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Thirteen ways of looking at a clang bird

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By lambert strether.

The words that have never been spoken and perhaps can never be said.–Anonymous

If the Presidential campaign seems vacuous to you, that’s because it is. Here are some questions that “we” — by which I mean the legacy party campaigns, their enablers, and our famously free press — can’t seem to bring ourselves to ask during the campaign. So, I’m going to ask them now:

1. How did 8% nominal unemployment become the new normal? Here’s last month’s version of the most frightening chart in the world from Calculated Risk:

From where I sit, the employment market flatlined in 2008 and never recovered, and the 2007-2012 curve looks like successfully achieved public policy. Clearly, that’s true for government employment, where the current powers that be, uniquely for the four recessions since 1981, engineered a decrease in public sector employment, as Ezra Klein (of all people) points out:

Republicans, as Klein also points out, honor “shrinking government” during a recession more in the breach than the observance. Obama, a Democrat, actually implemented their policies, by commission at the Federal level, and by omission at the State level, since he bailed out the banks instead:

Without this hidden austerity program, the economy would look very different. If state and local governments had followed the pattern of the previous two recessions, they would have added 1.4 million to 1.9 million jobs and overall unemployment would be 7.0 to 7.3 percent instead of 8.2 percent.

Anyhow, corporate profits are high and wages are low, so what’s not to like?

2. Why can’t we prosecute the executives of major banks for accounting control fraud? NC readers are thoroughly familiar with WIlliam R. Black’s “accounting control fraud” construct, and Yves has shredded the Obama administration’s refusal to deal with it, so I need not review that material. Instead, I’ll quote William Black from a terrific summary of his speech the MMT conference held recently in Italy:

Call me old school, but I thought, when I was a regulator, if the banks I was regulating were engaged in fraud, first, my job was to stop it. Second, my job was to remove the CEO from office. Third, my job was to help prosecute him and put him in prison. And, fourth, my job was to sue him, so that he walked away with not a lira or a euro or a dollar. But all of that is gone.

Indeed. How’d that happen?

3. Why do we have to deliver health care through the private health insurance industry? Here’s the chart:

Here at least is one case where American Exceptionalism turns out to be true: The American system of health care is both exceptionally expensive and uniquely lethal. Why can’t we talk about, instead of diverting ourselves by arguing about the misfeatures of a “reform” that mostly kicks in two years from now, and has the main virtue of only throwing some few millions under the bus? And don’t talk to me about meanie Republicans; if the Democrats had wanted to pass real legislation, they would have abolished the filibuster in 2009, when they had the House, the Senate, and a mandate.

4. Why can’t we legalize marijuana? Just for grins, here’s the coverage of last 420 rally in Denver from the Denver Post, and the local NBC and CBS affiliates. Good crowd numbers, from the photos. I guess the legacy parties don’t want their votes, or figure they’ve got no place to go. Here’s Obama mocking legalization proponents on March 26, 2009. Back in “the 100 days,” when the administration cared enough to fake it, they set up a virtual town hall, and asked people to submit questions online, and vote the good ones up. “Some 92,933 people submitted 104,082 questions online, and cast 3.6 million votes to select which ones should be answered.”

“I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation,” [Obama] said to laughter [from those whose kids will never see the inside of a jail]. “And I don’t know what this says about the online audience, but I just want — I don’t want people to think that — this was a fairly popular question. We want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.”

I know what it says; it says the online audience has a good sense of public policy.Now, to be fair, marijuana legalization advocates gamed the questionnaire:

“[A] lot of the inquiries that rose to the top of the lists were about legalising cannabis. The top four questions under the heading of ‘financial security’ concerned marijuana and the pot issue was first and third under questions about ‘jobs.’”

But all that shows is that marijuana legalization advocates are determined and energetic. A President who was actually engaged with the electorate would have showed a little humanity and answered the real questjon: Why can’t we legalize marijuana? Instead, Obama got snarky, insulted them, and played to the expensive seats in his White House audience for cheap laughs. Is it any wonder his basethey didn’t have to look up 420 — aren’t enthusiastic this time around? Not that Romney’s any better. He hasn’t attended any 420 rallies. Either.

5. Why can’t we restore the tax brackets of the Eisenhower era? Here they are:

Romney:“What I’m saying is, don’t raise taxes.” Obama: “Ask the wealthy to pay a little more.” A little? Why not a lot? NOTE: I know from MMT that taxes don’t “fund” spending. However, a higher tax rate for the wealthy is good for two other reasons: (1) They can’t use all their loose cash to buy the government, and (2) preventing an aristocracy of inherited wealth is good.

6. Is Obama’s executive power grab different from Bush’s in any way that matters? Remember George W. Bush? The guy who was President before the hope and change hit the fan? |I always thought this story was especially creepy:

We know from Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, for instance, that, after 9/11, Bush kept “his own personal scorecard for the war” in a desk drawer in the Oval Office — photos with brief biographies and personality sketches of leading al-Qaeda figures, whose faces could be satisfyingly crossed out when killed or captured.

One imagines Bush fondling the pages at night. And now for something completely different:

This was the enemy, served up in the latest chart from the intelligence agencies: 15 Qaeda suspects in Yemen with Western ties. The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years. President Obama, overseeing the regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room, took a moment to study the faces. …. Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical.

To me, it looks like Obama has rationalized, normalized, and even intensified everything Bush did. Bush is perverse. Obama is banal. Which is worse?

7. Why are we in Afghanistan? The only reasons I can come up with are: (a) we need test subjects for drone development prior to their rollout domestically and (no doubt) subsequent privatization, and/or (b) we don’t want to queer General Petraeus’s pitch in 2016 or 2020. Are those reasons really good enough?

8. Why can’t we talk about anthropogenic climate change? Because skeptics can change their minds:

Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

I’m setting the bar really low, here. I’m not asking either legacy party to accept that “climate change” is real, let alone — heaven forfend — make any policy proposals. Heck, maybe everything’s fine. But shouldn’t we at least be discussing this? In some national forum? Say, an election?

9. What would ending “the war on women” look like? Would it look like a rear-guard, pissant, election-year palliative like funding Planned Parenthood? Or would it look like something more?

The 15 states whose legislatures have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment are AL, AR, AZ, FL (swing state), GA, IL (Hi Obama! [waves], LA, MI, MO, NV, NC (swing state), OK, SC, UT, and VA (swing state). Under the “three state strategy,” it would only take an additional three states legislatures to ratify, so with a little leadership….

10. Why can’t we use publicly counted paper ballots for voting? I’ll turn this over to BradBlog:

Last March, the country’s highest court found that secret, computerized vote counting was unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the country was Germany, and the Constitution violated by e-voting systems was the one that the U.S. wrote and insisted Germans ratify as part of their terms of surrender following WWII.

Paul Lehto, a U.S. election attorney and Constitutional rights expert, summarized the German court’s unambiguous, landmark finding:

  • “No ‘specialized technical knowledge’ can be required of citizens to vote or to monitor vote counts.”
  • There is a “constitutional requirement of a publicly observed count.”
  • “[T]he government substitution of its own check or what we’d probably call an ‘audit’ is no substitute at all for public observation.”
  • “A paper trail simply does not suffice to meet the above standards.
  • “As a result of these principles,…’all independent observers’ conclude that ‘electronic voting machines are totally banned in Germany’ because no conceivable computerized voting system can cast and count votes that meet the twin requirements of…being both ‘observable’ and also not requiring specialized technical knowledge.

For those who don’t understand how fully observable, precinct-based, Election Night hand-counting of hand-marked paper ballots works, one need look no further than those polling places in New Hampshire where the entire process is a matter of civic pride and community participation. We are not speaking about the centralized, behind-closed-doors, party-boss-counted paper ballots of the days of Boss Daley in Chicago or Landslide Lyndon in Texas.

In short, after polls close, a new, bi-partisan counting crew is typically brought in to relieve tired poll workers at each precinct. Each precinct’s crew counts its own ballots in carefully overseen, publicly observed groups of four – two calling out every vote, two marking each one down – as the citizenry watches, video tapes, and otherwise assures the process is on the up and up. The results are posted publicly before ballots are moved anywhere. They are never out of public oversight until the counting has been completed, which is usually done by enough counting groups to be completed before midnight on Election Night (often before some machine-counted precincts have finished!) It’s a very difficult system to game – at least without being easily caught.

Sounds like counting the votes that way would be festive and convivial. Doesn’t it bother anyone that the results of our elections aren’t “observable”?

11. Why can’t we have a debt jubilee? And I’ll turn this over to Steve Keen:

Michael Hudson’s simple phrase that “Debts that can’t be repaid, won’t be repaid” sums up the economic dilemma of our times. … The only real question we face is not whether we should or should not repay this debt, but how are we going to go about not repaying it?

A Modern Jubilee would create fiat money in the same way as with Quantitative Easing, but would direct that money to the bank accounts of the public with the requirement that the first use of this money would be to reduce debt. Debtors whose debt exceeded their injection would have their debt reduced but not eliminated, while at the other extreme, recipients with no debt would receive a cash injection into their deposit accounts.

The broad effects of a Modern Jubilee would be:

  1. Debtors would have their debt level reduced;
  2. Non-debtors would receive a cash injection;
  3. The value of bank assets would remain constant, but the distribution would alter with debt-instruments declining in value and cash assets rising;
  4. Bank income would fall, since debt is an income-earning asset for a bank while cash reserves are not;
  5. The income flows to asset-backed securities would fall, since a substantial proportion of the debt backing such securities would be paid off; and
  6. Members of the public (both individuals and corporations) who owned asset-backed-securities would have increased cash holdings out of which they could spend in lieu of the income stream from ABS’s on which they were previously dependent.

Seems like that would solve the aggregate demand problem. Surely that’s a good thing?

12. Why, oh why, can’t we have a better press corps? Contrast this post with Pravda’s Dan Balz on “8 questions: Topics that will shape the 2012 campaign in the final 100 days.” Here they are:

  1. Will the campaign be relentlessly negative to the end
  2. Will Romney’s choice of a vice presidential running mate make any difference?
  3. Which campaign is likely to have the advantage in money?
  4. Does Romney’s wealth and business record make him more or less electable?
  5. Which groups of voters do the two campaigns care most about?
  6. Is the president hostage to the economic news between now and November?
  7. How important are the debates likely to be this year?
  8. With the conventions back-to-back, will either candidate get any real bounce in the polls?

The very definition of Inside Baseball!

13. Also too: Water, food, epidemics, ZOMG!!! The debt!!!!, the empire, corporate personhood, police state, gun nuts. I could go on. But Bain also too Seamus and tax returns should learn to be an American and a job creator! In reality, Bain should completely disqualify Romney from the Presidency. And Obama’s as American as P.T. Barnum. So there we are. Emergent parties, anyone?

NOTE Oh, what’s a “clang bird”? It’s an anti-pattern in software engineering. Of course, software systems are simple, compared to what we’re dealing with…

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52 comments

  1. Kurt Sperry

    Those are questions the legacy party(ies) aren’t interested in hearing, never mind answering. Great questions stil.

  2. MRW

    About #8 and AGW: read this press release that just came out and, especially read the paper!
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/29/press-release-2/#more-68286

    “PRESS RELEASE – U.S. Temperature trends show a spurious doubling due to NOAA station siting problems and post measurement adjustments.

    Chico, CA July 29th, 2012 – 12 PM PDT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward. The paper is the first to use the updated siting system which addresses USHCN siting issues and data adjustments.

    The new improved assessment, for the years 1979 to 2008, yields a trend of +0.155C per decade from the high quality sites, a +0.248 C per decade trend for poorly sited locations, and a trend of +0.309 C per decade after NOAA adjusts the data. This issue of station siting quality is expected to be an issue with respect to the monitoring of land surface temperature throughout the Global Historical Climate Network and in the BEST network.”

    And…
    “Watts et al 2012 has employed a new methodology for station siting, pioneered by Michel Leroy of METEOFrance in 2010, in the paper Leroy 2010, and endorsed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO-XV, 2010) Fifteenth session, in September 2010 as a WMO-ISO standard, making it suitable for reevaluating previous studies on the issue of station siting.”

    The rest at the link, including the paper with data. All collected data from 1979-2008 from the USHCN sites have to be recalibrated, all models re-run.

    1. Lidia

      Wow. What a moronic lot of followers you have:
      “Seems legit!”
      “Bravo”

      These are completely ridiculous and unscientific responses:
      “The word ‘vindication’ springs to mind”
      “Turnabout is fair play”
      “well PLAYED” ??
      “Nobody beats the Rev.” ???

      If this isn’t astroturfing I’ll eat my hat.

      1. MRW

        What does this have to do with me? And you comment on the commenters to the site? The point is that after five years, a study of the USHCN station sites that measure the land temperature is complete and the formula used by NOAA (whatever that is) has been found wanting because of the siting of the stations themselves (surrounding heat, faulty placement, damage, etc.). The paper concerns the adjustment of temps to the 2010 WMO-ISO standard, if you know anything about it.

        1. MRW

          Andrew C Revkin of the DotEarth blog has more about Muller’s Op-Ed yesterday in the NYT. As Revkin describes it, Muller (BEST in Berkeley) is the one “who once derided climate change research, then dove in with his own reconstruction of terrestrial temperature changes and confirmed substantial warming, has now concluded that recent warming is “almost entirely” human caused.”

          Judith Curry was a second author on Muller’s papers for four years. Revkin asks her about Muller’s latest paper on the BEST data. Revkin reports it here:
          http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/28/converted-skeptic-humans-driving-recent-warming/

          Curry, however, was complaining last October or November about Muller’s assumptions. She accused him of hiding the truth based on the data. She refused to be apart of the paper that Muller hocked in the NYT Op_ed yesterday.
          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2055191/Scientists-said-climate-change-sceptics-proved-wrong-accused-hiding-truth-colleague.html

          What Watts’ work does, if it passes the peer reviews, is show that the temperatures taken from the measuring stations between 1979-2008 were recalibrated upwards and incorrectly. Watts, et al, uses the September 2010 new WMO-ISO standard for measurement.

          Watts’ paper says that all the historical measurements, the base temperature measurements, have to be recalibrated and that will affect all models.

      2. skippy

        In the future, methinks deniers and assorted ideological hacks should be far game…. as food.

        Skippy… that leaves the burning question – of – what would be a suitable side dish or are they consumable at all[?] (toxic). Sigh… probably not even ethical as pet food either… back to square one… damn!

        1. F. Beard

          I don’t buy the CO2 scare and I thought you had given up murder? Old habits die hard?

          1. skippy

            For one that adheres to the historical handbook of justifiable murder, whats your bloody point?

            Don’t buy the scare? That’s indicative of your ilks hole mind set ie. monetize, sell, buy, increase capital position, and anything that gets in the way of that proposition is rubbish. Ideology triumphs evidence thingy, see Galileo et al.

            Skippy… Anywho, I did say back to square one. Square one being, watching the ability of this planet to support diverse life so some ideologues can kill each other, prove whom is gawd’s favorite, enjoy prosperity.

            Well not all see:

            Management and dispersal of natural resources was an issue in Jesus’ day as well. Jesus calls his followers to live lightly on the earth, not hoarding resources but instead using only what they need. In this way, all people and all of creation can continue to flourish.

            “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe” (Luke 12:15, CEV).

            Jesus taught that there is no security in material things. Safety comes not through storing up resources, but rather through relying on God’s provision for all of creation. The Parable of the Rich Fool explains this point: a rich man’s farm produced a bumper crop one year, yielding so much grain that the man didn’t have space to store it. He tore down his barns to build bigger ones so that he could store the grain, relax, and live off his savings. But God said, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?”(Luke 12:20, CEV). This parable suggests that resources, when they are available, are to be distributed rather than hoarded (Luke 12:13-21).

            “Don’t worry about having something to eat or wear… Look at the crows! They don’t plant or harvest, and they don’t have storehouses or barns. But God takes care of them” (Luke 12:22-24, CEV). Jesus continues his teaching, challenging people to have faith in God’s provision for them just as plants and animals do (Luke 12:22-31, Matthew 6:25-34). The bottom line: “Don’t keep worrying about having something to eat or drink… Your Father knows what you need. But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well” (Luke 12:29-31, CEV).

            http://bibleresources.americanbible.org/bible-resources/bible-resource-center/topics-in-the-bible/jesus-and-natural-resources

            Or another mobs view:

            Science and Faith: Greening Collaboration?

            Christians have been relatively quiet about environmental problems, but this is changing (Joranson and Butigan 1984). Catholics have actually been addressing environmental issues for several years. Caldecott (1996) refers to the Green Pope and the scriptural basis for environmental conservation. The Catholic Catechism includes a section on creation and responsible care for the environment. Anderson, Slovic, and O’Grady (1999) include an essay entitled “U.S. Bishops” where religious leaders address environmental concerns. However, politics predominates many discussions as environmental radicals and the media supply a healthy mix of misinformation, exaggerations, and biased views along with scientific data (Sanera and Shaw 1996 & 1997, Lichter and Rothman 1999, Wallace and Christy 2000).

            However, science and faith are beginning to share more and more over this issue, yet significant disagreement over fundamental definitions remain. For example, Bunk (1999) claims that faith is not evidence-based but the Bible paints another picture. He also states that science deals with what is knowable where as religion involves that which is unknowable. Once again, according to the Bible, God is knowable and a personal relationship with the God of the universe is possible, even necessary if one is to experience eternal life.

            http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/johnson-environment.shtml

            PS. Sadly you seem to think gawd is a businessman first. I wonder why?

          2. F. Beard

            That’s indicative of your ilks hole mind set ie. monetize, sell, buy, increase capital position, and anything that gets in the way of that proposition is rubbish. skippy

            Not really. I’m concerned that CO2 reductions will kill the poor. I don’t want blood on my hands.

          3. F. Beard

            The bottom line: “Don’t keep worrying about having something to eat or drink… Your Father knows what you need. But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well” (Luke 12:29-31, CEV). skippy

            Then why fret over CO2? God can’t handle it? God can’t be trusted with the thermostat?

            Meanwhile, it is a usury for stolen purchasing power (typically from the poor) money system that is driving a planet wide, environment destroying rat-race. Fix that and then all sorts of environmental destruction should be greatly attenuated.

          4. skippy

            Give it a break will you, the poor, shezzz.

            All you want is corporations having the ability to print… full stop… ***CORPORATIONS*** you know our friends, the friends of the poor, and all other life on the planet, the evidence is all around you – us, etc.

            Hint… human beings are registered as an – out flow – of capital on balance sheets these days, more so in America than else where imo, and not as an asset (save the top tier administrators).

            Skippy… constantly wrapping your self with the victims plight is a tell, an age old trick. BTW no biblical retort to those offered? Mon dieu[!] J man was an environmentalist, say it ain’t so, seems he loathed more than money changers and the patriarchal priesthood… eh. Funny how some sermons never reach the pulpit, just bend over and except gawds gifts from those whom he chooses to disperse them… hay.

            For your viewing pleasure, from the latter link see:

            Stewardship includes verses related to the relationship between people and the environment, including the fact that “God owns the earth and people are merely charged with caring for it. Caring for the environment involves management for sustainable yields and balancing work with rest. This section also addresses caring for the needs of one another based upon the principles of God’s economy. Relatively little church music has been devoted to this topic.’ snip

            Skip….Snort!!!! Gawds green economic carrying capacity system. Hell even I can swallow that! What say you berado, I’ll even escort you to Sunday service as your concerned about your single status, with the hole family. Unckie beardo belting out hymns about gawds green and blue and putting it back the way – HE – created it, after century’s of ignorance. I’m bloody rapped with this thought!

            Blood on your hands[?], try swimming in century’s of it, but, that can be changed.

          5. Ned Ludd

            Tree are a natural way of taking carbon out of the atmosphere. Most of the non-water mass – the structure of the tree – is built from carbon in the air. Also, trees reduce crime. “Street trees, a bigger tree canopy and more trees were all associated with less crime.”

            The more land we pave, the less room for trees and other natural carbon stores. Reducing car-oriented development would solve a lot of problems. Poor people, who can’t afford cars, would benefit the most from a return to transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly development. Also, poor neighborhoods that have been cut up with freeways and major city streets would have cleaner air and better quality of life. And more people out walking and meeting their neighbors would make community activism a whole lot easier.

      3. Attitude_Check

        Is it too much to ask to have a rational discussion of the facts? If the analysis sited is wrong, or poorly justified, or just bad science, then point that out.

        WAAAY to much “religion” in your comment, and most of the comments below that since this isn’t consistent with the received wisdom, then the heretic(s) must be burned.

    2. Binky Bear

      Being at 70 north latitude today in Arctic tundra, I was dismayed that the temperature was nearly ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Clearly global warming cannot exist and the (same old story about urban heat islands from a decade ago) article cited will spark a revolution (among contrarian nutbars and oil and coal company heirs).

  3. F. Beard

    14. Why does a monetarily sovereign nation like the US borrow money? Cui Bono?

    15. Why does the government subsidize the banks with deposit insurance and a lender of last resort?

    16. Where is the general public’s bailout?

      1. F. Beard

        The US Federal Government does not fund itself with taxes or borrowing. The borrowing is a gift to the finance sector and the taxation is only necessary to control price inflation should that become a problem.

          1. F. Beard

            Money from Federal Taxes is essentially destroyed. Federal spending creates (government) money and Federal taxation destroys it.

          2. Darias

            I think it’s a matter of how you phrase it.

            The gov collects a million in taxes, and destroys the million.

            The next day the gov spends one million.

            No difference.

            If the gov has to spend more than that million, it is borrowed.

            More that per the gov, taxes are used for funding.

          3. F. Beard

            Government must spend FIRST or there is NO MONEY for people to pay their taxes! Likewise with borrowing – government must spend first before the money exists to lend to it.

            You should learn some MMT. Monetary sovereign governments are not like households though some would like you to believe that so that government money creation must be channeled through them for an undeserved profit.

          4. Darias

            I get your point.

            Based on your comments, it sure looks like you don’t trust the gov much. Same dems and reps.

            You feel if the gov had full control of money supply, this would stop?

          5. F. Beard

            The Federal Government should have full control over the Federal Government’s money supply. Whoever else? However there is no need for that money to be legal tender for private debts. Private currencies should be allowed for private debts only. People could choose whether to use fiat or genuinely private currencies for private debt. Of course “genuinely private currencies” implies no government privilege for any of them including banks.

          6. Darias

            And you feel this solution will prevent the theft of wealth from the unconnected to the connected.

            I don’t…

          7. F. Beard

            In addition, we need a universal (including non-debtors) and equal bailout till all private credit debt is paid off.

          8. Darias

            Nobody goes to jail?

            Power goes from banking industry cartel to gov cartel.

            So unions are better for us than bankers… Go figure…

            The solution may be so simple many of us may miss it.

            When children misbehave, do you let them learn from mistakes or do you run to bail them out. We chose our destiny. When the child grows up and smacks you in the face, you should not be surprised.

  4. sd

    Until there’s some open and honest debate about real issues, I just flatly refuse to vote for either of the legacy candidates.

  5. Ned Ludd

    Regarding the criminalization of marijuana, Attorney General Eric Holder admits that “the executive branch could simply remove marijuana from its ‘schedule one’ designation, thereby recognizing its medical use.” Jon Walker wrote about this at FDL site Just Say Now.

    Also, last year the DEA announced their intent to reschedule synthetic and plant-derived THC if the THC appeared in FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. “There is interest from several pharmaceutical companies who want to bring pharmaceutical products to market that are derived from compounds in the marijuana plant… This would be the equivalent of allowing Vitamin C to be legal and to be marketed while prohibiting and incarcerating those who actually possess an orange.” – Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML.

  6. citalopram

    Why are we in Afghanistan and Iraq? To hander evermore dollars to multinational corporations, especially those who build bombs, guns and planes.

    Just one more avenue where the American taxpayer is being robbed.

    Testing is just a bonus.

  7. Jack M. Hoff

    Great Post lambert. About your #5 though. Don’t you think a high tax rate would level the playing field a bit? That’s simply the feature that I find attractive about it. As it is now, Whats to keep one Buffet or Gates from controlling all the food or energy supply? And at the rate of growth of their net worths, they very well could. Besides its ludicrous that one fucking hedge fund trader should be worth 100,000 regular Joe the plumbers.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Also, it doesn’t make sense to take obscene amounts of money out of a company as personal income if, after the first million or so, you are just going to have to hand it all over to the government. Consequently, excess revenue would be reinvested back in the company as R&D, new equipment, better pay & benefit packages for workers, etc. When personal income taxes were high, an executive had an incentive to keep their company healthy for the long term since they were limited on how much income they could take out each year.

      They had to keep the goose alive to keep laying the golden eggs. Nowadays, they can kill the goose and take all the eggs at once.

  8. Cheat Sheet

    2. How’d that happen? Because Canda, Italy, France, and Croatia weakened the Convention Against Corruption to permit trading in influence and abuse of function so the US would sign it.

    8. We can’t talk about it because Red-state rubes and crackers might figure out what those FEMA camps are actually for (Hint: They don’t care about your shitty little popguns, they’re going to pen you neo-Okies in your dust bowls, in nice refugee camps. Have a nice ladle of powdered milk!)

    9. It would look like this,
    https://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/declar.htm
    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cedaw.htm
    with no constitutional amendment rigamarole, simple bicameral majority.

  9. Middle Seaman

    Nice compilation of well-known and widely discussed points. Why did we get here? If the faux left would have supported the smarter, tougher, stabler and more experienced Hillary, how much of Obama destruction could have been avoided? If OWS were more successful would we be in a better shape?

    1. Ray Duray

      Re: “If the faux left would have supported the smarter, tougher, stabler and more experienced Hillary, how much of Obama destruction could have been avoided?”

      A few years back Molly Ivins said there are only three things you need to check on to understand a politician. “The record, the record and the record”.

      Hillary Clinton in on record as being on the board of Walmart, the most aggressively anti-union major business in the U.S.

      Hillary Clinton has a record of attempting to create a privatized health care system that was so malign that it could not be passed, until Obama came along and passed Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts edition of Hillary’s plan.

      Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has been extremely aggressive and has shown great preference for military solutions to diplomatic problems.

      How in the world anyone can think Hillary clinton would anything other than a liberal imperialist entirely friendly to the elite’s game of increasing inequality and the new feudalism is beyond my comprehension.

      Oh, yeah. She’d provide a dab more funding for Planned Parenthood and be more of a “team” player on LGBT issues. But then again, those are matters of identity politics and have nothing to do with constraining the avarice of the 1%.

      The idea that Hillary is on the Left is crazy. The record indicates exactly the opposite.

  10. Hugh

    Various observations:

    First, jobs and employment are not the same as they come from different B*S surveys.

    I have problems with these job loss from peak charts, mostly because they understate the current employment problems. The population participation rate seasonally adjusted hit a high of 67.3% during the first 4 months of 2000. This is the ratio of the actual labor force, as defined by the *LS, to the potential labor force. By December 2007, the beginning of the recession following the housing bust, this had declined to 66%. Since then it has declined to 63.8%. That’s 3.5% lower than in 2000, and that’s 3.5% of 243 million or some 8.5 million people. If applied to the current labor force this would increase the unemployment rate from 8.2% to 13.4%. In my own calculations, I use a slightly lower participation rate of 67%. This yields an unemployment rate of 12.6%.

    Also job loss from peak misses increased job needs due to population growth. This would be automatically folded into an employment approach. But just impressionistically, a long recession like the one we are in, and which most of the country never left, means that there will also be a big backlog of jobs needed to make up for population growth. And this is something that the chart does not communicate.

    Second, I have long favored prosecuting the financial industry as a criminal enterprise and RICOing its participants back to the Stone Age.

    Third, we have a private payer system for healthcare because we live in a kleptocracy and it is an important mechanism for both looting and social control.

    Fourth, whether marijuana is legalized or not, it should be decriminalized. Personally, I think tobacco and alcohol do much greater damage to our society.

    Fifth, I have long supported a top marginal rate of 90%. Taxation, spending, and regulation are the three principal ways, government distributes and redistributes resources in our society. Buffett’s, Gates’, Soros’, and Romney’s millions and billions represent an unproductive sequestration of society’s resources. Multi-millionaires like Romney and billionaires like the others simply do not reflect the value they have contributed to society. The degree of wealth inequality and social unproductiveness of this wealth has very real consequences. It can be seen in our decaying infrastructure, poor education system, overpriced healthcare, and disappearing pensions and entitlements.

    Sixth, Obama’s Executive power grabs are different in that they legitimize Bush power grabs and expand upon them.

    Seventh, why are we in Afghanistan is a trick question. We are in Afghanistan precisely because we have no policy reason to be in Afghanistan. Empires are not about sense but about will. Our presence in Afghanistan is an exercise in imperial will. Our presence there is an act of will, and our departure would, correspondingly, be seen as a failure of will. I’m not kidding about this. Dick Cheney was very upfront about characterizing our “elective” wars this way. Virtually everyone else in the Washington foreign policy Establishment, Democrat and Republican, echoes Cheney.

    Eighth, we can’t talk about climate change for the same reason we can’t talk about kleptocracy. It would demand accountability and results from our elites and interfere with their looting.

    Ninth, the wars on women, minorities, and unions are all aspects of class war. They are all about setting one part of the 99% against another.

    Tenth, as Emma Goldman noted long ago, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” Doing away with paper ballots just help make sure that voting won’t change anything.

    Eleventh, I have no problem with a debt jubilee just as long as we have those 90% marginal tax rates.

    Twelfth, we don’t have a press corps. We have a propaganda corps. Much the same could be said about other professions, like economics.

    Lastly, emergent parties are anathema to kleptocrats and elites alike, unless they can be co-opted like the Tea Party, because they threaten their monopoly of political power.

    1. skippy

      Hear Hear…

      Skippy… print it and the post… and whack on every water cooler, leaning post or cracker barrel in the US of a.

    2. Aquifer

      Hugh,

      As much as i acknowledge and respect, in general, the perspicacity of your posts, i feel compelled to continue to engage you in the area of elections ….

      I think we need to parse the issue a bit more. To whit: have elections failed to produce “change” because they are inherently incapable of doing so or because their potential for doing so has not been realized?

      I know this is a cheap, crude analogy – but it seems to me rather like saying that because our modern diet is killing us we should stop eating – there are all sorts of problems with this analogy, i realize, which could be used to derail the discussion – but the point is, to conflate the potential power of elections with their results as we have processed them is to conflate the results of eating with the results of eating crap …

      Of course emergent parties are anathema to elites and kleptocrats – all the more reason, IMO, to give them serious consideration and support if they represent the 99%. ALL the ideas/solutions you bring up are anathema to that crew – is that a reason to eschew them, or to press for them?

      In previous posts you seem to support the idea of parties/candidates that “rise from the people” – this is fine in theory, but at some point in time they must have names and faces, flesh and blood – how will you recognize them? What is your criteria? Isn’t it possible they are already here and need our support, now?

      1. Hugh

        FDR was the name and face of the New Deal. He helped articulate its goals, but the New Deal was vastly more and more important than FDR.

        I don’t think it would be that hard to sketch out the goals of a second New Deal and a roadmap to get to them. Such a Deal would have a negative and a positive program for change. The negative one would be what we need to do now to stop and move away from the current failed system of kleptocracy. The positive program which is the more important one would outline the society we want and how to get to it. The danger of the negative program is that it appeals to our anger. It is about overthrowing the kleptocrats and the elites who serve them, taking back the wealth they have stolen and the power they have misused and abused, punishing malefactors and repudiating them and their ideas. I think it is easy to get lost in this phase and why it is so important to keep our eyes on the prize, of the society we can build together. The negative program is about anger. It is destructive of the past. The positive program is about hope, about building the future.

        Now you will have noticed that, in this, I have not mentioned any names or faces. That is because I think it is more important to understand what we want, what needs to be done, and how to get there. Names and faces, like FDR, are important to us because they can enunciate the ideas, help us focus our energies, and humanize what needs to be done, but they are secondary. If we have a coherent program for change, people will come. They will educate and organize. And those who can best express these ideas and make them real will become the names and faces you seek. This is a vast undertaking but a human one. There will be successes and failures, good names and bad. We will learn much along the way, but people will forgive much if they know real change is happening, that they are part of it, that they, we, are key to its success, and that we are going in the right direction.

        1. Aquifer

          “Names and faces, like FDR, are important to us because they can enunciate the ideas, help us focus our energies, and humanize what needs to be done, but they are secondary.”

          They are also the ones who pass and sign the legislation and appropriate the funds that put flesh on the bones of those ideas – those ideas such as the New Deal. Without an FDR and such ilk the New Deal remains ideas on paper, or in blogs …..

          One of Stein’s signature pieces, sketched out, is the Green New Deal – does that pass muster with you? If not, why not?

          “And those who can best express these ideas and make them real will become the names and faces you seek.”

          We pretty much know what we want – have for some time, have a pretty good idea how to get there. I posit we HAVE names and faces and a coherent program for change – have put them out there …..

          Hugh – one of my favorite “stories” is of the fellow who believed God would always save him – when the floods were on the horizon, a fellow came by in a car and said – “Get in – the flood is coming!”, he said “No, God will save me!” As the water got higher a fellow in a boat came by and said “Get in – the water is rising!” He said “No, God will save me!” As the water reached the roof, a helicopter came by and the pilot said “Get in – you will drown!” The fellow said “No, God will save me!” The fellow drowned. When he reached the pearly gates he said to God – “God, you said you’d save me, where were you?” God said, “Oi vey! I sent you a car, a boat and a helicopter, what did you want, a fiery chariot?”

          It almost sounds like you are waiting for those “fiery chariots” …… The flood waters are rising – will you get in?

          1. Hugh

            A mass movement can always create its own party. A party cannot create a mass movement. A party without mass support is a curiosity.

            To be durable a mass movement needs both popular goals and a clear roadmap. Otherwise it becomes the creature of personality (think Nader and Perot) and dies when they move on or lose interest.

            We have many examples of why new parties die, but apparently very few people are willing to learn from that history.

          2. Aquifer

            Hugh,

            “To be durable a mass movement needs both popular goals and a clear roadmap.”

            So, do you not think the GP platform reflects popular goals and a clear roadmap? It seems to me, from all that has come out, that the GP platform is the platform that OWS, e.g., would have if it were to actually draw up one …

            I agree, The Nader or Perot parties were one man shows – though their platforms represented the views of many – many who, nevertheless, didn’t vote for them, which seems rather perverse …. In any case the Greens are a wider spread phenomenon – their candidates not Big Names or monied …

            If the Greens have a good platform and decent people to advance it – pray tell, why not use it?

            Your argument rather sounds like the one advanced by the opponents of single payer – “Well yeah, Europe has successful, effective, cheaper health care, but we can’t ‘copy’ them; this is America! We have to have our own and it can’t look like Europe’s!”

            Must one eschew good serviceable ideas, positions, road maps and folks to carry the banner just because they haven’t come out of a GA somewhere? The Green stuff is the result of a movement that has been percolating for some time – honing and discussing and formulating ideas. It is ready to be taken off the shelf and used.

            Why do you insist on re-inventing the wheel?

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