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Signifyin(g)Monkey

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  1. Right, but that's not all that Bernie's about. He, like AOC, wants Nordic tax rates but without Nordic free trade; he wants to break up Big Tech without addressing the underlying problems that allow Big Tech to wield such tremendous monopoly power; he's shown support for price controls on key commodities, which are blunt instruments that got Venezuela in trouble; and he has a history of supporting brute-force nationalization of major industries. Among other things. All that has nothing to do with climate change. And while I agree with many of the underlying goals he's aiming at, I don't think trying to achieve them in an uncompromising fashion and without a hint of nuance, as he's campaigning to do, (and as I've found many faithful DSA members are all for) will prove fruitful in the long term.
  2. As I said, in certain cases something beyond gradualism is called for. I think the 'revolutions' for the causes of ending slavery through the Civil War or feudal totalitarianism through the French Revolution were justified. I can see how one might argue fighting climate change is one of those exceptions. But I see a lot of people on the left basically doing what lots of people on the right did during the Obama years, and abandoning the idea of gradualism altogether, on all issues, because they think gradualism is what got them Trump. The refrain of the right during Obama's term was "We tried gradualism with Bush and 'big-tent conservatism' and it got us Obama, time for Tea Party hard-right hysteria!" That opened the door for Trump's alt-right takeover. I just don't see this impulse to abandon all attempts at trying to forge consensus through compromise as being fruitful in the long term, as frustrating as it is to make concessions to people who are on the wrong side of an issue. The rise of illiberal, uber-nationalist, nativist strongmen around the world--Orban, Duterte, Le Pen, Erdogan, etc.--is in part a result of this impulse, IMO, and it's easy to forget that a similar reactionary wave in response to the globalization of the 19th century eventually became part of the basis for the World Wars of the 20th. I don't want to have to fight another Great War to revive the popular will for gradualist consensus-building in the West.
  3. While I don’t think Obama was quite as bad as his biggest detractors on the left make him out to be, I do think he was hostage to the financial lobby, and that he shot himself in the foot by saving the banks and then letting them foreclose on vast swathes of homeowners and throwing them out of their homes. If he would have provided homeowners with the same debt amnesty he did the banks, and avoided appointing so many creatures of the financial lobby to key administrative posts, he and the democrats would have been so overwhelmingly popular that the Republicans and the Tea Party reactionaries would have never regained Congress and he could have passed more of his agenda—and more importantly, he could have achieved a generational ideological shift in a progressive direction. But he did achieve some moderate legislative victories, and did a lot to shift the conversation in things like healthcare and gay rights in a better direction. And, despite all Obama’s flaws, I don’t think Bernie Sanders and his ilk is the answer. Much of the left might hate gradualism, or turn against it out of frustration, but I think those that do often forget that too many people in this country are of centrist persuasion to make anything else work without resorting to authoritarian tactics, at least on the economic front. As a closet mutualist-anarchist, I’m a pretty radical guy myself, but I’ll still always defend one of the many insights that made Proudhon a better thinker than Marx—revolution sounds nice on paper, but in practice they are violent and inegalitarian affairs. Sometimes they’re necessary (say, to end chattel slavery, or overthrow the tyranny of feudalism), but, generally speaking, evolution—preferably through broad-based democratic consensus— is the better means to a better world. And that entails a tolerance for gradualism.
  4. I don't dispute that; I'm saying he's coasting off of the name recognition he gained in 2016. It just doesn't seem to me that he's widened his base much from what it already was coming in. Same with Biden. Buttigieg appears to be the candidate whose base of support is growing at the fastest clip. (it helps that he was a relative unknown coming in) That makes for momentum, which is oftentimes what helps most in winning these contests when they are highly crowded. And, just to be clear, I'm not talking about who the 'best' hypothetical candidate is, or who I'd prefer; that's a different subject altogether. I'm just talking about trends I see in the pure 'horserace' aspect of these primaries.
  5. Turning off the Yang fanboy schtick for a moment, it's pretty clear Buttigieg has the most momentum; he's the one I hear most talked about amongst the Democrats that I know, including older ones who aren't just drawn in by his millennial appeal, and now the statistics are bearing out what the anecdotes seem to portend--all of which I think indicates strong word-of-mouth. Biden and Sanders are just coasting off better name recognition in a crowded field now, IMO. I don't think it will last.
  6. Regarding the writing of blank checks, I think she's basically regurgitating a vulgar version of MMT. Theoretically, according to MMT's school of thought, if you borrow in your own currency, and the debt you accumulate through deficit spending is not owed to other countries, then there is no necessary limit on the amount of debt you can take on without collapsing the exchange rate. (talking government debt here) But I think it's more complex than that, and she's hand-waving those complexities. I would say there are two underlying theoretical questions that ought to be part of any debate over said proposition: 1.) is there a point at which the US deficit can no longer be financed via bond issue? (or is the dollar for all intents and purposes the 'immaculate investment' that there will always be demand for?) 2.)if, at some point, it can't be financed via bond issue, will then simply issuing currency to fill the gap be more inflationary than financing the deficit via bonds? (or could it possibly collapse the exchange rate/be hyperinflationary?) If the answer to both is 'yes', then AOC is clearly wrong. If the answer to both is 'No', then she's actually technically correct, at least in the narrow sense of there being no real borrowing limit. The answers aren't clearly established--Japan is the most interesting test case we have atm, IMO. But I have zero confidence that she's thinking about any such nuances, or that they will actually be discussed--IMO, all we're likely to get is more platitudes. Which is unfortunate, because I'd like to see more discussion of these details, and of MMT in general among mainstream economists--there's more mention of it now in the financial press, but at the moment it's not so much discussion as simple 'Nope, it's wrong' or 'Duh, it's right' declarations by economists and think-tanks who are being blinded by partisan self-interest, which is easier to do with theories that are considered 'fringe'.
  7. Twitter has made it so that my immediate response to about 30% of the posts in a given thread is “who is this person and why do I care about what they have to say on this issue?” Also tweets format like shit on my phone. Also Twitter and tweets are obnoxious words. Also I’m clearly turning into a cranky old-timer. (and I’m only halfway through my thirties!)
  8. Uh-oh, watch out, controversy of the century: Mayor Pete’s father, a literature professor, wrote about Gramsci in an academic journal about Marxist theory! (A lit prof writing about/being into Marx is on par with a priest writing about/being into Jesus—If this is the best they can do, it’s actually quite a good sign)
  9. Much of the left is as anti-open borders as the populist right, but on the grounds of labor market protectionism rather than cultural conservatism. There could be a consensus in there somewhere that might assert itself politically. The West's elites best be wary.
  10. For one, the tribes of the Northwest Arabian peninsula which the Bible refers to as 'Midianites'. The Book of Numbers narrates the expulsion (and genocide) of the Midianites here. Actually, you ought to read the whole Book of Numbers, as it's one of the most detailed accounts of the conquests, and basically describes God 'giving' already-inhabited lands to the Jews, and ordering them to take said lands by force. (not trying to single out the Jews here, btw--this kind of thing can be found in the religion of many different ethnic groups) It illustrates one principle clearly: You know it's never going to end well when a claim to land is written into a holy text. Double that for when it's written into multiple holy texts that don't always agree.
  11. In regards to this particular action--annexing the West Bank--I would say that the issue is that this is very likely going to incite one of the ethnic groups involved in this conflict into violence, for no necessary reason. Whether it 'rightfully belongs' to Israel or not, Israel has no pressing need to annex the West Bank. The country has gotten along just fine inhabiting it without an official annexation. So why stoke the flames of conflict? Sure, it benefits Netanyahu and his allies politically and throws some red meat to nationalists--but you need a better reason than that to put both Israelis and Palestinians in danger. As for the larger question you're asking, I personally don't think the idea that 'ethnic group x lived here first, it's rightfully their land' makes any sense when we're talking about a timescale of hundreds, not to mention thousands of years. It would make no sense to dissolve the United States and hand ownership of its land and control of its government back to the native Indian tribes who 'lived here first' a long time ago, thus disenfranchising the many millions who have since made it their home. The ownership claim of land needs to be based on more recent history, and in particular the history of the people who live there in the present. So here's the conundrum of modern Israel: the Jews who live there have lived there for many years and developed a society there, so they clearly have a legitimate claim to the land. But so have the Palestinians. And the two groups are for all intents and purposes culturally incompatible. If you're asking for a solution, I'm not sure there even is one--so in the meantime why not just try to not make things worse, for example by only risk stoking tensions between the two groups when it's absolutely necessary? Which, in this case, it's not.
  12. I think that’s the way education is already going, and where it will ultimately continue to go. Trade schools and work/study programs. The traditional 4-year university track will be dying out soon, or at least will be severely diminished. It’s too expensive, and its prestige has been watered down to the point where the ROI just isn’t there. Especially when for a lot of professions, all the information you need is available for free on the ‘net. Higher education institutions that aren’t state funded are in for a long period of structural adjustment.
  13. It's been a little crazy seeing conservative economists in the financial press railing against Powell's raising of interest rates after they spent years skewering Bernanke for keeping them low. I used to think their hard money, ZIRP-is-debasing-the-currency views (or rather rhetoric) during the Obama years, while maybe slightly exaggerated by political bias, still mostly stemmed from an authentic economic ideology that transcended their politics. But now it's becoming clear that, for a lot of them, it really is just all about naked political self-interest. Stimulus and soft money are perfectly fine provided they're helping conservative politicians, it seems. Oh, and yeah--this pick sucks. Moore and Cain are hacks. You don't want hacks running the most powerful financial institution in the world. Especially not ones appointed to be loyalists. (see Arthur Burns and the Nixon years for how that can go very wrong)
  14. What are your thoughts on Andrew Yang? Cause he's gonna win it for sure.
  15. I sometimes wonder if Republicans won't regret their all-out war on Obamacare. IMO, Obamacare is still fundamentally what it was originally billed as: a pretty good compromise between socialized healthcare and a privatized system. If Republicans had made a good faith effort to tweak the legislation to make it work better rather than reject it out-of-hand in the hopes of reaping short-term political gain, they might have actually gotten something closer to a well-functioning market-based system for healthcare that also manages to fill in the 'gaps' in the market architecture that socialized healthcare systems are meant to address. And that would have snuffed out the appeal of calls to socialize healthcare for at least a generation. But they didn't do that, feeling content to sabotage the system every step of the way, and I think partially as a result we're already seeing strong support amongst millenials for socialized medicine. In the meantime, they've undermined their ability to state the obvious: that having health insurance attached entirely to employment, as it was pre-Obamacare, does not create an efficient market for healthcare, even by the severely limited and skewed definition of 'efficiency' they tend to apply.
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