Obama's Victory and its Consequences, for the US and the GOP

Ready to Lead

The prize that President Barack Obama won on 4th November 2008 is an America that has little in common with the one his predecessor, George W Bush, inherited in 2000.

In 2000, the US was at peace with the world. The Cold War was over, market economies were ascendant, a massive budget surplus combined with tremendous national self-confidence. America was both internationally admired and the world’s undisputed superpower.

The America that Obama has earned is different. The US budget deficit is forecast to be over 4%, or $1 trillion this year. This will have to be financed through higher taxes, or through massive bond issues. Either way, the state will be tied up in debt that will require careful management. This at the same time that the US economy is already shrinking, while the whole world faces recession.

Obama also faces a world in which US hard power is discredited, and its soft power is being undermined by the growth of wealth in the world’s emerging markets. The likelihood is that, over the next ten years, the US will slip from being the world’s largest economy, to its third largest.

As US economic growth slips to -0.3%, China’s and India’s have slipped too, to around 8% and 6%. This may be unpleasant for US egos, but the world should celebrate the astonishing wealth creation in the world’s two largest nations.

What this means for Barack Obama is that he must run an economy that is under incredible economic strain, with a country that is no longer able to call the shots alone, but has to compete amongst other equally powerful economies.

The extent of the Democrats’ victory across all organs of state means that they can govern virtually unimpeded. The call for an America that divorces itself from the world economy, raises protective tariffs against foreign imports, and imposes legislation that over-protects employees, over-strengthens unions and over-regulates local businesses will be overwhelming.

An America that goes down this path will hurt itself by cutting its ability to create wealth and grow out of the recession. Such an approach risks the US following Japan down its 20-year path of economic stagnation. It also decreases the opportunities for international trade growth.

However, the tone of the world economy is now being set in Asia, not the US. An America that chooses not to participate is a country that simply accelerates its relative decline and is deliberately choosing not to define the nature of the future world economy. That is not to say that the US economy is no longer relevant, but it does mean that this is the moment in which the US leadership has to decide on the nature of their future engagement with the world.

Do they provide economic leadership through active engagement by driving closer international integration on American terms, or do they fade into obscurity to lick their wounds behind high walls?

That is the nature of the choice facing President Obama, and it will be his first test. The Republicans have little representation in government; they are divided, humiliated and punished. President Obama will be unable to look for bipartisan support.

He will have to challenge his own party in order to lead.

As for the Republicans? They are in the wilderness.

Changing Politics, Parallel Pasts

The British and American elections of 1979 and 1981, respectively, resemble what happened in the US on 4th November.

The 1970s were not kind to world politics. Collectivist and Socialist tendencies in left-wing political parties were devastating both Europe and the US. Riots, wars, market failures, the world had them all. Voters wanted something new and in 1979 voted in an outsider, Maggie Thatcher. In 1981, US voters followed suite with an outsider of their own, Ronald Reagan.

Both, in their own different ways, reinvented their parties, their countries and cast their opponents out of mainstream government for a long time.

It was 1993 before Bill Clinton proved that the Democrats didn’t have to be terrifying to business, while still meeting their social objectives. The ideology — of moving to the political centre by adopting some of the policies of political opponents — became known as the Third Way and was adopted across the Atlantic by a Labour party that would be out of government in the UK for almost 20 years. In 1997, Tony Blair adopted much of Bill Clinton’s stance and swept the Labour Party to a significant victory.

This is where the stories diverge. The US Republicans were able to recover pretty quickly after losing to Bill Clinton. The Democrats seemingly attempted to discard the thinking of Bill Clinton and were punished by a return to George W Bush. The UK Conservative Party has spent just over 10 years out of government and now, in the form of David Cameron, has created a person who has the charm of a Bill Clinton or Tony Blair and is showing that a Conservative Party can be pro-business without being anti-poor. He is reinventing his party rapidly, and is very likely to be the UK’s next prime minister.

In the US, however, the Republican Party has adopted highly partisan politics. Sarah Palin is pure red-meat Republican conservative values. And she is ancient history. A GOP that reflected more of what John McCain used to stand for in 2000, and less of what Sarah Palin believes now, would be a party that speaks to the centre.

Barack Obama has returned to Bill Clinton’s message. In more ways than Hillary Clinton, he actually represents continuity with the Democrat government of 1997.

In one peculiar way, though, he also picks up something from the Bush government — the requirement for a strong and experienced vice-president. Prior to Dick Cheney, the vice-president could be the court jester. Joe Biden will be a powerful partner. The future of US politics seems to be that “maverick” presidents with a new approach to politics can win if grounded with an experienced party stalwart as a sidekick.

John McCain, it appears, never intended to become president. He seems almost to have deliberately given his Republican base everything they wanted from a candidate, and nothing that would get him elected.

The likelihood is that, after the Republican Party almost vanishes from mainstream political view, they will have to spend a considerable period in the desert before they ever represent a meaningful part of the body politic again. Perhaps they can look across the Atlantic, as Tony Blair did before him, and take a leaf out of David Cameron’s approach, if they are ever to claim to represent anyone in the US again.

Leading the US, Looking at the World

Obama has created vast expectations; not just at home, but around the world.

Even with a stable and growing economy, many of his promises will be hard to guarantee and those expectations will be difficult to meet. The hair-shirt that the current economic debacle requires will put paid to financing many of his cherished ideas, at least in the short-term.

The trouble for Obama is that he is also the president who will inherit the promises created by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — the US’ massive entitlement programmes — just as they start to bankrupt the nation.

So Obama has his work at home cut out for him. He needs to deliver on his message, but he also needs to recognise the difficulties he is inheriting from previous administrations, as well as the vested interests that will conspire to keep him from addressing them.

At the same time, though, he offers the most dramatic and sweeping opportunity for America to reinvent its reputation and relationships with the world.

It will be hard for anti-Yankee governments, from the Ayatollah’s in Iran, to Chavez in Latin America, to continue their current reasoning for hating America. Firebrands in the Islamic world will find it difficult to justify hatred for the leader of a country whose second name is Hussein. The ex-colonies will find it difficult to justify their own failures as being mirrored by the experiences of black Americans.  Democrats (with a little-“d”) all over will be awed by the spectacle of a perfect example of democratic legitimacy at work.

Obama becomes a shining example, not only of how far a minority may aspire, but also of the overwhelming tolerance and exceptionalism of the American people, and of the power of free choice and free speech. That is a lesson that could be as inspirational for the world as was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

In acknowledging the astonishingly difficult job that President Obama now has, Scholars and Rogues both congratulates and wishes him well.

However, our support during the campaign is now at an end. After a brief honeymoon, the real work must start and — given the difficulties — must start soon.

Be sure, we will be watching.

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45 replies »

  1. Excellent post! Stating that McCain did evrything liven his base but nothing to get elected is so true. Rove’s old tactics of motivating the base while appealing to moderates does not work in the country we have today.
    Obama certainly has his hands full, as do the Democratic party, and you pose a good point that he will likely have to stand strong against some of the party’s (and peoples’)tendencies to enact many policies that may actually hurt progress. I see it as a pendulum swing that swung way too far to the right and physics will now swing too fer to the left. If there is a Democrat that could ease the momentum of that return swing, I believe it is Obama, selecting burpartisan/centrist advisors and actually returning intellectual reasoning back to the White House, as opposed to the neo-cons’ and ultra-conservatives’ puppet we have had for eight years.

  2. Whythawk:

    Nice post.

    I do feel, however, that you tend to see US politics, presidents, and presidential records as being a bit more about economics than most of us in the US do. Yes, a bad economy at election time will most often sweep a president out of office, but Reagan remade the US more in its social structure than in its economic one. Reagan’s economic reforms were really quite modest by European standards, and the US social structure at the time hardly resembled the one in the UK at all.

    From this side of the pond, it seems to me that Thatcher’s reforms were far more radical than Reagan’s. And Reagan didn’t reinvent his country, I don’t think. He brought back optimism after the Vietnam War hangover, talked a good game on supply side economics that led to massive deficits, and made bigotry OK again after it had gone into hiding for 10 years or so in shame.

    The Democrats didn’t lose on economic issues after Clinton. They lost on social ones. The GOP simply went back to its old Southern strategy after a Southern, Democratic president disrupted it for a while, and it worked again as it always had.

    As for India and China, their economies will certainly outstrip all in the world, eventually. How can they not with populations their size? When that will happen is quite subject to debate, however, since I don’t recall any country in the history of the world growing its economy at 6% to 10% per year forever. Do you? Their economies are growing rapidly now because they started from such a low baseline. And I have been told by a reputable and very highly placed Taiwanese source that mainland China must grow its economy at 10% per year, forever, if they are to accommodate just their own population growth. India is still beset with vast territories mired in grinding poverty and ignorance so deep that the great outdoors still serves many millions of people as a toilet.

    I would just like to note here that, if the prognosticators of the late 80s had been right, the Japanese economy would already be the largest in the world by a good piece.

    As for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, I agree that these are insanely difficult challenges, but there is a ray of hope on the M and M issue. The fact is, the only way to get control of Medicare and Medicaid is to get control of utilization and technological development. Both of these can be easily folded into a national health plan and paid for, in large part, by diverting funds large companies are already paying for employee health coverage, and employee contributions to that coverage, to fees for a single-payer, national plan. Doing that will, eventually, rein in unlimited utilization, which is the fundamental driver of outrageous health care costs in the US.

    Social Security is a thornier issue. In the end, we’ll raise the retirement age to make it solvent again. It won’t be popular, but it will be necessary.

  3. Excellent post…

    Wasn’t it not so long ago that i was nearly pilloried for suggesting that the imperial power of the United States was on the wane? I was, apparently, wrong then. Yet now my argument is being made (at least to some degree) by the very writer who basically called me naive and/or uniformed and suggested the my argument was not even worthy of discussion.

    Obviously, the upheaval of financial markets has changed the landscape…but that upheaval was not unpredicted, only unheeded. What may change the landscape even more are undercurrents. The waves you see crashing on the beach are not, generally, the ones that will sweep you out to sea after drowning you. Similarly, there is the possibility that the current financial crises could well be the penultimate crisis.

    “Developing” nations around the world have seen their markets and currencies rocked by the contagion from the US markets. In many cases, their banks were not overly exposed to toxic assets and were/are well capitalized. They played by the rules, often better than those who made up the rules, yet they’ve been severely punished. The fear factor saw investors yanking money from just about everywhere as they fled to the safety of US Treasuries, which are considered safe because of the dollar’s role as reserve currency.

    There are already rumblings of bilateral deals that would forgo the use of dollars for trade. The discussions between China and Russia top that list. Several finance ministers (especially from Asia) have suggested that yuan is the true, convertible currency of the world today. And the reserve dollars that might have flowed into the United States to stem the crisis have, in many cases, stayed where they were in order to stem the crisis at home.

    The dollar MAY be losing its luster, especially considering our balance sheet. We’ve done well over the years and profited mightily by being able to exchange paper for oil (and, as an outgrowth, just about everything else). But we’ve become dependent on the goose and her golden eggs. Any move away from the dollar as the reserve currency could well make the situation for the next president far, far worse than the one described in the post.

    If you thought watching your 401K evaporate was a gut wrenching experience, you’ll find it small potatoes in comparison to a currency collapse.

    I am not predicting such a situation coming to pass in the United States, but it is a possibility. The pivotal question is this: just how good is the “full faith and credit” of the United States?

  4. Lex,
    A currency collapse might not be such a bad thing. After all, all currencies are losing their absolute value anyways. A currency collapse would cause many disruptions in world markets, but the revaluation that will take place after will be very beneficial to all economies, world wide.

    The full faith and credit of the United States still has more credibility than any other country’s full faith statements, as recent events in the bond, bill, and currency markets have shown. The US is simply, too big to fail.

    Anyways, at the street value, money is negotiable tender. In the lofty spheres of the international banking system, the Fed, and the treasure, money is an abstract concept as witnessed by the recent events. That $700 billion dollar bailout bill that got all the media’s attention was merely a smoke screen for the 4 trillion dollars that the Fed added to the system in a very stealthy manner.

    Needless to say, we still borrow less of a % of our GDP than most other countries. If you want to see a currency collapse, just look at the Australian Dollar in recent weeks. My fellow traders over there don’t see any change in their lifestyles, the crops are still being planted, commerce still exists, the trains run on time, and people still go to work every day.


  5. http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/06/12/us.still.leads.world.science.and.technology

    When a country is free ~ and the perception and reality outside of the USA is that the USA is the greatest free country in the world (and I agree) ~ then it becomes the home for dreams.

    So, the USA will continue to attract the best, brightest and most energetic humans in many other countries. People are not flocking to settle in China and India. The USA still ‘steals’ all the best talent…and will continue to do so even though F & F made a unique virus that has led to unprecedented global financial ill-health.


    People always care about the money in their pocket…no matter what their politics are. So on that basis I am predicting a vote for the Democrats first and Obama second…because if you are in pain financially then you are more likely to get the assistance needed with them than the Republlicans (who are nothing like British conservatives and more akin to the British National Party with guns). If you are about to lose your job…Obama is preaching the right message.

    The UK media was widely predicting that John Major would lose the 1992 British election. He won. For that reason I am wary of media predictions and the polls. Obama could still lose…but the current turn of events in the economy, I believe, will result in more votes for him . *hopes*

    If he loses…then I will believe that race was a major factor that contributed to his losing. And that would be a sad day for everyone.

    Obama, in many ways, reminds me of Mandela ~ Obama as the new face of the USA would generate as great a feel good positivity as Mandela’s Presidency of South Africa did. Before the ANC went on its fuck-up everything mission…

  6. Elaine,

    I feel bad about being called a racist because I reject Obama. I have profound disagreements with his vision, and race doesn’t enter into the equation. Actually, the best candidate in the election is Alan Keyes who is black but didn’t get my vote because he doesn’t stand a chance. However, whoever wins or loses, I’ll just be glad when it’s Wednesday morning and it’s all over.

    I saw Obama the other night in Sarasota, and will say that he was pretty slick. He told us that he loved rich people….can you imagine McCain saying that and how he would have been pilloried by the machine…


  7. Jeff: While I disagree with you on a number of things and can’t imagine what would possess you to back Keyes, I do NOT think you’re racist. Those who think that haven’t read enough of what you’ve had to say, I suspect.

  8. It seems to me that the very idea of “rapid growth” is part of our overall problem. That we continue to value accumulating wealth more than living life seems the very core of all the problems in the world.

    That is to say, I completely disagree that we have to be overly worried about the global markets. It’s not our place to try and dominate them, nor should we be worried about being a super power. We should be worried about becoming the best people we can, the best country in terms of planetary citizens as we can. Not worrying about how many other people think we’re cool, or drooling at our collective “bling”. When are we going to grow up as a nation? When are we going to show the wisdom of age and move on past the petty greed that seems an instinctual throwback from when we lived in caves and never knew if we were going to have enough food, so we hoarded and raided our neighbors?

    We have a lot of people in this country who don’t have a home to sleep in. Why? We have a lot of people who don’t have enough food to eat.. Why? We have people poisoning themselves with the worst food they could possibly eat.. Why? We have people dying of simple curable diseases and ailments… Why?

    Greed and ignorance.

    We let companies fill our food with High Fructose Corn Syrup. that’s been shown to be pretty unhealthy, but it’s “cheap” and allows for greater profits (by the ruling elite). Why aren’t we making sure EVERYONE knows just how bad for you it is? or why aren’t we putting strict limits on how much can be used in making our food? Because our leaders don’t work for us, they don’t work to protect us, they work for bottom lines and profits. They subsidies corn with our tax dollars so we can use it as a massively inefficient fuel supplement while blocking a much cheaper alternative (and that alternative is also better for us in our food).. why? .. for farmers (most of whom are now very large or corporate).

    Hemp is still illegal in this country. Why? It makes more oil for bio-diesel, the seeds are excellent for feeding livestock (much better than corn), the fibers can be used in construction and clothing and a lot of other things.. and produces more fiber in a year per acre than 4 acres of trees after 20 years. Why aren’t we growing hemp all over instead of corn? … oh.. right.. someone might grow some pot in there, and oh my.. that would be the end of the world… people being high on natural products instead of alcohol or prescription drugs.

    No, I don’t accept that we have to try and find a way to “keep doing what we’ve been doing, but do it more stably”. I reject the logical fallacy that making sure money is flowing like mad on Wall Street is what we need to do. Our GDP isn’t whats important in reality, in the lives of people trying to survive.. it’s only important when you’re trying to play the one-up game, the “I have more than you” game. We have to find a new way. A self sustaining way. A way that _actually_ rewards real work and manages to feed and clothe everyone.

  9. I think the issue, re: racism, is that we see a lot of it present in the Republican party. That doesn’t mean all Republicans are racist, not by a long shot.

    But one has to really ask themselves at this point. How, in good conscience, can a self respecting “true” Republican support McCain/Palin? If you’re trying to make sure “your party wins” just to make sure the party wins, then you’re doing a huge disservice to what America is about.

    On a specific point by point basis, I would have to think that the underlying drive for Republicans as this point is the premise that “cutting taxes on companies creates jobs”. However, I see nothing that logically makes that true. What I see is companies doing things like laying off workers even though the company is “profitable” simply because they want to increase profits. Once they do that, they look for a new way to increase profits, they don’t just stop making a “better bottom line”.. Hence, letting them keep more profits won’t stop them from trying to get even MORE after that. There’s just nothing in logic or reason that implies they would stop doing exactly what they are doing now.

    If you don’t force a company to do something, you can’t expect it will do anything other than fulfill its own selfish interests (in the case of companies, that’s get bigger profits no matter what). Letting companies not pay taxes to increase their profits only increases their profits, nothing else.

    The “free market” doesn’t care how many people die in the street. It cares about absorbing wealth. If you have no wealth for the market to absorb, it’s ok with you dying. To pretend that an entity motivated only by profit will somehow care for the weak seems folly to me. Only humans can care for those that can’t pay, not a for-profit system.

    Or, in a nut-shell.. Pro-Corporation is not Pro-Life, it’s Pro-Profits. Interestingly, Pro-War is Pro-Corporation, but not Pro-Life.

  10. Savanster: You said,
    “We should be worried about becoming the best people we can, the best country in terms of planetary citizens as we can. Not worrying about how many other people think we’re cool, or drooling at our collective “bling”. When are we going to grow up as a nation?”
    I guess you follow Ayn Rand with the above statement, and I agree with your above statement.

    You should read Adam Smith’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments” to see the fallacy of your ideas of what a free market is. Dead people don’t make good customers.

    Any company I invest in, I expect to maximize it’s profits so I can get a good return on my investment. With that return, I’ll spend the money, give to charity, buy a little art, and maybe save a little. Expecting companies to forgo profits for all that touchy feely stuff is pure tomfoolery. That being said, I don’t expect companies to do anything illegal, immoral, or not in the best interests of society. Sometimes society as a whole doesn’t even know what’s best for it’s own interests, but the business class always does. I do expect the companies I invest in to be a little bit selfish and aggressive, as there’s a certain nobility in selfishness, aggressiveness, thrift, and good business practices.

    Pro-profits is good, at least in the eyes of the true producers of the country.


  11. Sam,
    I have met Keyes on a number of occasions and was impressed with his first rate mind. Sure, he doesn’t offer promises, cure alls, but the fact that he’s a genuine conservative melds closer to my philosophy than the other candidates. I strongly disagree with many of his stances on abortion and a few other civil things. However, since he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, he didn’t get my vote.

    The accusations of racism are the least form of invective that I have hurled my way. My neighbor informed me that she would not talk to me anymore because I didn’t like Obama. That’s a shame when politics trumps friendship.


  12. China and India are bound to have large economies, but only large manufacturing economies. It’s already been pretty well stated elsewhere, but the Chinese economy won’t actually grow larger than the U.S.’s primarily because of their investment in being our trading partner. Also, as someone else mentioned, we seem to attract the world’s minds to our shores.

    I still fervently believe the development and implementation of alternative energy is the only viable option at this point for preventing a full-on depression. I couldn’t vote for McCain for that reason. Taking a shotgun approach to the energy crisis would’ve worked, say, fifteen years ago. It won’t work now because every resource wasted is going to hurt. Government subsidies, or maybe tax incentives in the private sector, will encourage further research and development in the alternative energy sector, especially the undisturbed gold mine that is solar energy. You’ve got start-ups in California like Nanosolar and Cool Earth Solar already doing some pretty interesting things.

  13. Jeff

    I suspect you are in a minority position within the current Republican Party ~ in the same way that the Log Cabin gays are in a minority position within the Republican Party.


  14. Jeff,

    The more i read, the more i wonder if GDP is a solid way of measuring our economic activity. For example, all the money we’ve been spending to bumble through the occupation of Iraq counts towards GDP, though it does little (ok, military salaries and replacing all those dropped bombs) for the economic health of the nation (minus long term health care costs for soldiers, etc.). It makes not distinction between high quality goods and consumer throwaways. It doesn’t adjust for fixing things (like New Orleans) that were fine but then destroyed. And it doesn’t factor in externalized costs.

    And for a country like the US, it seems that our GDP could easily fall through the floor. The first number is “consumption”. In the US, 70% of our economic activity is consumer consumption and a large percentage of our employment is in retail. So it stands to reason that recessionary pressures will mostly likely be seen (and it appears that they already are being seen) in decreased consumption, which is likely to lead to less retail employment, which is likely to lead to less consumption of durable goods. It also seems that this would be particularly volatile in a nation that funds much of its consumption with debt.

    So, yes, right now our debt as a percentage of GDP is not overly worrying. But an L-shaped recession would change that equation drastically, no? (and please hang with me, i’m currently enrolled in the “teach yourself economics” class…i.e. i don’t pretend to be arguing from a point of deep knowledge)

    I would also say that we haven’t seen any real currency crashes from this crisis yet. We’ve seen devaluations, but only time will tell if they stabilize or really crash. I’ve seen a currency crash first hand (Russia), and yes, life does go on…but it’s real fucked up. Governments will put off lopping zeros from the end of the numbers for as long as possible, mostly because people aren’t very happy when they wake up to find that the 30,000 they possessed is now 300 or 30.

    Correct me if i’m wrong, but in the mini crash of ’23-’25, the world financial institutions tried their damnedest to print their way out of the problem…which is basically what we’re doing now. It looked like it would work for a while, and then the other shoe fell and Germans were substituting wheelbarrows for wallets. Is it possible to just keep printing a fiat currency without ever feeling negative effects?


    Replacing corn with hemp would be a bad, bad idea. But employing hemp would be a fantastic idea which may be looked at more deeply here at S&R in the coming days. (it would, however, be hard to hide marijuana production in a field of hemp for botanical reasons…that’s a shitty argument that the government uses because judges don’t understand horticulture, or botany.)

  15. JS: The more open and fluid markets have certainly felt the pain first, but the recessional impact is indicating just how interconnected markets are. In fact, considering just how interdependent this crisis is, it is the countries that aren’t being affected at all that are the ones to pay attention to – because it means that they are not part of the global trading system (and likely to be poor and unpleasant places).

    As for social issues being more important than economic ones? It is amazing how social issues become less important as people feel more financially secure, and conversely, how they become serious issues as people feel financially undermined.

    Most social issues are indicators for underlying economic concerns.

    Lex: The absolute value of the US economy is not in doubt, it is its relative value that I’m addressing. The Chinese – individually – don’t have to become richer than China, for the Chinese nation to have a greater economic clout in the world.

    As for GDP being a means of evaluating economic activity … it depends what you’re attempting to observe. My personal hatred is for the GINI coefficient and the various GDP/capita ratios. For instance, even though many western European countries have lower GINI ratios (i.e. the “gap” between the incomes of the rich and poor) their poorest 20% earn less than the poorest 20% in the US. Plus, the social mobility (as a result of high growth rates) is better in the US than in most nations.

    There is never a good reason to print money to get out of trouble, it accentuates inflation. However, that isn’t what is happening.

    As mentioned in a previous post, banks have “printed” money through debt. This debt has been written off and is what is behind bank instability – in effect, their “cash” has been burned and all the assets they claimed to be sitting on were found wanting.

    The world’s economies have shrunk by about $3trillion over the past few weeks. This is the opposite of printing money and has resulted in the drying up of liquidity (ask anyone trying to get a loan right now).

    Central banks were uncomfortable lowering interest rates (the text-book response to decreasing liquidity) for fear of raising inflation. Now that it is clear that overall economic activity has decreased as well, banks are easing interest rates in the hopes of increasing lending.

    However – and here’s the really interesting bit – banks haven’t come out of their trees yet and the only liquidity available is from the US Central Bank. In other words, the US government is lending money in US Dollars. This is behind the astonishing STRENGTHENING of the US greenback against all currencies.

    We have seen currency crashes in as diverse places as Russia (where the rouble is toilet paper) and South Africa (down over 35%).

    The nature of these economic and currency crashes has not derived from state overspending, though, and so it isn’t really about controlling the printing presses (outside of Zimbabwe, that is).

    Mostly, what is required is a very careful and managed increase in liquidity through central bank-funded loans to banks to increase their ability to lend. It is also about not punishing the surviving banks through legislation (since the survivors, clearly, were doing the right things) when the real “guilty” banks no longer exist (now owned by state governments across the world).

    There will have to be a reckoning of some sort some time in the future (especially to ensure that no-one starts thinking that anyone is “too big to fail” and triggering future messes again), but not now. The market is already stabilising. Let the heat out, and move on from there.

  16. I was very disappointed that Obama missed a great teaching moment when the other side started calling him a Socialist and he did not take their faux Soviet Socialist frame and toss it back at them in its original frame that goes with Socialized Dog/Child/person.

    The cratering of American Industry and Government oversight that has looted and poisoned nearly every aspect of American Society and threatens worse should throw the work of Rand, Friedman, Nash, and Strauss into the same dust heap as Lamark, Velikovsky, von Däniken, and Filmer.

    Rousseau was not about collectivism as much as building a society that works for everyone, without advantaging those who have power granted by position to use guile or threat to score big for themselves to the damage of those around them. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” falls apart if the person would really have the “others” drop dead, or similar unsocialized behavior, but in a society increasingly aware and Socialized makes a good basis for Common Law, both Criminal and Corporate (should not even be different in most cases).

    In the short term the cratered society will need many splints and bandaids if it is to recover at all, and the financial where-with-all to do so will have to come from someplace. My preference would be a RICO program for the entire Gang Of Pirates, that all gains made by violation of laws, and through subversion of society to make many crimes legal be confiscated and prosecuted that they neither continue to damage society, but also pay for some of the repairs.

    Properly done it would outwardly resemble McCarthyism on steroids but unlike McCarthy with his blank lists of people in the employ of Russians, and innuendo attacks against people who palled around with folk wanting Socialized Dogs, type Socialism, A proper investigation would have documents already available, and aggressions stated openly on YouTube much less what hidden reality they might come up with by investigators actually doing thei job.

  17. “I would also say that we haven’t seen any real currency crashes from this crisis yet. ”

    Tell that to Iceland.

    “Replacing corn with hemp would be a bad, bad idea.”

    I wasn’t implying we shouldn’t have corn at all, I was implying that we should remove corn from our diets in the way it’s being used (including all that quick fatening of beef that causes serious stomach problems requiring a steady diet of antibiotics, another troubling practice that’s profitable but clearly dangerous for society).


    “You should read Adam Smith’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments” to see the fallacy of your ideas of what a free market is. Dead people don’t make good customers.”

    You and I understand the “idea” that dead people don’t make good customers.. but the reality is, not everyone is going to be a customer or laborer for any given facet of the market you’re looking at.. and as such, are easily left to die by the market (in reality). That is, we see businesses engaging in practices that are detrimental to people all the time. If the reality shows us one thing, and the theory suggests another, then the theory needs to be abandoned for reality. Period. In “theory” the “free market” is a great thing… but then you have to add humans to the picture. Then reality of greed and abuse and dirty tricks sets in. Sorry, I no more condone the theory of Socialism being fully implemented in today’s society (in America, anyway) than I can condone letting the “market decide” anything.

    “Sometimes society as a whole doesn’t even know what’s best for it’s own interests, but the business class always does. ”

    And this is exactly what worries me the most. The business class no more has competent people in it than the toilet cleaning class. Study after study has shown that your wealth is not tied to your intelligence. Saying business types know best means you’ve either stopped looking at what’s wrong with the current situation, or you’re part of the business class and think you know better than anyone else what reality looks like and behaves like. I’m actually very offended with the insinuation that a bunch of uptight narcissistic greedy jagoffs some how are the only people that understand what’s “good for me”. Those same people used to think cheap lead in paint was a good idea, too.. it was cheap to make and that must be best for everyone.

    And those SAME people just collapsed our entire economy!

    I can’t tell you how livid I am at the moment. That one statement is SO off the mark that I can’t even start to think about the thousands of ways I could dismantle it. You might as well say “The President knows what’s best for the world, let him do anything he desires”. … A Founding Father you could never be. You seem 100% devoid of any understanding of the absolute corruptibility of 90% of the world’s population. To imply that the potentially greediest and most willing to slink below the line types of people “know best” .. is.. well.. wow.

    Like I said above.. reality over theory. The reality is, the people succeeding the best (in terms of wealth) are those that are the most willing to abuse others. Those same people scream for more deregulation which gives them more ability to abuse.

    “With that return, I’ll spend the money, give to charity, buy a little art, and maybe save a little.”

    Tell Warren Buffet that he needs to take some of that $52 billion he has tied up in stocks, that stuff that makes him the wealthiest man in the world, and “buy some art” or something.

    If you have enough money to “invest in the market”, and then “spend most of the returns”, you’re doing much much better than 75% of the population. MOST people that are tied up in the market these days are rolling over all of their investments because they are hoping to retire some day, and don’t want to live in the streets in their 70s. That money will be bled out slowly by most people in the market, and it will be in a mostly sustenance context.

    Most “rich” people that are making ass loads of money by “maximizing profits” aren’t spending that money at Wal-Mart or ShopKo or the local mall. They are burying that money to avoid paying taxes on it, and on occasion taking some of it and buying a jet or yacht.

    again, we have a massive breakdown between the “theory” and “reality”. And the “reality” that’s being ignored is being played into by the Republican leadership.. Cut taxes on mega-corps? Why? How can that create jobs when you just increased their bottom line over night.. then the next day, it’s back to “maximizing profits”? All you do when you give tax breaks to mega-corps (especially MASSIVELY profitable ones, like Exxon/Mobile) is hand cash to the investor class. That’s only 40% of Americans.. and the top 10% or so are the ones making the biggest gains. Them and the Execs and Board Members who’s multi-million dollar bonuses are tied to the bottom line improving.

    No one is saying profts are bad in and of themselves. I’m saying that the pursuit of them has become an obsession with the business class and that is not in our National Interests. Cooked books and money making schemes on Wall Street should be ample proof that the deregulating that the Republicans did from 2001 to 2006 were damaging, not helpful. And it was the BUSINESS CLASS that did it, not Joe the Plumber. Though, he did support the demise. After all, he’s just your average Joe, and a plumber.

    Wall Street has become an abomination of what it was intended to be. And I think that was by design. Letting companies shut down their pension plans and having blue collar workers move their retirements to the market made the precious few at the top worth a lot more money. And that still wasn’t/isn’t enough. For those types, there is no limit to how much they will take if given the chance. They will never “have enough”.

  18. Savanster,

    First off, your comments about HFCS being bad for you is misleading, because I strongly suspect that you haven’t studied the chemistry behind the metabolism of sugars. HFCS is a sugar just like sucrose, dextrose, galactose and all the other sugars. Good in small amounts, bad in huge quantities…..kind of like water.
    Your comment that people that have the wealth are most likely to abuse others is purely speculation on your part and cannot be quantified.
    Wealth might not be tied to intelligence, but who ever said that intelligence was supposed to be a barometer of success. There’s a lot of janitors in MENSA. Accumulation of wealth can be tied to a few causes which include diligence, single minded dedication, risk taking, new ideas, and the ability to work really, really hard…..all moral values in my opinion.
    Reading your tirades, It’s obvious you have a chip on your shoulder, and have zeroed in on the people who are successful.

    As for Buffett, you ought to see his art collection at Berkshire Hathaway……amazing.

    Exxon Mobil makes great profits……I love nothing better than a good business model with good profits. The political class and non-profits try to demean for-profit’s because they are personally incapable of making a profit. You ought to try to make a profit sometime….it’s tough. This serious case of bitter class envy doesn’t help your case.

    As Adam Smith once said,
    “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”


  19. “Good in small amounts, bad in huge quantities…..kind of like water.”

    From the dietary aspect, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Saying “huge quantities” belies the fact that 3 or 4 sodas a day can cause 10 to 15 lbs of extra weight on a person, and I don’t call that “huge amounts”. Where as with water, you have to drink several gallons all at once to have a serious issue. It looks a lot like trying to be dismissive of realty, to me. But since I can’t find any research that would be considered proof, we’ll have to settle for a difference of opinion (though, your opinion is backed up by research from beverage companies.. so I’ll consider that to be cigarette companies proffering research that says cigarettes are not dangerous).

    You go beyond the direct health impact of HFCS and you have other serious problems with it (corn) being so pervasive in our diets. Corn isn’t very nutritional, yet it’s added to most everything we eat. That meas we’re eating a lot of food mass that’s not providing as much nutrition as it should be.

    Then you have the overall environmental impacts. Corn is VERY hard on the environment. If we’re to try and stop polluting (fertilizers, and the like) like we do, stop using so many fossil fuels like we do, we need something better.

    “Your comment that people that have the wealth are most likely to abuse others is purely speculation on your part and cannot be quantified.”

    Actually, I take the general attitude of the right-wing to go a LONG way to substantiate my argument. Those that tend to support the Republican party the most tend to be those that benefit financially the most from their practices. Practices that cost Americans their jobs, pensions, rights, you name it. Big Business reaps LOTS of rewards under Republican administrations, and the general public tends to suffer. If nothing else, that’s a broad brushed example.

    To get to lower level examples, you have small business owners that are doing their damnedest to get as much money as they can, right? Those people, those real small business owners, they are people I can see “working hard”. They also don’t make a lot of money. They also tend to pay a fairly decent wage on occasion, and I don’t find too many small business owners paying the bare minimum. Again, those guys don’t end up being “very successful”.. And I attribute that to them being decent and fair in their dealing with employees.

    Now move up a notch to the mid-sized businesses where the owner isn’t really doing a lot of “hard work”, not like the guys on the factory floor. Maybe that guy worked hard at one point, but there seems to be a inverse correlation to the size of the business and work actually done by the “big bosses”. When you get to major corporations, those CEOs are no longer “working hard”, they make “big decisions”.. often backed by a Board, members of whom can sit on several boards at a time making millions of dollars a year from each.

    At that level, the millions a year each level, they are content to cut workers, ruin lives, destroy dreams, all to improve the bottom line. And those people are paid very very well to make such decisions. In fact, most times they get a bonus at the same time.

    In the middle, you have owners that would rather pay slave wages than the minimum wage. They don’t want to have to keep their factories safe, that costs money… That kind of thing.

    Back at the mega-corp level, you have companies pushing bad products on to the market (that happens a LOT more under Republican Administrations). Drugs that aren’t tested very well but get approved.. not until enough people die do they recall them, then we hear the occasional article here and there about bad studies, invalid tests, paperwork pushed for friends as favors. Personally, I consider that abusing the public for profits.

    If that doesn’t count as evidence that it happens, then I don’t know what else to say to you.

    “but who ever said that intelligence was supposed to be a barometer of success. ”

    No one.. but who ever said that your willingness to cheat lie and steal should proffer success? Con men, if working the system, make a lot of money and don’t really have to work hard. And it’s not until they steal from someone in power that anyone cares that they are doing it (well, I should be more specific.. Republicans in power tend to let that kind of thing happen until someone pays them to “fix it”.. and on occasion, we see rules/laws passed based on someone paying for it, so that person can “legally” steal).

    “Accumulation of wealth can be tied to a few causes which include diligence, single minded dedication, risk taking, new ideas, and the ability to work really, really hard…..all moral values in my opinion.”

    and causes that also include deceit, lying, rigging the game, cheating, cooking the books, and lots more. Those things I consider amoral.

    I know a lot of people that work “really really hard” for a business owner. But that business owner wants more for himself and less for the worker. How is it fair that those bleeding and bruising and blistering should be treated poorly while the guy who figures he deserves more keeps taking and taking from them? …. I know, I know.. you’ll say “if they think they are being treated poorly, they can always go find another job”.. right? …. seen Unemployment rates, lately? Real numbers are near 12%.. With kids to feed and bills to pay and precious few options, the business owner (in an unregulated system) calls the shots.

    We left those times during the industrial revolution. Though, it seems, the right-wing would love nothing more than to return to a time when 6 year old kids were losing limbs in machines because it was cheap labor.. and hell, those parents are to blame for letting the kids become employed by the business owner, right? Certainly it’s not the business owner’s fault.

    Sorry, but I don’t find it acceptable for business owners to cause misery on workers. That we have labor laws, sexual harassment laws, and all that should also be proof that business owners and “bosses” in general, can’t be trusted to be wonderful people.

    “Reading your tirades, It’s obvious you have a chip on your shoulder, and have zeroed in on the people who are successful.”

    My chip is directed at those that don’t care who they hurt so long as they get more. If you’re a decent person and successful, I don’t begrudge you. Trouble is, those decent people that are “successful” aren’t the ones making policy, aren’t the ones starting wars for profits, aren’t the ones turning loyal employees out on the street for upgrades on their jets.

    The point with Exxon is that we’re giving them tax breaks and incentives. They are making historical record setting profits, and we’re making excuses for why we should not collect taxes on them. They tied up the Valdez case in court for what, 20 years? And the settlement going in was what, a few weeks profits? And STILL they fought to avoid paying for all the damage they did. If that’s not shitting on the public for profits, I don’t know what is. And we STILL are giving them tax breaks and incentives.. so they can .. what.. be competitive? $40 billion a year in profits.. not competitive?

    there’s a reason the class war is coming.. again.. and it’s because the ruling elite have no regard for the lives of their fodder in the pursuits of profits.

    “The political class and non-profits try to demean for-profit’s because they are personally incapable of making a profit. ”

    and it’s blatant lies and obfuscations like that that tell me the most about someone. In fact, I work with a woman that was making a HUGE salary doing the same work she’s doing now, had an awesome retirement plan, incredible medical benefits.. while she was working at a NON-PROFIT. Interesting, they get perks for foregoing profits, and they can pay all of their workers a LOT better than profit making companies that are actually making profits.

    Like I said. The mentality of “profits are all that matter” is a disease, and we need to change the way we look at that as a society. It’s not envy, it’s called decency and compassion. I don’t like knowing people are suffering in cold houses with no food because their jobs were moved to Indochina while the guy who made that call is jet-setting around smoking $500 cigars and drinking $2,500 glasses of bourbon. I don’t envy that rich guy, I loathe him for thinking he _deserves_ what he has, and doesn’t care a squirt of piss that people are suffering and dying so he can live like that.

  20. Savanster,

    Did you try to step up to the plate in the big leagues only to strike out, or were you cut from the team? Sounds like you’ve swallowed a bitter pill somewhere along the line. I hope that whatever happens, you’ll be able to turn your life around and find some happiness. Life’s too short to go around arguing arcane points that you have absolutely no control over. Find some time to stop and smell the roses, as it’s a beautiful world out there.


  21. “Sounds like you’ve swallowed a bitter pill somewhere along the line.”

    Yeah, it’s called living in a world where everyone COULD have health care, only to see old people and poor people in pain and misery because it’s not PROFITABLE to end their pain. If you’re good with that, then I’m wasting everyone’s time. You have to be a special kind of foul to think it’s ok to let people suffer if they can’t pay for your next $2,500 glass of whiskey.

    “I hope that whatever happens, you’ll be able to turn your life around and find some happiness.”

    Actually, I’ve turned it around. i was lucky.. I was white and male and never subjected to a childhood living in the projects. I was dirt poor for many years as a child, but while I had to forgo “things”, we always had food and shelter and love and caring. That helped me get out of a rut I was in in my 20s when I was homeless. No one wanted to help a single white male, I was told “just get a job!”. With no address, that’s not easy….

    Then I got a job.. at a Wal-Mart that was being built. I slept in my truck in the parking lot for 2 weeks, co-workers would wake me up on their way in to the store.. I’d take sink-showers and get to work. After I got my first check I got a room in a house with a bunch of mentally disturbed people who were on government assistance (but pretty much left to be on their own there, urinating on the walls in the hall). After the next 2 weeks, after a month of busting my ass helping build the store up, myself and about 20% total of the staff were let go. No longer needed since the store was going to open and there would be a lot less work needed on a daily basis.

    So, after a month, and 2 paychecks, I was homeless again, with no job and no prospects. Filling in 5 to 10 applications a day in a town with 5% – 7% unemployment doesn’t pay very well.

    Since then I got a degree in Computer Science and have had a few decent jobs. I’m currently employed as a Government employee, and I find it simply AMAZING that I have hard-core right-wing co-workers getting paid on tax dollars, but don’t think people should pay taxes. I avoid asking them what we would do for work if we stopped working for social services programs paid for with the tax dollars that were being handed out like welfare to the sick and mentally ill. But, I know they are not that smart, nor are they open minded or reasonable. So I work day after day with people that would cut their own employment throats to spite their faces.. Odd..

    Though, I’ve come a long way in my life. I’m, in general, VERY happy. I can actually appreciate the life around me, the living creatures that give energy to everything around them. Sometimes I just sit for hours on my porch and watch the squirrels darting about gather food for winter while letting the sun wash over my face. It’s very peaceful.

    But I’m also a realist. I also know that there are people losing their homes because some fat cats on Wall Street were too greedy, and the Republican party let them get away with VERY bad accounting and game playing to inflate their own bank accounts. Once they fucked up the game completely, they begged the tax payers to bail them out. I get the impression you’re cool with that. After all, the business class knows what’s best.

    “Life’s too short to go around arguing arcane points that you have absolutely no control over”

    Actually, this is a Democracy to a serious extent. I DO have control over things, collectively with the rest of the decent people in America that see the gross injustices foisted upon us by the top 1%, ruling elite, abusive pricks willing to laugh at us while we die for their $2,500 glass of whiskey. I, and my fellow decent travelers in this life, we DO have the power to change this bullshit system.

    And we do that by arguing arcane points. We do that by bringing the light of reason and logic to the “profits are good! must.. get.. at …. all COST!” mental illness that’s taken a hold of the masses. The more people that see the truth of how we CAN live, if we only demand it, the closer we come to a better world.

    You would have me not argue points, in that you would rather have a lie left out there.

    Part of the process of stopping and smelling the roses requires that I pick off the death and rot of lies from the plants. The roses won’t last for others to smell if I leave that filth lying around.

    yeah.. I’m eco-friendly, too. BAD. BAD LIBERAL.. right? how dare I care about other people and the planet over.. STUFF?!

    I guess I’m just better people than that. and without a need for a $500 cigar to prove it.

  22. I don’t always agree with Savantster, but if he’s bitter, perhaps it’s because he empathizes with the vast number of working people in this country who don’t have the fundamental necessities of life, including health insurance, sick leave and child care. Maybe it’s because he sees these people, works with them, knows them. Maybe he is or has been one of them. Most of us are or have been.

    Empathetic, controlled passion can change the world. As far as time spent arguing… wordiness is hardly an uncommon trait around here.

    (Oops – simultaneous posting. Sorry, S.)

  23. Savanster,

    I too remember getting up before dark, with no electricity, in the cold, walking to a one room school house 12 miles away without shoes or jacket. It was a struggle, but I did what I had to do.

    But then all of a sudden I woke up as a fat cat swimming in money, lighting my cigars with $100 bills, and the thing is that I did all of this with no effort as it magically appeared after I read “The Secret.”. Rather Kafkaesque, don’t you think?.


    Although I might seem harsh in your standards, according to the financial statements given by Obama/Biden, I gave more to charity than either of those guys.


  24. Make jokes all you like. It simply proves that you have no capacity to see that there’s a real world out there with people suffering and the system is fundamentally broke. Feel free hold on to the lie of “the only poor people out there are assholes that want a free lunch”, while ignoring the truth of “investing in the market” (that being, give me free money).

    We have limited overall wealth because we have limited overall resources. There is no “American dream” for the masses when 1% of the population has over 40% of the wealth, 10% of the population has over 90% of the wealth. There is only so much to go around, and those that have fully know that, and rig the game to keep it.

  25. Whoa…

    I almost want to comment on some of the agricultural themes of the above exchange, but i think that i’d rather stay out of this.

  26. Lex, If you want to discuss agricultural themes, stop by my blog where agricultural themes are welcomed, as is all business discussion.. Some of the best minds in the grain business read my blog, and we try to avoid politics.


  27. Really? Just because we’ve descended into personal attacks, groundless assumptions and false sympathy? Cowboy up, Lex. 🙂

  28. Ann, please do tell which are the groundless assumptions. I’m curious to the false sympathies as well, but I was having an honest discussion up until post 24.. I don’t even know what to make of that…. From my perspective, it’s the typical dismissive line I’ve heard for years.. I still haven’t found a way to discuss reason in the face of such presentations..

  29. Savanster,
    You said,
    “Feel free hold on to the lie of “the only poor people out there are assholes that want a free lunch”, while ignoring the truth of “investing in the market” (that being, give me free money”

    I never said that poor people out there are assholes that want a free lunch. I don’t feel that way at all. I give to the poor, and give until it hurts. I am a very strong supporter of our local United Way, having served on the county board many different years.

    What % of your gross income do you give to charity, if any?

    As for the 1% that has 40% of the wealth…..I know you want your piece of the action. What are you going to do, take it at gun point, or tax the profit makers to death. You said that you work for the government, so I wouldn’t expect you to have any expertise in the area of the concept of profit, managing risk, running a business, or squeezing out the last dime to make your payroll. You have it easy, and it’s easy to have false empathy when you have 100% security in a cushy government job. Try the real world sometime.

  30. “I give to the poor, and give until it hurts. ”

    The problem with giving to the poor being left up to the whims of each person is two fold. First, people give to those that don’t really “need” and still get the tax breaks. It’s a way for those that discriminate to make sure only the “right people” get their money. Second, it’s always touted how economies of scale add to efficiency, yet we want to ignore the leverage of government in that regard, and want to give to charities that occasionally pay their leaders millions instead of getting that cash to those that need it.

    I never said YOU say the only people that need help are lazy assholes, but that’s what I hear time and again from the right-wing about welfare. What’s more amazing to me is, I know someone that is very right-wing, very anti “welfare”, and she was actually on welfare for 3 years when she got pregnant. That assistance allowed her to pick herself up and get some training and get a job and pay taxes. Now, after having been helped by that system, she feels its a waste of tax dollars. ….. can YOU explain that to me?…. Yet, that’s what 90% of every Republican I’ve ever talked too brings up time and again.. wasting money on some “welfare queen that only wants to abuse the system”. It’s a fallacy that’s propagated over and over, and there is no rebuttal because it’s .. well.. a fallacy.

    At present I give nothing to charity. I’m busy paying off student loans, mortages, child support (for a kid I have 1/2 of the time.. yeah… I pay support to her stay at home mom because I make more than her, even though her husband makes enough for her to stay at home and raise 2 of his 4 kids). Food, clothing, fixing up my kids vehicle, fees at school, her clothes, our food.. by the I’m done trying to pay off the $45,000 in debt I have (not including my mortgage), I don’t have much left to give..

    Interestingly, I don’t complain about paying taxes. I also find it amusing that those with money justify the overall suffering caused for them to have it by saying “but, I give to my favorite charity!”. And for every one of you there is, there’s 10 rich folks giving just enough to bury income enough to minimize taxes. Color me not impressed.

    “.I know you want your piece of the action. What are you going to do, take it at gun point, or tax the profit makers to death. ”

    First, I don’t want a piece of the action. I have more than enough for me (once I get my debt paid off, I’ll be able to start putting money away for my retirement, since the what’s being set aside now won’t be enough given my late start). Interestingly, if I didn’t have to worry about health care, I’d need a LOT less for my retirement.

    And the current tax rate proposal of 40% is not “to death”. At one point we taxed companies 90%. that seems a bit much, don’t you think? Personally, I’d bet that 75% wouldn’t choke out business.

    “You said that you work for the government, so I wouldn’t expect you to have any expertise in the area of the concept of profit, managing risk, running a business, or squeezing out the last dime to make your payroll.”

    Again with the general lies and fallacies. You don’t squeeze your last dime for payroll and still have profit. If you are squeezing dimes, you’re not paying taxes on profits. Who are you trying to kid? We’re not 3rd graders, here. We fully understand gross versus net income, and you only pay taxes on net. That means, AFTER you pay payroll and insurance and rent and utilities and all the rest of the costs of doing business. You have to be kidding if you think you pay taxes if you can’t pay the rest of your bills. And you have to be a fool if you think I, or any educated person, is buying your crap.

    “You have it easy, and it’s easy to have false empathy when you have 100% security in a cushy government job.”

    And how easily you seem to project some abstract absolute over someone who’s actually been “in the real world”.

    Do you have any idea why I’m in this Government job? .. See, when I graduated college with a 3.21 in Computer Science, I ended up in a factory job for $11 an hour after 3 months of applying for computer jobs. Apparently, with no experience and outsourcing being in full swing, being a Software Engineer in the Information Age in America didn’t mean much. Once that job didn’t pay enough for me to live on my own, I had to move in with my mother in Arkansas. Something hundreds of thousands of technical degreed people are doing in America (because their jobs are being done by Indians and Argentinians online).

    I got a job at a company making title search software, hired as a tester at $13,000 a year. I had bills, so I had to take the job. Luckily it turned into a full blown developer job and inside of a year I was making $35,000/yr. Once I finished helping on a multi-million dollar project, I was laid off instead of given the raise I was promised. Seems once the company had a means to bolster their bottom line, I was no longer needed.

    So, 6 months unemployed and I finally got a job for MCI/Worldcom. Funny thing, the contracting company I was working for (because MCI got a bigger tax break by contracting than hiring direct) had me contracted at $100,000 a year, and only paid me $45,000 of that. They even had the gaul to ask me to take a pay CUT once MCI/Worldcom filed for bankruptcy and was no longer hiring new people.

    Bitter from bad experience? yeah.. some jackass gets $55,000 a year from my labor because tax laws makes it easier for a company to outsource it’s HR work?

    I worked there for 6 years. We had team members in India, Argentina, and several people working from home. I started on a team of 21, and by the time all of the layoffs were done, we had 6 people left. Nothing like a little down sizing to make you spend several years wondering if you were fucked or if you had a job.. I had it easy? No, I was talented and survived a lot of flying bullets.

    Then I had some problems in my personal life come up. I needed to relocate out of state so I could take care of some family issues. Internal politics had my superiors decide that, despite people being on out team in India, I couldn’t work from a company office in my home state. No, even though we had people doing my job from 1/2 way around the world, I had to be on site. Since my family trumped them, I was again unemployed.

    A year later and I have a job working for a small and failing grocery chain. It doesn’t pay enough for me to pay all of my bills, but it’s better than no job. I stuck that out for 9 months, and one day on my 45 minute drive with $4.95 a gallon diesel and some asshole passing me on an icy highway at 70 mph and almost taking out the front of my car, I decided to start looking for work again.

    Then I found the Government job. I’ve been working there for 7 months now.

    Don’t fucking talk to me about “cushy jobs” and trying the “real world sometime”…. you’re being a sanctimonious prick. I’ve been in the real world, I’ve seen how our CEO at MCI/Worldcom got a $4 million bonus while laying off 2,500 people. I’ve watched friends lose everything because Berny Ebbers cooked the books and fucked over a lot of people.

    You can never convince me that you “deserve” a “cushy life” while other people are dying from curable diseases. And my “cushy” government job is tied to dealing with Medicaid and Medicare, it’s hardly “100% safe”, especially under a right-wing Administration… especially under McCain, who wants to cut those while making it more lucrative for insurance companies.

  31. S, by groundless assumptions and false sympathy, I meant the personal attack on you – where you were coming from, your life experience, your current level of happiness… which I hope is high. I like squirrels, too, except when they invade the birdfeeders.

    Frankly, I’m a little lost in the economic theory here. It just seems to me that a passionate desire to make things better for more people, if used reasonably and wisely, is a good thing, and arguing (discussing) how to change things is not a waste of time.

  32. Ann, thanks.. I wasn’t quite sure what you were getting at, but I had a general idea.

    re: squirrels.. My dog loves to chase them, poor things.. and if he had a chance to catch them I’d never let him loose.. I do like watching them standing on the stairs looking up at me for food with their little hands folded.

  33. Savanster,
    Your invective and name calling just says a lot about your character or lack of. If you lose your temper over an internet discussion forum, no wonder you have trouble keeping a job.. Some anger management therapy would probably work for you, and checking out some of Covey’s feel good books will probably help you professionally.

    Lighten up, and give to charity even if it’s only a dollar a week.


  34. “If you lose your temper over an internet discussion forum, no wonder you have trouble keeping a job.”

    I guess you have completely run out of room to try and defend your position, so now you’re devolving into implying there must be something wrong with me that I can’t “keep a job”.

    never mind that millions of Americans have been through the same thing…. they must all be some kind of angry assholes that need to read a book, right?

    Lighten up? .. lol… I’m one of the most laid back people I know. My being passionate about the abuses of Capitalism doesn’t mean I have anger management issues. That you reduce it to that, I think, says more about you than it does about me. Ask my teen aged daughter that has never heard me raise my voice in anger to her if I need anger management.. LMFAO… wow.

    Stop the suffering of the many to appease the extravagance of the few. No one person is worth the suffering of thousands of others. Period.

  35. Savanster,
    I’m an open book, and the opinions you derive about me are from my writings where I am the enfant terrible, constantly on the defensive, in this lions den.. Since we don’t know each other, prudence and good manners would dictate that we end this discussion before it gets any uglier and more personal. If you further wish to hammer me anymore, take it over to my blog, where you will be going into the lions den, except we don’t resort to name calling, treat dissention without invective, and engage in a discussion in the spirit of Franklin.

  36. Funny, I thought saying the country could still be productive while providing for the basic needs of everyone was my basic point.

    When I asserted that I cam from “rags to decent life” and still felt the same, there was no further discussion about how to fix things, no more allegations of me being bitter or just some dumb loser who can’t fend for myself.

    I have no need to follow you anywhere. I’ve made my point, that being that today’s economy in America is a rigged game set to benefit the few while shitting on the masses. you’ve failed to disprove that.

    All I see now is spin and distortion. “No wonder you can’t keep a job”? and I’m doing something outside of prudence and good manners?

    Lion’s den? .. most of this thread has been just you and me. Aside from squirrels and someone pointing out that you drew first blood.. I don’t see a “lion’s den”.

    but, whatever.

    I’ve nothing to prove.

    like I said:

    Stop the suffering of the many to appease the extravagance of the few. No one person is worth the suffering of thousands of others. Period.

  37. and for crying out loud.. can’t you even do me the decency of cutting and pasting? it’s SavanTster..

    Even something like “S.” shows more respect than failing to read the damn name.

    I’m sorry, is that angry?

  38. “…at least in the eyes of the true producers of the country.”

    And they are?

    …women produce babies but they do not always make the best parents or designated grown-ups for their offspring.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    If certain elements in the business class had there way we would all be slaves with no protections in place from the governments we choose to elect. Business for the longest of times was a de facto scrooge-like employer ~ history informs us constantly.

    It is the arrogance and sense of entitlement that certain extremely wealthy people present to the world that gets my goat. They think they have the authority to rule because they make money…thank heavens for the true individuals, engineers, architects, thinkers and philosophers (Gandhi et al).

    If I made a list of the individuals and organisations who have caused serious social problems everwhere because of their pursuit of profit without recourse to ethics, standards and their forgetting of a common humanity I would never get to the end of that list.

    The problem with Rand’s Atlas Shrugged readers is that they seem to breathe in her callous streak and then exhale it as Objectivism.

    *Salutes the truest architects of societal living ~ the engineers.*

  39. Savanster said
    “And my “cushy” government job is tied to dealing with Medicaid and Medicare, it’s hardly “100% safe”, especially under a right-wing Administration… especially under McCain, who wants to cut those while making it more lucrative for insurance companies.”

    So this election is in your self interest. I guess, with your unstable job hopping history, and attitudes that might give an employer pause, there would be some reason to worry. Still, worrying about a government job is pitiful. Not giving to charity “Because I can’t afford to right now’ is pitiful. Charity is supposed to hurt, but you’re too selfish to know that. You’re as selfish as those evil right wingers that you hammer away at, but you cloak your selfishness in false altruism and victimization. I’ve known a million people like you, and your childhood dreams weren’t met, so you’ve gotta blame someone.

    You obviously haven’t studied Rand other than a grade school look at “Atlas Shrugged”

  40. Savanster
    Why do you hide, anonymously, behind a screen name. Why don’t you be a man and post your real name like normal people do when engaged in serious discussion. Anonymous screen names seem so cowardly. Unless you have something to hide.

  41. “Charity is supposed to hurt, but you’re too selfish to know that. ”

    Um, no.. I don’t recall ever hear anything based in logic or reason that said charity was supposed to hurt. If you believe it is, you have some serious problems (but we already knew that). Putting yourself so far out that you can’t take care of yourself so you can take care of others isn’t noble, it’s foolish. It’s just about as stupid as letting the precious few run off with all the goodies, way more than they could ever possibly use in a million years, while leaving the rest of the village to starve.

    When I’ve given to those I find in need, it makes me feel very good. And I keep quite about it because I’m not doing it to impress anyone. When I have I give, when I need I’ve been fortunate enough to receive (compared to some, and I usually never got what I wanted, but I got what I needed, and that’s what counts). Trying to fault me for having a hard time making ends meet seems silly.

    And this election should be in everyone’s self interest. Just about every election should always be about everyone’s self interest. But what we see from the mouth breathers on the right-wing most times is that the vote based on one or two personal bents, like being anti-choice, or anti-equal-gay-rights. It will never cease to amaze me just how many poor white trash vote Republican out of bigotry and religion, and all the while they make their financial life much worse.

    And, no, I’ve never read Ayn Rand. I have no idea why you think I have. I never suggested I had.

    “Why don’t you be a man and post your real name like normal people do when engaged in serious discussion. ”

    Ohhh.. ouch!.. ohhh.. my penis is hurt now! you challenged my manhood!

    “Anonymous screen names seem so cowardly. Unless you have something to hide.”

    I do, actually. I know how the internet works, I understand how names get cached in google archives for decades, and I know how fucked up power hungry control freaks can be. I’ve watched a lot of good people lose or not get jobs because some arrogant narcissistic prick simply didn’t like something that person said. I try very hard not to talk politics at work because I’ve seen managers get on their high horse and deride workers who don’t hold the same views as them. That’s pretty much intimidation and harassment, but there’s nothing we can do about that in a society that values money, and figures if you have the bigger pay check, you’re the better person and have some innate right to destroy people’s lives.

    So, yeah. I have something to hide. I have to protect myself in this “free country” because having an opinion that doesn’t agree with the ruling narcissists can mean the end of your career. Especially in a small town. I’m smarter than that. I’ll keep my mouth shut (i.e. hide behind a screen name) when I know there’s apt to be prying ears.

    Since you seem to have nothing to do but attack me.. I guess I’ll just give a nod to the title of this thread.. and smile in the knowledge that after this election some of that foul air will have been taken out of the right-wing’s sails. …. well, after they get done screaming about how ACORN stole the election.

  42. You’re pretty sad. Having to hide behind a screen name with cowardice that your views will be exposed and affect you later. If I were a potential employer, and read your stuff, combining that with your job instability, I guess I’d pass on you. I’ll concede that you’re better off using the screen name.

    Charity should hurt, otherwise what’s the point. It’s a moral thing.

    I guess this is the end as I won’t waste any more time arguing with an anonymous screen name who could just be some middle aged guy holed up in his mother’s basement.

    You can have the last word, as you are compelled.

  43. “Charity should hurt, otherwise what’s the point.”

    The point would be to help ease the suffering of others. It shouldn’t pain you to do so. That you find being a decent person painful says way more about you than any of your hollow attacks against me.

    thanks for proving my points, by the way.