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"Be realistic, demand the impossible" Massumi 2002
01:25 AM on 12/04/2010
Great analysis. Thank you. I read your father's work as a kid and find the same progressive sensibility in your writings. Unfortunately, I am not convinced that they are interested in sensible debate but rather in rationalisations and justifications for supplanting corporate design for the people's will in government policy.
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Larry Motuz
More prayers, fewer preyers.
10:04 AM on 12/04/2010
12:45 AM on 12/04/2010
This is the best explanation of how the deficit commission is attempting to hoodwink us that I have read yet.

Thank you for speaking out on our behalf.

I find this commission frightening. People may dismiss it and say their ideas will never be enacted, but even the Democrats are signaling that it is time for "reform" of entitlements. I find it especially disturbing that this comes in the midst of a great economic crisis when people rely on their benefits more than ever. Perhaps they think they can more easily fool the people when the people themselves are economically insecure.
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Larry Motuz
More prayers, fewer preyers.
10:05 AM on 12/04/2010
The commission should be renamed the Manufacturing Poverty Commission.
12:18 AM on 12/04/2010
Good points. And the whole god damn exercise was about how can we make the rich get richer. How many middle class or poor folks were on this commission?
It's definitely a crap-shoot.
09:43 AM on 12/04/2010
We have a congress filled with people who were elected by the money of corporations and rich folks. They don't give a rat's patootie for average Americans, they have to please the ones who elected them. The Surpremes made it worse by opening up our political system to international corporate monies. The whole political process has become so corrupt it makes me sick.
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Larry Motuz
More prayers, fewer preyers.
10:06 AM on 12/04/2010
12:18 AM on 12/04/2010

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
-John Kenneth Galbraith
10:46 PM on 12/03/2010
Why would an economic commission headed by an oil and gas man and a Wall street flack have any legitimacy when we have real live Nobel Prize economists among us? Shouldn't we ask them or is our President afraid of affronting the power elites? Maybe we should just have Lady Gaga and Carrot Top form an Afghan Study Commission.
10:43 PM on 12/03/2010
You haven't pointed out however that the quite unnecessary war in Iraq, and the continuing and unsuccessful and halfhearted effort in Afghanistan, have added trillions more to our national debt with very little benefit for our country. Professors Joe Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have pointed out that the deficits are largely due to the fact that President Bush CUT taxes in 2001 and 2003 -- both exactly at the same time we ramped up war spending. This cannot make sense for the US to borrow so much money unless we were investing in something with eventual benefits like infrastructure or technology. So we must get a grip on all this debt -- and the reasons for it.
10:14 PM on 12/03/2010
Economists who learn from History
generally consider that when the debt of any Nation
exceeds 90% of its GDP, that nation will inevitably go into
economic tailspin and rapid decline.

We are rapidly approaching this debt/GDP ratio.

The only way to pull out of such a tailspin is
to reduce debt or to increase GDP.
Inflation does not work; so printing more
Bernankebucks will not save us.

Reducing spending by itself does not increase debt,
but also does not reduce this debt if
the rate of reduction in spending does not increase
to exceed any rate of revenue reduction.
Anyone that thinks it easy or even possible to reduce spending
while maintaining or increasing revenues
by taxation of the middle class, is in for a shock—
the resulting deflation due to impoverishment
of the spending class is as bad or worse than inflation.
Taxation that taps into the stagnant pools of wealth
held by the richest of our now two class society
would solve the problem, but since this class
now holds the keys to political power,
this ideais going nowhere fast.

The only other way out of this tailspin is to increase GDP.
To do this will require an increase in jobs and productivity.
These are interdependent with, and require domestic
consumption and the export of goods and services,
and to achieve these requires investment spending of capital,
not reduction of spending.
01:19 AM on 12/04/2010
Not true. The national debt is merely an accounting function. In the 1950's the national debt was 140% of the GDP with a top marginal tax rate of 91%. During this period President Eisenhower started one of the largest and most expensive infrastructure building in our country's history. Remember the building of the interstate highway system?

The only important debt is our balanvce of payments debt and I don't hear anything abouit that.

If the Republicans really believed the BS that they were spreading about the national debt would they be pushing for extending the tax cuts for the wealthy or be supporting more warfare?

This whole thing about the national debt is a scare tactic to kill social spending and building our infrastructure. We are heading for an "underdeveloping" nation.

All I can say is that if we continue down this road of spending cuts we will be in another great depression. It is very much like 1928. Hoover economics!
09:10 PM on 12/04/2010
["This whole thing about the national debt is a scare tactic...."]

The national debt is more than a "scare tactic". ..
it is the most serious issue of vital concern
affecting every aspect of American societal welfare
and political stability domestically and internationally.
I places an enormous burden and limitation
on current and future generations.

I totally agree that spending cuts at this time
are a major step in the wrong direction.
The national debt must be addressed with great care,
and it is certain that spending cuts at the present time
can not improve our fragile underlying economy--
This economy in crisis is totally dependent on being provided with
adequate funding to stimulate main street in every way possible,
whether it be building infrastructure,lending to small
and entrepreneurial business, or putting dollars
into the hands of middle class citizens
that will quickly recirculate these dollars.

US has now evolved into a two class Oligarchic system
which is very rapidly destroying our Democracy.
The very rich Oligarchs do not circulate money in
any way that gets money back into the public (tax) coffers--
The obvious solution to becoming a two class serfdom
while also reducing the national debt
is to more fairly levy taxes on the Oligarchy,
while strenuously enforcing collection of taxes
by closing the loopholes in the sieve of our tax codes
employed solely to avoid/evade taxes.

Not an easy job, now that the Oligarchs have gained control of Government.
01:45 AM on 12/04/2010
Japan has 200% debt to GDP ratio. Great Britain had over 100% debt to GDP ratio from the 1920s through until 1960s thereabouts. Geddes Axe was very bad for the Debt to GDP ratio.
08:59 PM on 12/03/2010
Superb article.
Nearly all of us are both makers and takers.
08:23 PM on 12/03/2010
If only these "commissions" had their writings peer reviewed the way the scientific community does. Papers without evidence to support or refute a hypotheses are not published.
igitur juvenes dum sumus
08:04 PM on 12/03/2010
I want to hear some more about that "shared sacrifice" stuff. especially the part about how much will be shared by members of the commission and their peers.
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Larry Motuz
More prayers, fewer preyers.
10:22 AM on 12/04/2010
Or, for that matter, the 72 individual filers who had 6.2 billion dollars in 'earnings' last year.
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Larry Motuz
More prayers, fewer preyers.
03:09 PM on 12/04/2010
Errata. They only had 6 billion overall.
07:29 PM on 12/03/2010
The government and the Fed gave our taxpayer money away, bailing out US and foreign banks -- now they want to come back to us and steal even more of our money crying about the deficit they created so they now have the "rationale" to steal more of our money.

Both parties are owned by the corporations -- look at who they Obama got most of his campaign funds from (trust me, it wasn't you and your little $25 check.)

Here is how they scr**&9d us:

reagan: trickle down economics
clinton" NAFTA
bush: starting 2 wars to funnel more money to Halliburton
obama -- bank bailouts, selling obamacare a priori to Big Pharma (smooch smooch

Time to find a way to get a true Candidate of the People into office because it sure isn't Obama.
David Rozgonyi
08:15 PM on 12/03/2010
Too right, man. The problem is with the capitalist culture of "win", the corporate dominance over every aspect of our lives, and an inability to find worth or happiness in anything that isn't denominated in hard cash (or credit). There is no one man or one party solution simply because us, collectively in the culture we make day to day, is broken, and values the wrong things.
Imperialism is a form of insanity.
06:50 PM on 12/03/2010
We are all pretty much on our own at this point. Yes, some of us still have jobs, but just wait. It's going to get worse. Much worse in fact and the government and ruling oligarchs know it. We have been selected to be on the losing side of the class war. So, what brand of revolution do you want? Overt or covert. I think covert shows more promise. Overt just gives the authorities an excuse to use police force. Covert on the other hand allows us to employ a variety of tactics that can be under the radar. Time to strategize!
07:36 PM on 12/03/2010
"class war" is supposed to be a dirty word in the US, but the elite has been waging war against us groundlings for years. First, they send all our jobs overseas so they can make more profit and have bigger yachts, then they create marvelously complex financial instruments, pocket the profits and turn to the government for big handouts because "we are too big to fail".

much of the populace is afraid to fight for their class in a class war -- they still think they "are going somewhere" in the American Dream even though the standard of living has been flat for most people for decades. Only the rich have been improving their position.

the press has demonized socialism and the idea that the less privileged should vigorously fight for their own kind. too bad, too bad...
08:53 PM on 12/03/2010
Yep-first up, take the Democratic Party back from the oligarchs. It is possible-just put people into place who will vote for a midseason convention. Then force a vote on a new chair. Get Howard Dean back into place. Restart the 50 strategy and get our country back!
Liberal Lutheran; lean left, save America!
05:25 PM on 12/03/2010
" There is no suggestion of a financial transactions tax"

This is the thing I find most troubling. The day traders making millions of dollars in a day by trading millions of shares on the fraction of a penny microseconds ahead of ordinary investors like you and me ought to be taxed and taxed hard. This kind of activity can arguably be characterized as inside trading and it destabilizes the markets as well as changing the nature of the markets from the traditional "investing in a growing company so they have capital to function and I profit" to one where it is casino style betting on how the "markets" move. It is insane that we do not tax that behavior at the same rate as gambling winnings! But absurdly it is taxed at 15%....stupid.
05:47 PM on 12/03/2010
Nope; if HFT were banned the illusion of liquidity would evaporate, and the markets would sink down to depression levels. The members of the stock market plunge protection team, composed of people like Obama and Bernanke will never let that happen. Therefore HTF stays, at least until the whole rotten mess come tumbling down, and Bernanke and Obama can no longer hide the truth of our diseased markets.
06:10 PM on 12/03/2010
I believe you are wrong on several fronts. First of all most day traders do not make millions of dollars. I would say most of the day traders are pretty average people mostly making a tiny amount or loosing money. You are referring to a few traders who work at hedge funds and wall street banks. There are equal or more number of small day traders just trading with their own money.
Secondly all day trading profits are taxed as income, so if you make a lot, you will be paying the top marginal rate like any other profession.
This 15% rate is only for long term capital gains and some hedge funds and private equity claim capital gains status for the income they make from long term investments.
I agree that 15% thing is a travesty because it is really income and it should be taxed as income tax, but that is very specialized case on long term investments and has nothing to do with day trading.
My micro-bio is empty
05:18 PM on 12/03/2010
There are many subtle and not-so-subtle problems in the final commission report. The recommendations about Social Security, for example, are not justified and fall ouside the scope of this study. One sentence contains a clear admission of this fact.
"Reform Social Security for its own sake, and not for deficit reduction."
Just because they want to, I suppose.

Never mind that most things listed as cost reductions are actually just federal spending reductions. Costs still increase, but now we pay for it ourselves. Pay doctors less, for example. Stop subsidizing their mandatory continuing education. Cap the amount paid for preventive medicine. Yes, the "cost" of federal expeditures goes down. But the actual cost goes up and now comes from our pockets or state funds. What happens? Doctors increase their fees. We end up in exactly the same upward spiral of real medical costs with less of a social safety net. Probably worse.

Never mind that the recommendation adds about 8 million people to the unemployment rolls. Maybe the concept of reducing the deficit without firing people should have been explicitly stated.

And to think that ANY elected official actually voted for these recommendations. God help us.
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Larry Motuz
More prayers, fewer preyers.
10:38 AM on 12/04/2010
The fact of the matter is that the commissions proposals actually add to the deficit over time.
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04:43 PM on 12/03/2010
The middle-class has long been destroyed since president Bill Clinton finished them off with a post-industrial death sentence by signing NAFTA/GAT.

Since then the "net-worth" of most people had turned NEGATIVE by being replaced with DEBT.

Real income stagnated and credit-card and mortgage debt increased.

Therefore it's only pure nostalgia to talk about an American middle-class.