Re: So Now It's The Labor Secretary

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The Solis thing is trivial. The guy didn't even know he had a problem and as soon as he found out he took care of it. It's a result of a shitty tax code, not crookedness on the part of Mr. Solis.

Daschle's problem was serious because he damn well should have known about it. His failure to pay taxes was a direct reflection of an attitude of indifference to compliance with the law.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:19 AM
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I was not initially surprised by the Republican fussing, but was surprised when the first nominee backed down. Surprised because this was an issue that should have come up in the vetting process, especially since Obama's process had been described as unusually thorough. Which makes it seem like they're backing down for no good reason (your "latter case"), which is a really bad sign. Of course, it would also be a bad sign if they somehow were blindsided by this. It's a bad sign either way.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:20 AM
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Some of it's BS and some isn't. Hiring nannies and not paying SS and such, or ignoring the taxes on a "free" car and driver is just plain stupid/arrogant coming from members of our governing class.

TurboTax or TaxCut (for under$50) asks me about that sort of thing, a fuckin' US senator should be able to cope with it.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:25 AM
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Bah. All these nominees and/or their spouses are wealthy and sophisticated enough to hire professional tax preparers to assess their finances and file accurate returns for them.

I am sympathetic to the argument that a certain degree of these sorts of tax violations is only to be expected, given that our tax code is both overly complex and overly aggressive in the way it attempts to count every conceivable thing of value you receive as taxable "income". But the answer to that problem is for our politicians to simplify and streamline the code, not for them to cut corners when it comes their own turn to grapple with the same burdensome laws that confront ordinary Americans of lesser means.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:27 AM
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Solis would be a great Labro Secretary too. Yeah, teh Daschle thing is absurd.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:27 AM
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Police officers every day hear the "but why would I do that, it doesn't make any sense" defense. The Daschle and Geithner issues are bad precisely because each figured he had plausible deniability. I don't imagine that if the tables were turned, and either Geithner or Daschle were owed large sums of money, that they would have been so careless. "Oh gosh, I forgot to collect that $40,000 from my brother in law. Just slipped my mind, happens sometimes . . . "


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:29 AM
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I have not been following these cases except for the merest of headlines. But I was nevertheless under the impression that all of this HAD come out in that oh-so-comprehensive Obama team vetting, and that the administration had decided to press forward with the nomination anyway.

If that's true, then the question arises: was the argument that "Obama just wants to know where his nominees' weak spots are, so he can be prepared to tell the Republicans to stop fussing about nothing," correct?

Because it seems like they were either a) underprepared to fight back, or b) misreading the likely public reaction.



Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:30 AM
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I've become so accustomed to Chicago politics that I'd be suspicious if the nominees didn't have any obvious skeletons in their closet -- because that would mean they were covering up their role in supplying Thai child prostitutes to Robert Mugabe or something.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:30 AM
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So, assuming these were real problems and not trumped-up charges (about which I take no position, but which I'm perfectly willing to believe), does it seem most likely that: (1) the administration didn't know about them, (2) the administration found out about them but didn't think anyone else would, or (3) the administration didn't think anyone else would care much if/when they found out? All three of those seem extremely problematic, but I can't think of any other possibilities.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:31 AM
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9 largely pwned by 7. I'm asking the same questions.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:32 AM
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Hiring nannies and not paying SS and such, or ignoring the taxes on a "free" car and driver is just plain stupid/arrogant coming from members of our governing class.

Yeah, but my understanding is that Killefer did pay the FICA taxes and so on -- she missed a local DC employment tax. That's a fuckup, but do you really think it says anything about character or intelligence?

And the same with Daschle -- is that really the sort of fuckup you think of as saying something about his personal competence?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:34 AM
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re: 10

The alternative to those 3 options seems to be 4) the administration is omniscient.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:37 AM
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6: You know, there's a reason that tax problems of the caliber we're talking about are civil violations rather than crimes. Because they are the kind of things that we, as a society, have recognized that people do mess up either out of straightforward error, or honest disagreement about the proper application of the tax laws.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:37 AM
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Can I just say that this stimulus package thing genuinely scares me? It seems like economic "stimulation" is only incidental to its true purpose, which is to give our politicians a special, once-in-a-lifetime no-limit shopping spree in which they can spend whatever they want on whatever they like. And I think any actual stimulation it generates will be negligible, as it was in Japan when it tried something similar.

I am open to being told why I am wrong about all this and it's actually a great idea.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:38 AM
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Killefer did pay the FICA taxes and so on -- she missed a local DC employment tax.

Damn. That sounds like an honest-to-God mistake. I doubt that the vetting process would have caught that until deep, deep, deep into the weeds: so much of the forms we saw relied on voluntary disclosures, and this mistake is so clearly an oversight that the candidate wouldn't ever think to disclose it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:38 AM
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11: Killefer--I don't think that says anything about her personal competence or reflects poorly upon her ethical standards. She made mistakes that an honest person can make, got caught only because she was trying to do the right thing, paid a small fine and then got blind-sided for others larger mistakes.

Daschle--Yes, not knowing that a car and driver is income either reflects very poorly on his personal competence or it means he thought he could get away with not paying taxes. Same goes double for out Sec. of Treasury.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:39 AM
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Also, the GOP opposition to Solis has nothing whatsoever to do with taxes on her husband's auto business, and everything to do with the fact that she supports unions. Which, y'know, God forbid a Labor Secretary support labor.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:40 AM
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The Solis thing is driving me nuts. It's her husband who had the tax problem, not her, and it really does seem to be a penny-ante problem. But because she is pro-labor and will do something about it if confirmed, the Republicans revert to the Caesar's wife standard of official probity. And because liberals and Democrats are not the brainwashed automatons that Republicans have been for the past eight years, their fake concerns get taken seriously.

Now, I don't think that the American Left should become slavishly pro-administration, as the right did. I didn't think Daschle should have stepped down, but I can see why people did, and the argument about that among people of good will was fine. But as far as I'm concerned, if the Republican party is raising "ethical" objections about a candidate for office it should be treated as a badge of honor. Carthago delenda est.


Posted by: King Rat | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:40 AM
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re: 14


You may find this interesting:

http://blogs.ft.com/maverecon/2009/02/fiscal-expansions-in-submerging-markets-the-case-of-the-usa-and-the-uk/


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:41 AM
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8 made me laugh because my immediate reaction to hearing about one of these cases was to wonder about Kerik (?) or whatever his name was -- the guy who supposedly resigned because of nanny taxes but actually it was much more sleazy stuff.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:43 AM
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economic "stimulation" is only incidental to its true purpose

I see you got the talking points. Spending *is* stimulus. Your argument seems to be "that team doesn't want to score points; they just want to throw the basketball through that hoop there."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:43 AM
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Part of the rhetorical sleight of hand here is that the (vast?) majority of Americans only ever deal with withholding, and therefore have no fucking clue how complicated and ridiculous taxes are for people who consult/have multiple revenue streams/etc. So you always get this, "If I didn't pay my taxes" line when, in fact, small businesspeople and the like run into shit like this all the time. I'm scrupulous and honest about taxes, yet every year I feel confident that I will get a notice from the IRS* telling me I did something wrong and need to send more $$.

Now, I understand that these people have accountants and should therefore be getting this shit right (and I absolutely agree that neither Daschle's, Geithner's, nor Herr Solis's accountants should be in the Cabinet), but the point is that I don't have any illusions about how easy it is to get this shit right. Wage-earning Americans with withholdings have no fucking clue.

* and the City and the State


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:44 AM
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LB for Senator in 2010! (Can I be your campaign manager?)


Posted by: (O)(C)(T)(O)(P)(U)(S) | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:44 AM
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But Daschle's the only one who's withdrawn his name, right? Everyone else is just weathering the storm?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:44 AM
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Also, Dashle and Geitner didn't even pay a fine while Killefer paid a fine far great than the amount of taxes she owed. Probably because Killefer was not important enough to skip out of the 'this is how we treat regular tax-payers' line.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:45 AM
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I'm so sick of this bullshit. With Solis it's just completely obvious that it's political theater and not an actual ethical concern.

Is there any way to find out what part of the stimulus package is actually being cut by the "centrists"? Everything I've found seems to have only partial information. It looks like education is getting slashed significantly, and I've heard NSF funding is also, but I can't find a news article to back that up. Then things that seem unambiguously to create work and build up infrastructure -- energy efficiency for federal buildings, broadband internet in rural areas -- are getting cut even as the people doing the cutting say their should be more job creation and infrastructure funding?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:46 AM
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There, not their. I seem to be a little worked up about this.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:47 AM
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Yes, not knowing that a car and driver is income either reflects very poorly on his personal competence or it means he thought he could get away with not paying taxes.

Seriously, he's a rich guy with complicated finances. That is in itself indicative of bad character, (I say that to be funny, but it's kind of true) but almost anyone who's professionally qualified for the position he's up for is going to be. A free car and driver would be a huge deal for you or me, not so much for someone in Daschle's position.

I'm sure if you asked him straight up, at the time when he was talking to his accountant about his taxes, whether the car and driver was taxable income, he'd know the right answer. But do you really think it's implausible that he just never thought of it, in amongst the rest of the financial complexity of his life, or are you convinced that he knowingly thought about the car, and either consciously decided it wasn't taxable (stupid) or thought he could get away with it (evil).

I find 'just overlooked it' completely plausible. Now, that says something as well -- that he's the kind of guy with a complicated enough financial life that he can overlook something like that. He's a Washington fatcat. But if we're going to rule out Washington fatcats, it's going to be a lot harder to get anything done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:47 AM
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11: Killefer is a management consultant and former member of the IRS oversight board. She was up for "Performance Officer". Any errors in her tax returns are indeed indicative of her character and possibly her performance.

BHO is running into problems created by the public's mood that got him elected in the first place. We're about a step-and-half away from the torches and pitchforks. I'd just as soon see failed nominees hanging from lamp posts. (Along with some bankers, etc.)


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:47 AM
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#19: I did indeed find that interesting. Thanks.

How is it that Obama can assemble whatever dream team of economists it is that he has in his cabinet, and still think this stimulus thing is a good idea? I can only conclude that either (1) he and his advisors are idiots, or (2) they know damn well they're wrecking the economy in the long run, but they cynically don't care as long as they get a cool trillion to spend on fun stuff today.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:48 AM
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22: Americans who have had to pay their own SS taxes (numbering several 10s of millions) probably don't have much sympathy for Geitner. Especially since he got a check from his employer for the specific purpose of paying those taxes.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:49 AM
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29 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:50 AM
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She was up for "Performance Officer". Any errors in her tax returns are indeed indicative of her character and possibly her performance.

This seems to me to be simply insane. And what JRoth said -- Buck owns a corporation, and I'm sure we've got fuckups in our taxes, or its taxes, if it were gone over with a fine-tooth comb. And we've had to speak sharply to our accountant, who's a good guy but has a hard time following that we're really looking for the conservative, rather than the aggressive, tax approach.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:51 AM
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I agree with LizardBreath on Killefer and probably on Solis (I haven't looked at that), but overall, I'm with 29.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:55 AM
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It seems like economic "stimulation" is only incidental to its true purpose, which is to give our politicians a special, once-in-a-lifetime no-limit shopping spree in which they can spend whatever they want on whatever they like

The math is very simple right now. Private actors in the economy are failing to buy things to the tune of about $3T right now ("shortfall in aggregate demand"). We can either accept this, and throw 10-15 million productive, skilled people out of work, or we can have the gov't borrow (at 0.1% interest) $900B to buy things and hire people to do things.

And I think any actual stimulation it generates will be negligible, as it was in Japan when it tried something similar.

Well, not "negligible" - see the numbers above. Krugman suggested a couple months ago that we should be over $1T in stimulus, but $900B could/should have an average multiplier of ~1.5*, so $1.4T of spending, covering half the shortfall. In contrast, Japan fucked up a lot of things - they dicked around with interest rates (instead of dropping them fast, as the Fed has correctly done), and their stimulus came in dribs and drabs. This is why it's critical that this package be big and fast. What the Republicans and Blue Dogs want is, literally, the worst thing - a too-small, too-ineffective stimulus** that will do little to increase aggregate demand, but will increase long-term debt.

* Note that some things - like food stamps - get you a multiplier of almost 2, but there simply isn't $900B of stuff with that high a multiplier

** Tax cuts for rich people actually have a multiplier effect below 1 - not a penny goes to aggregate demand, plus it increases debt


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:55 AM
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What really bothers me about this politically is a worry that the resignations mean that the Senate Democrats aren't going to reliably work with the administration; that Killefer and Daschle, and now with Solis, got a signal that the Democrats in the Senate wouldn't stand behind them. And that's just a huge, huge problem if that's what's going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:55 AM
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How is it that Obama can assemble whatever dream team of economists it is that he has in his cabinet, and still think this stimulus thing is a good idea

From what I can tell, the vast majority of economists (especially the ones who'd been warning about reaching this point all along) believe a massive stimulus is necessary.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:57 AM
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And we've had to speak sharply to our accountant, who's a good guy but has a hard time following that we're really looking for the conservative, rather than the aggressive, tax approach.

This, yes, yes. My father commits what seems to me to be clear-cut tax fraud every single year, although I suppose it could be characterized as just taking extremely aggressive tax positions. But he doesn't know a goddamn thing about his taxes. He gives all his paperwork to an accountant. He chose the accountant because he had a "good" reputation (which generally means: finds aggressive ways to save the taxpayer money). I've mentioned several times that some of the positions he takes seem to me to be clearly over the line, but he just says, "I have no idea. I just give the papers to my accountant. He's supposed to be good." And I'm pretty sure he's being honest when he says that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:57 AM
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11: Killefer is a management consultant and former member of the IRS oversight board. She was up for "Performance Officer". Any errors in her tax returns are indeed indicative of her character and possibly her performance.

Indeed. Her first-hand experience of how difficult it is to comply with the various tax regimes while having a confusing "income" stream could be relevant to bringing new ideas to that job.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:00 AM
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they know damn well they're wrecking the economy in the long run, but they cynically don't care as long as they get a cool trillion to spend on fun stuff today.

OK, this is just stupid. "Wrecking the economy" means, according to the CBO, a 0.1% reduction in GDP in 5-6 years. In the meantime, without stimulus, GDP is reduced by 2% a year in 2009, 2010, and 1% in 2011.

Why is OK to consign millions of Americans to penury over the next 3 years in order to marginally increase the national income in 5 years? How does that make sense?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:00 AM
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Talk about bad vetting: a McCain Colorado campaign manager has been charged with molestation. Horrible enough, yes; worse, similar allegations were made against him at least five times since 1982. As of this morning, I'm calling on Senator McCain to resign for ethical lapses.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:02 AM
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38: Right. I can't remember what our guy tried to talk us into, but it was very clear that his goal was to minimize our taxes paid by any plausibly legal means, rather than to be dead certain we were inside the law.

And he really is a decent, honest guy generally (we've known him for ages, he's a friend) -- that's just how he (and I really think most tax accountants) conceives of his job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:03 AM
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40: How is reducing the GPD by 2% putting people in penury? I'd rather take the hit quick than drag it out, especially since softening the blow appears to require giving hundreds of billions to the people that screwed it up in the first place.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:05 AM
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that's just how he (and I really think most tax accountants) conceives of his job.

Well, other than avoiding hassle, this is how they earn their keep. A tax accountant is a lot more sensible investment if she basically pays herself out of tax savings.

Speaking of which, I really need to get my shit together and hire an accountant.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:07 AM
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Is it possible that we can just stipulate that nobody here has enough of a grasp of the macroeconomic issues -- nor, given that it's still in process, the particulars of the legislation -- to weigh in on the prospective efficacy of the stimulus package? From there, I'm afraid, it's mostly politics. And Gaijin Biker, as Apo said, is just parroting talking points.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:09 AM
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Let's put it this way, I'd rather see $10 in expanded unemployment benefits than $5 in tax money for bonuses to the head of B of A, even if the $5 will obliviate the need to spend the $10.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:09 AM
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The economy is already wrecked. Problem is the best way to clean up the mess.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:09 AM
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38 and 42 are why my conversation with a (highly recommended as "ethical"!) accountant ended with my decision to keep doing my own doggedly honest job with Turbo Tax, and take my chances with the IRS if ever I get audited.

It just seems like many of them regard their job as cutting corners, and that doesn't sit right with me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:10 AM
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42: I don't actually think my father's accountant is a decent, honest guy. Some of the positions taken do seem in fact clearly fraudulent in light of my father's full facts and circumstances. It seems to me the accountant takes my father's records, asks no questions, and creates the best possible tax position that could be supported based solely on the documentary evidence, but which actually in fact is not supportable at all if you ask my father some basic questions. ("Is your whole 1,000 sq. ft. finished basement really a home office, or just the corner with the computer?")

But I don't think my father has any intent to break the tax laws. He does want to pay as little as is legally required, though.

Does anyone have a thought on 7/9? This is troubling me.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:12 AM
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rather than to be dead certain we were inside the law.

The thing is, once it gets complicated, it's not always even a well posed problem. I've been in a situation (complexity due to cross border issues, not, alas, tons of filthy lucre to avoid taxes on) where an expert tax accountant basically said "honestly, this is just our best guess. We'll send it out, and if they complain we'll have to revisit". In that case, the tax law just resorts to a section of a tax treaty, and apparently the treaty has had some interpretation issues.

So yeah. Good times. I'm quite willing to believe that people get in similar issues with the code of just one country.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:13 AM
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Is it possible that we can just stipulate that nobody here has enough of a grasp of the macroeconomic issues ... to weigh in on the prospective efficacy of the stimulus package?

That's my worry.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:14 AM
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I suspect there is a lot of 49.first too though.

In my own case, I ended up paying basically the maximum plausible tax, plus thousands in accountant fees, 'cause I'm a chump that way.

Well that, and I really don't want them breathing down my neck in future years.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:15 AM
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That's my worry.

Be worried then. Empirically, it seems the most likely thing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:15 AM
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How is reducing the GPD by 2% putting people in penury? I'd rather take the hit quick than drag it out, especially since softening the blow appears to require giving hundreds of billions to the people that screwed it up in the first place.

First of all, it sounds like you're conflating the Wall St bailout with the stimulus. The two are utterly unrelated. Extending unemployment benefits or buying new buses is not, in any sense, "giving hundreds of billions to the people that screwed it up in the first place."

Second of all, we've had 1.8 million people thrown out of work in the last 3 months. Most of them will not find jobs before 2011 unless the stimulus passes. That's penury.

Note that the 2% reduction in GDP is all in negative territory - the economy is shrinking, and the money has to come from somewhere. It will either come out of the pockets of the poor now, in big chunks, or it could come from slightly less wealth in the future.

Finally, there's absolutely nothing about not passing stimulus that would speed recovery. "I'd rather take the hit quick than drag it out" is a false choice. Hoover's policies were not putting the country on track for recovery - it was FDR's massive stimulus that increased GDP 10%/year for 4 years (before idiots convinced him to worry about the deficit, and he cut spending and raised taxes while the country was still not fully recovered). If we do nothing, the recession will last 3 years or more. If we do something, the recession will last 3 years or more, but with much less unemployment and pain, and many more actual improvements to the country (rebuilt bridges, greener public buildings, etc.).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:17 AM
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Does anyone have a thought on 7/9? This is troubling me.

My guess is that (other than the Solis thing, which I don't think they found) they found the issues and didn't think it would be a problem. Both were mistakes that were cleared up; Geitner and Daschle are both now in compliance with the law. And they both look to me like mistakes, not intentional cheating, and like the sort of mistakes that it might be seriously difficult to find appropriate nominees with nothing similar in their backgrounds.

The thing about mis-guessing how the public would react, is that the public reaction is so heavily a function of the coverage it gets. This is a scandal because it's reported as a scandal -- I'm guessing that these look fairly innocent, but I'm not really sophisticated enough to be sure. And I'm damn sure that most of the people with opinions about these tax problems aren't sophisticated enough to have a reliable opinion about whether they look like innocent mistakes or intentional chicanery.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:19 AM
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I'm sympathetic, because I fuck up my taxes on a fairly regular basis. One year I got dinged for contributing to both an IRA and a 401(k), which apparently you can't do even though the H&R Block TaxAct software didn't seem to have a problem with it. Another time I overlooked some interest income, because it was on a form that looked exactly the same as another form, and I thought I had entered it in when I had not. Honest mistake. Most recently the state of Maryland just hit me up for $411 because I two years ago I deducted some educational expenses from my federal taxes and I wrongly took the deduction on my state as well. Again, the software didn't protect me.

I'm just a regular schlub and my finances aren't terribly complicated. Frankly, I'd be surprised if 80% of the members of congress didn't have some issues similar to, or worse, than the ones like I've had.

Bottom line is that taxes are wicked complicated. What I don't understand is why they expect me to file them. The IRS apparently knows how much I make. Why don't they just send me a bill?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:19 AM
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Can I just say that this stimulus package thing genuinely scares me? It seems like economic "stimulation" is only incidental to its true purpose, which is to give our politicians a special, once-in-a-lifetime no-limit shopping spree in which they can spend whatever they want on whatever they like.

One could hope, but no. No more so that supplementary appropriation bills were just exactly the same stuff.

And I think any actual stimulation it generates will be negligible, as it was in Japan when it tried something similar.

If you actually read the article, it's a piece based on Mr. Geithner's viewpoint, wherein he is arguing that infrastructure money should not be spent on bridges to nowhere. In the same piece he argues that Japan did the right thing, but not nearly enough of it.

How is it that Obama can assemble whatever dream team of economists it is that he has in his cabinet, and still think this stimulus thing is a good idea?

Apparently you have no clue what the notion of a stimulus is. Hint: it's not any different that having the Federal Reserve cut interest rates.

I can only conclude that either (1) he and his advisors are idiots,

I am quite happy to argue that Summers is a fool, but that would be becuase his actual efforts tend to fall in line with your notions.

or (2) they know damn well they're wrecking the economy in the long run, but they cynically don't care as long as they get a cool trillion to spend on fun stuff today.

If the economy is wrecked in the short run, there is no economy to wreck in the long run. Debt will eventually have to be paid off, just like in Japan. OTOH, the US doesn't have a falling population, and isn't required to prop up zombie banks for eight years (which is the destructive part). Further to that, while the bridge in the article in question is 'little-trafficed' that misses the point that there is nothing in town in question to drive traffic. (Putting aside the fact that it perfectly acceptable to have a bridge that last fifty years start out with a small traffic load. People hate congestion, one will recall.)

It looks like education is getting slashed significantly, and I've heard NSF funding is also, but I can't find a news article to back that up.

Look in TPM, where they got have a display of the pages from the discussion group where they just list what they might cut. They apparently intend to cut the increase to the NSF entirely. (The original bill gives the NSF 1 billion in extra funding.)

max
['WHEE!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:22 AM
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The argument that has given me the most pause over the stimulus so far is the analogy to the Iraq war buildup: dramatic action is required; you're not equipped to understand how it's going to work; trust the government. I'm a little once-bitten about arguments in that form.

The thing is, the analogy breaks down in a number of places. Here, nobody denies that there's a serious problem, where last time the problem was fabricated. Here, the proponents of the plan have actual credibility, where the war crowd, well, didn't, and the people shouting "slow down, wait!" have spent their lives being wrong about everything, as opposed to being sensible, cooler heads. And, when you get right down to it, large government spending just isn't anywhere near as bad as starting a war.

Still, though, we're talking about enormous future debt that is rationalized by arguments that nobody completely understands, and almost nobody gets at all. I know that's why we (try to) put experts in charge, but it remains worrisome to me. Not worrisome enough that I don't think it's probably the right thing to do, but still worrisome.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:22 AM
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54: I'm well used to crappy bridges. I'll agree that a well-planned stimulus could help. But then why the rush. It sets-off all my "shifty saleman' alarms. If they go quickly, all we're only to get is every building in West Virginia with more than 2 stories named after Byrd and another tunnel to somewhere nobody goes.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:23 AM
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so far is the analogy to the Iraq war buildup: dramatic action is required; you're not equipped to understand how it's going to work; trust the government. I'm a little once-bitten about arguments in that form.

This is a pretty perfect analogy to the bailout. Of course, that should hardly surprise anyone.

Not so sure about the stimulus package.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:25 AM
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I'm with MH in #43 on this one. People being out of work is not a horror to be avoided at all costs; it is a consequence of the economy correcting itself, like forest fires making way for new growth. If you owe your job to the artificial demand provided by government spending, and not to genuine market forces, what happens when the stimulus has run its course?

Of course the counter-argument is the claim that if a stimulus package is big enough and fast enough, it can jump-start genuine consumer demand by making everyone feel like they've got a lot of money so they go out and buy stuff again. And that brings us back to the discussion here some time ago about the Mellon view of "liquidating" jobs in weak and dying businesses, versus the Keynesian view that the car of the economy just has a busted alternator, and tons of government spending will get it running again.

I'm a Mellon man myself. I think the stimulus will leave us an extra $1 trill in debt and the damn car still won't run. But we'll see.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:26 AM
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Does anyone have a thought on 7/9? This is troubling me.

Frankly, I think they got a little cocky - everything had gone as well or better than might be expected, and they figured they'd keep rolling. Furthermore, Daschle apparently withdrew on his own - he almost certainly would have been confirmed, despite some bruises. So the Obama team was justified in thinking they could survive these tax fuckups. And once they were past confirmation, it's not like any of the nominees would be hindered in their duties by trumped-up tax controversy*.

But I think they severely misjudged/underestimated public disgust with the wealthy right now (remember, Obama is all about the change and hope, not the pitchforks - I'm not 100% certain he gets the pitchfork impulse, and a lot of his other advisors are DC insiders who definitely don't get that), and I think they truly didn't expect the Rs to go all-in on opposition. I don't, actually, blame the Rs for trying to give BHO a bloody nose on his nominees, but their cynical, nihilistic opposition is breathtaking (the DeMint "stimulus" package that got votes from 36 out of 41 R Senators is, quite simply, a nation-destroying proposal - literally approaching treason, IMO), and I don't think Team Obama imagined it beforehand.

* Trumped-up controversy, not the tax issues, which are of course real. None of the Senators or media figures are seriously offended by this shit (they all do it or comparable), but they know a cudgel when they see one.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:26 AM
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I suppose this is the place where I can bang my head on my desk about this from the new chairman of the RNC, Michael Steele:

And first off the government doesn't create jobs. Let's get this notion out of our heads that the government creates jobs. Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.

Umm, leaving aside the fact that close to half of my company's workforce is funded through NIH research grants or that the entire defense contracting industry is created by the federal government, 1.8 million federal employees also beg to differ. And Steele is one of the *smart* ones.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:26 AM
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63: what a maroon.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:28 AM
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Here we go: Collins-Nelson Group Staff Paper Potential Cuts.

Most of the cuts are piddly - they things they are cutting could be handled through the normal budget process... EXCEPT the state aid, the NSF cuts, the Title I and Headstart grants (that is, education stuff).

max
['That's where the money is.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:29 AM
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If you owe your job to the artificial demand provided by government spending, and not to genuine market forces, what happens when the stimulus has run its course?

Then you've spent a certain period of time not being unemployed, for one.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:31 AM
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55: I'm pretty sure that somebody reasonably trustworthy and in the know -- DeLong? -- concluded the Geitner willfully cheated/pushed the envelope on his taxes. With Daschle, it's about optics, a populist and goo-goo moment in which having a hugely compensated Capitol Hill lobbyist, a man who didn't pay taxes on his limo and driver, try to reform health doesn't make sense. The Solis thing is just Republican sour grapes.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:32 AM
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63; I assume his argument is that the governmetn merely "redirects" jobs (and spending generally)--if those 1.8 million weren't employed by the government, they'd be employed in 1.8 million private sector jobs that would exist (but don't now, because the government has crowded them out).

I think the idea is wrong, but it's not completely crazy. (I.e., there's sophisticated economic theory behind it.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:32 AM
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#45: Someone who disagrees with you is not necessarily "just parroting talking points." I might as well say people who support the stimulus are merely parroting Obama's talking points, but I wouldn't, because that would be rude and condescending.

At any rate, I clearly stated at the outset that I am open to being shown why I might be wrong, which is hardly the offer of a rigid ideologue.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:33 AM
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People being out of work is not a horror to be avoided at all costs; it is a consequence of the economy correcting itself, like forest fires making way for new growth.

You don't need to say any more, GB. Everyone here has heard this before. Thanks for playing. Next contestant.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:34 AM
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I.e., there's sophisticated economic theory behind it

Sophisticated, but doesn't bear much empirical scrutiny.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:34 AM
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If you owe your job to the artificial demand provided by government spending, and not to genuine market forces, what happens when the stimulus has run its course?

The whole point of the stimulus is that it's supposed to help the private sector economy get up and running again. So hopefully when your government job has "run its course", there will be lots of private sector companies looking to hire.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:35 AM
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there's sophisticated economic theory behind it

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:35 AM
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Forest fires are good for new growth, but they are hell on chipmunks.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:35 AM
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A lot of sophisticated economic theories are completely crazy. It's not just me saying that any more. DeLong was edging that way the other day.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:36 AM
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Look in TPM, where they got have a display of the pages from the discussion group where they just list what they might cut.

Thanks, max. Here's the link, for the lazy. So 100% of the NSF increase, cut. 38% of DOE energy efficiency & renewable energy funding, and 100% of DOE office of science. Lots of cuts for agriculture, too. All of those things are chump change, really, being cut just to make a show of cutting things, I would guess. The serious amounts of money that are being cut would go to the states.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:36 AM
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People being out of work is not a horror to be avoided at all costs

Are there no workhouses?

I haven't anything to add regarding Solis: #18 and #22 describe my own thoughts on the topic.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:38 AM
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I'm slow; 76 posted before 65.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:38 AM
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61: Yes, if the government is going to take on another trillion in debt, I'm wondering if everybody who is afraid of what is will take in taxes to pay that debt isn't going to clamp down on their own spending enough to offset the spending itself.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:38 AM
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Mockery doesn't change minds, everyone.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:38 AM
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Before I saw 65, that is. Slow and inept.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:38 AM
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I'm with MH in #43 on this one. People being out of work is not a horror to be avoided at all costs; it is a consequence of the economy correcting itself, like forest fires making way for new growth.

And I'd agree with you, if it wasn't that this would be a nuclear, soil-destroying, forest doesn't recover for decades type of fire.

If you owe your job to the artificial demand provided by government spending, and not to genuine market forces, what happens when the stimulus has run its course?

Since most people owe their jobs at this point to the artificial stimulus of constant interest rate cuts (and associated financial shennanigans), that time would be now. Hi. Welcome to the future.

Of course the counter-argument is the claim that if a stimulus package is big enough and fast enough, it can jump-start genuine consumer demand

Actually, the point is to avoid people with pitchforks burning shit down by replacing collapsed business investment with government investment. If this incidently punches up consumer demand beyond the multiplier effects, that would be keen.

by making everyone feel like they've got a lot of money so they go out and buy stuff again.

Naw, 's got fuckall to do with it. That was Greenspan's scheme.

And that brings us back to the discussion here some time ago about the Mellon view of "liquidating" jobs in weak and dying businesses,

And it's been tried, many times. People usually proceed to burn shit down, which is bad for future growth.

versus the Keynesian view that the car of the economy just has a busted alternator, and tons of government spending will get it running again.

See 1893, 1873, 1929 (through 1933), 1837-1844 and so on. You can get away with that when most people live on farms and go from poor to really poor, but not starving.

I'm a Mellon man myself. I think the stimulus will leave us an extra $1 trill in debt and the damn car still won't run. But we'll see.

Then the extra one trillion hardly matters, does it?

max
['Oh, the weather outside is frightful...']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:41 AM
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71: sure, no, I agree, and I said I think it's wrong. (But really, how much macroeconomic theory *does* "bear much empirical scrutiny"?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:44 AM
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Then the extra one trillion hardly matters, does it?

This is key.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:44 AM
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But really, how much macroeconomic theory *does* "bear much empirical scrutiny"?

Not nearly enough to be sanguine about the state of economic theory.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:45 AM
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#57: Apparently you have no clue what the notion of a stimulus is. Hint: it's not any different that having the Federal Reserve cut interest rates.

It's late here so maybe I'm not thinking clearly on this one, but isn't there a big honking difference between the two? Namely that with a stimulus, the government decides how to spend the extra money that is injected into the economy (possibly on pork-barrel bridges to nowhere, etc.), whereas with lower interest rates, the cost of money drops, but private actors still decide, through the market, how to allocate money to its best (i.e., economically most efficient) use?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:46 AM
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To be less flip about 83, the batshit crazy stuff that's pushed by a random drunk in a bar is a lot less potentially damaging than the batshit crazy stuff pushed by a guy in congress. Wrapping it up in a theoretical framework makes it easier to game.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:47 AM
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82: And I might agree with you if people hadn't spent so much of time trying to scare me about so many things that I don't really listen anymore. (i.e. iran, iraq, global warming, killer bees, aids, drugs, somebody spit in your coke while you went to the bathroom, peanut allergies, medicare, the budget deficit, being hit on in airport restrooms, etc.)


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:47 AM
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Even the Chicago School rejected Mellon's liquidationism. It was some kind of amalgam of creative destruction, social Darwinism, and (possibly) hellfire Christianity. "Purge the rottenness" isn't scientific language. Mellon seems to have been an extraordinarily unpleasant man. Coincidentally, his hunting club was responsible for the Johnstown Flood.

From a non-economic point of view, ameliorating the suffering of a depression is a good thing whether or not the economy is strengthened. I'm not sure whether it isn't good from an economic point of view too, but in any case, tacit indifference to the amelioration of the sufferings of the unemployed labor being liquidated is a marker of a vicious right-winger, and someone I would not care to meet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:48 AM
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but private actors still decide, through the market, how to allocate money to its best (i.e., economically most efficient) use

Completely an aside, but you do realize this isn't what actually happens outside econ 101 classes, right? I only ask cause it sounds a little like this conversation is going to run off into la-la land.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:48 AM
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I thought the biggest fear was the deflationary spiral. If money is increasing in value, nobody wants to spend it on anything, they would rather save it until the deflationary spiral ends. Especially entities with large amounts of money. And that may be happening for the first time in a long time. In that situation, the "encourage private actors to allocate money to its best uses" policies would not work.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:48 AM
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"Purge the rottenness" isn't scientific language.

It also rarely seems to have any relation to the people who actually lose their jobs.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:49 AM
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I'm a Mellon man myself.

Oh. There's a new world record, you know.

the government decides how to spend the extra money

Only on the first pass though, right? After all that money goes to the various contractors, etc, for the specific funded project, then that money's circulating in the economy to be spent as consumers decide.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:51 AM
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MH, depending on your gender, I either want to move to Utah and take you as my second wife, or move to Vermont and gay-marry you.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:51 AM
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Jesus, GB, I read a couple of your other comments. You need to read different books. The ones that you think are definitive, aren't. You can't just repeat the cliches of your sect and expect people to pay attention.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:52 AM
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94: Now I have one more thing to be afraid of.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:53 AM
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I think I'm worried that the stimulus will not make things "better", but instead only "less horrible than they otherwise would have been". Which is a hard thing for people to perceive, and which would likely result in it being judged a "failure". Especially when it's compared against the hard number of an extra $1 trillion in debt--even if the stimulus does vastly more than $1 trillion worth of long term good. And that the Republicans will be able to use this to their political advantage.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:53 AM
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80: And guns don't kill people; people kill people. Seriously, Gaijin Biker thinks that millions of people out of work is no big deal. Well, as John says, then there's nothing to talk about.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:54 AM
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serious question about this:

I'd rather take the hit quick than drag it out,

It seems to me that option is off the table, post bailout anyway. We can't just pretend we haven't already given/pissed most of a trillion away on fucking about with the `natural' reorganizing now, right?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:55 AM
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guns don't kill people; people kill people

This is true! However, people who kill people sure do seem to like guns.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:56 AM
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What makes you confident it will be a "quick hit"?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:57 AM
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Brock, it's entirely plausible that nothing can make things "better" at this point, other than a lot of time. "less horrible" is a pretty good target then.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:57 AM
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101: that too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:57 AM
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100: But are people who like guns just rational actors, maximizing the efficiency of a murderous cycle? Just thinking about it for a minute.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:58 AM
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102: no, I agree. My worry is that this will be perceived as failure, however. And that this will be a policoital problem for Democrats.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:59 AM
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105 was me.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:59 AM
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WTF does 88 have to do with anything?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:00 AM
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You know ari, most guns (someone's likely to have in a personal collection, anyway) are pretty inefficient murder tools. More an artisinal approach. If you're really trying to maximize the efficiency of a murderous cycle, you've got to look at high explosives at least. Poisin gas works a charm, too, I've heard.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:00 AM
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Coital problems for Democrats are bad enough without bringing politics in as well.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:00 AM
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104: I sort of have similar issues with the gun control crowd. Lots of people getting shot makes me want a gun, not to try gun control. I probably have issues when it comes to trusting public institutions.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:00 AM
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It's really infuriating how people want to nitpick to death what is or isn't a stimulus, after the bailout that threw money away with little thought or oversight.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:00 AM
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#95: Jesus, GB, I read a couple of your other comments. You need to read different books. The ones that you think are definitive, aren't.

Holy crap, you mean that huge three-volume collection doesn't have every Calvin & Hobbes ever published?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:01 AM
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110:

If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:01 AM
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a policoital problem

We should all have such problems.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:01 AM
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WTF does 88 have to do with anything?

Apparently it was a way of hitting on GB? The policoital practices of rightwingers are so odd.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:04 AM
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111: It's really infuriating how peopleRepublicans want to nitpick to death what is or isn't a stimulus by a Democratic president, after the Republican bailout that threw money away with little thought or oversight.

Infuriating, sure, I suppose, but perfectly understandable. What's infuriating is that Democrats seem to be listening.



Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:04 AM
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People being out of work is not a horror to be avoided at all costs; it is a consequence of the economy correcting itself, like forest fires making way for new growth.

No, no, a thousand times no. This is what Andrew Mellon said in 1929, and he was simply wrong. Keynes did the math, and proved that this thinking is simply wrong. There's no "rot in the system"*, there's no virtue in (other) people being poor and unutilized.

Furthermore, even a relatively brief period of unemployment has lasting effects - a 2 year delay in getting your first job out of school reduces your income at every age until you retire. You never catch up. So this blase stance causes lifetime harm for millions. And do you think that might create lasting harm to the economy?

* Obviously, there is "rot" in the sense of the housing bubble and the mss on Wall Street. BUt that's neither here nor there wrt stimulus. The house framers are out of a job because the housing bubble burst. The bubble bursting is, economically, a good thing, but having that framer be out of a job for years is not. The goal of stimulus is to employ that framer because, in a recession, no one else will.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:04 AM
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Sorry if 117 came too late - I had work to do, mid-comment.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:05 AM
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Infuriating, sure, I suppose, but perfectly understandable. What's infuriating is that Democrats seem to be listening.

indeed.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:05 AM
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What I find more infuriating is that now we're arguing over whether it's acceptable to spend a ton of money to help Americans facing the worst economic crisis in nearly a century, and the DC people arguing against it are largely the people who thought flushing a similar amount of money down the Iraqi toilet to assuage GWB's Oedipus complex was not just acceptable but a moral imperative.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:06 AM
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You can kill a man with a gun, and you can kill a man with a hammer. I'd be quite happy to duel a second amendment fanatic, if I had the gun and he had one of those deadly hammers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:07 AM
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||

Actual question from an actual student in my last class: "What makes some women become feminist (a traumatic event, just raised that way, a grudge)."

The question was written on the board by the student during an open question period. That's exactly the way they phrased it.

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:08 AM
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||

Shit. Sharkey's in trouble. Dammit. I liked that guy.

|>


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:11 AM
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"What makes some women become feminist (a traumatic event, just raised that way, a grudge)."

"Grudge. Definitely a grudge. Against you, personally. Hey, I hear a whole bunch of them are waiting for you outside of class. You might want to slip out by the window."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:11 AM
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Mockery doesn't change minds, everyone.

Fuck you, clown.

And yes, I was Mellon-pwned. As a CMU grad, I feel that I'm entitled.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:12 AM
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#111: I also opposed the bailout, which I think was even less defensible and more appalling. Notice how Paulson said the $700bn or whatever was absolutely, urgently needed to let banks make loans... and then the banks didn't use it to make loans, and yet THE WORLD KEPT ON SPINNING! Amazing.

This is the same problem I have with global warming activists, and with Obama telling us "the time for talk is over" and we should just shut up and pass his stimulus bill: As a general rule, people who tell you there is no time to think, just ACT NOW! are concerned that if you do stop and think, you will disagree with them -- or, even worse, that the crisis they invoked will be revealed not to exist.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:13 AM
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88: I'm not quite sure I understand what your point is. Do you think the gigantic job losses and general economic calamities that are being reported every day now are a figment of our imagination? I can understand a boy who cried wolf attitude, but I cannot for the life of me understand ignoring a different boy crying fire when you can actually see the flames.

Also, this:

I'm a Mellon man myself

is one of the more amazing things I can remember seeing. A Mellon man? The notion that the correct thing to do in an economic meltdown is to allow the liquidation of millions of people's livelihoods is astoundingly heartless, and wrong headed as well. Mellon, after all, had four flipping years to let liquidation sort the economy out, and as I recall things were not better for it.

I understand that just because something should be done doesn't mean that this should be that something, but in a crisis (and does anybody deny that this is a crisis?) you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You can't even let it be the enemy of the decent.


Posted by: King Rat | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:13 AM
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122: He didn't punctuate the sentence with a question mark? Well, that's a real problem, the sort thing about which some people hold grudges.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:13 AM
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123: The Minnesota political scene has some big adjustments to make.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:16 AM
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Gaijin,

Are you one of those that believe that the whole New Deal was a mistake that only made the Depression worse, and the economy was about to recover when Roosevelt messed things up?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:19 AM
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126: Once again, the macroeconomic particulars are utterly beyond me -- and everyone else here, I think -- but that doesn't mean I can't safely say that you're an idiot. Leaving aside whether the egregious, slapdash, poorly administered TARP arrested the economy's slide (which some people argue it did), why do you equate a bailout with a stimulus package? Better still, why do you equate the Bush and Obama administrations, assuming that they're equally incompetent? Could it be that you, a Mellon man, think that government is the problem and not the solution?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:19 AM
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45:Is it possible that we can just stipulate that nobody here has enough of a grasp of the macroeconomic issues -- nor, given that it's still in process, the particulars of the legislation -- to weigh in on the prospective efficacy of the stimulus package?

No, we can't so stipulate, elitist asshole.

Everyone in a democracy is required to have an opinion based on inadequate knowledge and understanding. I have opinions on the war in Afghanistan though I am not an Foreign Policy expert and I have an opinion on equal opportunity even though I am not a sociologist or have a degree in philosophy.

ari reveals himself. Only he & Raushway are able to judge our politicins performance, and only they should be able to vote. The rest of us must only worship, according to the high priests dictats.

Unbelievable. I knew my instincts were right about those fuckers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:20 AM
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This is the same problem I have with global warming activists, and with Obama telling us "the time for talk is over" and we should just shut up and pass his stimulus bill: As a general rule, people who tell you there is no time to think, just ACT NOW! are concerned that if you do stop and think, you will disagree with them -- or, even worse, that the crisis they invoked will be revealed not to exist.

So you're a conspiracy theorist?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:23 AM
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132: Good work, bob! ari was about to take away our right to vote but you foiled his nefarious plan!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:24 AM
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126: Global warming people haven't been especially impatient. What they're mainly saying is that the problem is serious and should be dealt with in a serious businesslike way, without paying attention to the ideologues, PR men, religious fanatics, economists, futurologists, oil company spokesmen, and bikers who think that we should keep talking forever.

Sometimes timely action really is needed, even at the cost of annoying people who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:24 AM
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PR-wise, letting Killefer withdraw was a missed opportunity, I think. She and Geithner could have been made to proclaim their mea culpas in public along with a pledge to simplify the tax code and otherwise improve the process. Maybe I'm in pony-and-unicorn land here, but a lot of people have legitimate concerns about the complexity of the code, and if Treasury doesn't address them directly, flat-tax snake oil seems a lot more appealing.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:26 AM
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Everyone in a democracy is required to have an opinion based on inadequate knowledge and understanding

Hey, wait a second, who's being a fascist now? You can't make me have an opinion!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:27 AM
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61: genuine market forces

Idiotic actions by John Thain are genuine market forces but all decisions and actions by governmental employees aren't? The reverence placed on the word "market" are reminding me of the reverence placed on the word "freedom" by my extreme libertarian friends living in a world that simply can't exist.

At the bottom of all of this is fear. Everyone is holding on to what they already have and stuff isn't moving. The idea is to increase the fiber in the financial diet and worry about sewage disposal later.

LB, I'll buy Solis as political bullshit. As for the others, I've done the independent consulting bit with multiple revenue streams. It's not all that difficult.

Ari, the guns are a last resort. Someone has to feed Emerson's hogs and it might as well be financial types as anyone else if things get that bad. And long pig might make good bacon. We'll see.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:27 AM
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I haven't studied the New Deal and the revisionist arguments sufficiently to weigh in with an opinion. But I will admit to an instinctive fondness for Freakonomics-style arguments that reveal a widely-held, long-cherished view to be completely wrong.

That said, I think you are misstating the revisionist claim. No one thinks the economy was just "about to recover" when Roosevelt launched the New Deal; with or without a New Deal, a recovery would have taken time and been painful. The claim, as I understand it, is simply that the New Deal made the eventual recovery take longer than it otherwise would have, much as 19th-century bloodletting actually lengthened the patient's recovery period from illness.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:28 AM
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139 to 130.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:29 AM
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Global warming people haven't been especially impatient.

But really should have been much more impatient, since they made the mistake of thinking that patiently pointing out the problem decades ago when it was plausibly solvable would actually cause people to solve it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:29 AM
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Everyone in a democracy is required to have an opinion based on inadequate knowledge and understanding

Sadly we live in a republic, where we have to trust the people we elected to know and understand things. It doesn't seem like a very stable system to me either.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:30 AM
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91: I thought the biggest fear was the deflationary spiral.

There's the rub. For me, personally, a deflationary spiral would be great. For people with debt, not so much.

It surely looks to me like there's a bunch of hurt waiting to land - or currently on final approach - and one of the things we are discussing is exactly who it's going to land on. Without the stimulus, it lands on those living on paychecks. With the stimulus, some will land on those with savings (because of inflation). In other words, it's gonna go SPLAT right on my head. Personally, I'd like to see it land only on the top, say, 1% of wealth holders and income earners - the people who did so very, very well under Reaganomics and Bushenomics.

Of course, that won't happen.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:31 AM
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122: Did you ask which of those explanations led to the student's view of feminists?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:31 AM
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134:Hey, I know ari didn't really mean it, or grasp all the elitist implications.

I would guess that even ari would grant than even my stupid ignorant peasant self is capable of grasping that DeMint's "cut all taxes" stimulus plan is a really stupid idea, so certainly the serfs can have some opinions about stimulus efficacy.

ari just thinks any criticism of our Leader is out of bonds. We are not worthy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:32 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:32 AM
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#142: On that subject, I like Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, with the subplot of how the educated upper class could be seduced into supporting Hitler, while the salt-of-the-earth types knew a rat when they saw one. Also the Simpsons episode where the Mensa members take over Springfield and run it into the ground. Wisdom of crowds, people.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:33 AM
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Maybe I'm in pony-and-unicorn land here, but a lot of people have legitimate concerns about the complexity of the code, and if Treasury doesn't address them directly, flat-tax snake oil seems a lot more appealing.

What bit Killefer was a local tax -- she was paying all her taxes whereever she lived before DC, and missed a local DC tax when she moved there. That's a level of complexity that can't be eliminated; Treasury can't do anything about inconsistent state taxes.

Call it another data point for 'Federalism is stupid', and 'The real problem with Reconstruction is that they didn't have a Constitutional Convention to redefine the states as administrative regions rather than quasi-sovereigns.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:34 AM
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Generally a reflexive opposition to "Feminists", among people who are not actually Limbaughoids, comes from Dr. Laura.

Day after day, year after year, women call in to Dr. Laura to say that their husbands don't respect them, their children don't respect them, they hate their jobs and don't have time to do anything. Dr. Laura explains that this is because of feminsits; in olden days the man went to work and the woman stayed home and each of them was the master of their respective sphere. Whereas since feminists appeared, women have to both do everything in the domestic sphere AND go to work, whether they want to or not, which is obviously unfair.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:34 AM
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We're really wasting our time. GB is just anti-gummint in a familiar, cliched way and has the usual economic truisms to back him. Couldn't we just put "&c, &c, Yours Truly" at the end and go on?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:35 AM
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I suspect that the latest round of clucking over taxes is just that it's the Nannygate of this year. And it is ridiculously easy to screw up taxes even if you don't have a small business. That's why they don't clap you in irons if you miss something. That's why that most of the time, this isn't a big deal. They send you a bill, or reduce your refund.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:37 AM
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And of course men should resent feminists because the workplace isn't fun anymore and there's more competition for jobs.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:37 AM
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And of course men should resent feminists because the workplace isn't fun anymore and there's more competition for jobs.

Thus explaining the unemployment rate; it's really just that people quit working to avoid the feminists.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:38 AM
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153: those people wouldn't be unemployed, they'd be out of the labor force.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:40 AM
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With the stimulus, some will land on those with savings (because of inflation). In other words, it's gonna go SPLAT right on my head. Personally, I'd like to see it land only on the top, say, 1% of wealth holders and income earners - the people who did so very, very well under Reaganomics and Bushenomics.

Actually, major inflation isn't all that likely - the Fed sure has a lot of room to raise interest rates, don't they?

But anyway, there's no economic reason that all the pain can't land on those people - if someone were out there taking the soak-the-rich fervor that is currently being applied to Tom Daschle and the NSF and applying it to, you know, the rich, we could have a useful top tax rate again, and the ultra-wealthy will pay for the stimulus made necessary by their assholery. But of course, the people whipping up the fervor are paid to ensure that it's never directed that way.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:41 AM
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But of course, the people whipping up the fervor are paid to ensure that it's never directed that way.

Which is really pretty annoying.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:43 AM
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That's a level of complexity that can't be eliminated

True, but on some level it's just "taxes" pure and simple when you're frustrated, and reducing complexity in one filing reduces complexity overall.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:43 AM
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155: Do you need me to explain the Laffer curve again?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:43 AM
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||

Police: Man, girl met in 'World of Warcraft,' had sex

It was bound to happen at least once.

Actually the girl was 14 (although it seems to have been as consensual as such a thing can be), so I shouldn't joke. But the hed is like something from the Onion.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:46 AM
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Do you need me to explain the Laffer curve again?

Sure, I could use a laff, John Galt.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:47 AM
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...was arraigned yesterday by District Judge Tonya M. Osman in Schellsburg on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of a minor.

So, all six of those crimes mean the exact same thing, right?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:48 AM
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#141: they made the mistake of thinking that patiently pointing out the problem decades ago when it was plausibly solvable would actually cause people to solve it.

This is what I find extremely interesting about the global warming issue. Apparently, having ignored the early warning signs, we are now perilously close to, or indeed have already passed, a tipping point beyond which no reversal of the warming trend is possible. If that is so, then surely on some day -- one year from now? ten? twenty? we can rationally expect all the cries to fight GW to cease, as our fate at that point will already be sealed.

However, my hunch is that such a day will never come, the tipping point will always conveniently remain a decade or two in the future, and we will always have to ACT NOW! to stave it off.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:48 AM
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"OJ Simpson was accused of murder, involuntary death, statutory killing of a wife, aggravated assault, manslaughter, homicide and assault"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:48 AM
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158 the Laffer curve is just barely grounded in reality. Nobody knows its shape or the parameters that affect it. In the end of the day, even if we did know details about the Laffer curve, there are far more important issues than optimizing tax rates based on revenue.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:48 AM
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Sometimes timely action really is needed, even at the cost of annoying people who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.

This is the best thing I've read all day.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:49 AM
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Actually, Gaijin Biker, the consensus tipping point has been moving closer and closer to the present over the last decade. Have you seen any of the stories about how ice is melting faster than it was modelled to, methane is being released faster than it was modelled to, species are going extinct faster than they were modelled to, et cetera?

Therefore I think your dream will come true in a few years, that the consensus will be that the tipping point has already been passed.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:50 AM
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164: I was...um, never mind. Tell me more.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:52 AM
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my hunch is that such a day will never come

My hunch is that if I dig long enough, I'll come out onto the other side of the earth, where everybody walks upside down and sandwiches eat people.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:52 AM
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Shorter US Senate on the stimulus: It's a big bill!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:53 AM
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Why is it that the right-wing talking points: on economics, global warming, etc. all come together?

Is it a package deal or something?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:53 AM
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170: Corporations' short-term profits


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:54 AM
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#150: Emerson, however tedious you may find my comments, I assure you that I find your comments pointing out how tedious you find them to be even more tedious. Given that you have disseminated your opinion of my views repeatedly and with little variation, I propose that consider your mission accomplished and move on to some other hobby, like macrame or philately.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:54 AM
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170: I think they get a discount. 30% off if you adopt additional position in the next ten minutes!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:55 AM
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re: 171

Short, and to the point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:55 AM
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However, my hunch is that such a day will never come, the tipping point will always conveniently remain a decade or two in the future, and we will always have to ACT NOW! to stave it off.

Except there are currently communities which live at sea level in various parts of the world who have suffered the catastrophic effects of global warming and lost lives and remaining people have settled up the mountain.

There's not always necessarily a clean tipping point; sometimes just a series of catastrophes that wreck people's lives. It's a matter of personal taste how many catastrophes one considers acceptable consequences of rising CO2 levels.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:57 AM
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172: I can assure you that I find your comments far more tedious than I do John's efforts to shame you into acquiring a conscience or a clue. I thought I'd mention it just in case we're keeping a tally.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:58 AM
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162/166: you fucking smug idiot: the "tipping point" of "irreversible climate change", most likely for the worst, on net" has already been reached. That's the consensus position held by virtually every respectable climateologist. The question now is whether we're going to have a mildly- to moderately-bad outcome, to which we can make some (costly) adjustments and accomodations, or whether we're going to fail to ACT NOW! and face severely- to devastatingly-bad outcomes, including potential mass extinction.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:58 AM
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162, 166: Doesn't this sound rather like "Look, there should have been a window between when the problem was noticeable and when it became unfixable by any means. We've been stalling as hard as we can, isn't it unfixable yet?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:01 AM
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One year I got dinged for contributing to both an IRA and a 401(k), which apparently you can't do

Wait a minute. Is there something I'm missing here? You can't contribute to both? (or is this a salary level issue here?)


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:01 AM
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167: Aha. My bad.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:02 AM
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179: there's an aggregate annual contribtution cap that applies to both. You can't contribute to one after you've capped out the other. Under the cap, you can contribute to both, sure.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:03 AM
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If that is so, then surely on some day -- one year from now? ten? twenty? we can rationally expect all the cries to fight GW to cease, as our fate at that point will already be sealed.

However, my hunch is that such a day will never come, the tipping point will always conveniently remain a decade or two in the future, and we will always have to ACT NOW! to stave it off.

What the fuck are you talking about GB? Many scientists (including James Hansen I think) have been saying for a many years that we need to change the focus of research from mitigation to adaptation.

Figuring out how to fight it has given way to figuring out how to live with it. Of course, you can't get funding for this either if people continue to deny that there is a problem.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:04 AM
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Actually, major inflation isn't all that likely - the Fed sure has a lot of room to raise interest rates, don't they?

155:That is very far down the road, but yes. William Buiter's recent post on medium-term limits to US deficit spending has been much discussed lately, and Brad Setser responds to it in comments on his post today.

(I won't link to all the economic analysis I'm reading, because I doubt many people want to get into it that deeply here, and anyway, Obama knows best.)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:05 AM
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So, all six of those crimes mean the exact same thing, right?

Naw, the "corruption of a minor" one is for when he told her that stimulus spending won't create a single job.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:05 AM
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I'd wager none of us will live to see "devastatingly-bad outcomes, including potential mass extinction", but we'll always be warned they're just around the corner. If Armageddon does show up in our lifetimes, I'll buy you a beer.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:06 AM
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Sorry, I think Emerson gets it right in 150. I'm done.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:06 AM
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re: 185

Actually, there are biologists who think we are in the middle of an extinction event, right now. The rate of loss of species now already matches rates during previous extinction events.

So, start buying those beers ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:07 AM
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No one thinks

You coulda stopped there.

the economy was just "about to recover" when Roosevelt launched the New Deal;

Actually, from the arguments I've seen, they mean exactly that. FDR got into office after fours years of sliding (GDP % falling by like 2/3rds) and started raising taxes and stuff RIGHT as the economy was fixin' to get better. So he like, screwed everything up, with his taxes and his regulating banks.

with or without a New Deal, a recovery would have taken time and been painful.

Since growth is slower than collapse, it takes a long time to make up the difference between what GDP is and what it used to be, yes.

The claim, as I understand it, is simply that the New Deal made the eventual recovery take longer than it otherwise would have, much as 19th-century bloodletting actually lengthened the patient's recovery period from illness.

It's a theory. It lacks things, like evidence. It's an alternate world argument, much like the laffer curve. When actually tested, results differ from expectations. Strangely, people continue to argue that rich people should get more money. It's almost like they were expecting to get paid for saying it or something.

#142: On that subject, I like Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, with the subplot of how the educated upper class could be seduced into supporting Hitler, while the salt-of-the-earth types knew a rat when they saw one.

Which sorta overlooks the salt-of-the-earth types who saw a rat and said, YAY!

Also the Simpsons episode where the Mensa members take over Springfield and run it into the ground. Wisdom of crowds, people.

Ya know, I used to read fido.mensa (or whatever the echo was called) back in the day (1990ish). There were a lot of shouty types there that alternated between demanding to know why the high IQ people hadn't taken over and started running things and demanding to know why people just didn't understand why they should be allowed to keep their tax money, just like Ayn Rand said.

max
['Quality entertainment.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:08 AM
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181: Thanks -- I guess I'm still eligible for the Cabinet.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:08 AM
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On the climate front, last I heard we were projected to hit 1000 ppm by the end of the century at our current rate of emissions. 1000 ppm, as you might guess, would be really pretty bad. (We're at about 385 ppm now, I think.)


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:08 AM
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There is a definite appeal to the idea that doomsayers are always wrong. Global-scale doomsayers have certainly all been wrong to date - we're still here.

It would sure suck if this is the time they're right, though.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:08 AM
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That was one beer, to Brock only. And I need a judges' ruling on whether our current rate of species loss counts as "Armageddon".


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:09 AM
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I don't want your goddamn beer, GB.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:10 AM
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re: 192

What sort of judges ruling? Lots of species are being lost. What more do you need?

Some sort of hard and fast quantitative definition of 'Armageddon'?

Sure, Armageddon is when 21.2% of mammalian species, 17.35% of arthropods and 42.136% of plant species are extinct, ffs.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:11 AM
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Actually, I have never seen a real climate scientist assert that climate change will lead to the extinction of the human race. That's a straw man. The effects of climate change are always phrased in damage to coastal communities, especially poor ones, changes in agricultural productivity, extreme weather events, etc.

I once asked around to see if someone could tell me how much carbon had to be released into to atmosphere to render the earth genuinely uninhabitable. Presumably that number exists, although no one talks about it. I couldn't get a definite answer, and many people said that the question couldn't be answered.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:11 AM
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192: Isn't that the problem. As long as you, one of the richest and most secure .00001% of the people in the world (oh, I am too, I'm not guilt-tripping you about that) aren't dead yet, there's going to be arguments about whether what's happening is really a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:11 AM
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Seriously, can we just ignore GB on everything? Who the fuck wants to talk about global warming denialism and Mellonism? Who wants to listen to an ignorant person pretending that they know what they're talking about.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:13 AM
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Global-scale doomsayers have certainly all been wrong to date - we're still here.

We've only been around for what, 200,000 years? That's not very long at all, given the context. I wouldn't want to count my chickens based on our inability to go extinct within the past few decades.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:13 AM
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rob, how do you feel about the link in 190?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:14 AM
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197: Someone is WRONG on the INTERNET!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:14 AM
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how the educated upper class could be seduced into supporting Hitler

Godwin!

So I can now reveal my conclusion, from my deep study of Weimar Germany, both books, that the hyperinflation of the early twenties was probably a lesser generator of the fascist reaction than the Stresseman budget-balancing/fiscal austerity of 1924-28, based on the demographics of Nazi support in the 1928 thru 1932 elections.

Watch out for the pay-go folks.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:15 AM
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I heard on the news today that 85% of the newly unemployed were men, since most of the layoffs were coming in fields traditionally dominated by men, such as manufacturing and construction. New jobs were created in fields traditionally dominated by women, such as education and health care. Follow the trend lines, and there will soon be more women working than men.

Having the government pay people to do what they did before is nuts. Deleveraging will shrink the economy, and the creative destruction is a necessary part of the process. Retrain the unemployed, and give grants to new industries. So what if some of them are a boondoggle.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:15 AM
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And anyway, I didn't say "extinction fo the human race", I said "potential mass extinction."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:15 AM
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Yeah, I'm not particularly optimistic, myself. I suspect we're already doomed and just don't know it yet; on the off chance we're not, we should work hard on mitigation.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:15 AM
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199 and 203 to 195.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:16 AM
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GB seems to have a "jam tomorrow, jam yesterday" theory of government action. Never jam today. It fits with his belief that everything government does is always wrong. He's really a card.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:16 AM
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I once asked around to see if someone could tell me how much carbon had to be released into to atmosphere to render the earth genuinely uninhabitable.

Uninhabitable by what? There's always going to be bacteria around. The standard scientific consensus on what counts as an apocalyptic level of climate change, though - that is, a change that we might not survive - is usually a six degree rise in global temperatures (in Celsius, of course). Again, projections are getting dangerously close to that for the end of the century.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:18 AM
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#193: Whatever, dude. Way to be pissy. And I never mentioned "extinction of the human race", either. Rob brought that up in #195, not me.

#194, what are those percentages of? 21.2% of all mammalian species ever? Including, like Baluchitherium and stuff?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:18 AM
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172: Wasn't talking to you, obvs. You're a waste of air. If I really thought I was distressing you, I'd be doing it a lot more, so don't tempt me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:20 AM
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re: 2008

Jesus, dude. I am making the numbers up. Just to emphasize how idiotic the demand is for a clear ruling on what 'counts'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:20 AM
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Brock,

This comment from the link matches my experience

Climate scientists don't spend a lot of time studying 800 to 1000 ppm, in part because they can't believe humanity would be so self-destructive as to ignore their increasingly dire warnings and fail to stabilize at well below 550 ppm.
People didn't want to talk about the effects of 1000 ppm. It couldn't happen, and we don't even know what that would mean.

I'm just skimming, but I don't see anything in his links that supports the claim that 1000 ppm would mean the extinction of our species. Of course, it would mean the extinction of most other species, but that is happening anyway. I think ttaM is understanding the consensus in biology. Almost everyone agrees that we are in the midst of a mass extinction event.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:23 AM
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155: Actually, major inflation isn't all that likely - the Fed sure has a lot of room to raise interest rates, don't they?

Certainly. But I remember something called 'stagflation', which had nothing to do with pneumatic male deer and a lot to do with high interest rates and high inflation and low economic growth. So I worry that raising interest rates won't prevent inflation.

Maybe it all goes back to a traumatic experience in Econ 101, when I was told that with major deficit spending - big borrowing - you have more dollars chasing the same amount of goods, and this leads to inflation.

So count me as a scaredy cat. I just bought a 2 year CD at 2.5%. Whoopee. But hey, the quants all assured me that anything that hasn't happened in the most recent five years can never happen.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:23 AM
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The 'mass extinction event' bit is complicated by the fact that I'm pretty sure we'd be in a mass extinction event even without climate change, just on the basis of habitat destruction. That is, I've been hearing about a historically very high rate of species extinction for much longer than I've been hearing about climate change.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:25 AM
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I don't want your goddamn beer, GB.

Um, I'll take Brock's beer. Thanks.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:26 AM
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People didn't want to talk about the effects of 1000 ppm. It couldn't happen

The first sentence you wrote there is supported; the second is not. "Humans couldn't possibly be stupid enough to do X" is not a very compelling argument.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:26 AM
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215 is correct, from what I've heard.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:28 AM
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Why are you sure it couldn't happen, rob?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:28 AM
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I once asked around to see if someone could tell me how much carbon had to be released into to atmosphere to render the earth genuinely uninhabitable.

CO2 is toxic, so there's clearly some threshold where we all die. But yeah, I expect climate problems (and associated loss of cropland / resource wars / disease / etc.) would get us long before that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:28 AM
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re: 215

Oh, sure. The consensus is that we are in the middle of an extinction event and it's driven by a number of factors. Several of which are anthropogenic, and climate change is only one of them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:29 AM
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The 'mass extinction event' bit is complicated by the fact that I'm pretty sure we'd be in a mass extinction event even without climate change, just on the basis of habitat destruction.

I'm pretty sure we are in a mass extinction event just based on habitat destruction. I know I've heard any number of biologists and ecologists refer to mass extinction not as a potential hazard, but as something that's happening now.

This kind of subject really depresses me.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:29 AM
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I'm scrupulous and honest about taxes, yet every year I feel confident that I will get a notice from the IRS* telling me I did something wrong and need to send more $$.

Yeah, I've gotten these. I've also gotten the notice that I did something wrong and deserved more money back, which was nice. Of course, I generally take these notices as a hint that I should maybe hire someone competent to do my taxes instead of trying to do them myself.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:29 AM
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This kind of subject really depresses me.

Me too. This whole thread makes my head hurt.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:30 AM
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There's a guy has a website, collecting links documenting the current extinction. Mostly links to major news sites, etc.

It's depressingly gigantic.

http://www.well.com/user/davidu/extinction.html


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:30 AM
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CO2 is toxic, so there's clearly some threshold where we all die.

The real problem is that there isn't a nice smooth reversible increase in pain. Many of the models exhibit rapid equilibrium shifts that can end us up somewhere uninhabitable (for large mammals at any rate).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:31 AM
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Many scientists (including James Hansen I think) have been saying for a many years that we need to change the focus of research from mitigation to adaptation.

Did Hansen say that? It seems implausible. We have to do both; if we don't do anything to mitigate climate change, we do hit 1000 ppm, and we're catastrophically fucked. (As opposed to, uh, gently fucked?)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:31 AM
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147: Jesus, GB. The liberals around here may be mean to you, but at least they aren't basing their arguments on The Simpsons. (Yeah, Naziism was strongly anti-Communist and anti-trade union so its strongest supporters probably were the wealthy. For all your faults, you're no Jonah Goldberg.)

All else being equal, I could sympathize with people who think the stimulus/spending bill is getting demogogued or rushed through too quickly for necessary changes to be made. An additional week or even month for a bill to become law probably wouldn't matter much. But all else isn't equal. What's the Republicans' counter-proposal? Billions (Trillions!) of dollars in tax cuts.

That's it! No suggestion of an equivalent stimulus that's aimed at temporary programs that will be more easily ended once the economy recovers. No substantial infusion to existing programs that help people in recessions, like retraining programs or food stamps or whatever. No substantial funds for states, which would arguably make the most difference of all and still fit into the GOP's fetishization of federalism. Not even redistributing existing government spending in more stimulus-friendly ways, which would be almost useless but would still probably be more effective than tax cuts, while fitting into the GOP's utter bullshit about fiscal responsibility. So why, exactly, should we give trickle-down economics even five minutes of our time?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:32 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:32 AM
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#216: As always, Apo, has his priorities straight.

It's really sad that more of you can't handle (ostensibly) friendly discussions on the Internet without turning on the hostility and personal attacks whenever someone has the temerity to diverge from your list of approved viewpoints.

At any rate, you win. I hereby quit Unfogged; enjoy.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:33 AM
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Many of the models exhibit rapid equilibrium shifts that can end us up somewhere uninhabitable (for large mammals at any rate).

This paper in PNAS (Lenton et al) was interesting reading on some related issues.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:34 AM
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217: I was reporting people's attitudes, not honestly saying that it couldn't happen.

Wikipedia says that E.O. Wilson estimates the loss of 50% of the earth's species by 2100. For comparison, the K-T extinction event killed around 30% of animal species.

The original estimates for species loss in the 21st century came from the species-area curve, a function that maps habitat loss to species loss. It has nothing to do with climate change.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:34 AM
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228: Come back if/when you like -- your politics are annoying, but I've got nothing against you personally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:35 AM
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At any rate, you win. I hereby quit Unfogged; enjoy.

Yay! Let's have a party!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:35 AM
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I totally can't figure out this blog's resident troll.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:36 AM
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re: 228

People aren't being hostile. People are being incredibly polite to you. If you think this is hostility you have the thinnest skin, ever. But if you want to fling your toys oot the pram, go ahead.

Most of the hostility consists of polite disagreement with your views. Much politer than they deserve given quite how extraordinarily stupid those views are.

Believe me, I'm more hostile to close personal friends when they say stupid shit than I am to people on Unfogged.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:36 AM
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(By which I mean the usually-handleless guy, not Gaijin Biker.)


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:38 AM
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233: You mean the one who posts the really weird stuff? He's got a long history, not just here. It wouldn't be so bad except for the racist/antisemitic stuff he posts, which means we really need to delete his comments or it looks as if we're tolerating them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:38 AM
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233: Which one?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:38 AM
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fling your toys oot

McGrattan's Canadian?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:38 AM
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228 makes me a bit sad. Unfortunately GB (if you're still reading) I think the problem wasn't really anything to do with divergent viewpoints, so much as a blob of half-assed viewpoints that a) everyone has heard before and b) don't hold up to any sort of scrutiny.

So it leaves us with either you're being lazy, or intentionally throwing in boring old disfunctional shmibertarian tropes to see who would bite.

If you had a divergent opinion with something interesting behind it, I'd have been interested anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:38 AM
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I totally can't figure out this blog's resident troll.

That's the point, I think. It isn't very bright, but occasionally has something interesting --- very occasionally. The signal to noise really isn't worth it though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:40 AM
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191: In Warsaw in September 1939 most of the doomsayers probably understated the problem. Something like a third of Poland's population died during the war.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:40 AM
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McGrattan's Canadian?

Who do you think populated eastern Canada (other than the french)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:41 AM
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I totally can't figure out this blog's resident troll.

Pretty easy to figure out, actually. He's got a chip on his shoulder about academics, almost certainly because his ass couldn't hack it during an abortive run at higher education. His comments get steadily less coherent during the day, which points to alcoholism. And he's desperately lonely, so spends all his time here trying to get somebody--anybody--to pay attention to him. Whether the undermedicated mental illness is genuine or a put-on, eh, 50/50.

Regardless, he's boring as hell, having run through the same borderline-retarded verbal tics about 5000 times already.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:46 AM
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Who do you think populated eastern Canada

Moose.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:46 AM
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re: 244

Wee sleekit cowrin tim'rous beasties ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:48 AM
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Whether the undermedicated mental illness is genuine or a put-on, eh, 50/50

The persistence argues for real, wouldn't you say? We're breaking discipline here, but we've been pretty solid on not responding to him, and he still keeps on going. It's been months.

After this little discussion closes, though, can we all go back to ignoring him again? It's not like it works well, but I'm out of ideas for getting rid of him otherwise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:48 AM
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I'm really on the "unmedicated" side. I've had interesting discussion with him over on my site. I think that he might have been doing pretty well in school when his education was interrupted.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:48 AM
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It's not like it works well, but I'm out of ideas for getting rid of him otherwise.

stochastic model might work


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:49 AM
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His comments get steadily less coherent during the day, which points to alcoholism.

To be fair, this is true of a lot of us.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:49 AM
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244, 245: ttaM reveals either a lack of familarity with moose, or very lax standards for what it takes to qualify as wee, tim'rous, or cowrin'. Whether moose are sleekit, I have to confess that I'm not certain myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:50 AM
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since we've broken the wall anyway LB, i'm with 247 I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:50 AM
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Moose can be surprisingly affectionate.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:51 AM
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252: Yeah, more crazy than stupid seems to be true.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:51 AM
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250: not sleekit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:51 AM
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The manmade environmental disaster that just kills me is desertification. The long-term, patient effort needed to turn back that trend is just massive, and the consequences that we've already seen all over the damn place are famine, urban overcrowding, refugees, civil war, and, arguably, genocide. Fucking horrible.

I've got to admit that reading about Qaddafi's giant irrigation project in Libya warms me considerably to that egomaniacal, lunatic dictator. That's one amazing waterworks.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:51 AM
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255: Sounds like you had a bad experience there: "Waiter, this moose isn't sleekit at all!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:52 AM
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(I've always wanted to use the phrase "a daimen-icker in a thrave" casually in a brief -- it seems like a perfectly workable substitute for 'de minimus'. This will have to wait until I'm in a position with no one senior reviewing my work, though.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:55 AM
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||

So wrapped up in reading blogs I forget there was a talk I meant to go to thirty minutes ago. Is it time to admit I have a problem?

(On the other hand, I've been to, like, 30 goddam talks this week.)

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:55 AM
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There are large areas of the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia which used to be much more fertie than they are. Sometimes this was because of climate change unrelated to human causes, but deforestation, overcultivation, misuse of irrigation, and erosion have a lot to do with it. In other words, the sky has fallen on other people, but not on us yet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:58 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:58 AM
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My sister was once bitten by a moose.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:59 AM
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Of course, I could run over to the talk wi' bickering brattle and catch part of it, but I think I need na start awa sae hasty.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:59 AM
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What the one-true-people call a 'moose' and what those Johnny-come-latelys on the other side of the pond call a 'moose' may be different.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:59 AM
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This will have to wait until I'm in a position with no one senior reviewing my work, though

Assuming you remain in litigation, you will always have a judge reviewing your work....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:59 AM
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And definitely sleekit.

The most sleekit thing the moose ever did was convincing people it wisnae sleekit ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:00 PM
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And definitely sleekit.

The most sleekit thing the moose ever did was convincing people it wisnae sleekit ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:00 PM
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Yeah, more crazy than stupid seems to be true.

That's a terrible thing to say about an innocent moose.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:00 PM
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Yes. One of them is actually an elk, isn't it? (that is, you call it a moose, we call it an elk and we something different you don't have a moose) But still neither wee, tim'rous, or cowrin', unless your standards are very lax. Any animal I can't lift is not wee.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:02 PM
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It's really sad that more of you can't handle (ostensibly) friendly discussions on the Internet without turning on the hostility and personal attacks whenever someone has the temerity to diverge from your list of approved viewpoints.

{sniff} I haven't seen a good Randroid flounce in years. Now I am nostalgic.

max
['That was quality entertainment.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:03 PM
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I could swear he sleekit back his fur.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:03 PM
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264: There's got to be a Scots-affiliated judge out there who'd lap it up, no? And it might have the advantage of either completely flummoxing opposing counsel, or sending them off on further flights of Burnsian weirdness in an attempt to top me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:04 PM
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re: 268

I can't tell if you are winding me up, or if you don't know that what Scots call a 'moose' looks like this:

http://tinyurl.com/3yo9um


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:04 PM
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The word "moose" is from the the Algonquian Eastern Abnaki name moz, meaning "sardonic British singer". The story of how it came to refer to a large deer is rather convoluted.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:05 PM
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I've a great coo!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:06 PM
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272: I actually had no idea, although now that I try to fake the accent, it makes perfect sense. But there is some "Moose on one side of the Atlantic, elk on the other" thing, for real.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:06 PM
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259.---My parents drove down California into Baja California and Sonora last year or so, and what they really remarked on was the deforestation. They were staying with an old friend who'd bought a very old Spanish home with timbered cross-beams and whatnot cut from local trees---Monterrey Pines, I believe---today utterly irreplaceable because the land is scrub where not desert. Anything that looks like it might have a chance of someday developing into a tree is cut down by the locals (legally or no) for firewood, and really, it's hard to blame people who are so poor.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:07 PM
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276 sounds highly dubious, surely people are rational enough to realize the trees will get bigger and more valuable as they get older, and band together to make sure that happens.


Posted by: OPINIONATED ECONOMICS 101 | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:08 PM
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||
Hey ttaM, I tried your suggestion for playing barre chords last night, and while it'll take me a while to totally get it, it worked a treat. Thanks for the tip.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:08 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:09 PM
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Further to 275: Actually, looks like I got it garbled. The same species of animal is a moose in Canada, but an elk in Scandinavia, and there's a different species that's an elk in the Americas.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:09 PM
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re: 278

Excellent!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:10 PM
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279: Dude, we tried that a week or two ago, and you're still here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:10 PM
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And more further to 275: And of course, I am an idiot for not following what you were on about in the first place.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:11 PM
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So how do you wrong people in the Old World distinguish between a moose and an elk, or as you would say, an elk and an elk?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:13 PM
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Moose/elk etymology.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:15 PM
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the sky has fallen on other people, but not on us yet.

I'm going to wave goodbye to the trunk in my rear view mirror, and head on out this limb ...

It has hit us, but not in our collective wisdom. In the past few years I've driven around the Pacific Northweest and seen vast tracts of forect killed - or being killed, by something (pine borer, was it?). Much of the top of the Smokies, in the east, dead from something - acid rain? Most of the big hemlocks there dying from some little buggie from the far east whose name I can't recall.

In that way it's like the current economic crisis. Million of people losing their jobs from something - the Zebra Mussel?

But as long as it's you, or them, or the Pinyon trees in Santa Fe, it's not me

And it's all about me. It's all about tax cuts for me. It's all about a new fur coat and a cheap DVD player and a nice crib made from some almost extinct asian hardwood for me. It's even at the point where patriotism is now about me when the whole point of nations and society is that it's about us. So it'll never hit us, because there is no us anymore, it's always and forever only me.

I blame capitalism and Adam Smith and Al Franken.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:15 PM
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Mouse = "dormouse"
Moose = "mouse"
Elk = "moose"
Wapiti = "elk"
Caribou = "wapiti"
Reindeer = "caribou"
Caribou = "Starbucks"
Starbucks = "Queequeg"
Queequeg = "grackle"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:15 PM
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The Canadian Moose/ Scottish mouse thing needs to be on audio. Sort of a who's on first/ kill the gophers thing.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:16 PM
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284: If I follow ttaM and the results of my googling correctly, the Scots do it by deciding whether it's infesting their grain storage (moose) or bounding through the Scandinavian pine forests (elk)(or American moose), and not worrying about the American elk, because there aren't any in the Old World to be distinguished from their elk(moose).

Suddenly I've fallen into 1066 and All That.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:17 PM
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285: That link gets one minor thing wrong; red deer and elk are not thought to be the same species (as wikipedia points out).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:17 PM
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Smokies, in the east, dead from something - acid rain?

Yep.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:18 PM
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285: Oh, that's really helpful. The only thing that would make it better would be something clarifying which species was stag/doe, which is buck/doe, and which is hart/hind. And I could probably find that by googling, but then I'd forget the answer instantly, so it doesn't seem worth it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:19 PM
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I've driven around the Pacific Northweest and seen vast tracts of forect killed - or being killed, by something (pine borer, was it?).

Not just the Pacific Northwest. Pine bark beetles have devastated forests in Colorado, for instance. I don't know the current status, but large parts of Rocky Mountain National Park were hit by it a few years ago, and they've been moving westward. As of last summer they hadn't reached the area around Aspen yet, but they will. And it's definitely a climate-change-related phenomenon.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:22 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:23 PM
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There's an Asian long-horned beetle that destroyed almost all of the older American Elms in the East. Apparently the beautiful old ones in Central Park are left standing only because the NYC Parks department basically stationed guards with insecticide around them 24-7.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:24 PM
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Addendum: last summer the Parks department sponsored a public ad campaign: "HAVE YOU SEEN THIS KILLER BEETLE? HELP STOP IT BEFORE IT KILLS AGAIN!" I really, really wanted to spot one.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:26 PM
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296: It was totally like the anti-terror ads: "If you see this beetle, call the parks department immediately. Our safety depends on YOU!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:27 PM
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286: Cockroaches the size of housecats. Infesting by the millions. And what the hell are you going to do about it? You can't use Raid in large enough quantities to stop those fuckers without offing yourself in the process. It really sucks.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:29 PM
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What sort of judges ruling? Lots of species are being lost. What more do you need?

Gaijin Biker will believe in global warming when he finds himself gasping his life away, surrounded by ruined buildings, in the desert that was once Tokyo, shaking his dehydrated fist at a giant, smirking, hallucinated head of Rush Limbaugh that hovers above him and gasping "You bastard, I trusted you!"

Until then, no problem.

</scifi book cover>


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:29 PM
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Apparently I'm slightly confused and they're not moving westward from the front range, they're moving in both directions away from the Continental Divide? Anyway. They are a threat, they are expanding, they will keep eating until there is nothing left to eat.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:29 PM
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298: It's a solved problem -- didn't you ever see Damnation Alley?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:32 PM
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272: As in "There's a moose loose aboot the hoose." One of my grandfather's favorite random crazy old Scottish guy things to say.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:32 PM
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dehydrated fist

"Just add water!" Actually, this may be what's inside a can of whomp-ass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:33 PM
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Cockroaches the size of housecats. Infesting by the millions

Oh yeah, but what about the ants?
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047573/


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:33 PM
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Pine bark beetles have devastated forests in Colorado, for instance.

Yes, I think those are the same ones that got the Pinyons in Santa Fe.

It was totally like the anti-terror ads:

I'm sure that if there were enough people who thought they could get a really big contract for security theater Iraqi reconstruction Defense Department procurement environmental protection, we'd see some serious scare talk from the pundits. It would then be abut me and my consulting contract and stock options and no longer about us.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:34 PM
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300: Part of the problem with the pine beetles is that the scientists -- at least this was true a few years back -- couldn't figure out the bugs' pattern of diffusion. They fly, I think, at a particular time of the year (spring, if I recall correctly). But nobody could predict which direction they would fly in. For people, like me, who had property in the Rockies, there was intense pressure -- from industry, from the state, and from neighbors -- to lay down a thick coating of pesticides on one's trees. Had there been no beetles, we never would have left Colorado.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:36 PM
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306: yeah, I was trying to figure out the pattern by Googling news articles and it seems pretty muddled. Here's a map, which shows the scope of the problem, and it looks like you're right that the direction of movement isn't so clear....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:38 PM
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298: It's a solved problem -- didn't you ever see Damnation Alley?
"Just add water!"

You people with your giant intelligent cockroaches and your flaming nazi gasbags bombing Tokyo! The free market with solve our problems with the NEW! IMPROVED! Dehydrated Water!

max
['Soylent green is SPAM!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:38 PM
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300: Really, though, driving around the high country and seeing the swaths of dead pines, the flat brown against the surrounding green of healthy(ish) trees, was pretty depressing. That's why I began burning whole forests. Preemption, bitchez!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:39 PM
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I expect that from TLL, but you, LB, surprise me.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:40 PM
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Boring dust may be found in bark crevices or on the ground immediately adjacent to the tree base.

As opposed to dust not resulting from beetle infestation, which is usually fascinating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:40 PM
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shaking his dehydrated fist at a giant, smirking, hallucinated head of Rush Limbaugh that hovers above him

Michael Bishop's novel Secret Ascension (aka Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas) pits PKD against Richard Nixon on the moon, but a novel that pitted PKD against Rush Limbaugh in a dessicated, Ballardian Tokyo would be even more awesome.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:41 PM
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304: Cynthia Freeland has a great essay called "women and bugs" (reprinted in this book) about Them!, Alien and mimic. Basically, she notices that a lot of movies with insect monsters also feature women fighting the monster, and how this presents new contrasting ideas of the feminine.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:42 PM
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299--GB will be gasping a lot. Maybe sometimes he'll choke out a curse or something, as a change.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:44 PM
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Back to the post: Republicans might be willing to forgive Solis's tax issues if she agrees not to advocate for the EFCA. It's a principled stand they're taking.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:47 PM
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315: Holy crap. You cannot keep those motherfuckers down.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:52 PM
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315: The Solis delay, as far as I can tell, is pretty much entirely about the EFCA and the desire to maintain the neutering of American labor.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:53 PM
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I seem to have confused the pine bark beetle with the engraver beetle

It was probably an effect of all that boring dust.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:54 PM
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And if there ever IS an actual EFCA fight, over an EFCA bill that actually stands a chance of passing, the media snarl is going to be so much more obnoxious than anything we've seen over the last two weeks. This is their money at stake, after all.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:55 PM
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317: of course. But it's odd to see them more or less admit that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:55 PM
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Those tiny Ips were sent from Satan to bedevil us by subtly subverting nature against us.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 12:58 PM
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I'm surprised and gratified that Obama actually appointed someone as Labor Secretary whom Republicans don't like. But now we'll see if he stands by the only Cabinet appointment liberals were actually excited about.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:06 PM
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Shorter 315-317: 17.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:06 PM
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Please go away, ToS.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:09 PM
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323: Yeah, I read that, but like Brock I'm surprised to see it admitted so blatantly. I'll be really really pissed if O and the rest of the Dems don't stand by her one hundred percent.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:16 PM
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I don't know why you guys are surprised. Those Republicans are just doing the job they were hired for.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:25 PM
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Yeah, but like Jesus I'm surprised to see it admitted so blatantly.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:25 PM
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It's only surprisingly blatant if you accept that unions are a good thing, or at least that the choice to join or not is a good thing. The the GOP core constituency unions are intrinsically bad, so opposition to them in whatever form is a good thing.

The US has a completely defective notion of the costs/benefits of unionization.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:34 PM
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I am not up to speed on "card check", but doing away with a secret ballot does not seem to be very democratic, nor in the interests of dissenting parties.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:37 PM
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the only Cabinet appointment liberals were actually excited about.

No no, we were excited about Steven Chu as well.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:37 PM
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329: That is because you are not up to speed on card check, or the situation that it is intended to remedy.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 1:55 PM
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322: I have to say, I was much more excited about Solis' election to Congress -- a primary challenge to a useless Dem -- than I am about her appointment as Labor secretary. Solis is without a doubt a labor warrior--I don't know her personally, though I have numerous connections to her and am hoping that one of them gets a high-ranking job in her administration. I don't doubt that she'll push effectively for EFCA and run the bureaucracy in the interests of workers, which is huge.

But when I think about the Rubin-Reich battles of the Clinton cabinet, and how the economy is about to be overhauled, I want there to be someone in that seat whom I know as more than a warrior but as a persuasive visionary for a more just economy. The deck is stacked high on the other side. I don't know that Solis can't do this, but I don't think of her as having the background to take on Geithner and Summers. Maybe that will be Jared Bernstein's job, but he's not Cabinet-level.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:01 PM
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or the situation that it is intended to remedy.

NLRB elections are secret ballot, no? Asking someone to sign the authorization card would be intimidating, if one was against the union.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:10 PM
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It's hard to imagine a situation in which unions could intimidate workers more than employers already do.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:12 PM
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Look, TLL, the bosses have a habit of making it a routine to break labor law when it comes time to take the secret ballot, thus defeating the whole fucking point of the secret ballot.

So, in point of fact, it is just one of those things you've got to deal with.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:12 PM
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You know, I'd like to see liberals push back against the notion that the be-all and end-all of democracy is the secret ballot. The idea that the current regime of secret elections, held months after the workforce asks for one, with employer threats, propaganda and firings of organizers in the interim, is some sort of democratic system to be safeguarded is a sick joke.

There's more to democracy than turning up to the polls every couple of years and putting a ballot in the box. The same applies to democracy in the workplace, and an arena where the electorate doesn't feel intimidated is one of the building blocks.


Posted by: King Rat | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:12 PM
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an arena where the electorate doesn't feel intimidated is one of the building blocks.

Hard to argue against that. One man's intimidation is another's campaign promise, or something.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:18 PM
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I suppose you could interpret "vote for a union and we'll fire you" as a campaign promise, were you so inclined.


Posted by: King Rat | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:22 PM
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One thing which people don't get about the 'doing away with the secret ballot' bit is that current law doesn't mandate a secret ballot -- if the union and the employer agree on card check, no NLRB election is required. So the proposed change in the law doesn't take away some absolute right of the worker to an NLRB election. It just takes away the employer's right to decide between card check and an election.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:27 PM
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Really not trolling here, but can anyone point me to research on ways that the New Deal was not effective and how it could have been better.

I ask, because I seem to recall having read that Keynes himself didn't think that Roosevelt's policies really reflected his theory. One criticism was the artificial restriction on production, I think, namely the limits on how much food could be produced.

Are there any numbers on this, i.e. how much more effective the New Deal could have been if it had been more aggressive? I don't even know where to look.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:32 PM
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oh and JM and LB, I think that Buffalo used to be full of elms along the streets.

I also mourn the loss of teh chestnut tree.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:37 PM
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Cynthia Freeland has a great essay called "women and bugs"

That looks interesting.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:37 PM
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I think Rauchway should be your man on this, no? If you go harass him at EotAW, I'd think he'd be able to point you at something. (I mean, historian, not economist, but he did write a book about it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:38 PM
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I thought of him, but I am slightly scared to go over there. Don't know why.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:41 PM
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344: Too many Muppets?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:46 PM
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You could just email him. He's a very pleasant fellow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:46 PM
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344: I ask you, could anyone who looks like this be that intimidating?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:48 PM
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That's a really charismatic dog.

And Rauchway is very friendly, and (not that I should be volunteering someone else's effort) I'm sure wouldn't mind the inquiry.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:51 PM
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||
"13. I've been duck hunting with Chief Justice Warren, but not with Vice President Cheney."

from "25 Random Things about me", by Jerry Brown.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:54 PM
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||

Annals of tacky heds:

Police rub out Beaver County massage parlor

Pasting that in, I realize that, as a local, the funny of "Beaver" didn't even make an impression.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:55 PM
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Cynthia Freeland has a great essay called "women and bugs"

Women aren't bugs!

/Susie Derkins>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:56 PM
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BG, I'd start by going through Rauchway's posts over there from the last few weeks. It's illuminating stuff. Most of it is devoted to correcting the Schlaes & Co. revisionism, and I don't know that he's addressed your specific question, but if you asked nicely, he might.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 2:57 PM
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340:That's pretty huge. Even if you limit yourself to those generally favorable to the New Deal, I think you could write an entire book on theory & practice, positive & negative consequences of the NRA.

Roosevelt & crew made a share of mistakes.
...
But this is why I'm here, from a comment at Thoma's:

Finally, the January figure may be worse, in reality, than the loss of 598,000 reported by the Labor Department. That is a seasonally adjusted figure. Before adjustment the figure was a loss of 3.6 million jobs.

That big adjustment reflects the fact that temporary holiday season workers see their jobs end. But this season there were fewer such workers hired, and that means that more of those who lost their jobs were probably permanent workers.

3.6 million jobs lost, then seasonally adjusted?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:00 PM
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3.6 million jobs lost, then seasonally adjusted?

Lost jobs are quite bland without a nice blend of spices.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:09 PM
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That's the wonderful world of econometrics, no? I'd imagine they seasonally adjusted away a few million job gains in November and December in the same way.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:12 PM
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354: Hmm. I thought they were just desserts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:14 PM
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Anyway, the details of FDR's policies aren't as important as the fact that FDR excited and empowered the center-left and left in the country at a time when the left was needed. They didn't need to have faith to know which side FDR was on.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:16 PM
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ari gets it:

President Obama should crisscross the country atop a magical redistributionist ponycorn that will crap infrastructure projects here, there, and everywhere, while rejiggering the tax code by whinnying its sweet ponycorn breath on recalcitrant legislators. The president and his ponycorn's every move should be documented by a team of the nation's finest photographers and memorialized by collectives of state-sponsored folk singers and playwrights. And in their wake should come a phalanx of America's youth, scattering seeds for grand forests that will provide shade for future generations of Democratic voters. Also, beer should be free.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:17 PM
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358:Bah.

"Obama knows best" in snarktalk.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:21 PM
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Anyway, the details of FDR's policies aren't as important as the fact that FDR excited and empowered the center-left and left in the country at a time when the left was needed.

So, then, what really mattered was rhetoric and the ability to inspire? You're just so whirly-eyed, bob.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:35 PM
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Hey Ari, you know anything that would answer BG's question in 340? I don't have a solid grip on your area of specialization.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:37 PM
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I don't have a solid grip on your area of specialization.

Self-deprecating comments about Jews, innit?

BTW, ari, this is for you.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:41 PM
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I don't have a solid grip on your area of specialization.

I think those areas are now called 'historian bits'


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:43 PM
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I believe it would be inappropriate for me to have a firm grip on Ari's historian bits. In any case, I'm certain Buck would disapprove.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:45 PM
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201 is wingnut grade stupid. And it's Stresemann.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:46 PM
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your area of specialization

361: Mostly I plumb the depths of ignorance*. And things get really murky for me after, say, 1919. But you pretty much nailed it: Eric has a bunch of posts debunking the New Deal denialists. And in several of those, he addresses the issue of Keynes's quibbles with FDR's work, which quibbles mostly amounted to: not enough spending. Also, I'm pretty sure that Eric would respond if BG showed up in the comments of one of his posts. I mean, I can't say for sure, but it's likely.

* I study, in no particular order: the era of the Civil War; Native people; collective memory; spatial history, especially urban public spaces; and environmental history, whatever that means. Also some other stuff.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:46 PM
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No, ari, this is for you.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:46 PM
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Also also, what Josh said. And 364 dashes my fondest dreams.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:47 PM
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||

It's time to eat the rich.* To the pitchforks!

*Even though it IS keeping biologists in business.

|>


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:48 PM
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360:You didn't mention who the rhetoric and inspiration was directed at. It isn't the left that feels excited and empowered this month, or today on the Senate floor.

Appeasing the Centrists ...Krugman. Read some comments.

I read comments, hundreds of comments, and most, repeat most, of the people I respect and admire in the blogosphere are very unhappy about this stimulus bill, policy and politics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:52 PM
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362: We went to a goat farm in the Vaca hills a couple of weekends ago. As hott as you might imagine.

367: Thanks. That's excellent and will become a post soon enough.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:53 PM
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371.1: So you *are* branching out from sheep!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:55 PM
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365:That's an argument.

Like how did the Nazi party evolve and grow after Hitler's release? Was his base, as numbers rather than money,. urban or rural? Do you know how farmers fared in the Streseman years? Why did the KPD take so many workers from the SPD in that period?

For thirty years we have been told that inflation is the worse thing. It is not even the second worse thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:57 PM
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371 was me. Also, bob, has it occurred to you that the people who appear in the comment threads you read aren't the sum total of the left or center-left in this country? Anyway, I'm not happy with what I'm hearing about the stimulus bill, though I don't know enough to know if my unhappiness is warranted or just creeping malaise. But I also know that the Obama administration has accomplished more good in less than two weeks than George Bush did in two terms. Is that a low bar? Sure it is. So instead of arguing about the nature of the possible, why not give him 100 days, as my post suggests. We can argue then, okay?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 3:57 PM
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373: Not an argument, an insult (though wholly justified). What Stresemann years?


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:05 PM
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366: You should post about spatial history more -- that sounds fascinating (like, plazas and parks?).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:24 PM
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like, plazas and parks?

Yeah, that kind of thing.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:29 PM
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201 is wingnut grade stupid.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, I'm about to jump to the defense of McManus.

Bob is right. The NSDAP was a fring party for years after the hyperinflation. It never attained over 3% of the vote before the mass unemployment after the crash of '29. The notion that hyperinflation paved the way for Hitler is conventional wisdom, but it is entirely at odds with the actual history of the Weimar Republic, the best, most stable years of which came after the hyperinflation (and resulting devaluation of the Versailles reparation debt).

The more sophisticated argument goes something like "Inflation destroyed the confidence of the middle classes in the Republic," but that, too, is insufficient as a causal mechanism.

Bob gets it exactly right: Mass unemployment, and the failure of the SPD to ameliorate it, pushed working class voters to the KPD, at which point conservative voters held their noses and voted NSDAP as their best bet to stave off Bolshevism.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:29 PM
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67: I'm pretty sure that somebody reasonably trustworthy and in the know -- DeLong?

Fallows. Continued here.

Also the Simpsons episode where the Mensa members take over Springfield and run it into the ground.

I was going to stay out of this whole stimulus debate, but now you're getting Simpsons plot points wrong, which is just inexcusable. That's not what happens, the Mensa members do a fine job running Springfield until they start fighting among themselves (and Comic Book Guy proposes a law in which people can only have sex once every seven years) at the very end, at which point Stephen Hawking (mistaken by Homer for Larry Flynt) inspires the townspeople turn on them.

Wisdom of crowds, people.
That's what Wisdom of Crowds is about, either. It's about certain kinds of problems where the aggregate predictions of a specified group is a better estimate or prediction than that of individual experts.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:42 PM
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Um, Knecht I have a lot of respect for you, but did you read 201? You are of course absolutely right, but bob wrote that the hyperinflation was "a lesser generator of the fascist reaction than the Stresseman budget-balancing/fiscal austerity of 1924-28" , i.e. that the political developments of the mid-twenties, the most stable of the republic, were a huge boon to the extreme right, that the fiscal policy of the various administrations (Marx et al.) were particularly stringent and that Stresemann was chancellor after 1923.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:47 PM
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Fallows

Right. Thanks.

Knecht I have a lot of respect for you

Dude, have you been reading this blog?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:53 PM
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stoopid html


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:54 PM
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But I also know that the Obama administration has accomplished more good in less than two weeks than George Bush did in two terms.

This is a reverse Godwin. Obama is even more better than Hitler. Let's go all the way on this.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:56 PM
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383: There are rules, John. You can only troll me at one blog at a time.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 4:58 PM
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One thing which people don't get about the 'doing away with the secret ballot' bit is that current law doesn't mandate a secret ballot -- if the union and the employer agree on card check, no NLRB election is required. So the proposed change in the law doesn't take away some absolute right of the worker to an NLRB election. It just takes away the employer's right to decide between card check and an election.

Well yes, but card check is designed to make it easier to unionize by letting you get votes one by one rather than all at once. There's no reason employers would do that. If employers could have a no-union-for-a-year card check, they'd be all over it.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:01 PM
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On Firedoglake summed it up: when times get tough, the peasant/bourgeois wisdom in the reptile blame says "Tighten your belts". And that's right for household management, but completely wrong for fiscal policy. But when people hunker down and start seriously worrying, the reptile brain takes over.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:01 PM
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Apologies are in order to Tiny Hermaphrodite. I was reacting allergically to the hyperinflation trope, but hat was not his/her point.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:04 PM
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I'm afraid that EOTAW is poor trolling ground. Or maybe I'm declining. I'm sorry I embarrassed you in front of your friends.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:04 PM
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380:I don't know that I should respond to you, for instance I never said Stresemann was Chancellor.

Those "Golden Years" were not so great in Bavaria and East Prussia, i.e., for farmers. The rural population did not merely hate the commies, they actually suffered. Foreign policy and many concessions to the Allies had a direct effect on the German economy, built resentment. The need of the DVP to form a great coalition of the center did roll back many of the gains for workers from the Revolution period, driving them to the KPD.

I know Stresemann is generally viewed as the hero of period, Weber's ideal politician. Blameless for what followed. That's completely wrong.

You don't know me, but I follow Carl Schmitt from the left. Moderation in pursuit of peace just makes you roadkill. Liberalism sucks.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:04 PM
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I've decided to end my mission to the liberals. I'm going back to lone disgruntlement. I really feel like a fossil.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:07 PM
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388: Of all those people, John, you're probably my closest friend. Not to mention that I agree with you most of the time. We can hug now, if you'd like.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:09 PM
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Well, that's a relief. It got a bit sticky with [a certain person].


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:13 PM
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391: Can I have a hug, too, Ari? How 'bout a blowjob?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:14 PM
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Just not while driving.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:17 PM
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The inflation of the early 1920s had to a certain extent benefited German agriculture by reducing debts, but stabilisation after 1924 hit German farmers hard. Overall in Germany, the tax burden, as a percentage of the national income, rose from 9 per cent in 1913 to 17 per cent in 1925. Between 1924 and 1930, taxes on agriculture were established at 3.7 times the prewar level. Farmers often found themselves borrowing money to pay taxes and to buy seeds, fertiliser and new machinery, hoping that renewed inflation would take care of their debts. Unfortunately, they were faced instead by revaluation, by continuing low prices of agricultural output on world markets and by increased foreign competition. Interest rates were high after 1924, and banks proved to be unsympathetic to their plight. Per head, the incomes of small farmers were 44 per cent less than the national average in the mid 1920s whereas before 1914 they had been only 20 per cent less. Put another way, between 1913 and 1928 farmers' real incomes rose by only 4.5 per cent as against a national average for all workers of 45 per cent. No wonder farmers felt that they were paying a high price for Weimar governments and getting few benefits in return!

By 1929, few farms were profitable, and high interest rates on their debts were a major cause of farmers' grievances.

Those "Golden Years" were an early example of neo-liberalism in action.

Why is this relevant? I am looking about 5 years ahead, looking at you Christie Romer. I think they will go IMF-style "Shock Doctrine" on us, under the guise of fighting hyperinflation, and the result will be as it was in Germany, as it was under Jimmy Carter.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:18 PM
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393: It hurts me that you think you have to ask, KR.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:18 PM
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Blowjobs for some! Miniature American flags for others!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:23 PM
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I've told the blowjob while driving story before, right? Actually true. The gist is that it's not a good idea.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:25 PM
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Does it involve one of the Weymouth sisters?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:34 PM
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I've decided to end my mission to the liberals. I'm going back to lone disgruntlement.

Shane! Come back, Shane!


Posted by: OPINIONATED OTHER FOSSIL | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:34 PM
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One of the things about farmers is that they're always in crisis, despite their stodginess. The only way a farmer can get ahead is if he has a good crop when everyone else has a bad crop. Too much is as bad as not enough.

I've been reading Midwestern Agrarian politics, and the farmers political organizations dwindled whenever the farmers had a couple of good years, because they became complacent, and dwindled again whenever farmers had a couple bad years, because no one was able to pay their dues. Seemingly the organizations were strongest when a bad year or two after a few good years.

Primary producers are the only ones who really have to deal with their net income per unit of production varying by a factor of five or even more, with no correlation at all with anything the farmer himself did.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:34 PM
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In Minnesota 1930-1938 you actually had a farmer-labor alliance. Usually farmers and laborers are at opposite poles. It was a tricky balancing act -- labor was highly radical too. They also had a de facto prohibitionist -- bootlegger alliance at one time, though the bootleggers were definitely more influential.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:37 PM
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401-402: Worst blowjob story ever.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:41 PM
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No one begged for it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:42 PM
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Emerson's ancestor was given a stiff fine for blowing her paramour while he was driving a wagon. The whole "burned as a witch" thing was made up to cover the family shame.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:46 PM
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One of the things about farmers is that they're always in crisis, despite their stodginess.

Nah, farmers do pretty well under inflation, as do the rest of us. Remember that Cross of Gold


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 5:52 PM
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Inflation is good for farmers, but they can have crises anyway. The prices they receive go down with inflation too. In what I've been reading there never seem to be more than two or three good years in a row in any given area.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:03 PM
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Fleshlights for all !


Posted by: 408 | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:04 PM
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Tractors now have GPS. You only have to steer to turn at the end of the row. Also, very well insulated cabs. I called my cousin and didn't even know he was in the tractor until he told me. So, lots of swings in income, but things have gotten better.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:10 PM
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406: Bryan was a dry and not particularly fond of the Irish.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:13 PM
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Damn if I can find a good article on German monetary policy after the hyperinflation, 1924-28. I'm guessing it was disinflationary or worse, especially with all the capital inflows (American).

Is how they do the inequality, as has been done for the last thirty years. It would take a long time to explain the processes, but even the offshoring can derived from inadequate domestic returns.

All your social progress can be for naught if they can keep the currency stable. Inflation is pricing power.

Watch the money, as Mr Rothschild said.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:17 PM
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In Minnesota 1930-1938 you actually had a farmer-labor alliance.

Likewise in western Canada, with the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation), which was pretty staunchly socialist in its early days and way to the left of today's NDP.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:24 PM
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There was actually a link between the two movements via -- wait -- North Dakota and the Cooperative Commonwealth movement.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:30 PM
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Found Something

Refers to Borchardt I & II, who said Weimar sucked all the way down. Not completely satisfactory.

Liberals are captivated by the surfaces of politics and economics and other shiny things.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 6:42 PM
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Is there a thread somewhere where the newly announced no prosecutions for torture during the Bush administration policy has been mentioned?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:05 PM
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415: This one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:15 PM
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415: I hadn't heard that. Now I can let the hobo go without fear of prosecution. Save $4/week on beans.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:15 PM
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Bryan was [...] not particularly fond of the Irish.

Who is?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:21 PM
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BTW, I'm about ready to vomit over the "stimulus" bill that has finally passed. Something like 45/55 tax cut/spending.

Fucking worthless assholes.

Why, o why didn't they let the Rs kill the filibuster when they wanted to?

Dumbass shitheads.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:23 PM
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418: BTW, just for the record, I'm ~50% Irish.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:24 PM
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419: For me, it would depend on who gets the tax cuts.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:27 PM
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420: Watch it, nobody wants to start a "self-deprecating Irish" stereotype. I prefer the drunk/belligerent one.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:28 PM
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415: Link?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:33 PM
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Oh well. It was nice to hope for decent science funding and real money for energy efficiency. Easy come, easy go.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:37 PM
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About the stimulus bill, I'm not finding many details yet. But I'm partially appeased because it looks like Sen. Nelson was a big player. I voted for him in his first gubernatorial race/my first election.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:37 PM
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424 to 419. And what's with this "announce we reached a deal on Friday evening, vote during the weekend, so that people don't notice and call their elected officials to voice an opinion" strategy.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:38 PM
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419:Firedoglake has some details

420:Yeah, but which Irish? Anglo-Irish, Norse-Irish, Celts, all those invading tribes diluted our pure blood and don't really count as Irish.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:41 PM
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427: They increased defense funding? Motherfuckers.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:42 PM
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I prefer the drunk/belligerent one.

Nattargrammatt's already staked out that territory for the Scots. Drunk/blessed-with-the-gift-of-gab is still available, I think.

Incidentally, I really don't want to go to the opera tonight.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:43 PM
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Go ahead, skip the opera. I'll fight you for 'drunk/belligerent'.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:45 PM
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Loser gets drunk/cheap.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:46 PM
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423: Link?

Here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:46 PM
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It's actually my fucking job to go to the opera. I've just learned things about the production that strongly suggest I will dislike it. If I didn't have to drive, I'd drink first.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:51 PM
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Is there a thread somewhere where the newly announced no prosecutions for torture during the Bush administration policy has been mentioned?

If you're thinking of Panetta's statement today, at least according to TPM that's not quite what he said. Panetta ruled out prosecutions for *interrogators*, not prosecutions for the higher-ups.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:53 PM
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Ah, I saw something buried in a different AP report earlier that sounded more encompassing (or maybe I read it too quickly). That's a much more specific statement.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 7:58 PM
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My fear is that this thing isn't even going to work very well, because its stimulatory qualities have been watered down through ill-advised concessions to the Republicans (who are in no position to be lecturing anyone on fiscal responsibility and sound economic policy! and yet, absurdly enough, lecture they do, and some people who really should know better are still -- still! -- inclined to listen to them and even to take them seriously). And that the GOP can somehow work this to their advantage.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:01 PM
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About the stimulus bill, I'm not finding many details yet. But I'm partially appeased because it looks like Sen. Nelson was a big player. I voted for him in his first gubernatorial race/my first election.

Was he a major player in a good way, though?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:02 PM
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The last bit here:

Panetta told senators it's time for the agency to move ahead, rather than dwell on the harsh treatment of foreign detainees in the previous administration.

Panetta will oversee the end of "enhanced" interrogation and the closure of secret CIA jails. But he says the Obama administration will not prosecute those who participated, because they were acting on the legal authority of the Justice Department.

This must have been what the reporter got the clarification on, since it doesn't mention the higher-ups at all.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:03 PM
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New England Cable News is on, and I got stuck listening to Susan Collins and Lieberfuck.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:03 PM
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437:No

Unless you think slashing entitlements is the way responsible thing to do

Both digby


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:16 PM
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433: Then you'd better go. I think there might be a recession on and I'm guessing that opera-going jobs are pretty scarce regardless of the economy.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:16 PM
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440: Did not see entitlements in either of the links.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:20 PM
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and some people who really should know better are still -- still! -- inclined to listen to them and even to take them seriously

If my email is any indicator, they're hearing "SOCIALISM" and "THE MARKET" and "FREEDOM" and "GOVERNMENT" and reacting like Pavlov's dogs. These are otherwise un-stupid people IMX. Strange.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:21 PM
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MSNBC is so liberal that no one here is even near Krugman's side of the argument.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:26 PM
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McManus, there's no "pure blood" of the Irish. Seriously.

But of course you are right that slashing entitlements is not at all the responsible thing to do. Cutting food stamps? That's indefensible both as a matter of social justice and economic policy, and is just pure Gradgrind ideology.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:29 PM
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When Obama nominates a hobo, he will be pilloried for the untaxed train rides (which were safer than getting hugs and all while driving (391, 393)).


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:31 PM
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440: Oops, I read to quickly. Entitlements is there, but not much detail though. Depends on the entitlement. Some cuts, such as means-testing SS seem like good ideas to me.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:34 PM
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untaxed train rides

The free-rider problem come to life!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:39 PM
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442:Did not see entitlements in either of the links.

2nd link:

Long-term, the strategy is the same. The quiet encouragement of moderate Democrats - which totally happened, by the way - is about entitlement reform and standing up to Speaker Pelosi.
...Ambinder
Looks like Jane had it nailed. I'm guessing they think "entitlement reform" is going to be the new NAFTA.
...digby

Jane had it nailed was a link


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:41 PM
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Some cuts, such as means-testing SS seem like good ideas to me.

I guess anti-stimulus measures could be good ideas, though it seems odd that that would be a top priority right now.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:44 PM
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446: I'm pretty sure you can type 'blowjob' here without getting bleeped. Of course, if you mention SHRIMP LO MIEN, it is automatically replaced with an item from the menu of a Chinese restaurant.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:49 PM
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447:seem like good ideas to me. Well, gee me too. That is not what we will get.

You are not gonna count. Ben Nelson & Susan Collins will count much more, and they will not guide a "progressive" reform thru the Senate, anymore than we got a progressive stimulus bill.

Obama is empowering the Blue Dogs, I say, because Obama is Blue Dog himself and wants Blue Dog policies. Obama is a brilliant politician, and will sign the Nelson/Collins reform in sorrow and acceptance. In other words, plausible deniability.

I warned long ago that Obama would engineer a center-right coalition, excluding progressives and even liberals. 20 Blue Dogs + 10 Moderate Republicans and work up from there.

This stimulus bill in its final form was not a "failure." Obama is slick-willie times ten, the "triangulator's triangulator" as Newberry called him once. What you see is pretty much what Obama really wanted.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:50 PM
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Wow, he really *is* the Antichrist.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:54 PM
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Digby's reference to NAFTA was spot on.

Clinton is still admired in the Village for getting that Republican bill passed. Obama wants to start his term with an honest-to-God bipartisan BIG bill. "An accomplishment" The bipartisan meetings "Fiscal Responsibility" or something, are scheduled for this month. After bipartian fail and all the rhetoric of wasteful spending Obama will need to prove he is for-real non-partisan leader. It will be horrible.

I don't fucking know why they go that way.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:56 PM
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436: Mary Catherine, you should remember that America is a shitty country inhabited by shitty people, with a shitty Constitution and shitty Founding Fathers. It's culturally insensitive of you to make invidious comparisons with some hypothetical mediocre, sort of OK country with not too horrible people which doesn't randomly bomb people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 8:59 PM
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MU SHU PORK you.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:00 PM
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Anyway, the next big event happens Monday, when Geithner unveils Obama's multi-trillion dollar bank giveaway. Think that will dominate the headlines and blogs with the final stimulus bailout voting same day?

Another amazing coincidence.

That's the real easy money, that won't need to be passed thru peasant hands "Hey, just write your name on a pice of paper dude, we'll call it an 'unstructured investment vehicle' and the Fed will buy it for ten million."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:11 PM
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America is a shitty country inhabited by shitty people, with a shitty Constitution and shitty Founding Fathers

Honestly, John, I don't believe this at all. Well, maybe I believe somewhat that the Constitution is a bit shitty (I guess I see it as an interesting eighteenth-century experiment in the principles of good government, as understood by the intellectuals of the day [Hey gang! Let's put on a show! Here's our chance to combine Lockean liberalism, Montesquiean anglophilia, and Protestant natural law theory into something new and earth-shattering, and who's to stop us, eh?...] which hasn't really held up very well through the passage of time...it's probably not such a good idea to write your constitution in accordance with the pet theories of the intellectuals of the day, is what I suspect). But shitty country with shitty people? No! And I really didn't mean to make an invidious comparison. It's not as though Stephen Harper's government is anything to be proud of, and the only reason they don't randomly bomb people is that they lack the imperial pretensions to do so.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:28 PM
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Yeah, I guess Canada is sort of shitty too. Tonight I just happen to be more anti-American than you are.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:32 PM
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Hey, isn't that weird suspension of Canada's parliament over now? Is the coalition to oust Harper dead? (I could search, I guess.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:34 PM
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Canada has lots going for it, like the Red Green Show (at least before it lost its edge).


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:34 PM
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Also, does anyone know anything about UBC library school?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:38 PM
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460: Well Ottawa's transit strike is over.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:41 PM
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455: That's absurd, John. America is a perfectly nice country inhabited by shitty people. We have plenty of lovely beaches and countryside.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:41 PM
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Is the coalition to oust Harper dead? (I could search, I guess.)

No, not dead at all. Since you last googled, I'm guessing, St├ęphane Dion has been replaced by Michael Ignatieff as leader of the Liberal party, and Iggy means to bring Harper down on a vote of non-confidence.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:42 PM
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Well Ottawa's transit strike is over.

Yeah. And a bunch of people in Ottawa didn't support the transit workers because they couldn't see past the inconvenience of the strike...so obviously Canada is full of shitty people too.

Mind you, I'm not prepared to concede B's contention that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Canadian climate. A bit of ice and snow never hurt anyone, and cold air has a bracing effect upon the sinuses.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 9:59 PM
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A bit of ice and snow never hurt anyone

Freezing to death is kind of like going to sleep.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:05 PM
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"A bit of ice and snow never hurt anyone"

I knocked an icicle on my chin and it really hurt. Took four days for the cut to heal.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:05 PM
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Freezing to death is kind of like going to sleep.

Actually, it's exactly like going to sleep, from what I've always heard. Don't ever be tempted to make your bed in a snowbank!


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 10:22 PM
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Nice Canadians have had a constitutional right to railroads SuperTrains since 1867. Alas the busses are stuffed with creeps and weirdos.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:06 PM
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Here's Tomasky with the reminder that Clinton couldn't pass a stimulus bill for $19b. in 1993. I can't tell for sure, but it seems like unemployment was about 7.2% at the time, which was the nadir of Bush I's recession. I had recently graduated from college and moved to Canada so I could have health care and a job. Anyway, bob seems to be right about one thing: Obama's one hell of a politician. Let's just hope he can govern.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:31 PM
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Clinton passed tax increases, though. Are there actual tax increases in the stimulus - rather than made necessary in the future by the stimulus?

Also, isn't there a bit of a banking crisis right now that didn't exist in 1993, even with the recession back then? Kind of? This is not to say that Clinton was a better politician, just that it's not really much of a comparison.

Go back in your mind to last summer, or even last fall, after the financial crisis hit. Did you ever think a kajillion years that we'd be talking about more than half-a-trillion dollars in public spending, ever?

Summer, probably not. After the fall and crisis and the big tarp? Yes. Did anyone not think we would be heading for $500 billion or more if the Democrats won increased majorities? Saying "half-a-trillion" makes it sound bigger.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:41 PM
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Looks like by mid-to-late October the number $300 billion was being thrown around, with some already suggesting it wasn't big enough. By mid-to-late November it was up to $500-700 billion. If you trust a quick google news search, that is.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:47 PM
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There was a pretty severe bank crisis (of the savings and loan variety) in the early nineties, right? And I'm reasonably confident that tax increases will come eventually. But it's awfully hard to increase taxes at a moment like this, even though I'd like to see the top rate back up to New Deal levels.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:49 PM
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All I want to know is, will there be stimulus checks at some point? I could use another one of those.

(The opera, you'll be happy to know, was better than I expected, but the thing I thought I was going to hate, I really hated.)

On preview: I'd like to see the top rate back up to New Deal levels

Love you for dreaming big, dude.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:51 PM
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Anyway, both Clinton and Obama are masterful politicians. That I prefer the style of the latter doesn't mean I don't recognize the effectiveness of the former. My point was just that getting a bill like this through is pretty tough. And then there's this: it still has to go through conference. It should be interesting to see what the beastly thing looks like come Monday.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:52 PM
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Love you for dreaming big, dude.

Look, I'm not unreasonable. So let's compromise: the 79% bracket would only be on income above, oh, I don't know, how about $775,000? Does that sound fair?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:54 PM
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Krugman on Clinton's proposed tax increases. Note the mention of health care at the end. Almost all of the other links of the first page of a search for "clinton tax increase" looked like arguments that the tax increase was bad, nothing good came of it, and other things helped the economy in the 1990s, and those things happen to be what the Heritage Institute supports.

Anyway, I don't really know the details of the banking problems back then (it's all high school or before for me), but I don't remember so many major institutions disappearing or being swallowed up by other institutions that are themselves facing a lot of problems. I thought the savings and loan stuff was a little earlier, but the fallout continued into the early 90s. But mainly, I thought the throwaway Clinton comparison wasn't very good. That's all.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:56 PM
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Let's call it $400,000. That's a nice number. No skin off my back nohow.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 6-09 11:56 PM
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478: Well, my thoughts on historical analogies are a matter of public record. But I had completely forgotten that Clinton tried to pass a stimulus package at all. And the tiny number just looks pathetic at this point. As for the S and L crisis, it was a pretty huge deal, though I have no idea about the comparative values in question. Still, you're right: it was almost over by the time Clinton began his term. The reverberations, though, lingered. You might even say they reverberated.

479: But then it would affect the middle class, farmers, and small business owners, the backbone of the American economy.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 12:09 AM
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And I'm reasonably confident that tax increases will come eventually.

Jesus, ari. Facts are that Clinton raised taxes in a middling economy and Obama comes out of his inauguration with one of the biggest tax cuts in American history. Pelosi wanted to roll back the Bush tax cuts early and Obama refused to put it on the table.

Yax cuts and "entitlement reform" are among Obama's highest priorities. Reagan redux.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 3:43 AM
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[I'm late, I'm late, for a rabbit hole. Pardon length.]

340: Really not trolling here, but can anyone point me to research on ways that the New Deal was not effective and how it could have been better.

Rereading I am not sure if you mean, 'Why do Randroids think it sucked' or 'Why it [might have] sucked in general' or 'Why, oh why, can we not have teh socializm?' Not understanding the question has frequently failed to stop me before!

I ask, because I seem to recall having read that Keynes himself didn't think that Roosevelt's policies really reflected his theory.

Well, they really didn't reflect his theory, as his theory emerged in 1937, whereas the New Deal started in 1933. That said, many of the dumber New Deal programs were enacted in that time period, along with many of the no-brainer programs.

One criticism was the artificial restriction on production, I think, namely the limits on how much food could be produced.

Previous to Roosevelt, farm prices collapsed, and there was a general notion that oversupply meant reduced economic activity, so the idea was floating around that 1/3 of all crops should be plowed under to help support prices. The notion reappeared recently in the WSJ wherein it was suggested that excess foreclosed homes be bulldozed.

The basic problem with the concept is that overproduction doesn't cause depressions, it's just a symptom of other issues. Meanwhile, there is only a limited amount of production (of anything) available in a given time frame (considering all factors of production), so it's really wasteful to destroy thing just to drive prices up. Better to do something else, like purchase the excess at slightly below market prices and give it away.

[That is, say there was a sudden depression, and you had as much as a 1/3 of a year's rice production going unsold. If we want to intervene, then you buy the excess production at or just below current market price, and ship it to Africa or some other place having experiencing food production problems. Meanwhile you bail out the weaker producers (buy their farms, pay off their debts) so they can find another line of work, and you let the excess land lie fallow as a reserve. Next year's production is smaller so the current producers can survive. This is what would happen anyways if you did nothing, except that the excess production for this year would go to waste, and the broken producers would experience immense pain that has depressing effects on the surrounding economy. (Frightened people hoard cash.) So the idea is to smooth out the jagged effects on the production curve and reduce the nastier side-effects of industry-wide bankruptcy.

In theory this is what they want to do with the banks, but I don't care to salvage overproduced paper. (Since what it is, is virtual money. It's not real. It has no value. It can't be converted into something else for other uses. No, dude, I do not wish to pay you money to save your World of Warcraft character, because, you know, it's not real. Why don't you go play another game?) It's just paper. I certainly do not care to salvage the paper at a price more than its worth. Even if I did, there's just too damn much. I would also like to clean out the weak producers, but that's ALL of them. So something else is called for here.]

Wow, ranty! Anyways, the New Deal, or the early bits had lots of wrong things going on; this was still an improvement over Hoover.

Are there any numbers on this, i.e. how much more effective the New Deal could have been if it had been more aggressive? I don't even know where to look.

Wikipedia has a page on the New Deal right here, with lots of links. I never read it before you asked your question, but looking it over, it seems to be a pretty good summary, and it includes actual graphs and stuff, which is always good. There is a separate page for the the Great Depression, which has lots of distinct stuff. And there is actually a page dedicated to critics of the New Deal.

On the making it better question, I quote:

However, no economist has written a full-scale Keynesian analysis of the depression, so it is difficult to evaluate how that model would work. In recent years more influential among economists has been the monetarist interpretation of Milton Friedman, which did include a full-scale monetary history of what he calls the "Great Contraction." Friedman concentrated on the failures before 1933, and in his memoirs said the relief programs were an appropriate response. From 1935 to 1943, Friedman was a Keynesian who was (1941-43) an official spokesman for the New Deal before Congress; he did not at that time criticize any New Deal or Federal Reserve policies.
I must not forget however, Paul Krugman's Depression Economics!

For your right-wing criticism (I'm being thorough here): we have Milton Friendman and the book to read is A Monetary History of the United States, which happens to be the book Ben Bernanke is using for guidance. The only problem with that is, is that the SS Monetary History just took a torpedo. Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand are waving bye-bye from the deck; if you listen, you can hear the lower forward bulkheads collapsing, but it is taking some time to sink.

Then there's Hayek and The Road to Serfdom. And helpfully enough Murray Rothbard's American's Great Depression is online at Lew Rockwell's mises.org.

I add here that there is something of a problem in attempting to criticize the New Deal from the right. There was a crash, and then Hoover had four years, and that didn't work so well. GDP kept falling. Once the New Deal started, GDP started rising again. So the right-wingers above tend to concentrate their fire on Hoover.

Then we have Cole and Ohanian who have a paper here. Their argument is that NRA caused cartelization and collusion, which reduced the size of the recovery. (The argument gets mixed up with anti-labor arguments and whatnot.) This isn't an anti-Keynesian argument, simply because they say that the government dropped those policies during the war, while spending shitloads of money, and then the recovery was fine. It should be noted that the paper gets a little hinky about differentiating between price fixing, cartelization, unionization and skips over the effects of spending. There's a lot of 'we assume' in it.

After that, we have vulgar anti-New Dealism. I call it vulgar because it is modern, and starts with the conclusion 'New Deal Bad', then skips over Hoover, ignores WWII, and concentrates on hand-waving. (Such as not counting people employed by the WPA as employed.) The transition figure is Thomas Sowell; I've read enough to know what his criticisms are, but I don't know which book to look in to find them. Sorry. After that you're stuck with Jonah Goldberg and Amity Shales. There are also, of course, people who criticize the New Deal from the left, which tends to consist in arguing that we should have strangled capitalism in the bathtub when we had the chance. If you want the somewhat non-vulgar short version, look here. Note the handwave in the middle about previous depressions causing a fall of 10% in wages leading to a recovery (1893? 1873? 1921? 25% unemployment?), along with some tariff handwaving in later sections, plus lots of glossing over.

Aside from all that, there's a narrative history online of the Hoover and Roosevelt years right here. Yep, 936 pages all right!

If you need a book on the crash itself, there's John Kenneth Galbraith and Murray Klein, which got a rough review. I liked it.

Somewhere in there should be something like you're looking for.

max
['And if not, we'll try again!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 5:34 AM
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470-480: There are still Bush tax cuts that are set to expire next year, correct? Or do we won't that happen in the current climate?

480: ['80s S&L crisis]The reverberations, though, lingered. You might even say they reverberated.

You might say that. In fact I keep looking to see if there is any press coverage of one looked for distant reverberation. Last that we saw her in 2003, L. Jean Lewis, who (with a massive assist from lying pigfucker Jeff Gerth) in her role as rogue, partisan RTC investigator was pretty much singlehandedly responsible for there even being a Whitewater scandal, had been given this job:

ALTHOUGH THERE'S BEEN no public announcement of her return to government, Lewis has been given a $118,000-a-year job as chief of staff in the traditionally nonpartisan Defense Department's inspector general office. With 1,240 employees and a budget of $160 million, this office is the largest of its kind in the government. It investigates fraud and audits Pentagon contracts, including the billions of dollars being awarded in Iraq to companies like Halliburton and Bechtel.
(That paragraph in Newsweek was pretty much the extent of coverage in mainstream media.) I suspect she was there until at least very recently (and she may be someone who has "burrowed in"). The asymmetry of the coverage of this kind of thing is truly mind-boggling, imagine a pivotal and controversial figure getting a similar job in the Obama administration (much less a stone-dead perjurer, as Lewis clearly was). The whole L Jean Lewis saga is covered in a series of posts here at Orcinus (read from bottom up).

Perhaps the press backed off because the office so thoroughly and professionally investigated and managed those Pentagon contracts.



Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 7:22 AM
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Actually, it's exactly like going to sleep, from what I've always heard. Don't ever be tempted to make your bed in a snowbank!

If you do, don't wake up, because you won't have any fingers left when you do.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 7:28 AM
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Creep or weirdo? You decide.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 7:30 AM
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I'm not quite sure that I needed to see that link, John.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 7:49 AM
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You seem intolerant of aspects of Canadian culture. How do you feel about bears?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 8:03 AM
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385: Yes, of course an employer is very unlikely to allow card check. But the point is that anyone framing the whole "secret ballot" bit as a right that's being taken away from the workers is misstating current law. The 'workers' (in this framing, entirely distinct from the proposed union) don't have a right to a secret ballot now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 8:18 AM
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||

I was looking for something else, and happened upon Martindale's "visibility ranking" among 892,803 lawyers. I see that I'm in a dead tie with ObWi's "von" and that Elbee and "Ugh" are also tied, both having the stuffing beaten out of them by Di. At present, I'm more interested in invisibility, but can foresee a time when I'll want to go the other way. You guys with the bots are going to help me out, right?

|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 8:43 AM
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Obama endorsed the moderates' effort and brought its leaders -- Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) -- to the White House to discuss their proposed cuts. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel attended the final meetings in Reid's office last night to work out lingering differences. Before Emanuel arrived, Collins said, Democrats were advocating $63 billion in cuts. "Then Rahm got involved, and a much better proposal came forward," she said.

Another point for Bob. And OFE, to whom I credit the Obama-Blair comparison. I'm trying to restrain myself, but Obama seems to be triangulating, giving all kinds of little goodies to the left while following center-right principles on the big things. Immediately before seeing the above, I saw that Obama had appointed a gay man (or woman?: the news stories don't name them) to the "faith office", and that cheered me up. Between the two, however -- God forgive me, gay Christians! -- I would trade a symbolic appointment for a better stimulus plan in the snap of a finger. (And this is why purely cultural liberals annoy me so much).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 8:43 AM
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Could we know which decile you guys are in? Should Di be taunting and dancing in the end zone?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 8:46 AM
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489: I'm visible??? How the hell am I visible? And [nervously] is this visibility in a good way[/nervously]? Where does one find this list?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:05 AM
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489: but can foresee a time when I'll want to go the other way.

And everyone scoffed at orange jackets a few threads back.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:09 AM
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Di is in the 80s, Elbee in the 60s.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:09 AM
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Ah, I see Charley kicks all our butts resoundingly. Though, sadly, the Libertarian kicks your butt, Carp.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:23 AM
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492: I don't know if there is a list available for free, but when you find a lawyer via their search here, they give you the ranking (looks, like overall and within your city).

I'm a little dubious that they have it correctly normalized, as the two NYC lawyers that I know and checked are at a higher ranking relative to the New York City lawyer population than overall. Or maybe there are just a lot of anonymous lawyers laboring away in the giant legal sweatshops of lower Manhattan.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:25 AM
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You have to discount for doing things with an 'attract attention' element. My score is artificially inflated by this, and probably rests naturally between yours and Elbee's, Di.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:29 AM
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496: According to this, it's just a ranking of profile views over the previous week. I doubt they're tweaking the numbers in any way.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:30 AM
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498: So, if we all just keep sticking gratuitous links to out Martindale profile all over the internet...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:35 AM
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Barack H. Obama:
#12 out of 26,099 lawyers in Chicago, Illinois
#416 out of 892,803 total lawyers Overall


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:38 AM
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Di, just get your marketing department to click on all the profiles at the beginning of each day. Your firm'll be number one in your city in no time.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:40 AM
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500 -- Who's no. 11?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:40 AM
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502: Not easily determined by the method I am using (searching by names).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:49 AM
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496 find a lawyer...they give you the ranking (looks, like overall and within your city).

Hot or not ?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:53 AM
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I realize I'm about fifty comments late, but I'm not sure what 465 is talking about. The coalition here is as dead as a doornail-the budget passed with the support of the freshly Ignatieff-ed Liberals, minus the six Liberals from newfoundland. Now, they may bring down Harper at some point in the future, but if that happens we're almost certainly going to have an election. The NDP was furious that the Liberals backed out.


Posted by: King Rat | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:56 AM
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Gory details of the stimulus (XLS file). Many of the cuts I was pissed off about were not made in the final version. Skimming the file, the largest single cut I see is that they zeroed out K-12 school construction? Weird.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:06 AM
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503: Wait, turns out you can order the names by ranking. But that merely brings more questions as the order is by national ranking which is not related quite as clearly as you might expect to the local ranking (your rank with someone can be reversed). And then you find that the #1 visible lawyer in New York is 2007 graduate from Fordham with Bar Status shown as "admission pending".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:07 AM
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Elbee and "Ugh" are also tied

I see that I also am tied with LizardBreath. I do not know whether to be happy that I am tied with a famous Internet personality or depressed that as a commercial litigator needing to develop business I am tied with a government lawyer who does not have potential clients looking at her profile. When in doubt, be depressed about business development. [begins weeping silently]


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:09 AM
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507: How?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:11 AM
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Huh. I bet I got a big kick in the last month or two -- the big thing I was bragging about in November was national news, for people who pay attention to that sort of thing, and while I wasn't the lead lawyer on the briefs, my name was on them.

But god knows how it works.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:15 AM
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But god knows how it works.

I'm hurt, LB.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:18 AM
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See, it's all an attempt to boost my profile ranking by appearing cold and unfeeling. The idea is that you'll be so saddened by my not having read your comment that you'll go click on my Martindale profile. There are still a couple of bugs to work out, but that's the general outline.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:20 AM
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re: 510

You did have a great win (and thanks for my now having to pay sales tax on Internet purchases).


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:22 AM
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509: After you put in your criteria and get your results, near the top of the page there is a "Sort By" pull down box and one of the criteria is Visibility. However, as I discovered when I tried to stalk catch up on lawyers from my hometown, you notice that there is a distinct bias in the highest scores for people with names that begin with A, B or C. Probably because actual searches for lawyers come back in alphabetic order? "Son, I'll pay for law school if you change your name Aaron Abelson."

The most interesting thing I found was that the bar on the left-hand side gives you a breakdown of some of the other criteria, so 14 lawyers in Chicago claim to speak Gujarati, for instance.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:24 AM
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bob: Why is this relevant? I am looking about 5 years ahead, looking at you Christie Romer. I think they will go IMF-style "Shock Doctrine" on us, under the guise of fighting hyperinflation, and the result will be as it was in Germany, as it was under Jimmy Carter.

We'll see.

Damn if I can find a good article on German monetary policy after the hyperinflation, 1924-28. I'm guessing it was disinflationary or worse, especially with all the capital inflows (American).

What's wrong with Brad's page? Or the wiki page on the economy of Nazi Germany? (The real wage fell and the mark hardened, and the Germans ran a trade deficit. But they had full employment.)

Obama is empowering the Blue Dogs, I say, because Obama is Blue Dog himself and wants Blue Dog policies.

As it stands so far, the worst we get out of Obama is... Clinton redux. We were going to get that with the alternative, so I'm not sure we'd be so much worse off as still screwed.

436: And that the GOP can somehow work this to their advantage.

{blink} Way back in 1992, after the elder Bush lost the election, Limbaugh got on the radio the next day and started talking about midterms. He managed to successfully gather the troops together to stubbornly resist any changes by the Democrats. At the same time, our friendly economic overlords, like Robert Rubin, were doing their balanced budget number. This all didn't work out so well in '94.

Limbaugh intends to run the exact same play again. I note here that it does the country no good for them to wind up in charge, but to win elections they merely have to make people think D's are bad. That said, the D's have a little better position. 58 votes in the Senate (against 56 in '92) the same number of house seats, and Obama won by a larger margin. Otherwise, the conditions are the same. So you know what not to do.

478: I thought the savings and loan stuff was a little earlier, but the fallout continued into the early 90s. But mainly, I thought the throwaway Clinton comparison wasn't very good. That's all.

S&L crisis: 1988-1990. (150 billion dollar bailout). Real estate crisis: 1988-1992 or so. Unemployment peak in '93. So far the Clinton comparison is dead - unfortunately, we are in much worse shape all around.

506: Many of the cuts I was pissed off about were not made in the final version. Skimming the file, the largest single cut I see is that they zeroed out K-12 school construction? Weird.

Um, as far as I can tell from reading the file, people from the Senate can't add, apparently. So there's no telling what they're doing.

max
['No, check it. It doesn't add, across, down or subtotaled, as near as I can tell.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:32 AM
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Um, as far as I can tell from reading the file, people from the Senate can't add, apparently. So there's no telling what they're doing.

max
['No, check it. It doesn't add, across, down or subtotaled, as near as I can tell.']

Really? Which part? I checked the subtotals for the first several segments of it. Too lazy to do the whole thing. There are some parts where they subdivide a number and put the different pieces of it in brackets, so you have to be sure not to double-count those.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 11:01 AM
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Well, start at line 556, THUD.

Rereading it again, apparently, they are listing the House mark, listing the values of the Senate version (larger than the house version) and then listing what they want to take off the Senate version, but not bothering to subtotal subsections. (Which I am not sure add up.)

So essentially they're taking all the Senate additions to the House bill and cutting those... or they can't add.

max
['Kabuki2.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 2:09 PM
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The Senate THUD numbers add up; it's everything under title XII, lines 532 to 570. The subtotal is correctly reported in line 572. The House numbers for THUD seem to be off, or maybe I mistyped something. But generally, I see nothing particularly fishy going on.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 3:12 PM
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Haven't read the entire thread, and it might be over, but I know my rather left wing parents were quite sympathetic to Geithner. The rules regarding the taxation of American (and almost only American) employees of international organizations are a mess. According to international treaties they aren't supposed to pay taxes, according to congress they are. But not all of them, only some - if you're abroad like my parents you don't pay FICA, even if you want to for SS purposes. However, you are required to prepare your taxes as if you were a normal citizen. Your employer pays them for you, you pay taxes on that, your employer pays them for you, and so on and so forth until the sum drops to zero. Your employer then sends a bill for taxes and expenses to the US government which then reimburses them to fulfill its treaty obligations. Every year you screw up someplace, you get billed, you - well, see above.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 9:45 PM
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THUD isn't that bad a summary of the bailout and stimulus.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-09 10:03 PM
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