Winner 2013 Webby Awards for Best Political Website
Top Banner, Site wide
Apr 19, 2014

 Choose a size
Text Size

Top Leaderboard, Site wide

Drought Adds to Syria’s Misery




The Divide


Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Report

Hello, Washington? Is Anyone Listening?

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Aug 12, 2011

By Eugene Robinson

It’s sobering that three-fourths of Americans, according to a new Washington Post poll, have little or no confidence in our elected leaders to solve the nation’s economic problems. At this point, though, it’s hardly surprising.

If anything, we should be shocked and alarmed that 26 percent of our fellow citizens apparently believe the president and Congress are going to make it all better. Are they not paying attention? Or are they delusional?

The manic-depressive swings we’ve seen in the stock market all week just serve to heighten the general anxiety, like the soundtrack of a horror film. Seesaw gains or losses of hundreds of points on the Dow tend to mask the overall trend, which is downward—and also distract attention from the fact that markets in Europe and Asia are heading in the same direction. The world is trillions of dollars poorer than it was just a couple of weeks ago.

Trillions, by the way, are the new billions.

The survey by the Post shows that while officials in Washington may be clueless in the face of economic turmoil, most of their constituents see things quite clearly. Seven out of 10 respondents said the federal government is “mostly focused on the wrong things”—and blamed Democrats and Republicans for this misdirected focus in precisely equal measure.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
How many times does this message have to be delivered? In poll after poll, Americans have said their top concern is the jobs crisis. Unemployment is at 9.1 percent. The worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression robbed the nation of 9 million jobs and only a fraction have been replaced. The economy is adding jobs at a snail’s pace that doesn’t even keep up with growth of the potential work force.

Jobs. The issue is jobs.

Yet the president and Congress have spent months focused on the national debt—a problem that needs to be addressed, to be sure, but not when unemployment is at staggering levels and the “recovery” is beginning to look like a mirage. Recent data suggest the economy is in danger of sinking back into recession; even if it doesn’t, the current rate of growth is too anemic to have much impact on the jobs front.

Oh, and what drama will absorb Washington for the next several months? The deliberations of the congressional “super committee,” a 12-member panel that is supposed to chart a way forward on ... debt. Have I mentioned that the most urgent crisis facing the nation right now is jobs?

Only one-third of those polled said they have confidence in President Obama to make “the right decisions about the country’s economic future,” the Post found. That may sound discouraging, but only 18 percent of respondents said they have confidence in congressional Republicans to make the right decisions.

For good reason, in my view: The Republican solution has been to eliminate jobs rather than create them. Last month, the economy added 117,000 jobs—a performance so weak that unemployment changed little. The private sector actually added 154,000 jobs, but the public sector lost 37,000 jobs as Republicans continue to impose an austerity program at an inopportune moment.

The GOP seems to believe that a federal, state or local job somehow isn’t a “real” job. I’ll bet most Americans know otherwise.

Here we are, with interest rates at or near historical lows. The federal government, despite suffering a credit downgrade to AA-plus from Standard & Poor’s, is able to borrow as much money as it wants at an absurdly low cost. Meanwhile, we have a large and growing backlog of infrastructure needs. Roads, bridges and dams need to be repaired; new airports need to be built and old ones refurbished; we need to upgrade the electrical grid to take advantage of new energy sources that do not depend on fossil fuels.

Putting two and two together, you might expect the president and Congress to design and implement a nationwide project of infrastructure renewal that would put Americans back to work, spark a burst of growth and leave us with tangible assets that would increase our competitiveness in the global economy.

But you’d be disappointed. And you’d lose faith in the ability of officials to respond to a crisis they don’t even seem to notice.

The disconnect between what the nation cares about and what its leaders care about seems to widen day by day. Hello? Is anybody in Washington listening? Does anybody even care?


Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By JMD, August 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson:    8/16/2011
    The evidence is in what you see and hear -
what is happening to people,not in a poll.
    Thanking you for this opportunity to comment-
    James M. deLaurier

Report this

By falken751, August 16, 2011 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

If the president and the military and the
congress would personally have to pay for the
fuel they use we wouldn’t have a deficit, and
if the president wouldn’t fly somewhere almost
everyday in a jet plane that burns hundreds of
gallons of fuel each second, and if he would
help to reduce the size of the military that
uses 40% of the gas in this country and would
also end some of the wars we are in that are
using so much energy, and all of the members
of congress flying home on military planes and
while they are on vacation, at our expense etc
etc, we wouldn’t have a deficit. I’m only
kidding, but can you imagine how much fuel
they all use and how much it cost’s us
taxpayers? And which smart people designed our
cities just for cars? Where I live you might
only have to stand in the hot sun for an hour
waiting for a bus, if you’re lucky. Also, one
would have to walk a mile or so to get to a
bus stop, and then walk a mile home again if
you were lucky enough that it was still
running after you finished work.
I could go on and on, but all of those
freeloaders want to have the poor and the
middle class pay a higher gas tax so they can
continue their free loading ways. The people
that are unemployed because of the banks and
wall street and the people that are losing
their homes because of foreclosures and the
people that are in debt to trying to get an
education are supposed to pay a higher gas tax
so our president and congress can keep their
expensive freeloading on us taxpayers. I never
in my life heard as much BS as I am hearing
now from our president and the members of the
senate and the congress

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 15, 2011 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment

Project Mayhem: I agree with your point crony capitalism has to go, GE is one of the biggest
corporate leaches there are -it’s entire model is to
feed off of the government then enact regulations to
keep competition out - My point was that FDR made the
depression longer and the fed was a major contributor
- the recovery didn’t really happen until after the
war when no one else had an intact manufacturing base
but us - the debt created by Hoover FDR and the war
suppressed the stock market until 1954.  Tarp was a fiasco - pushed my Paulson and Geitner who is still
at the helm so to speak

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind:  Sorry to point out you can’t add but
when the fed cuts 1/3 of the money supply out of the
economy and the government is spending the rest it
doesn’t leave anything for people to spend which is why
unemployment though never on a major downward trend
shot back up - and that was Friedmans point - alas you
missed it.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, August 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Project Mayhem:

Please don’t feed the trolls!

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, August 15, 2011 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

I love Republican soundbites, I do not have to remember what they said!

Report this
Project Mayhem's avatar

By Project Mayhem, August 15, 2011 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

John M,

I expected a bit more from you than that. Milt Friedman lecturing a bunch of banksters about how it’s a clueless Fed that’s really behind economic collapses? Seriously? So criminally reckless speculation and fraudulent lending practices aren’t the issue? Also, Milt forgot to mention that the Fed is run by banksters in the first place.

No, I’m sorry. That’s like a Holocaust denier lecturing a group of Neo-Nazis about how the whole “6 million Jews” thing was just Zionist propaganda. Revisionist history at its most abhorrent.

Time for a dose of reality, courtesy of Joseph Stiglitz:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_2-Tv2GPs0&feature=fvsr

Get real, John.

Report this
Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, August 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm Link to this comment

NOT GETING OUT THE VOTE

{TAD: ... 72 percent supported raising taxes on
the rich including 68 percent of Independen­ts and 54 percent of Republicans. Obama twice ‘bargained­’ to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and has now extended the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy a third time.}

Obama was not negotiating with the 54% of Americans who vote Republican these past three years.

He was negotiating with the Crazies that were elected in last year’s mid-terms that brought them to possess the HofR. (Even Boehner can’t control them.)

We can blame him all we want - but the fact remains that 52% of registered American voters stayed away from the polls in the last midterms. Besides, less than half of Americans of voting age actually votes during mid-term elections. See that sad fact here: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html

MY POINT

Americans have the government they deserve, the one for which they voted. Which is a fundamental principle of any democracy.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, August 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm Link to this comment

John M, August 14 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment


The Great Depression Myth

************

Got ripped to shreds in one thread so you come over to this one to pretend the facts have somehow changed and start posting the same garbage all over again.

The Big Lie Theorem, originated by Goebbels.  Keep saying the lie.  If it’s challenged 100 times, say it 101 times. If it’s challenged 1000 times, say it 1001 times.

TROLL ALERT!!  TROLL ALERT!!!

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgyQsIGLt_w&feature=related

The Great Depression Myth

Report this

By John Steinsvold, August 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

An Alternative to Capitalism (Yes, I am serious)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”. She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm

John Steinsvold

Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
—Georg C. Lichtenberg

Report this
mackTN's avatar

By mackTN, August 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Despite polls, phone calls, emails, tweets, govt does not know, or pretends not
to know, what Americans are thinking.  When they received this communication,
they distort it so that it fits their own point of view. 

On Meet the Press, Claire McCaskill dismissed all her communication as “far left
fringe.”

Instead of working in their districts, 86 members of Congress are taking an all
expense paid trip to Israel.  Where is the reporting on that? 

Enact term limits.  Vote these people out of office.  Deny them their salaries,
their benefits, their pensions.

Report this

By Traditional American Democrat, August 14, 2011 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eugene, Obama is ‘Washington, DC’

and

Obama did not support us on debt and fair taxes: Washington Post-ABC poll
Washington Post-ABC poll, Spring 2011: 72 percent supported raising taxes on
the rich including 68 percent of Independen­ts and 54 percent of Republicans.
Obama twice ‘bargained­’ to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and has now
extended the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy a third time.

Here’s Obama’s history:

1.  Extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich with McConnell.

2.  Extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich with Boehner.

3.  Extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich with the Grover Norquist and the Tea
Party.

Note: Two of these occurred with Democratic majorities in both houses of
Congress.

If Obama had been a Democrat, his ratings would way above Congress’s rating,
instead of barely above them.

Barely above Congress will not get him re-elected, because the Republican will not
come from Congress and will not carry Congress’s low rating.

Obama chose to be a Republican. Too bad for all of us.

Report this
Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, August 14, 2011 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

JDMD: Wouldn’t you agree that Center here in the U.S. is to the right of Center as compared to the above mentioned nations?

Yes, very much so.

... but I believe that we in this country will have to move the Political Center to the left in order to achieve that good governance.

I agree with the above statement as well, though I’m not sure where the “Center” is in America. I’ve lived outside the states for too long a time.

I know one thing, however. From my comments in this blog, I suspect that most would think I am Left of Center. But when I get into similar forums here in France, I can assure that most French think I am positioned to the Right of Attila the Hun.

Whatever ... we need to move America Leftward before it crumbles. It is rife with the hubris that “all is well in this best of all possible worlds” coming out a Rabid Right that makes nostalgia for the good-ole-days a religion.

I never thought Americans would be so simpleminded as to have swallowed such nonsense. I got that wrong, very wrong.

Report this
JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, August 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette, August 13 at 9:17 am

“…Centrism, which takes the best from both possible worlds. I suggest that Europe today is living proof of that idea.”

Europe is large with a varied group of nations. If you’re referring to France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Luxemburg, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland etc. I might be inclined to agree that these nations are examples of nations taking the best from both worlds.

Wouldn’t you agree that Center here in the U.S. is to the right of Center as compared to the above mentioned nations? I’ll suggest that political realities here in the U.S. require a move to the Left in order to be in sync with your example of Europe.

My understanding of socialism is that a socialist government would serve the people, while a government that serves capitalism serves…?

“Planned economy” is a sly disparagement of socialism which implies the worst excesses of communist governments. Centrism is not what we need in this country; we need to move to the Political Center to the left of the current Center in this country. The current Political Center in this country is serving Capitalism, and the aspirations of Empire.

I would agree that good governance would fall somewhere between the opposite extremes of economic and social theory, but I believe that we in this country will have to move the Political Center to the left in order to achieve that good governance.

Report this

By Gorgeous, August 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

They’ll only care when we send them home….they’ll only care when it costs them otherwise they’re fine - they’re getting their big checks from big business, big oil, big pharma - even from us the tax payers.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, August 13, 2011 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

L:

My point was that a survey that says “Half the economists in the survey and 1/3 of the historians said the New Deal was a failure.” is meaningless because it’s obvious that half the economists and TWO/thirds of the historians in the same survey do NOT think it was a failure!

That’s like the 100 Scientists challenging Global Warming…and the one I know personally is a medical doctor who runs a dialysis unit…some expert!  He’s also a former 60’s leftie whose now a RW @$$#ole.

Yes, Wild West unregulated “capitalism” is a disaster.  When it gets really de-regulated, it’s called “Somalia”...not a great goal for a nation.

So is centrally planned Socialism—I agree.

What a mess!

Report this

By Rodney, August 13, 2011 at 10:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When you elect people who hate and destroy government what you get is a destroyed government. They hate government workers yet they claim to support police. Yet they turn around and elimeniate money for public safety. Tea baggers and the Republicans could care less about creating jobs,unless they are no benefit mininum wage jobs. The corporate owners want their form of slavery in low wages for Americans. But their main goal is to make Obama a one term President even if the rest of America falls into permanent dispair. Taking their country back means elimination of court decisons and and civil rights passed in the 1960’s. And unless America wake up they have the money and media to do it.

Report this
Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, August 13, 2011 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

RIGHT, LEFT ... OR CENTER?

ITW: So are about half the economists.

This does not surprise me. I can argue that two-thirds of French economists are of the Left or Center-Left. Economists typically reflect the economic values of the country in which they live, because they adopt those values.

Besides, this is not what economic statistics should be about. Who cares about the number in either camp?

What matters is the argumentation as regards what should be done to reform this country for the New Millennium out of the Deep Doodoo in which it finds itself presently.

Frankly, I don’t see much good sense coming from any superbly written arguments on the Right. Do you? Please post them, if so, I’d be keen to read them. (It seems to me that they are still anchored in an Austrian School mentality.

MY POINT

When it comes to which is better a Centrally Planned Economy or a Decentralized Free-Market Economy, I figure both have proven wrong.

Reagan came to power and witnessed the demise of the Centrally Planned Economic theory. He must have felt flattered. But thirty years on, are we any better off with our Decentralized Free-Market Darwinian economy?

When I look at the distribution of wealth between the haves-a-lot and the haves-naught, I figure “there must be a better way to do it”.

And there is. It is called Centrism, which takes the best from both possible worlds. I suggest that Europe today is living proof of that idea.

Report this
Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, August 13, 2011 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

THE NEW DEAL ALPHABET AGENCIES

PM: “Was the New Deal a failure, yes or no?”

The answer depends upon how you define “failure”?

It may have been a failure if you one thinks that, in fact, it did not create a sufficient number of jobs - and the real solution came with WW2 in 1940. It is a great shame that a WW should be necessary to stop a Great Depression.

Still, there were other criteria. Was the length and breadth of human misery abated. If you lived in that period and were hired into the Alphabet New Deal programs, like building the Hoover Dam, then your answer was “yes”.

Was the gigantic Tennessee Valley Authority electric generation program a “waste of money”?

For the breadth of the New Deal, look here at the list of agencies that were created the purpose of which was to address a specific need. You will recognize many of them, because they exist till this day.

MY POINT

We cannot find similar projects that are in great need today. For example, a functional electricity grid? A non-polluting high-speed cross-country electric train? Teaching assistants dedicated to children with learning dysfunction?

I can think of a good many such programs. Even one that would give us a skeletal National Health Serivice, which would be good start.

POST SCRIPTUM

There are two well-written arguments that bracket the question posed. Here  for the Left. And here  for the Right.

Make up your own mind. I suspect that you will find the answer somewhere in the middle. One like this: “Regardless of the programs’ unmeasurable effects (at the time and in terms of exact unemployment levels), the New Deal was a success because doing something is always better than doing nothing”.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, August 13, 2011 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

Thanks Project and JD for the detailed numerical support.

John: 50% of all economists surveyed and 2/3 of all historians surveyed concluded that the New Deal did NOT prolong the Depression.  That’s what your survey says.  BTW, about 1/3 of historians in American (including such “luminaries” as Newt Gingrich) are conservative.  So are about half the economists.

However, their opinions are irrelevant in the face of the facts. Your assertion that unemployment didn’t fall as a result of the New Deal is clearly and obviously incorrect.  Even your dismissal of the change from 25% to 19% is absurd.  That’s 6%—or, in the numbers of the times, 3.4 million jobs gained.  Incidentally that’s just about exactly the number of union jobs lost to the nation by Ronald Reagan signing into law a giant tax incentive for manufacturers to close American plants and open them in places like Mexico and Indonesian.  And, of course, China.

Ronald Reagan cited as his economic hero, Calvin Coolidge. It was Coolidge’s policies, following Harding’s and much of which was implemented by his Secretaries of Treasury, Andrew Mellon, and Commerce, Herbert Hoover, that brought about the Crash that led to the Great Depression.

But this challenges all the comfortable concepts that the wealthy supporters and wannnabes of the GOP depend on.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. ”—Upton Sinclair

Report this

By Marian Griffith, August 13, 2011 at 2:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ITW
—-BTW, neither England nor France lost much of their manufacturing base.  Hitler’s bombing was supposed to break the English spirit. It didn’t work, any more than general bombing of the German people broke their spirit. It was American pin-point bombing, thanks to the Nord bomb sight that paralyzed much of German industry.—-

Much as I would like to believe it, this is not true. It is true that Brittain did not lose as much of its economical infrastructure as did the rest of Europe, though they lost a greater number of young men (except only for Germany and Russia).
Precision bombings unfortunately are a myth. Most of the bombing runs were with huge fleets of Lancasters and B-17s and any industrial complex was fair game for them. Scores of conscripted workers from all over Europe lived as much in terror of the allied bombers as they did of the brutality of the guards. Many of them died when their factory was blown up (though most bombs fell at night and curfew made working at nights impossible). The reason why not everything was destroyed was because of the lack of accurate positioning. Pilots had to use dead-reckoning and looking for landmarks in a darkened landscape to find their targets and bombs frequently landed on a nearby village, town center or barracks for conscripted workers.
Trains and railroads were destroyed whenever seen. Most bridges had been blown up either to prevent the German troops from retreating or the allied troops from following. The whole point of the disasterous Operation Market Garden was to prevent the Germans from destroying the critical Dutch bridges and allow the allies to circumvent the remaining dug in German troops and approach Berlin from northern Germany.
Any of the (rare) vehicles in most of Europe had been commandeered as were most horses (to be shipped off to the eastern front), to the point that most farmers were reduced to using cows and manual labour to plow the ground and bring in harvest (that is until the retreating Germans began stealing cows as well).
Freighters (ships) were commandeered by the allies for their convoys to supply the soviets, and many of them were torpedoed. Those ships that did not escape European harbours were subsequently bombed, leaving the harbours unusuable.
The city I studied in was bombed on several occasions by the British and Americans because it housed one the world’s biggest electronic manufacturers. Some of the factories survived but the city center next to it was reduced to rubble, as were several other Dutch cities. And many German cities. Just look for pictures of Dresden, Berlin, Rotterdam or Tokyo. While those were in many ways amongst the worst hit, on a smaller scale such scenes could be found all over the continent. And in many cases on a bigger scale as well only the city was too small to draw much attention before or after the war.
Add to that the complete collapse of central authority in most of Europe, except for what the allied soldiers could establish and you should have a clear picture why there was no other economy left to challenge the USA after the world was done trying to blow itself to pieces.

And we have the Keynesian stimulus plan of George Marshall to thank that we are generally at peace and prosperous. After the austerity plans of the Versailles Accords gave us WW2.

Report this

By CanDoJack, August 12, 2011 at 10:21 pm Link to this comment

To answer your own question, Will Robinson, (I mean
Eugene) the Amurrikan people are the most
propagandized people ever to exist.

The propaganda is not accidental or incidental. It
has been effectively distributed by the same forces
who sold you high fructose corn syrup and want you to
think you are enlightened people living in a
democracy instead of zommbie serfs living in feudal
fiefdoms.

Yes, the same forces who have been patiently
perfecting totalitarian government for as long as
they have been trying to convince you that Jesus is
just OK with stuff like drone planes loaded with
bombs whether they are being sent into Pakistan or
south L.A.

Report this

By Textynn, August 12, 2011 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our congress and leaders serve the elite period, end
of story.  The elite have figured out an easy way to
get richer and that is to take everything people
have.  Not only do they have more on their “pile”, we
are more desperate, more malleable, more exploitable. 

With every unemployed person there is a string of
income for the Onepercent. Homes to be grabbed,
health care to cancel after years of being paid into,
properties and businesses to be seized. Workers to be
had for chump change and no bennies in a country that
denies its people Single Payer.

The rich and the congress that serves them knows
exactly what they are doing and the fools that think
they don’t are just the tools they need to keep doing
it.  Single payer would save trillions. OH but not
for the 400, just the country. 

Wake up America, you are nothing but cattle and
you’re being lined up at the slaughter house for the
final cash in.

Report this
Project Mayhem's avatar

By Project Mayhem, August 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

John M,

Here are some statistical data that would seem to support the New Deal. This data, and a subsequent analysis, can be found at: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/New_Deal_success.htm

America’s Gross National Product 1928 to 1939:

1928 $100 billion
1933 $55 billion
1939 $85 billion

Amount of consumer goods brought 1928 to 1939:

1928 $80 billion
1933 $45 billion
1939 $65 billion

Private investment in industry:

1928 $15 billion
1933 $2 billion
1939 $10 billion

Here is the key finding from an analysis of these indicators:

“For GDP - this is usually taken as a key pointer in a nation’s economic health - 1933 to 1939 witnessed a 60% increase; the amount of consumer products bought increased by 40% while private investment in industry increased by 5 times in just six years.”

Number unemployed in America:

1929 2.6 million
1933 15 million
1935 11 million
1937 8.3 million
1938 10.5 million
1939 9.2 million
1940 8 million

These numbers seem to bear out the assetions of ITW and JDMysticDJ that spending cuts were responsible for the loss of earlier economic gains. I googled the 1998 survey cited in your repaste of that letter to the editor, but despite several different search attempts I could find nothing on it. And, in any case, your source himself says only half the economists polled and a third of the historians felt the New Deal was unsuccessful—these numbers can just as easily be turned against your view of the New Deal as they can ITW’s. In any case, I find it hard to believe a simplistic “Was the New Deal a failure, yes or no?” survey would be of much value. How was it framed? What were the criteria for judging success or failure? Who were the economists and historians invited to take it? Since your source seems to feel this survey is central to his claims, perhaps you can link it for us? You seem reasonable, John, but your arguments don’t hold up well under pressure, and the sources you’ve been citing don’t seem particularly credible in terms of actual data.

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind: 

http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2009/01/letter-to-the-editor-on-the-new-deal.html

Letter to the Editor on the New Deal
I start the day with a little Don Boudreaux
imitation.  The linked article is a NYT piece my
local paper reprinted this morning.

January 13, 2009

Letters From the People
Watertown Daily Times
260 Washington St.
Watertown, NY 13601

To the Editor:

The Adam Cohen op-ed (“GOP Turns up anti-New Deal
Rhetoric,” January 13th) leaves the impression that
those of us critical of the New Deal are ignoring
evidence to the contrary in the service of making
partisan political points.  As a professional
economist and someone who has never voted Republican
in his life, I would argue that Cohen himself is
guilty of those charges.

Cohen’s refers to “Herbert Hoover and his fellow
free-marketers,” despite the fact that Hoover’s
reaction to the onset of the Great Depression was to
create a large number of new government programs,
including the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and
signing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930.  Hoover had
a long record as a skeptic of markets, from his
involvement with the World War I Food Administration
to his accurate remarks during the 1932 campaign that
his Administration “met the situation with … the most
gigantic program of economic defense and
counterattack ever evolved in the history of the
Republic.”  Hoover’s attempts, later followed by
Roosevelt, to keep wages artificially high were the
proximate cause of the high and lingering
unemployment of the period.  These are hardly the
actions of a committed free marketer.

Cohen rightly points out that unemployment was 25
percent when FDR took office in 1933, but neglects to
note that five years later, unemployment stood at an
equally intolerable 19.1 percent, despite all of the
spending that FDR engaged in.  Cohen also attributes
the 1937-38 recession to FDR not spending enough. 
The consensus among economists for the last several
decades is that the recession was caused by the
Federal Reserve’s decision, agreed to by FDR and
Congress, to raise banks’ reserve requirements, which
led to a fall in the money supply and lending.  The
Fed, a government-sponsored entity, was also
responsible, according to a majority of economists,
for allowing the 1929 stock market crash to drive the
economy into the Great Depression.

Finally, Cohen is evidently unaware of a 1998 survey
in which half of the economists and a third of
historians agreed, in whole or in part, that the New
Deal prolonged the Great Depression.  The view that
FDR and the New Deal made matters worse in the 1930s
is hardly to be dismissed as “a bizarre claim.”  It
is one of the contending views within economic
history, put forward by respected scholars with no
partisan affiliation, and backed by ample evidence. 
Accusing New Deal critics of historical ignorance or
playing partisan politics only reveals that the
accusers may be guilty of those very sins.

Sincerely,

Steven Horwitz
Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics
St. Lawrence University
Canton NY 13617

Report this
JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, August 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind provides the correct analysis of economic realities. But the data that supports his analysis will be disputed by right-wing ideologues to their dying day. There is no appealing to their rational minds, because they are irrational. They continue to argue that their failed policies are the best policies.

Roosevelt was elected President in 1932 and took office in 1933. When Roosevelt took office the unemployment rate was 24.9%.

In 1935 the unemployment rate fell to 20.1%.

In 1936 the unemployment rate fell to 16.9%

Morgenthau’s influence on the economy and Roosevelt was negative.

In 1937 the unemployment rate fell to 14.3%, but under the influence of Morgenthau, and pressure from Republicans Roosevelt cut spending.

In 1938 because of reduced spending the unemployment rate rose to 19%


In 1939 “The United States will begin emerging from the Depression as it borrows and ‘spends’ $1 billion to build its armed forces. From 1939 to 1941, when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, U.S. manufacturing will have shot up a phenomenal 50 percent!”

In 1940, before the U.S. entrance into the Second World War unemployment fell to 14.6%.

In 1940 the top marginal income tax rate was 81% the GNP rose to its highest level in history up until that time. The GNP rose all during the time of Roosevelt’s Presidency except for the period when Morgenthau and Republicans convinced Roosevelt to cut spending, when the GNP fell by nearly 8%.

Thankfully President Dwight Eisenhower did not cut the top marginal income tax rate from its rate of 91% which allowed for paying off the debt, despite criticisms from his party, and the extreme Right who called him a communist and “Ike the Kike.”

“We cannot afford to reduce taxes, reduce income, until we have in sight a program of expenditure that shows that the factors of income and outgo will be balanced.” Dwight Eisenhower

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, August 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

John M.:
You continue the GOP fairy tale, omitting inconvenient facts along the way.

Like, following WWII, the United States went almost immediately into YET ANOTHER recession.

How did we get out of it? Deficit spending via the Marshall Plan!  Put money into Europe to spend buying stuff from us to rebuild them. 

BTW, neither England nor France lost much of their manufacturing base.  Hitler’s bombing was supposed to break the English spirit. It didn’t work, any more than general bombing of the German people broke their spirit. It was American pin-point bombing, thanks to the Nord bomb sight that paralyzed much of German industry.

A quote from FDR’s secretary does not make a fact. FDR LOVED keeping around “No-Men” to counter the usual “Yes-Men”  That’s all you have.

And you ignored the “inconvenient truth” of the country coming out of the depression and Federal spending cuts BEFORE THE WAR kicking us back into it.

Not only is this well-documented, but, as an adult, speaking to my Dad, who was 14 when the Crash happened and 26 at Pearl Harbor, and ALWAYS up the news, lived through this.  Why not ask your grandparents about it? (‘cuz you sound like the type who’s too young to have parents who lived through the Great Depression from beginning to end, and remember it vividly. My dad remembered that era like I remember the 70’s, and just as clearly.  )

The GOPers re-write history every day.  “Who are you going to be believe? Me, your patriotic, God-fearing Republican fountain of Truth, or your own lying eyes?”

Duh…that’s an easy one…and it ain’t you!

Report this

By Ralphie, August 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thomas Jefferson said ‘Democracy requires constant vigilance’. We’ve let our vigilance down folks and this is how we pay.

Report this

By raja1031, August 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

Obviously most of the 75% of the people who responded that the pols aren’t able to fix the economy don’t vote.  Let’s see if the next election reflects their sentiments or if they just sit on their votes and let the status quo continue.  It’s a lot easier to respond to a poll than to actually get out and vote.  Democracy is such a burden.  It actually expects citizens to do more than sit on their hands.

Report this

By garyrose66, August 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

It should be absurdly obvious:  Austerity does not lead to Prosperity.

Prosperity will come when sone element of the economy spends money on goods and services at an increasing rate.  The public? nope. Either out of work or scared stiff.  Business? Nope, hoarding cash, trying to keep the economy dead so republicans can take over again. Who’s left?  The government, the consumer of last resort, the defender of the public. Their response: cut to austerity, just like the Hoover administration did to launch the Depression.

Cut to collapse.  Spend to prosperity. 

Government spending leads to jobs and multiplier effect from paychecks being spent.  It results in infrastructure that will serve the public for decades.  What do cuts do? Lead to depression, more lost jobs and more collapsing infrastructure and second class citizenship in the world.  What do tax breaks for the wealthy do?  Sequester money in the pockets of the wealthy, and making it unavailable for multiplier effect of normal paychecks or infrastructure. 

No amount of posturing, number tossing or outright lying will change these facts which are as immutable as the speed of light.

Report this

By nisswapaddy, August 12, 2011 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

Eugene says:

“The GOP seems to believe that a federal, state or local job somehow isn’t a “real” job. I’ll bet most Americans know otherwise.”

I suspect he is correct that ‘most Americans know otherwise’.  However President Obama and his advisors are pursing policies that accord with beliefs he attributes to GOP, rather than ‘most Americans’.  The tragedy?  In short, there is no meaningful difference between the GOP and Obama/the Democrats on the one issue, jobs, that really matters to most Americans.

Obama is either (i) a lying snake wrapped in a slick ad campaign of ‘hope and change’ AKA ‘Bizarro FDR’ (per David Sirota),  or (ii) a weak willed appeaser of the Neville Chamberlain ilk, with a spine so low from the rear he looks like a tripod.  Either way, ‘most Americans’ are screwed.

Report this

By ocjim, August 12, 2011 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

“Is Anybody Listening?” should not even be a question, for we all know the answer. No one has listened since before George W. Bush was appointed and then suspiciously elected president. It seems to be a hopeless situation now which suits Republicans and plutocrats just fine. While we go about our more impoverished business, they can continue to steal from us, our money, our dignity, our freedom and our government.
Demonstrations are often ignored, unless it’s the Tea Party. Is rioting the answer?

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 12, 2011 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

@Leefeller. The point is this. Obamanomics is as epic a failure as Carternomics. To
quote Calvin Cooledge “the business is America is business”. I can give you your
“stimulus” in a way that will actually work and not increase our debt. Unlike Christina
Romer answering the question of how she knew unemployment would not rise above
eight percent “because we have inside information” only to have Joe Biden later to do a
Rodney Dangerfield impersonation when he said a year later during “recovery summer”
“we didn’t know how bad it was”.

The Summers Romer Obama gambit was that this was a normal business cycle
downturn and by flooding the states with a years worth of cash all those public
employees would weather the storm until the business cycle picked back up. It wasn’t a
business cycle downturn it was a government caused credit bubble. They guessed
wrong.

This is very easy to fix. Drop the corporate tax rate to 10 percent with deductions for
new plants equipment supplies and r&d.  And only those deductions. I would prefer
taking the rate to zero because the profits are already taxed as income to shareholders
but I’ll concede it doesn’t look good to pay nothing. Next let companies repatriate any
income they have paid foreign taxes on. With the two trillion business is sitting on here
and the one trillion sitting off shore you have a three trillion dollar stimulus ready to
spend. You also make k street unnecessary also the 270 people GE employes to
minimize tax liability are no longer needed. I would also roll back all regulations to what
was in force on Clinton’s last day in office eliminating anything Bush or Obama have put
in place. The economy will grow more people will be employed paying taxes. It’s a no
cost win win.

Report this

By Chuck Little, August 12, 2011 at 11:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marian Griffith left the most intelligent comment that
I’ve seen anywhere for a long time. Read it. Read it
again.

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 12, 2011 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

@Marian
Thank you for making my point. The war only ended the depression because we leveled
the manufacturing capacity of every one else. The debt was a drag on the economy until
1954.  Thank you.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, August 12, 2011 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

Well John M, what is your point? Jobs are not the issue, trickle down works.  Reading your comments on another thread of how great Wisconsin is doing since Walker and the Republicans gutted education, collective bargaining and changed voter registration to their advantage and of course running Republicans as Democrats. You can refresh my memory on Republicanism and its integrity, accountability and compassion.

Robertson talks of 83 percent of people want government to focus on jobs, it seems the Republicans have other priorities, like getting rid of Obama, looking at the field of dreams on the Republican ticket, I see they are really working very hard at it.

Report this

By Marian Griffith, August 12, 2011 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@John M
I strongly, very strongly, doubt that WW2 got the USA out of its recession. It most certainly did not do anything for the rest of the world.
Of course getting out of the recession might have had something to do with withdrawing the a large percentage of men out of the normal productive economy (to be replaced eventually with women). And just maybe the fact that most of europe was bombed not quite, but close, back into the stone age. Kind of left the USA the only industrial nation for a while and an entire world in dire need of all those things that the USA alone could produce.
I am not sure of course, but that sounds to me to be a much more likely reason why the USA came out of the recession
War, you see, is a very costly undertaking and it had ceased to be cost effective long before even WW1, and it has only gotten worse since. Those cruise missiles and laser guided bombs are not exactly cheap, and a few days of bombing in Iraq probably exceeded the entire military budget of that country.

Now I am no expert on American economical history, so I do not know why Hoover’s stimulus program did not work. The principle behind Keynes is that you try to get money back into the economy at a level where people start spending it again instead of trying to save it all in preparation for lean times. Money on the bank does the economy little good, money squirreled away underneath a matress does not do it any good at all. The corrolary of course is that a government must repay that debt once the economy is recovered (everybody always forgets about that part) or you run up a huge bill and create an inflatory pressure. The combination of inflation and stagnation is the economical killer that you risk when stimulating (and what in the time Keynes was considered impossible, though the Japanese were the first to prove him wrong a few decades later).
If your stimulus program is not big enough (i.e. people do not see a significant difference in employment), or if you apply it directly (Bush’s idea of giving everybody a few hundred dollar once was doomed to fail), or if you give it to the wrong people (Bush and later Obama giving over a trillion dollar to banks did not stimulate the economy but made it impossible to do so Keynesian style because you can borrow only so much before you kickstart inflation at the same time as economic stagnation. Adding a third bag of over 500 billion dollar will not make any difference to the recovery at all, though the banks will politely thank whoever is in charge at that time and move the money out of the country into a safe haven as quickly as possible).

But a war is no more going to stimulate an economy than burning down a couple of major cities and blowing up half the country’s power plants for the fun of it. Afghanistan has been enjoying the ‘benefits’ of war stimulating its economy for a few decades now and you can see at a glance that business over there is booming…

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 12, 2011 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

@Inherit The Wind

This so so blatantly and obviously wrong, I’m amazed
you still trot it out.

“Deficit spending doesn’t work. We needed the War to
get us out.”

How do you fund a war? ...wait
...wait
...patience now
...wait for it
...
DEFICIT SPENDING!!!!!!!!”

Reading you seem to have down - comprehension you
need to work on.. 

I said What got is out of the depression was WW II -
not the spending and debt but the flattening of
almost every industrial center world wide other than
our own.

I also gave you a quote 8 years into the depression
from FDRs own treasury secretary - I’ll repeat it
here:

No less an authority than FDR’s Treasury
secretary and close friend, Henry Morganthau,
conceded this fact to Congressional Democrats in May
1939: “We have tried spending money. We are spending
more than we have ever spent before and it does not
work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong
... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this
country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I
want to see people get enough to eat. We have never
made good on our promises ... I say after eight years
of this Administration we have just as much
unemployment as when we started

Our post war production got us out of the depression
- the stock market didn’t recover until 1954 because
of the debt.

Major manufacturers were still going out of business
into the late 30’s Duesenberg Auburn and Cord come
quickly to mind.

Again “I say after eight years
of this Administration we have just as much
unemployment as when we started”

It never got any better and you need to recheck YOUR
facts.

Report this

By bob zimway, August 12, 2011 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

“You have to spend money to make money.”  “Prime the pump.” Shoot some
nitro in the fuel injector.”  Most working Americans have some clue about how
to get a car, a water well, or a small business going.

Then why does our Harvard educated president buy into the sphincter-clinching
austerity game?

Keynesian economics creates demand, not supply. We need demand. But
Obama wanders around in his bubble parroting the timeless conservative ploy
to keep the imbalance of power.

I’m disgusted with this fraud who deigned to take the White House as a
Democrat and then turned his back on Democratic principles, for what? His
career? Empire? To protect the 9/11 coverup?

Whatever. I’m done with him.

Report this

By TDoff, August 12, 2011 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

‘Are they not paying attention? Or are they delusional?’

Both.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, August 12, 2011 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

John M swallows hook, line and sinker the old Republican Great Lie that FDR’s policies didn’t work: It took WWII to get us out of the Depression.

This so so blatantly and obviously wrong, I’m amazed you still trot it out.

“Deficit spending doesn’t work. We needed the War to get us out.”

How do you fund a war? ...wait
...wait
...patience now
...wait for it
...
DEFICIT SPENDING!!!!!!!!

oops. The deficit spending that supposedly doesn’t work in peacetime when used to build infrastructure (like the TVA system, Hoover Dam and the Bonneville Dam…watch “The Fugitive”.  Harrison Ford jumps off the Fontana Dam in North Carolina, the tallest of the TVA dams).  Somehow that same deficit spending “magically” works when we build tanks and planes and munitions that aren’t re-usable.

A little examination shows the foundation of the FDR haters’ logic is built on a false premise.

Next, your facts are wrong.  The nation WAS pulling out of the Depression in the late ‘30’s.  What happened? Why, the same damn thing that just happened now!  Congress tried to cut spending and reduce the deficit.  This lead to the “Depression within the Depression” because it had the same dampening effect it’s having now.

Next, your GOP pals even back then were more eager to sabotage a Dem President than do what’s right for the nation.  Look up a little thing called “The Businessman’s Strike” to see how, to protect their own personal interests at the expense of the nation, corporate heads did what they could to sabotage the New Deal.

Finally, your claim that Hoover’s plan of deficit spending failed.  In this, you are actually correct. It did fail. But why did it fail?  Because it relied solely on “Trickle Down” mechanisms to stimulate the economy, just like Bush’s tax cuts were supposed to do, and like them they failed FOR EXACTLY THE SAME REASONS: The money didn’t get spent, it got squirreled away.  Currently there’s TWO TRILLION in monies from those tax cuts that never, repeat NEVER went back into the economy.  To give Hoover credit, he was the first President to attempt to stimulate the economy with government spending, providing FDR with a precedent.

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, August 12, 2011 at 6:01 am Link to this comment

@Lafayette: “If they did, they’d know that the
Conventional Wisdom for pulling an economy out of the
job-wreckage of a recession was laid down in the
midst of the Great Depression (1930s) by a certain
John Maynard KEYNES. His remedy is called Government
Stimulus Spending. Because it has worked each and
every time, along with lowering interest rates, to
pave the way out of the Deep Doodoo.”

Sorry but it didn’t work, Hoover tried massive
spending and all we got was debt, FDR tried it and
all we got was debt and and a prolonged depression.
While President Roosevelt was a great man in some
respects, his economic policy was a disaster. What’s
worse is that public ignorance of those policy
failures has lent support for similar policies in
later years. No less an authority than FDR’s Treasury
secretary and close friend, Henry Morganthau,
conceded this fact to Congressional Democrats in May
1939: “We have tried spending money. We are spending
more than we have ever spent before and it does not
work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong
... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this
country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I
want to see people get enough to eat. We have never
made good on our promises ... I say after eight years
of this Administration we have just as much
unemployment as when we started ... And an enormous
debt to boot!

What got is out of the depression was WW II - not the spending and debt but the flattening of almost every industrial center world wide other than our own. No one but the US could build much of anything. The stock market never recovered until the mid 1950’s because of the massive debt from the new deal and the war. Fortunately since our industrial base was intact we could out produce every other country on the planet and they needed our goods.

http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2011/08/an-open-challenge-to-rachel-maddow.html

I doubt she will accept

Report this
Project Mayhem's avatar

By Project Mayhem, August 12, 2011 at 5:18 am Link to this comment

L,

I’ve enjoyed some of your postings in recent days, admittedly a pleasant change from usual. It certainly seems that many Americans were caught up in the greedmongering of the early to mid 2000s, although I was living abroad throughout and my impression of how it actually was here is limited. Even still, I wonder how much of the middle- and working-class bandwagoneering was greed-based, and how much of it was just Americans doing what they’ve always been told to do(i.e. purchase a home/invest in real estate). No excuses for living beyond your means and running up the credit card, but was that really the case for the majority of Americans who defaulted on their mortgages? As I understand it, many (if not most) tried to play by the rules and stay in the right, only to lose it all to forces they couldn’t control. Tough to meet your mortgage payments when you’re out a job and your life savings. I think this goes to the point Anarcissie made recently about the manipulation of financial instruments as a means to inflate bubbles, something which is hardly the prerogative of Joe Public. I’m also not sure how voting would have changed anything, when we consider the Democrats get more campaign funding from Wall Street than do the Repubs. What’s a non-plutocrat to do?

You said, “Rome was an Empire, not a democracy. Things are different this time around. And yet, history can repeat itself - but in different ways.” Rome was also a republic, or was before it got itself up to its eyeballs in empire building. It seems fairly clear at this point that America’s own hard-on for empire is doing in (or has done in already) its democratic institutions. I think your analogy is on target, only things aren’t so different this time around and history looks to be on the verge of repeating itself in more-or-less the same way.

Report this

By bdk4, August 12, 2011 at 5:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m not surprised. But I’d like to shocked.

Report this

By gstoddard, August 12, 2011 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

Lafayette:  Right on. It doesn’t take genius to understand what needs to be done, but
that understanding cannot penetrate ideological rigidity.

Report this

By Marian Griffith, August 12, 2011 at 3:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eugene Robson is wrong when he says that the world is trillions of dollars ‘poorer’. The world is exactly as rich as it was two weeks ago, and pretty much as rich as it was last year.
The only difference is that we express that collective wealth in a smaller number of dollars.

What has changed is not the wealth but the exchange rate of dollars for wealth. Considering that one of the key reasons for the prolongued economic slump is the excess of money, and the sheer panic we are seeing is the direct result of too much money trying to find something of intrinsic (instead of monetary) value to invest in, getting rid of a few trillions of dollars should not be much of a problem.

Except that this money is being drained out of the low end of the economy (the poor and unemployed) and not out of the high end where there is more money collected than the rich know what to do with.

We really should do away with the whole silly idea of trickle down economy and instead put the metaphor on its head with the rich at the bottom and the masses of poor at the top. That way it becomes clear why money is flowing to the rich in a torrent. The only way to get money to bubble up is by putting a lot of heat on the bottom, just as with water that only goes up if evaporated and rains down or boiled into a geyser.

And we should reconsider how incredibly much importance we place on the banks and financial markets (to the tune of thinking a thousand times as much money goes around in the financial markets which for 99.9pct has no relation with the productive economy). Financial markets are a necessity but should never be considered more important or ‘more’ than the productive economy.

In their current incarnation all these derivates and increasingly incomprehensible ‘financial instruments’ are really two things: First they are selling the same thing over and over again. First as a share, then as an option, then as a derivate, then as an assurance, then as a cds, and so on. Second, they are risks carefully hidden away and trading in them is gambling. The way the financial markets galloped in blind panic every which way at the least unfounded rumour already shows that the claim that they are assessing the ‘real’ value of stocks is wishful thinking, and more likely a complete fabrication. The financial markets are giant casino where people push around money in such a frenzy that nobody even can begin to tell what is real and what is illusion anymore. And contrary to all dreams of getting rich effortlessly, casinos in reality are places where the stupid and ignorant are fleeced of their money. Considering where all the money is disappearing it does not take much to guess who is who in this charade.

Report this

By C.Curtis.Dillon, August 12, 2011 at 3:01 am Link to this comment

Stupid, Gene. The word is stupid.

Report this
Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, August 12, 2011 at 2:56 am Link to this comment

WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE DEEP DOODOO?

Seven out of 10 respondents said the federal government is “mostly focused on the wrong things”—and blamed Democrats and Republicans for this misdirected focus in precisely equal measure.

Yes, but if you ask nine out of ten Americans what are the “right things”, they say “jobs, jobs, jobs” - because they haven’t the foggiest notion of how an economy works.

If they did, they’d know that the Conventional Wisdom for pulling an economy out of the job-wreckage of a recession was laid down in the midst of the Great Depression (1930s) by a certain John Maynard KEYNES. His remedy is called Government Stimulus Spending. Because it has worked each and every time, along with lowering interest rates, to pave the way out of the Deep Doodoo.

If smart people know that, then why are they not upset that Austerity Measures, which is the exact opposite of Stimulus Spending, is certainly not the solution? Because Americans are economically stupid?

We need not go that far, but we are in the present mess because the devil’s handiwork was at play with hubris, cupidity and frenzied acquisition - in which we, the sheeple, indulged during the period 2000/2007. (That our plutocrat class profited most from that frenzy is worth underscoring.)

Still, the fact of the matter remains that We, the Sheeple, are responsible for those shenanigans in LaLaLand on the Potomac. I never tire of insisting on this - there is far too much finger-pointing. As if putting the blame on someone ever solved a problem ...

So, blather on about the boneheads in Washington - after all, one must write something in these dog-days of August. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that just as the avarice of the Roman people brought about the decline and fall of Rome, then so will similar vices bring our society down as well.

Rome was an Empire, not a democracy. Things are different this time around. And yet, history can repeat itself - but in different ways.

MY POINT

American polls (notably the Gallup poll here) say that the distribution of money in America is unfair. But will the American people be smart enough to elect those who agree and concert to raise taxes - thus doing something about both the deficit and stimulus spending that puts people back to work or makes life more livable for them?

That outcome is not the least bit probable. Not yet, anyway.

Report this
Newsletter

sign up to get updates


 
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Truthdig on Facebook