Smart people saying smart things

John Quiggin: “Keeping the state out of your bedroom

If you really want personal freedom, you can achieve it only by constraining property rights.

Dahlia Lithwick: “Occupy the No-Spin Zone

I spent time this weekend at Occupy Wall Street and my husband spent much of last week adding his voice to the protesters there. I saw an incredible array of people that defy any simple demographic characterization and a broad range of signs that made — imagine! — more than a single point. But if I may hazard an opinion, it would be this: One of the most fatuous themes of mainstream OWS coverage is the endless loop of media bafflement at this movement that doesn’t have a message. … It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.

Richard Beck: “‘Biblical’ as a Sociological Stress Test

Strictly from an empirical standpoint, the bible doesn’t produce homogeneity of opinion. Rather, it produces heterogeneity of opinion. That is a fact. The bible does not produce consensus. And if you think that it could or should you’re just not a serious person.

The point being, a conversation seeking to find a “biblical” view isn’t heading toward a fixed destination. Rather, such a conversation will be airing a diversity of views that share a family resemblance. …

Biblical definitely doesn’t describe the attempt to conform to or recreate the church we find in the pages of the bible. I know of no denomination that looks like the church revealed in the New Testament. Can you point me to one?

And if we can’t what does that say about how we are using the word biblical? Suddenly it’s very clear that biblical doesn’t mean “doing what they did in the bible.” Because no one is doing that. …

This is what I think it means. Biblical is a word Christian communities use to describe their hermeneutical strategies. … When a faith community gathers to discuss if a view is biblical or not they are asking how a particular view sits with their hermeneutical history and norms. The issue isn’t if a position is biblical or not (because, as I noted above, no one is being biblical) but if a position would cause a sociological rupture, a tear in the hermeneutical fabric that has held this community together. If the position can be woven into the hermeneutical web then it is declared biblical. But if the rupture is too great then the view is declared unbiblical.

In summary, this is my definition of biblical: Biblical is a sociological stress test.

Paul Krugman: “Denial in Depth

You have various right-wingers simultaneously (a) denying that global warming is happening (b) denying that anyone denies that global warming is happening, but denying that humans are responsible (c) denying that anyone denies that humans are causing global warming, insisting that the real argument is about the appropriate response.

I’m not sure there are three levels (yet) on inequality, but we definitely have (a) right-wingers denying that inequality is rising and (b) denying that anyone is denying the rise in inequality, but attacking any proposal to limit that rise.

You might ask, how is it possible to take such mutually contradictory positions? And the answer is, it’s very easy if confusing the debate is your job.

Mark Thoma: “When It Reigns, It Poors

Somehow, it is claimed, after workers have lost power in wage negotiations, lost social insurance and other protections, live in more polluted environments, have fewer health care options, and are more likely to be asked to bail out deregulated banks yet again while getting no help themselves, they will be better off.

Jonah Lehrer: “How Friends Ruin Memory: The Social Conformity Effect” (via)

The reason we’re such consummate bullshitters is simple: we bullshit for each other. We tweak our stories so that they become better stories. We bend the facts so that the facts appeal to the group. Because we are social animals, our memory of the past is constantly being revised to fit social pressures.

… Feedback of others has the ability to strongly shape our remembered experience. We are all performers, twisting our stories for strangers.

Pam Hogeweide: “God, Occupied

Like many Christians, I have prayed and fasted for revival to come to America. I have cried out to God more times than I can count for a spirit of repentance to visit our land.  I never imagined it would look this way. The revival of my prayers I imagined was  behind the four walls of steepled buildings, packed pews of the contrite with heads hung low, weeping guilt-driven prayers for sins to be washed away. I did not envision grandmothers, baristas, hippies and hipsters taking to the city streets to decry the sins of the nation.

Peter Dorman: “What Should OWS Demand?

We don’t need new ideas to fix the economy. The policy obsessed debate the details, but the main contours in debt writedowns, regulation, public investment and related domains are well understood. The problem is that what is good for the economy is generally not profitable for the rich, and vice versa. Because of the gross imbalance of power in this country, we are unable to do what needs to be done.

Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 26: ‘Go to Hell’
Loveless ethics and the enormous, mendacious, disembodied anus
Swearing on a stack of Bibles: Pennsylvania’s stupid, unconstitutional law
How I learned to stop clobber-texting and love George Bailey
  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Word to all of that. I particularly like how the simple example of the clash of personal freedoms in the Libertarian context produces the need for the very agency they so decry – the government – to set ground rules and create limitations on freedoms precisely so that all parties enjoy the same basic privileges of society, among them the right to go about one’s business as long as no harm is done to another person.

    I also like the discussion of the social conformity effect and how it not only affects small-group memories, but also memories nationwide.

    This sort of dissonance may be how the people who grew up among a very different tax and governmental structure in the ’50s and ’60s can so easily believe that the environment they grew up in, with certain expectations of the wealthy, was caused by the very opposite of the policies actually in effect at that time.

  • Lori

    From the Dorman article:

     Not everyone can become an urban camper, so the first item on the OWS, and the Occupy-your-city-goes-here, agenda should be how to expand the movement to reach the millions who would join if they knew how. 

    I’m a child of the early to mid 80s. Camping out in the park, not really my thing. However, people involved in trying to broaden OWS are starting to speak my language–divestiture. If it ended racial apartheid in South Africa it seems like it should be able to end financial apartheid in America. It starts with having people move their personal accounts at large, nasty banks* and from there it can grow to organizations, churches, schools and unions cutting them off. I wonder how far that would have to go before it started shift the rules of the game?

    *A good case can be made for starting with BofA: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/another-weapon-for-ows-pull-your-money-out-of-b-of-a-20111028

  • Anonymous

    It starts with having people move their personal accounts at large, nasty banks

    I want to join in with that, so much. But I already have more bank accounts than I can juggle, and I cannot get rid of them all, for a variety of reasons. Also I’m damned if I know when I’ll have time to go talk to the credit union near my work, since I suspect it’ll take more than five minutes to open an account and it’s a five-minute walk there and I only have fifteen-minute breaks.

  • Lori

    I suspect the credit union may be able to open an account for you online. My last one did. 

  • Marshall Pease

    Of course OWS has a message, what it doesn’t have is a program, which is what the media is everlasting looking for. It’s hard to imagine what kind of a program could be developed, given the utter collapse of the Obama Hope. Clearly you can’t get into the game without the right chips, and having those chips makes you one of them, not one of us. 

    Here’s an essay in NYRB on The Arab Counterrevolution, concerning the outcome of a successful OWS-type event: “The young street demonstrators challenge the status quo, ignite a revolutionary spirit, and point the way for a redistribution of power. But what they possess in enthusiasm they lack in organization and political experience. What gives them strength during the uprising — their amorphous character and impulsiveness — leads to their subsequent undoing. Their domain is the more visible and publicized. The real action, much to their chagrin, takes place elsewhere.” Many details given.

    That’s pretty pessimistic, sorry, but I am afraid we are still in the zone of hoping for “packed pews of the contrite”, and it’s likely to take something more radical than that. On the other hand, us Hippies have been expecting the self-destruction of the capitalist system since at least the ’60s, yet here we still are. But my advice now as then would be: learn to grow vegetables. Do Kingdom work.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah. The Egyptian military is already being told it’s overstaying its welcome by the Tahrir Square protesters.

  • Lori

     That’s pretty pessimistic, sorry, but I am afraid we are still in the zone of hoping for “packed pews of the contrite” 

     

    No, we’re really not. We’re doing the math and seeing that there are a lot more of us than there are of them and trying to find a way to wake up enough of us that neither their contrition nor their cooperation will be required. 

  • P J Evans

     Depends on the documentation they now have to collect (thanks so much, PATRIOT Act). Plan on a half hour, and take several kinds of ID and at least one bill stub with your address.

  • Lori

    Yes, they do need a fair amount of ID to comply with banking regulations. Due diligence has gotten a lot more stringent post 9/11. I was still able to set up an account online. I had to provide the paperwork and I took it in in person, but IIRC I could have faxed it if I had chosen to. I had so much done online that it only took a couple minutes when I did go in. Things may have gotten worse in the last couple of years, but it’s worth checking out. 

  • Anonymous

    I switched from Chase to a local credit union back in July.  I didn’t take anything I don’t normally carry in my wallet with me, which means they were able to open my account with a drivers license.  One with an out of date address on it.  (Thank you whoever came up with 10 year licenses. -_-)  I’m sure they needed my social security number, but I have that memorized. 

    Edit: It’s possible they did need something with my address on it, but my car registration would have taken care of that.

  • Anonymous

    On the other hand, us Hippies have been expecting the self-destruction of the capitalist system since at least the ’60s, yet here we still are.

    It’s my conclusion that capitalism self-destructed when the dot-com bubble burst and a complex form of reverse-Keynesian economics allowed it to cover up that fact. If you actually look at the economy holistically (rather than a smattering of indicators), when the dot-com bubble burst we went into a recession, the recession slipped into a depression, and never came out of it. 

    When the bubble burst, the Bush administration pursued a plan of artificially inflating the housing market, by lowering the lending standards for mortgages, as a means of dealing with the fallout from the collapse of the dot-com bubble. But this was a significantly different inflation than previous bubbles, as the dot-com bubble was fueled to a great extent by investment while the housing bubble was fueled by debt. As a nation, our economic growth was entirely predicated upon more and more people buying mortgages. The dot-com bubble burst when people lost money that they already had (1 to 0), when the housing bubble burst people lost money they never had (0 to -1). So we never actually, from my observation, came out of that recession, just used debt to cover up our economy’s failure.

    Now we’re at a point where capitalism only exists in name (if it ever existed in more than name is debatable). The wealthy class have, effectively, socialized all risks involved in capitalism, while privatizing all profits. We’ve entered a phase of economy that we typically associate with third world dictatorships. The American government is nothing more than a tool that the wealthy and powerful use to enrich themselves and steal from their populations.

  • P J Evans

     I switched to a regional CU last spring. The too-big-to-fail bank I was at is still not admitting their mortgages have problems – and they’re known by others to have problems.

  • Hawker40

    I left Bank of America in the early 1990′s, when they bounced two checks that
    a. I had enough in the account for either one, and
    b. I had enough in overdraft protection to cover the other.
    So, I told my employer to shift my direct deposit to my credit union.  This resulted in
    c. Bank of America sending me a letter on how my account was no longer recieving my bi-monthly paycheck, and if this continued they would be forced to take action.
    This is when I closed out my account, insisting to the bank manager that I wanted what was left in my account (under $200) in cash, since “I do not trust your institution enough to take a check from it.”  This resulted in
    d. Bank of America sending me a bill for not having money in my account.
    I then called them and informed them that since I had closed out my account, and had the papers to prove it, they could go suck eggs.  Leading to
    e. Getting a phone call from a collection agency for the money ‘owed’ B of A.
    Collection Agency got informed of same thing (Go suck eggs), and that if they called again I would take them to court.  They never called again.

    I heartily recommend Navy Federal Credit Union for any and all veterans living near navy or marine corps bases.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    when the dot-com bubble burst we went into a recession, the recession slipped into a depression, and never came out of it.

    You’re not alone. As my favorite hobby horse website points out, if you use the SGS Alternate Measure of GDP growth, the effect on GDP growth, once you take out the methodological changes to the GDP deflator, has been essentially negative since Bush took office.

    http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/gross-domestic-product-charts

    Also, a person named Harry Shutt has argued fairly convincingly that governments have quietly shifted from being the’ lender of last resort’ to the ‘borrower of last resort’ since about the early 1980s. This, he argues, is in response to the need to do two things:

    1. Keep Western economies on a relatively even keel by stepping in and providing demand for goods and services which the private sector, and individuals, can no longer do for whatever reason (in the case of corporations, the need to deal with the increasing importance of the stock market means that less money gets spent on net fixed capital investment – in effect, the demand for capital goods – and more on what amounts to asset swaps; in the case of individuals, declining or stagnant real wages have the same effect of depressing demand).

    2. Providing a virtually bottomless well of ‘escape-hatch’ income streams for rentiers*. When rentiers no longer wish to try speculating in stocks or junk bonds, they can go to AA or AAA bonds provided by Western governments for the asking.

    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2009/shutt270209.html

    The link discusses his latest book, but it’s not fundamentally a new concept he’s discussing; he has written books on the subject since the 1990s.

    —-

    * It’s derived from a French word, but is defined as a person or entity who receives an income through essentially piggybacking on income streams generated by someone/thing else.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    e. Getting a phone call from a collection agency for the money ‘owed’ B of A.
    Collection
    Agency got informed of same thing (Go suck eggs), and that if they
    called again I would take them to court.  They never called again.

    You know, as much as I don’t always like the US practice of defaulting a lot of disputes to a civil tort (rental disputes, bill payment disputes, etc) this is one area where the US practice actually is superior to the current practice here in BC. The complaints process for collection agencies in BC involves first going through a supposedly neutral ombudsman employed by the agency in question.

    After failure of satisfaction there, I think maaaaybe you can go to arbitration and/or the civil courts.

    (>_<)

  • Lori

     d. Bank of America sending me a bill for not having money in my account.

    I then called them and informed them that since I had closed out my account, and had the papers to prove it, they could go suck eggs.  

    Big banks do tend to act like once they have you as a customer they have a right to your money in perpetuity. Some of them now charge a fee for closing your account, which is nuts. A couple folks in Congress are trying to pass a law to make that illegal. I applaud their efforts, but I’m appalled that it’s necessary. 

  • Anonymous

    Is anyone else thinking of “Mary Poppins” here?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa6j4lEpQi0&feature=related

  • P J Evans

     I understand that some of the big banks (including BofA) are making all their money from their fees and the interested collected on their cards. Cut those, and they’re in the hole.

  • Lizzy L

    I opened an account at my local credit union about a month ago. (Yes, I do have an account with Bank of America. Why do you ask?) It took about half an hour, and they needed no more documentation than I usually carry in my wallet.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Funny thing is the bank I bank with is a divison of the bank I used to use, only the bank I used to use would clip me for various unspecified fees that I could never really nail down. Finally I got fed up after someone else bounced a check on me and all the holds got slammed back onto the account. After that I exclusively used the new account and then closed out the old one. I didn’t even bother to pay the usual close-your-account fee and they never bothered sending me a dunning notice for it.

  • Lori

     I understand that some of the big banks (including BofA) are making all their money from their fees and the interested collected on their cards. Cut those, and they’re in the hole.  

     

    This is my understanding as well and it makes sense when you think about it. They’ve all but stopped doing the thing that is supposed to make money for banks, lending at interest. It’s too dangerous to lend since they sank the global economy. Speaking of which, the gambling side of their business got bailed out and is still drowning in toxic assets. Once the bonus pool gets shared out there’s nothing left there. Using BS fees to gouge their customers is the only profit center they have left. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of those people who got arrested for closing their accounts out – isn’t there something in federal law that bans restraint of trade – and wouldn’t this qualify?

  • Lori

     Speaking of those people who got arrested for closing their accounts out – isn’t there something in federal law that bans restraint of trade – and wouldn’t this qualify?  

    I have no idea what’s going to happen with those cases. The whole thing seems to be a giant he said-she said and what happens will depend on who is believed. The bank claims that they were protesting inside the bank, which is not allowed. Their position is that you can’t be a protester and a customer at the same time. I have no idea if that notion will hold up. 

    The protesters say that they were in the bank as customers, there to do business and their arrests were improper. If their position is upheld they probably will have some legal recourse against the bank, but I’m not sure if it will be under restraint of trade. At the very least it’s an interesting argument. 

  • Anonymous

    It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.

    The OWS protestors have numerous messages supporting or opposing hundreds or thousands of different causes.  The problem for the OWS protestors is just that — they have hundreds of messages that drown each other out, so that the movement has no single coherent message.  If you surveyed a hundred OWS protestors asking them why they are there, you would get close to 100 different responses.

    Love ‘em or hate ‘em, if you asked the Tea Party protestors why they were protesting, all or most of the responses would identify the same two or three issues.

  • Lori

      If you surveyed a hundred OWS protestors asking them why they are there, you would get close to 100 different responses.  

     
    I suspect those 100-odd responses would easily break down into 3 or 4 main categories, plus “Other”, which you always get in a mass movement. 

    Love ‘em or hate ‘em, if you asked the Tea Party protestors why they were protesting, all or most of the responses would identify the same two or three issues.  

    The supposed coherence of the Tea Party message owes more to the fact that the group was astroturfed almost from the beginning than to anything else. Even with that, the apparent coherence of the Tea Party message is at least partially a product of the media, in the same way that the appearance of incoherence at OWS is. 

    Did you ever see a large Tea Party rally in person, as opposed to on TV? I saw one of the larger one’s in DC and I can tell you for a fact that they had their share of folks who didn’t run with the herd and were waving signs that made no damn sense or had nothing to do with the supposed point of the rally. They had conspiracy theorists and people riding 20 year old hobby horses and folks who I strongly suspect were simply not altogether well. Just like OWS. 

    The difference is that the mainstream media didn’t focus on those people, in part because the Tea’s fringe-dwelling nutters don’t fit the easy hippie stereotype that the US media loves so much and in part because some of them had guns and we’re apparently not allowed to talk about that. We also can’t forget or underestimate the effect of Fox News. Fox drives the news cycle in this country and the Tea Party was it’s baby. They weren’t about to let a narrative take hold that wasn’t flattering to the Teas. If ONS had a powerful mainstream media outlet championing them instead of mocking them or doing this faux confused BS things would look very different. I think that the fact that the Tea Party is basically falling apart argues strongly against the idea that it was ever the solid movement that it was portrayed to be. 

  • Cowboy Diva

    My partner uses NFCU online, and I use USAA the same way; no need for proximity.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect those 100-odd responses would easily break down into 3 or 4 main categories, plus “Other”, which you always get in a mass movement.

    This is from the occupywallst.org website: At 2:00pm, the entire rally will march to Liberty Square in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the shared ideals of equality for all, individual dignity, economic and social justice, and the right to peacefully demand change of a broken system.

    Those are very broad categories, of which hundreds of pet causes can be — and are – included.  There is no single, coherent message, no focus.

    Here is one list of demands from one group:

    1. Complete bans on federal political contributions, replaced by public campaign financing.
    2. Reversal of the “Citizens United v. FEC” Supreme Court decision.
    3. Combating Washington’s “revolving door.”
    4. Bans on gifts to federal officials.
    5. Tax reform – eliminating special carve-outs and increasing progressiveness.
    6. Single-payer health care.
    7. Increased environmental regulation.
    8. Reduction of the national debt through a progressive income tax and elimination of corporate handouts.
    9. Federal job-training programs.
    10. Student loan debt forgiveness.
    11. Immigration policy, including amnesty for illegals.
    12. Recalling the U.S. military globally.
    13. Education mandates and teacher pay.
    14. Massive expansion of public works projects.
    15. Spurring China to end currency manipulation.
    16. Reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act.
    17. Refinance all underwater mortgages at 1% interest rate.
    18. One-year freeze on all foreclosures.
    19. Free air time for all political candidates who gather sufficient signatures.
    20. Immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan

    Bill Maher: “They don’t really have a coherent message.”

  • Lori

     There is no single, coherent message, no focus.  

    And your point is? Why are they required to have a single message? We have more than one urgent problem in this country right now. Why should OWS dumb down to a sound bite just to make the media and OWS’ opposition feel better? It sure isn’t to communicate with The People. Polls indicate that people are getting the message just fine. 

    Also, that list proves me point. I could slot all of those items into at most 4 categories. I’m pretty sure I could get it down to 3 with very little loss of clarity. Three broad demands is not weird or unfocused. 

    Beyond that, when you strip our problems down to a single message you get the Tea Party’s “Take back our country”. We all know how you love them, but that slogan is just a worthless generality designed to appeal to people’s inchoate rage and underlying racism. Pass. 

     
    Bill Maher: “They don’t really have a coherent message.”  

     

    Bill Maher is not the boss of anyone let alone OWS. He’s smart and he can be really funny, but he’s also a grade A tool and one of his main problems is the degree to which he refuses to recognize that he is not actually on the outside looking in. 

  • Lori
  • Lori

    If people would rather have a profanity-free OWS message we could do worse than this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTafZRecy2k

  • Anonymous

    And your point is? Why are they required to have a single message? We have more than one urgent problem in this country right now. Why should OWS dumb down to a sound bite just to make the media and OWS’ opposition feel better? It sure isn’t to communicate with The People. Polls indicate that people are getting the message just fine.

    They absolutely are not required to have a coherent message — unless they want to be effective. 

    I could slot all of those items into at most 4 categories. I’m pretty sure I could get it down to 3 with very little loss of clarity.

    Listen to yourself.  Categories of demands?  Please!

    If you asked 100 tea party protestors for their demands, you would get these responses:
    * Lower taxes and less government spending
    * Reduction of the federal debt and deficit
    * Fewer regulations (e.g. repeal of Obamacare)

    That’s the tea party in a nutshell.  No foreign policy or social issues distract from the message.

    As for the effectiveness of the Tea Party movement: The Tea Party is responsible for the election of senators Rand Paul (KY), Marco Rubio (FL), and Ron Johnson (WI) Other Tea Party-backed candidates suffered losses in Delaware, Nevada, and Connecticut, but they were responsible for the primary defeat of moderate Republican candidates.  Whether that will result in other Republican incumbents and candidates supporting tea party goals remains to be seen.  The Tea Party has shifted national debate over issues involving taxes, the debt, and the role of government.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    That’s the tea party in a nutshell.  No foreign policy or social issues distract from the message.

    “WHERE’S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE?” is conspicuous in its absence from that list.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    * Lower taxes and less government spending

    The Teabaggers DO know that the income tax rates are lower now than they’ve been since the years leading up to the Great Depression, right?

    But no, they just don’t care.  ANY taxation on the JORB CREEATERS is EVIL and must be stopped.  :-P

    http://rationalrevolution.net/images/federalinc.gif

    The Teapublican platform is VERY simple and clear.  It’s also detached from reality.

  • Lori

    Listen to yourself.  Categories of demands?  Please!If you asked 100 tea party protestors for their demands, you would get these responses:* Lower taxes and less government spending* Reduction of the federal debt and deficit* Fewer regulations (e.g. repeal of Obamacare)  

    Listen to your own self. If you had gone out at a Tea Party protest and asked 100 people what they wanted they would not all have said one of those 3 things. They would have said about 100 different things, most of which would have fallen into one of those 3 categories. Did you actually look at the signs? What did yours say? 

    The actual Tea Party protests were as messy and confused as anything put together by OWS. It was just less obvious because the Teas were never out there for more than a couple days at a time and again, because the media treated them with kid gloves. 

    The only real difference in message discipline was WRT to the media. That’s because the Tea Party was a totally different kind of group. The Tea’s origin myth is about grassroots blah, blah, bah but they were astroturfed from very early on, possibly from the very beginning. When you’re getting money and marching orders from people like the Koch brothers of course you’re going to have good message discipline. That’s the point. 

    They absolutely are not required to have a coherent message — unless they want to be effective.   

    Effective at what? OWS is not the Tea Party. It isn’t looking to take over the government it claims to hate. OWS-style protests are about raising awareness. In spite of the best efforts of the mainstream media that seems to be working pretty well. Polls are consistently showing that people seem to understand why OWS is out there and furthermore that most people support them. 

     That’s the tea party in a nutshell.  No foreign policy or social issues distract from the message.  

    Sure, their public statements had no FP or social issues to distract from their supposed economic message. At least not the statements that were shown on TV. There were plenty of foreign policy and social issues addressed on actual signs at the protest in DC, but I guess as long as they don’t make the news you can go on pretending they didn’t exist. (See above re: the marked difference in the way the media treats the Teas and OWS). 

    The thing is, the notion that the Teas are all economics and no social issues is a lie. Such an obvious lie that I can’t believe you actually trotted it out. The Teas who were elected to Congress have done little more than flog social issues, especially the war on women. Aside from that they’re indistinguishable from the rest of the GOP. OWS has no interest in lying it’s way into Congress so naturally their methods are going to be rather different. 

    As for the candidates elected by the Tea Party, yeah they got in. And now voters have seen what they do, as opposed to listening to what they say, and their popularity isn’t holding. 

    The Tea Party has shifted national debate over issues involving taxes, the debt, and the role of government. 

    The Tea Party carried water for it’s benefactors and in so doing has contributed to extending the recession. Try not to strain anything patting yourself on the back over that. 

    So far OWS has shifted the media narrative away from made-up crap like the nonexistent debt ceiling crisis and onto unemployment and Wall Street fraud where it belongs. I’m not sure what else may come of the protests. We’ll see how things plays out.

  • Lori

    Well, this is annoying. Disqus has once again posted something and then made it disappear. It didn’t even include any links. So, I’ll try this one more time, breaking it up into smaller posts. I apologize in advance for the serial posting. 

  • Lori

     They absolutely are not required to have a coherent message — unless they want to be effective.   

     

    Effective at what? OWS is, dispite what some the story some people are trying to sell, not the Left equivalent of the Tea Party. For example, it is not about attempting to bullshit its way into control of a government it claims to hate. Different goals, different tactics. 

  • Lori

    And again.

    Sorry about that. I was serial posting (and apologized for it) because I thought the disappearance might be related to post length. I swear disqus is possessed.

  • Anonymous

    The only real difference in message discipline was WRT to the media. That’s because the Tea Party was a totally different kind of group. The Tea’s origin myth is about grassroots blah, blah, bah but they were astroturfed from very early on, possibly from the very beginning. When you’re getting money and marching orders from people like the Koch brothers of course you’re going to have good message discipline. That’s the point.

    I want to add to Lori’s excellent analysis, that the Tea Party’s “limited government” spiel was just the Republican platform from 1994. That’s why a dirtbag like Dick Armey, one of the co-authors of the Contract With America who rode it into the position of House Majority Leader, is now the chairman of one of the largest Tea Party groups (FreedomWorks).

    It’s also one of the reasons why the Tea Party wasted no time in forcing a confrontation to try to shut down the government, just like the Republicans did in the mid-’90s. So they’re running on a Republican platform, affiliating as Republicans, trying to shut down the government like Republicans, are cheerleaded by a Republican propaganda outfit, and are led by former Republican leaders, but we’re for some reason supposed to pretend that they aren’t just Republicans?

  • Lori

    Exactly. The Tea Party claims to be grassroots and outside the 2-party process. OWS actually is. Grassroots activism is messy and sort of screwed up and has a high likelihood of flaming out in a spectacular way. 

    Still, the main thrust of the protests is accurate. And contrary to what people like aunursa and the pundit class and the talking heads on Fox are trying to sell, OWS does have a pretty straightforward message. I was joking earlier about the guy with the sign, but only sort of. The main thread of the OWS protests is that our economy and politics are broken. Income inequality is too great because the system is rigged in favor of a very small number of people. Those who control such a disproportionate share of wealth are able to use it to subvert the political process. As a result things that the majority of voters want don’t happen while things almost no one wants sail right on through. 

    I realize that thought is at least 3 lines too long for the news media to deal with. Gee, I wonder why OWS isn’t tripping over itself to be more media-friendly? 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    It’s also one of the reasons why the Tea Party wasted no time in forcing a confrontation to try to shut down the government, just like the Republicans did in the mid-’90s. So they’re running on a Republican platform, affiliating as Republicans, trying to shut down the government like Republicans, are cheerleaded by a Republican propaganda outfit, and are led by former Republican leaders, but we’re for some reason supposed to pretend that they aren’t just Republicans?

    Because in 2010, the Republican Party proper still had the stench of Bush Failure all over it.  So, like every other rich white guy ever, the Teapublicans tried to repackage themselves as Maverick Outsiders.  Somehow, and at this point I’m not willing to rule out drugs in the drinking water, the voters fell for it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    One thing that confused the hell out of me was the way the Teas acted like they were a true third party, when all along they were just an extremist faction of the Republican party, a party already full of ideological hard-liners.

  • Lori

     Bill Maher: “They don’t really have a coherent message.”  

    How could I have forgotten? This Maher quote is from a show where Alan Grayson Ate. His. Lunch. And got a standing O for it. 

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/alan-grayson-gets-standing-ovation-while-bill-maher-panel-mocks-occupy-wall-street-hippies/

    Even Bill Maher concedes Grayson’s basic points because yes, his stats are correct. Reality does have a Liberal bias. 

    Suck it Nicolle Wallace, you idiot. 

    And you too P.J. O”Rourke, you total asshat. 

    Jonathon Frazen, you get a pass. Your books sort of annoy and frustrate me, but you weren’t acting like an ass in public and your comment was factual and intelligent so you’re in the clear on this thing. 

  • P J Evans

    just the Republican platform from 1994

    And to add to that, Newt Gingrich still thinks that’s a great achievement. And he’s trying to use it to become president.

    The tea-party people were, and are, the far-right wing of the Republican party. If they aren’t Republicans, where are their conventions and their primaries and their ballots?
    They DON’T HAVE ANY. They’re using the Republican conventions and primaries and ballots, at the same time they’re claiming they aren’t Republicans. And they’re using their views at litmus tests for candidates, and working against any REPUBLICAN candidates who don’t meet the tea-party standards.
    That’s some real double-jointed speechmaking.

  • http://www.bawdyhouse.com James Hanley

    I like Crooked Timber, but Quiggin’s piece is below their usual quality.  He utterly fails to distinguish between constraints on freedom forced on a person by the state and self-imposed constraints entered into through voluntary contractual arrangements, which a person is free to engage in or not.  And so he doesn’t actually show that constraining property rights promotes freedom at all.   It’s a superficially appealing argument, but it doesn’t really hold up well to scrutiny.

  • Lori

      He utterly fails to distinguish between constraints on freedom forced on a person by the state and self-imposed constraints entered into through voluntary contractual arrangements, which a person is free to engage in or not.  

      

    There were problems with the article, but I don’t think this really covers it. The fact that the state is not involved doesn’t mean that the agreement and its constraints are voluntary in any meaningful way. This is one of the things that I think Libertarians consistently fail to address in any satisfying way. Beyond that Quiggin is essentially discussing the idea that there are some rights you shouldn’t be asked to (and by extension able to) sign away. This is an area where I’m not sure I would say that Libertarians are wrong in the strict sense, but I do disagree with them. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    And they’re using their views at litmus tests for candidates, and working against any REPUBLICAN candidates who don’t meet the tea-party standards.

    That’s some real double-jointed speechmaking.

    Fortunately, the American political system is relatively self-correcting in this matter.  A candidate who is insufficiently hard-line for the Tea Party will be necessarily too hard-line for the presidency.  An unwillingness to compromise becomes a self-defeating strategy in the nature of election cycles.  

    Of course, that is not to say that the Tea Party cannot do a lot of damage before it goes down in flames.  The whole debt-cap debacle is an example of what they can do with a refusal to compromise.  And people will unnecessarily suffer for it in the short term.  But in the longer term, it gets them thrown out of office.  Just look how public opinion of the Tea Party candidates who got elected in 2010 has soured since then.  

    Of course, that is not to say that the Obama administration has not encountered similar issues for taking a while to focus itself on people’s needs.  That is what gave the Tea Party the clout they needed to get a foot in the door in the first place.  But now that the Obama administration is actually making moves to do something and the Tea Party is refusing to let them do it, we see their poll numbers dropping.  

  • JohnK

    In contract law, there is the idea of something called “unconscionability”, which is basically a contract that, while executory, is so unfair that the courts have to invalidate it in order to avoid causing an injustice.

    This comes up a lot in ‘adhesion contracts’, which are created between two parties on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. There’s very little negotiation involved; one party has all or nearly all of the bargaining power and the other party has to either sign the contract (take it) or not (leave it). These are often invalidated because the courts recognize that there are other constraints on freedom other than governmental coercion. If your boss walks into your cubicle and hands you a non-compete contract and tells you to sign it or you’re fired, is that really a “voluntary negotiation”? Your boss gets to put you on a leash, but what are you getting out of it? Is continued employment alone enough? Are you getting a raise? Better job security? A bonus? Is the contract limited in scope or does your boss just write whatever he wants into it? (“You can’t work anywhere else in this state! For the next fifty years!”) Does the contract actually serve to protect your boss’s business interests or is it just punitive or abusive?

    You can design your contract however way you want, but there’s no guarantee that some judge isn’t going to think it’s unconscionable or even illegal, especially if you can’t give a reason why two people of the same religion can’t live together in an apartment (for example).

  • Lori

     In contract law, there is the idea of something called “unconscionability”, which is basically a contract that, while executory, is so unfair that the courts have to invalidate it in order to avoid causing an injustice.  

    Yes, and I’ve heard some libertarians (not my friend E, I swear) argue against the concept.  According to them the judgement of the state (the courts) should not be substituted for or override the judgement of the parties to the contract. If you want to sign something that’s your right and the state’s only role should be to enforce the contract.

    Even if one isn’t being that absolutist about it there can be differences of opinion about what is and is not “unconscionable”. Going back to the article, is it unconscionable for a landlord to demand control over the living arrangements of a renter? Where do a landlord’s property rights begin and end vs a renter’s? 

    I think it’s legitimate for Quiggin to point out that the Libertarian view on the issue tilts heavily to the ownership class, which screws over a whole lot of people.   

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    One of the many things I find risible about Libertarianism is their apparent belief that all contracts are sacrosanct.

    I think it’s legitimate for Quiggin to point out that the Libertarian view on the issue tilts heavily to the ownership class, which screws over a whole lot of people.

    Now there’s an understatement.

  • Marshall Pease

    But, from a propertarian viewpoint, C’s ownership rights over the bedroom, derived from and ultimately enforced by, the state, trump all other considerations.

    Note that ‘C’ was defined as the class of people whom the landlord A would like to exclude from the bedroom inhabited by B. There doesn’t seem to be any way for a class to enter into a negotiated contract with an individual; so from a propertarian analysis, what has happened when the state declares an anti-discrimination policy is that the class has been granted rights in A’s property that supersedes and reduces A’s usual rights. QED (Quiggin, Ee’s Demonstrated.) 

    Seems like a sound analysis to me, but OTOH I have problems with this whole line of thinking because the notion that property is stuff that can have an owner is Not Kingdom Thinking. For one thing, it’s always a case of ‘cisterns already dug’, and also any decision to do whatever with whatever inevitably affects more than just the direct parties, and those people thereby have an interest in the decision taken. That’s the OWS thing in a nutshell, seems to me.

    Humans were given dominion over stuff in order that the Earth might be replenished, not so they can do whatever fool thing they feel like. 


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