I was reading a conservative business man’s column the other day and he was going on at length about how great capitalism was and how much wealth it has created for so many people. On general preferences for economic systems I prefer capitalism and for much of the reason he sighted. Though I’ve read far Right diatribes about economics and every other subject to know that much of what he was saying was Conservative code. The debate about capitalism has some similarities with the debate about gun safety. Democrats say they want to have some regulations in place to help prevent another financial meltdown. Conservatives create a straw man Democratic argument, claiming Democrats/liberals/progressives want to either move the country to full throttle Marxism or severely cripple the ability of business to make a profit. Democrats come out for some reasonable gun safety regulations and that becomes the Democrats are anti-gun straw man. When someone or a group of people does that time after time, issue after issue, it means they cannot muster good arguments against Democratic positions and that they are deeply afraid. The fear is often reflected to the overuse of slippery slope arguments – an assault weapons ban or limiting the size of ammo clips – becomes the first wave in total dismantlement of the 2nd Amendment. I do not have the freedom to own a modern Army artillery cannon, yet for some reason I do not feel that restriction on my personal armaments is a threat to my gun ownership. If financial regulation included in the Frank-Dodd bill, that conservatives hate is actually carried out millions of Americans can still invent, sale, buy and trade goods and services without some socialist comrade looking over their shoulder, though it does limit the amount of risky speculative financial transactions that some bank and savings and loan institutions can engage in. Gun safety measures and some sensible regulation of institutions that have the capacity to cripple the economy and put millions of people out of work is not tyranny, Marxism or liberalism gone wild, it is prudent and humane public policy. Liberals and progressives are not the biggest threat to capitalism, conservationism and it’s overly zealous embrace of crony capitalism is the real threat. The Extremist Cult of Capitalism. Paul Buchheit is a wonderful populist, but I would replace plutocracy or crony capitalism where he just says capitalism,
1. Extremes of Income
By sitting on their growing investments, the richest five Americans made almost $7 billion each in one year. That’s $3,500,000.00 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour.
Our unregulated capitalist financial system allows a few well-positioned individuals to divert billions of dollars from the needs of society. If the 400 richest Americans lumped together their investment profits from last year, the total would pay in-state tuition and fees for EVERY college student in the United States.
2. Extremes of Wealth
The combined net worth of the world’s 250 richest individuals is more than the total annual living expenses of almost half the world – three billion people.
Within our own borders the disparity is no less shocking. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars. That’s equivalent to a can of soup versus a mansion, a yacht, and a private jet. Most of the Forbes 400 wealth has accrued from nonproductive capital gains. It’s little wonder that with the exception of Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon, the U.S. has the highest degree of wealth inequality in the world.
3. Extremes of Debt
Up until the 1970s U.S. households had virtually no debt. Now the total is $13 trillion, which averages out to $100,000 per American family.
Debt appears to be the only recourse for 21- to 35-year-olds, who have lost, on average, 68% of their median net worth since 1984, leaving each of them about $4,000.
4. Extremes of Health Care
A butler in black vest and tie passed the atrium waterfall and entered the $2,400 suite, where the linens were provided by the high-end bedding designer Frette of Italy and the bathroom glimmered with polished marble. Inside a senior financial executive awaited his ‘concierge’ doctor for private treatment.
He was waiting in the penthouse suite of the New York Presbyterian Hospital.
On the streets outside were some of the 26,000 Americans who will die this year because they are without health care. In 2010, 50 million Americans had no health insurance coverage.
5. Extremes of Justice
William James Rummel stole $80 with a credit card, then passed a bad check for $24, then refused to return $120 for a repair job gone bad. He got life in prison. Christopher Williams is facing over 80 years in prison for selling medical marijuana in Montana, a state which allows medical marijuana. Patricia Spottedcrow got 12 years for a $31 marijuana sale, and has seen her children only twice in the past two years. Numerous elderly Americans are in prison for life for non-violent marijuana offenses.
Banking giant HSBC, whose mission statement urges employees “to act with courageous integrity” in all they do, was described by a U.S. Senate report as having “exposed the U.S. financial system to ‘a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing'” in their dealings with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which is considered the deadliest drug gang in the world.
HSBC received a fine equivalent to four weeks’ profits. The bank’s CEO said, “we are profoundly sorry.”
In the words of Bertrand Russell, “Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”
What do conservatives see as the problem with the economy when they look around, taxes and spending are still too damn high. We got all them moochers out there collecting a thousand dollars a month in Social Security benefits and using Medicare for their health problems, Four years later, Paul Ryan(R-WI) wants more of the same
Ryan has time and time again demonstrated that he isn’t interested in paying down the national debt or in “reforms to protect and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid,” as he claimed on Saturday. He’s interested in turning Medicare into a voucher program and in slashing Medicaid’s budget by over a trillion dollars — his logic reminiscent of that infamous Vietnam era talking point “destroying the village in order to save it.” And speaking of bombs, Ryan has repeatedly refused to consider cutting one of the most draining and unnecessarily large parts of the budget: defense spending. He also refuses to consider forcing those with mountains of idle or otherwise unproductive cash to pay for these programs, and isn’t content with Democratic compromises thus far, refusing to appreciate the $2.2 trillion in cuts agreed to during the 112th Congress, because he’s cranky about the $620 billion in tax increases.
Moreover, he isn’t even right about the one thing that libertarian types are supposed to be intimately familiar with — the bond market. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, interest rates are about as low as they can be and aren’t expect to rise, and demand for U.S. Treasury bonds is robust. This suggests that the market has confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to honor its debts, and that federal borrowing isn’t “crowding out” private sector investment.
Who’s avoiding honest debate, Congressman Ryan?
The U.S. has reached modern historic levels of income inequality – Average Fortune 500 CEO Now Paid 380 Times As Much As The Average Worker – and Ryan is still complaining that we need to cut taxes because they are such a terrible burden on wealthy CEOs, whose compensation is often times not even linked to company performance. Even then,instead of rewarding workers who created the products and provided the services, thus the profits, are compensated far less than their CEO overlords.
The liberal overly critical review of the Obama-Clinton 60 Minutes interview, Steve Kroft’s ‘Softball’ Obama Interviews Diminish 60 Minutes
So far, that’s five questions, all of them easy, concerning events that happened four years ago, and focused on the interpersonal drama of those events. They elicited no new information, and were highly unlikely to elicit anything of substance. Did Kroft imagine for a moment that he’d get an honest answer to a question like, “What did Obama promise you when you agreed to be Secretary of State?” I’d call it amateur hour if I thought it was asked out of naivete; but Kroft is not naive.
His next four questions:
“Has she had much influence in this administration?”
“How would you characterize your relationship right now?”
“It’s one thing to have disagreements between cabinet people. I spent time with both of you in the 2008 campaign. That was a very tough, bitter race. And I’m going to spare you reading some of the things that you said about each other during that campaign. But how long did it take you to get over that? And when did it happen?”
“You said the staff took a little longer to ignore, to forget the campaign stuff. What about the spouses? Is that an impertinent question?”
These are the two most influential foreign policy officials in the United States. In the last four years they’ve presided over hugely consequential policies all over the planet, much of it cloaked in secrecy. How much influence has she had? Are you kidding me? I love that he subsequently asks not “What’s the reality of your relationship?” but “How would you characterize your relationship?” And the reflexive deference is embarrassing.
I don’t know that those questions merit outrage by a liberal fr his reasons or a conservative blogger who called it a media love fest. Some interviews are not confrontational. A counter way of seeing it is if Kroft had hammered them with accusatory questions and which would have had them both resort to boiler plate answers. Obama and Clinton are not naive freshmen, they have both just finished facing those accusatory questions and accusations for the last year. Once again Fox news or the Republican Propaganda Channel sums up why the Right saw it as a puff piece, Steve Doocy and Brian Kimeade are outraged Kroft did not try to verify conservative conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s concussion. And if we’re going with the 60 Minutes as in the bag for liberals, how does one explain, Bob Schieffer’s Powder Puff Interview with Romney and Ryan. Romney did not want to discuss his nefarious activities at Bain, so oh well, we’ll just skip that. Unless the interviewer asks a Democrat why they hate America, Jesus and guns – the interview is going to be labeled a liberal puff piece. Conservatives have found a way around that, they selectively edit quotes – Conservative Bernie Goldberg publishes badly doctored version of Rose/Brokaw interview as purported evidence of Brokaw’s bias in Obama interview and video – Fox Deceptively Crops 2008 Obama Speech.
Playwright David Mamet jumped off the reasonable human being wagon years ago, but it does make for a colorful interview – 3 Major Flaws In Newsweek’s Red-Baiting Gun Rant
Mamet is apparently confusing the idea of background checks in general — which again, have existed for more than a decade at the federal level — with the debate to institute universal background checks. Under current law, the FBI checks are only conducted on purchases from licensed dealers, not sales from private sellers. President Obama has proposed closing that loophole and requiring a background check on every gun sale, presumably through the FBI.
2) Mamet Thinks Assault Weapons Have Been Banned For 78 Years
Mamet falsely claims that any attempt to pass an assault weapons ban would only reiterate bans that already exist on such weapons. As with his discussion of background checks, Mamet appears entirely unfamiliar with the debate that is actually occurring over strengthening gun laws.
Newsweek still qualifies as the media. So why are they seeking out the most extreme and pitifully uniformed zealots to prove some kind of point.