What is Conservatism?

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What is Conservatism?

Postby Nadreck_of_Palain7 » Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:57 pm

When there are problems in our large, complex world, what do we do? What can we do?

In our economy, we are supposed to accept the new normal. If you become unemployed, or your pay goes down, we are supposed to just suck it up, keep our head down and tighten our belts. If inequality grows to such an extent that we are becoming an oligarchy, we are just supposed to accept it, that is just the way it is. Never mind that it hasn't always been this way. Never mind that within living memory the average person in the US had a bigger share of the pie, and hope that their children would do as well or better. Never mind that the recession is not because we have less capacity to produce goods and services, but because the financial engineers had a crash. Never mind that we went 50 years without a financial crisis while regulations like Glass-Steagle made banking boring. It is more important to some that the financial engineers can pretend that they are the economy than to have the real economy of real goods and services succeed.

In the world, there are many who still prefer the Hobbesian anarchy of nation states to any attempts to bring peace to the world. Since the many efforts to reduce violence and have world cooperation, such as the UN, still have many defects, they say we should just get rid of them. Never mind that the efforts of many throughout the centuries to improve things have had some success, as documented in Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature. We are supposed to just accept a world where in effect, might makes right.

Who thinks we are just supposed to accept things? Usually it is people who are labeled as conservatives. In the US, it is conservatives who oppose any positive steps to reform our economy. It is the conservatives who want what amounts to American empire, giving the US more power in the international anarchy. It is the conservatives who have no problem with development of oligarchy in the United States. So what does that make conservatism?

Conservatism is surrender.

We are just supposed to surrender to the new normal of the economy, no matter how bad. We are supposed to surrender to endless conflict in the world. We are supposed to surrender to the oligarchy. Not only can't we do anything about these things, but it is wrong to try. We are just supposed to give up.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is an attempt to set in motion some sort of attempt to make things better. They do not want to give up. In a democracy, before changes can be made, there has to be some sort of popular will to make those changes. Our current political life offers little outlet for anyone who really wants to take a fresh look at our problems. Politicians are incredibly timid, because their main job now is not to make policy, but to raise money for the next election. So money has become more important than voters.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to ask a member of Congress why the special tax break for hedge fund managers could not be repealed. I asked this because it seems like such a no-brainer, as hedge fund managers have their taxes calculated at the low capital gains rate, even though their pay is for investing other people's money, not their own. The reply is that members of Congress are afraid of the banks. They are afraid that if they oppose what the banks want, the banks will fund opponents at a high level.

This is what we are up against. Complaints that Occupy Wall Street are too vague and need to have more specific demands miss the point. We need to have a discussion about our problems, and this discussion has not been happening except among a few frustrated writers and bloggers. It needs to be discussed by everyone. I don't know if Occupy Wall Street will succeed. But I am sure that we need to do something different. If we do try some different things, they might not all work. But I am convinced that if we just go on passively letting things happen, we will have a civilization in decline.
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Re: What is Conservatism?

Postby Faramond » Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:22 pm

If you think the problems need to be discussed by everyone, why do you then alienate a large portion of everyone by telling them their philosophy is "surrender"?

This is not a sound strategy.
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Postby vison » Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:45 pm

I'm a Conservative.

Or, rather, I was. As in, an actual Canadian Conservative.

No longer, though. Not since our Dear Leader (PM S. Harper) has decided to adopt many policies that were dismal failures in the US over the last decades. You know, Tuff On Crime!!! More Prisons!!!! Longer Sentences!!!! Grow Marijuana and Spend Six Months in Jail!!!!! Force ISPs to surrender their user data to the police without warrants!!!!

And so nauseatingly on. :x

The thing is, a Conservative should be trying to Conserve something. And in the case of the US, there was so much that was good and glorious to conserve!!!! It does seem that some people are mixed up about all this. :(
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Postby Jnyusa » Sat Oct 29, 2011 5:36 am

Yeah, that would be my take on it too ... that what we are seeing as policy trend since the 1980s is not what I would call Conservatism.

Thanks for starting the thread, Nadreck. I think this might be a more productive approach than the Republican v. Democrat threads, because party affiliation no longer lines up with liberal/conservative breaks in policy preference.

If I had to take a stab at it, I would say that the Democratic Party now represents what old conservatism used to represent and the Republican Party represents something novel in our political scene, or perhaps something old and marginal that has been repackaged by the media as mainstream. But I would want to qualify that too, because the Democrats are also so politically corrupt these days that they are far into the bog compared to post-WWII conservatism.

I don't see OWS as a movement. I see it as an outpouring of frustration.

When people take to the streets, whoever they are and for whatever reason, political leaders should consider seriously what is going on because this is a rejection of standard political channels. The same was true for the Tea Party. It doesn't matter that the Tea Party was organized top-down and well-funded by professional obstructionists in comparison with the OWS. What matters, imo, is that large numbers of people were sufficiently frustrated to climb on board and reject standard political channels in a decisive way. Elected leaders rely on those channels for their access to power. If it's a free-for-all in the streets, then anyone with a bullhorn could end up being the bearer of informal power. That's not a good thing, imo. The positive purpose of institutions, with all the evils of moribundity that they represent, is to provide a vetting framework. Yeah it makes change go slower but it also prevents domination and subsequent derailment by the fringe.
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Postby Faramond » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:21 am

This is not a productive approach, Jn. It is an insulting, excluding approach. I know the difference between being talked to and being talked down to.

What is liberalism?

From the evidence of this board: Liberalism is arrogance.
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Postby Jnyusa » Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:30 am

Faramond, I really disagree with you.

I think it will feel insulting and excluding if people who hold Conservative values insist upon continuing to group themselves with those who hold views like those of Huckabee and Bachman. But I can't imagine that anyone from the Conservative camp of the 1950, 60, and 70s would agree to stand in the same room as H and B much less join the same party.

The only place you saw people like that was in the John Birch Society or the KKK, and they were so marginalized .... And all the rest of us stand around acting like this is normal. It is not normal. They are not normal. And they are certainly not Conservative.

Hatred and Greed are vices, not ideologies. I think Nadreck is right that those of us who cling to ideas of governance have surrendered, but this is certainly not limited to Conservatives. I hear plenty of snide, angry liberals but no reasoned voice of Progressiveness anywhere. No ideas. Just the same kind of emotion as I hear on the other side, but in the opposite direction. There's no way I'm going to look at Nancy Pelosi and say 'yup, she's my gal,' after the tax earmarks she and her fellow Democrats slapped on to the TARP. And when all you have to choose between is her brand of relatively informed corruption and 'Jesus rode a dinosaur,' .... boy, if that's the best we can come up with then lily-livered cowards is too nice a word for us.
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Postby Nadreck_of_Palain7 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:31 pm

There is plenty of blame to go around. There are plenty of Democrats who who want to play it "safe" by not doing anything. The President is included, since he seems to think we need to continue with the same financial system that has failed so badly, and maybe fiddle a bit around the edges. Conservatives oppose any reforms that would leave us less vulnerable to financial instability. All too many Democrats have allowed conservatism to paralyze them. The central position of campaign finance is probably a major culprit.

My assertion is that our economic decline is not because the physical capacity to produce goods and services is lower. If that assertion is correct, then we need to look at factors that should be within our control. The financial system is no longer the servant of the economy, but its master. Instead of allocating resources for the real economy of goods and services, it tries to siphon money out of the real economy. You hear of things like financial companies selling investments, then making trades betting those investments will fail, and of computer programs written to buy or sell securities within milliseconds to take advantage of ephemeral price spreads, and of financial instruments so complex that even the companies who trade them don't completely understand them. This is a recipe for instability. Why is any attempt to do anything about this ruled out of bounds?

Why is the possible default by Greece, a country that makes up a very small percentage of the world economy, considered a grave danger to the world economy? What sort of arrangement allows a small country to be a danger to the whole world? Why have all the financial dominoes been set up so that knocking down one makes all of the others fall?

I just want this paralysis to stop. I don't want to just give up, and I am am frightened by the lack of any real effective effort among those in a position to do anything about it. I do not want to surrender.

I am much more worried about whether my assertions are correct than whether anybody is insulted by them. I would be delighted if I am wrong and our society is able to respond to our problems and move forward. Show me a path forward, and I will be glad to withdraw anything that anyone feels insulted by.
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Sat Oct 29, 2011 3:23 pm

Nadreck wrote:My assertion is that our economic decline is not because the physical capacity to produce goods and services is lower.


There is the same capacity but far more competition. In the 50s and 60s, China and India were not industrial powers. Japan was, but it was still growing. If you wanted a car, or TV, or a pair of socks, chances are you could readily buy made-in-America (or Britain, or France, or whichever first-world country you happened to live in) and put money into the pocket of an unskilled American (or British, or French) worker. Now those goods can be made far more cheaply in Malaysia. Consumers demand cheap goods, so companies cater to them by outsourcing. America could still produce the things it used to, but when it comes down to it in dollar-for-dollar terms Americans simply don't want to buy made in America.

So then you need other ways of making money, hence the godzilla financial system. And you need to move people from secure blue-collar jobs to unsecure service ones. And increasingly, with people buying things online, those jobs don't even exist anymore. Hence the problem.
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Postby Storyteller » Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:11 pm

Faramond wrote:This is not a productive approach, Jn. It is an insulting, excluding approach. I know the difference between being talked to and being talked down to.

What is liberalism?

From the evidence of this board: Liberalism is arrogance.

In a sense, yes.

The whole conservative/liberal thing is a bit alien to me; the political spectrum works differently here. But my impression is that at the root of it, the conservative/liberal divide in the US is about the sense of self- or rather, the size of self.

"Conservatives" seem to be people with a limited sense of self. They see themselves as small people in a large and nasty world over which they have only limited control- and maintaining even that limited control requires constant and costly effort. Which is why they are much more mindful of the dangers of change than of opportunities it might- or might not- open. To a conservative, economic catastrophes are much like natural ones; they're caused by factors largely beyond human control, and the idea of radically changing the status quo is a bit like trying to order a hurricane to stop raging. Improving the status quo incrementally and carefully- yes, but lay off the revolutionary manifestoes.

The "liberals", on the other hand, are people with a large sense of self born from the New Age narcissism: you can change the world into any shape you want if you just think positive enough thoughts. "Liberals" don't really believe that there might be problems without solutions or obstacles which can only be overcome by way of long, hard, incremental work; every challenge can and must surrender to a sufficiently determined frontal assault. If something doesn't work in the desired way, let's just scrap it and try something new. If that new something doesn't work out, that's alright; they meant well, so they should not be blamed for the resulting mess because demands of responsibility would discourage people from boldly trying new things. In the "progressives", that attitude all too often reaches the level of masochistic omnipotence: anything wrong or evil anywhere in the world must somehow, in some way, be their society's fault and it is within their power to fix it.
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Postby Jnyusa » Sat Oct 29, 2011 5:25 pm

Lord M wrote:There is the same capacity but far more competition.


Those are all accurate points, Lord M. The loss of manufacturing represents the loss of the highest value product in the world economy. That is why all the developing economies want to develop first and foremost their manufacturing sectors. And the World Bank, back in the 1950s, did make that the number one priority for lending policy.

I would add some refinements to this picture, though.

One, the reason manufacturing was so successful in building a middle class for the First World is because the First World was unionized. We forget today (especially those of us born after 1980) that the leading industry in the US, the auto industry, was for two decades a collaboration between workers and stockholders, with management recognizing and even articulating their position that their workers were their customers and the industry was strongest when it was creating markets and not just profits. Wages negotiated with the UAW set the bar for wages throughout the economy and this is the single most important factor to which we can attribute middle class growth from the end of WWII to 1973.

With the newly industrializing countries in competition with one another for inward direct investment, prohibiting unions, prohibiting environmental law, prohibiting taxation, prohibiting domestic content laws, etc., they are not getting the income boon from manufacturing that the First World received. They thought that building the factory would be enough, but that's not enough. In fact, I would go so far as to say that no country anywhere can grow its economy this way, and in fact no one has succeeded to create job growth that keeps pace with population growth this way.

Two, while credit markets are absolutely necessary for economic growth, they only work properly when the return on investment to the investor is adequate to remunerate both the risk and the sacrifice of liquidity. Today, because of churning and because of the cancer-like growth of derivatives, $0.75 of every investment return dollar is going to the broker instead of the investor. That's like having to pay your realtor 75% of the price of your house. We really needed financial reform coming out of 1973, but the deregulation of 1980 that we got was mucked up from start to finish. At the risk of taking what will be perceived as a pot shot, every Keynesian economist knew it. No one who had the same training wheels as I did supported that reform as it was constructed. Not even Milton Friedman supported it, and it was supposed to be based on his theories. Now we're stuck with it. Attempting to repeal the centerpiece of that reform - competitive interest rates - would hurl the economy into chaos. But unless a really concerted effort is made by economists to offer a cogent transition back to sanity, I feel pretty confident that our economy will tank in a permanent way. We will be Russian princes after the revolution.
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Sat Oct 29, 2011 5:58 pm

Jnyusa wrote: One, the reason manufacturing was so successful in building a middle class for the First World is because the First World was unionized. We forget today (especially those of us born after 1980) that the leading industry in the US, the auto industry, was for two decades a collaboration between workers and stockholders, with management recognizing and even articulating their position that their workers were their customers and the industry was strongest when it was creating markets and not just profits. Wages negotiated with the UAW set the bar for wages throughout the economy and this is the single most important factor to which we can attribute middle class growth from the end of WWII to 1973.


Is that a cause or an effect, though? In 1950 if you wanted to make something you had to hire men in industrialised first-world countries to make it. Women were not in the workforce to the degree they are now, half of Europe was cut off behind the Iron Curtin, Asia was not yet developed and many jobs simply took far more workers than they do today. Even in 1970 far more men were needed to do things like unload ships at the waterfront than are needed now. Those factors put far more power into the hands of workers. These days if workers made the same demands, management could sack them and hire someone else (as fewer people are needed) or outsource the operation to China.
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Postby RoseMorninStar » Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:58 pm

Jnyusa wrote:
I think it will feel insulting and excluding if people who hold Conservative values insist upon continuing to group themselves with those who hold views like those of Huckabee and Bachman. But I can't imagine that anyone from the Conservative camp of the 1950, 60, and 70s would agree to stand in the same room as H and B much less join the same party.

The only place you saw people like that was in the John Birch Society or the KKK, and they were so marginalized .... And all the rest of us stand around acting like this is normal. It is not normal. They are not normal. And they are certainly not Conservative.

Hatred and Greed are vices, not ideologies. I think Nadreck is right that those of us who cling to ideas of governance have surrendered, but this is certainly not limited to Conservatives. I hear plenty of snide, angry liberals but no reasoned voice of Progressiveness anywhere. No ideas. Just the same kind of emotion as I hear on the other side, but in the opposite direction. There's no way I'm going to look at Nancy Pelosi and say 'yup, she's my gal,' after the tax earmarks she and her fellow Democrats slapped on to the TARP. And when all you have to choose between is her brand of relatively informed corruption and 'Jesus rode a dinosaur,' .... boy, if that's the best we can come up with then lily-livered cowards is too nice a word for us.
I agree with this. We had a Republican governor (Tommy Thompson) for many years in Wisconsin. He was good in this state.. good for education, jobs, environmental laws, cut welfare to a 'Wisconsin Works' program.. but he recently tried to throw his hat into the ring and the 'new' conservatives (they are not traditional Republicans) don't want him. He is 'too moderate'. Heck.. Ronald Reagan wouldn't even qualify for what is the 'conservative' party today. And you are correct.. the 'new' conservatives fit very well into the John Birch society. And that is by design.
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Postby Faramond » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:02 pm

I maintain that if you title a thread "What is conservatism?" and answer the question with "conservatism is surrender" then you are not interested in having a conversation with conservatives -- you only want to cut them down and belittle them. Nor are you interested in looking for solutions -- the thread title gives it away. I have no patience for such tactics.

To be a conservative does not mean one agree with Bachmann and Huckabee. When I see these two names pop up I know that there isn't going to be any kind of fruitful conversation -- but Jn if you really think these are the names to mention when talking about conservatism then I will say fair enough and move on to something else.

I don't care about how much blame Democrats or liberals have. I do not care. I see no point in blaming or demonizing them either. I don't really think liberalism is arrogance, but If I started a thread and called it "what is liberalism" and answered it with arrogance, would anyone really think I was looking for solutions? Would everyone just pretend I had started a normal thread talking about problems in the US? Why does Nadreck get a pass when it goes in the other direction? Because conservatives deserve it, I suppose.

I am not insulted, Nadreck. I am dismayed that you would frame this kind of discussion in such a divisive way, and then annoyed when you play the innocent afterward. But maybe you only want to talk with liberals, in which case, well done. You have a lot of fellow travelers in the US -- on both sides -- and that is really the problem.

I just want this paralysis to stop. I don't want to just give up, and I am am frightened by the lack of any real effective effort among those in a position to do anything about it. I do not want to surrender.


Then instead of asking "what is conservatism" you might try looking for solutions that the 99% will get behind.
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Postby Faramond » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:34 pm

What if we made investment banking illegal? I mean, if investment banking had been illegal would there have been a housing bubble caused by a flood of fraudulent and foolish loans that could be safely sold on to someone else?

But what would the negative effects of making investment banking illegal be?

Do you really think if you talked to the average Tea Partier he or she would express great passion for investment banking and keeping it legal?

I have no problem with Steve Jobs making multi-millions of dollars before he died -- he earned that money. But some investment banker making multi-millions buying and selling derivatives and integrals ( okay, only one of these things is an actual financial instrument ) -- well, he or she did not earn that money. It's basically a form of legal thievery. This is, of course, an ignorant opinion -- really, I have little idea of how investment banking works -- but I have a hard time seeing what value these people really create. They seem to be leeches on the financial system who sometimes inject poison while sucking out the blood.

I remember seeing one of these OWS manifestos where one of the points was that all debt should be immediately wiped from the books. This meant ALL debt of any kind -- home loans, student loans, US debt, Greek debt -- all of it should be forgiven. I do not think this was a serious proposal that came from a real sane person associated with OWS, but I keep thinking about it. If you did something like this the world economy would grind to a halt. People owed money would be ruined and future credit would be seen as a huge risk, because if the books were burned once -- they could be burned again. Credit is vital to the functioning of our economy. It is precious.

But do we treat it that way? We toss it around without thought for the consequences. Credit must be treated with greater respect. So how is that done?
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Postby Jnyusa » Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:37 pm

Faramond wrote:... but Jn if you really think these are the names to mention when talking about conservatism then I will say fair enough and move on to something else.


I think those were the names that Nadreck had in mind, based on his description of the mindset; them and the constituents to which they appeal. That is why the first two posts following Nadreck's said, 'this is not what we call Conservatism.'

If I started a thread and called it "what is liberalism" and answered it with arrogance, would anyone really think I was looking for solutions?


If it were followed by a recognizable description of Rahm Emmanuel then I might agree with it. ;)

Faramond, I understand what you are saying, but I think the problem has more to do with our not having good names for the things we see emerging on our political landscape. If the only terms in my lexicon are liberal and conservative, then I am forced to lump people like Bachman in with the conservatives because she's closer to that than to the other thing. And I am forced to lump Pelosi with the liberals for the same reason. But there is no reason for us to accept this lumping. We are free to respond with better definitions of our own, which is what I would like to do when the conversation begins as it did here. It is a step up, I think, from our Republican and Democratic threads because your cannot exclude Bachman from the definition of Republican, nor Pelosi from the definition of Democrat, whereas we can exclude both of them from our definitions of Conservative and Progressive if we wish.

It seems to me that it is important that we be able to get beneath current labels and down to ideas, as you did in the post right above, because that's where the meat will be.

What if we made investment banking illegal? I mean, if investment banking had been illegal would there have been a housing bubble caused by a flood of fraudulent and foolish loans that could be safely sold on to someone else?


I guess the first thing I would want to do is separate between mortgage banking (savings and loans) and investment banking (traditional venture capital) because the risk preference is wildly different. Those two interest rates should not converge, and if they do then something is wrong.

It's not necessary to make venture capitalism illegal; it's only necessary to make it transparent. That's a matter of having instruments vetted by an SEC that is really looking and not rubber stamping.

Mortgages are a different issue. I would like to see mortgages strictly regulated, with banks not allowed to repackage and resell, and increases in the variable rate pegged to inflation. A return almost to the pre-1980 market conditions, in other words, without the Fed actually fixing initial interest rates. Mortgages should never, ever be chopped up, as was done with the mortgage derivatives. What has to be avoided in all lending is the passing along of undisclosed risk, and this is a particularly acute requirement in mortgage lending because it is not just the investor who is hurt - the debtor loses his home.

Insurance is another issue again, and that's where I would place the CDS and hedge fund instruments. Insurance companies are not supposed to profit from risk-taking. The purpose of insurance is to pool risk, to average it, not to outguess it. When insurance companies were well-regulated the profitability they offered to their stockholders came from efficiency and capitalization, not from beating the risk factors, as if we were at a racetrack betting on the right horse.

These are all ... accounting distinctions. They go to the purpose of the instrument and its transparency. That's what got bleached out of financial services in 1980 and that's what has to be reinserted to make our financial market function.

The bottom line is that the purpose of collectivizing financial capital is to finance real physical capital. If that's not what we're doing, then we're just setting fire to our savings.

I remember seeing one of these OWS manifestos where one of the points was that all debt should be immediately wiped from the books. This meant ALL debt of any kind -- home loans, student loans, US debt, Greek debt -- all of it should be forgiven.


Well, this is too extreme, of course. But there is a lending principle that says debt should be written off after a certain period of time because the asset is no longer "performing." Banks are forced by law to do this with private debt, but after WWII the World Bank set a new precedent with government debt that could be rolled over forever. The collateral on this debt is the taxation power of the government, and the concept proved to be deadly for the developing world. You would never be able to collect infinite interest payments from a private debtor the way you can collect it from a government. That idea, that any amount of interest over any time period is just OK has bled back into the private sector, and it is really a violation of principle.

But there have to be consequences for non-payment or else the credit markets don't know what kind of risk premium to assign and credit dries up, as you say.
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Postby vison » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:00 am

Keeping good accounts! Who knew how important bookkeeping could be!!!
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Postby Democritus » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:56 am

Storyteller wrote: The "liberals", on the other hand, are people with a large sense of self born from the New Age narcissism: you can change the world into any shape you want if you just think positive enough thoughts. "Liberals" don't really believe that there might be problems without solutions or obstacles which can only be overcome by way of long, hard, incremental work; every challenge can and must surrender to a sufficiently determined frontal assault. If something doesn't work in the desired way, let's just scrap it and try something new. If that new something doesn't work out, that's alright; they meant well, so they should not be blamed for the resulting mess because demands of responsibility would discourage people from boldly trying new things. In the "progressives", that attitude all too often reaches the level of masochistic omnipotence: anything wrong or evil anywhere in the world must somehow, in some way, be their society's fault and it is within their power to fix it.


This definition of liberalism (and liberals) is ignorant baloney, unworthy of you. At least pay liberalism the basic respect of researching what it is, how it came to be, and the philosophical and historical forces that gave rise to it, it is after all one of the three great strands of political thinking, along with conservatism and socialism, that underpins just about all political thought. Get back to us when you've educated yourself a little more, as what you wrote above is total drivel.
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Postby Storyteller » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:06 am

Democritus wrote:
Storyteller wrote: The "liberals", on the other hand, are people with a large sense of self born from the New Age narcissism: you can change the world into any shape you want if you just think positive enough thoughts. "Liberals" don't really believe that there might be problems without solutions or obstacles which can only be overcome by way of long, hard, incremental work; every challenge can and must surrender to a sufficiently determined frontal assault. If something doesn't work in the desired way, let's just scrap it and try something new. If that new something doesn't work out, that's alright; they meant well, so they should not be blamed for the resulting mess because demands of responsibility would discourage people from boldly trying new things. In the "progressives", that attitude all too often reaches the level of masochistic omnipotence: anything wrong or evil anywhere in the world must somehow, in some way, be their society's fault and it is within their power to fix it.


This definition of liberalism (and liberals) is ignorant baloney, unworthy of you. At least pay liberalism the basic respect of researching what it is, how it came to be, and the philosophical and historical forces that gave rise to it, it is after all one of the three great strands of political thinking, along with conservatism and socialism, that underpins just about all political thought. Get back to us when you've educated yourself a little more, as what you wrote above is total drivel.

In that case, my plan to write an exact mirror image of Nadreck's opening post can be considered a success :)
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Postby Jnyusa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:16 am

vison wrote:Keeping good accounts! Who knew how important bookkeeping could be!!!


Bad accounting was definitely the cause of the banking crash in 1980. 60% of the bank failures happened because officers of the bank were giving unsecured loans to themselves and not paying them back. Basically they just pocketed their depositors money. This is a violation of banking policy (you can't make loans to your own officers) which the SEC is supposed to prevent by auditing bank loans, but guess what ...

I would argue that bad accounting was one of the major causes of the Great Depression. It was the Depression that made us realize we needed an accounting standards board.

Lord M. wrote:Is that a cause or an effect, though? In 1950 if you wanted to make something you had to hire men in industrialised first-world countries to make it. Women were not in the workforce to the degree they are now, half of Europe was cut off behind the Iron Curtin, Asia was not yet developed and many jobs simply took far more workers than they do today. Even in 1970 far more men were needed to do things like unload ships at the waterfront than are needed now. Those factors put far more power into the hands of workers. These days if workers made the same demands, management could sack them and hire someone else (as fewer people are needed) or outsource the operation to China.


I think it would be difficult to cleanly separate cause and effect where markets and institutions are interwoven, Lord M. Increased labor intensity doesn't mean that labor necessarily has more power.

In the 1930s we legally empowered collective bargaining, and before that time the income share to labor was miserable. Without those legal changes we would have looked the way Malaysia looks today - lots of factories, no incomes. But then the unions themselves became very powerful and very wealthy, and with power and money came corruption, as usual. So within fifty years Reagan broke the unions using executive powers and that combination of corruption and losing the right to strike marked the beginning of the end for labor's economic power.

But you're right that a combination of these things was needed to alter the horizon so dramatically.

Even before the developing world became a factor, Europe and Japan became a factor. By the end of the 1960s there were three industrial giants, not just one. Then the oil crisis of 1973 broke open our auto industry to foreign competition, not because our manufacturers did anything 'wrong' but because now there was a market for fuel efficiency in the US that had never been here before. Japan and Europe already had technology appropriate to the changed costs because fuel had always been more expensive in those countries, particularly Japan. And by the end of the 1980s, by 1988 say, there were more than 400 free trade zones around the world, where a manufacturer could produce without paying taxes and at a labor cost of $0.50 a day. This is the classic Marxian scenario, if I may say so, with a world labor force so large and in such dire relative circumstances that they drive wages to subsistence. We could have taken measures at that point to restrict the outpouring of jobs, and probably would have if labor had had the influence it had in the 1960s, but instead we had administrations that basically despised labor and we didn't do anything.

But the IT boom helped us,you see. And the concentration and capitalization of financial services helped us. We were successfully transitioning to this new world order, I would say. But then the last leg of our collapse was put in place - which was the bankrupting of our government by a succession of Republican administrations, starting with Reagan. You can get rid of taxes and go to war everywhere in the world for a little while but not forever. Our government debt doubled from 1980 to 1984. And when we were able to reduce deficits (during Clinton) by means of highly regressive taxes and liquidation of public assets we blew the savings on a war in the very next administration. Now our SS obligations are coming due and we can't pay them.

So ... the market changed but the institutions changed too. Our government misidentified the threats we faced in 1980 and has never reversed its course. We stood like deer in headlights, longing for a return to the 1950s and we were mowed down by a train.
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Postby Democritus » Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:28 am

Storyteller wrote:
Democritus wrote:
Storyteller wrote: The "liberals", on the other hand, are people with a large sense of self born from the New Age narcissism: you can change the world into any shape you want if you just think positive enough thoughts. "Liberals" don't really believe that there might be problems without solutions or obstacles which can only be overcome by way of long, hard, incremental work; every challenge can and must surrender to a sufficiently determined frontal assault. If something doesn't work in the desired way, let's just scrap it and try something new. If that new something doesn't work out, that's alright; they meant well, so they should not be blamed for the resulting mess because demands of responsibility would discourage people from boldly trying new things. In the "progressives", that attitude all too often reaches the level of masochistic omnipotence: anything wrong or evil anywhere in the world must somehow, in some way, be their society's fault and it is within their power to fix it.


This definition of liberalism (and liberals) is ignorant baloney, unworthy of you. At least pay liberalism the basic respect of researching what it is, how it came to be, and the philosophical and historical forces that gave rise to it, it is after all one of the three great strands of political thinking, along with conservatism and socialism, that underpins just about all political thought. Get back to us when you've educated yourself a little more, as what you wrote above is total drivel.

In that case, my plan to write an exact mirror image of Nadreck's opening post can be considered a success :)


If that was your sole intent, then fine. :)

I wasn't impressed by Nadreck's definition of conservativism as simply being surrender, but thought yours was even more of a parody, but I accept the point you were trying to make in terms of mirroring Nadreck. :)
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Postby RoseMorninStar » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:38 pm

I don't believe the OWS movement is all about the bankers .. I think it's also about rulings like Citizens United.. about Corporate greed.. and Corporations taking the place of citizens in our governance. I saw a sign from OWS pictures that read, "I don't mind you being rich, I mind you buying my Government'. That is a huge concern for me. I think it should be a concern for almost any citizen.. conservative or progressive.
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Postby Nadreck_of_Palain7 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:05 pm

My thesis has been characterized as a caricature. One way to test that is to look at the current Republican presidential candidates. They all (except maybe for Huntsman) claim to be conservatives. You cannot claim they are on the fringe of the conservative movement. One of them may be the next President of the United States.

Their proposed economic policies are a combination the same policies followed in the Bush administration, combined with various proposals for smaller government and balanced budgets. These proposals for smaller government avoid the question of what they would cut. To balance the budget without any tax increases, major cuts would have to be made to some combination of defense, Medicare, and Social Security. But none of the candidates will say what they will cut.

They have no proposal to stabilize the financial system.

They have no proposal about the massive increase in income inequality.

They make little attempt to deal with the shrinking of the middle class.

They have no way to deal with the loss of jobs and our manufacturing base to off-shoring. They seem to think we can continue massive trade deficits indefinitely.

They have no idea what to do with job loss caused by automation.

They criticized the decision to withdraw our troops from Iraq, a withdrawal that was agreed to during the Bush administration.
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:19 am

Nadreck wrote:One way to test that is to look at the current Republican presidential candidates. They all (except maybe for Huntsman) claim to be conservatives.


That's true, and it's why I think it is more constructive to talk about conservatism as a principle than to talk about the Republican Party. I can't stop Republicans from calling themselves conservative, but I can articulate my own commitments, as our self-labeled conservative posters (most of them) do very well.

They have no proposal to stabilize the financial system.
They have no proposal about the massive increase in income inequality.
They make little attempt to deal with the shrinking of the middle class.
They have no way to deal with the loss of jobs and our manufacturing base to off-shoring. They seem to think we can continue massive trade deficits indefinitely.


I can't disagree with this but I don't see any solutions to these problems being vetted by the Democrats either. I have no idea what party labels stand for any more. If I go by the Dem spam that enters my mailbox every day, I'd have to say that the only thing Dems stand for is raising money.

They have no idea what to do with job loss caused by automation.


The problem with automation is that the marketable skill set changes. More jobs are created than lost but a different group of people is qualified to fill them. And there is a gap between the destruction of one set of jobs and the new growth in other areas.

This is possibly the oldest problem in capitalized economies. It begins in a massive, visible way with the English Enclosure Acts of the 1790s. It is the reason for the existence of Marxian economics. And yet there has never been a policy initiative to solve this problem other than unemployment insurance.

This is one area where we could use the services of the government to promote and enlarge the private sector at very low cost. It is a lot cheaper to create retraining programs than it is to create whole jobs.

This is one area where unions and government could fruitfully collaborate. It is a lot cheaper for a union to support relocation than to support a strike, and a lot cheaper for the government to provide national job information than to pay scabs (as Reagan did).

This is one area, in other words, where a little imagination would go a long way.

I'm not sure why the idea of checks and balances has permeated our whole society as a fixation on adversarial relationships, but I think it is that mindset - what Marx called "voracious competition" - that prevents workable and fluid solutions to this particular problem.
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Postby vison » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:29 am

I had this thought last night whilst driving through streets where small children wandered, begging for candy . . . .

It seems to me that the world is in several kinds of very big messes. I am not prone to being a "radical Marxist feminist", but it also seems to me that we are in the midst of the Patriarchy's Death Throes.

Just throwin' it out there. 8) :)
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Postby Cenedril_Gildinaur » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:08 am

Nadreck_of_Palain7 wrote:My thesis has been characterized as a caricature. One way to test that is to look at the current Republican presidential candidates. They all (except maybe for Huntsman) claim to be conservatives. You cannot claim they are on the fringe of the conservative movement. One of them may be the next President of the United States.

Their proposed economic policies are a combination the same policies followed in the Bush administration, combined with various proposals for smaller government and balanced budgets. These proposals for smaller government avoid the question of what they would cut. To balance the budget without any tax increases, major cuts would have to be made to some combination of defense, Medicare, and Social Security. But none of the candidates will say what they will cut.

They have no proposal to stabilize the financial system.

They have no proposal about the massive increase in income inequality.

They make little attempt to deal with the shrinking of the middle class.

They have no way to deal with the loss of jobs and our manufacturing base to off-shoring. They seem to think we can continue massive trade deficits indefinitely.

They have no idea what to do with job loss caused by automation.

They criticized the decision to withdraw our troops from Iraq, a withdrawal that was agreed to during the Bush administration.


Thank you for participating in the blackout. The 1% approves.
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Postby portia » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:14 pm

I listened to Cain on PBS. He was asked what he would cut to eliminate deficits. Not Medicare and not Social Security and not the military. Mostly his "plan" is that his 9-9-9 tax plan will result in so much increase in economic activity and tax collection that little cutting will be necessary to eliminate deficits.

OH, brother.

I am really fed up with politicians promising to cut deficits, and pay for everything because some "plan" of theirs is magically going to push the economy to 10% growth per year, and make hard decisions unnecessary. If Cain really believes that nonsense, he is too stupid to be President, and if he expects us to believe it, I am too insulted to vote for him.
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Postby Cenedril_Gildinaur » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:20 am

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Postby Jnyusa » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:30 am

Interesting stab from the past, CG.

I was captivated by this quote from Chesterton, reposted from the M00bie forum by Jewelsong in the first of your links:

Chesterton wrote:In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."


This is what we call "critical thinking," a skill that we labor tirelessly to instill in our students :!:

I do not see much of it on either side of the aisle these days among our political leaders, if there was ever much of it in Congress.
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Postby legolas the elf » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:01 pm

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