“I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

  • Billy Pilgrim


    They’re not tenuous links at all. They are examples of exactly what I mean by a ‘dynamic state sector.’

    I know this is very different from the dystopian picture you paint of ‘government bureaucrats working under ministerial direction,’ or Alias’s six men standing around a shovel, but it is the actual reality of the state sector.

    Private power knows this, and backs the state 100% – while at the same time painting the negative picture you and Alias allude to, and constantly emphasizing waste (which, of course, is there).

    It’s important that the population is trained to hate the state. Otherwise, they might get ideas about trying to influence it, and make it work for them, rather than for what James Madison called ‘the minority of the opulent.’

  • Billy Pilgrim

    ‘Surely the very beauty of the market system and the reason people like me support it is that the market, the people, have absolute power over private corporations.’

    This is simply an ideological incantation of faith; and a remarkable one, since every economic headline over the past four years proves otherwise. What power do you have over Goldman Sachs? Or Bank of America? Or take AIG, a corporation that completely failed. Yet it was saved from the market, because it, and others like it, own those who exercise state power.

    ‘Once a private corporation is abandoned by those who feed it it dies and rightly so.’

    But who feeds it? As we have learned, when the market stops feeding it, it finds other sources.

    ‘Without popular support (through purchasing) a private corporation is utterly powerless’

    Again, the evidence to the contrary is so obvious that, I have to say, it’s a remarkable feat of ideological discipline on your part, that you don’t see it.

    What does Goldman Sachs even do?

  • Harry Flashman

    Those corporations were saved by idiotic and possibly corrupt government workers, precisely the reason why I believe the market should prevail and government get the hell out of the way and allow consumers to decide.

    Goldman Sachs is only powerful through government corruption, left to the people those goons would be begging on the streets now.

  • Greenflag

    @harry flashman,

    ‘please point me to any post that I have ever written which indicates a “devotion to financial services dominated capitalism”, you know what? I’ll save you the time, you won’t find any.’

    Good man Harry -I’m glad you approve my message 🙂 For the record I don’t disagree with the sentiments of most of your post above at February 2012 at 1:40 am apart from your reference to my ‘fondness’for the Democratic Party . I would’nt go that far . As of now I see them as the lesser of two evils although ‘evil ‘is probably the wrong word – Perhaps less batshit crazy would be more appropriate . The ‘system ‘ is broken and neither party is showing any ‘innovation’ in fixing it assuming of course it can still be fixed.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Those corporations were saved by idiotic and possibly corrupt government workers, ‘

    They were also ‘saved’ by being too big to fail and by having donated millions to both political parties over the previous couple of decades and also by using highly paid lobbyists to advance their interests by ensuring that any financial legislation passed was for their interest and not that of their clients , consumers or the public at large . Corporations are ‘people’ and in the case of many of these too big to fail financial institutions their oligarchic position and sheer size was enough to cow the US Congress into submission both under Bush and under Obama . And whats worse going into this election is that not a lot has changed with this situation and NEITHER of the two parties or their equivalents in the UK and elsewhere are attempting to do anything that would ‘upset ‘ the cosy applecart of croney financial capitalism . Just take a listen to UK Minister George Osborne


  • Billy Pilgrim


    The government isn’t in your way. It’s just working for someone else, and working against you.

    If you want things to improve, you need to get it working for you. The Wobblies understood that, a hundred years ago, when America was home to a very powerful and popular socialist tradition (yes, I know, we’re not supposed to know that about America).

  • Harry Flashman

    I’m fully aware of the US socialist tradition unfortunately it lost its way through Soviet infiltration and organized crime.

    I think we can at least all agree, unusually for the three posters here at the moment, the the cosy cartel between governments and crony capitalism is a thoroughly bad thing, albeit we may differ on the solution.

    Our position is one that I think is now being held by the majority of voters in the western world and politics over the next few years is going to get very febrile, more ideologically driven and a lot less complacent.

    No bad thing I think we can agree.

  • Greenflag

    @ Alias,

    ‘Socialists, for example, long ago cottoned on that the state didn’t have to control the means of production in order to disbribute wealth more equally – all they had to do was tax the wealth creators and spend the wealth that, in their black hearts, they knew no ‘workers’ co-operative’ could ever create.’

    Ironically the only major economy which mandates worker representation on the boards of it’s major corporations somehow manages to increase it’s manufactured exports to over 1 trillion euros for the first time and have a trade surplus of some 155 billion euros (a sum equal to the Irish economies annual GDP)

    Here’s the BBC blurb

    Germany’s trade surplus reached 158bn euros (£132bn; $209bn) in 2011 on record exports that rose 11.4% to top 1tn euros for the first time.

    Full story

    In the bigger picture of what makes ‘wealth creators ‘ as opposed to ‘worthless paper makers’ in the end it comes down to how one views human nature . We instinctively know those of us who are human anyway that only a minority of the population will ever ‘create’ jobs . We also know that governments can only create jobs if they can first raise the taxes from the ‘real ‘economy to pay the people who do these ‘jobs’ . I’ll be the first to admit that there is much waste in government -too much in some instances but I hope I’m politically savvy enough to understand that a society built on a foundation of where most of the wealth created is ending up in fewer and fewer hands and the many are emisserated over time is a society that’s heading for eventual revolution -the consequences of which are in a world of 7 billion people -unimaginable .

    But one thing remains clear from the current political debate be it in the USA, UK or Ireland -our elected representatives or presidential candidates ARE NOT tackling the single biggest issue but instead are alas ostrich like avoiding it -for as yet they don’t have answers -not a one of them .

  • Alias

    Germany’s economic growth simply shows the importance of appropriate marcoeconomic and monetary policy to a country’s economy. Unfortunately, the cost to other eurozone member states of tailoring one-size-fits-all policies to the needs of the Germany economy is that seven of the other eurozone member states are now verging on bankrupcy due to inappropriate marcoeconomic and monetary policy.

    No doubt production efficiency – and even worker particiation (designed with the former in mind) – all help Germany’s economy, but those fractional margins do not explain the gross divergence between the economies of eurozone member states – why, for example, exports of German cars were up 7% while exports of Italian cars were down 15%.

  • Greenflag

    @ Alias ,

    True enough up to a point Alias but the devil as they say is always in the detail . While our British neighbours were continually devaluing their currency in the 1960’s and 1970’s and indeed up to the 1990’s in order to remain ‘competitive ‘ and while under Thatcher a whole swathe of British manufacturing industry was decommissioned and the medium size engineering sector was culled to make way for the retail and services and in particular ‘financial services ‘uber alles UK future economy -German policy makers took the opposite tack . Instead of devaluing they revalued and while in theory that was supposed to make them less competitive it in fact turned out quite the opposite -they became more competitive particularly in niche areas which the German Mittelstand thrived in.

    So theres a lot more to their current ‘surplus’ than what seems obvious from the current state of the Euro and the economic situation in other member states . There is of course the ‘work ethic ‘ which Americans apparently glorify and yet what it delivers for 150 million of their countrymen is zero assets and for 28 million of those -unemployment and for another 50 million -1 in 7 Americans ‘Food Stamps ‘ stand between them and starvation and then there are the 50 million without health insurance . Somehow the Germans and the Swedes and the Danes and the Dutch and the Finns for all their ‘socialism ‘ seem to be able to do a whole lot better for the vast majority of their countrymen .

    There is probably some truth in the old yarn that the Germans actually work 40 hours a week and get paid for 40 hours , whereas the French work 35 hours but get paid for 45 hours and the British are on the job for 40 hours -get paid for 45 hours but actually only work 30 hours . A gross generalisation I know .

    As for Italian car exports declining whereas German car exports are increasing ? I’d guess German ‘engineering ‘s’ reputation is part of the reason also Germany being closer to the emerging Polish and Russian markets .

    Of course a mere 1500 years ago German ‘engineering ‘ had advanced to the the mud hut and wattled roof stage whereas the then ‘Italians /Romans ‘ were building autobahns -Colosseums -etc etc .Things change eh ?

    My best guess is that the Greeks are on their way out of the Eurozone and that may be the best option for them at this stage . What the Germans/French /ECB are trying to impose on Greece is simply not going to work so we might as well see who gets impaled on the Greek default and move on .

  • Greenflag

    @ Alias, Harry, Billy, Malcolm (if still in there)

    I looked for this thread yesterday and it could’nt be found ? Was there a problem .Was I alone in noticing it ‘missing’ ?
    Good news it’s back as it’s seldom I get to agree with HF or Alias .

    Although the thread is ‘exhausted’ at this stage the Greek tragedy carries on . For now on the margins the words are whispered ‘shure t’wont be so bad if the Greeks are auf wiedersehend.

  • Alias

    Greenflag, in a closed monetary system, such as the eurozone, if the money supply contracts in one state then it must expand in another state. Since the rate of growth is linked to the supply of money, the transfer of money from Italy (and other eurozone member states under a regime that converts private debt into public debt) to Germany creates economic growth in Germany and also creates the converse in Italy. It has little to do with the other factors.

  • Alias @ 3:53 pm:

    A “closed monetary system” is essentially one in which there is only one medium of exchange. My household is just such a system: all our income and outgoings are in sterling. That doesn’t work at the transnational level, or probably anywhere outside Economics for Dummies.

    Were it so, the €zone ought to operate entirely with the euro. Except … in real life, the €zone is hardly a “closed monetary system”. Let’s take just a couple of examples:

    Energy, for one example, is mainly traded in US dollars, — as of this weekend, about $98.67 a barrel of crude oil.

    Then the €zone has a net trade surplus of €6.897 million as of November 2011. It has (May 2011 numbers) inward investment of €54.2 billion and outward investments of €106.7 billion. Make of that what you like; but it’s not in real terms a “closed” system.

    Meanwhile, at the minuscule level, when I buy a tweed hat in Belleek (and it’s a nice hat, very warming in our current cold snap) I had the choice to pay in £ or €. Similarly my trip to Istanbul, and hotel bill, is charged to me in sterling, which is (presumably) converted to euros, which, in whole or in part will pass through AmEx (in dollars) and end up in Turkish lira.

    And that’s a “closed” system?

  • Alias

    Well, Malcolm, I guess you can’t rely on The Guardian to tell you everything.

    The raw data shows that the eurozone’s closed monetary system is causing contraction in one state that is equalled by expansion in another state. There are even some nice charts for you to admire. As Italy’s money supply contracts, so does its economy; and the converse is true in both cases for Germany.

    Indeed, how could it be otherwise when wealth is being systematically extracted from the Italian economy in the form of taxes for repayment of socialised debt, and then exported to Germany?

    But I pleased for you that you have a nice hat. I’m sure you cut fine figure with your tweed cap bobbing above your Guardian banner.

  • Alias @ 1:38 am:

    Consider Buttonwood’s notebook, 27th Jan 2012:

    “With austerity on the menu in many countries, the hope is that export growth can compensate for sluggish domestic demand. Of course, since the biggest export market for many European nations is other EU nations, this might seem a lost cause. But at least, there was a general export increase last year.”

    Note that last sentence, particular in the context of a comment, inviting us to “Suppose the eurozone was a closed system.”

    i.e. the €zone is not a closed system. And not a Guardian in sight.

    In passing, when does monomania about one particular news source (Foxnews, The Guardian … ) taper into fully-blown Obsessive Compulsion Disorder?

    Now, is there any chance this thread might stick to the point: what went wrong with the GOP and decent principles of “compassionate conservatism”? See Isaac Chotiner’s article for The New Republic, 21 Sep 2011 [I’ve had my ration of two hot-links]:

    “The Republican Party has never been confused with a nonprofit charity, but it was not so long ago that elements of the GOP enjoyed displaying a little human tenderness. Jack Kemp, the former football star and vice presidential nominee, is probably best known for his supply-side philosophy, but as a Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he brought what The New York Times said was “more zeal to America’s poverty problems than any national politician since Robert Kennedy.” Then there was George W. Bush. It is true that his “compassionate conservatism” served as an implicit rebuke to his fellow right-wingers; why affix the adjective unless conservatism has in the past been a little less than caring? But when he spoke of “armies of compassion”—charities, churches, nonprofit groups—and urged House Republicans not to balance the budget “on the backs of the poor,” he not only echoed his father’s talk of “a thousand points of light,” but also proved that a Republican could remain in the good graces of fellow conservatives while still displaying a bleeding heart.”