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1) There are good explanations from psychologists about what has happened to our country. I would suggest you start with Cialdini's Influence in which he discusses a circa 1954 study of what happens to people when, from life experiences, they learn that their world view, beliefs, etc., are wrong. Short answer---they become worse, going into denial, dishonesty, etc. The studies really anticipated events here. As facts and circumstances prove every day that conservatives are wrong, they don't learn, they just become more strident and deceitful Look at the reaction of conservatives to Bush who had to recognize that in a foxhole we are all Keynesians.

Look at the madness of the current budget cutting. Who could rationally argue to cut gov't demand, today? Reallocate? Yes Cut? No.

2) Truman would have been up to today's challenges

3) Policies don't matter. As for why we have no leaders, it seems to me that an explanation may lie in the purposes for which the two current political parties exist.

The Republican party is the tool of the uber rich, its sole purpose and reason for existing is to get power to the rich and to use gov't to increase their wealth in any way possible. Thus we have oil barons with massive subsidies who paint Obama as a socialist because he wants everyone to have private health insurance.

The Democratic party is a group of special interests who wrap their own interests in clouds of "policy," all to hide what is really going on.

For example, not 10 minutes after the Republicans announced their plan to reduce spending, I got an email from Ducks Unlimited that the Republicans plan on ending a 45 million dollar program for protection of wetlands for ducks.

I believe a mistake that the Founders made is their assumption that the environment would produce a stable of fit candidates to be President. This was the idea behind the electoral college. The electors would personally know the available pool of leadership and pick the best. Having just been involved in 25 years of intense political struggle, the group as a whole knew themselves. They really did not consider how such could work, once the Country grew to California.

4) Today, the last factor in why we have no leaders is the superficiality of the media.

Watch TV---every question is totally superficial. No one ever seriously attempts to ascertain whether the candidate is a serious person who is intellectually organized, balanced between grand strategy and tactics, skilled at all the interpersonal skills and insights (from hiring people to negotiating to commanding).

Instead, we have Sarah Palin doing a shout out to 3rd graders. And people wonder why we have no investment in the Country?

The last election proved the superficiality of it all. Obama ought to have gotten 80% of the vote against John McCain who had absolutely no chance of being an effective leader. That being said, everyone had to realize that Obama, while long on talent, was short on experience. The hope had to be that he would learn and grow rapidly when in office so as to become a real leader. That he did not, and still hasn't, warrants serious discussion.

5) Last, why don't the Republicans have a good candidate? Go back to 1). How can leadership spring from the current Republican soil? The Republicans have one leader---Chris Christie. He is the only Republican who will tell the truth when he talks to voters.

They have one dark horse who might be a leader, Jon Huntsman, Jr., whose success will rise or fall on how he plays the China Card. He will be credible when he says, "I know first hand what we must do to restore jobs to America."

Beyond that they have people who are so far removed from being serious people it is not even funny. Newt, Huck, Palin, etc.

By contrast, by the time RR ran for President it was well known that he was a serious person. He got elected and ran CA as a governor for 8 years. And, as matters like release of his personal papers has shown, his mind was organized and structured and had balance, albeit his education could have been stronger. Anyone who doubted his talent never read his college bio, "Reagan attended Eureka College, where he became a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and majored in economics and sociology. He developed a reputation as a jack of all trades, excelling in campus politics, sports and theater. He was a member of the football team, captain of the swim team and was elected student body president. As student president, Reagan notably led a student revolt against the college president after he tried to cut back the faculty"



"Look at the madness of the current budget cutting. Who could rationally argue to cut gov't demand, today? Reallocate? Yes Cut? No."

JJJ: Precisely. We're dealing with a transition long delayed. "Brittleness of (corporate and Owner class) dictatorial regimes" Yep......... oil writing their own ticket FAR too long.

"3) Policies don't matter. As for why we have no leaders, it seems to me that an explanation may lie in the purposes for which the two current political parties exist."

JJJ: The people bear some fault here as well. The most important elections are those closest to one's home but get the lowest turnout. They're important as local policies often play a large role in our lives and when things are working matriculate upwards. Also, those local candidates become the national pool. If we are not to be "the USSR" the primary ought to have FAR larger turnout than the general. As you infer, the parties (which many of our founders feared) all too often give us a choice between eeny and meany.

Ha! in the psch arena, one to add to the list is that of being too imbued with sports and media "royalty" that slops over into the world of trying to run this huge and complex nation. Did we go through this whole Bush incompetency (and worse) thing for a few percent "feeling" he'd be a better guy to "have a beer with" than thee other candidates? Will we ever elect a balding guy?

4) Today, the last factor in why we have no leaders is the superficiality of the media.

JJJ: Indeed. In the 2000 campaign they asked Bush about the justification for his (hog slopping) tax cuts. He "felt" no one should pay more than 1/3 in taxes. NO follow. Nada about knocking the nation out of balance. Gore failed on this one, as he proposed tax cuts of half or so that of Bush, but made the thing so complex everyone went away shaking their heads and KNOWING that it was one of those deals for some one down the street with six two headed kids in school.

"Instead, we have Sarah Palin doing a shout out to 3rd graders. And people wonder why we have no investment in the Country?"

JJJ: fortunately our mouthy little Alaskan embarrassment is down to 22% approval, perhaps the number of tea partiers in the poll or "approval" as media queen or some such.

"The Democratic party is a group of special interests who wrap their own interests in clouds of "policy," all to hide what is really going on."

JJJ Yup.

"For example, not 10 minutes after the Republicans announced their plan to reduce spending, I got an email from Ducks Unlimited that the Republicans plan on ending a 45 million dollar program for protection of wetlands for ducks."

JJJ: I'm not a bird hunter but have often pointed out that duck hunters are one of our strongest advocates for the environment and were, out of self-interest, saving our wetlands before we knew how important they are to the overall environment. With a billion being either $3 per capita or $9 for a household, even were the "$45 million" actually "savings" it would hardly be worthy of discussion.

JJJ: In assessing the Obama vote, one can learn a bit by noting the states Clinton carried by large margins, but were lost to Obama. We're hardly "post-racial".

JJJ: Why don't Repubs have a good candidate? We won't ever like what they come up with as we're "policy wonks" who want to see a functioning democracy and a capitalism that serves us all. Nixon was perhaps the last policy oriented Repub, but it was his campaigners who found the Falwell "Silent Majority" and since it's been the holy trinity of religion, unquestioned military pork, and the corporatism of all for the rich". Any questioning of those precepts is met with ideology questioning one's patriotism.

As for Obama not swiftly becoming a leader, I'd point out that the lifting is EXTREMELY heavy, he has for the most part identified the trail and needed transition...... and consider, somehow the process gave us the best of all those many who ran. Hillary the closest contender would not have been better, Richardson, while a plausible choice would not have been better. Remember "stars" like Clinton and RR were doubted two years in.

................ continued hopes! Are our Proffs going to throw us a new topic?



You wrote, "Are our Proffs going to throw us a new topic?"

I don't want a new topic and I don't want self serving nattering nabobs of negativism.

How about each just giving their 3 best ideas to get jobs and confidence going in the next 15 days?


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John: Here's one: For years we've been pumping NG back into the voids of N. Slope oil. Also for years there have been plans to build a (currently 52") pressurized pipe down thru Canada to feed NG to our Midwest and provide 10% of US needs for many decades. (Ha! where the original oil line was GOING to go --- until Maritime lobbyists pushed it over to the Exxon spill route which cost us all about what the pipeline would have cost.)

In 2000 there was an "almost" deal with the feds taking the risk if NG fell below $1.50/mcf. Private sector was justifiably concerned about so much NG depressing gas prices below costs of production. What a DEAL for Americans! NG prices would surely have dropped from the $5 range and should they have dropped to $1.50 we have laughed all the way to the bank as heating, A/C, and industrial energy costs fell sharply and we taxpayers had to toss in .25 or so.

But! Came the Bushies, with the Heir flippantly "Not wanting to disrupt L-48 NG "markets". But, truth is the pals had lots of LNG projects they wanted to build. LNG is a costly waste. Say a buck to the Indonesian producer, another to pack, another to ship it across the ocean in costly boats of 20 year service life, another buck to unpack on our coasts where NG is in surplus and folks don't want LNG tankers or storage tanks, and then begin paying for pipes to get it to Mid-nation. About $7. And they must be hurting as NG is in the $4 range.

A word about $4 NG, those BTU's are about 1/4th the cost of a diesel BTU. You've like heard Pickens rap on using NG for heavy transportation first while refueling centers and the multi-fuel cars that are everywhere in Brazil are built. There's a unit that combines NG with diesel that in competition took a 25mph P/U up to 38 mpg of diesel with the injection of the much cheaper NG. This can be cheaply retrofitted and trucks have plenty of room for CNG tanks. Tremendous dollar savings and the dollars that are spent stay here.

A deal is slowly fermenting, but today's weak NG prices, are slowing the risk averse from taking on what is a $40 billion project. LOTS of jobs from those not working in construction these days, heavy equipment from CAT and others, to design firms etc. Figure in the multiplying on new investment and there's a lot more jobs........ and taxes paid to our Treasury instead of unemployment coming out.

An aside: What's keeping NG prices low? Some effect from demand being low, but perhaps more the specter and reality of "shale cracking". Lot's of potential NG, but! also tremendous potential for environmental destruction including polluting the ground water. Hard to predict the future, but in the 8-10 years to build the AK line -- perhaps new safeguards will limit shale cracking. If that happens and AK does not? We begin paying the LNG pals, which will be worse by then as much of the rest of the world will be bidding for the easily redirected LNG. With the AK gas some of the more costly or destructive shale cracking operations will wait for another day.

Assuring ourselves of cheap domestic supplies of energy give us some tremendous advantages, including keeping costs down for residential and commercial buildings and creating a rapid transformation of transportation from dirty, imported diesel to cleaner and much cheaper NG. Industry in the rustbelt might be spurred as well.

Today, China is just filling its huge hydro power lakes. Already some airplane parts are made there. When they've the cheapest energy aluminum plants will locate there. Then, why ship raw aluminum? just build the whole plane there. Alcoa goes seeking cheap energy, the most recent being in Iceland.

What's it take to make the deal work? In the 70's and the "oil crisis" red tape and hurdles were cleared away in a hurry, including that of ANILCA -- the settling of native land claims so land the line crossed would not be clouded, and the pipe was built on a cost plus "just get the thing done" basis. And good that it was -- that oil's cost basis is something well under $20 and until fairly recently has supplied about 4% of US consumption/wastage.

The "Chicago boys" will hate it but were I president there'd be the North American Gas Initiative providing the guarantee (or prodding?) the companies need. IF NG falls to where the guarantee would kick in (which I doubt) most of us, including industry, would benefit from the cheap NG far more than the small subsidy would cost us. If there is a subsidy just consider it a token "spurrng" for putting a close to a million back to work for the 8 year build.

The other half of the Initiative would be that of preparing our fleet of gashogs for multi-fuel, perhaps with incentives for heavy transportation, high milers or those who put in a lot of miles in our smoggy cities.

In mulling this over, keep in mind that we export more dollars for imported oil than we spend in China.

Your turn!



you wrote "until Maritime lobbyists," suggesting that what we need, first, is a constitutional amendment against corporate lobbying and campaign contributions, directly or indirectly, including rolling back Citizens United.

my two cents is that Congress should repeal FICA taxes and unemployment insurance, as both are a tax on jobs.

Second, for anyone able bodied we should eliminate unemployment benefits. Instead, the gov't should require people to work, paying the minimum wage. If nothing else, people could be put to work as janitors and hall monitors in our schools and tutors.

We cannot afford to have people sitting our their duff---that is what is breaking the bank


Truman, Kennedy, and Nixon

hell, I can hear Nixon clawing on the coffin lid trying to come back from the dead to get involved


Chris, this that you wrote ("Jack, conservatives are all for organic community") is just total BS.

Christopher Graves

John, yes, we are Greco-Roman as well as Christian. We are also heavily influenced by our English traditions. These various influences complement one another in many ways. In fact, as Augustine and Aquinas noticed, much of Greek philosophy is compatible with Christianity. But there are significant differences at particular points between Greek philosophy and Christianity, e.g. the understanding of the human body and the physical world generally, especially in Platonism.

In regard to Islam's take on Judaism, Islam takes both Judaism and Christianity in very different directions from their original understanding and practice. There has been no development in Islam along the lines of the Protestant Reformation nor do we see the individualism and toleration that came from it.


John --

"Second, for anyone able bodied we should eliminate unemployment benefits. Instead, the gov't should require people to work, paying the minimum wage. If nothing else, people could be put to work as janitors and hall monitors in our schools and tutors."

We cannot afford to have people sitting our their duff---that is what is breaking the bank"

.............. We already have janitors and hall monitors. As for MORE folks working for an unlivable, token, min wage, that places more burden on government too. As for tutors I know some college kids (sans work in their discipline) who are tutoring. Very sharp in math and willing to drive across town to tutor for an hour for $20. Laid off carpenters probably won't fit in.

As for "affording" duff sitting, with folks unable to even find $10-$15 subsistence jobs "the market" is saying we've a gob of surplus, unemployable labor. True there are shortages in sectors such as care of elders and other niches -- but not enough to mop up the excess labor, and we've little facility for re-training those we KNOW will never work in the trades again.

As for affording? Stock market is up. Average per capita income is up, GDP up a bit, all with 9% unemployed and another 9% (at least) under-employed. And even the pundits admitting "it's a LONG road for changes in unemployment".

It's structural unemployment that requires structural changes........ that will be counter to existing ideology. Big Mess.



You are not going to like this. You are like most liberals. You don't get it. You have no idea how to attack and solve a problem.

I am very well aware of the problems we face.

Printing unemployment checks is not going to last forever. However, if we require the unemployed to work you cut out the right wing's malingering defense and increase the acceptability of gov't helping people who do need help.

Additionally, you get something in return, like help in solving the problems with education. And, you get other benefits. People are happier and healthier when they work, regardless of the merits of the job. They are socializing, networking, etc. And, a big plus is that they get rid of holes in their resumes and they have people who can give current references.

In sum, your POV is little better than the vast right wing.

Additionally, I was not being exhaustive, just setting out ideas.

You and most all liberals have the super bad habit of being a nattering nabob or negativism, also, and you attack ideas rather than working to round them out, making them better.

In sum, wanting to help people doesn't require that one discard or throw away one's common sense.

As a taxpayer, what do you want you tax dollars to do? Pay someone to sit home all day, playing computer games or paying someone to get out of the house and help us fix all the pot holes this spring is going to bring?

Your smart and I am right. Start listening and thinking instead of sounding like you copied your thoughts off DU


John: Ha! I'd much rather think of myself as a pragmatic capitalist......... and one would have to be QUITE leftist to favor a huge govvie bureaucracy tending to trying to employ folks in areas for which they are not skilled et al. I wouldn't oppose and expanded Americorp to put young folks to work, but your aforementioned right wing is trying to (foolishly) kill off the entire program.

For a sample of my alternatives, look more closely at the Gas Initiative above. Assuming the Federal price support did kick in for a while, we'd have leveraged the employment afforded by a $40 billion project that will be more than paid for by the inexpensive NG which itself will trigger more investment from having the competitive edge of cheap (and clean) energy for half a century -- thus giving us time to further develop and deploy wind, solar, conservation and what other techs show up as we leave the oil era behind.

As for those forcibly "duff sitting" we've always known that our capitalism system is a lifeboat built for 100 -- a long as 5 or so agree to take turns being overboard. Today it requires 15 or so being in the water.

Now let's put this in perspective: Those suffering along at home after the MESS brought to us by a fraudulent banking system and subsequent "failure" perhaps cost us $10,000 per year. If there are 3 million who qualify that adds up to LESS than Goldman paid out in "performance bonuses" after being bailed out by taxpayers and borrowing money for zilch to "lend" back to the Treasury at a fine and profitable spread.

Or, if you want to balance the costs of unemployment on the government books alone? Phase out the ethanol subsidy that is NOT reducing the amount and costs of imported oil at all, and IS pushing up food costs for us all, including those for whom food costs half or more of their total earnings. Coupon clipping "duff sitters" have no more value than to those thrown out of work.

After HAVING our Treasury raided for 20 years by the very "right wing" doing the most caterwauling about being broke, it's easy for us all to catch the disease of losing our nerve and doing something dumb. China got it more right than did the US....... when the cold draft hit them they opened the valves and PUT their people to work.

Here, we have before us some two trillion in badly needed infrastructure maintenance AND a long delayed transition from dirty coal and oil to be implemented. Other work to be done? ONE of the objections to H/C reform that is often trotted out is the lack of trained people.

Oh? so we leave 30 million out for the lack of capacity? Let's get on with training them and perhaps streamlining H/C delivery so that lesser trained techs can take more of the burden as is the case in other nations and common in our military.

Can we "afford" to tackle these projects that WILL reemploy many of our people and most likely "kick start" an economy 70% depending on their having a buck to spend? Or? can we afford not to do so? That's the question, eh? Go down duff sitting or go down borrowing more from the future?

I'm with you on putting the energies of our hard working folk back to work, but NOT in the piddly "make work" fashion of the early 30's and NOT in making war as in the 40's......... and consider, were there a war to fund few would be saying "We can't afford it".


Employment/transition program #2:

Create a revolving energy conservation/alternative bank.

Today one of the impediments to energy efficiency and adopting alternatives is that of "it not paying during my tenure". In the millions of homes built -- many in the scorching S and SW most were not built with Low-E windows or Energystar rated insulation. It was a tough and typically neglected sell for those selling homes -- so most often, by far, Low-E windows that cost $25/ window were skipped. If they were discussed at all the "won't pay back in my 3 years" was the excuse. Great, so a window wasting energy for the next half century is installed on the "wisdom" of the short term buyer. As for retro-fits it's costly and the payback takes quite some time.

So on new construction or existing we have to make it an all around winner. So....... we finance the repairs and upgrades by tying the payment to the utility bill so it goes with the property when it's sold.

After an inexpensive energy audit which includes an estimate of the savings and payback periods, the owner has the work done with money from the Energy Bank. The auditor is back to ascertain what was done. The repayment on a new and more efficient A/C might be prorated over 80% of the expected life of the unit, while additional insulation could be prorated over a longer period. The result should be lower total utility bills for the existing owner and those to following and lower energy consumption for us all.

Those "duff sitting" today include huge numbers of former construction workers. They're sitting there ready and able to retro-fit energy efficient windows, doors, insulation along with installing new furnaces and A/C's that are, like other construction materials, typically made in America but not selling because construction in all building sectors is in the tank and will be so for years.

Better than having a skilled HVAC guy mopping floors at some 'crat's behest? or duff-sitting?


Christopher Graves, kudos, your comments are very illuminating.

John, re your comment of 02/12/2011 at 07:48 AM. When you write that Posner’s “view is so limited,” and then you equate him with economists who think “that every problem tends to look pretty much like a nail,” I must ask whether you have read his rather extensive work or any reputable analysis of it. This is a serious question. I am not trying to be argumentative. I just wonder whether you know how a lawyer approaches his work, particularly a sitting appeals court judge. If he is any good he will actually look as if his “view is so limited,” or even “that every problem tends to look pretty much like a nail.” One hopes, at least one who is concerned about the law’s consistency, that a sitting judge doesn’t make the law up as he goes. That is the job of the legislature. I thus have to wonder whether you confuse his use and application of economics as a point of view rather than as a sound basis for developing a consistent principle for interpreting some segments of the law.

I somehow feel that you take it that Posner is biased by a point of view rather than trying to apply a principle consistently. I have read some of his work and analyses of it by others and I seriously doubt that he falls into the same traps and limitations that economics and economists do. He is just much too aware of those pitfalls. As a lay person untrained in the law I can’t tell from his legal judgments and opinions but I would be very surprised that someone who is as aware as Posner is of the pitfalls would fall right into them. To read his blogs intelligently one has to be familiar with his work and how he is supposed to apply it, particularly his work on economics and the law. Indeed, as someone critical of the limitations of economics, I have learned a lot about those limitations from reading Posner.



I have read easy opinion Posner has written. From time-to-time, I mention specific cases.

I have praise for only one Posner opinion. AMPAT/Midwest v Illinois Tool, as I recall. He has one other tort case that is fairly well considered that I am not going to recall, right now. I can show you many opinions that reflect a deep bias on his part. He always rules for the rich, time, after time, after time. That is his lode star. Forget what he says; see who wins. He always takes away what looks a case where justice will be done.

The rationalizations that he and Easterbrook offer are stupid. Read DiLeo where he says that accountants and lawyers and stockbrokers will be honest because they are concerned about their reputations. Total BS.

I contrast Posner with a great legal mind--Charlie Munger. Munger is Warren Buffett's partner. Read Munger's Psychology of Human Misjudgment and contrast its wisdom with Posner's limited world view. Munger is the smartest most successful lawyer of all time. He graduated at the top of Harvard's largest class after WWII, formed Munger Tolles and is worth several billions.

Last, Posner is a rightwing man with a hammer economist. To serve the rich it is always about taxes. He never, as I have commented several times above and before, has a broader view because he lacks the intellectual tools and is not about to challenge the rich.

For example, and I know I am repeating myself, but my view, based on the evidence---all the graphs showing decline in investment in USA since 9/11---is that the judgment of the markets, and the source of an economic woes, is that OBL won the war on 9/11 when Bush ran and hide and shut down the economy by taking the planes out of the sky.

Posner lacks the tools to even engage in the debate over how Bush's Wars have impacted investment.

Ask yourself, when Cheney said, "Deficits don't matter," where was Posner. Because, to the rich, deficits don't matter he never said a peep about what Cheney said. In fact, he applauded. Only now has become a deficit chickhawk, ready to cut Social Security.

The fact is that social security is paid for by extremely regressive taxes. Had we not given the rich all the tax cuts the last ten years we wouldn't need to be talking about doing anything to SS. I say what not tax the wealth sheltered form taxes the last ten years and use such to re-fund SS.

A great president, like FDR, wouldn't run and hide from OBL and we didn't the day after Pearl Harbor.

Posner will go to the grave telling, it will be okay if you cut taxes for the rich. That is total BS.

No one seriously thinkers its about taxes. Our problems are far, far deeper.

I am a very middle of the road moderate democrat. If you have read my posts you will see that I have no tolerance for giveaways, the left, I don't like what is going on in Wisconsin, I could go on and on and on. I have a pretty good education in economics and a ton of real world insight into the fundamentals of business, good sound banking, investment, honest in fact. I have no tolerance for what Obama has done and no interest in anything from the Right, which doesn't have an honest decent person to put forth as a candidate. Nixon, RR, and Bush 1 were moderate people compared to the current nut jobs.

I have a bumper sticker reading, "I Miss Nixon," and I fought the War, tooth and nail. Nixon at least had guts.

In sum, pay no attention to me. Read Munger and afterwards ask yourself, who truly has an insightful mind which is being used to legitimately do business, live a life, and help people.

Christopher Graves

I just now saw John's blunt response to my earlier comment on conservatives' commitment to organic community. John, take a look at the writings of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk on the importance of community and culture. Also consider F.A. Hayek's essay, "Individualism: True and False."


Here Hayek argues that "true individualism" is always rooted in a particular culture and community that provides a social context for the harmonious and responsible exercise of individual rights. In contrast, "false individualism" is rootless and destroys the social background for people to form intimate and caring bonds with one another for individualism to flourish in a humane way.

The left's seeming support for social union is misleading. What various stripes of leftists tend to advocate are governmental policies that undermine organic social institutions and practices because they are not egalitarian and inclusive enough to suit their abstract ideals. A real sociability that is based on distinction and true individuality as well as spontaneity is replaced by the left with a social atomism and state-enforced collectivism that masquerades as as a true individualism that balances the private rights of individuals with the social fabric that individuals freely engage one another within.



I am unaware of any "conservative" idea that has ever contributed anything to the advancement of mankind.

Being totally USA centric, no Founding Father was conservative---not Washington, Franklin, Morris, Hamilton, Madison, Adams, Jefferson . . .

Jackson wasn't conservative

Lincoln sure as hell wasn't conservative

Teddy wasn't conservative

FDR, Truman, and Kennedy weren't conservative

To be blunt, there is not one thing that conservatism has ever done for this Country.

RR's personality wasn't conservative---bring down this wall is not conservative

Conservatism is a justification for greed, nothing more.

Burke never did a thing for anyone. He had one great line, to describe conservatives, "They defend their errors like their inheritance

The greatest single act by an American president was when Lincoln freed the slaves, which was totally, completely unconstitutional.

My two cents is that anyone who says that are conservative is a nut job, because their world view is so obviously wrong.


Chris: I found the Hayek material mostly pseudo-academic spintripe of the similar stuff pumped out by today's "think tanks".

It is interesting that Hayek appears to have favored the "individual" be paid according to the value of his work by those benefiting from his labors -- regardless of the goodness or badness of his intentions. P-22

Well, great. The very essence of the power of capitalism as "we" may not care whether one goes forth selflessly as a Ghandi or with the selfish intent of M. Milken and other "junk bond" kings whose efforts did, perchance, fund some worthy endeavors. Milken, you'll recall was imprisoned for having been more than one toke over the legal line set, not by "the market" but by democratically imposed laws and regulations.

Hayek's piece is copyrighted in 1948. Without tying his ivory tower ruminations to the real world, it's hardly more than similar free flowing ideology and bumper sticker "philosophy" of today. In the era in which he wrote, two things stood out, as compared to today.

A. That under war time realities, including high marginal tax rates and virtually ALL putting in what they had to give as members of a team devoted to winning the war and preserving the liberty and freedoms not only of ourselves but those of the "free world"

B. Restrictions imposed by the war along with the changes wrought by the Depression and New Deal

C. "Godless communism" with which much of the world lying in chaos after the Great Depression flirted, and was largely avoided in the US by financial reforms, collective bargaining, and other aspects of the New Deal.

.......... may have inspired a fear of the "loss of the individual" to collectivism.

Hayek (again on P-22) somewhat callously tosses off the freedom of the individual being counter to that of social justice.

Again, big whoop. Thus far we've not even theorized that a socially just economic model or social model might be achieved. But tacking in that general direction is surely a worthy effort. Holding Hayek's theoretical prattle up to what has taken place since 1980, is worse than irrelevant, as it strives to give the nod to the same nation tanking agenda pumped out 24/7 by Limbaugh and ilk along with a host of uber-financed legislation distorting lobbyists and the "think tanks" where out of favor pols await their next turn to move the "ALL for the rich" agenda further along.

Chris -- Take those aging cliches out into the real world and LOOK at how they are being violated. What relevance does Hayek have to, what was, the small sector of "finance" in his day, having become the monster of today that garners some 30% of corporate profits? and that AFTER massive "performance bonus" have been paid out to its perps? Are these twits being paid in ANY relationship to the worth of their product?

We in America all favor as much individual freedom as practicable. But consider, BP and other contractors, left to their own under negligent oversight "gave us" the Gulf blowout and its substantial costs. Today's paper reports they've now procedures that would have stopped the massive leaks within minutes or hours. Without collective oversight would BP and their subs been likely to correct their ways?

In Hayek's day, the words "environmental impact" were rarely, perhaps never heard. Also, we were not coming up on so many limits. Fishing boats of the era did not have the power to deplete the stocks. There was no concern about what we burned or where we burned it, and not the slightest inkling we'd soon be entering an era of debate and serious concern of global warming. These are all areas in which the individual, acting freely, worsens the problems, and only collective judgment and limitations of individual freedoms can save us from ourselves.

Steve Reed

Probably distinctions have to be made about the type of authoritarian regime being looked at, but I think the blog makes excellent points. I would add another element of brittleness related to the "lack of information": the lack of representative political parties in a Congress where competing economic interests get continually resolved. Without such continuing resolutions, perhaps there is a build up of economic tension as it were, leading to discontinuous or chaotic change all at once, like a major quake in lieu of several minor quakes.
I have read, but would need it further confirmed, that areas of the brain related to trust actually function differently in people living under authoritarian regimes. If we could cost out trust we might find that our US GNP growth is still negative !


Xavier sez:

"I somehow feel that you take it that Posner is biased by a point of view rather than trying to apply a principle consistently."

Ha! Indeed! It IS handy when great trust in "The Market" replete with all sorts of purchased favors delivers the desired results to the great disadvantage of working folks over the last 30 years.


But, ha! suppose the flaw inherent in capitalism of overly rewarding capital and those able to secure political favors, instead, had an inherent bias favoring individual talent and labor. How quickly we'd hear a different tune.

Have you noticed that as we face dire problems of funding government that some $50 billion/ year of continued (unaffordable) tax cuts for the wealthiest among us are being "offset?" by a list of cuts which primarily affect the lower (or NO) income set even as wages for working folk remain stagnant (and worse) and all of the productivity gains continue to accrue to those of the topmost tiers?

Ha! shall we give it a name? an attribution to some academic theorist and claim it as one of the basic tenets of economics?


Regarding Wisconsin:

A little honest reporting, to let the reader decide.

Wisconsin,like Illinois, is not broke, not even close to broke. Both states are incredibly rich agriculturally. land prices for farms, which never fell, were up 10--20% last year, and incomes were really up. It could easily raise taxes and avoid its current problem

Additionally, farmers today pay no taxes, they have every special break one can imagine, and can steal the gov't blind by allocating everything to a deduction (gas for the car (tractor), lawn mower, car repairs, utilities (no separate meters on the house and barns).

What is happening in both states is that each also had large manufacturing sectors which have been attacked and destroyed by globalization. Rockford, IL is the epicenter

Illinois and Wisconsin were great states because their union mfg. employees paid taxes, giving rich farmers a free ride. Now, the taxes paid by union workers are gone but the political power of the farmers remains

Like the rich everywhere, the farmers have no plan, desire or intent to pay taxes to provide services for 99.9% of the population. They want to be slave owners. In conjunction with the Koch brothers, they are intent on substantially reducing the standard of living of public employees and everyone else in both states.

In sum, what is happening is Wisconsin is a total breakdown of the social contract.

As pointed out by Buffett and Munger, the tool which the rich weld is jealously and greed, forked over with abundant dishonesty. Go on the chat boards, listen to the talking heads and the Wis. governor and you will hear and rehear, "Private employees pay X% for health care, but teachers don't pay anything."

Since health benefits are tax sheltered, the first question ought to be on hearing this complaint, why are employees, anywhere, paying for health care? The answer is that such is an admission that our current health care system is entirely broken. What employers had done is attempt to design plans that give very marginally relief from the current flaws in the system which puts a Rolls Royce in every garage

Thus the events in Wisconsin show us that Obama was right to see the need for healthcare reform but that Obamacare was a total failure--it has not and will not address the problems, everyone knows this, and this is why everyone is justifiably mad at Obama. Obamacare needs to be replaced because it did not attack the root problems with now are fully manifested when one looks at Wisconsin with the broadest lens.

The lessen in all of this. Since the 1970s the Democratic Party has made a very fundamental mistake, thinking that the lodestar was "policies." This was wrong wrong wrong. The lodestar was effective government. Taxes are trust funds.

A great example---the Dept of Energy. Since formed we have wasted billions and are no closer to energy independence, its primary mission, because of all the idiots who instead focus on policy. My favorite. The sky is falling crowd on low grade nuclear waste bearing trains.

The teachers in Madison are spoiled brats, just as spoiled as their opposites in the tea party. Protected by tenure instead of results, they are being rewarded for complacency, for assuming that the rules didn't apply to them. Every teacher has had the opportunity to have forged such deep personal relationships with their students and families of students that under no circumstances would this be happening. Out of laziness, they didn't do the work.

In sum, JD Hull is right, when he names his law firm blawg (JD is another lawyer whom people should read before Posner) WHAT ABOUT CLIENTS? Every teacher should have lived that motto and, obviously, didn't.

It is sad to see what happens to people who make bad decisions. We can only hope other learn the right lessens.

From the Middle, John


John, WOW! All I can say is please contrast all of the clichés in your response to me and then compare them to your “I am a very middle of the road moderate democrat.” All I can say, or rather ask myself is what road? Your arguments would be far more interesting and worthy of further thought and analysis if they contained more substance, not just clichés and the odd convenient empty reference.

Jack, your logic escapes me: “suppose the flaw inherent in capitalism of overly rewarding capital and those able to secure political favors, instead, had an inherent bias favoring individual talent and labor.” What are you talking about? What does the “instead” refer to, the flaw in capitalism or capitalism itself? What was it that rewarded Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, the flaw or capitalism (I won’t mention Rupert Murdock because you would surely argue that in his case it was the flaw)? Is it possible that you are twisting the logic to come up with the result you like?



I had a moment to carefully consider why your thinking is so shallow.

You totally lack judgment. Hitler was for truth, justice, and the American Way. No one stands up and says, I am the Prince of Darkness and want to hasten the arrival of Hell here on Earth.

The challenge for the listener and reader is to discern whether the ends proposed will lead to the result promised. Let's take the most common conservative falsehood cutting taxes. Such is a totally absurd factual argument and yet you and others pay attention.

Look at the basic way that government functions. It acquires information and then it acts on that information. 9/11 is the classic case study. Gov't was short on information about the hijackers, it poorly organized the information that it had, and it was totally ineffective in acting on what information it had.

As the world becomes ever more complex, with more information, moving faster all the time, it becomes ever harder for government to gather information.

To get a real feel for this problem, go read Lewis THE BIG SHORT, which is really story of how incredibly hard it was to acquire information about the financial markets. The people profiled went to extraordinary lengths to get information. The rest of the story was then how hard they had to work to make the information they had effective.

If my premise is correct, and since information is like interest, it never sleeps and its is always compounding, the real world requires government to compound at the same rate and to become ever more effective at handling the information it is gathering.

Thus, is we observe the real world, we would understand that taxed and government have to grow over time. Instead of fighting the inevitable, one should embrace such, which turns one to the proper task, making Government effective, treating the tax dollars as an express trust, not something to be thrown away studying Yoga. Not all science is of equal importance.

A word one could use to describe any government that doesn't keep up with information is brittle, but Posner choose that word out of bias because of his goals and bias. The accurate term is ineffective.

Our budget deficits are not a cause of our problems. They are a symptom, showing that our gov't has been for quite some time loosing effectiveness. There are thousands of causes.

My favorite one, this morning, is that the Senate must confirm so many Presidential appointments. Obama's administration proves that we need to amend the Constitution and eliminate this, except for judges. It seems to me that a very reasoned argument exists that why Obama has failed (and Clinton) is that the special interests have a wrap on who the President can hire, since the President cannot get his appointments approved w/o the special interests working Congress. The result is that you get stupid appointments, look at the some of the idiots who have come and gone, and ineffective appointments and thus ineffective government.

In sum, I have listened to the right my entire life. Not once have I ever heard an honest idea advanced to in any way make gov't more effective. Rush Limbaugh has been on the air for 25 years and, as yet, no idea in action can be associated with his billions of words of hot air.

The fact is that genetically people have huge decision making bias. About 40% of the population, all conservative, has a closed mind that is easily manipulated. You are there



I am right were FDR and Truman stood, right in the middle. Gov't has to do a lot, the rich will not pay their fair share so you have to constantly fight their mendacity and evil influence, and taxes are trust funds and hence there is a moral duty for government to be effective.

I voted for Obama for the same reason that one would have a CEO to run a major company. He had the talent and appeared to have the temperament to be able to grow into the job. I have been deeply disappointed in him. He wasted a great opportunity to become a great president and has really proven himself not to be an effective leader, albeit I see no one better available and most certainly not John McCain.

I really fault our art and literature for not looking at Obama to see what has happened. We badly need a Shakespeare to give us the tools to understand the psychology of what has happened.

My limited talents let me no more than that a substantial part of the blame goes to the form of government. I know just enough to know that the "talent" that Obama has is not doing the job. It is widely reported that some cabinet secretaries he doesn't even meet or talk with. This is not effective government. Look at the Gulf Oil spill fiasco. I know most of life we just muddle through but he is running a C- government, following Bush having given us 8 year of F. My view is that this is an extension of special interests and "policy" into the White House. If you have someone sitting at an important desk based on policy, as Rummy says, A's hire A's and B's hire C's.

Even the most casual observer of history knows that the "right" has nothing to contribute, never has, never will.

Take the few examples were someone to the right had success. Nixon and China is the best example. Such was not a right wing move and it was not executed by a right winger. Kissinger was something else, entirely. Nixon let people like Kissinger and Moynihan into the White House. Since the second term of RR, no one who doesn't meet the litmus test is even considered by the right wing. Moynihan and Nixon create the GAI concept.

Your problem is that you: (a) think that polices matter---they don't, its all about the leadership ability of the individuals in office: and (b) that words matter---they don't. You measure by actions taken or omitted, morale, and how events are measured by others.

Xavier, what you don't get is that "policy" is cover or camouflage for a weak individual. No one knows the future. We have a choice. Electing candidates with ability and hoping that they are leaders or having "policy" tests that strip government of the ability to be ineffective but instead protect special interests. Consider Thomas Jefferson who was elected to office may times based upon recognition of this talent by people who often didn't agree with him.

You can read Posner or listen to Rush for a lifetime and you will never learn anything. I am serious go read Charlie Munger's Psychology of Human Misjudgment and judge for yourself, first, whether you have been making misjudgments and second, why do you listen to people who are not at all interested in helping anyone but the rich maintain their money, power, and influence? Munger is rich and the right wing hates him and Buffett


John, this is getting interesting and I will read Munger. How can I call myself objective and hungry for knowledge if I don’t. Just for the record, for more than fifty years, literally, I have been trying to bridge economics and social behavior. Unlike Posner, whose motivation I can’t say that I know, and wouldn’t care about except academically, I just care about his approach, knowledge and analysis, my motivation has been quite simple and straightforward, I want to understand why some societies function better than others, and how the poor, particularly in developing countries, can do more to help themselves. Note the “how” and “can.” My purpose is utilitarian: helping people help themselves, and to do so with practical and usable solutions. I shy away from anything that is judgmental, except to the extent that it helps me understand human and social behavior.

My approach has been, first, to get the best education available. Second, to go out and learn further from first hand experience, first as a senior executive having to meet a payroll, and then as a development practitioner applying in the field, with my own hands and eyes, so that I could judge the effectiveness of what I was doing, some of the lessons I learned in academia and then from making payroll and managing people. And third, and finally, going back to the intellectuals to survey the field while at the same time synthesizing my earlier forty plus years of study and experience. I am currently writing that synthesis.

Although the only thing I know about Christopher Graves is what he has commented to this particular blog, I come out much closer to him than to you or Jack. My position is based on the above, the more than fifty years observing what works and does not, and applying to that very sophisticated systems theory and many other tools. Moreover, I have been able to preliminary validate my results through reading observation of some 15,000 years of history.

My results are not at all political although inevitably they come out on one or the other side on different issues, sides that I am afraid would be unrecognizable to you while you insist on summarily judging all issues and people through the lens of the clichés you keep throwing out, e.g. “Even the most casual observer of history knows that the "right" has nothing to contribute, never has, never will.” Wow, that is breathtaking! Now that I reread it I find that statement all the more extraordinary! Even scientist wouldn’t say that about the laws of nature that they have been able to discern so far.

But do help me out, since I am the first to recognize that my judgment of you thus far may be very unfair. You say that “You measure by actions taken or omitted, morale, and how events are measured by others.” Great, having first been trained as a scientist and engineer I like evaluation and definitions based on measurement. So, please tell me more about that particular sentence. Specially, what do you mean by “morale” and how do you use it to measure actions and, much more importantly and to the point, where do you get that morale from. Also, which actions or events do you or “others” pick to measure and by what criteria (I told you mine; they are my motivations above), and who are those “others” anyway. Finally, and absolutely most important, should I be using that same “morale,” and, whether the answer is yes or no, why. And please don’t tell me that I can find that morale in Charlie Munger. That just begs the question.


Xavier, thanks for responding, let's see if I can clarify:

"Jack, your logic escapes me...........

........What does the “instead” refer to, the flaw in capitalism or capitalism itself?"

Indeed, it's the "convenience" of the logic escaping those favoring the status quo that unduly rewards those of the top 1% that I've been writing about.

As for the inherent flaws in capitalism, I wonder if you've studied the subject as like any engine it has its strengths, weaknesses and outright flaws.

Those studying econ are not far in, before being presented with the facts of those supplying commodities or lower skilled labor being "price takers" at the mercy of few buyers or employers. That is why virtually every advanced nation has some form of farm price supports, and a min wage, and why it is that collective bargaining helped patch the thing back together the last time too much wealth and income aggregated in the hands of the very few.

Worthy of mention, perhaps, is that of the min wage being higher than that of the US in the other advanced nations and that of H/C being provided not only to min wage folk, but to those temporarily or permanently cast aside by a malfunctioning economic system.

Some might fault capitalism for the practice of "rent seeking" or favor buying from Congress, the President and other political entities that have given us the S & L debacle of 25 years ago (that cost the taxpayers $100 billion of those long ago dollar) the Enron mess of a decade ago and the current financial breakdown we're enjoying today.

But perhaps it's more of a failure of our democracy not to have implemented better means of financing political campaigns than that of those who are going to decide much of our future, indenturing themselves to special interests before they've even become elected "representative of the people" and in the parlance of the political realm, "remembering their friends" once installed.

In a discussion of, well, let's say it, "class" as defined by income and wealth, I'm not sure what is to be made of anomalies such as Gates and Buffet? Are they to be counters to the fact that upward mobility in our once fair nation has fallen well below that of Germany and a host of other nations? Or that of Gates, the monopolist, (whose anti-trust suit was dropped after the admin he supported took office) buying up competitors and crushing those selling browsers and office suites?

I gave you these graphs that illustrate how rapidly income is aggregating in the hands of the very few, and a graph depicting a similar trend in wealth would be equally as steep. I'm assuming you didn't look at them at the time, but do so now, and ask yourself how long such a trend can continue.


If still unmoved, I'd point out that in a nation 70% dependent on consumer spending, that flat and declining wages for most do NOT point to a robust economic future.

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