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The Rebirth of American Capitalism

I thought it was very gutsy of The Post to run a front page news analysis by Anthony Faiola under the headline, “The End of American Capitalism?” It was a good and important piece. He noted that when even the Bush Administration is considering the partial nationalization of the banks, something big is happening. “Given that the United States has held itself up as a global economic model,” he writes, “the change could shift the balance of how governments around the globe conduct free enterprise.” That is certainly right.

On Friday, London’s Daily Telegraph, a staunchly conservative paper (it is playfully called “The Torygraph” by its critics), ran an article by Simon Heffer under the delightful headline: “Financial crisis: We're all socialists now, comrade.”

Yes, there are a whole lot of changes going on, and in a very short time. Governments are taking socialist-seeming steps to save capitalism. But we have been there before. What’s astonishing is that people keep forgetting that critics of pure capitalism (FDR comes to mind) have often had to save capitalism from the capitalists and from those who claim to love capitalism the most. European Social Democrats and Christian Democrats (with their idea of “the social market”) were also central to making capitalism work in a socially beneficial way in Europe.

Acknowledging an important role for government in social and economic life is -- and always has been -- the American way. American capitalism has thrived in a mixed economy that accomodated a large role for the state. The exceptional period has been the last three decades, when truly radical doctrines took hold. It is actually radical to imagine that the economy will go forward smoothly if the government rips up the rules, deregulates willy-nilly, gets out of the way and stops investing in public goods (education among them) that the market tends to under-finance.

In our history, strong and active government has always helped make capitalism work. It goes back to Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay’s “American System,” much admired by Abraham Lincoln. Clay thought it essential for the government to invest in “internal improvements,” including roads and canals, and he favored protective tariffs that would allow American industries to grow. Yes, for all the free trade talk today, American industrial might grew behind high and thick protectionist walls. You can argue about the merits of those policies, as Americans did at the time, but they are part of our history and they played an important role in our development as a manufacturing power.

The list of government interventions in the American economy over our history is long, and I won’t burden a short post with a treatise. But just consider the Morrill Act of 1862, which provided a huge boost to learning and productivity through the creation of land-grant colleges; government cooperation (sometimes corrupt) in building the railroads; Progressive Era regulations such as the Pure Food and Drug Act; the creation of the Federal Reserve bank; and, of course, all the innovations of the New Deal, the Fair Deal and the Great Society. (And, okay, I can’t resist mentioning one more important intervention: The explosion of growth in the period between 1945 and 1970 was made possible in part by the GI Bill, in which government invested heavily in the education of our people, and also by big spending increases on new schools to provide K-12 education for the baby boomers.)

What’s going away today, in other words, is not “American Capitalism” but a doctrine of pure laissez-faire capitalism that was deeply flawed and not in keeping with the traditionally American approach to markets. We are coming back to how we historically did business. And I am persuaded that we will be far better off with a less doctrinaire approach.

By E.J. Dionne  | October 12, 2008; 6:49 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Comments

I hope we can do as well of making lemonade out of this emergency as FDR did. Here are a group of socialistic measures it is hard for anyone to argue with: TVA; BPA, and rural electrification. They changed the face of America. Another socialistic thing that changed America is the Interstate Highway System, a Republican endeavor. Okay, that's a funny use of the word socialistic, but it surely represented social engineering in effect. These examples, and others, point to the problem with either/or thinking. I hope a result of this emergency will be the death of doctrines and anti-doctrines.

Posted by: Logans1 | October 13, 2008 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I HOPE that before anyone starts really feeling good about "CHANGE" , that they consider that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are already working on another "STIMULUS" package - with potential provisions for specific states ( California ??? ).

Not worry though, it's ONLY $150 billion - hopefully the sovereign wealth funds aren't tired of us yet.

Debt is still queen in DC

Posted by: flyguy49kc | October 13, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

My favorite New Deal project is the CCC. Over & over, I will be enjoying a particularly breathtaking part of our lovely country when I realize that the place created for me to pause & surround myself with beauty was gracefully carved out of this place with artfully re-created native materials.
These projects were led by masters of their craft & brought to fruition by their students, who learned useful crafts. My father-in-law learned construction in this way. The CCC has blessed me in many ways! I recenly had a similar experience on a boardwalk that led into a swamp. It was thus possible to sit quietly on a bench, surrounded only by water and cypress & the creatures that live there. It was a huge gift to me, having that experience. That was a project of America Corps. I would love to see my generation make these kinds of investments.

Posted by: amcd | October 13, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Unfettered market capitalism results in calamity. GOP cronies preferred to view the economy as a hockey game without referees. In recent weeks we've seen how foolishness that is. With Obama as president we will hopefully have a restoration of professionalism in government, led by grownups who view capitalism as competition in which both the big and little guy are equal under the law.

http://intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: RobertEllman | October 13, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Whether they believed it or not - fools if they did, con-artists if they knew otherwise - free-marketeers touted free-markets as perfect constructs, flawless constructs that ran themselves flawlessly.

To believe a human construct flawless is pure idiocy. To make others believe it, full-well knowing otherwise, is pure genius.

Posted by: abcd3 | October 13, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

flyguy49kc: Actually I read in USA Today that the Republican leadership wants Pelosi & Reid to convene Congress on an emergency basis to pass the additional stimulus package. I have reservations about a stimulus, but the fact is that deficit spending in a recession is beneficial. My main reservation is that under Bush we had deficit spending throughout his whole tenure, which is why he has essentially doubled the national debt.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | October 13, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
13 October 2008

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne has taken pains to remind America that government has always had a very significant role in making the American economic system work in ways that have made the nation the wealthiest and probably the most successful in history.

America has never been a purely laissez faire, free market capitalistic society relying completely on Adam Smith's "invisible hand" to maximize the employment of land, labor, and capital.

To assert otherwise is to pull the wool over one's eyes, to deceive if not to delude oneself.

Greed and avarice--and even inordinate greed and inordinate avarice--are at the root of a purely laissez faire, free market capitalistic society.

In such a society the tendency is for the stongest and the fittest to lord it over and exploit the weak and the powerless. It is thus Darwinian in its construct and in its effects.

Consequently, in order to mitigate if not neutralize the natural tendency of the strongest and the fittest in society to exploit the rest, society has instituted government for this specific purpose. Government is there to protect the interests of the collective.

The government of the United States of America, deriving its authority and powers under the Constitution, has been instituted and serves for this purpose.


Mariano Patalinjug
MarPatalinjug@aol.com

Posted by: MPatalinjug | October 13, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

By championing massive deregulation and pro-business government, Reagan and his disciples have alowed corporations to become de facto political entities, on a par with nations. Corporate "governments" have established and upheld their own rules and values, and they have fought for the interests of their constituents: externalize costs and internalize profits. If there were some countervening entity whose primary purpose was to look after the interests of the US citizens, they could defend those interests against encroachment by the corporation-states. Unfortunately, the US government has abdicated its responsibilities and turned this once sovereign nation into a corporate colony. Our colonial masters are not doing very well at keeping the enterprise going these days. Perhaps it's time to declare independence once again and re-establish "government of the people, by the people, for the people."

Posted by: n_mcguire | October 13, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

while the word "socialist" is being lobbed around as a slur on the moves to nationalize debts of banks and corporations, i find the term "fascist" much more relevant in totality of context to the American "political/economic situation."


FDR's description of fascism:

"the first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.[10] (wikipedia)"


ownership of government by the energy companies, halliburton, gm, pharmos, etc etc----


philosopher nolte's definition:

"Fascism is anti-Marxism which seeks to destroy the enemy by the evolvement of a radically opposed and yet related ideology and by the use of almost identical and yet typically modified methods, always, however, within the unyielding framework of national self-assertion and autonomy.

[11](wikipedia)"


most relevant, as a playbook for the GOP, Umberto Ecos insights:


"The features of fascism he lists are as follows:

"The Cult of Tradition", combining cultural syncretism with a rejection of modernism (often disguised as a rejection of capitalism).

"The Cult of Action for Action's Sake", which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.

"Disagreement is Treason" - fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action.

"Fear of Difference", which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.

"Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class", fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.

"Obsession With a plot" and the hyping-up of an enemy threat. This often involves an appeal to xenophobia or the identification of an internal security threat. He cites Pat Robertson's book The New World Order as a prominent example of a plot obsession.

"Pacifism is Trafficking With the Enemy" because "Life is Permanent Warfare" - there must always be an enemy to fight.

"Contempt for the Weak" - although a fascist society is elitist, everybody in the society is educated to become a hero.

"Selective Populism" - the People have a common will, which is not delegated but interpreted by a leader. This may involve doubt being cast upon a democratic institution, because "it no longer represents the Voice of the People".

"Newspeak" - fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit criticalreasoning"

does the US treasury own Wall Streets debt, or does Paulson mr billionaire own the Government?


Posted by: forestbloggod | October 13, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"What’s going away today, in other words, is not “American Capitalism” but a doctrine of pure laissez-faire capitalism..."

Give me a break! There never has been a doctrine of pure laissez-faire capitalism. Who's history are you talking about? Definitely not the United States.

Posted by: cmecyclist | October 13, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Interesting.
ANd I agree.
I commented on "The End of American Capitalism" with the same conclusion you had here: Socialist measures saved capitalism under FDR.
Maybe we are going to relive that.
Also, it is interesting to note that the conservatives who have pushed deregulation have an ironic twist to their success. They have forced socialistic measures to be taken! I guess the joke is on them. Or us.

Posted by: kflet3 | October 13, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Mariano Patalinjug wrote:

"In such a society the tendency is for the stongest and the fittest to lord it over and exploit the weak and the powerless. It is thus Darwinian in its construct and in its effects."

Unfortunately, this is a mischaracterization of Darwinian Fitness (DF). DF does not equate to strength or power, but to reproductive success. "Survival of the fittest" (a phrase actually coined by Herbert Spencer) should really be 'survival of the minimally fit'. In this sense, all one need do to be "fit" is to reproduce, to replace oneself.

Dr. Tom, PhD

Posted by: tkavanag | October 13, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

If people think that we will return to something in the past they are mistaken. The lastest I have been hearing is the auto companies going under. If that is the case then this country the greatest on earth will be producing nothing but it will produce alot of it.

Posted by: artg | October 13, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

When sound thought of any kind is over ruled by ideology disaster follows, we have seen it thus for eight years.

Posted by: Billy1932 | October 13, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

One of the most interesting aspects here is the issue of underfunding public works. This may actually be the greatest weakness in our capitalistic system, because it undermines continuity and economic growth.

In the economics of short term profit maximization, the very embodiments of capitalistic excesses of greed and avarice, there is zero incentive to invest in the future, but rather to squeeze every last penny from the investments of the previous generation. Businesses become blind to the very factors that enable their continued operation, and become willing to sacrifice safety, reliability, customer satisfaction, and the organic needs of market participants.

Look at some examples: the power grid, broadband Internet, the water supply, flood-control measures, air-traffic control systems, roads, bridges...to name a few.

That some Americans are becoming exceedingly rich, while the above-mentioned infrastructure issues go unsolved, should give all of us reason to deeply question our patriotism and national values.

Too often we falsely equate financial success solely with the actions of the individual. Individual risk taking and decision making are very important, along with private ownership. But guess what, without power lines, roads, bridges, a telecom system, or a water supply, every single CEO is worth nothing at all, and could accomplish nothing at all.

So, I believe it is high time we thought about the contribution of previous generations, both managers and workers, to the public infrastructure that appears invisible, but without which we would all remain very poor. We should question why we refuse to acknowledge the very important role of public works, and how recklessly we have squandered our common wealth in the last 30 years, both tangible and intangible.

Why is it that we refuse to recognize the value of protecting New Orleans with sufficient civil engineering, and are afraid of the rightful costs in doing so?

Why can't we as a nation justify the investment in a new air-traffic system based on GPS, that will pay for itself in 7-10 years?

Why can't we refurbish the power grid, or set a standard for underground cabling that would last us 100 years?

How can we justify the astonishing evaporation of certain skill sets in our trades and manufacturing, caused by an unwillingness to recognize the true value of skilled labor right here and thus outsource the very fabric of our industrial base?

One final social comment -- as our lifespans increase, it is quite remarkable that our public investment horizon for the future has been sinking. We are now not even prepared to provide sustainable public works for a single (i.e. the next) generation. Does that make you feel wealthy? Or does it prove the greed and disregard for the future that we espouse? P.S. Note to the next generation -- you have been royally screwed.

Posted by: AgentG | October 13, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The problem with all these government interventions (however much they are needed to save capitalism from its free market excesses) is that they are paid for out of tax revenues or the Treasury issuing more debt!

Who, in American politics, has the guts to say this? Not Obama. He sticks to his promise to cut taxes on 95% of households, ignoring the huge additional costs of recapitalizing banks and responding to the economic slump that has been deepened considerably by the financial crisis. These are costs, and reduced tax revenues, he hadn't counted on when he developed his economic platform; if he were to admit that his entire economic program must now be recalibrated, he would commit political suicide. The fact that honesty would be punished in this way indicates the depth of the problem.

Afraid of being labelled 'tax and spend liberals', Democracts have capitulated to Republicans on the crucial value of tax revenues to the well-being of the people. So the government keeps sinking deeper into debt and spending more and more of its tax dollars to service the debt. What politician today dares to state that the government's $10 trillion dollar debt is a ticking time bomb that must be defused before it blows up the American economy?

Both parties find it easy to acknowledge that America's dependance on foreign oil is a real problem; neither will admit that US dependance on Chinese banks to keep buying US Treasury Bills is a problem that is, in the long run, a much more serious threat to US independance.

In this tax-phobic environment, Democrats are consigned to hypocricy: they promise to universalize health care, fix Social Security, invest in infrastructure and lower taxes while reducing government deficits. No one believes it is possible to do all this simultaneously, but Democrats running for office are compelled to pretend it is. Perhaps, in the current context, where free-market nostrums are discredited and everyone looks to governments to save the day, we can begin the difficult task of reminding people that without collecting more taxes, none of this will hard-earned stability will be sustainable...


Posted by: wsToronto | October 13, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

N Mcguire's comment about corporates externalizing costs and internalizing profits is spot on. Witness the current meltdown and government's response to it. However Reagan was not the architect of the current situation, he was just a go-along sidekick to Margaret Thatcher. Like the current incumbent, Reagan didn't have the necessary savvy to formulate ANY kind of policy himself. He was driven from behind with the invisible hand up the back of his shirt working his mouth-parts. The real villain of our current situation is Thatcher and her merry band of Uber-Kapitalists. She had a phrase she used to slap down any dissent of her ideologies. She would intone imperiously, "There IS no alternative". Which we all know is "My way or the highway".

Posted by: ScottFromOz | October 13, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

A very optimistic evaluation of a quantum shift in government policy with a thoughtful comparison to American capitalist history. However, unlike past crisis, the unique cause-and-effect relative to what is happening now is without precedent.

Economics has, up until now, always been able to fall back on the entrenched assumption that economic expansion is without limit, and, that any shortfall in business activity will eventually pass and unlimited growth will yet again reign supreme. This time around will be very different indeed.

The world is hitting against the limits of growth due to the permanent depletion of the root stock of all industrial activity, the megaton gorilla in the room - energy. In fact, this has been the background cause of the real estate and banking debacle, notwithstanding the manipulation of real estate and its fraudulent financial derivatives - which by itself is enough to lose America any world leadership it once had in economics.

It has been no coincidence that the rapid rise in oil and other energy prices preceded the banking freeze. The collapse in oil prices since the market collapse is predicated on the assumed demand destruction such turmoil is expected to cause, but the fundamentals of peak-oil, peak-minerals and peak-agriculture remain the same; the world demand for essential commodities is tied directly to the number of consumers reliant on them, and they are not declining in numbers. We are hitting the wall.

The new economic paradigm is one of controlled decline (to sustainability levels) whatever that level becomes. The modern ability to coordinate responses across the economic globe has already seen the first of a series of wild gyrations in stock market values that will continue unabated until parity-against-value is attained - which may never happen.

The just-in-time distribution of base commodities and the oil-driven supply of those commodities are going to meet head-on - there will be much suffering as resource wars and social disruption add to the uncertainties that markets loathe. The next oil price spike will cripple many nations and shortages of food and fuel will see a groundswell of public anger - the last place anyone would want to be when this happens is in America where communities are polarised around their own individual beliefs and all are armed to the teeth. I'm sorry, but I see nothing to be optimistic about, and capitalism American-style is as dead as the proverbial.

Posted by: icurhuman2 | October 13, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I thought Faiola's piece, particularly placed where it was, was a gutsy call as well. Here's an article - "The Europeanization of America" - written some weeks ago which conjures up images of where all this is likely headed. See

http://writingfrontier.com/2008/07/27/the-europeanization-of-america/

Posted by: jheubusch | October 13, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

All those greedy folks who don't want to pay taxes from "their" money, don't want to be reminded that they depend on everyone else's cooperation to have that money.

Posted by: Merican | October 13, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

My Prediction
I want to make a prediction, just in case it comes true and people will think that I'm very smart for no good reason. Many people are predicting the end of capitalism or saying more sensible things like this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/weekinreview/12leonhardt.html?hp

"It is possible, then, that the main legacy of the crisis will be some form of corrective to the country’s recent excesses. The economy looks to be heading into a period of more regulated, but still American-style, capitalism, more along the lines of how it operated in the 1950s, 1960s and 1990s. Those three decades happen to have produced the biggest and most widely shared economic gains since World War II."

I think that this is wrong, and the end of capitalism is silly.

I predict the following:

1) There will be more regulation, but it will focus on keeping crises from occurring, not on micro-managing the economy. ( See this post )

2) The government will more quickly than many believe get out out of these crisis investments.

3) A major cause of the crises infecting our current system will turn out to be the implicit and explicit guarantees by the government to intervene in crises such as this. It will be obvious that such interventions are too costly for governments in the future.

There you have it. We will have more government aid to the truly needy in the future, but the idea that government can manage the economies of the future more efficiently than private enterprise will turn out to be false.

Don't say you haven't been warned!

Posted by: DonthelibertarianDemocrat | October 13, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

It is ironic that Bush is nationalizing our financial system. The Decider is helping his fat-cat friends to avoid bankruptcy. It was Bush's GOP that made it harder for bankruptcy for the average American.
The talking heads in the MSM talks about how Americans are to blame for outrageous mortgages and greed which led to the credit collapse. What about the government wasting billions of dollars in unnecessary war in Iraq, billions for bailout of fat cat Wall Street tycoons or keeping the oil companies happy by not be leadng a voice on alternative fuel strategies.
Will McCain or Obama be any better? I think not.

Posted by: rogden71 | October 13, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Amen. Perhaps, at least for a little while, a majority of the public will be willing to acknowledge that the economic radicalism of Ronald Reagan, which has largely held sway for the last thirty years, was an unmitigated disaster for the country. Reagan gets my vote, even over George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, and several nineteenth-century losers, as the worst and most destructive President in our history.

Posted by: lydgate | October 13, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Not regulated economy, managed economy.
Not planned economy, directed economy.

This is the most successful governance system of productivity we have, and until we find something better, we should find the best managers with the best tools (transparency being one of them).

Posted by: mattsoundworld | October 13, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm from the UK, live in Australia, and have a question I've been wanting to ask for a long time: Exactly what is the problem the USA has with socialism? I mean socialism in the Social Democrat sense (free education, free healthcare, the whole social safety-net thing) as opposed to the Socialism/Communist thing.

Anyone care to inform me?


Lee

Posted by: LMSmith1 | October 13, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Whether they believed it or not - fools if they did, con-artists if they knew otherwise - free-marketeers touted free-markets as perfect constructs, flawless constructs that ran themselves flawlessly.

To believe a human construct flawless is pure idiocy. To make others believe it, full-well knowing otherwise, is pure genius.

Posted by: abcd3 | October 13, 2008 1:29 PM

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

Never have so many words been massacred on the sword of so little.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | October 13, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Smith in Australia-
America fought a war of independence with Britain because of high levels of taxes, which is what it takes to support socialism. Americans, being the knuckleheads that they are, don't understand that we have the worst of both worlds. We have private special interests raiding the Federal budget right and left to use public money for private purposes , while at the same time convincing people that taxes must be low and that it's okay to run big budget deficits. The American public almost doesn't deserve to continue to have self government. Our neighbors to the north have their problems, but at least these aren't among them. Socialism in its pure form is as bad as capitalism in its pure form. It stifles innovation and doesn't reward creativity. But there has to be a balance so that those who are fortunate enough to succeed don't go to the next step of profitability by trying to take even more from those who have the least to give. Unfortunately, that's been the American pattern for the past 25 years, and hopefully that will be changing in the near future.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | October 13, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm from the UK, live in Australia, and have a question I've been wanting to ask for a long time: Exactly what is the problem the USA has with socialism? I mean socialism in the Social Democrat sense (free education, free healthcare, the whole social safety-net thing) as opposed to the Socialism/Communist thing.

Anyone care to inform me?


Lee

Posted by: LMSmith1 | October 13, 2008 10:41 PM

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

Australia has 20 million people. The US has 300 million. Different systems.

But I have a little problem with the whole assumption that the US doesnt have 'Socialist' health care and public schools. Federal funds go to schools, hospitals, etc... its just that we have a massive distribution grid.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | October 13, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Pull out of Iraq?!?!

Perhaps the U.S. should pull out of Chicago?

Body count:


In the last six months:

292 killed
(murdered) in Chicago;

221 killed in Iraq.

Chicago.... Who Runs it: Senators: Barack Obama & Dick Durbin

Rep: Jesse Jackson Jr.,

Illinois Gov: Rod Blogojevich,

Illinois House leader Mike Madigan,

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike),

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (son of Mayor Richard J. Daley)

.....our leadership in Illinois.....all Democrats.

Thank you for the combat zone in Chicago.

Of course, they're all blaming each other!

Can't blame Republicans; they're aren't any!
State pension fund $44 Billion in debt, worst in country.

Cook County
(Chicago) sales tax 10.25% highest in country. (Look 'em up if you want).

Chicago school system rated one of the worst in the country.

This is the political culture that Obama comes from in Illinois.

And he's gonna 'fix' Washington politics for us?

Wake Up America!

Pull out of Iraq?!?!

Perhaps the U.S. should pull out of Chicago?
Body count:
In the last six months:

292 killed
(murdered) in Chicago;

221 killed in Iraq.

Chicago.... Who Runs it: Senators: Barack Obama & Dick Durbin

Rep: Jesse Jackson Jr.,

Illinois Gov: Rod Blogojevich,

Illinois House leader Mike Madigan,

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike),
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (son of Mayor Richard J. Daley)
.....our leadership in Illinois.....all Democrats.
Thank you for the combat zone in Chicago.
Of course, they're all blaming each other!
Can't blame Republicans; they're aren't any!
State pension fund $44 Billion in debt, worst in country.

Cook County
(Chicago) sales tax 10.25% highest in country. (Look 'em up if you want).

Chicago school system rated one of the worst in the country.
This is the political culture that Obama comes from in Illinois.
And he's gonna 'fix' Washington politics for us?
Wake Up America

Posted by: 4elise | October 14, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

What do the top ten cities with the highest poverty rate all have in common?

Detroit, MI (1st on the poverty rate list) hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1961.

Buffalo, NY (2nd) hasn’t elected one since 1954

Cincinnati, OH (3rd) .. since 1984

Cleveland, OH (4th) .. since 1989

Miami, FL (5th) has never had a Republican mayor

St. Louis, MO (6th) .. since 1949

El Paso, TX (7th) has never had a Republican mayor

Milwaukee, WI (8th) .. since 1908

Philadelphia, PA (9th) .. since 1952

Newark, NJ (10th) .. since 1907

Einstein once said, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’

It is the disadvantaged who habitually elect Democrats yet are still disadvantaged. (writer unknown)

Posted by: 4elise | October 14, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect MPatalinjug, what do you think led to our current situation? Greed and avarice - inordinate greed and inordinate avarice. If not lording over the less fortunate, what has corporate America been doing with their golden parachutes to CEO's who run a company into the ground? Government has not served it's purpose in the rush to deregulate allowing companies to pursue higher and higher profits that they had to know over the long-run could not be sustained. We need oversight and if I'm expected to live within my means and not create "exotic" new sources of income, so too should companies be held to the same expectations. There are a few at the top who benefit insanely from the toil of many.

Posted by: rhdscott | October 14, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

It is very frustrating to me that Capitalism is being blamed for the crisis.

The source of the problem is pretty much acknowledged. Riskly housing loans made and arranged and facilitated and advocated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. IE, no payment down loans to those who under normal lending practices could not qualify because it was doubtful that the loan could be paid back. Now why would a bank or anyone loan money voluntarily to someone who could not normally qualify for the loan?

The answer is that under Clinton they pushed regulations and practices to promote home buying among the poor and MANIPULATED the normal capitalist strategy for loaning funds in order to facilitate their SOCIAL ENGINEERING. IE...lets force risky lending practices in order to promote ownership by the poor. Far be it from anyone to point out that home buying is a right, only in the sense that one has saved or makes enough to actually purchase the home.

That the Capitalist system could not bear up under these loans that never would have been engaged in without being forced to is now decried as a "failure" of Capitalism.

You have it very, very, wrong. It is a failure of SOCIAL ENGINEERING imposed on the Capitalism system.

Who promoted the policies? It was Democrats. Many of them took 10's of millions of dollars from their running of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That they did this while allegations of fraudulant accounting practices at both companies is reprehensible. That DEMOCRATS are unwilling to hold their own accountable doesn't bode well for an Obama/Biden and Pelosi government.

To blame "corporate" greed when ALL of the symptoms and underlying causes that caused the problem are all sourced in DEMOCRATS fiddling with a system they neither understand nor respect is not only misguided but it IS dangerous because it undermines World confidence in the financial markets.

Those who promote the view that it is "corporate" greed is the source of all of America's financial problems is irresponsible!!!

To say that the corporate greed is the sole source of the problem neglects another factor. Consumers engaging in behavior that they should know via common sense not to borrow more then they are sure they can pay back whether someone says they can get it or not. Let me put it another way, corporate greed isn't the only problem, consumer greed is a problem to and added with manipulation of the system creates a recipe for problems because IT IS UNSUSTAINABLE!

Sincerely,
Lkmoore

Posted by: lkmoore | October 14, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Ex-FBI Agents Outraged at Obama-Ayers Ties
Former FBI agents who worked the Weather Underground case are angry about the longtime relationship between Barack Obama and William Ayers, a leader of the domestic terrorist group who has admitted widespread bombings.

“It outrages me to think that a person would be seeking the presidency of the United States and was close to an individual like Bill Ayers,” former agent Max Noel told Newsmax.
Charges against Ayers were dropped because the FBI used so-called national security wiretaps that could not be used legally in criminal cases.

Obama launched his political career at Ayers’ home in 1995. From 1999 to 2002, he served with Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago. In response to criticism of their relationship, Obama has said he was 8 when Ayers was bombing buildings.

But the presidential candidate was a grown man when he sought and obtained Ayers’ blessing for his entry into politics.

Former FBI agent Willie Reagan said, “I spent seven years of my life hunting down people who described themselves as revolutionary communists and were involved in bombings.”

Reagan, who infiltrated the Weather Underground in New York, said he witnessed members of the group making bombs.

“At some point, Obama knew of his background and should have repudiated him, not later when he is running for president,” Reagan told Newsmax.

Noel, who worked the Weather Underground case in San Francisco, also questioned Obama’s reaction to questions about the issue, saying, “I have a problem with Obama minimizing the relationship and saying it has nothing to do with anything. Because having done background investigations for security clearances for years, you look into a person’s character, his associates, his loyalty and so forth.”

Noel noted that Ayers was a directing force of the Weather Underground. His wife-to-be, Bernardine, headed that organization.

“They were a violent, violent, anti-government, domestic terrorist organization,” Noel said. “Obama has not only associated with those people, he continued associating with racist people like his minister Jeremiah Wright over a period of 20 years. I don’t think that’s by happenstance. It’s just amazing to me. The American people are being led by the nose by people who say this isn’t important.”

Oliver “Buck” Revell, a former associate deputy director of the FBI, is similarly blunt. “In dealing with Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and the element that they represented, Obama was dealing with individuals who both openly and admittedly have engaged in treasonous activity and violence against the United States,” said Revell, who worked on the Weather Underground case in Philadelphia and Chicago.

Posted by: 4elise | October 14, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

NEW YORK –Sen. Barack Obama, with a donation of nearly $1 million, and a son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi were among the biggest contributors to the presidential campaign of controversial Kenyan leader Raila Odinga, according to an internal document obtained by WND.

The memo was prepared by the head of Odinga's campaign finance accounting section, Shakeel Shabbir, as an official report delivered to the national treasurer for Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement party, or ODM.

Among the 72 individuals and organizations that contributed money to Odinga's 2007 presidential run in Kenya, Shabbir lists "Friends of Senator B.O." as having donated 66,000,000 Kenyan schillings, about $950,000.

Saif el-Islam Gadhafi, the Libyan strongman's second oldest son, reportedly donated 53,450,000 Kenyan schillings, about $765,000.

According to several highly credible ex-ODM sources WND interviewed in Kenya, the $950,000 raised for Odinga's campaign came from a series of private meetings arranged for Odinga by Mark Lippert, a foreign policy adviser in Obama's U.S. Senate office. The meetings with top-dollar Obama fundraisers and donors took place during Odinga's 2006 trip to the U.S. In Kenya, WND talked to several top ex-ODM officials who played key roles in Odinga's 2007 presidential campaign.

The officials became disaffected with Odinga after confirming he signed a memorandum of understanding with Sheik Abdullahi Abdi, the chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum, or NAMLEF. In the Aug, 27, 2007, agreement, Odinga promised that within six months of becoming president, he would "rewrite the Constitution of Kenya to recognize Shariah as the only true law sanctioned by the Holy Quran for Muslim declared religions."

The ex-Odinga officials also told WND that, as Christians, they were appalled to see Odinga use tribal violence as a strategy to gain power after he lost the election by some 250,000 votes to sitting President Mwai Kibaki, a member of Kenya's majority Kikuyu tribe.

Odinga called on fellow Luo tribal members to protest alleged voter fraud, resulting in a brutal wave of machete-wielding violence that killed an estimated 1,000 members of the Kikuyu tribe in January and February. Some 800 Christian churches also were destroyed or burned to the ground, without a single mosque being damaged.

Posted by: 4elise | October 15, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Good points, Mr. Dionne.
And good riddance to the Reaganomics, Voodoo Economics, Bushanomics, and other rightist perversions of a healthy capitalist component in a diverse economic system.

Posted by: VMR1 | October 15, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Wait, didn't CCC appear around 1967?

Posted by: VMR1 | October 15, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The current financial crisis definitely poses some thought-provoking questions. I think that some have been too quick to point out the failures of the market system. It's undeniable that an unregulated market can't protect the environment. It is also true that without enforcement of protections, ordinary Americans can be taken advantage of by those who know more technicalities in the sheer complexity of modern financial transactions. However, many who criticize the market and its shortcomings do not also acknowledge the failures of the Federal government in all this. Some ignore the fact that the refusal of some in Congress (Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Paul Kanjorski, etc) to reform Fannie and Freddie going back to the early 2000s contributed a lot to the subprime lending explosion and the rapid and un-natural rise in real estate values - and their eventual crash. Maybe without the government's manipulation of the market and support of corrupt organizations Fannie and Freddie, the rise and tragic crash in real estate values never would have been so extreme. The bigger issue here is corruption - and the private sector does not have a monopoly on it as the most corrupt "private" entities seem to frequently have very close ties to the federal government.

Posted by: chrojo01 | October 15, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

How can Americans, such big talkers on
Jesus Christ and family values and so sure of your own divinity, reconcile your allegedly Christian ethics and beliefs with the most inhumane, jungle-like capitalist system among the developed countries that you hold so dear?

For a Euro like me it looks like the money-making frenzy is your true religion and the values and pleasures that don't interfere with it you adopt (ex. ramps for wheelchairs at crosswalks) and the ones that impede it, you just discard (affordable housing for all)

Posted by: VMR1 | October 15, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to the military, capitalism is too important to be left to capitalists.

Posted by: kenb2 | October 15, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

George Bush, Sr. had it right when he referred to Reagonomics as voodoo economics. Unregulated capitalism creates monopolies and then becomes a kleptocracy. Whenever you use ideology to make economic decisions you will pay a heavy price somewhere, sometime, for trying to force reality into your particular box.

FDR didn't believe in ideology. Just a simple approach. Achieve the greatest good for the largest number for the cheapest price. The dangers of rampant individualism are what he railed against.

It doesn't matter what you call a thing. It matters if it works. If it doesn't, stop it. If it does, well, do it some more.

We've watched a small group of people become unbelieveably rich in a very short time. It's time to take a deep breath and fix what is obviously broken. Socialism, who cares what it's called. If it works, that's OK with me.

Posted by: JohnArmstrong52 | October 15, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

What "pure laissez-faire capitalism"? Even the current crisis was a product of mixed policies: encouragement of subprime mortgage lending on one hand and a disinclination to regulate the securitization of those mortgages on the other. My favorite single example of long standing government intervention is the protection of so-called "intellectual property" which has become increasingly aggressive -- although the very concept was understood in 1813 by Thomas Jefferson to rest on dubious intellectual grounds.
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_8s12.html

Posted by: rahaha | October 16, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

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