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03/27/2011

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an observer

Jack,

Please get focused. Unions for professional athletes are useful to observe. First, they show that union v non-union is a question solely of income distribution. This is the second why Wal-Marts closes any store that is unionized. It doesn't want a working model existing disproving arguments about inefficiency, etc. Posner can say that unions are inefficient because there are few actual studies as to the reality.

The second is that "leakage" is fatal to attempts to unionize. The only way that unions work is when the firm cannot move elsewhere.

This is why those of us who are concerned about the really bad effects of income inequality are looking for other means or methods to share the wealth.

Frankly, I have little optimism for the future. My state will be a third world country in 10 years. It adds little value now (per McKinsey) and is doing nothing to increase its value. For example, instead of finding the means/method to educate everyone we are tearing down secondary and higher education as fast as possible.

Liberals are totally incapable of staying focused and solving problems. Look at the stuff out on panhandling. People will give $$$ to someone holding a sign, claiming to be homeless, instead of giving them a coupon that can only be redeemed for a hot meal, not alcohol or drugs. We pay unemployment benefits to able body people when we need public areas cleaned, mowed, and painted. I could go on and on and on. In sum, liberals are their own worse enemies.

NEH

an observer, Liberal this, Liberal that, Liberals, Liberals, Liberals and Liberals again! As if they are the sole cause of all the Nation's problems. I see a problem here, about FOCUS...

"Union vs. Non-Union is a question solely of income distribution"?
Au Contraire. Its been an uphill battle to implement all sorts of Safety and Health activities into the workplace. As a matter of fact, workplace injuries and deaths have dropped dramatically since Unions began showing up in the workplace. Much to the profit and bottom line of all sorts of Industries. Not too mention, Unions have no interest in destroying the producer of their bread and butter, but they do want a fair days wage for fair days work. Doesn't everyone, if and when they can get it? Try individual bargaining for such a wage. Everyone in the Plant doing the same job has a different wage. Talk about one messed up pricing system. Collective bargaining is much more efficient. Not only for the worker, but the company as well. If handled properly it can and will contribute to a Company's production efficiency, quality and bottom line.

As for those undeserved Unemployment Benefits, you are aware that they are really a form of insurance, paid upfront by both Employer and Employee. And you would deny someone their legal right to collect their insurance payout?

Ah... the Conservative mind at work.

an observer

NEH

Written like a liberal, unable to either read, reflect, or solve problems.

If you have read my responses you we see that I am totally in agreement with the goals that having unions attempts to achieve. Unions except in retail or services that cannot move, will never achieve them because employers will move.

Second, by now you should have figured out that blue collar workers lack the capacity to make judgments in their best interests, so relying on blue collar workers as a political force is not the best of ideas.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/03/the-conservative-states-of-america/71827/

TANSTAAFL

By criticizing "liberal" theories of on income distribution on the one hand, and urging on the other that income distribution is solely the end result of government regulation, Observer expresses conflicting views that he fails to recognize let alone reconcile.

And Observer's unfounded contention that "blue collar workers lack the capacity to make judgments in their best interests" is elitist pap worthy of a Rockefeller Republican.

Bah.

Jack

Observer? What IS this "unable to move" thingy? Unionizing coal mines, "unable to move" at HUGE personal sacrifice to the impoverished mine workers of the day, likely ranks among the most positive of increases in safety and wage gains for those who risk their lungs and lives in a career below ground. True, at one time their efforts were subverted by owners threatening or actually closing US mines and going off to exploit those of S. America.

Is THAT what you mean? That unions are fine......... if pitted against the nearly infinite surplus labor of a "selective" globalism?

As for "blues" not "lacking the capacity to make judgments in their best interests" or as NEH accurately notes, in the overall interests of their "golden goose" I'd suggest (much) further study.

WHO for example, IS in the position of cutting the brownie fairly? The answer is NO one, and the task should be left to a constant tension between representatives of collective bargaining and the ever larger corporations and their increasing political power.

Becker laments what "the unions" did to the airline biz. And possibly a combo of pilot shortage and negotiation did raise pay "too much" for those of the major airlines, though organized flight attendants remained underpaid. As airlines encountered problems the unions, including aircraft mechanics made concessions.

With plane leasing making the airline biz a relative easy to enter one, true, outfits came in, cherry picking the most lucrative routes, and profited from exploiting pilot and other wages.

But to what end? We're seeing air disasters due to sliding co-pilots into the pilot seat without adequate experience. Pretty costly.

Airlines DO have a cost sensitive problem. In order to provide the lucrative business traveler market and get those guys close to where they want to go, requires filling the rest of the plane with price sensitive pleasure travelers. One can not exist w/o the other.

WERE we to look at overall policy, the political refusal to develop a rational oil and energy policy after the warning bell went off loudly in the 70's has impacted the airline biz FAR more than has wages for their staffs. They have NO alternative but to pay the price OPEC and CFTC gins up for jet fuel. If these costs go higher than the pleasure traveler will pay, routes will be cut, and the biz guy won't be served either.

As for your Atlantic article it looks as though it's a strong warning not to try to run our nation on the precepts of fundamentalist religions or the economic equations that give us MS, AL, TX in which the commitment to "education" and preparing its next generation for the "knowledge era" is token at best as are their neglect of H/C issues.

I inserted "fundamentalist" as another survey indicates nearly as many religious folks in the more educated and prosperous N/E as in all but the "deep south" but they're largely Catholics and more moderate Prostestants who better respect the crucial division of religion and state.... ie won't vote for some foolish twit because he's "pro-life" and anti-individual choice.

an observer

Tanstaafl

My I bother you with the facts.

If conservatives are so smart, why aren't they rich? The positive correlations are conservative = low income, liberal = high income.

This shows beyond a doubt that conservatives cannot make judgments in their best interests, i.e., take the steps necessary to become rich. Instead they just become more conservative. Sorry, but Intel chips, the factory floor of most wealth now, only respond to well written code and liberals write far better code.

Conservatives are trapped in the same intellectual box as OBL and Al Qaeda---the godless liberals are richer. Conservatives keep asking, How could Big Ernie be so unjust? We believe and are poorer than the heathen in our Great Cities that are rich.

AS a few people in the Great Cities get even richer the next 20 years, conservatives will really be challenged. Read the McKinsey report on the World's 600 cities.

I do not criticize the need for far greater income equality. What I point out is that Liberals are mistaken as to the means/methods to that goal. Liberals lack focus. They make silly arguments---line the one above that people getting unemployment benefits don't need to work because it is insurance. Sorry, but labels mean nothing. Unemployment benefits have no economic characteristic of insurance, expect being a payment from A to B.

I didn't opposing benefits for the unemployed. My belief is that it ought to be conditioned on working. We have the need for all kinds of public work. What society can afford to pay people not to work? Work is good for the spirit. It lets one keeps skills, learn new skills, have boss who can give a reference, meet people and interact socially. I could go on and on and on.

health care

I wonders: "Evidently hundreds of millions of union political contributions have nothing to do with patronage. How curious."

Jack

Observer?????? When folks have been laid off by the millions, and finding no new employment and are reduced to spending far too long on the subsistence, if that, unemployment insurance benefits, what work is it you suggest?

Perhaps a cumbersome, low skill, make work program in which the admin costs would greatly exceed the product produced?

"What society can afford to pay people not to work?"

GOOD question! and one of relevance today! Did you, in your youth read science fiction and encounter tales of a time when most of what we needed or wanted would be produced with little labor and a lot of robotics and mechanization?

Are we perhaps approaching that era? Currently we've 18% under or unemployed with the newly "created" jobs being more underemployment in tasks that don't pay the bills. With nearly one in five not contributing at their highest, or any, level I don't see any shortages. To be sure there are, and have long been, areas underserved such as the care of elders, but! not much of a financial mechanism to draw and educate the caretakers who'll be in increasing demand as the boomers continue to age.

Well, the Sci Fi stories depicted a dramatic shortening of the work week and the rise of a leisure class able, to finally, enjoy the arts, pursue higher education, travel and spend more time on recreation or volunteerism as did many in the 50's and 60's before the "two income" family became nearly universal....... at working folk level.

Trouble is, unlike the Sci Fi story, we've no mechanism to distribute the gains of higher productivity which continue, as they have for 40 years, to accrue to the top 1% while the work week for those doing the work has not shortened, but has instead lengthened.

You question is a good one. ARE we facing a structural rather than cyclical unemployment (much of which has been hidden by the corrupt banker led housing boom and before that the "second income" of the stock market boom) and an era when shorter not longer work weeks would be better?

In considering the above, and "income redistribution" which TOOK place of the last 40 years, had "the rising tide of productivity" lifted all the boats in the same ratio of income distribution of the 70's most middle class folks would have an extra $10,000 of HH income to spend. In that case "go shopping" would indeed spur the economy with many buying such as a new car instead of patching up those of one of the oldest fleets we've had.

an observer

Jack

There is plenty of work to be done, for people on unemployment insurance while we try to find longer term solutions.

Give someone who is drawing an unemployment check a rake and let them at least get the leaves up in our public parks or pull the weeds. We need efforts on the level of the CCC. We cannot above all, have people idle so long. It destroys the soul, sense of worth, etc. Our problem is not a lack of work, it is a lack of resourcefulness.

Beyond that, you and a couple of other posters continue to reflect the total inability of liberals to think and solve problems.

Someone above says I am not right because there are mines that are unionized. This is a not thinking. Look at how few people work in mines. This is just mindless drivel from someone who cannot admit being mistaken.

I am not anti-union. I am all for private unions, provided they are honest and structured to deal with what Charlie Munger calls their hidden flaw, which is the Persian Messenger syndrome. I believe the case for public unions is a policy questions. Good at times, bad at others. Clearly, public unions should never be allowed to strike.

What I do believe is that unions cannot be made to solve the problems we now face because of two reasons; (1) many man employers will move; and (2) the inability of most people to be an effective union member.

Look at the NFL strike. Ask 99% of the people on the street if the players are doing what is right and they will say yes. Ask them, are you in a union, trying to join a union, etc., and they will say No. Ask them why and they will give a thousand excuses, which all boil down to one--Because of my personal limitations I am not capable of working with an trusting my co-workers and I know by co-workers are the same.

It is very hard to to help people who cannot and will not help themselves and yet, because of the devastating effects on income inequality on society we are forced to try to do something.

This isn't some do good social crusade on my part. Its good enlightened self interest and economics, based on fundamental principles of psychology and political science.

Any one can look at the data. As income equality have grown in this Country investment has nose dived and our standard of living has declined.

This set up the debacle over which that charlatan and fraud Alan Greenspan presided. He had the morals of Mexican drug lord. He let the investment banks flood the world with crap, knowing of the fraud that was ongoing because, again as Munger says, the great danger of fraud and embezzlement is that, until discovered, the victims think they have the money in the bank which the crooks are out spending.

Greenspan knew that the hot money would take peoples eyes off the truth--income inequality was a cancer gutting our country. This guy was evil evil. A real Rasputin.

In sum, Observer, agrees with the broadest goals of the left but strongly believes the facts make the case that the left has no idea what it is doing.

Observer will close with one example. The Obamacare bill doesn't have a severability clause. That is a clause that says if part of this law is declared unconstitutional, the rest remains. This is legislative malpractice on a scale beyond 9.1 on the Richter. We bet the entire future on this Bill and 5 justices can wipe out everything. We lose and the gang of 5 declare the entire bill invalid and we will have lost control of the house and senate for a generation or more, all for nothing.

This is stupidity. Liberals are stupid, constantly, in this way.

We are playing really high stakes poker here. The right is to the right of the Confederacy, intellectually. Mindlessly to the right. Look at the stupid stuff like state legislatures vetoing acts of Congress or super majorities to do budgets. Nothing short of destroying Modernity will satisfy these people, who are fascist or worse.

The right is deeply deeply flawed psychologically. No English speaking society has had to deal with such intolerance since Elizabeth wisely took off Mary's head.

NEH

TANSTAFFL, In all fairness, I wouldn't place "Observer" in the same Republican category as Nelson. More like one of the "New Right" (Ridiculous Right) Republicans... ;)

There is an ongoing battle for the heart and soul of the Party, between the Moderates and the "Rightists". Or should we say, former Dixiecrats and the like...

Sutter

Reading Jack’s (and others’) comments I’m finally optimistic as to how much America has changed.
Americans are finally about to be convinced to work doing exceptional things according to their ability, to provide NOT for themselves and their families, but for others, according to need. Any time now…

For the past hundred or so years, we Americans lived in darkness, not realizing that the key to even greater prosperity was so simple. We have been different than the rest of the world, and that is what has kept us lagging behind. Now we’re going to copy the rest of the world, and kick everybody else’s butt. Any time now…
Have hope, change will come. Oh yes, dear, it will…

Jack

Structural unemployment? Are the economists and pundits finally "getting it?"

Today's news and a good article:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/27/111113/strong-corporate-profits-amid.html#storylink=misearch

Jack

Thanks for the response and perhaps this "non-thinking" pragmatist can answer some of your concerns:

Jack

There is plenty of work to be done, for people on unemployment insurance while we try to find longer term solutions.

......... Oh? please read closely "Structural unemployment" below.

"Give someone who is drawing an unemployment check a rake and let them at least get the leaves up in our public parks or pull the weeds."

......... That's someone else's job and typically done with the help of productive machinery. Especially for those of the "conservative" bent, don't you find creating, by definition, a costly and inefficient bureaucracy a VERY slippery and market distorting road? Do you not trust that if "the market" wants a job done it will pay wages to have it done?


"We need efforts on the level of the CCC. We cannot above all, have people idle so long. It destroys the soul, sense of worth, etc. Our problem is not a lack of work, it is a lack of resourcefulness."

.......... If a modern CCC targeted youthful unemployment of horrendous levels it could serve as a useful, though small sidebar, that might build work habits and an appreciation of conservation be it rural or urban.

"Beyond that, you and a couple of other posters continue to reflect the total inability of liberals to think and solve problems."

........... Unsupported. Nada.


Someone above says I am not right because there are mines that are unionized. This is a not thinking. Look at how few people work in mines. This is just mindless drivel from someone who cannot admit being mistaken.

.......... 'twas I who inquired about your unexplained differential between companies that "can't move". Want to explain?

And yes! the per miner productivity has SOARED over the union represented years........ and! the mine owners have profited far more than have the miners.

"I am not anti-union. I am all for private unions, provided they are honest and structured to deal with what Charlie Munger calls their hidden flaw, which is the Persian Messenger syndrome."

.......... Ha! a do love the demand for unions to be pure as the driven snow near my Alaskan home, and especially so after the entire financial sector became corrupted top to bottom and a burgeoning ARMY of money laden K-Street lobbyists are destroying the ability of capitalism to EFFICIENTLY deploy and max the value of scarce resources.


"I believe the case for public unions is a policy questions. Good at times, bad at others. Clearly, public unions should never be allowed to strike."

............ Most, in areas of critical service are not allowed to strike. Which brings up one of the basic tenets of capitalism, that of the producer having the freedom to withhold product or labor at unacceptable price points. That leaves police and fire, etc with only the right to have there issues professionally negotiated by their reps. Seems to work OK. Why "fix" that which is not broken?

"What I do believe is that unions cannot be made to solve the problems we now face because of two reasons; (1) many man employers will move; and (2) the inability of most people to be an effective union member."

.......... 1. ?? One suspects that EVERY task than can be profitably outsourced, has or will soon be outsourced. "Global competition" for labor, profits for owners. 2. You seem to have a distrust of the grassroots democracy that built our nation. Truth is a union member has more tools today than ever. In the past dissent would have to be voiced in the meeting halls where the power elite had control of the stage and microphones, today, a group of dissenters could build political power on an anonymous web page. "The lady doth protesth to loudly......?"

"Look at the NFL strike. Ask 99% of the people on the street if the players are doing what is right and they will say yes."

.......... I'd rather not use such economic anomalies as commercial, cabal controlled sports and the feedback from the fans is typically some rah-rah based emotion.

"Ask them, are you in a union, trying to join a union, etc., and they will say No. Ask them why and they will give a thousand excuses, which all boil down to one--Because of my personal limitations I am not capable of working with an trusting my co-workers and I know by co-workers are the same."

......... I think NEH or another poster already explained that a goodly part of the decline in unionism derives from Reagan and others cold-cocking union regulation. And, the rise of the religio-corpie "right" has incredibly powerful propaganda resources that fan the "beliefs" of plantation mentality of the old south, that they're lucky that a "rich man GAVE me a job".

Today? we've arrived at the same consolidation of wealth and income in the hands of the very few that were the case and much of the cause of the Great Depression. Collective bargaining along with federal and state work rules avoided a revolution or going down the socialist road pursued by England and others. America simply will NOT work at this level of have and have nots. (See stagnant economy)


"It is very hard to to help people who cannot and will not help themselves and yet, because of the devastating effects on income inequality on society we are forced to try to do something."

............... is this some "people are lazy and deserve what they get" gospel? How explain the increased "laziness" from the employment levels of the Clinton era?


"This isn't some do good social crusade on my part. Its good enlightened self interest and economics, based on fundamental principles of psychology and political science."

............... Oh? Gee thanks.

"Any one can look at the data. As income equality have grown in this Country investment has nose dived and our standard of living has declined."

............. I hope you meant "income INequality" and yes if there is not (dollars in wallet) demand for the services of a new restaurant, indeed, savvy biz guys will not invest. Schultz of Starbucks explains his "turnaround" efforts which include closing many stores in the US, fine tuning the rest in a competitive sector and expecting his growth to occur .......... overseas.

"This set up the debacle over which that charlatan and fraud Alan Greenspan presided. He had the morals of Mexican drug lord. He let the investment banks flood the world with crap, knowing of the fraud that was ongoing because, again as Munger says, the great danger of fraud and embezzlement is that, until discovered, the victims think they have the money in the bank which the crooks are out spending."

........... Well Gspn apologized for being a bit of an overzealous "market fixes all" ideologue, but truth is he didn't have many tools with which to deal with the Mess created by a foolish and callous dereg of the financial sector that is hardly being repaired even as we try to climb out of the deep ditch.

"Greenspan knew that the hot money would take peoples eyes off the truth--income inequality was a cancer gutting our country. This guy was evil evil. A real Rasputin."

..........Well, he's lots of company! Our Profs here recently wrote essays promoting the (ludicrous) idea that income inequality didn't matter. But! if you favor clawing back some of that which has been lost to those doing the work over the last 40 years, sans collective bargaining and political activism against the "conservatives" 'baggers and the rest who ARE shilling for the corpies and the ALL for the Rich agenda......... what do you propose?

In sum, Observer, agrees with the broadest goals of the left but strongly believes the facts make the case that the left has no idea what it is doing.

Observer will close with one example. The Obamacare bill doesn't have a severability clause. That is a clause that says if part of this law is declared unconstitutional, the rest remains. This is legislative malpractice on a scale beyond 9.1 on the Richter. We bet the entire future on this Bill and 5 justices can wipe out everything. We lose and the gang of 5 declare the entire bill invalid and we will have lost control of the house and senate for a generation or more, all for nothing.

This is stupidity. Liberals are stupid, constantly, in this way.

We are playing really high stakes poker here. The right is to the right of the Confederacy, intellectually. Mindlessly to the right. Look at the stupid stuff like state legislatures vetoing acts of Congress or super majorities to do budgets. Nothing short of destroying Modernity will satisfy these people, who are fascist or worse.

The right is deeply deeply flawed psychologically. No English speaking society has had to deal with such intolerance since Elizabeth wisely took off Mary's head.

an observer

Jack;

My two cents is that you are a typical ineffective liberal.

First, for no reason that I can discern you distort points that are not even arguable. I write that unemployment benefits should be conditioned on people working. This is nothing to do with structural employment yet you throw out that red herring.

You then follow this with statements like we have machines to rake, etc., etc., never understanding that your opposition makes you the conservative, totally opposed to change.

Never to you meet my basic point that we would be better is those getting benefits worked at something.

I will give one further example.

You blame the right for disrupting efforts at unionization.

Which was a harder human endeavor: Winning the the American Revolution or overcoming the very slight breeze that organized labor has had to sail against the last 35 years? The question proves my point---which wasn't that labor was lazy---but was that potential union works have lost the capacity to trust and to work with others.

The Egyptians just toppled a government with Twitter, but here no one can organize Wal-Marts. B.S. The reason no one has organized Wal-Marts is that the people working there have no respect for themselves or their co-workers. Wal-Marts can shut down a single store here or there, but Wal-Marts could't do that if employees walked out of 1/3 of the 750 superstores in the U.S., in unison, at 12:00 noon on Friday.

Such facts show that the problems these people have is of their own making. It is not my responsibility to do for them what they could easily do for themselves.

As an observer my responsibility is to observe and report. My belief is that current liberalism isn't up to the political challenges its faces in the form of the current right wing. It is in retreat, which very deeply concerns me.

The irrelevancies and lack of focus in your writing shows serious flaws in your thinking. So what that some union mine is productive? I support private unions. Your observation means nothing viz manufacturing or service work that can leave the Country, entirely, or more to a right to work state

Simply put, you couldn't stay on point for a moment. Income inequality and structural problems are far more serious than you have any idea. Your ideas are old, tired, and proven to be not up to the job. The republicans are worse---their plans are to make a very bad situation even worse.

My message is that liberals need energy and new ideas as well as fundamentals, the later aimed at restoring peoples faith in themselves and their fellows.

You are just what Agnew said of liberals too many years ago, Nattering Nabs of Negativism. The only people worse are the Tea Party and Sarah Palin's followers.

Jack

Observer: Which side ARE you on?? Anyway let's take another look:

Jack;

My two cents is that you are a typical ineffective liberal.

........... ha! Given the upward distribution of incomes and the weakened nature of either collective bargaining OR political power, I suppose "liberals" have been ineffective in the last half century. I would be good for the nation if they were further empowered.

First, for no reason that I can discern you distort points that are not even arguable. I write that unemployment benefits should be conditioned on people working. This is nothing to do with structural employment yet you throw out that red herring.

.......... Hmmm, try again? What "the market" is telling us is that "we" simply have no work for 10% and only "under-employment" shtjobs for 8%. So............. where is the work for one in ten folks? or more?

You then follow this with statements like we have machines to rake, etc., etc., never understanding that your opposition makes you the conservative, totally opposed to change.


............. Pragmatist. See WE benefit by empowering our labor with productive machinery. While in the last post wealth and income consolidation Depression it MIGHT have been viable and more politically acceptable to have 50 guys with straw brooms making a show of street sweeping, but today, most often those tasks are given to one or two mounted on machines.


Never to you meet my basic point that we would be better is those getting benefits worked at something.

............ Hmmm, so we've a veritable army of former home builders and related R/E, title people and bankers unemployed and you'd like them to do what? Given the damage to the household incomes, perhaps their highest and best use of the unemployed member is that of taking care of kids and the homefront?

I will give one further example.

You blame the right for disrupting efforts at unionization.

............ Yep! Isn't it one of their main roles?

Which was a harder human endeavor: Winning the the American Revolution or overcoming the very slight breeze that organized labor has had to sail against the last 35 years? The question proves my point---which wasn't that labor was lazy---but was that potential union works have lost the capacity to trust and to work with others.

..........."slight breeze?" Truth is, as Becker notes, that much of the decline in union membership IS that of the tremendous productivity gains that has brought the total numbers employed in mfg to only 12% and still declining. We've whole engine factories filled with robotics and half a dozen humans. It has always been tough to unionize retail clerks and it's NOT been made easier by the corpie pandering "right".

The Egyptians just toppled a government with Twitter, but here no one can organize Wal-Marts. B.S. The reason no one has organized Wal-Marts is that the people working there have no respect for themselves or their co-workers. Wal-Marts can shut down a single store here or there, but Wal-Marts could't do that if employees walked out of 1/3 of the 750 superstores in the U.S., in unison, at 12:00 noon on Friday.

.......... Close. Truth is some Walmarts did have positive union votes..... and the greed-ridden outfit closed them down, and opened another nearby.

Such facts show that the problems these people have is of their own making. It is not my responsibility to do for them what they could easily do for themselves.

........... We've been greatly damaged by the ME-ism of the boomer generation.

As an observer my responsibility is to observe and report. My belief is that current liberalism isn't up to the political challenges its faces in the form of the current right wing. It is in retreat, which very deeply concerns me.

........... Hmmm, mebbe observe Hacker and Pierson's "Winner take all politics". Truth is THE people are about as "liberal" as in the past but the "elites" of the DNC/DCC have been pandering to corporate interests for the campaign lucre as Repubs always have.

The irrelevancies and lack of focus in your writing shows serious flaws in your thinking. So what that some union mine is productive?

........... Whaaa? YOU lament "few miners" as a "reason" for "yadda" so I point out for your benefit that A. productivity of the mines INCREASED dramatically with unionization B. are far safer.

What were you trying to say with the "few miners?" deally?


I support private unions. Your observation means nothing viz manufacturing or service work that can leave the Country, entirely, or more to a right to work state.

......... Ah! So a "strong loyal supporter of unions" IF the corpie can duck out to a "right to work w/o pay state?" or a venue of even less wages? Great.

Simply put, you couldn't stay on point for a moment. Income inequality and structural problems are far more serious than you have any idea.

........... Oh? And why, pray tell do I write about them and you not?


Your ideas are old, tired, and proven to be not up to the job.

............?????? You've little exposure to my "ideas".


The republicans are worse---their plans are to make a very bad situation even worse.

.......... Indeed. I often mention the bankrupt "ideas" of the ALL for the Rich agenda.

My message is that liberals need energy and new ideas as well as fundamentals, the later aimed at restoring peoples faith in themselves and their fellows.

........ What strikes me is your being unfamiliar with the ideas and platform of today's moderates and "the left".

You are just what Agnew said of liberals too many years ago, Nattering Nabs of Negativism. The only people worse are the Tea Party and Sarah Palin's followers.

.......... Whew, babe! you're reaching back a ways for Wm Safire's catchy line for the corrupt old contractor! If you want others to "stay on point" perhaps a more cogent lament is in order?

an observer

Jack,

I, sadly, am familiar with the ideas and platform of today's moderates and "the left." They are wholly and entirely completely inadequate for the tasks before us.

We need more fundamental changes, and far more energy, trust, and deeper and stronger personal skills than today's liberals have ever conceptualized.

I will consider only the one area in which I believe I have sufficient skill and knowledge to have a deep enough understanding to put forth some basic propositions and that is urban economics.

For all practical purposes, most all human growth and advancement takes place in cities. The recent McKinsey 600 cities report is a good place for the novice to start if they want to learn at little.

If we want to compete in the 21st century we have to make our great cities work. A rule of economics drives this. It costs more to live in a city so the city must be a more efficient and effective place to work for society to net gain.

Our constitutional model is anti, anti-city. It is based on states that are meaningless from an economic point of view, of any point of view, other than accident.

Further, how cities elect representatives makes a huge difference in their effectiveness. Single member districts are horrible, as are regions with tens or hundreds of cities. There is a lot of good recent research on the need for at large elections.

We need, at this grass roots level a total reorganization of government, junking our current state, county, and city government for regional governments that, run by at large representatives, that run all governmental aspects of an entire region.

For example, I hail from Missouri. We need to unite St. Louis and Kansas City into new regional governments across what are now state borders, eliminating any state government (it adds no value) and all our cities, counties, schools districts, special purpose districts (fire, water, sewer) etc.

This would also eliminate the free riding that cripples us. We have less than 50% of the state's population so the rest of the state free rides on the taxes collected here---we are a net exporters of taxes to both the state and the federal government.

Liberals and progressives are trying to build on a foundation that is not up to 21st century stresses.

I could go on, but there seems to be little point in writing to you, for you are so deep into denial.

It is amusing to see how you attack me because I say that what you support will not accomplish what you desire. It hurts when a coach says you are out of condition and need to run more wind sprints. But, as they say, the truth hurts.

It does not make one anti-union when one truthfully observes: (1) that facts and circumstances present effective unionization of many firms, because they will move to where they can operate non-union; and (2) blue collar and low paid service workers have only themselves to blame, for there are no real barriers to organization. The failings are their own.

In closing I will note that you have never answered the two questions I raised: (1) Which would be harder, to win the American Revolution or organize Wal-Marts? or (2) overthrow the government in Egypt by using Twitter, or doing the same about Wal-Marts.

Public unions are a problem, if at all, only because the rest of us have been lazy, lacking in focus, and involvement in the political process.

Jack

Observer??

I, sadly, am familiar with the ideas and platform of today's moderates and "the left." They are wholly and entirely completely inadequate for the tasks before us.

.............. there is much to be done!

We need more fundamental changes, and far more energy, trust, and deeper and stronger personal skills than today's liberals have ever conceptualized.

................ As vague as a Karl Rove "values" sound bite for Faux News. Detail?

I will consider only the one area in which I believe I have sufficient skill and knowledge to have a deep enough understanding to put forth some basic propositions and that is urban economics.

.............. MMM this could be good!

For all practical purposes, most all human growth and advancement takes place in cities. The recent McKinsey 600 cities report is a good place for the novice to start if they want to learn at little.

.......... I SAW the ummm "report". Here in Alaska while THE wealth is in the VERY rural and sparsely populated N. Slope, the riches of the Bering Sea, the far flung gold mines and timber of our great S/E forests, it IS true that the Anchorage parasites that fill high rises here carve off much more for themselves than is paid to those out there doing the job.

If we want to compete in the 21st century we have to make our great cities work. A rule of economics drives this. It costs more to live in a city so the city must be a more efficient and effective place to work for society to net gain.

................ It cost more to live ?? so has to be "efficient?" I see. Well, NYC is REALLY the BIG Apple isn't it? With average wage of $100,000 and flats selling for $1,000/sf. Now what it is they make that is so "productive?" And how many of the WS thieves that took America and the world down live there with their $10's of millions of tax advantaged gleanings pushing up the "average pay?"

Our constitutional model is anti, anti-city. It is based on states that are meaningless from an economic point of view, of any point of view, other than accident.

.............. Well........ we began as a federation of states and VERY local interests. True there have been many who would rather see a regional division, say the N/W with its commonalities and differing needs. But! isn't this done in effect if not as smoothly as one would hope, but the Feds? If LA outgrows it's water who is to decide what it can take from the CO River which has demands from many adjoining states?

......... and today? I used to like SEA and considered living there. But today? They've completely outgrown their transportation and other infrastructure. While their boosters keep wanting MORE companies to locate there...... the costs of adding "freeways" would be crippling, IF routes could be found between ocean, lakes, and costly existing buildings. Boeing, as you may know branched off to the Midwest where land, wages, and facilities are cheaper than in their long time home.

Further, how cities elect representatives makes a huge difference in their effectiveness. Single member districts are horrible, as are regions with tens or hundreds of cities. There is a lot of good recent research on the need for at large elections.

............ I may agree with you on that one too. Here our Council is S/M with an election approaching...... ostensibly to enhance accountability and response to the needs of the district. But! while my district is "safe" for the literate candidate I prefer, but I'll have nothing to say about some virtual teabaggers who're equally safely ensconced in Palinista country.

We need, at this grass roots level a total reorganization of government, junking our current state, county, and city government for regional governments that, run by at large representatives, that run all governmental aspects of an entire region.

............. Hmmm "too big" can be a prob too. Here, I've known several of our Governors, Reps and Senators and if need be could get in to see nearly all of them today. In CA? Ha!

For example, I hail from Missouri. We need to unite St. Louis and Kansas City into new regional governments across what are now state borders, eliminating any state government (it adds no value) and all our cities, counties, schools districts, special purpose districts (fire, water, sewer) etc.

........... That probably would be better. I know the area as a casual passerby and can imagine the friction and rivalry of a nearby city being under the control of another state. Here, we once had a Borough (County) and city, but merged both into a Borough with ONE school district in some 400 sq miles.

This would also eliminate the free riding that cripples us. We have less than 50% of the state's population so the rest of the state free rides on the taxes collected here---we are a net exporters of taxes to both the state and the federal government.

............. Hmmm? how on all the grain and cattle? And you've the fine advantage of the cities being able to sprawl into cheap rural land. Sometimes hard to know where the value is.

Liberals and progressives are trying to build on a foundation that is not up to 21st century stresses.

............. vague. I could retort that the "right" is claiming they want to revert to Ozzie and Harriet land, but are really shilling for the All For the Rich agenda we see.

I could go on, but there seems to be little point in writing to you, for you are so deep into denial.

.......... au contraire! Us pragmatic conservatives are always open to WORKABLE improvements! After all IF we hope to export our "democracy" we really ought give it a the third century check-up and rebuilding it needs and our founders predicted it would need.

It is amusing to see how you attack me because I say that what you support will not accomplish what you desire. It hurts when a coach says you are out of condition and need to run more wind sprints. But, as they say, the truth hurts.

.......... Well....... truth is it's a VERY large elephant for we who are less than visionary to describe. I have SEEN democracy in action here in Alaska where it gins up good results, it is a shame that it has been co-opted and corrupted in our nation.

.........There's a model for drawing the best out of a group of people in which a few "leaders" describe the problem (in this case what to do when the Anch airport runs out of capacity -- soon) at 15 tables there are people from the industry, some who live nearby, some just citizens, some greenies. From time to time the "table leader" sums up the suggestions of the table -- from consensus to hell no as do the others. Given the facts the combo of regular folks and "experts" comes close to the optimum decisions.

But in the US........ at the point of taking the consensus report to the executive a band of masked K-Street lobbyists ambush the state and The Box is thrown down and the wisdom of the people scattered to the winds.

It does not make one anti-union when one truthfully observes: (1) that facts and circumstances present effective unionization of many firms, because they will move to where they can operate non-union;

........... Well...... part of the negotiation. And true, in the case of autos (aided by state bribery) many of the imports did move to the low wage venues of the south. But! were the numbers employed in mfg NOT declining so rapidly, after a while demand for labor would push up wages where "too many" had relocated, so the next to consider, would not move.


and (2) blue collar and low paid service workers have only themselves to blame, for there are no real barriers to organization. The failings are their own.

........... theoretically true. Once upon a long time ago, I was a community organizer much like Obama's beginnings, in one of the poorer sections of our city. While we accomplished some good, even great things, one difficulty was that people did not see themselves OF that area. "Black" "white" Native or other "getting out" was one of the main "solutions". That's a huge problem in low paid retail and service workers who do not identify with their role. They may be students, wives "working temporarily" or aspiring basket ball or movie stars, despite the "temp" often being decades they just don't identify......... and are facing behemoths like Walmart to boot.

Different for an electrician who's invested five years apprenticing, it's his/her gig/farm and worthy of protecting.

In closing I will note that you have never answered the two questions I raised: (1) Which would be harder, to win the American Revolution or organize Wal-Marts?

........... sorry have to pass again. Those who believed the revolution was their ONLY way, had their backs to the wall with little choice. Thus far few have cracked the richest corpie in the world, and today? one would fear the cabal of 'baggers would sweep away the gains with the "right to work (sans pay)" laws that are part and parcel of the ALL for the RICH Agenda we see.


or (2) overthrow the government in Egypt by using Twitter, or doing the same about Wal-Marts.

.......... It could be done. TOUGH though in a low-skill biz when we've 10% on the sidelines. Going back to the miners....... TOUGH was those folks being POOR when they worked and destitute when not working -- still they stayed OUT for a year at times being shot at while picketing the scabs by goons. That is TOUGH.

Public unions are a problem, if at all, only because the rest of us have been lazy, lacking in focus, and involvement in the political process.

.......... It's politically foolish for ANY working folk to shoot down union gains wherever they've been made. For 40 years the wages of working folk have not begun to "rise with the tide" of productivity. IF it looks like union teachers (averaging $40k across the land and retiring on $19,000) look "fat" it's only because the viewer has fallen even further behind.

........ the second graph down shows whose boat rose with the tide:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:bB64joVfJsYJ:lanekenworthy.net/2008/03/09/the-best-inequality-graph/+best+inequality+graph&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

an observer

Jack

When you flail at New York, writing, "Now what it is they make that is so "productive?" you show you have absolutely no idea how a complex society works, producing economic growth and prosperity.

Courage, as Warren Buffett often says, is when you write the check to make the investment.

Contrary to your thinking, Alaska's natural resources creates no value. Until a team of smart people in a great city figure out how to finance digging or drilling for the resource, transporting, it making it into a usable form, and financing the purchase by someone, like it did for millions of years that "wealth" would just sit in the ground.

Since man built the Pyramids, the only trick has been, "How to finance it?"

Since you don't understand cities, how they work, money, how it works, etc., you really have no idea what you are talking about. This comment is not a defense of what happened in finance since 1985. We have just proved that powerful forces can blow us up, if we don't understand them and how they can be abused.

an observer

Jack

This story just came across the wire:

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Samsung Austin Semiconductor will hire 300 engineers and technicians in the first six months of 2011 as part of the $3.6-billion expansion of the semiconductor's plant.

"In 2010, we hired more than 600 employees as part of the current expansion, bringing total employment to approximately 1,700," said Charmaine Winters, senior human resources manager at Samsung Austin Semiconductor, in a statement.

3.6 billion investment yielding 1700 jobs.

This is how NY, the Valley, etc., create value. Look at the amount of capital needed per job.

This is why observer rants and rants about our ills all be traced to a lack of investment. The amount of $$ one needs to invest to create a good job is off the chart

Xavier L. Simon aka Xavier

Let me tackle the subject from an entirely different perspective, one that I have been developing for many years. It is about the importance of the flexibility and adaptability of societies to absorb the consequences of change, and the role that labor unions play in that process.

In my post of 03/25/2011 at 11:26 AM (I tried to provide a direct link but was unsuccessful) in the blog on the Japan earthquake I wrote about the unprecedented magnitude and speed of the change brought about by the invention of the steam engine and the resulting Industrial Revolution. I wrote there about how that created massive social disruptions that countries had to deal with, and to respond to those new needs I further wrote about the emergence of thinkers like Marx and Engels. Without having to go that far into the theoretical dimension it should be easy to see how labor unions emerged to help fill the new needs.

In the last few days I wrote in another venue about the importance of flexibility and adaptability to the change created in developing countries by foreign investment. There I wrote that adopting the culture and rules of new investments is disruptive. Local communities have traditions that must be modified. The problem is magnified many times when the workers migrate to a new community as was the case with the larger cities in Marx’s day. Workers are not only asked to learn new ways of doing things but they have to do this away from the protective cocoons of their communities of origin. In the new environment they have to develop new mechanisms to cope, including all of the elements of security to which they were accustomed. These include a wide range of supports, including spiritual, family, health and other survival mechanisms, however primitive some of these were. Often these are not available even in rudimentary form in the new environment.

In the US in the late 19th century and the turn of the 20th there were two major movements that created unprecedented change. First, the wave of migrants from Europe in the 19th century fueled the massive growth of industrialization and of urban populations around the new industry. That growth was further fueled by the advent of a practical gasoline engine invented in 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, and then in 1905 the opening in the US of the first tractor factory. Thus, while half of all Americans worked the soil in 1885, a century later only one in fifty did. That meant huge growths of industrial urban populations with all of the disruptions mentioned above.

Its is no surprise then that labor unions gained ascendency throughout the 20th century and that the Progressive Movement was born in its second decade. Labor unions helped negotiate better wages and working conditions. But that wasn’t enough. As noted above, old traditions and patterns of security were broken and new ones had to be created. The protective cocoons that American workers had had in their rural environments or emigrants had had in their country of origin now had to be recreated in the big cities. Where unions proved inadequate to the task, the government now also stepped in.

Labor unions thus played and can continue to play a very legitimate role in the adjustment process. But we must not lose sight that what made the US great, unlike failed states like the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, or other over-managed or centrally planned societies, was its flexibility and adaptability. What concerns me very much today is that the US is losing that flexibility and adaptability and that by concentrating excessive power the larger labor unions are contributing to that loss. As I noted in my prior entries, particularly in the Japan series, it is all a matter of balance. Reasonable people will disagree on where is the happy medium but we should all be concerned about going too far in either direction. I would argue that some unions have gone too far and are now holding back desirable change in the fields in which they are dominant.

Xavier L. Simon aka Xavier

After entering my earlier comment I tried to look more carefully at some of the other comments. Jack and observer make interesting points, sometimes even brilliant, but these get lost in their churning sea of often disconnected and provincial accusatory partisan rhetoric. When will they learn? Examples are terrible because they can just add to the confusion when they result in endless disconnected attack outside of their full context. Why don’t you both try to make your main points in just a few words and without examples?

In the meantime Sutter on 03/30/2011 at 03:49 PM made the most consequential observation of all. Let me repeat it in case it has become lost:

“Reading Jack’s (and others’) comments I’m finally optimistic as to how much America has changed. Americans are finally about to be convinced to work doing exceptional things according to their ability, to provide NOT for themselves and their families, but for others, according to need. Any time now…”

NEH

Technology costs, either High or otherwise are expensive. The Stock, Bonds, and Commodities markets were developed in response to procuring the necessary Capital for investments or smoothing out raw material costs or locking in prices for productive costs in the developing operations or production itself. But something has changed. No longer is the preponderance of these monies, i.e. Capital, that are accured in these financial markets and instruments used for the modernization or building of new plants, skills, product and productive capacity. A classic example is the U.S. Steel Industry. Where at the end of WWII management made the decision that it didn't need to modernize and upgrade it's Operations because the Government would protect it from the imports of modernized facilities that were being rebuilt in Japan and Germany; and as they say, the rest is history. Never mind the fact that dividends and the like were exceptionally high, for a short period of time, due to the lack of reinvestment in the core industry. Even more so, today, those monies are being bled off to prop up the markets and dividend prices of those Stocks, Bonds and Commodities and into the pockets of the Stock and Commodities Jobbers (which goes far in explaining the current high gasoline prices and high crude prices). Not into revitalizing industry through Capital infusion into the true Productive Capacity of an Industry and Nation. This applies equally well to Heavy or Light Industry.

As has been pointed out in numerous articles, the U.S.'s problem is that the recent remaking of the Finacial Markets has done nothing for the Capital development of Agriculture, Commerce or Industry in the Country. But, has become nothing more than a scheme for the redistribution of wealth among the unproductive.

In order to create real wealth, one must first add value to something and that can only be done through a productive process that increases or adds value to something of lessor value.

And this is a Union problem? Either Public or Private.

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Jack

Xaiver I left you a fine exposition on the previous thread that you may have missed.

As for examples? I suppose one could just list unsupported ivory tower theories.. in brief. Or, add support, which in the case of econ, in which cause and effect ARE difficult to measure, and hope the examples clarify the issue, rather than as in the case of the purposeful propagandist, are cherry-picked with intent to deceive.

That's why, in resisting the ALL for the Rich redistributionism of the last 40 years I like to end off with posting proof of the pudding. (A year or two COULD be accidental, an anomally, or even "a market seeking the ever elusive equilibrium, but FOUR decades in the same direction???)

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:bB64joVfJsYJ:lanekenworthy.net/2008/03/09/the-best-inequality-graph/+best+inequality+graph&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ha! NEH if you're making the case that WS version of "adding value" is buying and selling parts and pieces of our productive sector like Three Card Monte with the results being as screwed up as Hogan's Goat, Ha! I'd have to agree.

"But, has become nothing more than a scheme for the redistribution of wealth among the unproductive." Indeed.

I recall the steel problems and JFK's (ineffective) jawboning on containing price increases that were causing inflation at the time. Can you imagine he or anyone of that era being confronted with (tolerating) today's rapacious oil price manipulation? that is going to re-tank what's left of our economy?

Some blessings have a "cloudy lining" eh? While our aging steel plants gave us a postwar head start, it's natural for short term profit seeking management to continue pumping out residual value rather than take scarce dollars, that at that booming time, could be better employed adding to the conglomerates of the era, which themselves did not prove to have the synergies expected and paid for at the time.

From the stock market, corporate profits and increases in GDP it looks as though, somehow, we're still "adding value" though some of it may be oil price increase related fluff.

Relevant to the unions be they the currently under attack "public sector" kind or other, obviously THE biggest problem with our economy and that of the much of the rest of the world, is that of our huge consumer market lacking demand. Had the "rising tide" lifted the middle and lower income groups on the same income distribution slope as we enjoyed before the 80's most households would have an extra $10,000 to spend. Then the advise to "go shopping" would not be such a cruel "let them eat cake" joke.


Xavier L. Simon aka Xavier

NEH, don’t confuse the excesses and misdeeds of a few managers with the facts about US industry, the economy, and capital. Your quarrel is not with capital; if you have any savings in the bank or other financial institution in whatever form then you are a capitalist yourself. Your problem is with your agents or managers, and particularly those in the financial industry but even there not all are as greedy by any stretch. Let’s visit some of the facts you mention.

The US has continued investing massively including in industry and manufacturing. Sure there are years when the figures drop because of a recession but the trend has been up for as far back as the eye can see. And manufacturing alone has also been increasing. I fear you may be confusing a drop in its share of GDP with its absolute value. Today instead of steel it is airplanes, computers, and other much more fancy stuff. You actually want that because the more advanced industries pay much higher wages and salaries. That is what it is all about. Export your low paying jobs and replace them with higher paying high tech jobs.

But even if you just look at steel, absolute production is not really down. In 1950 the US produced 59 million tons of pig iron plus 62 million tons of iron and steel scrap, for a total of 121 million tons. In 2008 those numbers were 34 plus 84 (a shift in technologies), and 118 million tons, respectively. That’s not a big drop for a country that can and should use its labor in much higher tech stuff. Moreover, I bet you that the quality and special alloys are much improved and more expensive than the run of the mill steel being produced in lower wage countries other than Japan and Europe (they do produce higher quality steels). You can find those statistics and many more at

http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/

As to the “big profits,” these are misleading because of how large companies have become. Thus, as a capitalist yourself, you want to be paid an interest or dividend. That is your return on your capital. Companies also have to earn a return. Take the behemoth Exxon Mobil. Last year they earned $30.4 billion. Wow, a big number, you say. But check out their invested capital or equity. It was $146.8 billion. So they had a return of 20 percent; that’s very good actually. But what did they do with it? They invested $26.9 billion, and paid dividends of $8.8 billion. The big new investments are a clear reflection that the returns are still high. Not bad! They are contributing big time to the production of yet more energy and paying a good return to many pension funds. All of those numbers you can find at

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bs?s=XOM+Balance+Sheet&annual

The same goes for banks and other financial institutions. But you do have a quarrel with them, at least I do. The salaries among the biggest financial institutions, and most other large corporations for that matter, have gotten way out of line, more so if you consider that those guys don’t have any capital at risk except what they got as stock dividends. There are all kinds of formulas out there for cutting their pay. I like mine better. I would drastically reduce the size of financial institutions, and some of the very largest corporations, and make them compete even more than today. Their salaries would also come down almost automatically.

Reducing their size, particularly banks, has the huge added advantage that they would not be too-big-to-fail and would therefore not have to be bailed out like in 2008 and 2009. That was a terrible dilemma that the government had to face. If they let one or two of the big ones go they could have destroyed the world’s financial system and thus the economy. But when they did save them they didn’t also have to save their managers and investors but they did.

Now, we wouldn’t be arguing about what they should or should not have done if they hadn’t had to bail them out in the first place to save the whole financial system and the economy. If Citi Bank and Bank of America had each been, say, some 200 billion each you could have let them go under and not worry too much. But they were each one trillion big so their failure would have had systemic effects.

So guess what has happened since? Each is now two trillion dollars big! They nearly failed, the government bailed them out, and as a result they are now twice as large and twice as dangerous should they fail again. And of course at those levels of size and risk they will surely make a case for even bigger salaries. So NEH, your quarrel, my quarrel, is not with capital. Our quarrel is with a government that has allowed them to get so big and when they get into trouble they let them get even bigger.

May I suggest you look up the recent statements by Sheila Bair, the outgoing chairman of the FDIC and one of the better government managers even if of an independent agency. For many months she has been proposing a formula—a so-called “living will” for banks—that at the very least would keep the bigger banks from getting bigger and make them easier to take over (yeah, right, but it is the FDIC that would have to do it) if they were to fail again. Even if dear old Bernie Sanders is sometimes on the eccentric side, his office recently posted an excellent Reuters summary of Sheila Bair’s proposal. I highly recommend it. You can find it at

http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=b388c477-dc9e-4e72-a106-0e398baa22d4

A final point. Sheila Bair is head of the FDIC, an independent agency. She can speak loudly and does. Guess who is blocking her? Dear old Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury and thus “numero uno” in the government when it comes to banking matters. It is highly reminiscent of a similar event that could have saved us the 2008 financial crisis. Back in 1999 there was another lady, this time Brooksley Born, who was chairman of the CFTC. She wanted to regulate derivatives like all of those beautiful mortgage instruments that got us into so much trouble (check her out on the web, including Wikipedia). Guess who opposed her? The then numero uno at Treasury, Larry Summers. Who was it that said that when we forget history we are bound to repeat it?

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