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Signifyin(g)Monkey last won the day on August 1 2015

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  1. So it looks like Texas is in the path of a Major Hurricane

    @Massdriver @sblfilms How do you think this will effect your businesses? Did the storm wreck any of your key infrastructure? What contingency plans/preparations do you have in place? I realize at the moment everyone's rightly more concerned with merely surviving, but I fear the economic toll could be worse than the death toll in the long run, a la post-Katrina New Orleans. I hope your livelihoods survive the deluge.
  2. Our Broken Economy. Or, how Ronald Reagan killed the American dream.

    But those increases in income have been more than offset by increased indebtedness, as well. The middle class makes more now than in the 1980s in nominal terms, but much more of that income must now go to debt service because they are also on average more in debt now than they ever have been. The national savings rate is negative, and the national debt-to-income ratio is far higher than it was three decades ago. (second graph compares this trend in the US to Japan and China) So while the middle class saw income growth in the past three decades, this has come at the expense of debt peonage. Granted, this polarization of the economy and the reduction of the middle class to debt peonage is not all at the feet of Reagan, or even just globalization; it is the legacy of the subordination of industrial capital and investment in new factories and means of production to finance capital and its stock buybacks, leveraged buyouts, and creation of debt as an end in itself--most of which leeches off of the surplus that the industrial economy creates. This takeover is the result of a multifaceted process whose most basic substratum is neoliberal ideology and its attempt to eliminate the idea of economic rent from our economic vocabulary and way of thinking. On top of this are things such as the rise of monetarism, reckless deregulation of debt markets, ill-executed privatization of public assets, and the disintegration of the power of unions both at the hands of union-busters and corruption within the unions themselves. (certain countries, of course, managed to elude these traps--Germany, for example, still has a thriving industrial base, a high savings rate, and a modest financial sector, as well as excellent relationships between capital and labor) Reagan and Friedman certainly helped, but they are also simply part of a much larger movement attempting to reverse the industrial reforms that began with the rise of industrial capitalism from feudalism and continued to the progressive era, and to erase the influence of the ideas originally propagated by classical economists--Ricardo, Smith, Hume, etc.--who recognized the parasitic nature of rentier income and finance capital, and spearheaded attempts to prevent it from overtaking the productive forces of the industrial economy.
  3. Bravo. Subsidizing private debt in a time where excessive private debt is one of the main sources of our economic problems is a terrible policy.
  4. Not if you're a fascist. Wade is merely describing the fascist view of ethics, at the center of which is hardline Social Darwinism. (which is why I always laugh when DVD tries to paint social democrats--who are ardently anti-social Darwinism--as fascists...again, not something anyone who actually knows what fascism is would ever argue with a straight face) I disagree with his system of ethics, as I am not a fascist, but it's not hard to understand where he's coming from if you read fascist thinkers and understand fascist ideology. (And/or Nietzsche)
  5. Again, this argument is logically flawed; it's like saying a Dodge pickup truck, a Chevy Minivan, and a massive Peterbilt flatbed are exactly the same because they both have an engine, four wheels, and a steering wheel. That's straightforwardly false. Indeed, it fails logic 101. It also tells me that you don't know your economic history very well. In fact, your ignorance here is somewhat staggering. You're conflating markets and trade with capitalism; the two are not the same thing, as people like Adam Smith would agree. Market-based trade is an ancient economic process that has existed under many different forms of government, in many different cultures, all throughout history; capitalism is a historically contingent economic system. Societies with markets have existed that lacked anything we could call 'capital accumulation' or any capitalist class; they have existed without wage labor; they have existed with barter and gift systems, as in neolithic gift societies; they have existed without formal profits; without a state to enforce property rights on a large scale; and perhaps most importantly, they have existed without a formal process of capitalization, and without the process of capitalization being the primary means of social and economic organization. And any economic system that lacks such things--or whose markets are defined by a gift or barter system--cannot be called capitalism. This is really basic, economic history 101 stuff. Do yourself a favor and go study economic history; at least read The Wealth of Nations, because it's quite clear you haven't read it. You'll notice that Smith, whom historians call the "Father of Capitalism", wasn't born at the beginning of human history, and that he's not theorizing a system that always existed, but something that emerged as a response to mercantilism--which itself emerged out of feudalism--and the development of modern industry and thus a modern division of labor. Why would historians call Smith the Father of Capitalism if capitalism is just another word for trade and markets? Why would historians broadly agree that capitalism emerged around the 16th century, not in the first market society in human history, if capitalism is just another word for trade and markets? Think it over, and please actually study the history of the system you are talking about before you go lecturing people about it and presume to actually understand it.
  6. Trump calls White House "a real dump"

    It's comments like these that show why your claim that 'only people on the left attack the character and motives of those they disagree with' is quite obviously false.
  7. With all due respect, this simplistic, vulgarian way of thinking about capitalism is totally disconnected from reality. It's like saying there is only one type of car because every car has an engine and a steering wheel. That's nonsense. An SUV is not the same as a sedan, a Nissan Altima is not the same as a Dodge pickup truck. They all share certain characteristics, but they are all quite different from each other. It's the same with capitalism. A capitalist system where finance capital is the hegemon and bankers run the show works quite differently than one where industrial capital and factory owners run the show with the bankers serving their interests, even if both systems share certain elements--markets and capital accumulation, etc. A pickup truck is quite different from a minivan, though they both have an engine, a muffler, etc. This is why your arguments are so weak--they are not based on real world capitalism, but on a stylized, abstract version of capitalism that exists at a purely theoretical level and pretty much nowhere else. Strong arguments start with the world we live in, not in a world of abstraction.
  8. Acting as if there is some binary choice between your preferred version of neoliberal capitalism and totalitarianism totally ignores the reality of the world we live in, in which there are many different forms of capitalism, some of which are totalitarian in nature. The German 'Social Market' version of capitalism is quite different from the totalitarian neo-mercantilist Chinese version, which is different from the anarchistic version they once had in Somalia, which is different from the aggressively free trade Nordic social democratic version. In this world of many variegated types of capitalism, Neoliberal finance capitalism, which presently defines the US economy, and which you always swoop in to support, is clearly inferior to industrial capitalism. Under industrial capitalism, people get wealthy by actually contributing to the surplus--to get richer, you must build more cars, more ships, etc. But finance capital grows rich off of interest, which increases not according to productivity but according to the mathematical conventions of accounting. And interest does not contribute to the economic surplus--it subsists only by leeching off of it. And when it grows beyond an economy's capacity to pay, it creates crises, and over the long run will reduce the population to serfdom, the way the prosperous Roman Empire was reduced to the relative poverty of feudalism. (The rentier class was never 'freer' than it was under feudalism; it was not coincidence that the common people were correspondingly poorer and less free than they were under the Roman Empire) The failure to recognize the differences between capitalism run by the productive forces of industrial capital and capitalism run by the parasitic forces of finance capital is chief among the reasons why you and so many on the right are blind to the true sources of our present economic problems, and why you so colossally misunderstand the forces behind calls for reform, and cannot envision positive reform. But you are the victim of a carefully crafted ideological trap--as you must be for finance capital to retain its power. The parasite cannot survive unless it can convince the host that it is necessary for the host's survival.
  9. The broken window fallacy only applies in an economy at full capacity, with 100% crowding out--a rare case--and assumes that Say's Law is true. (It isn't, as the Great Depression among other events quite clearly showed.) As with nearly all your economic arguments, it requires perfect equilibrium for consistency, and as I always have to remind you, economies are rarely in equilibrium--real world capitalism is a disequilibrium system. It's natural state is instability, with imperfect competition, and demand and supply curves that are not generally 'well-behaved'. Anyway, the fallacy doesn't really apply to the case of American healthcare, but even if it did, because it assumes 100% crowding out, I could just as soon invoke it to argue that the inefficiency of the provision of healthcare by the private sector in the US's healthcare system is the source of the 'drain' that is crowding out more productive use of resources under a single payer public-private system. If you understood the broken window fallacy a bit better, you'd understand that it's not doing any argumentative work for you here. At all.
  10. You're pretty ignorant of economic facts yourself judging by this post. Many of the most competitive economies in the world feature large states with extensive systems of social welfare: Germany Australia Denmark Canada UK Norway China Sweden Finland Belgium Iceland ...all in the top 30 in economic competitiveness, all with large welfare states, most with various forms of national healthcare. Meanwhile, many of the nations with the lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP in the world are either economically underdeveloped or less competitive than regional rivals with larger governments: Somalia Central African Republic Ethiopia Burma Guatemala Sudan Madagascar Dominican Republic ...So the neat, simplistic, ideologically pleasing picture you are painting is clearly false. Reality is much more complicated, and contains examples of successful economies with both large and small states, meaning economic success is about much more than reducing the size of the government. And your understanding of fascism is also pretty farcical. If you'd made a real effort to understand it as an ideology you would know that its primary ideological basis is Social Darwinism. And social Darwinism is a right-wing philosophy. Fascism does not map easily onto a standard left/right political taxonomy like so many people want it to. It was a historically idiosyncratic mix of various ideas that we find today on both the far left and the far right. Using it as a loose synonym for totalitarianism and then pinning it down as a purely left-wing philosophy is pretty clear evidence you don't really understand what fascism is, and are just using it as a buzzword.
  11. The New York Times has gone too far this time!

    Except the pentagon either disagrees or failed to make its concerns known when given fair warning. So it's yet another instance of the press being blamed for administrative dysfunction by Trump and Republicans who support him. But we all knew that would be the case; They have become terribly predictable.
  12. As expected, making it more difficult to bomb a country makes neoconservatives furious--it is very much like taking a spoiled toddler's toys away. Anyway, I agree the emphasis should not be on Bush alone--it should be on the neoconservative establishment as a whole, including senior members of Dubya's administration and neocon 'intellectuals' like Bill Kristol, and focus on not forgetting the disastrous results of implementing their policies. Bush was just the addled head of the neocon beast, after all. But let's acknowledge our common faults--we both know Republicans will still be banging on about Hillary Clinton for as long as Trump forces them to find ways to distract from his bumbling. And that looks to be right up till the 2020 election.
  13. The military, which Republicans support by much the same number as they don't support college, is a mirror image of the same, and it has churned out a generation of fucked-over veterans who can't get proper medical care and wallow in anger because they end up working shitty jobs despite putting in years of hard work and taking significant risks, often in pursuit of high ideals. In many cases because neoconservatives pursued fruitless wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, because their worldview demands war, war, war. Again, institutional dysfunction knows no partisan boundaries.
  14. Presidential elections are indeed vicious, and politicians are in general truth-benders and liars, but it's clear from statements like these-- That Trump's campaign could well have been doing something questionably legal too. It tells us that senior level members of the Trump campaign were open to listening to this offer, and if this offer had yielded information about Hillary Clinton it could have been illegal under federal law. Trying to whitewash that senior Trump officials were flirting with legally questionable campaign tactics is pretty dishonest, since we know you would not be doing the same had this been Hillary Clinton. At the very least you should be calling it irresponsible, and want further investigation as to what happened and whether any laws were broken. Instead you are on here trying to make it seem like "there's nothing left to see here", when that's not at all the case. Indeed, you say your 'point isn't to try to defend or excuse the lies', but your arguments are specifically constructed to play down what the import of said lies might be, since they haven't resulted in any legal convictions yet. That falls well into 'defend and excuse' territory. It's a distinction without a difference, unfortunately. It's why you can be innocent in a court of law but guilty in the court of public opinion--and doesn't it seem a little strange for someone such as yourself, who considers themselves the objective counterpoint to a bunch of knee-jerk posters, to be trying so desperately hard already to exonerate him in the latter when we have yet to figure out whether he's guilty in the former? In fact, isn't that the crime you consistently allege posters around here commit--jumping to conclusions before all the evidence is in? And yet you've already reached a conclusion as to Trump or workers in the Trump campaign's guilt here. And we both know that you won't be singing this self-same tune if Trump avoids conviction and people here argue that it's because he has the power of the executive branch and the best lawyers his fortune can afford working for him in court. (i.e., "he's guilty but the courts are corrupt") By then it will be "that's just sour grapes; the courts decide who broke the law or not; Trump was exonerated, therefore he's innocent", the Clinton goalposts will be moved to suit the new line, and you will be trying to make the conversation about the liberal media and not Trump himself. But you're trapped, I suppose, as consistently defending Trump requires conservatives to take on quite predictable rhetorical behaviors.
  15. Even if in the end the no laws were broken, the fact remains that Donnie Jr. tried to use the resources of a foreign power that carried out a cyberattack on US election infrastructure to influence the outcome of a presidential election, and A.) that's shady as hell, thus B.) such behavior should be criticized. Technically Hillary broke no laws by using her private e-mail server--she was acquitted, remember?--and yet you were all adither about that. Something doesn't have to be illegal to be nefarious, malicious or irresponsible.