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Thread: In The USA: the Next Revolution

  1. #441
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    Edit: never mind. I don't see the point in engaging with such an obvious troll.
    I imagine you were going to extol the virtues of the poor, weary worker laboring under the onerous incompetence of management. It's a remarkably self-serving story, isn't it?
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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default God And The OWS Movement

    Link to Rachel Maddow Show interview with Catholic Bishop Gene Robinson on the OWS and how part of his job is Looking for God. Fantastic interview. There is know Economic solution to the OWS movement only a moral one IMO.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0p7DWqJhotc

    Lot of Boyd Theory in this interview, the Moral Level is the supreme level in
    4GW especially on your home turff.

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    Wow Presley, you really are showing your true colours now.
    Self-serving...hmmmm
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    Wow Presley, you really are showing your true colours now.
    Self-serving...hmmmm
    I'm not the one calling for heads to roll.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    Why not? It's the company's money. And why should a bunch of crappy workers get a cut?
    And why should a crappy manager get a cut simply because he/she is a manager? Just as not everything is not necessarily the fault of management, it can't all be laid at the feet of workers. Accountability should go both ways...but it quite often doesn't.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    It seems to me that this conversation is losing value rapidly due to the fact that ad hominems and generalisations are creeping in. Buttons pushed and stuff like that. I think that two main questions / themes are being blurred somewhat.
    1). To what extent are some CEOs and other top players guilty of criminal conduct?
    2). To what extent is a huge differentiation in income (something like 500 fold) morally / ethically / legally / economically / social fabrically / what-ever-ly, justifiable or useful or sustainable?

    Me? I am a self employed builder. I guess that puts me at least pretty close to the crappy workers class.
    I have no problems whatsoever with the fact that a brain surgeon pulls in more than I do. I’d be concerned if that was not the case. But how much above the median or mean should the top few be? An order of 5 to 10 or so, I’d have no issues with at all. An order of 20 to 50 or so….my eyebrows are starting to gravitate in a Northerly direction. An order of 500 or so…..I think that is beyond silly!

    I don’t agree with all that John Rawls puts on the table, but I think me makes some good points. The reason the top few can achieve the levels they do is because of the existence of hordes of crappy workers. These form the physical backbone of the social fabric. That same social fabric that the top few can enjoy to extents that go way beyond their individual contribution and worth to that social fabric. The businesses that these CEOs in question lead, and to which they deliver their value, are also agents within this same social fabric. Any individual or business that puts him/her/itself (too far) above this social fabric is delusional. But they can afford to disassociate themselves, financially at least. Beyond that…..well, we’ll see what the future has in store.
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    And why should a crappy manager get a cut simply because he/she is a manager?
    Why should a crappy worker get a severance package? Or his last paycheck? Or his last hourly wages? Short answer, because that's what both parties agreed to when they contracted with one another.

    Just as not everything is not necessarily the fault of management, it can't all be laid at the feet of workers. Accountability should go both ways...but it quite often doesn't.
    Except some folks seem to want more accountability going one way on top of that agreed to at the time of hire, for no better reason than the form and degree of compensation is way the hell out of their experience.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-16-2011 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Reviewed and retained as part of debate, not the unpleasant tone that crept in later
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    It seems to me that this conversation is losing value rapidly due to the fact that ad hominems and generalisations are creeping in. Buttons pushed and stuff like that.
    Considering the immediate topic of interest deals with a prevailing current of ad hominem and generalization (and abundant know-nothingness where it concerns the financial sector), that's to be expected. Whether that means the conversation is losing value, I'd say consider the alternative before jumping to that conclusion.

    I think that two main questions / themes are being blurred somewhat.
    1). To what extent are some CEOs and other top players guilty of criminal conduct?
    Is there a reason to suspect a spike in criminal conduct amongst CEOs and top players worthy of discussion here?

    2). To what extent is a huge differentiation in income (something like 500 fold) morally / ethically / legally / economically / social fabrically / what-ever-ly, justifiable or useful or sustainable?
    Morally and ethically, don't give a damn. People would be whining about fairness if CEOs were making only 40 times the lowest income wage earner, let alone 275.

    Legally, since when is it illegal in this country to be richer than someone else?

    Economically, the top 1 percent owning a quarter of the "nation's" wealth is not qualitatively different from owning 40 percent. Outrage over this statistic alone betrays a severe ignorance of what constitutes wealth, as if 40 percent of it were stuffed into mattresses by a bunch of miserly hoarders.

    Socially, Americans whine after a bust. Muddle through to the recovery and the vast majority will go back to being satisfied with being in the top 1 percent of the entire world.

    Sustainability has very little to do with the magnitude of wealth ownership. Even wealth parked as conservatively as possible--in Treasury bonds--finances the trillion dollar deficits the nation runs up on top of $2 trillion in tax receipts the top $900 billion the top 1 percent fork will fork over for 2012. That leaves real estate investment (which peaked at 6 percent GDP over half a century ago), equity and bonds, and consumption--the latter three of which directly reinject wealth back into the system.

    Me? I am a self employed builder. I guess that puts me at least pretty close to the crappy workers class.

    I have no problems whatsoever with the fact that a brain surgeon pulls in more than I do. I’d be concerned if that was not the case. But how much above the median or mean should the top few be? An order of 5 to 10 or so, I’d have no issues with at all. An order of 20 to 50 or so….my eyebrows are starting to gravitate in a Northerly direction. An order of 500 or so…..I think that is beyond silly!
    Why do you care? What does it cost you?

    I don’t agree with all that John Rawls puts on the table, but I think me makes some good points.
    I've very little interest in philosophy, so I'll leave that to others.

    The reason the top few can achieve the levels they do is because of the existence of hordes of crappy workers.
    That's not true, certainly not now as some universal law and--as automation picks up the pace--eventually not even as a matter of circumstance. But even when a man gains wealth by employing labor, precisely what obligation does he have to labor beyond what was contracted? A wage is earned.

    These form the physical backbone of the social fabric. That same social fabric that the top few can enjoy to extents that go way beyond their individual contribution and worth to that social fabric.
    Who are you to judge whether the top few are compensated "way beyond their individual contributions?"
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-16-2011 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Reviewed and retained as part of debate, not the unpleasant tone that crept in later
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    1). To what extent are some CEOs and other top players guilty of criminal conduct?
    I think the extent is significant, but few--if any--charges will ever be brought. Instead, they'll throw one-off rogues like Adoboli under the bus whenever they get caught, satiating or attempting to satiate the public's hunger for justice. The collaboration between Standard & Poor's and the securitized mortgage industry alone ought to result in centuries of jailtime.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    2). To what extent is a huge differentiation in income (something like 500 fold) morally / ethically / legally / economically / social fabrically / what-ever-ly, justifiable or useful or sustainable?
    Hard to say how sustainable it is. There are a lot of ways the have-nots could shift the balance of power to even things out, but there are a lot of options available for counteracting those methods.

    Morally/ethically, the line is the point at which those who have significant wealth are able to leverage that wealth to change the laws of commerce to the disadvantage of everyone besides themselves. There's no number at which it becomes wrong (though I could see a number which strongly indicates that something is wrong), it's the manner in which that number is used.

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    Default There is no end to the madness

    http://www.bizjournals.com/washingto...l-out-big.html

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the mortgage giants that are now under government receivership, has approved $12.79 million in bonus pay for the performance of 10 executives at Fannie and Freddie last year despite both companies posting losses in all four quarters, Politico reported.

    The executives were rewarded with Wall Street-style incentives for meeting modest performance targets tied to modifying mortgages in jeopardy of foreclosure, according to Politico. Among the compensation deals was a $2.3 million bonus awarded to outgoing Freddie Mac CEO Ed Haldeman for 2010, a figure that is more than double his salary of $900,000. Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams got $2.37 million in performance bonuses.
    Tax payers dollars, requesting another tax bail out while asking for bonuses, once again a rewarding failure. This isn't capitalism.

    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the...e-giants-fredd

    VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, it isn't exactly good talent if -- maybe we could -- maybe we pay just to get rid of them so we don't have to pay another $6 billion next quarter!

    THUNE: Right. Well, these are the guys who were brought in to kind of clean up the mess. And you know, so far, they're asking for another $6 billion. They have reduced what we think is going to be the liability of the taxpayers, though, for the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bailout significantly over the course of the last year.

    But that being said, they're asking for an additional $6 billion in taxpayer assistance at a time when they're making these big bonus payments. And it just sounds -- it just looks terribly inconsistent, and I think it is -- it is an outrage. And I think, you know, you've got to show a little bit more of an ear for what's going on in this country right now and how important it is that we get our fiscal house in order, how important it is that we get people in the real economy back to work. This just doesn't square with that.

    VAN SUSTEREN: I take it that we didn't sort of tie them up and handcuff them and drag them into these $900,000 jobs, right? They came voluntarily?

    THUNE: Right, and you know...

    VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, so it's, like -- (INAUDIBLE) it's not like they were forced to take -- and I -- when -- when they got these jobs, did we promise them this $13 million to be divvied up in bonuses?

    THUNE: I don't know the answer to that for certain. What I know is that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, in consultation with the Treasury, sets this. Now, the president's czar sort of set the pay for a lot these things a long time ago. But I think the bonuses are probably all something that's very discretionary. And you would think if it's discretionary, you wouldn't want to make those types of payouts right now.

    Now, the House of Representatives is working on legislation to reform Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in a way that would create a new structure for the pay for these that's more consistent with what other federal employees might receive.
    Government run can't be worse than what it was. Even an SES employee wouldn't come close to making that much money, and they frequently have much more responsibility (or provide more value in other terms).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    Why should a crappy worker get a severance package? Or his last paycheck? Or his last hourly wages? Short answer, because that's what both parties agreed to when they contracted with one another.

    Early in my economic studies I learned about what leads to wages.
    It's NOT the hardship, economic value or societal value of the work.

    Let's have an example.
    A plumber works normally. Suddenly, half of the plumbers in the nation die.
    The next few months he'll still do the same work, but he will earn much more. Then new plumbers will arrive and few years later he'll earn only lightly more than before.


    This happened with programmers in Germany. They were rare and well-paid, now they aren't rare any more - and their hourly salary has dropped 40%.
    The work and performance of programmers hasn't changed much. If anything,t hey are now much more productive due to better compiling.


    Wages and salaries are market prices, and as all market prices they may be distorted by market failures. One in this case especially relevant market failure is power asymmetry.
    A corporation has much better negotiation power than a lone worker, and as a result the worker gets paid little.
    Workers with rare qualifications have better negotiating power, and accordingly get paid more.
    A common tool to balance the power asymmetry is to allow effective labour organisation and collective bargaining - workers earn more with this power of being united and accordingly, employers and shareholders hate that and lobby against labour unions.


    So the wage or salary that results in market activities is not at all a fair price, but the result of market powers. It's in most cases perfectly legitimate to spot power asymmetries, point them out and demand better wages/salaries.

    Sadly, the U.S. government cheers labour unions only when they're sabotaging some distant socialist country. At home they're being portrayed as evil, corrupt - in the interest of shareholders and executives.


    Similarly, agreements between executives and their company can be subject to distortions as well. The principal-agent problem is strong in this.


    I hope I've made clear that trust in negotiated conditions of employment and negotiated income as well as market outcomes in general must not be trusted in economic policy discussions. They are subject to distortions and a good economic policy has first and foremost to counteract major market failures.
    A multiplication of the ratio between CEO pay and worker pay over the course of a generation is a big, big indicator for market failure. And it's just an example for market failures that lead to major (excessive) income inequality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    I suppose I'd go with OWS, mainly because I side with them on social issues. I think OWS is in the right place, directing anger at the right people, but I have doubts that any good solution is going to come from the movement directly.
    I don't think they have a clue, and they're directing all of the anger at 1/3 of the problem. They also have no idea what they want, beyond a vague laundry list of left mantras. Certainly not likely that any good solution will emerge from there... to the extent that the Democratic arty feels they have to pander to them in the same way that the Republicans feel they have to pander to the tea party, they could actually increase the polarization that'x creating so much of the trouble... as usual, good solutions won't come from the extremes.

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    With almost 8 million jobs lost to the crisis, I don't think you'd have to look very hard...

    Of course I buy into the idea that the corporations who offered loans they knew would not be repaid, then lied about the value of those loans in order to sell them to investors, caused the crisis. I honestly didn't think that was up for debate.
    Surely you don't think that's all there was to it, or that these events emerged from some sort of vacuum...

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    It tells me we need to vote out incumbents on both sides of the aisle. Beyond that, I don't really see anything to choose from between the behavior of politicians and the behavior of corporate officers.
    What makes you think the new incumbents are going to be any better, as long as Americans keep voting for whoever's best at propping up scapegoats and doling out feelgood promises? That includes people like OWS and the tea party... it's all their fault, get them under control and everything will be ok...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-16-2011 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Reviewed and retained as part of debate, not the unpleasant tone that crept in later
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Surely you don't think that's all there was to it, or that these events emerged from some sort of vacuum...
    I think they emerged from fortyish years of financial deregulation and other forms of political favor for the financial sector.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    What makes you think the new incumbents are going to be any better, as long as Americans keep voting for whoever's best at propping up scapegoats and doling out feelgood promises? That includes people like OWS and the tea party... it's all their fault, get them under control and everything will be ok...
    I'm not sure it's any more useful to talk about centrism than it is to talk about 'real America' or 'what most people want'. There's a huge chunk of the country that thinks Obama is a left-wing extremist. I mean, good lord.

    I don't view OWS as something that creates solutions, or which can create solutions. I view it as a source of political energy. Its main purpose is to get the left angry and keep it that way. Which, frankly, the left is badly in need of.

    I don't think it's accurate to compare OWS to the Tea Party anyway. The Tea Party is about immigration. The Tea Party is about closing down abortion clinics. The Tea Party is also mad at Wall Street, but when you try to talk about solutions... well, how 'bout those dang immigrants, huh? On the flip side of the coin, you can make a lot of generalizations about OWS that will probably be correct: you can say that most OWS participants are in favor of Obama's health care bill (or, if they're not, it's because the bill didn't go far enough). You can say that most OWS participants are in favor of legalizing gay marriage. You can say that most OWS participants opposed the Iraq war. But OWS remains about money and jobs and the system which creates both.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-16-2011 at 12:30 PM. Reason: Reviewed and retained as part of debate, not the unpleasant tone that crept in later

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    Default Have some forgotten the SWC rules?

    Moderator's Note

    I have hesitated to remind some of those post here that SWC is a discussion forum. This thread has elements of acrimony and sniping as the exchanges on economics in particular have swayed back and forth. Please consider what you post.

    In an interview on SWJournal Dayuhan stated:
    This would be a good place to say that the SWJ Council is, bar none, the most effectively moderated online discussion board I’ve ever seen. Too many times to count I’ve seen intelligent, substantive discussions on other sites overwhelmed by shrieking ideologues and partisan buffoonery; SWJ manages to keep that off without censoring ideas. They could be accused of censoring morons and wankers, but that to me is admirable, if politically incorrect... and yes, I know that’s subjective, but it’s nice to see somebody with the cojones to make the call.
    That does not mean Dayuhan agrees with me here, but it is a good reminder of what makes SWC work.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-09-2011 at 05:52 PM. Reason: Add quote
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Tax payers dollars, requesting another tax bail out while asking for bonuses, once again a rewarding failure.
    Trust me, you'll barely notice.

    This isn't capitalism.
    Which definition of capitalism excludes bail outs and conservatorship? Might as well toss out bankruptcy while we're at it, eh?

    Government run can't be worse than what it was.
    Have you heard of HUD?

    Even an SES employee wouldn't come close to making that much money, and they frequently have much more responsibility (or provide more value in other terms).
    Fannie and Freddie together manage about about $175 billion in revenue. Aside from DoD and the entitlements, care to point out any other agency that has a comparable budget?
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    I think they emerged from fortyish years of financial deregulation and other forms of political favor for the financial sector.
    I don't think regulation would have made much difference; it's a generally overrated factor. It's easy to look back and think that regulation X would have prevented event Y, but in reality once a perverse incentive is in place, it will be followed: close one way, another will be found. Regulation cannot substitute for good policy or compensate for bad policy.

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    I'm not sure it's any more useful to talk about centrism than it is to talk about 'real America' or 'what most people want'. There's a huge chunk of the country that thinks Obama is a left-wing extremist. I mean, good lord.
    There's also a huge chunk of the country who thinks that the whole crisis was caused by bad greedy bankers.

    Most people want what they can't have: higher wages and lower prices, lower taxes and more government doleouts. That's a constant. The point is simply that the raving of the polarized extremes contributes nothing to the search for solutions, and to the extent that those closer to the center have to pander to the extremes can actually obstruct the search for solutions.

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    I don't view OWS as something that creates solutions, or which can create solutions. I view it as a source of political energy. Its main purpose is to get the left angry and keep it that way. Which, frankly, the left is badly in need of.
    The left is always angry; most of the time nobody notices. It's not a very useful anger, because it's based on ignorance and offers nothing in the way of solutions. I'd guess that most of the OWS core comes from comfortable middle-class backgrounds and that few have ever done anything resembling real work or have experienced anything other than self-imposed hardship. Certainly they'll try to represent themselves as speaking for "the 99%", but do they? I tend to doubt it. We'll see. With some experience of the left, I expect little. They've a remarkable talent for shooting themselves simultaneously in both feet.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I don't think regulation would have made much difference; it's a generally overrated factor. It's easy to look back and think that regulation X would have prevented event Y, but in reality once a perverse incentive is in place, it will be followed: close one way, another will be found. Regulation cannot substitute for good policy or compensate for bad policy.
    The striking down of the specific regulations I'm talking about was/is a perverse incentive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    There's also a huge chunk of the country who thinks that the whole crisis was caused by bad greedy bankers.

    Most people want what they can't have: higher wages and lower prices, lower taxes and more government doleouts. That's a constant. The point is simply that the raving of the polarized extremes contributes nothing to the search for solutions, and to the extent that those closer to the center have to pander to the extremes can actually obstruct the search for solutions.
    That sorta exemplifies what I'm talking about. You're proposing that the crash shouldn't be blamed on the banks as if that's a centrist view. To me, that's pretty far right-wing. Centrism doesn't seem like it's an actual position, anymore--lots of people claim to be centrist, but for the most part that seems to be a way of saying that they think they've got their finger on the country's pulse and that their opponents are extremists.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    The left is always angry; most of the time nobody notices. It's not a very useful anger, because it's based on ignorance and offers nothing in the way of solutions. I'd guess that most of the OWS core comes from comfortable middle-class backgrounds and that few have ever done anything resembling real work or have experienced anything other than self-imposed hardship. Certainly they'll try to represent themselves as speaking for "the 99%", but do they? I tend to doubt it. We'll see. With some experience of the left, I expect little. They've a remarkable talent for shooting themselves simultaneously in both feet.
    The left is frequently aghast, but it has trouble rallying together. I'm talking about a more unifying sense of anger, rather than the individual outrages that normally splinter that half of the spectrum. As for who they represent... you seem to be differentiating between the middle class and the 99%, which strikes me as a pretty major misconception (by "the 99%", I mean the people OWS wants to / claims to champion, not OWS itself). But like I said, I don't think it's useful to try to talk about what the majority of the country wants, because it's too easy to spin that sort of talk into support for whatever side you yourself are on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    The striking down of the specific regulations I'm talking about was/is a perverse incentive.
    Only to a very minor degree. The regulations didn't do much and their removel did little to contribute to the crisis. the actual causes are far deeper and a good deal harder to address. Probably the worst thing to do right now would be to pass a bunch of regulations and call it done... like blaming everything ion the banks, that's an easy way to avoid looking at actual causes and trying to develop systemic solutions.

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    That sorta exemplifies what I'm talking about. You're proposing that the crash shouldn't be blamed on the banks as if that's a centrist view.
    I don't think view has a place on the political spectrum... it's just true. Anyone trying to blame this exclusively on banks isn't paying attention, and is pointing all of the blame at 1/3 of the problem, which is not a way to solve anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    I don't think it's useful to try to talk about what the majority of the country wants, because it's too easy to spin that sort of talk into support for whatever side you yourself are on.
    I'm not even talking about "what most of the country wants". I'm talking about setting ideology aside and trying to actually look at what's wrong and how to fix it. That will probably not be what most of the country wants, because what most of the country seems to want is to blame somebody, hang somebody, and pretend nothing more needs to be done.

    One of the most awkward problems of democracy is coming up with - and following - good long term economic policies in an environment where good long-term economic policies are often going to be unpopular. I don't know that anyone's managed a good solution to that one.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 11-10-2011 at 04:30 AM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    You're proposing that the crash shouldn't be blamed on the banks as if that's a centrist view.
    He's proposing it as if it were a fact. As you've taken the affirmative position, presumably you have evidence to sustain the charge. You do, don't you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Only to a very minor degree. The regulations didn't do much and their removel did little to contribute to the crisis.
    We can go farther than that. There isn't a single shred of evidence that any banking deregulation contributed to the financial crisis in anyway. On the contrary, the fallout from the collapse was severely diminished by permitting holding companies to simultaneously proprietary desks with hundreds of billions on the asset ledge with commercial banks posting net worths in the $1-2 trillion range. Nor can we point to derivative deregulation, which simply never happened.

    One of the most awkward problems of democracy is coming up with - and following - good long term economic policies...
    I'm pretty sure that's one of the most awkward problems in economics period.
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

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