It happen in 2008. Are all Tea Party members suffering from Alzheimer's?

I notice that earlier Tao was trying to make the case that President Obama was some how calling the shots, in how Republican Bernanke is running The Fed, just so Obama could claim: "Tarp worked". Now Tao says, he agrees with another commenter, that "TARP did the job"

Well isn't that special? Hmmmm.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I leave for a few hours and we are still there on the same topic. This was not a banking crisis, at its heart, it is much deeper, much more structural than that.

"We had a financial crisis because we had a real estate bubble. If we had not had a real estate bubble, we wouldn't be having this conversation." Yep.

But, where is the hate? The name calling? I'll have to look back, it couldn't be this civil...but anyway yeah, America is still mired in an equity crisis, a real value crisis. We can't pretend we have a way to generate wealth other than by...generating wealth. While fast money will bid up bubbles like the oil price, that only brings pain to the great majority of people, not to mention even refiners.
I have Tesoro stock and they get whipsawed all the time.

Back then, for awhile, we had a situation where America could avoid its problems by having everybody bid up the value of each others' property.

Now, we have to generate wealth my friends, it will not happen by borrowing to make fake jobs, it will not happen by protecting certain classes of working people and it will definately not happen by pretending corporate is our big friend...

Funny though, corporate is interested in consumer spending, it was a little odd reading the list of the Koch bros brands. Who do they think is going to buy that stuff?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, thank God, The Republicans were able to borrow Two Trillion Dollars, and Piss it away in Iraq

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 2:23 PM
==========================================

Blasted Republicans!

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."
-- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
-- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
-- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
-- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
-- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002

--------

With thanks to ScottC3.

Posted by: Brigade | February 26, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

America, is dealing with a perversion of Pascal's Wager.

[If you bet God is, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.]

America believes that so long as it serves capital, it has everything to gain and nothing to lose. It understands socialism as an unmitigated evil. America believes it can become Reagan's rendition of Revelation, the Shining City on the Hill only by marching on its knees, worshiping Blankfein, Summers, Soros, Bernanke, Buffett...capitalist theology or nothing, we are going for broke. America sees no other choice.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

A country with no middle class can have an Aristocracy, or a Plantation owning elite, but it can not have a thriving economy.

A strong and wide middle class are the consumers with disposable income that creates consumer demand, and jobs, by percolating up, and the rich skim their share or more, by taking profits, and shares investment growth.

Trickle down is a fairy tale sold as fact. The Rich do not dispose of their money, by sprinkling it down. They do the exact opposite. They leech more and more money out of the working classes. It is economic Osmosis, not trickle down.

Take a look at what happened, after the 2008 Financial meltdown.
Did all those super rich, with their Bush Tax cuts rush to spend, to try and jump start the economy, or did they just sit on their wealth, and let Government do all the heavy lifting to stimulate consumer demand?

You know the answer to that. If you still can not figure it out: Under the Clinton tax rates; the rich became richer, but millions of jobs were added to the economy, and we had started to balance the annual budgets, and even had reached budget surplus stage.

Bush cut taxes for the super rich. Keep in mind he did not make them rich, because if they were not already doing very well, the tax cuts would not have been of much use to them. It was because they were already making such huge amounts of income, that they could take advantage of tax breaks to accumulate even more wealth.

What was the end result. Not a single net job added, under Bush, even with his big fat tax breaks for the Super Rich. No trickle down effect what so ever.

Give a billionaire a million dollar tax break, and not a single job will be created.

Divide that million, by giving it to a thousand working class people, and they will spend it on washing machines, refrigerators etc. Increased demand, will create some jobs, and the fat cats investment portfolios will grow. KISS

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Two Trillion Dollars Borrowed, to fund the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Of course it really paid of because: "The Surge Worked". It worked so well, that Defense Secretary Gates, a lifelong Republican, just said:

""In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it."

-- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, quoted by the New York Times, speaking to West Point cadets."


But don't worry your heads about that Two Trillion that was borrowed.

The Koch Bros will repay it out of the checks of Civil Servants.


Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

We had a financial crisis because we had a real estate bubble. If we had not had a real estate bubble, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
------------------------------------------
I'm not convinced of this, but I'm open to your arguments. I'm assuming you mean that the crisis started with the U.S. residential real estate market.

How do credit default swaps, which I understand totalled about 63 trillion at the height of the crisis, figure into this? Weren't the CDS the primary reason for TARP? Because no one could even figure out how to cross them?

Why was the crisis worldwide, if it was the U.S. residential real estate market? Why was every central bank worldwide pumping liquidity and bailing out their financial institutions? Why did Iceland go down?

Why is there a crisis in commercial real estate even now which hasn't yet played out?

How about the appetite for MBS? Don't you think that investors' appetite for low risk, high return, mortgage backed investments played a part? Why blame it all on the people at the bottom of the food chain?

How about securitization? How about lax (or nonexistent) underwriting standards? How about all these tranching strategies which took dog t'urds and diced them into pate? And then repackaged the tranches to get myriad tranches of dog t'urds.

Here's the story my son-in-law told me last week: the last loan he did before the 2008 collapse was a 100% financed fifty year loan on a manufactured home, with interest only for ten years, I think. It was stated income (no verification) and the people had a hell of a time coming up with $500 earnest money. Sellers paid all the closing costs. The buyer's previous job (before his stated income job) was a minimum wage job flipping burgers. The home was located in a Wyoming God-forsaken oil boom town. My SIL begged these people not to do the loan, but they had seen it advertised and they wanted it, by God.

If you advertise it, they will come, and by God, they did come. The patsy homeowners were at the bottom of the food chain, generated all the mortgages for the middle men to sell to gullible investors at the other end of the food chain.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Remember that Goldman Sachs settled out of court, with the Government, on the charges that they had actually rigged the bet, against their own clients.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 26, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

So since the Obama administration has banks borrowing against taxpayers future earnings (quantitative easing) and since consumer confidence will not inflate another bubble (unlike the banks, consumers can not borrow at 0% interest, far from it) what is to be done?

America needs a job driver and the "free" market actually augers against that happening, in particular "free" trade. Should American manufacturing labor descend to the point where it can compete "freely", we'd have a situation that would rival the industrial revolution, except that more old people would be working and dying in the mines and factories, not just kids.
To me this all seems obvious.

The way America survives this can only be through socialism and now please, we don't have to hear all about all the failed socialist models of the 20th century. We have to look to the current successful models. People are still free, there is still upward mobility; have any of you socialism haters been to Australia or Holland? It seems pretty darn free to me.

The private sector is not squashed, not at all. Government worker unions are not sitting on the faces of entrepreneurs. Small businesses are doing just fine.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Remember that Goldman Sachs settled out of court, with the Government, on the charges that they had actually rigged the bet, against their own clients.
--------------------------------------------------------
GS is the archetype of the oldest profession. How do you sell something and still have it? Be an investment banker.

They take their role of middleman seriously, playing both sides against each other and if that's not lucrative enough, GS has financial engineers who come up with **great** new ideas to generate saliva from their customers who never fail them. Then, GS secretly bets with the winner and against the loser as a side bet. Finally, their CEO tells Congress that they "do God's work".

I suppose that there is a need in the financial universe for the whoredom of these players, but it is depressing.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"I'm assuming you mean that the crisis started with the U.S. residential real estate market."

Nope, that is not right. I never said that.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I don't have time to go through this whole thread now, but wanted to add something to lmsinca's comment about the Wisconsin pension system being fully funded. As I've been saying, it is. Most of my personal knowledge involves the University of Wisconsin system. Unlike most public workers in the state, faculty have actually never been unionized. They've had an organization that represents them but not one with collective bargaining rights or the right to strike.

This was an issue that came up regularly in the legislature. Faculty wanted to be unionized but the legislature wouldn't approve it. Since faculty contributed to the pension system, in order to palliate their concern over low wages and the inability to unionize, the state agreed to increase its contribution and eventually phased out the faculty portion altogether. That is why it doesn't exist now. It will be ironic if the state pension contribution that was given in lieu of union rights now goes away in this effort at union busting in other parts of the public sector.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 26, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"I'm assuming you mean that the crisis started with the U.S. residential real estate market."
------------------------------------------------
I thought I was addressing sold2u.

Anyway, what do you think? That the financial crisis started with the real estate market. I think that the bubble was a part of the crisis, but not the only factor.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. The TBTF patient now seems stable.

Schedule surgery.
-----------------------------------------
@tao,

If you mean carve up those TBTF so they are not too big, I'm all for that. I don't see it happening though.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I'll say it again, the American economic crisis is structural, it exists in its failure to generate real value. The crimes of the bankers are well documented, everyone agrees they should be drawn and quartered and whatever...the ongoing decline in the value of real property is not a banking crisis, that was my point.

It is a real reduction in the earning and buying power of the American middle class. Now, we all agree on how and why the debasement of the living wage earner occurred, but it isn't something that happened a few years ago. It was only accelerated as a result of the most recent wave of banking crimes.

It has been happening since Reagan convinced America that everything is fine, it was Carter talking about reality was the problem and that all you had to do was believe. He, together with his intellectual mentor Billy Graham, sold concentration of capital as the will of God.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

It will be ironic if the state pension contribution that was given in lieu of union rights now goes away in this effort at union busting in other parts of the public sector.
----------------------------------------------------------
This is the inequity of one party (like Walker) coming in to reneg on part of the deal. There's always a back story to these deals--they are packages where there was give and take to get to the ultimate result. Wouldn't it be great if we could all just up and reneg on some part of a deal we already signed onto, and ignore all the rest.

That's why contracts are considered done deals and are only broken under bankruptcy and sometimes not even then.

We have the same thing going on now with Social Security. Forget that people paid in for decades. Forget that they planned their retirement around the benefits. Forget all that--let's just cut the benefits now because "the lockbox is empty". Forget that it was the government who took the money out of the "lockbox".

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

America can stop blaming each other, because on the outside, no one cares. America has to figure out how the workers within its families can generate real value and get compensated fairly for that work.

If America can not figure that problem out, it will be just another state-capitalist player on the world stage, like China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia...Egypt and Libya...where the governments' officials are indistinguishable from the businessmen and bankers.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Liam

"Are all Tea Party members suffering from Alzheimer's?"

I'm not TP.

But you sure have a case of Derry Alzheimers...you've forgotten everything but the vengeance, you old bootless rebel b@stard.

{{{Go yell "Oligarchs!!" downtown, Rahm'll have you strapped down at Chicago-Read in 15 minutes}}}

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Liam

"Are all Tea Party members suffering from Alzheimer's?"

I'm not TP.

But you sure have a case of Derry Alzheimers...you've forgotten everything but the vengeance, you old bootless rebel b@stard.

{{{Go yell "Oligarchs!!" downtown, Rahm'll have you strapped down at Chicago-Read in 15 minutes}}}

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

@shrink,

We are not going in the right direction. All sides of the political spectrum seem to agree that American workers get paid too much and have too many benefits. The political establishment might as well be the mouthpieces of business, because they totally represent their interests. The GOP is far more advanced in this endeavor because they have developed an ideology that embodies it, but the Democrats are being dragged along with their program.

Meanwhile, we the people blame each other (you have that part exactly right), while we are being dragged over the cliff. We have accepted, like sheep to the slaughter, that we can not afford education, healthcare, decent housing, or hope. We lament, but basically we believe it. We hope for a nameless somebody to charge in on the white horse and save us, but we don't know who that would be or what could be done.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

12Bar
"Wouldn't it be great if we could all just up and reneg on some part of a deal we already signed onto, and ignore all the rest."

China's biggest fear.

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

China's biggest fear.
-----------------------------------------
Absolutely right. I was reading something a while back about how countries lose their sovereign credit worthiness. They reneg on foreigners. Always.

I always think of this when I hear people extol on the virtues of reneging on our own citizens with Social Security. The Chinese aren't dumb--they know they'll be next.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"We lament, but basically we believe it."

That is what I meant by accepting Pascal's wager. No one has to know whose money is in the bag, since corporations are citizens too, the deal is sealed. Since we know we couldn't do anything that might be called socialism, we have gone all in with state-capitalism. Corporate and government are one and labor, well, they can get that where they like.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

dozas, did you even listen to any of the tapes? It's obvious to me at least that Walker hasn't spoken with Koch ever. So who at U.S. Chamber are you accusing Walker of colluding with? Keep in mind that even "public figures" can win defamation lawsuits.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

shrink2, here in California it's the DEMOCRATS in government and labor (teachers, prison guards, etc.) who have been in bed for a long time. I understand why Walker exempted police and fire unions from his efforts, but it may take even cuts there too. Citizens here are finally waking up, so I hope that Jerry Brown's $25 billion tax hike will not be approved.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u - You fall into the second most common blunder. The first of course, being never start a land war in Asia. The second being thinking that you can ascribe a bubble to some specific cause that can be remedied and then there will be be no more bubbles.

The tech/com/web boom had nothing to do with government. The housing bubble in the UK in 1990 wasn't due to this confluence of government interests as (a) there was no central bank setting rates and (b) there was nothing like Fannie or Freddie.

As for claw, Walker exempted police and firefighter unions for a specific reason. Naked politics. Their unions endorse Republicans. Teacher unions endorse Democrats. I'd hope to think you're not a fool and so don't think that you can play anyone else for one.

BB

P.S. I don't care if you are or aren't Jake. Threadbombing was the behavior I found objectionable and you don't do it. Claw away!

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 26, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

"That is what I meant by accepting Pascal's wager. No one has to know whose money is in the bag, since corporations are citizens too, the deal is sealed. Since we know we couldn't do anything that might be called socialism, we have gone all in with state-capitalism. Corporate and government are one and labor, well, they can get that where they like."

Interesting as usual shrink! Do you think there was ever a time when this was not the case?

Hope all's well! Great comments everyone!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

FairlingtonBlade, thanks. However, correlation does not mean causation. The reason that Reagan's firing of air traffic controllers was so bold was because even one plane crash would have been blamed on him (rightly or wrongly). Same with police / firefighters during this round of the budget fight. People dying in a building because the nearest station was closed would have been much worse than this silly tape.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

"Interesting as usual shrink! Do you think there was ever a time when this was not the case?"

Yes. But of course that is not the point I want to make. This is not about how we went wrong. We do have choices and they include an American socialism.

Timing is everything though. First we have to agree, hacking each other to a boring intellectual death is a bad way to advance the discourse, we are almost there. You get that.

You don't agree I imagine with anything I say, but you don't go on and on with insults. If you want to disagree with someone, you say so politely.

If someone you want to engage does not want to deal with your fatuous friend style, you don't go after them day after day, looking for a way to score a point or two, as if in front of an imaginary circus audience. Troll, we'll never agree, but at least we can talk.

"Hope all's well!"

Back to you. Thank you so much. My hands are just defrosting from an expedition with the kids.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

@claw - Walker proposed stripping some, but not all, unions of most aspects of collective bargaining. That doesn't correlate to closing of stations. If teachers lose their pensions, why should fire fighters or the police keep theirs?

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 26, 2011 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"Now, we compare salaries in order to claw people down to the lowest number. It is sad that we have come to so little in this country. Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain"

And in the process miss the obvious facts.

Average base salary for Public School teachers: $ > $50,000 per year. call that for just nine months, the way the republicans do, that would be >$68k per year full time. Real high pay there for the most important people in many kids lives, because they are the ONLY people who care to try to educate them. Yep, they are WAY over paid.

And:

Average private school teacher pay > $40 K per year, part time of course, roughly $52 k per year full time. They don't make as much because they areither religious school teachers, working partly because they feel the call to teach their co-religionists children their religious values, or Charter Schools teachers, paid less because the For profit Charters have to make a profit, and they have to take it out of the money the state gives them, so their profits must come out of teacher's salaries.

But it also shows where the republicans values lie: They want old Athens' governmental values, the Rich own everything, poor citizens depend on the rich for everything,and most government functions, like Police and Fire and teaching is done by slaves.

In essence they want to be able to build their outhouse over your well because it saves them the trouble of digging a pit on their own property, and they vehemently deny that the government should have the authority to stop them.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 7:21 PM | Report abuse

"I thought Reagan was correct to fire the ATCs. Posted by: mark_in_austin"

Eh? Reagan declared that he wouldn't negotiate wages and working conditions with the unions because they were federal employees and should take their pay and vastly over worked conditions and be happy. He dared them to strike, they did, he fired them, U. S. aviation was screwed up for a decade, and the fundamental problems the ATC's wanted dealt with were totally ignored for that same decade. Thus we haven't, even now, modernized our ATC system from 1980.

Ronnie was wrong to decide that he was too lazy to work on the problem so he just fired all the messengers and hoped he didn't have a major mid air collision. He totally ignored all the near misses, ground collisions, interminable waits on the tarmac that get more interminable every month, and went on like it was 1938 and only the very rich even thought about flying anywhere.

He found so many ways to be wrong they can't even easily be counted.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

"12Bar "Wouldn't it be great if we could all just up and reneg on some part of a deal we already signed onto, and ignore all the rest." China's biggest fear. Posted by: tao9"

China's biggest fear is that the dollar will threaten to drop below the value of the renmimbi to the point where American products will be cheaper than Chinese cheap copies. Then its factories close up as those few in China who can afford to buy things buy American.

China has this immense horde of dollars that it can't use because anything China might buy with it would break some Chinese rice bowls. If the basic resources producing world ever stops taking dollars China is permanently had because most of the dollars exist only in some computer so they can't even try to eat them or use them as wall paper.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"Supply relatively constant...demand at a seasonal low point..prices go up 10% in one single day...again WTF? Posted by: rukidding7 "

Email me at ceflynline@msn.com, I will email you back a four page model to work with and I can begin suggesting just WTF is really going on.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 7:45 PM | Report abuse

"Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

How can that be? Because the “contributions” consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.

Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply “contribute more” to Wisconsin’ s retirement system (or as the argument goes, “pay their fair share” of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin’ s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin."

http://tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8EDJYS?OpenDocument

Posted by: bernielatham | February 26, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse

""Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

How can that be? Because the “contributions” consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services."

Bernie, fascinating link, I thank you. Andrew Stiles at NRO came to a different conclusion on the "completely paid for" argument. Just an alternative opinion. :-)

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/260785/iforbesis-wisconsin-pension-myth-christian-schneider

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"We do have choices and they include an American socialism."

Shrink, thanks! Someday, if you get inspired, I'd love to hear what "Americqn socialism" is.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 8:14 PM | Report abuse

"I'd love to hear what "Americqn socialism" is. Posted by: TrollMcWingnut "

In the late 1780's, the Continental Congress, broke and unable to accomplih mush of anything because the Articles of Confederation left too much independence to the Fourteen States. (Vermont was not a colony, being a rebellious part of the Colony of New York) It did at least convince colonies with land claims beyond the demarcation line of 1763 to cede those lands to the Continental Congress for organization as eventual states. The process produced the two most remarkable documents on governance ever generated up to that time, the land Ordinance, providing for the survey of the territories ceded, and the Northwest ordinance, providing for the organization and subsequent transition to statehood of the lands being ceded.

The Northwest ordinance provided for a froup of five states, where slavery was forbidden, where education was free to all residents, where all religions had absolute freedom to be and to speak. The Land ordinance provided for the funding of those schools by reservation of lands within each major political subdivision, the township. Those Socialist states of the Northwest territory built canals for the public good, (except in Ohio mostly for the political good of local politicians, but, as Ohio showed, it didn't have to be that way) built roads and schools and universities. No land within that territory was to be surveyed or sold until all Indian claims were properly aquired, and all title or color of title properly extinguished. (That noble sentiment got ignored as well, but it was originally there)

Those two documents were QUITE socialist, especially for their time. That final political act was the one great achievement of the Congress, after the prosecution of the American revolution, and was followed by the calling of the Constitutional Convention to correct the flaws of government identified in the years after Yorktown and up until the ratification of the Constitution.

There is ONE example.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

"I'd love to hear what "Americqn socialism" is."

Well you are blowing it. You are supposed to go into a series of obscenity laced caricatures. One genocidal tragedy after another, that is the sum total of socialism...the history is in the books. Oh well you didn't. How about stagflation? Everyone knows modern socialism is all about the welfare state, no growth, we'll be like Greece...right?

That is what is going to happen, everyone buys the blame model. There is no question, Republicans blame the Democrat party, Democrats blame Republicans, everyone blames the left, insufficiently appreciative of Obama, mea culpa. Stagflation is the next partisan football. Yes, now we will have stagflation, rising prices and rising interest rates and no growth.

An American small s socialism is the hard choice, but the easy answer. It isn't as if we can't pull together and fix things.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 8:37 PM | Report abuse

"You are supposed to go into a series of obscenity laced caricatures. One genocidal tragedy after another, that is the sum total of socialism...the history is in the books."

Well, I didn't ask what would happen if it was implemented, did I? ;-)

"An American small s socialism is the hard choice, but the easy answer. It isn't as if we can't pull together and fix things."

Like I said, when you have the time and inclination.

BTW, when I used to sling dope to shrinks, I'd always ask if they believed in the legitimacy of dream interpretation. 95% of them said "no," while 95% of the therapists said "yes." What's your opinion?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

And then there was the experience of GIs with the Autobahn after WWII. Eisenhower was so impressed that when he became president he decided he wanted one. Paid for by road and gas taxes and other taxes as necessary.

An appalling Idea. Why the Pensy turnpike and the Jersey Tuernpike and the new York State Throughway showed ho to do it. So we built the Ohio State Turnpike and the Indiana Toll Road and the idea of turnpikes sort of fell ny the roadside. And that great socialist waste of money spanned the country with concrete roads that we didn't need because we had the U. S. Highway System, which, by the way, we still have. The Trucks could drive the U. S. Highway System, why did we need another?

Same arguments we get now on high speed rail.

American Socialism? rive cross country much?

Socialism.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Now let's try a theorhetical American Socialism.

Wouldn't you like to know that there was sufficient spare capacity in your local Hospital system so that when something goes wrong and a mutation in Bacillus Typhus gets past that socialist chlorination system of yours, (yes, you have one. Conservatives claimed that was socialism) and lots of people need hospitalization for two weeks to save their lives we had the beds to do it?

Right now we don't have the beds, because the capitalistic model for Hospitals we currently use says that the costs associated with maintaining a 20% surplus of capacity is just too costly, cuts down on profits too much and makes everything too expensive.

A public hospital system, (we once tried to build one but that was a lot of tax cutting ago) paid for by taxes and available to every one for modest payments, or none at all, could easily provide such a safety net, but again, that is Socialist America.

There THREE examples.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

"There THREE examples."

Ceflynline, thank you very much for your examples. Obviously a lot of thought and work went into their composition. It's appreciated.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

We have the same thing going on now with Social Security. Forget that people paid in for decades. Forget that they planned their retirement around the benefits. Forget all that--let's just cut the benefits now because "the lockbox is empty". Forget that it was the government who took the money out of the "lockbox".

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 26, 2011 4:48 PM
========================================

Hear, hear! And the government consists of politicians and bureaucrats. Any time there's a pile of money sitting somewhere, someone will attempt to steal it---that's a law of nature. I want a government that locks up people who don't play by the rules (including bankers and business owners who hire illegal immigrants), not a government that changes the rules, misappropriates the money and then wants to renege on its promises.

Having trouble paying back the Social Security surplus? Tough sh*t. Find a way. If government reneges on a successful prgoram like that, why should anyone trust any deal whatsoever made with the government? Long range planning? Forget it. Your word's no good anymore. I don't give a crap whether the current crop of politicians is the one which actually looted the fund; these guys ran for the job, and they are now bound by the promises of their predecessors. It's another law of nature that politicians will always try to spend as much as possible on today's interests and---debt be damned---kick the resulting mess down the road for someone else to worry about.

Call me a cynic. I see politicians of all stripes as a big part of our problems, and yes, I include GWB; liberals only see conservative politicians as part of the problem; they see liberal politicians as the answer to their prayers. Better keep your eye on all of them and your hand on your wallet. When Max Baer was fighting Joe Louis, his manager kept telling him he was doing great; Baer told him then to keep an eye on the referee because one of those guys in the ring was beating the crap out of him.

Posted by: Brigade | February 26, 2011 9:13 PM | Report abuse

" I don't give a crap whether the current crop of politicians is the one which actually looted the fund; these guys ran for the job, and they are now bound by the promises of their predecessors. It's another law of nature that politicians will always try to spend as much as possible on today's interests and---debt be damned---kick the resulting mess down the road for someone else to worry about."

Brigade, i think your sentiments are help by many people. The problem as I see it though is that, to make these plans work and be stable, requires the government to collect more than they distribute, resulting in the very scenario we have today. The money is too great a temptation not to spend on other things (that will help them get elected.) The government can have a fairly close prediction for what it's liabilities will be for the coming year, but it only is a prediction. Unless you want a system in which benefits can be cut off at some point because the money runs out, or create the uncertainty of what the tax rate will be next year, the government needs to collect more than it thinks it will need, thereby creating the moral hazard. Seems the only way to ensure certainty is to limit the ability of government to provide benefits.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Call me a cynic. I see politicians of all stripes as a big part of our problems, and yes, I include GWB; liberals only see conservative politicians as part of the problem; they see liberal politicians as the answer to their prayers. Better keep your eye on all of them and your hand on your wallet. When Max Baer was fighting Joe Louis, his manager kept telling him he was doing great; Baer told him then to keep an eye on the referee because one of those guys in the ring was beating the crap out of him.

Posted by: Brigade | February 26, 2011 9:13 PM | Report abuse

---

Don't project, Briggie. I don't see anyone as the answer to my prayers. Except, possibly, my sons' teacher and their psychiatrist. [Me being the guy with autistic sons.] Politicians are merely the mirror of our demands. Democrats for services; Republicans for not having to pay for it. It's like we want to dine at Citronelle and pay McDonalds prices. We are to blame for the present situation. Nobody else.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 26, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Troll:

The fallacy that the Government can't take in more money than it needs to meet its current obligations is what got us into this mess.

We had a passable, real, surplus in 2000. We were reducing the national debt. We won't ever be able to reduce the national debt further unless we have surplusses.

Bush was innaugurated, and declared that we were taking in too much money, so we had to have a tax cut.

How, under any circumstances could we continue paying down the national debt UNLESS we continue to have surplusses.

We got the tax cuts, the economy tanked, nd then Bush declared we had to keep the tax cuts to make the economy get better.

It never got better. Any FISCAL conservative would naturally want as big a surplus as possible until the debt was a whole lot lower, like maybe below a trillion dollars, but THAT means tax increases. Big ones.

But the deficit and the debt aren't causes, but tools that the republicans want to use to abolish programs and principles they don't like, and the program they most want to do away with is Social Security. They want to do away with it SO BAD that they regularly concoct deficits of enormous size to make it credible to complain that we are broke and can't afford SS, or investing in infrastructure, or investing in research. No can do, because we have a big deficit, and if we didn't have a big deficit we would need a big tax cut to create one.

Yet we could balance the budget with ease with a modest increase in tariffs across the board. 20% until the debt is below five Trillion, wiping out Bush's contribution to the debt and 15% until it is below 1 trillion, wiping out Reagan's contribution.

Make Corporate America pay its fair share, (Profits taxes can't be passed on to the customer), and make the wealthy, who got the Social Security Trust Fund given to them as a part of the many Reaganomics tax cuts, and we have a nice surplus to do what we need. Drop a $2 per gallon tax on fuel for cars and use that to rebuild the U.S. highway system. The price of gas would never rise above $3.50 a gallon, (That is too close to the bike to work or take the bus break over point) it would strongly encourage the transition to mostly electric cars, and the return of long haul freight to railroads, which could be electrified using some of the proceeds of the gas tax.

But that too is socialism.

And we can't have socialism, the Conservatives say so.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Co-sign on the Comparable quality of air travel. Flying from SeaTac to Saigon is like going from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. Incheon and Narita are easily a generation more modern than any airport I've seen in the USA in years. Incheon is confusing to navigate in transit but otherwise all the Asian airports I know are brisk and user-friendly.

Not so in the USA. Long lines, layers of procedures, harried and unhelpful workers unable to answer the simplest questions, and a general grimy shabbiness.

But if you really want to a see America the Dilapidated go to DC. The grounds of the great national monuments are threadbare, everything is I disrepair.

America is falling behind.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

"Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers..."

{{{giggle}}}

Here's another much more thorough skewering (heh, Greg)! It shows with the actual figures and percentages how, if you're a Milwaukee teacher, you can double your (deferred!??!) compensation with benefits:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703408604576164290717724956.html#printMode

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Narita is nice, but not a jump up from the better US airports. I'd put MSP up against it easily. Denver and Atlanta as well. Miami is best avoided as is Boston Logan.

Mind you, nothing beats the Shinkansen. Nothing.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 26, 2011 10:15 PM | Report abuse

"I don't give a crap whether the current crop of politicians is the one which actually looted the fund."

Well, fair is fair. I've accused the financial industry of looting. Looting is the symbol we are transacting. The right says Wall Street earns whatever it has and it is Government that loots the assets of working people. The right says government can not help itself it because it takes more than it needs. Such pretty symmetry.

The problem we face is not who looted America, it is whether there is a solution. If we can agree, government and corporate are one: crony capitalism is one corrupt state, we might make progress.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 10:16 PM | Report abuse

@cef and all on the pretext that tax cuts stimulate the economy, which they don't.

Playing out in miniature in Wisconsin, where a tax cut on corporations created a deficit that could only be addressed by some u ion busting. Only certain unions, of course,

Oh well, 204 years was artery good run.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 10:17 PM | Report abuse

"America is falling behind."

A 20 year-old just won Daytona.

Try that in Wuhan, buford.

{{{oh, tax cuts created Wisc deficit is, uh, waterbuffshyte}}}

ola cao

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 10:27 PM | Report abuse

(from yesterday's Secret Service thread)

"I wasn't aware of what Cao said, but I have to wonder why Tao considers that some oddball living in Vietnam, spouting rubbbish on a blog, is the equvilent of an elected Congressman holding a townhall meeting.

I view Cao in much the same way that I view JakeD'sClaw, or Bilgeman Kaddafi,

And I see no reason to CaoTao to any of them."

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 12:33 PM

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Best sign today at the LA rally, "America has a Koch problem".

I see a lot of people here saying the same thing from a different angle, the American people have been ripped off. Seems to me we should be able to figure it out, but I really have my doubts. I did meet some really great people today though, so there is that anyway.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 26, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

"Not so in the USA. Long lines, layers of procedures, harried and unhelpful workers unable to answer the simplest questions, and a general grimy shabbiness. Posted by: caothien9 "

We get what we pay for.

The Air Traggic Control System is falling apart, hasn't had a real upgrade since the telephone system went fully transcontinental, just patches and add ons. We've looked at replacements, but what we could get at what we were willing to pay was never really workable. Terminal facilities are paid for out of landing fees, which raise the cost of flying and so can't be raised high enough to upgrade terminals to the point needed, and airlines can abandon airorts on a whim, so making big money changes is a crap shoot. The Gov pays much of new runway costs, when it has the money, but that isn't going to be for a while, and we can't regulate the airlines and they won't regulate themselves so we have dozens to scores of airplanes wanting to take off at convenient times like 09:00 so they all congregate at the ends of runways and burn tons of aviation fuel while waiting, thus needlessly increasing their flying costs.

But allow someone to assign depatrure times? Big Government, Gasp, Socialism.

And of course we get wonderful things like Cincinati, in the fifties, needing a new airport, because lunken is impossible for ordinary commercial loading, hearing that dayton was proposing a regional airport around Middletown. Can't have that, sharing an airport with dayton. So Cinci put its airport in Kentucky so it wouldn't have to share. A lousy location for an airport, especially since planes landing from the north come in over a big dip down to the Ohio and a big rise to the top of the hills the airport sits on. Was hell on the radars carried by airplanes in the sixties.

But allow a national airport planning agency? HAH! Big Gummint and SOCIALISM.

And what, pay ell, does our current burdensome passenger treatment system tell us about ourselves? We can't trust our selves, and we really cant trust republican Presidents to keep terrorists the FBI knows about from boarding planes and hijacking them.

But our rampant capitalist system is SOOOO goood at providing us with the very best transportation systems anyone can think of.

Except the japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Europeans,...

Sigh.

Does Cab Tho use the old Military Air Field any more? With the pond right at the river end of the runway?

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey clawrence,

That's a 5 minute misconduct penalty. Next one and you sit for two threads.

Posted by: tao9 | February 26, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

"The fallacy that the Government can't take in more money than it needs to meet its current obligations is what got us into this mess.

We had a passable, real, surplus in 2000. We were reducing the national debt. We won't ever be able to reduce the national debt further unless we have surplusses."

Sincere thanks for the input Ceflynline! On the first point, we're going to have to agree to disagree to a certain extent. I think excess monies, not specifically assigned to defect reduction, creates and maintains the moral hazard. And I agree that for 1999 and 2000 the actually were surpluses. We paid down the, at the time, $5.5 trillion by about $90 billion.

"Bush was innaugurated, and declared that we were taking in too much money, so we had to have a tax cut."

Again, we're going to agree to disagree. There was a recession at the time and the tax cuts were pushed as a way to alleviate the recession. I'm not arguing the merits of the tax cuts, though I think they were a good idea, just that I think the justification for them is different than yours.

"How, under any circumstances could we continue paying down the national debt UNLESS we continue to have surplusses."

Well, if we legislatively commit that all excess funds are to be used to pay down the debt, before the fiscal year starts, I'd be more sanguine about surpluses. It should taken actual public vote to divert those funds assigned to pay down the debt. I realize it's no guarantee, but it's better than nuttin'. ;-)

"We got the tax cuts, the economy tanked, nd then Bush declared we had to keep the tax cuts to make the economy get better."

We have a difference of opinion again. I think 9/11 triggered another recession, or at least an economic downturn, rather than tax cuts causing an economic downturn.

"It never got better. Any FISCAL conservative would naturally want as big a surplus as possible until the debt was a whole lot lower, like maybe below a trillion dollars, but THAT means tax increases. Big ones."
(more)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

LOL!!!

I don't CaoTao to you either!

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 26, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I would want a surplus only if I was reasonably confidant the monies would be used for debt reduction. The size of the surplus wouldn't necessarily have to be as big as possible either, if it could be demonstrated that the government was on a path of fiscal restraint and contraction.

"But the deficit and the debt aren't causes, but tools that the republicans want to use to abolish programs and principles they don't like, and the program they most want to do away with is Social Security. They want to do away with it SO BAD that they regularly concoct deficits of enormous size to make it credible to complain that we are broke and can't afford SS, or investing in infrastructure, or investing in research. No can do, because we have a big deficit, and if we didn't have a big deficit we would need a big tax cut to create one."

I do want to abolish programs an principles I don't like. I would advocate that even if we were running a surplus and had no debt. And I would like to phase out, or drastically reduce the cost of and number of beneficiaries who receive benefits from SS. We will have to disagree as to the motives that Republicans have had for increasing the debt. There are a lot of them, but I just don't think that increasing debt to destroy SS is one of them. Unfortunately, there are plenty of elected Republicans, probably the majority, who love spending money on infrastructure and research, debt be damned (and their reelection be guaranteed!) I for one want to see the size and scope of government dramatically reduced, as I said earlier, whether there is a debt or surplus.
(more)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 10:50 PM | Report abuse

"Like I said, when you have the time and inclination.

BTW, when I used to sling dope to shrinks... believing in dreams or 95% or something etc..."

Heh, Troll my friend, that was a no, a stop sign.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 26, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

"Yet we could balance the budget with ease with a modest increase in tariffs across the board. 20% until the debt is below five Trillion, wiping out Bush's contribution to the debt and 15% until it is below 1 trillion, wiping out Reagan's contribution."

I disagree on this premise. I do not think it is possible.

"Make Corporate America pay its fair share, (Profits taxes can't be passed on to the customer),"

I apologize here, don't understand this premise.

"and make the wealthy, who got the Social Security Trust Fund given to them as a part of the many Reaganomics tax cuts, and we have a nice surplus to do what we need. "

Raising revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy is a possibility. I also wonder if there would be any unintended consequences by doing it. In the end though, it will happen. Taxes are going to go up dramatically in the near future, so the unintended consequences are coming.

"Drop a $2 per gallon tax on fuel for cars and use that to rebuild the U.S. highway system. The price of gas would never rise above $3.50 a gallon, (That is too close to the bike to work or take the bus break over point) it would strongly encourage the transition to mostly electric cars, and the return of long haul freight to railroads, which could be electrified using some of the proceeds of the gas tax."

Wouldn't it partially defeat the purpose of raising the gas tax to spend it on the U.S. highway system? Good roads are going to be an attractive nuisance in that they will cause drivers to agitate their Congress people to lower the gas tax so they can drive on all those sweet, rebuilt roads? Why not use the money to pay down debt and let the highway system go fallow? Everybody seems to be all hot on rail nowadays. ;-)

"But that too is socialism.

And we can't have socialism, the Conservatives say so."

Well, we've recently had some electoral success. I hope we have more, but it wouldn't surprise me to find that we don't. In any event, you shouldn't just follow what someone says just because they say it. Fortunately, the ability to. Implement policy requires electoral success.

Thanks for the exchange!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 26, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

""Yet we could balance the budget with ease with a modest increase in tariffs across the board. 20% until the debt is below five Trillion, wiping out Bush's contribution to the debt and 15% until it is below 1 trillion, wiping out Reagan's contribution." I disagree on this premise. I do not think it is possible.

Possible as in Congress passing the legislation? Not with the republicans running the House, that's for sure. Possible to raise tariffs and increase revenues significantly, definitely.

"Make Corporate America pay its fair share, (Profits taxes can't be passed on to the customer),"

I apologize here, don't understand this premise.


You can't pass on taxes on profits to the consumer. Think about it. Congress gets an ironclad 10% tax on corporate profits. Business says, hey that means I get to keep only ninety percent of my profits, so I better raise my prices by 11 % to make up the difference? You don't set prices to produce a given revenue amount, you try to set prices to maximize income. if you picked a maximum point, raising prices lowers income, according to my Micro Professor.

"and make the wealthy, who got the Social Security Trust Fund given to them as a part of the many Reaganomics tax cuts, and we have a nice surplus to do what we need. "

Raising revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy is a possibility. I also wonder if there would be any unintended consequences by doing it. In the end though, it will happen. Taxes are going to go up dramatically in the near future, so the unintended consequences are coming."

There will be (hopefully) one very intended collateral result. When CEOs are paying most of their incomes above some defined level, say 100 times the full time minimum wage, they may decide that running their companies, "For the good of the Shareholders" (that means hyping stock prices so his stock options are maximally profitable, or depressing prices so his strike price for buying his stock options is as low as you can go) isn't worth the effort when Uncle decides he gets ninety five percent of the profits. THEN maybe CEOs will run companies to maximize long term health and profitability, not just run up stock prices every year or so.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 26, 2011 11:12 PM | Report abuse

cef, I remember PATCO differently than you. PATCO was at war with the FAA and did not back Carter in 1980, but backed RWR, who promised them better working conditions.

Impatient with RWR b/c he did not follow through on his campaign pledge, PATCO struck, fully aware it was violating federal law. RWR gave them fair warning, but 90% of them stayed out, and were fired, maybe four days later [we could look that up].

The PATCO head in Austin was an ex-Marine and 'Nam combat veteran and friend and client of mine. Still is, btw. The FAA supervisor in Austin was not a client, but was also a friend. Jimmy and Bernie were actually friends with each other, as well. They both agreed after the event that PATCO had miscalculated, fatally. I told Jimmy when RWR warned them that the statute was clear. Jimmy told me the die had been cast [and not by him]. Whoever made that decision for PATCO screwed up, IMHO.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 26, 2011 11:29 PM | Report abuse

We will have to disagree as to the motives that Republicans have had for increasing the debt

==

After so many of them have stated it aloud, that uncompensated tax cuts were intended to create urgency to cut government functions that conservatives don't like?

Have you ever asked yourself WHY you want to shrink government, or is it just a sacrosanct article of faith? Have you ever asked yourself what the consequences would be and whether they would be desirable?

And if the loss of social safety nets didn't lead to "better personal responsibility" but led instead to starvation and homelessness would you just dismiss it as "serves them right?" Do you really think ths is a mature and responsible attitude?

Posted by: caothien9 | February 26, 2011 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Well, we've recently had some electoral success.

==

Yeah and "you" are making such great use of it that it's certain to be repeated.

That was sarcasm. All of it.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 27, 2011 12:34 AM | Report abuse


Are you looking to refinance your mortgage? Best way is to contact at least three to five lenders for input on mortgage programs and rates. Also search online for 123 Mortgage Refinance since refinanced my loan to 3.29% with my OK credit history.

Posted by: josephmarin123 | February 27, 2011 1:32 AM | Report abuse

"After so many of them have stated it aloud, that uncompensated tax cuts were intended to create urgency to cut government functions that conservatives don't like?"

Hi cao, hope all is well with you! And thanks, by the way, for your insights here. I've no reason to doubt you, that some Conservatives have said that reducing government revenue through tax cuts, in this instance, were intended to "starve the beast."

"Have you ever asked yourself WHY you want to shrink government, or is it just a sacrosanct article of faith?"

Yes, I have asked myself why I want to shrink government, and no, it isn't just a sacrosanct article of faith.

"Have you ever asked yourself what the consequences would be and whether they would be desirable?"

Yes, many times. In fact, it's something I think about quite frequently. Some consequences would be bad, but I think the good would out way it.

"And if the loss of social safety nets didn't lead to "better personal responsibility" but led instead to starvation and homelessness would you just dismiss it as "serves them right?"

No, I would not.

"Do you really think ths is a mature and responsible attitude?"

Yes.

"Yeah and "you" are making such great use of it that it's certain to be repeated.

That was sarcasm. All of it."

I understand and appreciate that we have very profound differences of opinion here. I appreciate and thank you for your good faith efforts at communicating those differences. I very much enjoy reading your comments and find your insights very well articulated. I hope we will continue to keep our dialog going.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 27, 2011 1:54 AM | Report abuse

"You can't pass on taxes on profits to the consumer. Think about it. Congress gets an ironclad 10% tax on corporate profits. Business says, hey that means I get to keep only ninety percent of my profits, so I better raise my prices by 11 % to make up the difference? You don't set prices to produce a given revenue amount, you try to set prices to maximize income. if you picked a maximum point, raising prices lowers income, according to my Micro Professor."

Ok, thank you for your explanation.

"There will be (hopefully) one very intended collateral result. When CEOs are paying most of their incomes above some defined level, say 100 times the full time minimum wage, they may decide that running their companies, "For the good of the Shareholders" (that means hyping stock prices so his stock options are maximally profitable, or depressing prices so his strike price for buying his stock options is as low as you can go) isn't worth the effort when Uncle decides he gets ninety five percent of the profits. THEN maybe CEOs will run companies to maximize long term health and profitability, not just run up stock prices every year or so."

If I'm reading you correctly here, your opinion is that the increase in taxes for the wealthy will have, several effects. One being an altering of how a public company is run due to the fact that income will be taxed at a very high rate at a certain point and that stock options will no longer be considered a lucrative enough benefit to keep running the company in a manner that may benefit the CEO, but not the average shareholder and employee. Finally, as revenue to the government inevitable decreased due to taxation avoidance, in theory, income disparity will decrease.

Again, thanks for taking the time to clarify it for me.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 27, 2011 2:05 AM | Report abuse

Troll McWingnut, the Rogerian Conservative.

Troll, I feel like I'm communicating with a Perl script. It's scarcely any more illuminating than paraphrasing. Yes you've thought about it. Period. Yes you think it's responsible. Period. You barely pass the Turing test.

But I got what I wanted. You're ok with starvation and homelessness for abstract ideological satisfaction.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 27, 2011 2:30 AM | Report abuse

"Have you ever asked yourself what the consequences would be and whether they would be desirable?"

Yes, many times. In fact, it's something I think about quite frequently. Some consequences would be bad, but I think the good would out[weigh] it.

==

I think this is a fantasy. If you believe that In the absence of government social safety nets people would suddenly save more, spend more carefully, you're forgetting something. You're forgetting that under the dog-eat-dog world you hope for people would make a lot less money than they do now. It wouldn't be the American suburban way of life with less frequent frivolous purchasing and more money in the bank, it would be the rural India way of life, with the return of deficiency diseases and "middle class" referring to having access to better dumpsters to di!ve than the lower class.

Prior to the New Deal there were a lot of hungry people.

In the final analysis, the conservative notion of personal responsibility is little more than a cudgel.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 27, 2011 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Again the weekend thread comes through with a great discussion on the role of Gov't.
Thanks Troll even though I disagree with you and wouldn't wish to live in your "caveat emptor" hell. You conducted yourself with restraint and confused shrink in the process.

Just kidding shrink, but I did appreciate your snark about..what no name calling. I also enjoyed cefyline's, cao, and shrink's contributions as well.

Now for a real life example of what reining in Gov't can do...here in the heart of tea party land with the bald dictator...and a solid R legislature that has gutted state gov't for the past decade.
Let's see just ONE of the effects of REPUBLICAN rule...

http://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-deadly-for-kids-at-risk/1154239

"The details of Nubia Barahona's death are grisly: soaked in toxic chemicals, decomposed and stuffed in a garbage bag, she was found rotting on the shoulder of the interstate on Valentine's Day. Authorities believe she had been stashed in a septic tank for weeks before her adoptive father dug up her corpse.

Statistically, however, Nubia's story is rather common: She is one of hundreds of Florida children who died of abuse or neglect during the last decade after child welfare authorities had performed at least one investigation into their welfare. Florida not only leads the United States in the number of such deaths, but it dominates the nation.

What's more, Florida continued the rapid pace of diverting children from protective supervision at the very time that the state — and, indeed, the nation — suffered through one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. As agency administrators were reducing caseloads, they were begging lawmakers to hold their budgets harmless while other state agencies' budgets were being slashed. Their reasoning: It is common wisdom that economic stress leads to greater abuse and neglect of children.

In 2008, for example, then-DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth described a $4.5 billion package of legislative budget cuts as a "contract on kids.''

And so we are faced with the spectre of a bunch of folks like Clawrence who jump on this blog at the first mention of a "woman's choice" to defend the rights of a 4 week old glob of cells with no brain waves...yet stand idly by while his tea party brethren and the Republican slash budgets that protect these same globs AFTER they actually mature into REAL human beings.

Shame on you Clawrence. If you really had a conscience you'd be here in Florida defending REAL LIVE human beings instead of foisting all your BS talking points on abortion. You value fetuses above real live children. Shame on you Clawrence!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 27, 2011 7:51 AM | Report abuse

As a postscript to that story cataloging the dysfunctional underfunded horror our DCF has become in the Sunshine State...

Our former Governor RINO Charlie Crist was replaced by DICKtator Rick Scott and the hateful tea party crowd. Crist had named a "reformer" to clean up DCF. What was one of Scott's first act...well what else does a heartless ideologue do...

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/gov-rick-scott-picks-new-social-services-chief/1146247

Florida's new social services chief will look a lot like the state's new governor: a corporate executive with conservative social roots.

Gov. Rick Scott named David Wilkins, a businessman who helps lead a social service group with strong Christian fundamentalist roots, as the new secretary of the state Department of Children and Families.

Wilkins, 50, will replace George Sheldon, a former state prosecutor widely regarded as a reformer. Wilkins, a member of the governor's transition team, is the finance chairman of the Florida Baptist Children's Home, a private agency that allows only "professing Christians'' to adopt children in its care."

Well isn't that just dandy? Scott names a religious bigot like Clawrence to head up the agency that is in charge of protecting our state's children. Of course our children will still be dying in record numbers but at least Clawrence and the rest of the pinheads can get excited about a couple of fine "Christian" men who are spending time trying to minimize the effects of a judges decision to allow gays to adopt as well as try to make it as difficult as possible for a woman to make her legal choice.

So this is the logic of religious conservatives...spend as much time as possible worrying about a four week old clump of cells with no brainwaves...meanwhile real live children are being brutally murdered.

Preserve the sanctity of the "family" and by all means make sure that some child is not adopted by a caring gay couple when that child could remain in a home where daddy beats the hell of them or mommy puts out cigarette butts on them. Hyperbole? I wish!

Sadly, unconscionably IMHO, this does happen, and in many cases it could be prevented if the anti gov't foes didn't gut the Agency given that responsibility and the religious bigots could get their heads out of their Bibles and into real life!

The Sunshine State is exceptional. We hold the record as the worst state in the union for children's deaths due to family violence.

What can you expect. Whereever you get a large gathering of "bluehairs" and old geezers you end up with a vibrant tea party and the ole...IGMGFY

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 27, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

All a piping hot FRESH OPEN THREAD for you:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/sunday_open_thread_23.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 27, 2011 8:08 AM | Report abuse

What do you expect, RUK? Christian fundamentalists are dangerous and violent people.

Don't see how you can bear living in Florida. Those Miami Cubans would be too much for me all by themselves. And to have a caveman like Rick Scott .. happier every day that I Got Out. Especially now that I'm getting over the language hurdle.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 27, 2011 8:46 AM | Report abuse

WOO HOO David Wilkins!

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 27, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

RUK, while I am perplexed but not outraged that a Baptist adoption agency qualified its adoptions by religion, I do think it would be cause for inquiry about Wilkins' views about the role of the state in foster care, protective care, and adoption. Will his appointment take effect without legislative inquiry?

Claw, your response is inexplicable.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 27, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

@Mark in Austin

There was no legislative inquiry. Our last R Atty General spend over a hundred thousand dollars trying to defend Florida's position as one of the few remaining states to not permit adoption by gay families. This AG brought in the infamous "expert" who was later exposed as the guy in the "Rentboy" scandal. This AG happened to be Bill McCollom. He wasn't far enough to the right for our Taliban TPers in Florida and so they installed Rick the Fraudster Scott. We are in sad shape right now in Florida...hopefully the populace at large will eventually awaken from their stupor. Scott was elected by just 22% of our registered voters because of the typically horrid turnout in the mid terms.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 27, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

mark_in_austin, did you read tao's piece on the death of traditional virtues?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 27, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse


The adjustable rate mortgage that I had before had me nearly to the brink of bankruptcy because of the never-ending payment increases. Now I have 3.18% fixed rate. I would absolutely recommend "123 Mortgage Refinance" I worked with to anyone I know planning to refinance mortgage.

Posted by: margole567 | February 28, 2011 3:12 AM | Report abuse

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