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August 24, 2010 03:49 PM UTC

Tuesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“It is a trick among the dishonest to offer sacrifices that are not needed, or not possible, to avoid making those that are required.”

–Ivan Goncharov


147 thoughts on “Tuesday Open Thread

    1. As far as I know, there is no current law regarding PAYGO.  In 2007, Democrats in the House resurrected PAYGO in the form of a House rule.  (The 1990 budget act that enacted the initial PAYGO rules expired in 2002, and Republicans did not extend it – after all, “deficits don’t matter”.)

      There is a limitation to the current PAYGO rules that Republicans have been harping on, only rarely correctly: the PAYGO rules may be exempted for emergency purposes, and have been for several economic recovery bills and disaster relief efforts.

  1. It speaks well to what faces us. What kind of cuts to SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and other necessary social programs will be foisted on us if the GOP controls the House? And, what will those cuts enable us to maintain?

    1. My sense is the Blue Ribbon panel’s report will likely provide the blueprint for what follows because in some sense these brave fellows will have political cover for dealing with these issues.  I think increasing age elibibility for social security is a pretty obvious fix.  Where they go on others, who knows.

      1. only worsens unemployment and lowers wages as the unskilled and inexperienced compete with older folk.

        What do we get to keep if we increase the age of eligibility higher than 70? Tax breaks for the NRA?

        Look at who will be voting for this increase. John Boehnor who gets paid $160K+ and a guaranteed retirement while he plays golf and sleeps on a tanning bed.

          1. Greeters at Wal Mart?  I’m not impressed with how blithely you promote this idea, choosing to be blind to the realities of age discrimination in the work place and worsening health as people age.  Retraining is supposed to be a panacea; yeah, not so damn easy when you’re 65 and have already been through the mill 4 or 5 times.

            There are some facts, figures and graphs I’ll find to share with you about this so-called “people are living longer.”  

            1. George Soros is still trading. Robert Murdoch still runs Fox and the Republican party. Mel Brooks is still writing plays & movies.

              As to retraining, I’ve had to learn an entire new technology every 5 or so years. That’s life nowadays.

              1. Poor people can stay unemployed for an extra five years while they wait for the new economy to provide them jobs. Or they could die. Either way, problem solved!

                I imagine you might not be such a callous asshole about unemployed 60-year-olds if you had to retrain yourself to clean toilets like a lot of people your age.

                  1. and you’re proposing to make it much higher by raising the retirement age in an era where there just aren’t enough jobs for the current workforce.

                    And your only response is this stupid caveman shit? You’re a fucking idiot.

                    1. Weather you know it or not, you’re expounded the “wages fund” fallacy that assumes the number of jobs is fixed and totally unrelated to demand.  Keynes proved otherwise.  If older workers are still producing goods and servfices, the total economic pie is bigger and we’re all a little better off.  Only if older workers took their wages and threw them down a well (or gave them to Dan Maes to pay his mortgage) would there be a net loss of work force.  More workers equal more demand and more jobs.  In simple terms, David is right, you’re wrong.  

                    2. which states that any time one effect is offset by another effect, they exactly cancel each other out.

                      I’m not assuming that the total economic pie wouldn’t get bigger, I’m just saying unemployment would still get higher. If you can’t understand why those two statements are not equivalent, don’t try to lecture me about anything else. Clearly you don’t know what you’re talking about, since you’re trying to extrapolate a few half-remembered paragraphs from an old economics textbook into some grand unified theory that answers all questions.

                    3. I did listen to Voyageur’s argument, which is why I was able to explain my disagreement with it.

                      I could have just called Voyageur a caveman, which would have been easier than looking up the theory he referred to and trying to see whether he might be right.

                      What’s your approach?

                    4. wages fund theory , if that’s what you did, constitutes serious research, sexpee.  And you still have the worst memory device ever!

                    5. specifically, labor economics.  And it is my professional opinion that you are a nincompoop.

                      That opinion has been peer reviewed and endorsed by the American economics Assn.

                    6. So did the GI bill of the 40s help ensure full employment partly by taking people out of the economy?

                      Do senior citizens cease consumer spending once they stop working and start collecting retirement benefits?

                      Those things would seem to support the notion that raising the retirement age would increase unemployment, even if counterbalanced slightly by the increased purchasing power of a Wal-Mart greeter over a Social Security recipient.

                      And yes I goggled your theory. What the fuck did you want me to do, get a PhD in economics so we could practice wages fund dick-swinging on this board tonight?

                    7. The GI bill didn’t so much take people out of the labor force and make a tremendous investment in human capital, greatly raising their earning potential.  Of course, it also greatly stimulated demand in the housing markets in the meantime.

                       Of course, senior’s don’t stop consuming when they stop producing.  But the key here is production and aggregate demand.  Simply put, a senior living on a pension and Social Security and savings, like moi, does not leave that money available for investment in better techniques (and human capital) that would lead to better productivity and greater wealth.

                        By your theory, lowering the (mandatory) retirement age to 40 would lead to universal employment and prosperity.  Somehow, I doubt it.  

                      Think of a pie.  If ten people bake it and it’s it’s ten square feet but 20 people eat it, we each get a half square foot of pie.  If twenty people bake it and its 20 square feet, we each get a square foot.  Older workers are not selfishly taking your job by holding on to theirs.  They are creating a job for you when you eventually graduate (hopefully after reading John R. Commons’ classic “The Economics of Collective Action” and thus mastering labor economics;-)

                    8. I’m not advocating a theory that claims making everyone retire would lead to universal employment, and I’m certainly not claiming it would lead to prosperity (which wasn’t the original point at all). “My theory” just says that not all numbers are equal, so not all effects will cancel out.

                      You seem to be claiming that because I don’t think these two numbers are equal (the loss of jobs due to competition from seniors, and the gain in jobs due to extra spending power), that I must think two other numbers are equal.

                      There are lots of numbers. They’re not all equal.

                    9. because I don’t think these two numbers are equal (the loss of jobs due to competition from seniors, and the gain in jobs due to extra spending power), that I must think two other numbers are equal.

                        You still need to explain why older workers, and only older workers, are the villain of your piece.  You’re just flat-out wrong, they aren’t.  

                    10. You’re reading my post in a strange way.

                      The original suggestion was to raise the retirement age to 70 or so. The resulting change is that many more people aged 66-70 would now be looking for jobs. That doesn’t make them bad people. It’s just a change that has to be studied.

                    11. The resulting change is that many more people aged 66-70 would now be looking for jobs.

                        The change would be phased in at two months per year, after the existing increase to 67 finishes phasing in.  There would be zero impact for about ten years and more than 24 years for the process to be complete.  Additionally, early retirement at 62 would still be available, albeit at somewhat reduced benefits.

                        I don’t personally see the need to go to 70, though I support 68, the original recommendation of the Greenspan commission.  Additionally, add at least $10,000 to taxable income, above the annual adjustment already in place.  That would probably do it, if existing projections (rock solid until 2037) are correct.  

                        But the notion that encouraging early retirement (or forcing it, as the law once allowed) erases unemployment is just wrong.  It’s 60 or less in most euro nations and they have much higher unemployment than we do.  It’s the same as saying you shouldn’t hire women because men are breadwinners, etc.  Such thinking isn’t just discriminatory, it’s economically wrong.  Simple math shows that the larger share of the labor force employed in productive endeavor, the better off we all are.   Now, build the physical and (more important) intellectual infrastructure to make that happen.  In the short run, sure, go with a stimulus.  Longer term — a new GI bill and better federal and state support for higher education are keys to a more productive society.  

              2. You left out Betty White,Grandma Moses and John McCain (who is, tonight, applying for another six years at his job!). How can we take your theory of senior citizen wage earners seriously without them?

                1. Social Security earners going back into the employment pool are not a 1 for 1 increase of labor to liquid capital – those 65-70 who would be tossed back in the labor pool already throw Social Security and retirement money back into the market without working.

                  And since the labor market is already glutted due to a still mostly frozen capital situation, those extra workers would go pretty much straight to the unemployment line from Social Security were we to change the rules.

                  Social Security mostly pays for itself; it is in no great or immediate danger, and simply adjusting the tax cap for Social Security earnings would fix what flaws it has according to most if not all estimates.  Why are we even arguing about it?

                  1. again, like him, you aren’t focusing on the size of the economic pie.  SS is a good thing, but like all other good things, it has to be paid for.  The more used to underwrite current consumption, the less available to underwrite investment or human capital development.  SS a good thing, early retirement, not so good.  And forcing people to retire does not create jobs.

                    1. The money spent on SS goes almost directly back in to the economy, much more so than money saved by the wealthy.  This is commonly accepted fact by all but the most conservative economists.  Raising the SS earnings cap affects about 15% of all Americans (and the companies they work for), and the incremental difference for most of those 15% isn’t significant enough to pay for a (10th of a) staff position or make any significant investments (okay, maybe a new server, minus enterprise software licenses).

                      The economic pie, as you put it, is reasonably constant in terms of cash; the question is, is the cash flowing?  If it’s not liquid, it’s not working.  Right now, it’s all stuck because no company wants to invest, nor bank lend – all because they fear for lack of consumer (read: people spending their less than the SS earnings cap earnings) demand.

                    2. I still don’t figure how you blame SS recipients for the recession

                      (read: people spending their less than the SS earnings cap earnings) demand.

                      or why older workers are the cause of unemployment (the rather artless point sxp is continuing to make.)

                        The economy is a bit more sophisticated than that.  

                    3. I said unemployment would get worse for everyone if more people were looking for work who currently aren’t.

                      If you have to twist my words that much to prove me wrong, your argument may not be as strong as you think it is.

                    4. Again I’m with sxp on this one – WTF are you talking about?  I’m not blaming retired people for the recession at all – just the opposite, in fact.

                      I’m noting that businesses and rich people, who you seem intent on defending against a SS tax cap increase, are not spending their money.  They’re not doing so because they do not have confidence in consumer spending (because in part consumers don’t have as much money coming in, thanks to unemployment, and in part because consumers themselves are fearful of their income stability).

                      Social Security earners spend most of their money swiftly, sending it back into the economy.  They are one of the most stable sources of cash flow in to the economy, even if that cash is limited.  Sending them back into the workforce by raising the retirement age, sending a number of them directly into the ranks of the unemployed (without benefit of an unemployment check) destroys some of that stable cash flow and hurts the economy.

                      Businesses and banks know what they’d like to see done to fix the economy, though many of them probably won’t admit it – have the government create more jobs to get us through the downturn.  More jobs -> more spending -> more confidence -> more cash flow -> better credit -> business expansion.


                      Sending them back into the workforce by raising the retirement age, sending a number of them directly into the ranks of the unemployed (without benefit of an unemployment check) destroys some of that stable cash flow and hurts the economy.

                       no one, except you and sxp, has suggested that.  Your claim that the retirement age would be immediately raised is somewhere between willful ignorance and a lie of BJWilsonian proportions.  

                    6. The normal retirement age (NRA) is the age at which retirement benefits (before rounding) are equal to the “primary insurance amount.” The table below shows how NRA varies by year of birth for retirees.

                         Normal Retirement Age Year of birth Age

                         1937 and prior 65

                         1938 65 and 2 months

                         1939 65 and 4 months

                         1940 65 and 6 months

                         1941 65 and 8 months

                         1942 65 and 10 months

                         1943-54 66

                         1955 66 and 2 months

                         1956 66 and 4 months

                         1957 66 and 6 months

                         1958 66 and 8 months

                         1959 66 and 10 months

                         1960 and later 67


                         1. Persons born on January 1 of any year should refer to the normal retirement age for the previous year.

                         2. For the purpose of determining benefit reductions for early retirement, widows and widowers whose entitlement is based on having attained age 60 should add 2 years to the year of birth shown in the table.

                        The current phase-in to 67 ends in 2027.  Extending the phase in to 68, as I propose (following the original Greenspan commission recommendation), would be completed in 2033.  Taking it to 70 (which I think is unnecessary if we also raise the earnings limit at least $10,000 ) would complete the change in 2045.

                         So the claim by sxp, supported by PR, that the change would make the current unemployment rate rise is simply absurd.

                    7. It’s not what some others have been proposing lately, which is 70, and sooner rather than later.  The supposed urgency of this change is that due to the increased unemployment (and resulting decrease in SSI tax revenue), the new “not fully funded” date is 2039, which is sooner than previously thought.

                      If you want a long-term phase-in based on the current schedule, then I agree with you – it doesn’t affect unemployment during this recession, because it won’t (hopefully) happen during this recession (and if it does, we have much more serious problems).

          1. that if you increased the salary cap to equal that of congresscritters, that would take care of the “problem”. [no source – so it may be way off base]

            But SS is small peanuts compared to Medicare/Medicaid, and much more easily fixed.

          1. We already have billionaires and mega millionaires paying a ower percentage than their domestic help in income taxes but this disaprity makes that one pale in comparison. Raisng the cap would cause the least significant hardship to anyone, none at all to the top two percent.  

        1. Note that the current system involves an employer “match” of the SS tax.  So, if the salary cap is raised, then the employer’s tax will be raised along with the employee’s.

          1. Not many, I’m sure.  Probably sports stars.  Don’t worry, the pro teams will send the lobbyists in and keep their portion low.

            And if Hedgefund Harry is making 3 million, his employer can obviously pay it.  

      1. in the context of comments. It’s just in diaries that you want to be careful, esp. FPE’s like you.

        But I think the Stateman is kosher, regardless.

          1. When it changed the name, Rep. Don Friedman, a Republican pixie, quipped that Jody Strogoff had done the incredible feat of turning a Democrat into a Statesman!

        1. Nevadan’s disgust with Reid(s).

          Look at Blumenthal in CT.  He’s going to lose an un-loseable race to a rich moron, just because he’s even worse than she is…

            1. It was 20 points a couple of weeks ago, and she has unlimited cash to throw negative ads at him for lying about fighting in Vietnam.

              I’m not a big fan of hers, but to get Dodd’s and Kennedy’s seat in the hands of people that at least put an R behind their name might precipitate the pee pee dance.

              1. I don’t know the race on the ground in CT enough to toss out predictions–therefore, the Rasmussen link–and I’m sure you are more in tune with it than I am.  

                1. Someone (I think from the Hartford Courant) had one yesterday called ‘Losing an Unloseable Race’ or something like that.

                  Apparently Blumenthal also has Romanoff Fee-vah!

                  HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Richard Blumenthal’s words are haunting him again. Already forced to apologize for saying he had served “in” Vietnam in the Marine Reserve rather than stateside, the state attorney general’s campaign for U.S. Senate is now being challenged to explain his assertion that he had “never taken PAC money” and has “rejected all special interest money.”

                  Federal records show that he has accepted $480,000 in political action committee money since he made that claim in January. Moreover, his Republican opponent, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, points to nearly $17,000 Blumenthal received as a state legislative candidate in the 1980s – a figure Blumenthal’s campaign does not dispute.

                  1. I know I’m often a smartass w/ you but my comment above was genuine–I don’t know jack about this race except that Blumenthal is a terrible candidate and McMahon only raised 19 grand in the 2nd quarter but loaned herself 21 million.

                    So I guess it boils down to what the CT voters are willing to put up with–a shitty Dem candidate or a Republican buying a Senate seat as an early Xmas gift to herself. Like I said, no predictions from me on this one.  

  2. from Naomi Wolf

    But electronic banking is much easier to hack — and identity theft and bank fraud have skyrocketed accordingly; but the bank benefits a second time with every case of bank fraud and identity theft — because of the immense fees — overdraft fees, bad check fees, that can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars with each corrupted account — racked up by the corrupted accounts. The longer it takes to close the corrupted account, the more difficult it is for the customer to have accountability with the bank’s fraud department — the more revenue for the bank. The bank freezes your ability to address the roblem — but continues to charge you fees for the corrupted account. `Because of the fees that get drained out of an account, banks actually profit from bank fraud,’ explains Kischuk.’ Multiply this by the number of times across the country a consumer account faces identity theft or bank fraud — and you see a mini-industry.

    1. added to the GDP as if they are a positive contribution to the general welfare.

      Hooray! If we just had a few more mammoth oil spills and a few million more overdraft fees, our “economy” would be lookin’ fine and dandy!

  3. We seem to get threads pretty often where people want to go back to the good old days. Not just from the conservative side but from the liberal side too – such as increasing the people working in farming or manufacturing.

    Change is accelerating. You can take advantage of it or you can be run over by it. But you can’t slow it down and you can’t avoid it’s impact.

    1. Looking to the past for guidance isn’t always a bad thing.  We used to be more self-sufficient – we provided more of our own food, more of our own manufactured goods.  And those jobs employed American citizens who are currently hurting for work.

      Like military contractors in Iraq/Afghanistan, our reliance on overseas unregulated manufacturing practices is getting us in to trouble in ways both economic and safety/reliability related.

      As you say, change is accelerating.  Where would you like our country to be when the Chinese economy picks up to the point where its own people are consuming the vast majority of goods produced there?

      1. Would have looked at the 1950’s and wondered where the self-sufficiency of local communities went. As transportation and communication have expanded, the world has gotten smaller.

        In the 1950s the rest of the country got cheaper textiles from the sweatshops located in the South. Yes there are negatives from globalization. Yes we need to address them. But we won’t be successful turning back the clock.

    2. Sometimes my objective of brevity allows for misinterpretation of motivation, I’ll admit.

      Those “efficiencies” in food production and manufacturing you glorify are only possible if you overlook the gross inefficiency of energy input to output when we substitute petroleum for human labor.

      We now put more energy into farming then we harvest in food caloric output. This is NOT efficient using the accounting methods that the entire rest of the biological world uses.

      On top of this, these petroleum inputs into food production and other manufacturing are heavily subsidized. Thus, when citizens attempt to make informed market decisions, our attempts are stymied by the existence of these subsidies. We are lured into believing that the subsidized products are a greater value.

      The market (both “free” and regulated version) is horribly broken and you think this is a good thing?

      1. It has good and bad parts and the bad parts we need to address. But the forces moving us forward can’t be stopped or radically redirected.

        Also, keep in mind that it’s not petroleum heavy inputs, it’s energy heavy inputs. That energy mostly comes from petro but it can as easily come from other sources as we develop them.

    3. “Change” isn’t something that always flows in one direction, nor should it. Industrialization of agriculture, for example, has resulted in many great short-term gains such as higher yields, but there are many long-term consequences that are less apparent, ranging from the environmental impact (the Gulf of Mexico’s annual “dead zone” comes to mind, a problem for years before Deep Horizon) to lower quality food (beef is higher in cholesterol and lower in omega-3’s when it comes from the feedlot; and I’m sure you’ve read about the massive egg recall) to inverse energy expenditure, to the simple wisdom of whether we should import food from New Zealand.

      Just some things to think about, when evaluating whether the shrinkage of agricultural jobs is actually a net positive thing or not.

    4. with some kind of detail is portrayed by you as a hopeless Luddite or naive dreamer or some such cliche.

      Meanwhile you spend most of your posts bitching in the vaguest of terms about why nobody is coming up with solutions to the latest problem that somehow caught your fleeting attention. Incapable of thinking through any actual policy, you side with whoever you spoke with or read last, and imagine everything you say is some deep expression of wisdom.

      If you shine a laser pointer on the wall, a cat will chase it around for half an hour, but he won’t imagine he’s somehow invented light.

      1. My point was just that we need to leverage, direct, and control change as much as we can rather than fight it. I do think the proposals to revert to more labor intensive approaches to farming, manufacturing, etc. is an attempt to turn back the clock and therefore will fail.

        As to suggestions, I think I’ve made plenty of specific concrete solutions. You just tend to not like them – which may be a vote in their favor 🙂

        1. I think some of these “reversions” are inevitable, either because smart energy policy (that is, conservation) will mean, among other things, less globalization; or we’ll hit the wall before alternate energy sources are developed to the point that they can replace fossil-fueled machines doing the jobs they’re doing now.

          Personally, I can’t see how the trend toward fewer manufacturing and agricultural jobs is sustainable over the long run. But I’m also not sure how other trends, such as the world’s ever increasing population (which may double before I die, and I’m 40 years old) and urbanization can be sustained either. I may simply lack the imagination to see how we can tackle the associated problems while we’re losing forests and emitting CO2 at rates unseen since homo sapiens became the dominant species on this planet; or maybe I’m not giving our technological ingenuity enough credit when it comes to finding solutions (nanotechnology, anyone?) But I can’t imagine a sustainable future for us without some “reversion” or “turning back the clock;” if you will.

          1. I think someone in 1850 would have found the idea of only 2% of the workforce on farms to be impossible. And from Malthus to Club of Rome we’ve had predictions of mass starvation due to increasing population and declining population. Yet today starvation is rare and more often a political problem.

            I’m with you that I have no idea what/how this will be worked out. But I think we will figure it out.

            And the population may double, but I’m betting it will level out a bit before then. China has been successful with their one child policy and India is gaining success on stopping population growth. Even in Africa it is declining. And in the 1st world it’s declining.

        2. which to you is a vote in their favor.

          You’re the guy who wanted India to mediate between Israel and Palestine since Hindus have never had any conflicts with Muslims.

            1. I respect opinions that people think through and arrive at honestly, even if I disagree with them. I don’t respect cat-following-the-laser-pointer trend-hopping, and I don’t respect glib corporate-lingo narcissistic scheming.

              I’m sorry those are all you’re capable of.

              1. When you read an opinion on here you strongly disagree with but respect – could you say so? I’m curious.

                As to my opinions, I think I’m pretty consistent and thoughtful. But do call me out when you think I’m not. One request though, could you back it up with specifics? Because mostly what I get from you is you disagree with me and therefore I’m an idiot.

                1. OK, this’ll be hard, but let’s see if I can imagine some specific flaw in your reasoning.

                  Unemployment is high and you’re proposing to make it much higher by raising the retirement age in an era where there just aren’t enough jobs for the current workforce.

                  I feel like I read all that somewhere before. Deja vu, dude.

                  Really, lots of people criticize your scheming on various grounds, sometimes quite technically. You rarely reply with any specifics, instead lumping them all together as Luddites or fools or selfish manipulators, while you stand heroically above it all. Read your responses to other more thoughtful posters like ardy and Aristotle. They write paragraphs upon paragraphs explaining exactly what’s wrong with your thinking, and you dismiss them all. I don’t even bother debating you anymore since you rarely read past the first sentence of anyone else’s posts.

                  And the only things you really take seriously are the times some dick like me criticizes you, since ultimately all your adventures here (diaries, interviews, and comments) are about your ego. Most of your interviews are more about yourself than your subject, and many of your comments are either trashing others for not having your vision, or simpering self-pity when someone criticizes you.

                  As for changing my posts to others in order to satisfy your latest whim? Um, no.

                  1. I think with people not only living longer, but able to work productively longer, we have to raise the retirement age. If we do not then working people will see a larger and large part of their wages taxed to go to retirees. That’s not a sustainable system.

                    At the same time we do need to address unemployment. I don’t think that’s incompatible with raising the retirement age, I think it’s a different problem. We need to grow the economy. And in some places we will find that the older workers retained in jobs will help us do that.

                    As to specifics, I have talked many times about rebuilding our infrastructure, making credit available to small business, a GI Bill for the unemployed, and more.

                    As to my not reading or listening to what others write, I think I do. But if you think interviews can be done better, please do interview a couple of candidates. I would be happy to front page them.

                    1. You support Republicans’ plans to raise the retirement age, which is a pretty specific plan. It will have lots of immediate effects, the most obvious one being that unemployment will get worse. Lots of poor people will get poorer, and lots of people who are barely hanging on will suddenly get poor. Of course, George Soros and Mel Brooks and Rupert Murdoch and you will still be OK.

                      To compensate for this, you support “grow the economy.” That’s how we’re going to get unemployment back down, despite your specific proposal making it much worse.

                      You are very eager to support specific regressive or destructive policies with only the vaguest sense that maybe some pixie dust will be sprinkled some time in the future to fix the problem. But nobody is calling for that pixie dust louder than you!

                    2. I think it’s something we need to do long term. I don’t think we need to do it tomorrow. I also don’t think advancing the age is regressive or destructive, it’s just acknowledging that people live longer and can contribute to society longer.

                    3. We need to grow the economy.

                      David, for somebody who claims to want to grasp “change” you sure do cling to the old catechism of economic fundamentalism.

                      “Growing” the economy requires growing the number of oil spills, growing the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere, growing the amount of mercury released from power plants, growing the amount of heavy metals that need to be disposed of, growing the number of holes in the ground, growing the quantity of plastics floating in the Pacific Ocean, etc.

                      It doesn’t have to be this way. Come on over to the future, David. Let’s make things better by discarding the old catechism. Let loose. Accept change. It will free your mind.



                      Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train

                      What is Ecological Economics?(pdf)

                      The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital(pdf)

                      Ecological Economics(wikipedia)

                    4. Grow the economy means we will have more people creating movies, songs, art, etc. I think that’s a good thing.

                      It also means a decent life for much more of the world. Lifting the 3rd world even to a level we would call poor would be a wondrous thing.

                      And it does not have to be brutal to the environment. There is a giant trend toward smaller devices to meet our needs. Look at the original cell phones or PCs vs what we have today. Even houses are (finally!!!) shrinking in size.

                      I also think we’ll move beyond oil shortly. It will almost certainly be nuclear at first, but we’ll find better with the efforts being put in to this.

                    5. Is it a requirement that you gain weight every time you come up with a new idea? There is no necessity for economic bloat in order to promote creativity.

                      You are assuming that because I disagree with your economic fundamentalism that I therefore want everyone to live in poverty.

                      Cancer is a biological entity that continually grows. Is this your model economy?

                      Think about it.


                      (No, keep thinking, I can wait.) 😉


                      Growing the economy means that long litany of crappy phenomena that I mentioned in my earlier post. Really. Can’t you see it all around you?

                      (And just because I am able to see that we are all being crapped on does NOT mean that I don’t celebrate all the wondrous technology that surrounds me. I’m sitting here directing electrons all over world to dance at my beckoning, right? I am not a neo-luddite just because I think that things can be done better.)

                      BTW, where DO you buy your rose-colored glasses?

                    6. If 10,000 people who are unemployed get jobs in Hollywood and produce another 100 movies I call that growing the economy. Would you view that as bloat?

                      I want everyone on the planet to have a job where they can provide a nice life for their family. If we do that the size of the GDP will grow a lot. So I would call that growing the economy. Do you see a way to accomplish this without an increase in what we produce?

                      I’m not trying to be disagreeable, but how do we accomplish the above with an increase in production?

                    7. What you are proposing violates simple physics and biology. Or, a whole lot of nasty is being swept under a rug.

                      I provided 6 links (above) as food for thought.

                      Nice jobs and the ability to support a nice family (or support a family nicely – not sure it’s possible to do both!) does NOT require increasing the GDP.

                      It requires change. Real change.

                      I hope you don’t decide to fight it.

                      (Cancer, oil spills, mercury poisoning all contribute positively to the GDP also. “Growing” the GDP does not mean what you think it means.)

                      (And whether 100 new Hollywood movies is a good thing is certainly debatable!)

                    8. I think we can address the problem of sustainability. But we will always need energy, we will always need to produce food and goods, and to give all people a decent life, we do need to produce more.

                      The thing is, if we have a completely sustainable system, everything is recycled, we are no longer mining, the economy can still grow. That 100 additional movies a year take nothing from the earth, but they add to the GDP.

                      So I agree we should shoot for a zero new materials system (which will probably require more energy). But I don’t think that precludes growing the economy.

                    9. on the deeply held belief that growth is intrinsically good.

                      The first step to being able to look beyond the box, not to mention stepping outside, is to evaluate why you hold this belief.

                      Is “growth is good” something that follows from empirical studies, from first principles, OR is it an assumption?

                      (Before you jump on me, let me be clear I am NOT stating that growth is intrinsically bad, merely that it is not the be-all-end-all of good. OK?)

                      We waste a lot. 1% of the oil pulled out of the ground is used productively to propel you forward in your car. 3 units of fossil energy must be pulled out of the ground for every unit of electrical energy you use. Etc.

                      So, “shooting” for sustainability really is an inadequate objective. It needs to be built in as a grounding assumption.

                      Come on David, embrace change. Don’t be such a Luddite! (just torquing on you ;-))

                      [BTW, I’m assuming that the people who make movies live in houses and will require equipment and places to work, and will have travel budgets, etc. So, they will all “take something from the earth” and they will take more if their movies are any good (since they will probably make more money and buy more crap with it!)]

                    10. we’ll probably figure out the differences and similarities over the next few years …

                2. the proposition that you are an idiot is wholly independent of whether or not sxp disagrees with you’-)

                   Just kidding.  You ain’t an idiot.  sxp seems to be on something of a tear since he returned.  

                    1. I mean it in the sense that if someone is not with you 100% then they must obviously be part of the opposition and must be attacked.  It is a limited mindset that you and he both share.

                    2. but I only “attack” people who are dishonest about it. You lied about the Greek Orthodox church in Manhattan for some reason, but otherwise you’re generally an honest guy, and I don’t consider you an enemy.

                      Believe whatever you want though.  

      2. sxp, thanks for so perfectly phrasing that!

        If you shine a laser pointer on the wall, a cat will chase it around for half an hour, but he won’t imagine he’s somehow invented light.

        I’m still chuckling.

  4. Saturday is Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor Rally” which is either when Beck is revealing his Divine Plan or a rally to support our troops.

    My guess? He couldn’t reserve the Lincoln Memorial by saying he was hosting a rally to show he’s the Conservative Coming of Christ, so instead he’s using the troops so he can have the location and numbers he wants.


    “I could give a flying crap about the political process. We’re an entertainment company” Glenn Beck

    1. …considering that civil rights leaders are already bashing this event, and that shrieking harpy Palin is also scheduled to attend, this isn’t going to be a good thing.

      Most telling? Gaary Sinese, a guy who busts his ass for disabled vets (and has a pretty damn good band) is not going anywhere near this thing.

  5. From the HuffingtonPost – and remember how in ’08 all the close ones swung Dem, so close can be 100% one party.

    What should concern Democrats even more, however, is that polling yields closer “toss-up” margins in another six states held by Democratic Senators — Colorado, Wisconsin, Washington, Illinois, California and Nevada. That said, Republicans would need to win five of the six and prevail in two similarly close contests in states currently represented by Republicans (Florida and Kentucky) to gain control of the Senate.

  6. A woman asked her husband, a programmer, “Dear, would you please go to the store and buy some bread. If they have eggs, buy a dozen.” He agreed. A few minutes later he was back, with twelve loaves of bread. The wife was flabbergasted! “Why on Earth did you buy a dozen loaves of bread?” He logically replied, “They had eggs.”

        1. I’ll see if I can scare up this story in a media outlet of some sort. In the meantime, anyone who knows about the polling outfit (“Magellan Strategies”) is welcome to chime in.

          1. First thing I did was google “Magellan Strategies,” and while the first hit was for their site, the quoted text on the GOOGLE PAGE (which is altered from what’s on the current actual homepage for this company) is this:

            Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies offers a wide array of services for Republican candidates and organizations: Polling and Survey Research, Modeling, … [Aristotle’s emphasis]

            Their actual page does not specify that they’re for Republicans.

            Knowing this, I think it’s safe to assume that the poll was paid for by Tipton, and likely tailored to benefit Tipton.

            Their archives page for Colorado doesn’t have this poll posted, so I can’t see what they have to say about their methodology. That doesn’t lead me to conclude that they used unbiased or non-leading questions.

            The only media notices I’ve found so far were at the National Review (which linked back to Tipton’s site) and some blog which I won’t bother to click on.

          2. Most of the Colorado Republicans, including Ken Buck, use them.  They do inexpensive automated polling.  They released a poll, which they paid for, not Buck, on the Senate primary that had him up by 9 about two months before the primary. I believe it is up on their site so you can get an idea.

            It is early, so anything can happen, but this tells me this is a real race.

  7. The Party’s over.

    Goodnight, sweet prince.  Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

    Democrats will get their stronger candidate if Kendrick Meek wins the Florida Senate primary tonight as expected- but the biggest winner coming out of the primary may be Marco Rubio. PPP finds he would begin the general election in the lead at 40%, followed by Charlie Crist at 32%, and Meek at 17%. If Jeff Greene were somehow able to pull off the upset tonight it would be much closer with Rubio at 37%, Crist at 36%, and Greene at only 13%.

    1. Not much choice there, him and Mr. Moneybags, “Think I’ll buy a senate seat” Greene.

      Considering Charlie doesn’t even have the benefit of party monies, isn’t that amazingly close?  

      As Meek finds fellow Dems supporting Christ (I’m sure I’ll be one), he’ll lose even more support.  None of that will go to Rubio.  (Who, BTW, is suddenly sounding far more pragmatic and thoughtful than Tea Party.)

      Way too soon to call. And since the current seat is held by a Republican, if Rubio wins, nothing really changes.  

            1. You should save your money for some nice cigars.  It’ll be a better ROI.

              Let me know if you’re going to be around these parts anytime soon, my friend.

    1. don’t they teach you difference between “proof” and “YouTube video” at the community college you attend? Probably not going to be covered in Welding Class….

      Well, he’s an example – this is an article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance explaining (Very concisely) why the housing market collapse happened.

      If you like, you can tell me now it’s a commie pinko lefty rag, and then I’ll send you a link to a similar article on the Economist website.  

        1. Point #1 from the Kiplinger Column:

          “1. It all began with cheap money. To prop up ailing economies early in this decade, central banks in the U.S. and Japan kept interest rates unusually low, which encouraged speculation. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve lowered the federal funds rate — the rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans and a barometer for the cost of borrowing money on a short-term basis — from 6.5% in 2000 to 1% by mid 2003. Cheap money quickly ignited a sharp rise in home values in virtually every corner of the country.”

          And that means one person – Alan Greenspan. The man who actually had the guts to admit to Congress it was his fault.

          Beej, let us know how how sheet metal class goes tomorrow..

          1. not anything that could cause us harm like welding and sheet metal if done incorrectly. His students will catch his arithmetic mistakes. Mistakes in metallurgy could be fatal. Imagine if he were crafting barstools, or bicycles.

            1. …that he was a crafts guy, working in sheet metal or auto body work.

              It didn’t seem like he was into readin’ and cypherin’ and had any use for those facty things….

              1. reading scores because he doesn’t appear able to comprehend theory, metaphor, theme or archetype. Thse are all pretty important in literature or even jr. high level reading abilities.

                The math I can get, very concrete and simple explanations for everything.

                But, he is smarter than Dan Maes.

  8. Not the guy from the district with Fort Carson….and not the guy who was/is a Marine…..and they’reboth Repubs. I thought that taking care of the troops was their Party’s issue? (well,maybe when they need a PhotoOP.)

    No, it’s the Woman from Northern Colorado who’s supposedly in trouble in her district:

    Upgrading the GI Bill: List of Co-Sponsors:

    Rep. Markey, Betsy (D-CO04)

    Again, why does the Republican’t Party hate the troops?

    1. You do understand that Indy voters will decide the election, and they tend NOT to vote for tinfoil hat candidates.

      BTW, How’s that “Old Incumbent Kicking the Teabagger’s Ass” thing in Arizona workin’ fer ya?  

      1. In Alaska, Miller has a decent chance of getting elected.  But really, the choices were Lisa Murkowski (R-Family Inheritance), and Joe Miller (R-Teabagger).  What’s the difference when you put either one in the Senate with the rest of the GOP?

        Still, I’ll be rooting for the underdog Democrat, Sitka mayor Scott McAdams.  And a complete tea party style meltdown from Miller.

      2. He’s the exception that proves the rule. I do agree that indy voters tend not to go for tinfoil hat candidates like Obama and his zombies in congress.

  9. VT-Gov, with 3 towns/precincts left to count:

    Peter Shumlin  - 18,201 votes (25.0%)
    Doug Racine    - 18,014 votes (24.7%)
    Deb Markowitz  - 17,791 votes (24.4%)
    Matt Dunne     - 15,081 votes (20.7%)
    Susan Bartlett -  3,783 votes (5.2%)

    Shumlin and Racine have been trading the lead through the night, usually by less than 100 votes.  Markowitz has been pulling closer through the night as well – 410 votes separate 1st place from 3rd.

      1. But apparently he’s conceded the race.  Apparently he couldn’t get Google’s algorithms to come up with a winning campaign.

        Tentative final numbers have Shumlin up 190 votes on Racine, with Markowitz another 503 behind.  (This is not an official count from the VT SOS office – we don’t have one of those yet.)

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