There’s something I didn’t want to tell you about the Chris Hayes book, lest you cast him out as a firebagger:
Hayes allows himself a poignant thought: We need to build a “trans-ideological coalition” that harnesses the energies of both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party
I think that’s bullshit, but I was struck by how much I agreed with RedState’s reaction to Bobo’s anti-peasant diatribe (which may itself have been a reaction to Hayes’ book). Daniel Larison nails it too:
If contemporary populist movements are interested in what Brooks calls “a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king,”* it wouldn’t be surprising after the last decade of mismanagement, incompetence, and disaster brought to us by consensus-minded “centrist” managers.
I think that conservatives are actually right to point out that they don’t necessarily see neoconservatives like Brooks as kindred spirits. As much as it pains me to say this, Sully’s Oakeshott succor was part of an interesting discussion of Straussianism. He linked to an article (by a conservative) that made a point I’ve thought of before but rarely seen put so well:
The esoteric claims provide cover for Straussian interpretive preferences and shield against criticism from anyone outside the clique. Cleanth Brooks once imagined what postmodern literary critics could have made of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and it makes just as much sense to ask what the Straussians could do with the nursery rhyme.
(To provide a little context here, Strauss believed that philosophical texts often contained esoteric arguments that were at odds with the surface-level meaning of the texts.) A bunch of Sully readers then wrote in to defend Strauss from various charges (of being a right-winger, for example) by saying that maybe Strauss was wrote esoterically himself, so who knows what he was saying! So you can see how quickly it reduces to nonsense.
Beneath the layers of nonsense, there is an obsession with maintaining authority, as Lev from Library Grape reminds us, in his own critique of Brooks:
Brooks’s formulation here is that leaders are (not should be, but are, if I read him correctly) extraordinary people who are superior to us plebs, and they deserve our mainly uncritical support. This is not a shocking new concept for him, it’s basic neoconservatism. According to Bradley Thompson, the basic purpose of the public to neocons is merely to back great statesmen uncritically, in exchange for which we get the moral satisfaction of being part of The Nation.
I used to think that the purpose of neoconservatism was to give some intellectual cover to the right, and that it gained power in the United States because the right gained power. I think I was wrong. Neoconservatism is attractive to elites because it flatters them and tells them they are superior. It’s the perfect ideology for an overclass filled with mediocre minds, fat wallets, and delicate fee-fees.
I also used to think “both sides do it” was just a way of empowering the right and trashing the left. Now, I think it’s just an easy way for the establishment to dismiss all criticism of itself. Hand out a double technical and everyone will have to shut up for a while.
Sorry for the long, meandering post.
It’s more than that. I was always baffled by the conflicting positions of Charles Krauthammer, for example, ’till I found out that he was a neo-straussian that believed that it was OK–in fact necessary–to lie to or mislead the plebes. Kristol falls into this camp as well. It’s for our own good, you understand…
danah gaz (fka gaz)
The steady torrent of BJ front-page doom cannot harsh my happy today. I haz my baby sister here. You cannot fuck with my head =)
Metrosexual Black AbeJ
@danah gaz (fka gaz):
This wasn’t supposed to be doomy. It’s a happy thought that we at least agree with some conservatives about Straussianism.
I once had the ‘luck’ to be in attendance at a Straussian conference at the New School and was struck by how the 2 European academics who had never sat at the feet of Strauss had a much more lucid interpretation of what he was about. The American Straussians were in a piss contest about who had the best noted from his classes and who had put a coma in the wrong place. Like a freaking cult.
Tell me that doesn’t sound like a monarchist’s dismissal of early American democracy
danah gaz (fka gaz)
@Metrosexual Black AbeJ: Okay. That said, needs MOAR kittehs. =)
Hand out a double technical and everyone will have to shut up for a while.
I’ve always found that there are two sorts of people who use that terminology, and it depends on class. Rich and famous people who do it are using it because they see the whole enterprise as an excuse for them to swan around, go on TV, and sign off on book deals. The idea that this stuff actually really matters to some people is entirely distasteful. Non-rich-or-famous people who use the phrase are coming from somewhere else entirely: more of a “Holy fuck I do not have the time or energy to deal with this, and whenever I try talking about politics some crazy person starts yelling at me, so I’ll just try to ignore it.” Still not a good way to see things, imo, but much more sympathetic.
By contrast, the actual far-right conservatives don’t give a damn. Big chunks of them seem to think that all liberals, and never any conservatives, are to blame for everything bad in the world. For them, ‘both sides do it’ is a filthy lie used by liberals against conservatives. I’d suspect that far-right conservatives hate Brooks and Friedman as much as some of us do.
Metrosexual Black AbeJ
Lev from Library Grape does a great job with that point.
Yeah, gee, who’d have thought a philosophy based on sucking up to power would be so popular with those in power!
“Both Sides Do It” is a way of infantilizing the political activities of non-elites. They are all a bunch of Cokie Roberts’s sneering “Oh dear, the children are at it again.”
People read too much into Neoconservatism. It’s only goal is the death of all non-white, non Judeo-Christian populations.
I don’t see how that makes neoconservatism fundamentally different from baseline Randroid far-right conservatism. It’s the same basic principles – nations are defined by their elites, those elites are carrying us unappreciative peons on their backs, and we should be grateful we’re along for the ride.
The only difference is the nature of the elites in question – neocons place more faith in intellectuals and political technocrats than Randroids, for whom the robber barons are the only ones that matter.
Why do these ideas of eliteness have so much weight in a Democracy? Aren’t they why the American Revolution was fought? Because the plebs in all their scabs and dirt were more worthy that the ‘elite’ … or something like that.
@Metrosexual Black AbeJ:
So we can agree with broke clock when it is right twice a day. Good to know!
Tom the First
Whether we like it or not, we have to unite the county’s polar opposites (at least somewhat) to move forward … as Carl Jung would say, we need a union of the opposites to create a self-realized whole.
Right now, the United States has a fractured psyche.
I’ve always thought neo-conservatism was essentially watered-down fascism, what with the military adventurism and the obsession with ‘National Greatness’ and the singling out of people who won’t get on board as traitors and subversives. I don’t particularly mind the ‘fuck off and leave me alone’ crowd (who can be conservative or liberal, imo), so long as they actually practice what they preach, and not many do. Modern Tea Party conservatism, is, in practice, a sort of “Fuck off and leave me alone, but I get to boss all of you around,” combined with the long-standing libertarian fallacy that all individuals are completely atomized and self-sustaining and owe nothing to anyone else.
Stuck in the Funhouse
I think centrism is all well and good, when things are running the way they are supposed to, in a reasonably efficient manner. In this case to serve the all important middle class, that is the only thing separating us from the political power of concentrated wealth, to the detriment of the many.
Things are not good in paradise, at the moment, and the country needs to make a clear decision to reform what’s wrong, and then get about doing it. Centrists standing around scratching their heads to all the huff and puff, with why can’t we all just get along, is not what is needed at this point in time. Any more than raw right wing governance. That is currently in a clueless tail spin of delusion that more concentrated wealth will land us safely. We all go up in flames without the middle class being tended to. Even the wealthy, eventually.
More to the context of this post: I think it links to what your post yesterday about elites (the Village, etc) never owning up to their mistakes in human ways.
I also find that Brooks seems almost Hegelian in his outlook. Like he buys into the great Men of History theory and in that way, he, a total schlub if I ever met one, can bathe in the glorious light of Power.
I must say that I find our media figures to be so fawning (of all except the skinny black guy with the funny name-funny how that works out)that they are beginning to fall within categories of sycophancy cleverly sent up and analyzed by Milosz in his great book The Captive Mind.
Cons luuuuv their heroes. That’s why they think descrediting Al Gore means something. Sure, I like Al Gore, think he’s a good guy. But he could be outed as a serial killer and it wouldn’t change my opinion on global warming. I agree that right-wing populists don’t like being talked down to, but they do like having someone to worship. He just can’t be too elite-y.
Woodrow/asim Jarvis Hill
I think you got it in one, man.
My understanding is that neo-conservativism is a (d)evolution of mid-century Liberal thought (and Wikipedia backs that understanding, for what it’s worth). They basically jumped ship (in my opinion) when they realized the unwashed masses were not just going to stop at a little freedom, but wanted an equal share of power — and how that “risked” their “stable” society.
They have been, and are, the elites who care for and about other people only while they are on top. And they’ve haven’t (wrongly, but that’s beside the point of their fee-fees) felt they were on top in decades, now.
Adam Curtis has a 3-hour documentary – The Power of Nightmares – on the rise of neo-conservativism that is worth a watch if you want to be scared shitless. It includes a major section on Strauss, and interviews with Kristol pere et fils, among others.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
David Brooks is the most equal among all the pigs.
Can someone give me a dumbed down version of what Straussianism is? I know neoconservatism. I know what conservatism is (at least the new version).
not to get too much into the weeds of the Neocon Mind (as penance for some past sin I spent a long long time around these types) they deride the only for myself ethos of Rand. They are true believers in Idealism, and how Ideas move people together into greatness. Their National Greatness fetish truly disrupts the Galtian idea that one does only for oneself.
the basic purpose of the public to neocons is merely to back great statesmen uncritically, in exchange for which we get the moral satisfaction of being part of The Nation.
there’s another word for that. starts with an ‘f’ and rhymes with ‘fascism’.
Well, so why was Kristol such a Palin fan? I suppose power-behind-the-throne, give the plebes what they deserve, et cetera. But that doesn’t really explain the starbursts.
I think the problem with that Hayes quote is not that an alliance of leftie and rightie populists
could never work, but that the Tea Party is not populist. Sure, they dress the part and know how to fool people with their bluster, but their actual stated political positions are all about empowering the already-powerful and shoveling even more money at the rich. I think anyone who wants to call themselves populist should at a minimum be suspicious of, if not necessarily hostile to, people with power and money.
@Spaghetti Lee: People woe use that “type” of terminology are ballers.
OT, but, I don’t care what people say about AG Holder but stuff like this makes me smile. I love a factual smakedown.
Senator John Cornyn demands AG Holder resign, Holder gives epic smack-down response
So after Coryn’s bit, Holder’s responds
@Karen: In terms of actual policy, it’s War All The Time. Building an empire distracts people and prevents the politically unfortunate consequences of thinking for themselves.
I have to keep disagreeing with this in general, and not just in the particular case of both poles hating the (self-)centrists.
There was a time, a long while back, when Democrats and Republicans were happy to join hands across the aisle and get budgets through without obstruction. A time when two sides of the spectrum were willing to compromise to meet mutually desired goals.
Both Occupy and the Tea Party (or, at least, the folks meeting in coffee shops to bitch about the government incarnation of the Tea Party) dislike establishment politics and feel betrayed by their naturally-aligned parties. Both see a big problem with corporate financing of campaigns. Both feel robbed and cheated by their “betters”.
And I see a lot of the space between the two groups as being the product of big name pundits tossing around smears calling the other guys stupids and generally fanning partisan flames. But if you put a member of each group in a room together (and I’ve seen it happen on a number of occasions) the flesh-and-blood participants find themselves agreeing on a lot more than they disagree. I think these two groups can be reconciled towards a higher goal. And I think it is short-sighted and foolish to dismiss a bunch of rural red state populists because their neighborhood throws Tea Party rallies rather than Occupy events, when – in truth – we’re often complaining about the same issues.
Hey, Bobo always did want us to find agreement with conservatives, right? So we all agree he’s a horse’s ass. Ain’t harmony grand?
Senator John Cornyn demands AG Holder resign, Holder gives epic smack-down response
she was hot. nerd meets cheerleader. Also too–Pygmalion fantasies.
Yes, but not for the same reason that liberals don’t see them as kindred spirits.
Conservatism seeks to preserve, protect, and, in its most radical form, expand existing systems of artificial privilege. Liberalism, at least in the modern sense, seeks to limit, undermine, and, in its most radical form, destroy existing systems of artificial privilege.
The socioeconomic drive of neo-conservatism is to undermine existing privileges only to the extent that greater privileges are preserved. It’s the philosophy that says allowing middle-class homeowners to deduct mortgage interest is a good idea, because middle-class homeowners are then less likely to go on strike. It achieves order and maintains privilege by giving people (as few as possible) “skin in the game.”
Liberals don’t like it because it still maintains systems of iniquity. Conservatives don’t like it because it doesn’t maintain them completely. It is a middle-ground position only to the extent that it preserves everything each side finds completely unsatisfactory about the other.
Having said all that, Brooks isn’t a neoconservative. He’s a High Tory. Probably the last American High Tory.
Maybe he should be put in a zoo next to the pandas, or something.
I believe that we have been in a prolonged period of social Darwinism mixed with heavy doses of narcissism. Every instituion in this society both private and public has been affected by poor leadership and vision if not outright reckless endagerment. I have no idea whether it will just run its course or what. It has very little to do with right or left, in my mind and more about me, me, me.
Stuck in the Funhouse
teehee. Holder told Cornyn’s pasty his the score.
@lamh35: BUT HE LIED ABOUT THE DATE HE KNEW! BURN THE LIBRUL HERETIC NI-clang!
J. Michael Neal
Where’s my soccer thread, dammit!
Villago Delenda Est
Well, depends on how you define neoconservatism. The thing is, I don’t think most neocons rely on their set of tenets to apply to domestic policy. They’re far more interested in Empire, and propping up the vile racist Likudniks.
But they definitely like the idea that they’re superior. It is of course a very misplaced notion, given that they’re so into nepotism as a group. It’s not like that hasn’t been tried before anywhere in the world anytime in history or anything.
@Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:
Actually, no I am!
I just returned from a trip to Beijing and after so many sight seeing hours devoted to nearly indistinguishable emperors’ palaces, tombs and summer palaces, along with a healthy dose of Mao I came back and complained to all of my friends about how much I despise the great men approach to history. When I saw Brooks’ column, I couldn’t help but chuckle and think “Boy, do I know a tour he would like.”
Except, if I read Brooks right, the men don’t even have to be great. Merely in power. Or, more to the point, he doesn’t differentiate the two.
My mind constantly reels at the lack of self-awareness on the part of Bobo. Can he really be so oblivious to the fact that in terms of raw intellect he’s not any smarter than the average plumber and a damn sight less physically attractive than most and that, absent the fortuitous circumstances of his birth into a higher social strata, he’d be a 50-something lower-middle class slob living in constant fear of losing his job, his pension, his medical benefits and his Social Security and spending his last days in the poor house.
I think I was likewise blessed to attend that conference. Was Irving and Gertrude’s beaming little boy William one of the headliners?
If in fact the same gathering of illuminati, I was most disappointed by the eagerness of James Miller to find common intellectual cause with Strauss’ American acolytes. Miller has written so perceptively on the American student protest movement, Foucault, and Rousseau, as well as rock-n-roll.
Please do not sully Hegel or his adjectival form by any comparison with the oafish Brooks. Great and astute invocation/citation of the great and astute Milosz, though!
Yes, I think you are right. For Brooks Power=Greatness.
@Villago Delenda Est:
That’s true. The word “neocon” does most often get applied in foreign policy, not domestic.
Forum Transmitted Disease
You are correct, they don’t. Neocons don’t place a high priority on bashing faggots, are unlikely to scream “Thank you, Jesus” after a local high school football team’s victory and, indeed, are likely to cluck in quiet disapproval if someone is so uncouth as to use the word “nigger” in their presence. All smack of liberalism, as far as they’re concerned.
Authoritarian mindset. Gore is fat therefore anthopogenic global warming is false, because Al Gore is the Authority for global warming, so all his followers do is believe whatever comes out of his mouth, so discrediting him is discrediting the movement. And since authoritarians aren’t interested in what’s actually true, just who’s in power, discrediting the global warming “movement” makes them less powerful and therefore the right-wing tribe wins. Simple. A lot of them really don’t understand why this doesn’t convince everybody. They’ve been doing it forever: Charles Darwin recanted on his deathbed therefore evolution is false, you know.
They’ve got enough trouble mating without BoBo next door dampening the mood. Put him in Small Mammals.
Metrosexual Black AbeJ
That article Sully linked to does a pretty good job.
Here are the two key points with Strauss, as I understand it (and a philosophy-degreed friend says this is about right):
a) The belief in Plato’s “noble lie”, that people accept the fact that leaders are superior, even though it may not be true.
b) The belief that philosophy texts contain hidden meanings, at odds with what they appear to be saying.
First, I urge people to buy and read the book. I have not felt as strongly about a book since Will Bunch’s Tear Down This Myth. And I read a lot of this stuff.
Second, I think the metrosexual transgendered black lady isn’t being entirely fair to either you who haven’t read the book or to Chris.
The idea that the conflict we are facing now is conflict between the institutionalists, the failed meritocrats, and the insurrectionists, everybody else, is a core principle of the argument. The rank and file conservatives–the conservative populists–are part of the insurrectionist group. This isn’t something kind of added on at the end of the book, although it is at the end of the book where Chris explicitly discusses the need to find shared values among conservative and liberal populists. (It’s not like this doesn’t happen. The unanimity of response to the bankster bailout is one example.)
So there is no question that he sees the corruption of the elites who are part of the Obama administration in and out of public office as an illustration of the problem (pp152-153):
I find that, wherever I travel these days, in this country and overseas, whenever I see some statue I say to myself, “Who’s that? Eh, some other asshole on a horse.”
Can someone explain how this works that this Metrosexual black whatever the fuck person can come on there and post 5 fucking posts a day flogging that fucking book.
Obviously people are getting paid to post this bullshit somehow. Just curious how it works.
Having said that, what can I do to counter besides pledging to never ever buy any book I see flogged on this site and telling everyone I know the same and going out of my way to dish the book on other sites every chance I get………….besides all that.
Cornyn was on rightie radio this morning, whining. Basically he said that Holder is uppity.
Holder did very well.
LOL @ your Darwin example, because it’s so true. I’ve read furious conservatives in online arguments before trying to convince liberals by going “how can you not believe this? Even DARWIN believed it! DARWIN for Pete’s sake!” on subjects totally unrelated to evolution, as if Darwin were some sort of God and you can win any argument with a liberal by invoking His name.
Ditto their pointing to various things (science, feminism, environmentalism) and claiming that they’re “the liberal religion.” It truly doesn’t compute in their minds that not everyone comes to their worldviews through rote repetition of things said by trusted and infallible authorities.
Go pick on Bill Clinton because he harmed people in this country.
He did everything to benefit himself.
You don’t like Obama, fine, but stop trying to paint him as corrupt.
Obama earned that money. Just because someone does have money doesn’t mean they are crooked.
This dehumanizes people.
@Villago Delenda Est:
American neoconservatism was born out of anti-Stalinist Marxism of the 1930s and 1940s, and is largely built on disillusionment with radicalism. It examines democratizing forces, recognizes their key claims and aims, but rejects democratization as the inexorable path to totalitarianism. Thus it tries to co-opt those aims in the least restrictive manner possible. This is the font from which all neoconservative policy, foreign and domestic, flows.
Put another way, you can’t starve the peasants forever because they’ll rally behind some authoritarian demagogue then kill you and take your shit. It is conservatism that speaks the language of Marxism, in that it recognizes class antagonisms and sees them as inevitable, but seeks ways to preserve existing hierarchies so as to maintain a kind of domestic tranquility. This is probably why Brooks gets confused as a neocon; he’s a sucker for Burke, and Burke says a lot about the necessity of hierarchy to guide the masses away from destructive radicalism. But the similarities are mostly superficial and end here.
If Brooks must complain about a society where authority is suspect and each individual is king, can he still support the “invisible hand” of conservative economics? After all, if we are all acting in an economic system where only our individual interests work towards the greater good — an economic philosophy that Brooks supports — can he then complain when individuals don’t listen to authority when it is not perceived to be for their own individual interests? Individual is king in his economic system, but he seems to think he can isolate economic activity from the social activity of deference he yearns for. How can he call it semianarchy when he also professes individuals acting alone follow the higher, natural but hidden order of free markets?
Brooks is incoherent to his core. But since he thinks he has a gold soul and we have only brass, perhaps he expects us to bow in obeisance to his “noble” lie.
Yes this was the conference. There was also a previous conference much smaller and less publicized in 99.
/wanders now if we know each other! ;)
I would agree that Brooks aspires to Hegel but can’t even lick the man’s boots (and I am not the biggest Hegel fan).
So glad you so got the Milosz. He is one of my intellectual heroes.
That’s Chris Hayes I am quoting, Maude. My point is that Chris does indeed see that these problems are institutional vs insurrectionist, that the tea party is part of the latter, and the Obama administration (or, if you prefer, the centrist democratic leadership) is part of the unaccountable, self perpetuating institutional elite.
@samuel: Blather, blather, lolwut?
But…you annoy everyone, everywhere, so that’s not going to work.
Not really. Bottom line, the British wouldn’t let the colonies have control over their monetary policy.. even the “boston tea party” is just another cover to explain actions to the plebes. Fundamental cause: The elites in the colonies were told by the elites in England that the colonies couldn’t use their own scrip as private currency.
Note that the War of 1812 was caused by the end of the First Bank of the US, because that made several elites in England [who made the majority of the investment into that bank] poorer.
@Citizen_X: Not everyone on a horse is an asshole, however.
Brooks professes belief in a system where everyone should act only in their own best interest and then complains that they don’t defer to authority.
Self-government is only for those who would not wish to impose any limit on my agency.
This is the brittle thread that ties all forms of American conservatism together.
That was supposed to link to a picture of US Grant’s monument… I am vastly computer illiterate.
Typical nonsense. It just divides people.
We need to get out of the hole the financial sector dug.
The Republicans are blocking everything so that Obama will lose.
If Romney gets in, we are in trouble.
FDR was wealthy.
Maybe this is just callow and vulgar, but I find it hard to take a philosophy seriously if it leads to the conclusion “Vote for Mitt Romney.” And there is no doubt that Brooks’ philosophy will lead him to that conclusion.
I’m curious Maude. Is there anything Obama could do that would lead you to vote against him?
I think where he gets hung up is that “everyone” translates into his mind as “everyone important”. The end result is the ludicrous spectacle of angry villagers who are just scraping by financially, throwing themselves on the altar of rich people’s self-interest. For the angry villagers, being greedy self-absorbed pricks would be a step up, both for themselves and for society.
That was stupid. You can’t argue and stay on point.
He’s worse than Bush, he sold us out.
Just stick with that, it’s easier.
Could the same be said of this post?
I mean, you’ve got the esoteric angle covered.
As for the surface-level meaning of the texts: Who could have predicted that B-J would end up being a source of po-mo analysis?
A lot of illuminating and thought-provoking points made above. I agree with the conclusion that Brooks is to some degree, basically, a monarchist and prefers the plebs be sheeple, and that there is no doubt some of the tendencies of fascists loom ever larger in the conservative mindpool these days. The scary part to me is how utterly blind to the real world and the massive failings of our so-called elites in tending to the needs of everyone else one needs to be circa 2012 to express those sorts of feelings, and yet how prevalent those expressions have become.
I fall somewhere in the middle of the scale in thinking that there is, in fact, a place in a society for some sort of elite, so long as their purpose is essentially to act as a gatekeeper to the levers of real power. Sort of a perpetual country club initiation system to keep the full-on charlatans and pretenders out. In a capitalist society, we’re going to have stratification – it’s to what use the wealthy are put that matters. My sense is that, in an earlier age, some sense of noblesse oblige and small “c” conservatism served us well by producing an upper class that comported itself appropriately and for the most part understood that it was standing on the backs of the unwashed masses. Over time, that’s eroded as aristocracy and lack of true economic mobility have taken hold, as well as an economic system in which the majority of the very wealthy get that way not through industry but financial services that add little of tangible value to the world and don’t rely on actual labor. That’s created a permanent overclass utterly out of touch with the other 99%, aware that there are no real ramifications to their actions, and generally untethered from any requirement to participate in the social contract. That’s how we get a stripminer with a legitimate shot at becoming President while spouting ridiculous memes like “job creators” and “death tax.” Which is what’s so frustrating about the Tea Party – as someone upthread alluded, there is some populism and dissatisfaction with the elites bubbling way down deep there, but it’s all been co-opted by fearmongering and wedges and stabbed in the back rhetoric and consequently turned in the wrong direction.
The most obvious response to Brook’s ridiculous piece yesterday is “Fuck off, monarchist. Go read the Declaration of Independence.” Another, however, would be to say: “Right. Better elites, please.” Part of republicanism vis-a-vis some sort of pure “democracy” in which everyone votes on everything is the contract between the governed and those they elect to govern them, wherein we put our trust in the elected. We’re all OK leaving the decisions to someone else and having just an occasional check on them, and being “followers.” But we’re just not getting results worthy of that trust. Unfortunately, we don’t have the structural elements in place to change that anytime soon.
Maybe that sounds too “both sides do it,” I don’t know. The system is broken, though, despite one side doing a lot more swinging from chandeliers and smashing all the china than the other.
@Citizen_X: Centuries of history condensed to “Our former leader once slept here.” This obviously applies to many U.S. tourist attractions as well. My next trip will be based around gorgeous views of nature.
I think you put it very well. As an immigrant to this country I can tell you that one of the things that drew me here to begin with was the sense that the elites here, at least in some not so distant past, had a sense of obligation to the country as a whole, like there was a driving imperative to create a society that was better all around. Unlike the societies in Latin America, where I come from, where the elites were always predatory.
Now, I find myself thinking the US is in for a nasty period where you suffer the fate of the rest of the continent experiencing what Predation from Above feels like.
re: strauss, his claims of esotericism are not methodologically suspect, at least in the field of medieval jewish philosophy, which is where he made his claims. if you read the writings of moses maimonides, the great 12th century jewish philosopher and theologian, in his book “the guide of the perplexed,” it is clear from his very forward that he does not feel comfortable writing plainly all that he means to imply. he relies on a certain class of philosophical reader to be able to elicit what he really means.
I am not arguing Maude. I’m asking you a serious question. It is, for instance, pretty clear that the plan is to cut social security benefits in the lame duck session. If the president said that he was okay with that, would you withhold your vote? For instance.
Is there any position he could take that would lead you to withhold your vote?
The calculation is pretty simple. Romney would be a much worse President than Obama, so I shouldn’t vote for him. No third party candidate has a realistic chance of winning, so voting for one of them increases the chance that Romney would win. Therefore I should vote for Obama. The only thing that could convince me to do otherwise would be if Obama did something so awful I changed my mind and decided Romney was a better candidate, which seems vanishingly unlikely.
Incompetent elites is a huge problem. http://bit.ly/MBAGWU
Evil is bad too, and there is plenty of that. This combination–stupid and evil–is why the followers aren’t following the evil, unaccountable liars who are running things right now.
Right. That’s my question. What is an instance of “so awful” that you’d either stay home or vote for Romney?
What do you mean by lame duck? My understanding is that lame duck is when a president in in his second term.
As far as Social Security being cut, I’ll wait to read the bill that is written.
I am on SSDI and do have a real interest in following what is done with Social Security.
I vote. I don’t stay home.
I didn’t ever say that I agreed with Obama 100%. Stop trying the Obot bit.
If you want a serious discussion, then state some facts instead of supposition and speculation.
I like you and am glad to go back and forth with you, but you can’t mush your way out of something.
@Zifnab: A reasonable and nuanced view where you are not calling anybody names. In short, what the f*** are you doing here?
Sorry, but if Chris Hayes thinks that Bill Daley has power in the Democratic Party because he worked for a bank, he’s a total fucking idiot who doesn’t understand how politics works.
Does Hayes happen to mention who Bill and Richie Daley’s father was? Just, ya know, as an aside to talking about Bill Daley’s work at various banks?
If Obama came over to my house and personally kicked my dog in the face, then I would stay home. Is that enough of a ridiculous fantasy assertion for you?
What is the point of your question? No one is playing fuck/marry/kill here.
Why speculate about bizarre things that will never happen? There is already plenty of evidence of what kind of man both candidates are already, or what their actions have been already. If someone has not made up their mind already they are not paying attention, or they are just pretending in order to get someone to pay attention to them.
“What do you mean by lame duck?”
The end of the current legislative session, following the 2012 elections is the lame duck session. Congress can (and will, in all likelihood given the various deadlines hanging over the country–the bush tax cuts expiration, the sequester, etc) pass legislation that the president will be pressured to sign. This is the moment of least accountability for the legislature–many of them are not going serve in the upcoming legislative term, and are posturing for post-office K street jobs. Those who will remain in the respective chamber are as far removed from an election as they ever can be, and what they do will be swiftly forgotten after the inaugural address.
You may have noticed the reintroduction of the failed Bowles-Simpson draft, of Simpson in particular running around again saying SS has to be cut. You may have noticed Dick Durbin on Meet the Press saying that everything is on the table. You may have noticed Nancy Pelosi refusing to take a position on SS cuts. You may have read the B-S plan (“The Moment of Truth”), which proposes raising the retirement age and cutting the COLA calculation.
That’s one of the issues I am worried about when I see the phrase “grand bargain” and read about “taxgemeddon”–that the lame duck session will be used to gut Social Security.For me there is no change in the tax structure that justifies touching SS, the single most successful public policy program in our history. (my discussion of this with Alex Lawson,of Social Security Works is here: http://bit.ly/Kjh8s2 )
But that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking you a simple question. What is a showstopper issue, for you? What would lead you to say, no, I won’t vote for this guy, or no, I won’t vote for this party?
@Maude: Maude, you completely conflated what jay said when he was quoting Chris Hayes. There’s no refutation of the piece he quoted. And he never once said Obama was “corrupt” for having money.
@Mnemosyne: Your sheer inability to stay on point when arguing with someone continues to astound me. Just stunning in its mendacity.
Weird, you guys have been promising us for four years now that Obama is totally going to cut social security benefits, and every date that you pick has been wrong. Despite that, you just pretend you never made the claim before and shift the date to a new no, really, you guys, it’s totally going to happen this time, I promise date.
You do realize you’re starting to sound like one of Harold Camping’s followers, right?
He would have to propose a policy that’s at least as bad as what Romney is currently proposing. Since Romney has backed the Ryan budget, that means at a minimum proposing we end Medicare. And before I go crazy and decide to stay home, I’d like something more than your bare assertion that “the plan is to cut social security benefits in the lame duck session.” Some kind of citation would be nice.
Basically, I think the prescription for improving Washington is more and better Democrats. Even if Obama is threatening to accept cuts in Social Security, it’s because he’s negotiating with Republican crazies in Congress and that’s the best he can do, not because he’s a big believer in starving granny. Obama has been forced into bad deals with the Republicans because they have the power to make deals. Give Democrats majorities in both Houses of Congress (and eliminate the filibuster) and Obama will stop caving to Republican demands.
And Obama’s incentive to sign legislation passed by an outgoing Republican Congress that dragged their feet on every piece of legislation since they took over the House would be … what, exactly?
LOL. He leaves that as an exercise for the reader. The point, of course, is not the narrow question of Bill Daley. He goes on to talk about Summers and DE Shaw, Roger Altman and Gene Sperling, the money made by Axelrod and Valerie Jarret–about the fact that “The 1 percent and the nation’s governing class are more or less one and the same. If you are a member of the governing elite and aren’t a millionaire, you’re doing something wrong. And if the divide is between the 1 percent and the 99 percent really is a defining feature of our politics, how can the 99 percent trust that same, wealthy governing elite to zealously pursue its interests?”
This is why I was saying that DougJ wasn’t being entirely fair. It is a core argument in this book (an argument I agree with, but that’s beside the point) that the failure or meritocracy is not a partisan issue–it’s a question of conflict between the institutionalists like David Brooks and Barack Obama (or Bill Clinton, or Jamie Dimon, or Ben Bernacke) and insurrectionists like the OWS movement or the Tea Party. The elite who run things believe that they are in their position because of their merit–that their hard work and innate intelligence justly place them at the apex of the society–and that they act to maintain their place at the apex by preserving and defending institutions like TBTF banks.
@jayackroyd: But you’re missing the point. Roger — and those of us whose calculus is the same as Roger’s — aren’t going to stay home. We’re going to vote. So the question is what Obama would have to do that is so awful that we actually see Romney’s policy prescriptions in total as superior and vote for him.
Are you saying that i’ve misstated the contents of the B-S proposal? Are you saying you don’t believe the reports that the Boehner and the administration had come to a deal that was derailed by the House freshmen?
But let’s leave that aside. The question I am asking is is that a showstopping issue for you? If the president said that he will sign legislation that would implement the B-S proposed cuts in return for the restoration of the federal income tax to the rate structure in place for those who earn 250K or more, would you be all right with that?
Metrosexual Black AbeJ
You’re an idiot.
Actually, there’s one thing Obama could do that would make me stay home for the election: send his goons around to injure me severely enough that I couldn’t make it to the polls. That would probably convince me that he was a bad enough person that I wouldn’t want to vote for him anyway.
The incoming Congress is going to be even worse. Of course in that case the Republicans would probably want to delay action until the new Congress was seated and would agree to some kind of short-term solution until they had the power to really ruin things.
Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor
Just FYI for any other audiobookers: Audible version of Hayes’ book is on sale for $16.95 today.
On Medicare,Ryan proposed exactly the same policy that Henry Aaron, Brookings, and the New Democrat policy think tanks have been proposing for more than two decades. Details here: http://jayackroyd.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/vouchers/
Ryan did just what Obama tried to do with HPACA–adopt the language and proposed mechanisms offered by his opponents. In Obama’s case, it was the mandate. In Ryan’s it was premium support.
If that’s your showstopper (and remember what the republicans did to Medicare when they were last in office–expanded it) you’d best pay close attention to what gets said over the next few months.
Moreover, the real deficit issues (SS has nothing to do with any deficit, by law) are related to medical care and have to be fixed. The current narrative is that this is because of skyrocketed Medicare costs, but that is a false narrative. If you are really concerned about this, I would push back as much as you can against that narrative.
I know it’s been said before but, gosh-darnit, I would love to fail upwards as spectacularly as our resident (adjectives fail me) has.
I think I’ll go live unda ‘da sea.
Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
Pardon me if it’s been addressed in the previous comments, but…
I think that if OWS would engage in a bit a message discipline and pare down to “Get huge sums of corporate money out of our political system,” it would have populist appeal on both the left and the right. There might be the critical mass then to blow away the obstructions and to engage in a real conversation over the issues that follow.
Valerie Jarrett is your example of an elitist 1 percenter running the country with no sense of how real people’s lives work? Really?
I hate to break it to you, but that ain’t Koch Industries money by a long shot. And I’m even more confused by your putting David Axelrod in that group.
You’re really not giving me a very good view of Hayes’ book here since, by your account, his book basically says that anyone who ever had any success working in politics is automatically an elitist on the level of a Koch or Bush.
You sound like you’re playing Name That Tune.
are these New Black Panther goons? Who will then go vote twenty times in your name? ;)
Yeah, but the resistance to answering this question is interesting.
It’s also interesting that conservatives are willing to lose rather than sacrifice principles–they wouldn’t turn out for Poppy because he violated a sacred vow of no tax increases. Here the consensus seems to be that Team D is more important than any particular policy position, or, as you put, that the sum of Team D’s policies, no matter how watered down from where you’d like them to be in a perfect world, are better than the sum of Team R’s policies can be.
You do see, though, that following this strategy has been counter productive–that team D has less in common with that perfect world now than it did 20 years ago? And less then than 20 years before?
if newt gingrich is “a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like,” brooks is newt’s idea of what a real intellectual sounds like. brooks has been getting by on his obsequious mien and his dimples for so long he’s bought into his own schtick. his “vast spaces for entertaining” are merely his due.
I’m saying that you have conflated two different things: the PowerPoint presentation that Bowles and Simpson gave to the press after the report failed to get out of committee and the actual committee’s report. Whether you’ve done that deliberately or not, I don’t know, but you’ve been citing things from the PowerPoint presentation as though they’re part of the final report when they are not.
Here’s the actual report by the actual commission [PDF]. Read it for yourself and see how much it has in common with the Bowles/Simpson PowerPoint presentation.
I believe an offer was made with the full knowledge that Boehner would never be able to get it through the House and would end up shooting himself in the foot. Why that head-fake has freaked you out to the point that you’re now making claims about how Obama is going to sign everything the Republicans pass in a lame duck session, I have no idea.
Urging us to buy the book seems to mean he is in agreement with the book. His next paragraph is pretty clear about Obama.
He also used them big fancy words that mean nothing.
I don’t know how to conflate.
@jayackroyd: But the idea that there is such a thing as an “insurrectionist” strikes me as rather wishful thinking. Tea Partiers didn’t object to the bank bailout because it enriched banks; they objected because it was a large expense of government money, going anywhere, for anything. The whole Santelli rant emanated from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and was against the idea of helping people whose mortgages were underwater. That’s not populism, that’s just anti-government, I-got-mine-fuck-you-Jack-ism. They’re outside the “established” power structure, but, you know, they admire captains of industry and all their sharpest grievances are about keeping the people who deserve to be worse off than they are continuing to be worse off than they are. It’s only superficially similar because it involves everyday people taking to the streets with signs. Well, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 had Habermasian democratizers and reform-minded feminists side-by-side with Islamic fundamentalists, but that didn’t mean they accomplished a trans-ideological coalition.
p 154: “when entering office, she reported a money market fund that held between 1 and 5 million dollars”
“Axelrod reported income of $1.5 million the year of Obama’s election.”
No, I certainly didn’t say that, nor do the quotations from his book.
But it is interesting that “having any success working in politics” means income and wealth in the top one percent of American earners. That’s the point he’s making–is that the people who run the government, who get into elected office and who work for those people are part of a tiny, wealthy elite who do not have much in common with the people they govern.
You agree with that, right? But you also believe there are degrees of difference between having a couple of million dollars in assets vs a couple of billion, right?
Sorry, forgot the other half of the question:
If the president went along with the commission’s recommendations to raise the FICA cap past $100K and to make it easier for people 60+ to retire if they are partially disabled, I would be ecstatic. I would need to see some reliable analysis of the proposals to do an income-based sliding scale of payments, but I am not in favor of doing it that way without some solid numbers showing me it would actually be better.
It only seems like resistance to you because you’re hung up on your framing of Obama as sole candidate. He isn’t. He doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He’s running against Romney and both men’s records have to be in play when people who intend to vote (rather than sit home, which you keep conflating with voting for the other guy) are deciding who they’ll be supporting.
You’d be hard-pressed to recreate that situation today. Not only is there not a third candidate running, but in the intervening 16 years the GOP has significantly stepped up its tribalism. Most of the people calling themselves Republican can’t stand Mitt Romney. But they will not be staying home in November, liberal fantasies notwithstanding.
First there is no committee report. They couldn’t get the necessary 14 out of 18 votes to report anything out. Easier for those following at home to refer to the Moment of truth FAQ: http://bit.ly/Kdv8oX
Criticism: Raising the retirement age will represent a hardship for older workers who are unable to find jobs or are physically unable to work.
Response: When Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, average life expectancy was 64 and the earliest retirement age in Social Security was 65. Today, Americans on average live 14 years longer and retire nine years earlier. To account for increasing life expectancy, the Commission recommends indexing the retirement age to gains in longevity. The effect of this is roughly equivalent to adjusting the retirement ages by one month every two years after the normal retirement age (NRA) reaches age 67 under current law. At this pace, the NRA would reach 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075. Even with this modest increase in the eligibility age, future retirees will still spend more years in retirement and receive substantially higher lifetime benefits in inflation adjusted terms than current retirees.
The plan recognizes that an increase in the eligibility age would pose a hardship for workers with physically demanding jobs. The plan sets aside funds to provide a hardship exemption for up to 20% of retirees to protect those who may not qualify for disability benefits, but are physically unable to work beyond the current earliest eligibility age (EEA). A recent RAND analysis conducted for AARP reported that 19 percent of early retirees claimed a work-limiting health condition that would have limited their ability to continue in the paid labor force. The plan provides protections for this population while gradually increasing the eligibility age for the 80% of workers who are able to work beyond the current eligibility age. The plan directs the Social Security Administration with designing a policy over the next ten years that best targets the population for whom an increased EEA poses a real hardship, and considering relevant factors such as the physical demands of labor and lifetime earnings in developing eligibility criteria
Criticism: The plan would make deep cuts in Social Security benefits for middle class workers
The plan would move to a more progressive benefit formula that slows future benefit growth, particularly for higher earners. This benefit formula change will be phased in very slowly, beginning in 2017 and not fully phasing in until 2050. Because all bend point factors will continue to be wage-indexed, future beneficiaries will continue to have inflation-adjusted benefits larger than those received by equivalent beneficiaries today.
Without action, the benefits currently pledged under Social Security are a promise we cannot keep. The do-nothing plan would lead to an immediate 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut for all current and future beneficiaries in 2033, regardless of age or income.
Under the Fiscal Commission plan, the highest earners would be asked to contribute the most to Social Security’s solvency – both through higher contributions and through a targeted reduction in the benefit formula. Middle-income workers would be asked to contribute more – mainly by working longer – but they will still see benefits far higher than what they make today and far better than what current law allows after the trust funds run dry.
At the same time, many low-income workers would be better off due to a new enhanced minimum benefit.
Criticism: Using chained CPI for Social Security benefits would be unfair to seniors who have less ability to substitute cheaper alternatives and face higher cost of living than the rest of society.
Response: There is a broad consensus among economists that the measure of inflation currently used (CPI) overstates inflation, and that chained CPI is a more accurate measure of cost of living. Supporters of this measure span the political spectrum, including experts from the right-leaning Heritage Foundation and the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Some argue that Social Security and other age-related programs should calculate COLAs using the CPI-E – a measure that attempts to estimate inflation for a market basket that more accurately reflects the items purchased by the elderly.
The chained-CPI has been developed and refined over more than a decade and is now widely accepted as a more accurate measure of inflation. By contrast, the CPI-E is still an experimental measure, and many questions remain about the methodology used in calculating the CPI-E and the accuracy of the measure. In a recent issue brief discussing the options for using alternative measures of inflation for indexing government programs and the tax code, the Congressional Budget Office said that “it is unclear….whether the cost of living actually grows at a faster rate for the elderly than for younger people” and cited research suggesting that the CPI-E may overstate inflation.
This is Balloon Juice. We don’t have to answer questions.
This has become eye rolling boring.
Actually, this is a clearer summary:
Social Security Reform
5.1: MAKE RETIREMENT BENEFIT FORMULA MORE PROGRESSIVE. Modify the current three-bracket formula to a more progressive four-bracket formula, with changes phased in slowly. Change the current bend point factors of 90%|32%|15% to 90%|30%|10%|5% by 2050, with the new bend point added at median lifetime income.
5.2: REDUCE POVERTY BY PROVIDING AN ENHANCED MINIMUM BENEFIT FOR LOW-WAGE WORKERS. Create a new special minimum benefit that provides full career workers with a benefit no less than 125 percent of the poverty line in 2017 and indexed to wages thereafter.
5.3: ENHANCE BENEFITS FOR THE VERY OLD AND THE LONG-TIME DISABLED. Add a new “20-year benefit bump up” to protect those Social Security recipients who have potentially outlived their personal retirement resources.
5.4: GRADUALLY INCREASE EARLY AND FULL RETIREMENT AGES, BASED ON INCREASES IN LIFE EXPENCTANCY. After the Normal Retirement Age (NRA) reaches 67 in 2027 under current law, index both the NRA and Early Eligibility Age (EEA) to increases in life expectancy, effectively increasing the NRA to 68 by about 2050 and 69 by about 2075, and the EEA to 63 and 64 in lock step.
5.5: GIVE RETIREES MORE FLEXIBILITY IN CLAIMING BENEFITS AND CREATE A HARDSHIP EXEMPTION FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT WORK BEYOND 62. Allow Social Security beneficiaries to collect half of their benefits as early as age 62, and the other half at a later age. Also, direct the Social Security Administration to design a hardship exemption for those who cannot work past 62 but who do not qualify for disability benefits.
5.6: GRADUALLY INCREASE THE TAXABLE MAXIMUM TO COVER 90 PERCENT OF WAGES BY 2050.
5.7: ADOPT IMPROVED MEASURE OF CPI. Use the chained CPI, a more accurate measure of inflation, to calculate the Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries.
5.8: COVER NEWLY HIRED STATE AND LOCAL WORKERS AFTER 2020. After 2020, mandate that all newly hired state and local workers be covered under Social Security, and require state and local pension plans to share data with Social Security.
5.9: DIRECT SSA TO BETTER INFORM FUTURE BENEFICIARIES ON RETIREMENT OPTIONS. Direct the Social Security Administration to improve information on retirement choices, better inform future beneficiaries on the financial implications of early retirement, and promote greater retirement savings.
@jayackroyd: Conservatives are willing to lose rather than sacrifice principles precisely because liberals have a good-government technocratic streak that cushions conservatives against ever having to live under fully-in-effect liberalism. There are no ruthless liberals — it’s pretty much a contradiction in terms. There are, in fact, ruthless conservatives bent on ruining everything good about American liberalism, and they have to be stopped.
IOW, if conservatives win, they pillage and plunder and we real the whirlwind. If liberals win… Well, liberals per se don’t win that much. If Democrats win, such that liberals have some influence on policy, they work to care for even the biggest assholes on the other side, because that’s what it means to be a liberal. Look at, to my chagrin, old people. The Democratic party is committed to responsible and humane stewardship of resources for them. And the reward is that they bitch and moan and are so gullible that they fall for the worst kinds of lies and bullshit and bigotry. And yet we don’t try to cut them off to punish them, we fret that they’ll end up worse off if policies shift. That’s what being a liberal in government involves. Caregiving and cleaning up messes.
You lost me at “Sully.”
So you’re saying there is no showstopping policy–that the partisanship has become so overwhelming that you’ll hold your nose, no matter what?
(Not that there is anything wrong with that. That may be where I end up. Certainly where I was six months ago.)
I guess that, unlike you or presumably Hayes, I think that a person like Axelrod or Emmanuel who went to public high school (even elite magnet or suburban ones) has more in common with the people they govern than someone who went to Andover.
I think there is a degree of difference between people who were born into wealth and people who built that wealth themselves. Do you really think that there’s no difference between how George W. Bush was raised and how Barack Obama was raised? That, because they both have money as adults, they both have the same attitude towards, say, single mothers or students who need scholarships to go to college?
My question to you is, do you really think that there’s no difference at all between someone who earns millions through the work that they do and someone who inherits it from their parents? Are their life experiences exactly the same because they both have money as adults?
This is all pretty clearly detailed if you read Irving Kristol’s “Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea.” Neocons see themselves as alternately either the philosophers guiding the king, or philosopher-kings. They’re hard core Platonists.
@Maude: Roger did answer the question. Maybe you couldn’t see his response because you were so busy being volubly bored.
@jayackroyd: I suspect that Chris Hayes makes enough to place himself in the top 1 or 2 percent for income. The top 1 percent threshold I could find was around $380K. If he were elected to Congress, would he suddenly be captured mentally by the concerns of his class?
@jayackroyd: I’m saying, as Roger has already said, that Obama would have to have worse policies in toto than Romney for me not to vote for him. We keep saying it, and you keep ignoring the responses and insisting that there must be some magic bullet (for you, a rumor of SS benefit cuts is apparently sufficient) that will enable us to pretend Obama is the only man running for the presidency in 2012. I imagine you’ll do it again after glancing at this comment.
Great, some actual facts:
This is the “sliding scale” I referred to that I would need a lot more persuasion to support.
Sounds good to me. What’s your objection?
Again, sounds good to me. What do you object to in this?
I oppose this — I think 65 is already overly optimistic, especially given age discrimination in the workplace and that people over 50 are still over-represented in the long-term unemployed after the crash.
Works for me — what’s your objection?
This refers to raising the salary cap on FICA withholdings, which liberals have been screaming about for years now. Why are you opposed?
I have not made my mind up about this yet — I’ve seen good arguments for and against on both sides.
Since many state and local employees are losing their state-run pensions but are barred by law from participating in Social Security, I am in favor of this.
Seems harmless, especially since so many conservatives seem ignorant about the existence of IRAs and 401(k)s and constantly demand to know why the government won’t let them save for retirement.
So, of the 9 proposals, I am strongly in favor of 6, against 1, and ambivalent about 2. Sorry, not a dealbreaker.
@Sly: American neoconservatism…examines democratizing forces, recognizes their key claims and aims, but…co-opt(s) those aims in the least restrictive manner possible.
Put another way, you can’t starve the peasants forever because they’ll rally behind some authoritarian demagogue then kill you and take your shit. It… recognizes class antagonisms and sees them as inevitable, but seeks ways to preserve existing hierarchies so as to maintain a kind of domestic tranquility.
Very interesting. So FDR was the original neo-conservative? Who knew?
Now did America fail neo-conservatism or did neo-conservatism fail America?
Also: the documentary Arguing the World. Excellent source of information and how all these people are connected.
@Mnemosyne: Also, even if dastardly Obama did everything jay et al dread to Social Security… It’s not like Romney has a plan to _improve_ the program. So even the worst thing Obama could possibly contemplate is better than what Romney says he would do. Doesn’t that negate the deal breaker status of that particular litmus test?
@FlipYrWhig: I said that to my sister: that she should have to live in the world that Republicans would create if Dems didn’t styme them. She lost her shit.
You’re raising precisely the issues Chris raises wrt to meritocracy. His experience at the NYC elite public high school, Hunter College HS, is how he opens the discussion.
He notes, p 20:
Ben Bernanke, son of a pharmacist and substitute teacher
Ken Lay raised by a farmer in Missouri
Angelo Mozilo (Countrywide CEO),son of a Bronx butcher
Bud Selig, son of a first generation romanian immigrant
Blankfein, raised in a Brooklyn housng project
It actually doesn’t help, in his view, that people are convinced that it is by dint of talent and assiduity rather than good fortune that puts them where they are. Part of the argument does indeed entail recognizing that the elites do their best to pull up the ladders, and that more ladders have been pulled up with each passing postwar decade. (E.g. HCHS has become less diverse as test prep has become more available to more well-to-do kids.)
5.4 and 5.7 are the meat. The rest (other than raising the cap to 90%) are attempts to mitigate the impact on the poorest retirees of these two cuts.
They are also measures that are designed to turn social security from a social insurance plan into a plan for poor people.
But I think you’ve answered my question. You largely support the B-S SS proposals, right? And would support the president signing a bill that implemented these changes as part of a grand bargain deal, right?
@Mino: It doesn’t seem fair, or sporting, or something, that one party gets to wreak havoc when they prevail, and the other party always has to be steady and responsible. But that’s the way things are right now. Democrats are the Do Something Constructive party, complete with nasty internal schisms about what the best constructive thing might be and whether it’s liberal or conservative, populist or business-friendly. Republicans are the Do Nothing party. We can’t let that take over. It’s far worse than even GWB was.
It’s hard to say what republicans will do in office to programs that affect their base voters. As I noted, last time they raised Medicare benefits. And they certainly don’t stick to any of their promises with respect to budgets, deficits or debt.
Reagan did indeed cut SS benefits. But I don’t think you can point to a Republican administration since then that has reduced benefits to people over 60. And back then there really was a problem with SS funding.
Now, you could point out that they are promising not to hurt those self same people–that the republican cuts are promised only to those under 55. But, IAC, I’m a little confused.
Can I say that cutting SS benefits is a showstopper for you? And that I’m just wrong when I suggest that may happen, so it’s not worth talking about because it is SUCH a showstopper for you and the Dems that it can’t possibly happen, so there’s no need to ask you whether it is a showstopper?
@jayackroyd: But if you think liberals should have more guts to protest rightward policy shifts by withholding their votes, doesn’t that also suggest that we also have the guts to make conservative-voting old people fight for their own interests? Why should we knock ourselves out to help them when they give us so little in return? If you want to use policy as carrots and sticks, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to box yourself into a position where old people’s interests are unassailable, it seems to me. This is a case where upholding liberalism as an ideology is very much at odds with being a hardcore partisan.
He might make that much now with the teevee show, although I don’t know, obviously. And he is a product of the meritocratic institutions he discusses in the book.
But the point isn’t so much that there are rich people in government. It’s more like Sam Spade and Brigid O’Shaughnessey–“look at the number of them”–the person who writes the drug provisions of the PPACA is a big Pharma lobbyist. The pretty simple in concept Volcker rule turns into a 300 page proposal BEFORE being handed to the regulatory agency. It’s not just one example or two–it’s systemic.
@jayackroyd: I think I need to know a lot more about what “cutting benefits” actually involves. Hypothetically, a swap of money now scheduled for Social Security benefits goes instead to, say, publicly funded childcare for all, or a more robust system of free community clinics might be a very good trade. My objective in terms of policy would be to ensure that older people not be left indigent. Is it possible that their benefits may become excessively generous? I can see that as theoretically possible; thus I can see that changes to indexing systems may be fair rather than duplicitous. But those are all in the spirit of hypotheticals. I don’t know enough about the merits of the specific proposals to make a blanket statement about “cutting benefits.”
So you have no objecting to changing the benefits formula (5.1), only to changing the CPI (5.7)? IOW, you’re perfectly okay with making Social Security more like a social welfare program by giving richer people less money but changing the inflation formula should be verboten?
Though I do love how you grudgingly admitted that maybe raising the cap was not part of the dark plot to KILL SOCIAL SECURITY!
I largely support giving more money to poor and disabled people, yes. I realize this makes me a monster in your eyes.
Probably. But, then, unlike you, I don’t see where the catfood buying comes in — perhaps you can point out to me how letting people who are unable to work past 62 retire early is a dastardly plan to get rid of SS?
@jayackroyd: True. There’s a famous moment in the early Bill Clinton administration, and I think it was William Greider who wrote about it, where Clinton says something like, “Wait, so no matter what I do, my future depends on a bunch of fucking _bond traders_”? And, sadly, the answer is yes.
So everyone else in his same position who was raised the same way has been enthralled by the evil elite, but somehow he escaped and now only he can lead the way and show us the truth?
You’re really not helping him here.
@Mnemosyne: And, I admit, in my weaker moments I think, “Hey, if you didn’t want to be spending your twilight years eating cat food, maybe you shouldn’t have dedicated yourself to voting for people who promised to cut taxes and spending. You were hoist on your own petard, Gramps. Now it’s up to you to convince the rest of us that we need to cough up _our_ hard-earned tax money to support _your_ bony ass.”
To be fair, I think much of the driving force behind this is actually from the younger Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers, who assume that they could totally invest their money better than the government could and that they will always be lucky in the stock market. The ones who bought into Reaganism lock, stock, and barrel and are unwilling to believe their lying eyes and see how low Reaganism has brought us.
Clinton put the offset onto Social Security and impoverished a lot of people.
The Social Security trust fund is by law. To break into it and change where the money goes, they have to change the Social Security law.
Seniors are quite good at getting out the vote.
My problem with you is speculating about Obama gutting Social Security.
There is no evidence of that at all.
I don’t deal with phantoms.
This has been going on since FDR signed SS into law. The entire New Deal has been a sore spot with Republicans
As with several people I know, the Walker recall vote had a catalytic effect on me. I’m out of denial.
We’ve lost, pure and simple. We, liberals, have lost our role in the democratic party, and lost our influence on voters. Our repeated failure to deliver something better has cost us their faith, and now they figure if they’re gonna get fucked, they’re not gonna get fucked alone, and at the very least they shouldn’t have to pay more in taxes so that teachers can get pensions they can’t get.
Chris blames this on the decline of the meritocrats–that they’ve placed their interests above the country’s, with destructive results. The party apparatus really doesn’t give us a mechanism to change this from within. So it’s gonna take some kind of outside game, involving populism that threatens the establishment. OWS is an inkling of that. So are some of the people who make up the conservative populist movement.
Because what we believe is widely held–that you should be able to play by the rules and not get fucked for it, that we do some things better collectively than individually and that the government should be a trusted third party keeping everyone honest, regardless of background, income level or social standing.
We’ve lost that, pretty badly. And we’re not getting it back by listening to Jamie Dimon tell us how smart he is.
Carville is supposed to have said that.
I don’t think I said anything like that.
BTW, I am confused. Is your view that Obama opposes the B-S reforms, or that he supports them? Or, perhaps more clearly, that it would not bother you if he came out in support of those provisions as part of a ‘grand bargain?’
Did you see the Bowles-Simpson post above?
@jayackroyd: I think a lot of that is true, but I think you’re setting up a Gordian knot where populist-leaning outsider direct action has the potential to change structures of power, but that the new structures of power that would emerge if the “insurrectionists” triumphed would not necessarily make policy, especially on social issues, that would make bleeding-heart liberals (which is more of my persuasion than class-based populism) any happier than they are now. Or, to put it another way, people power always seems appealing until you have to deal with actual persons. YMMV.
BS has not been through Congress. More speculation.
I read it.
I don’t give up and these times aren’t as bad as some this country has gone through.
The Civil War, for instance.
The Great Depression.
The 1960’s was terrifying.
I have to say this. The bit about cat food is really dumb. Cat food is expensive and you can’t buy it with food stamps. It was always a bad analogy.
What I’ve been getting from your explanation of Hayes’ argument is that it doesn’t matter what background someone comes from, once they’re part of the elite, they’re in thrall to them. Which, logically, should also apply to Hayes himself since he is now part of the elite despite his background.
So is Hayes’s argument flawed and you can’t automatically judge how in thrall someone is to the elite based on where they went to school and how much money they have, or is Hayes arguing that everyone from that background except himself is part of the elite?
Sorry, but this is starting to sound like the 1960s upper-class liberals who idealized the working and lower classes for being so much more “authentic.”
My view is that he supports them and is willing to take the not-so-good parts to get the good ones. You can decide for yourself if changing the CPI index is a hill to die on if it means not getting the salary cap raised, but it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable trade-off to me.
If it was these specific provisions as written, I would not have a problem with it. If some of the important ones that would mitigate the bad ones (like the salary cap) were dropped, I would have a big problem with it.
But, no, as written, I do not have a deal-breaking problem with the deficit commission’s proposals. I’m still waiting for you to explain why the proposals are so self-evidently awful that you don’t even have to make any arguments opposing the entire plan.
@jayackroyd: Not to answer for Mnem, but I myself can imagine a scenario where taking money out of Social Security benefits and dedicating it to something else instead is a worthwhile trade. Taken in isolation, “Social Security cuts” will always sound ominous. But that’s true of “defense cuts,” too, and yet we tend to be open to those. As a matter of priorities, it’s quite possible that older people are getting more than their fair share, just like makers of military hardware. But I don’t know what the real fair share ought to be, so I can’t go much further on the topic.
in practice it would work more like the GOP insurrectionists have operated–by scaring elected officials into moving their positions.
In the meantime, though, it’s worth doing things that are (or should be) nonpartisan, voting rights and elimination of gerrymandering to start with. We can’t do anything about CU, or about Dimon testifying to the people he’s bought off already, but we can make the system less recondite from the ground up.
Another thing we can do is do as the GOP insurrectionists have done, and get active in local elections, local politics. Like, for instance, @LisaforClerk.
“What I’ve been getting from your explanation of Hayes’ argument is that it doesn’t matter what background someone comes from, once they’re part of the elite, they’re in thrall to them.”
Right, that’s what you’ve been getting. But that’s not how he claims it works, nor is it anything like anything I’ve said.
“is Hayes arguing that everyone from that background except himself is part of the elite?”
No, he is not. Why would anybody make a stupid argument like that?
“My view is that he supports them and is willing to take the not-so-good parts to get the good ones. You can decide for yourself if changing the CPI index is a hill to die on if it means not getting the salary cap raised, but it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable trade-off to me.”
Thanks. BTW, you’re under a bit of a misapprehension. The retirement age is no longer 65, but depends on how old you are. 67 for people born after 1959, and some age greater than 65 for those born after that. B-S proposes raising that age to something like 70 for the group that is currently at 67.
“I’m still waiting for you to explain why the proposals are so self-evidently awful that you don’t even have to make any arguments opposing the entire plan.”
I have two problems (and ten minutes to describe them)
1) We (me, in particular born in 1958) already had our benefits cut, substantially, by the Greenspan commission, and our taxes raised, substantially, to fund our retirement at the current benefit structure. All that money is there, legally is assigned to pay benefits. Taking that away reneges on that commitment, for no reason whatsoever. The benefits are fully funded until the 2030s and are fully funded forever at the current real benefit level, 75 percent of the projected level from 2030 on. there is, as Maude says, no problem whatsoever with social security, by law. Any claim to the contrary is simply a lie.
2) Once the law is changed, once SS is removed from its special, brilliantly designed, protected status as its own trust fund, it will turn into a general revenue welfare program and will no longer serve as the only reliable bit of social insurance the US provides its citizens.
No, you do not understand.
Social Security is not just a spending a program. It’s a carefully designed, self perpetuating trust fund that is not part of the general federal budget. the trust fund fully funds benefits out as far as can reasonably projected. there is absolutely no reason to make any changes to SS now. None.
I know the feeling, but my better angels generally convince me otherwise. Even if I weren’t interested in preserving Social Security for the substantial fraction of old folks who want to keep the system running even after they’re dead, I am most certainly interested in preserving it for my own old age. Killing Social Security now might give me the satisfaction of leaving the greedy old bastards to starve, but that will be little consolation when I’m the one starving.
Even if that’s not enough to wake you up (and I know you said it’s only in your weaker moments you feel that way) consider whose plans you’d be fulfilling that way. You aren’t the one who wants to kill Social Security. It’s the Republicans who want to do that, and trying to turn young people against old is just one more example of their divide and conquer strategy. Let the thought of denying the Republicans victory give you the strength to do what’s right.
You’re going to get what you deserve. (151 comments in and I’m the first with this? Srsly?) Let’s go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
1) I was born in 1969, which means my retirement age is even later than yours, and yet I see no reason not to make most of the proposed changes (as I said, I oppose raising the retirement age beyond where it is already set and feel that 65 is too high for the current economy. I may not have been clear that, yes, I know 67 is the current minimum, but if I think 65 is too high, what do you think I think of 67?) For one thing, keeping the salary cap at $100K will hurt us more and more as inflation causes salaries to go up on paper and exempts more and more income from FICA. For another, the current way of calculating inflation is causing a slight overpayment in benefits, which is why the change is being proposed. I’m not sure why we’re supposed to overpay what was promised in the name of keeping our promised.
2) Please show in the report where there is any proposal to end the Social Security trust fund.
ETA: In 2030, I will be 61, still 6 years away from retirement. And I’m supposed to be pleased at the prospect of getting 75% of the benefits I’ve been paying into?
LOL! What a shocker that you and your fellow OBots want to cut Social Security. You’re your own best punchline.
Yes, because raising the salary cap over $100K and allowing more people to retire early is cutting Social Security. Good one.
Maybe because you are an idiot?
See comment #72 and reply in #94
Or maybe you mean “lost me” due to disinterest, not incomprehension.
That would be a cut you reactionary. At this point, I’m not even sure if you’re dishonest, or just very confused. Either way, it’s hilarious.
@Spectre: Look, come on, we’re actually having a pretty reasonable discussion here. So, let’s turn it another way. Why not double or triple the Social Security benefit? What would be the downside to that? If anything that can be defined as a cut is an abomination, is anything that can be called an increase praiseworthy?
@jayackroyd: I agree, on the scale of potential problems facing the nation over the next 30 or 50 years, Social Security is nowhere. There might be reasonable ways to fix whatever’s wrong with it, but there are mindboggling numbers of other things with much worse issues and much more difficult fixes, starting with climate change. There’s no reason to spend a bunch of time on issues involving retirement funding, compared to others. It’s not even rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, it’s planning the buttons on the next Titanic crew uniform.
BUT but but if we’re just blue-skying hypotheticals in this space, then, sure, there are ways that something that could qualify as a cut to that program or an adjustment to its funding, that truly did leave beneficiaries with less money than projected, that _still_ might be worth doing. If we were starting a publicly funded retirement program from scratch, how would it work, and what level of benefits should it pay out? That’s where the wonks come in, and I’d listen, and I wouldn’t insist that the way it works now is sacrosanct.
I’ll say this for Sully, he may be the world’s biggest poseur (and a jackhole of olympian proportion), but he’s at least consistent about SOME thing–in this case that we only can fail conservatism; conservatism cannot fail us… and that he again managed to drop Harvard into the first paragraph of any article in which he tries to position himself as the intellectual inheritor of Burkeshott.
Liberalism may have some functional parallels with neoconservatism, but, as with Neocons and Burke, the similarities are largely superficial.
FDR didn’t design the New Deal to eliminate radicalism, though that was an effect of it. Roosevelt, as a modern liberal, respected democratic power and, given the oddball political coalition he cultivated, he had to in order to survive. Neocons fear democratic power, while traditional conservatives hate it. To round out the gallery: neoliberals ignore it and leftists romanticize it.
@Unsympathetic: While I agree with your historical interpretation of why the American Revolution occurred, Neldob does touch on an important aspect of all revolutions….those that began as the revolutionaries end up being the ones in control and once they’re in control, they end up acting in similar ways to the people they overthrew. I know there is a term for this or some famous person noticed this (maybe Jefferson when referring to the French Revolution?)….In any case, you’re right but Neldob is also right in a general sense. And the irony is, that many cons (tea partiers, neocons and libertarians) see themselves as the rebels when they are in fact the elite. More of their delusion, of course.
At least jayackroyd was able to bring some actual facts to the table. Why don’t you read some of what he posted and then come back and tell us again that I’m wrong about what’s in the deficit committee’s plan and, like, there’s totally nothing in there about giving extra money to disabled seniors or raising the salary cap for FICA.
@jayackroyd: excuse me? The Tea Party is entirely a creature or certain factions within the elite. It has no independent existence. Entirely otherwsise is the Occupy movement. That is insurrection. The Teahadists are the forces of reaction.
Back at the keyboard, but assume this is deadthreaded.
If your concern is dealing with the 2030’s era issue that the payroll tax alone is projected to cover 75% of projected benefits, then that’s not hard to fix. As you’ve said, drop the cap. Problem solved. There’s no reason to cut benefits, and cut them A LOT, for the people who have fully funded the program through that 2030s window.
It’s absolutely fucking absurd to say “oh my, here we have a program fully funded for a generation, that has been the most successful policy program in the history of the US, and we should therefore gut it.” There is no earthly reason to cut SS benefits. None. No reason at all that anybody has offered.
You can make a case for raising the payroll tax to cover the projected pay out. You can make the case for saying that we’re just not gonna meet the projected payout if there isn’t enough economic growth to offset the current projection (that 75% of projected benefits is greater than current the current benefit payout in real terms.) But there is absolutely no reason, at all, to fuck the baby boomers who paid additional payroll taxes to make sure that the pig in the python didn’t take the system down.
A serious Democratic leadership would just say screw you. Let’s do nothing. Tax cuts expire. We’re good to go. Now let’s build us some infrastructure and create some jobs. Oh, and use that 50 billion dollars in HAMP money to do like Iceland did.
That’s simply not so. The populist conservative movement preceded the co-opting of Armey and his minions, just as the OWS movement preceded the attempts by DC groups who have tried to co-opt them.
If nothing else, you cannot deny that the torrent of calls to Congressional offices in September 2007 was not the whole 99 percent. http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1845209,00.html
Chris Hayes notes that these are both upper middle class populations:
Whether you blame Obama’s socialist health care program, or the Republican fealty to big oil and the other oligopolists, you’re still getting screwed by the Very Serious People who make up the governing elites. “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare” is on the one hand an incredibly ignorant thing for a woman sitting in a Medicare scooter to say, but on the other a real concern that ordinary people are risk–a concern that is not confined to either the Tea Party rank and file or OWS (which is all rank and file–nobody on the Dem side wants to bankroll them enough to be able to co opt them).
Certainly – power corrupts!
One problem with today’s issues is that the issues are not simple – they’re very complex. For example, “no regulation” is not liberty – in fact, precisely the opposite – “no regulation” is the lever by which the top 1% rips wealth from the middle class. However, dumb people support that slogan because they simply refuse to learn the mechanics of how white-collar fraud actually works.
When you watch things like urokomovie.com, you see that the same insular circle of families who ran the show in England [Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan etc] have been running the show in America… to your point about becoming the same, the seed money has always been from the same families in all empires going back to the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages, so I don’t think that is a point of distinction.
Repeat after me. REGULATION IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO MARKET COMPETITION.
An unregulated marketplace results, as night follows day, every single time, in monopolies by capital holders, by business interests. This theme dominates the first liberal tome–The Wealth of Nations. Without regulation, you get trusts, you get Pinkertons killing strikers, you get company towns, you get a nutritional supplement industry selling crap that is outright harmful,you get banksters fucking over mortgagees, you get rigged IPOs.
Regulation is essential to the operation of the invisible hand.