Obama’s Osawatomie Speech

I’m ready to wager that when the campaign of 2012 is all over, President Obama’s speech yesterday in Osawatomie, Kansas will be seen as the turning point that led to his victory in November 2012. Readers of this blog know that I have long cited Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Movement (outlined in his own speech at Osawatomie 101 years ago) as one of the high water marks in American politics. The great historian Richard Hofstadter noted that the progressive reform movement “was the effort to restore a type of economic individualism and political democracy that was widely believed to have existed earlier in America and to have been destroyed by the great corporation and the corrupt political machine.” That of course is the effort that we must undertake today.

My first request is that you read the whole speech. It is one of the finest examples of progressive political oratory in my lifetime. It is part history lesson and part economics seminar. It is throughout, bracingly beautiful.

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there’s been a certain crowd in Washington for the last few decades who respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If only we cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. Sure, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everyone else. And even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, they argue, that’s the price of liberty.

It’s a simple theory – one that speaks to our rugged individualism and healthy skepticism of too much government. It fits well on a bumper sticker. Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It’s never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible post-war boom of the 50s and 60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.

Remember that in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history, and what did they get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class – things like education and infrastructure; science and technology; Medicare and Social Security.

Yesterday on my Facebook page, one of our regular correspondents, Alex Bowles wrote, “I’m beginning the think the entire Fox/GOP nexus comes down to a single objective: not pricing externalities.” This fundamental notion of the Right is ironically, “the socialization of unwanted costs.” I think this is a profound insight that will go to the heart of the battle for American Democracy in the next 11 months. The core idea of this “free market” religion is that every individual and firm should try to “maximize their welfare”, leaving it to the rest of us to clean up their mess. Anyone watching last Sunday’s 60 Minutes, would see this principle in action where Mortgage bankers at Countrywide and Citibank took huge bonuses, while committing fraud and sticking taxpayers with the bill. Anyone observing the Coal industry lobbying , sees this principle in action–stop regulation, so the Taxpayer has to pay for the cost of their pollution.

As I have pointed out in my new book, Outlaw Blues, these battles between the oligarchy and the people have been fought since Jefferson battled Hamilton for the soul of America. We may never reach a final resolution until the Supreme Court stops proclaiming that “Money=Speech”, but if Obama’s speech yesterday is the frame on which is willing to battle for the next 11 months, it is a fight worth engaging in.

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59 Responses to Obama’s Osawatomie Speech

  1. len says:

    It’s a good speech. Obama is good at speeches.

    I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules.

    Of those, the last is the hardest but the most necessary. The winner of the next election must not only have T.R.’s words but also his bully will to enforce these laws. So far, Obama has failed at that spectacularly.

    And that is why the prudent will reserve judgement on this cattle call until we see something that tells us he can walk the walk. What America needs to see to return to the values of the first two parts of that sentence is what the third means: equal opportunity comes of equal justice.

  2. JTMcPhee says:

    There’s the sweet speech, now where’s the big stick to start doing the kind of whacking that’s needed to beat the crap out of our Imperial presidency and venally moribund Other Branches? Oh wait, since Big Mo is generated by sound, and a little video, no actual Change is required! And Hope? Hope is for suckers, donchaknow? And Our Hero clubbing the Imperial Presidency and American Susceptibleism down into some more appropriate, survivable shape? The guy who, along with his carefully chosen advisers and henchpersons, has used the power of the Executive to do all kinds of, shall we say, unProgressive things, while whining, via surrogates, that he has to wait on Con-gress and they are so MEAN they won’t let him fertilize that ol’ Tree of Liberty and Justice for All? Still looking for a Grand Bargain, that partakes of nothing Grand except Grand Larceny? Well… It’s not illegal any more. The new, improved US Code, and the Captured Code of Federal Regulations, says so.

    Much ado about a “payroll tax cut” that is really just a foot, a leg, a right arm and most of a torso in the door that is being wedged open to finish the home invasion and killing off of what is left of the Baby NewDeal, dragged into the bathroom and drowned…

    The trenchant moment of rising credulity is Natalie Wood in “Miracle on 34th Street,” having found Hope and Faith in Santa and kind of lost it, sighing to herself, “I believe…, I believe…,” and then THERE! is just the perfect new house, no, HOME, that Santa promised her! And her momma and her new stepdad-to-be can even AFFORD it!

    Where you gonna hide, when they come for YOU? Oh wait, that’s already happened, unless you are one of the tiny bunch of comers-for, rather than the come-for-ees.

    “I believe…, I believe……..”

  3. Jon Taplin says:

    JTM-in many Presidencies, the first term is not a precursor for the second term. I think he is finished with Grand Bargains.

  4. Alex Bowles says:

    For what it’s worth, the thing that triggered this notion about not quantifying externalized costs was the kerfuffle that erupted on Fox, wherein they took umbrage with the current Muppets movie for being a flagrant piece of anti-capitalist propaganda. And how so? Because the bad guy is a Texan called Tex Richman.

    Though the film makes no mention of oil, and has nothing to do with the environment (the Muppets beloved theater is what’s in the cross-hairs), this “clear” attack on the right in general, and the oil industry in particular managed to produce a hilariously over the top – yet oddly revealing – response from host Eric Bolling and Dan Gainor of Media Research Center.

    It’s amazing how far the left will go just to manipulate your kids, to convince them, give the anti-corporate message. They’ve been doing it for decades. Hollywood, the left, the media, they hate the oil industry.

    Bolling seemed unaware that The Muppet’s anti-corporate message has been brought to us by the Walt Disney Corporation. Gainor continued.

    They hate corporate America. And so you’ll see all these movies attacking it, whether it was ‘Cars 2,’ which was another kids’ movie, the George Clooney movie ‘Syriana,’ ‘There Will Be Blood,’ all these movies attacking the oil industry, none of them reminding people what oil means for most people: fuel to light a hospital, heat your home, fuel an ambulance to get you to the hospital if you need that. And they don’t want to tell that story.

    Clever yet subtle insertion of fear, Fox folks! But I digress. We were talking about a conspiracy. And the evidence? Well, Tex Richman is played by Chris Cooper, who just happened to play a nefarious oilman in Syriana (bang up job, by the way). Of course, Syriana isn’t anyone’s idea of a kids movie, But Gainor wasn’t about to get hung up on details. He had a bigger fish to fry.

    This is what they’re teaching our kids. You wonder why we’ve got a bunch of Occupy Wall Street people walking around all around the country, they’ve been indoctrinated, literally, for years by this kind of stuff. Whether it was ‘Captain Planet’ or Nickelodeon’s ‘Big Green Help,’ or ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ the Al Gore-influenced movie, all of that is what they’re teaching, is that corporations is bad, the oil industry is bad, and ultimately what they’re telling kids is what they told you in the movie ‘The Matrix’: that mankind is a virus on poor old mother Earth.

    So pollution isn’t pollution, and saying otherwise is pollution. Got it.

  5. Alex Bowles says:

    Oh, but wait, it gets better. The REINS Act would give Congress veto power over any regulatory rule with an estimated cost above $100 million (read: anything having to do with the environment). And why do we need this? Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) explains;

    When the regulators go to work everyday, like most people go to work, their work assignment’s a little different. In my opinion, they sit around a big oak table, sipping their lattes. They have out their iPads and their computers, and they decide, ‘Who shall we regulate today?’ And they write a regulation and send it out to the masses and make us deal with the cost to that.

    Opinion is fact, fact is opinion, and yours is as good as mine, unless isn’t. No wonder these guys hate Science.


  6. Alex Bowles says:

    The ignorance is mind blowing. The worst part is that these guys aren’t getting put up for election in spite of it. They’re getting funded nominated because of it.

  7. Morgan Warstler says:

    Pricing externalities is a smoke screen.

    Lets say some quantifiable set of people lose 2 years of longevity, according to some liberal egghead with an “alterior” motive (matter more than he should, more power for being worthless, etc.)..

    1. those years are the last in people’s lives, worth less.
    2. Overall pele are liing longer, so the give and ull of market benefits is OUTWEIGHING the externalitis…. as in DRILL FOR OIL, SPEW THE ATMOSPHERE, GROW THE ECONOMY, DISCOVER A CURE, Engineer the ENVIRONMENT, ETC.

    You get what this means right?

    Right at the heart of externalities is the presumption NONE OF US will make, that people like you get to the be judge.

    The market judges and weighs those, one individual at a time, out in the disintemediated, distributed power of the edge of the social network, where the truth happens.

    Just think of it this way…

    Are you gong to argue externalities if get to the arbiter?

    Like all arguments you make, you are just desperate to change the decision venue to one you control.

    Won’t Happen.


    To really find solutions, you need to ask yourself, what changes could happen that keep the winners in the winning seat?

    Find the way to GUARANTEE the guys with the coal mines WIN the future, even as the system changes away from coal… you get nothing more than less coal used, no more power, no more control, no more money…

    That solution will happen.

    Think hard.

  8. John Papola says:

    Jon, you’ve got to read Gabriel Kolko’s “the triumph of conservatism”. Google it. Teddy Roosevelt was a warmongering thug and his “progressive movement” was a complete fraud and rotten to the core.

  9. John Papola says:

    “And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.”

    Fail. Any claim that the last decade was some return of “free market” ideology is a bald faced lie. But Obama is a liar, so that makes sense. We are doomed to suffer through another cycle of scamartistry from the left and right 49 yard lines. Sigh.

  10. Morgan Warstler says:

    MICHAEL MOORE, ON CNN: Well, “The Washington post” three weeks ago had this investigation and they said that President Obama has now raised more money from Wall Street and the banks for this election cycle than all — than all eight Republicans combined. I don’t want to say that, because if that’s the truth, that Wall Street already has their man and his name is Barack Obama, then we’ve got a much bigger problem.

    But I think President Obama, if he were here in the room, the question I would ask him is why are they your number one contributors? Why are you taking this money?

    MORGAN: It’s fascinating to find out why they’re doing it. I’ll ask him.

    MOORE: What are they expecting in return in the second term from you? Right now, here’s what we do know. Goldman Sachs was your number one contributor the 2008 election. And we have not seen anyone from Goldman Sachs go to jail. We have not seen the regulations, Glass/Steagall, put back on to Wall Street now three years after the crash.

    Why hasn’t that happened? President Obama, we the people need you to take them by the throat and say, damn it, this is the United States of America; you don’t steal from the working people of this country. And this is the way it’s going to be.”



    Jon, you couldn’t look in an honest mirror for 5 minutes. (see Pappy’ note on the last 10 years above). EVERYTHING being argued to you by the libertarian crowd agrees with MICHAEL MOORE on the facts.

    You deny those facts.

    The first day you are finally honest is the first day you admit what we haven’t had is free markets.

    The difference between Moore and Taplin, one is honest about Obama, the other isn’t.
    The difference between Moore and me, one is a fat slob millionaire celeb bitching about goldman, and one is a good looking wit with great kids and a sunny disposition.

    Jon, its time you admit that my team is more likely to hurt the Wall Street crowd than your team. Because my team hurts them the right way – by favoring Wall Street’s real predator (the Tea Party).

    ADMIT IT out loud. Jon. Beg forgiveness. Repent. Stop lying.

    Gingrich LIKE ME has been quite frank about the mistake of repealing Glass-Steagall.

    Raise your game Jon, stop fighting straw men.

  11. len says:

    Circling the drain again?

    It’s simple: if the money stays with the worker bees, they spend it locally and that supports the things they need, say fire departments. If it goes to the top, they spend it globally and that tends to evaporate any advantage the national culture has both socially and economically.

    A perfect example is Tennessee where locally supported private/volunteer fire departments stand by and watch a home burn if the owner/resident has not paid the $75 fee.

    The Regressives tell bald faced lies designed to inflame. The Progressives use complex erudite explanations that confuse the voter. So the election is a match between the angry and the confused. The people who fund them fund both thus ensuring the voters can change nothing. We are led by schmucks (see the original Yiddish).

    Get calm. Get cold. Get a list of the bad ones and chase them into the sea. Else, fire them all.

  12. John Papola says:


    “if the money stays with the worker bees, they spend it locally and that supports the things they need, say fire departments.”

    If your logic was correct, we should close down trade between the states or even between cities. We tried “buy local”… It’s called the middle ages. And how is this money “going” places and why do you think some unrelated third party or corrupt monopolist political thug should have a say in where it goes? Is all our income and property really just here for the taking by whichever mob can scream the loudest? The reality, of course, is that the mob screams while the corporatist parasites get the money, because that’s how the interventionist state works. That’s the real outcome of the progressive era. Bootleggers profit on the rhetoric of naive baptists.

    And while all the pundit classic is using this tennesee fire as some nonsense “teachable moment” circle jerk, history has ample examples of private , voluntary citizens and collective organizations doing amazing things… Like rebuilding Chicago after the 1871 fire. Those who slander private voluntary society because it is flawed and sometimes fails and slandering humanity itself, because people are flawed and do fail. We make rules. We break rules. Sometimes on purpose or out of laziness or out of ignorance. We work. We shirk.

    None of our failings as a creature make for a compelling argument that we must annoint an elect with monopoly power backed by the gun to tell the rest of us what to do. And no, democracy doesn’t regulate this monopoly. Not at all. I don’t get to vote on the rules written by unelected “regulators”. It’s interesting that Alex is against having the people who we actually elect weigh in on said UNdemocratic legislating. But, again, progressivism has always had a measure democracy in rhetoric but deeply UNdemocratic and elite technocratic in practice.

  13. Morgan Warstler says:

    Len, the point is not what happens the the worker bees today… but what technical advancements the consumers, the whole world gains and how quickly we gain them.

    The point is what incentivizes each worker bee to out perform the others. What we want is the greatest productivity gains possible…. always no matter what the short term downsides might appear to be.

    You are upset that many worker bees aren’t worth as much as they used to be… you can’t change that fact!

    What you can do is guarantee every unemployed citizen has a Guaranteed Income (from the govt.), enough to live on… and every recipient then has their labor auctioned so we can determine what it is really worth.

    Everyone has to get up and go to work, have a boss, and have someone make a profit off their labor.

    That’s the fact.

    But anyone who does that should get a subsidy if they can’t earn enough to cover theit nut.

    This is about skills in a globally competitive world, nothing more or less.

  14. Morgan Warstler says:

    Pay the $75 fee for Christ’s sake!

    It’s going to keep happening.

    You could make it just as onerous, pay the $75 free, or have $10K worth of your property seized if you need help and haven’t paid.

  15. John Papola says:

    @Morgan Warstler

    Agreed on the $75. If someone can’t afford a $75 fee, how the hell are they in a house? Do they have cable TV? If so, why isn’t the story “household chooses cable TV over fire protection. Pays the price.”

    Talk about externalities. How about the socialization of losses and responsibilities? The state externalizes private stupidity on the public. And so we get more stupidity.

  16. len says:

    what technical advancements the consumers, the whole world gains and how quickly we gain them.


    That’s a neat feint. How profits are distributed is the point. If the middle class wages fall, so does the local buying power. It is either replaced by higher taxes or lower services. Pick one. The Progressives pick door number one. The Regressives pick door number two.

    If your logic was correct, we should close down trade between the states or even between cities.

    As Spock says, your thinking is two dimensional. This isn’t about logic as a zero-sum but a scaling returns based system. It’s very simple: you can’t buy what you don’t have money to purchase. So you borrow and that increases debt. Eventually you reach the situation we have now. Trickle down simply doesn’t work because it is based on river up. The existence proof is glaring.

    None of our failings as a creature make for a compelling argument that we must annoint an elect with monopoly power backed by the gun to tell the rest of us what to do.

    Nor do they make a reasonable argument that failing to own a sufficiently powerful gun, we should treat a highway robber as just another guy doing his job.

    And this is the fun bit for Morgan: intelligent employees can use simpler tools. All startups know this. The argument for more complex toolkits is the argument for having more employees doing more work less intelligently. Failing to own a toolkit is not an intelligence test. It may be a test of training.

  17. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    I, for one, think Nick’s “Big Green Help” is undermining the foundations of our democracy, our economy, and our environment. I mean really, what would the world come to if, once a year, every person in America did one big job to help someone else with no possibility of personal gain (unless you count the warm fuzzy)? Buncha pinko commies—and don’t even get me started on the non-hetero, “colored” (pink & yellow even!) folks that make Spongebob!@Alex Bowles

  18. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    “As Spock says, your thinking is two dimensional.” or “What we had was a ‘failure of imagination’.” “We had ‘buy local’; it was called the Middle Ages.” “obamaobamaobamaobamaobama” “demnotthemdemnotthemdemnotthem”. It may seem sudden, and it may come as a big surprise, but I’m thinking these apple carts are fixing to get tipped over in the next couple of years (if not sooner).

  19. Roman says:

    Rubbish, pure unadulterated rubbish…

    Although this latest attempt to gain traction was no doubt focus grouped ad nauseum, and choreographed in true “foam column” tradition, it’s basic premise is pure, unadulterated rubbish. A few concerns

    1. The country’s angst is attributed to income inequality. Huh? It’s not income inequality; it’s NO justice for the biggest heist in the world’s history! What makes the blood boil are the lack of investigations, indictments, trials and sentences. It’s mind boggling actually.

    Despite misdirections like OWS and this latest attempt at being relevant, vestiges of 2008 are all around us – parents living in basements, 2/3/4 families living together, college degreed kids working as Wal-Mart Associates (if they’re lucky), multi-degreed adults working at Lowes and Home Depot (if they’re lucky), decimated investment portfolios…

    2. Obstructionist lawmakers’ (read Rep’s) penchant for deregulation and lassiez faire capitalism are the root cause of income inequality. Huh? Contemporary inequality is the direct result of that forbidden word – globalization. The middle class has been outsourced to India and China (literally).

    3. The middle class is on the verge of extinction. Huh? If the middle class vanishes, who pays the taxes? Particularly the European-style taxes being considered.

    What’s troubling is why Obama chose this particular meme to build his re-election on. Sure there was the call for innovation and resource reapportionment etc., but that’s pretty standard stuff.

    Was this simply a case of using “what’s going to happen anyway” to your advantage? Income inflation is coming, not income equality (whatever that means), rather income adjusted to keep pace with inflation (no real growth).

    Or does the administration anticipate a seminal event in the offing (perhaps beginning with Europe tomorrow), and wanted to ensure they framed not only the post-crash discussion and policies, but the President’s re-election bid as well?

    Or maybe it’s just another attempt at diverting everyone’s attention from NO “stinkin” justice. If Morgan’s correct, Wall St. has already rewarded Barry’s efforts quite handsomely (if true, it’s criminal and immoral).

    Seminal speech of his presidency? Let’s hope not. No, it strikes me more like Barry being Barry (think Wall St. Jan 09′ & West Point Nov 09′). All talk, no walk. Problem is, nobody’s listening anymore…

  20. JTMcPhee says:

    Why humanity is a dead-end species, Exhibits P and W.

    I got a little taste of Scientology from a former acquaintance, and gee, the Religion of Austrial Projection sure smacks a whole lot of Hubbardianism. All the world is a contract, every interaction is a negotiation, and at bottom it’s all about the taking of money from the “less-clear” by those with the higher-order merit badges. Worgon is just straight tooth-and-clawism, with bended knee and knuckle to forehead toward his Monetary Betters. And of course there’s billions more like them, swarming and breeding.

    Gee, I been following the series being put out by Yves Smith, by Andrew Dittmer, shining a bright light on the scuttling cockroaches of Liberterrorairyanism, and what a Future According To People Like Papola might actually look like. Here’s Part !: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%E2%80%93the-vision.html For Papola to emit shit like that remark about guns’n’monopoly power would be outrageously funny if it weren’t the case that his alternate universe of “voluntary association Government-Like Organizations” would be a more amoral and horrid place than one could readily imagine. It’s a short side-trip to Naked Capitalism, if you follow the link, and maybe Pap’s defense will be that that is not his set of precise definitions and his personal free version of whatever Liberterrorairyanism would be supposed to be if he ruled the world, so tying him to that is a “false equivalence straw man. But hey, all roads lead to (the Club of) Rome, right?

    There’s a reason for the obscene (I get to define it and you have to go along, right, Papola? That’s how your “logic” and debate rules work, right?) popularity of “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” and RISK! (the game, and the reality show you can enjoy by enlisting at http://www.military.com and getting off on the videos of Our Boys and Girls “lighting up” with Hellfire and 2,000 lb bombs what they call “talibans” but in at least one video case sure looks like a family with little kids — maybe the little ones were “midgibans?”) and War, American MIC Style generally. The purpose of human life/lives is just to get off, as often and as violently and perversely as possible, at the expense of everyone else who ain’t part of one’s particular circle jerk. Right?

    Yes, Smedley, it’s all a racket, and no, Rodney, we most assuredly can’t all just get along.

  21. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    1. those years are the last in people’s lives, worth less.—Maybe YOUR life. The last two years of my mom’s life were 1) her most productive in terms of what her business did and 2) her most productive in terms of what she gave back (both in charity & general spending). Oh, and then there’s how valuable she was IN HUMAN TERMS to her FAMILY and FRIENDS. Morgan, you are an assclown (end rant).

  22. Morgan Warstler says:

    Len, dropping the price of unlimited international calling to zero is the equivalent of thousands of dollars of yearly salary increase for everyone on the globe.

    You are upset because many people won’t use that benefit, that’s your mistake, instead of titlting at windmills that phone prices stay up, and everyone make an extra $5 a week, reverse it – spend your time TEACHING the poorest how to improve their lot with the new cheap tools at their disposal.

    That’s all I have for you, since the gmae appears to be rigged, and you appear to be losing… WHY don’t you spend you time teaching kids how to use the Internet to their greatest effect??? There is money laying on ground, they have to learn to pick it up, stop bitching about the system, and help them pick up the money.

    Said another way… don’t let any kid you know study anything other than science, technology, engineering, and math.

  23. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Yes, Len, God FORBID anyone get a liberal arts education and learn the tools later.

  24. JTMcPhee says:

    @Amber in Albuquerque
    If it ain’t monetizable, it ain’t valuable, according to the vaunted Economophlogistiains. C’mon, Amber, there is no place in the Quantitative Science of Econowhatever for Human anything.

  25. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Hey! I’ve done a helluva job monetizing my B.A. in English Literature. The fact that the liberal arts education has made me such a stellar example of humankind and so much fun to have at one’s dinner table is just a bonus. (Yes, I’m in full-on rant mode today—spoiling for a fight.)

  26. JTMcPhee says:

    @Roman On rubbish: people who study “squishy” areas like law and sociology and anthropology and such get this weird idea that there are several purposes to a “system of criminal justice” that relate somehow to some basic human notions and that stuff that John Campbell and others who sense the bigger realities find important. Like “deterrence,” and “restitution,” and of course that biggie that you and I would like to see more of, “retribution.” Folks like Pappy and Worgon want the “successful,” in their hoped-for New World Order, to be free and untrammeled by the pedestrian limits that would impede the apotheosis of John Galt.

  27. John Papola says:

    I agree with Amber that we should NOT denigrate liberal arts education. Rather, let’s stop subsidizing schools all together. They just capitalize the subsidies into higher tuition anyway. It’s a racket.

  28. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Be sure to read the article on growth, debt, and the World Bank (linked within the link above) too.

  29. len says:

    I just might, Morgan.

    But the best planned lays….

    In the last few weeks I built a simple MS Word to XML converter utility with some nice XSLT and other tidbits that reduced the work effort for our group by a factor of ten as well as increasing the quality by a similar ratio (eliminate hand jamming while automating reliability and it looks like magic). Net reward: fear, loathing, nastyness, threats. And so it goes. To those who manage a solution to a problem, defending the problem is survival. The first order of business is to pick those with whom you will do business.

    If you want to teach kids something that will produce more wealth, teach them to be unafraid. Make them understand why bullying is the way the less capable ruin their lives, steal their future and their opportunity. Without that knowledge, knowledge of math, science, engineering and the other shovels we use to dig trenches is just slave work because whether we want to admit it, the majority of the people we work with are afraid of the smart people.

    The first art is learning who to care about. Jon said it: to whom will one be vulnerable. And that is not learned in math class: that is what the humanities teach. Get cha some.

  30. len says:

    And from the actually creative community…


    Long but very well done.

  31. John Papola says:


    Len, I’m glad you like the American Dream film. A buddy of mine made that. It’s awesome. Yeah, he’s an Austrian-economics loving libertarian, which is why he’s focused on the REAL culprit behind our malformed political economy: the Fed and central banking at large.

    So lets all lock arms against the Fed. And while we’re at it, let’s first stop funneling billions of taxpayer dollars to “millionaire and billionaires” in the first place.


  32. Morgan Warstler says:

    len, thats how you can tell which few deserve a promotion, they are the ones cheering the time labor saving advance that frees up corporate resources for growth elsewhere.

    same coin, different side… Internet guy the other day lamented his biggest mistake was overhiring to get a job done faster – platform was built in php, and then when it was time to focus on other stuff he had too many PHP guys and not enough work.

    Found myself forced to stand around in an Apple store today. Yuck.

  33. len says:

    The problem is, Morgan, those who are not cheering are those that award promotions. The Idiocracy is firmly entrenched in American management and the birds of a feather phenomenon takes over. In contracting environments that work as designed, the market forces will indeed do the pruning. In the one we have today, they don’t. This isn’t about the middle class or the poor. This is precisely the voluntary association phenomenon at work. Yes, at some point, innovation overwhelms networks. We’ve all debated that to death in other industries. And throwing bodies at a problem is the worst decision one can make in an engineering environment unless the problem was properly divided already.

    Couldn’t agree more, Pap. Not sure what will be done about it but watching O’Reilly use his umbrella to bean the kid with the camera was a harbinger. The OWSsers aren’t going away and if the cops keep doing what they’ve been doing, we will see Great Britain at least and Syria at worst. The people are fed up.

  34. John Papola says:


    We are, more or less, on the same team. Is time to build a new consensus around monetary reform. I don’t think we’ll ever get our fiscal house in order so long as the printing press can monetize the debt. The Fed has bought something like 50% of the new treasury issues (via profiteering broker-dealers mind you) since the start of the downturn and panic.

    If a true majority votes for much bigger government, I will fight it, but at least so long as people PAY FOR IT, it’s legit. But inflating our way to bigger government is undemocratic fraud. People get to have their cake in the short run while a poisonous malinvestment ruins everything and the “broker dealers” make out like bandits on the bailouts and rate spreads and savers get hosed.

    Imagine a world where productivity gains that lower prices weren’t offset by increased prices of other goods due to inflation! You could save and actually earn a productivity driven return on your cash without putting at more risk speculating to outrun inflation.

    My one worry is that a left/right consensus will leave us not with a competitive banking system but with congress running the printing press and doing so the way they run the budget. Yikes.

    The crony banks need to be punished. We need to find a way to re-introduce market discipline into this system first. Any firm that’s taken a bailout should have to pay retroactive, cumulative penalty rates back into the treasury earmarked exclusively for reducing the deficit. Then we should strip the banks of corporate limited liability protection. Make these people personally responsible the way the free bankers of Scotland were and the old partnerships used to be. Fear failure, g-ddamit!

    Talk of glass/Steagall (which was largely irrelevant to this entire crisis despite its hobby-horse status on the left) or of “macro prudential regulation” and other pipe dreams of prior restraint are nonsense. These people need to know that running a ponzi scheme will leave them penniless in the end. Period. At that point, we really can end the Fed, the FDIC and the rest of the banker bailout machines that have ruined America.

  35. Jon Taplin says:

    I certainly think everyone is ignoring the point of my original post. If 2012 is a 99% vs 1% election, it will be impossible for Morgan to sow confusion as which side Barack and the Democratic Party are on. In fact the right wing nuts are backing the party so far into the corner that a ticket led by Gingrich could result in a 1964 Barry Goldwater disaster. We all went through these arguments four years ago and, despite equally vitriolic skepticism, I turned out to be right. Morgan and JP can make rational arguments that it doesn’t make sense to make polluters clean up the air just so some old fart might live a few more years, but that is a straw man. I’m talking about the Prisoner’s Dilemma here.

  36. len says:

    I think we get that, Jon. The question of the moment is will a Newt ticket drag the rest of the Republican races into the dumpter, a negative coat tails effect. One can hope because it is clear to most thinking people that the performance of the Republican Party has been aimed at destroying an administration and a man, not rebuilding America. No contest on that.

    As for four years ago, it turned out that Obama is not nearly the champion you wanted people to believe. He has been effective in some areas one being allowing the CIA and other agencies to eliminate al Qaeda. In this, he is not squeamish but then he is also not pulling the triggers. When it comes to the down and dirty fights it takes to work the Beltway, he is the amateur we told you he would be without the necessary machine in place. The Clintons’ and their people along with Biden have been saving his … administration.

    He gives good speeches. He keeps his cool in public (even when he should let the dogs out a bit). He hasn’t been caught screwing around. So he is better than the alternative and I am not disappointed.

    Is he able to see to justice and overhaul the system to address the accelerating problems brought about by social inequality in the face of a Republican agenda to fight any positive moves in that direction? We simply don’t know. So far, he has saved the automobile industry and thanks for that. The bailouts of the banks are a political disaster. Obamacare so far is a political disaster (can’t tell yet what a social gain it can be).

    So what we have is he has kept the train on the tracks going forward. That’s not bad but it is nothing at the level that enables you to say “I turned out to be right” even if in the long run you are.

    We are not a Greek Chorus. If that is what you need, go back to Hollywood. As honest kibitzers trying to help sort out positions, we are pretty useful and that shows in the changing rhetoric of the administration.

  37. John Papola says:

    Jon… how can you honestly claim that Obama and the democrats are any less a corrupt group of cronies for their wealthy buddies than the GOP? Give me a break.

    BOTH parties have a small group of decent people in their elected ranks who don’t appear to be crooks and aren’t lining crony pockets, and because of the dynamics of public choice, these groups on both sides are marginal. The worst get on top.

    That’s why you should be loudly condemning Obama, not giving in to your party allegiance and playing this stupid game. Again, if he doesn’t fear losing your support and people like you, he’s keep on being a corrupt, warmongering nightmare. Change the political incentives. Punish bad behavior. Or admit that your politics aren’t keeping up with your proclaimed ideals and that it’s just more fun to hack it up at election season.

  38. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Obama may convince many of the 99% to vote for him instead of Republican—so what? He won the election in ’08 w/out those people. I don’t see many Dems or Independents switching sides because as many here and elsewhere keep pointing out—The GOP is goin’ off the rails on a Crazy Train.

    The large point is Obama is clinging to the coat-tails of and his spinners are doing their damndest to identify him with OWS. But those of us who have been following and with this movement since the beginning (and emotionally and rhetorically since BEFORE the beginning) know that this is a lie. He’s more of the same—he’s the lesser of two evils.

    Len’s right about the Congressional elections too. It’s going to take a few House election cycles to see what, if any, change is effected, and while Obama may get the credit for leadership, we all know who finally goosed him into action.

  39. BERNARD. says:

    Obama is still is the best choice but as they say here in South America good intentions dont make you pregnant. But again looking at the other candidates … he is the best man and this last speech is right on the ticket.

  40. len says:

    Hillary Clinton gave a speech against the attempts to heavily regulate Internet content. This is the same bill that Rupert Murdoch just testified in support. The email I received a few minutes ago claims Hollywood is pushing for this bill hard.

    And this it where it gets tough for us, Jon: this is why they call y’all limousine liberals. In situations like this, the wealth you have to defend because it is yours or your friend’s puts you in the same camp the OWSers and others are trying to change. What’s it going to take to get y’all to pick a set of values and stick with them? I’m not sure how credible it is if you want the same things but are simply nicer about it. Is it a matter of scale? Of origin?

    I don’t think you are crooks. I do think you earned what you have. I do understand better than most the problems of content piracy. I don’t believe an ISP tax is a solution we can live with. I do see companies like Google making it possible to profit by the allowing the mashups. Then something like this bill comes along and Obama stays home while Hillary fights the good fight.

    Sigh… too many wrinkles for one universe.

    As for Congress, they really need to experience a mass plank walking so they will understand once and for all what the pirate polifix is all about. Fire them all and barring that, as many as can be turned over in a single election, a mass layoff like the rest of us have experienced so they will finally understand that “WE” really are their bosses, not the banks, not the Hollywood moguls, and not the syncophant lobbyists. Time to clear the decks of the riff raff. People say it can’t happen. People can be wrong. It can. And it should. We want our country back.

  41. Alex Bowles says:

    @len Here’s a wrinkle that’s bigger than most. And neither Obama nor his crystallizing opposition seem to have any interest in flattening it.


  42. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Fire them all. Start at the top. Can we write in another Democrat? Hillary? Bill? Elizabeth Warren?

  43. len says:

    @alex: If the bit about the FEMA camps is so, this gets deep and nasty fast.

    This morning CNN reported on the Occupy Boston camps. They said the ‘squatters were evicted”. After that they reported the “russian protesters may keep the pressure on Putin into next year”. Putin says a conspiracy is emanating from America and for once in his evil life, he may be right. Bill O’Reilly led with the story of how the OWS movement is fading an evening after he used his umbrella to swat a kid with a camera who followed him from a Newt Gingrich fund raiser, and in the same broadcast talked Newt down.

    Who do they think they are fooling?

  44. JTMcPhee says:

    Anyone else got any proofs to offer that there’s enough homeostatic good left in the going-on-7-billion of us to warrant any conclusion other than, in so many ways, down so many possible futures, we are failed, as the young people say, or “fu**ed,” in several of the various definitions of that word from my and previous generations? Other than maybe being able to mitigate a few of the worst likely effects of the net vector of us humans, on a little local basis? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go0F-rD2VXI

    I wonder what the world would be like if John Bolton actually floated like a steaming turd in a cesspit to the elevated position of Secretary of State?

    Wonder where the imams got the notion that dangling a possible “72 virgins” was a good incentive to youngsters to achieve a kind of immor(t)ality via Jihadicide-by-boomvest? “Down into the bunker… 10 females to each male…” Is that what Joseph John Campbell would call a “myth?” And the New People apparently call a “meme?”

    Time to go re-read Sun Tzu…

  45. Morgan Warstler says:


    Things are great.

    In 7 years, pretty much even the poorest Americans will have something better than an Android / iPhone.

    What else do you want? it is a magic tool of infinite resourcefulness… anyone with gumption can pilot one to a better life.

    What exactly do you want, more hugs?

    There’s less crime, there’s smarter kids, your generation matters less and less, and all this shit is you guys fault – things are great long term.

    I keep trying to figure out a way your generation can atone for what you have done… I’m still stuck noodling that one.

  46. JTMcPhee says:

    Worgon the One
    Note. Too bad that’s all you got.

  47. Morgan Warstler says:

    Don’t be touchy JTM.

  48. JTMcPhee says:

    @Morgan Warstler

    May I start with a drone-directed link drop? http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/why-irsquom-leaving-the-military/1205565 Now there’s somebody who will be doing some atoning for what he and his cohorts are up to, albeit with a nice pension to pad out his miserly teaching paycheck, though my guess that as a matter of scale, his participation in the military aristocracy and the effects it has had on the country and the planet will dwarf anything he can impart by way of amelioration as a teacher and coach. Too bad that people with your flavor of self-serving motivations will be left even more secure in their hag-rider positions, bleeding us and our stupid children ad terminum.

    Not touchy, bunkie– just foolishly interested in the fate of the species. And foolish enough to engage with you at all — on reflection, it’s kind of like scratching my fingernails down a blackboard. Maybe it’s just your particular genetic lineage, but I sure don’t see kids getting any smarter. Less crime? I guess that depends on what you define as “crime,” which I bet does not include the exotic realm of shenanimoneyganism. My local paper has a weekly listing of blotter entries for our local ZIP codes, and it never gets any smaller, and its web site links to the local jails, with pics and charges for a huge number of our fellow citizens who steal, beat, stab, inebriate and all the rest of Cainism’s sorry catalog, in a steady, self-renewing stream.

    My generation is not the one that has fucked the planet or made it possible for toxic parasites like yourself to “prosper.” And I’m just, like, totally LMFAO fer sure all those “smart poor kids” with their Smart iPhones are just going to wander around even more efficiently than you claim to have figured out how to do, picking up the “money” that is just lying around on the ground. Or maybe it will just be that vulpine subset that you favor.

    It strikes me that you and folks like you, Breitbart et so many al., are kind of like toenail fungus — once they get a “toehold,” neither topical nor systemic therapies will extirpate them. Speaking of systemic diseases and the debate over the existence and immanence of evil, are you rooting for Gingrich?

  49. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    You know who’s gonna be richer and better off (still not admitting that those two are the same thing) when even the poor kids have iPhones? Apple—but not nearly as much as AT&T & Verizon—because don’t forget, it’s not just the device, it’s the $100/month data plan.

    And OMG, Morgan iPhone=happiness? That’s as stupid as the last years of life = worth less argument you made earlier. Like JTMc said, that all you got. Your life is rich indeed. I think I’ll take poverty.

  50. Morgan Warstler says:

    No Amber, iphone does not equal happiness, iphone = NO EXCUSES.

    There is a moment, soon it be long past where the technology and access to the worlds data is low cost enough, that we can simply get the most out of ourselves as a people, by saying to any and all…

    you have the low cost tools, you are to blame if you don’t use them.

    this is not to say that helping others make use of these tools, learn, etc. isn’t nice, but it is to say that the barrier to entry is not so high, that a a bunch of self serving lefties will get away with saying it is mostly on us to help, and not more on people to help themselves.

    My interest is just in squelching the low moans of the indignant.

    The Internet is almost at that point. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

  51. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Well, clearly you haven’t seen the phone bill (or the level of access) for my most rural office. I see some of your point (if you have an iPhone and cheap access then you have no excuse for not learning Spanish or not learning English or whatever). But I also KNOW that what’s “inexpensive” to those of us here (and YOU KNOW I’ve said this many times) is NOT inexpensive (or even conceivable) to many others. Cities are one thing. The Navajo reservation or ranch country in Nevada is entirely another. Sure, all the people in those areas can get phones, but to USE the phones they have to leave home and stay gone. That’s not much of a choice (IMO anyway).

  52. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    I’ve also seen the “you have the tool–no excuses” theory in action. People will rationalize themselves out of getting off their asses and helping themselves. Makes me mad enough to spit and does bring out the Morgan side in me. I just don’t have any reliable data as to how many people (besides the one I’m thinking of right now) are given the tools and still insist on whining and how many remain legitimately underserved in some way. Baby, bathwater, all that stuff.

  53. len says:

    Another viewpoint making the rounds on Facebook: chris hedges on the death of the liberal class as inverted totalitarianism. The advice is what it has been: go local. Beyond that, it’s a litany of hopelessness not very enamored of Obama. What to do? Doesn’t seem to have a plan.

    Exactly what does one do to rebalance a system that seems to have locked-in to a permanent inequality, where meeting immediate needs precludes any changes for a better future and leadership becomes a carefully scripted brand for avoiding responsibility?

    We shrug our way through the season as Cindy Lou Who hands the Grinch an ornament with a lighted fuse.

  54. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Wow. Look at that sea of old, white faces. This entire discussion (Obama vs. whoever) is getting really tired.

  55. len says:

    @amber: Erasing polarization restores interference. Better sunglasses increase identifying spin. :)

  56. JTMcPhee says:

    Amber, you want to remark on a sea of old, white faces, go to a Tea Party function, or tune in any of the Prosperity Theologians on the FPN (False Prophet Network.) But there’s old, white faces at Occupy functions too. It’s not a physical-age, calendar-age kind of set of observations and connections. It seems to me it’s about spiritual poverty, failure of meaning, and not having the tools to deal with “uneven distributionarial tendencies” and the long steady-fits-and-starts decline of a money-driven structure based on Consumptive MORE-ism.

    We are perforce all in this together, and: There’s enough to go around, to satisfy the physical needs well enough to allow attention to the spiritual needs. And then there’s Gingrich and Putin and Cheney and Ahmadingadong and all the rest of that set, who are more interested in speeding us along, for their personal benefits, the path to Ragnarök. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar%C3%B6k Looks like it could be a whole lotta redneck fun — http://jungcurrents.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/norse-ragnorak-jungcurrents.jpg

    Of course the little bit that fits in a blog comment like this is only an errant Brownian particle in a much larger set of motions. Spinning or just bumping around.

  57. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    I don’t object, in principal, to old white faces. But yeah, the Tea Party seems dominated by them too. My larger point is it seems (to me anyway) to be the “old white faces” who are insisting on defining what’s going on in the same old terms, when to my (slightly younger white face) the entire frame of reference is shifting (or disintegrating). Really, in the 2012 Presidential race is Democrat vs. Republican the gist of the conversation—I don’t think so. Then again, I’ve been wrong before.

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