Silent Running

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"The chief characteristic and strength of the submarine is its invisibility due to its ability to submerge. As a consequence, the submarine is distinguished, at the same time, by another special feature, the advantage of surprise. "
-- THE SUBMARINE COMMANDER'S HANDBOOK, 1943 Edition

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting take on the Obama strategy:

Every single symbolic act has been inclusive and sober. From that speech in Grant Park to the eschewal of euphoria on Inauguration Day; from the George Will dinner invite to the Rick Warren invocation; from meeting the House Republicans on the Hill to convening a fiscal responsibility summit; from telegraphing to all of us Obamacons that he wasn't a fiscal lunatic to ... unveiling the most expansive, liberal, big government reversal of Reagan any traditional Democrat would die for.

Lets face it, Big O is playing the cognitive dissonance card, hard. He behaves enough like a centrist to garner a constant stream of criticism from the left, then BAM, a budget Bernie Sanders would envy.

If his political camouflage weren't confusing enough, he's moving so fast that it's difficult for his opponents to mount an effective opposition against any one thing, without letting something else go unchallenged.

Again from Sullivan:

He won the stimulus debate long before the Republicans realized it (they were busy doing tap-dances of victory on talk radio, while he was building a new coalition without them). And now, after presenting such a centrist, bi-partisan, moderate and personally trustworthy front, he gets to unveil a radical long-term agenda that really will soak the very rich and invest in the poor. Given the crisis, he has seized this moment for more radicalism than might have seemed possible only a couple of months ago.

I mean, the big debate is over the budget now - I'm sure the GOP wanted to dig in and undermine the stimulus, but that's pretty much water under the bridge at this point. Now they have to push back against the budget while Health Care looms - THIS year. The promise of EFCA has inspired the unions, as evidenced in the the awesome "party of no" commercials. This is one month into his presidency.

I work with staunch conservatives, and what's amazing is that I can see a sort of dazed resentment is setting in. They have begin to treat Obama less as an actual opponent, and more like some sort of liberal Hurricane Obama. No longer do they accost me with wingnut-skewed criticisms of this proposal or that, they simply send me charts of the budget deficit - mute symbols of resistance with no actual thrust or point.

If Joe Wingnut is adrift, his political apparatus fares no better. Steele is a caricature of himself. Jindal rendered an EPIC FAIL in front of 50 million people, then flew away to hide in the Magic Kingdom. An unlicensed plumber is a rock star at CPAC.

I suspect the worst thing, from their point of view, is exactly that cognitive dissonance Obama fosters, the jarring disconnect between as ambitious a social agenda as we've seen in a generation, and a foreign policy McCain praises. That this Djinn of the Left maintains 60%+ approval ratings must produce a deep bafflement on the Right, I'm sure if we could read wingnut thought balloons {"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!?"} would be the predominant specimen.

Along with the obvious schadenfreude, I admit to some concern. I've seen my coworkers move from scorn, to anger, to actual fear in some cases. Organized protest assumes utterly ridiculous themes -  hundreds turn out for anti-tax tea parties, when the vast majority of those people will be getting a tax cut (no refunds without representation?). Media personalities court sedition and worse. This is not the orchestrated irrationality of Rove and Atwater, this is actual hind-brain survival-mode batshit crazy. The culture war of the Right has turned on them, not in coded symbols and campaign slogans, but in a society that is being remade as they watch. Have the stresses on our idealogical faultlines been larger at any time since the 60's?

Yeah, I'm worried - but I think Obama understands the tightrope he's walking. He continues to defy definition - resisting nationalization (SOCIALISM!) until even republicans begin to agree. Oh, it'll happen, but he'll be "forced" into it. Cognitive dissonance. Camouflage. Keep up the moderate mask to placate the Center and near Right, while essentially overthrowing the past 40 years of republican influence.

We are up against an ideology that sees Obama - with perfect justification - as a threat to all they hold dear. Open political warfare is out of the question. This is not a battle we will win with battleships, the stakes are too high. We need a U-Boat, running silent and deep.

Tags: Barack Obama, budget, stimulus, strategy (all tags)

Comments

41 Comments

Re: Silent Running

Great diary, Neef.  

by fogiv 2009-02-27 09:10PM | 0 recs
I saw this coming...

Way back in the primaries, when he was talking about Reagan...

He was telling us it back then, only no one believed him....

What, some young Black man, a virtual political unknown 4 years ago was going to reverse 30 years of Reaganism?

Why, everyone KNOWS you can't do that.
This is a center-right country, that is accepted dogma.

Ask anyone?  Ask Wolf Blitzer?

No way this One-term Senator undoes the Reagan Revolution...

Just watch....

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-27 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Silent Running

Neef, if you're willing I'd like to see you cross-post this at Motley Moose--where a real discussion of this thoughtful piece might ensue.

Just a suggestion.

by fogiv 2009-03-01 07:47AM | 0 recs
Believe it or not

I planned to...but I got sidetracked in photoshopping a decent front picture! I'm up to about 9 different versions, lol. Talk about letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Going to post it today, and thanks for the "stimulus" =).

by Neef 2009-03-01 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Believe it or not

Excellent!

by fogiv 2009-03-01 08:22AM | 0 recs
I am baffled reading your post

I think it is funny when people cheer their politicians to be dishonest with the American public to push through the agenda they want.  Don't you see anything wrong with that?

Who is the enemy then, not a week Republican party.  It is the people.  A sad state.

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-01 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

You bring up an excellent, point. However, let me rephrase your question:

"I think it is funny when people cheer their politicians to be dishonest with the American public to push through the agenda their constituents want"

53% of Americans voted for Obama. These people spent their most precious right - a vote - to enact an agenda in Washington. 46% of the public decided they wanted no part of this agenda. So far, so good. It it Obama's job to sabotage the agenda of the 53% percent, in order to be "fair" to the 46%? More to the point, are politicians obligated to those who voted for them, or those who did not?

Of course there's the wider question - can politics and complete honesty coexist? Some have said Obama should have asked for a 2 trillion dollar stimulus, knowing he would settle for less. Isn't that dishonest? Couldn't you make the case that a completely honest politician is a poor representative of his voters rights?

The enemy in this case IS the GOP. Just as we're their enemy.

by Neef 2009-03-01 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Your assumption only works if you assume that the cognitive dissonance "card" was not used throughout the election.  Let's be honest everyone  took what they wanted from what Obama said as a candidate.

The disconnect on the money is claiming there is no money to be borrowed then borrowing 2 trillion. , probably more like 8 if you add in all of Bush's "stimulus".  Or how about holding interest rates down then wondering why no one is lending.  Borrowing plus low interest rates plus massive spending leads to inflation(a tax on all).  At least it did when we all stuck with sound fiscal policies.  Now we are in imaginary play land fiscal policy.

When leaders coerce an agenda through we all need to be afraid.  Maybe I am just naive, but I demand honesty from both parties.

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-01 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Well, to some extent I agree that people tended to project their goals onto Obama. But that's not really on him, he was fairly consistent then, and has been since.

By the way, I support you in wanting honesty from both sides. Where we differ is wanting my side handicapped, while the other drives the political debate unopposed. I can't get behind that. Honesty in politics is a perfect instance of the Prisoner's Dilemma. Either both sides have to play, or neither can, even though both sides cooperating is optimal. I don't think we're yet at the place where spin has been abolished from Washington.

by Neef 2009-03-01 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Here is one example where he is still playing the same game: "It is not because I believe in Big Government, I don't"

If I believed that government was the solution, I would prefer the President made the argument for his plans, not pretend that any of his initiatives are moderate.

He has been consistent though and the people asked for change.  Then why does Obama have to surprise attack the already weak Republicans?

On your other note.  I am not prepared to argue today with your notion that two wrongs make a right. :)

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-01 11:05AM | 0 recs
I see it as

One wrong makes a beating. Two wrongs makes a fight.

=)

by Neef 2009-03-01 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

You fail to realize that the political spectrum, the political "goalpost," has shifted dramatically to the left over the last 4 years.  The country wants universal health care now more than ever. The country wants, by large margins, almost everything Democrats stand for and Republicans despise (Democrats' ideas are seen as strongly preferrable by the public on pretty much the top 15 concerns the public has.)    Against that backdrop a call for bipartisanship is not, as you would have it, for the Democrats and Obama to move towards and shake hands across the OLD middle ground.  It is indeed for us to call for bipartisanship that has Republicans realize the new political reality and move towards the NEW middle, at which point a consensus that includes major representation of both parties can be achieved.  

There is nothing patently dishonest about calling for bipartisanship on the NEW populist lines that have been drawn into the sand.  In fact, quite possibly the very survival of the Republican party depends on her representatives to do just that in increasing numbers over the next few years.  

by devilrays 2009-03-01 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

I disagree with your premise that big government solutions are what people want.  We had an old white populist and a young black populist.  Is there any doubt who would win?

This is not a GOP/DFL debate.

The other side of the debate has been left out.  And by the way the President still feels he has to be dishonest about selling his plans.  You could see it in his speech on Tuesday.  For example "Not because I believe in big government - I don't".  Well what is universal health care if not big government.

I don't want bipartisanship that is a red herring - I want debate.  I want the normal process.

We have to at least be honest with ourselves.

FYI: Atlas Shrugged is selling over 300k copies per week on Amazon(rank~50) as of late.  There are plenty of people finding interest in smaller government.  Should this debate ever be over we will live under a totalitarian government.  Don't tell me the debate is over.

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-01 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

You are on the wrong track here,  I never talked about "big government."  That would be you.  The issue is really smart and populist government.

 If you think "universal healthcare" stands for "big government," you are seriously misguided.  There are many approaches to getting to universal health care, and the ones working the best are those that mix private industry with some government safety nets (i.e. Germany) while mandating universal coverage.

WE are paying almost $7,500 in health care cost for every man, woman and child.  WE meaning the government.  As a result we are no longer competitive with countries that spend between $2,000 and $2,500 Dollars on health care (which is pretty much the rest of the industrialized world.)  And what do we get back in return?  50 Million uninsured, a health care system bloated and on the brink of fiscal catastrophe.  For anyone to claim that a program aimed at bringing the cost down to a more manageable level that once again gives us a chance in the international market place is synonymous with "big government" when the current system represents bigger government outlay for health care than any nation on this planet is just plain ridiculous.  

Instead of chasing old labels perhaps you can look at a given situation logically and understand what we are dealing with here.  $7,500 for each man, woman and child is as "big government" as one can possibly get, and a change to a smarter system is sorely needed.  Bash all you want, but that does not make you right, just loud.  

by devilrays 2009-03-01 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Do you have any idea how much big government is in health care now?  I think the problem is "big government" is an arbitrary term.  I will talk in terms that I know.

I have to pay $15,000 a year for me, my wife and my two kids.  That is a lot.  Do you have any idea the number of state mandates on health care(> 60 last I checked in MN), not to mention the amount of federal regulations involved.  

The health care industry is heavily entwined with government as it is.  Maybe that is why it is one of the largest contributors to Washington.

We have been moving our health choices away from the citizen for years.  Why do we have to get our insurance from our work?

Why do you think more federal government involvement in our health care will bring the down costs down?  Or do you deny the President is suggesting more government involvement in our health care choices?

You are not talking about Universal Health Care you are talk about Universal Coverage.  Good ole Mitt Romney is doing that.  I understand that it is the first step of the Presidents plan.  How is it working up there?

Why is the debate over?  Have you ever asked yourself how this will be enforced.  I mean if federal government is mandating every man woman and child have health care how are they going to make them?  Wage garnishments?

Did you think just because President Obama won everything he wants to do should just be law?  

We as Americans need to take charge of our health care, but every incentive is in place against making the tough choices and keeping priorities inline.  

Whether or not you think it is "big government" I find it hard to believe it isn't "bigger government" then what we have.  I have a real problem with any assessment that says our health care is free of protections from the market. Newsflash an increase in government spending equals more government involvement in health care.

I know if a billion didn't solve the problem a trillion will - logical approach to problems.

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-01 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

The very REASON our health care system costs US (the government, the collective tax intake of the American people) $7,500 per capita while it costs only $2,000 to $2,700 in Germany, Japan, Canada, UK, France, Italy, and ALL other industrialized nations is because we have not made it universal. Logically universal coverage drives costs down as it achieves several savings boosts, which have been thoroughly discussed over the years (i.e. full insurance allows for earlier detection of otherwise life-threatening health issues, more "customers" in a larger pool allow for lower prices negotiated for medicine, equipment, etc.)

http://www.healthaffairs.org/press/marap r0807.htm

Germany's health minister Ulla Schmidt on how Germany can provide comprehensive, universal coverage while spending less per capita than the United States:

"First, because we do not have any uninsured in Germany, we do not have to rely as heavily as you do in the U.S. on expensive emergency room care. Second, related to universal insurance coverage, is that Germans get timelier interventions, which often avoids more expensive postponed tertiary care. Finally, our insurance system is structured so that we can bargain and act collectively, within an overall constraint set of general economic conditions."

As for enforcement of mandated insurance, again look at how it is done in other countries (you know, EVER industrialized nation aside from ours) instead of throwing your hands up and claiming, unreasonably, that it can't be done.  It is being done everywhere else, after all.  Germany has a 99.75% universal insurance rate, in France it is 99.6%. Even if we "only" achieve 98.5% because we are "a different people," it still achieves the goal of virtual universality.

Universal coverage as it is implemented around the world:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_h ealth_care

Finally, two more points in response to objections you made:

Mitt Romney's "universal" health care system shows to what extent Republicans have failed us collectively.  The reason it is not working in Massachusetts is the same reason Republican ideas have failed the American people, and why the GOP is on their behinds, sinking further and further into a morast of insignificance.  An almost pathological reliance on "the market" is that program's undoing, as it relies almost exclusively on insurance company subsidies. There is no country in the world that shows a workable model for the Massachusetts system, but that did not stop this used car salesman from implementing a faux "universal" system that was destined to fail.  As a result all hand wringers can now point to ROMNEY'S Republican version of "universal" coverage as a reason WE should not implement our version of universal coverage that uses as models European versions of the system which have proven themselves as workable for many decades, in some cases over a century?  Are you freaking kidding me?  

Secondly, it has to be reiterated once again: We are paying $7,500 out of the public till for every man, woman and child in the US.  That is more than 15% of our GDP.  The other nations are paying between $2,000 and $2,700 per capita, which puts our collective outlay at approximately 3.5 times that of other industrialized nations, most of which have higher minimum wages, stronger unions, virtually universal health coverage, higher overall standards of living.  It is unconscionable to claim that by going for universal coverage we are aiming at paying even MORE than 3.5 times what other countries are paying, that we will be pricing ourselves out of competition even further, that we will be paying an even higher share of GDP for health care.  Cost control is one of the major reasons for countries to adopt universal coverage, and cost control they have gained aside from being able to offer coverage to almost every citizen. Your "big government" straw man is just that, a straw man to stifle reasonable debate on a system that, once implemented, means a LOWER per capita outlay, which in turn means LESS GOVERNMENT SPENDING.  Why do YOU care WHO implements some or all of the coverage when it means in the end that the collective WE pays less for the same or more health coverage and, most importantly, a shelter against catastrophic financial results with just one negative health test?

Read up on what the rest of the world is doing in terms of health care, and doing right, and you may shed the Chicken Little mentality eschewing major change of a system that can no longer be maintained as it currently is if we are going to be once again looking to compete in the world market place.  You yourself are a good example why universal coverage is needed.  To pay $15,000 per year ($1,250 per month) for a family of four for health coverage is ridiculous.  Expect your portion of the health care outlay to be cut in half once a smart universal system is implemented.  

BTW, the sooner you quit trusting Republicans and their one-size-fits-all market based solutions for every facet of our lives, the better for your psyche it will be. Have you learned nothing from the last 25 years?

by devilrays 2009-03-02 04:42AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Interesting post. It's my understanding that in the United States we pay significantly more for the exact same medicine available in other countries. (We also have access to many medications that other countries restrict access to because of cost.)

To get per capita spending down, we will need to pay much less for medicine, correct? What effects will that have on the Pharmaceutical Industry? I know they are an easy target, but it is also one of our most vibrant industries that supports the highly skilled jobs that we need going forward and we shouldn't be killing off jobs at this point and time.

Making anything free always increases demand, so I am skeptical that the government can run a system that provides substantial cost savings without decreasing services and limiting choice.

by tpeichel 2009-03-02 08:53AM | 0 recs
Yes, the REAL issue is

We DO pay more per capita then most countries, we are #1...And the cost of drugs is ONLY a part of it. (Actually, we are #2, the Marshall Island is #1)

http://www.photius.com/rankings/total_he alth_expenditure_as_pecent_of_gdp_2000_t o_2005.html

We also are right at the top for infant mortality of the first world countries:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/parenting /05/08/mothers.index/index.html

The REAL corker is, for being #1 in the world in per capita per person spending on health, care, we are ranked 37th in the world:

http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthra nks.html

I hear all this bleeting about Sweden and Canada, but check out where they are on this list compared to us...

http://www.photius.com/rankings/world_he alth_performance_ranks.html

We pay MORE and we get less and less each year...

It is CRUSHING Biz and small families.

But, when this comes up, we will hear the same arguments they ran out against Hillary all those years ago...

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-02 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Well, we know that our purely market-based health system is not working, has not worked in many years, is in shambles. The average citizen is poorly served by a costly system that follows the prototypical Republican approach of "anyone for themselves" to a T.  BTW, I find the general Republican approach to virtually everything as wrongheaded and as damaging to a countries' economy and well being as the counter opposite approach, an absolute collective in a commune, as it was practiced in the communist Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries until their system crumbled.

In our system, if you are a healthy individual and buy your own health insurance you will be hit with ever increasing premiums because the pool you have been put into gets "spoiled" by people inside of it inevitably using health services as they get sick.  So, you leave the "dirty" pool and sign onto another provider for a year or two until your premiums skyrocket again.  Hey, at least you DO have the option of flopping around amongst all of the choices out there, because once YOU get sick you won't have that anymore. You will then be considered a person second-class because you now have a pre-existing condition and are therefore of no commercial interest to any health care provider outside of the one you happen to find yourself in at the time of the illness occurring.  If the provider does not find a way to cut service to your a$$ outright you will be left to a rapid bleed, since you no longer have the "flopping around" option available to you. You are now stuck watching your health premiums rise dramatically year after year, as now it is you who is contributing to the pool you are swimming in getting dirtied.  Even worse, if you happen to find yourself in a catastrophic situation where you or a family member is severely ill and in need of highly expensive care it could well mean the loss of all accumulated savings and the loss of the primary home, basically homelessness and poverty through no fault of your own.

All of the tremendous risk of "losing it all" over one illness and the enormous price tag for the consumer ($15,000 per year for a family of 4 is unbelievable) comes with the additional burden on the general public that while we pay over 15% of GDP and over $7,000 per capita for our health care system almost 50 Million people in the country are uninsured.

I am not too keen on proclamations like "I am skeptical the government can run anything," because we KNOW that the current system, the market based system, has been a fiscal and for many an emotional disaster that has no equal in the world as for scope.  We simply can't compete in the global market place, as any manufacturer has to factor in enormous health costs our competitors don't have to deal with.  The system is broken, and the sooner we start fresh with one (or a mixture of several components of existing systems) that has proven itself someplace else in the world.  Sometimes we have to shelf our American self-reliance and rugged outdoors manly-ness, admit when we were wrong, and learn from others who have been able to provide adequate health care to all at a fraction of our cost.  

I guess it needs to be asked:  Why should WE be the only industrialized country in the world that does not provide universal health care to its citizens?  We are right, they are ALL wrong?  

by devilrays 2009-03-02 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

to a countries' economy

should have read

to a country's economy

by devilrays 2009-03-02 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

I believe 47% of our healthcare is already government run. In addition, the government also allows companies to get a great tax benefit for providing health insurance which really puts individuals at a disadvantage, disconnects consumers from actual healthcare costs, and causes real problems when people lose their job.

To say we have a market based healthcare system is really not accurate.

by tpeichel 2009-03-02 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

We are OBVIOUSLY talking about the health care portion of the system that is NOT included in the government-run health care pillars Medicare and Medicaid.   Speaking of which, what area of the overall health care system should we assume to "work" the least, is the most inefficient, from reading your comments about government?  And, what does reality reflect instead?  

In fact, Medicare is by far the most efficient leg of our health care table, spending about 15 cents of every premium dollar on overhead-related activities whereas most commercial providers spend about 35 cents of every dollar on overhead. Medicare has been at the forefront when it comes to cost-saving measures such as electronic billing initiatives, which have increased claim processing efficiencies. Medicare has been able to maintain 'doctor choice' while providing critical access to care for the elderly and disabled, an accomplishment all private health insurance models can't match, as they all involve some sacrifice of choice by the patient.

If the entire health care system ran the way Medicare (and also the equally efficient Medicaid system, relatively speaking) has been run we would be in much less of a pickle as we are in today.  Alas, leaving the working population to deal with market-based insurance companies is our problem.  Driven purely by competitive market thinking the recipe for major problems is clear: Huge amounts of money spent on overhead because the insurer must compete.  They do so by putting tons of money in major advertising, give huge bonuses to CEO's down to middle-management, etc.  But, they also restrict choice, cut services, increase fees and generally  cut corners to achieve a bottom line investors like.  

It would be nice if you answered one of the key questions asked in an earlier post:   Aside from a general distrust of all things government (which appears somewhat irrational, given the performance advantage of existing government health areas over private insurers) how exactly can one rationalize the fact that we are intent to be the only country in the industrialized world (and most of the rest) to not offer universal insurance to its citizenry as a cost-saving and all-inclusive measure?  

by devilrays 2009-03-02 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Medicare/Medicaid are going bankrupt so it is actually a pretty good example of us having a choice to ration care or increase taxes to cover the additional costs.

Medicare does spend less on overhead, but aren't a lot of the savings coming from verifying a very small percentage of claims? And isn't fraud running rampant? A report by NPR had fraud estimated at $35 billion (out of $368 billion total) in 2007.  Sound familiar?

Forgive me if I'm skeptical of government programs, but time after time they have shown themselves to be wasteful and corrupt. Just look at the situation we're in now because of the government. We are in this crisis because of numerous bad policy decisions and rampant corruption. We have too much bad debt and the government is going to solve it by going into even greater debt? We have a budget with 8000+ earmarks when we are teetering on the edge of a depression? And you want me to have faith in these politicians to solve a complex issue like healthcare?

To answer your last question, there are plenty of horror stories about nationalized healthcare systems with people dying because they were denied treatment, or coming to the U.S. to get treatment or medication they can't get in their own country, or waiting 4-6 months to see a specialist or get a simple MRI, etc.

I think nationalized healthcare is far from the slam dunk you claim it to be, and just because others have tried it, is no reason for us to go down that path as well.

by tpeichel 2009-03-02 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

Wow.  "Others have tried it?"  How about EVERY developed country on Earth except ours?  

And, I suppose you simply gloss over the many horror stories from THIS country where people are denied treatment right at the hospital door and die hours later as a result of not having the right insurance? Where people can't afford health care and as a result die of advanced cancer and other diseases?

As I said before, your slam at government is irrational. As if private insurance companies are less corrupt or wasteful. AIG ring a bell?  And the other companies who now are holding their hands wide open to get bailouts from....gasp...the government?

Forgive me if I am skeptical of allowing to continue the failed market-based solutions that have run the health care system into the ground.  Time to try a new approach, the old one you seem to enjoy has failed us miserably.  I don't really want YOU to have faith in politicians or the government as a whole.  Why would I care? It is the right thing at this time, and the American people are in support, so that is where it is headed.  Like it or not.  

BTW, the reason we are in this crisis is the exact opposite of what you claim.  Rampant greed coupled with an ever-increasing push for government "to get out of the way" by forcing through deregulation are the chief reasons.  The American people have correctly identified the culprit, which is why the GOP is in such disarray and trouble.

by devilrays 2009-03-02 03:54PM | 0 recs
Re: I am baffled reading your post

From the whitehouse:

"Even if we bust the budget, we've got to solve some of these problems," said a member of his inner circle. "I'd rather live with a debt than have people go without healthcare"

From this statement, it's pretty obvious this isn't about cost savings. I'll remain skeptical that the government can provide more healthcare for less money.

by tpeichel 2009-03-03 04:46AM | 0 recs
The problem with your argument is

the fundemental premise.

Who is the enemy then, not a week Republican party.  It is the people.

CL, you are an ideological libertarian, you accept as a given that Government IS the enemy of the people.

That is NOT an accepted dogma in the Democratic Party NOR in the vast majority of Independents.

It IS in the Reagan descendent Republican party, but that group is in the minority, and growing more and more so each day.

The more likely accepted mantra these days is,
Government that is EFFECTIVE is a good solution for things that the private sector can't do.

And, guess what. THAT has been accepted Economic Theory for the last 100 plus years.

Just as the Private Sector is NOT going be the effective solution to build roads, or clean up pollution..Or fund an army...

So, it seems, that in sectors like Education and Health Care, a corrupted Free Market Solution ALSO is incapable of providing the most cost effective, timely solutions.

So, the Pendelum swings back.

Reaganism was THE defining political mantra for the last 30 years.

Small Government

Lower taxes

Strong on Defense

Family Values.

The problem is, IN PRACTICE, The Republicans

GREW Government, and poorly. When you inheriently hate something, you're probably NOT the right team to grow it.

Lowered Taxes, but mosty on the rich

Fought wars for the Corporations, for Oil, not for the public defense

Family values?  If you think stopping Gay Marriage and Abortion, in esscence, a THEOCRATIC family policy is the goal.

Reagans colalition, with the Extreme Religious Right AND with the Corporate Hierarcy eventually, as all power brokers do, corrupted the system.

And, a good political Enema is due, Obama is going to flush the system.

Now, will we swing TOO FAR to the left?

Probably. Eventually.

But, that day is 10-15 years down the road IMO.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-01 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The problem with your argument is

We need government to live happy healthy lives.  Can we at least agree at that?  It is not wrong to have concern when we allow the government to make our choices.  Our country has gotten away from her people.  

And, guess what. THAT has been accepted Economic Theory for the last 100 plus years.

Agreed - So lets be honest it isn't working and quit digging the hole deeper we are trying to get out of.

Government that is EFFECTIVE is a good solution for things that the private sector can't do.

Hoover was part of the Efficiency Movement too, which you seem to be modeling your ideas off of.  I just think the government and the politics that drive it is not the best people to make these important private choices for us.  If they screw up we all suffer(Hasn't Bush showed you that yet).  By the way I don't want a country where the trains always run on time.  Your solution seems to only work with one party rule, do you not have any problems with that - do you not see the potential for corruption?    

Where was Reaganism practiced?  Can you point to anything?  Republicans got into power and quite often tried to drive the power of government better than the Democrats, not relinquish the power granted them by Hoover, FDR, Johnson and a like.  

The only Reaganism that followed was small tax reductions.  Most every President since Reagan still grew government and doubled the national debt.   Clinton put through Welfare reform, what else is an example of "Reaganism"?  I am sorry, but your arguement sounds more like rhetoric to me, you will have to help me to understand which ways our government has shrunk.  

Maybe you are accepting the fact that the Republicans have been trying big government too.  If that is case then I find it highly offensive the line of argument that the free market has failed us.

As far as education, let the school boards run them.  Do we really need all of our kids carbon copies of each other?  Is there any point where the FEDERAL government's control of education would scare you?  I mean should they control the content being taught too?  It is not just a transfer from the private to the public sector, it is a transfer from local, to state, to federal centralized power.

Back to my premise - The Republicans can only bring their argument to the American people(if they can formulate one).  The quick passage of massive legislation, which if you are honest no one really has a firm grasp of all of its ramifications, has given them something to galvanize around.  I want debate, attacks at Republicans seem to be only attempts at closing down debate and ignoring the real questions.

Do you not think any of the President's plans(remember he is promising change) could have any negative connotations during his candidacy or in the next?  Is it logical to not speak with people who say they will to at least hear them out?

It scares me that you seem to believe that only Republican politicians can be corrupt and only Democrats can run the country.  I used to get wrapped up in the political side, so ingrained in what one party says the other stands for.  It doesn't seem constructive to me at all.

There doesn't seem to be much swinging of the pendulum - this last century it has swung pretty far to the left and honestly has never really swung back.  Any shifts to the right have been blips in a massive move to the left.  At least with the line between freedom vs stability or security or equality or whatever you think the government is protecting from the free market.

Keeping government small is like a salmon swimming up stream.  The debate has been raging for centuries lets try not to forget what a wonderful country we have and what a truly unique set-up we enjoy.  Let's not let perfect be the enemy of great.  It is worth it to drop our guard, forget our anger and walk through some of this.  You seem to want people like me to jump up and down when we see the government tell us there is no money available to lend as they borrow trillions to make themselves a bigger part of our economy.  Yep lets give them more control over our well-being.  After all they handled Katrina good(oh that is right it is Bush's fault.)

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-01 07:56PM | 0 recs
My question would be

why does government worry you? What negative effects does it have on your life? Certainly we can point to political writings that underline the potential for government abuse, but have you lived through any? 1984 was 22 years ago, and there are no screens on street corners.

On the other hand, there are capitalist practices we can point to that have had harmful impacts. I know people who have lost 40% of their net worth due to - has government harmed them to nearly that degree?

by Neef 2009-03-01 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: My question would be

Me personally...well a government leaving sound fiscal policy at the door for the better part of 100 years has left this country with 55 trillion in debt.  Whether through inflation or taxation we, along with our children will have to pay for our greed, our yearn to have the easy life without serving others for it.  

It is worth repeating that freedom can not flourish without some responsibilities given to the government.  For example without the sanctity of contract our businesses can not operate.  Of course this is one area which has been under attack.  It may be worth going through all of the responsibilities of government, but I do not think that is what your comment is asking.

I have a hard time with your concept of 40% of people net worth loss due to capitalism.  Yes the free market has corrections and that is healthy, but the wild fluctuations in the market are DUE to government intervention.  Due to political leaders who think they can tinker with our economy to hold of a recession.  This was done by unnaturally holding down interest rates and Fannie Mae through government direction being lax on lending standards.  I don't think the debate is over on the cause of our current situation.

How does the government negatively effect me?  


  • It reduces incentives to be my best by increasing tax rates as I serve more people
  •  
  • It holds back small business and defends the ones "too big to fail".  It props up Detroit and helps them to squash any small automakers from competing.

  • It forces my children into a broken education system(although I can't complain too much, I got the same public education and think I turned out alright)

  • It makes me get my health insurance from my employer

  • It takes away the gift of giving by taking from me to give to others(I still try to give some, no matter how broke we are, it is just part of how I was raised and it is rewarding)

  • 12.4% of my labor goes into social security something I can not count on being there and something our government has already spent.  Add that to all of the other taxes and everyone works for the government a good chunk of their lives.

Overall I can't complain, the benefits still out weigh the risks, but to add even more unto what is already there seems too much.  It seems like doing more of what is already not working.

There are plenty of examples of government not being good for its people.  By blogging standards if I bring them up I lose the argument:), but nonetheless Russia, Socialist Germany, parts of Europe now(they have the camera's on every street corner), Cuba, how far back should I go?

Instead of asking can the government shield us of from hard times we should be asking SHOULD the government protect us from ourselves?  

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-01 09:11PM | 0 recs
You say Po-ta-to

And we say Po-TOT-TO...

There doesn't seem to be much swinging of the pendulum - this last century it has swung pretty far to the left and honestly has never really swung back.  

I love the way Libertarians ALWAYS gage that.

It's as if Reaganism never existed.

But, after arguing with these folks for the better part of 20 years, what I have come to believe is 90% of the folks who claim they are libertarian are just Republicans who have some small issues with their party...

It's more intellectually stylish to be a Libertarian.

It's the equivilant of "I'm not a liberal, I am a progressive" spin our side does.

Most DO vote for Republicans, there are exceptions, such as Bill Maher, and I would suspect CL is probably the real deal as well.

STILL, like most libertarians, in the Ayn Rand mold, they tend to forgive all sins of the free market capitialists and focus on the outrages of the left....

Fun to debate with them, at least they HAVE a viewpoint, not like the vast majority of the Dittohead Republicans....

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-02 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: You say Po-ta-to

Reaganism did exist, but the only thing republicans took from it was to lower taxes and wow with lower taxes there is higher GDP.  Of course the morons did not realize that when you borrow money, lower taxes and increase spending you are creating a bubble.  More money is going into the economy then coming out and we are borrowing to hold up the lifestyles we want.

Attack Reagan all you want and you try being me.  Someone who sees poeple talk limited government only to get into power and not do it.  WHY DO YOU THINK BUSH'S APPROVAL RATING WAS SO LOW?

I don't forgive people who do others wrong they will get what they have coming to them.  To often the Government protects those losers.  Be honest.  Look at the last two years of stimulus.

I work, I take care of my friends and family, do what I can to help others and constantly ask questions.  Why am I the bad guy?

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-02 06:28AM | 0 recs
Oh, you're not the bad guy...

I actually like the libertarian viewpoint, I am very close to your position probably on gun control, the war on drugs, keeping religion out of politics, spying without a warrant, reproductive choices...

And, I agree, this is bitter medicine. I HATE giving money to those bums on wall street, but, I'm not sure the consequences of letting them totally collapse doesn't start a domino effect that is irreversable.

Hey, I write early and often here, I want a number of these guys frog-marched to jail, rather then given bonuses.

But, I also look at the REAL enablers of this disaster, and here he is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Gramm

Some economists state that the 1999 legislation spearheaded by Gramm and signed into law by President Clinton -- the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act -- was partly to blame for the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis and 2008 global economic crisis.[8][9] The Act is most widely known for repealing portions of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had regulated the financial services industry. Gramm responded to criticism of the act by stating that he saw "no evidence whatsoever" that the sub-prime mortgage crisis was caused in any way "by allowing banks and securities companies and insurance companies to compete against each other."[10] The Act, it should be noted, passed the House by an overwhelming majority and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, though it was introduced on the last day before Christmas holiday and never debated by either congressional body. [11]

The Washington Post in 2008 named Gramm one of seven "key players" responsible for winning a 1998-1999 fight against regulation of derivatives trading.[12] Gramm's support was later critical in the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which kept derivatives transactions, including those involving credit default swaps, free of government regulation.[13]

2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman, a supporter of Barack Obama, described Gramm during the 2008 presidential race as "the high priest of deregulation," and has listed him as the number two person responsible for the economic crisis of 2008 behind only Alan Greenspan.[14][15]

Phil took this crisis from what would have been conventional explosives, and by keeping CDO's and Credit Default Swaps FREE of Gov Reg, turned them into ThermoNuclear devices.

So, I just CAN'T go CATO. They LOVED Phil, and they were dead wrong in this case.

So, I want the guilty punished, we probably just have a different set we see as the criminals?

What happens if the Chinese decide, OK, the game is over, and switch to the EURO?

Now, luckily, in a strange way, we benefit from the fact we infected the European Union, and they are as messed up as we are.

I agree, it's a devils bargain, and I would prefer Stiglitz and Roubini were calling the shots rather then Summers and Geitner.

But, THOSE GUYS would probably want the banks Nationalized, which I'm sure sends a shiver down your back.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-02 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, you're not the bad guy...

Is that the only pro market piece of legislation out there?  I mean you go back to it in every post.  We are just going to have to agree to disagree on the almighty power of Phil Gramm(I think he has little).

I don't promise there will be no corruption in the free market, I also don't assume the government would be free of corruption either.  In fact I guarantee that as the government grows in power(say at an international level for example) it will become more corrupt.  

Did you learn nothing from star wars :)
"So this is how liberty dies, to the sound of thunderous applause"  Are you naive enough to think we only have to watch out for Republicans?

We obviously keep butting heads on the same things .  I will work on that...I would accept that pieces of both of our arguments are true, I refuse though to blame the free market for a unnatural market correction.  It is so obviously the government creating a bubble, through law changes or interest rates or lax lending standards.  This line of reasoning does sound more like a talking point then an argument though.

I mean if one law change can destroy the markets then government obviously has a huge affect on them.  

Good luck and Good day.  I have to get back to work.  Thanks

by Classical Liberal 2009-03-02 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, you're not the bad guy...

Have a good one...

talk to you later.

WSB

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-02 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Silent Running

Neef,
Really nailed this post. The danger is that people are going to judge President Obama on the results of his policies, not just his words.

From my prespective, I don't see how we're going to avoid a depression by adding another 3 trillion to the debt and putting policies in place that make it harder on private enterprises to grow and create jobs. There is just no way the government can replace all the jobs that will continue to disappear.

Makes me wonder if the real strategy is to have the economy fail as soon as possible to pin the blame on the Republicans. However, there is a real danger that since President Obama is making such radical changes, it could be difficult to blame this on the situation he was handed.

by tpeichel 2009-03-01 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Silent Running

Yeah, I was mostly focused on process, but if the policies don't work - we have problems.

I tell you what though - I think this is how a two party system is supposed to work. When you elect Conservatives you should get conservative results, and when you elect Liberals you should get liberal results. By going all in, Obama is both creating a consistent, interlocked progressive system AND giving voters clear cues on how to vote in the future.

My big problems with the GOP's position is how they're walking back GWB. "Oh, uh, he wasn't really conservative!". They are trying to pretend that their policies didn't fail because Bush didn't enact their policies. They are trying not to be judged on their performance. BS. It's a mild form of cheating.

If Obama fails, there will be no pretense. The social laboratory that is America will have gained some valuable insights, and our country will be stronger for it. Given the complexity of issues we face at home and abroad, this sort of robust experimentation is the only way forward.

by Neef 2009-03-01 01:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Silent Running

By not fixing the economy first, though, his experiment is at high risk of failure before it can even get started.

by tpeichel 2009-03-02 04:05AM | 0 recs
I think

He is fixing the economy. Stimulus, Budget and Banking plans all work together towards that end.

You could argue that any one of those planks won't work, but that very argument is at the core of what I called the "experiment". There is no consensus that any of the three legs will fail.

by Neef 2009-03-02 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: I think

I guess I think that trying to do all things simultaneously is not going to fix our current situation.

So far private capital (about 2/3 of all investable cash) has voted pretty clearly that they believe the plan will not work and that they have no confidence in the current players.

Private capital will not return to the market until they are confidence the same crooks and thieves that raped the market previously are punished and the rule of law is reestablished.

That should be the focus, not pushing through new healthcare, education, and energy initiatives that add more uncertainty to the whole situation.

by tpeichel 2009-03-02 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Silent Running

http://www.bobbykenneth2012.com/

Just sayin'. We are battling retards, after all.

by QTG 2009-03-01 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Silent Running

"...soak the very rich..."

Why just the very rich?  Why not all the rich?  And, why just the poor?  Why not the poor and the middle income groups?

Let us not forget that Andrew Sullivan is a conservative who was an enthusiast for Margaret Thatcher.

by demjim 2009-03-02 05:48AM | 0 recs

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