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View Diary: The Euro Crisis by the numbers (165 comments)

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  •  There are differences (86+ / 0-)

    For instance, the lack of a safety net in 1930 meant that there was nothing to tear down.

     But the fact is that there are far more similarities than differences.
       For instance, The Fed's and Hoover's first response was to bail out Wall Street banks. The bailouts were very similar to the ones we saw under Bush.
       Hoover's next response was to prop up the real estate market, similar to Obama.
       It was only a deep recession until Europe's banks started failing in 1931. That's when Wall Street millionaires really got hit (so you might just have to wait for it).
      And finally, the popular response of protests in the streets was met with indifference, slander in the media, and finally violence by authorities, before real reforms happened.

      It all seems to be playing out again...unfortunately.

    The only significant difference I can see is that in 1930 there was an alternative economic system - communism. And the Soviet Union economy grew strongly all through the 1930's.
       Now the authorities don't have to worry about people turning to an alternative.

    "It smelled like tear gas but it tasted like victory." - Egyptian protester

    by gjohnsit on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 06:24:48 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Alternative economics (10+ / 0-)

      "The only significant difference I can see is that in 1930 there was an alternative economic system - communism. And the Soviet Union economy grew strongly all through the 1930's."

      Exactly, assuming you chart only the raw value of industrial expansion and ignore, say, famines, gulags, near-complete absence of consumer goods, totalitarian top-down controls, etc. And hey!, the Germans did OK during the same period—musta been them alternative Fascist economics.

      martial music/music ~ Soviet communism/economics

      •  what's your point? (25+ / 0-)

        your comment is nonresponsive.

        In the 1930s, American plutocrats feared that mass starvation might lead to a communist revolution in the United States.  Thus, even people who didn't benefit from the New Deal saw it as necessary.

        Today, the plutocrats see little to fear in a popular uprising.  This time around, they'd rather let everyone die.

        Ask your barista what her degree is in.

        by happymisanthropy on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 09:00:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nonresponsive?? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Perhaps you didn't understand. I provided a quote from the diary and then I commented on that quote. The quote claimed that there was an alternative, non-capitalist economic system in the '30s. I quarreled with that claim. Since your own comment in no way addressed that issue, I'd have to call it nonresponsive.

          Past that little matter, in order to take your own claim seriously, I'd have to believe that there were (unidentified) "plutocrats" who feared mass starvation leading to a communist uprising in the U.S.A. Can you tell us who these people were and where their views on this are recorded? Given that there were, perhaps, a couple of hundred thousand declared communists in the '30s, out of a population near to 124 million, I have to wonder at the supposed imminence of any kind of mass communist uprising.

           I'd also be happy to see evidence that there are current-day "plutocrats" who are ready to let "everyone" die (and are both benefited thereby and, presumably, in some position to either cause such a thing to happen and/or forestall that possibility).

          •  Nits (17+ / 0-)

            The point isn't whether there was a "good" alternative to capitalism in then. The point is only whether there appeared to be one or more good alternatives. Because there appeared to be such - the downsides of Communism and Fascism were largely hidden from the larger world - there was an accurate perception by our own elites that capitalism needed to compete with that perception. It totally doesn't matter to this analysis that the perception was wrong, if it was. Doesn't matter one way or the other.

            Now, since at present communism isn't seen as an option by anyone, it would take a bizarre turn of events for us to turn down that road. On the other hand, fascism is immensely attractive, so we'd better hope it is a viable alternative to capitalism, since there's at least even odds that our world will within a decade become thoroughly fascist.

          •  I can help with that (12+ / 0-)
            Can you tell us who these people were and where their views on this are recorded?
             I've written diaries about those days.
               I've written others, but this one will do as a good example.

              As for your "quarreled with that claim", your response, while factual, was all about morals. It didn't contradict my claim in the slightest.
              You disapproved with Stalinism. That's not a bold stand. He was evil, after all.
               But that doesn't change the fact that communism was an alternative system, and people were desperate. If the choice came down to watching your family starve to death (and I'm not exaggerating here) and living under a totalitarian system, a lot of people will chose the latter.
               And people choosing the latter will mean the wealthy losing everything.

              Instead of looking at it from a point of moral outrage, you should look at it from the point of winners and losers of power. After all, that was how the 1% were looking at it.

            "It smelled like tear gas but it tasted like victory." - Egyptian protester

            by gjohnsit on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 01:05:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Here's his point: (12+ / 0-)

          At the beginning of the Austrian Crisis Ludwig von Mises (of Austrian School of Economics fame) was appointed to a Federal panel to find solutions. His proposal was so inflammatory he had to publish it separately. Mises' argument, surprise, surprise, was that the crisis was caused by those greedy unions, and that Government interference would be required to crush them. To an alarmed colleague who asked him how come Mises suddenly favored Government interference in crushing workers, Mises answered that it was worth it.

          When the Kreditanstalt Crisis hit, one representative of the reactionaries in the Austrian Parliament referred in these words to Hugo Breitner, the brilliant orchestrator of the socialized system of taxation that had brought Vienna back from ruin:

          Only when this Asiatic's head rolls in the dust will victory be ours!

          (Breitner, obviously, was Jewish.)

          A few years later the Army and right-wing militias bombed the greedy workers housing in Vienna, making the Anschluss inevitable.  I won't go into the economic calculations behind the Anschluss, but they're pretty relevant as well.

          WOID: a journal of visual language

          by WOIDgang on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 09:39:13 AM PST

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          •  Point? (0+ / 0-)

            1) What does Austrian politics or economics in the 1930s have to do with any assertion anybody has made here? Please be very specific, because I'm really puzzled as to what you're addressing.

            2) Assuming Breitner put together some "socialized" taxation system and that it was the cause of some improvement in Vienna, how does this apply to the USSR in the same period? And what the heck does Breitner being Jewish have to do with anything under discussion?

            3) You seriously believe that, had rightist elements in Austria been put under a tight lid, Hitler would lost any interest in forcible unification? An issue so politically potent that it had been particularly forbidden by the Versailles Treaty—but Hitler, given his devotion to both the treaty and the rule of law, would have kept German troops within the treaty borders? I'm doubtful.

              •  Let me help you out, hmi: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Start with Charles A. Gulick, "Austria. From Habsburg to Hitler." Still the standard introductory survey. Steven Beller, "A Concise History of Austria" has a few superb chapters, and is obviously more up-to-date.

                WOID: a journal of visual language

                by WOIDgang on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:54:56 AM PST

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            •  You hate communism, fine! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GayHillbilly, gjohnsit

              I agree, but the nit-picking and faux obtuseness seems inconsistent with someone that self-identified as having 40 years of studying and teaching American government in their resume.

              Additionally, if all that wisdom and experience leads you to this conclusion:

              I am strongly of the opinion that it is unlikely that fascism (in any clear meaning of the term) would be a likely outcome.

              then I would say that Sinclair Lewis and Smedley Butler, among many others, would disagree.

              I'm a bit more agnostic.

              The money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed. ~ Abraham Lincoln

              by ozsea1 on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 11:23:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Post WW1 Vienna (8+ / 0-)
            Social situation after World War I
            The middle classes, many of whom had bought War Bonds that were now worthless, were plunged into poverty by hyperinflation.
            The Imperial-Royal Government had passed a Tenant Protection Act (Mieterschutzgesetz) in 1917 which had been declared applicable in Vienna immediately[4]. Despite the high inflation, the act ordered the rents for flats to be frozen at the level of 1914. This made new private housing projects unprofitable. After the war, demand for affordable flats therefore grew extremely high. Creating public housing projects became the main concern of the Social Democrats in Vienna.
            From 1925 (the year in which a strong Schilling currency replaced the devalued Krone) to 1934, more than 60,000 new flats were built in so-called Gemeindebau ("community construction") buildings. Large blocks were situated around green courts, for instance at Karl-Marx-Hof (one of the hot spots in the civil war of 1934) or at George Washington Court. The tenants of the new flats were chosen on the basis of a ranking system in which e.g. persons with handicaps got extra points to be chosen earlier. Forty percent of building costs were taken from the proceeds of the Vienna Housing Tax, the rest from the proceeds of the Vienna Luxury Tax and from federal funds. Using public money to cover building costs allowed the rents for these flats to be kept very low: for a worker's household, rent took 4 percent of household income; in private buildings it had been 30 percent. If tenants became ill or unemployed, rent payments could be postponed.
            The Social Democrats introduced new taxes by state law, which were collected in addition to federal taxes (critics called them "Breitner Taxes" after Hugo Breitner, city councillor for finance). These taxes were imposed on luxury: on riding-horses, large private cars, servants in private households, and hotel rooms. (To demonstrate the practical effect of these new taxes, the municipality published a list of social institutions that could be financed by the servants tax the Vienna branch of the Rothschild family had to pay.)

            Another new tax, the Wohnbausteuer (Housing Construction Tax), was also structured as a progressive tax, i.e. levied in rising percentages. The income from this tax was used to finance the municipality's extensive housing programme. Therefore many Gemeindebauten today still bear the inscription: Erbaut aus den Mitteln der Wohnbausteuer (built from the proceeds of the Housing Construction Tax).

            As a result of the municipality's investment activity, the rate of unemployment in Vienna dropped in relation to the rest of Austria and to Germany. All investments were financed directly by taxes, not by credits. Thus the city administration stayed independent of creditors and did not have to pay interest on bonds.

            Hugo Breitner, in contrast to the Austrian Social Democrats after 1945, consistently refused to take up credits to finance social services. These services consequently had to be cut down when, in the early thirties, the federal government started to starve Vienna financially.


            •  Breitner, BTW, (0+ / 0-)

              would pull stunts like imposing an extra luxury tax on Viennese creampuffs at the fancy cafes, the proceeds to go directly to low-cost dental care for workers' families....

              WOID: a journal of visual language

              by WOIDgang on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:45:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you (8+ / 0-)

            I always knew that followers of Mises tended towards fascism, but I never knew that he was an outright fascist.

            "It smelled like tear gas but it tasted like victory." - Egyptian protester

            by gjohnsit on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 01:08:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Both Mises (3+ / 0-)

              and Hayek have to be read in context, in which case their grand pronouncements turn out to be remarkably ad-hoc petty.. For instance there's a passage in Hayek's Road to Serfdom in which he seems to be arguing for the benefits of national, as opposed to local government. The New York Times got all hot and bothered over this, because it would suggest an economic policy at odd with the States Rights approach of the American right. All Hayek was doing was complaining about the Socialists in Red Vienna, as opposed to the reactionaries who dominated "Black" Austria.


              WOID: a journal of visual language

              by WOIDgang on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:49:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, BTW. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                According to Beller, the Anschluss had a strong, basic economic imperative: by 1938 "Austro-Fascists" like Mises had done a superb job of building up Austria's reserves (by crushing the unions and eliminating social benefits), and the Nazis (whose own reserves were near zilch) needed the money to start WWII...

                Thanks as usual for your analyses, gjohnsit.

                WOID: a journal of visual language

                by WOIDgang on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:49:01 AM PST

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    •  In 1930 the population lived nearer their food. (41+ / 0-)

      No matter how bad things got in 1930 it was usually possible to find food - even if it was just potatoes. The food supply now relies on an elaborate production/distribution/finance system as fragile as the financial system itself. A real crisis will be something new and different and terrifying.

      •  My family (7+ / 0-)

        My family was in construction and lived in NYC during the depression.  They weren't close to their food unless one considers growing basil and tomatoes on the fire escape. However, they did have a network of pooling their resources and surviving together.  

        By the way, you can grow your own basil in pots and make a fabulous pesto.  

        Dedicated to the GOP debates: When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Hunter Thompson

        by NyteByrd1954 on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 08:38:09 AM PST

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    •  This time we have Authoritarian Capitalism (5+ / 0-)

      China leads the way.

      Michele Bachmann and any number of Republican presidential candidates worships it.

      Bridge Closed: Republican Tax CUTS At Work

      You just gonna stand there and bleed
      Or you gonna do something about it?

      by bronte17 on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 04:02:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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