I don’t know if any of you feel the same way, but I find that observing our political and economic system the past few years has pushed me much farther to the left than I ever was before. I used to say stuff along the lines of “3.9% unemployment bitches” to my social democrat friends when they criticized Clintons for being a good Republican. I really believed that Bob Rubin had some neoliberal magic that kept the economy humming during the Clinton years. Now I think a lot of it was luck.
I used to see things like gentrification as win-win for everybody. Now I feel that pricing non-wealthy people out of their towns and neighborhoods has a a real cost.
I was a strong supporter of TARP at the time. I thought the economy would collapse without it and the government should more or less do whatever Paulson said. I still think something along the lines of TARP may have been necessary but that, at some level, the AIG bail-out was close to outright theft from the tax payers.
I used to even think that “civil discourse” with “reasonable conservatives” would be a good thing, that we’re all well-meaning people and all that bullshit.
The breaking point for me is all the going Galt stuff. It used to be there was an idea that if less wealthy people were shat on too much, that would lead to unrest and the collapse of some crucial part of our society. Now, we are told over and over again that we need to keep the successful happy so that they keep blessing us with their productivity.
I’m not big on wanking about my political philosophy. I mean, who cares? But I wonder if many of you have gone through a similar transformation over the past couple years or if you all were hip to the ways of the world much earlier than I was.
Update. To be clear, I don’t mean the Bush years pushed me more to the left. They didn’t. Quite the opposite, they made me more and more of a member of the cult of competence. The last 20 months have made me realize that’s not enough, or, maybe more accurately, that’s a mirage.
Actually I would say I’m a bit more to the right than I was 6 years ago.
I’ve totally become a Marxist, to my chagrin. I cringe when I see the willing inequities these Republican voters foist upon themselves. I want to shake them and say “Stand up for yourself, stand with your Brothers and Sisters working together for common cause!”
But that’s not appropriate speech in polite company these days, if ever.
I thought of myself as a moderate before I started paying attention. Then, the Republicans went batshit in the 90s and impeached Clinton; the more I learned about people who called themselves ‘conservative’ the more I realized I had nothing in common with them, philosophy-wise.
Actually, I am no more liberal than I ever was;I am just far more committed and a lot more vocal. I’ve changed because the right wing has just gone so extreme and I see them as a real danger to the democracy.
Interestingly, the argument coming at me from my relatives now is that the Founding Fathers never intended to create a real democracy as such democracies tend to implode after a century or two. So, the Founding Fathers had no faith in the judgement of the common man;they wanted a Republic where everyone didn’t vote, yada, yada. Try googling that. I can always tell with a couple of my close relatives what ideas are being pushed on the right.
So in the face of what’s happening as a result of Citizens-United, the right’s line of reasoning to support all that money polluting the political process is that “the Founding Fathers wanted it that way. It has taken the last 4 to 6 years, but I can now pick up on their lines of reasoning, before they even realize what propaganda they’ve swallowed. In fact they don’t ever realize that they’ve been had.
More than anything else, I have come to revile Republicans. I almost think I hate them as much as they hate Democrats.
I was a moderate conservative until Bush lied about our reasons for Iraq; how the asshole never found it in him to just admit a mistake drove me nuts. After that, it was clear that everything they said were lies. Basically, the GOP left me, with tires squealing.
Yeah, I probably would have voted for Nader in 2000 if I had believed that voting would change anything. Now I’d go back in time and pound the pavement for Gore and (ugh) Lieberman if I could. In that way I’m further to the right.
On the other hand, I also used to think libertarians were not completely insane, and that desirable social and environmental outcomes could be achieved without the use of state power. As they don’t say, a social democrat is an anarchist who’s been mugged by reality.
The older I get, the lefter I move.
No, you’re exactly right. I was sort of a wishy-washy liberal in the late 90’s, but the greed and worship of the wealthy has pushed me into socialist/communist territory. The pendulum of free-market capitalism vs. the common good has swung way to the right. Golden-parachute capitalism and Ayn Rand/Milton Friedman/Supply-side economics bullshit has made a mockery of our democracy.
Citizens United will be seen as the crossing of the Rubicon and the death of our Republic.
Bush pushed me to identify decidedly as being on the left, after having been a Democrat of ambivalent allegiance for many years.
The essential question that came to the fore during the Bush years was, “Which side are you on?” That is still the relevant question. And so I am still very much on the left.
I should add: As a pragmatist, I believe that politics is supposed to be about getting things done, not about individual self-expression or moral purity. Ergo, I’ve chosen my side, and am going to try to make sure it’s as effective as it can be. That means being not just a liberal, but a Democrat (rather than a Green, which would be, IMO, pure wankery of no productive value).
Went from being an anti-war libertarian type to a pretty much straight up sockalist at this point. Hey, I’m finally embracing my inner hippie. Also, off with their heads, bitches (in a totally non-violent way, of course).
I agree with this general sentiment: We are in a war – a war of ideas, for now, one in which we’ve been getting our ass kicked on the battlefield, yet a war we are still likely to win. As long as a real honest to goodness Dictatorship of the Teatards doesnt’ take over. Then we’re all DOOMED. We’ll know Peak Wingnut then, fershure.
The problem is, John links to FDL and I see where the “Left” is and I don’t want any part of that. I sort of see where you’re going but at the same time, Clinton was lucky and good. TARP was a shit sandwich, because sometimes you have to eat a shit sandwich.
But I’m totally with you on the freak out by the plutocrats. But that’s less being a “Leftist” and more being a left-populist.
Mary “Yellin” Lease would be proud.
I was reflecting earlier tonight about exactly what I enjoy most about the blogs I read (this one and Sully’s). It occurred to me that both Cole and Sully were originally fairly hardcore conservatives who had the insight and self-awareness that when the shit got so crazy as to hit the last straw (torture for Sully, Shiavo for John), they both had the balls to say “Fuck this. It ain’t what I signed up for. I’m out”.
I can’t express any appreciation for my own misgivings (read: fury) over those events – nor the current crop of financial fraud coming to light. I don’t want to say “told you so”. I don’t feel good about pointing out that every time this country has ever gone to war in it’s FUCKING HISTORY we’ve raised taxes to pay for it, but in the last decade we started two wars, instituted a huge new entitlement, and CUT taxes. I’m not soothed by the hypocrisy of those selfsame jackals now whining about deficits.
But I am encouraged to see people like you, Doug, change your mind.
I don’t feel vindicated. But I do feel like the good guys are fortified when others see what we’ve been seeing.
All I know is that when someone accuses me of “class warfare” because I think we need to care about the poor and working class in this country and because I could give a shit about the top 5% and their feelings I want to punch them in the neck.
I’m more liberal then I was 5 years ago….
I’ve vacillated over the years, but I’m as left as I’ve ever been these days. Can’t deal with the crazy and stupid and proud.
I was slowly drifting left for years as part of growing the fuck up. My big tipping point was torture. Once you make that big adjustment, moving to the other side is pretty easy and you end up re-examining a lot of things. For instance, single-payer health insurance- if you really look at the issue objectively, it’s the only thing that delivers the most care in the most efficient way.
The real magic of wingnut thought is the fact that it rewards the believer if they DO NOT do that kind of close examination, that is, until they drive themselves right up on the rocks. Even then, I suppose, they can always blame some dark skinned person for their problems.
DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.
I agree with this.
I hear what you’re saying, but my problem is I don’t know what the left has to offer. What I mean is, plutocrats have their ideal — all the money for me, me, me. But there’s no actual counterargument to that, just a kind of “excuse me, but” mild objection. Leftists way back when used to have this vision of communism or socialism, but nobody here really believes in that stuff anymore, not least because communism turned out to be, well, communism. But now we’re all about “capitalism, just not quite so bad on the little guy.”
I have a lot of violent fantasies about kicking rich people in the face these days, I’ll cop to that. If only to show them that anarchy would hurt them, too; that all this government that they bitch and moan about is first and foremost dedicated to protecting their interests and enforcing their will. I’d like to kick some faces to get that point across. But as a serious political vision of a better society — I have nothing, and I see nothing from the left or its representatives. I mean, I guess there’s Sweden. What’s that, merito-technocracy? Kingdom of the Ice People? I’d like to live in Sweden, though I doubt they’d have half a fucking clue how to navigate a society as diverse as ours. Not that we know much better.
Of course, maybe I’m missing the vision of a better tomorrow that the left is out there promising. I am not the most observant fellow. But I haven’t observed it.
Michele Bachmann is making eyes at me from one of your ads here. It’s turning me on.
@Redshirt: I’ve been thinking about that, too. A teabagger coup (or, hopefully, attempted coup) would have to be Peak Wingnut. The last Peak Wingnut occurred, I imagine, in 1861 or so.
The last few years I have come to realize that we don’t even have a capitalist system anymore. Ayn Rand’s dream has been realized and we have a Plutocracy which isn’t all that different than the system of the old Soviet Union which did not even resemble Marxism.
But to answer your question – yes. I have moved to the left. I moved to the left of Clinton, Obama and most of the Democratic party.
I was always something of a liberal, but impeachment and the Florida recount commenced my personal journey further and further left. With just a few exceptions (I can count them on one hand), I really can’t tolerate centrists and conservatives (and loathe the coddling they receive from the Village).
I’m really a little left of moderate, and I can’t say my views have changed. But the political landscape around me has changed. I wouldn’t even CONSIDER voting Republican, period end of discussion, rather than feeling that the Democrats held much closer to my positions.
So I’m not really any different than I was on issues. I thought TARP was absolutely necessary, and that Bush made it a giveaway to his rich buddies and at least we got the money back after they used it to make more money rather than fixing the problem. And I still think that.
And so on, and so on.
But the Republicans have gone BUGFUCK.
EDIT – They’ve been going bugfuck, of course. It’s a process. And they went past the point of no return, uh… around the beginning of the Iraq war! Before then I viewed Bush as an aberration, but he remade the party in his own image.
I first started paying attention to politics during the Watergate hearings, and went to college during the Reagan era, when the right-wing assholes were first running rampant, so there was never any possibility of my having any sympathy with the conservative side, so I’ve always been a proud liberal. My politics have certainly not remained stable since then, but I don’t know that there’s been a definite trend.
In all honesty, I suspect some of the shifts have been because I had politicians or writers who I admired, and I tended to find justification for agreeing with them, but those were just minor shifts, not major swings.
The leads to unrest idea is still true, & the Galtian supermen are essentially cutting off their noses to spite their faces w/ their “be nice to us” crap.
Closing the damn stock market & returning profits to the people who work, as opposed to management parasites & stockowners who do nothing but sit in their corner offices & harass their flunkies all day would be a start.
I’ve known this to be the way to go at least since I started wage-slaving for a living, lo those many yrs. ago.
I’d say that the biggest surprise of the decade was the rich finding out that they could push the middle class into collapse without it leading to unrest. Everyone is too frantic trying to keep their heads above water.
The rich have also found out how handsomly that buying all the media has paid off.
I’ve always been in the ‘eat the rich’ camp, but it’s gone from being just a rally cry to being dead serious. I’m splashing around as hard as anyone else and realizing that the bottom is very very far below.
I’m also an Obot now. For all his faults, we may not have a better lifeline. I don’t trust the congress, the courts or the ‘conventional wisdom’ to not steal every last thing I have.
No doubt someone will be along in a few minutes to tell me that I’m a fool to have even that much faith…
I’ve turned into a complete and utter socialist and I’m not sorry. The priorities we have this fucking country are so ass backwards, I almost route for revolution.
Tonight, all my Yankee fan friends are whining and complaining and moaning and groaning, but they’ll still go into debt to go see them next year and will
But this past Tuesday I stood in a parking lot in Queens where 2,000 people lined up to get food from three Feed The Children trucks because they’ve gone hungry. They live in poverty. No one sheds a tear for them. Half of us just dismiss them.
But A-Rod should definitely be making $27.5 million dollars a year to not hit a ball more than half the time he’s at bat.
I know my beliefs will never materialize into anything, at least not now, and we’ll continue down this path of fascism where half the country is dismissed and forgotten because fate didn’t treat them nicely, but I’ll be damned if i’m not going to make my minority views known.
Well said, Doug J.
Well, when I was in high school (not so long ago), I had a spell of enthusiasm for Unity ’08. For whatever reason. I’m pretty far beyond “bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship” by now, and I think BJ was partly responsible for the realization that all of that is just rubbish and David Broder whispering sweet nothings to his “little friend”. Thanks a bunch, Cole. (And I mean that in the best way possible.)
I’ve always been liberal/progressive, except I had a couple of months when I was 15-16ish when I thought libertarianism sounded like a good idea. I was drawn to it because of civil liberties issues, but as I learned more and more about it as an actual governing philosophy, I realized libertarianism is fucking stupid. FWIW, I wish the Dems would take a stronger stance on civil liberties and social justice than they do, and they’re certainly not everything I want them to be, but at least they can govern their way out of a paper bag. I used to not really *think* of myself as a liberal, I thought of myself as a common-sense-ical. Now I realize that that means I’m a liberal.
The only real evolution in my thinking is that I honestly used to think that both members of both parties disagreed on tactics, but not on the fundamental need for government to take some sort of role in problem-solving. Now I realize how naive that idea is, though I don’t remember this sort of extreme climate when I was younger. So I’ve certainly become more partisan in recent years, but my essential political values are the same.
Neo was never a liberal.
J. Michael Neal
1) I am significantly farther to the left than I was six years ago;
2) I am still a neoliberal.
Largely, I think a lot of people have lost sight of what neoliberalism was and is. Really, it’s just a belief that markets are very powerful things, and they should be harnessed to liberal ends. In a lot of ways, that’s it. It was a reaction to the liberal politics of the 1970s (and into the 1980s) that focused on accomplishing ends through outright, market limiting regulation.
The mistake a lot of us made was not appreciating what was necessary to constitute a properly functioning market. Given the world that existed in 1998, the coming crisis wasn’t so obvious. Freeing up derivatives really was the solution to a number of apparent problems.
The big thing that no one anticipated was that a country could complete break the international currency markets. If you had asked then, we would have told you no one would be insane enough to do what China has done over the last decade. Frankly, I still have trouble believing it, and I think it’s going to hurt them in a big way in the medium term future.
Without that ridiculous pile of capital, in US dollars, the housing bubble wouldn’t have ignited. All of the flaws in the financial markets would still have been there, and we would still have been wrong, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as painful.
So, I’ve moved left. Developing properly functioning markets in the financial industry requires a lot more regulation than most other industries. I still think that a lot of the complaining about the specific deregulating in the late 1990s is misplaced; until someone can explain the fact that the critical problems came in companies with no commercial banking operations, I’m not buying that repeal of Glass-Steagel had much to do with it. There was a bunch of stuff in the Commodities Futures Modernization Act that caused serious problems, but that’s not what a lot of people focus on, because that was stuff that the neoliberals didn’t push. That was Phil Gramm, not Robert Rubin.
As I’ve said before, people need to pay more attention to the history of the relationship between Robert Reich and Robert Rubin. Everyone remembers how much they disagreed during the early portion of the Clinton administration. A lot of those people don’t realize that they spent the years from 1998-2006 moving much closer to each other, meeting roughly halfway between their original positions. It really isn’t as cut and dried as folks want to remember.
I haven’t politically moved very far from either of my grandfathers. The “radical” one helped organize cooperatives including one most folks have heard of–Land o’Lakes. He was also a big supporter of the Farmer-Labor Party. The conservative one was the Alf Landon Republican who believed that wars were acts of pure evil and USA should keep out of Europe’s conflicts.
Being a New Deal, Keynesian, mixed economy Democrat was pretty mainstream when I was in college 1967-74. Now such ideas put me so far to the left of a corporate toady like Obama, I can barely communicate with “liberals” without shouting.
At 61, I am quite comfortable with the many details of the midwest progressive movements that ultimately shaped my political philosophy. These ideas are still relevant. These ideas still bring prosperity. I may have not moved politically very far in life–but my position on the USA political spectrum has changed a LOT.
I’ve been far-left for a long time, but until the Iraq war, I believed that it was important to have a civil discourse with reasonable conservatives (and reasonable liberals – don’t forget Madeleine Albright’s horrific comment about the 500,000 Iraqi children that died from the sanctions).
However, when I began reading Eschaton, Atrios pointed out (if memory serves) that some people are dishonest and will ignore or simply make up facts. Instead of wasting time arguing with them, the only effective strategy is to ridicule and mock them. It shone a bright light on all the time I had wasted with long, pointless arguments with conservatives.
“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered…I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. . . I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations”
Yeah, I was always pretty liberal on social issues and somewhat moderate on fiscal issues, but I cannot stand the current crop of Republicans. I think back to when Richard Lugar of Indiana was at least trying to counter Jesse Helms on sanctions against the apartheid regime, but now Lugar votes in lockstep with the rest of his party. I am now fortunate enough to be in the top 2% of earners, but when I was a kid my parents were occasionally unemployed so we often did not have health insurance, I am sickened when people who have always been rich decry health care reform. I love the term Galtian masters since I work with several of them and can vouch for the fact that few of them have any clue how a large portion of our fellow citizens live. And paying another 3 or 4% in income tax? Sure, I’d rather not, but I can honestly say that you don’t really notice it. I paid for college with social security death benefits as my dad died when I was in high school and at that time college students still received this benefit past age 18, but Saint Ronnie got rid of it. Fortunately I paid only half price in state tuition to Purdue as my mother worked as a secretary in a dorm so I could still afford to go to college after this was cut. Medical school was also in state. Those are the types of things that need to be done to help people get ahead.
After they impeached Clinton, I vowed to never vote for a Republican again. And I can say with confidence that I never will.
Before that I sometimes split a ticket, but I came to realize that the so-called reasonable moderate Republican I voted for locally was part of their farm team bench. You’d see them crawl up from councilman to state house rep, to state house senate, and then onto Congress, where they lost any semblance of ‘reasonableness’ they might have ever had.
The single greatest predictor of how they will vote is their party affiliation. And how Goopers vote is almost always wrong, imo. So why add to their power when their leadership and great portion of their electorate is insane?
It makes me angry that they made voting for me a mindless chore of filling in every D on the ballot, but that was their choice when they went full crazy.
I honestly used to think that members of both parties disagreed on tactics, but not on the fundamental need for government to take some sort of role in problem-solving.
The problems that the parties want to solve are not the same. The Republicans want to solve the “problem” of rich people not getting richer fast enough. Socialize risk, & privatize profit, as the saying goes.
Or they can’t even see a problem:
DougJ, does this mean you’re going over to the dark side….the dreaded Democratic Socialists of America?
@suzanne: though I don’t remember this sort of extreme climate when I was younger…
From a pretty early age, the mystery to me was why ordinary non-rich people dug the GOP so much. What’s in it for them, what’s the appeal? In the Reagan years I think the appeal was siding with the winners, the ones who projected bullish strength. After wimpy Carter’s unwelcome honesty. I could also sort of understand the backlash to the excesses of the counterculture. It scared the hell out of me when I was 12, the year Reagan took office.
I disliked “hippies”, was scared of drugs, I disliked the weird malevolence of rock hedonism and disco decadence served up to people my age culturally. I can see in retrospect that part of it.
But economically, from my first understandings, the Republicans offered nothing to some one like me. They offered a glossy image of aspiration instead, that someday you too could be rich like them, and by the way unions are sheer evil. Just give the rich what they want, and it will help you too.
Hugely simplifying there. A lot of factors. Reaganism was very seductive I suppose in its day, not to me but to many people obviously. It didn’t trouble me so much as a young person because I had faith that the system was fair, there wasn’t that much distance between the parties. Never could have imagined the destructiveness we see now on the Republican right, 30 years later. Never imagined it could get so bad, that they would become insane kamikazes to get their way. They’ve succeeded in destroying the US middle and working classes, and they are ravenous for more.
Never thought I’d see the day. Used to be I thought you couldn’t say, lie on television without blowback and penalties. Your credibility destroyed. Seems like all we have now is people lying on television, nonstop, and no one ever gets called out or disgraced for it.
Wasn’t ever a Republican, but never thought they’d sink so low. There are no grown-ups anymore, the wicked aren’t punished, it’s okay to lie forever. Dispiriting.
J. Michael Neal
@Ned Ludd: I think a civil conversation is still important. A shouting match necessarily works to our disadvantage. Reasonableness isn’t so much important as it is absolutely necessary. I can’t think of a country that made a significant lurch to the left that didn’t end in disaster in any other environment.
The unfortunate part is that it only takes one side to destroy any atmosphere of rationality. That leaves us in a very unfortunate position. That doesn’t change the fact that it means that we’re screwed until the right finds its brain.
As I said a couple of days ago, these labels are uninformative and have passed their sell-by date. Tell me what you believe, not what you say to your mirror to make yourself feel good.
The fundamental structural problem in our politics these days can be directly traced back to the first round of the abortion wars. Pro-life zealots, including many of my fellow Catholics, framed that issue in terms such that being pro-life was seen as condoning and contributing to sin. Once the other side is viewed as sinful, as doing Satan’s work, compromise becomes unthinkable. And the rot spread swiftly from there.
There is no longer any meaningful dialogue in our political system. Both sides talk past each other. When one side equates bipartisanship with date rape, it’s all over.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Megadittos to that. :)
I used to be a firm Democrat and drifted slightly to the right in the 90’s. I drifted leftward as the 2K’s progressed and am now more to the left than I have ever been. I hate to say it but I can thank the republicans for the change in attitude. Probably just about the only thing I can thank them for too.
If they keep it up at the pace they have going now, I’m going to be a communist in another year or two.
Davis X. Machina
Competence is its own ideology in these times, when one of the major political parties in the US views providing a police escort for their getaway car as the only legitimate function of the state…
I’ve been on the same trip as DougJ. I used to be a Krugmanite. Now I’m to the left of Brad DeLong. That all happened since 2007.
The thing that really shook me out of my neoliberal stupor was reading Jamie Galbraith’s “The Predator State.” Galbraith scrambles a lot of the neoliberal gospel (for example, he shows how comparative advantage is hogwash). Now all I care about is full employment full employment full employment. Any economist who doesn’t care about full employment isn’t trying hard enough.
That is as complete, and as bizarre, a perversion of Christ’s teachings as almost any put forward by so-called Christians.
It is literally impossible to be a true Christian and not be an environmentalist.
We are called to be responsible stewards of God’s Creation. We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow if from our descendants. And at least since 1859, and perhaps before, we have surely done a piss-poor job of stewardship.
@J. Michael Neal:
Given the world that existed in 1998, the coming crisis wasn’t so obvious.
St. Nick on a stick, three pages of any history book not endorsed by Glenn Beck would point out that crapitalism is nothing but a series of booms, busts, irrational exuberance, psychological flim-flams & so on.
Did you really think that housing prices would continue to increase to infinity so we could all live on the equity we took the second mortgage on?
Rightwing needledick with a subscription to National Review and Reason until the Iraq War. I would say I’ve moved a lot more left the last two years. The financial collapse has made me very suspicious of neoliberal economic policy. The HCR debate has convinced me that this country needs single payer or it will be a second class power within my lifetime.
The Moar You Know
So did I. It’s not true. There’s a great number of people, probably a majority in this country, who would let someone die in a ditch if they were one of the “unworthy” groups:
The untermenchen. You get the idea. We have become a nation of heartless sons-of-bitches. No wonder Hunter Thompson blew his head off. He just figured it out sooner than the rest of us. Hell, most of us still haven’t. But we’ve become a nation whose iconic symbol is a brand-new luxury car, with tinted windows so the driver doesn’t have to look at the human filth they’re driving past, blowing by some poor sod trudging to his/her hovel (or more likely, second job) after a grueling day at the Wal-Mart or equivalent.
And it shows no sign of getting better. We’re meaner, greedier and hate the less fortunate more than ever.
Yeah, I’ve turned pretty much just plain socialist the last couple years. If what we have now is the triumph of capitalism, screw it.
Welcome to my dark world.
@Oscar Leroy: Site? I want to forward that to some folks.
Even if this was true, utilize does not mean destroy. When farmers plant crops, they don’t only do it once, they take precautions and steps to use the land AGAIN
Being a Marxist is okay these days, actually, as long as you reverse it so that you see the capitalist class as the oppressed class which needs to rise up and overthrow its working class masters.
Davis X. Machina
@The Moar You KnowIf you want a vision of the future, imagine an Ugg boot, stamping on a human face, forever. (Maybe I spend too much time with teenagers….)
The 2008 election drove me to anarchism.
I would agree with your sentiments, even though my experience is different.
I’ve always been an old school, bleeding heart liberal in the tradition of such creatures in my part of the world and my background. I may have matured and become more pragmatic as I age but my goals have never changed. The first political figures of whom I was aware were Kennedys, a Johnson, a King. Unions were a positive good, period. FDR was always the example. In fifth grade in 1968, I ran as Nixon in the elementary school election because I wanted to understand the enemy. My first GOTV was for Carter in 1976 and my first vote for president was for him in 1980. I haven’t missed so much as a midterm since as a volunteer or a primary as a voter. I maintain that I have not significantly changed.
What has changed is the people and the country. People weren’t this willfully stupid in 1975 or 1979. Or if they were, no one listened to them, not even Republicans. Our institutions weren’t nearly as dysfunctional, even after the national trauma of Watergate. Look at the congressional records back then and you’ll see regular cooperation and true concern for the country expressed on both sides of the aisle, even if I still felt Dems were almost always doing what was the peoples work and GOPers not so much.
The country is broken. Too many of the people, mostly right but some lefties too, have lost their minds and can do nothing but lash out in fear and anger. Our institutions, public and private, do not function. Our economy is tsunami after tsunami, smashing all in its path but the most privileged who have all the higher ground. And I blame myself, I blame us. We have not stood up. We have no concept of fraternite, let us say. We are not brave and we won’t take the risks that must be taken to change things, to fix things. And I’m of an age when I understand why that is. We can’t fight irrational fear and anger. We are tired and we have families and jobs and mortgages (maybe).
But I’m still out there doing GOTV and I’ll be one of the first at my polling place on 11/2. It’s the least I can do. Literally.
I’m probably about as progressive as I’ve always been, but now that we’ve have 30 years of right-leaning policy in this country, I’m a heck of a lot more confident about being
@SiubhanDuinne: That’s true for me, as well. Transitioning has taught me a metric buttload about power and privilege, too. Last political test thingy I took put me about with Sweden on the grid of left/right authority/anarchy.
I am in Hawaii now at a CA lawyer conference. Being smacked in the face by the older OC people was a real interesting experience. They worship power & status, & the last thing they’re interested in is thinking about how it affects the rest of the country. Well, they are in a way. One of the guys had read Robert Reich’s latest book just to laugh at it.
While I don’t think much of Reich (sorry, I guess), they were still thrusting tax cuts & the W. agenda to the hilt. They have learned nothing & are interested in learning nothing.
It’s somewhat amazing, because they’re not stupid people. It’s more a case of self-justification. It’s a fascinating case study, but… They’re marching to the polls. Are you?
Look: I live in SF. I’m sick of the left. They worship apologies for bad decisions. Yet I can’t stand the idea of the GOP winning. Especially after talking to these Boomers.
Having done my undergrad at Berkeley in the Sixties it was pretty difficult for me to move farther left without straying into either Che Guevara or Monty Python territory. Now that I’ve seen the big money folks destroy the middle class, purchase Congress and transfer most of the assets of the country into their own hands I’m more interested in saving me and mine than I am in saving the world. The one may be do able, the other, not so much.
I’m a conservative. As far as I can tell, that puts me to the left of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
The mirage is that this is a united country under one flag and constitution. It never has been, and only national calamities at various intervals has kept that mirage alive, such as WW2, as well as periods of national prosperity. We are two countries and what is happening is as natural as water running downhill.
The right wing, now controlled by southern ideologues never has signed onto fully the ideals put forth in the founding document that sought to make us a union. It just depresses the hell out of me that so many on my side of the pol spectrum do not recognize this and learn to pull together like the wingnuts do.
The conservatives just do not care to honor good faith in governance, because they fundamentally disagree with the foundations of equality and the sense of common welfare the founders gave us to live by. And without those propositions as a starting point, there can be little common understanding of the direction that is needed to fix problems. Problems that may or may not be ideological in origin, but certainly necessary for the trains to run on time and maintain a semblance of national justice, the absence of which makes ripe the likelyhood of instability.
Barring another world war, a plague of locusts, or invasion from space aliens creating the existential requirement of cooperation, the chasm will naturally widen until it breaks the bond completely, and then the shit will hit the proverbial fan. But we libtards insist on rearranging the deck chairs on the democratic titanic by fighting past happenings like the PO and stimulus.
There will be “not enough” as long as this is true, because the wingnuts will find a way to reunite themselves over time, and liberals and dems had better do the same damn thing, or we are all toast. It may well be too late as it is.
Personally, I just think I’m convinced by what seems to me to be the best arguments and the most sensible policies; it’s other people and tradition which calls this “left”.
If what seems to make the most sense is on the liberal or left or ultra-left or anarcho-socialist side of the spectrum, so be it, and that’s true whether it’s supported by a lot of other people or few other people or no other people.
That’ll get you probation in St. Paul. Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner can go DIAF.
I am a little further to the left then I used to be be in college but I look like I’ve moved further to the left because the Repubs and media have turned way far to the right. I can’t believe the discussions on torture, the citizenship of children of illegal aliens, habeas corpus, for me in Arizona – SB1070 – the show me your papers law, the mosque/community center discussion. I just don’t think this stuff would have come up 20 yrs ago.
DougJ……be of good cheer, for i bring you tidings of great joy.
the world changed tonite…….the balance of power shifted.
the earth moved….did you feel it?
im everso crunk.
but im an oracle…..like delphi….i seeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
the oligarchs tried everthin’ they had to stop it.
but it flew out……wild and free.
they cant stop the signal.
In the last few years, I’ve grown to hate libertarians as much as if not more than the religious right. Other than that, not much has changed.
Precisely why I read Balloon Juice and the Dish. Encouraging to find those that are.
Well, I don’t really feel comfortable with the traditional political spectrum. The place where I most strongly align is in who controls Congress.
Over the last 4 years, I’d say the biggest change is that I’m surprisingly anti-corporate. I’ve always been pro-small business, and that’s actually gotten stronger, not weaker. There’s always been a move for corporations to consolidate power, but I’ve never before seen such a deliberate effort for them to influence an election.
I have 2 policies at work that aren’t to be violated:
1) Don’t bring me a problem without bringing me a solution. It doesn’t need to be the best solution, but everyone must be invested in solving any problem that is identified.
2) Work, don’t whine. If it’s not working, work harder, get help, but no whining.
The GOP today doesn’t bring solutions. They’re completely worthless to me. Democratic solutions often suck, but at least they’re working at the problems we have. And the whining from the right is driving me mad.
Then there is the whining from corporations. They’ve got greater ability to solve most of these problems than the government does, and they do nothing. Worse, rather than organize to help the economy, they organize for partisan reasons. I just don’t know why they deserve any support from the public.
I don’t think I’m more left, since I started out pretty far left, at least in terms of my ideal society. I’m certainly more partisan these days (not hard to see why) and more tolerant of half-assed compromises so long as the ball seems to be moving in the right direction.
@J. Michael Neal:
Nicely put. I used to argue the value of things such as cap and trade to my leftier friends. The trouble is the rethugs don’t see either pollution or plutocracy as problems to be solved by markets or anything else.
@kdaug: A mix of made up stuff, a partial quote, and a paraphrase. See here for details.
I have always been pretty much a center-left person, more left on some issues than others. Today, there is no way I could think of voting for a Republican. To be honest, I never have voted for one, but I always looked at each race and considered the candidates before voting for all the Democrats. Since the mid-90s, voting is much easier; I look for the D. I don’t agree with everything the Democrats do, but, as a general rule, I tend to think Democrats share a broadly similar conception of how the country should be. There are differences over how to get to the goals and which bits to prioritize. I fear that many on the right do not share my vision of what constitutes a prosperous and successful nation and that makes it impossible to work with them toward any common goal.
@matoko_chan: Good God, are you going to pollute this thread with this drivel too?
I pretty much started with, and am willing to stick with, FDR.
I agree with what Techno says about what neoliberalism should be – but from NAFTA forward, I knew exactly what it was – union-breaking. We up north saw it 20 years earlier when all the mills moved to the South. And we all should have known that when a Democratic president sells you out for NAFTA, he no longer gives a shit about the life of working people. Remember, it was on Clinton’s watch that 500,000 union meatpacking jobs were turned over to busloads of illegal immigrants.
Now, I really wonder what it will take to get a sane, healthy society again. The Democrats are bought and paid for, and the best you can say about them is that they don’t take any satisfaction in a nation of unemployed 53 year old males with terminated pension plans – but they won’t do anything about it.
At this point, I am an Obamabot, because aiding Republicans is treason to my country and my family. The Republicans destroyed the good jobs, then they raided the pension plans via leveraged buyouts and bankruptcies, then they stole everyone’s home equity, then they outsourced defense to contractors, and next is Social Security. The Democrats are utterly clear that they cannot stop it.
invasion from space aliens creating the existential requirement of cooperation
You wish, optimist. The “World War” Series by Harry Turtledove offers an alternate history alien invasion during WWII, in which most of the combatants continue fighting each other, & occasionally the aliens, rather than suddenly singing Kum-by-ah & uniting to fight the invaders. Made perfect sense to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the right-wing instantly welcomed new overlords, as part of the power-worship & authoritarianism endemic on that side of the aisle.
Growing up dirt poor, I always knew I was on the losing end of a class war. It wasn’t until lately that I realized that it wasn’t a suspicion I should be ashamed of having, which is probably as good of a summation of the process of waking up from an upbringing in Capitalism, American Style as any.
I’m genetically way left thanks to my FDR loving father who was the kindest person I’ve ever known. I keep moving left as the rich get richer and the rest of us fall further back, but I’ve never expected anything else as Republicans are power mad and will lie cheat and steal shamelessly to perpetuate that condition. The shocking development to me over the past 10 years, since Bush v. Gore, has been the failure of the press to do their job, and in fact to deliberately misinform. When I found out that Bush’s first inauguration had tens of thousands of protesters along the route, seriously, I felt like I’d been sleepwalking all the time before. That’s what drove me to blogs that dealt primarily with media criticism, and helped break the code (thanks Bob Somerby and Eric Alterman!) I don’t partake of any MSM sources of information, and I was a voracious consumer of all kinds of news before. They failed this country, and must die now.
@somethingblue: Heh, my attitude as well.
In almost all aspects of my life I consider myself ‘conservative’ – in terms of spending, investment, social life, you name it. So much of my decision making is centered around how to make sure that the household income is steady, that the kids will be able to go to college, that we’ll have retirement, that we don’t risk these things with even innocuous activities like smoking a joint now and then. We’re not religious, but we teach our kids about religion and we’re not negative about religion.
But I see almost nothing ‘conservative’ about the positions of the right – even the positions of most of the sane folks on the right, and I certainly don’t see anything conservative about turning the power of the electorate over to corporations which the citizenry have no say in. I’ve got no delusions about the inefficiencies of government and their general inability to drive innovation, but corporations are every bit as inefficient in the larger sense, and they are every bit as corrupt and wasteful as government. But at least in the case of government, they’re accountable to the citizenry – it’s not always an effective check, but it’s better than nothing.
Social Security is a conservative program for the country. So is Medicare. So is unemployment insurance. So is guaranteed health care, good public schooling, and so on. They’re all conservative programs and concepts.
This thread is crying out forThe Circle Jerk’s version of ‘I Wanna Destroy You’.
HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist
I was always pretty much to the left, but 8 years of Bush did radicalize my thinking and push me more leftward. The economic crisis of the last few years has just made me more cynical about so-called centrists.
I am sick with flu, thus cranky, and should probably not subject people to suffering the ravings of an economist, but this is Balloon Juice, so…
Not sure what ‘DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice’ means by being pushed to the left.
I don’t think that the failure of the neoliberal economic project should push people to the left, just as the temporary periods of happy happy free market magic in the 90s (or apparent magic as in GW Bush’s first term) should push people to the left or the right in terms of economics.
Sound and reliable economics has just been what it always has been, and we should evaluate the evidence, and what theory says are likely, possible, and impossible outcomes, and judge on that basis. Simply because big chunks of the economics establishment have gone mad recently, shouldn’t push people’s ideological buttons.
I think that is still true, looked at in isolation, and in the context of a stable well regulated social order, that individual free markets for real goods, and important individual decisions (such as career choice) can function, and are stable, and can help us find good social outcomes. But this view of how economics should work is too humble for many, since economists would then spend more time on technical tinkering and giving advice on how to implement social decisions, rather than designing and advocating for grand utopias.
The idea that we are at a well defined general equilibrium of all markets at once that can produce something close to a general macroeconomic equilibrium at all times has always been very unlikely. Under certain assumptions, this general equilibrium exists (using non constructive existence theorems, that permit the existence of noncomputable mathematical thingees, BTW).
But no one knows how to test for the economy being at or close to equilibrium, at least the kind of equilibrium needed for unregulated free market macroeconomics to work. So in this sense the theory of general equilibrium is empirically empty. In equilibrium the market is a very efficient way to allocate resources. But if it is not in equilibrium, then it is not. The only stable adjustment the definitely gets the economy to equilibrium that I know of was developed by the mathematician Steven Smale, and that requires that everyone knows everyone else’s whole demand function for every good. That is a lot of information, a lot more than just knowing all the prices.
Financial markets have long been known to be a different beast. Different groups can maintain different, and wrong expectations in the long run when they have to learn the structure of the economy as they trade. There are general cases where a general equilibrium cannot exist (as it probably does not exist in the health insurance market). There are certain patterns of individual preferences that are not consistent with equilibrium, so the market economy is not a universal computer that works for every possible heterogeneous group of people with different tastes in financial markets. There may be no equilibrium if the opportunities for leverage and arbitrage are unlimited.
Missing markets, or limited participation in markets can produce very odd things, like multiple equilibria and an indeterminate continuum of equilibria.
All this stuff has been known. Theorists have shown how the idea of an unregulated decentralized general market equilibrium can go very badly wrong under a lot of very realistic scenarios.
The neoliberals just chose to ignore all the empirical and theoretical evidence that has been accumulating over the last 35 years that they did not approve of.
When Stiglitz says that ‘the invisible hand does not exist’ he is not being a shocking lefty. He is simply stating a fact that there is no theory for how general equilibrium is reached with the limited knowledge we have in the real world, unless there is some global mechanism guiding decentralized decisions. Stiglitz is just saying in plain English what the mathy theory says, and is consistent with the empirical evidence.
Same with Krugman when he says economic theory works and there have been no big surprises in this panic and recession. Problem is that Krugman is using the klunky Keynesian theory, where solutions cannot be derived from a few first principles, (as if you were calculating satellite orbits), but uses guestimates, empirical rules of thumb, mass balance equations to see of trends will remain feasible forever, and approximations that have shown to be empirically useful. To me the Keynesian approach is real empirical science, not the empirically unverifiable neoliberal macro that has not done so well lately.
But, hopefully soon, in a robust recovery, Krugman first, then Stiglitz, and maybe even Galbraith will probably start saying things that do not sound left, but sound kind of very moderate or even moderate conservative. It won’t be ideology, they will simply be using the second rate, kind of sorry sad sack science of economics, as best they can.
So thus ends my fevered ranting.
Not sure what “crunk” is, but if you think the latest Wikidump is going to change anything in this country, you are everso adorably naive.
Yes, I am being condescending and patronizing. You richly deserve both.
I think of myself as incredibly conservative. The social policy, humane economics, rule of law and egalitarianism that this country idealized (even if they didn’t always reach) for in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s should be preserved. I think it worked and I want it to stay in place.
It’s the GOP that are the radical “liberals”, not me.
@gbear: AS much as I love the Circle Jerks (and a friend of mine almost got thrown out of the dorms one night after they played the Blue Note in HoHumbia, but that’s another story), the Soft Boys do the only version anyone needs.
right on, DougJ
Doug I really wish I didn’t agree with you as often as I do. It’s getting really depressing. Although I like you are a Steeler fan.
I think we’re more than two countries, we’re more like ten.
Davis X. Machina
I can haz Erfurt Program (1891) plz?
It’s getting on for 120 years now….
Well, the Bush years certainly pushed me further left, and further right for awhile.
I grew up in a enviroment saturated in Libertarian propaganda. I didn’t become Libertarian but I was sympathetic. I always also sympathetic to the Republicans in the 1980’s because the dominant party in Texas was still the Democratic party, run by a lot of old racists and the like. I shifted slightly left during the late 80’s but I voted for Ross Perot in 1992. I was only sort of sympathetic to the neolib cause during the 90’s because I had lived through the S&L bust in Texas (which was quite like the financial crisis in minature) so I was well aware that you shouldn’t give banks lots of power. I voted for Al Gore (even though I didn’t like him) because I knew the Bush family well enough to not want another one in the White House.
Then came the Patriot Act and then the Iraq war, which I was against, mainly because I thought it was stupid. Come to find out that most Libertarians and all conservatives have only a limited belief in civil liberties in practice, regardless of what they say. Supposedly Libertarians oppose war (‘War is the health of the state’) but they collapsed like so many accordians during the war on terror. It was shocking to me at the time, but now I know a libertarian is conservative that likes to smoke dope. Woo woo. The neolib types also rolled over for the war in much the same way, so shame on them.
That unprincipled collapse pushed me to sympathize with both the actual left in general and the paleos over at American Conservative. Come the financial crisis, when I was busy studying the Depression and the economics of the 50’s and 60’s and what I learned there pushed me much further to the left economically. Throw in the right-wingers going on and on and on and on and on and on about well… the President is black (no! really?) and that pushed me into the left column on a permanant basis.
The desire by right-wing governments across Europe to punish their populations with austerity is really teaching me how much Marx got right about capitalism. What I am seeing makes me think that if communism hadn’t been around during the last century that the 50’s and 60’s would’ve been another Gilded Age, provided the US got lucky and somehow found its way out of the Depression without pressure from the Left restraining the malefactors of great wealth.
Still, I don’t think communism works, and I think capitalism eats its own (although what we have now barely deserves the name), and I don’t want to live in Somalia or China, so that leaves me with Sweden, basically, being the only model to emulate.
Unfortunately, I am awfully afraid that what we have here is a decadent country attempting to collapse into Roman-style Empire, and I suppose the economic ideology then will be ‘whatever you can steal’, much like it was in the classical era. And I don’t know what ideology can cure that disease.
[‘tl;dr on this comment.’]
I moved less-left in recent years, in the sense that my earlier, more radical views were naive and lacking in nuance. No doubt there are numerous left-libertarians and anarchists who have a more credible handle on such ideas than I did. Maybe I am just a stronger leftist now. Burning away the dross is good; if I can’t argue a “leftist” point, and don’t see others modeling how to do it, why then it goes on the back burner or in the trash.
I often find myself on the Right side of discussions with my wife, who doesn’t read as much serious nonfiction, follow the news or commentary as much. She is motivated by fairness, justice, and other laudable principles. But crucially, I have watched her take risks and suffer inconveniences in service of these principles. This can be very annoying when I would like to compromise to our mutual benefit. She doesn’t cotton to that, and can be quite unreasonable, except in that she’s ready to make sacrifices. So I respect her moralizing. I hesitate to describe it as ignorant or naive: maybe she does know all she needs to know about issue X.
Unprincipled behavior cuts across lines. Modern conservatism seems particularly founded, though, on propaganda to the effect that self-serving actions are the most principled ones; that’s obviously nonsense. Regarding Rush and his ilk, it seems that we ALL have emotional needs that can’t be satisfied through principled and rational discourse. It’s just that we deal with those needs in different ways, and some of those ways are morally wrong, like bigotry, willful ignorance, and mendacity.
At age 19 (1992) I was lame enough to vote for Perot. Asking myself whether I have moved left since then is pointless. The simple answer is yes. But I had no idea what was going on. The vote didn’t mean what some observers thought (or think) it did. In some ways I was a bright kid. Maybe I was a prototype of the independent voter, in a dangerous sense.
Pardon the lengthy post.
Thanks for this, techno. Liberals don’t argue well enough for how historically successful their ideas have been. The booming prosperity of the postwar era was due to liberalism. The many achievements of the New Deal, and Great Society really did succeed in bringing “The greatest good to the greatest number of people.” That we let our petty resentments destroy the momentum of that era is a sorry reflection of where we’ve gone as a nation and a culture.
James K. Polk, Esq.
Really, what made me lurch to the left was really, carefully reading the Bush v. Gore papers and watching the Supreme Court appoint a president down party lines.
Because the Supreme Court is not interested in justice or the rule of law, only politics, this country is headed for a fuck-up of millennial proportions. They are the ones with the real power (see: Citizens United decision) and they are diametrically opposed to serving justice. Their masters are the corporate overlords, and they will serve them until their dying days. Literally.
True, but markets are equally dangerous things. Further markets that are principally centered around finance, as ours is, produce nothing. Profits only breed wealth, not economy. I agree that the market regulation of the 70s and 80s hindered economic growth, but it’s been replaced with an attitude that deregulation in the interest of financial growth is equally worthy. Put short, the goal should be to put forward economic policies that require revenue growth in order to achieve profit growth.
US corporate profits are near an all-time high. Business has recovered quite nicely from 2008. But much of the profit growth has come from eliminating workers, not by investing in factories, jobs, retail locations, etc. That’s counterproductive. The incentive structure is completely wrong.
@HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist: I’m not sure exactly when it happened for me, but at some point I realized that “centrists” who insisted that the halfway point between the parties was what most of the country believed were full of it. It really meant having no real principles and being willing to be jerked ever further to the right.
@MikeJ: I agree. Underwater Moonlight rules, but the CJ’s video is such a kick.
@toujoursdan. This. Exactly this. I was the moron who thought we citizens of the United States cared about the general welfare, and the asswipes in college who learned from their dads that FDR was a Traitor to his Class were wrong. Silly me. Call me a conservative for wanting to return to that dream state.
Neoloberalism brought us the economic policies of Reagan and Thatcher, the installation of Pinochet in Chile, NAFTA and extensions of GATT, the WTO which codifies the race to the bottom while (interestingly) amassing huge increases in profits accruing to the investor class.
I think you’re confusing the packaging Neoliberalism was sold in for the contents inside.
Not reading the previous comments, just responding to Doug:
I have come to the point in my life — perhaps it has to do with where I was born and raised — that I understand the take the country back language but in reverse. What the hell has happened to my state in the last 10 or 20 years? I won’t go through all of it, but Dems are fighting for their lives here. It shouldn’t be that way.
My anarcho-syndicalist ideas are still my cornerstone, but living here in Texas has made me the yellowist of yellow dogs. If it’s republican, it’s bad. period. full stop.
The teabaggers are fucking with us here in ways I never imagined. They are right here in my hood fucking with little old laddies trying to vote — assuming that the little old ladies are fraudsters. Fuck them. Just fuck them.
When I go to vote this week end, I hope none of those suburbanites fuck with me. I truly hope that doesn’t happen. What fuckers they are.
So, I guess, no. None of what has happened has changed my mind about the best political system we could have. But I know it won’t happen. I will do my best to make sure that teabagger dream won’t happen either.
As far as being liberal or left oriented, I firmly believe, at least in my case, it is mostly a case of being wired that way from the beginning. I simply cannot make myself think the way a conservative thinks, and I have tried, at one point just to understand my equally right wing wired pappy. Though I have only become a yellow dog dem voter the past ten years or so.
I do remember thinking, in the 90s, as I was being brainwashed by economics and market magic was supposed to be magicking away, how odd it would be if the market magic kept on going.
It would be strange experience, living in a world where plain facts, and fairly straightforward statistics, showed that the all the conditions for the happy happy world of unregulated free market general equilibrium bliss were not met. But yet, the market magic kept on coming.
Since it is impossible to verify whether the general equilibrium exists in the real world, would we ever find out what the heck was really going on? Would this very strange theory, that in some respects more like a conceptual cartoon than a real scientific theory with empirical content, somehow lead the world to good ways of making all social decisions all the time?
Would I be driven mad wondering how such a thing could happen? I guessed that it would be very cool, and trouble free for us all if it did, but how could it? But, maybe it could, maybe it would, though I seriously doubted it.
So, I was never pushed to the left or right by how well neoliberalism did. I did wonder how likely it was that society, and the world could get good guidance for how to arrange itself from such a fantastical theory. I wondered if I would ever find out.
Well, as time went by, I think the answer came along, first by bits and pieces, in minor scandals and messes and almost panics and near disasters that could be patched up. And then the reality therapy kicked in bigtime.
Dear Muzak programmer at my supermarket,
Anyone who has been sentient for at least some of the last fifteen years has heard “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt at least a hundred thousand times. Even Gwen Stefani is sick of the song. It has been going through my head for the last two days, especially this part:
I know you’re good
I know you’re good
I know you’re real good
In closing, please die in a fire.
J. Michael Neal
Huh? What does that have to do with the view in 1998? Nothing at that point depended upon house prices going up; that was a phenomenon of the aughts, and the ridiculously huge pile of dollars the Chinese were sitting on.
I absolutely agree that there is a cycle of booms and busts. That’s not a feature of capitalism, though. It’s been true throughout human history, regardless of economic system. The big feature of market capitalism in that regard is that it makes bubbles and busts much more transparent. That’s a good thing.
Would you like to try again and make an argument that makes sense?
That’s the emergence of real political consicousness. This is useful:
@J. Michael Neal:
“Largely, I think a lot of people have lost sight of what neoliberalism was and is. Really, it’s just a belief that markets are very powerful things, and they should be harnessed to liberal ends. In a lot of ways, that’s it. It was a reaction to the liberal politics of the 1970s (and into the 1980s) that focused on accomplishing ends through outright, market limiting regulation.”
That is a good point. I think the problem is that if you accept the simplistic market magic version of economics, if you are in for a penny you are in for a pound. The way the free market advocates practice economics, anything you see can be, has to be, an equilibrium in order to say anything at all. Subjective human welfare is not objectively observable, so you rationalize whatever you see as an equilibrium, and find arguments and evidence why anything else than the market status quo, or the advocated free market policy proposal, would be worse.
The theory is completely uninterpreted in terms of constant and objective links betwen the theoreical terms and the real world, and there is no check on whether an economist’s way of interpreting the theory changes from one year or month or week to the next.
As long as things seem to go well, for most people, most of the time, especially for the influential classes of people, there is no objective test for whether the economist is right or not, whether he or she is making an empirical statement or not. You wander off bit by bit into the economist’s world on the economist’s terms and lose touch with reality. You even lose track of whether anything you say has any empirical content or not.
Hope that makes sense.
I favor honesty, competence, humanity, removal of bad faith religion of all kinds, good education, a strong, well-organized state as an engine of opportunity and sustainable growth for all, and poor people being given a real chance, rather than kicked to the back of the bus and told that they are to blame for the lies, greed and corruption of the rich. Apparently, this makes me a Marxist, which tells me that labels aren’t worth a damn. I grew up under Thatcher, so I knew I could never vote for a right-winger. Clinton left me largely unimpressed, and Bush and the brutal, swinish, degenerate viciousness of the GOP made me political aware and increasingly ready to fight for simple human decency as best I could. I am sick of Democrats wimping out or selling out, and I hope that some day they will realize that sending a sick note isn’t going to win you any respect or any battles.
Dear Mark S.,
Now that song is in my head, and it will stay there the entire weekend or until She Drives Me Crazy plays on the radio.
Ah, shit. Now I have that one in my head, too.
In summation: You and the muzak people suck. : )~
Have a nice weekend.
This is me. Thanks.
J. Michael Neal
@Stillwater: Eh. This gets to the point that it all comes down to semantics. We’re not defining neoliberalism the same way, or looking at the same people as its founders. Both definitions have currency, and I was using the other one. No, I don’t agree with the neoliberalism as you define it. The main reason I used it the way I did is that, around here, the term neoliberalism is usually used to describe the set of people around Robert Rubin and other left-of-center thinkers and policy makers who had a very different set of goals than the people you are discussing; they simply saw the value of the same tools that your neoliberals used.
However, I do think that it was a very important critique of the statist liberalism (or social democracy, if you prefer) that existed in the 1970s. For all of the later, negative consequences Thatcher brought about, she was right about a lot of the problems. Britain in the late 1970s was an economic and social disaster. They had nationalized industries that had no business being in the public sector, such as coal mining and auto manufacturing. Getting those industries into private hands was essential.
Reaganism was something of a different beast, for two reasons. First, the US had never been centralized to the extent that Europe had, so the chainsaw wasn’t needed. The second is that the process of deregulation had actually started under Carter, and so attributing it exclusively to Reagan really is wrong.
Even in the US, though, industry was deeply sclerotic and had to change. Like it or not, automation was coming, and cars were going to be built and steel was going to be smelted with a lot fewer labor hours per unit of output, and even a lot fewer absolute labor hours. There wasn’t any way to avoid that, and deregulated, market driven companies are the best way to make those sorts of changes. (Note that management is just about as opposed to actual free markets as anyone. The car companies certainly are.)
Where I, and others, part ways with the right wing neoliberals is what we want to see happen after deregulation. We believe in higher marginal tax rates, with the revenue used to produce better, and leveling, services. The era from 1945-75 was a historical aberration that wasn’t sustainable and isn’t coming back. What we need to do isn’t to try to recreate the past. We need to figure out how to set up a system where the fact that the gap between winners and losers within the economy doesn’t lead to such a large gap in actual living standards.
One more song for this thread.
I feel your pain.
@J. Michael Neal:
And yet, those industries were largely wrecked in the process, and there was no plan for anything to replace them. This is why your neo-liberal model fails – it excels at destruction, but is pretty much useless when it comes to creation.
I believe that I am about the same as I always was, and that this left of the country position of mine actually stems from the sort of Christian I was raised…I guess I have more in common with the Jimmy Carter wing than the Emma Goldman wing and always have. O.K. so maybe I’m more B. Traven than Jimmy Carter. I don’t put much faith in utopias or revolutions, but…lately, I’ve been fantasizing quite a bit about dragging the elite to a place of justice and crying out for a massive number of stonings. See here-this man was an elected official who became a lobbyist, and this woman appeared on TV as an “analyst” but she didn’t know what she was talking about, and this man spread lies to scare people so that he could win three more votes, and this woman is a “senior political advisor” and no one knows what she does but she is highly-paid so it can’t be anything good…
Unfortunately, it is usually poor who end up being stoned in those situations.
J. Michael Neal
@jl: My training, such as it is, isn’t in econ. I took finance classes, and in finance, no one thinks that everything is in equilibrium. It isn’t so much that the economists are considered wrong, it’s that we see the world in a fundamentally different way. The basic idea in finance is risk.
Finance makes its own simplifying assumptions, but I think that they are closer to reality than econ’s are. The primary thing that finance declares must be in balance are prices: you have to be able to buy something at the same price you could sell it for. Everything flows from that.
The problem with finance is that it doesn’t scale up to a national level very well. In practice, econ doesn’t, either, but you can concoct theories in econ that *look* like the model the macro world well, which finance really can’t do. Personally, I think that that’s another point in finance’s favor, because we spend a lot less time convinced we know something that we really don’t.
The interesting work in econ is being done by the behavioral guys.
Final thought before I pass out. Here I will be a Marxist or some kind of grand social psychologist spinning grand speculations.
The free market fanatic economists always has a rationalization that can be fit into a very elegant, very intellectually intimidating theory. Given the benefit of hindsight, can never be wrong. The economist can always take the aggressive position.
The socially progressive neoliberal is usually on the defensive. He or she is the ‘yes, but’ person. All the progressive’s assertions and obvious facts can be undercut, countered, rationalized away as naive, or paternalistic, or counterproductive.
When one side can always be on the intellectual offense, and the other is usually on the defense, I think the former wins converts. Because it is nice to be the always winning and always right side.
Unless you are like Stiglitz and have the guts to say ‘Most conventional wisdom economists are doing it wrong, period, end of story’, you lose the argument eventually. But when everything seems to be going so wel, and everyone is counting up their notional paper riches, who in their right mind would believe an apparent loon like Stiglitz?
J. Michael Neal
Oh, really? Take a look at US manufacturing, and explain me how those industries were wrecked. US manufacturing output has steadily climbed. The industries are profitable. Yes, there was a very traumatic transition period, but that was inevitable given the state of things.
What has changed is that it takes a lot fewer workers for those industries to be successful. That means that capital retains a much greater share of the profits than it used to. That’s the fundamental problem to come to grips with. How can we structure society, and how can we run the government, such that the share of profits flowing to everyone remains more fundamentally balanced.
@burnspbesq: You’re right, but the guy doesn’t even mean what he says.
Throw out “stewardship” for the nonce, and just think in utilitarian terms, as his word choice suggests.
Say someone gives you a really good car, a Mercedes or something. Wouldn’t you take care of it, and get the oil changed regularly?
The earth is a tool, a really good one. It can feed us. It can generate energy that we can sell and get rich. That’s something you want to take care of. To trash it is to show insufficient gratitude to God, who granted us all this bounty.
This guy thinks we’re Van Halen, and the earth is a dressing room full of hookers, blow, and brown M&Ms.
J. Michael Neal
@jl: Most conventional wisdom economists are doing it wrong, period, end of story. The problem is that we don’t have anything better. At least not yet. The assumption that human beings behave as rational economic actors is both fundamentally wrong and utterly essential to make any model we have work. The Marxists are every bit as dependent upon it as the rational expectations loons. They just define “rational” differently.
You can see left wingers fall into this trap every time they wonder why common people vote against their own economic interests by voting Republican. It doesn’t make any sense, because if they were rational economic actors, they wouldn’t do it. So the typical liberal response is that they just don’t know what their interests really are, and we need to educate them. This is never going to work, because it rests upon a false premise.
As I said, the behavioral economists are doing some interesting stuff. A lot of it has to do with modeling human irrationality. I hope that it bears useful fruit sometime in the near future. As of now, though, economists are clueless about macro causes and effects.
@J. Michael Neal:
You were talking about 1970s Britain, not the USA. So I don’t see why I am supposed to justify an accurate response on the British situation with reference to the US. Care to try again?
@Suffern ACE: I know exactly what you mean, ACE. I’m poor and stoned.
/said in my best Groucho Marx imitation
@somethingblue: Yeah, that’s the thing– I don’t know that I’ve moved that far to either side, just I’ve become a huge fan of politicians and pundits showing their work. Link to the historical or polling or economic data. Once upon a time, that might have been considered conservative. Now empiricism is entirely dead on the right, and the Democrats fear the right’s attacks, so they try to split the difference.
This Posner article admitting that Keynes has been proven right, to me, reflects that cautious empiricism, that reluctance to cast off hard-earned knowledge, that once characterized conservatism in its ideal form. (Yeah, not perfectly– he probably should’ve read The General Theory before writing a bunch of econ-related books, but you get the idea). This kind of thought and analysis is forbidden on the right today.
As to DougJ’s post, because I was proven wrong to trust the centrist consensus on invading Iraq, I am much, much more inclined to question it on, say, the benefits of gentrification today.
@J. Michael Neal: I largely agree. In studies of the connection between financial markets and the market for real stuff we eat drink wear and live in, etc, the distinction is made between what is called arbitrage, which leads inexorably to the kind of equilibrium set of prices on a set of existing markets (especially liquid markets), which is the main study in finance. But the thing is, those prices can get out of whack with equilibrium in the real world markets, and not come back for a long time.
The understanding of the connection between what happens on financial markets and markets for real goods, and investment markets, and how they mesh, is very poor.
Thinking that the connection was simple and easy to understand was a big mistake made by a lot of economic neoliberals who thought of themselves as politically and socially moderate or liberal.
great post Dougj
It’s interesting to see Bruce Bartlett’s evolution on this score. He’s now reached the point of declaring he isn’t a Republican, largely because he simply can’t have a rational debate with them on taxes and spending.
J. Michael Neal
@morzer: That’s not exclusively a US phenomenon. British industrial production also continued to grow for most of the period in question. It appears to have peaked around 2000, and I am curious as to what has happened since then, but the timing indicates that you are going to have to find something other than the rise of neoliberalism to explain it.
It is the case the mining industries specifically have declined since the 1960s, but:
a) their decline starts well before the rise of neoliberalism, and
b) it bounces around so much I’m not sure what to make of it.
However, I’m not really concerned about whether a specific sector does well or not. There were a lot of reasons to think that Britain mined too much coal in the 1960s, since it cost a lot more to get out of the ground (and not just because of labor costs) than coal elsewhere.
Again, the problem is distributional, not one of total production.
I was too busy growing up to pay attention to politics. It was never a topic in my household other than a commitment to vote no matter what, and of course, vote Republican. Most of my philosophy was the hope that each party would keep eating each other and leave the rest of us the hell alone. About the time they got around to impeaching Clinton over a blow-job, it dawned on me that something was off-kilter, but I hadn’t a clue as to how to gather information since it was obvious that sound-bites-as-news were useless. Believe it or not it was Cheney that was my breakthrough. He made the mistake of naming FactCheck.org during some debate and from there I found various blogs. From reading that information and checking the sources to verify for myself I basically learned that I’m pretty much a frothing-at-the-mouth liberal, or at the very least, I’m not infected with the batshit insanity that pervades the right. It’s really very disquieting, because I remember my dad telling me the world isn’t black and white, it’s all shades of gray. I remember integrity and a strong work ethic and a distrust (if not hatred) of royalty (or at least the airs of my-shit-don’t-smell). Religion was just go on Sunday and grumble about the early hour. Now? They’re avid listeners of Faux and Beck; they are obsessed with status symbols; they want my kids in Sunday school even knowing about the pedophile scandals. I wonder how could they have raised me with the values that I have, yet how could such a vast gulf have opened between us?
@J. Michael Neal:
So you’ve decided to shift your ground from arguing the public/private canard (which never explained the decline in the British motor or coal industries even remotely well) and suddenly you’ve decided that too much coal was being mined, which is a very different explanation for the problems with the coal industry, while quietly forgetting about the car industry altogether. You can’t have it both ways – pick one explanation and argue it, rather than shifting your ground like this. If you don’t know what you are talking about – do the sensible thing and don’t try and bluff.
And no, you don’t get off the hook by arguing that we need to look at the year 2000 and the US as a means of understanding mistaken claims you made about 1970s Britain. If you can’t remember what you said in your own posts, don’t try and put the blame for it on people who call you out on it.
FYI – the British coal industry had problems as far back as the 1920s, and that was when it was in private hands.
I have considered myself a progressive of the Finley Peter Dunne/Mark Twain school since before I hit puberty. (And if I’d known during my adolescent years that I’d get to live through the Second Coming of the Gilded Age, I’m not sure any ‘It Gets Better’ campaign could’ve kept me from suicide.)
My main political evolution over the last ten years (which I think of as ‘the Blogopolitical Era’) is that I’ve developed the patience to actually debate with conservatives, instead of just yelling at them for being idiots. Of course, I’ve also lost what little patience I ever had for reasoning with libertarians… possibly because 30+ years of exposure to the breed has taught me that any libertarian past their 25th birthday isn’t gonna change as a result of reasoned debate… or getting yelled at… or anything short of a series of devasting personal tragedies. And sometimes, not even then. I’ve come to believe that at least 25% what people think of as their “political positions” is some combination of laziness & pathology, but for the dedicated capital-L Libertarians, that level is closer to 89%.
J. Michael Neal
The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. Said by an economist, but probably better appreciated in finance.
I don’t think the problem is as much that finance doesn’t work well in non-financial markets. A lot of the same basic principles apply, and even though prices can get out of whack with fundamentals, they rarely do so in a way that could lead to arbitrage. Arbitrage opportunities don’t disappear in a fraction of a second, but they do go away pretty quickly. Admittedly, my practical experience was in financial markets, so I may be looking at it a little too rosily.*
As I said, I think it’s a problem of scale. Finance doesn’t work in both financial and non-financial markets at the same time. It simply can’t model an entire economy. That’s too complicated for finance tools to be able to comprehend.
*I want to try to restate that, though I want to leave the above paragraph in as a broad expression of my thought. It isn’t that finance handles non-financial markets less accurately. It’s that it handles them a lot less precisely. For all that we talk about the complexity of modern finance, that really just has to with specific contracts. Financial markets remain, fundamentally, much simpler than other markets on a theoretical level. Everything is measured in money. There aren’t any tons, or gallons, or degrees to get in the way.
@AnotherBruce: “Liberals don’t argue well enough for how historically successful their ideas have been. The booming prosperity of the postwar era was due to liberalism. The many achievements of the New Deal, and Great Society really did succeed in bringing “The greatest good to the greatest number of people.” “
Yes. YES. Want this repeated.
I’m a secular pragmatist perpetually about 5 yards from existential despair, who sees hope in the far future for humanity, but not any plausible way to lay down a pathway for it given our current paradigm, and so I stave it off by trying to get a laugh or genuine human feeling out of every moment in every day.
I will never vote GOP ever again. They must lose the batshit, theocratic, needs a Jedi for every single one of their agenda items, anti-intellectual, reflexively anti-science and racially motivated basis for their existence and profligacy first. Basically, they will have to become UnRepublicans. See also, Lincoln.
@J. Michael Neal:
And in this corner, ladies and gentlemen, the blind ’em with bullshit strategy!
Michael J Neal, you are so lost in your own spinning bullcrap it’s almost amusing. I hope for your sake that you were very drunk when you wrote it.
J. Michael Neal
No, it isn’t. The fact that coal wasn’t a properly functioning market is precisely why too much of it was being mined. Nationalization meant that there was a disconnect between the cost of producing coal and the price paid for coal.
Beyond that, I have no idea what argument you are making. You claimed that neoliberalism can only destroy, but not create. You claimed that, “And yet, those industries were largely wrecked in the process, and there was no plan for anything to replace them.” If that were true, then we would see it in output figures. We don’t. We see that output continued to rise. If you bothered to look at the numbers I cited, you would see that growth in British industrial production stagnated in the 1970s and increased dramatically thereafter.
Show me some reason to think you aren’t full of shit, or go bark up another tree.
J. Michael Neal
@ornery curmudgeon: Do you have anything specific to say, or are you blowing smoke?
James E. Powell
I came of age politically at the end of the Viet Nam War and during the impeachment of Richard Nixon. The first and last politician who was a hero to me was Jimmy Carter. That hero-worship has mellowed into respect and admiration.
I suppose that before the election of Ronald Reagan I had some notion that I could stand a generic Republican. But I lived through the politics of hatred, bigotry, and fear that put that assclown in the White House, and his Corporate Christian owners into power. We have been living in the aftermath of that watershed election ever since. We have yet to emerge from the double whammy that the 60s brought to the minds of the American middle class: the federal government forced white Americans to accept African-Americans as equal citizens and the pajama-clad commies whipped the American Army. The Great American Dolchstoßlegende.
All through those years, I avoided giving my eclectic political ideas a label. The names all reeked of the 19th Century. In recent years, though, if asked, I say Democratic Socialist to give an idea of about where I’m at. I like a lot of what the Euros have done, though I acknowledge they are not perfect.
I believe we need radical changes to the way we live, the way we view each other, and the way we divide ourselves into these odd little groupings called nations.
I also think this was a good post by DougJ, so I can’t help checking in even though I should be asleep.
I agree with what you say below.
“Finance doesn’t work in both financial and non-financial markets at the same time. It simply can’t model an entire economy. That’s too complicated for finance tools to be able to comprehend.”
But that exact issue has long been a big controversy among economists. The free market macro economists contained two schools of thought:
1. finance is merely an epiphenomenon that adjusted the needed flows of money as real markets dictated (so you problem doesn’t exist because you think financial markets can actually cause something to happen in the real world).
2. The financial tools we have can too be complicated enough to do whatever is needed, and they are they best way to do it. and if they don’t exist, they will be introduced.
Economists of the Roubini, Stiglitz, Krugman, Galbraith and Blinder variety begged to differ with both 1. and 2.
J. Michael Neal
I’m headed to bed to snuggle with my cats.
I’ve moved to the left on unions. Before I was indifferent to hostile depending on the industry. Now I’ve dropped the “all things being equal” nonsense that people use to justify stupid economic shit, and realize nothing is ever equal and at this point in time in america there needs to be a counterbalance to business influence.
Part of my thinking also comes from the fact I currently have a union job for the first time in my life, and I know so much more about what having a union rep does for you. Just the simple fact you have someone there that can handle problems with management for you without your name ever coming up. Something as little as that, that’s fucking revolutionary to me.
My own movement to the left began years ago not because of politics but from the work I did as a system analyst. The core of my political belief is wrapped up in four ideas:
1. Forced choice. It often isn’t government interference when government makes laws. When I was young and environmental laws were first being passed, corporations complained of government interference, as if the natural order of things was that corporations could throw their waste in my back yard (I lived near the large steel plants in Northern Indiana. The government eventually made the choice that I should not have to breathe, drink and swim in so much toxicity – but it was a choice not unreasonable government interference.
2. There is no such thing as a natural economic order which seeks equilibrium. The corollary is that we decide much of what our economy looks like and what its goals are. When we say that more people should have a larger share of the wealth we create, we are not “redistributing” as if there was some natural distribution we are deviating from, we are deciding to distribute fairly in the first place.
3. The economy is an open system, not a closed system. It affects the systems around it, including natural and social systems. Those in turn change the environment the economy exists in so the economic system must in turn change. There is no eternal economic system, we will always be adjusting, much of it by the seat of our pants. One hundred years ago we could burn all of the oil we wanted. Things change.
4. I do not classify myself as “socialist” (including Marxist), or capitalist, (nor is Obama by the way). The Declaration of Independence and the constitution are at the top of my social order hierarchy. Free market or collective solutions are just tools only as useful as the results they produce for the furthering of the goals of a free people living well together. True socialists and capitalists prioritize their economic systems above the political one – and that thinking is becoming more prevalent and more audacious on the right. They don’t believe democracy is primary or even necessary, but a capitalist oligarchy is and they are saying so.
Go make phone calls for some democrat this week.
‘Bout time you grew the fuck up.
Do you realize the soap box you have with this blog? So do yourself a favor; imagine looking back on this opportunity from ten years down the road and write the things you wished you’d had.
John - A Motley Moose
@Dollared: This needs to be repeated. Over and over. Although, I’d leave out the sentiment in that last sentence if I was going to use it in a commercial.
@J. Michael Neal:
That might be. The only thing I care about is whether economists know how to get a country out of a recession or inflation or whatever. I don’t think (though I could be wrong) that you have to have a great model that incorporates human irrationality in order to do that.
Do economists know how to do that? I’m talking about the good ones, not the libertarian jokers who just worship the free market.
I’ve always been a lefty, though not in the Marxist sense. I honored Marx for his dialectic, a whole new way of looking at societal evolution, and for his insights into capitalism. But I liked personal freedom too much to be a Marxist, much less a Marxist-Leninist. I’m the squishy bourgeoisie lefty that professional leftists despise: the utilitarian sort, who wants the greatest good for the greatest number.
The last decade hasn’t changed my philosophy so much as focused it. We really did hand the country over to psychopaths, who really have destroyed what made this a nifty country. I don’t see a way out because there’s nothing left to work with. Everything’s wrecked, and we’re about to hand Congress back over to the wreckers so they can finish the job.
I’m a lifelong political junkie who doesn’t even want to think about politics anymore. I just want to tend to my own garden, so to speak, and not care about things I can’t change. I’ll vote – I’ll always vote – but there’s no joy or pride or hope in it anymore. Just grim resolve.
Nice to read from another Purdue grad. Like you, I also got half off tuition because my dad worked for Purdue as faculty.
What I’ve found is that I’m also approaching that 5-10% upper crust in our dual income level and the more money we make the further left I go. I was reading somewhere that the sweet spot is about 80K to live happily. I don’t mind paying more taxes if it will give me government services like universal healthcare. It should scare everyone including tea baggers that whatever wealth they’ve amassed will be gone if insurance doesn’t cover a health issue.
At the end of the 90s before Bush I was moving rightward I had a libertarian friend and a lot of stuff made sense. But after Bush took over, I realized it was all stupid. I was for competence and I saw incompetence in every direction. They couldn’t even run a war properly. I’ve since moved left and I think I’m still moving left. I’m not a marxist yet.. not sure I’ll ever get there. The reason being that I’ve seen Soviet style government when I was in India and everything Reagan said about goverment seems to hold true there. I think I mentioned earlier that I turn into a teabagger when I’m over there and pretty much for the same reasons. I hate incompetence, and laziness when it comes from the left as well. Trust me, when you have to wait years to get a phone number, you’ll be anti-govt as well.
This is why conservatism should really just be rebranded as “selfish idealism” for accuracy’s sake.
The United States was an apartheid nation then, the very opposite of egalitarian and just. The “rule of law” was subverted by an unsaid policy of total and unceasing war against the Soviets in every assassination campaign, every coup, and every oppression we carried out across, literally, the entire globe.
There is no Happy Past we need to get back to, it doesn’t exist.
This was a surprisingly good (and active) thread for a late Friday night.
No doubt that’s true. But when you’ve got one privately run phone company, you’ll have the same outcome as one publicly run phone company. Without proper regulation, phone companies will swallow or destroy each other until only one remains, and the cost of entry into the marketplace will be too high for new competitors.
The problem comes with defining proper regulation. On the one hand you have the companies and their lackeys arguing that any regulation is bad. On the other side, there’s nobody to argue that all regulation is good, because that’s a moronic position to take. Sadly, absolutism is easier for people to understand than a philosophy built on grey areas.
The tech boom would have happened w/ or w/out Bubba. He does deserve credit for restoring sensible tax policy.
He also deserves a heap of scorn for NAFTA and Gramm Leach Bliley, and their contribution to our economic demise.
I think you support my theory that if we had impeached Bush it would have caused the South to lose its collective mind and try to secede from the union again. This time I hope they do.
In case this dialogue continues, I was a pretty firm leftist as a teenager – going to a prep school with smug plutocrat assholes can do that, I guess. Became more of an orthodox Democrat in college, and then increasingly more moderate, even a bit conservative, as Clinton was successful and I became a parent, and so on.
The last ten years have been a systematic reversal. Bush V. Gore convinced me that the system was irretrievably crooked, and the war convinced me that I could never support any Republican in any fashion for life. I am still and Obot because I think he is a fundamentally decent if flawed guy, but I am through with the Rubin/Clinton nexus of conservadems. I don’t much enjoy the company of Firebaggers and Totebaggers, but if not for Obama I would be one of them.
I went from being a center-right libertarian to being a center-left libertarian. I use to believe the best thing the government could do, more often than not, was get out of the way. Now, not so much. The last few years have reminded me that competent government is necessary for liberty, that oligarchy and license are as much (and probably more of a) threat to liberty as over regulation.
I’ve pretty much given up on the GOP and the conservative movement (which I got kinda deep into while in law school). They have learned nothing in the last decade and have become nihilistic assholes that I simply can’t tolerate.
Historically liberalism was an opponent of BOTH autocracy and aristocracy. I have hopes that liberals might be waking up to the fact that aristocracy with soulless corporations and their sociopathic CEOs as a newer and worse class than the old aristocrats are a greater threat today than even autocracy.
In that sense I’ve definitely moved left.
Sure. That’s easy. Getting people and Congress to accept it is an entirely different matter, though.
Yes, I agree. In this case, it’s also coupled by the fact that they never fired anybody. Once you got into the govt system it was easy street. My wife’s uncle was an alcoholic and would literally come to work drunk. He’s also can be seen on the streets passed out like a bum. Still was getting his pay check. Not sure if that would occur in a private company. The soviet model sucked for India and put it several years back. I would have hoped there was greater U.S. influence, but those fools backed up Pakistan instead which is why they never had a cozy relationship with India.
In college in the Bush senior years I was a ‘The Economist’ centrist – socially with the Dems, economically closer to the Repigs.
The end of the Cold War left the right-wing without a scary foreign scapegoat to fear and hate, and they turned their meanness and transparent stupid-propaganda ideology on domestic targets in the Limbaugh/Gingrich age, which started to give me pause. Then the Clinton impeachment pushed me to the left, when I realized that Repigs, poisoned by hate, didn’t want to compete by the rules in the political system, they wanted to rig the game and steal it.
The Bush Installation in 2000 cemented this, when I watched the blatant theft of a national election and to my disgust saw my rightish friends cheering it on, happy to witness the corruption of democracy if it brought the result they wanted.
Then the unspeakable mendacity, incompetence, corruption, authoritarianism, international and domestic criminality, and exaltation of ignorance that was the Bush/Cheney assministration that turned the country toward a Texas-style semi-feudal suckhole of bullying, sleaze and mediocrity. Nuff said.
I was a moderate liberal back in high school, began leaning more and more towards the Republican mantra of fiscal conservatism during college, thought Clinton was a sleazy southern pol, Gore was a dour ham-fisted Gordon Brown to Clinton’s Tony Blair, but Bush seemed like a lightweight airhead with a formidable coalition behind him and a degree of message discipline and air of superiority that found an appeal to me. Some of it was the glib contrarianism of explaining that there really are second-order effects to tax changes (never mind quantifying them, this is philosophy). Some was irritation at the superficial liberal hegemony of undergrad life where promising daughters of wealthy established families made their names producing the Vagina Monologues as just another extracurricular to note on the Rhodes Scholarship application; passion was a useful tool that could be directed towards profitable ends. The republicans at least had the attitude of Getting Things Done, and that metaphor really spoke to me as someone who too often doesn’t get things done soon enough.
As it turned out, the Things Got Done were often things that shouldn’t have been done. It’s hard to find a metric by which we are better off now than we would have expected to be estimating from ten years ago. We have the web and internet technologies in general changing the structure of human communication, but those advances are only starting to address the more fundamental problems people suffer in their lives.
I had moments of lucidity during the Bush years. I could clearly identify that the economic arguments for upper-income tax cuts were bogus and unsubstantiated by empirical evidence, but I fell into the frame of seeing it as “us” taking “their” hard-earned money against their will. What motivates people is a lot more complicated than just large amounts of money though: sometimes people end up seeking fortune just to be able to afford certain freedoms in their lifestyles or, particularly, in the creativity they can express through their work. If I had invented some spectacular new technology I would love to be given credit for it, and would really appreciate being afforded some financial success for it, but it’s not my baby, it’s not even a priceless utterly unique work of art; the genius of a new invention comes from the feeling of minds being opened as they understand how it works and the possibilities it opens up. That’s not something you can sell at WalMart or even the iTunes App Store, as far as I know.
I was willingly misled by people who were tougher than me, because I know I’m not tough and couldn’t cope too well with the harsh experience of a soldier at war. I wasn’t about to enlist at the age of 20 on the cusp of my college graduation to go serve as cannon fodder for doped-up juvenile delinquents. But Bush, Cheney & co promised that they would take care of the mess as long as we remembered to honor the troops with yellow magnetic ribbons on our cars and Dixie Chicks cds in our fireplaces. I think for a time the illusion of strength and fortitude was convincing, and when a war is cast as a contest of wills, who wants to be the side to wimp out?
It was really the economic side that got me skeptical. I remember trying half-jokingly in one of my asshole-wingnut days to convince classmates that FDR actually caused the great depression and that it would have easily rebounded by 1936 or so if it hadn’t been for government meddling. It’s not that different from theses I’ve seen since, e.g. Amity Schlaes’ The Forgotten Man, except I literally made it up from scratch, requiring only the first principles of free market optimality, pervasive government inefficiency and corruption, and the fundamental industriousness of the American worker. There was no reason to even look at economic statistics; the story had been written (over a few drinks).
Once I had to look at economic growth in developing countries though, my perspective changed a bit. Looking in from the outside it was a lot easier to see how local interest groups could bend the law to their favor, how those “in-the-know” would take advantage of their information gap to monopolize control over incoming foreign investment, and how fraught with politics and compromise foreign aid has become. Why would the rest of the economy ever look any different? I don’t see anything so magical about governments that makes them uniquely corrosive to the free market. The free market’s astonishing efficiency has no parallel when it comes to millions of U.S. dollars sitting unguarded on pallets in Iraq, but is that a good thing? I’m sure Goldman Sachs is brilliant when it comes to putting together complex financial deals that slice up mortgage tranches and hedge them against various swaps, but they should be judged based on the wealth they bring to society as a whole, and I’ve lost my faith that mere brilliance in three-card monte is a good indication of economic success, much less progress.
In American politics today, caring about competence makes you a lefty. (The “cult” is another crowd, I guess.)
In the 1970s I was considered right-wing. In the 1980s I was considered a leftist. Today, people call me “insane” and “demented” and “in need of therapy” and “off his meds” and “a psycho” because I say the same things I was saying back in 1975 and 9185 ad 1995: namely, we need to start enforcing anti-trust laws again the way Teddy Roosevelt did in 1906 and we need to have a livable minimum wage the way America did in 1955 and we need to start taxing rich people at a marginal rate of 91% and tax capital gains at the same rate and institute an excess profits tax just as Eisenhower did in 1959.
I wasn’t right wing in 1975 or a leftist in 1985 or a Marxist in 1995 and I’m not insane today. It’s America that’s changed, not me.
The change has become extremely visible at gun shows. I recommend everyone interested in politics go to a gun show once a year. These events reveal the raw festering id of America. In the mid-1970s, gun shows sold T shirts featuring slogans like RETURN TO THE GOLD STANDARD and IMPEACH CARTER. In the 1980s gun shows sold T shirts and posters with images like REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE with Manuel Noriega in a sniper sight. In the 1990s gun shows sold T shirts with logos like END MARXIST TYRANNY – IMPEACH BILL CLINTON and LEE HARVEY OSWALD, WHERE ARE YOU NOW THAT WE NEED YOU? with a printed picture of Clinton’s presidential limo rolling down the street. In the 2000s, though…wow.
In the last few years, gun shows have started selling T shirts with slogans like I’D RATHER BE WATERBOARDING and a dead Iraqi with the logo DAMN, I THINK I JUST STEPPED IN SOME SHIITE.
Name a multi-racial country that wasn’t like that in the 1950s. Don’t think you can.
The Soviet Union WAS an existential threat (or have you forgotten October 1962). Hindsight is always 20/20, and with the benefit of that hindsight some of the things we did now appear silly or foolish. But I don’t blame the people who had to make the calls at the time based on the available information.
Give us a call when you finally get a clue.
Respectfully, “business and economics editor”, to the left of what exactly?
Tacking steadily to the left currently. I have fought it tooth and nail, just to be sure that I’m not reacting viscerally to the last few years’ ridiculosity. To no avail. Until somebody proves that American-brand conservatism/ centrism is capable of producing outcomes that don’t land like cartoon ACME anvils on the head of middle-class folk (and those struggling to join them), I don’t anticipate any changes in the trend.
Odie Hugh Manatee
I hope you don’t plan on sitting by the phone for too long because I have a feeling that Bobby won’t be calling you any time soon.
@Bob Loblaw: FWIW, just because the ‘Cold Warriors’ said they were blowing the shit out of or supporting coups or assassins in various 3rd world nations ‘because of the Soviets’ doesn’t mean they were. Most of the Cold War in the 3rd world was about the US eliminating the forces and governments they didn’t want in power, and whether or not the people ordering such ‘really’ thought it was about the Soviets is not so important, except to biographers. Reagan didn’t go about slaughtering civilians in Central America and Southern Africa in the 1980s because of ‘the Soviets’.
Did you just try to win an argument by implying my patriotism is insufficient? Wow, how very Republican of you.
If you genuinely believe this country to be in poorer shape now than it was in the past, I can only assume you are speaking from a place of great privilege, whether you realize it or not.
For all its many, many faults, I will not apologize for saying I’d prefer to live in the America of today, where the range of educational and professional opportunities and social equality available to women has never been higher, where pervasive discrimination and disenfranchisement of black people is no longer tolerated, where political leaders aren’t being murdered in the streets, where the threat of nuclear annihilation has abated and millions of lives are no longer considered acceptable casualties in an unending plot to halt the spread of a competing economic ideology in even the poorest and non-threatening of corners of the world, than in the America of the 50s and 60s no matter what the marginal rates of taxation were.
To be fair, although US manufacturing has continued to rise in terms of value output, it doesn’t just require “fewer workers”.
The workers who do lower- to -medium high skill jobs with longer hours and greater human input have been shifted to 3rd world outsourcing nations. So a lot of good jobs in manufacturing — certainly not all, there’s still a lot — have simply been moved outside the US.
It’s not just about efficiency or automation, although that is real — it’s that much of the labor has been sent elsewhere, and what tends to remain in the US has been the higher tech, highest skilled, lower labor time positions.
It isn’t as if the Soviets were just sitting around singing the “Internationale” in the Fifties. The NKVD wasn’t exactly the Rotary Club either. Bob either overlooks, or is ignorant of, forced collectivization, mass deportations, and the details Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (Including the mass arrests and executions that followed), the decades-long punishment of Czechoslovakia (For siding with the Axis in WWII) as well as the decades-long oppression and the numerous cold blooded murders that took place in the DDR (East Germany). To imply that the US was the great villain during the Cold War years is nonsense.
Finally, I had just started High School when the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted and I clearly remember the feelings of helplessness as we careened toward a nuclear war. I also remember that the shelves were cleaned out in the grocery stores because buying lots of canned goods was about all that you could do while you waited for the fire to rain down.
Do you also prefer an America where the chances for the average person to advance economically are slightly poorer than those of people in almost any other industrialized nation? This has become an America where where the racism and nativism are still pervasive with the added “benefit” that the means to work your way up from the economic stratum in which you were born (Unless you’re a member of the top decile in income) are becoming limited to the point of vanishing. An inner city kid has no more chance today of advancing into the middle class than he or she had in the Fifties – maybe less of a chance. The thin veneer of technology that has been applied over the structural poverty of this nation isn’t a substitute for opportunity or equality.
@Dennis SGMM: The crisis was largely prompted by the US’ refusal to withdraw missiles from Turkey pointed at the USSR. This doesn’t suggest that the USSR was anything other than the horror it was in its own borders and its territories in Eastern Europe. And later, Kennedy administration officials pointed out that the USSR said that an invasion of its ally Cuba would result in a war, and the administration officials pointed out that we had given every sign that we were preparing an invasion.
The Grand Panjandrum
Shouldn’t we be thanking Chinese, Pakistani, and Malaysian children for making our cheap clothing and other assorted trinkets?
Thank you for pointing out the US IRBM’s that were positioned in Turkey. I’d forgotten that bit.
I’ve tried reading about the realities of the Cold War because I was born and grew up in it and, if nothing else, weekly duck-and-cover drills from Kindergarten through High School influenced the person that I am so many years later. I worry that the demonizing of Muslims and the drumbeat regarding the terrorist threat may affect youngsters growing up now.
@Dennis SGMM: It’s often suggested that opposing so much US intervention into the 3rd world was some sort of naive or pro-Soviet view. It’s the opposite — it didn’t actually help us, the actual population of the United States, and we all would have been much better off with freer, more developed, much more willingly allied peoples around the world. At the same time, such an approach would have been extremely effective at undermining Soviet influence, given that there really was nowhere else to turn once some independent and/or soshullist-minded governing project or movement was targeted by the US foreign policy establishment. Our leaders, of course, had different ideas.
I am still centrist. It’s the country that got right.
Pro tip: if you have to use the word ‘slightly’ as a comparison, odds are good your worse case scenario isn’t exactly damning.
I think its fascinating how you flipped from one post to another from completely absolving the United States of any moral responsibility in its foreign policy actions because of the respective villainy of communist autocracies to trying to reduce a complex society’s flaws into a single classist narrative. You’re right, you’re definitely a product of disillusioned 60s liberalism.
I have no idea how saying that a country suffering from gross income inequality while simultaneously being more feminist, less racist, and safer is definitively better than a less feminist, more racist, and less safe country suffering from gross income inequality could possibly be a bad thing, but I’m thinking you’re just looking to disagree with whatever I say no matter what knots that ends up tying you in. The progressive experiment has not failed. It hasn’t always succeeded to the fullest or the quickest, and actually never will or could, but it hasn’t failed.
The Clinton years were my high school and college years. If anything you could describe me then as a pragmatic environmentalist. I mostly focused on sustainability issues like zero-footprint housing, free bike programs, fighting factory farm waste (both in terms of antibiotics and toxic poo lagoons) and stuff like that. I found that some right wing groups, particularly hunting clubs like Ducks Unlimited and the Blue Ribbon Coalition, made really effective allies. That wasn’t ok with the narcissistic Ed Abbey purists that I ran with, so I pretty much grew out of any leftist eco-progressive utopia fantasies by ’99 or so. At that point I was studying ecology, oceanography and climate and it seemed to me that the useful window for keeping civilization limping along intact had more or less passed. That pretty much ended my interest in activism.
I evolved about the same way that Doug did. Not to say that the Bush years surprised me much; I guessed that the child is father to the man and events pretty much bore that out. Still, as recently as ’05 I tried really, really hard to talk seriously with people on the right. Anyone who read my early stuff, Doug for example, probably remembers how I antagonized left-leaning commenters to bite their tongue and communicate like grown-ups. Even Darrell gave me credit for good faith. For most of a year rightwing blogs cited my posts more often than lefties.
That’s done. For me, it ended when I tried to get Ed Morrissey to see how the ACLU could defend neo-Nazis’ constitutional rights. Total epistemic closure. Frankly, the way that every goddamn issue gets partisanized and sealed in a ziploc bag makes me skeptical about the future of this country. I don’t think most teabaggers even realize that their programmers at FOX order them to love issues like the individual mandate one day and then foam at the mouth about it the next. Goddamn dijon fucking mustard. If there were still barbarians I’d guess that we are a season or two of Jersey Shore away from getting sacked.
I am, and have been most of my life, a Howard Zinn gal -mostly due to my mom and dad, who not knowing tons of history, were FDR liberal democrats, staunchly pro separation of church & state, pro civil rights, pro union.
To someone above who posted their clued in’edness was increased by the Bush 2001 inauguration route… I was one of them and organized buses full of pissed off people from of all places, the South. I was 46 then. There were more of us then than there were celebrators of The Shrub.
I’m an anti-corporatist. Corporations and their now legal personhood suck the life blood both out of the people, the environment, civil rights, and worker’s rights – just to mention a few things. The system was broken a long time ago for me and most people. Bush v Gore & Citizens United are outcomes of privilege. Most people who vote against their own interests aren’t necessarily stupid, though of course, some are scary craxy. They have no idea about privilege and how that really seals their future. All kinds of privilege. And that is both sad and destructive to both empathetic ability and understanding systems.
I, for one, am not hopeful for my own situation, but understand that it is a better life than most people have. I feel we’ve been transported back in time – a world beyond weirdness and into an evil mean pathological evangelical Reconstruction Number 2.
And, pragmatically, I always vote for the D’s because there is a difference.
I want to see democrats throwing punches.
Personally, I’m much less tolerant of right-wing opinion around me than I used to be.
My position on the “left” is clarified, I guess. I’m really sick of the bullshit.
It might be remembered that the positions of organized, declared leftist organizations disagree on the role of participation in our existing political system.
For example, this, from the Communist Party USA.
Or this admonishment to leftists / liberals / etc considering ‘sitting out’ this election due to disappointments in Obama or the Democrats.
In fact, apart from the rhetoric of soshullism and Marxism and revolution and so forth, typically the opinions expressed by the CPUSA and its publications aren’t different from typical liberal / progressive organizations which urge people to elect Democrats in order to either protect or extend what gains for the majority of the US have been made.
now you know why I am such an angry, take-no-prisoners, dick when it comes to politics.
But I can honestly say I’ve been hip to this since 1984, thanks to being introduced to the Dead Kennedys, MDC, Youth Brigade, and many other explicitly political hardcore bands. Thank god for 1980s hardcore: it saved my life and opened my eyes.
It has, however, in recent years, gotten much worse. A friend of mine recently interviewed Jello Biafra, and realized how much of what he warned about has come to pass.
The change in your views on TARP is odd as the evidence has shifted in the opposite direction. At the time it seemed that TARP would be necessary and immensely costly. Now it seems that it will cost relatively little. The TARP bank bailout which combined loans to banks and the AIG bailout will almost certainly be profitable for the Treasury even if one counts the interest on the bonds sold to fund it as part of the cost (as one should). This is a follow up on the article I didn’t find but is OK http://tinyurl.com/32jvg2g .
My view of TARP has changed too. At the time I thought it was necessary but wasn’t thrilled. Now I think the TARP bill was (at the time, before the ACA) the best bill signed since the voting rights act.
I would have thought that one of the defining characteristics of theft is that it makes the victim poorer. It is not clear yet, whether the AIG bailout will cost taxpayers anything. Current guesses are that the Treasury is about as likely to make a profit bailing out AIG as not.
I note that you are no longer a neo-liberal, but you really seem to have gone very far very fast, since you seem to think that profit is theft.
I’ve always been left-of-center, and I don’t know that I’ve moved any farther to the left, but the last decade has certainly cemented my position. I’ve learned a few things, though:
1: Libertarians are not necessarily stupid, but they are incapable of handling nuance, ambiguity, or complexity.
2: I hate teabaggers. I hate being called a traitor, I hate being told that they are going to somehow take my country back from me, I hate their fear, their deliberate ignorance, their hypocrisy, and their contempt for me because I bothered to get an education.
3: That hatred I feel for them is the merest ember compared to the sun-like fire of hatred I carry for the media figures who prey on the fears and ignorance of others. It’s a deliberate exploitation of the weaknesses of others, nothing more than emotional abuse, and I fuckin’ despise bullies. The lot of them–I’m looking at you, Beck!–should be set on fire and kicked down a flight of stairs.
4: The hatred I carry also represents a success on their part.
I’ve always been a proud secular humanist, a devoted liberal, and a devotee of human, and animal, rights.
I dunno what these labels even mean any more, or where that puts me on the political spectrum. But the way the Republican party seems determined to take us back to William the Conqueror, I guess I am a radical elitist lefty!
But it’s pretty simple. I don’t wanna live in a mud hut. I really like dental anesthesia. I think science and progress got us out of grunting at each other in caves, and so that’s a good thing.
I thought that made me sensible.
The only difference between TARP and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are actually required to exhibit some form of honest accounting of their assets and liabilities. Which, shockingly, has tended to up the costs associated with those bailouts.
But whatever, I guess TARP saved civilization as we know it. And We All Know there were no other legislative alternatives. But if that’s the case, what possible difference does it make whether Treasury profited or not? You can’t put a price on economic salvation. These goal posts are some wily motherfuckers, always flitting about here and there…
@WereBear: Hear, hear!
As to TARP being the most important piece of legislation since The Voting Rights Act… are you serious? :facepalm:
What took you so long? I left the Republican party with Nixon, and never listened to another word they said after Reagan was elected.
Although you’re probably coming around at about the same age I was at the time.
Although I’m a hopeless lefty, I really see the right-left divide as pretty much bread-and-circues bullshit to distract the masses. The real issue is that our corporate masters have embarked on a radical remaking of the society, targeting the fundamental ideas that:
1. You should get a decent wage and standard of living in return for working hard.
2. The rule of law applies to everyone.
Without those two core principles, it doesn’t matter if you’re right wing or left wing, society’s fucked.
I have always been a socialist and I remain a socialist to this day. My husband started out as a conservative and now he, too, is a socialist.
Nice post, DougJ. I’ve always been a lefty and pretty politically aware – or so I thought. What you said about the last 20 months really resonated with me. As I talk with friends these last few months, we all come to the same conclusion. The economic and political situation in this country is simply far worse than we could have imagined.
It seemed for a while that we simply needed to get a good President and a Democratic Congress. Well, now we finally begin to see that is only the beginning. And getting from here past the reactionaries and corporatists is going to be far more difficult than we understood.
My hair-on-fire issue is climate change. But clearly, changing the political system in this country in some reasonable time-frame is a prerequisite for action on climate change in this country.
Someone above talked about how difficult it is to deal with government. That leads to my other dawning awareness. The Democrats suck at governing, in a different way than the Republicans who simply don’t care and want to do away with it. Democratic policy is generally in the right ballpark. It’s the implementation that sucks, the sheer hair-pulling-out difficulty of dealing with state or federal agencies, of not having it all be simpler to deal with. This is what gives the clueless Libertarians and Tea-Partiers such an opening.
Not sure what to consider myself. I mean, it’s pretty sad when you believe that everyone has the right to health care to be a “progressive” issue. Isn’t that just common sense? Isn’t it common sense to believe that we should make sure our country isn’t being piloted by robber barons? That corporations shouldn’t exert so much influence over our politics? That money shouldn’t determine elections? That we shouldn’t torture people? That we shouldn’t spy on our citizens? That we should provide safety nets for society’s less fortunate, especially to the children who were born into those circumstances? That we should all be environmentalists?
To me, this is all common sense.
I was a moderate Deomcrat in college. I thought I was pretty smart about politics, too. I really believed all the bullshit about how anybody can make it, and if people were poor, it was most likely because they just didn’t work hard enough. Typical college-aged, boneheaded kid bullshit. 2 years after I graduated college, I went to live in a small town in Honduras, where I taught in a little school for 2 years. That really opened my eyes.
I might have written this here before, but what the hell… There’s a big trainyard that runs through the west end of town. It’s maybe 300 or 400 feet wide and a mile or so long. Houses back up against it along the north side. Well, one morning I was up early to catch a bus to Tegucigalpa, and to get to the bus stop on the highway, I hiked across the trainyard and down to the main highway. There was a guy cutting grass in the trainyard as I walked across. He was cutting the grass with a machete.
I got back early that evening, and when I came back across the trainyard, all the grass at that end of the yard was cut. That was a shitload of grass to cut with a machete. Now I don’t know if he had help or not, from some other machete-wielding guys, but I didn’t see any, so I’m assuming he cut all that grass alone. He didn’t cut the whole mile-long length of the yard, but he cleared an awful lot of land by hand.
And I recall thinking that this guy was working his ass off, but most likely got only a few lempiras each day. And I understood that no matter how hard he worked, or how long, he was never going to get ahead in life, and only because he got a shitty hand dealt to him right from the beginning. That’s when I really began to see how things work in this world, and that’s when I took a big lurch to the left.
Bob, wasting your time responding to ignorant incompetent sociopaths like burnspbesq is pointless. This guy is a piece of human garbage, the true representative on this forum of the top 1%.
@Robert Waldmann: Were you paying attention? Assuming TARP worked it was not expected to cost much in the long run, the big problem was that the money was given with no strings attached, no reform demanded. Now that the big banks are making money hand over fist because of their ability to borrow money from the Fed for nearly free, they again have the power/money to resist the changes needed to keep them from destroying the country for their own profit again. Throw in the neo-liberal austerity freaks and there’s a high likelihood of a depression right around the corner.
I don’t think my basic beliefs about the purpose of government have change much over the years. However, my attitude has. It’s the notion that all us peons should be gratefully kissy the butts of a lot of selfsih greedy authoritarians that did it. That and the budget meltdwons happening at the stae level all over the US.
Grover Norquist has won. We are an oligarchy and the future sucks. All that bullshit about the productivity of the creative class is just Social Darwinism in disguise. I am really working on my husband about a move to Canada.
FDL isn’t representative of where the “Left” is; it’s representative of where “people who are so far up their own asses they bought property there” are.
NAFTA and Gramm-Leach-Bliley would beg to differ.
Bush and Cheney went to Iraq for the oil, it’s as simple as that. They will never admit to a mistake that they don’t feel they made. After watching those jokers for eight years do you really think ” promoting democracy” or deposing Saddam was their motive, or protecting us from terrorists? Bwa hahaha.
The US military will never leave Iraq. At least not until every last barrel has come out of the sand. There’s absolutely no way that any American government will allow an unfriendly entity to take control of that oil, and when oil shortages begin,which is coming sooner than your government will have you believe, most Americans will be right on board with that policy. “What do you mean I can’t drive anymore.”
As for politics I am and have always been to the left of Karl Marx. Try being disabled and poor in America and on the verge of my idiot countrymen electing a YOYO government.
You are a psychopath and I know I shouldn’t feed a disgusting troll like you, but this is such complete and utter bullshit that it needs called out:
Now, burnspesq isn’t always my cup of tea, but he is not some sort of elitist piece of shit, any more than Bill Gates or George Soros. The Democratic Party still fucking IS the Big Tent party. You seem to want to drag everyone down into the dirt right along with you. I don’t give a damn how much anyone here makes. I don’t give a damn where they live. I don’t give a damn if they choose the delusions of religion over those of rational thought.
WE NEED ALL OF THEM. You, me, and any of the enlightened 1% we can get. You can go ahead and ride to destruction on your purity pony, cackling all the way about how righteous you are. But neither you nor burnspesq are too far from my own core values that I won’t hold out a hand to work with in order to get us all a piece of those values put into action. You need to grow up and understand that the world doesn’t revolve around you and that your solutions or even analyses are the only or even the best ones.
WE NEED ALL OF US. Purity is the downfall of any political movement. That way lies madness and failure.
I’ve been a militant lefty since the days of Reagan. I think most gays from that time have internalized a hatred for Republicans. I’ve been lurking here for the longest time since I didn’t entirely trust u all, especially with John being a recent convert and all.
I guess politically I’m a social democrat with very strong feelings on civil liberties. I’d like to say that I would have valued competence during the Bush years, but I realize that competent evil would have screwed us even more. Incompetence in the Bush administration was our saving grace. As such, what I’ve grown to detest most of all recently is nepotism. It’s why I voted for Obama and didn’t vote for Hillary in the primaries.
I’ve always hated the media to begin with, especially with their view of gays being disordered and never being willing to truely question that established ‘wisdom’ or be objective during those days. So the milquetoast media of the current day can’t really make me dislike it any more.
Don’t forget the Telecommunications Act allowing media consolidation and which is the direct cause of our media FAIL today. Gramm Leach Bliley was the knee to the groin, and the Telecommunications Act was the uppercut to the jaw. This is why we’ve fallen and we can’t get up.
I’ve made the same move and for similar reasons as Dougj
Ten years ago I was a moderate above the fray type. Three things moved me to the left. The first was the war on terror. Everything from the idiocy and petty abuses of the TSA and Homeland Security, to the wholesale torture and destruction of our values that went on in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, to the murderous delusions of Iraq led to realize the peaceniks and hippies are right
The second event that moved me to left was taking a job in the healthcare industry. Once I saw how the patchwork system of private insurance and for-profit healthcare hindered caring for the sick as much, if not more, then it helped then I wanted a system of universal healthcare.
The final event was the economic crisis and the exposure of what thirty years of conservative ad neo-liberal policies did to the middle and working classes moved me even further to the left.
These three events, plus my theological liberalism leading me to oppose and detest evangelical fundamentalism, is what led me to move firmly to the left.
Nice observation, DougJ. I’ve been through the same transformation.
While always a hard-lefty when it came to social issues, for most of my adult life I was slightly left-of-center at best when it came to economic issues. I have a long-time drinking buddy who is a UChicago-trained economist, and he and I often found a lot to agree about, at least until the last couple of years of insanity. Now I’m ready to storm the effin’ Bastille, and of course I find myself holding my tongue with him a lot of the time—a tough feat to accomplish when you’ve had a few beers and the conversation strays to whatever current day’s outrage is from Wall St., or to the villagers’ reactions to it.
Looking back on it, I think I can accurately track the progress of my transformation based on my attitude towards Bobo’s latest spew of factual mis-characterizations and vapid generalizations. I used to be pretty tolerant of his stuff. Now each column makes me want to throttle his pink-chemised a$$.
Corporatists should very much worry about climate change. It isn’t something you can react to immediately. It will destroy markets. God’s anger (if you wish to think about it that way, feel free to name it the Green Mother) will roll over them and destroy their money.
Only a fool doesn’t create “in case” plans when smart people are telling you that something is going to happen. I think every time a faux christian starts talking about denying climate change we should bring up Noah.
One could look at it though if he’s willing to work that hard for so little pay, just what would he do for me? I suppose I would have taken his name down and figured out how I could work him into a job. You already know his work ethic right? The point is that there is also needs to be a empathetic side of those who are well off and can look at someone who has good work ethic and figure out how to get them. Maybe people don’t do that in Honduras (maybe they all have that work ethic) but in the U.S. I know there are smart employers would definitely realize that an hire someone to do something better with better pay. Of course my lefty part ironically thinks that it is also an opening for exploitive behavior.. in which case I really want to tell Ayn Rand to fuck herself. :-)
I’m kind of with you here. Although the Bush years made me realize how important it was for me to get more involved, they didn’t push me to the left as much as they pushed me away from the right. If that makes any sense.
But yes, the economic catastrophe, the perpetual reminders of how incredibly screwed the vast majority of Americans have been over the last 30 or so years, and the startling realization that no one–no one–knows how to fix any of it have made me realize that the system has totally crashed and is in need of a major upgrade. The new features we need are obvious to me but how, exactly, to get those is still a bit of a mystery.
I know that Fix Congress First is pretty much where we need to go, but honestly, my pessimism is preventing me from investing too much in that package. It’s like switching over to Linux from Mac OS9. A lot of change needs to happen first, and it requires a big investment. You want to know it’s going to work before you start. Would hate to end up with SUSE at the end of it all.
I was a democrat because I was black. I can’t lie. Liberal on issues because I was christian. It’s just plain biblical. I was also fairly young and not legal to vote. As I got older and started to live in the world, I started to notice things, things that were affecting me directly. I discovered stuff like BBC World News, The Women’s International World Report and other WBAI lefty crap. Now that I’ve just turned 41 and my future is looking to be more and more like “impoverished and homeless”, I’m determined to go out with a progressive, soc1al1st bang. If they’re gonna take the working class down, I refuse to sit there and take it. So, I suppose, I’ve swung into leftist town and never left.
I think most of the rich people in Honduras don’t really care all that much about the rest of the Hondurans. They live behind big walls and have armed guards walking the yard at night, and they just don’t see or think much about the poor people. If they think about them at all, it’s to think of them as something to be exploited. The same goes for foreign companies that run the maquilas in and near those big towns.
That’s in the big cities, anyway, Teguz, San Pedro Sula, Comayagua and La Ceiba. In the smaller towns, like the one where I lived, there aren’t that many really rich people; the richest people there are doctors and lawyers in town, and small business owners, who are fairly well off, but don’t have the scope to hire many people.
I wonder if we’re heading down the same road here, and I kind of fear that we are…
Huh? You have to include everything: Fannie/Freddie, the hidden transfer from savers to the banks (low short-term rates which are being used to stealth-recapitalize the banks), the final disposition of all the dreck on the Fed’s balance sheet, and so on and so forth.
Not sure which “profit” in DJ’s post you’re referring to, but while true profit isn’t theft, rent certainly is. But as a card-carrying neoorthodox economist (which I presume you are), it’s your sacred duty to ignore or minimize the role of rent in a modern economy, so you would either not realize or admit that.
I read this blog every day and have for a couple of years. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before. I might be wrong. But I had to reply to reply to Doug.
Ditto. Exactly. Amen. Right On.
I’m practically a dirty commie now.
I feel very much the same — was at UCLA, not Berkeley; otherwise, as a lifelong bleeding-heart liberal, I find myself reading Arthur Silber and thinking, “I don’t WANT to agree with this far-left stuff, but I’m afraid he’s right.” And then I worry that the country my grandsons are growing up in is already way down the Weimar path.
That’s my attitiude as well. I can sense that my politics have moved to the left over the last ten years, but it’s more accurate to say that I can’t at all relate to the people that call themselves conservatives anymore. I first became politically aware towards the end of my service in the USMC as the Cold War came to its end. I began reading Nat’l Review and from got turned onto some of the paleos like Robert Nisbet and Russel Kirk who both highly criticized the scope of the military-industrial complex and how war and militarism ultimately corrodes the civil order and all of those Burkean “little platoons”,home, neighborhood, schools, fraternal societies etc. . Nisbet picked up on Karl Marx and noted how the cash nexus that emerges from an unbridled “free market” will eventually do the same thing.I filed these thoughts to the back of my mind. A “free market” and a “strong defense” may not be all that, interesting… I even read FA Hayek’s Road to Serfdom some 20 years ago and remembering that even he explicitly pointed out that the state provision of social goods like healthcare is not incompatable with a free society.
However, I still continued through the 1990’s to listen to Rush Limbaugh. I even joined up in some Amway organization and listened to the “gospel of free enterprise.”
Ironically, it was a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s program during the Kathleen Willey scandal that started the gears in my head going again. That guest was Bob Somerby and I began to read tenatively at first , The Daily Howler and it exposed the GOP noise machine. I went even further libertarian in the early 2000’s reading Lew Rockwell’s site and Reason as they skewered the GOP and the Clinton Administration. I kept reading them after 9/11 as Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul spoke out against the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, NSA wiretapping, torture etc. That lead me over to Glenn Greenwald’s and Jim Henley’s sites as they were on Lew’s blogroll at the time and of course they lead me here. My GOP buddies didn’t seem to care about the wiretapping issue even as I documented for them but on other days they ranted about the imaginary Dem conspiracies to register all our guns and take them away from us.Insert Facepalm here.
My final break with the GOP/Libertarian thinking came in the wake of the Bank Collapse of ’08 after hearing even Maestro Alan Greenspan admitting that his ideas were flawed. My GOP coworkers still think our job market sucks is because the gov’t is on the backs of the producers in this country. Sigh.
In another ironic twist of fate, thanks to Ron Paul sparking an interest in economics in me, I’ve ended up becoming very sympathetic to Keynesian observations about capitalism and its policy recommendations (Krugman, Brad Delong, Mark Thoma, Dean Baker) and now mostly disagree with the Austrians,gold bugs etc.
Also, Dennis G at this site and Ta Nehesi Coates have completely unwound all of the neo-Confederate bunk I picked up at those other sites as well. Thanks!!
Perpetuating a bubble and delaying the inevitable (or burying the problem elsewhere) is not “fixing” the problem.
In the last five-and-a-half years I’ve gone from a devoutly-religious center-rightist to an agnostic and a moderate, then a progressive (i.e. a liberal who’s afraid of Rush Limbaugh), then a secular liberal, then a social democrat and finally a green.
Once the scales were lifted from my eyes and I saw the meanness of spirit and utter disregard for the truth on the right, they’ve pushed me further and further to the left in revulsion until there’s nowhere left to go. Even communism is just more authoritarian than where I am, not further left.
General JAFO Willibro
I’m going to be 61 in another month. I am *far* more left now than I was at 25. For almost 30 years, since 1982 and the election of Ronald Reagan, I have watched as my country became a third-rate empire run by oligarchs for the exclusive benefit of themselves and their hired whores and killers. So far, all the Obama administration has proved to me is that the same oligarchs now have a completely free hand to corrupt the electoral system at every level, and even when honest politicians get elected, they will have no power whatever over decisions made by “our” military and intelligence apparatus. Neither voting nor armed insurrection will reverse this state of affairs. Even a complete political and economic collapse, which seems in the offing, will do far more to bring on an upfront brand of American fascism than it will any kind of real reform. No functional left alternative actually exists in the USA; people who pretend there is are either fooling themselves or selling something.
You asked what I think, and that’s the truth. And I know plenty of other folks out here who think the same thing.
I’ve kind of wandered around a bit over time. I’ve always been very much socially liberal, but I went through a little bit of a libertarian streak for a while. But I have recently definitely moved further to the left, and I think watching the crazy from the right has been related to it to a degree. I guess I watch what corporate america does, and see how much the right wants to support that structure and it makes me angry. I don’t know how anyone can watch ‘Sicko’ and NOT get upset and angry with the state of health care in the US.
Excellent! Thank you! Looks like I’ve held true to my core progressive principles.
Whenever someone screams hysterical lies about me because I point out that the pieces of human garbage who make up the top 1% in this country need to be either hung from the lampposts or hurled into prison, I know I’m doing and saying exactly the right thing.
You know, sometimes I have my doubts. Can it really be true that our country is ruled by insane greed-crazed monsters? When I look around and see ignorant incompetent lunatics in charge of the Pentagon, Fox News, big business, health care…isn’t that scarily like claiming “everyone in the world is crazy but me”?
But no. As soon as thugs like geg6 crawl out of the woodwork to hurl shit at me, I know it’s not me: it’s Rupert Murdoch and David Petraeus and Glenn Beck and the CEOs of Citibank and Goldman Sachs and Time Warner and Wellpoint and it’s Karl Rove and John Boehner and Newt Gingrich. These people are the monsters. They’re the ones who are insane. These are the folks who need to be driven into the sea, wiped out, crushed, ground into hamburger, and sociopathic enablers like burnspbesq along with ’em.
Thanks again, geg6, for affirming my basic faith in progressive principles. As long as contemptible goons like you scuttle out from under rocks to piss on me, I know I’m headed in exactly the right direction.
Wow. Everybody’s showing off their leftist credentials and talking tough but I wonder how many people here have punched in wingnut in the mouth for the vile shit they spew or beat the piss out of some bigoted religious conservative. I’m betting the number is pretty small. Easy to talk about how evil the right wing is, not very easy to do anything other than handwringing about it and making empty boasts, apparently.
I’m an ’80s child whose political awareness was originally informed by BLOOM COUNTY.
My first opportunity to vote for president was 1992, and reality has been the gravity that ensured a continuing and unrestrained fall to the political left ever since.
(Admittedly, part of it is perspective: Although I definitely drift leftward, my opinions only may seem extreme because of the vast gulf created by the politically right resolutely marching into wingnuttery.)
Seems you blow with the wind, OP.
And these are often, or so I read, people who plan for the wealth that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will inherit. Such limited thinking. It seems to be a different version of the people who vote against their financial interests.
I look at the unequal impact of climate change already, of how most in the US aren’t really getting the impact on human beings of the huge changes we saw just this year in Pakistan and Russia, the changes that sub-Saharan Africa has been feeling for decades. We simply are not willing to look at what we and our corporations are doing to people in other parts of the world. I know it’s not limited to climate change of course. But that is the one that has the potential/likelihood of killing us all.
It’s funny you post this today.
I had dinner with a college friend of mine last night, a guy I hadn’t seen in a while. Smart guy, but he’s in finance and I know he’s been swinging farther right over time.
But after a few drinks he said this to my face last night – that if taxes went up he’d just “say fuck it and go get a nice cushy job with the state and an nice pension. ” This is a guy likely clearing mid-200s, if not better.
It’s possibly the stupidest thing I have ever heard someone say to me and I told him I wasn’t going to buy any Ayn Rand Galtian bullshit from him. I’m still sort of in shock.
I’ve consistently moved further & further left over the last 15 years.
The more FACTS I learn, the less I understand how people can continue to support the politics & “policy” of the right.