Talk About Undercutting Your Own Message

Joe Klein makes a valid point in his column:

As in most presidencies, there have been an awful lot of political hacks populating the mid-reaches of this Administration. In the Obama instance, these have shown an anachronistic, pre-Clinton liberal bias when it comes to the rules and regulations governing many of our safety net programs, like social security disability. And now they have violated one of the more sacred rules of our democracy: you do not use the tax code to punish your opponents.

Lois G. Lerner, the IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, said the “absolutely inappropriate” actions by “front-line people” were not driven by partisan motives.

Does anyone actually believe this?

Yet again, we have an example of Democrats simply not managing the government properly and with discipline. This is just poisonous at a time of skepticism about the efficacy of government. And the President should know this: the absence of scandal is not the presence of competence. His unwillingness to concentrate–and I mean concentrate obsessively–on making sure that government is managed efficiently will be part of his legacy.

When your basic strategy is to give federal agencies broad discretionary powers as is the case with the PPACA and Dodd-Frank, just to name two, if those powers are abused for what certainly appear to be political motives, it really casts doubt on the innocence of your intentions. Or, as Dan Drezner recently wisecracked, they’ve justified every paranoid conspiracy theory for the next half century.

70 comments… add one
  • Andy

    It’s one of the contradictions of the American left – a belief in the ability of government to solve all kinds of problems but little interest in good, efficient governance.

  • That’s very much to my point, Andy. If you believe in harnessing the power of government to help people, there’s not just a moral necessity to see to it that government is as effective, efficient, and fair as possible, it’s a pragmatic necessity.

    Something else I’ve said before: the problem with running as a reform candidate is that you’re creating the expectation that you’re actually going to reform something.

  • CStanley

    I’ve heard people on the left say that they can’t abide right wing politicians because those who don’t believe in the value of government can’t be trusted to run it well….but the converse is that those who believe in it can’t be trusted with the power if those who put them in office aren’t willing to police against corruption and incompetence.

  • steve

    Who found out what was going on and initiated the investigation? Will Congress call those who initiated the process in for a hearing? I feel like there is way too much second hand information here. FInd out what happened and why. Senior management who knew this was going on should be fired. (One of our broader problems is that we often go after the lower level people who may or may not have acted in good faith, even if they were wrong. Management, who are paid to know better should have caught this. In the case of the IRS, I was under the impression this was mostly civil service with few political appointees.)

    @CStanley- Commissioner Shulman who ran the IRS during this period was appointed in early 2008. Does this confirm your theories?

    Steve

  • jan

    the problem with running as a reform candidate is that you’re creating the expectation that you’re actually going to reform something.

    If you’re referencing Obama as being a reform candidate, the message he was running on was transformation, which usually means a more intense change than reform implies.

    The Klein article had the most damning comment in it’s closing paragraph:

    Previous Presidents, including great ones like Roosevelt, have used the IRS against their enemies. But I don’t think Barack Obama ever wanted to be on the same page as Richard Nixon. In this specific case, he now is.

    Obama and Nixon are being linked more and more, as time goes on. Maybe if people put ideology aside for a moment, the waters will clear, revealing the unpleasant similarities both parties share in their quest for power.

  • jan

    Steve, regarding your Commissioner Shulman remark made to CStanley:

    Just because someone was appointed under one administration, does not mean they will be puppets or act in lock step with those who appointed them. The Supreme Court is a prime example of appointees making their own decisions that oftentimes go counter to the administration who selected them. Just look at Roberts and his recent PPACA decision!

    When your boss changes, many times so do you, along with the protocols and demands that are exercised. In fact Victoria Nuland used to work for Dick Cheney in the GWB administration. And yet, today, under the Obama Administration, she is in the forefront of accusations asserting the deletion and/or sanitizing of controversial CIA info from those much-talked about CIA talking points.

    Government is simply a web of public servants, who frequently change political dance partners during their term of service. The origination point, of where they came from, becomes a mute point, especially when trying to deflect blame onto, yet again, the previous administration.

  • steve

    @jan- The issue in question is competence, not ideology.

    Steve

  • CStanley

    @CStanley- Commissioner Shulman who ran the IRS during this period was appointed in early 2008. Does this confirm your theories?

    You misunderstand the nature of my conspiracy theory. My musings are about the timing of the admission from the IRS official, not about the potential scandal itself. The controversy itself has been floating around for a while and suddenly an IRS official decides to say, “oh yeah, we did do that, our bad.” Interrupting a news cycle focused on Benghazi. Just seemed a bit weird to me. I’m not strongly wedded to my own theory- it may be just coincidence. I just think it’s possible, given the connections of the Clintons and those who want Hillary to remain viable for 2016, that this was orchestrated to come out now as a distraction.

  • michael reynolds

    CStanley: They interrupted a bogus “scandal” with a genuine scandal?

  • CStanley

    Heh. Well, now that you put it that way, my conspiracy is based on the idea that both are significant. There would be no reason to dangle a string about the IRS situation if Benghazi was really a nothing-burger.

    My theory rests on the idea that Benghazi is potentially very damaging to Hillary (she or her supporters would have orchestrated the leak about IRS.) That still leaves two possibilities though- one, that there is something yet unknown about Benghazi that would rise to a higher level of scandal, involving State Department; or two, it is just a mess implicating State by way of incompetence and continuing to talk about it leaves a bad smell around Hillary.

  • Benghazi is potentially very damaging to Hillary

    Nonsense. The woman is living proof that incompetence is no barrier to higher office.

  • Michael Reynolds

    Hillary won’t be hurt by Benghazi because there’s nothing there. Benghazi is about GOP impotence and Karl Rove’s desperate attempt to regain relevance. In a sense it is a GOP intraparty matter.

    The IRS thing is real. But I wonder if a party so happy to live in its alternate reality zone still has the capacity to deal with a real scandal?

  • CStanley

    Nonsense. The woman is living proof that incompetence is no barrier to higher office.

    True enough, but I would think there has to be a threshhold at which even the anointed ones can no longer be absolved.

  • Cstanley

    Ok I am formally withdrawing my theory as I note in horror that Michelle Bachman put forth similar speculations.

  • jan

    The left continues to yawn and smirk about Benghazi, saying it’s nothing more than political posturing by the right. So far the nonchalance and mocking has worked, in tandem with the refusal of the MSM to do little active investigation into this matter. However, it seems that the hearings last week may have had a bigger impact than anticipated, as the whistle blowers appeared sincere, having no axes to grind or opposition party affiliation. Their testimony seemed generated by simmering frustration surrounding the truth they observed, first hand, as being suppressed by the administrative powers that be. And, their demeanor was laced with genuine empathy for the families who lost loved ones that no one attempted to save.

    Even Maureen Dowd had a hard-hitting opinion piece, over the weekend, closing with this:

    All the factions wove their own mythologies at the expense of our deepest national mythology: that if there is anything, no matter how unlikely or difficult, that we can do to try to save the lives of Americans who have volunteered for dangerous assignments, we must do it.

    More Benghazi pieces are developing today, from all sides of the media. There is even growing speculation that Patraeus may step up to the plate and talk, as he has nothing left to lose. The most significant part of this ‘old’ story, though, is the enumeration of unanswered questions now being displayed in print:

    So little is known about what happened in Benghazi: Where was the commander in chief that night? No pictures from the Situation Room this time. Why didn’t the Pentagon authorize a quick-response team to swoop in? Members of the military say they were ready — burning — to go. The call came in: Stand down. Let them die. There were dozens of witnesses to the attack that night: Where are they? What do they know? What really happened that night?

    I’ll add one more: Why did Hillary Clinton continue to back the false administration version when we now know she personally called Hicks at 2AM, his time (8PM her time), and was given info countering the video story? Furthermore, when Hicks called Clinton back in 1 hour, ironically at 3AM his time, to give her an update, the call went unanswered. How could these vital heads of states, both Clinton and Obama, leave the office so early, when such an enormous tragedy was still unfolding in the ME?

    As for the weight of the ARB’s report. That too has been clarified as to it’s narrowness of inquiry, the sloppiness of it’s intake, and incongruity as to why major players were omitted from their interview process.

    Cstanley, no matter a lack of affection for Bachman, there still remains the fact that she was a tax attorney, and has professional familiarity with the IRS and it’s perimeters. Or, does a gut feeling have to pass the PC test as well?

  • Red Barchetta

    Uh, er, well……oh the hell with it.

    BTW – heres a tissue, Michael. Wipe your mouth.

  • Cstanley

    Jan I was kinda kidding about Bachman although I can’t deny that I find it a little disconcerting to have had a thought process similar to hers because I think she’s pretty batty.

  • The Age of Competence

    The scandal with Benghazi is the gross negligence by the Administration, not the stupid story about the video. The video ‘cover’ story is just the cherry on top – even that spin was inept.

    Meanwhile, the IRS continues work on implementing the tax code portion of ObamaCare. The federal dictate that all Americans must purchase healthcare coverage will be enforced by the IRS. Part of the implementation means that Americans are going to have to give over their healthcare policy information to the IRS so that the IRS can make certain that Americans are in violation of the law. In other words, the IRS will soon have the power to give people rectal exams about their rectal exams. It won’t be long before audits are scouring through the actual healthcare records of people (all in the interest of fairness of course) and that this too will become an element of audit abuse of political enemies. I’m sure that Andrew Sullivan and Michael Reynolds are both gleeful about the idea of finding out exactly what is going on with the Palin family wombs.

    Today people are starting to turn their focus to whether or not the audit results were getting leaked to Obama campaigners. Some were complaining last year that Obama and his proxies kept getting confidential information that could have only come from the IRS. That looks like a much more valid worry now. (Actually it doesn’t – it looked completely valid last year.) And I’m curious as to who told Harry Reid about Mitt Romney’s tax returns last year, and why Reid gave the information credence. But of course, this was all done by low level staffers, and anyway they blame Bush, so Reynolds and the like will soon be circling the wagons to claim there’s nothing to see here.

    And speaking of ObamaCare, one inevitable (and completely intentional) consequence is coming to pass: the increase in costs to small businesses:

    Starting next year, the federal government will charge a new fee on health insurance firms based on the plans they sell to individuals and companies, known as the fully insured market. Meanwhile, the provision exempts health-insurance plans that are set up and operated by businesses themselves (the self-insured market).

    Revenue from the tax will help pay for the health-care overhaul, which is expected to extend coverage to millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans.

    However, because most large corporations self-insure their workforce, experts warn that insurance companies will pass the costs directly to small businesses. The vast majority purchase coverage in the fully insured market.

    “Insurers have confirmed back to me that the tax will be passed down to consumers, and the direct impact will be staggering,” Ryan Thorn, owner of a small insurance planning firm near Salt Lake City, told lawmakers during a congressional hearing Thursday. “It disproportionately hits individuals and small-business owners, the people who have been hurt most by these challenging times.”

    Of course, who will believe this story, coming from a right-wing rag like the Washington Post. Either the Administration and the Democratic Congress had no idea how the medical insurance markets work in this country, or they did this to fuck over small businesses on purpose. Their rhetoric at the time indicated that they didn’t know what they were talking about, but that could have simply been that they were lying to spin for the results that they wanted.

  • The Age of Competence

    Or, does a gut feeling have to pass the PC test as well?

    Only thoughts vetted by the leadership are permitted, jan, don’t you know that? All other thoughts are crimethink.

  • Either the Administration and the Democratic Congress had no idea how the medical insurance markets work in this country, or they did this to fuck over small businesses on purpose.

    Pragmatically, the only way I could see the whole shebang working is if self-insurance were banned outright. I guarantee you the PPACA would not have passed if it included such a provision. As it is, yes, it’s an attack vehicle on small businesses.

  • The Age of Competence

    Also from the WP article linked above:

    The Department of Health and Human Services reports that among private businesses that offer health insurance, three of every four firms with between 100 and 500 employees purchase coverage in the fully insured market. The number jumped to 87 percent for firms with fewer than 100 workers.

    On the other hand, 82 percent of large firms (500 or more employees) run their own health insurance programs.

    So this new tax on fully insured firms can only be deemed as something designed to harm small businesses disproportionately.

    Also, those stats put the lie to a lot of the rhetoric about insurance companies that the President engaged in during the lead-up to passage of the PPACA. But no one cared then, certainly not the lick-spittle press corp (whose members were likely too stupid to understand the issues involved even if they weren’t completely ignorant), and I expect that by the time it gets hot in DC they won’t care about the IRS scandal, or Benghazi, or anything else. That’s just how it works.

    (The one good thing about W’s Presidency was that he forced those bastards to go to Crawford Texas in August of every year.)

  • The Age of Competence

    Pragmatically, the only way I could see the whole shebang working is if self-insurance were banned outright. I guarantee you the PPACA would not have passed if it included such a provision.

    I can guarantee that based on my former line of work – there’s no way the big companies in this country would be willing to take the financial hit. They’ve all been scrambling for the last 20 years to keep costs down – kill their last bit of cost-savings and it kills just about everyone’s margins.

    I still think that this PPACA is designed solely with the intention of completely crashing the current system of healthcare, and fast. That way they can get to the business of complete and direct socialization of the system. But they’ll only have the cover to take on the health insurance companies and the medical establishment once they have people rioting in the streets.

    And lets remember, as Reynolds reminded us recently (LMAO!), socialized medicine was one of Hitler’s campaign planks….

  • The Age of Competence

    Pragmatically, the only way I could see the whole shebang working is if self-insurance were banned outright.

    Shorter: I don’t see how the thing would be working if it crashed the economy, but YMMV.

  • jan

    Jan I was kinda kidding about Bachman although I can’t deny that I find it a little disconcerting to have had a thought process similar to hers because I think she’s pretty batty.

    I’m no fan of Bachman, myself. For my taste she is too shrill, wears her religiosity on her sleeve too much, is said to be very disorganized, and goes thru staff like kleenex, which is symtomatic of lacking good employer/people skills. However, I do give her credit for taking on so many foster children, as well as having credentials as a tax attorney, which was the reason for my comment.

  • The Age of Competence

    I’d like to point out that polls keep showing that the biggest concerns of Americans are jobs and the economy. But so far this year the news media and the President have focused on (a) gay marriage (with a side of gay professional male athlete – the media especially is going to cream itself on camera when the first gay NFL player comes out), (b) gun control and (c) giving ten to thirty million Mexicans citizenship.

    These efforts can be rightly classified as
    (a) irrelevant;
    (b) irrelevant and constitutionally suspect;
    and (c) actively hurtful to helping the job prospects of current citizens.

    (We had a brief brouhaha about sequestration, but that has been a bust.)

    Now we’re going to waste the next several months with the fact that the Administration seemed nonchalant about letting an Ambassador die, and that the IRS has been abusing its power to make life hard for those that won’t kiss Obama’s big half-white ass. When all that peters out late this summer, we’ll start talking about how fucked up the implementation of ObamaCare is likely to be.

    Meanwhile, we’re still two million jobs short of where we were when the recession started, and about 12 million short of where we would be during a typical post-WWII recovery.

    And this is exactly what the American electorate voted for, and what Obama voters celebrate: too few jobs for the people that want them, falling median wages, increased costs of things they have to buy. The average American voter can be rightly classified as mentally deficient.

  • jan

    I still think that this PPACA is designed solely with the intention of completely crashing the current system of healthcare, and fast.

    I agree, and think they hope it will eventually ‘evolve’ to a single payer, which many here think is fine.

    I’m glad you brought up the ACA in this thread. Lamar Alexander is also questioning the HHS Secretary’s fundraising gig, aimed at insurance companies, as a kind of shake-down. It’s a way to fiscally implement the ACA, circumventing Congress’s denial of funding, similar to what Reagan did, which ultimately became known as the Iran-Contra scandal — in this case also going around Congress in order to fund weapon purchases, a request that was denied by that Congress. It does seem like a similar tactic being used on a different issue in a later era.

  • michael reynolds

    Yep, Obamacare is as sure to fail as the GM bailout.

    General Motors posted a 3.6% increase in global vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same period last year.

    The automaker sold 2.36 million vehicles in the first quarter, including an 8% increase in North America to 761,616 units and a 7% increase in its International Operations business to 992,234 units. GM’s international operations includes China, where GM posted a 10% sales increase in the first quarter.

    To believe otherwise, you’d have to be dumb enough to believe Paul Krugman and his ilk! http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-krugman-is-right-2013-4

    The argument is over. Paul Krugman has won. The only question now is whether the folks who have been arguing that we have no choice but to cut government spending while the economy is still weak will be big enough to admit that.

    Or else you’d have to be the kind of giddy fool who believes the deficit would actually start dropping. http://blog.bcaresearch.com/the-incredible-shrinking-us-budget-deficit

    The U.S. deficit is dropping much faster than the CBO projected only months ago.

    F or the first seven months of the fiscal year, revenues are up by $220 billion, or 16%, versus the same period in FY2012. Outlays are only slightly lower than last year, but the sequester cuts are just getting underway.

    The CBO will update their figures this week, but the deficit may come in closer to $700 billion this year (4.4% of GDP), and will be heavily revised down in 2014.

    Thank goodness for the Glittering Eye Society of Doom there’s always health care costs:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/22/heres-why-health-care-costs-are-slowing/

    Here’s what we do know about health-care spending: It’s growing slower now than any point in the past five decades.
    What we don’t know is why, whether that slowdown is the temporary result of an economic recession or reflects more permanent, structural changes to health-care industry.

    The answer has huge implications for the federal budget, which now faces threats of really fast growth in Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs. If those programs grow like they have for the past few years — at the same rate as the rest of the economy — then that frees up lots of funds for whatever other investments the federal government wants to make.

    A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that most of the slowdown is indeed temporary – but even the smaller fraction that is permanent has the potential to cut a half-trillion health-care costs over the next decade.

    “That’s huge in a $3 trillion health-care system, if we could shave a percent off health spending growth per year,” says Larry Levitt, vice president of special projects at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • I think it’s a bit early to be declaring victory on healthcare costs, Michael. Nobody really knows why the rate of increase has slowed or whether it’s permanent.

    What continues to be the case is that

    a) costs in healthcare are still rising at a multiple of what costs in the rest of the economy are and

    b) costs in healthcare are still rising relative to incomes and

    c) between half and three-quarters of that is government spending.

  • The Age of Competence

    Healthcare costs are growing so slowly that we just got hammered on plan prices with my wife’s company. (Strange plan year that starts on June 1.) We had to take much less coverage this time, because we couldn’t afford anything else. Luckily, the disks in my neck are finally giving out just in time for the new plan to take effect. Hey, we can always put a lien on the house to get that repaired!

    And hey, those deficits are really great, around 800 billion dollars, aren’t they? Remember when Reynolds and steve were talking about how CRIMINAL Bush’s deficits were? You know, the ones that were much smaller than even this, the smallest of Obama’s budgets? Deficits are only bad when Republicans are President – when Democrats are President they’re the best thing ever.

    But Reynolds, you keep ignoring the main point, which is this: We still have two million fewer jobs now than we did when the last recession started. This is the worst jobs recovery since they started keeping good records after WWII. There isn’t even a close second. Even the Daily Kos people have admitted that we’re 12 million or so jobs behind where we would be if this were an average recovery.

    Where are the jobs? Where are the rising wages? And why are you so fucking happy that so many millions of people classify as LTUE, or have dropped out of the workforce altogether?

    But please, tell me more about how fucking wonderful Paul Krugman’s beard is. My only conclusion is that you enjoy the fact that millions have had their lives ruined, because poor people vote Democratic. Fucking scumbag.

  • The Age of Competence

    No, now is the perfect time to declare victory. Most of the people I know, even those with insurance, are putting off every expense they can, including healthcare costs. The Great Recession lingers on in employment and income markets, which leads to people scrimping on HC. I guess this is another reason for Reynolds to celebrate lower incomes and lower levels of employment – it makes Obama look good!

  • michael reynolds

    Where are the jobs? They are gone. And they are probably not coming back. And I don’t think it’s about economic factors, I think it’s about technology having finally done what has been prematurely predicted before. We know technology killed off bank tellers and travel agents and secretaries as well as all manner of assembly line workers, etc… Well, now technology is killing off dispatchers and store clerks and radiologists and librarians and lawyers and will soon begin eliminating jobs for drivers and fast food workers.

    The technology exists right now, today, to completely automate a McDonalds. You could run a busy one with two or three humans. Are all those burger flippers going to get jobs as app designers and movie stars?

    In fact, if you subtract the effects of the tech and real estate bubbles and vast oceans of borrowed money, have we not had falling employment for a long time now? Have we not seen falling real wages over the course of many years now? All while the stock market roars along?

    Things are different this time. Yes, I know people have been wrong about this in the past. This time they aren’t wrong. Company after company makes more and more money with fewer and fewer employees. (Even government uses fewer and fewer people.) Sooner or later we need to stop pretending that fiddling with this number or that is going to change the fact that we simply do not need as many workers to satisfy all our needs as we once did.

    This is a paradigm shift. The past is over. It’s not coming back.

  • The Age of Competence

    Are things different now, or is it that it is in the interests of Democrat mouthpieces and shills to say “We didn’t to it!” all the while reaping the electoral gains of creating a class of peons?

    And I’ll note that if this is a paradigm shift, Obama isn’t doing anything to ameliorate the suffering that is happening, and doesn’t even talk about it. He’s BASKING in it. Two months ago the employment report said that establishments had added 88,000 jobs. But the household survey stated that over 200,000 people, on net, had lost their jobs that month. The Administration quickly came out and claimed that this was good news! (The UE rate fell that month because almost 500,000 just gave up and quit – this is what your President and you consider good news.)

    This Administration doesn’t mention that we are having an employment crisis in this country. They do not mention that wages continue to contract. You keep saying that all of this is a GOOD thing because your stock portfolio is doing great! So fuck you, Reynolds. This employment situation is the one that you want, it’s the one you voted for, and it’s the one that you actually celebrate.

    You are ecstatic that millions and millions of us have had our lives ruined, and claim, solely on your own political beliefs, that this is the best that can be done.

    Fuck you for celebrating this. Fuck you for reveling in the misery of millions. Fuck you for wanting more of this. Here’s hopping that all the misery in the world happens to you and yours, because that’s what you want for all the rest of us.

  • michael reynolds

    We are heading into a world where a declining percentage of humans is required to produce all the material needs of our civilization. It used to be the case for most of human history that 100% of the tribe was required to meet minimum survival needs. (And they often failed.) What percent of the American population would be required to meet that same level of need today? 2%? Maybe 5%?

    Over time of course we decided we needed more and more. More food, larger houses, medical care, etc… All things unknown to the original tribe. We kept people busy producing to meet those ever-greater demands.

    But is it some law of physics that requires 100% of workers to meet 100% of our perceived needs? Why would that necessarily be the case? Is it somehow impossible that 100% of needs/wants could be met with, say, 99% of workers? And if 99%, why not 95%? Or 80%? Or 50%?

    We have far superior and far more complex cars today than we had 50 years ago. We do it with fewer workers and more machines and computers. Isn’t it theoretically possible that an entire GM assembly plant could be run by a single human? And ditto the plants that make the machines for GM?

    Don’t we feed ourselves with a tiny fraction of the people we used to employ in farming? Why assume that what happens in manufacturing and farming will not spread to the larger economy? Why is it even surprising to assume that if we invest billions in learning how to do without human workers, we’d eventually outgrow the need for human workers?

    I think the only real question is whether we’ve reached “eventually.” I think we are well into “eventually.”

  • michael reynolds

    You are ecstatic that millions and millions of us have had our lives ruined, and claim, solely on your own political beliefs, that this is the best that can be done.

    Where did you find this “ecstasy” of mine, Ice? Like most of what you see, it’s nothing but your imagination.

  • The Age of Competence

    And here’s part Reynolds didn’t quote:

    Turns out, health-care costs grew at a rate of 4.6 percent, one percentage point slower than the economic slowdown can explain.

    There are two ways to read this finding. One is that this health-care slowdown is a bit of a bust: Most of it (77 percent) is the product of an economic downturn and, as the economy rebounds, that all will disappear.

    There is, however, another, much more optimistic interpretation that focuses on the fact that 23 percent of the slowdown wasn’t due to the economy at all — that we actually did something differently in the health-care system. That’s the percentage point of slow growth that the economy did not predict.

    “Much more optimistic interpretation” indeed! Over three-quarters of the savings are because of the economic downturn. In other words, he & the Obama cheer leaders are once again celebrating economic stagnation and ruination for millions, because it helps their own personal Black Jesus look good. Anything for Dear Leader and the state, nothing for the peons except the warm glow of the cult.

  • michael reynolds

    Yes, 3/4. And the rest?

    Tell you what, Ice, why don’t you lay out your plan for how we’ll get back those ten million or so jobs and also avoid the additional technological unemployment coming down the line? Do you have a time machine? Do you have a sabot handy?

    What you can’t stand is that if I’m right the libertarian fantasy is over. We are moving toward a great deal more redistribution of wealth if we want to keep a civilization.

  • The Age of Competence

    You’re giddy above about ObamaCare, you are giddy above about GM, you are giddy above about Krugman being correct, you were in a state of orgasmic ecstasy last November when Obama won, you were thrilled last year when Romney supporters were getting audited (saying that their complaints were the whining of paranoids), you are giddy about falling unemployment, at least until someone points out that it is really more about people giving up than people getting jobs, you are giddy about the stock market and claim repeatedly ad infinitum ad nauseum that it is THE SIGN that the economy is doing great.

    And most especially, you claim NOW, now that a Democrat is President and not a Republican, that this all just the natural order of things, that nothing can possibly be different, and that those of us getting fucked by it should just lay back and enjoy it.

    Meanwhile, you talk about how easy it is to make a quarter million dollars, and imply that the only reason no one else ius doing so is because they’re cowards and racists and would rather be poor just to see Obama maybe look bad.

    You celebrate the wonder of the Obama economy in damned near every goddamned post you make. So fuck you for celebrating the misery of others for your own miserable party and leader’s gain.

  • michael reynolds

    As usual, nothing you say about me is true. But I understand. So much rage and hatred needs a target. So why not attack the guy who supports the extended unemployment you receive?

    Meanwhile, you talk about how easy it is to make a quarter million dollars, and imply that the only reason no one else ius doing so is because they’re cowards and racists and would rather be poor just to see Obama maybe look bad.

    In the end you’re just rather dense. The point is that it is easy for me. That it had nothing to do with Obama. Had nothing to do with regulation. Had nothing to do with employment costs or capital costs or any of the other numbers you and Dave and Drew worship.

    Know what it is? Simple fucking luck. I drew one hand, you drew another. Next week when I stroke out and spend the next 20 years drooling down my chin, that will be because I turned over the wrong damned card. Luck. Chance.

    You know, if you’d get a grip on your emotions, you might actually learn something occasionally. You’re a smart man, but you possess no wisdom. Obama/Bush/Romney/capital/labor/trade/deficits/good/evil/industrious/lazy has nothing to do with why I’m where I am, and you are where you are. Neither do hard work. Or virtue.

    It’s luck. Sorry to burst the protestant work ethic bubble, but a whole hell of a lot of life is simple dumb luck.

  • The Age of Competence

    Well, first thing, shit head, I’m not a libertarian. Second thing, I’ve written what I would start with before. You didn’t read it then, you won’t read it now. There’s no need to re-write thousands of words (or update them) to satisfy someone that thinks the current economy is the best of all possible economies.

  • The Age of Competence

    What am I supposed to learn from you? In 2009 we went round and round about how health insurance works. Amazingly, you managed to be wrong on every single particular, from self-insurance for large employers to the role of insurance companies in negotiating fees with providers. I knew this because that had been my line of work for several years preceding that debate. Yet you still to this day think you were right about every single topic, as is clear in your stupid comments on the subject. What am I supposed to learn from you on a topic you don’t understand?

    Last week you were going on about how easy it was to start a business – why,. you had just made a minimum of a quarter million dollars driving around in an expensive rental car! You completely ignored the fact that your one-off project that would last ten days and cost you $1,000 was far different than the circumstance of someone opening up a shop with all their life savings (and whatever they could scrape up from other sources) when that person needed to hire people, meet payroll, set up accounting procedures to deal with taxes (not to mention customers and suppliers), deal with permitting, potentially OSHA requirements, etc. But the big difference that you tried to slip by was that in your example you were taking what amounted to no risk financially and a minimal risk time-wise for a finite project while leveraging your fame, while most people that start selling AVON part-time have to put in more time and effort, not to mention someone running a shop with actual employees. By doing so you intentionally made the effort to make yourself look courageous while poo-pooing the struggles of people that are doing something a helluva lot harder and riskier. What am I supposed to learn from you when you make inapt comparisons designed to completely cloud the issue?

    You pull selective quotes to support your arguments of the moment, and ignore everything else, as evidenced by your crowing about healthcare costs coming down, while ignoring the fact that most of it is because people are cutting back because they can’t afford to go to the doctor anymore. Oh, and for that matter, you have managed to even get me doing it – that it, healthcare costs aren’t coming down, the growth rate is slowing down. That rate of growth is still higher than GDP and income growth, meaning, it is still unsustainable. What am I supposed to learn from someone making highly selective use of quotes, who ignores counter-evidence?

    You and steve cannot wait to mention the travesty of Bush’s budget deficits – but the comment above where you mention it is going to come down (to a level about twice Bush’s worst) is the first time I’ve seen you comment on Obama’s deficits – and typically you do it in a fawning way. What am I supposed to learn from someone who thinks everything is grand when his guy does it, and thinks when the other guy does something similar but not on as grand a scale it is the worst thing ever?

    (Another example of that: Obama has used warrantless wiretaps at a much greater rate than the Bush Administration did. When Bush did it, you accused the Republican Party of getting ready to overthrow the government and make Bush President for life. Now that Obama is doing it, and much more often, and worse besides, you don’t ever make a peep about it.)

    So what am I supposed to learn from you? To stop worrying and love Obama? To love my miserable lot in life and just accept it? To think that all transgressions by Democrats are fine and those by Republicans all deserve the death penalty? What?

  • The Age of Competence

    So why not attack the guy who supports the extended unemployment you receive?

    Clue for the clueless: I haven’t gotten unemployment benefits in years now. Another clue for the clueless: Those extensions to UEC started under the Bush Administration, by the party that you hate and loath and the man you think should be tried for war crimes. Obama did extend that program with his ARRA package, I’ll give him that, but like the stimulus itself it was something Bush had started. (Not that anyone remembers Bush’s stimulus package.) Another clue for the clueless, like the others free of charge: Those benefits have been getting whittled down the last few years. People losing their jobs now aren’t going to get as much benefits as those who lost their jobs earlier in the recession. You were to busy congratulating yourself to know about that.

  • jan

    Michael,

    The Business Insider writer is none other than Henry Blodget whom, in 2003, was charged with issuing “fraudulent research under Merrill Lynch’s name, as well as research in which he expressed views that were inconsistent with privately expressed negative views” Because of this he was:

    censured and permanently barred from the securities industry, and will make a total payment of $4 million to settle the charges against him.

    Blodget doesn’t seem like the kind of fellow I would want to hype as a legitimate source promoting Krugman’s economic competency.

    Also, while it’s great to see the deficit declining, one much also acknowledge raising taxes accounted for much of the spike in revenue — i.e. the expiration of the payroll tax cut in January 2013, and increases in tax rates on income above certain thresholds. Also the minor dip in expenditures was mainly due to changes to the estimated cost of past transactions of several credit programs like TARP, reduction in defense spending, and fewer safety net payments because of some people finally getting back into the job market. However, although this might be described as promising, it is still less than robust, especially when measuring any real growth in the economy.

    As for healthcare — assessments are varied and all over the map as to it’s cost savings and/or success. Also, setting up these exchanges, interpreting the rules and regulations has been complicated and crazy-making (except for Dr. Steve). Furthermore, there are again more issues blooming from the HHS Secretary trying to get funding from private donors for the ACA implementation, some calling her maneuvers as “illegal.” Could this yet be another scandal in the making?

  • jan

    Sorry about the link mess-up, Dave.

  • The Age of Competence

    In the end you’re just rather dense. The point is that it is easy for me. That it had nothing to do with Obama. Had nothing to do with regulation. Had nothing to do with employment costs or capital costs or any of the other numbers you and Dave and Drew worship.

    And there you go again, completely ignoring what others are talking about, and claiming that you have special knowledge.

    What you are doing doesn’t do shit for the economy in the larger sense. You make your deal and how many people get jobs? You? Big deal.

    Schuler’s made the point before, but you can’t seem to grasp it. There are a few different kinds of small businesses. There are the businesses that consist of one person, who can and do work anywhere. Maybe it’s consulting, or selling AVON, or writing books. These businesses can generate income for the one person, but that’s pretty much it. They have a nice advantage in that they typically don’t have to spend a lot on outlays for office space or factory space, don’t have employees to deal with, etc.

    Then there are people that open small businesses that maybe employ a few people, but that aren’t expecting to get any bigger. This could be a small family restaurant, or a bookshop, or a one-man auto repair shop. (Decades ago I knew of a man that all he did was refurb MGs. He was a one man shop, in a dingy part of town, and had all the work he wanted.) These folks have more employees, more shop/plant/equipment to deal with, and a helluva lot more governmental hoops to jump through. All that said, these businesses aren’t really going to help the economy in a big way, other than it at least keeps a few people employed.

    But then there are the start-ups that are looking to get bigger. Maybe they’re planning on starting with five or six employees and growing to 50 or 200, maybe it’s three guys and they’re eventually going to become Google. Regardless, these start-ups require even more upfront (usually – software companies can be a little different, and there are always exceptions) capital. The people getting involved are either looking for a investor type to front them, or more often than not they’re scrapping together everything they’ve got. They’re all-in, in poker parlance, and if they fail they’ll like as not be ruined personally. But if they succeed, they have a chance to grow into something that can employ a lot more people, can grow into a substantial business, and all that that entails.

    What that entails is total commitment, a lot of risk, and frequently they’re doing all this without a net – they fuck up, it’s likely over.

    These last ones are the hardest businesses to start and the riskiest, and the ones with the most potential to help more people by creating more commerce and more jobs. Of the ones that succeed they won’t all be Google, or Micro$oft, or Ford. A lot of the ones that will succeed will end up looking like the plumbing and HVAC company my wife worked for in Baltimore – about 200 jobs, most of them decent though not great, and something very helpful. But the guys that started that company (and those like it) weren’t rich, famous authors risking the ungodly sum of … one THOUSAND dollars! <3!…,

    What you were doing and are doing is completely pissing on the arguments of those you despise because they won't kiss Obama's half-white ass (and if Obama were all African American, like Jesse Hymie-Town Jackson, you SWPL folks would have never voted for him), so as to say, "Look what I did, it contradicts everything you say!"

    No, it doesn't. Just because you aren't getting your ass regulated to death doesn't mean anything. There are companies that are suffering from that. And no one (save maybe Steve V.) is arguing that there shouldn't be any regulation. But it doesn't have to be UNDULYonerous, and it doesn't have to be punitive. And things like ObamaCare don't have to hammer the businesses that are already in existence by forcing them to pay more for health insurance than GM will pay, because they're just not big enough to self-insure. That was a choice by the Administration and Congress to punish small businesses and reward the large companies – which incidentally pay for more lobbyists and political campaigns.

    But you say none of that can matter because it didn't matter to you. Well, hot fucking damn, since it didn't apply to a famous rich writer making a minimal investment to cash in on his famous rich writer status, it can't possibly matter to the guys that run a tool-and-die works and get the Hell regulated out of them at every level of government in every possible way!

    Drew's isn't arguing that your situation is necessarily regulated excessively – he's saying that he knows of lots of instances when it is.

    Incidentally, Drew also isn't arguing for an end to environmental regulations and demanding that he be given a bunch of niggers to use as slaves – as you have claimed on many occasions, even a week or so ago. I've been out of work over five years now, have gone from comfortable middle class to working class poor (and falling, especially if I have to get my neck operated on) and am scared shitless about what the future holds for my child. You are so goddamned rich you can make a quarter million dollars driving around in expensive rental cars looking for bikini babes to ogle. So why are you always stating that Drew wants to put the darkies in their place when he's asking for streamlined regulatory procedures? Are you just so hoped up on steroids that you can't contain yourself? That can't be it, because you were this way long before you started with the Androgel, or whatever it is. I guess you are just that goddamned mean that you feel that you have to accuse people of the worst atrocities because they disagree with you on a couple of points. (I, OTOH, now know that life holds nothing but misery for me and mine, and that people like Reynolds enjoy that. So fuck him and his with chainsaws.)

    But Drew, and Dave, and Steve V., and jan, and I argue that regulations can become burdensome. (The ObamaCare fee mentioned above goes beyond that, all the way to being punitive to small businesses, which put them at an even bigger disadvantage competing against large firms. You approve of this, apparently.) We argue for trying to simplify processes. I've heard suggestions for helping to smooth out the problems of dealing with various governmental agencies at different levels. (My wife's employer before the current one had to deal with these issues. They would often be dealing with nine or ten governmental LEVELs on single projects that weren't all that big. Saying local, state and federal misses many different layers of government that exist, such as water management districts.)

    There are technological changes that are changing employment prospects. This is actually nothing new. Maybe it is now reaching a point at which job losses just cannot be recovered. But that will make this a new epoch in human history, and that is not proven yet, despite your absolute assurances that it is so.

    (Remember when you told me Obama would have unemployment below 7.5% by March of 2010? That’s yet another example of you being wrong. And BTW, what changed between then and now that you don’t believe employment levels can be raised? Is it simply that your guy has been miserable at the job, and it can’t possibly be that Barry is failing all by hisownself, but that there must be something epochal happening now?)

    But somethings are certain: regulatory codes are much longer now than they were 50 years ago. (steve contests that there was more regulation then. Maybe more things were regulated, but if done in a simple manner it isn’t necessarily more burdensome. Saying “beer can have no more than a certain percentage of alcohol” is a lot different than making healthcare providers know all nine codes to be input for various injuries caused by turkeys.) But take a look at just the ERISA portions of the tax code now – that’s a real nightmare, and even the FSA/EAs who make their living from it don’t like it.

    There is a lot more chickenshit stuff that has to be dealt with now. Sure, everyone wants to save the bald eagle, but the rules in place for regulating building near eagle’s nests are outdated – the science is in, and the old rules suck ass, and just add to the time and expense and burden for builders, when new rules could be put in place that would NOT harm the eagles and would make builders lives a lot easier. (Long story short: Bald eagles can actually thrive nearer to human habitation than believed, when certain precautions are met. Precautions beyond that are onerous and sometimes even counter-productive. But that’s me talking a little out of school.)

    But you never allow that any of these concerns are valid, not one, because you, in your heavily regulated and policed industry of childrens book author, never have to deal with it. Not only that, you claim that everyone that doesn’t support your position is doing so either because they’re rich, or because they hate niggers and want them enslaved.

    Well, there’s nothing to be learned from you, save occasionally to sit down and expound on the many ways in which you are not only wrong, but also a horse’s ass of epic proportions. You claim you want debate, but you try to slam it down with cries of racism and greed every time someone disagrees with Obama. If I wasn’t trying to distract myself from the misery in my neck right now, I probably wouldn’t even have bothered with a comment this long. So I should thank you, I suppose, for providing a pain in the ass big enough to make me forget the pain in my neck. Thanks a lot, fuck-face.

  • The Age of Competence

    Speaking of things the Obama Administration does that won’t get any criticism form the likes of Reynolds, they’ve been going after the AP’s phone records in order to track leaks. Very Plumber-esque! Eric Holder is the gift that keeps on giving, save that if you criticize him Reynolds will say that you just hate all black people.

  • Where are the jobs? They are gone. And they are probably not coming back.

    But, but, but…I thought you said Krugman has won.

    Wasn’t it Krugman, et. al. who were predicting robust growth and jobs not that long ago?

    Quick Michael, move the goal posts! Tell us about an app or some new pants you bought!

  • TastyBits

    If a declining deficit is good, is an increasing deficit bad? Or, is it dependent upon the President’s political affiliation?

  • We are heading into a world where a declining percentage of humans is required to produce all the material needs of our civilization. It used to be the case for most of human history that 100% of the tribe was required to meet minimum survival needs.

    Karl Marx is that you!?!?!

    Michael, this idea is not new. In fact, it is pretty old. It has yet to materialize. Could be true, but based on history I’m not going to get that worked up with this scenario.

    Talk about dusting off one of the most horribly idea from the history of economic thought and thinking it makes one erudite….

  • Ben Wolf

    You’ll find more wisdom from Marx than from Schumpeter. Don’t think invoking the “soshulist” card frightens anybody; it’s not 1952.

  • Additionally, as I’ve mentioned before there’s a considerable amount of actual evidence that’s not happening and not a lot that it is. Other than the indisputable facts that there’s more and more technology about and people are unemployed.

    I’ll try to have more on this subject tomorrow.

  • If a declining deficit is good, is an increasing deficit bad? Or, is it dependent upon the President’s political affiliation?

    To most people it depends on the President’s political affiliation relative to that person’s own political affiliation.

    Typically, a deficit isn’t always bad, nor is running a surplus always good. Part of the problem though is that discretion in government policy is often problematic in that government’s have a hard time sticking to their announced plans.

    But don’t worry, Michael bought a pair of canali pants that, I’m told, hang beautifully. And he drove around Venice California in a convertible…Venice is pretty awesome. I like the boardwalk, can be quite a spectacle at times.

  • You’ll find more wisdom from Marx than from Schumpeter. Don’t think invoking the “soshulist” card frightens anybody; it’s not 1952.

    I’m not invoking the “soshulist” card since Socialism has absolutely nothing to do with the Reserve Army of Labor concept found in the writings of Karl Mars and Friedrich Engels.

    As for Marx, much of his stuff was built on the same flawed foundation in regards to the theory of value as those who preceded him including Adam Smith.

    The historical record shows that even despite accumulating more and more capital and that although we could make just as much to provide for everyone at levels equivalent to 1875 standards of living with probably just a few million workers, we haven’t even remotely approached that kind of outcome.

    It isn’t just “needs” as Michael talks about. It is wants. You can see it with some of his posts:

    -Canali pants
    -driving around in a convertible
    -hanging out in Venice.

    Does he need any of that? No. Does he want it? Yes. So, even though we have had technological advancement and if we wanted to give everybody goods and services to satisfy their needs we could, we haven’t. And we probably wont. At least not until the something like the singularity (assuming it goes well) and we end up with cornucopia machines. Then there might be an issue with supplying wants and needs with very little labor. But then who cares because at that point the notion of scarce resources wont really be binding will it.

    We are in a situation where it will take a considerable amount of time to solver our unemployment problem and government doesn’t have any better an idea than us crazy ass libertarians. Why? Because government is run by people that have very similar limitations as us crazy ass libertarians.

    So, nice try Ben, but for the love of God read some economics other than MMT stuff. Some history of thought would likely do you well.

  • TastyBits

    @Icepick

    … (and if Obama were all African American, like Jesse Hymie-Town Jackson, you SWPL folks would have never voted for him) …

    White liberals will only interact with the right kind of African-American. The President has light skin, “talks well”, etc. The whiter version of an African-American. The white half helps to make the “right kind of negro”. It contributes to his light skin.

    If he had a 70’s style afro or corn-rows, how many of them would have voted for him. John McCain would have won in a landslide.

    A man with more typical black characteristics and mannerisms will have fewer white liberal friends. To the white liberal, the black man is “the Other”. The white liberal will never live in a minority community. The white liberal will never send his children to a minority school. The white liberal will never allow minorities full access to their neighborhood.

  • michael reynolds

    Steve V:

    Does he need any of that? No. Does he want it? Yes. So, even though we have had technological advancement and if we wanted to give everybody goods and services to satisfy their needs we could, we haven’t. And we probably wont. At least not until the something like the singularity (assuming it goes well) and we end up with cornucopia machines.

    Which is why I didn’t just talk about needs, but perceived needs and wants.

    And look at the absolutist way you cast it. As though one day we’ll absolutely need full employment, then, suddenly, we’ll have a cornucopia. 100%/0%. I guess there couldn’t possibly be stages in between. Nope. Couldn’t be a stage where we only need 80% of workers to meet 100% of wants and needs and wildest desires. Couldn’t be.

    Why? Um. . . Because it wasn’t before. Because the past is such a perfect guide to the future. Because we can safely drive through life using only the rearview mirror. As the past makes perfectly clear, cholera will continue to decimate populations, man will never fly and knowledge will be passed down by word of mouth alone.

    The thing with smart prophets is that rarely do they make a falsifiable prediction, a prediction with way too much specificity. Here’s Nostradamus making the fatal error:

    L’an mil neuf cens nonante neuf sept mois,
    Du ciel viendra un gran Roy d’effrayeur.
    Resusciter le grand Roy d’Angolmois.
    Avant apres Mars regner par bon heur.

    The year 1999, seventh month,
    From the sky will come a great King of Terror.
    To bring back to life the great King of the Mongols,
    Before and after Mars to reign by good luck.

    Well, 1999 rolled around and yeah, not so much King of Terror. That’s yours and Icepick’s and Dave’s and Drew’s confident pronouncements on GM. That was your 1999, seventh month. We are five years into the GM bailout. GM is alive and well. It seems to be selling a bunch of cars into China. Does one of you want to bet a Romney ($10,000) that GM will be dead in 5 years? How about 10 years? I doubt any of you do. I don’t think GM will die until there’s a major technological shift to self-driving cars, and maybe not then.

    So you’ll forgive me if rather than accept your gloomy assessments on other matters, I look at facts — that the deficit is in fact coming down, that in fact there’s no inflation to mention, that in facthealth care costs are not rising as fast as predicted, that in factunemployment has leveled off, that in fact the Euro is still trading at 130 USD, that in factthe intellectual underpinning of austerity appears to be rather badly wounded, that in fact the stock market is at an all time high — and suspect that you boys don’t know any more than Monsieur de Notre Dame.

  • jan

    Michael,

    I don’t see how you can keep touting GM as some kind of government-induced economic feather in Obama’s cap. For one thing, the bail-out was initiated under Bush via TARP funds. Later GM was restructured and most of it was bought by the U.S. Government, hence it’s nickname ‘Government Motors.’ Shareholders, though, were selectively screwed, while Unions were pacified during this reorganization. And, though GM is still around and doing pretty well, the bottom line is that taxpayers will ultimately lose big on the GM bailout.

    Romney’s restructuring plan was actually fairer than the one worked out by the Obama Administration. But, it was negatively misrepresented as shutting down GM, and therefore has been a convenient albatross to hang around Romney’s neck forever more. In the meantime, the America taxpayer has little hope to have their investment (made by Obama) paid back in full

    Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he’d sell all the government’s shares in GM as quickly as possible — even at a steep loss — to get the feds out of the private sector.

    President Barack Obama was more circumspect, though he now seems to be following Romney’s advice. CEO Dan Akerson, meanwhile, has complained that GM’s status as a “political punching bag” hurts sales.

    But once the government sells its shares, GM will still be tainted by the fact that it failed to pay back all the taxpayer money used to save it back in 2009. GM initially got $49.5 billion from the U.S. government, and it paid back $23.1 billion of that after its stock went public in 2010. That left $26.4 billion GM still owed the government.

    GM’s shares have been trading around $25. The buyback will occur at a share price of $27.50, or a total of $5.5 billion for 200 million shares. But for taxpayers to get their money back, the government would have to sell at an average price of about $52. So by simple math, the total break-even price for those first 200 million shares would be about $10.4 billion. The $5.5 billion sale price amounts to roughly a $5 billion loss for taxpayers.

    As I recall, Ford refused government help, and has gone a lot further than GM in successfully recouping their sales, having a better product line IMO, and more good will with the public.

  • michael reynolds

    This quasi-religious faith in economics is wrong. The very notion of an “economy” is wrong. Economy as opposed to what? As differentiated from what? What part of the human experience is not “the economy?”

    You’re looking for a system that explains essentially the sum of human behavior and you won’t find it because systems do not understand themselves. The totality cannot explain the totality unless it is greater than the totality and able to stand outside itself, which is a contradiction.

    You want to believe that numbers will explain the world, but you can’t quantify luck , you can’t quantify innovation, you can’t quantify human nature, so you will not ever be able to use numbers to predict complex human behaviors. Economics to reduce “what happened” to simplistic formulae? Sure, why not? But to predict the future? You’re kidding yourselves. Life is far, far more random than you want to believe, and far more complex, and no system yet devised — or in my opinion that can ever be devised — will reliably predict events a week from today let alone a year or ten years.

    If you can’t get it right about a single car company, (or in Drew’s case a single election) then what makes you imagine that you understand what will define a future wrought by six billion people?

  • michael reynolds

    Jan:

    I don’t see how you can keep touting GM as some kind of government-induced economic feather in Obama’s cap.

    I’m not. I’m pointing out that the cognoscenti here predicted it would fail, that GM would need further bail-outs, that the government would have to double down and that even then, it would fail.

    It did not fail.

  • steve

    “We are heading into a world where a declining percentage of humans is required to produce all the material needs of our civilization. ”

    I think we are in a lull, or as Cowen claimed, as stagnation. It has happened before. In all probability those jobs lost through creative destruction will be replaced by others, in the long run. At some point that may not be true, but I would not bet on it now.

    “We are in a situation where it will take a considerable amount of time to solver our unemployment problem and government doesn’t have any better an idea than us crazy ass libertarians. ”

    Amen.

    Steve

  • jan

    It did not technically fail because it was bailed out, bought and enabled by the government who then put a life preserver on it. In the end, though, it will not carry it’s weight financially, will leave a bad taste in the mouths of people who initially risked money that was then arbitrarily used to placate the unions. I don’t think wrenching money from Peter to pay Paul is good business practices.

    A succinct summary is as follows:

    Instead, GM, with the heavy lifting done by two administrations, kicked bond investors to the curb in violation of centuries-old contract rights, ripped equity from dealers and suppliers who had already suffered years of GM’s mismanagement and transferred enormous wealth to their union partners, the very partners who had priced themselves uncompetitively.

    And, then we have the whole China affiliation, described in the article entitled Welcome to General Tso’s Motors, where it’s asserted that:

    American taxpayers may have rescued GM during its moment of need, but it is China that is disproportionately benefiting from the bailout of America’s erstwhile automotive icon.

    I’m sorry Michael, but the whole GM story is one of unfair deal-making, asset sell off, and benefiting other countries with government-invested money derived from this country. That is not a success by my measurement.

  • jan

    “We are heading into a world where a declining percentage of humans is required to produce all the material needs of our civilization. ”

    That may be a short term issue. But a more long term one is that we are having a declining population, period, around the world. This means fewer young people to support the large aging population that is racing demographically towards us. How is this lopsided ratio of workers to elders going to effect the work force, access to health care, and providing adequate services to the aged etc.?

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    The doomsayers ALWAYS turn out wrong because they refuse to acknowledge feedback loops. You were wrong 2,000 years ago. You are wrong today, and you will be wrong 2,000 years from now.

    If people have no income, they cannot purchase the goods made by robots. It is a fantasy created to make you relevant. The reality is that you are meaningless. The future will exist with or without you.

    Somehow, everything is based upon luck except the future. The future cannot be based upon luck, and therefore, you can predict it with certainty.

    Luck is another fantasy. Luck allows you to not be a bullying asshole. You claim that you got to where you are by luck. Were you walking down the street, and somebody asked if you had a manuscript to publish? Did the publisher pull names out of a hat? Or, did you do whatever it takes to get published even if you had to screw over a few people?

    The unemployed are unemployed because of bad luck. The poor are poor because of bad luck. Black folks were lynched because of bad luck. Because of bad luck, you are powerless to do anything. After the fact, you will bemoan the horrors brought about because of bad luck, and you will declare those who do not wail as loud as you are haters. Luck means you never need to do anything for anybody, except wail.

    If you really believed your doomsday crap, you would be stocking up on guns and ammo, or in your fantasy, are the poor unemployed people sitting around dying? I would think the have-nots would take from the haves. Of course, this may explain your problem with poor folks owning guns.

  • michael reynolds

    Tasty:

    What makes you think I see it as Doomsday? It’s just different. We’ll need to adjust. But it may be liberation, not doomsday.

    As for luck, dude, tell me exactly what I did — the actions that I took — that gave me talent. Because I don’t seem to recall them. I was dealt talent in DNA. Then I accidentally ran into the woman who would be my wife. And yes, then, I worked hard. But everyone works hard. Everyone making not enough to live on at Wal-Mart works hard. I know: I used to be that person. The difference was luck. I realize that causes severe discomfort to people raised from birth to the protestant work ethic and associated philosophical underpinnings, but it’s the truth.

  • Michael Reynolds

    Jan:

    As usual you miss the point. Not talking about the wisdom of the GM bail-out, we are talking about the inaccuracy of predictions about its efficacy.

  • Michael Reynolds

    Apropos of my own prediction that generations coming up will care less about stuff and be less consumption-oriented: fewer millennials are bothering to get licenses. And the trend began before the recession. Fewer licenses, fewer cars. That’s a change in mindset. You’ll see the same with housing and apparel. They just don’t see the world in terms of “whoever dies with the most toys, wins.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/us/report-finds-americans-are-driving-less-led-by-youth.html?hp&_r=0

  • Once again, be careful of claiming victory too soon. GM light vehicle sales have yet to recover to what they were in 2008, let alone 2005. The number of employees at GM and even more so its dealers has declined and, increasingly, GM is becoming a conduit for importing Chinese cars into the U. S. Burning the village in order to save it, anybody?

    What I think we’ve learned is that massive subsidies can keep a car company alive but they can’t make it thrive. I continue to wonder if there’s actually a niche for GM. I think it’s already clear that it won’t be selling electric vehicles. Selling mediocre midrange cars?

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    For the hordes of jobless argument, you are subtly changing your position. You have not gotten to a doomsday scenario, but honestly, your histrionics are tiresome. Unless the feedback loop or options are cut or stoppered, things change to accommodate survival, and this includes employment and the economy.

    I do not believe in luck. If you know all the inputs, you can predict the outcome, but I will limit this to the physical world – coin tosses, car wrecks, dice rolls, etc. For everything else there are random events that are neither good nor bad. This may seem to be a semantic difference, and to a degree, it is. The difference is that random events require additional deliberate actions to be judged either good or bad.

    I will grant your DNA was luck, but everything else was a random event that you capitalized. Your creative talent has a vast number of applications besides books. Movies, newspapers, and magazines are some of the apparent ones, but advertising, video games, theme parks, and stage shows use some form of a fictional story. There are many women you could have met.

    In addition, the circumstances that you met her were likely not random. Shopping at Whole Foods, hanging out in books stores, managing an upscale or trendy restaurant, or anywhere publishing people congregate would make a meeting more likely. (These are only examples.)

    Either, you altered your personality for her, or she was enamored by your normal demeanor. I suspect the former, but either way the encounter resulted in a non-random outcome. You may not be aware that you are “working hard” to achieve a certain outcome, but you are. Because “working hard” is a value judgement, intervening would be more correct word.

    I equate luck with divine intervention. Your encounter with your wife was only lucky if God was involved. I doubt you would agree with this. Knitting a series of random events together to form a narrative is close determinative fate. Luck implies that the outcomes were not random. If the events were re-run with different inputs, luck would cause the same outcome to occur. This is the basis for Intelligent Design, but God is the determining factor instead of luck.

    I do not use theology as a basis for my philosophical underpinnings. I am a former rabid atheist, and many of my philosophical concepts were created during that time. This was long before atheism was cool. Every concept had to have a consistent, sound metaphysical and epidemiological base. Few of today’s atheists can reason from the ground up. Unless I am specifically discussing theology, you will never find my arguments based upon Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Taoist, or Zoroastrianist work ethics.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    Many of the Republican predictions do not occur, and this is because they fail to take into account feedback loops. They also overly simplify things by leaving major factors out or by not understanding how the whole works.

    The Democrats are predicting that the PPACA will bring lollipops and sunshine. (I understand you have not.) They predicted the stimulus would result in a pink pony in every backyard.

    President Obama has not caused the destruction of the US, but he has not turned the US into a paradise.

    I would suggest caution with the linked article. Parents are not letting teens get their license as soon as they are legal. Many teenagers do not have the freedom of previous generations. The unemployed youth do not have the money to buy stuff, and they probably do not have the room for a lot of stuff.

    The youth driver decline is based upon the number of licenses per age. In many places, the driving age has shifted upward, but from what I can tell, this is not considered by the linked study in the article. A better measure would be percentage based upon legal driving age, but this is probably too simplistic.

    There are very few humans that do not want more than their basic needs. This probably is true for all animals. Lions only hunt what they can eat because they do not know how to operate a freezer. It is possible that today’s youth will begin saving for their retirement, but I doubt it.

  • And look at the absolutist way you cast it. As though one day we’ll absolutely need full employment, then, suddenly, we’ll have a cornucopia.

    No I did not. A careful reading would indicate that is a possibility and until that happens we likely wont see major changes in our economy in regards to labor demands. We could, I just don’t think it is likely.

    I guess there couldn’t possibly be stages in between.

    Do you even know what the singularity is? And it is possible that the singularity is a harmful event to humans.

    TL;DR: Michael your ignorance is showing.

    Why? Um. . . Because it wasn’t before.

    Yeah, the past is often a good predictor of the future. Especially for issues like this. Can the past tell us what the unemployment rate will be with a high degree of accuracy? No, probably not, at least not too far in the future. But in looking at history, we can get an idea of how likely changes you are postulating are. Based on history, our views should be that it is a low probability event. That is it is not likely to happen. I could, but probably wont.

    So you are continuing to mis-characterize my post and displaying your lack of ability to reason probabilistically. Let me guess, you suck at gambling, don’t you?

    Well, 1999 rolled around and yeah, not so much King of Terror. That’s yours and Icepick’s and Dave’s and Drew’s confident pronouncements on GM. That was your 1999, seventh month.

    WTFAYTA?

    We are five years into the GM bailout. GM is alive and well. It seems to be selling a bunch of cars into China. Does one of you want to bet a Romney ($10,000) that GM will be dead in 5 years? How about 10 years?

    Of course not, they’ll just be bailed out again. I don’t think I ever predicted that GM would be dead. Feel free to go back through previous posts and show me as being a liar.

    So you’ll forgive me if rather than accept your gloomy assessments on other matters, I look at facts….

    Facts? That is a laugh. You are an ignorant boob when it comes to understanding economic behavior. Being good at business, no offense to Drew, does not make one good at understanding economic behaviors. The fact that you can some how manage to take some intellectual property you’ve got and re-work it to make a nice fat profit does not make your nonsensical mutterings on employment worthwhile.

    You have, in fact, dressed up the Marx/Engle hypothesis of the Reserve Army of Labor. It was false then, it is false now, and is unlikely to ever come about. I suppose it could, but based on the theory, we have accumulated several orders of magnitude more capital and Marx ever envisioned and we should have seen it by now.

    Oh, and those “smart prophets” that never make a prediction that is verifiable…they are also known as conmen.

    Congratulations Michael, you are a conman.

    As for luck, dude, tell me exactly what I did — the actions that I took — that gave me talent.

    The action that you took is that you used your talent(s). My son is a good swimmer. Is it luck? Yeah, in part. He has the right build for it, longer torso, shorter legs (than average for a boy his age) and he has good sized hands and feet (he isn’t particularly tall though, but not that big a deal since he is more of a distance swimmer). So yeah, biologically speaking he was “lucky”.

    But to say it is all luck is stupid fucking shit and whomever is saying should be slapped repeatedly. The other thing that make my son a good swimmer are, good technique. There are three things that make a good swimmer: technique, technique, technique. So he spends hours every week working on his technique. During the summer he’ll spend around 9 hours in the pool alone. He’ll also spend probably another 2 hours on dry land training (lots or core strength work). And here you’ll see another thing that makes a good swimmer: dedication. Without that nobody will be able to put in that kind of time.

    See Michael, you are a dumb fuck who is making some sort of half-assed case that you’ve had an awesome life handed to you on a silver platter. And then you are generalizing from there that others who have been successful have also had the silver platter treatment. But it is bullshit. Why? Well lets go back to my son. He has a good shot at making a Jr. National time. What does that mean? Money. Money for a college scholarship. Did he get it because of the physical features he was born with? Yeah, in part, but the bigger part is that since the age of 6 he has been busting his ass in competitive swimming. Granted it helps that he likes it, has made great friends through swimming, and the coaches/teams he’s been affiliated with have been pretty damned good. And I’ll even credit myself and my wife a tiny bit (we schlep him off to practice, meets, volunteer, etc.). But the vast majority of his success is his own…because even when he is tired, or doesn’t want to…he goes to practice and works hard.

    So excuse me Michael.

    Get over yourself. And go fuck yourself.

  • Correction: That is he’ll spend at least 9 hours in the pool/week during the summer. Usually more since he’ll go to both morning practice and evening practices. Typically, I’d say he’ll spend 14 – 15 hours in the pool/week.

  • The Age of Competence

    So you’ll forgive me if rather than accept your gloomy assessments on other matters, I look at facts

    You sniveling little shit, you can’t have it both ways. You are saying those of us out of work are fucked while telling other people that we’re the gloomy ones? You also make a point of taking credit a little latter in the same ramble for the employment market being so good! Which is it, are you telling us the employment situation is GREAT or that it is TERRIBLE, and consequently are you being a prophet of doom or a prophet of hope?

    And I’ll note that the deficit is also coming down because taxes were raised on the working poor and the middle class (funny how I’m always a rich person when you Dems want to up taxes, no matter my standing in life) and that Obama had the bright idea of a sequester, which will soon start cutting into people’s unemployment benefits.

    Or is this just another place where you want to take credit both ways?

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