Desperation

The title of this blurb from the Gallup organization, “Democrats Push U.S. Satisfaction Up to 27%”, has a palpable air of desperation. The facts reported are:

  • 73% of Americans, nearly three quarter, are dissatisfied with the way things are going.
  • Democrats are more likely to be satisfied with the way things are going than are Republicans or independents.
  • A majority of Democrats, 53%, are dissatisfied with the way things are going.

Nothing is said about the nature of the dissatisfaction although I could make a few guesses and I suspect that Democrats, Republicans, and independents differ pretty markedly in what they think would constitute a better direction.

How do I reconcile this result with the election results in November 2012? The president won re-election by an extremely narrow majority of the voters. They didn’t think he was good; they just thought he was better than Romney.

73 comments… add one
  • sam

    Make of this what you will.

    Percentage of popular vote winning margin, elections 1980-2012

    1980 Reagan-Carter 9.74%
    1984 Reagan-Mondale 18.21%
    1988 Bush-Dukakis 7.72%
    1992 Clinton-Bush 5.56%
    1996 Clinton-Dole 8.51%
    2000 Bush-Gore -0.51%
    2004 Bush-Kerry 2.46%
    2008 Obama-McCain 7.27%
    2012 Obama-Romney 3.85%

    List of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin

  • Yep. People didn’t think much of Bush but they saw Kerry as worse.

  • jan

    Make of this what you will.

    In the last 30+ years, Bush, 1st and 2nd term, and Obama in his 2nd term, won the least popular victories. However, one also might note that Bush gleaned a larger margin, when he ran for reelection, while Obama fell significantly short in his run for reelection — meaning Obama suffered a reversal in his popularity, the opposite of what happened to Bush’s outcome, the second time around.

  • michael reynolds

    I’m sure that all the dissatisfied Republicans blame Obama, but the Democrats who are dissatisfied may be blaming Congressional Republicans.

  • jan

    Yep. People didn’t think much of Bush but they saw Kerry as worse.

    Kerry still seems to be carrying baggage around with him, as SOS, when he can’t even get a timely call-back from the Russians! Just wait until we have Hagel on the team as SOD!

    sigh…..

  • sam

    Well, I dunno, Jan. Bush the Younger got a negative 0.51% of the vote first time around. He won by 2.46% the second time around. So, up from the hole by what, 2%?

  • As usual, I blame Congress.

  • jan

    Democrats who are dissatisfied may be blaming Congressional Republicans.

    Of course they are! Dems don’t own their mistakes. They just pass them on to others. Only grand moments, like killing OBL, become political fodder for grandstanding. However, foul-ups like Benghazi, become like a misbehaving step child shuttled off quietly to boarding school — given tons of excuses and then no attention.

    Whereas, in the housing crisis, under an R WH and D Congress, well, you know the dems don’t shoulder any blame for that one. It was all “Bush’s fault!” And, now, under Obama’s leadership, someone who ratcheted up the deficit by 6 trillion, lowered the workforce number, increased poverty, dependency, and polarization of the country, liberal fingers only point to the terrible one-third power of the R’s as being the major source of the problem.

    How can republicans be both so stupid and yet so influencial and powerful, while holding a minority position in government?

  • jan

    So, up from the hole by what, 2%?

    It was still an ‘up,’ Sam, versus a downward slide like Obama. Also, I believe the total number of people voting were down as well for Obama — not so, for Bush. I would look at the recent reelection as a dismal choice, which is not a compliment for whoever won the election for POTUS.

  • michael reynolds

    How can republicans be both so stupid and yet so influencial and powerful, while holding a minority position in government?

    They crashed the economy and blew up the deficit while they were in power. So that part’s easy to answer.

    Since then they’ve refused to participate, have filibustered basically everything, and become ever more extreme.

    So, really, you don’t have much of a comeback.

    As for this: Dems don’t own their mistakes. That’s just too rich.

  • michael reynolds

    Incidentally, Mr. Obama won by the entire populations of the five smallest red states. And we took more votes in the House and of course added Senate seats.

  • sam

    “I would look at the recent reelection as a dismal choice”

    Well, if I recall correctly, you were one of those who thought Romney was the bestest, most smartest, all-round goodest guy in the world. You and Drew.

  • jan

    They crashed the economy and blew up the deficit while they were in power.

    The economy crashed under a divided government composed of a Democratic Congress (both Senate and House) and a Republican WH. As for blowing up the deficit — in round numbers, Bush added something like 5 trillion in 8 years, while Obama has mounted almost another 6 trillion, on top of that, in only half that time.

    Incidentally, Mr. Obama won by the entire populations of the five smallest red states. And we took more votes in the House and of course added Senate seats

    You won, that is for sure. There is no disputing that fact. However there was still a smaller number of people voting in Obama’s second swing at the WH, indicating a smaller enthusiasm and support for how he governed in the first term.

  • jan

    Well, if I recall correctly, you were one of those who thought Romney was the bestest, most smartest, all-round goodest guy in the world.

    I liked Romney — still do. But, he was demolished under the 85% negative ad campaign the dems designed, early on, before he was even out of the primary gate, openly geared to “kill Romney.” They did just that.

    However, it was on Romney that he was unable to overcome their ruthless dishonesty, and define himself and/or his policies adequately or clearly enough to endear the people more to his way of thinking. Any party opposing the dems, in the future, though, will have to up their game and become hard ball players like the dems are, rather than stay PC polite and on task with such boring things (to low informational voters) as someone’s below par economic record.

  • steve

    “It was still an ‘up,’ Sam, versus a downward slide like Obama.”

    I think it is pretty hard for a POTUS to lose when we are actively engaged in a war.

    Dave’s last sentence is correct. Romney ran a campaign based upon the belief that no one would vote for Obama. He offered nothing specific except tax cuts. He was an extremely wealthy guy who did not trust Americans enough to reveal his tax records, unlike his father. He was going to bring back the same folks who ran Bush’s foreign and domestic policy. Look, Romney has held just about every possible position on every policy. You guys hated him during the primary, trying to find “anybody but Romney”. Sad, but he was the best of the lot. Remember when you guys actually had Bachmann, Trump and Cain leading the polls? Has Obama been disappointing? Sure, but it can always be worse. You offered worse.

    Steve

  • michael reynolds

    Jan:

    Let’s assume you’re having a memory lapse and not being simply dishonest: Romney was assaulted first by his fellow Republicans. No Obama attack was any different than what Republicans had already been saying.

    Running against a field of midgets, Romney couldn’t finalize the deal with his own lunatic party. It was because he’d spent all his money fighting the GOP clown college that he had no cash on hand to react to Obama early on.

    But let’s be clear on something: Romney was a lousy candidate because he came across as a creep. In fact, he was and is a creep. He lost because he had zero helpful ideas and a head full of 47% nonsense — a mix of Ayn Rand and Mormonism that made it impossible for him to connect with enough people.

    He then topped it off by running an astoundingly incompetent, outdated, outclassed and clueless campaign. So an unlikable man with a head full of stuffing who ran a pitiful campaign. And he was the very best your party had. The very best.

  • TastyBits

    @jan

    If the Republicans understood the housing bubble and financial crisis, they would be able to refute being blamed for it, and as long as they keep spouting their version of events, they will be associated with both.

    Under President Clinton, Glass-Steagall was repealed. Under President Clinton, calls to regulate the CDS markets were pooh-poohed. Under President Clinton, the Fed was the crack dealer of the financial market. Unfortunately, this is all supported by Republicans, and therefore, the Republicans have developed a alternative narrative that is beyond stupid.

    The innocent bankers were not taught how to make bad loans and securitize them by Democratic politicians. These same innocents were not being tricked into giving loans without verifying the ability of the borrower to repay the loan. Furthermore, Wall Street, like every other street, is full of hustling greedheads.

    The Republicans are headed the way of the Whigs, and they are going to congratulate themselves all the way to the political trash heap.

  • PD Shaw

    What stands out to me in sam’s link is the voter participation graph. Key points:

    1968: Last election with >60% voter turnout
    1904: Last election with >65% voter turnout
    1900: Last election with >70% voter turnout
    1896: Last election with >75% voter turnout
    1876: Last election with >80% voter turnout

    Since 1968, on average 46.32% of voters stay home. In 1992, 1996 and almost in 2000, more voters stayed at home than voted for the either of the two major party candidates combined.

    I sense a stronger layer of ambivalence on top of which lies a thinner layer of contempt for the “other candidate” that is driving recent results.

  • Icepick

    Well, I dunno, Jan. Bush the Younger got a negative 0.51% of the vote first time around. He won by 2.46% the second time around. So, up from the hole by what, 2%?

    Care to try that again, genius?

    And I love how Congressional Republicans are responsible for everything going wrong now, but Congressional Democrats had nothing to do with fucking things up when they ran both Houses in 2007 and 2008 and 2009 and 2010 – you know, when the world ended. Yeah, they had nothing to do with that.

    (Incidentally, voters are just plain dumber than rocks. I remember the exit polling from 2008, when they found that a majority of Obama voters thought Republicans controlled Congress at that time. There it is, folks, people that are too stupid to bother finding out the basics of who’s actually in office are the ones choosing the leaders. No wonder things are so bad.)

    Just look at how piss-poor Obama’s proposals are, though. He was touting his jobs proposal again during the SotU. It will add about 1,000,000 jobs IF it works as advertized. According to a story on the SotU on CNN, there are about 4,000,000 long-term unemployed people in the country. And we’re still over 3,000,000 jobs SHORT of where we were when the recession started in December of 2007. Obama’s proposal would be incredibly inadequate even if it worked as he claims it would. And given that he has vastly over-estimated how well the economy would do with every single forecast his administration has put out, I can only assume that if his jobs bill passed we’d quickly lose another one or two million jobs.

    But hey, Obama wants to put one out of every 12 people looking for work back to work in a part-time minimum-wage job, so he’s a brilliant politician who CARES. It’s only those evil Republicans that are stopping him from creating a Paradise on Earth, where only 11,000,000 Americans are desperate for work. Fucking brilliant.

  • What stands out to me in sam’s link is the voter participation graph.

    My take on that is that the issue is the denominator rather than the numerator. The farther we extend the franchise and the more people are registered to vote, the lower the participation rate becomes.

  • Icepick

    I sense a stronger layer of ambivalence on top of which lies a thinner layer of contempt for the “other candidate” that is driving recent results.

    Note that who is allowed to vote has been greatly expanded in that time. The more people allowed to vote the fewer people care to do so.

  • He was touting his jobs proposal again during the SotU. It will add about 1,000,000 jobs

    Yeah, I remarked on that a while ago. There are what, 20 million people unemployed or underemployed? Even by the White House’s estimate the only proposal they have on the table falls laughably short.

    My guess is that the WH would rather have an inadequate proposal fail to pass the Congress than a larger, adequate one. Well, they’re the great political calculators, not me.

  • TastyBits

    Raise the voting age, and lower the drinking age.

  • And I love how Congressional Republicans are responsible for everything going wrong now, but Congressional Democrats had nothing to do with fucking things up when they ran both Houses in 2007 and 2008 and 2009 and 2010 – you know, when the world ended. Yeah, they had nothing to do with that.

    Hey, credit where credit is due. It’s a great strategy as long as you can make it stick.

    It reminds me of a story about when Moshe Dayan was being interviewed. When asked how he had become such a great general, he replied “I fought Arabs”.

    I think that Democrats are great political strategists because their opponents are the Republicans.

  • Icepick

    Even by the White House’s estimate the only proposal they have on the table falls laughably short.

    Yeah, but Barry is yucking it up on a golf course owned by the extremely wealthy donor. He spent more on his golf trip than I’m going to make in my entire lifetime. And that’s not counting Michelle and the girls yucking it up in Aspen. But they have no use for the little people. But hey, Romney’s a creep, and Obama is just boffo! Because he CARES – about getting his handicap down as low as possible on the tax-payer’s dime.

  • Icepick

    My guess is that the WH would rather have an inadequate proposal fail to pass the Congress than a larger, adequate one.

    This President is nothing if not inadequate.

  • Icepick

    Oh, and I heard that the unexpected tax revenue spike in California has been explained: It was a one-time accounting issue, and is not indicative of a great turnaround in Northern Mexico. In other words, California isn’t the new North Dakota, it’s still the same old California, with the third highest UE-3 rate in the country.

  • They crashed the economy and blew up the deficit while they were in power. So that part’s easy to answer.

    Hahahaha…yeah. Sure. I don’t think having Kerry win in 2004 would have made a damn bit of difference. The problems that led up to the Great Recession were a long time building. To say it was the Republican’s fault is to purposefully don ideological blinders.

    And I love how Congressional Republicans are responsible for everything going wrong now, but Congressional Democrats had nothing to do with fucking things up when they ran both Houses in 2007 and 2008 and 2009 and 2010 – you know, when the world ended. Yeah, they had nothing to do with that.

    Ice,

    What you are describing is a psychological condition called ideological blindness.

    It will add about 1,000,000 jobs IF it works as advertized.

    Which is simply pathetic. Laughable doesn’t even cover it. How long is this program going to take to add 1,000,000 workers? Even at a year that is 83,333.3 new jobs per month on average. That is the mark of success? Even if it is in addition to the number of jobs we’ve been adding lately that is still pathetic. Using the last 12 months that is about 261,000 jobs/month. Just about double the number of jobs necessary to keep up with population growth…to get people back to work who have been unemployed for a long time would take a very long time.

    And keep in mind we are 43 months into this anemic expansion. If we have another recession we could add another 2 million people to the unemployed very, very easily.

    But yeah, 1,000,000 new jobs that is the measure of success now for our Presidents. And technically it isn’t really a 1,000,000 new jobs…just merely mentioning that he wants 1,000,00 new jobs is enough.

    Its pathetic.

  • Michael Reynolds

    I think that Democrats are great political strategists because their opponents are the Republicans.

    Which is why I would welcome the return of an actual Conservative party. Hopefully one will eventually emerge from the wreckage of the GOP. We’re a party of one-legged runners beating a party of quadriplegics. We’ve profited primarily from the sheer assholery of the GOP. But we are out of minorities to liberate.

  • But we are out of minorities to liberate.

    There’s where you’re wrong. You can never run out of minorities to liberate.

    There’s a wisecrack about not confusing genius with a bull market. I think there must be some political equivalent. IMO Democratic strategists are convinced they’re geniuses.

  • Icepick

    What you are describing is a psychological condition called ideological blindness.

    What I’m describing is goddamned intentional dishonesty.

  • Icepick

    And keep in mind we are 43 months into this anemic expansion.

    You don’t have to remind me. And it won’t be an employment expansion until we add another three to four million jobs.

  • Ice,

    When you factor in population growth and use the payroll survey we are down over 5.6 million jobs since the start of Obama’s presidency. Not that date is important since I really don’t believe Presidents know anything about getting the economy going. They love to take credit for an expansion which they almost surely had nothing to do with…so we could give them blame for recessions too. Still it is a stupid practice.

    If we go with the end of the Recession, June 2009, we are 1.1 million jobs down. Keep in mind that is NOT counting the jobs lost during the recession. If we count from January 2008 forward we are nearly 11 million jobs down.

    Compare that to the 1,000,000 new jobs Obama has set for himself and it is just…disgusting.

  • Icepick

    Which is why I would welcome the return of an actual Conservative party.

    What complete mendacity.

  • Icepick

    Steve V., I’ve run the numbers myself. I understand how bad they are. I understand how completely inadequate the Administration’s proposals are. But the Michael Reynolds of the world will go tell the Jose Jimenez’s of the world that only Obama cares, and the stupid fuckers will go vote for him. It’s a complete sham, as we can see from the last weekend who Obama really gives a shit about. Not worth at least nine figures, or one of the people sucking the shit out of his ass? He’s got no use for you. Worth nine figures or more? Why, he’d love to take advantage of your hospitality. Hell, he’ll even make certain you get some government money coming your way.

  • Compare that to the 1,000,000 new jobs Obama has set for himself and it is just…disgusting.

    You’re thinking of it as as economic proposal, Steve. Obviously, it isn’t. It’s a political proposal. I just can’t figure out what they’re trying to accomplish by it.

  • michael reynolds

    Shorter Icepick:

    I ain’t no freakin’ monument to justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget?

  • Icepick

    I just can’t figure out what they’re trying to accomplish by it.

    They’re counting on the ignorant and the innumerate who will be impressed by the number one million. And of course they’re counting on their operatives in the press to not openly question anything this Administration does. And it will work.

  • michael reynolds

    Can someone explain to me why libertarians – who believe the government should have only a very minimal role in the economy – nevertheless think a president should be able to pull jobs out of the air?

    Then can someone explain how George W. Bush was conservative in refusing to pay for two wars, cutting taxes during those wars, and piling Medicare part D onto the safety net? But Obama’s a wild-eyed liberal?

    I think Tasty made the best point of the thread. The government policies that got us here are bi-partisan. But the GOP can’t criticize them, so it’s left defenseless.

    Finally, Ice, while you’re trashing my home state, I’d just point out that we just had our bond rating upgraded to ‘A.’

    SACRAMENTO — A top bond-rating agency has raised its assessment of more than $80 billion worth of California’s debt, saying “the upgrades reflect our view of California’s improved fiscal condition.”

    Standard & Poor’s on Thursday hiked its evaluation of California’s long-term debt one notch from “A minus” to “A.”

    S&P analyst Gabriel Petek said the new rating follows Gov. Jerry Brown’s recently proposed balanced budget as well as spending cuts and voter approval last November of a $6-billion tax increase.

    The California upgrade is the first by S&P since May 2006, before the severe recession of 2007-09, the state treasurer’s office said.

  • Icepick

    Shorter Reynolds: “Shut up and worship my God, infidel!”

    Longer reply: We’re still over three million jobs short of where we were when the recession started. Don’t take my word for it, go look it up with the BLS.

    That’s a raw total, so it doesn’t account for population growth. When you account for population growth we’re probably between ten and twelve million short of what we need for full employment. There have been demographic changes but they do NOT account for the drop in participation rates. Mainly that drop has happened amongst the under 55 crowd. The over 55 age brackets are actually seeing higher participation rates, because people can’t AFFORD to retire now.

    According to a CNN report, and other reports, there are over four million people who qualify as long-term unemployed, meaning out of work for at least six months. Many have been out of work for years.

    Median wages have been falling since the RECOVERY began. That’s millions of people making less now than they did before, probably tens of millions. That does not take into account inflation, or increased expenses for medical insurance. Pay checks have been getting hammered. Real take home pay is shrinking for the majority of Americans.

    So ignore my little piece of misery, Reynolds, instead of creaming your pants over it because you love the idea of me and mine suffering. Please explain how all those millions of people that aren’t me but are out of work are supposed to feel about a Presidential proposal that is an order of magnitude too small to have a real impact on the macro-situation? Explain how the tens of millions with less take home pay are supposed to feel about a President who will spend millions of tax payer dollars for a fucking GOLF outing while they’re having to cut back on their purchases at Walmart?

    Care to yuck it up at their expense too?

    And I’ll note that I’m not saying a goddamned thing about the President’s jobs proposal that Schuler isn’t saying too, namely that it isn’t remotely adequate AS DESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT.

    But rather than address him, you yuck it up at my expense to claim it’s all about me.

    Ignore that, and address Schuler’s comments on the same fucking proposal. Try doing that instead of distracting from the issue to make it about laughing at my misery. It’s the honest thing to do. Not that you would know a thing about honesty, you lying sack of shit.

  • Icepick

    Reynolds, your state has the third highest unemployment rate in the country, even higher than Michigan’s. How much better is the state for all the unemployed people? But unemployed people are something people such as yourself approve of, because poor people are the Dems best friend.

  • michael reynolds

    Ice:

    I’d love someday for you to attempt an explanation of your governing philosophy.

    So far what we have is rage. Rage at rich people, rage at powerful people, rage at all the stupid people including the entire population of the United States.

    Are you liberal? Conservative? Libertarian? No, you don’t really fit into anything like a coherent philosophy. Your position is that you’re angry because you feel you’ve been screwed by life. That seems to be it. You snipe at pretty much everything and everyone because you’re personally unhappy. You shoot holes in any proposal from anyone of any political type because you’re angry. And yet despite your unbounded self-pity you’ve acquired no compassion.

    You’re unemployed and you’re furious. How are you different from Drew basing his politics on his own narrow self-interest? You seem to think the entire system should contort itself into whatever shape will result in you getting back what you’ve lost. How does that make you any different than anyone else out for himself?

    What’s your plan? And if it starts with abusing everyone else, it’s probably not so much a plan as a tantrum. Lay it out for us, President Icepick, give us your real-world, do-able prescription for fixing everything.

  • Icepick

    Reynolds, you once again make it all about me. Address the President’s inadequate proposal, and explain how the millions of people who are out of work and aren’t ME are supposed to feel about a President who says getting people back to work is the priority, but then proposes such extremely weak prescriptions.

  • Icepick

    My prescriptions, which I actually have written about, yet another lie in typical fashion from you, aren’t practical. Because they require two things: Everyone taking a bite from the shit sandwich that we’re in, and the elites actually being deposed in favor of people that give a damn.

    I’ve also stated that it took decades to get into this mess, and it will take a long time to get out of it. But we’re not doing anything now but digging a deeper hole, while people like you cheer on your favorite looters, hoping to get some scraps or in just a bit of party-before-all fanaticism.

    I actually wrote just shy of 5,000 words on the topic of “what to do” in the middle of the night in July of 2011. I linked to it on this blog, but posted it on my own. I guess you didn’t see that, or read that, or care, because you want nothing more than to beat up on me so as to avoid the topic of how horribly and plainly you and your beloved Democratic assholes are failing at governance. Ignoring what I say to make it all about me is your preferred method of debate.

    So again, try addressing the topic of the President’s employment proposal, and explain how it is adequate in the face of 20,000,000 people looking for the 1,000,000 jobs he is offering. I’ll even help you out: A certain level of unemployment will occur even in a robust economy. So say we’re 10,000,000 jobs short. The President himself has declared this a national priority. (Before jetting off on another pricey vacation.) His proposal as HE outlines it is an order of magnitude too small.

    Explain all of that please, and ignore me.

  • Icepick

    Here it is, a year and a half old. It really needs to be edited for typos, syntax and so on, but I don’t care enough at the moment to do so. I also don’t care enough to read through it again. I’m pretty sure I went too soft of SS (pay out benefits to those on the program and then phase it out – it sets a bad example for a republican form of government), and some of the foreign policy topics are no doubt out-of-date. But off-hand I’d imagine if I did read it I would feel pretty much the same way about most it now. Not that you would care, because it would require paying attention, but I’ve been fairly consistent over the years: less is less.

    But there’s about 5,000 words for you to nit-pit and bitch and moan about. It’s more a prescription than anything you’ve offered, because “Shut up and kiss Obama’s ass, you white racists assholes!” isn’t really a positive proposal of any kind, as far as governance is concerned.

  • steve

    “Can someone explain to me why libertarians – who believe the government should have only a very minimal role in the economy – nevertheless think a president should be able to pull jobs out of the air?”

    Not just libertarians, conservatives too. Govt cant create jobs with spending, but they can create jobs if they are in power, or something, though past experience shows that not to be true.

    Steve

  • Icepick

    How about this: YOUR beloved President claims he can do it. YOU support him. Tell me why he isn’t doing that, since he is your personal chosen savior.

    But how about this: The President and the government more generally can’t do much for job creation. They CAN make it difficult for jobs to be created. They can do this in a maximalist route, such as the communists did (only the government can create jobs), or they can do something less.

    Tell me how adding more and more regulations helps. Especially regulations that are unclear and unnecessary. For example, my wife’s W-2 from her new company got fucked up because they screwed up some of the reporting features required by the PPACA. The reporting features don’t actually DO anything. It’s just useless make-work for … some reason known only to Congressional Democrats, Executive Branch functionaries and, presumably, Paul Krugman. Why are companies being forced to report something that has no associated action with it? Did the accountant- or lawyer- lobby get to Congress or the bureaucrats?

    Making the tax code more and more complex hinders business activity just by wasting time, even if nothing else is lost. Why not simplify the goddamned tax code? Instead, Congress makes it more complex every year. The Republicans are guilty of this too, but nothing compares to what Obama has forced through. (Adding complexity to the tax code is the only thing Obama has been adamant about. Well, that and his right to party on the tax-payers dime.)

    Even if one doesn’t believe the President and Congress can together create jobs, one has to admit (excerpt for disingenuous assholes such as steve and Reynolds) that the government can certainly make things more difficult. Hell, even that little twerp Matthew Yglesias has come to that realization, after a run in with the some helpful government workers.

    But instead of streamlining anything, the codes keep getting more complex. I’ve got a friend who’s an EA – man, the stuff he tells me. (If you don’t know what an EA is you can try looking it up.) It’s great what they’re doing – if you’re an EA or a tax/corporate attorney or an accountant. For everyone else it’s the pits. It’s a drag on the overall economy, a dead-weight loss, and a way for the big companies to make it really damned hard for smaller companies to keep in compliance with all the damned rules.

  • jan

    If the Republicans understood the housing bubble and financial crisis, they would be able to refute being blamed for it, and as long as they keep spouting their version of events, they will be associated with both.

    Tastybits,

    If I didn’t make it clear before, let me do so now. I bring up the dems in conjunction with the republicans, not as the sole perpetrators of the 2008 crash, like liberal dems do about the republicans. Social progressive dems, though, totally slough off the years of democratic Congressional control from 2007-2010, as somehow being not involved in our fiscal problems today, while continuing to rally their base towards a four years ago ex-president and a republican House, only two plus years in the majority.

    As far as one party or another dying off — neither one is honestly acting on behalf of the country’s best interests, IMO. The republicans espouse good fiscal policy, but far short of cultivating or enacting it. The dems espouse social compassion and empathy for the needy. But, in reality their words and acts exploit these people to get elected, increasing their sense of dependency to big government versus becoming stronger themselves.

  • michael reynolds

    Ice:

    I read your manifesto. Some of it I agre with. But I also agree with this:

    Like cutting the military, these actions will also increase the number of unemployed. And that’s too bad, especially for me, as that it even that many more people I have to compete against.

    You ask why I support Obama even when he makes b.s. claims about job creation? Because I don’t vote on economic issues. I vote foreign policy, social issues and safety net. Taxes go up, takes go down, I still end up writing some big-ass check in April (October after the extensions).

    I don’t think presidents can do much of anything about the economy. Further, I don’t think anyone really knows what to do about the economy. Your plan would cut jobs. Would it balance out in the end? You don’t know and neither do I.

    I have as much faith in the science of economics as I do in astrology. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the effort to understand how economies work, but in prescriptive terms I think we’re at the leeches n’ bloodletting phase. So, when I say “Bush crashed the economy” I’m just practicing a bit of verbal judo, using someone’s own silly beliefs against them.

    I don’t think presidents have much to do with “the economy.” I think they’re just convenient scapegoats to explain a phenomenon we don’t quite understand. Your crop failed? Blame a Jew. Your economy failed? Blame a president. Same principle.

    There is no such thing as “the economy.” It’s too intertwined with psychology and politics and philosophy and science and random chance (look out, meteor!) to even be defined discretely. The economy is everything. It is too big a phenomenon for us to get our hands around at this stage in our educational progress. The idea that our chief executive, armed with nothing but the margins of the federal budget and minor variations in tax rate can somehow drive that bus is mad.

  • Icepick

    Your plan is to spend more than a trillion a year we don’t have until the interest eats us alive? Further, you want to do that while complaining that Republicans used to spend a fraction of that on a yearly basis? Disingenuous as Hell. Obama’s deficits dwarf Bush’s, but these you celebrate. This can’t go on indefinitely. Fix it now, says I, before the problems are beyond any hope of control. Your plan is to wait until the country completely collapses, and then claim you’re doing it because you’re so decent and charitable. Fucking phony.

    I’ll also note that you blame the Republicans for crashing the economy.

    They crashed the economy and blew up the deficit while they were in power. So that part’s easy to answer.

    And you’ve credited Obama for saving us from that in the past, but now you claim that isn’t the case. Which is it? Can Presidents and Congresses have an impact or not? Or is it only Republicans that have this power?

    You complain that I don’t state my positions. I’ve stated them repeatedly over the years, and I’ve been fairly consistent. You can’t even maintain the same position from one comment to the next.

    Further, you still haven’t addressed the topic of the President’s job proposal, and how inadequate it is by his own statements. The President is claiming that he can create jobs, that he has a plan. But his plan doesn’t cut it. How about at least mentioning that he’s a lying sack of shit and a phony for promising to make things happen that he can’t make happen? But no, you won’t do that, because I’ve never read you or steve or any other Obama voter state that he has been anything less than perfect.

    But that doesn’t matter, because that’s in the past, a whole week ago now. But you will blame the Republicans for everything they’ve ever done or not done, no matter how long ago.

  • TastyBits

    @jan

    I am not aiming at you specifically. It is more about Republicans in general and the reasons they keep getting beat-up by the Democrats. For a recent example, the Democrats wail about Wall Street bonuses, income inequality, the 1% vs the 99%, lack of regulations, etc. If the President were really concerned about these things, Timothy Geithner is the last person he would make Treasury Secretary.

    I am tired of listening to the two parties squabble. They are like children fighting in the back seat of the car. It is all nonsense, and irrelevant. I would like to see one of the parties go away, and because the Republicans have sunk so low, they are the better choice. In a few years, it will be the Democrats.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds and @steve

    I thought @Steve Verdon would have jumped in about the libertarians. Libertarians believe government can hinder job creation through intervention or uneven imposition of the rules. According to conventional wisdom, the Democrats are the interventionist party, and therefore, the Democrats will screw up things more than the Republicans. Libertarians do not buy the conventional wisdom, and they blame Republicans as much, or more.

    The conservatives can defend defend themselves. I will note that a proper “come to Jesus” moment requires a full listing of one’s sins and a repudiation of those sins. If one now realizes that Republican big spending is bad, one must now realize that voting them into office was bad.

  • michael reynolds

    Ice:

    I didn’t address the president’s jobs proposal because I didn’t take it seriously as a thing which was going to actually happen. It’s a SOTU line. I still don’t care.

    I may have been careless enough at times to credit Obama with saving the economy, especially if I’m dealing with a Jan sort who insists the world was rosy right up until January of 2009, and then maintains that we’ve descended into a post-apocalyptic socialist hell. I debate people at their level.

    More often you’ll find me eliding the subject, pointing out that under Obama the economy improved, etc… He did save the auto industry (already in the process of being saved) and he did push out a mostly pointless stimulis, which probably helped around the margins a bit. But no, I don’t believe presidents save economies. Not in this country. Not with the powers they have. And not with the size, complexity and mystery of the object in question.

    My guess – and it’s just a guess – is that we’ll never get back to “full” employment. I think technology and off-shoring are the main causes. We can’t compete with robots and we can’t compete on some jobs with people who make $2000 a year. I don’t think tax reform or financial reform are going to have much impact on that.

    I think the future is more of what we have right now: most people are where they’ve been for a while now, okay but slowly slipping. A large minority are fairly desperate. A tiny minority are richer than ever. That feels unsustainable to me, unstable, volatile, which I believe means we’re looking at a fair bit more redistribution and a change in our attitudes about work, jobs and communal obligation.

    I don’t think ten years from now we’ll be talking about the “long term unemployed.” We’ll have a new phrase, something that begins the job of shifting perceptions to the notion that those who have jobs are privileged and obligated, while de-stigmatizing an inability to find gainful employment.

  • Can someone explain to me why libertarians – who believe the government should have only a very minimal role in the economy – nevertheless think a president should be able to pull jobs out of the air?

    Michael,

    Are you being deliberately obtuse–i.e. mendacious? I’ve already said that I don’t think Presidents can do that, but they always claim they can.

    Don’t be such a fucking douche.

  • Same goes for steve, don’t write posts that imply you are an amazing retard.

  • I may have been careless enough at times to credit Obama with saving the economy

    Dude, you were practically sucking Obama’s cock.

  • Oh, and many of those programs you credit to Obama had their start under….Bush. Bailing out GM, TARP, spending bills, etc.

  • My guess – and it’s just a guess – is that we’ll never get back to “full” employment. I think technology and off-shoring are the main causes. We can’t compete with robots and we can’t compete on some jobs with people who make $2000 a year. I don’t think tax reform or financial reform are going to have much impact on that.

    Okay, on a serious note. This is bullshit.

    We’ve always had “creative destruction” in the sense of Schumpeter–i.e. technological innovation that renders jobs useless…and we did not have permanent increases in unemployment or even underemployment. The labor force participation rates were pretty good for a long time.

    The problem isn’t “creative destruction” because idle labor creates new opportunities to do things with that labor you couldn’t do before. That does not mean that “creative destruction” leads to the land of milk and honey, but the idea of rising unemployment just isn’t supported by the historical record. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen of course, but if using history as a guide it isn’t something we should necessarily fear. A good argument can be made to make the unpleasant transition periods less unpleasant though.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    The printing press and industrial looms put an entire industry out of work, but in doing so, a vastly greater number of workers were employed. These machines made these products cheaper, and they raised the quality of life for the non-wealthy folks. Automated machinery creates an opportunity for less skilled workers to be employed in a formerly specialized industry.

    In the 1800’s, the loom was automated using a crude computer. This allowed the variety of patterns to increase. Robots are no different. They may initially cause disruptions, but ultimately, they will raise the quality of life for the non-wealthy.

    Cheap energy and a mobile workforce will get the US economy moving again.

  • michael reynolds

    Steve V:

    Dude, you were practically sucking Obama’s cock.

    On job creation? I doubt it. I support Obama for reasons stated: foreign policy, social policy and safety net.

    Oh, and many of those programs you credit to Obama had their start under….Bush.

    Yes, they did. Did I ever deny that? Of course they did.

    We’ve always had “creative destruction”

    Yes. But now it’s different. This isn’t the loom. The past is a useful guide right up until it isn’t. Look no further than the military. IIRC we had a nine million man army in 1945. Will we ever need nine million soldiers again? Even if we were fighting a two-front world war? No. We will never need nine million soldiers again, because we have technology that has replaced those men. Permanently replaced.

    Will we ever have tens of millions of people on farms? No. Technology. Will we ever need large numbers of house servants again? No. Technology. Now professionals are being replaced – radiologists by computers, accountants by temps and software, lawyers by apps, college professors by massive open online courses. Drivers and fast food workers and will lose their jobs just as bank tellers and travel agents lost theirs. Technology.

    This isn’t mill workers put out of work, it is just about every job on the line. Every job, all in the space of a couple of decades. We will not have full employment again, there is no magic force that will make it happen, and libertarianism is a relic, a time travel fantasy, not a realistic philosophy going forward.

  • michael reynolds

    Tasty:

    Nope, I don’t think so. I don’t think any force short of some government-imposed Luddite movement will return us to full employment. See my note to Steve above.

    The idea that we will somehow automatically return to full employment if only this, or only that, or only some other thing, is a hope, not a fact. There’s no law of physics at work here, there are assumptions based on a relatively thin slice of history. Sometimes things change and are no longer predictable by reference to history.

  • We will never need nine million soldiers again, because we have technology that has replaced those men.

    I think that’s a misreading of what’s actually happened. The way I see what’s happened is that our military is so overwhelmingly dominant (for reasons of spending rather than technology) that there is no prospective enemy that will challenge us on the basis of head-to-head second generation warfare.

    Enemies are now using third generation warfare. Again, that has nothing to do with technology but with hegemony.

  • On job creation? I doubt it. I support Obama for reasons stated: foreign policy, social policy and safety net.

    Please.

    The GOP just got taken apart, and we have a two-term Democrat who gave us Obamacare and GM. Which is rather amazing given that in your eyes, Dave, the president was such a small, inconsequential fellow.–michael reynolds November 7, 2012 at 10:11 am

    link

    It is rather sickening…and to be fair, the GM bailout started with Bush and was continued by Obama.

    Yes. But now it’s different.

    Yes, that is always the case.

    This isn’t the loom. The past is a useful guide right up until it isn’t.

    Mechanization and automation have been going on a very long time. The term computers used to refer to people (usually women) who “computed”. The advent of computers decades ago destroyed all of those jobs….it also created new ones for people to build the modern computers, people to program them, and people to use them to do analysis.

    Will we ever have tens of millions of people on farms? No. Technology.

    Yes, and we managed to solve that employment problem too.

    This isn’t mill workers put out of work, it is just about every job on the line. Every job, all in the space of a couple of decades.

    C0mputers can’t think Michael, not yet. And until they can they will need to be told what to do. Eventually we may get to something like the singularity, but not any time soon and until we do stop saying this time is different. And if we do reach the singularity and don’t turn the planet into a giant ball of mush, then we wont have to worry since there will be plenty of resources.

    We will not have full employment again, there is no magic force that will make it happen, and libertarianism is a relic, a time travel fantasy, not a realistic philosophy going forward.

    This isn’t one of your novels Michael and this isn’t the Star Trek universe.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    Large armies are needed for large wars. Wars are won by taking and holding ground, and a larger amount of ground requires a larger number of men.

    Each technological advancement has certain people decrying it, but each technological advancement improves the lives of the non-wealthy. Each worker displaced additional jobs are created. I know of no technological advancement that has resulted in a worse quality of life, but I could be wrong.

    The mechanical loom resulted in every weaver being thrown out of work. Scribes were unemployed by the printing press, but the number of workers replacing them is multiple times greater. Both of these technological advancement resulted in new industries being created. The fashion industry and department stores are non-existent without the mechanical loom, and the printing press has had the same result – coloring books and user manuals. Almost everything related to cloth or paper would not exist without these two machines.

    This is old ground, and we have covered it. You owe your good fortune to those thrown out of work by the printing press.

    The US will eventually get back to a low employment rate with cheap energy and a mobile workforce.

  • jan

    Some good comments above, as well as sensible retorts to Michael’s perspective of the future. Apparently we are at the end-all-be-all in his opinion. The little people, those who the dems like to keep tethered to social programs, can do nothing but huddle around and be beholding to the party that gives them their life on a hook, via food stamps, HUD, unemployment and other benefits. Talk about slotting people into being defeatists!

    While I don’t have an eye into the next hundred years, futurists say that populations all over the world are aging and shrinking. With the baby boomer bulge getting older, health care positions will grow, along with the need for medical personnel in all areas — PT, OT, lab work, Drs., RNs, LVN, NPs, alternative medicine practitioners , nutritionists — it’s endless. Then with people having smaller families, many advanced societies having a populace opting to have no children (US, Japan, Italy etc.), the predictions are there will be a scarcity of workers, rather than too many sitting idle, helpless and hopeless. The only way the latter might happen is if you instill such a deeply rooted and sanctioned sense of entitlement. followed by utter dependency on government, people will lose either the desire or will to work. We already have a good chunk of generational welfare recipients — those who live to work the system, because that is how they were raised. Also, studies have demonstrated a propensity with people suffering from long-term UE fatigue, to lose self-confidence and automatically give up looking for work, even when it is there.

    Unfortunately the US is propagating that kind of behavioral paralysis under the programs pushed by Obama and the social progressives. Such a scenario is only reinforced and validated when you have people like Michael parroting the gloom and doom of “this is all there is, so get used to it” kind of rhetoric. It reminds me of what Christopher Columbus must have gone through with the Flat Earth experts telling him that taking off across the ocean was futile, because everyone knew they would just end up falling off the edge of the world, anyway.

  • michael reynolds

    Dave:

    Rome had hegemony, they still needed large armies.

    Look at it this way. How many men do we need to destroy, say, France? Two. Two guys in a missile silo in North Dakota. The Mongols might have destroyed France (surely wanted to) but it would have taken them tens of thousands of horsemen. The tech changes the number of men you need to accomplish a goal. Fifty years from now we’ll have forces numbered in the tens of thousands at most, with 90% of the killing and “dying” being done by machines. Large numbers of men will just mean large numbers of targets.

  • Rome had hegemony, they still needed large armies.

    Rome didn’t have helicopters, carrier groups, or jets.

    Fifty years from now we’ll have forces numbered in the tens of thousands at most, with 90% of the killing and “dying” being done by machines.

    No, unless you are positing forever wars where no human ever dies. If your goal though is to vanquish your opponent you’ll need to kill the humans. Killing their machines might be a necessary condition, but it wouldn’t be sufficient.

  • I would suggest that the only way we will end up with a high percentage of permanently unemployed people is via government programs.

  • michael reynolds

    Steve V:

    If your goal though is to vanquish your opponent you’ll need to kill the humans.

    If your goal is annihilation, yes. If your goal is to eliminate another player’s offensive capability, depriving him of weapons is sufficient. That was the idea behind counter-force nuclear targeting — take away Moscow’s nukes and he can’t touch us.

    It would have worked in the old days, too. Had William the Conqueror showed up without swords, spears or bows he wouldn’t have gotten very far.

  • michael reynolds

    Wars are won by taking and holding ground, and a larger amount of ground requires a larger number of men.

    Wars were won that way and may be in limited cases where we are taking resources, conquering. But those are not going to be our wars. Our wars in the future will be about eliminating threats. We can do that with obliteration (nukes) or some combination of decapitation, counterforce, and specific targeting of combatants. Unless you’re planning on invading Iran and occupying it, there is no reasonable scenario that involves large armies in our near future. Further out there’s even less reason to suspect we’ll need large armies. Large bodies of men are no longer helpful in most cases.

    The essential lesson was taught in WW1. Large forces charging machine guns. Machine guns won. You see the same today. The MOH ceremony the other day featured a sergeant at an outpost. Bad position, outnumbered 5 to one, but we prevailed. How? Better training (small, professional force) and better technology (air strikes, night vision.)

    This is an example of a situation simply changing. What was useful is no longer. Paradigms do shift.

  • michael reynolds

    Steve:

    This isn’t one of your novels Michael and this isn’t the Star Trek universe.

    Oh, but it is. The self-driving car we predicted in one of our books for 2011 actually arrived, pretty much on schedule.

    I have in my back pocket a device that does a lot more tricks than Captain Kirk’s old communicator. I don’t think he could talk to his and have it text his wife. No FTL, but the Pentagon has beam weapons in the works. It’s Star Trek and you just didn’t notice.

  • I have in my back pocket a device that does a lot more tricks than Captain Kirk’s old communicator.

    I was referring to their replicator technology…aka cornucopia machines (or molecular assemblers), not the hum-drum communication devices. Once we get cornucopia machines yeah, we might never have “full employment again” but then again we probably wouldn’t need such a concept either.

    So you missed the mark dude. The other Star Trek gadgets are cool, but compared to the cornucopia machines they are nothing. Those are game changers and your iPhone doesn’t mean shit because it can’t produce a ham sandwich (out of dirt) or a brick of gold (out of wood) or a shirt (out of broken glass).

    Of course, the other possibility is that a technological break through along those lines could also turn the planet in a grey ball of goo.

    Have you read Singularity Sky?

    If your goal is annihilation, yes.

    No. Even if it is merely conquest, you need to kill enough humans to make them stop fighting. That is the idea behind the military’s current Shock and Awe doctrine…you shock and awe them into no longer wanting to fight….and to do that you don’t just take out their jeeps or their laptops, you kill a goodly chunk of them in a rather overwhelming manner.

    Hell, even a defensive war will still focus on killing people and almost surely always will.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    How is this high tech warfare working? Iraq? Afghanistan? Pakistan? Yeman?

    Chariots, iron, stirrups, longbows, cannon, machine guns, steel ships, airplanes, aircraft carriers, missiles, etc., etc., etc., all require changing tactics to employ them offensively and defensively. Maneuver warfare was being developed by the Germans at the end of WWI.

    The next major war may start with India & Pakistan, but there are many possible locations. A two front war is not impossible. Whenever and wherever it occurs, it will be a slow and bloody.

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