Ryan’s World

From all the press coverage over the weekend, you would think that Paul Ryan was at the top of the Republican ticket. For those of us who have been having an intellectual battle with Libertarians for the past few years, it seems like this election might really be a referendum on the Koch Brothers Anarcho-Capitalist philosophy. Certainly Ryan is their favorite politician and water carrier as the Times points out this morning.

Less well-known are Mr. Ryan’s close ties to the donors and activists who have channeled Tea Party anger into a $400 million political machine, financed by a network of conservative and libertarian donors that now rivals, and occasionally challenges, the Republican establishment behind Mr. Romney.

Mr. Ryan is one of a very few elected officials who have attended the Kochs’ biannual conferences, where wealthy donors sit in on seminars on runaway government spending and the myths of climate change.

But it would be a mistake to focus on just Ryan’s efforts to bring an Ayn Randian philosophy to government where the Vice President would lecture the welfare “looters and moochers” in the language of John Galt, “We have no demands to present you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.” Ryan’s view of America as the continuing unpaid policeman of the world is pure Neocon, as the Wall Street Journal points out with pride this morning in a piece called “Paul Ryan’s Neocon Manifesto”.

Also, that he believes in free trade, a strong defense, engagement with our allies—and expectations of them. Also, that he wants America to stay and win in Afghanistan. Furthermore, that he supports the “arduous task of building free societies,” even as he harbored early doubts the Arab Spring was the vehicle for building free societies.

It tells us also that Mr. Ryan has an astute understanding of the fundamental challenge of China. “The key question for American policy makers,” he said, “is whether we are competing with China for leadership of the international system or against them over the fundamental nature of that system.”

But as Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman points out this morning, the Ryan-Romney continuation of Neocon vision is a one way trip to nowhere.

Mr. Ryan professes to be a defense hawk, though the true conservatives of modern times — Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Robert A. Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, even Gerald R. Ford — would have had no use for the neoconconservative imperialism that the G.O.P. cobbled from policy salons run by Irving Kristol’s ex-Trotskyites three decades ago. These doctrines now saddle our bankrupt nation with a roughly $775 billion “defense” budget in a world where we have no advanced industrial state enemies and have been fired (appropriately) as the global policeman.

Indeed, adjusted for inflation, today’s national security budget is nearly double Eisenhower’s when he left office in 1961 (about $400 billion in today’s dollars) — a level Ike deemed sufficient to contain the very real Soviet nuclear threat in the era just after Sputnik. By contrast, the Romney-Ryan version of shrinking Big Government is to increase our already outlandish warfare-state budget and risk even more spending by saber-rattling at a benighted but irrelevant Iran.

Ryan may be put forth as the soul of midwestern Catholic probity, but even in this pose, questions are being raised.

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, sold stock in US banks on the same day he attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis.

The congressman on Monday denied profiting from information gleaned from the meeting on 18 September 2008 when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, then treasury secretary Hank Paulson and others outlined their fears for the banking sector. His office said he had no control over the trades.

Public records show that on the same day as the meeting, Ryan sold stock in troubled banks including Wachovia and Citigroup and bought shares in Goldman Sachs, Paulson’s old employer and a bank that had been disclosed to be stronger than many of its rivals.

If Ryan’s excuse that this was not insider trading was that the trades were executed by his representative, can he swear that he had no communication with that representative after the meeting with Bernanke and Paulson? Ryan has boasted that he is an active investor and trader. Why all of a sudden does he act like his assets are in a blind trust? He will need to answer these questions.

As I said at the top, I welcome the addition of Ryan to the ticket. Romney was a total mushburger on policy, hoping to coast to the Presidency on Obama animosity. He realized that strategy was not working and has now thrown his fate to the ideas and pocketbook of the Koch Brothers. The election will decide whether we live in a democracy or an oligarchy;in a 21st Century world or a 19th Century fantasy.

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93 Responses to Ryan’s World

  1. Percival says:

    Bad luck for Mittens that he isn’t running a professional campaign, and is up against Barack Obama and David Axelrod. To have let himself be driven to Ryan by the far right, forcing a primary-style base-only campaign and kissing goodbye to any independents and crossover vote… This election may go down as the GOP’s equivalent to 1972 for the Democrats. If so, it may cost them a dozen years in the wilderness before they can get back in.

  2. len says:

    You can’t say you believe in Objectivism and Christianity without crossing your fingers behind your back. That’s fine. Bagging him on that won’t have much impact except among those who are trying to do exactly that and they are TJ Maxx shoppers: long on talk; short on walk. But the “We are in this together” vs. “I got mine” thing will stick.

    The difficult one is explaining that being a job creator and a value creator are distinct.

  3. Jon Taplin says:

    @len I would say that Paul Ryan must have to give a speech with his hands behind his back.

  4. Alex Bowles says:

    @len The only thing that creates jobs is sales.

  5. len says:

    You would be right, Jon. He might be able to talk around either of them but together they are chinese handcuffs. It’s tough to say you are against social security when it paid for your college education, or that medicaid is bad when Ayn Rand used it to pay her bills. As I said, “I got mine”. At the edges, the bromance stuff won’t play well in Mobile.

    The fresh pix on FB are hilarious and pointed. The problem of having most of the talented and witty artists against you is the speed and humor with which they respond. And as we know, that is very corrosive.

    I can’t wait for the debates. They may be better than the Olympics although I don’t think either party can best England for the over-the-top closing ceremonies. I do hope they try.

  6. len says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Sales go further if you create value first. That was the lesson Steve Jobs got exactly right. We don’t want a recovery based on fast food and bad teeth. Anyone can claim to be a job creator or wealth creator. Sell stolen tires or illegal drugs. Creating value is a much tougher challenge.

  7. bernard says:

    Interesting post John. Seems to me that we all have problems with our leaders. There must be a better way.

  8. Alex Bowles says:

    @len Oh sure. My point, simply, is that individuals who call themselves job creators (i.e. take all the credit for growing employment) are full of it. Jobs are produced when and where smart capital, skilled craftspeople, and solvent customers coincide. It takes all three, and no one party can make up for the loss of one, let alone two.

    Put differently, the guy calling himself a “job creator” is like one leg on a stool pointing at the other two and saying “ignore them, they don’t do a thing.” And a political party that panders to people like this just amplifies an already bad distortion. Unless these “job creators” are also their own, exclusive customers, they need to be called out for what is clearly nonsense – especially when they’re asking for special privileges, like lower taxes, in deference to “special status” they don’t actually have, because it doesn’t exist.

    Indeed, this is the exact conceit that props us the “You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you” attitude. Demolishing the “job creator” myth is a big part of dispensing with Rand’s pernicious influence in general. So repeat it early and repeat it often: the only thing that creates jobs is sales.

  9. Alex Bowles says:

    Imagine how we’d look at the limping economy if we focused on growing sales, not jobs. Inflating a new credit bubble wouldn’t cut it, not with the existing overhang of household debt would looming front and center. Rather, we’d see that getting rid of that was priority one, and that jailing enough banksters to restore faith in the public markets was problem two. Once people have recovered the ability and comfort needed to spend and invest, they’ll do both. Recovery – and new jobs – will follow quickly and naturally.

    But as long as we keep the cart in front of the horse by “focusing on jobs” in an over-leveraged economy, progress will be slow and painful at best. So if tax breaks are needed, they should go, first and foremost, to those deepest in debt, and they should be used, exclusively, to pay down this debt. Aside from restoring discretionary income, and basic security, it gives people the freedom to respond to opportunity where and when it emerges. Homeowners too far underwater to move to more promising job markets are another drag on the economy.

  10. Rick Turner says:

    There would be plenty of jobs if the MICC budget turned toward infrastructure in the US. Better roads, high speed rail, a “smart ” electric grid, R&D dollars taken from weapons and put into alternative energy, high tech batteries (and don’t sell the company to the Chinese…), free wi-fi for all, bringing the Post Office up to the level of UPS or FedEx, and along the way, make it easier to fire public employees, put in incentives for productivity among civil servants (and remind them that they work for US), can Citizens United, make elections be funded with public funds, make voting mandatory, institute single payer universal health care, rein in lobbying, and just make me the absolute dictator, and all will be done within two years and in ten years, no country in the world will want a different system than ours.

    Oh, remove tax breaks for church property, and free birth control for all…

  11. len says:

    But Rick, the Army is bringing back Zep Liners. Beautiful big balloons floating gracefully over the horizon, persistently staring for 21 days at a time.

    Google LEMV. :)

  12. John Papola says:

    Yep. Paul Ryan is an anarcho-capitalist. Sure, he voted for Medicare Part-D, No Child Left Behind, BOTH wars, the Bush “stimulus” scam… oh yes… and his so-called “radical” budget INCREASES spending. Yep. Read that again. Paul Ryan’s budget increases spending.

    To assert that “it seems like this election might really be a referendum on the Koch Brothers Anarcho-Capitalist philosophy.” is absolutely counter to any reasonable assessment of actual reality here on earth, Jon.

    Paul Ryan is no libertarian. Rand Paul’s budget was actually a real, serious proposal that actually did make real, serious cuts in spending. And, of course, Ron Paul has attacked Paul Ryan not just for increasing spending but for prioritizing our wasteful, dangerous war machine over existing social programs such as maintaining Obamacare’s large and fraudulently double-counted Medicare cuts.


    Jon, this post has depth comparable to what one could glean by solely reading the titles of articles on Huffington Post for two days. Do you honestly believe what you’re writing? If so, please demonstrate how Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, given the ACTUAL RECORD, could possibly be a referendum on “anarcho-capitalim”. Please. Because as one of the tiny handful of people who’ve actually read anarcho-capitalist literature and appreciate it while also appreciating how incredibly radical it is, I find your assertions here utterly insane.

    Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are all talk on small government. ALL TALK. Ryan played a crucial role in torpedoing conservative resistance to the TARP (remember when conservative house members shot down the first TARP and the economy DIDN’T end on monday?).

    Libetarianism isn’t on trial in this election. It’s not on the ticket. It’s not under any real consideration at all by any the various power elites in play. You know, the ones who flew in to Aspen to pretend like they have a clue what’s going on in the world?

    If Paul Ryan has attended some Koch event or paid any attention to any of the organizations they support, he sure as hell hasn’t incorporated those ideas into any of his actions or policy proposals to any large degree. Did I mention that Obamacare already cut somewhere north of half a trillion out of the existing Medicare system and then double count it against the new entitlement AND “deficit reduction”? Does anyone find it odd that the guy who really cuts Medicare gets to bash the other guys for the same thing? Weird, right? Am I misinformed about the facts here? Or is the entire public debate of this election, parroted without any self-awareness on this blog from time to time, essentially built on fraud?

  13. John Papola says:

    And yes, I’m voting for Gary Johnson, if I remember to register here in Texas before election day.

  14. bernard says:

    I am not going to vote for no one . there is no passion only economics. Fuck that. I don’t give a fuck about jobs. Give me an illusion… of a world without wars.

  15. John Papola says:

    Here Here, Bernard.

  16. John Papola says:

    And, again Jon, rothbardians and market anarchists “favorite politician” is unquestionably Ron Paul. I should know. I think I’m Facebook friends within two degrees of separation with a sizable majority of them. Paul Ryan ain’t giving my friends any tingles up their leg.

  17. Rick Turner says:

    One of the biggest problems with Ron Paul is that he’s got the curb appeal of a Ralph Nader. Sorry, but it is a beauty contest to a certain degree. It’s also a “who you’d want to share a place at the bar with” thing. Sorry, but that’s the reality of how people get elected these days. The thing that may kill the Repubs chance is the assault on Social Security and MediCare. The promise of not fucking with anyone over 55 is a weak bribe. And once again, reduce the military budget by 50% and there would be plenty of dough for other things that would enrich us all as a society. Hell, the military contractors could turn their sights to a swords into plowshares vision…

  18. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner I agree that Ron Paul is not as traditionally appealing and obviously he lost the primary election so he’s not an option. But he IS the most libertarian candidate in actual reality besides Gary Johnson, who is totally awesome and was completely screwed over by the debate process. Johnson was a successful entrepreneur AND a great two-term governor in a state that has a majority of Democrats, voting wise.

    The narrative that Paul Ryan is a real serious libertarian candidate required either ignorance or deception in order to maintain and assert. That’s my only real point in bringing up Ron and the Kochs.

    As for military spending, Gary Johnson has actually said he’d cut it in half. So you should vote for him as I will. But that’s NOT going to leave a surplus in the treasury, even if you increase taxes the top tax bracket to 40% (which is estimated to increase revenue by less than 100 billion per year). Look at the Obama deficits. We’re over 1 trillion per year. If you disbanded the entire military, the government would still have a deficit. Now, some of this would improve if unemployment came back down from depression levels (which at this stage is largely the fault of Obama’s policies). But you wouldn’t suddenly have a huge surplus to go on even more spending sprees at the Federal level.

    Check out Gary Johnson and his record if you want to vote for someone who isn’t a complete and total fraud this year.

  19. len says:

    The records show Obama has the lowest spending of any President in recent history. The claim that unemployment is largely the fault of Obama policies isn’t supported by the facts. The deficit is attributable to two wars paid for on credit simultaneously (sorry neocons, military capacity does not indicate cost capacity so a two front strategy for planning doesn’t mean you can do it for free) and the Bush Tax Cuts.

    Healthcare is a separate problem. We’ve known for forty years what was coming and we kept kicking the ball down the road. Affordable Health Care isn’t perfect but it’s a start and we are better off getting to it than continuing the Republican policies for ignoring it because well, it only hurts the people who can’t afford privately funded care and we as the wealthy will always have enough money.

    It really is “we’re in this together” vs “I got mine”. Libertarians are a side show. They don’t actually have a plan. They have an ideological list of grievances that amount to “why won’t the world work as it ought”. Ought is a well-know fallacy.

    We don’t need another band-aid steal from Peter to pay Paul solution. That’s kicking the ball. We need a solution that creates value. It’s easy to say “sales” and people will accept that but it is flawed over the long term. The Japanese tried that and failed. The Chinese are doing that and creating a long term social nightmare that scares the hell out of their elite as well as poisoning the environment.

    Aside but ironic: the very means that created the American century, industrialization and militarization are now poisoning it and moving the climate-based market to Canada.

  20. JTMcPhee says:

    @Rick Turner
    As to military contractors ever doing a pivot to plowshares, maybe len has the inside insights on how that might happen.

    But it seems to me that there’s millions of people drawing paychecks from the huge spigot at the War Department, a spigot that’s directly connected to the descending aorta of the ol’ body politic (the one that actually pays all those taxes), millions of people who have mastered a dialect and a dialectic and incorporated into their neurons and souls that notion that money + “innovation” + really cool strategies + persistence = “winning” + (continued support of their comfortable middle-class lifestyles) + (freedom from consequences for fraud, incompetence and inutility, see e.g. http://defense.aol.com/2012/01/25/pentagon-mothballs-air-force-global-hawk/) + (minimal competence requirements over freedom from “market competition”).

    All in a world market that also, thanks to the seductions of the “military-state security solution” mentality (aimed at keeping the wealth flowing into more of the same), is addicted to “more of the same. Lots more. “Terminator”-class more of the same.

    One might pray for that one crystal of perfect refinement, that catalytic bit of the Golden Rule, that on being dropped into the supersaturated shitsolution that is our presently fucked-up-and-getting-worse human-dominionated world. would impel that change to Something Actually Wonderful. Prayer offered, with the knowledge that G_d works in mysterious ways indeed…

    Glad to see Papola is back, with his quiver of darts replenished. Hope he enjoyed his stint as lurker, and a brief vacation from a role as inviting target. Glass houses and throwing stones, pot and kettle, all that kind of jejune fun.

  21. Alex Bowles says:

    @len Just to be clear, I was insisting that sales are the only actual job creators, not that sales fix everything. For that, we need to dispense with the mountain of toxic paper that’s at both the heart of all that’s wrong now, and threatening to make our existing problems worse. The fact that it’s been contained this long is a minor miracle, but I have no confidence that the underlying issue is actually resolving itself.

    Back in 2009, Hernando de Soto made this observation. Disconcertingly, it holds true today.

    Still another challenge to Obama is that many of those involved in resolving the crisis now claim that it is virtually impossible to identify and value all the toxic paper now on the financial institutions’ books. Yet in the past U.S. and European lawyers and bureaucrats have proved brilliant at sorting out toxic paper whether it referred to bad debt, confusing claims or opaque legislation. In doing so, they have untangled claims after the California gold rush, picked up the pieces of Europe’s crumbling precapitalist order, converted Japan’s feudal enclaves into a market economy after World War II and reunified Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. That’s the process of capitalism: continuous detoxification. And we’re hard at it today, too, in developing countries, searching for toxic paper in our shadow econ-omies—informal titles, licenses, contracts, laundered money and identity documents —in an effort to bring their people into the mainstream.

    The Obama rescue plan must also recognize that governments can no longer delegate the solution exclusively to financial specialists who operate within the narrow context of the derivatives market. As it now stands, the law that governs derivatives lacks the standards required to keep paper tethered to reality, the indicators to size up the damage and the tools to sort out the growing conflicts of interest between the holders of derivative paper and the rest of society. Nor does the financial community have the inclination, the incentives or the economic interest for such a down-and-dirty job.

    It has always been government’s role to establish standards, set and enforce weights and measures, keep records and bring every shadow economy under the rule of law. Escaping this recession requires restoring order, precision and trust to financial paper. That will be a daunting legal and political challenge. But the hard decisions about locating, valuing, and isolating the toxic paper, and figuring out who will foot the bill for the losses—taxpayers, banks or vulture capitalists— will be easier to make the sooner politicians realize that the alternative could be the collapse of the very system that has generated the most prosperity in history—and all hell breaking loose.

    This hasn’t happened. And we won’t be out of the woods until it does. Indeed, what I was saying about juicing sales by through a massive write down in household debt is an example of taxpayers rejecting the bill. Rest assured, this is the very last thing Romney would do with the Oval Office. My question is what incentive, if any, does Obama have to make the toxic paper problem the focus on his second term? In other words, will he settle for stabilizing the patient and hope that someone else comes along in time to do the even harder work of restoring it to health? Or will he recognize the unregulated derivatives market is for the cancer it is, and kill it before it kills everything? Four years is a long time to keep your fingers crossed, just hoping for the best.

  22. len says:

    No it hasn’t. This is a decent example of seeking value first: value adds resilience to a system. Sales only returns abstract money. Value makes a system healthier. Money makes the owner of the system wealthier. This is not subtle but why we have to be cognizant because too often we see a sales sheet and believe the black ink makes a company healthy when actually it is it poisoning itself (see remark about industrialization).

    So the products use a “standard” called FpML, a means to create and circulate financial instruments for derivatives. It should be possible to express constraints that keep these from becoming “toxic”.

    Guess what? FpML is not required to use local enumerations (lists of local values that may be stable or change at some frequency such as interest rates). If it did that, we might have a fast, effective value-add way to sort out the toxic paper because the constraints both monotonic and co-ocurrence would be related BY the standard. I’ve been having this discussion over at XML-Dev under the guise of moving to XML Schema 1.1 where co-occurrence constraints are expressible with someone actively developing FpML.

    Let me quote myself from there: (apologies in advance if this is techy speak, but particularly on XML-Dev, precision is absolutely required if you want anyone to talk to you):

    A user of a financial instrument should be able to point directly to the exact requirement for the value lists and any constraints.

    I may be ill-informed but I think FpML is used for derivatives. Can FpML describe interest rate swaps? If so:


    The URL is to a report about some lawsuits between the California State and JP Morgan given the conditions of certain swaps. Developer replies:

    Yep FpML is used for all types of swaps and other derivatives, but there is nothing contract specific about it. That’s more likely to be built into the trading system than the serialisation format.

    For technical reasons that is bad news. It’s now a lot harder to find the conditions that prevailed when the paper turned “toxic”. It is important to note who the actual customer is for FpML: J.P. Morgan not the governing or regulating bodies. My reply:

    So the data of note to the lawsuit (the interest rate) is in the application, not the document exchanged in FpML.

    O The application is customized per location.

    O Anyone looking for the evidence trail can’t use the record transactions per FpML

    O FpML cannot be cited as the standard for regulated trading.

    They do mean “private” trading. No wonder Italy and Greece are hosed.

    Again, this is of interest to those who might claim the use of XML ensures or enhances transparency and traceability per regulatory constraints. It can but the claims may not meet implementation constraints.

    Here are the Wikipedia claims (not authoritative, of course):

    “All categories of privately negotiated derivatives will eventually be included within the standard. The standard is managed by ISDA on behalf of a community of investment banks that make a market in OTC derivatives.

    The FpML standard was first published by JP Morgan and PricewaterhouseCoopers on 9 June 1999 in a paper titled “Introducing FpML: A New Standard for E-commerce”. As a result, the FpML standards committee was founded.

    As of October 2009 FpML 4.7 is the latest [Recommendation] version. The core scope includes the products of Foreign Exchange (FX) Swaps and Options, Interest Rate Swaps, Inflation Swaps, Asset Swaps, Swaptions, Credit Default Swaps, Credit Default Swap Indices, Credit Default Swap Baskets, Tranches on Credit Default Swap Indices, Equity Options, Equity Swaps, Total Return Swaps, and many others. The core processes include trading, valuation, confirmation, novations, increases, amendments, terminations, allocations, position reporting, cash flow matching, a formal definition of party roles, as well as trade notification between asset managers and custodians.”

    The document likely (someone would have to look) contains the interest rate but a constraint by reference to the governing laws through the value list isn’t there. In principle, XML Schema 1.1 can do that. In practice, FpML doesn’t.

    And this is a good example of where value and sales are not coherent or mutually-reinforcing. As noted by others, making derivatives easy to understand and transparent fraks up the game of profits and sales.

  23. John Papola says:

    Despite our various differences in opinion over the governance of Barack Obama and the ultimately unprovable and unfalsifiable theories about what is impacting our macroeconomic situation… can we all at least agree that it’s pretty much BATSHIT CRAZY to call a Romney/Ryan ticket a “a referendum on the Koch Brothers Anarcho-Capitalist philosophy”?

  24. Rick Turner says:

    Pap, when the Koch brothers stop throwing millions toward the Romney/Ryan ticket, THEN we can declare it not to be a referendum on their batshit crazy 1% solution.

    I’d still like to know why anyone thinks that libertarianism can actually work…given real people, real greed, real theft, real power-mad politicians, and real “lead-em-by-the-nose” paranoids who vote…or who are ruled by dictatorships. It’s so Utopian as to be the product of a drug addled brain… You seem to forget basic flawed human nature as is evidenced in Nazi Germany, Uganda, Somalia, Fascist Italy, Junta-ruled Argentina, Franco-era Spain, Pol Pot Cambodia, the Soviet Union, red China, OK, I’m getting tired of typing… But this is the reality of human kind…we just aren’t ready yet for either pure communism OR pure libertarianism OR pure anarchy. We seem to need…at best…benevolent strong governing. We need a reasonable social safety net.

    And jobs? I still think the future holds high unemployment as a norm as long as a 40 hour week is standard. We as a society simply do not need all the goods that full employment could and would produce. We probably really need shorter work weeks as the norm, higher hourly wages, and that might lead to closer to full employment. Then we need better leisure time pursuits, a beautiful environment, and better education for all.

    If the current real level of unemployment is around 15%, then we could solve the problem by going to a 34 hour work week…and adjust wages accordingly…and pull back on the stupid level of high executive compensation that has become the norm. Yeah, redistribute the wealth a bit.

  25. len says:

    Now they are cranking up the Swift boats. And a guy opened up on the Family Research Council. Romney is saying the Democrats are spreading hate. Wow… hypocrisy and lies you could float a carrier on if carriers floated on an ocean of shit.

    The mean drum is getting louder. The parking lot is getting spooky. Not good.

    Now I know why composers drank heavily and did laudanam.

  26. Fentex says:

     can we all at least agree that it’s pretty much BATSHIT CRAZY to call a Romney/Ryan ticket a “a referendum on the Koch Brothers Anarcho-Capitalist philosophy”?

    Romney, Ryan and the Koch brothers clearly have common cause whether one would describe it as Anarcho Capitalism (I wouldn’t, I don’t think they’re that principled) and I think it does look like the coming election will be a referendum on that cause as people interpret it, which I suspect from my vantage is generally going to be about how much does wealth owe to the community it grows out of.

  27. len says:

    how much does wealth owe to the community it grows out of.

    “We are in this together” vs “I got mine”

    When I worked at Intergraph a senior manager told me “If it’s legal, we’ll do it.” Last night Ann Romney repeated the phrase “We’ve told you what we are legally required to. That’s all you get”.

    In the Mormon faith they teach that the devout do “what is right”.

    So what DO they owe to the community it grows out of and given their answer, did that earn them our confidence in their capacity to lead? We don’t pick a president by the same rules we use to pay our taxes. It’s a choice of confidence in leadership given the times we are living in not a choice of which bills we pay first this month.

  28. len says:

    If the current real level of unemployment is around 15%, then we could solve the problem by going to a 34 hour work week…

    The math is good; it doesn’t apply. If declining work numbers are a function of applicable skill levels. then this solution would work like other socially engineered applications: as employment increases, overall competence falls. We have to work from two ends of the problem: available jobs to available skills. Someone pointed out this morning that focusing education on very high end skills (advanced nuclear physics) or difficult to get a job skills (media communications) will not be as effective as increasing support for community colleges that teach office computer skills. I’d throw in a dose of basic math and english but that’s because I see on a daily basis what happens when people rely a little too much on spell checkers and spreadsheets.

    We need a leader for the times.

  29. morgan s warstler says:

    Rick, you highlight EXACTLY the problem that bernard faces.

    It gets the heart of what I think happens with folks who are ok with Ryan on his military stuff.

    you do not let the choice be:


    You insist it has to be


    The thing is plenty of folks left ot their own greedy devices would happily choose

    LOWER TAXES – and accept LESS GUNS

    but since Rick Turner is going to steal those lower taxes and spend it on BUTTER…

    well screw Rick, we might as well spend it on GUNS.


    people are ANTI-BUTTER

    They HATE butter. More butter is whats wrong with what has been happening to America!

    This is the mindset.

    You face this mindset.

    So you, Rick Turner, you face a very real dilemma.

    You cannot have MORE BUTTER (there are ways to get some, I will explan, but they are based on running govt. far more efficiently)

    BUT, Rick – you can have LESS GUNS.

    But to have LESS GUNS, you have to cheer for LOWER TAXES – you have to give the peace dividend back to the top 1/3 of Americans that pay the income taxes.

    So, while you get no more BUTTER, you can get LESS GUNS!!!!

    Do you want LESS GUNS Rick Turner?

    Why can’t you take that half-a-loaf deal, and at least be glad we aren’t off policing the world???

    Why do you not trade away your perfect world fantasy, for one that is achievable?

    Libertarians will give you that half a loaf, Rick.

    And once you switch teams, you’ll see how many PRO GUN guys are really just ANTI-BUTTER.

    It will surprise you Rick.

  30. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner ,

    You seem to forget basic flawed human nature as is evidenced in Nazi Germany, Uganda, Somalia, Fascist Italy, Junta-ruled Argentina, Franco-era Spain, Pol Pot Cambodia, the Soviet Union, red China, OK, I’m getting tired of typing…

    You do realize that this is a laundry list of the MOST statist/socialist, anti-libertarian regime in modern history, right? Are you sure that you’re not arguing FOR libertarianism and AGAINST strong government power?

  31. John Papola says:

    Somalia is an exception, to the big-government problem. It’s just a failed state.

  32. len says:

    @John Papola

    And a state where 1% have all the power but the vote and they are spending to overcome that little trifle, you somehow think the US is “exceptional”?

    I’m an American fan but we are in what the sports folk call a “team building” season. We are facing an election where one guy wants to trim the fat (obama) and the other guy wants to carve up the body and give away the best parts to his friends at the country club.

    Ideology? Theft by well-dressed horse breeding con artists. Show me something Romney built instead of simply managed away the value into his own pockets.

    Value fellows. A difference that makes a difference.

    Yanno, Turner builds a helluva good line of guitars. That’s real. That’s value. Ask anyone who owns one. THAT is the change we need to talk about: what it takes to create and sustains value. Chokin’ the chickin’ won’t do it. Quick rush; small mess. Clean up. Repeat.

    What does a libertarian do to create value that a man who creates and sells a valuable product isn’t doing?

  33. Rick Turner says:

    It always looks to me as though the ultimate form of government for Libertarians is that of a “failed state”…which is to say, no state at all. Dog eat dog, he with the most guns wins, total freedom… Sorry, but there have to be state imposed laws governing human behavior. And I think we have to realize that we do live in a society of our fellow humans, and that certain restraints on “freedom” are necessary for society to function smoothly. Jeez, libs, stop acting like spoiled 13 year olds… Talk about entitlement…

  34. Alex Bowles says:

    Or as John Rogers observes

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves Orcs.

  35. len says:

    A scary bit living here in the heart of redness is the swelling orcness, that visceral rage that comes when someone who has been promised riches and itch relief if they will commit acts against their better natures begins to sense that promise may not be kept. The Rick and Bubba talk shows, even messages showing up on my Facebook page from former friends are full of that rage.

    Once an orc always an orc. Unless the earth opens up and swallows them, when Obama wins, we may have to make a run for the shire because the woods will be full of very itchy pissed off orcs.

  36. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    One might point out that BOTH novels involve Orcs.

  37. Anonymous says:

    there have to be state imposed laws governing human behavior.

    For Libertarians or anyone else there has to be a indifferent arbiter enforcing laws on behalf of the wider community, but that doesn’t mean those laws can’t be chosen to maximize individual liberty rather than favouring communal responsibility.

    The debate is where on a series of scales of individual liberties to communal responsibilities each society pegs their ambitions and laws enacting them.

    It isn’t a debate, among the realistic, honest and serious, about whether governments are required or not, but what will society demand of it’s governance.

    John Papola argues against warring and the taxes that support it, and further wants taxes in general minimised

  38. Fentex says:

    there have to be state imposed laws governing human behavior.

    For Libertarians or anyone else there has to be a indifferent arbiter enforcing laws on behalf of the wider community, but that doesn’t mean those laws can’t be chosen to maximize individual liberty rather than favouring communal responsibility.

    The debate is where on a series of scales of individual liberties to communal responsibilities each society pegs their ambitions and laws enacting them.

    It isn’t a debate, among the realistic, honest and serious, about whether governments are required or not, but what will society demand of it’s governance.

    John Papola (as I interpret him) argues against proactive warring and the taxes that support it, and further wants taxes and regulation in general minimised because he believes individuals independently and incorporation competing in undistorted market places will deliver the best possible outcomes in all things.

    I think he’s wrong in detail, for example in health care where I think nationally organized systems deliver better results, and I wouldn’t expect him to agree with me on a need for core essential banking as national infrastructure.

    But these aren’t arguments against government per se.

    Although I do think Somalia remains an example against Libertarian ideology for it demonstrates the commonplace will to power and the folly of weakening central government to a point it cannot stand against the independently wealthy and destructive.

  39. len says:

    If you are arguing for a scaling system of federal and local control of resources, I don’t think anyone here will argue against it. As in any dynamic system, if it pegs an extreme of scale, it is likely out of control or in a suboptimum regime.

    I think what almost everyone else is saying is the system is in an extreme state and one candidate supports policies that will lock the system in that regime. At that point history shows the likely outcome will be extreme bloodshed. This isn’t a game, Fentex. We are armed to the teeth up here and if it goes south, no one gets out unhurt. Caveat vendor.

  40. Rick Turner says:

    When it’s easy for warlords to become more powerful than police or an army, you cannot have a civil society. Because of technology, we have the power to deal death all too easily; automatic weapons tilt the whole thing. Norway, Colorado, or real life scenes in Mexico that make the opening scenes of “No Country for Old Men” look tame. And that’s not getting into the whole Middle East muddle or how easy it seems for peasants to improvise explosive devices that can take out tanks, Humvees, etc.

    Libertarianism is an invitation to open up the floodgates of violence into absolute anarchy which can only be followed by war-lord states in constant war. Somalia and Mexico come to mind…and yes, I know we could end the Mexican drug wars tomorrow by de-criminalizing drugs, but it ain’t gonna happen. Actually, another near example is Las Vegas, a city founded on Mafia libertarian war lord principles…

    Ayn Rand’s middle name should have been Polyanna.

  41. John Papola says:

    I’d like to take a step back and ask why this thread is once again an attack on libertarian philosophy and anarchism. Why? Romney and Ryan are NOT LIBERTARIANS. Period. They’re not. Again. No way. They want to increase spending and increase military spending and adventurism in general. ANTI-libertarian. Romney is stoking a trade war with China, ANTI-libertarian. Romney has been militantly anti-immigrant. ANTI-libertarian. Neither has any interest in scaling back the murderous drug war (not that Obama did either).

    Again. These guys are NOT libertarians and surely not anarcho-capitalists. Period. End of story. This debate is what exists in a fantasy land. The only label other than “Republican” might be “conservative” of some kind. Now, do a page search for the word conservative. WTF is going on here?

    Had Ron Paul gotten the nomination, this tread and its retread tropes would at least be on the subject and connected to the reality of the election and the people involved. There IS a libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, which could at least ground the conversation in non-fiction. But alas, his name isn’t mentioned nor are his positions or the results of his governance in New Mexico, which based on this thread one would expect to have descended into Somalia style anarchy.

    Libertarianism is the official stress-relieving punching bag for the small jontaplin.com community. That’s fine. In the meantime, there’s a reality out there which bears no resemblance to your highly repetitive conversations in each and every post. A libertarian is not in serious contention to become president or vice president here on earth and libertarian philosophy isn’t being tested in this election.

  42. John Papola says:

    Oh, and while anarchism is a surely idealistic notion, it’s one that exists on the “left” as well as the “right” (to the extent that libertarianism is on the right). JT’s Favorite author David Graeber and Noam Chompsky are both self-described “anarchists”. They are part of an “anarcho-syndicalist” philosophical group that is probably just as large if not larger than “anarcho-capitalists”. And, don’t forget, Murray Rothbard the father of “anarcho-capitalism” (which any rand despised btw), following in the footsteps of Lysander Spooner, was a man “of the left” at the outset. He celebrated the anti-war emergent “New Left” of the 1960s (which is now utterly dead).

    So even the discussion of the radical philosophies happening here is off the mark.

  43. Fentex says:

    I’d like to take a step back and ask why this thread is once again an attack on libertarian philosophy and anarchism. Why? Romney and Ryan are NOT LIBERTARIANS

    Ryan is a Randian and Randians stand among Libertarians in political crowds. Libertarians have a political problem in wishing not to be confused with Randians because the Randians are actively trying to be seen standing with Libertarians.

  44. John Papola says:

    Meanwhile, have any of you noticed that USA now has CO2 output levels at 20 year lows while Europe is belching carbon at higher rates than before thanks to natural gas? Pretty interesting and once-again classic example of how bottom-up solutions that emerge about of changes in technology and relative prices trump the top-down plans of technocrats who’ve dumped billions into ethanol, wind and solar crony boondoggles.


  45. John Papola says:


    I am reminded of Talmudic wisdom. It is not what we SAY. It is what we DO. Ryan, like so many republicans including Bush, talk a it free market game. But talk is cheap. Actions speak louder. And Ryan’s record isn’t randian or libertarian. Why are you buying the rhetoric of a politician when their actions contradict those words (as they usually do)?

  46. John Papola says:

    Also, the difference between Objectivists and libertarians are minuscule. My problems are of tone and rhetoric, not of substance. I think Rand’s effort to redefine terms like altruism and selfishness arent helpful to understanding the ideas. Her personal behavior and cult like following are weird, but also not about the ideas, so I don’t pay much attention to it.

  47. Rick Turner says:

    I still think that every Republican’s idea of a free market is one that allows corporate interests to game the system, cheat, lie, and participate in corporate welfare while spouting off bullshit to the gullible about freedom, states’ rights, and barely disguised racist rants.

    You want a free market? Open up the borders to anyone who wants to come work here. That’s free market. If you restrict that, as Repubs do, then you’ve laid the foundation for mealy mouthed hypocrisy. Then unilaterally remove all import duties. That’s great for consumers, right? Then get rid of OSHA and Workers’ Compensation. That’ll make things better for corporate interests, right? Eliminate any kind of Consumer Protection Bureau. Shut down the FDA. Eliminate CAFE regulations. Get rid of DARPA. End any kind of help for farmers; big drought? Tough shit, you should have been burying all those nuts like a good squirrel. No more interstate high way money. Business men built this country, not government, so business men can build highways. Stop regulating air traffic control; the airlines can do that better themselves, right? Libraries? That’s welfare. National parks? Sell ’em to the highest bidders, preferably the oil and gas companies; Disney might want in, too, but you’d have to eliminate all copyright laws because they’ve been gamed by the Mouse. Schools? Well, we’re eliminating taxes, so there will be no money for vouchers. If parents can’t afford to send kids to school, hire them out to work farms where they can compete with all the Mexicans who want to toil in the fields. Can’t afford health insurance? Really sick? Well, bullets are cheap; go shoot yourself; we’ll send the burial bill to your next of kin.

    That’s just the beginning of what a Libertarian world would look like, folks…

  48. JTMcPhee says:

    @Rick Turner
    And if you want more details of what that Libertarian world would look like, can I suggest (once again) a neat, largely-unresponded-to-by-the-usually-explosively-voluble-Libertarian-types series of sketches written by one Andrew Dittmer and published by one Yves Smith in her nakedcapitalism spot: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%E2%80%93the-vision.html I guess the Libertarians figure if they ignore the Picture of Dorian Gray, it will go away…

    JP pins David Graeber as an anarchist, a wonderfully obscure term that tarps over a pretty broad range of thought and behavior. The thing I like about Graeber is that he goes back and looks at what humans have actually done in creating their socio-economo-political situations. He points out the fundamental flaws and ignorance and ignoring of actual history when it comes to how “economists” have created their postulates and the obviously failed and dishonest theorems and spins that flow out of them like a river of toxins.

    Economists almost uniformly hold that “barter” was the first kind of economic behavior — an extra pair of shoes for a kopek of wheat, all on the way to the myths of Libertarians about self-interested arms-length “money”-mediated transactions as the basis for everything. He points out that earlier, even fairly large and complex social groupings, had many ways of organizing the creation and distribution of necessities and even fripperies, and that in many cultures esteem and position arose not from taking everything not nailed down from everyone else in the neighborhood, but by various forms of generosity (albeit sometimes pretty pathological from our viewpoint), to the point of doing what Jesus reportedly said was the only way to Heaven: Giving it all away.

    What I like about “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” is that Graeber really looks at the ranges of possibilities for organizing human groupings in ways that are less destructive and predatory, based on actual scholarship about how it’s actually been done. There’s a lot of food for thought in even the first few chapters, for anyone serious about what might come after the Interregnum/Ragnarok and what might be done to catalyze changes of state and energy that our survivors, heirs and assigns might actually thank us for. As opposed to the world that Papola’s “free market” would give us, complete with “government-like organizations” from whom you would have to buy your “protection,” just like a shopkeeper in Al Capone’s South Side of Chicago.

    SOMEthing is going to happen. Near 8 billion people all wanting “a better material life” are not likely, en masse, to come to an agreement that there really is enough to go all the way around the table, as long as the shrewd pigs don’t take most of it for their private pleasure. Not without some kind of change of heart, or some G-d the Father or Hypernanny to wag a finger and slap down the greedbrains whenever they start to become to massy…

  49. JTMcPhee says:


    Why we are fucked:

    Comment (one of lots) from the new viral Youtube “Shitboat” video that Tells the World about how Obama is a commie Muslim traitor, who betrayed the Really Brave Guys Who Are Protecting Our Way Of Life, and all that:

    God Bless our Active Military Members and our fallen members!!!! That being said the head SCUMBAG muslim in the White House should be in jail along with most if not all his cabinet members. Some are active communists, radicals and “TRAITORS” and they ALL should be ARRESTED! Remember when communists used to be prosecuted and persecuted, well now anybody that disagrees with them are persecuted and prosecuted! The statists have turned this country on it self and we NEED to fix that ASAP!!!

    That, and all the content if you want to dig it up, along with 1,590,000 views, for that “Dishonorable Disclosures” thing. Looks like the lizardbrains are gettin’ their shit together, got a rallying point.

    Gettin’ to the point that the only response for folks like me is gettin’ to be “I don’t care. You people can have it.”

  50. morgan s warstler says:

    ah yes, those cavemen had much to teach us…


  51. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner

    Since you packed so many tropes into one post, I’ve decided to give you the Alex Bowles treatment and parse the ever-living-hell out of it. Just know that I’m doing it because I love you and not because I think your some cuss-laden attack (so it’s not the FULL Alex Bowles treatment, since nobody here deserves THAT).

    I still think that every Republican’s idea of a free market is one that allows corporate interests to game the system, cheat, lie, and participate in corporate welfare

    Compared to what, Rick? You’re not demonstrating a particularly sound grasp of what real, consistent libertarians actual study, propose and support.

    You want a free market? Open up the borders to anyone who wants to come work here. That’s free market. If you restrict that, as Repubs do, then you’ve laid the foundation for mealy mouthed hypocrisy.

    Libertarians are broadly supportive of very open immigration policies. Most favor returning to pre 1924 policies of essentially open borders. Anti-immigrant nonsense flows out of the left and right in spades.

    Then unilaterally remove all import duties. That’s great for consumers, right?

    Gee. Lowering the price of goods we buy, thereby raising our real wages AND enabling new businesses the opportunity to form through the surplus purchasing power unleashed? Yes. Yes that is great for consumers, rick. It’s hard on PRODUCERS to compete. But any given producer is generally going to be a tiny minority compared to the great number of their customers. It’s time you upgrade your understanding of trade from the mercantilist era.

    Then get rid of OSHA and Workers’ Compensation. That’ll make things better for corporate interests, right?

    Who said eliminate workers’ comp insurance? You do realize the prior to these government programs, there was an entire ecosystem of privately provided safety nets through mutual aid societies and trade organizations which offered responsible unemployment, health insurance and worker’s compensation. But that’s just, you know, actual American history. I can’t speak to OSHA other than to note that workplace risks and injuries had been declining steadily throughout the 20th century prior to the creation of OSHA. It may have helped. It surely added lots of unproductive, expensive and calcified rules on top of whatever benefits.

    Eliminate any kind of Consumer Protection Bureau. Shut down the FDA.

    I don’t know what the CPB does, but it’s demagogic name tells me nothing. The FDA works principally as a cartel protecting large firms from domestic and foreign competition. But hey, if you like thugs pointing guns at consenting adults buying raw milk or keeping out decades-proven medicines that have saved people pain and death in other countries because they haven’t been “FDA Approved”, be my guest to defend that mess. Meanwhile, um, we STILL get poisoned foods and drugs even with this giant, captured beast of corporatism in place. Net benefit? I doubt it… unless you’re a big Pharma corporation.

    Oh, and how can we forget how this wonderful consumer-protecting government intentionally poisoned 10,000 Americans:


    Prohibitionism is among the most destructive forces unleashed by state power on peaceful people seeking to harm no one both some grotesque totalitarian thug busybody’s sensibilities.

    Eliminate CAFE regulations.

    Hell yes. Mandates don’t create anything, they just push the costs on to other people. Nobody in America needs an extra incentive to seek more fuel efficient cars. If such mandates worked on their own, we should just mandate global prosperity in a “full satisfaction law” and then go on vacation. If you want to capture the eternality of auto emissions, there are better ways to do that than CAFE regulations.

    Get rid of DARPA.

    I didn’t know you loved the military industrial complex, Rick. But okay. Defend it if you must. Basic research is among the least-worst stuff that the state does, and DARPA seems to have been a real diamond in the rough, though I’m fairly ignorant of the full story there. Still, this is a pittance in the spending picture. And some prominent libertarians even argue that if we could shrink the welfare/warfare state, it may be worth INCREASING basic research.


    PS. note that I believe the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a private grant making research foundation, appears by some measures to have a superior track record to the National Institute of Health. Private action has, can, does and will continue to perform these sorts of public-goods-creating services.

    End any kind of help for farmers; big drought? Tough shit, you should have been burying all those nuts like a good squirrel.

    Farm subsidies don’t help many small farmers anyway since many are renters and see land values rise to capitalize the subsidies. This is great for speculators and fat cats. Bad for many farmers.


    Meanwhile, New Zealand ended all farm subsidies and saw the farm industry prosper. No devastation. No dooms day.


    But hey, that’s just actual real work results from a nation-wide change in policy toward libertarian ideals in a agriculture-rich country. Why pay attention to that? Oh, and I’m sure you already know that many of the foods you buy are NOT subsidized. Do you remember the last strawberry or banana crisis? Yeah, me neither.

    No more interstate high way money. Business men built this country, not government, so business men can build highways.

    You do remember that private firms built the railroads, subways and many of the roads in this country right? No, that story isn’t perfect, as there were some real land-grant and subsidy problems with the rail tycoons. In fact, the subsidized railroads appear to have suffered more crises and over-production-related bankruptcies. Where have we seen THAT story before (*cough) solar power (*cough)

    Oh, and are you so sure that our interstate highway system was a net positive? Do you like suburban sprawl? Are you happy that passenger rail was reduced to a non-viable government-run boondoggle? It may very well be that the interstate highways produced more harm than good. And, even if they didn’t, I believe gas taxes paid for them, which is a pretty direct-user-fee-for-service kinda-libertarian-ish approach to provision of government services.

    Stop regulating air traffic control; the airlines can do that better themselves, right?

    Canada, which is now quite a bit more free market than the USA, privatized air traffic control and it’s now better than the US, which is still stuck in 1940s radio technology, unable to upgrade to GPS due to crippling bureaucrat sclerosis.


    There’s still Canadian intervention in airlines. I’m not saying it’s anarchist. I’m saying it’s much more market-driven AND working BETTER.

    Libraries? That’s welfare.

    Yes, because LIBRARIES are what every serious libertarian is worried about. Not the drug war. Not the foreign adventurism. Not the fiscal crisis. Nope. We all holler about libraries. I remember that anti-library tirade Ron Paul went on… oh… that’s never happened.

    National parks? Sell ‘em to the highest bidders, preferably the oil and gas companies; Disney might want in, too, but you’d have to eliminate all copyright laws because they’ve been gamed by the Mouse.

    Again, who exactly are you arguing with right now? The GOP? They aren’t libertarian. Is this about Anwar? Whose platform is advocating the wholesale sell-off of the national parks to the oil companies? And, btw, the enormous increase in open space over the past 200 years in developed nations is due principally to urban density and income growth. We don’t need the land and we can afford to care about keeping it beautiful. The state plays a role, but not the only one.

    Oh… and are you at all familiar with the ecologically DEVASTATING history of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation? If you were, you’d be a little more hesitant to celebrate the Federal management of so much of our country’s land. I’m in Texas. Our water shortages are in part thanks to this runaway nightmare organization whose make-work efforts to damn every waterway it could find left disaster after disaster in its wake.

    ?Schools? Well, we’re eliminating taxes, so there will be no money for vouchers. If parents can’t afford to send kids to school, hire them out to work farms where they can compete with all the Mexicans who want to toil in the fields.

    This is downright ignorant. Only anarchists argue to eliminate ALL taxes. And, um, you clearly don’t seem to know that it was libertarian juggernaut Milton Friedman who CAME UP WITH VOUCHERS as a solution to our utterly failed and systematically racist/segregationist K-12 disaster. So you can THANK libertarians for putting forward the only systematic school reform concept with a real shot of both lifting the poor students of places like Newark, NJ (of which I am familiar) while also systematically

    Can’t afford health insurance? Really sick? Well, bullets are cheap; go shoot yourself; we’ll send the burial bill to your next of kin.

    This is nonsense. Libertarians don’t want people to die. In fact, the libertarians I know all concern themselves principally with the how we can have more just system that helps the least of us rather than the current corrupt crony boondoggles we have today. We didn’t have masses of people dying in the streets in 1955. We still to this day have hundreds (thousands?) of catholic and non-profit hospitals. Both of my grandparents were doctors (they each passed this past year) and they would take STRONG EXCEPTION with your portrayal of reality outside of the state.

    Government is not altruism. It is not kindness. Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. Government is force.

    Given that. Let’s return to the political and jontaplin.com community reality.

    There are two prominent libertarians in this election cycle: Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Both have focus FIRST on the need to end the wars. Both have emphasized that their priorities are to ensure that provision for the needy is preserved as we restore fiscal sanity. Ron Paul has attacked Paul Ryan’s plans because they increase military spending while cutting medicare, saying he wouldn’t touch medicare until he’s cut the wars and the corporatism and boondoggles. Gary Johnson has two terms of executive governance in New Mexico, where he won re-election in a democrat-dominated State. The guy reformed Medicaid in his state, changing it from fee-for-service into a managed care plan. The last time I checked, that isn’t saying to the poor “go shoot yourself”.

    Now, there are two libertarians who frequent this blog, Morgan and myself. Both of us advocated repeatedly (as did libertarian icons Milton Friedman and Hayek) some form of guaranteed minimum income to replace the current welfare state. This isn’t “kill the poor”. This is “make sure that nobody goes hungry or dies in the street in a country as rich as ours”.

    Are there libertarians on earth who play right into your caricature? Sure. Every group has their harsh voices and thoughtless jerks. Some on the right seem to truly hate the poor. Some on the left seem to believe that everyone but a narrow governing elite (ideally “independent” of politics/democracy) is capable of making any decisions of significance. Do these facts give either of us good reason to use the worst examples from our respective “teams” as models for the whole? No.

    The libertarians on this blog, some of the biggest icons who most libertarians adore AND the two most primary libertarian politicians all fail to live up to your (and others here) characterizations. Don’t you find that a little weird? Perhaps you all should stop conflating jerk republican politicians with your fictional notion of “libertarians” as a whole or as a philosophy.

  52. Fentex says:

    Ryan’s record isn’t randian or libertarian.

    I disagree, I think he’s a text book Randian.

    I think, because I too get irritated by busy bodies and authortarians, that a person can rationally be a libetarian for good and moral motives.

    But not a Randian. Ayn Rands philosophy and arguments are base dishonest self serving egotistical nonsense and exactly the soil out of which a faux conservative etheral pretender to self reliance and individual liberty grows and tries to draw around themself as shield against light which reveals their dishonest efforts to theive.

    (I type this on my phone, so I expect poor spelling and grammar to sneak through – I’ve been evicted from my home so it can be repaired of its earthquake damage and are enroute to Tonga, hopefully to swim with humpback whales)

  53. Alex Bowles says:

    @JTMcPhee If you’ve been reading ‘Debt’ here’s something you’re really appreciate.


    This is a transcript of a lecture, not a blog post, so it reads long. But Hudson’s got a book’s worth of material in mind, and the salient points are all here. I won’t do it the discredit of further condensation, but I will highlight a few of the lines that really jumped out for me.

    We’ll start with current events.

    It may seem strange for an American such as myself to be invited to Germany to tell you about your own history. But that is what happens when bank lobbyists skillfully exploit a collective trauma to strip a nation of knowledge of its history and replace it with a travesty of reality. This distortion of history is a precondition for spreading the creditor-oriented ideology advocated by the EU Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). This “troika,” captured and caged by neoliberal ideology, is using a false historical view to plunge Europe into needless austerity and poverty.

    The most immediate decision was to do to Greece what the Versailles Treaty did to Germany: enforce foreign debt service far beyond its ability to pay. Politically, this requires suspending democracy and accepting the possibility of Greece slipping back into military dictatorship, by insisting that populations not be given a voice in whether to approve government’s commitment to pay. The veritable coup d’état is capped by replacing elected governments in Greece and Italy with “technocrats,” Euro-speak for what we Americans call investment bank lobbyists or factotums.

    When you find wrong-headed ideological economics promoted year after year as a litany, there always is a special interest at work. Today’s most powerful special interest is the financial sector. It is seeking to extract gains even at the cost of imposing austerity and ultimate bankruptcy on entire national economies.

    As it turns out, those gains are the least of it.

    There is even an ideology that government budgets should be balanced rather than provide the economy with money and purchasing power to grow. The policy conclusion reveals the motivation why for this error has been popularized so successfully: If central banks do not provide the economy with money (in the form of money-debt that nobody expects actually to be paid over time, unlike commercial bank credit), then this leaves private-sector banks as the only source of money and credit – and charging interest. Their aim is to keep for themselves the monopoly of creating money that governments could do just as well on their own computer keyboards.

    “But what’s the problem with that?” you ask.

    Banks have shown themselves to be irresponsible in financing the characteristic form of price inflation of today’s world: a financial bubble fueled by credit on easier and looser terms to buy real estate, stocks and bonds, to buy entire companies. Governments hardly could have been expected to fuel asset-price inflation. Their interest is in taxing away “free lunch” windfalls from the land’s rising site value and from natural resources, and to provide basic infrastructure services at subsidized prices or freely, just as they provide roads without tollbooth access charges.

    Banks, in turns out, desire the precise opposite.

    Whatever the tax collector relinquishes is “free” to be capitalized into higher bank loans, raising the price of assets. This raises prices for housing, of factories and other means of production. Economies polarize between creditors at the top of an increasingly steep pyramid, and debtors at the bottom sinking into debt peonage. The middle class melts away.

    In other words, taxes – far from being the wealth destroying loss that so many on the right make them out to be – are actually a form of savings. Not savings in the savings account sense, but savings in the sense that this is wealth being saved by placing it beyond the reach of predatory interests that would take what is already owned by the public and rent it back to them at an ever increasing costs that they’re happy to issue interest-bearing credit to pay.

    The notion that European social welfare states are at the root of their financial troubles is nonsense. The real squeeze on public finances is coming from the rentier class – which turns out to be the very last group you want anywhere near public finance.

    Tax cuts on land rent, natural resources and the higher income brackets force governments to shift the tax burden onto labor, industry and consumers. This raises the break-even cost of living and employing labor. This prices debt-ridden and regressively taxed economies out of world markets.

    By starving the economy of the funds to increase employment and output – while backing banks that have spent the past generation inflating real estate prices and the financial bubble – ECB policy has promoted asset price inflation for housing, living costs and hence employment costs. This hardly is a recommendation for leaving it with the central planning power it is seeking to impose austerity to squeeze out debt payments for its past irresponsible credit policy.

    In the absence of credit write downs, this situation results in cuts to public services that nevertheless become more expensive now that their costs have been heavily loaded with interest payments. Without effort or risk, the rentier class and their heirs grow substantially richer, even as the overall economy shrinks. Historically speaking, a move in this direct represents an extraordinary and exceedingly undesirable shift.

    A political and ideological coup d’état is replacing democracy with financial oligarchy, transferring government power to banks and bondholders. The new policy is not for governments to tax the wealthy but to borrow from them – at interest, which is to be paid by taxing labor, consumers and industry all the more. To proceed down this path would reverse Europe’s Enlightenment and the past three centuries of economics.

    It also runs counter to the very essence of what a bank – in a healthy economy – is supposed to do and to be.

    This is the end-game resulting from the fact that the banking system’s business plan has not been to finance new capital formation to create future income flows from the real economy, but to find assets and income streams to serve as collateral for new loans. As banks compete to lend against real estate (which accounts for some 80 percent of new bank lending in the United States and Britain), corporate control or stocks and bonds, the effect is to load these assets and their income stream with more debt, siphoning capital away from productive investment to pay interest and amortization to the banks. It is a predatory yet basically lazy business plan.

    The moral aspect of this crisis isn’t limited to salubrious way that money is being made. It extends to the reckless indifference shown towards those who inevitably suffer.

    Just what really is this crisis? From the vantage point of wealthy creditors atop the economic pyramid, the problem is simply one of how the wealthiest 1 percent of the population – which has doubled its share of wealth over the past generation – can avoid having to give up its remarkable gains. These gains have been made as a result of indebting the bottom 99% and receiving the lion’s share of debt-leveraged asset-price gains. To avoid the seemingly normal recession of these gains, governments and the population as a whole must bear the loss. Families must lose, businesses must go under, local and national government may collapse and societies must suffer lower wage levels, so that banks and other creditors do not lose a penny.

    This narcissism of wealth prompts creditors to pretend that the Bubble Economy’s fluorescence was normal, not a distortion. The wealthy and their financial institutions want to double their share of income and property again, and then to keep on increasing it even to the point where the rest of society is plunged into misery, labor emigrates, birth rates fall and the economy dies.

    There’s more (much more) and you really should read it properly, noting, as Hudson does, that “Not since the Middle Ages and colonization of the New World, Africa and Asia has the world seen so aggressive an economic warfare.”

    Today’s conquest thus is financial, not military. And what is so remarkable is that it is being waged in the ideological arena, as if it is all for the best! The illusion is that it paves the way for better growth involves expunging the memory of classical economics. Rentiers recognize that the greatest defense against their attack is to restore the classical distinction between earned and unearned income, and between productive and unproductive credit. These are the most effective analytic tools to guide the tax and financial reforms and balanced public/private economy envisioned in the Progressive Era to counter the special interests and their privatization grabs.

    If there’s single, overarching point in all this it isn’t simply that credit write downs are the fix. Though essential, they simply undo some of the damage that has been done, and prevent further damage from taking place in the immediate future. But stripped of a moral dimension enshrined in theory and law, these write downs would do nothing to keep the horrible situation we’re facing from occurring again and again. For that, we need to become much clearer about what banking and investment are actually for, and moreover, what constitutes just and unjust taxation.

    This financial warfare is engulfing Europe without most populations even realizing that it is being waged against them, and against industry as well. Most of all, financial interests seek to disable government, which is the only power strong enough to tax and check their power via public regulation and a central bank with a public option to provide basic monetary services.

    To resist this attack, Europe’s political parties need to revive the path along which most were traveling before World War I. This requires re-introducing the history of classical economics into the academic curriculum to counter the censorship that neoliberal ideology has imposed on education and political discussion in the popular media.

    A parallel neoliberal strategy has been to shunt religion along non-economic lines so as to prevent it from played the political role it did in past centuries, from the Schoolmen of the 13th century and Martin Luther ‘s denunciation of usury down to Christian socialism, Papal encyclicals, and of course Liberation Theology. Adam Smith was a professor of Moral Philosophy, and through much of the 19th century universities continued to teach economic thought as a branch of moral philosophy. The common key to this long tradition was to link ethical values to economics by value and price theory: the idea that people would earn income by providing a productive service to society, not by simply taking or by usury, rent-extraction or other unjust income.

    I’ve probably covered more than enough, though there’s far more to it that what I’ve excerpted. Really, this piece is one of the most illuminating things I’ve read in ages. If you can look past the some of the redundancy that’s par for the course in lectures, you’ll find a very clear view of an extraordinary moment in human history, along with what seems like the essential frame for addressing it properly.

  54. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola Of all the words you could use incorrectly, “parsing” has got to be among the funniest.

  55. John Papola says:

    Oh Alex,

    You’re parsing my use of the word “parsing”. How ironic.

    I went through Rick’s comment line-by-line analysizing for its implications, as you have done to me. You’ve added in the flourish of harsh, cuss-laden personal attacks, which isnt “parsing” but rather just being a jerk.

    See definition number 3.

    But what do I know? In your eyes, I know that I’m just a “fucking idiot”.

  56. T Bone Burnett says:

    John Papola

    You got to chill out, Señor. I think I understand your deep concern for this community. There was a cartoon in the New Yorker a few years ago- a wife was standing over her husband, who was seated at his computer in a state of obvious agitation, and he was saying, “I’ll be down to dinner in just a minute, there is someone on the internet who is wrong!

    You seem like a decent fellow. Alex Bowles is a good guy himself. You might consider that you pushed things too far, you might look at your own self, and see what you might have done to bring about Alex’s reaction. Check out your own tone before you correct his. That is usually good advice in any disagreeable situation in which one finds himself. All this stress is not great for one’s health. Please let this go.

    All the best

    T Bone Burnett

  57. len says:

    Go away for a day to take the baby to her first day of college and come back to the fight of the century. Wow!

    On review, despite the vitriol with which y’all jack up your endorphins, this is a very intelligent discussion particularly compared to others I read. You should congratulate yourselves and each other on the depth of knowledge with which you support your belief systems. Impressive.

    I’m not well-studied enough in economics to participate in a blow to blow of economic theory. Behaviorally one point: it is obvious that libertarians have the same problem with the Republican party as the Christian progressives do with their right wing ideologues: they are being hijacked and their core beliefs are being perverted. A Christian coalition has been founded to fight that and take back Christianity. Libertarians may in fact be trying to do that but perhaps it hasn’t gelled. Good luck in both cases. It is time for the saner voices to be more assertive. The extremists run the parties because they are the ones who show up at their own events.

    Hopefully it can be done in both cases without losing the country and the church we both love and need for the pursuit of happiness, a right which I think we should all fight for and ensure each have. If that is a hippie thing, well, the hippies are right about that one.

    And T-Bone is right. Stress is cancer food. Step away from the trough. There are more adventures to be lived and you can’t enjoy them from the chair with an IV plugged in. On this I am well studied. For what it’s worth if you are enjoying the combat more than you want an end to a war, you may be addicted. There is actually considerable common ground here as I read your posts.

    Have a great day. I’ve some homework to do for a friend.

  58. len says:

    @fentex: Sorry to hear about the house. I was worried about you when the news of the last quake came. Good luck and have a great time with the humpbacks. I’d like to hear about that when you dry off. THAT is an adventure.

  59. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    As usual, I am abashed by your breadth and depth. Thank you so kindly for the reference. I’ve skimmed it and am headed back for a longer read.

    Some folks here (and everywhere else) are groping for an accurate diagnosis of one huge freakin’ pandemic, and praying for a cure. Others are more interested in finding an edge in the gain game, one that fits with their personal “betterment” and carefully cultivated identities. The pain a lot of us are suffering comes from a lot of sources, of course, some in our personal economies and some in our souls, knowing that maybe there is no “fix” or panacea for any of the planet’s ills, fearful that maybe we and our offspring and the stuff we value that’s actually worth something are about to get flicked off and flattened, like a roach caught in the middle of the table with nowhere to scurry when the bright lights come on.

    I’m stuck with my tendency to see physiological parallels in the wider world, one of the themes that Papola and other mini-economists decry as being nothing more than one supposed logical fallacy or another. It’s no news that the disease Hudson and others so acutely assess and diagnose is horribly like a virulent and malignant and metastatic cancer. Once the oncogenes have been turned on and expressed, the “remedies” are often either unavailable, unappetizing, or ineffective, and the disease process runs its course until the “successful” freakin’ tumor cells use up all the available energy and kill the host. All that stuff, from the artful hiding of the real mortal nature of the tumor from the immune system that otherwise would recognize the evil for what it is and engulf and break it down into its constituent molecules for healthy re-use (see the smokescreens and ink-squirts emitted by “economists” and apologists), to the angiogenesis trick of suckering the body into growing ever larger arteries directly to the tumor, arteries that feed ever more of the vital substance of the body to that “successful” set of cells, to the splitting off of little clumps of cells that metastasize the sickness through the whole of the body — stuff like the bubbles and of course the whole COUNTERFEITING horror that is securito-derivitzation. (My mother died of ovarian cancer; she weighed about 170 when healthy, and barely 65 pounds when she finally died – like so many of us who struggle to feed the tumors enough to keep ourselves going until finally the sick tissue displaces something really vital, like us “muppets,” us “dumb money” debtors who keep on trying to maintain our “reputation” and “credit-worthiness” by all the stratagems the bankstas trick and force us into. Graeber, of course, explores and debunks the whole notion of “debt” in his oeuvre, and even offers some views of different ways to deal with the oppression. Jubilee, anyone? http://www.jubileeusa.org/get-active/jubilee-congregations/faith-worship-resources/debt-cancellation-the-biblical-norm.html)
    The tumors get the best of the rest of us because they’ve hijacked the immune system, the governance that’s supposed to police them and keep them in check and protect us, and co-opted our tissues and organs to feed their every ridiculous whim and demand. There’s a lot of folks who are aware of the disease process, and are crying out for some kind of remedy (or just losing themselves in various anodynes, of course). Or, of course, buying into the scapegoating and spinning and arrant bullshit that clever folks, the rich folks’ “people,” come up with, to divert the flows of energy that might actually challenge the disease and restore a healthier homeostasis. Bearing in mind that the oncogenes we have always with us… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oncogene

  60. Rick Turner says:

    Well folks, I need to divert my own attention back to what I was doing in 1968 for a while. My musicianly past has caught up with me, and I have an album to re-master and a band authorized bootleg CD package to prepare and get out. Found a studio copy of the mono master tape; it’s in pristine condition. Bandmates found photos of the band. Ed Ward just profiled us on “Fresh Air”. Time to limit my multitasking for a while and practice guitar again for a possible reunion. We may be going for Guiness Book on length of time between gigs for all original members of a vanished band…45 years…

    I’ll be voting for Obama, though not particularly liking it…

  61. John Papola says:

    @T Bone Burnett

    T Bone,

    That is good advice, and I bet that Alex is a great guy in person. But you should go back to his repeated PERSONAL attacks against me in prior threads where he devoted extensive comments to explaining why I am a “fucking idiot”. It came out of no where. I do come down strongly on ideas or assertions which I disagree with. But I really don’t hold any ill feelings towards anyone here personally and certainly never to the level Alex has taken it with me. I’m one of a few occasional dissenting voices here and routinely get piled on with “you’re from the clan of racists who hate the poor” style attacks on my ideology. It’s fine. I’m a big boy. It’s just lame.

  62. John Papola says:


    There’s another kind of Jubilee which myself and most libertarians have been pleading to have happen since day one of this crisis: bankruptcy of parasitic, predatory firms. The problems of the class of “rentiers” is that the state has kept them alive with perpetual easy money and bailouts while the people who compose the “market” were prepared to pull the plug on these institutions. Things would look a great deal different had that happened.

    Neither myself nor any real libertarians represent apologists for a financial system which has become overwhelmingly corrupt and predatory by way of it’s access to the public purse.

    A complete jubilee would surely harm just as many normal folks as it would help. There are millions of good people out there who have bought bonds as way of earning interest on their savings and using it for their retirement. A jubilee would wipe these folks out and they include a great many members of the 99%.

    I realize that the (metaphoric) nuke-the-planet-and-start-over approach has a great deal of appeal from many people. But I don’t see why we should believe such a reset would lay the foundation for anything better emerging in the aftermath. As radical as my own ideals are, I acknowledge that there is just as much if not more likelihood that a perversion of my ideals in implementation could not only make matters worse but also poison the well for the good reforms. All of that is simply to say that there is no easy solution here.

    But one place where we could start would be to no knowingly assert or repeat propaganda and political lies (like the idea that Paul Ryan is a libertarian). If we aren’t even dealing in the easily-verifiable truth, how can there possibly be any hope for progress? It’s as if we’re trying to get to a destination with a map from the wrong country.

  63. John Papola says:

    Fentex, good luck on God bless as you deal with the chaos in you home situation. Enjoy the whales.

  64. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    I may be missing something in all your writings here, but don’t you kind of follow the libertarian idea that each of us is on his own, when it comes to personal finances and arm’s length business dealings in a Free Market, and success and all that?

    Are you really concerned about the 99ers who might have bonds in their portfoolio (intentional spelling, given the reality of The Market)? First, what percent of the 99ers has any kind of portfoolio, anyway, let alone one built around bonds? My financial adviser person has basically said, along with others, that in the present world all that advice about spreading your investments in equities and bonds is meaningless any more, anyway — the game is totally rigged, and us little folks who can’t high-speed trade are nothing but Muppets On A Spit. Bet it’s a pretty small bunch who’s holding bonds, when you get down to it, and yes, there would be some pain for some of The Rest Of Us, but how does that stack up to keeping on feeding the ripoff, fraudulent-foreclosure, counterfeiting Bankstas and the pain that Alex points out (along with many others) of that fraud called “austerity?”

    And as pointed out in Taibbi’s works and the article that Alex links and Graeber’s observations, Jubilee writ large, a haircut of the bondsters and banksters right down to the collarbones, might be the only way out of a mass dispossession of the most of us, along the lines of what Henry Potter planned to do to Bedford Falls. And we don’t have a Bailey Building and Loan or any reserve of personal wealth to make the magic of “It’s a Wonderful Life” happen…

    I might offer that the global sense of empathy might benefit from a bit of calibration — big pain kind of trumps small pain, in my value system at least.

    Maybe you have some bonds in your portfoolio… and maybe you are a Wise Investor who sees and believes, and lives what he sees and believes, and wisely divests those shaky bonds, built in large measure on the frauds and thefts you decry by those predatory vultures and vampire squids, right out of your portfoolio? And isn’t that what other people are also supposed to do, in the world of self-reliance? Since the promise that is a bond, the promise to pay, is for so many of those predatory bond issuers nothing more than a big fat sucker punch? And don’t tell me how important the ability to issue bonds is to corporations that are sitting on trillions of dollars of unspent, fertile money, like a bunch of hoarders squatting on a pile of dirty dishes and cat crap.

  65. John Papola says:


    I don’t believe in atomistic individualism, JT. Social order is a complex fabric of community, rules and institutions and cultural norms. No man is an island. What I believe is that bottom-up emergent order operating in an environment of broadly classical liberal general rules (such as reasonable expectation of contract and private property) is the absolute best environment for human flourishing. Freedom, in short, is good for everyone. The economics of all that is something I have a particularly intense interest in, but the ethics are what animate me. And the ethics are that of peace and equity under the golden rule. I have an intense concern for justice and fair play.

    That’s my deal, JT. I don’t have any interest in seeing people suffer or moralizing about those who have not.

    I am, however, methodologically individualist. I don’t believe it’s right to treat large groups with the same brush nor treat groups as if they can act or choose. People choose and act. Groups do not in a strict sense. So while I do think it takes a team and often a community to make things happen, and the whole does amount to more than the sum of the parts, that result does not translate into “collective choice” or “collective action”. Those ideas are purely linguistic constructs for me that tend to be used as tool for socializing responsibility in a way that ends up socially destructive. Class judgement, including judgement of all people in a profession be them doctors, lawyers, teachers or bankers, is equally dubious to me. It’s ultimately a kind of bigotry.

    I’d have rather seen a jubilee of some kind than the banker bailouts. That is for sure. But I don’t see a jubilee as any sort of salvation and the romantic appeals from Graeber and others to some ancient simplistic social wisdom seem to be wrapped up in notions that socialism is the solution. Why? Because you need investment in order to build the kind of prosperous world we have. You need risk. You need someone willing to put up the money for you to eat while you build your new invention that makes life better for everyone but may very well fail or not work. If the evil money lenders, who should just be useful middlemen between savers and borrowers, are cut out of the picture, who will allocate our savings such that progress can occur? Well, Graeber would have it be the collective in some form, through central planning of a sort. He calls himself an “anarchist” because he rejects the state, but he replaces it with a democratic collective whose function sure sounds like a state to me.

    This is a bit wondering. My point is that human progress through peaceful creativity and exchange is my ideal. Force and war and theft are the enemies of my ideal, even if that force is executed by a majority in the name of some alleged “public good”. Public rules should apply to all of us equally as individuals, a kind of governance categorical imperative. If they can’t without the whole framework collapsing, then they fail the Kant test.

  66. T Bone Burnett says:

    But you should go back to his repeated PERSONAL attacks against me in prior threads…

    No, I definitely should not. Nor should you.

  67. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola

    Regarding this:

    I’m one of a few occasional dissenting voices here and routinely get piled on with “you’re from the clan of racists who hate the poor” style attacks on my ideology.

    The question is “What motivates this”? Judging from the agreeable and largely uncontroversial set of beliefs you’ve just expressed, it’s hard to say that they’re the cause. After all, the bulk of these values are well-founded and widely shared. Assuming you’re being sincere (and I think you are) we’ve got a lot in common.

    I’d like to suggest that something else is at work, something that has less to do with substance and more to do with a sloppy yet combative style. The practice of commenting on (or worse, “correcting”) things you’ve skimmed lightly at best isn’t beneficial, least of all to yourself. The spectacle of glaring error combined with badly aimed bombast grates on most people, and it’s certainly derailed its share of conversations.

    In other words, if you think the resistance and rejection you encounter is simply evidence of bias against your ideas, you’re deluding yourself. For my own part, I’ve got some deep misgivings about pivotal aspects of libertarian thought, and these make it hard for me to treat the larger edifice warmly. But to think that friction is rooted in these reservations alone is a real mistake. I assure you, they are absolutely not the source of my harshest and most regrettable comments.

    No, the real irritation comes down to something far more basic. Principally, it’s the lack of careful attention paid to what others are saying combined with a tendency to ignore all that you don’t understand. I won’t itemize the problems this creates. Instead I’ll simply ask that you please, do everyone – yourself included – a real favor by simply restraining yourself from commenting on anything you haven’t read in full, fairly slowly, more than once. If you find your understanding changing on the second pass, you’ll know you’re doing something right.

    Maintain this discipline for three months, and see how much easier it becomes. I honestly think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. In the meantime, accept my apologies for the most personal polemics.

  68. Morgan Warstler says:

    you are a bunch of old men, the fist generation who has eaten FAR MORE than you ave sown… the greatest lesson you have to teach, is how not to be.

    Before you were indeed cavemen, they were stupid, and racist, and sexist, and they did not leave you with a pile of debts they became frail and helpless and shriveled.

    T Bone, you show me your song called, Prodigal Dad, it goes… “I’m sorry Son, I fucked your life up, and now I need to be forgiven and sustained…

    Oh, you haven’t written that song?


    The best thing about old men, is that they die, and we forget them.

    In 2012, you have nothing to teach 40 years olds with children, have the good sense to admit it.

  69. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    You may not believe in “atomistic individualism” for purposes of this tiny corner of the ongoing argument about What Ought To Be, but I for one am sure left with the overall impression that that is one pillar of your worldview. And as to the particulars of a Jubilee, why not address the questions I have, as in how many people amongst the 99ers actually are in a position to own bonds of all the various sorts there are out there, as opposed to the bondsters who are screwing the lending part of Europe’s and our economy, demanding payment on risk, yes, RISk-based instruments that largely have no value because of what they and others of their breed have pulled off in the huge financial coup that’s still growing? There’s no freakin’ guarantee that bonds will ever be paid as per that contract thing — that’s why they carry a risk premium, except for maybe treasuries bought by Bankstas who know (and here we have bits of agreement) that the Current Powers that Be will pay off, using the wealth of the Collective. If people start talking up a Jubilee, and thinking about how it might work, and what it would cover, that might lead to something healthy and sustainable. At the very least, how about student loans (I paid mine off,working several jobs, generations ago), which are a fixed racket if ever there was one, with no way of escape from the rentier grip even in bankruptcy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fred-bauer/student-loan-debt_b_1403280.html And one can argue the “equities” of people trapped in sinking, upside-down mortgages all day long, but you want there to be “liquidity” and capital formation and as Alex’s post above makes very clear, the entire system is captured and on its way to making rent slaves of most of us. Along, of course, with the effects of “globalization” and the taking, by the less than 1%ers by force and stealth, of all the real increase in wealth created by working people over the last what, 60 years? Cementing their oligarchy and hegemony.

    There might be a parity in absolute numbers of individual “retirees” who are “invested” in bonds, with the absolute number of Bankstas and Far-Less-Than-One-Percenters who are demanding priority in a slow inevitable bankruptcy. But cutting all those folks off will cause a lot less pain and horror than doing what is happening now. As I and some others see it, of course. Once again, bonds are RISKY INSTRUMENTS — it says so right in the fine print on all of them. There are no “contractual rights” to absolute payment — it says so right in the contract.

    You have a pretty naive view, as I see it, of the “beauty” of your idealized capitalist-or-whatever-precise-definition-you-give-it system, where magical allocations of resources via self-interested transactions bring about all those wonderful innovations that make life so perfect. Like fracking, and substitution behavior like burning methane rather than coal since the former has gotten fortuitously way cheaper and then crowing about a “20% reduction in CO2 emissions” from US industry and power plants, and how that is making everything better after all? 20% off the top of way too much is still way too much, if you look a little further, and in the real world, the way resources get allocated and “developed” has everything to do with greed and damn little to do with continuation of the species (that master collective) or continued habitability of the planet for us and other critters.

    Seems to me you have crafted a brilliant and brittle identity for yourself, one you want to “extend” to others. As others here have said, there are areas of agreement on bits of policy and behavior and remedy that might be built on. But there’s an unstated condition I hear in most of your stuff — agree with you on this set of items, and look! we-all MUST agree to all the other stuff that makes up your carefully crafted structure. You want others to be “flexible” and “open to your ideals,” but that’s a one-way street in your downtown.

    My broader readings show a lot of nominal Libertarians who at root seem simply apologists for the behaviors of those folks who are stealing, big time, from the rest of us. Talking now about those humans who have figured out how to amass huge, UNPRODUCTIVE piles of “money” that they use to satisfy every little frisson and whim of their pleasure centers and the other parts of their limbic systems, and who know deep down that they can do and get away with ANYTHING predatory and parasitic, and die comfortably and be beyond any retribution or restitution. Your system, far as I can tell, wishes that were not so but has nothing in it to limit or stop the stuff that’s bringing us to the promised land of Soylent Green.

    Arguing history and economics and anthropology and the nitty-gritty of human nature is great stuff. But we humans do actually seem to be facing an existential choice, and mixing in all the flavors of identity and philosophical tribalism and cult cant from all sides with the concerted efforts and actions that seem to be needed NOW, and not dealing with the selfish and “Apres moi le deluge” parts of the beast, ain’t gonna get my grandkids food and shelter on the other side of whatever tipping point triggers the Mass Change.

  70. len says:

    Rather than the labeling game of ideologies, a model worth discussing is the principal agent problem where political efficiency and economic efficiency are at odds. This is particularly active during times when the budgets shift left (not political left but procurement left). This puts rent-seeking at odds with innovation.

  71. JTMcPhee says:

    Some thoughts from a person a lot smarter and deeper into the mosh than I’ll ever be, on why it’s so darn hard to get any useful motion in healthy directions on great big fundamental economic issues. True Belief and undisclosed interests keep getting in the way…


    And of course the angels dance on the pinheads, while ordinary people, to buried or too busy or not adapted for understanding the Financial Froth that’s choking off their air, work busily away, work hard, work productively, at creating actual wealth that can be skimmed and scammed right out of their hands.

    It’s all just too complicated, isn’t it, except for the relatively few Players who know how to game things. Up to the point that like the people of Watts and Detroit, the unfocused but gradually building angst and anger boils over and they burn down their own house. So there.

    In the meantime, more reassurances for the post-national corporations that run the Milo Minderbinder MIC, reassurances that they will feel minimal effects on their bottom lines or business as usual from any “austerity” that starves the rest of us…

  72. len says:

    They can’t, JTMc, at least in the MIC side for certain systems. They built considerable capacity and are facing reduced demand. It’s a classic left-moving budget cycle with uncertainty and missing information or faulty information. Commercial providers try to exit the business to pursue faster buy cycle opportunities in commercial industries (the govt looks like a big customer for say transmissions but the commercial industry say car manufacturers is much bigger). They will be setting lower stock levels, decommissioning or resetting existing systems, they have a lot of quickly bought for specific mission systems they have to either lose or downsize considerably and they are squeezed by the fact that the loss of expertise is signifcant as they do. So the national corporations will be setting their own agendas and many of them will exit the businesses they are in while smaller more nimble ones get in at the risk of stranding capital.

    Classic principal agent dilemma. Yes, the politics of reelection and the goals of budget management are at odds. There is no free lunch; just free invitations.

    Sometimes the best way to further a conversation is to focus the topics on smaller problems that can be solved. Less invective; more selective.

  73. len says:

    Oh, you haven’t written that song?



    “Curses, Foiled Again”, “Pirate Polifix” “Green Beasties”, “Occupy the World”, “My Son’s Time to Go” but the first two assess the problem. There is another but it won’t see the light of YouTube because it’s a suicide mission.

    Morgan, you think two-dimensionally. Any reality-shaping art will be Rashomonic. Dylan gets that. So do others.

  74. len says:


    A definition you may want to study: monopsony (one buyer; many sellers).


    Essentially the opposite of monopoly (one seller; many buyers).

    Examples are DoD, single payer health systems, Wal-Mart, Apple and so on. These markets behave differently with regards to employees vs employers receiving market gains as the market moves left or right. Apple is right moving. DoD is left-moving. In a monopsony, the employer has much greater power and wages tend to fall. One could say (perhaps inaccurately) that market agendas that tend toward monopsony tend to produce the 1% and this is the goal of the 1 percenters but this is at complete odds with their professed aversion to big government. The devil is in the details of transparency and political efficiency and that is what no one wants to talk about openly.

  75. Bud Frawley says:

    I’m with you Mogan! Euthenize the Boomers. They have outlived their usefulness if they were ever useful to begin with.

  76. JTMcPhee says:

    Seems to me that part of the business model for the MIC behemoths is avoiding the monopsony corner by taking their wares to the various international “expos,” and doing “business development” here there and everywhere. Expos where buyers from all over the planet come to select toys for their national militaries and state security apparats, clearly a growth opportunity and area. The money from US is big, but hey, if you can gin up war departments in other lands with exploitable resources and tribal issues and casi belli, doing partnering with more local war profiteers and all that, you can stay in the game.

    Sometimes, the only way to win, over the long haul, is not to play. But of course that kind of talk is neither “serious” nor “realistic.”
    It’s not like “our” loyal war industries don’t sell their stuff (sometimes via assistance from Bankstas) to present or future “enemies.”

  77. JTMcPhee says:

    @Bud Frawley
    You guys keep forgetting to type out the whole phrase: “Euthanize the Boomers and steal their stuff!”

  78. Bud Frawley says:

    They stole our stuff. We are going to take it back by force. Whistling a happy tune.

  79. len says:

    Bud Frawley :They stole our stuff. We are going to take it back by force. Whistling a happy tune.

    Poor Epimethius. He doesn’t know Zeus can see him coming a mile away and is cooking up something pretty for him.

    “Hey Snooky!”

  80. len says:

    Seems to me that part of the business model for the MIC behemoths is avoiding the monopsony corner by taking their wares to the various international “expos,” and doing “business development” here there and everywhere.

    It’s not that simple. Some systems types have only the government as a customer (say tracked vehicles) so few suppliers. Others have more buyers (say wheeled vehicles) so more commercial suppliers. The behemoths don’t like sales that have less certainty for the programs so yes, they like to sell overseas. There are onerous restrictions on that as you know. DoD is not strictly monopsonist. It is a mixed bag of models depending on systems, where manufactured, where maintained, composition of parts and so on. And any overseas sale has a State Department component to the deal. Very administration heavy and competitive and requires well-orchestrated partnerships industrially and politically. These are games and business models where the timid (say Frawley and Morgan) should not play.

  81. Alex Bowles says:

    @JTMcPhee Glad to see someone else is picking up on the whole debt thing. The depth and centrality of this problem is just starting to dawn on me. I mean, I was really focused on the corruption of the political process, and how that had enabled the trauma. Your (exceptional) cancer analogy made me realize that this aspect of the problem was akin to the way a tumor tricks the body into supplying it with more blood. So yes, obviously a huge issue, but conceptually speaking, it’s not the heart of the matter.

    Debt, on the other hand, is. Much of this was allowed to accumulate in inverse relation to the supposedly healthy “trickle down” notion that justified extreme concentrations of wealth at the top. Well, judging from the velocity of money, the operative word really is “trickle”. And following the Great Implosion, the flow has dropped past Great Depression levels.


    I don’t quite understand how this fits, but it seems to be a big part of the puzzle. And in terms of sales being the thing that creates jobs, it helps explains why the employment market got so harsh so fast and why it remains so anemic today.

  82. Alex Bowles says:

    Separately, the steady deceleration in the velocity of money that began under Reagan maps very closely to the inflation of the credit bubbles that began forming at the same time. My very rough impression is that a (calculated?) slowing of money’s velocity – which also coincides with the onset of long-term wage stagnation – was an essential prerequisite for a shift towards a credit fueled economy. And we’ve seen how well that works out. We’ve also seen that concentration sharp enough leads to a full-blown stall at 50,000 feet.

    In other words, the idea of “productive use of capital” doesn’t necessarily mean big investments made by a few especially well-endowed players. Rather, it means spreading it broadly and circulating it quickly, which is an idea that runs directly counter to the established view that sees concentrations of wealth as the most economically beneficial distribution.

    This is not to say that private capital can’t do exceptional things (Elon Musk comes to mind), just that (a) a much greater portion needs to be in general circulation and (b) the concentrations that do exist need to be serving economic development directly, rather than rent-seeking (i.e. inflating credit bubbles) and stock speculation (i.e. gambling).

    I know this will provoke a hue and cry from those who say that redistribution of wealth is a moral catastrophe. This should be taken with a grain of salt, given their reluctance to take any firm and principled stands when they were busy looting redistributing money from tax receipts and corporate earnings, removing it from the hands of states and workers, and placing into private accounts that cannot be credited with a whole lot of broadly productive value.

    It should go without saying that the October Revolution is a bad blueprint for what needs to be done. As the Michael Hudson piece notes, there’s a much better reference point in Germany, 1947.

  83. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles
    Your contempt for my tone and “bombast” as well as occasional mistake does not appear to be driven by a standard for civil discourse you apply to others. I agree with your criticism of some of my posts. I think it’s good, constructive criticism. It is criticism which could be applied to others here, particularly in the slap-dash way they treat their opposing ideas. And yet you don’t offer such criticism. You are uniquely, intensely interested in improving MY approach and completely satisfied to ignore the rest, no matter how combative or bombastic it may get. I’m sorry if my take away from that is that you’re applying a double standard.

    You know, these are blog comments. I often read them and reply on my phone. I don’t always study them with the academic intensity. Perhaps you should lighten up a bit.

  84. JTMcPhee says:

    The thing about revulsion revolutions is that they are like what I as a casual reader of Scientific American understand as the pre-Big Bang: Something sets some initial conditions, everything passes through the singularity, and then eventually we humans get to crow for a couple of millennia about how we are the center of the universe and G_d’s Special Creation until we learn about a more accurate quantized cosmography and even for some of us there’s the joy of knowing that all of us, particularly the heavier atoms, are born out of a Grand Main Sequence Magical Fusion in the belly of some star gone nova. There’s no controlling the initial conditions of the End of the Interregnum or Ragnarok or whatever you want to call it, just maybe opportunities to nudge and influence.

    Re debt, mini-economists want to blow off any noise about debt, which is the obverse side of “money.” And since waybackwhen, one of the ways that elites put the rest of us, ah, in their debt. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Not.

    Graeber highlights the nature and sickness of debt and the fundamental intellectual fraud at the heart of “economics,” the real history of “money,” and gee whiz, actually talks about the notion of forgiveness of debt, the presence of the concept called Jubilee in a couple of our “caveman” precursor societies, cultures which turned out to be as evanescent as our own is about to be but which seem to have had a whole lot less of the “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” that our culture is trending toward.

    And don’t forget that little exegisis I’ve linked a couple of times, that lays out the real nature of the “future” that libertarians would bring us.

    There’s all this lost motion and brouhaha about little bits and corners of the whole seamless mess, libertarian debate team members wanting to control the discourse via imposed definitions and “rules of forensic polemics.” And there’s even some more or less sincere invitations back and forth between a few of us confused or cock-certain souls, looking for common ground in putting together some kind of “front” against a tumor that does not give a shit what the body thinks about its presence and ascendance.

    There’s more to the cancer analogy than just the angiogenesis, the growing of arteries to feed the horror. The tumor cells persuade the immune system that they are “just like us guys,” so they can hide from the immune system’s cellular defenses, the “regulatory” parts and the “police” and “emergency responders” who in a healthy organism keep the cancer, the inevitable cancerous cells that each of us generate every day, in check. Think “Geithner” and a bunch of others, perverters and obscurers of the antigens that should have summoned hordes of macrophages and T-cells to engulf and re-purpose (at the very least) all those fucking Bankstas and lobbyists and the regulators who spent their work days and lunch hours hitting the tumors up for jobs.

    And many cancers actually co-opt the immune system to help them profit and grow. Think “regulatory capture,” in all its wonderful variability. And “growth,” unbridled, unconstrained, unregulated “growth,” is what is mortal about cancer and, in my notion, what’s wrong with too much of what people think of as the way to “grow” our way out of the “dip on a graph.” There are, as pointed out 40 years ago, “Limits to Growth.” And if the apocalypticists among the climate scientists and tree huggers and “rogue economists” are right, we humans have just smacked hard up against them.

    The MIC will keep generating deadlier and deadlier and eventually uncontrollable weapons. The Kochers will keep extracting until there’s nothing left to suck or dig and burn. The ethanol lobby will sue EPA to force rulemaking that increases the demand for their product exponentially, so what if people starve and engines that ingest the liquidated corn choke and grind. The “financial” elite will keep making fraudulent bets that other ordinary people have to pay off on without even the sick thrill of sitting at the table and calling for cards, and counterfeiting quadrillions of dollars. There’s a million other little scams and niches where the tumors are growing and metastasizing and invading what I for one would consider healthy tissue, and the brains of all those humans who might, if given the right information, find some Better Way, will instead play out their lives like the shits from MIT who put their Big Brains to work creating wacky complex math that obscures the nature of derivito-securitization and makes the whole suck-up-all-the-wealth-for-a-tiny-narcissistic self-indulgent-few thingie seem positively benign.

    So what’s next? he asked. I sure as hell don’t know.

  85. len says:

    The tumor cells persuade the immune system that they are “just like us guys,” so they can hide from the immune system’s cellular defenses, the “regulatory” parts and the “police” and “emergency responders” who in a healthy organism keep the cancer, the inevitable cancerous cells that each of us generate every day, in check.

    Vampire capitalism: keep the host alive but just barely. Otherwise, you have to compete with it for human blood and diminish the ready supply. Occasionally turn one for your own amusement but remember you have to sleep by day so have a limited time and some of the supply is only available if like yourself, it comes out at night.

    The solutions for macroeconomic problems are mostly microeconomics. Work by day; sleep by night; keep a ready supply of your own blood in the bank, or at least that worked until the banks starting trading with the vampires using your blood. Restore separation of commercial and speculative blood. You’ll stay healthy and the vampires won’t grow at such a catastrophic rate. No free lunch.

    Oddly enough, the MIC will change directions for the so-called “uncontrollable” aspects. They feel the left-leaning budget just as the rest of us do and oddly, they understand and plan for it better than most of us do. If one can separate abhorrence of the application, you may be surprised to see how some of that kind of planning might be better than what the extremologues here and elsewhere are proposing. It is concentrated on what you need to thrive, what you need to cut, what you need to burn and what you need to keep warm.

  86. len says:

    How can economics compete with science? Well, how does science compete with science?


    As for his big idea – that of a “paradigm” as an intellectual framework that makes research possible –well, it quickly escaped into the wild and took on a life of its own. Hucksters, marketers and business school professors adopted it as a way of explaining the need for radical changes of world-view in their clients. And social scientists saw the adoption of a paradigm as a route to respectability and research funding, which in due course led to the emergence of pathological paradigms in fields such as economics, which came to esteem mastery of mathematics over an understanding of how banking actually works, with the consequences that we now have to endure.

  87. Alex Bowles says:

    @len Flagrant abuses aside, Kuhn provides an indispensable idea that seems like it’s been around forever when in fact it hasn’t. That’s a nice write up, by the way. And it ends on an especially accurate note.

  88. len says:

    Yes it does and the interesting aspect is you can apply this to processes in general, accepted practices and belief systems. If it disturbs science it is that it reduced it to a belief system where the beliefs are repeatedly tested by a rigorous method.

    Would that economists would pay better attention to data and behavior. One reason militaries dominate societies is they do precisely that. It is quite difficult to shape a culture away from militarism but that is exactly what we need to be doing and to do it, we have to understand the means and rewards of militarism. We tend to think of it in terms of satisfying the elite but that isn’t quite accurate. It is an elite-generator of it’s own design and then the tendancies of elite networks to network does the rest. The politicians are simply proxies.

  89. len says:

    Paul Ryan explains to women Todd Aiken’s grasp of their physiology while the party faithful watch and interpret.

    Ladies, it is what it is.

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