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The Battle for Obama’s Economic Soul

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Posted on Oct 21, 2008
Obama and the economists
AP photo / Chris Carlson

Tug-O-Bama: Barack Obama sits between Paul Volcker, left, and Robert Rubin on Sept. 19 in Coral Gables, Fla., during a meeting with his top economic advisers.

By Robert Scheer

The battle for Barack Obama’s economic soul is on in earnest, and it has nothing to do with the “European socialism” that John McCain attempted to use as an epithet against him. The Republican quickly dropped that line of attack, perhaps because the European Union’s brand of democratic socialism has proved more effective in regulating the rapacious financial markets at the heart of the economic meltdown. Besides, the socialist British Labor Party has been President Bush’s most loyal supporter of the Iraq occupation that McCain has made the test of true patriotism.

It would be encouraging if the Democratic presidential candidate did indeed attempt to learn something from Europe’s democratic, and barely socialist, governing left concerning the welfare of those who are not super-rich, i.e., how to provide quality health care and education for all—but that is not what is happening. Instead, Obama has turned to the same American “free market” elite that views government as merely a corporate subsidiary. Even within that crowd, however, there are serious splits, and the more enlightened side seems to be winning.

Key among the good guys is former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who consistently challenged the radical anti-regulatory crusade of Alan Greenspan, his immediate successor at the Fed. Greenspan’s all-too-successful effort to give the banking lobby everything it had ever dreamed of was abetted by two Clinton-era secretaries of the treasury, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. Unfortunately, the two, who should have mustered the grace to depart public life in deep contrition over their failed policies, are prominent in the Obama campaign.

Rubin, who pocketed tens of millions running Goldman Sachs before becoming treasury secretary, is the man who got President Clinton to back legislation by then-Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, to unleash banking greed on an unprecedented scale. What followed, thanks to a rare display of bipartisan teamwork, was a total dismantling of the regulatory regime that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had put in place during the New Deal, thus undermining the finest legacy of the Democratic Party. Under the guidance of Rubin and Summers, Clinton signed off on the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, Gramm’s two key pieces of legislation, during his final two years in the White House.

The first beneficiary of that legislation was Citigroup, which was allowed to merge with Travelers Insurance, where Rubin became a director after leaving the government. In his position on the executive committee of a floundering Citigroup, Rubin insisted as late as January of this year that a serious crisis was not forming. In a Jan. 31 article in Fortune headlined “Robert Rubin: What meltdown?” the subheading states: “In a talk on Wednesday [Jan. 30], the Citigroup director said the current financial upheaval is just cyclical. And none of the blame that there was to assign went to Wall Street.” The writer of the article, Katie Benner, quoted Rubin as saying that the problems were “all part of a cycle of periodic excess leading to periodic disruption,” neatly exonerating his own bank of any responsibility, even though Citigroup had already written down over $24 billion in bad mortgage losses.

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At that time, Rubin was advising Hillary Rodham Clinton, while Obama, listening to Volcker, took the opposite tack, issuing a warning in a major address two months after Rubin’s talk that the United States was experiencing the most profound economic crisis since the Great Depression. Obama specifically cited the legislation that Rubin had supported and cautioned, “Our free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it.”

Although Rubin came over to the Obama campaign after Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the primaries, it does seem that Volcker and legendary investor Warren Buffett, another fierce critic of Clinton-era deregulation, are holding the floor for the time being. Buffett has been increasingly visible in the Obama campaign. More than five years ago, Buffett charged that the new investment devices, the “hybrid instruments” and “credit swaps” with which taxpayers are now stuck, were “financial weapons of mass destruction.”

Let’s hope that a President Obama will keep Buffett and Volcker close. They are certainly not the European socialists conjured up in yet another mean-spirited and irrational outburst of the McCain campaign, and their vision for the country seems to extend beyond their own bank accounts.


Robert Scheer is the editor in chief of Truthdig and author of a new book, “The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America.”


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By TAO Walker, October 24, 2008 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

“Don’t follow leaders!  Watch your parking meters!  Look-out, Kids…......”  The wannabe “masters of the universe” are admitting right out in-public and on-the-record they too are lost in the maze of their own mis- ‘n’ malfeasance. 

Pursuers of the allamerican fever-dream here on Turtle Island have long taken great pride in rejecting, often violently, any Native guidance.  So how’s that workin’ out for y’all, here in these latter days?

HokaHey!

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By Tony Wicher, October 24, 2008 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

By Frank Cajon, October 23 at 3:29 pm #


TW: I voted 10 days ago. It was for Obama. I don’t like him. I don’t like his economic policy. I don’t like his foreign policy. I don’t like the fact that he went along with the Bush Bailout.
Problem is, I had no other choice but McPalin. McPalin is poisoning our minds with the same new McCarthyism that Bush/Cheney/Rummy/Gonzo/Condy have been spewing in the barrage of lies and hypocracy for eight years. Now, the latest is that if you aren’t a small-town conservative, you’re ‘anti-American’ or not fully patriotic. It is a politics of fear and I am sick of it. Obama is a step away but a miniscule step. We need him to see the light that the Scandinavian models are the only way to salvage our economy, and have him dump his Clinton chums instead of put them in his cabinet. The Depression II will happen, and it will take a New Deal II to get us going again. If McPalin somehow steals it, I see class warfare and riots, and a military draft. Obama won’t be much better, but like usual, we aren’t given much of a choice.
——————————————————————————
We are in for some tough times. “Consider the alternative” is by itself a quite sufficient reason to vote for Obama, even though I strongly disagree with you that Obama “won’t be much better”. My assessment is that he is an outstanding candidate with political skills the like of which I have never seen, even in Bill Clinton. He is head and shoulders above the opposition. If anyone can negotiate the fall of the American empire and the transition from laissez-faire imperialist capitalism to internationist social democracy it is Obama.

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By Sepharad, October 23, 2008 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We KNOW Obama sold out back in ‘06 and ‘07, as detailed in both Harpers and The Atlantic magazines. The thing is, we can’t rely on this leader or that to lead us to political or financial nirvana. Until we have a government smart enough to set up a highly, tightly, no-way-out government-regulated version of capitalism (socialism is much cozier and more communal but in the long run doesn’t really work because people are human, not angels of honor) all of us non-rich, non-economic-insiders not in the know and not on the make have to fend for ourselves. We’re pretty much off the grid economically—don’t do plastic, only put money earned back into husband’s own small business (biotech/biomed research-oriented), a place to live and raise horses we can ride for entertainment and sell on a very small scale, as well as pittance income from my freelance mag articles, editing books to support historical research, and less money for books written—and encourage our kids to be flexible and cobble things together likewise, though one ended up teaching at a university with (thank goodness) tenure. If all the research grants dry up we’ll have to figure something else out, but we’ve done it before. It’s not a bad life, if you don’t like to shop (I have an aversion to it except for books and a DVD collection), though we’d have more disposable income if my medical bills weren’t so high.

Anyway, it beats waiting for some economic messiah to come and make everything good again. I don’t trust anyone who wants to be a politician to do anything right or for pure motive, and I certainly don’t trust anyone who once worked for Goldman-Sachs to mother-hen our $700 billion bailout of his rico buddies. Obama is a politician like any other BUT he does have a calm, pragmatic way about him, and at least he’s a brainy s.o.b. who could probably make a bundle more money were he to go openly on the open market as a a lawyer like his wife, so, we’ll see how well he chooses his advisors and how selective he is about implmenting those parts of their advice he deems workable. Good luck to us all.

PS—I don’t know why the underline appeared under everything here. Not being a tekkie, my solution is to turn if off and see if it stops compulsively underlining tomorrow.

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By Frank Cajon, October 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

TW: I voted 10 days ago. It was for Obama. I don’t like him. I don’t like his economic policy. I don’t like his foreign policy. I don’t like the fact that he went along with the Bush Bailout.
Problem is, I had no other choice but McPalin. McPalin is poisoning our minds with the same new McCarthyism that Bush/Cheney/Rummy/Gonzo/Condy have been spewing in the barrage of lies and hypocracy for eight years. Now, the latest is that if you aren’t a small-town conservative, you’re ‘anti-American’ or not fully patriotic. It is a politics of fear and I am sick of it. Obama is a step away but a miniscule step. We need him to see the light that the Scandinavian models are the only way to salvage our economy, and have him dump his Clinton chums instead of put them in his cabinet. The Depression II will happen, and it will take a New Deal II to get us going again. If McPalin somehow steals it, I see class warfare and riots, and a military draft. Obama won’t be much better, but like usual, we aren’t given much of a choice.

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By lawlessone, October 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The political philosophies of the two parties each can perhaps be boiled down to one irreducible essence.  For Democrats, it is (or should be) to follow the “Golden Rule.”  For Republicans, it seems to be nothing but “Gold Rules!”

Obama would do well to remember that.

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By TAO Walker, October 23, 2008 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

The allamericanimperialists have claimed that “reality” is what they say it is.  Too bad they couldn’t have then just kept their big mouths shut, because even if their “definitions” keep changing they’re still stuck with ‘em.

Nothing better illustrates the Natural (and thus self-enforcing) Law that people always become prisoners of their own terminlology than this current “economic crisis.”  Lacking words (because they are unavailable within the lexicon of domesticated orthodoxy) with which to accurately STATE the “problem,” our legions of papered professional experts are helpless to address it at all, let alone effectively.

From where this old Indian is looking-on, Robert Scheers article here, along with virtually everything else being pronounced these days, is nothing but a tail-chasing argument over which of the distorting mirrors in this “global” funhouse offers the least unreliable “image” of this “dominant” virtuality….itself the most grotesquely warped artifice to come along in awhile.

Anybody for some organic actuality….a-k-a The Tiyoshpaye Way?

HokaHey!

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By John, October 23, 2008 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think it should be noted, on behalf of the 5.5 billion people who will be affected by this election, that Volcker’s actions as federal reserve chairman caused economic turmoil in the 1970s and a debt crisis in the developing world that continues to haunt prospects of development.

Volcker’s rate hikes caused the rates on loans to much of the developing world to be increased to a point where they were unsustainable. This action is causal to the debt crisis that followed.  The loans had been a consequence of OPEC petrodollars being funneled through Wall Street to developing countries, largely in South America.

The much detested structural adjustment programs all resulted from this act.

See Peter Gowan, The Global Gamble for details.

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By felicity, October 23, 2008 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

rylly

I agree (and so does George Soros who recently reminded us that the ‘market’ is flawed because all human constructs are flawed.)

‘Market’ to a free-market fanatic is a co-equal of G_d.  The operating myth is that the market, unlike any other entity known to man will correct its own excesses - in fact it will never even engage in any.  Utter poppycock.

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By Tony Wicher, October 23, 2008 at 12:12 am Link to this comment

re Frank Cajon, October 22 at 8:53 pm #

The next few years are going to be the Great Depression II and it will take a complete move to Socialism and wealth redistribution and class equality to recover.
————————————————————————-
Frank,

Yes, and thank goodness we are about to elect such a fine leader as Barack Obama in these difficult times to transition us from imperialist laissez-faire capitalism to internationalist social democracy and take our place besides the advanced Scandinavian countries and other advanced societies. It makes me proud of us that we have elected the best person for the job regardless of race. Perhaps the rest of the world will even start looking at us as a leader again.

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By cyrena, October 23, 2008 at 12:06 am Link to this comment

By jackpine savage, October 22 at 6:51 pm

Thanks for the excellent comments jackpine savage. I (personally) very much appreciate (and share) your own observations.

On this…

•  “..Personally, i’m heartened by the consensus label of “pragmatist” but much more heartened by the fact that he actually does listen to so many sides of an issue before acting. …..I do, however, worry that he might not be as good at turning his judgment into decision. An open mind is not always easy to close enough for action.”
You pretty much took the words out of my mouth. I do have similar concerns, because Obama *IS* hyper-pragmatic. There’s no getting around that. He’s been considered ‘overly cautious’ and the ‘mantra’ I’ve assigned to him myself is the ‘on the other hand’. But then, I do the same thing in my advancing age.

That said however, I don’t believe that it will prevent him from taking action, and I look to his decision to run for the office as evidence of that. The man already knows, (and has since the beginning) that he’s a ‘given’ target for assassination, (as does his wife) and he decided to run anyway. Because, he knows we need a change in direction that no other candidate that has presented themselves is able to provide. (aside from Dennis Kucinich, but we know he’d be up against the same challenges). He also knows that he didn’t HAVE to run for president this time around. The guy could have waited, if it was about him. It’s just that the REST of us can’t wait…can’t take that chance. We simply wouldn’t survive under another regime like we’ve had these past 8 years…we wouldn’t survive another year. And, that’s just US. There’s the rest of the world as well. How many more Iraqis and Afghans will die? How many more of US will die from all of the failed policies of the Criminal Cabal, that McCain will only continue?

So I agree that an open mind can sometimes lead to inaction, because of the ambiguity built in to the most important of all of the actions. But, I think he’s ready and able to do that. Like you said. We’ll just have to hope.

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By Frank Cajon, October 22, 2008 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

The Grand Theft, Bush Bailout, Bourgeoisie Bonanza, whatever you want to call it, is a fait accompli. While capitalism dies with a whimper, the fascist oligarchy of Wall St suits and corporate warmongers who squeezed the country dry for eight years have now reached into the pockets of the few remaining working class Americans for an infusion of cash as they have swindled away their, and our, money in a smoke and mirrors con game.

And both the cancer guy with the lynch-mob campaign and the young black Kennedy backed it. Both are up to their asses in Clinton and Reagan advisors, trickle down and dereg guys who still don’t get it that a complete revamp was needed, not a rescue for the bankers. The European model ignored, we are screwed as a class and looking down the barrel of a depression which will be one of hard times, unemployment, and wealth redistribution-taking from the idle rich to feed the burgeoning masses of poor and soon to be hungry. The workers will need to mobilize as we cannot allow these fools to force unacceptable working conditions or slave wages. Unions must be vigilant and fight for worker’s rights during the dark times. Scabs like Joe the ‘Plumber’ must be sent a message that you do not work union jobs without a license and card, and don’t cross the line.

Clinton was a disgrace. His wife, a charade. The election, being treated as an afterthought, is up for grabs; the GOP hoping for an October surprise that would make Obama disappear, Obama unprepared to lead, Congress an embarrassment. The reality is that we have been drained not only of the trillion that was laundered into Saudi and arms dealer/contractor pockets for Iraq; but now of a trillion of our own money to ‘rescue’ bankers that stole from us and the government. The trillion is going to them, not to us to put into their banks to help make them healthy, or pay off their bad loans; Bush and Paulson, with McCain and Obama’s blessing are giving them the keys to the kingdom with no questions asked as a reward for theft. The socialist nationalizing of banks is termed a ‘necessary evil’ instead of the ‘beginning of a new, improved way of doing business’. And, nowhere in this have we as workers been given a payback, a New Socialist Deal, a nationalized health care, a higher minimum wage, supplemented pension plans, guaranteed employment.

We get, instead, a collapsed economy, and those of us that have saved (and/or like me, on fixed incomes due to retirement), are having our nest eggs crushed by the Bush/Cheney Reichstag and Field Marshall Paulson, the Finance Minister of our US fascist state. The next few years are going to be the Great Depression II and it will take a complete move to Socialism and wealth redistribution and class equality to recover.

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By jackpine savage, October 22, 2008 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment

By all accounts, Barack Obama generally listens to every side of an issue that he can find before making a decision based on his judgment. And that judgment has been described as “ruthless pragmatism”.

We’ll just have to hope (assuming his election) that his judgment is sound. Personally, i’m heartened by the consensus label of “pragmatist” but much more heartened by the fact that he actually does listen to so many sides of an issue before acting.

I do, however, worry that he might not be as good at turning his judgment into decision. An open mind is not always easy to close enough for action.

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By frank s, October 22, 2008 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Indebted to “Think Progress” , Jon Stewart, and You Tube for this one.  Another major McCain flip flop..sounding in 2000 almost like Sen Obama in 2008.

couldn’t cut and paste but try:

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/22/mccain-2000-tax-cuts/#more-31128

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By Fred in canada, October 22, 2008 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s time for ignorant Americans to wake up and vote for the right candidate!
The right candidate is NOT John Mccain/Palin.
People need to realise that Mccain/Palin don’t have a clue what they are talking about, it’s all nonsense. They attack other opponents without knowing the true ideas and facts.
And you know what, Americans are not all like Joe the Plummer, because the real Joe the Plummer is an unlicensed plummer and he did NOT pay his taxes.
Citizens of dozens of foreign countries prefer Barack Obama over John McCain as our next president by a margin of almost 4 to 1, according to a massive poll conducted by the Gallup Organization. About 30 percent of those surveyed prefer Obama, while just 8 percent favor McCain.

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By yellowbird2525, October 22, 2008 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

sad to say they DID take away from whom they claim are “the rich” the legal American citizens; they have agressively been giving $, job preferences, along with brand new cars, trucks, gas vouchers, food stamps, “no interest loans” like $3,000 for dental work, pay back as you can; while going after citizens with as the head of the Fed Reserve said: criminal & fraud charges on credit cards (interest rates & addl fees}not to mention the bombardment of daily 6 or 7 phone calls daily demanding payment; everyone knows what loan sharking is; this is PREDATORY loans & house loans etc; it is ALL ILLEGAL including the phone calls; as I received the information directly from Sen Gordon Smith (oregon); but who ya gonna call? the CRIMINALS & CROOKS who are “the lawbreakers” oh so sorry the lawMAKERS who are having the FDA EXTORT folks selling natural products; go to http://www.naturalnews.com; (site) not link; that’s right folks: they are telling them if they do not fork over large sums of $ they are going to CHARGE THEM WITH FABRICATED CHARGES: and who ya gonna call? Congress is ALL BEHIND IT folks: & THEY appoint the AGs & the “supreme court judges”; the FBI moves at their command only: allowing homes to be STOLEN from folks by “forgetting” to mention a tiny sentence in small print under a subtitle when in their homes READING the form so there is “no misunderstanding”; when signed the crooks own the homes; THIS is the Fed Gov “helping” folks going to be “foreclosed” on; keep on keepin on folks;

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By rylly, October 22, 2008 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

Maybe Obama keeps his friends close and his enemies closer.
No better way to know what the opposition has in mind than to listen to them.
Presidents get killed when they even hint they will be looking at the Fed. Reserve.  What is the way to handle this and keep the President alive?
Everything has rules.  If the NBA didn’t have rules, there’d be no game.
Regulations are merely the rules you follow to play the game. What is the big problem?
Calling things by other names has led to too many mistakes and cons. 
“We have to return to calling things by their real names and then we’ll begin to change.” paraphrased from Confucious

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By yours truly, October 22, 2008 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President Obama & Congress Won’t Be Listening To His Current Economic Advisors Only

“Who else?”

“Us.”

“Why us?”

“Yes we can.”

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By JOFFREY JOFFERS, October 22, 2008 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dateline: Nov 5 2008

John the Maverick had this to say in his concession speech.

“My friends, I am sorry you have chosen to elect Senator Obama.
I regret to inform you all that due to this, I will elect not to inform
you how to win the war on terror, and especially not how to capture
Osama Bin Laden. My friends, you have spoken and I have heard you
loud and clear. In response let me now inform you that I will not
clue you in on how to save America’s economy. You brought this
upon your self America, and I see no reason to help you anymore.
My friends, Governor Palin has promised me a little bit of Alaska,
including a yearly check from oil profits for doing nothing at all, where
I can join the Alaskan Independence Party, and be free of America’s tryanny
once and for all.”

this has been a work of fiction by the future for america’s children workshop

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By Tony Wicher, October 22, 2008 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

What a great article, Scheer’s best in years! Yes indeed, the Clinton Administration, Rubin and Sommers did sell out to financial interests and are therefore also responsible for the long-term consequences of the deregulation that took place. Clinton. This deregulation had already begun under Reagan and Bush I, but continued, instead of being stopped, under Clinton. For that reason, Clinton did not deserve a third term in the person of his wife Hillary. That is one of the main reasons why I backed Obama instead of Clinton this time out. Everyone who understands this and is now supporting Obama should contact the Obama campaign to support Buffet and Volker against Rubin and Summers. Perhaps both of them are now born-again regulators at this point, but we should let Obama know about our suspicions and who we support. 


Of course, one of the major functions of government is to redistribute wealth. If this is done correctly, the economy is made both productive and stable and the whole country benefits, including the rich. It is only the short-sighted greedy rich who lose, as they should. A far-sighted, intelligent capitalist like Buffet understands such simple principles as that the economy collapses when people are too poor to buy the products of their own labor. In the long run class warfare benefits nobody. The Republican mantra is that “a rising tide lifts all boats”, but it

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By Kashilinus, October 22, 2008 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Egregious, disingenuous, and even laughable is the new emerging mantra: “Obama wants the government to redistribute wealth.” Fact is: the government IS a redistributer of wealth. That is it’s main function. Sometimes it works very well, and sometimes not, a direct result of the types that are put in command. Volcker, yes. Rubin, no.
A good example of spending gone awry was the 2008 stimulus package. Non-targeted, it was founded on hope that it would help. It didn’t. On the other hand, government funding of high paying jobs can have a high payoff. A single government funded job can grow ten other jobs around it, and the money goes ‘round and ‘round. I saw this happen in San Diego in the 1950’s when the government funded the development of the Atlas ICBM in that city. Lots of engineers were hired by General Dynamics. They needed houses in what was then a one horse town. Malls sprung up,Freeways were built, a host of service businesses started up. All based on that original government funded effort, San Diego has grown to be one of the principal centers in the nation for scientific work.
Watch China. Their economy is modelled after ours. Quite rough at present, but it has all the elements with the central government building infrastructure and encouraging entrepreneurship on the side.

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By RdV, October 22, 2008 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

“We need to define our terms. Free market means a system in which the government allows businesses to run themselves, taking action only in cases of violence or fraud”

  What is to prevent “violence or fraud”?
Think of it this way—regulations are laws that ideally prevent abuse of the system. Regulations are the invisible hand that guides the market.

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By bandz, October 22, 2008 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

In principle there is no difference between welfare for the poor and tax breaks for the rich. Both consist of government aid to groups of people. Only the groups who benefit are different. — bandz

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By Purple Girl, October 22, 2008 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

Well We started out with ‘Great’ Intentions when this ‘Expereiment’ started, but the last 100 yrs has taken a Toll on our Free market Democratic Quest.
What is the Difference between a Family Crest/Dictatorial Emblem and a Corp Logo….Nothing if you are beholden to them because they Own and control everything- from the money you make to the costs you pay.In Light of the Fact 1% Controls about 40% of the Wealth in this Country a Cast system has already been accomplished.THEY HAVE CONTROLLING INTEREST. 99% only have a 60% voice if We’re attentive and Lucky.
What is the difference between Seizing the young as labor for the future…Whether physically or economically. Isn’t it still shackles regardless?
When You ‘loan’ money and also set the costs of Living, is that not basically endentured slavery? A Scam in which the endentured Never work off their debt?
What is the Difference between Blocking Votes and Just denying them votes….End result is the Same!
Whats the difference between an Electorial College and the voting Class entitlement of a Noble.Wasn’t it the Concept that the nobles spoke for their Serfs, Because they knew what was best for them? Why do we need these layers of ‘Confirmation’ if EVERY person has a voice!
What is the Difference between this Bailout and the Tax collector coming and siezing your shit because the ruling class has run the working class out of Money.
Socialism is not the Anthesis to the founding of this Country, it is Corporationism. Which is nothing more than a New name for Totalitarianism.
We have allowed our Frankenstein to not only destroy the Lab, but attack the Village.
The ‘Beast’ the wild eyed zealots fear is already Here.the Same damn ‘Beast’ Humantiy has been battling and failing to control for millenia. the Beast is a collection of OUR Own Creations….the Tools we Made which we intended to Assist Us….Religion,Gov’t, Industry and mass communications. they don’t work for Us, they enslave Us.
What built these monstrosities and are still feeding the Beast, Consensus of the masses (or at least the appearance of a consensus).
Americans need to come to a consensus that These entities Do Not Speak for US (like Mac and his Campaign),But they are Reflection of US. If we don’t rein them back in, put them back in the ‘Tool’ Box…We become their Tools.
Religion has justified the most unholy actions of Industry, Gov’t,communications.Think how the Anti Birth Control, anti Abortion movement has aided Industry in it’s quest for Cheap abundant labor. What did Plantation owners Want (or pretty much anyone else in the Breeding Business), More cheap labor for their future Economic survival. What have Conquering Armies desire…More Cheap labor and the Land and resources below them.It was never Just the land they wanted but the control of the humans, not just in numbers but also in consensus to justify their Actions. In Who’s name does ‘Conquering Heros’ go off on their crusade.and what Procalims this person as such far & wide, The Town crier.
What has this Beast given humanity..The inquistion, the Holocust, the Iraq war
So When I hear about the ‘Four Horsemen’, I recall What has driven them throughout the history of man.
It will only be When We reach a consensus that Religion, gov’t, Industry and communication ARE CONTRLLED by Us, that we will be Truley Free. The only Species on the planet who is capable of managing the planet had better diferentiate between Which is the Craftsmen and Which is a mere Tool.

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By KISS, October 22, 2008 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

Robert Scheer once more is correct in his assessment of today’s economic ills. The thought that Obama has not sold his soul to Wall Street is pure folly. In the steps of William Jefferson Clinton the die is cast and the people will suffer long and hard from his up-coming decisions.. Very little difference economically than McCain’s.
Not mentioning the abolishment of the Glass-Seagal act was Scheer’s only mistake. Strange how these new dimmos have forgotten or never read the history of our failed banking system in the early 30’s. Socialism? Are you really so naive to believe that?
It is Fascism in all of it’s glory…not corporatism as only the ignorant imply.
The Federal Reserve must be abolished and the banking system put back into the hands of our national treasury.

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By jhm, October 22, 2008 at 6:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Where in the world is Sen. Gramm?  When Ms. Spears gets a hangnail, scores of reporters set up base camp outside her house, but when the world economy is knocked on its ass as a direct consequence of legislation written and enacted by an individual credited for inspiring a major party presidential candidate; an individual who, after getting his reforms passed, immediately proceeded to work for the institution (UBS) most affected by the crisis; this man is nowhere to be seen.  No one seems interested in interviewing him (or publicizing his reluctance to be questioned), no one wants him to either continue to tout his policies as beneficial or repudiate his earlier ideas.  Nothing.

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By Paolo, October 22, 2008 at 5:56 am Link to this comment

Robert Scheer persists in our time’s most common economic error: he considers the free market and corporatism to be one and the same thing.

We need to define our terms. Free market means a system in which the government allows businesses to run themselves, taking action only in cases of violence or fraud.

Corporatism, on the other hand, is the system in which government and business forms a “partnership,” with the government creating regulations that favor some businesses over others. In exchange, the politicians get campaign support and virtually guaranteed re-election for as long as they want.

Another word for corporatism is fascism.

Scheer persists in the decades-old portrayal of our choice being between big government fascism, and big government socialism. In the long run, folks, there isn’t any difference.

Both depend on the quasi-private Federal Reserve system, which has the power to create money at will. Thus, the middle and lower classes pay the bills, through inflation, for the upper classes, who have political connections and are the first to get the influx of new money and cheap credit.

Thus, our system is dishonest, at a fundamental level, all the way down to the root. This is why America is rapidly collapsing economically.

If you want to know how to correct these problems, check out Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty and the Austrian School of Economics.

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By Big B, October 22, 2008 at 5:26 am Link to this comment

I fear that Barry is more of a clintonian economic believer, than an FDR or LBJ desciple.

McCain may be right in his assessment that a hatchet is needed, not a scalple, especially when we talk about future managment of the US economy.

The institutional infrastructure of our nations economy is rotten to the core. It needs to be chopped out, thrown out, and remembered only as the failed experiment that it was. Maybe someday we will have evolved far enough that an unregulated free market economy will best serve all the people.
But as long as greed and avarice are a part of basic human nature, the public good cannot be served by a deregulated system. Thomas Jefferson once said when referring to presidential power that we should “hear no more of the confidence in man, but bind him down with the chains of the constitution!”

Jefferson obviously knew over 200 years ago of the potential for mischeif that a lack of regulation and oversite can bring. How is it that many of our founding fathers seemed to have a better grasp of basic human nature than we do?

We have gone from writing the constitution and bill of rights to living with the mantra “whoever dies with the most toys wins.”

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By Robert Johnson, October 22, 2008 at 5:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Warren Buffett now owns 10 percent of Goldman Sachs. His interest is Wells Fargo is also large.  Will his fondness for accumulation leave his lens unclouded when Obama needs advice on complex derivatives?

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By Christian de Coninck, October 22, 2008 at 4:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gee I hope he’s right…the world can’t take anymore of this crony-capitalism and Washington’s Revolving Door. I will never invest in Wall Street again, everything I have is now in local investments and energy technology. I’m DONE!!!

I will not forgive the people in the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administration who have served regular people on a platter for predatory finiancial gangsters. and Hank Paulson can kiss my skinny scandinavian ass—I cant believe that this Goldman Sachs executive is just handing out money that the whole world will end up paying for. In fact there’s a whole string of executives and owners that should be in jail as far as I am concerned, up to and including David Rockefeller.

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