Submitted for your consideration:
Grassroots activists in both parties are determined to nominate a candidate who will roll back fifty years of American history and do it all differently.
Polls show that the race for the Republican nomination is a two-man contest between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, with any remotely credible leadership figure trailing hopelessly behind. Meanwhile Democrats, displaying their gift for converting opportunity into disaster, seem to be turning toward Bernie Sanders who has risen to a solid lead in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Nothing in the agendas being offered by Trump or Sanders would have been unfamiliar to voters in western democracies in the 1930’s. Their speeches have that warm sound you get from a five-foot tall, lacquered-wood AM radio.
Want to know how we should respond to an interconnected world, driven by lightning-fast innovation, generating wealth on a scale never before seen? Want to know how we can adapt creaking, archaic institutions to the demands of a knowledge economy? No, of course not.
We want to know how professional political entertainers are going to soothe our fears and insulate us from change. We want to know how to make America American again and keep the rest of the world at bay.
Both candidates are promising to stop American jobs from going to China, without recognizing that those jobs are disappearing from China just as quickly. Both candidates want to shut down the growing global trade that has enriched this country in order to “protect” jobs that do not exist and will never exist again. Neither party’s base candidate has a word to say about making the new economy work for everyone. Instead, they are proposing to saddle it with obstacles that it will simply outmaneuver, leaving the rest of the country behind.
Bernie Sanders is actually promising to replicate in America the worst health care system in Western Europe – single payer. Trump has supported exactly the same plan. Sanders’ “progressive” jobs program is exactly the same as Roosevelt’s. Both parties are embracing candidates who want to wall off America. Trump and Cruz get a lot of attention for promises to build a physical barrier on the border, but Sanders’ legal walls against trade will do far more to impoverish ordinary Americans than any fence.
Look past the difference in rhetoric and you’ll discover that both campaigns are promising to stem immigration. Both campaigns are promising a country more isolated from the rest of the world; a country that prioritizes fearful protection over innovation. The central appeal of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders is a return to a defensive America, determined in their own way to implement your grandfather’s policy template to fight the future. They are the same product with different commercials.
Will our political dysfunction dismantle this new economy? No, it absolutely won’t. What we’ve learned from the rise of Uber, as just one example, is that the institutions best able to adapt will survive and grow more powerful while slower, dumber institutions will shrivel up and fade. Neither Trump, Cruz nor Sanders will not stop the emergence of this new, faster, smarter, wealthier economic order. The failure of our political institutions to adapt to these new demands only means we’ll lose our best opportunity to make this new economy work to the widest benefit.
Failing to adapt means that the knowledge economy will continue to pull away from the rest of America and the world. Those fortunate enough to earn a place there will live in a dynamic, diverse, ridiculously lucrative economy while the rest of the country falls farther behind. Try to stop this progress with unions or trade restrictions or border walls, and the architects of the knowledge economy will just drive around these anachronistic obstacles.
It would be nice if we could have a less feckless version of Marco Rubio, someone capable of recognizing what we’re living through, courageous enough to talk about it, and smart enough to propose policies that would harness rather than fight this new economy. We don’t, mostly because that kind of approach would probably have to come from the Republican Party, which is a frighteningly dysfunctional mess. Maybe we can get something like that in 2020 or 2024.
In the meantime, the base of both parties is proposing to rerun an election from the 1930’s. It’s a great year for history buffs, but a tough time for people who want their government to embrace the future.
Here’s the latest from the OR takeover by Bundy et al:
“It needs to be very clear that these buildings will never, ever return to the federal government,” said LaVoy Finicum, one of the leaders of the armed occupation of the Malheur
Ammon Bundy: ““Everything is happening just like it’s supposed to,” he says. “That’s what you have when you have divine guidance that is assisting. The right people come. The right words are said….Ammon Bundy dismisses concerns that he and the other occupiers could face criminal charges for the takeover. In his view, the federal government has no legal authority to act because Washington had no constitutional authority to establish the refuge in the first place.”
Well, there you have it: “Divine guidance”. Was there ever any doubt?
Excellent recap of the OR occupation and related history: (great links too)
The GOP has announced that it will NOT sue Obama over the Iran deal….Could the reason be that it is working? O will never get any praise on making this happen, that would require admission that he had achieved something very difficult and very important.
ION, today Iran released the four captives they’ve been holding, including the WaPo correspondent. Take a bow John Kerry and Pres. Obama. Even if Iran promises to be a very fickle partner, they are complying with the terms of the agreement, which the GOP said would never happen.
I’ll take negotiated stalemate over a nuclear war any day.
Here’s a little more info on the status of Iran’s compliance. Let’s hope the country will continue to cooperate on the world stage, not only for world peace, but to help the people of Iran.
The Hill: “Iran has taken sufficient steps to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon, the United Nations nuclear watchdog certified Saturday, opening the door for the United States and countries around the world to lift sanctions that have crippled Irans economy.
After decades of tensions, years of negotiations and months of work to implement the international nuclear deal reached six months ago, Iran has fulfilled its promises, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
The State Department confirmed moments later that the nuclear deal is now implemented.”
I guess I am the Naysayer here, but the stock market is trying to tell us something. Lifer – earlier you suggested we “watch what happens to oil prices”. Today, crude oil fell almost 6% and is barely holding on to $29/barrel price. The interesting commentary on this subject (to me) was that we no longer simply have a supply problem (think glut), but now we have a “demand” problem. All agreed this was much more serious and bode poorly for any recovery in the energy sector any time soon.
$29/barrel! Wrap your arms around that number! Of course, other sectors are thrilled with cheaper oil and gas products, but this is a big hole in the economy to plug.
Sorry, meant to share this related story.
I want to propose a thought experiment. Let’s posit an alternate universe, where Trump ran as a Democrat, and furthermore, he was beating Hilary and Bernie handily. So no worthwhile Dem candidate available.
Who would you support from the other side?
Rubio- scant record, but I liked his original stand on immigration–until he disavowed it. Has since said some pandering things like how religious beliefs should trump the Supreme Court, but does he really mean it? Who can see into the heart of Marco Rubio? Bad with money, but presumably he’ll find someone more capable to serve as Treasury Secretary.
Kasich-seems more reasonable than most. Has a lot of experience in Washington and as Governor of Ohio, check. How about his record? His constituents really like him. Really, really conservative though–his policies I don’t like at all. But he gets bonus points for not being crazy.
Christie- probably comes closest to Democratic ideals in his policies, at least at one or another point in his past, but he’s such a bully, and has (probably) been responsible for petty political payback (Bridgegate), so I’m not sure he’s presidential material after all.
Jeb!- the Bush family name should come with a trigger warning for Democrats. No.
Cruz-no. Just no. Do I really have to spell out my reasons?
Carson-probably here to sell books. Ignore.
Paul- occasionally says stuff that makes sense, but more often toes the Libertarian line, so no.
Fiorina, Hucklebee, Santorum- are you kidding me? No.
Wow, this is a tough one. I guess I would have to go with the untested Rubio.
So have the GOP billionaires (gone mostly for Rubio)….He needs more time to tone down the brashness, gain experience, temper his judgment, and stiffen his spine. Then, I might even vote for a Rubio…..assuming the Republicans have cleaned up their platform….which is a big “if”….
Mime, I posted a short reply to you below about credit and debt.
Actually, there are many who accuse Trump of being a closet Democrat, in this universe.
Truly, he belongs to the Party of Trump.
No MassDem Kasichs constituents do not like him. He was only reelected because the Dems ran such a bad candidate. A poll taken here a showed Kasich would not carry Oh if he were the candidate
Now that Republicans are in the majority, they want to change the filibuster rules. How quaint. Do they have no shame? Let the record reflect that when the subject of changing the filibuster rules came up when Democrats had the majority, they chose to retain this feature as a means of always protecting the rights of the minority.
Evidently, Republicans aren’t bothered by something so trivial. They have this window of time and by golly, they’re going to stick it to the Dems!
So, this is how Republicans govern.
It’s those unparalleled whiners, the House Republicans, who want this. They want to blame their lack of accomplishment and failure to achieve all of their (loathsome) demands on anyone else, be it President Obama, the Senate, their own Speaker, etc.
Its a huge mistake they’re going to regret.
If they do so, they won’t get anything substantial done with a Dem in the white house. But once the genies out of the bottle, hes not going back in.
And a trump or Cruz nomination makes it very likely (IMO) that a Dem wins the WH and Dems regain a Senate majority.
And the GOP won’t have a leg to stand on. Itll be a huge strategic blunder if they do.
This might just make you throw up in your mouth a little.
Apparently, some politicians only care about children when they can use them for their own purposes.
What is this NY values nonsense?
Sarah Palin kind of started it, with her “real Americans = small town Americans” speeches. But to use it as a dig at Donald Trump is just ridiculous.
While NYC was the hardest-hit victim on 9-11, and showed great courage and resilience during and after the crisis, that is not even the best defense of the city.
NYC is the premier world-class city of our nation. It is the financial center, the leader in arts and culture, headquarters of the major media corporations, and so on. If you aren’t 100% Native American, chances are some of your ancestors passed through New York.
Plus what would the Red Sox be without the Yankees? Well, probably they would have won the World Series earlier and oftener, but the ride wouldn’t have been as exciting.
Also, Ted Cruz? Really? Goldman Sachs helped put food on his table; can you say irony?
I confess that I watched about 20 minutes of the bout and stopped. So contentious and insubstantial. We rented The Martian instead and saw the “best” of America.
My husband I caught up on “Black Sails”. Who knew that pirates, aside from pioneering the practices of hostile takeovers and corporate raiding, also practiced a form of socialism (equal shares of the profit for all)? So inspiring!
Now, now, MassDem. Let’s not denigrate piracy…..the nascent beginnings of conservatism (-: Even way back then, at least they shared…..of course pirates realized that it takes many people to run a ship and that all should benefit (obviously the captain understood that the crew outnumbered him …doubt his “sharing” was heartfelt).
To have a knowledgeable society requires an environment that offers every individual access to all the education that they can assimilate and apply. There cultivated talent and abilities benefit all. No individual or society is secure without the health required to live the fullest and most productive life. Not enough people get that.
Digesting portions of the most recent GOP debate. Wow… Congratulations Grand Old Party, you have turned this year’s debate event into that Thanksgiving dinner in Hell where every male participant is the crazy, bigoted black sheep uncle of the family.If serious issues are to be had I would rather avoid debates about Cruz’s Birther situation, or the latest new member to the legion of losers Trump has now identified or Ben Carson’s most dire nuclear fried “Left Behind” scenerio/delusion. How about we discuss how an incompetent if not downright criminal state executive like Michigan’s own Rick Synder has most likely destroyed the health, future and possibly the sanity of countless children and their anxiety stricken parents by allowing them to be pumped full of lead laced water in the already tragic city Flint, Michigan (a majority minority town by the way) in a callous misguided attempt to save a little money? How about the GOP discuss how the federal government needs to prosecute vigorously state politicians for needless endangering the the lives of their citizens simply because they dont count as much as the more affluent “makers” that typically vote for them. How about the Pro-life/warriors for the babies party have that G*d damn debate?
Heads need to roll and people need to go the prison over what happened in Flint. Inexcusable.
How many kids will be stunted for life?
How many will be stunted for life?
Who will be held accountable for this irresponsible decision? If it were a business who had laced products with a poisonous substance, they would be sued. Why wouldn’t our government officials be held to an even higher standard? Where is all the outrage across America? All of this represents efforts of fiscal management? Drinking water???!!!
Gov. Rick Snyder has declared a state of emergency, which is necessary to get federal assistance to manage the problem.
WOW! The state “fixer” makes the call to use water from the river; the state DEQ admits it didn’t test appropriately relative to population, and NOW Republican Rick Snyder is asking for FEDERAL assistance?
REALLY? Let me say this again: an avoidable, poisonous situation was knowingly created by people charged with “saving money” (certainly not lives!!!), and their Republican governor is asking for Federal assistance!!!!!!!
Once more, innocent children are paying for the irresponsibility of those in charge. Do any of them have no shame?
Class action suits are a certainty but it won’t reverse lead poisoning. That’s life altering. This is so tragic….but the poor have been dealing with things like this for decades. Sue everyone who touched this decision.
Yet another example of why local control is not always better, and why pesky federal agencies like the EPA and federal laws like the Clean Water Act are still necessary.
Do you think the reality of poisoned water might prick the consciences of REpublicans about to vote down the Clean water act provision for small waterways? They have vowed to “stop it” as yet another “overreach” by big government!!! (Until they “need” big government to clean up their mess.
It’s also another example of why the whole “run gov’t like it’s a business” idea is asinine.
“It’s also another example of why the whole “run gov’t like it’s a business” idea is asinine.”
That needs to be shouted on top of every mountain in this country. That is exactly what is destroying America, conservatives trying to run the government like a business. All the prof of that fallacy can be found in the private prison industry.
This poster was quietly removed from Michigan’s state website. It speaks volumes about culpability:
And the schools. Don’t forget the schools.
My big concern in regard to what we are looking at in Flint Michigan is the fact that children who maybe could have become scientists, sterling members of law enforcement or maybe valued members of the medical profession now face futures of disciplinary issues in school, academic failure, violent behavior, criminality, jail/prison and an inevitable early death.
I hope like hell every kid touched by this beats the odds and avoids these cruel fates… but rationally I know that is not to be.
Who is going to pay for the judicial, medical and educational services needed (now and in the distant future) to salvage the heartbreaking numbers of individuals who have been compromised by this act of blatant criminality? Make no mistake, this was an act of criminality that has derailed the futures of innocent children to save mere pennies.
Rick Synder and his vile functionaries have undervalued those priceless possible futures in the name of false fiscal austerity. But they are not the only representatives of the Grand Old Party in this nation who are committing acts like this.
I would bet my life on it they are not the only offenders.
And their likely answer to the huge costs to pay for any of these services needed to address the issues I mentioned (perhaps billions!) … more budget cuts and environmental scams like the one in Flint, Michigan that will compromise public services like providing safe clean water to citizens.
When you care for a child, as I have (whether the child is related or not) the natural instinct is to protect them, to give all you have and to sacrifice your personal needs so that they can survive and have a better future. I have felt torn up inside in the past when a child I was watching accidentally hurt themselves while playing. It didn’t matter if the injury was a mere scrape on the knee. Why? Because I am responsible for their well being, I am responsible to make sure they return to their family as healthy and intact when they were left in my care.
So I can only imagine the kind of internal agony going on inside the minds of hard working/struggling parents in Flint, Michigan.
Legal and monetary retribution is warranted and required by this abominable situation. Rick Snyder’s pathetic and insincere apologies won’t be enough. As a child of the Midwest (who has considerable family roots in the region) I want more than that.
I want blood. I want that pound of flesh.
Many times I have felt that fiscal/social conservatives have in my humble opinion damned themselves to the deepest levels of Dante’s vividly rendered hell… especially the regions where the hypocrites dwell.
Pro-Life ought to mean more than being anti-abortion don’t you think? Sometimes being an environmentalist can make a person a better guardian for the interests of children than any Southern, fire breathing, porcine-sized activist from the so-called “Moral Majority”.
“Once more, innocent children are paying for the irresponsibility of those in charge. Do any of them have no shame?”
This might be a good time to point out that Flint has had Democrat mayors since 1975 and that all the people involved in making the decisions on switching the water supply were apparently Democrats. (At least all the ones I could find the information on.) The governor played no part in the decision making.
All would have gone well except for a screw up in the Department of Water Quality which was in charge of testing the water.
Objv, the more I read about the situation in Flint, MI, the more I learn about gross environmental abuse in the state. To be absolutely clear, the lead poisoning occurred as a result of decisions made during Gov. Snyder’s second term of office, by the emergency managers he appointed as well as staff in the FDEQ. The environmental abuses in MI have been occurring for years, doubtless under many governors and mayors – including Democrats. It seems that the lure of industrial expansion, despite the egregious harm done to the people living in the impacted areas, has overridden common sense and good judgement and created an ambivalence to the problems attendant to such industries. MI has sold its soul to replace jobs, increase tax revenue, and broaden the industrial base that has been the bedrock for decades there. From air pollution to water pollution, the people there have suffered greatly. This state is a textbook example of the environmental harm that can be done in the name of economic survival. It is an incredibly sad situation. Gov. Snyder is just one in a long line of public officials from both parties who have perpetuated environmental abuses in MI. Of course, now that Gov. Snyder has called in the federal government for assistance, the rest of the nations’ taxpayers are footing the bill. Where is the responsibility of industry?
This isn’t the first time that a governmental regulatory agency has allowed toxic metals into a water supply. Last year, a contractor working under the supervision of the EPA caused an accident that spilled three million gallons of water containing heavy metals into Cement Creek which fed into rivers flowing through Colorado and New Mexico. The Animas River which flows through the city where I live was a mustard color. The water then flowed into Navajo reservation land contaminating the water used for drinking, crop irrigation, and livestock. Thanks EPA.
I had (sadly) forgotten about that, Ob. It’s wrong no matter who causes it. This is one of the reasons IMHO that the Clean Water provision that regulates small streams is so critical. We know full well that industry and government are not responsible in safeguarding our water supply. And, water affects us all. The Flint situation is just the cherry on top of a very ugly history in environmental disregard. It’s like those knowingly doing these things think they’ll get away with it?
I don’t care what party one belongs to. If you are part of this horrible decision-making, you need to be prosecuted. That goes for Democrats as well.
Oh objv, your lack of knowledge on the issues makes me wonder if you’re a Fox viewer.
Flint water-at the time the switch was made, the city of Flint was in state receivership due to its financial situation. The state, which is under Republican control in its Legislature and has Republican Governor, made the decision to switch the water supply, purely as a cost-cutting move.
The EPA spill, no argument there that it was a horrible accident, and polluted the waters of your beautiful state. But it should be pointed out that the mine that was the source of the pollution predated any regulations on the dumping of toxins into the environment. So perversely, it actually becomes an argument for regulation and the EPA, even if it was a FUBAR mistake.
My apologies, objv, your link contained a link to this:
Which is a great explanation of who the true culprit is in the Animas River spill. Thank you!
C’mon objv, what the EPA did in the mine incident was, as you mentioned, an accident. Completely contrary to their intentions in the situation. What happened in Flint happened because those in charge just didn’t care. Both siderism doesn’t apply here.
Thanks for that link. Other links I read had suggested that some of the decisions rested with the city and the appointed emergency manager.
I might add that legislators usually do not approve measures of measures regarding safety on a whim but rely on information which is supplied to them. In this case, they relied on the Department of Environmental Quality which said that the water was safe.
Creigh, it was an accident that could have been prevented. Plus, the EPA did not notify Gov. Martinez that the contaminated water was on it’s way. She had to learn from a third party. In emergencies like this it is essential to have measures in place to warn people and try to have alternative sources for drinking water available. Many of the people who live here have few resources and live in poverty. Many Navajo people drink water directly from the river with no filtration and would be most affected.
#GOPDebate Drinking Game:
Every time a candidate says the words “small government” they have to do a shot of Flint Michigan tap water.- Matt Christman (@cushbomb) January 14, 2016
In this time of so much acrimony, occasionally it is good to pause and reflect on some of the wondrous things in our world. Totally off topic, but unforgettable, enjoy this aria from the fifteen year old grand daughter of Pavarotti. Some things have no price. They are gifts to the world.
Pardon my French, but holy s***, and she was only fifteen at the time? O__O
Also, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. You never get tired of it no matter how many times you listen to it. Believe me, I’ve tried.
I know links like this are verboten but this young girl makes everyone smile. What a gift! Obviously, she has had coaching…thank goodness. I’m happy you enjoyed it. My husband and I were fortunate to see Pavarotti perform solo and a second time with the other tenor. I’ll never forget the experience.
Yes to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy as well.
Exquisite and breath- taking. A singular event.
Thank you 1mime, I needed that.
A graphic take on income inequality. This is overly long, but you’ll get the idea in the first 1:30.
Yet, conservatives by and large deny income disparity exists, or, if they acknowledge it, the reasons for it are too many people “don’t work hard enough”. This is not Lifer’s position, but there are far too many people who just don’t care because “they” are the ones who are benefiting.
Good graphic, JG. Wonder what a conservative’s response to it might be? Anyone out there?
It’s as natural as polyester.
My guess is, judging by what they say about other issues (usually more of the problem will become the solution, I.e. more guns will fix gun violence) my guess they’ll say the answer lies in abolishing the minimum wage, crushing unions, and cutting welfar.
Oh, and tax cuts for the wealthy. Always tax cuts for the wealthy.
What an absurd concept trickle down economics is on its face. How disinterested are these f’ers currently? If the top 1% ALREADY has 24% of national income and that isn’t enough to get them to be interested in “trickling down”, its safe to say nothing will.
These guys are as interested in trickling down as pandas are in having sex with each other.
I am going to keep asking this question: When will the wealth creators realize that their profitability depends upon having buyers? If people live from paycheck to paycheck (and that is NOT usually because they aren’t working – and many people, several jobs), they have NO discretionary income. This is not just an American problem – global economic concerns persist, but the wealth disparity is so pronounced in the U.S. and our economy long term will suffer because income is not being shared.
Mime, profitability is still possible for wealth creators if consumers live beyond their means or rely inordinately on credit and then get caught up in an endless cycle of debt, which just results in more interest for the wealth creators.
This observation is based on math, not morality.
That is true of many people, especially those who are low wage earners and have an unexpected event – even if minor – such as a trip to hospital, car problem, job loss. Economists verify that savings levels in the U.S. today are at very high levels. So, once again, those who “can” save, as Rob pointed out, are saving. Many working people just can’t. That’s not just an economic problem, it’s a morality problem when wages have been declining for over thirty years.
I may have missed the thrust of your point, Tutta, which is: The wealthy benefit coming and going.
Mime, the thrust of my point is mathematical and not moral. I am judging neither the wealthy nor the low income. I was addressing your point that the wealthy will no longer be able to profit if the lower income people have no money to buy from them. My point is that it is still possible for the lower income people to buy from the wealthy through the use of credit, and for the wealthy not only to profit from the continued purchasing, but also from the interest derived from the credit extended.
Although, I guess one day even the credit and the money associated with it would run out.
Yeah, but that’s just a distraction from the real problems facing America: “men” lurking in female bathrooms, and Moozlems
In Friday’s NYT, Krugman evaluates the necessity of inequality in a national economy.
His essay has some good links to articles on productivity, luck, executive compensation, and entrepreneurs and other countries.
In today’s world, high-tax, low-inequality countries like Sweden are also both highly innovative and home to many business start-ups. This may in part be because a strong safety net encourages risk-taking: People may be willing to prospect for gold, even if a successful foray won’t make them quite as rich as before, if they know they won’t starve if they come up empty.
So coming back to my original question, no, the rich don’t have to be as rich as they are. Inequality is inevitable; the vast inequality of America today isn’t.
I liked this quote from Krugman from the NYT link: “… the real question…is whether we can redistribute some of the income currently going to the elite few to other purposes without crippling economic progress.”
And, THAT is the discussion America needs to have – ALL of America, not just those fortunate enough to already be benefiting.
Paul Krugman has the gifts of cutting straight through to the essence of a question, & presenting an argument using simple, straightforward language.
I ❤️ him almost as much as I ❤️ Elizabeth Warren.
Sorry I am late to the party. Tracy had mentioned the flashlights that shake and it made me think of this video skit, one of my favorites for some reason. Must be the twelve year old in me.
Sorry wrong thread, it was on the link round up some one mentioned shake flashlights.
Best example of “show don’t tell” that I’ve ever seen! First time I’ve ever seen shake flashlights in action, but as I said, I’ve led a sheltered life.
I might have missed that in the other thread, so no apologies needed. I never saw that skit before. The actors cracking up at the end make it even funnier. 😀
Here’s where the “flash & shake” folks missed the boat….They should have put some bells on it so you could keep a rhythm while you wait … and wait… for…the…light…to….go….on…..)-:
Don’t ever grow up, Tex!
Sobering piece in last week’s Forbes.
Is the problem that Americans don’t save? Or is it that they can’t?
That data is pretty consistent with what was happening after the crash. I believe at that time the median family had less than $500 in savings.
I’m no economist, but I can try to answer that (albeit anecdotally). Nobody budgets for unknown or emergency expenses, at least not in family. Hell, they don’t even budget. From my squattin’ sis to my father-in-law (who has two idle wave runners in his driveway), nobody seems to know how. I would say my parents are the difference, who taught me never to borrow money to buy a toy, but that doesn’t explain my sibling.
I will say I think some kind of budgeting skills should be taught beginning in Middle school (or earlier), to at least get everyone familiar with the concept. That may help. Although it is hard to compete with our out of control consumerism, which is telling everyone that they need a new $300-400 cellphone every 2 years.
(Sure, there are some people that can’t save at all, and are probably working 2 or more min-wage jobs. I don’t think that half the population meets that criteria though.)
Oops, so to answer your question, I would say: “The majority (of them) don’t know how to save”
I really believe that teaching children about economics begins in the home. It begins by parents not piling tons of toys under the Christmas tree; by telling children “no”; by creating an allowance system which entails responsibilities that, if not done, cut into one’s allowance; it begins by living the economic model you want your children to learn. IOW, living within one’s means; weighing decisions involving family spending (at the right age) with the children….such as vacations, school, cars, clothing, etc). Schools can offer guidance and sadly, this guidance may be the only help some children receive, but home is the place to start and model.
My sis had to learn budgeting when she went on welfare after Dad died. It’s was actually training she was required to take. And it was a new concept for her.
It was a good investment. Some years later, after her engineer husband got sick and they lost their very nice home in New Mexico, she managed to keep their equity from the house for over 3 years until just recently, when they purchased a modest house in Texas.
I think the budgeting training made all the difference.
I would say they can save when they have something TO save.
Of course, when wages are stagnating and the CoL continues to climb, savings are a luxury most simply can’t afford.
“savings are a luxury most simply can’t afford”
Sorry, but that is simply untrue. 63% don’t have $500, but 83% of households have cable. More than 90% of households have three or more cell phones. How many eat fast food, drink, smoke, pay a lawn guy, get manicures, play the lottery, pay stupid ATM fees, drink Starbucks, drive stupidly and get tickets and then pay double for not paying on time, buy the tiny jar of mayo…should I go on?
Saving is possible for almost anyone who desires it and knows how to set priorities. Perhaps the government should fund Dave Ramsey courses.
The Poors! They have cell phones! They have cable! They have REFRIGERATORS!!!
Doug, you sound like this guy:
Food insecurity, which affected almost 20% of households with children in 2014, means that at least for some part of the year, there was not enough food for every member of the household to eat enough to live an “active, healthy life”. Well no problem poor people, science has shown that as long as you have water, the human body can go three weeks without eating! So tighten those belts…
As far as the tap water, too bad for you if you’re from Flint, MI. But hey, at least Rick Snyder was able to save some money by switching the city’s water source. So that’s good.
And the eating of the fast food…maybe you’ve never heard of urban food deserts? Well, let me enlighten you:
And the lottery, which more states are relying on for revenues because *taxes are evil* turns out to be just another mechanism to transfer money from poor communities to wealthier communities:
And the “drive stupidly and get tickets and then pay double for not paying on time”, you should know that some (not all) police departments have turned into grifting agencies, find new ways to suck money from the poor. A case in point:
And the Dave Ramsey course, well if you can scrape up the $100 for his cheapest course, he will tell you some strategies for getting rid of your debt and saving money, and that is a worthwhile thing. But his investment advice is cr*p:
Well done, MassDem. I didn’t want to dignify the rant by taking time to rebut even though it needed to be done.
Some of my students fall into this category. For me, it’s personal.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that expects poor people to have savings. 63% of people are not poor, so Doug’s comment shouldn’t be discarded so casually. Joking or not, I agree with his implied assessment that budgeting is a learned skill, and that not enough people have that skill.
OT, but when did “cable tv” become a necessary utility? I cancelled mine 2 years ago when I realized I wasn’t getting my money’s worth! IMHO that entire business is the biggest screw job ever, and I used to work in energy. 🙂
I agree it should be learned at home, but, just like sex education, if it is not taught there, then the schools need to fill the gap.
“My sis had to learn budgeting when she went on welfare after Dad died. It’s was actually training she was required to take.”
I didn’t know that, but I agree that’s a good thing Bobo! Glad to hear they’re doing well 🙂
I believe the problem is broader than that. In the whole western world, we seem to have lost the art of choosing leaders who know what they speak about.
in 2009, the french national assembly took initiative of setting up a law for fighting music piracy on internet. It apperad quickly than only 3 members of the assembly, out of 577, knew the subject correctly : the conservative Tardy, the green Billard, the communist Brard. 574 members did not even understand a word from all that.
Result? The opinion of the 3 has been ignored, Lionel Tardy has seen his career stalled, even though he managed to keep his seat at the 2012 elections. Martine Billard and Jean-Pierre Brard did not have this chance, the socialist party made sure that they were no more part of their allies in 2012(in an era when they were generous with their allies)
And the same happens everywhere in the Western world. Besides Donald Tusk, former prime minister of Poland, I fail to see anyone understanding the modern world as it is who took high responsabilities in an important western countries, the last 10 years or so.
Compare to the Chinese system. Those guys are using currently gamification to improve the control they have upon their population. Through Tencent, who owns most of the local internet firms, they are beginning to give a “score” to all internauts. And this score is based on the compliance to the party principles. It’s not yet mandatory(not before 4 years, I’ve heard), but already dozen of million of citizens did adopt this system.
It’s evil, but it’s not my point. My point is that THEY have a system to put on power people who understand the world as it is today. We don’t. No more. We have a BIG problem.
I do have some sympathy for our elected leaders. Our world is complicated, and changing so rapidly, so it’s tough to keep up with all of the new information.
For that, Congress has an army of staffers to advise them. Unfortunately, they also rely heavily on their lobbyist friends to advise them, so there is the problem of vested interests having too much sway in our system.
What really frosts my cookies is the guys who are willfully ignorant, and who make policy based on personal beliefs even if they go against scientific findings. The pushback on Climate Change is a great example of this. So we have our chairman of the House Science Committee, Lamar Smith (R-TX), who is actively harassing scientists with fabricated charges of fraud because he doesn’t like what they have to say about climate change. And on the Senate side, we have that moron Inhofe (R-OK) who “disproved” the existence of climate change by bringing a snowball to the Senate floor. It would be funny if they were just a couple of cranks, but these guys and others like them represent a large swath of the voting public. Don’t even get me started on the existence of evolution; not a settled thing according to some.
The problem is less with the elected officials, and more with the ignorance of voters. And I’m not sure what the answer is.
The chinese answer is clear : no need of people who vote without knowing what they talk about. A dangerously seductive idea.
I agree, as tempting as it sounds, it is unethical and very dangerous indeed. What happens when the Chinese people who don’t tow the Party line decide they want more power? They are building serious future instability into their system.
One thing we need is a basic scientific literacy standard. Our education system is really failing us here.
Besides the examples you mentioned MassDem, we have that odious SCOTUS ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that declared that a sincerely held religious belief takes precedence over science. Wrong, wrong, WRONG! Believe whatever you want, but when it crosses the line into affecting other people’s lives, you should be overruled if it conflicts with scientific findings.
How is it possible to have a basic scientific literacy standard when the majority party doesn’t support evolution? I mean, that is pretty basic. Void that and what kind of science standard can be attained?
Yeah, well while everyone loves to hate the Common Core, I’d like to know if any of those opposed actually know what’s in it. Trained as an educator (math & biology), I support national standards, especially in math and the sciences. The argument that you have to tailor education in those areas to the needs of the local community doesn’t cut it with me. My main quibble with CC is that I think it introduces some complex topics too early, before students are developmentally ready, but that is something that can be adjusted and no reason to scrap CC.
MassDem, I don’t understand the resistance to national standards. How can a nation improve itself without national standards? It makes no sense.
The issue is “whose” standards are adopted. If you want creationism to replace evolution, that’s a non-starter. If you insist that the words “climate change” or “global warming” are not allowed, that’s a non-starter.
See the problem?
Bobo, in the case of biology/evolution, the main cause is the fundies who can’t deal with the notion that the universe does not revolve around humans.
I hear y’all.
My lack of understanding is concerned with the inability of those who oppose national standards to be as clear-eyed as y’all are — its no-brainer aspects — rather than the issues that stand in the way.
Maybe I was despairing (a sin in early 20th century catholicism). There’s nothing like despair to make me question the universe.
We know where you’re coming from, Bobo. But Sir Magpie and Henry got right down to it. It’s not some “lofty” debate here, it should be about serious things, like the senseless tragedy in Flint, MI, or the dumb asses in OR that they so empathize with??? Or so many other subjects.. or wealth disparity, or how many people still lack health coverage principally in “red” states…or JOBS – what is their plan??? And, all this emphasis on ‘rebuilding’ defense and eliminating the sequester – what is their replacement plan???? All they hyperbole about the horrible deal Obama struck with Iran? What is their alternative? Another war? Are they following the compliance efforts to date? ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/iran-pours-concrete-into-nuclear-reactor-expects-sanctions-relief/2016/01/11/67011cda-b8a1-11e5-b682-4bb4dd403c7d_story.html)
All these debates have offered is a commercial to the American people about what Republicans have to offer in 2016. Want to see and hear a substantive debate? Listen to the Demoratic Debates. They get pretty specific on issues and problems that are important to those who prefer to think instead of cheer.
Sanders isn’t a reactionary. Shit, he isn’t even a socialist.
Stick Sanders in any political party outside of the US, and he’s a solid liberal, and nothing more. A run-of-the-mill liberal, 70-something politician. Period.
Stick HRC in any political party outside of the US, and she’s a center-right moderate. Neo-liberal, neo-conservative. But, but, communism! Seizing the means of production!
You can try the BothSidesDoIt™ schtick if you’d like, but Sanders is mainstream everywhere on the planet anywhere you’d feel comfortable living for more than 2 weeks.
So, there’s that.
This is OT, but isn’t it time to retire the tradition of having the VP and Speaker sit behind the Pres. during SOTU? I got so tired of watching Ryan smirking and he and Biden staring into space with plastic faces. Just move them to another place of honor out of direct view. Geez. I’m sure Republicans felt the same way when Biden & Pelosi were fixtures. It detracts horribly from the President’s address (whoever it is). It’s enough that cameras pan the members of Congress and show one side sitting on their hands looking bored and the others jumping up and down as though they are at a football rally. Give it a rest. Let the viewers concentrate on the speech. I’m tired of watching eyes close, heads dip, and fingers tapping phones….What a visual disaster for the U.S.A. to beam out to the world…..
To reply to Lifer
yes we need to go back – back to economic policies that actually worked before the Neoliberal voodoo economics slowed down the world economies
The economic record under neoliberalism
The elections of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 can be viewed as inaugurating the formal period of neoliberal economic policy dominance. The last quarter century has seen an expanding application of neoliberal ideas within both industrialized and developing-country economies. Compared to the 1945-80 era, this recent period has seen substantially slower economic growth and widening income inequality, both within and between countries.
Not back to the 30’s but back to the 70’s when a system that worked (with some instabilities) was thrown out and replaced with a system to “improve growth” that actually stifled growth
The 70s s*cked, what with the awful music, the heinous fashion choices & the stagflation. I can see the appeal of a new economic approach, but it never worked as advertised.
See? I told you so…
Lifer, sometimes it’s hard to know what comment you’re responding to and I value your responses. The context of your remark is lost if we don’t know how it links.
Paul, help me out here!
Oil shocks + wage & price controls + stupid Fed tricks = stagflation
Boehner was much more entertaining back there.
I feel sorry for Biden & Ryan, having to sit in full view of the cameras, and I bet they’d agree with you.
It’s honestly a bit disheartening to see an otherwise pragmatic, optimistic candidate like Marco Rubio reduced to a spineless panderer. And if we’re being charitable, I think he detests doing what he’s doing even more than we do in hearing it.
Rubio “oozes” frustration. At least he cares…maybe not enough to make a principled stand, but….
Then there’s Cruz who will sell his soul and yours. He’s not oozing at all. Cocksure and arrogant as always.
We better hope Hillary wins the nomination. Lifer is absolutely correct in his assessment. She’s the best of the group. Live with her weaknesses as her strength will be in “doing no harm”.
The politics of the 1930s was heavily influenced by the fact that the economy had stopped working for large numbers of people. Could it be that…Nah, that’s crazy thinking.
A good argument here for voting for HRC, as I plan to, since she is the fiscally moderate, socially left-of-center Republican you’ve been waiting for. Plus she’s smart so I think she can handle the shift to this knowledge economy better than most.
A little 1930s thinking on ‘fiscal moderation’: “The Conservative belief that there is some law of nature which prevents men from being employed, that it is ‘rash’ to employ men, and that it is financially ‘sound’ to maintain a tenth of the population in idleness for an indefinite period, is crazily improbable — the sort of thing which no man could believe who had not had his head fuddled with nonsense for years and years.” -J.M. Keynes.
We’ve learned something about sexism since then. Economically, we’re still making the same mistake.
I don’t really understand that. What country seekes to do that?
Ostensibly, is it not the goal to have unemployment at 0%? That seems to me to be the best situation.
I agree, Rob. While conservatives policies and obstruction to jobs bills and other programs that would put people to work is certainly documented, I don’t understand how this concept could ever be considered acceptable by any ‘thinking’ person or group. It is true that one’s business practices may result in reduced employment decisions, and that market forces drive employment, I don’t know of many businesses who wouldn’t expand if demand were there. They’re kind of self-serving in that respect. I think it is more a fact of supply and demand that is exacerbated by political obstructionism.
Rob, I wish I could give you a number on what unemployment “should” be, it’s not zero due to things like people looking for new or better jobs. But most neoclassical economists believe there’s a tradeoff between inflation and unemployment. They speak of a number called NAIRU; the non accelerating-inflation rate of unemployment. In other words, they believe that there is some low rate of unemployment below which inflation will accelerate. They don’t have a very good idea what the number is, it’s generally believed to be just about whatever the rate is at the time. Central bankers tend to be terrified of inflation, not so much about unemployment, except for the unemployment they will experience personally if inflation starts to rise.
This view of unemployment misses the fact that money is a public monopoly, and therefore its ‘price’ in terms of goods and services is entirely within the Government’s contol, if they pursue the right strategies.
I found this article that explains neoliberalism, post-Keynesianism etc. It is a bit of a slog, but cleared up some questions I had about what these terms meant and what their policy implications are. Someone like moslerfan who actually knows something about economics would have to judge its accuracy.
Economists point to a minimum “frictional” level of unemployment and the argument makes obvious sense. Say someone gets fired for some reason, or maybe they just quit. How long would it take for them to get a job? During that time they will be unemployed. So there’s that part of it.
Then there’s a certain minimal level of unemployment that comes from people making poor decisions – choosing the wrong career for example and consistently getting tossed out of work. Then there are alcoholics and drug addicts and other people who just consistently have trouble working.
Beyond this tier, there is also the notion that you can reach a certain level of unemployment beyond which the economy cannot push because of transactional costs. When you reach a point at which every employee I hire has to be poached from another company, then you start to experience an economic drag of its own, even after wages rise. There really is a practical maximum to wages, beyond which the capital costs involved with automation or opportunities to change business models, become too attractive to ignore.
With all those factors taken into account, it’s generally assumed that “full employment,” the maximum level of employment that an economy can sustain before labor shortages start to impose their own drag on growth, is about 5% (right where we are now, by the way). We have seen the rate lower, though it is rare. Last time that happened, in the 90’s, you could see the stress it was placing on growth pretty clearly.
Unless I misunderstood your explanation, there is no accounting for obsolescence, outsourcing of jobs, economic downturns….most of the examples you cited seem to relate to one’s own poor choices. What about unemployment that is involuntary not through firing but through RIF which historically happens when market forces intervene. Ex. energy industry layoffs, peace, more supply than demand in specific sectors…
Sorry, here’s a different link for the same article where you can actually see the Fig. 1 he refers to in the paper, plus his references. It drives me buggy when I can’t see a figure referred to in the text.
Click to access Neo-liberalism%20-%20chapter.pdf
Lifer’s third paragraph pretty much gets it right. When unemployment falls, at some point there is upward pressure on wages. The ability to relieve that pressure by offshoring labor or by automating or other productivity improvements varies pretty widely by industry, but is a serious factor in stagnating wages. Despite improvements in employment recently, the economy seems to be stuck in a place where wages are not rising.
Mainstream economics takes the view, by and large, that this is the way things have to be. It’s not surprising that many people are not happy with that answer, hence Mr Sanders and Mr Trump. If the establishment doesn’t like their answers, they’d better come up with better ones.
MassDem, I originally started studying macroeconomics so I could distinguish between legitimate and bogus economic arguments. I wish I could say I’d had some success. The premises that mainstream economics are based on, things like equilibrium and rational actors and perfect competition just don’t seem to be up to the job of supporting the edifices that economists build on them. More recently, I’ve been studying money more closely: what it really is, and how it interacts with and affects the real economy from what is close to an accountant’s perspective. (A new economic discipline: macroaccounting? It doesn’t just track money as it moves from one place to another but it also accounts for the creation and destruction of money. And any theory of money that doesn’t understand money creation and money destruction is incomplete.) If what I’m being told doesn’t correspond to the way money works in the real world, it is immediately suspect. This approach has been far more enlightening than the macroecon classes I’ve taken.
I agree with everything that Lifer said about unemployment, but there are some oddities about how we measure it that make our situation appear better than it is. The official unemployment rate includes only those actively looking for jobs. Those who have dropped out are excluded. If we were at the economist’s definition of full employment (at the 5% unemployment rate that counts as that), one would expect much more robust wage growth that we are seeing. This suggests other issues are at play, such as the low labor-force participation rate. More job growth would be most welcome.
I caught the tail end today of an interesting exchange between CNBC’s Rick Santelli and an economist who disagreed with him (which is unusual….Santelli is a TP guy and he normally has analysts on who agree with his positions…). The analyst concurred with you, JG, and said that if the economy were really robust, the U.S. should have created approximately 5 million jobs in 2015. He is not as positive about market health as many economists are (sorry I didn’t get his name other than “Ted”). He sees as a sign of further weakness the stagnation of wages and concerns about the lower number of new businesses starting up, especially small businesses. He reminded Santelli about how many large corporations have merged or spun off non-essential operations in order to generate capital and reduce financial drag. It was really interesting, especially to watch Santelli try to lead the conversation into political waters only to have the guest’s focus remain on other contributing factors.
I guess one could line up a dozen economists and each would have a different view, but this guy stuck to his guns and had an impressive grasp of the current economic environment across a very broad spectrum. It was educational.
As is this article for those of us who support renewable energy.
Unemployment figures always seemed kind of rough to me. Different sectors of the economy have very different stories, and many times it would be almost impossible for someone from a struggling sector (say, unskilled factory worker) to move to a job in a more robust sector (working for a tech firm). Plus, you get seasonal employment overlaid on the numbers.
What I want to know is who is dropping out of the economy? I would guess it’s mostly forced early retirement, but I could be wrong. Hard to find a new job when you’re over 50.
moslerfan, I once gave my dad Niall Ferguson’s “Ascent of Money” for Christmas one year (which he loved). I should probably read it myself–money is such a common thing, and I have never thought much about its flow through the economy. It sounds pretty interesting & useful to know.
1mime, thank you for the solar link. Up here, we have largish solar arrays which have recently been installed all along our interstates. Not so many on private homes yet.
Unemployment is when they don’t have a job-when I don’t have a job, it’s a depression. Part of me still feels that the immediate outpouring of emotions and information in this virtual world effects us in ways we still don’t understand.
The President was very clever when he spoke of no one arguing about the ‘truth’ of Sputnik back when we decided to spend money on the useless goal of a man walking about on a lifeless hunk of rock. The state which has benefited the most from this ridiculous blank check has the largest population of people who complain about wasted Federal money.
Regarding the reliability of Economics itself, as a discipline:
“Economics in our time is a philosophy dressed up in equations. That does not imply that economics is worthless, only that is should not be trusted to deliver precision or provable certainty.”
And a really good introduction to a new strain of thinking about economics, evolutionary economics, comes from this book by Eric Beinhocker, Origin of Wealth: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Origin-Wealth-Complexity-Beinhocker-2006-06-01/dp/B019NRCYPY/
The “only” time when economics is used with precision is when politicians co-opt it to validate their position.
There is an old joke about economists. If you are having a dinner party and want it to be a smashing success, you want a guest who is charming, erudite, learned and cultured, so invite an economist. If you want your dinner party to be a miserable failure of arguments and yelling, invite two economists.
Your story about economists parallels that about lawyers – have one in town and he won’t make any money; have two in town and they’ll both get rich!
Here’s an example of what my understanding of money tells me: worrying about the Social Security Trust Fund running out of money misses the point, because money won’t take care of you when you get old, people will. People will raise the food you eat, build and maintain the housing you occupy, people will produce the energy that keeps you warm, and people will provide the medical care you need. If the right people with the right education and infrastructure (physical and social) are in place, we’ll be fine. If not, money in the Trust Fund won’t save us. We need policymakers who understand this reality, not alarmists who obscure the real problem.
Just to be clear, I recommend that you personally sock away a million or two. Your retirement will be much more pleasant if you do. But if everybody does that, and there’s no groceries on the supermarket shelf, somebody’s still going to go hungry.
Mosler, I enjoy reading Scott Burns, a Houston Chronicle syndicated columnist on finance. He is able to cut to the heart of financial issues while making them understandable. In Wednesday’s paper, he tackled responses to an article he penned on expanding Social Security. Most were surprised at his position and accused him of going over to the “dark side”. Here’s his original piece and the follow-up. Burns is an MIT grad so I expect that he’s been well-schooled. I like his thinking.
Eric Beinhocker’s book “The Origin of Wealth” is described as “massive and erudite.” (Be afraid. Be very afraid.)
Here’s a short presentation by Mr. Beinhocker that gives the flavor of what he’s talking about:
Click to access HEEDnet%20Seminars_Eric_Beinhocker.pdf
One other helpful note about Beinhocker’s book – it isn’t very well written. It is dense, repetitive, prone to tangents, and at times downright confusing. That said, what he is trying to communicate is so terribly simple and revolutionary that when it finally percolates out into the academic world of Economics it will change everything.
Basically, the fundamental problem with Economics is that it has no reason to exist as a separate discipline. Economics is merely the financial representation of a series of evolutionary processes that are primarily cultural in nature, though built on top of our genetics. Nothing in Economics makes any sense until you understand 1) how evolutionary adaptation works, 2) and how humans have learned to speed up their evolutionary adaptation via the use of technology and culture.
Since Americans aren’t given any useful education in evolution unless they study biology at the collegiate level, Economics has become a stunted, deformed discipline producing consistently false assumptions. Fixing Economics starts with teaching evolution more effectively.
Mime, Burns is right when he characterizes Social Security as primarily a compact between generations. Yes, it is accounted in terms of money and executed using money, but the fundamental issue is what real economic resources are available, and how we choose to allocate those resources through the political process.
Yes, Social Security is a covenant between generations. Its protection rests more with “who” is making the political choices than whether or not the people’s will is upheld.
Burns did a terrific piece on how to make the Affordable Care Act better….very specific. I’ll try to find that article and post it. I have not seen such a succinct, practical plan from anyone in the political sphere.
the worst health care system in Western Europe – single payer
Perhaps a repeal of the 1945 McCarran–Ferguson Act – providing federal antitrust protection to health insurers – would bring some needed Free Market competition to that industry.
Lifer, please show proof of this statement “the worst health care system in Western Europe-single payer”, because honestly it sounds like you’re just parroting right-wing talking points here. I guess I should let Rob speak to Canadian health care, but comparable European nations, Canada & Australia all have better health care outcomes with less money spent when compared to the US. I guess your statement may technically be true (if you could provide evidence) since the US isn’t in Western Europe, but your statement would then become weasel words.
Britain’s health care system is considered a trainwreck by just about everyone. Canada also shows up high on the list of miserable systems. Single payer is the main reason, thanks to the enormous centralization it creates. Imagine having one school district for the entire country and you get a sense of the problems that single payer creates.
In almost any survey France comes out on top. Germany and Holland also rank high. Their systems are highly decentralized, having evolved over a very long time preserving most of the institutions that previously existed. Britain, by contrast, simply nationalized their health system after one decisive election. In France, Holland, and Germany, health care is technically still a private enterprise. Funding is delivered through a network of government and private sector insurance companies.
People don’t realize this (and GOP talking points haven’t helped) but French health care preserves a lot of market features that were destroyed in Canada and the UK. That’s been an important element of their success. The French actually choose among private insurers. The French system isn’t the cheapest, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than ours and works amazingly well.
No one who knows anything about comparative health care systems wants the US to adopt a single-payer system. It’s just a leftover talking point from the sixties, and a further demonstration of how loopy Sanders is.
A few links on European health care systems:
From my reading about foreign country health care systems, (Kaiser did an exhaustive study a few years back that my Dr. brother insisted I read) the best programs were a combination approach….government and private, in a variety of iterations. What was most interesting is that health outcomes are largely much better than America’s for considerably less cost. In “NO” country with a variation of socialized medicine (I am using that term broadly here), was there a problem with personal bankruptcy due to medical problems. In the U.S., health problems are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy. This shouldn’t be.
We have personally observed the Swedish and Italian health care systems at work and they are very efficient. I love the fact that other countries set specific, uniform prices for specific procedures. Having lots of docs in my family, I can attest to the fact that the profession is amply rewarded.
Thank you for providing the links. They were useful to look at.
We would never be able to institute Britains health care system here, as no one here really wants the government in the provider role–not even Sanders.
So it comes down to single-payer (Medicare for all) vs multipayer insurance. I wouldn’t mind moving toward a system more like that of France, Germany or Japan, where a large part of a person’s health care is provided by a government-administered fund (the Medicare for all part), which is supplemented by private insurance. It isn’t single payer in the absolute sense, but it is farther along that continuum.
I love this from the Slate article, “(Unlike Americans, French employers and workers quote salaries as net, not gross—so your salary is what you receive after deductions for health care and other social services.)”. Transparency requires acceptance, in the US everybody is above average and underpaid.
I’ve loved the last 10 or so bloggings, but haven’t participated much, so many new, good writers are participating and the late, lamented BW went a fifth or pint too far (didn’t see the offending words-just guessing).
As a liberal (“liberal” in Texas means I have been indicted for voting for an Episcopalian and I opposed the invasion of Canada to stop cheap prescription drugs) I do have to note one thing.
Liberals really need to stop the reflex of recoiling whenever the word big precedes the word business. Accept capitalism and learn how best to pool the risks of life.
I’m guilty of that, Crogged, and I know better. Big isn’t necessarily “bad”. Little is nicer, tho (-:
Not to mention France and Sweden and Italy.
Crogged, love this:
Transparency requires acceptance, in the US everybody is above average and underpaid.
Wait! Does being “exceptional” always mean one has to be underpaid?
Couple of things. Evidently the writer of the last link isn’t aware that the French system isn’t single payer. From her article near the bottom – “From my French-ified perspective, a single-payer system—with strong government oversight to keep the price of medical care low—seems like the only way to go.”
Interesting chart from the Commonwealth Fund. It is quite different from the rankings from the Business Insider article which rates the French system highest in Europe.
It incorporates patients’ and physicians’ survey results on care experiences and ratings on various dimensions of care.
This chart correlates most closely to the Kaiser Report I read a few years ago. Admittedly, things change, but not that fast.
I will try to find a copy of the Kaiser Study. They assigned a former WaPo journalist the assignment of visiting the top industrialized nations for an indepth, in person health system evaluation. I will link it if I can find it. It was published in book form as well as a research paper.
I should have just provide the link to the article.
Canada also has strong restrictions on private healthcare, which Sanders is not proposing. Also for all the faults with the British healtchare system it still has popularity among the populace and is still considered far better than ours, and even if Sanders got what he wanted it would be more decentralized under our system than it is in Britiain, since more of the administrative suties would be handled on a state/local level rather than on a singular level like the unitarian government of Britian does.
So the worse case scenario is still a far improvement over our current system, and it can always be reformed down the line.
What about Sanders’ idea to spend at least a trillion on infrastructure? Wouldn’t that be a nice boost for the “knowledge economy”? How about paying for people to be able to attend public college without incuring massive debts? How about his tax on financial transactions and a new marginal income tax on the highest earners, which would slow down rampant speculation? The only policies of Sanders I disagree with are the $15 dollar minimum wage and some of his trade policies, and Congress will moderate both of those stances anyways if he can even pass them.
Nobody is offering what you want. If they did I would support it, unless maybe an Elizabeth Warren social democrat was the opposition (which they wouldn’t be), but they’re not so social democracy is the next best thing from my perspective, especially since it will be a very mild social democracy anyways because of our political structures. I found what you said about Sanders hyperbolic and think most (though not all) of his policies would let off a lot of populist anger towards the government and would leave us overall better off.
Here’s an interesting international health cost/care study that goes into some areas that will provoke thought.
The NHS is such a trainwreck in the UK that the potential disruption of NHS services is one reason that Scotland remained in the UK.
The “singlepayer” trainwreck in Canada is so considered a trainwreck that Canadians overwhelmingly do not want it messed with and the conservatives there no better than to screw with it. And Americans who live near the border cross over to get terrible, trainwreck single payer healthcare services.
So, I guess along with Unions, your other big GOP hangup is singlepayer healthcare services which. Every. Single. Western. Country. Has. Adopted. In. One. Way. Or. Another.
Perhaps a Cruz/Bachmann ticket isn’t entirely unworthy to vote for.
Couldn’t reply to Goplifer, so replying it, as my country is cited.
First, my boss worked a few years in London, then a few years in Glasgow, before coming back to France. The scottish system has the same inspiration than the English one, but works much better. He had one child born in each country, and Scotland seemed much better to him than anything else.
Second, the French system is 2-third public, 1-third private. Note that the private third is mandatory since only a few months. Before, you could spare a private insurance – and hope not needing it for filling the gaps. While rather efficient(IIRC, twice less costly than the US system, for an analog cost – though my numbers are old), it is not without drawbacks.
(1) Most people don’t choose their private insurance. The company does. Mine switched recently for a “cheaper but better”. But with less eye-care coverage, which is our main expenses in the family.
(2) Non-salaried people pay more – as companies buy private insurances in a bulk, they overall pay less for the same coverage. It increases the salaried-non alaried gap in the country(being a full-time salaried in France, with an undefinined end of contract, is nearly like belonging to a cast).
(3) The public part if far too centralized. And yet the public hospitals are faaaaar too decentralized. The director is not really a director, just an administrator. He has no power upon the service chiefs, who all behave as lordless barons, who hate each other, and don’t care about anything. And the director cannot fire them. They are unremovable. The semi-public hospitals & the private ones work much better, though.
(4) Bad behaviour are not punished. As poor as covered with the “couverture minimale universelle”, they don’t pay at all. They take a lot of appointments, and don’t go to most of them. Otherwise overcrowded specialists
They are also typical french dysfunctionments, as excessive complexity, to keep an insane number of people busy & paid doing things they do not even understand(the law is not only unclear, it is often self-contradictory or unclear). Despite all that, we get, in average, as much medical quality than the Americans, for a global budget much inferior. Something to meditate.
But I speak “in average”. If you’re very rich and can afford to pay, go to the USA. Or to the parisian american hospital(where Sarkozy always goes, it’s not random). If you’re not, you’d better go to France. For the whole pregnancy of my wife, I paid 80 euros. That was the price of the meals she took at the hospital after my daughter’s birth. The private insurance(paid by my employer) did refund me 30% of those 80 euros. And she had a good care, though not the best money can buy. All the rest was paid by the centralized system. Which is paid by my salary, at the end – a proportion of all salaries pays the system. That’s also why my 38k euros net are not that bad at all. The pension is prepaid, 2/3 of medical expenses are prepaid(even more with the private insurance), the jobless insurance is prepaid, etc….. It’s probably the equivalent of an american 80-85 k$ or so. And costs probably as much to the employer.
Last thing : culture is different in each countries, and you cannot just say “hey, it works there, let’s do that here”. It won’t work. You can always try to adapt a few interesting things, but don’t copy as it is.
I had a good look at the comparisons re health service outcomes
The only ones that the USA were ahead on were cancer survival rates
But there is a problem – when those “survival rates” were properly analysed they kind of go away
When compared to population and types of cancer you get a different picture,
The USA has more testing and diagnoses more cancers but the actual death rate is the same
What appears to be happening is that in the USA a lot of effectively benign cancers are treated –
Naturally most people don’t die of these so you get what appears to be a better survival rate
The USA actually has a slightly worse survival rate because of deaths caused by treating cancers that didn’t need to be treated
How awesome is it that we can get insider info from people outside the US who actually use different health care systems. Very illuminating; thank you Glandu!
I enjoy the personal experiences too, however, for a useless ‘survey’ regarding consumer perception of an economic transaction, patient satisfaction with medical procedures would have to be near the top. The result determines the experience.
It seems to me that a lot of what you are looking for I found in this speech yesterday. Could it be that we cannot see the forest for the trees? You point to the extremes on both ends of the spectrum getting more and more recognition. But what if we cleared the fog created by all the poisonous rhetoric and looked at how well the current administration’s policies align with what I think is the common sense ask of the people reading this blog. We might be surprised at how well it matches.
If we let the knowledge economy pull further away as you describe it, if we let inequality grow, if we let our political discourse further deteriorate, then our little in-group of knowledge workers will be negatively affected like everyone else. I could care less about ISIL. They should have and will have no impact on my life. But I am concerned about short-sighted stupid people to dominate our political dialogue.
Recently the US had to abandon a rule to label meat with the country of origin & has been sued by TransCanada for turning down the XL pipeline, both because of trade agreements. TPP offers even more of the same — enforcing safety or environmental rules will open us to lawsuits from those who lose potential profits. But of course it’s “protectionism” to not want multi-national corporations to dictate US law and policy.
Bullshit. Here’s what those trade deals do – create an agreed set of rules under which companies can compete across national borders, free (relatively) from corrupt political influence. Those agreed rules protect them politically-driven preferences (like subtly constructed labeling rules) that create unfair advantages for one country’s politically-connected businesses.
Whole Foods will still advertise the country of origin of its meats. TransCanada will lose its lawsuit, as everyone else has who tried to get damages under NAFTA. These trade agreements are preserving American jobs while making everything we buy cheaper. If it wasn’t for NAFTA we wouldn’t have three major car companies anymore. We might not have one.
This is the kind of stuff that will force people to make some really hard decisions if pressed into a choice between a Republican blowhard like Cruz or Trump and a Democratic reactionary like Sanders.
Good for you, Lifer. Let’s hope Congress will agree.
Yes, the original intent of ISDS was to protect those vulnerable companies from corrupt goverments of small countries. Now it applies to us.
Whole Foods may indeed voluntarily advertise country of origin for its meat. Are you denying that the US law requiring that disclosure had to be removed because of a trade claim?
As for TransCanada losing its lawsuit, I certainly hope they do. Doesn’t it bother you that they CAN cite a rule allowing them to sue us for an internal governmental decision? And do you seriously think that we’re going to keep winning all those lawsuits, or that the risk of lawsuits won’t modify what actions our government is going to risk taking?
Or is all of that a “feature” instead of a bug? And I note that you didn’t comment on my point about safety and environmental protection laws also being subject to lost profits suits. Or is all that matters lower consumer prices?
I’ve been of the opinion that Sen. Sanders, while a good man whose heart is in the heart, is also a candidate whose time has long since past. That aside, I’m much more interested in seeing just how deep and broad Hillary Clinton’s understanding of this new economy goes. She’s painted a rather broad brush while trying to appeal to people’s concerns about wages and the like, but the devil is in the details, as it always is, so I’d be looking with a keen eye on what she would push for if she were fortunate enough to come into office with a Democratic Congress.
If Trump becomes the Republican nominee, she may yet get that chance.
She doesn’t understand the new economy any better than the Republicans or Bernie Sanders, but she will be a lot more cautious about destroying it than Sanders would be. Basically, she is an administrator, a remarkably capable administrator, not a reformer or revolutionary. That’s the best thing we can hope for to emerge out of this election cycle. Frankly, America could use a few years of boring, competent leadership.
You won’t get it. The GOP establishment had no real reason to hate Obama from the outset, other than that he exposed the weaknesses of their campaign operation, but the vitriol started almost immediately anyway. They’ve been in a lather about Hillary for 23 years. Unless the GOP really does fall apart (and I would not bet a nickel on that happening), the obstructionism will only get worse. This is perhaps the #1 to NOT vote for her (of many substantive ones), but all the other options are worse.
Um , JG, the GOP establishment did have a reason to obstruct Obama from the get go, it’s a word that starts with “r” and ends in “ism”. Even if that wasn’t the personal view of a particular GOP politician, he or she was was stuck having to pander to the GOP base or risk getting primaried.
Galt is right about the GOP and Clinton. As much as Obama’s race has inflamed the right, a quick look back reveals that they were even more deranged about Bill Clinton. Remember the militia movement? Replacing a black guy with a woman isn’t going to dial down the rhetoric. I do think that the GOP will implode though. Change doesn’t happen on a linear scale. I think we’re about to get a disruptive shift.
Don’t you get weary of saying “they’re going to have to implode” as a precursor to positive change in the GOP, Lifer? I’m coming around to the idea that if we could combine the best of the GOP and the Democrats, we might have a really viable party. I don’t care “what” you call it as long as it gets the platform right. Let the right wing fundamentalists have their party and the left wing theirs, but let’s find a political structure that speaks to our deepest needs and is creative enough to embrace a changing world.
@MassDem: OT, but I don’t think it’s solely because Republicans were pandering to their base or that there were those of them who despised the idea of the first African-American president. President Obama’s election, IMO, also marked the end of an era of Republican dominance.
From the time that Ronald Reagan was first elected in 1980 until 2008, there was a pervading sense of so-called “conservatism” in the country. Yes, Democrats still had a lock on Congress for many of those early years, but it felt like the national conversation was being dictated on Republican terms. Nowhere during this time period can this be seen more than during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Make no mistake in that, in his heart of hearts, Clinton was and is a liberal and a strong believer in the power of government to influence people’s lives, but he was constrained by the political climate of the time and had to hew more to the right in order to govern effectively.
President Obama’s election changed all that. It signaled the end of an era of Republican dominance and you can see that in how they behave today. They don’t propose anything. It’s all reactionary. Even with Republicans dominating state legislatures and both houses of Congress, it still feels like the country’s political climate is being dictated on Democratic terms.
For Republicans to have to face that new reality; I imagine there was quite a bit of misguided anger and resentment towards President Obama.
Ryan, your ideas are as always interesting, and I want so much to believe that there has been a shift to the center (or even center-left) in the country. I’m just not convinced that Democrats currently have that much influence on the current political climate beyond preventing Tea Party Republicans from getting every crazy item on their collective wish list. It’s more or less a stalemate right now. I would agree with Lifer that a disruptive shift is coming; something has to give.
MassDem, perhaps what I should have said is that they didn’t have a reason they could say out loud. Regardless of whether unspoken racism might explain some of the obstructionism, I don’t think that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner were fundamentally motivated by racial issues when they jumped on board the “one-term Obama” express before the man was even inaugurated.
Perhaps I am naively optimistic but I agree regarding Hillary. I see technology driving my tasks (eliminating some) creating new ones…but in the end it seems people who can aggregate and analyze data and assist leadership using that data can barely keep up with all the new tools driving decision making and investment. The economy is its own life force. Hillary won’t yank the tablecloth, but may alter some of the settings. In exchange we do get her relationships with world leaders and copious experience with surviving a press culture that has really degenerated in the past generation.
“The economy is its own life force.” What a frightening thought. My first principle of economics is that the economy exists to serve people, not the other way around. I know Bernie understands that. He has some shortcomings as an economical theorist, but he understands that.
LIfer, what about the importance of the social capital and the social structures that were part of the “Politics of the Past” which would the foundation for us to be able to organize and adapt to the new knowledge economy? Is that an inconsistent concept now, because the new knowledge economy by definition actually destroys the social structures of the past by keeping us all physically separate and living in a virtual reality, instead of uniting us so that we can accomplish something constructive? I think there is a need for us to hearken back to the past to a certain extent so that we are able to move forward.
When it comes to social capital, we need to be ready for it to take on newer, looser, more dynamic forms. Think of the way people used to participate in institutions like the Lions Club or their local church. Those connections carried a degree of compulsion (especially church) that will never work again. They also required a lot more time then people generally have available now.
Other things we could do to help protect social capital is to relieve some of the financial pressure people feel. A basic income would work wonders here. You know what else could be a revolution for social capital? New economic models offered by innovative companies like TaskRabbit, Uber and AirBnB. Between a basic income and a much more flexible, less than part-time, independent job market, people could have a lot more freedom to engage in local institutions.
Instead of fighting these new developments, I wish we’d recognize them and ride them.
Even if we had more time and freedom, would we choose to participate in local institutions? As you point out, it’s not really expected of us anymore, and I think it’s a habit that has to be instilled in us when we’re young.
You are politically active now, but then, it seems you’ve been politically active since you were in high school, when you participated in that mock convention, or whatever it was.
I would think that if we are not active now, we will never be. Therefore, it’s something that we would have to instill in our kids and the young members of society, and of course, that should be done by example, so I guess we older people still have a role to play.
Here you are, participating in a form of political institution that did not exist just fifteen years ago. No one compels you and you did on your own time.
Granted, this is a poor replacement for the PTA, but this isn’t the only kind of new social capital emerging to fill in those gaps.
I have a sneaking suspicion that our political parties may be dying. The kind of participation I began when I was a teenager is already pretty marginalized. Very few people where I live devote any time at all to local grassroots political activity. No one who does engage in party activism wears it has a badge. It’s kind of a quiet hobby best not talked about in polite company.
Something will take its place. Not sure yet what that might look like, but I guess there are shades of it right here on this blog and others.
What you are describing Lifer sounds more like group activism around a focused cause, rather than a party structure that is static and unable (or unwilling, as the case may be) to embrace change. It is an interesting concept as a replacement for traditional political parties. I don’t know how one can run state and national campaigns without structure, but I do believe structure has become more important than the candidate.
You know how I like to share stories and experiences from my past. Well, here’s one that I think you might appreciate. I became deeply involved on a volunteer basis with public education advocacy. I spent many years working my way through the different layers until I eventually was co-opted to run for the school board by many supporters. I was reluctant to do so not because I was uncomfortable with the political process, but more so because I was enjoying great success on a targeted individual effort. In hindsight, I never felt that I was able to be as effective working within the constraints of the formal elected body as I had been by selectively choosing how, when, with whom and where I deployed my interest and energy. This varied a great deal depending upon what interested me and what need was dominant. It involved being well informed with the complexities of the process and the various participants. With the help of others who shared my interests and were willing to commit their time and resources, we were very successful and I always felt that I could “make a difference”. That experience is definitely missing in today’s formal political process.
Might this experience be a working model for more rewarding investment of one’s time, energy and personal resources than the artifice of the political structure? Even though I disagree with much of what the Tea Party stands for, they have been fairly successful in achieving their limited goals, even if they are short term. I believe that our political process has become so professionally driven that it is now both the means and the end, resulting in rigidity, insular thinking, and elitism. Isn’t that about where we are today? For the individual who cares about the political process, how can we improve the structure to make their involvement more meaningful and rewarding? Voting is a step but there are lots of reasons that act has become a negative experience rather than a positive one.
Good points. Speaking for myself, what I consider “shooting the breeze” and making the occasional cameo appearance here and throwing out silly puns may actually contribute something worthwhile to the political conversation. Still, it’s a poor substitute for actually getting out there and being a precinct judge or rallying the vote, which is something YOU do, in an addition to hosting a blog.
Also, I agree that political activism is sometimes best kept private now when one is out in the real world, thanks to these very blogs and message boards that are prevalent, because to talk politics in person is to bring out all the online arguing into the real world; otherwise, no place is safe or sacred.
And yes, I think the traditional political parties are dying out, just like traditional religion, thanks to that absence of compulsory participation you mention, and our inability to identify 100% with the ideology of any particular party or religion.
Mime, since you bring up the Tea Party . . . for a movement that was supposedly dead, we now have three “Tea Party favorites” leading the Republican pack — Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.
Cruz and Rubio – TP; not Trump
More people should be pointing this out:
Both candidates are promising to stop American jobs from going to China, without recognizing that those jobs are disappearing from China just as quickly.”
Trying to “protect jobs that do not exist and will never exist again” might win you votes of angry people, but it won’t move the country forward.
Without a collapse of a whole lot of things, we will never have as many manufacturing jobs in the US as we used to have.
Speaking of living in the past, some of us are still dishing it out on the previous blog entry.
Lifer, you nailed it…sadly. Will we never learn that “no man is an island”? Hold your nose and vote for the boring, experienced, level-headed one. It’s important.
One disagreement – I do not believe that only the Republican Party has the skill set and vision necessary to move America forward in 2020-24. Furthermore, the Republican Party needs many changes to make it an acceptable alternative to the values and platform of the Democratic Party. Admittedly I am by specific values that are best represented today by the Democratic Party, even as I understand that the delivery model and other limitations are needed. Absent moderation by Republicans for priorities which I believe are necessary to ensure equality of opportunity in all necessary areas, I will continue to support the party that best represents my values…..even if it is flawed.
One person, in the role of President, cannot move our nation into the future even though a “great” leader could certainly inspire a nation. The most important part of President Obama’s message last night was that America’s political process is broken. It is obvious that until the people of America demand substantive change in our political process, the system will remain dysfunctional. Neither party will represent the new model that you describe as necessary to accompany a different future. Government “has” to work and it has to be responsive to change. That requires leadership and bipartisanship in governing demanded upon by a rational constituency. We are nowhere close to that possibility today.
I believe Americans will support such a candidate regardless of party. It will require that the values and critical programs that are good for America coexist with a political environment that functions fairly as well as effectively. That will require Republicans to make many of the changes you’ve recommended in The Politics of Crazy as well as in numerous posts. Democrats will need fewer ideological adjustments but will require more structural changes to implement that ideology efficiently, fairly and cost-effectively.