Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by State, Jun 22, 2009.
Some ominous statistics by Robert Samuleson: Our Sinking Welfare State
Read the whole thing.
That's the one that stood out to me, too.
Not many people realize how truly desperate California's fiscal plight is.
Pat Buchanan writes about it: California Nightmares.
The bills eventually come due. There is no free lunch...even for a state as rich and diverse as the Left Coast behemoth.
I'm stuck here for 14 years until I can retire . . . start cutting, boys, we aren't voting for more tax increases no matter how often Holy Diver tries to vote We'll get there as a country sometime too, and obama seems to be accelerating that process. As Buchanan suggested, diversity is overrated - what we need is not diversity but responsibility - both from government and the individual but we are moving far away from that; now anyone who fails doesn't take responsibility they blame the rich, the big business or the government.
Samuelson points out that neither government nor private enterprise can address the problem. Private enterprise has been cutting back benefits whereever it can -- with health insurance, 401K contributions, etc.
We need to remodel our economy in some way. That is what Obama is attempting. If he does not succeed, perhaps the conservatives will have a shot at it.
Obama has never met a payroll. As George Will memorably wrote, he hasn't run so much as a Dairy Queen.
His ambitious proposals create uncertainty, which recent scholars are emphasizing as a main contribution to the weakness of FDR's New Deal. Regime Uncertainty in 1937 and 2008 | The Beacon
Your premise that he can "remake" an economy like it's an army to be commanded and controlled is a curious fallacy that's all-too-prevalent among people who don't understand economics very well. The economy, after all, is a collection of free choice we 300+ million Americans make every day dozens of times.
Socialism doesn't take into account those choices by not allowing the pricing system to work naturally. (Prices under socialism are by its very nature meaningless.)
Patters, ever thought of reading Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism? Or Amity Shlaes's Forgotten Man? The former shows the New Deal's Blue Eagle, totally fascistic. The latter demonstrates conclusively to my mind that the New Deal did not end the Great Depression. (1937 was nearly as bad as 1933.)
Employment in 1937 was at pre-depression levels. What sent the nation back into a tailspin was cutting the New Deal back before the changes had taken root.
Lets not forget the nation tried it the conservative way(do nothing Hoover) from the crash in '29 until Roosevelt was sworn in in January of '33. Things happened under Roosevelt, under Hoover we got nothing
See Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act
Although thousands of economists and business leaders begged Hoover to veto the bill, he signed it.
Like your second sentence, your first is just as inaccurate and has been addressed in many previous threads.
I would suggest you read the two books suggested by State in a previous thread. I've read both and they are excellent.
This revisionism is tiresome, and ironic considering that Reagan deficit spent to the tune of $500 billion to get out of Carter's recession. The Repubican policies brought us the Great Depression, and Democratic policies ended it. They still can't live that down. They choose to ignore the inconvenient fact that Truman (D) came after FDR.
We have two threads emerging within this one thread: the revisionist war to "prove" that FDR's approach to the depression was bad, by making Hoover good (best of luck with that one; from what I can tell his "contribution" by which we "got something" was a trade war exaccerbating the depression and the original thread seeking to define the term "welfare state" to mean "the actions of all organizations numbering more than 20 people" or something to that effect.
That is to say, we are using what the author says we "don't say" -- the term "welfare state" -- to mean large programs whether by the state or by industry that benefit individuals.
He includes, for example, things like pensions. Pensions are deferred wages; that is the rubric by which GM talked about pensions. You don't get the money now, you get it in retirement, through this nifty plan that spreads the liabilities and assets across many many people, so that your date of retirement does not make your investment subject to market insanity, and so that your personal penchant for spending money when you get it does not prevent you from saving for retirement. In exchange, we get labor now by promising you a cheeseburger Tuesday.
The right is on a neverending quest to villify unions, and nowhere has it sought a more perverse redemption than by turning the fiscal misdeeds under which we currently labor -- the doing, in the immediate sense, of a deregulated financial sector -- into another race to the bottom.
Samuelson is disingenuous in saying we don't say "welfare state." We say it all the time as a sort of "dirty word." His complaint is he feels we don't use the dirty word enough.
Now then, here is where I agree w/Samuelson: The promises that have been made throughout society have gotten bigger than our ability to deliver. This is particularly true of the half-size "generation X" attempting to support the baby boomers in retirement, whether through Social Security or through private pensions.
In the industrial economy we overshot in a few important ways: we expected that people would die earlier; we expected enough new jobs to be created to cover the future retirement liabilities of workers in the 50s (also the time period of the expansion of Social Security to cover SSI payments); and we did not expect -- ever -- that a man would need a second career after physical labor.
You can't do linework when you're seventy. Or at least the average person can't. You have a pretty tough time of it when you're 60. Hence the "30-and-out" provisions the unions fought for and got. Hunky dorey. Makes sense. For most people the body has taken such a toll from real life physical labor after 30 years that retirement feels earned. But put that together with greater lifespans, and the guy who got a 30 and out promise is expecting to be retired for longer than he worked.
"Retraining" wasn't even in the vocabulary. In retrospect, it had to be, but nobody had an interest in it.
I don't know precisely what Samuelson wants. It appears from the article that he wants society as we know it eradicated. After all, the "welfare state" includes any payment to an individual by not only government but also corporate sources, with the exception of (I take it) a wage contract (implied or explicit.) I doubt if you asked him he would even support the minimum wage.
I do know that there is no interest in defending the bloated state and local pension systems, and that defined benefit pensions in the private sector have at this writing gone the way of the dodo. They may or may not ever be back, but as of now, it looks like they're yesterday's problem (which we get to pay off for a few more decades.)
I think the problem is not the one that Samuelson believes he has pinpointed, i.e., that we don't say the dirty word enough. I think the problem is that we've made it a dirty word.
Consider some aspects of the "welfare state," a term which actually has a positive connotation for Europeans: universal access to health care, often not through the employer. Had GM and Chrysler not been in hock for their health costs, they'd have scraped through. Consider the notion of taxation, rather than borrowing, to pay the costs of an admitted welfare state. What if we believed it was good that old people don't eat alpo, and what if our politicians for the last 30 years could get elected if they added a percentage point to the soc. sec. payroll tax? Instead the Dems fought a rearguard action against Republican proposals to take social security fund money and go to Vegas with it, essentially.
I see a lot of crying like this, a lot of "soul-searching" to the effect that our horrible, crushing top marginal income tax rate of 31% must all be wasted, and that our middle class is oh so spoiled by things like oh, I dunno, not being put on an ice floe at age 60.
In Roosevelt's time the top marginal rate was in the 90s. Now who's being unrealistic? It only declined to the 60s during Kennedy's time. Since then it's gone unrealistically low. We have no VAT in this country, so our corporate taxes, all things considered, are also the lowest in the industrialized world (all things considered.)
We quite frankly got used to a nice patchwork of corporate stand-ins for what nations are thought responsible for elsewhere, such as pensions. We added on some national responsibilities. We just refused, starting in the 70s, to pay the bills for them.
Oh no, our "welfare state" is crumbling!
That's because we refuse to pay for it.
Now, we can argue whether we should pay for it or not. After all, it's entirely possible that we believe Bernie Madoff (or a not-technically-criminal wall street banker) is truly worth 1,000 times as much as our friend the lineworker. I do not think it is true, in any intrinsic sense. Otherwise how could I hold my head up and walk down the street? No, that person simply has 1,000 times more stuff. And that includes access to health care, standard of living, etc. It's not because he worked harder, and it may not even be because he's smarter (which as we know is largely not to his credit, but is biologically conferred.) It may well be because he's from a family that groomed him to that position, and ol' Lou the lineworker is from, well, Detroit.
I think we need to focus on bringing home the reality of the modern workplace in its positive manifestation as well as its negative. If you tell me there can't be a "30 and out" life for a lineworker, fine. Tell me what we're going to train him to do, and get to it early (not with a year left in his career, in the form of a ***** session where you tell him to go to school before he gets out the door.) You need retraining and cross-training initiatives, and of course, you need to have the jobs in the first place.
As to health care, that's one of the crushing burdens we need to get under control. I am hoping for the best from the government on that front.
The idea that we can use our current economic condition to presuppose another "race to the bottom" via accelerated union-bashing is not terribly convincing by my lights. And the idea that a state shoud be for anything other than the welfare of its citizens frankly boggles my mind.
A trade war passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Republican President that happened years before the time I referencing isn't going to help your argument.
Sounds similar to when another Republican President said 'lets invade Iraq because Saudis and Kuwaitis attacked us' and everyone said 'huh?'
Employment figures largely mirrored GDP during this period. By 1937, as with GDP, we were above 1929 in employment. The brief dip in '38 that y'all are so fond of using as proof that the New Deal was a failure was the direct result of the Conservative Coalition demanding too deep spending cuts too soon. Even still the Conservatives weren't completely able to undo the work of FDR.
Its a BS Republican canard to say that the Depression would have lingered without WW2 that's designed specifically to protect the party from the disastrous mess they caused and FDR fixed.
Brief dip? You saying the 19% unemployment rate is a brief dip? Do you know how ridiculous you sound?
Russell Roberts says that 19% unemployment figure comes from 1938, the year after "the brief dip" you call it. Jeez. Don't Just Do Something. Stand There. - WSJ.com
The uncertainty created by FDR's self-described "bold experimentation" that in effect was contradictory at times, largely ineffective in practice, and irrational in policy created an environment where business stood on the sidelines. That's where it was safer.
Sounds like you need to take this advice: Blame where blame is due | Free exchange | Economist.com
Some of you people need the history you were taught to be more consonant with the facts.
Besides the well-known and -regarded Amity Shlaes' Forgotten Man, another wonderful book I intend on reading (I've heard him interviewed several times.) is Burton W. Folsom Jr.'s _New Deal or Raw Deal_. Amazon.com: New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America: Burton W., Jr. Folsom: Books
Sure consumption didn't recover until the war was over. Of course that's just a bit related to the fact that 12 million men of prime spending age were all too busy fighting in the war to buy themselves new stereos. Its also a touch related to the fact that even if you wanted to buy something, like say new tires for your car, you often couldn't because nearly every tire that Goodyear could produce was desperately needed overseas and legally obligated to be sent there. Even non-war related production was forced out in favor of war material. So many people who wanted and could afford say, a new kitchen, had to do without because cabinet, flooring and appliance makers were all making guns and bombs and the guys who'd put the cabinets, flooring and appliances in were all in uniform.
'Consumption didn't recover... blah, blah, blah' what garbage. FDR didn't build a welfare class State, he built the middle class.
Dude, I don't even read your sheet anymore, since you make stuff up.
Herbert Hoover was bad, very bad, in signing that hideous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill. Or was it Hawley-Smoot? Hoover is the forgotten progressive, BTW, the title of a book I read in college. Read Paul Johnson's wonderful _Modern Times_.
βThe welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites.β ~ Dr. Thomas Sowell, the smartest man in America
One third of Brits on the dole? One third of homes dependent on benefits How's that working for you? The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government
But some think the answer is more taxes. They don't believe in the Laffer Curve. The role of incentives/disincentives.
The rich pay too high a rate of taxation. The size and scope of government is far too large. The IRS has produced over 60,000 pages of tax law. And the welfare payments, increasingly to the middle class, is ruining the greatest experiment in freedom: America.
I don't care whether you read 'em or not. Just don't ask me not to respond when you pass garbage along, like remaking the Republican Hoover into a progressive. The Forgotten Progressive... what a laugh. That book of yours should have been called 'Lets hope they forget, so we can get away with calling him a progressive'
George Bush used some form of the sentence construct 'I'm a conservative' at least 1000 times during his political career; but he blew it badly and there's no way to hide that. So your kind is already hard at work re-inventing him as something other than a conservative. When enough time passes he'll become a Democrat in your propaganda. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I don't know why you're worried about the rich. They will do okay no matter what. As far as the size and scope of government, I don't think it can be reduced that much without creating massive social problems along the lines of those in places like India. But, even cutting social programs to zip doesn't mean we can get rid of the bulk of our taxes, unless we also refused to make debt payments, run the courts, pave the interstate highways, and maintain a strong military. In fact, what would happen is that the military would become a disproportionately large part of government, and probably have the clout to shift more public revenue in their direction. I think the size of government has an impact on our checks and balances.
I used to wrestle in junior high, high school, and even a little at USMA. I know when I've defeated the other guy. You, sir, have been pinned. Resorting to the language you're using is an indication of that.
I'm still awaiting how the "brief dip" (as you describe it) in 1937 resulted in the rosy 19% unemployment figure the following year.
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