There are few honest people in this crappy world!

It so happens that our mass media are designed to con-front our common sense, in judgment and values, with the worst in ourselves.  This is so much so that even when you see through the crap they put on public display, you think you are alone.

A fellow traveler at Patrice Ayme's blog, Keith to be more precise, pointed my attention to the following:

Here’s something by Max Blumenthal (author of Republican Gommorrah) who draws in all sorts of threads:
In the comment section you might (or might not!) like the link to a Chris Hedges article on fundamentalism:
And that's how I've discovered Chris Hedges, what a revelation!  Hedges looks at how the institutionalized LEFT has failed the people.  Was it easy money that did it?

After all, I think there are many more of us, except that we are being kept at distance from each other, or when we come in close proximity we do it at 120mph moving in opposite directions...

Surely you didn't buy the circus our Congress had kept on display for so long.  I saw this morning I was not alone  :-)  when I read the comments from Krugman's op-ed in NYtimes.


Calm down, Paul. Your the-sky-is-falling rhetoric is not helping your case.

"Start with the economics. We currently have a deeply depressed economy.... The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further."

That's not what Keynesian Economics says and you know it. Keynesian fiscal policy calls for deficit spending to prop up demand. Fiscal stimulus is proportional to the size of the gap between government spending and tax revenue, not the total amount of spending.

The "worst" thing you can do, according to Keynes, is to reduce the short term budget deficit, by any means. Whether it's cuts to domestic spending or tax increases makes very little difference. Now, this deal makes minimal reductions to the short-term budget deficit (on the order of $100 billion), not great, but not the end of the world, and not enough to make the difference between recovery and recession, but even if it were, raising taxes by the same amount would have exactly the same impact.

"Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse."

Oh, please. This is the mirror image of "tax cuts pay for themselves" and it's just as erroneous for exactly the same reason.

"And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options.... But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not."

Sure, let's invoke a constitutionally questionable unilateral increase in the debt ceiling by citing the 14th Amendment. I'm sure investors around the world will happily continue buying treasuries at 3% while Congress moves to impeach the President for treason and we wait 6 months for the Supreme court to decide whether the U.S. will default on it's debt. You're not even making sense any more.


Oakland, CA
This deal may provide the impetus to go with a four-party system, since liberals/progressives have been completely ditched (and dissed) by President Obama, and across the aisle, moderate Republicans are split from the Teapartiers.

Given this most recent capitulation by the President, I will find it very hard to remain a Democrat, let alone support his candidacy. I do not appreciate the scorn he has shown to those responsible for his gaining office, and I am repulsed his cozy relationship with all the Wall Street tycoons, Jeff Immelt being the last straw in that department. It is obvious who matters to this administration.

This was no negotiation. I am close to believing it was all in the plan from the start. I do not intend to vote for a Republican, regardless of which party they belong to.

It is a pity that America has come to this point, that we have declared ourselves to be a can't-do nation: can't maintain a safety net, or our infrastructure, or a decent system of education, none of it, AND we have to continue to unfairly enrich the already-wealthy.

We don't even have a President who can utilize his co-equal power and his bully pulpit to effectively prevent such a debacle. Instead it's been lots of lines drawn in the sand, only to be erased, and lots of deadlines, only to be extended, until finally, the extortionists' deal is done. For now. Because surely, now that they've tasted success, this will not be the last use of extortion; once again it's been proved quite effective!

In each "negotiation" the Republicans have become ever more emboldened to demand more in the next round. I am beginning to wonder whether I even want to live amongst people who behave so badly, who would treat so many with such contempt; who would so readily revoke longheld quid pro quo promises of Social Security and Medicare; and who would seek to deny Medicaid and food security to the destitute.

And still there are no jobs for the jobless. What are the people to do? 
An excellently guided series of points by Paul, save - ironically - for the title. The President (and top congressional Democrats) didn't surrender! He and they got exactly what they wanted from the beginning: the promise of deep, long-term cuts to social security and medicare. That is the only reasonable way to interpret it (on top of Rep. Conyers point blankly commenting that the President has been the one insisting that SS must be a part of the deal), there have been so many possible alternatives to this deal not taken that it's the only interpretation worth taking. Had he not extended the useless, $600 billion dollar two-year "Obama/Bush Tax Cuts" in December, we wouldn't be talking about the debt ceiling now. Had he included a debt ceiling raise in that deal to extend the tax cuts, when it wasn't politically contentious, we wouldn't be talking about the debt ceiling now. Had he addressed health care cost inflation with his health care reform bill, instead of *only* coverage, we wouldn't be talking about the debt ceiling now. Had he allowed the negotiations to pass the arbitrary August 2nd deadline, it wouldn't have led to a default. The treasury has enough projected revenue for August to cover the loan interest payments. What it would've led to is a re-prioritization of spending, meaning that Social Security checks likely wouldn't have gone out in full or on time for August/September. The Republicans have already been blamed for their intransigence. That's the narrative. Failure to meet the deadline is no risk for Democrats right now. Once those SS checks fail to make it out on time, imagine the sheer volume of complaint calls and media panic hitting freshman tea-partiers. If the Paul Ryan Budget put their feet to the flames, this would've engulfed them. Had he been willing to put his re-election framing as the "reasonable" and "conciliatory" moderate behind the interests of the nation, we wouldn't be dealing with this terrible debt ceiling deal right now.
I think those posting here are living in an alternate universe. Krugman's analysis is linear and does not address the fundamental dynamic of the ratio of debt to GDP, and the fact that it is structurally escalating. His strategies might work in times of better ratios, but there is a point of elasticity with debt. We are past it. As far as the "historical record" about tying slashed spending to jobs and economic well-being, the largest drops in government spending occurred after WW2, and the private sector went to work. And does confidence matter? Yes, which is why companies simply stopped hiring and/or got health care waivers after the HCR passage. Hirings dropped 90% within 2 months of HCR passage.

Instead of being grateful for the greatest prosperity in history, we have done what many lottery winners do - gluttonously spent even more than we have. We have demonized each other in a fight by politicians and moneyed interests to keep power and money, at the expense of the next generations. The complainers on this board do not realize it, but the greatest friends of their children and grandchildren are the ones who say the spending madness has to stop. We can't do anything on a progressive agenda to help humanity if we have no resources or have to borrow to do it. We can spend what we don't have... but only up to a point. We are past that point, after decades of indulgence and denial. Krugman's point of view has a Nobel Prize behind it. The one expressed in these paragraphs has mathematics. Math wins.
Where are we going?  Lower.  How low?  Until we can see the starry sky and moral law above us.


Keith said...

Nice to hear you found something of worth in Hedges. Not actually too familiar with him myself.

Myself wondering if the present concern with economics is less well placed than would be a broader education of people as to the very real dangers of 'the authoritarian personality' and the well known tendency for actual clinical psychopaths and or narcissists to rise to positions of influence and power.

This emotional intelligence or literacy, (or more accurately perhaps, lack of it) is something at least as precious as knowing law or business skills or history and the constitution. Generally people are not prepared by even a fairly good education for the intense emotional/libidinal hurly-burly they will encounter as adults.

Not sure what, if anything can be done about this (educational reform?), but the popular dialogue/blogosphere would do itself better, imho, to come to grips with what it is to live in the midst of masses of people who do not reach healthy levels of 'emotional maturity' -- leaving too many with weak egos who must defend themselves from strong inner drives and desires and lack of status and self esteem. People in such undeveloped emotional states, unable to navigate the ambiguity and ambivalence of real life, will attach themselves to rather nasty 'leader' figures and credos who will serve as the harsh superego that they are too often very unfortunately in need of, given their strong desires and urges, which are far too overburdening for their weak, immature egos and tragically internalized low sense of esteem and status.

Thus the horrible political trends and parties of the past and present -- which will appear as 'solutions' to people with no inclination to see compromise --or that living with a certain amount of actual real frustration is simply what everyone, who has 'grown up
a bit, has to do and keep doing. Frustration is one of life's main ingredients! Schemes which 'wish it away' -- understandable in fantasying children or the mentally ill or damaged -- seem to have too many 'customers' of an advanced age group hereabouts.

I suppose one could say that denying this last fact about frustration above is one of the sources or origins of utopian schemes, manic unrealistic hoardings, addictions, dominance of 'the other' on steroids, and so much of what seems to be going around.

Many objects which present the most profound frustrations --mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and by extension countries -- fall prey to the psychic mechanism of 'idealization.' A defense against the anxiety caused by the simple but undeniable (if only!) fact that most of these objects are at times very 'frustrating', and contradictory and dual, in that they are never all good, all bad, or all anything.

'Idealization' in the projective sense seems very much on display -- from 'free market economics' to all sorts of overkill, jingoism and bizarre identity politics.

multumnonmulta said...

Keith, thanks for the comment. It's dense and touches on some things I've thought of, yet cannot think of their being any other way, especially at the aggregate scale of the US. And the ones in power know this very well, even if only at the level of intuitions, and that's part of the status qvo.

Idealization is part and parcel of our collective sensemaking; the schemes of the liberal democracy will come under question, as in the past, for nothing will work as we've been conditioned. Right now, we shift blame from two imaginary positions, for there is no mass-support for either imagine (as in left or right). People tire and will seek an alternative simplification/idealization, unless Marx or war offers a better channel.

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