Michael Hudson Shreds Obama’s Orwellian Speech on Middle Class Prosperity

Michael Hudson was so incensed by what he called a “Blairesque” speech by Obama on Wednesday that he took it upon himself to comment on its all-too-frequent sleights of hand and outright fabrications. However, you’ll also notice that the speech contained so much bullshit (in the Harry Frankfurter sense of  indifference to the truth) that eventually Hudson’s comments thin out a bit.

The original speech is in black. Hudson’s remarks are in red. You’ll see he took mercy on you and edited the speech down a bit and also bolded some of the, erm, remarkable parts. I’ve added a few observations, in blue. I hope readers in comments will join in the fun by extracting sections or phrases from the speech and explaining what they really mean.

The worst is that Obama apparently plans a series of Big Lie speeches on his “vision for rebuilding an economy that puts the middle class — and those fighting to join it – front and center.” That’s at best an afterthought, since he’s given the economy over to an at best indifferent and at worst predatory elite that have no interest in giving it back.

President Barack Obama returned to Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., Wednesday to discuss his plans for boosting the middle class. Here are Mr. Obama’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:


In the period after World War II, a growing middle class was the engine of our prosperity. Whether you owned a company, swept its floors, or worked anywhere in between, this country offered you a basic bargain – a sense that your hard work would be rewarded with fair wages and benefits, the chance to buy a home, to save for retirement, and, above all, to hand down a better life for your kids.

But over time, that engine began to stall. That bargain began to fray. Technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent others overseas. It became harder for unions to fight for the middle class. Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the rich and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor. The link between higher productivity and people’s wages and salaries was severed – the income of the top 1% nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, while the typical family’s barely budged.

MH: Obama did not mention the role of debt in this, increasing the cost of labor and the financial overhead of its employers.

In this speech it is as if he thinks that telling people that he knows how squeezed they are means that he wants to solve their problems.Rather, their squeeze is the profit of his backers.

Towards the end of those three decades, a housing bubble, credit cards, and a churning financial sector kept the economy artificially juiced up.

MH: He doesn’t mention the legacy of debt that he had promised to write down, but didn’t.

But by the time I took office in 2009, the bubble had burst, [so it’s not his fault; he just inherited the problem – but what of his refusing to back Barney Frank’s proposal to link TARP to a mortgage-debt writedown by the banks receiving the funds?] costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings. The decades-long erosion of middle-class security was laid bare for all to see and feel.

MH: This “erosion” became the gains of the banks and Wall Street institutions that became his largest political campaign funders.

Today, five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back.

Together, we saved the auto industry, took on a broken health care system, and invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil and double wind and solar power.

Together, we put in place tough new rules on big banks, and protections that cracked down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies. We changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest at the expense of working families, locking in tax cuts for 98% of Americans, and asking those at the top to pay a little more.

MH: This is unbelievable hutzpah. He increased the FICA wage withholding tax, he let the crooked mortgage lenders off without prosecuting them, and levied only a few pennies on the  dollar of fines. He is trying to rewritehistory while most people are still engulfed in it.

Add it all up, and over the past 40 months, our businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs. This year, we are off to our strongest private-sector job growth since 1999. And because we bet on this country, foreign companies are, too.

MH:  It is not “strong” job growth when the jobs being created are mainly service-sector jobs paying the minimum wage or barely above it. This is not growth; it is merely keeping up with  population WITHOUT reviving wage levels in keeping with the cost of acquiring housing, health care and paying education debts.

Right now, more of Honda’s cars are made in America than anywhere else. Airbus will build new planes in Alabama. Companies like Ford are replacing outsourcing with insourcing and bringing more jobs home. We sell more products made in America to the rest of the world than ever before. We now produce more natural gas than any country on Earth. We’re about to produce more of our own oil than we buy from abroad for the first time in nearly 20 years. [there goes out water supply, which is being polluted simply to bring down oil prices and hurt Russia, Iran etc.]  The cost of health care is growing at its slowest rate in 50 years. And our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.

MH:  In other words, the government is NOT  spending enough into the economy to revive employment and wage levels.

Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth [He has steadfastly REFUSED to clear away the debt rubble that continues to impose debt deflation  on the economy.] In our personal lives, we tightened our belts [this means, paying DOWN debt – and thus diverting spending AWAY from goods and services], shed debt [not shed much; paying it down out of salaries, at the cost of reducing consumerspending on needed toods and services is not “shedding” debt; that is what Obama promised to do, and which he stood by and told Geithner, “just trick the suckers. ‘Foam the runway’ for us to foreclose at a rate that won’t collapse the property market or the market value of bank mortgages] and refocused on the things that really matter [getting his backers, the banks, paid in full, NO debt write-down]As a country, we’ve recovered faster and gone further than most other advanced nations in the world. With new American revolutions in energy, technology, manufacturing, and health care, we are actually poised to reverse the forces that have battered the middle class for so long, and rebuild an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead.

But I’m here today to tell you what you already know – we’re not there yet. Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past ten years have continued to flow to the top 1%. [If he can’t deny it, best to come right out to say it – as if he’s shedding crocodile tears rather than delivering what he promised to his campaign contributors.] The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999. And companies continue to hold back on hiring those who have been out of work for some time.

Today, more students are earning their degree, but soaring costs saddle them with unsustainable debt. Health care costs are slowing, but many working families haven’t seen the savings yet. And while the stock market rebound has helped families [he must mean the 1% which, as he noted above, own the lion’s share of stocks] get back much of what they lost in their 401ks, millions of Americans still have no idea how they’ll ever be able to retire. In many ways, the trends that I spoke of here in 2005 – of a winner-take-all economy where a few do better and better, while everybody else just treads water – have been made worse by the recession.

This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong; it’s bad economics [but very good politics when it comes to raising campaign  contributions from Wall Street]. When middle-class families have less to spend, businesses have fewer customers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther apart, it undermines the very essence of this country.

That’s why reversing these trends must be Washington’s highest priority. It’s certainly my highest priority. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years in particular, Washington hasn’t just ignored the problem; too often, it’s made things worse.

Let me give you a quick preview of what I’ll be fighting for and why.

The first cornerstone of a strong and growing middle class has to be an economy that generates more good jobs in durable, growing industries. Over the past four years, for the first time since the 1990s, the number of American manufacturing jobs hasn’t gone down; they’ve gone up. [If you look at what the government considers “manufacturing,” you will find much junk food and other ballast] But we can do more. So I’ll push new initiatives to help more manufacturers bring more jobs back to America. We’ll continue to focus on strategies to create good jobs in wind, solar, and natural gas that are lowering energy costs and dangerous carbon pollution. And I’ll push to open more manufacturing innovation institutes that turn regions left behind by global competition into global centers of cutting-edge jobs. Let’s tell the world that America is open for business – including an old site right here in Galesburg, over on Monmouth Boulevard.

Tomorrow, I’ll also visit the port of Jacksonville, Florida to offer new ideas for doing what America has always done best: building things [Notice the weird faux virility? And our recent history says we are better at destroying things both economically and via misguided imperialism] . We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the new supertankers that will begin passing through the new Panama Canal in two years’ time. We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. Businesses depend on our transportation systems, our power grids, our communications networks – and rebuilding them creates good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. And yet, as a share of our economy, we invest less in our infrastructure than we did two decades ago. [Obama plans an enormous Thatcher-like ripoff in the form of a Public-Private partnership that is a financial giveaway with the government passing all losses on to “taxpayers,” and leaving the financial b backers with guarantees. Watch his infrastructure initiative for a Tony Blairesque giveaway to high finance! The new backers will install tollbooths on the infrastructure to make the entire U.S. economy look like Chicago’s sidewalks, with parking meters squeezing out revenue for Goldman Sachs and other hedge funds.] That’s inefficient at a time when it’s as cheap as it’s been since the 1950s. It’s inexcusable at a time when so many of the workers who do this for a living sit idle. The longer we put this off, the more expensive it will be, and the less competitive we will be. The businesses of tomorrow won’t locate near old roads and outdated ports; they’ll relocate to places with high-speed internet; high-tech schools; systems that move air and auto traffic faster, not to mention get parents home to their kids faster. We can watch that happen in other countries, or we can choose to make it happen right here, in America.

In an age when jobs know no borders, companies will also seek out the country that boasts the most talented citizens, and reward them with good pay. The days when the wages for a worker with a high-school degree could keep pace with the earnings of someone who got some higher education are over [Not necessarily on a net basis  if you have to borrow to pay for that college education]. Technology and global competition aren’t going away. So we can either throw up our hands and resign ourselves to diminished living standards, or we can do what America has always done: adapt, pull together, fight back and win.

Which brings me to the second cornerstone of a strong middle class: an education that prepares our children and our workers for the global competition they’ll face.

If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century. If we don’t make this investment, we’ll put our kids, our workers, and our country at a competitive disadvantage for decades. So we must begin in the earliest years. That’s why I’ll keep pushing to make high-quality preschool available to every four year-old in America – not just because we know it works for our kids, but because it provides a vital support system for working parents [Obama and  Rahm Emanuel define “high quality” education as whatever non-unionized teachers provide.]. I’ll also take action to spur innovation in our schools that don’t require Congress. Today, for example, federal agencies are moving on my plan to connect 99% of America’s students to high-speed internet over the next five years. And we’ve begun meeting with business leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and innovative educators to identify the best ideas for redesigning our high schools so that they teach the skills required for a high-tech economy.

We’ll also keep pushing new efforts to train workers for changing jobs [Thank god. Now, industrial unionized workers can find more MacDonalds jobs at the minimum wage that Obama has refused to help raise.]  Here in Galesburg, many of the workers laid off at Maytag chose to enroll in retraining programs like the ones at Carl Sandburg College. And while it didn’t pay off for everyone, many who retrained found jobs that suited them even better and paid even more. That’s why I asked Congress to start a Community College to Career initiative, so that workers can earn the skills that high-tech jobs demand without leaving their hometown. And I’m challenging CEOs from some of America’s best companies to hire more Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been laid off so long no one will give their resume an honest look.

I’m also going to use the power of my office over the next few months to highlight a topic that’s straining the budgets of just about every American family – the soaring cost of higher education.

Three years ago, I worked with Democrats to reform the student loan system so that taxpayer dollars stopped padding the pockets of big banks, and instead helped more kids afford college. I capped loan repayments at 10% of monthly income for responsible borrowers. And this week, we’re working with both parties to reverse the doubling of student loan rates that occurred a few weeks ago because of Congressional inaction. [And Jack Lew got paid even more than thepresident of NYU for steering students into his pal Rubin’s Citigroup for high-cost student loans. Take a look at THAT scandal! The professors are up in arms about it. And while you’re at it, if only peoples’ mortgages could be treated the way NYU did with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s, the economy would be in fine condition.]

It’s all a good start – but it isn’t enough. Families and taxpayers can’t just keep paying more and more into an undisciplined system; we’ve got to get more out of what we pay for. Some colleges are testing new approaches to shorten the path to a degree, or blending teaching with online learning to help students master material and earn credits in less time. Some states are testing new ways to fund college based not just on how many students enroll, but how well they do. This afternoon, I’ll visit the University of Central Missouri to highlight their efforts to deliver more bang for the buck. And in the coming months, I will lay out an aggressive strategy to shake up the system, tackle rising costs, and improve value for middle-class students and their families.

Now, if a good job and a good education have always been key stepping stones into the middle class, a home of your own has been the clearest expression of middle-class security.  [All you have had to do is take on a lifetime of debt to work off the debt-inflated access price, just as for education you’ve had to pay for Jack Lew’s mortgage giveaway, his exorbitant salary, etc.] That changed during the crisis, when millions of middle-class families saw their home values plummet. [No, it changed after the crisis when it became clear that title was a mess, servicers foreclosed on homes by the boatload whether they had the right to do so or not, and MERS hopelessly muddled property records. And rather than fix it, you actively helped the banks put a band aid over a gunshot wound] Over the past four years, we’ve helped more responsible homeowners stay in their homes, and today, sales are up, prices are up, and fewer Americans see their homes underwater.

But we’re not done yet. The key now is to encourage homeownership that isn’t based on bubbles, but is instead based on a solid foundation, where buyers and lenders play by the same set of rules, rules that are clear, transparent, and fair. Already, I’ve asked Congress to pass a good, bipartisan idea – one that was championed by Mitt Romney’s economic advisor – to give every homeowner the chance to refinance their mortgage and save thousands of dollars a year. [The government will absorb the loss that otherwise would have to be borne by the banks and other mortgage holders. Taxpayes will pay Wall Street. Brilliant ploy!] I’m also acting on my own to cut red tape for responsible families who want to get a mortgage, but the bank says no. And we’ll work with both parties to turn the page on Fannie and Freddie, and build a housing finance system that’s rock-solid for future generations.

Along with homeownership, the fourth cornerstone of what it means to be middle class in this country is a secure retirement. Unfortunately, over the past decade, too many families watched their retirement recede from their grasp. Today, a rising stock market has millions of retirement balances rising. But we still live with an upside-down system where those at the top get generous tax incentives to save, while tens of millions of hardworking Americans get none at all. As we work to reform our tax code, we should find new ways to make it easier for workers to put money away, and free middle-class families from the fear that they’ll never be able to retire. And if Congress is looking for a bipartisan place to get started, they don’t have to look far: economists show that immigration reform that makes undocumented workers pay their full share of taxes would actually shore up Social Security for years. [Notice how he pretends to be in favor of preserving Social Security when he still wants to achieve his “Grand Bargain” of gutting it as part of his legacy]

Fifth, I will keep focusing on health care, because middle-class families and small business owners deserve the security of knowing that neither illness nor accident should threaten the dreams you’ve worked a lifetime to build. [Violins! Yet all that has been put in place is Obamacare, meaning health care insurance, not health care, and over 3/4 of the people who now file for medical-related bankruptcies had medical insurance. Health care is going to remain overpriced and big procedures a potential financial catastrophe thanks to preserving a system with bad incentives, too much costly bureaucracy, and too many costly middlemen]

As we speak, we are well on our way to fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. If you’re one of the 85% of Americans who already have health insurance, you’ve got new benefits and better protections you didn’t have before, like free checkups and mammograms and discounted medicine on Medicare. If you don’t have health insurance, starting October 1st, private plans will actually compete for your business. You can comparison shop in an online marketplace, just like you would for TVs or plane tickets, and buy the one that fits your budget and is right for you. And if you’re in the up to half of all Americans who’ve been sick or have a preexisting condition, this law means that that beginning January 1st, insurance companies finally have to cover you, and at the same rates they charge everybody else.

Now, I know there are folks out there who are actively working to make this law fail. But despite a politically-motivated misinformation campaign, the states that have committed themselves to making this law work are finding that competition and choice are actually pushing costs down. Just last week, New York announced that premiums for consumers who buy their insurance in these online marketplaces will be at least 50% less than what they pay today. That’s right – folks’ premiums in the individual market will drop by 50%. For them, and for the millions of Americans who have been able to cover their sick kids for the first time, or have been able to cover their employees more cheaply, or who will be getting tax breaks to afford insurance for the first time – you will have the security of knowing that everything you’ve worked hard for is no longer one illness away from being wiped out.

Finally, as we work to strengthen these cornerstones of middle-class security, I’m going to make the case for why we need to rebuild ladders of opportunity for all those Americans still trapped in poverty. Here in America, we’ve never guaranteed success. More than some other countries, we expect people to be self-reliant, and we’ve tolerated a little more inequality for the sake of a more dynamic, more adaptable economy. But that’s always been combined with a commitment to upward mobility – the idea that no matter how poor you started, you can make it with hard work and discipline. [If he really believes this, I want some of what he is smoking]

Unfortunately, opportunities for upward mobility in America have gotten harder to find over the past 30 years. That’s a betrayal of the American idea. And that’s why we have to do a lot more to give every American the chance to work their way into the middle class.

The best defense against all of these forces – global competition and economic polarization – is the strength of community. We need a new push to rebuild run-down neighborhoods. We need new partnerships with some of the hardest-hit towns in America to get them back on their feet. And because no one who works full-time in America should have to live in poverty, I will keep making the case that we need to raise a minimum wage that in real terms is lower than it was when Ronald Reagan took office. [This is now Year 5 of his promise. Not a peep out of him so far. It’s just talk, now that he knows that the Republicans will safely refrain from going along.] We are not a people who allow chance of birth to decide life’s big winners and losers; and after years in which we’ve seen how easy it can be for any of us to fall on hard times, we cannot turn our backs when bad breaks hit any of our fellow citizens.

Good jobs. A better bargain for the middle class and folks working to join it. An economy that grows from the middle-out. This is where I will focus my energies – not just over the next few months, but for the remainder of my presidency. These are the plans that I will lay out across this country. But I won’t be able to do it alone, and I’ll be calling on all of us to take up this cause.

We’ll need our businesses, the best in the world, to pressure Congress to invest in our future, and set an example by providing decent wages and salaries to their own employees. And I’ll highlight the ones that do just that – companies like Costco, which pays good wages and offers good benefits; or the Container Store, which prides itself on training its workers and on employee satisfaction – because these companies prove that this isn’t just good for their business, it’s good for America. [A feeble nod at his plan to raise the minimum wage, this when he promised an increase right after he got elected, and Obamacare is designed to hurt unions]

We’ll need Democrats to question old assumptions, be willing to redesign or get rid of programs that no longer work, and embrace changes to cherished priorities so that they work better in this new age. For if we believe that government can give the middle class a fair shot in this new century, we have an obligation to prove it.

And we’ll need Republicans in Congress to set aside short-term politics and work with me to find common ground. The fact is, there are Republicans in Congress right now who privately agree with me on many of the ideas I’ll be proposing, but worry they’ll face swift political retaliation for saying so. Others will dismiss every idea I put forward either because they’re playing to their most strident supporters, or because they have a fundamentally different vision for America – one that says inequality is both inevitable and just; one that says an unfettered free market without any restraints inevitably produces the best outcomes, regardless of the pain and uncertainty imposed on ordinary families. [But then, they wouldn’t be Democrats and Republicans any longer, would  they?]

In either case, I say to these members of Congress: I am laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot. Now it’s time for you to lay out yours. If you’re willing to work with me to strengthen American manufacturing and rebuild this country’s infrastructure, let’s go. If you have better ideas to bring down the cost of college for working families, let’s hear them. If you think you have a better plan for making sure every American has the security of quality, affordable health care, stop taking meaningless repeal votes and share your concrete ideas with the country. If you are serious about a balanced, long-term fiscal plan that replaces the mindless cuts currently in place, or tax reform that closes corporate loopholes and gives working families a better deal, I’m ready to work – but know that I will not accept deals that do not meet the test of strengthening the prospects of hard-working families. [Oh-oh! Here comes his plan to “balance” the budget by cutting back Social Security on the way to privatizing it – George W. Bush’s great hope.]

We’ve come a long way since I first took office. As a country, we’re older and we’re wiser. And as long as Congress doesn’t manufacture another crisis – as long as we don’t shut down the government just as the economy is getting traction, or risk a U.S. default over paying bills we’ve already racked up – we can probably muddle along without taking bold action. Our economy will grow, though slower than it should; new businesses will form, and unemployment will keep ticking down. Just by virtue of our size and our natural resources and the talent of our people, America will remain a world power, and the majority of us will figure out how to get by.

But if that’s our choice – if we just stand by and do nothing in the face of immense change – understand that an essential part of our character will be lost. Our founding precept about wide-open opportunity and each generation doing better than the last will be a myth, not reality. The position of the middle class will erode further. Inequality will continue to increase, and money’s power will distort our politics even more. Social tensions will rise, as various groups fight to hold on to what they have, and the fundamental optimism that has always propelled us forward will give way to cynicism or nostalgia.

That’s not the vision I have for this country. That’s not the vision you have for this country. That is not the America we know. That’s not a vision we should settle for, or pass on to our children. I have now run my last campaign. I do not intend to wait until the next one before tackling the issues that matter. I care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s how to use every minute of the 1,276 days remaining in my term to make this country work for working Americans again. [I know this speech is full of tripe, but read that last sentence again. This is such an over-the top untruth as to deserve to be laughed at] Because I believe this is where America needs to go. I believe this is where the American people want to go. It may seem hard today, but if we are willing to take a few bold steps – if Washington will just shake off its complacency and set aside the kind of slash-and-burn partisanship we’ve seen these past few years – our economy will be stronger a year from now. And five years from now. And ten years from now. More Americans will know the pride of that first paycheck; the satisfaction of flipping the sign to “Open” on their own business; the joy of etching a child’s height into the door of their brand new home.

After all, what makes us special has never been our ability to generate incredible wealth for the few, but our ability to give everyone a chance to pursue their own true measure of happiness. We haven’t just wanted success for ourselves – we’ve wanted it for our neighbors, too. That’s why we don’t call it John’s dream or Susie’s dream or Barack’s dream – we call it the American Dream. That’s what makes this country special – the idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from or who you love – you can make it if you try.

One of America’s greatest writers, Carl Sandburg, was born right here in Galesburg over a century ago. He saw the railroad bring the world to the prairie, and the prairie send its bounty to the world. [The railroads took all the gains, thanks totheir land grants, in one of the 19th century’s worst giveaways that created an oligarchy to rule the next century. No wonder Obama loves this!] He saw the advent of bustling new industries and technologies; he watched populations shift; he saw fortunes made and lost. He saw how change could be painful – how a new age could unsettle long-settled customs and ways of life. But possessed with a frontier optimism, he saw something more on the horizon. “I speak of new cities and new people,” he wrote. “…The past is a bucket of ashes…yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west…there is…only an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows.”

America, we have made it through the worst of yesterday’s winds. And if we find the courage to keep moving forward; if we set our eyes on the horizon, we too will find an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows – for America’s people, and for this great country that we love.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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  1. GLH

    It took me about six months into O’s first term to realize that the only way to know if he is lying is to see if his lips are moving; if they are then he is.

    1. Sharmarke

      Have you mentioned the fact that he’s right on every issue mentioned?

      Would you rather have a FDR, or Truman or Johnson as our president? These men, while great, are not that much different from the current President.

      What would u have him do? Enact single-payer health care, small class sizes and the best teachers imaginable, a minimum wage at $21.00 an hour and an average wage at $40 (where it should be), and a lower private debt burden across the board with a wave of one of his “Hope and Change” wands?

      I am proud to have voted for this man. He can’t do it alone. And going after him while offering no positive alternatives yourself to me is the height of contemptibility.

        1. nonclassical

          Lambert-the “ports that aren’t yet ready” comment involves-avoids TPP invention of “NAFTA HIGHWAY” ports in Mexico, from which Chinese manufactured whatzits will be transported on fenced highway from Mexico to Kansas City, no stops, by Mexican truckers…

            1. zadoofka

              “Confessions” was a great book. Amazing how the web of deceit and global ruin by the oligarchs was started in the 60’s. They thought it all out way back then. And the assinations! Woops! Hi NSA!

        2. Marko

          If you’re looking for work , Obama may be able to help you.

          He apparently intends to make many such speeches pitching his new middle-class economy. If you noticed , the people in the crowd at this speech were all very well-behaved when , by all rights , they should have been pelting him with rotten eggs. This tells me they’re on the payroll and I’m guessing the pay had to be pretty good – it’s disgusting work , after all. More such job opportunities should be forthcoming if you can figure out how to get on the list.

      1. XO

        What would I have him do?

        I’d have him clean house in the banking industry and among the corporate super-citizenry.

        The man actually said that the mortgage/housing bubble could not be prosecuted, because no crimes had been committed. Glaring prejudice.

        You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a corporate criminal, yet they persist in their scams (not the least of which is top-to-bottom government capture).

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        He can’t do it alone -Sharmarke

        Well, he doesn’t need to do it alone, he’s got friends. Check out Greenwald’s post today. Here’s the first paragraph,

        “One of the worst myths Democratic partisans love to tell themselves – and everyone else – is that the GOP refuses to support President Obama no matter what he does. Like its close cousin – the massively deceitful inside-DC grievance that the two parties refuse to cooperate on anything – it’s hard to overstate how false this Democratic myth is. When it comes to foreign policy, war, assassinations, drones, surveillance, secrecy, and civil liberties, President Obama’s most stalwart, enthusiastic defenders are often found among the most radical precincts of the Republican Party.”


      3. middle seaman

        You must be kidding. Lambert treated with kid’s glove, but I have no money for gloves. My son twitted the other day that Obama is content with the current depression – right on the money. Many millions are unemployed and due to the banks leaning Obama, they will stay unemployed. Millions work part time and low paying job just to survive.

        How dare you compare a president that ignores that misery with FDR, JFK and LBJ. Obama is worse than Carter who was way beyond the pale.

      4. denim

        The difference between FDR and Obama is that Obama provides lip service to FDR’s ideals but embraces the conservatives just before siting down at the “bargaining table”
        “…We seek not merely to make government a mechanical implement, but to give it the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity.

        We are poor indeed if this nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude.

        In the place of the palace of privilege we seek to build a temple out of faith and hope and charity.

        It is a sobering thing, my friends, to be a servant of this great cause. We try in our daily work to remember that the cause belongs not to us, but to the people. The standard is not in the hands of you and me alone. It is carried by America. We seek daily to profit from experience, to learn to do better as our task proceeds.

        Governments can err, presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales.

        Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.

        There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny….”

        Obama’s rendezvous? Did he not duck into a foxhole at the first conservative threat to inconvience America?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Your comment has reminded me of a thought I’ve had or saw somewhere else, probably the latter. I’ve always liked the refrains from Obots about FDR making the same mistakes Obama made. Its a perfect demonstration of their intellectually dishonesty because the primary difference is FDR’s mistakes were often mistakes. When Obama makes FDR’s mistakes, they are malfeasance, whether born out of ignorance, Obama being a small man, and or run of the mill greed, not mistakes.

        1. nobody

          Brother West speaks a lot of truths in that interview, and it is unfortunate that he is not better acquainted with the actual facts and the state of the evidence in this specific case.

          I do not know whether or not Zimmerman’s account is mostly true or whether it is not, but I pretty much know for sure that the narrative concocted by Parks & Crump, LLC, and by Julison Communications, and propagated by an uncritical and sensationalistic media, is not.

          The evidence does not support confident assertions that Trayvon Martin was “an innocent child,” or that “George Zimmerman is a criminal.”

          Brother West would seem to be right that people are “getting folk riled up to hit up against this stone wall,” and I think the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s avoidable death and of the tragedy of numerous other lives ruined (or close to it) is only compounded by allowing all the righteous anger and resistance to pervasive injustice to become invested in a symbol that isn’t what it is widely thought to be.

          And look at what is happening, and think critically about who is going to suffer the greatest harm and injustice if some of the people who are riled up get what they are asking for:

          “What’s no so easily overlooked or brushed off are the number stupid tweets calling for throwing the Bill of Rights out the window because of the verdict in this case. There were calls to reduce the burden of proof in criminal cases. Calls to change the law so that the state could appeal a not guilty verdict. Calls to repeal the privilege against self-incrimination so that a defendant could be forced to testify against himself. Calls to end the requirement that a verdict be unanimous. Calls to do away with expert testimony. Calls to change the rules of evidence so that negative character evidence as to the defendant (only) could be introduced.

          “In my opinion, this is all happening because the public was sold a false bill of goods from the start by the media, civil lawyers for the Martin family (more here) and civil rights leaders. I think they should all hang their heads in shame. The repeated misrepresentation of this shooting as a monumental civil rights issue has polarized the public to such an extent that everyone is closing their ears to the real problems of racial injustice in the criminal justice system.

          “President Obama didn’t help when he tied his remarks on racial profiling to Martin and Zimmerman. It was another missed opportunity to address the real cause of racial disparity.”


      5. optimader

        Technology made some jobs obsolete (yes thankyou for that Obamaeque plaintive statement of, oh say, THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION) –and new jobs evolved.

        The thorny bit is the new jobs that evolved were created en-masse in thin margin third world manufacturing colonies that have been enabled by rounds of economic wealth stripping financialization and a gamed taxcode.

        1. jrs

          The usual big lie, this stuff just happens, it was not a decade long bipartisan effort to outsource jobs (without ANY backup plan – one might even suspect that *was* the plan). This stuff just happens because things change and stuff …

      6. GlassHammer

        “And going after him while offering no positive alternatives yourself to me is the height of contemptibility.”

        Why is it that every criticism, no matter how justified, must be accompanied by a “positive alternative”?

        Better yet, why does an untested “positive alternative” bolster criticism?

        I suspect our society’s need for “optimism” and “happy thoughts” created this “lack of positive alternative” counter-argument.

      7. Klassy!

        We’ll need our businesses, the best in the world, to pressure Congress to invest in our future, and set an example by providing decent wages and salaries to their own employees. And I’ll highlight the ones that do just that – companies like Costco, which pays good wages and offers good benefits; or the Container Store, which prides itself on training its workers and on employee satisfaction – because these companies prove that this isn’t just good for their business, it’s good for America.

        Retailers, like this message? Imagine the prestige of having your firm’s name being read by The President of the United States in the middle of a major PR policy speech. Yes, you can’t “buy” this sort of goodwill. Instead, you can make a tax deductible one time or continuing donation to Organizing for America and see what the halo effect of association with this “bold “president can do for you. You get more though!
        when you make a donation we promise:

        We will not advocate for the employee free choice act

        will keep those cheap goods a- flowin’ (like NAFTA? Look what we have in store for you with the TPP!)

        will keep those pesky unions in line (We’re really proud of our partnership with Richard Trumka here. I mean we’re talking Oscar caliber work.)

        will Continue to “forget” about our promise of raising the minimum wage (and confidentially, you know that 9$ an hour would still be a “win” in your column. But that’s neither here nor there. We’re done with this one.)

        You think that would be enough, but we offer more. We have a team of thought leaders such as our good friend Sharmarke here who will spread the good message about The Container Store and Costco. A message that will spread to good, working middle class folks who we have trained to believe that fixing the economy is all about making the right consumer choices.
        (oh shucks, between you and me we know there is no fixing needed! Shhhh…)

      8. JGordon

        Well, you sure had those guys responding to you fooled. But I at least recognize your outrageous sarcasm for what it is. I mean seriously you’d have to be an complete infantile maroon to actually believe any of that crap, haha. Troll much elsewhere?

      9. Banger

        I don’t think you can compare Obama with FDR and the other more flawed Presidents. FDR and LBJ were on the center-left and cared about the lower and middle classes. Obama is a liar. He talks, on occasion, in center-left terms but he always serves the rich, particularly the financial elite. He is their guy and to think otherwise is absurd. You believe his rhetoric, I believe his actions. Is Obama-care a better solution to our HC problem? Maybe but not by much. Obama specifically neglected an approach that would cut costs and align with the rest of the world–all he had to do was to mention that other societies have efficiently and fairly solved the delivery of health-care. But Obama and the Wall Street dominated Democratic Party refused to make that argument and thus the corporate press was happy to not report the facts and he fact are outrageously obvious and I don’t think more than 10% of the American people know anything about it. They don’t know, for example, that the federal gov’t already spends 8% of GDP on health-care in the current system and we don’t cover everyone–why? Corporate fraud is the main answer.

      10. Massinissa

        I agree with Jgordon: Sharmarke MUST be trolling. MUST be. Either that or hes being paid by the word, but I dont think Obama is that desperate yet.

      11. Binky Bear

        We want the president that was advertised back when he was first running. BHO is turning out to just be a sober, better spoken George W. Bush, one who you can’t not hold accountable for his lies.
        FDR was so much better than Obama that to try to compare them outs you as incompetent to judge.

        I’d buy Obama as better than Romney, but that is like comparing bowel movements during a cholera epidemic.

        1. Carla

          “I’d buy Obama as better than Romney, but that is like comparing bowel movements during a cholera epidemic.”

          Now THAT, Binky Bear, is a memorable line!

    2. nonclassical

      …sure…now that “statute of limitations” is run (or about to run) out on (WK Black) “criminogenic accounting fraud”, NOW it’s time to worry about economic
      destruction perpetrated by Wall $treet…follow the $$$$…

  2. chicagogal

    Knox College is a lovely campus, and Galesburg is a decent town, but they have been losing people and generally deteriorating for the last few decades. When the factories started shutting down, no amount of retraining was going to help someone in finding a new job, much less one that paid more than their previous union job.

    The speech was exactly what people want to hear, especially that he seems to understand their problems and sincerely wants to help them fix things, but then he’s always been good at selling that snake oil. It’s truly unfortunate that the majority will believe him and not realize – or even want to look beyond the pretty words to discover – that he’s nothing but a liar who is going to sell them all to Wall Street and Corporate America (Corpmerica?).

    1. anon y'mouse

      i notice that too. this is exactly what us po’ folk want to hear, and he hit many of the right notes.

      the problem is a) it’s all lies and even worse b) even if these things come to pass, it will be in such a manner that make us even more stripped, degraded and vulnerable to the depredations of the owning class. it’s like offering a starving person a sandwich and then telling them “but you just have to swim through that shark tank to get it. don’t worry, the sharks have just been fed and are feeling pretty lazy. i doubt you’ll get bitten.”

      and bipartisanship means one holds your arms while the other holds your legs during the gang raping.

    2. Carla

      “that he’s nothing but a liar who is going to sell them all to Wall Street and Corporate America (Corpmerica?).”

      Already done.

      That train has left the station, chicagogal.

  3. Sharmarke

    We’ve now reached the point on this blog where it’s just attacks and complaints and more whining.

    I don’t hear anything that can be done. Single-payer health care? A higher minimum wage? Smaller class sizes? Better teachers and clean energy investment? A lower private debt burden? Social Security contributions being funded by everyone? None of these things can come from one man. While he could’ve tried harder, the fact remains that the system in Washington is going to take us working together.

    Attacking those in power from an isolated position is pathetic and despicable, and solves nothing

    1. AbyNormal

      are you referring to those isolated from from a fair market, transparent policies and contracts etc.?

      and are you suggesting it is our pathetic fault for holding a president accountable for the failing administrators of his choosing?

      “The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.”

    2. Joe

      We’re all somewhat intelligent adults here, no? I don’t think many of us think that Obama can wave his magic wand and make the things you mentioned happen by himself. The problem is that he doesn’t actually care. The man has proven again and again that he is an unrepentant liar, full stop.

      Kissing the ass of the powerful is pathetic, despicable and solves nothing. You don’t seem to have read anything Michael Hudson has written previously or have bothered to have read the voluminous posts on this blog offering solutions.

      Do your research. Your commenting makes you appear clueless and lazy.

      1. Bruno Marr

        “The man has proven again and again that he is an unrepentant liar, full stop. ”

        I learned this when he was on his initial campaign trail. After a rally on the Santa Barbara City College campus (on the cliffs of the Pacific), he discretely departed by ducking behind the library building to sneak a cigarette. (He had told folks he had quit.) It was clear to me then that his willingness to regale the crowd with his “American Exceptionalism” tripe and then sneak a smoke out-of-view was part of a larger charade.

      2. Carla

        Look, this is a systemic problem. At this point in time, anyone who ascends to the presidency is going to be a tool of the system. It doesn’t matter AT ALL who they are.

        This may not have been true in the past, I’m not sure, but you can bet your bottom private-bank-created dollar it is now.

        It’s the most important lesson of the last 20 years. Clinton tried like hell to teach it to us; we weren’t listening.

        The Cheney/Bush administration — if we could only get rid of them, everything would be okay.

        As the antidote to Cheney/Bush, Obama was perfection…we have seen how perfection can putrify.

        Now we hear people declaring that Elizabeth Warren will save us! She’s great! Elizabeth Warren for President!

        The best way to ensure Elizabeth Warren can never do anything worthwhile for the country again is to elect her president. If she’s smart, she’ll shun it like the plague. But very, very few people can resist that siren call.

        It’s the system, folks. And only systemic change will have any effect.

    3. Code Name D

      [I]We’ve now reached the point on this blog where it’s just attacks and complaints and more whining.[/I]

      We like to call it the public comment section of the blog. But not every one who posts here is as whiny as you are, so I think its a good thing.

      Or… you could always try… I don’t know… maybe… some substence?

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      You Obots need to do better. A LOT better.

      Obama had a country desperate for leadership when he took office, a majority in both houses, and financiers who were scared. He blew a historic opportunity. Your claim he was powerless is bullshit.

      He’s in fact used his power very deliberately, to neuter critics on the left and to sell and deliver neoliberal policies. He could have gone a very different course but chose to sell out massively on his campaign promises instead.

      See these for starters, I can bury you in evidence:



      1. profoundlogic

        Bullshit indeed. The guy is the quintessential pathological psychopath that seems to thrive in our current power-hungry political structure.

        He had all the tools at his disposal and the public’s ire/support for real change. He even put it on the record, “My Administration Is The Only Thing Between You And The Pitchforks”. What did he do with that opportunity? He handed over the keys to the kingdom of course.

        I still can’t get that interview out of my head. How anyone could support this abject failure of a leader is simply beyond comprehension.

    5. Lambert Strether

      “We’ve now reached the point…” How would you know, Sharmarke? This is your first of two lifetime comments here, and the other one s on this thread.

      Could you please go back under your bridge and tell your supervisor we want smarter Obots? Thank you.

      1. Massinissa

        Smarter obots?

        Isnt that a contradiction?

        Thats like saying we want octopi with stronger spines.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Clintonistas and the 101st Keyboard Commandos possessed far more engaging individuals. There were plenty of dolts, but the Obots don’t possess anyone with the fire and creativity of previous defenders of crumminess.

          The Obots focus on screaming for compliance while dropping statistics in the absence of context. Are there any interesting ones? There were Clintonistas and even one Republican (he retired; I think the Neo-Confederate nature of the GOP got to him) who at least when certain issues weren’t brought up weren’t so irritating. Trollling Red State and Little Green Footballs was fun, but DKos is just a depressing therapy group.

    6. Brizie

      Sharmarke, by now you may have realized your employers sent you to the wrong blog. NC’s readers have your kind pegged by the end of your first sentence. If you really believed that absurd nonsense you posted you would have quit reading by the end of Hudson’s first paragraph.
      While some who respond to your nonsense use it as an opportunity to offer sensible replies, I thank you for its entertainment value. I get a good laugh. When I start reading such paid BS responses I immediately go into my how-lame-is-this-one-going-to-be? mode. I am amused.
      Further, I see your paid-for BS as validation of the value of NC. Your employers wouldn’t be sending you here if they weren’t threatened by NC.
      And I get pleasure from regular NC readers shredding your nonsense. Thanks to you responders too.
      Apologies to Yves and Lambert, I realize these fools waste your time. But, I’d be disappointed if they didn’t comment occasionally and validate your work.

        1. Brizie

          Thanks. Read it. I’ve hated that egotistical blowhard ever since I sat in a meeting with him when he was Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration. He fed us non-stop bullshit and lies. 100% BS and lies.

    7. optimader

      We’ve now reached the point on this blog where it’s just attacks and complaints and more whining

      And you’re doing what?… anyone? class?? anyone???

      Obama is a fake… A sell out. He could ramble on w/ a 30 min dissertation about what the weather will be yesterday and walk away proud of himself.

    8. Doug Terpstra

      Welcome, Sharmarke. Never before seen you here, which explains why you don’t realize that “the point” about which you whine was reached years ago, based on empirical evidence.

      It is not Obama’s feigned ineptitude, impotence, or cowardice at failing to fulfill his pledges that has turned some of us who once bought his snake oil against him. Those things are forgivable. No, it his deliberate, affirmative actions in the opposite direction on issue after issue: on aggressive war and peace, on fomenting coups and civil wars, on denying habeas corpus, on preserving Gitmo, on endorsing ongoing Israeli settlements, on not renegotiating NAFTA and pushing 4 new SHAFTA pacts thru instead, on billionaire tax cuts, on shutting out single payer, on appointing a Cat Food Commission to cut SS, on selecting drone targets, on NDAA, TPP, on protecting Wall Street criminals, appointing foxes to guard every public henhouse, persecuting whistleblowers, expanding secret illegal surveillance, downing the aircraft of a sovereign leader, and on and on. In most of these, like starting wars and killing US citizens without trial, he has seized the power to change entirely without the consent of Congress, yet you excuse him as powerless? Nice try, but it obviously won’t fly here.

      1. jrs

        Yes well said. Is that it? :). It’s not just his mediocrity, it’s his malevolence. Mediocrity and being utterly incomptent at the job you are hired to do is forgivable (though it doesn’t make me want to rehire you), evil not so much so.

        I think you forgot one: crackdown on OWS under the Obama administration. If the goal was to make things that had previously been outide the narrow beltway consensus doable (Overton winddows and such), such movements do that. Ok I thought of more: repeated sabotage of climate treaties and attempts to deal with climate change. Approval of Keystone XL (will be all Obama).

    9. chicagogal

      Interesting observation considering there were only two comments when this one was posted! Don’t know how we could have reached any point of conclusion with such few data points. Hope they got paid well for their efforts.

  4. Dave

    Affordability of housing or college is predicated on incomes. Without which eventually these costs will have to reflect reality.

    This week I went with my daughter on a college tour. Lovely liberal arts school which costs 45K per year. I had lunch with the Dean of the Liberal Arts school. The conversation was around China, globalization, outsourcing, and the need to reinvent oneself once a career path is exhausted. She was expressing some frustration that the local businesses were pushing the school towards producing more science and technology professionals and being unable to sell businesses on the value of being well-rounded and to critically think. Her frustration was that the school was responding by diverting money away from the school of liberal arts and into the school of science. I noticed the irony, why would any parent spend 180K on their kids four year education only to throw their wages in front of the globalization bus and know your child will eventually have to reinvent their career path once the science jobs are exported. The whole cost structure of the college education system makes no sense given the pressure on wages.

    1. jrs

      Yea seriously, the immigration bill exports those jobs. They are here today sure, but tommorow they won’t be. It doesn’t speak well of the colleges that they are living in the past and the immediate present without forecasting for the future.

  5. YankeeFrank

    What he says is a lot of empty words that sound great. If you haven’t realized by now that Obama says a lot of great sounding stuff with little to no substance, and with absolutely nothing concrete behind it, then you are hopeless.

    1. optimader

      What he says is a lot of empty words that sound great.

      Don’t even sound great. I would love to see a speech analysis that captures the summation count of each word he has used in all of his speeches. I’m guessing it would be a small vocabulary with a great repetition of his favorite weasel words.

      I think some people we’re enthralled when BHO appeared on the scene after being aurally abused with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjmLE7paJU8

      1. anon y'mouse

        most here probably know of that review of the speeches of past and current (i think it was done in the Bush II era) presidents for sentence and vocabulary complexity, and it had been dropped from the high school level to the grade school level.

        see that comment upthread that quotes FDR. no political speechifier today would ever create such a thing, is it is a sign of a more complex verbal mind that has been schooled on actual literature, the bible (for good or ill) and other nuanced and complicated material that one probably had to digest even then. i am constantly stricken by the Great Works of the past, since they betray that the common individual who was buying and reading those works had a more fluid, flexible mind.

        the president speaks in a manner that the average nine year old can understand. he uses those sound-bite-images that are familiar to propaganda/commercials, and yet even those are more complicated now than the sentences that come out of his mouth. straight from the manipulator’s pen to your eye-brain. no need to digest, therefore making it seem like he means what he says when it’s been shown repeatedly that this is not true–that he is instead sending signalled messages to the elite that they will also get everything they want and never be forced to give anything up.

        sorry, just rambling some thoughts out.

    2. Jeff W

      What he says is a lot of empty words that sound great.

      In the immortal words of Suba Chandran, deputy director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, India, referring to President Obama:

      He speaks a lot, but his actions speak less.

      [Wall Street Journal, 4 November 2010]

      I’m not so sure the words “sound great.” It’s a bit like the old Woody Allen joke: the food is terrible and the portions are so small.

  6. Benedict@Large

    Any time Obama starts out with his “middle class” rhetoric, we need to remind people that the best way to save the middle class is to end poverty. You can’t fall out of the middle class if there’s no class below you, and the best time to “catch” someone from falling is before they hit the bottom.

    1. jrs

      Ah but the whole point is to produce an extremely conformist middle class (and oh boy are they) out of fear of poverty. Then you can direct speeches at this dumb, unorganized, conformist middle class. Unlike the Walmart strikers they are literally too dumb and sold out to even try to organize.

  7. Jane

    The most depressing thing in that entire speech is buried near the end (emphasis added):

    “Just by virtue of our size and our natural resources and the talent of our people, America will remain a world power, and the majority of us will figure out how to get by.

    That’s his vision? For the majority to work with him so they can continue to ‘get by’? Damn, what does he think the majority of people have been doing for the last five years? People need work that will let them thrive; who dreams of ‘getting by’?

    1. LAS

      Good catch, Jane. That is exactly the strategy and what we’ve all got to cope with.

      It’s an empire and some get a hard punch to capitulate while others get a velvet punch or coercion.

    2. F. Beard

      And what about justice? The counterfeiting cartel drove the population into onerous debt and NOTHING can be done about it when it’s only new fiat that’s required to bail them out?!

    3. Dave

      Jane says “The most depressing thing…”

      I don’t read his statements that way. Out of all the BS in his speech that part is pretty insightful. My take on what he is saying is no one knows what the future holds or what the jobs of tomorrow will look like. Some people will stare into the abyss and see nothing and others will see possibility. But regardless of what you think the future holds, America is blessed with a land of abundant natural resources which will present opportunity and some measure of control over our destiny. People will make a living out of the opportunities available, and get by. The future hasn’t been set but with America’s abundant resources it’ll remain relevant. What he is saying is that when you get down to it the only measure of security and control you have as a country depends on the control you have over natural resources. But a country also needs creative talent to do something with those resources. Very true. America has both. Contrast that with China who is trying to build creative talent and is on a large amount of land with surprisingly limited natural resources completely dependent on imports.

      1. Lambert Strether

        No, I think he’s saying what he’s saying. “The majority will get by” is a factual statement. After all, the 30 million who won’t be covered by the putatively universal ObamaCare, or the 28 million under or unemployed aren’t in the majority.

        They are, however, useful pour encourager les autres, which allows the powers that be to continually lower the baseline for what “getting by” means.

        Shorter Obama: You’ll take it and like it.

      2. reslez

        Obama is reassuring his rich supporters that America will remain relevant to them because of its rich natural resources.

        Meanwhile, the remaining 99.9% will engage in a degrading battle for survival over scraps. Did someone say abortion? Immigrants? Let’s fight about that! /s

    4. Benedict@Large

      That is pretty weak, isn’t it? The majority of us are doing that now, and even in the Great Depression, the “majority” (75%) of us still had jobs. There is such a downsizing of expectations going on, and it has been now for the 3 decades the GOP/DINO crown has been running the show. Even as they cheerlead, you can still hear it in their voices: They don’t believe in us anymore.

    5. jrs

      The majority of us will figure out how to get by, even if it’s just surviving, the rest I guess will not figure out a way to get by and will die. Geez, most doomster visions aren’t acutally that much bleaker.

  8. XO

    “But over time, that engine began to stall. That bargain began to fray. Technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent others overseas. It became harder for unions to fight for the middle class. Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the rich and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor.”

    I remember when politicians used to say that given a level playing field, the American worker could out-compete any other worker in the world.

    What they forgot to mention was that scenario involved 12 hour work days at Chinese peasant wages.

    Strange that Obama didn’t mention what great workers Americans are, and how honest competition would bring prosperity to all.

  9. Brooklin Bridge

    Notice that Sharmarke’s comments are completely generic. You could drop his Obama turds into almost any comment section in response to the first negative, any negative, comment you find – especially now-a-days when comment sections are practically all Obama critical.

    His second comment turd assumes there is some reaction to the first and so attacks the blog as a whole (there is so much, “this site is going down-hill” these days that we could probably all qualify for Olympic skiers). If I were in his shoes (getting paid by the comment), I could easily write a script that would allow me to go from site to site just identifying the first negative Obama line and then, Click, Ka-Ching, Click, Ka-Ching.

    1. nobody

      If you were in his or her shoes, your boss probably wouldn’t let you write any scripts. They’d already be written; your job would be to merely cut and paste from the menu of options with maybe a tweak or two at most.

    1. optimader

      “…yesterdays winds”.
      …but were taking on water after being blown into the reef.
      I want you’all to know that I have directed a taskforce to look into the decisions of the who approved last nights helmsman and I am calling for a national conversation about what we can do to heal the hole in the ships hull.

  10. 2little2late

    “America, we have made it through the worst of yesterday’s winds.”

    Um….I believe that’s flatulence, sir.

    1. AbyNormal

      exactly! we/leaders of the free world, haven’t even begun the phase of imagining the blowback. global unrest will continue to make its rounds, until finally we get noticed for our financial rein of terror…then only the gods ‘may’ have mercy for us!

  11. photoavatar

    Stop picking on him, he’s doing his best! You think it’s easy to be a puppet ruler not for just the CIA, for JSOC, and for NSA but for the banks too? You want to try and mediate for all the 200 people who can make Marine One throw a rotor? Clapper set up special White House tours for all the lone nuts, it’s like a Richard Simmons dance video out there with all the tardive dyskinesia. Try and run a meeting under constant threat of death. You people are so naive.

    1. Banger

      Well, that’s a crude way to put it but, basically, Obama or any other pol is dealing with those that have the power to hurt or kill others and that would be the security services and those that can hire them. In the end that is what we call realpolitik as opposed to the high-school civics class view of the political situation.

      Politicians are power brokers–what most of us miss is who holds the power–it is not the average persons or the sum total of the voters who are easily gamed, manipulated, misdirected and controlled by tribal prejudices, mass entertainment and a media narrative that fails to report on politics in any real way.

      1. jrs

        I think that might be why Obama always says to people in speeches “you need to pressure me if you want …”. Maybe he’s for once actually telling the truth and that’s his way of saying “yea folks I have to do what I’m told here, it would take something very different to change things …”

        1. CJ

          If I was younger I might conclude the same thing, but I’ve seen this technique used before by Clinton. The following blurb describes quite accurately the real agenda behind Obama’s most recent propaganda campaign:

          “Clinton illustrates the pervasiveness of what George Edwards labels “the public presidency,” meaning that the “greatest source of influence for the president is public approval.”(42) This public approval sets the parameters of what the president can reasonably expect to accomplish while in office. According to Edwards, “the Clinton administration is the ultimate example of the public presidency, one based on a perpetual campaign to obtain the support of the American people and fed by public opinion polls, focus groups, and public relations memos.”(43)”


          Are we not being perpetually campaigned by Obama? He has Clinton beat by a mile. It’s not accidental that these campaigns are run like marketing campaigns, campaigns existing solely with the purpose of convincing nominally intelligent people that our “leaders” are “concerned” about our well-being and are acting in our interests. They’re not.

          Clinton played the same game with environmentalists, saying he needed outside pressure to get things done. It seemed plausible to me then, but fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

          As Obama himself recognized (paraphrasing): “there’s going to be a problem if people don’t trust those in government,” and on that point, I completely agree. However, it’s his problem and his failure, since the sole basis of the entire Ponzi scheme is trust. Once trust is gone, they’ll never get it back.

        2. Banger

          I think that’s right–because the left generally rallied around Obama rather than savaging him as they should have during the so-called health-care “debate” and therefore lost influence and status in Washington. Washington is for people who are willing to put a hurt on people–if you can’t do it then you’re not going to get your people what they wanted. The left-lobbyists failed miserably in the health-care debate and other areas because they refused to fight.

          Some of were trying to influence the Democratic Party left to revolt, not because we were hopeless ideologues but because that’s how you have to do things in Washington. You don’t fight therefore you lose.

  12. Paul Walker

    [The railroads took all the gains, thanks totheir land grants, in one of the 19th century’s worst giveaways that created an oligarchy to rule the next century. No wonder Obama loves this!]

    No wonder Obama calls himself the next Lincoln.

  13. diptherio

    This sentence caught my eye:

    Technology and global competition aren’t going away. So we can either throw up our hands and resign ourselves to diminished living standards, or we can do what America has always done: adapt, pull together, fight back and win.

    Umm…who are ‘we’ fighting back against, exactly? ISTM that American companies (specifically the executives and shareholders of American companies) are largely responsible for our diminished living standards, since they are the ones who have made the decisions to outsource, downsize, and squeeze labor generally. So is Obama calling for civil war here?

    How can anyone believe Obama is committed to fighting back against the forces that are leading to decreased standards of living when it is the people driving those forces who fund Obama (and most every other politician as well)? Are we to believe that Obama is actually going to resist the will of his major campaign contributors?

    Or maybe (just maybe) Obama is trying to distract attention from the class divisions in our society by lumping everyone (and their interests) into one big (analytically useless) category: Americans.

    What’s good for JPM is good for you and me too! We’re all Americans here!

  14. financial matters

    Great take-down of the double speak. Interesting the emphasis that he puts on stock prices.

    One of the interesting things about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is that it shows that taxation is not directly related to spending. If we want to give the banks a trillion dollars to bail them out or go to war we just ‘print’ the money to do that. Part of that is due to our having the dollar as the world reserve currency. The real limits to this ‘printing’ are inflation and currency exchange (will other countries such as oil producers accept our dollars). MMT realizes both these limitations.

    Part of MMT policy recommendation is the Job Guarantee program. This is to act as a ‘buffer stock’ in countercyclical situations. During downturns rather than giving a trillion dollars to banks which is largely spent on asset appreciation (housing and stocks) and ‘trickling down’ to people that need it this gives money directly to people that need it and for a service performed. This money then tends to be spent directly into the economy in the form of goods and services which helps keep businesses alive during the downturn.

    Its important that these jobs don’t compete with the private sector but this can be done with infrastructure work or working with community oriented non-profits. Then as the private sector improves they can attract these ‘government’ workers away with higher salaries. That people are actually still working helps their skills stay current and even gives them the ability to improve skills.

    I don’t think it’s going to be possible to bail out many city and state pensions as these are way underfunded and predicated on at least 8% returns which are simply unrealistic. But the government can spend money into the economy in productive ways. But corruption is rampant and it’s going to be difficult to get honest people to run these programs.

    1. curmudgeon

      Brooklyn Bridge has the only rational post here–there is no difference between the Demo and the Repubs; they both work to increase the national debt. And what does $16 trillion of debt result in ??

      The financial centers in NY have devastated the third world with debt and the same entities are now working on Europe. After that, they will collect on the debt of the USA. Ref.
      http://therebel.org/blogs-sorted-by-most-hits/667714-funding-the-new-world-order Are you ready to lose everything ?

      The fact the $16 trillion debt was fraudulent induced and transferred hidden profit from the Treasury auction accounts exclusively handled by the FRBNY–and never subjected to an external audit–to the Federal Reserve system has been cleverly hidden. http://www.scribd.com/doc/101937790/Federal-Reserve-Heist .

  15. petridish


    I hope all of the above puts a spring in your step today.

    You and NC have apparently become a very big blip on the uber-sophisticated Obama radar. Big enough to be awarded your very own troll.

    And you have assembled an astute, well-informed army of commenters capable of summarily dispatching the increasingly lame, predictable propaganda of the failed Obama machine.

    I, for one, am feeling a little more HOPEFUL today, so I’ll just say “Thanks” and keep up the good work.

  16. Lambert Strether

    I especially like the way that Obama starts out: ” In the period after World War II, a growing middle class was the engine of our prosperity.”

    Heaven forfend Obama should mention either FDR or the New Deal. A lot of Obama’s lying is done with omission. He’s very good at that.

  17. washunate

    Turning the Republican Recession into the Democratic Depression going on 7 years now. It’s gone from a joke to apparently the actual policy.

    Thanks to Michael Hudson for the commentary and some of the commenters for the laughs!

    When the President deschedules recreational drugs, prosecutes war criminals, breaks up the banks, stops arresting hundreds of thousands of immigrants, stops abusing prisoners, stops violating Constitutional rights, proposes a budget that spends more on infrastructure than security, nominates judges and officials who care about the rule of law…then we can talk about what’s not in the President’s powers to accomplish.

    Ha, like any Obot even read that sentence.

  18. LillithMc

    Don’t worry my pretties. The fix is in through the Supreme Court. Billionaires with unlimited political money. Fixed voting in all red states along with what should be illegal gerrymanders. 2014 could be a Republican Senate. If you like red states where there is no democracy, you will love the Red US where Scalia can tell you what to do and Roberts can give your name to the FISA court. For 2016 the gang of 5 have already selected the next President.

    1. CJ

      I heard an interesting commenting regarding voting the other day on NPR. The reporter commented that voters don’t pick Congress, Congress picks voters through Gerrymandering.

      There was a big Ding,Ding,Ding in my mind, and I was surprised that this little tidbit of truth made it on-air.

      This is a huge part of the reason (IMO) why incumbancy rates are so high. It can’t be their approval ratings.

  19. William Neil

    Middle Class, Middle Class, Middle Class. Just what is the name of the group – grouping – is it a different class – below the Middle Class, which is in reality the surviving new auto workers at $15.00 per hour, and the vast service sector of waiters, waitresses, retail…many of whom are working somewhere between the minimum wage and $12.50 per hour? This “place,” I have asserted, no longer exists in the equations of economists, if it ever did other than as an “input” or cost, and in the American Dream, it is the “place” that we want to escape from, on the way up, climbing the ladder into the Middle Class, which has more descriptions attached to it, but still itself exists with very blurry boundaries.

    I’ve written recently about Lincoln and the American Dream, and others have asserted he is the founder, even if “it” was not formally broached as such until 1931, after the Great Depression was well under way. But Lincoln the rail splitter had a better claim to knowing the common man and the common worker, and in his day, the exertions were usually local and face to face because the intense capitalism of his day was on that scale. But he too escaped his father, his family: even then, in capitalist “Utopia,” there were centrifugal forces working against a sense of community, and note how Obama references this as a “neighborhood” in a troubled urban area.

    Well, I heard a speech not so long ago by his chief economic advisor, Gene Sperling, touting his rediscovery of the merits of reindustrialization – but I didn’t here any recognition of the “costs of creative destruction” that were visited on the Newarks, Camdens, Trentons, Detroits, Clevelands, Youngstowns…until the ___generation, even until today…

    Obama offers the same American Dream that Lincoln did, in vastly changed social and economic circumstances…but what he doesn’t offer, which the New Deal did, was an actual change in the pay and conditions inside that ill-defined – Dantesque world which exists in reality below the “Middle Class.”

    Obama implied that workers – Middle Class included, have not seen their due “productivity” gains. Yet only Dean Baker and a few others have dared to put the numbers on a minimum wage which takes it into account – what’s been missing not just from inflation erosion but from what Lincoln called the just fruits of the laborer himself – which includes productivity gains. Baker says the minimum ought to be between 16 and 21 dollars per hour. What are the Dems offering – and not fighting for with any real passion? $10.50 an hour….

    I also second most if not all of Michael Hudson’s points here, and I’ve made the analogy in a recent essay that the indebtedness he writes about so well, the unfair and unjust substitution over the past 30 years for the subpar wages (but not for the loss of “agency” in the workplace, of better standing there) – more credit and more debt – is similar in effect, and perhaps day-to-day entrapment – to the crop lien system and tenant farming which the defeated Confederate planter class foisted upon the white yeomanry and recently “freed” slaves.

    And isn’t that what Wendell Berry was writing about last year in his “Jefferson Lecture” by recalling the Christmas time “settle” (when the tenant farmer met with the owner to see what the books said about profits and lost – and you know who kept the books)when his grandfather, who was a tobacco farmer who owned his own land (!) – the best it got under these circumstances – found out he got nothing that year from the patriarch of the Duke family for the tobacco crop. Yes, those Dukes of the later Duke University…

    And even the good works of the New Deal, which did reach down into what then was called the “working class” to make real improvements in pay conditions and democratic dignity – couldn’t reach the tenant farmers of either race in the South. And this is a part of American life, a fuller telling of the American Dream, which helps explain the bitterness just beneath the surface – the bitterness that poured out with just a hint of someone “undeserving” getting something at little cost – and that’s what Rick Santelli’s rant was all about, the underside of the American Dream.

    1. reslez

      Just what is the name of the group – grouping – is it a different class – below the Middle Class, which is in reality the surviving new auto workers at $15.00 per hour, and the vast service sector of waiters, waitresses, retail…many of whom are working somewhere between the minimum wage and $12.50 per hour?

      You mean the poor?

      Is that too harsh a word? Try “lower class” or the nice euphemism “working class”, or if you want to get all fancy I believe the new craze is for “precariat”.

  20. michael hudson

    Well, I’m glad my brief comments triggered this discussion. I didn’t have time to write a more reasoned response until now, which I will put on my website, michael-hudson.com when my webmaster in Australia wakes up in his time zone
    But I wanted to get Obama’s whole speech up for you guys, so that precisely the kind of discussion that’s occurred above could take place on the basis of the whole speech.
    Yves is right — at the end there wasn’t much more to say, but I wanted to include the whole speech for the record here.

    1. optimader

      Noble is the Heart to take the time to disassemble this base crap.

      It is frustrating to know that these BHO utterances are not just naively stupid, they are premeditatedly cynical. :o/

      I recently had the conversation where someone said , well John McCain would have had us in a War, and I chose to just digest it rather than just risk a ministroke…

      As if evil is validated as an alternative to … evil?

  21. kevinearick

    Transbay Expenses Rise Rapidly…$300++M…for a hole in the ground…surprise, surprise…keep inflating the ponzi on the side of the ship above the water line…while the hull cracks.

  22. F. Beard

    Technology and global competition aren’t going away. So we can either throw up our hands and resign ourselves to diminished living standards, POTUS [bold added]

    Say what?! Why should our living standards DIMINISH when technology improvements should at least enable us to stand still? And when our chief problem is onerous debt that could readily be dispatched with new fiat?

    or we can do what America has always done: adapt, pull together, fight back and win. POTUS [bold added]

    Pull together? Since when have rentiers ever pulled anything except the lifeblood out of an economy?

    1. F. Beard

      But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Luke 11:46 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

  23. anon y'mouse

    obama: “hey, starving dogs–we’re going to throw you some bones! they won’t have any meat on them or anything. you still have to live in this 2 foot square rusting cage with a cement floor. we have the key, so you will now get a five minute bowel movement break and won’t have to stand in your own excrement all day, but letting you loose other than to run on our hamster wheel would be decadent.

    oh, and hey–stop howling at the moon so much. you’re making it hard to hear the damned T.V.!”

  24. anon y'mouse

    “You can comparison shop in an online marketplace, just like you would for TVs or plane tickets, and buy the one that fits your budget and is right for you.”

    ah, yes. because my rapidly breaking down body in one of these McJobs is just like a purely discretionary purchase.

    hey, ma–maybe if we save up next month, we can afford a a lower deductible. either that, or we can blow it on a bigger flatpanel. no ma, i don’t think that plan lowers the costs of those 5 different medications that the doctors told you that you must have to survive to hit another year. unfortunately, we’ll have to save up another year for THAT plan.

  25. indio007

    Are we just figuring out politicians are liars?
    We need to collectively wake up and realize that CRIMINALS are running the show.

    A criminal is someone that injures the public interest. A tort against the public if you will.

    Now, can we all agree, criminals have infiltrated nearly every office in the Federal gov’t as well as the States?

    1. Carla

      Yes, indio, this is called Organized Crime for a reason. We’re supposed to have a legal remedy: RICO.

      But when the syndicate has purchased the justice department, uhm, you gotta change the system.

  26. citizendave

    “We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare.”

    Those of us enrolled in Medicare are being equated with rusty old bridges.

      1. citizendave

        Agreed — and while he’s saying all these lofty things, why not say lofty things like that as well? Medicare for All! It’s not like we’re expecting much in the way of follow-through anyway.

  27. MaroonBulldog

    Seymour Hersh explained, “You don’t have to call Henry Kissinger a liar: you just say what he said, and say what the truth is.”

    Good work, Michael Hudson. “You don’t have to call BHO a liar ….”

  28. Wiliam Neil


    Any idea of what happened to my post, and Michael Hudson’s comment which followed it?

  29. Michael Goodwin

    >MH: This is unbelievable hutzpah. He increased the FICA wage withholding tax.

    Aaagh please stop repeating this. Obama lowered the FICA tax on employees, an act for which he got pretty much zero credit. Years later, he raised it *back to where it had been* as part of a deal, at which point the media–which, again, had taken barely any notice when he lowered taxes–made a big “Obama raised taxes” stink.

    I think he gave away way too much in that deal, but he’s still more sinned against than sinning here.

    Rates, for reference: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/Payroll-Taxes.cfm

  30. TC

    The part of Obama’s speech not quoted in this post, but actionable was:

    “And I sincerely believe there are members of both parties who understand this moment–understand what’s at stake–and I will welcome ideas from anybody, across the political spectrum. But, I will not allow gridlock, or inaction or willful indifference to get in our way. That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it. Where I can’t act on my own and Congress isn’t cooperating, I’ll pick up the phone, I’ll call CEOs, I’ll call philanthropists, I’ll call college presidents, I’ll call labor leaders, I’ll call anybody who can help and enlist them in our efforts.”

    Make him call Bernanke and demand he bail out every city that needs it. Pensions are contracts and have been earned. These must be protected FIRST.

    All the president need do is quote Bernanke when he appeared before the House Financial Services Committee last week and claimed the Fed does not favor Wall Street over Main Street, and demand the Fed chairman PROVE IT.

  31. Hugh

    I caught part of a discussion last night on the Charlie Rose show of the Obama speech by various journalists from the NYT, FT, and the Economist. I did not watch it in order to criticize any of their positions. There was no need to. They were so far off the mark that there was an otherworldly quality to it, like 13th century theologians discussing quantum mechanics. They would occasionally use recognizable phrases like “wealth inequality” and “middle class” but in a vague, thoroughly insubstantial way.

    There was no definition of who the middle class were or what problems they had. Nor was there any real discussion of just how extreme wealth inequality is. And what was most striking to me was there was no discussion of the most obvious ways to address extreme wealth inequality: tax it.

    I have put these ideas before but if the talking heads on Charlie Rose as well as Obama were even middling serious about these issues they would be putting forward and discussing proposals like these:

    1. A 50% tax rate for incomes above $300,000 going up to 75% at $1 million.

    2. A marginal 95% tax rate for income above $1 million. All earnings here and abroad from whatever source to be declared and taxed as income. Any wealth and/or income undeclared to be confiscated and subject to additional financial and criminal penalties.

    3. A yearly 10% asset tax on household wealth above $20 million.

    4. Current charitable foundations set up by families (think Gates, Buffet, etc.) to also be taxed at this same rate. Ban family foundations in the future.

    5. A 50% tax on gross corporate profits. All profits and assets here and abroad to be declared or subject to confiscation with additional financial and criminal penalties for both the corporations and their chief officers.

    6. 100% estate tax on all estates over $3.5 million per individual, $7 million for couples. Eliminate most trusts.

    There are many more things that could be done with regard to free trade, outsourcing, Social Security, Medicare for All, etc., but if Obama’s record to date was not sufficient evidence of his intentions, the lack of any real, concrete proposals that might actually change anything is the tell.

    1. washunate

      “There was no definition of who the middle class were or what problems they had. Nor was there any real discussion of just how extreme wealth inequality is. And what was most striking to me was there was no discussion of the most obvious ways to address extreme wealth inequality: tax it.”

      Right on.

  32. DolleyMadison

    Interesting he mentioned the Maytag plant from which many in teh town were laid off. The cruelest lie the “new economy” tells its victims is we MUST ship manufacturing jobs overseas otherwise the cost to purchase things like washers will be out of reach for the “middle class.” Yet exporting these jobs has NOT made washers any cheaper – just junkier. I am on my 2nd washer in 2 yrs. And they were NOT cheap. Yet my mother washed clothes for 6 kids in a USED kenmore for 20 years and only gave it away b/c she was remodeling – it still worked. So the “middle class” gets kicked in the teeth twice – by losing good paying jobs to outsourcing and by having to pay through the nose for goods that must be continual repaired and replaced. I am sick of being blamed – you want cheap stuff don’t you? – for CEOs and shareholders ravenous demands for more more more. Outsourcing benefits the CEO and noone else. Call Buchcanan a mysogynist if you like, but his predictions are ringing true.

  33. craazyman

    Faaaak if you’re “O” reading this is like being followed around by your superego with a bullhorn and a horsewhip.

    He may not even realize how true it all is.

    There was a time in my life I got a fortune cookie that said “You want credit for skills you do not possess.”

    Some non-descript Chinese restaurant with bubbling fish tank, dingy carpet and plastic counter where a tired lady who looks like every stranger in the world takes your money and smiles for a second. For some reason the universe talked to me.

    That was a weird fortune cookie. It was so true I couldn’t stand to acknowledge the reality of its meaning. I still think about it, even now, although it’s no longer true for me.

    It may be true in that way, now, in the White House. It may be that way in his head. It may be that way forever. It all needs to start with self-honesty so painful it’s a mind-flame burning down all the waste it lives within. It’s no wonder most people want to live in denial.

  34. CJ

    “But over time, that engine began to stall. That bargain began to fray. Technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent others overseas. It became harder for unions to fight for the middle class. Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the rich and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor. The link between higher productivity and people’s wages and salaries was severed – the income of the top 1% nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, while the typical family’s barely budged.”

    This paragraph strikes me as completely ahistorical, like these things were accidental and “just happened.” It’s very Orwellian. Apparently union-busting is no longer part of our history, not to mention who was behind it and benefited from it. Is it a historical “accident” that all the productivity gains of the last 30 years have gone exclusively to the 1%? No, it’s not, but Obama desperately wants us to believe it.

    I will say one thing about Obama, his mastery of rhetoric is impressive and I think most folks under-estimate his pied-piper appeal to Americans ignorant of our own history (meaning most of us thanks to public education sanitized by the controllers to hide their levers and methods of control).

    At the same time, this sort of thing can only go so far before the spread between reality and his rhetorical fantasy-land becomes obvious to all. Maybe the party faithful will be able to maintain the unsupportable position that he has any concerns whatsoever for the 99%, but anybody that looks at the empirical evidence can only conclude that everything he does is exclusively for the benefit of the 1%.

  35. allcoppedout

    In Britain we think Tony Blair was Thatcher in drag – probably after some virgin blood ritual in a Hampstead cellar. We should not be surprised at what he can do with a bit of boot-black.
    We have never been able to get even a small minority round to Michael Hudson or Steve Keen’s economics – which are rather like UK Labour thinking in the 60’s (Gnomes of Zurich etc.) and with which I agree. I found myself reading the red comment without needing to refer to the black print.

    The issue is historic to me – how do we overthrow a corrupt elite that holds the rest of us in thrall? And how do we create something in the revolution that prevents this:

    Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!
    A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot.
    Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
    The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.

    Germany is the best organised economy in Europe but faces the loss of more than 6 million workers because they didn’t ‘organise’ the birth rate and they have poverty in work. Their roads have more potholes than even a British town hall bureaucrat could muster and Internet is rubbish.

    It is hard to know why we can’t mobilise people to want to net out state debts, cancel much private debt and see off financial services as we once did for heavy engineering. Sure, education has failed, main media is propaganda – but what is it that makes such a simple message in most people’s interests not get through?

    In some protocol analysis I’ve been finding huge resistance to any of what assumed powerful people say – it will turn out like the WB Yeats poem or at best Germany – so why bother? People seen to be bidding for power are automatically dubbed with a corruption index, and a clever dick one and several others. One could find this down the pub – at least I do – but what I wanted to find runs a bit deeper. It’s a sad picture of disillusionment with much more than looking after number one and rationalisation. Some even believe we need to be at war in Iraq and Afghanistan to secure the oil, need rapacious banks to secure more wealth to trickle down. In this ragbag you find much ‘language’ of people thinking they are smart, see an inside track (often called common sense or nowse) that allows them the dignity of not being mugs when they really are. One woman in my research told me the Falklands was ‘all about the oil’ as though this thought could not of crossed my mind.
    Language is never satisfactory to a biologist – but I can’t get a licence to dice brains. We could do with knowing more on why good sense is not received (Gramsci had one) I’m still working on my data and the biggest categories in the content analysis co far are fear and the mistrust of anything that suggests the individual has been mugged. If Keen and Hudson are right (and they are) we have been mugged (and we have).

  36. Tim

    If nothing else President Obama has taught me that just because somebody can accurately and articulately express their understanding of your problem doesn’t mean they plan to fix it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I would contend Obama has very rarely ever addressed the true state of anything. Part of Obama’s popularity is due largely to his ability to ignore problems. His vaunted 2004 DNC speech was largely a shot at John Edwards’ Two Americas speech. Whatever one might think of Edwards, only a twit of the highest order would think the Two Americas was inaccurate, but Obama put the blame for division in America on imaginary problems instead of large scale wealth inequality. Clapping is easier than solving problems. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging they exist. Obama doesn’t even do this.

      As Hudson and others have pointed out, Obama’s most recent stump speech claims an economic resurgence and blames the economic malaise at the same time. He isn’t articulate except to shallow Americans.

  37. Mac

    Many folks give Obama credit for having intentions of one type or an other, I contend his only intent is self promotion.
    He has no intent other than boasting and boosting Obama.
    He has not nor ever had the skills to be president and only wanted to promote himself.
    We can only hope that we make it thru the next 3 years with perhaps minor damage.
    Gridlock in the House and Senate will help to preclude any of O’s lunatic ideas.

    1. John

      I know I’m counting on the crazy Right to stop that all-out assult on American workers bill that came out of the Senate called the immigration bill.

      Maybe the crazies will stop Obama’s extortion racket called Obamacare too by refusing to fund it.

  38. TheAngryPeasant

    “In an age when jobs know no borders, companies will also seek out the country that boasts the most talented citizens, and reward them with good pay.”

    I’m curious which companies he’s referring to; because, as I’m sure workers in India, China, and Mexico will attest, the accepted modus operandi for international corporations is to find the least talented/educated citizens of any country, and pay them nothing.

  39. Cee Six

    Obama says families need to be “responsible” when it comes to housing. Note that Obama’s speech writers put that in 3 times to make a point.

  40. Gary

    O’s speeches always remind me of another often overlooked promise, the ‘open government, sunlight’ thing, especially given Obama’s penchant for closed-door negoations, of all the numerous ‘Gang of ‘ groups & his ‘Commissions’. We never got to see what was given away until it was too late, never got to see who was supoporting which positions. Makes it tough to hold anyone accountable… which was the point all along. He does not trust the people with the truth.

  41. JTFaraday

    “And Jack Lew got paid even more than thepresident of NYU for steering students into his pal Rubin’s Citigroup for high-cost student loans. Take a look at THAT scandal! The professors are up in arms about it.”

    They’re not up in arms about that. Nobody anywhere heard a peep out of them about this before now, and they’ve all known about that for 6 years at minimum. They themselves have been actively enrolling more and more full tuition paying students every year since the arrival of Jack Lew paired with Sexton’s ascendancy in 2001.

    Some of them may have been briefly peeved to discover that someone else had invaded their turf to work over their marks and make extractions that would in no way flow in their direction, but that’s about it.

    So, they may feel personally offended at the current figure heads and the fact that their deals aren’t as nice as those of Sexton’s Law Faculty cronies, but the real story is the place is rotten to the core. (Granted, one could say that about a lot of institutions today).

    No, what the tenured faculty are worried about now is that the real estate expansion plans of the Board turns them into the next set of marks because it looks a little too much like the GFC.

    But they’re even late on this, which has been in process for so many years already it looks like a done deal even if they shed their current figure heads. Bob Kerrey’s expansion plans at the New School didn’t stop just because “the faculty” got rid of him after he appointed himself Provost.

    This just goes to show how much attention they actually pay to the institution they claim they have a right “to govern.” The public has been attending meetings with the Administration for years.

    The only faculty person worth listening to is the one who fully understands how the tenured faculty itself participated in the process of turning the concept of “shared governance” into the campus joke that it has become.

    And they can start by learning that “shared governance” means more than shared loot and shared despotism.

  42. TomDor

    Raise the minimum wage: and due to the unjust revenue system, regulatory capture by the rentiers who extract more wealth using age old predatory finance etc, you will only manage to help some lift out of poverty temporarily. The rentiers will only raise rental extraction to rebalance their temporary lost leverage and a new balance will be struck – represented only by larger spreadsheet numbers – the rental extraction will exhibit the same ratios.

    How to rebalance for a better standard of living and less inequality? – Tax the crap out of known economically destructive activities.

    “In spite of the ingenious methods devised by statesmen and financiers to get more revenue from large fortunes, and regardless of whether the maximum sur tax remains at 25% or is raised or lowered, it is still true that it would be better to stop the speculative incomes at the source, rather than attempt to recover them after they have passed into the hands of profiteers.
    If a man earns his income by producing wealth nothing should be done to hamper him. For has he not given employment to labor, and has he not produced goods for our consumption? To cripple or burden such a man means that he is necessarily forced to employ fewer men, and to make less goods, which tends to decrease wages, unemployment, and increased cost of living.
    If, however, a man’s income is not made in producing wealth and employing labor, but is due to speculation, the case is altogether different. The speculator as a speculator, whether his holdings be mineral lands, forests, power sites, agricultural lands, or city lots, employs no labor and produces no wealth. He adds nothing to the riches of the country, but merely takes toll from those who do employ labor and produce wealth.
    If part of the speculator’s income – no matter how large a part – be taken in taxation, it will not decrease employment or lessen the production of wealth. Whereas, if the producer’s income be taxed it will tend to limit employment and stop the production of wealth.
    Our lawmakers will do well, therefore, to pay less attention to the rate on incomes, and more to the source from whence they are drawn.”

    Written around 1925

    Micheal Hudson, could you look up “Tax Facts published in the interests of sound economics and american ideals” Google books search? and render a comment?

  43. Ep3

    “Some colleges are testing new approaches to shorten the path to a degree, or blending teaching with online learning to help students master material and earn credits in less time. Some states are testing new ways to fund college based not just on how many students enroll, but how well they do”

    Yves, this sounds like doing to colleges what the elite have done to grade school; blame “inefficient” teachers for the high costs and poor quality. Next stop is breaking college professors like they broke the teachers unions.

  44. MaroonBulldog

    BHO’s speeches tell us nothing about what we believes, but they tell us everything about the beliefs he wants his intended audience to adopt and act on. His speeches work, because he says things that sound like they ought to be true (but aren’t), so his intended audience uncritically infers that he believes what he is saying. It’s just forensic advocacy; lawyers’ courtroom opening arguments and closing arguments are constructed by the same technique. Lawyers often don’t believe the things they say–they just play to the intellectual limitations of their hearers.

    If you are engaged in critical thinking about BHO’s speeches, you are not his intended audience, and he doesn’t care what you think. He has given up on persuading the people that have given up on him .

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