U.S. falls behind Europe in Economic Mobility between Classes

In discussing health care, I do not often explain why the issue matters so much. The core issue is that of economic mobility. That is the ability of individual actors in the economy to move up the ladder to the middle and wealthier classes.  Health care cost is one big factor in that picture along with other risk factors like education and housing. The core issue is whether we are building a plutocracy or an economy like you may find in Latin America, Russia or China. For this article, I will focus on economic mobility.

The link below includes a video of Paul Krugman and Eliot Spitzer on Bill Maher's show saying something quite surprising- that the U.S. has less economic mobility than Europe. To me, this is a stunner. I suspected it, but I had always put in the back of my mind. Here's the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/26 /krugman-the-american-drea_n_300702.html

But is this true? I decided to do a quick search of the issue on Google, and, the answer is "Yes, we seem to have less economic mobility than Europe."

I begin with an article from a great site called Naked Capitalism.  They cover economic myths retained about the American dream that politicians promote to the American people:

"...a recent study found that the US ranks low among advanced economies in the proportion of people employed by smal businesses. The likely culprit? Lack of universal health care."

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/08/d ebunking-us-economic-myths.html

The article continues:

"A second element of the entrepreneurship myth is that the US is a land of economic mobility, that if you work hard and apply yourself, you can improve your economic standing considerable. Again, the US scores poorly in by international standards in economic mobility. The have-nots tend to remain have-nots."

The article goes on to quote liberally from the Guardian article on the subject:

"The idea that the US is more "internationally competitive" has been without economic foundation for decades, as measured by the most obvious indicator: our trade deficit, which peaked at 6% of GDP in 2006. (It has fallen sharply from its peak during this recession but will rebound strongly when the economy recovers).

And of course the idea that our less regulated, more "market-friendly" financial system was more innovative and efficient - widely held by our leading experts and policy-makers such as Alan Greenspan, until recently - collapsed along with our $8tn housing bubble.

On the other hand, most Americans pay a high price for the institutional arrangements that bring us these mythical successes. We have the dubious honour of being the only "no-vacation nation", ie no legally required paid time off and of course some weeks fewer actual days off per year than our European counterparts enjoy. We have a broken healthcare system that costs about twice as much per capita as that of our peer nations and delivers worse outcomes, as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality. We are near the top in terms of inequality among high-income countries and at the bottom for parental leave policies and paid sick days. The list is a long one...

There is another area where the comparison between the American and European model has serious implications for the future of the planet: climate change. "Old Europe" uses about half as much energy per capita as the US does. A big part of this difference is because Europeans, in recent decades, have taken much more of their productivity gains in the form of increased leisure time, rather than working the same (or longer) hours in order to consume more.

We estimated that the US would consume about 20% less energy if it had the work hours of the EU-15. This would have a significant impact on world carbon emissions. Furthermore, when the world economy recovers, there are a number of middle-income countries that will approach high-income status in the not-too-distant future (South Korea and Taiwan are already there). Whether they choose the American or the European model will have an even bigger impact on global climate change.

The major media in both Europe and the United States have played an important role, for decades, in helping politicians capitalise on economic mythology to push policy in economic and socially destructive directions on both sides of the Atlantic. It remains to be seen how much the Great Recession will influence the thinking and reporting of these influential institutions."

If you want to see more on income disparity, and how that relates to economic mobility, you should read this excellent article:

http://www.economyincrisis.org/forum/lis t_responses/7914

The core take away is that there is less economic mobility in the U.S. That our idea that we are more economically mobile is a myth. This myth making seems to mirror the myths that Americans have about the quality of our health care system.  When I recently told a friend that the U.S. ranks 37th world wide in health care delivery, she seemed stunned. She said that she had thought we were first. I pointed out the infant mortality rates amongst other statistical data to illustrate the reality is far from being the best.

Here is pre-Washington Post Ezra Klein discussing the matter of economic mobility in the U.S. versus Europe:

"The data, in other words, shows something superficially weird: The United States believes itself to be uncommonly meritocratic. But compared to European countries who don't believe themselves very meritocratic, it actually exhibits less income mobility."

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezrak lein_archive?month=05&year=2009& base_name=is_europe_really_have_less_upw

Indeed, implicit in the increase naked plutocratic impulse we find in the U.S. right now is that merit takes on less weight. Many of you may not know this, but from what I understand "Ugly Betty" is actually a remake of a Latin American show.  The core concept is that no matter what educational background you have, no matter how good you are- you can not move up the ladder. Whereas the American version presents the myth that moving up the ladder is still possible.

Part of the reason they remain unable to move forward domestically despite the myth is that hidden costs are being shifted to the individual such as health care. If a  large percentage of your salary is going into covering the cost of health care premiums, you are going to make less money. You may not know that, of course, because you believe the employer is paying for it. But in actuality, they pass that cost on to you in the form of reduced wages.

Let me leave you with this regarding our society right now:

"More Than 7 in 10 Americans Who Start at the Bottom of the Income Ladder Remain Below Middle Income Status 10 Years Later... Despite notable changes in the U.S. economy over the past two decades, such as the ongoing shift from manufacturing to service sector jobs, women's increasing participation in the workforce and rising immigrant populations, the ability of Americans to move up in the income distribution has changed little since the 1980s, according to a new report released by the Economic Mobility Project, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Further, more than 50 percent of individuals ages 25 to 44 who start in the bottom of the income distribution remain there 10 years later."

http://www.newsrx.com/newsletters/Womens -Health-Weekly/2008-11-27/4411272008482W W.html

There is a lot more information out there. I urge you to read it, and place this information into the context of understanding the too-big-to-fail banking system and the oligarchic health insurance industry.

Tags: Economy, Europe, U.S. (all tags)



A Long-standing Problem

A study by the Southern Economic Journal found that "71 percent of American economists believe the distribution of income in the US should be more equal, and 81 percent feel that the redistribution of income is a legitimate role for government."  Data from the United States Department of Commerce and Internal Revenue Service indicate that income inequality has been increasing since the 1970s, whereas it had been declining during the mid 20th century.  As of 2006, the United States had one of the highest levels of income inequality, as measured through the Gini index, among high income countries, comparable to that of some middle income countries such as Russia or Turkey, being one of only few developed countries where inequality has increased since 1980.

"As I've often said... this [increasing income inequality] is not the type of thing which a democratic society--a capitalist democratic society--can really accept without addressing."

Alan Greenspan, June 2005

In the early half of the 20th century, both the border closure movement and high school movement taking place in the United States shifted out the supply of skilled work. As a result, the country experienced falling inequality due to falling wages of skilled workers relative to unskilled workers. Despite a decrease in inequality during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, inequality has been increasing since.

Income inequality in the United States - Wikipedia

by Shaun Appleby 2009-09-26 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: A Long-standing Problem

Of course, you are right, but I also want to emphasize that part of the issue if that the shift decreases innovation and number of entrepreneurs over time. It is not merely a question of the left type questions like income inequality. It is things that may interest a reader of the Economist or the Financial Times as well.  What this means is that we are also hurting the concept of our businesses being the best in the world too. In the short run, we seem to be running off of our prior success, but the question being raised is whether over the long run we will create the next economic and technological innovations? A lack of economic mobility would seem to hurt our ability to do so.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: A Long-standing Problem

Follow up: a practical example cited is where the health care cost are so high for an individual that he or she will not take the risk of leaving a corporate position to test that new innovation that they may have in the market place. Where their educational costs were so high that they can not afford to work for a few years at a lower paying startup. Etc.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: A Long-standing Problem

I know so many "creative class" professionals stuck in dead-end jobs because of the insurance benefits that it's almost a cliche.

In fact, a "b-job" (benefits job) is a common term these people use to describe their situation.

All of them could be more productive and successful and better contibutors to the overall economy if they didn't have to worry about health care insurance.

by Bush Bites 2009-09-26 05:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Universal health care

Yes, I always suspected our lack of universal health care disocurage entreprenuership.

In fact, I've swayed one or two Repubs over to the side of reform based on that argument.

Glad to see others are looking at it.

(Too bad the Dems aren't stressing it, tho.)

by Bush Bites 2009-09-26 05:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Universal health care

The Democrats are as reliant on the same corporate based campaign finance system as Republicans are. No matter how good their intentions and claims of not being affected, it is hard to believe that this system of campaign finance does not shape their behavior. Indeed, it is hard to believe this because they allow the lobbist like with Baucuscare to see the bill first and rewrite provisions. Mike Lux discusses the issue here:

http://www.openleft.com/diary/15276/prag matic-choices-for-a-democratic-party

by bruh3 2009-09-26 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

You're 20 years late to the party to which you weren't invited.

There is a difference between social mobility and social egalitarianism and you seem to be conflating the two. Europe isn't as socially mobile as it is socially egalitarian with Gini coefficients, a measure of income distribution, in the low to mid .20s with a few notable exceptions such as the UK.

Britain's Gini co-efficient is now 0.36, beyond the normal bounds of inequality seen in developed countries. In the United States the figure is 0.466, putting the largest economy in the world on a par with Argentina (.522) or Mexico (.546) in terms of income inequality. But by European standards, the UK figure is exceptionally high. Sweden has a Gini coefficient of 0.23, Germany 0.283 and in France the figure is 0.327. Canada is at .331. If you notice the distribution, the US Gini is closer to that Argentina than Canada. When economists start comparing the US to Latin America, this is the basis of the comparison.

Both the UK and the US's drift to the bottom is a result of neo-liberal policies enacted in 1980s. This is the result of Thatcherism and Reaganism.

While the lack of a social safety net does impact social egalitarianism, I more take the view that educational policy differences in the US accounts for the lack of social mobility. In particular, how basic education is financed via property taxes is detrimental to a more fluid society.

Still in my life in the US I have noticed three taboos: sex, race and class. Americans, with few exceptions, don't talk about class issues. Most pretend that they are part of a middle class, even when they are clearly not.

Conservatives and the GOP will point to the wealth creation that has come since 1980. The question they fail to add much less even answer is for whom?

Gains in income for the four bottom quintiles have been sparse and mostly came as a result of a second income (ie a spouse entering the workforce). If in 1979, the top 1% of US households accounted for 20.5% of the national wealth, they now account for 44.1%. In terms of income (as opposed to assets) the top 1% now take 25.3% up from 9.3% in 1981 and 15.8% in 1997. We are now back to 1928 levels of social inequality.

But income gains have been even more pronounced among those at the very top of the income scale according to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez who work on this issue (Saez is a future Nobel winner, he's currently at UC-Berkeley). The incomes of the top one-tenth of 1 percent (0.1%) of U.S. households have grown more rapidly than the incomes of the top 1 percent of households as a whole, rising by 94 percent -- or $3.5 million per household -- since 2002. The share of the nation's income flowing to the top one-tenth of 1 percent of households increased from 7.3 percent of the total income in the nation in 2002 to 12.3 percent in 2007. This is the highest level in the Piketty-Saez data going back to 1913, surpassing even the previous peak in 1928.

I saw the Krugman remarks earlier today -bemoaning that Obama isn't FDR- and have been thinking about a post on that but to be brief we live in a plutocracy. It's odd, and beyond disappointing, that Obama hasn't taken on corporatism, given that he and Michelle are products of the "Great Compression" that FDR and progressive policies engendered. I don't know quite what to make of Obama at times. I do know that I will measure his Presidency based on what happens to the Gini co-efficient during his tenure.

by Charles Lemos 2009-09-26 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

Thanks, Charles. I really enjoyed reading that. I was prompted to learn more about the Gini co-efficient and found a table on wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou ntries_by_income_equality

A cursory examination leads me to believe there are limits to what the Gini co-efficient can tell you, at least in a static snapshot. I'm looking for data that shows trends, the sort of doppler shift you speak of.
Some questions I have:
Are some countries with Ginis close to the USA's actually improving?
Are countries we have exported democracy to (in South America for instance) taking on the USA or European trend?
Do institutions like the World Bank exacerbate the problem?
Are you really going to judge Obama on the Gini number? How much influence can he have on this number from the Oval Office?

by QTG 2009-09-26 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

Well, social inequality is my one issue so I'd measure any President, not just Obama, by how they move the country on egalitarianism. The budget and tax policy are really the main motors for redistributive policies so Obama can influence the distribution of wealth and income.

There is a long view or gradualist/incrementalist argument, however. Where Gini coefficients have improved, it has been as the result of social and tax policies that have taken a decade or more to fully implement. To this degree, I have viewed Obama as step one. The importance of electing another, and hopefully more progressive, Democrat in 2016 and again 2020 should be obvious.

We know that broad redistributive policies work but the greatest of these is full employment in a low-inflationary environment coupled with a progressive tax structure. The Great Compression, a term coined by economists Claudia Goldin and Robert Margo, really took place in 1940s as government investment in the economy took off and as a progressive tax scheme took hold . FDR's first two terms were aimed at stabilizing the economy and the fiscal conservative in FDR  that attempted to balance the budget in 1936-37 caused the second crash. Japan's experience in the 1990s also provides lessons about the dangers of cutting back on government spending too soon. The difference between then and now is that we have an $11 trillion debt. That does limit policy options. Moreover, capital is more mobile now and mobile at the push of a button. In essence, the situation is more complex than it was in the 1930s and 1940s. Ultimately, the globalization which underpins modern economic relations is, I think likely, to collapse simply because I suspect it is unsustainable.

Where Gini's have improved is in East Asia. In Latin America, not really. The continent remains the most unequal on the planet though Africa is poorer. The Gini Coefficient measures the distribution of wealth, not wealth. So while Latin America has made gains in terms of creating wealth, the region has faltered in terms of lifting the poor out of poverty. By most measures, Chile remains Latin America's star performer. Per capita income has increased at an annual rate of 4.1% over the past 15 years, compared with just 1.1% a year in the rest of Latin America. Though the poverty rate has been halved since 1990, but it still stands at 20%. Chile's Gini is .57 and not much changed since 2000 when it was .571 and 1995 when it was .585.

Brazil is, I think, the fast moving equalizer of the moment. The Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), an economic research institute, finds the proportion of low middle income earners has increased from 44% to 52% since 2002. Brazil's Gini has dropped from over .625 in 1989 to .561 in 2008.

I argue very strongly that our growing social inequality will have severe detrimental consequences for our democracy. We are seeing this in our health care debate.

by Charles Lemos 2009-09-26 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

I have seen multiple graphs tracing Gini index and household incomes over the years. Interestingly the coefficient was lowest when we actually had a progressive tax code and started to rise when the Reagan tax code was instituted. Right now the Gini graph for USA runs parallel to that of China and by 2045 is supposed to reach that of Mexico. Scary stuff. To be fair, there has been some disagreements, however, whether the Gini curves are in any way reflective of government or does it just reflect changing demographics, education etc. While I have not seen any analysis that looks at all these factors, one thing that does jump out is that the curves were lowest from the late 1930s to the late 1970s and then climbed and are still climbing.

by tarheel74 2009-09-26 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

Brazil is also one of those countries that went into the world recession late and came out quickest at only 2 quarters, in part due to them focusing on energy diversity in areas like biofuels and a governmental focus on creating a resilient economy versus the U.S., which is consumer based.

"The mildness of Brazil's recession--which is especially notable considering the high base of comparison--also reflects the high degree of diversification of the economy and trading partners, as well as the solidity of the financial system. The latter cushioned Brazil from the fallout of the global financial crisis that hit last year. And even though exports are down significantly from a year earlier, they account for just 13% of GDP--a much smaller share than in China, Japan and Germany (where exports reach around 40% of GDP). Consequently, the impact of the global demand downturn has been more muted for Brazil."

http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cf m?story_id=14442343

It is a fundamentally different way of addressing economic issues that is also at play.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

When the President says something like this:

"Why is it," he asked, "that we're going to cap executive compensation for Wall Street bankers but not Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or N.F.L. football players?"

it is hard for me or any serious person to believe that he is actually willing to do something to rein in pay inequality or for that matter social inequality. As per the discussion you refer to, Eliot Spitzer noted that the CEOs today earn 550 times than the average worker, compared to 40 times the average worker 30 years ago. So even though much of the so-called Wall Street bankers are beholden to the federal government now, the President dismisses any pay reform as 'populist', when in this case populism is not just good politics but makes sound socio-economic policy. But what worries me is this comparison of "bankers" to "entrepreneurs". Even at the face of it such a comparison behooves a high-school debater let alone the POTUS.

by tarheel74 2009-09-26 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

"But what worries me is this comparison of "bankers" to "entrepreneurs". Even at the face of it such a comparison behooves a high-school debater let alone the POTUS."

This part is absolutely right. I posted this diary over at Daily Kos, and this response sums up your concern over confusing the capitalism we practice as if it is innovation:

" Some of our biggest most successful corporations (0+ / 0-)
suffer from this exact problem. I have been reading anonymous employee reports on our top companies and the over and over the complaints are too much time spent on politics, not enough on innovation, a real lack of concern for customer service(other than lip service)...

by lakehillsliberal on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:05:05 PM PDT
[ Parent | Reply to This | RecommendHi"

by bruh3 2009-09-26 06:42PM | 0 recs
I'm not sure anyone

with the exception of maybe Kucinich really ran for President with the serious intent of taking on corporatism...I'm not even sure it would be all that popular.

I realized something like income distribution would be a pipe dream when I was countering the "government shouldn't take away people's hard earned money" argument at a Brooklyn Democratic Meeting last year.

by DTOzone 2009-09-26 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

Good post. My thoughts, and you may disagree, are as follows:

a) The reason I conflate socially mobile and socially egalitarian is because I believe in practice the outcomes are increasingly become such that even if one wants to - one can not be socially mobile due tot he cost of basic needs in our society as far as social egalitarianism is concerned. For example, the cost of education is so expensive that it prohibits mobility. Health care is so expensive that it prohibits mobility. Etc. My understanding of this may be wrong, but that's how I see it-w hat is new is the cost is becoming prohibitive.

People are putting off buying homes, starting business, etc and not just things they want because they are trying to pay for a basic safety net issues. Thus risk taking is reduced. This is the good kind of risk taking-t he kind that promotes business innovation and technical advances.

While the issue of income inequality and a good safety net are not new, the concept that these things are harming our ability to be mobile is to me a new concept or at least a more connected one now that we are seeing the fruits of Reaganism and the form of plutocratic conservatism that he embodied.

b) I think the problem with Obama by the way can be summed up by a friend of mine who opened up my eyes. At one point I was heavily focused on right versus  left, Democrat versus Republican.  I believe that's Obama's issue. He is arguing over whether an issue is too far right or too far left, and not about whether is anti or pro plutocratic. He does not even seem to really have a plutocratic scale at all.

His discussion of bank concentration through his peo is disturbing.

If one does not have corporatism on their scale, then it is easy to confuse the debate we are having. what he does makes more sense if he is not considering this concentration of corporate power.

My friend by the way is to the right of me and I am a moderate so our discussion was not per se a left versus right issue. For example, she listens to of all people Glenn Beck.

I tell her I disagree with her choice of media, but overall, when she gets into her concerns- I am hard pressed to disagree with the substantive issues she is having with Obama and the Democratic Party.

She feels both the Democratic Party and Republicans are too influenced by corporate interest. So she goes to Glenn Beck for this. Now, I tell her that Beck's solutions will make it worse, but as Glenn Greenwald recently said of Beck- everything he says is not wrong. It is his solutions that are wrong. The influence of corporate interest is not. That ultimately whoever wins  office is only able to implement those policies acceptable to the corporate powers.

Ultimately, the problem is that President Obama and the Democratic leadership are still children of Reagan and the corporate interest.

I do not mean they will enact the same policies. I mean their underlying assumptions grow from the same tree if not the same branch.

It is not that President Obama believes government is bad as Reagan did. It is that he will let his policies be framed as such. He will go for incrementalism because ? Well that's a hard question to figure out since sometimes what he calls incrementalism is not even that.

Thus, the public option, an elegant response as far as the American system goes to market concentration is called the left of the left rather than a practical solution to a practical problem of addressing potential monopoly profits and cost through price negotiation for health care services and drugs.

We have discussed this before- there are several solutions to the problem in the U.S. But each entails a number of policy decisions that not only are not on the table they are labeled as extremist.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

In the US, the pro-wealth policies of the right have long enjoyed substantial and politically determinant low and low-middle income support, particularly among social conservatives who vote their 'values' before their economic interests. In the 1970s, the Democratic Party's base in the Northeast and Mid-west began to erode as "white ethnics" shifted over to the GOP becoming the so-called "Reagan Democrats" in part over issues such as busing, abortion, affirmative action. You can go to Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania and see how that worked out for them. There is a reason Obama swept the Big Ten Conference states. He won Indiana which is incredible. Reagan's pro-wealth policies destroyed the manufacturing base  and that hit hardest in the industrial mid-west. Reagan deregulated the financial markets. We now have free flow of capital. I see this as a problem. Corporations no longer manufacture, rather they outsource. In effect, they have become trading and holding companies. The free flow of capital allows them to do so. When was the last time Nike made a  pair of shoes? Or when was the last time Gap sewed a shirt?

Beck is a right-wing populist. He knows that there is something wrong. He's not blind but he is a simpleton, he's not an economist, he seems allergic to facts, he has a poor grasp of basic history. He's a high school graduate. Not that a college degree necessarily confers intelligence but the issues he is trying to tackle are beyond his comprehension. Furthermore, his views are so poisoned by his religious views that I find him delusional. He belongs to the school that America's decline is tied to the rise of atheism. He has a podium and flair for the theatre of the absurd. He reads the angst that many feel and feeds it with absurd conspiracy theories.

by Charles Lemos 2009-09-26 08:31PM | 0 recs
That's what works

well it did work...I remember doing a story on the PA-11 house race last year and Lou Barletta made that Glenn Beckish case that illegal immigrants were responsible for the recession. He had thousands of people following him around, seemingly clueless masses of people who said things to our reporter like "Only Barletta tells the truth" or "Democrats are afraid to admit Mexicans are destroying our country because they hate America" or whatever.

Barletta gave a speech in East Stroudsburg where he bashed Democrats for treating good American companies like they were villians when they were doing great things for the country and he had this crowd of lower middle class Pennsylvanians repeadily screwed by the very people he was praising eating out of his hands.

On the ride back to Manhattan, our cameraman, a Republicans, laughed about it and said "these people are so blissfully stupid, McCain might pull this out yet"

Of course he didn't and Barletta didn't, but he overperformed McCain in the district. People who believed Barletta's crap about scary brown people destroying America voted for a black man to be President.

You could go insane trying to analyze Americans and their politics.

by DTOzone 2009-09-26 08:51PM | 0 recs
Re: That's what works

I have conservative friends. It is in how you talk to them. THe problem with many o fyou DC types is that you think you are smarter than everyone else, and no one ends up trusting you because they see you as bad faith actors.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 08:57PM | 0 recs
Pot, Kettle, Black

I thought you said you weren't going to waste your time talking to me?

by DTOzone 2009-09-26 09:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Pot, Kettle, Black

If you are going to post in my diaries, I respectfully ask you to stay on topic. If you only intend to post personal stuff as an attempt to get a rise out of me, that's your decision. But it is reflective of who you are as a person.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 09:51PM | 0 recs
It is to laugh


"THe problem with many o fyou DC types is that you think you are smarter than everyone else, and no one ends up trusting you because they see you as bad faith actors."


"If you only intend to post personal stuff as an attempt to get a rise out of me, that's your decision. But it is reflective of who you are as a person."

by JJE 2009-09-27 05:32AM | 0 recs
Thank you, this gave me quite a laugh

I'd prefer you just stop talking me to me completely. I'd rather have nothing to do with you at all.

by DTOzone 2009-09-27 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank you, this gave me quite a laugh

Then do not come into my diaries as you keep doing to comment. This is at least the second or third time you have done this type of post.

by bruh3 2009-09-27 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank you, this gave me quite a laugh

If people want to talk to Charles, who are you to get in their faces?  Butt out.

by Jess81 2009-09-28 12:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank you, this gave me quite a laugh

If you are not adding anything substantive, I am requesting you not clutter to diary with personality related postings. You do not have to do what I am asking. But you show who you are in your actions by taking a diary that's focused on real economic pain to turn it into your petty issues with me. If you are uninterested in the talking to me, don't come into my diaries. It is that simple.

by bruh3 2009-09-28 01:43AM | 0 recs
The comment thread is not yours

The only reason I came here is because I saw Charles' comment and wanted to comment. You don't own the space.

by DTOzone 2009-09-30 09:56AM | 0 recs
I was responding to Charles' comment

I didn't even read your stupid diary.

by DTOzone 2009-09-30 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

You are preaching to the choir about Beck with me. My friend is the one who listens to him and people like Lou Dobbs. I tell her that she should not listen to them. That they are bigots. But, she says to me "I am not a bigot, and some of the things they say about corporate power seem true to me."

I point out that, for example, Dobbs' views on immigration are racist, and that more fundamentally, the solution to the problem is economic- if one is truly concerned about economic resources then create a guess worker program that both taxes the employer and the employee.  Thus making the illegal now legal.

But that solution would implicate the demand side of illegal immigrant labor, which prefers to keep it illegal and cheap. It would bring into question business interests in the status quo.

When I tell her, she says she does not know about that because of what she hears from Dobbs and what she does not hear from the Democratic Party. Clearly, the GOP is not bringing it up, but neither is the party that we expect to hear solutions against plutocracy from. Certainly on health care and, even more so for her interest, certainly on the banks they are silent.

Because the Democratic Party leadership creates this populist vacuum, the nutjobs like Beck can fill. Whether they are on the right or left, many Americans at the gut level sense that the corporate interests have taken over the apparatus of our democracy. They question if we live in a democracy. In fact, she kept saying that we are under socialism. I had to discuss the topic with her explaining, no socialism is government take over of business. What we face is plutocracy or the corporate and/or wealthy take over of government. When I said this, she seemed to instantly agree with the statement.  I sent her some articles, and she said, that this was exactly what she was referring to.

However, when you listen to Obama- what does he say? How does he frame these things? Does he clear up the confusion or does it add to it?

Part of this then is also a lack of a language for Americans to understand what is happening to them. The last time we faced these sorts of issues on this level was in the 19th century and in the 1920s.

So, although they call it socialism- they could be talking like my friend about plutocracy. They may not have the words to describe it, but they know something is wrong.  We should not discount their concern but try to explain to them the forces that are actually causing their problems. This is the lesson I hoped Obama would take from Reagan. Reagan identified the problems for the Reagan Democrats as the government. Obama needed to have, and he will not to this given his nature and the entrenched interest that surround him like Rahm and Geithner- identity the problem as big corporate interests. Day 1 he should have been saying banks should never be too big to fail because this is unfair to you as a Americans.

Instead, he is having conversations with DC. He's still talking to Reagan as if Reaganism is still the point. He's this guy who is basically following a script he probably picked up early in life, and has not bothered to tweak it since then. He does not get people like my friend. She identifies one way, but when you dig below the surface, there is an entirely different view point underneath it all.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: U.S. fell behind Europe in 1990

PS- I want to repeat something in a short form: If Democrats leave populists issues undefined, and these issues cross ideological and partisan lines, then this creates a vacuum in which the right is allowed to define the populist concerns.

by bruh3 2009-09-26 09:01PM | 0 recs
regarding Beck

Charles while your characterization of Beck is spot on, let me reframe the discussion like this: It is true that the rust belt states voted for Obama, but that is for two reasons: 1) the Reagan democrats stayed at home and 2) there is a demography shift. The younger people really do not care about the race-based divisions. However why did these people vote for Obama, because they felt a need for change, a movement away from the regressive Republican policies, towards universal healthcare, social equality and accountability from the government and Wall street; you know the stuff Obama campaigned on. Unfortunately what they got in return was TARP, this feeble health care bill, a recalcitrant President loath to take on the Republicans, basically a roll-back on nearly every important position.

The campaign issues Obama ran on are not just popular but also populist. Unfortunately when the President equated bankers with entrepreneurs he dismisses the popular feelings. One of my friends who supported Obama from the primaries is now ripping a page off the libertarian book, and that position is what can be now called populist, something that every Republican beginning from Glenn Beck to Michele Bachman is tapping into, hence the tea-parties, the marches etc etc.

To dismiss the popular feelings and to cozy up to Wall Street plutocrats goes against the ethos of the modern Democratic party and sooner the WH realizes that the better it will be for the Democrats in the upcoming elections. The people are not asking for something outrageous, they are asking for accountability....from AIG, Citi, BofA, Goldman Sachs, Chrysler, GM who are partying with the people's money. That and government working for the people, like affordable health care. Right now do you see anything that even remotely measures up to the above, or for that matter Obama's campaign promises?

by tarheel74 2009-09-27 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: regarding Beck

President Obama did not run on populists issues until he  was forced to make a change in his campaign toward populism stances to respond to his poll numbers against Senator McCain.  During the primaries, he and Clinton were running to be the centrist candidate with then Senator Obama being the anti-Hillary candidate. Whereas Edwards was running as the economic populist. This role is not something that Obama has ever played, and seems not to be something with which he really identifies outside of the occasional speech.

by bruh3 2009-09-28 01:56AM | 0 recs
His supporters believed Obama campaigned

"away from the regressive Republican policies, towards universal healthcare, social equality and accountability from the government and Wall street" but that's not very close reality. His supporters reached for and amplified every progressive gesture and reference, but Obama pretty loudly and reassuringly (for his major campaign contributors) was (and is) a DLC, neoliberal, Bill Clinton Democrat.

by fairleft2 2009-09-28 09:59AM | 0 recs
What can we possibly do about this?

Nothing.  And its going to keep getting worse.  We have a scared moron in the White House who wont make any bold moves to fix inequality.  He wont even repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  

by Kent 2009-09-26 10:28PM | 0 recs


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