Smart people saying smart things

Paul Krugman: “How to End This Depression

The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve: all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending. Never mind all the talk of how we have a long-run problem that can’t have a short-run solution — this may sound sophisticated, but it isn’t. With a boost in spending, we could be back to more or less full employment faster than anyone imagines.

But don’t we have to worry about long-run budget deficits? Keynes wrote that “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.” Now … is the time for the government to spend more until the private sector is ready to carry the economy forward again. At that point, the US would be in a far better position to deal with deficits, entitlements, and the costs of financing them.

Meanwhile, the strong measures that would all go a long way toward lifting us out of this depression should include, among other policies, increased federal aid to state and local governments, which would restore the jobs of many public employees; a more aggressive approach by the Federal Reserve to quantitative easing (that is, purchasing bonds in an attempt to reduce long-term interest rates); and less timid efforts by the Obama administration to reduce homeowner debt.

Bill McKibben: “Too Hot Not to Notice?

This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover-up. The fossil-fuel industry has funded endless efforts to confuse people, to leave an impression that nothing much is going on.  But — as with the tobacco industry before them — the evidence has simply gotten too strong.

Once you saw enough people die of lung cancer, you made the connection. The situation is the same today. Now, it’s not just the scientists and the insurance industry; it’s your neighbors. Even pleasant weather starts to seem weird.  Fifteen thousand U.S. temperature records were broken, mainly in the East and Midwest, in the month of March alone, as a completely unprecedented heat wave moved across the continent. Most people I met enjoyed the rare experience of wearing shorts in winter, but they were still shaking their heads. Something was clearly wrong and they knew it.

Mike Konczal: “Against Law, For Order

When neoconservatives say that they are the party of “law and order,” it is important to remember that they care less for the rule of law than they do for the rule of order.

… As historian Robert Perkinson explores in his book Texas Tough, there has always been a distinctly repressive character to the Southern prison, with its chain gangs, forced labor, and limited attempts at reform. These vicious practices, born out of the era of slavery, remain and shape the modern prison. As Perkinson says of the penal labor farms in East Texas, “Nowhere else in turn-of-the-millennium America could one witness gangs of African American men filling cotton sacks under the watchful eyes of armed whites on horseback.”

As political power moved to the Sunbelt and conservatives successfully realigned the South rightward, these brutal tactics became wedded to the Republican Party. The prison is part of the conservative project of race control. As Michelle Alexander argues in The New Jim Crow, mass incarceration locks people of color into permanent second-class citizenship much as the Jim Crow system of de jure and de facto segregation did in the past. Legalized discrimination, political disenfranchisement, and segregation, instituted through techniques like job licensing restrictions and legal requirements for voting, are features of both regimes.

 

  • WingedBeast

    “If you don’t want to eat at mcdonalds you don’t have to go there. If you don’t want to read the wall street journal you don’t hav to buy it. ”

    And, if you don’t want to work for a company that denies you agreed upon wages, you can just find another job… except that you can’t always do so.  And, if you want to purchase from another company than one with a local monopoly you just have to move.  And, if there is a monopoly, you just have to magically create competition that can compete with a functional monopoly.

    And, if you’re a worker in a company town, you just have to save up money while working for a wage purposely kept beneathe the amount necessary in order to pay rent for company housing, pay the company store for company food, and pay the company for transportation.

    You don’t like the affect that health insurance industry has had on health care costs?  Well, you can always throw the dice and hope you don’t get sick.

    The fact of the matter is that government isn’t the only thing that can restrict freedom.  It can be used, in fact, to restrict other entities from restricting your freedom.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    nmeutrino- tight/ sensible  monetary policy doesn’ t cause unemployement.

    winged- It’s not an oasis out there but the point is they can’t make you buy their stuff. You can’t not pay your taxes or you go to jail.


    And, if you’re a worker in a company town, you just have to save up money while working for a wage purposely kept beneathe the amount necessary in order to pay rent for company housing, pay the company store for company food, and pay the company for transportation.

    there are no company towns anymore.  

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

    there are no company towns anymore.

    What would you call it when Wal-Mart becomes the biggest employer in a town?

    There are no “company towns” per se, but there can be de facto situations like this where there is one big employer and even all the small businesses together can’t match its political or economic clout.

  • kellandros

    Of course there are still company towns- China is full of them.

    Or do you mean America? Here’s one:
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2011/01/company_towns

    Or oil rig workers? Weeks on with little free time, then weeks off in a small town with a bunch of stores and little other entertainment.

    Or Arkansas and Wal-mart? I believe about half the population there works directly or indirectly for Wal-mart; at least they benefit from it.

    There are country clubs that have dormitories that their workers are required to live in.

    And at the same time you think the system is rigged, yet that if you were in a company town you’d be capable of beating the system.

    I also love how you say experts are always full of it, yet still refer to those experts that you agree with.

    And Ron Paul’s vision is shrinking the role of the Federal government, but beefing up what States can do (war on drugs is great as long as its local). He is correct about a few things, but for the wrong reasons.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    correct about something for the wrong reasons? He’s not about beefing up what states can do. No libertarians like state governments or any governments, the difference is states can’t print money or start wars so they’re less dangerous.

    kellandros-” There are country clubs that have dormitories that their workers are required to live in.” 

    Everyone there agreed to live there.  if they change their mind they can quit. if yuo say “Washington is way too focused on war and ridiculous farm subsidies I’m not going to pay my taxes” you cant quit the IRS

    “I also love how you say experts are always full of it, yet still refer to those experts that you agree with.”

    I say what I agree with and why, I don’t just say so and so is an economist and you’re not so I’m right. 

    neutrino- “What would you call it when Wal-Mart becomes the biggest employer in a town?”

    reality. who can turn a profit and who can’t. that’s just life. why sugarcoat it.

  • P J Evans

     There are quite a few places like that. If the employer goes away, so does the town.

    I guess the troll has never heard of ghost towns, either.

  • P J Evans

     Beckwit, taxes are the dues you pay in order to live here and get things like fire and police services, and schools and libraries and roads that aren’t dust-bowls in dry weather and mudholes in wet weather. Don’t like paying taxes? Think they’re somehow theft? Then move somewhere else, far away from here.

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

    nmeutrino- tight/ sensible  monetary policy doesn’ t cause unemployment.
    Zimbabwe would have full employment if inflation = jobs. monetary
    policy isn’t the cause of europe’s woes.

    Monetary policy in isolation – no. But it can aggravate existing conditions. And that’s the point. Greece is now teetering on whether to retake control of its own economy by reinstating the drachma, and Sweden and Denmark want to retain control of their own economies by keeping the krona.

  • P J Evans

    Thanks for demonstrating again how wrong you actually are.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ellie- what coercian? If you don’t want to eat at mcdonalds you don’t have to go there.

    I don’t want to shop at Amazon or B&N or Walmart or Target. But I live in a county where, thanks to coercion economic pressure from Amazon and B&N, literally the only suppliers of books are Walmart, Target, online booksellers, and this little dinky store downtown name of Bell, Book, and Candle. As the name might tell you, BB&C is for specialized interests only. And while there are indie bookstores that sell online, they tend to be more expensive than Amazon and B&N, and I don’t have spare money to throw around. In related news, Sierra Club-approved socks are hella more expensive than Walmart socks.

  • EllieMurasaki

    kellandros-” There are country clubs that have dormitories that their workers are required to live in.” 

    Everyone there agreed to live there.  if they change their mind they can quit.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t people only get unemployment insurance payouts if they got downsized or whatever, not if they quit? And have fun finding a new job in this economy.

    neutrino- “What would you call it when Wal-Mart becomes the biggest employer in a town?”

    reality. who can turn a profit and who can’t.

    Walmart turns a profit by buying all their crap cheap from China or wherever, various places that pay their workers a couple dollars a day, and selling it slightly less cheap to people who can afford to shop nowhere else for reasons including Walmart workers get paid crap.

  • Turcano

     Uh, you do know it takes a while for the Nobel Prize committees to decide to give someone an award, right?  You know, to see if the discovery actually pans out?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- life is hard. there’s no policy for that. there’s a thing call scarcity. Amazon didn’t force any booksellers out of business the consumers did. blame them.

    PJ- most of those are coverd by state and loval taxes. outside of a few things most of our federal income tax, which is a much larger bill than state and local, is a slush for for various senators indulgences and horrible ideas.

    No one has a problem paying for roads and schools. Our roads and schools are garbage because washington could care less about them/us. 4 trillion budget, shuoldn’t we have amazing perfect roads? Instad bad roads are the number one cause of vehicular deaths, more than drunk driving.

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

    Look, nobody argues that the bloated military budgets in the USA are a good thing. Person after person has come along and pointed out that with a budget half or a third the size of today’s the USA could still modernize its military and maintain a proper combat-ready force ready to do its job.

    But you seem to keep assuming that Republicans will dare ever actually attack this sacred cow of larger and grander military spending in the name of budgetary soundness.

    They won’t.

    Quite simply, if Reagan and Bush II haven’t shown you that Republicans are liars in every sense of the word when it comes to any kind of reasonable budgeting strategy, this latest probably won’t either, but in thirty-plus years have you ever seriously seen a Republican try for balancing a budget? Probably only Bush I, and he got a shitstorm over it from the more ideological supply-side type Republicans.

    You gotta give the supply-siders credit for having the faith to gamble big or go home;  they truly, 100%, believe that if you just slash all kinds of taxes a LOT, so much new wealth will be generated that the tax cuts will more than pay for themselves. (Everybody loves the intoxicating idea that they’ve stumbled on a free lunch.)

    That has never happened, not without having to also cut government spending.

    Which is the real objective of the tax-cutters – they don’t want a free lunch (as much as they claim to); what they really want is what Grover Norquist said: they want to “drown” the government by shrinking it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Amazon didn’t force any booksellers out of business the consumers did. blame them.

    Amazon didn’t have better prices and a better selection than my county’s recently-closed Atlantic Books? Everything I know is a lie.

  • Tonio

    I don’t see much of a practical distinction between “SS states that government serves corporations and the rich” and the use of SS as an excuse to make the rich richer. The former is about preserving economic privilege. Seems like the rich becoming richer under SS is a feature, not a bug.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin


    I don’t see much of a practical distinction between “SS states that government serves corporations and the rich” and the use of SS as an excuse to make the rich richer. … 
    Seems like the rich becoming richer under SS is a feature, not a bug.

    Fair. My point was, though, that the economic policies that the Republicans have been pushing since Reagan are not really SS econ, because SS econ suggests that the government ought to keep the society stable through the provision of a robust welfare state. This allows the rich folks to enjoy their riches without having to hire armed guards and such. SS econ is more than just “cut taxes, and then cut taxes some more, and certainly don’t cut spending to the Pentagon.”

    tl;dr – Supply Side Economics – Republicans are doin it rong.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Also, you guys have been slacking on leaving comments at my blog http://lesterhalfjr.blogspot.com/. There’s a lot of racism and sexism going on there and you need to inform me of the error of my ways!!

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

    That sound you heard was the equivalent of my facedesk causing a nuclear explosion.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There’s a lot of racism and sexism going on [on Chris Hadrick's blog] and you need to inform me of the error of my ways!!

    You know it’s there. Good. That’s the first step to fixing the problem and the only step we can help with. The rest is on you.


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