Friday, February 13, 2009

And the Kool-Aid Drinker of the Day Award Goes To... reader Victor gets the Kool-Aid Drinker of the Day Award for his insightful response to the recent article by Manifesto Joe that we posted here, titled "Is A Capitalist Meltdown Upon Us?" which took a look at the current economic crisis.

Victor's award-winning comment reads thusly:

"At the end of WWII, Eisenhower and his troops rolled into the last of the concentration camps and killing fields uncovering unspeakable horrors with emaciated bodies piled into mountains. He had the foresight to order his men to 'Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the track of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.'
In spite of the reams of evidence to the contrary, there are holocaust deniers around the world. Driven by the emotion of their conviction rather than the facts staring them in the face, they make utter fools of themselves.

You people remind me of those idiots who ignore the lessons of the past because of your own selfish agenda. It some kind of insane frenzy to "stick it to the man," you are willing to hand over your freedoms and to deny liberty to your own children. I knew jealousy was a powerful emotion, but I had no idea it could be fanned to such an incinerating level such as we are seeing. It is no longer considered acceptable to praise and reward achievement. Now it is called excess. The winners who our economy is built around are being pulled down by the losers who have never been willing to demonstrate any energy or to produce anything. And when it is over, they will look around and say, "Why do we not have jobs? What have we done?"
But the true lessons of the past tell us the only thing government can do to help an economy is to lower taxes, get out of the way, and let the markets do what they will. It always works. And because lower taxes lead to increased wealth, it always results in greater treasury receipts.
But you seek to cover up the past. You say it never happened. You refuse to admit the lessons of growing government a la FDR, LBJ and now Obama have been catostrophic to the economy.
But the pendulum will swing. In 2010 conservatives will muster and amass on Washington after this orgy is over and the filthy aftermath is shown in the light of day. Lets hope that once they shut down the Maniac on Pennsylvannia Ave. they keep their wits about them this time.
And I want to say one more thing. Fuck you. Fuck you all who gleefully allow this proud nation's might and traditions to be trampled, raped, starved and killed off like those innocents in Germany. You should be ashamed."


Congrats, Victor, you get our Kool-Aid-Drinker of the Day award. But first, here's a few bulletins from Planet Earth:

1. Re: Eisenhower wanting to "Get it all on record."
Actually, that's what we Dems have long wanted to do with Bush's treasonous crimes. But (as was the case during the Reagan/Ollie North years) Bush and Cheney were the masters of secrecy and destroying records.

2. "The winners who our economy is built around are being pulled down by the losers who have never been willing to demonstrate any energy or to produce anything."

Yeah, losers like Warren Buffett, the richest man on earth, who has urged Congress to raise taxes on the rich. Clearly, Buffett doesn't know anything about economics or prosperity and, instead, we should listen to geniuses like GWB, (who was such a big success in the private sector).

3. "In 2010 conservatives will muster and amass on Washington after this orgy is over."

Yeah, the GOP showed us how "conservative" they are during the past 10 years (during which they held all the levers of power in D.C.) They inherited a surplus from Clinton and proceeded to double the nation's deficit with things like their $3 trillion war fiasco in Iraq. Yes, these are the people who we can depend on to restore fiscal sanity to Washington.

Oh and as far as the current Second Great Depression, it's clearly unfair to blame it on the GOP. No, let's blame it all on Obama, who's been in office a few weeks.

Please, Victor, turn off Rush and EDUCATE YOURSELF, moron.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Is A Capitalist Meltdown Upon Us?


I'll only be 53 on my next birthday in late July, yet it already seems like I've lived a tiring amount of history. Only 20 years ago, the world saw the meltdown of Soviet-style communism -- and many observers, largely neo-conservatives, interpreted that as an ideological culmination, "the end of history." There was even an influential book written with that title. (Does anyone remember that author now? And, does he want to remember that book? Yeah, I know -- Francis Fukuyama.)

It appears that reversals of fortune can happen quickly. Now it looks like the allegedly venerable ideology of "free-market" capitalism is on the ropes, and in serious danger of going down. Who would have thought it?

Die-hard Marxists did. I've never been one of them, even as a long-ago radical all of 23 years old. I still know three people who have continued to call themselves Marxists in total defiance of dismissal or ridicule, and they are probably gloating a lot now. The economic train wreck they kept dogmatically predicting finally seems to be in front of us.

But even as America sleepwalked through our Second Gilded Age (circa 1981-2005), I grew skeptical of the Marxist vision. "Historical inevitability" always sounded like a religious tenet, without the pure superstition; and Marxism itself, a sort of quasi-religion for embittered atheists.

We should be as cautious about awarding hard-line socialists a victory here, as much as "we" (in the editorial sense) should have checked for our wallets the minute Reagan started talking about trickle-down and Phil Gramm started talking about deregulation. The past century should have taught us that the answer lies in between.

Starting with the excesses of laissez-faire: America has, for the past 30-ish years, seen the roller-coaster ride that happens with that sort of economic policy. An elite grows very rich, a minority near the bottom slips much further down, and most people tend to stagnate in the middle.

There are cycles of boom and bust. The booms are good for most people, but especially good for a few. The latter group inevitably forms a "Why Should I Have To Pay Taxes?" lobby and gets bonanzas from lawmakers eager to please. And since these are the people of ostentation and material success, their influence is great among fashionable "thinkers" of the day.

Now the big bust is upon us. It's a bit like 1933 all over again -- not as grim or total in devastation, but it's likely to get worse. President Barack Obama has warned us that this is so.

But history, with its entire lesson, should be heeded, and it seems like Obama is one who will do so.

There were very good reasons for the meltdown of the Soviet empire 20 years ago. Contrary to right-wing mythology, Reagan and his military buildup had little to do with it. Post-Soviet Russian economists recall the problems as internal, and any intellectually honest person knew what they were. There's no need for me to recite the litany here -- Americans heard it all for decades.

But let's face it, die-hard socialists out there -- state-run enterprises have a poor track record. The employees seem to lack incentives to produce. Cooperatives tend to degenerate into personal conflict, power struggles and chaos. And as for the concentration of power in the hands of "vanguard revolutionaries" -- the horrors and enormities of that have been abundant just in the past century.

I don't think it's hard to argue for a sense of balance and measure. In America, it seems like the compromising wheeler-dealers -- the FDRs, the Trumans, the LBJs, the Ted Kennedys -- got more done for working Americans than any of our homegrown radicals ever did.

But there is little doubt that there's been a sea change, and it's been back toward socialist thinking. The Nobel Prize committees have not been known for their sympathy toward socialist-leaning economists, yet Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz has more or less come out in favor of the nationalization of U.S. banks. That would be a major step toward socialism of some fashion. Why not? We've just given the bastards $700 billion in taxpayer money to keep them in business. Here's a link to the interview with Stiglitz.

And, it appears that such state power would be the only thing to force the shameless swine who run these enterprises to behave themselves. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., made a speech on the Senate floor about the Wall Street oinkers who had themselves awarded $18.4 billion in bonuses while their enterprises got in on the aforementioned $700 billion, because of reckless and disastrous mismanagement. Here's another link to reports on this issue, and to a video of McCaskill's speech. Be patient, the video seems very rough.

So, what should be the ultimate American destination, in an era of "capitalist" meltdown? The Swedes, with a hybrid socialist-capitalist system, don't seem to do badly, with avowed Socialists predominantly in power since 1929. Their booms are smaller, but so are their busts. Their people don't live in fear of homelessness or inability to afford basic health care. Right-wing humorist P.J. O'Rourke, when asked about the Swedes' seeming happiness with their stable system, said that they are all insane -- but that their insanity is distributed equally among the people.

It's a funny line. But there's nothing funny about facing a mortgage foreclosure, or about the welfare rolls shrinking even as joblessness is rapidly expanding. With a growing U.S. underclass, it may be time to take a second look at the socialist mind-set -- despite the old Marxist baggage. Nobody requires us to go to extremes.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.