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There are two very interesting diaries on the rec list discussing the economic implications of the consumerist orgy that we're all ritually expected to participate in every December. One is by teacherken describing his moral conflict over the need to abandon consumerism and the economic costs such a stance would produce, which initiated Granny Doc's response which basically says "don't give into consumerism, if retailers collapse so be it." Both descriptions of the diaries are oversimplified and I'll try to deal with their complexity below.

But the reason I'm writing this diary is to point out why Granny Doc's approach is totally the wrong approach to the issue. It's not a matter of individual consumer behavior, but of collective policy choices. Political action, not individual choice, MUST be the answer. teacherken got at this, but it needs to be stated much more clearly.

As I reread teacherken's diary it seems very clear to me that Granny Doc has given his work a very superficial reading at best. That aside, Granny Doc's prescribed advice is best described as neo-Hooverism - or, "let them all lose their jobs and let God sort it out."

There will be a terrible shake out.  People will lose their jobs, businesses will fail, and the Asian export market might suffer a blow out in as much as we are the major outlet for the stuff they produce.

But could the result be a more carefully structured economic system?  A system of making things, of hiring people with skills, of paying for good products carefully made, and total rethinking of growth, with all of its unintended consequences?    

If we are really serious about saving the planet, and changing our foot print on the globe, could we consider beginning with a major reduction in spending this Christmas?  Not because we must, but because we should.

Some times a cure can only be found in radical surgery...

The more precise term for this is "creative destruction" - that in a severe recession the economic destruction that occurs opens the way for greater creativity and entrepreneurship. It's a right-wing fantasy of course, since the destruction is borne by far more people than can ever engage in the creative entrepreneurship.

Granny Doc's proposal is essentially the same as Herbert Hoover's. Hoover felt that the unfolding Great Depression was a necessary shaking out of a bad and flawed 1920s economic system, that by government standing back and letting the markets do its thing the nation would emerge stronger on the other side.

The problem of course was that the "shaking out" was causing widespread suffering. Hoover's treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, famously advised the nation's leading businessmen to "Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers" as a response to the unfolding crisis.

Granny Doc must have an excellent amount of economic security to so easily and casually suggest that massive job losses are an acceptable price to pay to build a better and more sustainable economy. Her argument, that the market will recover naturally, is fundamentally right-wing and it offers nothing to the mass of Americans who are losing or who will lose their jobs.

That's not to say that we should shop to keep the economy afloat. And that's not what teacherken said:

So here's one possible solution to the moral conflict with which I began.  Act as an individual in as moral a fashion as you can.  Urge by your actions as well as your words that our government begin to take the lead to reshape our economy in ways that are less destructive - of environment, health, local economies, and human dignity.  Recognize that we are facing economic dislocation and restructuring, and insist that ALL participate in the costs that will incur so that NO ONE suffers unfairly.

My only criticism of teacherken's diary is that this point wasn't given greater emphasis.

This isn't about individual moral choices. It's about collective choices, about collective goals. teacherken has precisely the right idea here when he says government must be at the center of this. It's only government, government alone, that can produce the kind of change we need.

Sure, individual choices can help. But those choices do not happen in a vaccuum. Government needs to provide a much stronger safety net, needs to provide universal health care and housing and money to live on when millions are fired from their jobs by the profit-greedy. Government needs to provide job retraining and education funding and promote green, sustainable jobs. Government needs to rewrite the rules of the game in food policy, retail policy, labor union policy, trade policy, to produce the more prosperous and sustainable economy we so desperately need.

So the primary thing you must do this holiday season is get politically active. We have a golden opportunity in 2009 to produce a better economic future for ourselves and for our country, but it's not going to happen unless we organize to make it happen. Reject Granny Doc's neo-Hooverism - instead embrace the spirit of the New Deal. A spirit that understood we're all in this together, that without a robust governmental response we're all doomed.

Finally, I would just like to say that if you do decide to spend for the holidays, SPEND THAT MONEY AT LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES - there's no good reason for you to shop at a chain store. I've been spending 2008 trying to wean myself off of Target and some of the other big chains. It's not difficult since their products have become unimaginably crappy, and the money that you spend at a locally owned store puts more money back into the local economy.

Originally posted to eugene on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:46 AM PST.

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  •  Hope you liked the diary (384+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbou, Louise, Ed in Montana, Joe Bob, canso, Sylv, DowneastDem, chrississippi, northsylvania, raboof, Aeolus, Chi, hester, ogre, teacherken, Kaj, MrHinkyDink, Timaeus, rhfactor, Geenius at Wrok, RonV, Raybin, pHunbalanced, Dems2004, mattman, Robespierrette, walter mitty, rincewind, cinnamondog, Shockwave, wu ming, billlaurelMD, cotterperson, Jay C, shayera, PatriciaPA, rhubarb, prfb, red moon dog, frisco, caliberal, Matilda, object16, MarkInSanFran, musicsleuth, marge, doorguy, Creosote, silence, shermanesq, RubDMC, rasbobbo, opinionated, redfloatboat, joynow, bronte17, missLotus, conchita, TracieLynn, mentaldebris, megs, understandinglife, srkp23, Morague, peace voter, CBSenator, ksh01, khloemi, sydopus, peraspera, L0kI, lanellici, carolkay, itsmitch, dchill, tietack, Cedwyn, high uintas, CocoaLove, dksbook, Eddie C, dejavu, pointman, hstokes, weary hobo, Miss Jones, Urizen, kdrivel, Theolog, churchylafemme, defluxion10, Catte Nappe, renaissance grrrl, tabbycat in tenn, rockhound, AbsurdEyes, lcrp, alizard, inclusiveheart, outragedinSF, ybruti, davybaby, jforman, WisVoter, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, jcrit, claudew, Irish Patti, Josiah Bartlett, rmx2630, pat208, Timroff, mm201, decitect, Big Tex, vcmvo2, angrybird, Fabian, radarlady, escapee, christineNYC, TexasTom, subtropolis, Alice Venturi, Simplify, ChemBob, EJP in Maine, LindaR, lennysfo, bleeding blue, Morrigan, freemark, LennyLiberal, Little Lulu, Phil S 33, BobOak, blue jersey mom, blue earth, paxpdx, Tunk, FunkyEntropy, Marcus Junius Brutus, Steve Singiser, Rydra Wrong, The Raven, Zack from the SFV, zinger99, sodalis, Pluto, bunsk, USexpat Ukraine, Cory Bantic, TimeZoned, Flippant, psyched, Asinus Asinum Fricat, xaxnar, begone, Mehitabel9, Nowhere Man, Mother Mags, ZaphodsSister, elliott, rserven, Tin hat mafia, esquimaux, gwilson, BalanceSeeker, BobzCat, LeighAnn, BlueInARedState, dharmafarmer, Naranjadia, Truza, Wary, greenearth, goodasgold, NBBooks, triv33, tecampbell, SadieSue, imabluemerkin, FireCrow, bleeding heart, Preston S, max stirner, ER Doc, Andy30tx, doinaheckuvanutjob, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, va dare, kurt, FrankieB, kurious, Granny Doc, anabelle, thatvisionthing, Friend of the court, Temmoku, lams712, AmericanRiverCanyon, Tamar, marykk, out of left field, donnamarie, Digger8, Haningchadus14, Cat Whisperer, blue armadillo, dmh44, leema, gloriana, BruceMcF, moosely2006, linkage, karmsy, ggrzw, david mizner, Jimdotz, mommyof3, deepeco, sfbob, ProbStat, Flaw, Seneca Doane, Thucydides Junior, st minutia, chicago jeff, crose, cyncynical, millwood, Moderation, Rumarhazzit, keikekaze, cloudbustingkid, TomP, cville townie, BustaVessel, flowerfarmer, NotGeorgeWill, njdaly, Steve15, karin x, Youffraita, puffy66, CDH in Brooklyn, Mannabass, mind unseen, Lujane, Jeff Y, Somebody Else For President, saildude, mofembot, Gemina13, dmnyct, PMA, My Spin, DixieDishrag, Uncle Bob, MizC, palantir, Ellinorianne, revelwoodie, lgcap, Scubaval, scrubjay, Johnny Venom, MD, satanicpanic, dreamghost, mdprogressive, Louisiana 1976, Menlo Park Mom, J Ash Bowie, Texanomaly, rsmpdx, Rick Aucoin, ARS, BigAlinWashSt, Discipline28, BoiseBlue, pinhighin2, fearisthemindkiller, Dopeman, Michael James, smash artist, mountain girrl, earicicle, SciVo, javan, mrchumchum, mkor7, Daily Activist, unspeakable, babajimbob, redtex, Jentutsy, MKSinSA, SteveP, dawnt, allep10, Lava20, notksanymore, 57andFemale, Anarchofascist, DaNang65, mnleger, Dragon5616, JoesGarage, myelinate, etara, Livvy5, Wings Like Eagles, NoisyWithdrawal, Tommymac, unfinished60sbusiness, collardgreens, fraggle1, fatherofdragonwagon, lompe, Ajipon, BigVegan, bradreiman, ppl can fly, brooklyns finest, rb137, sovery, David PA, TFinSF, Carrie Ann, LaughingPlanet, been fooled more than twice, Jasont3h, boriquasi, TheWesternSun, chrome327, LeanneB, Ronald Singleterry, coelomate, Faith in Tomorrow, creamer, sfkat, NY brit expat, SoCalHobbit, aggie98, NYWheeler, Lolo08, acooldayinaugust, MsGrin, pistolwink, CA Berkeley WV, Anne was here, AMfromATL, tommybones, Taya Lawrence, NellaSelim, firendezyre4change, Jane Lew, dmet, Colorado is the Shiznit, PaDemTerry, DParker, Dretutz, bluebuckaroo, grannyboots, Mz LadyPhoenix, Bahnsen, badaspie, AuroraDawn, sixthestate, sgwhiteinfla, indigoblueskies, Mistral Wind, rblinne, badbugbadbug, Alanna Trebond, sallym, bonsai superstar, knobbyknees, Carolyn in Oregon, SouthSideGrrrl, grottoes, incognita, ArmedLiberal

    And if you think this is one diary too many on the subject, well, go write your own on something else. I'll probably be happy to rec it!

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
    Neither is California High Speed Rail

    by eugene on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:48:07 AM PST

      •  I've read both teacherken's.... (81+ / 0-)

        and Granny Doc'a and find the different perspectives interesting. As for me, due to limited funds (having to make it on less than $500/month in unemoloyment) I'm keeping holiday spending down. As for shopping in general, I'd recommend Goodwill though you don't always find good stuff there.

        Check out my slideshow art on my blog! "We are all New Orleans now."--Barbara O'Brien

        by Louisiana 1976 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:12:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hope you find some great bargains (36+ / 0-)

          at Goodwill.   Happy treasure-hunting...and congrats for finding a practical way to shop.   Many people donate "like new" items.

          And best of luck as you seek employment.

          --It's a feverish world, Inman said, for lack of better comment. (Charles Frazier)

          by Taya Lawrence on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:22:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm interested in your perspective (17+ / 0-)

          As someone on unemployment, how do you feel about drastic overhaul of our economic system?    This diarist points out that (perhaps?)  because of her economic security GD was more comfortable with "Creative Destruction."

          But I can also see the argument that someone for whom the current system was not working, and had provided with economic security, or was working for minimum wage with no benefits, might be more inclined to support creative destruction or massive re-organization of corporate capitalism, even if that meant surviving a transitional period, if what we were transitioning to offered more opportunity.  

          President Barack Obama -- Eat that, Wingnuts!

          by fearisthemindkiller on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:24:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the first problem I see with "surviving a (62+ / 0-)

            transitional period" is what my mother told me about the depression, namely that her next door neighbors starved.  

            they gave the food to the children, the father went bonkers and died from a vitamin-deficiency related problem.  after the father died the mother just plain went bonkers and was institutionalized, so the kids ended up institutionalized with no adult taking responsibility for them.

            how much less expensive would it have been to have fed that family, let the father keep his job, and support his family until times got better?

            •  Luckily the policies put in place (18+ / 0-)

              after the last depression exist today to prevent that from happening. Not to say people aren't currently hungry in this country but the safety net did not exist then. And it is massive now. There is a reason unemployment pay, medicare, and social security exist. To prevent what happened in the thirty's from happening again.

              •  Our saftey net has a lot of holes in it though. (29+ / 0-)

                It is not substantial enough to prevent people from starving anymore.  It hasn't kept up with inflation to the degree it should have.

                •  Are people starving? (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joe Bob, ganymeade, linkage, Jane Lew

                  You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

                  by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:21:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Apparently, over the past year the food banks (25+ / 0-)

                    have started to be heavily taxed - and that is before all of the layoffs and bankruptcies that we are supposedly going to be facing - so it looks like we are headed in that direction.

                    Also there have been more and more stories of seniors going without food in order to afford their prescriptions - so I'd say that the social safety net definitely has some holes at this point.

                    Google food banks and hit the news button - there are plenty of stories - the one linked below is just one of many:


                  •  Yes, they are. (40+ / 0-)

                    But, because it isn't on the severest scale we can imagine... rural Sudanese African-type starvation... we think it doesn't exist in this country.

                    ACLU put up a wonderful, and heartbreaking diary, several days ago:

                    ... that’s my other hero: our client, Martin Gill. On December 11, 2004, a child protection investigator asked Gill if he’d take in two half-brothers temporarily. They needed, the investigator told him, they deserved a decent Christmas. Although he and his partner were planning on moving out of state, Martin is something of a softy. A decent Christmas didn’t seem too much to ask. He said yes.

                    So that night, two small boys, one 4 years old and one 4 months old, came to Martin Gill’s home. The 4-year-old had on a dirty adult T-shirt and sneakers so small he wore them like flip-flops. Both boys were sick. The older boy’s medicine was unopened and expired, the baby’s barely touched.

                    The 4-year-old did not speak, and seemed mostly unresponsive. The only thing he cared about was changing, feeding, and taking care of his baby brother. Gill and his partner quickly realized that this 4-year-old was the baby’s primary caretaker.

                    After about a month, the older boy finally began to talk. It quickly became clear that he had never seen a book, couldn’t distinguish letters from numbers, couldn’t identify colors, couldn’t count, couldn’t hold a pencil. At dinner time, he’d ask for more food at the start of the meal, hide it, and then sneak it into his bedroom because he was afraid it would run out. Gill and his partner slowly got him to stop doing that by keeping plenty of food in the house and showing him at the start of meals that there was lots of food.

                    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                    by bronte17 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:45:32 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Unlikely in the U.S. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Clem Yeobright, linkage, creamer

                    It's hard to imagine a scenario (it would need to be apocalyptic) in which the U.S. would starve. Even in NOLA, supply lines were up fairly quickly.  I think the "starving" scare in in the U.S. is far-fetched.  Now, in other countries, certainly.  

                    The U.S. is still an abundant and rich country, despite the downturn.  These will be tough times, but we are in a much better position to pull together on the basic staples of living (food, housing) than in the 1930s.  Now, will we lose a few cable channels and will the variety of potato chips shrink?  Perhaps, but that may be the silver lining!

                    •  Perhaps not ouright starvation... (12+ / 0-)

                      ...but a massive increase in the cost of food and a severe downturn in the economy, specifically high unemployment, can lead to substandard diets as people scramble to buy the cheapest calories per dollar. The highly processed, awful stuff has the most calories per dollar, even though it usually has the lowest nutrition.

                      When you're really scraping to feed a family, quantity often trumps quality. $50 worth of food that can last a week is better than $50 that only lasts a few meals.

                      This can lead to the long term problems associated with bad diet, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, etc. etc. Increasing the strain placed on our crumbling health care "system".... So, perhaps not direct starvation, but certainly medical problems related to overpriced food.

                      "It's never too late to have a happy childhood" - Tom Robbins

                      by ARS on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:00:31 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I would be fairly astounded (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        fisheye, Support Civil Liberty

                        if rice, beans and vegetables cost more than highly processed foods.

                        •  Nestle is saving people money by making calories (0+ / 0-)

                          available in ho-hos. Suuuuuuuure.

                        •  Been shopping lately? I only (4+ / 0-)

                          go with my wife occcasionally, but yes, fresh produce is far more expensive than processed and canned produce. Fresh meat is almost twice what frozen meat is.

                          Our industrialized food chain can absorb great fluctuations in the food supply, but the price is that eating healthy can quickly outrace a family's budget.

                          •  Yes, I have (4+ / 0-)

                            A 50 lb. bag of rice at Costco is $24.00 and a 50 lb. bag of pinto beans is about $32.00.  Vegetables for a family of four can be had for $50.00/mo.  This is definitely cheaper than highly processed foods and much healthier to eat.  People are not forced to eat high calorie processed foods.  They are seduced into eating them.  

                          •  Vegetables for $50 a month? I suppose so if (0+ / 0-)

                            you don't buy organics for your family and eat them once a day.  Otherwise, your estimate is way off mark.  I shop for a family of four every two weeks.  Our bill has gone from around $260 to $350 in the past year alone.  

                            One bag of store-brand frozen organic corn that says it serves 5, but really only gets us through one dinner, is $3.59.  If I do that, just that, every day, the total is $107.70...but we like organic apples too, at $2.25 lb.  and other fruits and vegetables.  I've had to cut down on my organic fruit, too costly.  The vegetables are mostly bought frozen now.  I only buy two meats a week.

                            Costco charges for membership and is a 20 minute ride from the center of our city.  This means you have to have a) a car, and b) money for gas (besides the membership) to even shop there.  Inner city people living below the poverty line are not going to Costco.

                            They are going, apparently, to our local food banks though, which are utterly overwhelmed.


                          •  And if you want to get crazy (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Support Civil Liberty

                            you can buy two chickens per week for about $9.00/wk.  If a family of four eats half a bag of rice/mo. and half a bag of beans/mo. and the vegetables and chicken I mentioned, they would spend $110.00/mo.  A family of four who bought high calorie processed foods over that same period of time would spend WAY more that $4.00/day on their food intake.  

                          •  Sorry, I don't see fruit, juices or dairy (0+ / 0-)

                            products in that budget. Beans and rice and two chickens a week? Yeah, I've done that and would do it again, in survival mode. But for a family, that's not a long term diet, particularly if one has growing children.

                            And do you bake your own bread? Where do you buy builk flower? No green vegetables?

                            Not sure where you live, but the Costco / Sam's stores around here don't offer such bargains, and the supermarkets surely don't. And hell, I'd have to drive a hundred miles to reach any farmer's markets.

                        •  Be astounded. Some urban areas don't even have (0+ / 0-)

                          grocery stores in their cities.  This means McDonalds and the other fast food place that remain are the cheaper alternative to travelling to grocery stores.

                    •  I know an older woman who has friends who are (9+ / 0-)

                      These are old ladies who are trying to live on $500 a month Social Security. They have a paid for house and so look prosperous. They are also too proud to ask for "handouts." My friend takes them home grown apples and produce. These are "gifts" therefore acceptable.

                    •  The whole country isn't starving, and no one (7+ / 0-)

                      is claiming that.  But yes, there are individuals and families, or struggling to subsist.

                      Proud to be an American, once more.

                      by LeanneB on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:49:06 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  There's what's called "food insecurity" (15+ / 0-)

                    by the policy people in this field.  While not actual starvation, it's the sort of thing that happens at the end of the month -- money running very short, worry about whether you'll have enough left to provide food for the family until the next paycheck.  And this for people who are not buying expensive food items or being frivolous to begin with.  There's only so much of a budget you can cut before you cut into the real muscle -- rent, heat, and food.  
                    At the end of the month (or right before the next paycheck), there is often some hunger.  Maybe it doesn't reach starvation level, but it might mean that the kids are living on meals of limited amounts of cereal (forget milk).  Since the shortage of money also impacts energy needs -- you can't buy cheap stuff like dried beans and cook it for hours.  
                    This is terrifically hard on parents and children.  

                    If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

                    by Tamar on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:08:13 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  You try living on one bowl of rice a day (7+ / 0-)

                    for several months, with an occasional $1 hamburger.

                    I lost so much weight during those months - I was working two jobs then, both part time - that my clothes started to fall off me - nearly 1/6 of my body mass. I was continuously suffering from dizzy spells. My nails developed the ridges that you get from malnutrition, and my menstrual cycles went totally haywire, so that I was alternately bleeding continuously from stress, or not bleeding at all. This was in 2002-2003.

                    Since then and before, there have been times when I've had to stint on food to pay the rent or other emergency bills, even with full employment at over 2x the minimum wage. I make - and made then - too much to qualify for food stamps. I would have made too much to qualify even if I had had a child. You can skip everything - even utilities, and live in the dark - but not rent.

                    And now I've been laid off again.

                    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

                    by bellatrys on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:39:42 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You need beans AND rice (0+ / 0-)

                      Nobody can live long on just rice. It's not a complete protein. A daily vitamin would also be a good addition. We really need to teach people more about nutrition in this nation. You can eat cheaply and still not suffer the effects of malnutrition. It's not going to be very tasty - but if you spent that $1 that went toward the hamburger on beans instead of a hamburger, you'd have been much better off.

                      •  Oh, STFU. (0+ / 0-)

                        I did also buy and cook the beans, courtesy of Goya, I just didn't mention that part, you patronizing prat.

                        Guess what, 1/2 cup of beans doesn't do a hell of a lot for keeping off the dizzy spells, either. Even with a half-ounce of cheese on top.

                        And it's damn hard to stop and cook them at work, or to bring them precooked when there's no refrigerator at work. So, the cheap hamburgers - when I could afford them.

                        "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

                        by bellatrys on Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 01:58:33 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Absolutely (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    theran, sravaka

                    I was at the grocery store. Among the things I had were a bag of lintels. The cashier noticed they were cheap and asked me how to cook them.

                    She said her boyfriend had lost his job and that they didn't have any money for food...

                    My mother came from a poor family, During the depression all they had was beans.

                    When my mother married my father, the only thing she asked of him was that she would never have to eat beans again.

                    Most people are proud. You will never know that they have not eaten. These are hard times...very hard times.

              •  You haven't had much experience with (11+ / 0-)

                that safety net personally, I gather.  As inclusiveheart says, it's riddled with holes, and the Republicans have taken every opportunity to punch more of them out.

                Proud to be an American, once more.

                by LeanneB on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:47:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I qualify for a whole range of public (0+ / 0-)

                  assistance that I don't need and don't take part in.

                  •  Yeah, well if you needed it (7+ / 0-)

                    Good luck getting it. The wait list for Section 8 here is four to five fucking years. I qualify, but it ain't gonna help me, even if I manage to successfully jump through all the hoops, which isn't a given - "your papers are not in order" is a very common thing. And I wouldn't have qualified for food stamps - depsite qualifying for Section 8 - even if I had one kid.

                    I hope someday you get a chance to find out just how big those holes are, and how easy it is to get help...

                    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

                    by bellatrys on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:42:11 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I hope things improve for you (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      LeanneB, Jane Lew

                      I'm not being sarcastic, I truly do. I have been in your situation (and am not that far removed) and understand what you are saying. Unfortunately this world (and this blog) is filled with know it all assholes who feel qualified to give advice on matters that they have absolutely no fucking idea of what they are talking about! Ignore them they are not worth wasting your time argueing with. If there was a God they would be getting first hand knowledge, and maybe they yet will. Hopefully there will be someone there to give them useless advice also. Don't let the Bastards get you down!

                •  And what part of my comment comparing todays (0+ / 0-)

                  safety net to the non existent one of 1930 didn't you comprehend?

            •  yes, while reading the 3 diaries in question, (17+ / 0-)

              I've been wondering if we could create a saner, systainable economic system in the process of cleaning up the mess that is the American consumer culture-- and not wait for the implosion of the system. can we stave off massive job loss, at the same time we change the "way things are"?
              Do we have to have the disaster FIRST, before we clean it up? can we prevent the kinds of casualties you mention, while still changing the staus quo?
              The health insurance industry might be a good place to start thinking along those lines.
              Could employment opportunities be created within a single payer system, specifically for all the people who are now working for the private insurance companies? If so, what might they be? I suspect Obama is doing a lot of this kind of thinking-- the solution to our current crisis doesn't have to be either/or.
              there may be a way to stop our rampant, mindless consumption but still create new jobs. we need to get creative in our policy.
              I wish I had time to think more deeply about this at this moment, but out of town relatives clamor for attention.
              I'm going to save these diaries for future reading/digesting, though.

              •  The disaster then didn't spawn a new system (23+ / 0-)

                It wouldn't do so now, either.  In 1934, Upton Sinclair won the CA Dem gov nomination w/ his End Poverty in California ("EPIC") campaign.  His core principle was "production for use," which he described as follows:

                The "EPIC" (End Poverty in California) movement proposes that our unemployed shall be put at productive labor, producing everything which they themselves consume and exchanging those goods among themselves by a method of barter, using warehouse receipts or labor certificates or whatever name you may choose to give to the paper employed. It asserts that the State must advance sufficient capital to give the unemployed access to good land and machinery, so that they may work and support themselves and thus take themselves off the backs of the taxpayers. The "EPIC" movement asserts that this will not hurt private industry, because the unemployed are no longer of any use to industry.
                We plan a new cooperative system for the unemployed. Whether it will be permanent depents upon whether I am right in my belief about the permanent nature of the depression. If prosperty comes back the workers will drift back into private industry. No harm will have been done, because certainly the unemployed will produce something in the meantime, and the State will be that much to the good.

                Sinclair fell victim to a ruthless GOP red-baiting campaign financed by the movie studio owners.  He was never endorsed by FDR, a 3d party campaign was also mounted, and Sinclair lost to the GOP nominee 48-37.

                Obama was red-baited this time for suggesting that we restore the top bracket to 39%.  While I think that Obama has more operating room than he seems to think he has, there are obvious limitations as to how far he can go.  I greatly respect Granny Doc, but her ideas would never find close to majority support.

                Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                by RFK Lives on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:36:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  The Depression was ugly. (34+ / 0-)

              the first problem I see with "surviving a transitional period" is what my mother told me about the depression, namely that her next door neighbors starved.  

              My dad told similar stories. His father owned the grocery store in town, and my dad worked there after school and on weekends. He saw families come in and buy a pound of salt pork -- that was what they had to eat for the week. And he said there were several families in the county where one or more members starved to death.

              I cannot fathom allowing that to happen for the "greater good." If we can bail out Wall Street, then we ought to be able to bail out the people who need jobs.

              You better be nice to us... 'cause if you aren't, we just might bring democracy to YOUR country.

              by DixieDishrag on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:36:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Bush imitated Hoover's tax cuts for the wealthy (19+ / 0-)

                Prior to the start of the Depression, Hoover's first Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, had proposed, and saw enacted, numerous tax cuts, which cut the top income tax rate from 73% to 24%. When combined with the sharp decline in incomes during the early depression, the result was a serious deficit in the federal budget.


                "We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales." - Barack Obama

                by Lefty Coaster on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:48:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What's the big picture? How do parts work? (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  CWalter, linkage, st minutia, cbyoung

                  My problem in all this is that I can't get a big picture, I can't understand the machine, I don't know the parts.  I had the same problem when I tried to take Macroeconomics in college and couldn't understand the first thing, where money came from.  The lecturer belittled me and I dropped out.  When I read your quoted wikipedia page above, I'm thinking 73% tax!  That doesn't sound fair...  I know I'm on the other side, but you see what I mean?  There has to be a way that's fair, if it makes for a healthier whole, and that guy getting taxed 73% depends on the health of the whole.  But I don't get it.  What a big elephant!  And I am so little and blind, everything I touch makes me stupider.

                  •  I used to think the same thing. (14+ / 0-)

                    But 73% of millions and millions still leaves an obscene amount of money.

                    Keep in mind that, for the most part, the people earning that kind of money don't actually perform work that is worth that amount. In fact, one person couldn't produce anything worth that kind of money. These people are benefiting from the work of hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of other people who make it possible for them to bring home such riches. People who are hurting, who are having trouble putting food on their tables and sending their kids to college. Is that fair?

                    Yes, the wealthy do create jobs. I guess the question is how much money does one person deserve to earn from the labor of others? And where does it reach the point that they need to start giving back?

                    Maybe 73% is too much. But 0% is not enough, and many of them pay just that these days.

                    You better be nice to us... 'cause if you aren't, we just might bring democracy to YOUR country.

                    by DixieDishrag on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:30:23 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Where does money come from? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Clem Yeobright, linkage

                      Does the government print as much as it wants?  Gold standards I could understand, kinda.  But now currency floats and doesn't seem reality based at all.  This is supposed to work how?

                      Like, I understand that it all depends on "growth."  But so does cancer.  

                      Maybe this would have worked better if the money supply was fixed and as more wealth was created, the more each penny would be worth.  We'd probably be trading decipennies by now, fractions of pennies.  That's probably the line I was thinking along all those years ago.

                      •  Where does money come from... (6+ / 0-)

                        Money comes from the fact that as a group we agree it is worth something and will exchange goods and services for it.  

                        One way to think of it is that in a barter economy I might grow food and you make shoes, and if I want a pair of shoes we have to work out how much of my food it will take for me to get a pair of shoes.  Kind of a pain in the ass.

                        The next step was to use some standard commodity as a means of exchange like precious metals or salt.  So, now I could sell my food to the grocer and get a certain amount of metal and have you make me shoes for a certain amount of metal and you could use that metal to buy my food from the grocer.

                        But, you might ask how do we get from metal to paper money that is not pegged to anything. Eventually, some one formed the metal into coins in this situation you might think that the coin has inherent value due to the metal in it, which it does, but its real value is that everyone agrees that it has a certain value otherwise even with coins they would have to be weighed at every transaction to be certain of their value.

                        The next step was to switch to a monetary system where you did not have to literally carry the precious metal around, but instead the money was exchangeable for a certain amount of precious metal.  But, if that amount is fixed you can run into a problem in a growing economy.  You can reach the point where the amount of good and services produced and exchanged exceeds the amount of precious metal available to back up the money needed to support that economy.  So, you might say well, then the money can buy more stuff why would that be a problem.  There are a couple issues one real and one psychological. First, wages would have to be cut, and most people don't like that even if objectively the amount of stuff you can get with your money is that same.  But, the bigger problem is lending money, which has the same psychological issue in that no one wants to get paid negative interest.  So, if I borrow $2000 for a machine to run my business and money doubles in value then the $2000 I pay back is equivalent to $4000 back when I borrowed it.  Bad news for my business and any jobs it might support.

                        So, we get to modern money that is only worth our agreement that it is worth something.  The exact  value of that money is dependent on how much is out there and how much people believe will be out there in the future.  The way money is created involves the fractional banking system and it a whole dissertation in itself, but comes down to banks can loan more money than they have deposits/assets.  This works fairly well most of the time to keep inflation mild and enough money in the system.  We are in one of those times where it is thoroughly messed up and we are walking a fine line that could tip to long term deflation or large inflation with the wrong step or hesitation.  Which is why deregulating banking was so stupid why would the government not heavily regulate the system that creates money?

                        I hope that helps a little bit and is not too far off, I am sure some one will correct anything blatantly wrong.

                        •  Still, where does money come from? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          What's the connection between the printing presses and the envaluing?  Who decides? How decided?  Where does money come from?  Where does value come from?

                          I also don't get the Federal Reserve at all, but I'll save that question.

                          Like, this is getting more inside the box than I think I want to, but maybe it'll help: The way it looks to me is that Wall Street and corporations are like Wiley Coyote three steps past the cliff, and it's a looooong way down.  Because down is where the real value of the money is, and up there is where they fooled themselves.  In between is a lot of air, a lot of nothing, a lot of fake.  Fake money, fake value, fakers.  Me, I never left down.  Ha ha ha.  So how come I have to quick shit bricks and boulders and bridges of value, and promise to do that forever, to get something solid under those idiots' feet up there?  What about the law of gravity, why doesn't Mr. Wiley have to fall down to reality where the rest of us are?  He bet fake money, he compounded fake money, he lost fake money, but it was never anything but fake.  He wrote it on a piece of paper, he sneezed it on the wind, but it never touched real.  So he's a menace to society, and he dared to fail, and he failed.  Like, wasn't that his game?  Why am I getting hit with the anvil while he floats free?  It seems to me we're ALL supposed to become fakers now, faking as fast as we can forevermore, pretending value into his fake stuff where there isn't any and never was any.  Why aren't we getting real, naturally? Can anyone or anyall really pretend away the law of gravity?  Isn't he still up there faking more stuff?  This is going to work?  Ha ha ha.

                          •  Money only has value (0+ / 0-)

                            in the same way that a law has force; think "social contract."  If no one accepted U.S. dollars as money, they wouldn't be worth a damn thing.

                            "If America leads a blessed life, then why did God put all of our oil under people who hate us?" -- Jon Stewart. -8.38, -6.67

                            by stridergambit on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:40:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So counterfeit's as good as real? (0+ / 0-)

                            Their stuff was fake!  Why are we cashing their Monopoly checks?  Why are we passing out tons of Get Out of Bankruptcy Free and Do Pass Go cards from the Community Chest?  That's not on the rule sheet!

                            There's a website called  You can go there and list anything you want and then value it yourself.  I listed a Rapture Barbie for $10,000,000,000.00.  So, how come we're all buying their shitpile but not mine and yours?


                          •  Counterfeit... (0+ / 0-)

                            Yes, it is as good as real assuming everyone believes it is real.  But, what would be really bad is if some one created a lot of counterfeit money (billions??) and it was just sufficiently detectable for everyone to realize how much was out there.  At that point the value of all cash is questioned and the social contract falls apart because no one would know what money is fake and what is not.

                          •  Where does money come from in the US... (0+ / 0-)

                            I was trying to avoid that one...

                            I had a great history teacher in high school who explained it this way, which may be an oversimplification.

                            I have a bank, and have $100 in deposits. As a part of the fractional banking system I can loan money beyond what I have in deposits.  So, let's say I must have 20% of loans as deposits.  So, I can loan out $400 right now. And, I make that loan by opening an account and with the stroke of a pen putting $400 in there. So, my bank just created $400, and I have $500 in deposits and $400 in loans. I have a $100 in reserves and need to keep it that way. It is a little more complicated than that because there are hundreds of banks and the loan does not end up in the same bank that makes it. But, I suppose it eventually averages out.

                            Printing money actually only has a little bit to do with the above especially now, because cash is just for cash transactions. Banks ask the Fed for cash as they need it to hand out to their depositors. Most money really only exists in computers now.

                            That is what is supposed to happen when banks are well regulated and stogy institutions.  But, when a regular bank then also becomes an investment bank which can do all sorts of weird things, and/or makes loans to investment banks based on the value of assets that don't have good solid valuations or makes bad mortgage loans.  Then, a crisis happens because then the assets the bank holds goes down in value and the liabilities (aka the deposits made by regular people) do not go away, and then the reserves drop below the fraction and the Fed or FDIC has to bail the bank out or take it over.

                            In my simple $100 example if the $400 loan had to be settled for $300, I am in trouble because I now basically owe the Fed $100 and only have $100 in assets and my bank has failed.  Of course a real bank should have a diversified portfolio where losing on a few percent of loans would not cause a failure.

                          •  Ummmm ... no. (0+ / 0-)

                            You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

                            by Clem Yeobright on Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 03:59:50 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  it's 73% of the next dollar made (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Joe Bob, theran

                      not 73% of their total income.

                      Don't forget the graduated income tax.

                      Article 6: " religious test shall *ever* be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the U.S."

                      by billlaurelMD on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:34:03 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Your comment is very misleading. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  CWalter, juancito

                  The vast majority of the income tax rate reductions prior to the Great Depression were done under the administration of Calvin Coolidge, and to a lesser extent under Warren Harding, not Herbert Hoover. You could say Bush imitated what earlier Republican administrations (mostly Harding, Coolidge, and Reagan) did, in radically reducing the top individual income tax rates.

                  Income tax in the United States (see history)

                  Herbert Hoover actually raised the top individual income tax rate, from 25% to 63%, in 1932.

                  Revenue Act of 1932

                  Hoover's reputation is bad enough. It's not fair to compare him to W Bush. He's not in that league.

              •  well said. (9+ / 0-)

                It's so easy to talk about suffering when you're pretty sure you're not going to suffer.
                When we were kids and stopped at Howard Johnson's while on the way from the East Coast to St. Louis, my parents would tell us how people would pay to work at places like Howard Johnson's -- yes, pay the "employers" from the tips, hoping to have some money left over to bring home to their families.
                I don't think returning to that is a reasonable idea.

                If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

                by Tamar on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:13:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  As a young boy, my FIL and his brothers (4+ / 0-)

              were temporarily placed in an orphanage for a couple of years during the Depression.  I understand it was the only solution for some parents unable to care for their children.  

          •  We DO need massive reorganization (11+ / 0-)

            The point here is that without government aid to survive the transitional period, nasty things will happen (as PMA so ably describes below).

            I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
            Neither is California High Speed Rail

            by eugene on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:04:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  let's start with some simple things (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CWalter, linkage, vadasz, Amber6541, renbear

              (1) Let's beat the drums to break up these enormous businesses which dominate our landscape. Not simply because they become "too big to fail" but because they are destroying our economic ecology.

              (2) Let's focus on buying locally, and not simply because that now butters my bread, but because it's the right and sustainable thing to do so as to reshape our economy. That means banking locally, too, where your money can be used to sustain and -- with luck -- to reshape the economy.

              (3) Let's focus on giving locally, to small local charities where the amount we can give is able to have significant impact, where the need is greatest, where the service is most likely to be delivered.

              Finally...the coming tumult, our present's a process. It's not an either/or choice, it's a process which we can manage politically and as consumers. This is a moment during which we can actually have a discussion about what kind of world we wish to live in, and how to sustain that world.

              One man's quick thoughts.

              "If kerosene works/Why not gasoline?" -- The Bottle Rockets

              by Shocko from Seattle on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:55:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here here to #1 (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joe Bob, theran, CWalter, AJsBodBlog

                I think Bonddad used the dinosaurs as a good example to show that bigger is not always the most effective way to survive when times are good maybe, but when things go bad they go very bad for the biggest versus just a little bad for the smaller.  And, when there is more diversity with more smaller entities than with a lot of giant entities.

                •  Seconded (0+ / 0-)

                  "Too big to fail" seems like a straightforward problem to fix:

                  1. Make them smaller.
                  1. Don't let them get that big to start with.

                  Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

                  by Joe Bob on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:34:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I live in an area where the Goodwill... (19+ / 0-)

          doesn't have much selection but 20 miles away...the Goodwill has designer clothes at Goodwill prices!
          It is a well known secret we bargain shoppers love.
          The wealthy agribusiness owners (farmers)
          buy the best...but that is another time and another rant.

          The Religious Right is Neither.

          by cyncynical on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:30:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, what people aren't thinking about is (13+ / 0-)

            that places like Goodwill will see fewer donations because people won't be buying new coats, coffee tables, lamps - whatever - if we go into a deep recession.  They are more likely to pawn stuff or have yard sales.  

            My Great Grandfather died during the Depression leaving my Grandmother with a bit of money - they were lucky and did okay during that time - but I did find about 20 tins of soap chips in her attic after she died - a holdover habit from the GD.  In any case, she was able to take a very, very small portion of her inheritance and invest it into some very fine antiques at bargain basement prices because people had to sell their things to survive.  Many people were forced to burn their furniture for heat too.  That was a bad time and there was little charity because no one had anything to give without getting something in return for it.

            Meanwhile, on the other side of the family my Granddaddy was living under the railroad tracks in a tent while he was going to school.  Ultimately, he couldn't afford to finish and went into the Army instead.

            I don't think anyone would even allow students to live in a tent city in this era.  

            That extent of economic and social destruction is really not something we want - we should try to avoid it to the extent that we can.  Some of what has happened is likely just going to hurt no matter what you do, but I believe that there are things we can and should do - we don't need or want a lost generation unable to get the most education possible - our child labor laws prevent kids from helping with the family income - people who live in the city in apartment complexes can NOT grow their own food - at least not enough to live off of - we have to be realistic about assessing what our circumstances are and respond with smart ideas to meet the need.

            •  The homeless have been among us for many decades (17+ / 0-)

              Throughout the "good economic times." Human ghosts... and the hardships are immeasurable.

              Deliberately letting the social net fail should never be an option.

              Many here have never heard of the "Mail-Order Kids."  The "orphan train movement... the largest mass migration of children in the history of the world."  When NYC shipped 500,000 children to rural areas... basically to the Midwest and the Great Plains.

              Mail-Order Kid: An Orphan Train Story
              A work-in-progress by Marilyn Coffey


              Taking orphans by train to new homes began in 1854 when a Protestant minister sent forty-seven boys from New York to Michigan. The agent found homes for the motley lot, mostly hoodlums who had scratched a living from the city’s mean streets. From 1854 to 1929, New York and other big city orphanages shipped half-a-million children to rural areas all over the United States, but particularly to the Midwest and the Great Plains.

              I’d been lecturing about this movement for several years in Nebraska and Kansas when I received a small letter written in a somewhat shaky hand.

              "How can you talk about the orphan trains," the writer asked, "if you haven’t heard my story?"


              As we worked together, I learned how Teresa had stepped off the orphan train and tumbled into a living nightmare. Although born Jewish, she was placed in a farm village of fifty Catholics who spoke only Volga German. There her ‘mother’ frequently whipped her; her ‘father' sexually molested her; and school children taunted her: 'Your own mother didn’t want you.

              <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

              by bronte17 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:01:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  My Granddaddy was sent off to (12+ / 0-)

                various farms during the summers - he was "a rental" as were his brothers.

                Years later when he made his own fortune, one family that had been actually pretty nice to him during his time with them had a grandson who was graduating from high school.  They were still relatively poor farmers.  Granddaddy bought the boy a suit and shoes for his graduation day - something his family would not have been able to afford.

                Just to be clear, I was not suggesting that kids should be able to go to work at a yound age. More that when life gets that close to the edge with low wages and rising prices, a parent's earnings alone will not be enough to provide for family members.  In this day and age, kids will become even more vulnerable in an odd way because they will have no monetary value - horrible way to put it - but that's sadly how people start thinking when they've got no resources.

                When I was in the late 80's I lived in NYC next to the Prince George Welfare Hotel.  I used to come home from time to time in the middle of the night after partying with my buddies - at 3 or 4am, there would be little kids playing in the street - I remember the first time I saw it how cute they were and how much fun they were having and then I realized that it was the middle of the night and that there were no adults around.  As it turns out, the kids were often sent out in the night because their mother's were servicing Johns.

                Poverty is ugly stuff and charity is hard to come by when most everyone is impoverished.  We should try to avoid a total collapse.  It is bad enough that we've got any poverty at all in this country.

        •  There are also (at least in Britain) shops (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          run by charities (e.g, Oxfam, Age Concern, British Heart Foundation, etc.). They have new as well as recycled clothing, books, etc. The other thing you can do as well as an individual is buy gifts from charities as well as gift-aid.

        •  My wife makes Goodwill Stores a regular stop. n/t (0+ / 0-)
      •  Shop local (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mattman, theran, linkage, keikekaze, redtex

        Absolutely spot on. We need to support locally-owned businesses this holiday season.

        "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

        by mountain girrl on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:16:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  here's why (11+ / 0-)

          Shop local - nurture your community this holiday season.

          Why shop Indie?

          When you shop at an independently-owned business, your entire community benefits:
          The Economy

            * Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43. Shop for books at amazon and chances are your community will see a goose egg, zero, & zippo from your purchases.
            * Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
            * More of your taxes are reinvested in your community--where they belong.

          The Environment

            * Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
            * Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

          The Community

            * Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
            * Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
            * More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

          "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

          by mountain girrl on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:29:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  There are so few left, it is getting difficult. (0+ / 0-)

          The only thing that immediately came to mind was the produce markets and bakeries.  Guess I need to search out other local businesses.

          Shop local
          Absolutely spot on. We need to support locally-owned businesses this holiday season.

          We never know the worth of water `til the well is dry. Thomas Fuller 1732

          by Amber6541 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:46:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the corrective (36+ / 0-)

      I know Granny Doc has a lot of fans around here, but this isn't the first time her elitist streak has come through.

      At her worst she sounds a parody of a well-off, out-of-touch liberal.

    •  I can't rec this as it stands (9+ / 0-)

      You really shouldn't be calling out other Kossacks in a diary, as it has, in the past, led to pie fights. While i agree that a brief mention of the other diaries is important to your argument, i think you should re-write this to remove the confrontational tone.

      "They're telling us something we don't understand"
      General Charles de Gaulle, Mai '68

      by subtropolis on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:00:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The solution is the 35-hour work week. (21+ / 0-)

      It's the jolt the economy needs, and we're ready for it.

      You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

      by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:12:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Like, It Even Though I Think It Missed The Point: (4+ / 0-)

      There will be a terrible shake out.  People will lose their jobs, businesses will fail, and the Asian export market might suffer a blow out in as much as we are the major outlet for the stuff they produce.

       This, is not a "proposal," this is what's actually, happening, now!

    •  I'll do that ... it'll be about semi-HSR ... (10+ / 0-)

      ... but on this subject, I'd like to repeat what I said in teacherken's diary:

      One reason why the Job Guarantee is ...
      ... so critical ... as the economically sustainable bases for economic growth were traded away in support of corporate power, or simply allowed to slip away in deference to radical anti-government ideology, the economically unsustainable replacement was debt-financed consumer spending.

      And the people's livelihoods that are dependent on that economically unsustainable base cannot be maintained indefinitely, but its never a good time to start the process of kicking the addiction to consumerism. So it is always put off until "later" ... until the economic unsustainability bites and the jobs disappear anyway.

      Keeping employment tied to economic growth, so that the question of whether the growth is sustainable or not becomes secondary ... that is part of what is driving us headlong over the cliff in terms of ecological sustainability as well ... except for ecological sustainability, keeping those people employed means tens and hundreds of millions of environmental refugees in this current century at the very least, and an unguessable number dying in famines and floods and droughts.

      We need a safety net for those who lose their jobs in support of unsustainable ... both economically and, more importantly, ecologically ... consumption. Sure, there will be lots of jobs in constructing a more sustainable economy, but there will never be any exact match, and people will need breathing room while they find their way in the new economy.

      And one key part of this is to have an office where you go, say "I want to work this many hours" from the choices available, get assigned a task, and head off to work the next day. We had it in the New Deal, but then in the wartime boom, we allowed it to be taken away again.

      We need it back.

      •  safety nets (4+ / 0-)

        I disagree with this entire retraining and transitional method.  Firstly the United States has the best educated and trained people in the world.  Corporate lobbyists like to point to K12, but the reality is U.S. universities are the best in the world and that is where the trained workforce comes from.

        Then, in terms of blue collar, skilled trades, there too the U.S. worker is one of the most productive, highly skilled.

        Finally, Rubin and Co., spewed this transition and retraining B.S. as a PR campaign (and we heard it from both candidates now too, it's exactly the same crap as the 90's), to create a more mobile workforce and it's insane.  If they are offshore outsourcing the highest skilled jobs, the most advanced manufacturing techniques...there simply is nothing to replace those and also nothing to train for.

        What needs to happen is some highly tuned incubator as well as ensuring key critical industries, technologies just never leave the U.S.  That can change over time but bottom line is the U.S. should not let China, India and so on capture those industries period.  They are vital to our economy overall.  Then, there are also national security issues.  Take steel for example, the ability to manufacture steel in times of war is a national security issue.

        So, I would say that literally we need a job replacement, a technology replacement program.  Private enterprise you cannot offshore outsource that job for the purposes of global arbitrage unless you have a better, higher skilled and higher paying job for the same worker to replace it.

        Then, people are simply not a commodity.  You cannot stick a person in some warehouse shelf in your COO/bean counter brain and expect 10 years later that person to be there or even have the skills.  Use it or lose it, those skills are now lost and this is happening in manufacturing skills especially.
        We gave away the jobs, now China and India are about to blow past the U.S. in economic dominance and to make matters worse we are losing our skills competitive edge because multinational corporations throw away people.

        They believe they can import those skills and offshore outsource education and training, which further creates a new poverty underclass in the U.S.  

        •  Isn't that a non sequiter? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cville townie, chrome327

          I am happy that you agree with me on the futility of "training and transitioning" as a fig leaf cover for policies focused on reducing employment in order to keep labor markets loose and wages stagnant.

          However, you left out the bit about why you rip off an argument against "training and transitioning" as a reply to the comment I made. What is the connection between arguing that government should once again fulfill its responsibility as employer of last resort, and "training and transitioning"?

          I mean, when you change the subject so dramatically, it is helpful to at least sketch a connection between the topic you want to riff on and the different topic that you are replying to.

          •  Government (0+ / 0-)

            is the one promoting education and retraining to enable global arbitrage.  This is part of Obama's policy agenda and has been touted and promoted extensively versus what you are saying (which I agree with).  At least that's the connection in my head and it is part of Obama's policy, and is also promoted by corporate lobbyists.  

            So, I don't think I jumped ship on you but I'm point out one of the more comment "policy" points, including Obama which is pure spin/bunk.   If they were employing people to "retrain" that would be an entire other matter, like a bottom up jobs programs of the 1930's but last I have seen that's not the intent it's extension of unemployment benefits and "top down" "green jobs" (which yes can be outsourced plus insourced through guest workers)

            The infrastructure jobs program is good, if that happens (and this should happen), but it seems to be a side dish to the above so far in real policy implementations.  

    •  Well Macy's is based in Cincy & (3+ / 0-)

      Victoria Secrets (limited brands) is based in Columbus, so if they were to go out (they aren't in that much trouble) it would really hurt me and a lot of Kossacks who live in Ohio.

      I'm just saying.

      "...the fundamentals of our economy are strong"- John Sidney McCain 09/15/08

      by Shhs on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:42:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm. (4+ / 0-)

      If, as you advise, people don't spend money at the big-box retailers, won't that in fact put people - the Target, Wal Mart employees, etc. - out of work?

      And isn't this outcome exactly what you counsel Granny Doc against?

      It sounds like you're closer to Granny Doc on this than you care to admit.

    •  This argument kind of collapses (8+ / 0-)

      when you move from government policies to shopping locally. Teacher Ken's diary listed big chain stores that were going under. Granny Doc says it's gonna shake out.

      I say government and policies are necessary to reorganize the economy. We shouldn't be promoting massive consumerism as the antidote to our troubles. It just is a waste, pollutes the planet, and distracts our attention from having truly meaningful experiences.

      •  Nobody is promoting massive consumerism (4+ / 0-)

        My point here is that the focus needs to be on massive government action.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
        Neither is California High Speed Rail

        by eugene on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:07:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here is an easy way to force government action: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          buy less stuff.  I'm serious.  Right now all the government spending is on propping up financial products that are backed by consumer spending (residential RE has a healthy dose of consumerism in it).  It's a black hole, and telling people to blow up their credit card debt on junk, just makes it larger.

          We need government action on domestic infrastructure, health care, and education, which will only come when there's no other obvious choices for policy makers.  The military industrial complex and the financial industry have tanked, so we might really be near that point.

          Plus, a quick look at Freecycle should convince you that most consumer stuff has so little value it's even difficult to get people to take it away for free.

          "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

          by theran on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:34:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for the diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It said what I wanted to say better than I could have written myself.

      A sustainable future need not be without consumption.  We can build a sustainable, consumption-driven economy if there's social will for it.  And electing Obama was the first step in that direction.

    •  I think one of the things you're missing (11+ / 0-)

      about Granny Doc's argument, and this may be because it is not explicit but implied (vaguely I think), is that we live within a carefully constructed "culture of scarcity." The messages we are bombarded with on our teevees, radios, internet, in our magazines, etc., is that we need MORE. We are not good enough, we don't measure up to the the beautiful people sportin' around in their shiny SUVs on the commercials, and we sure as hell ain't as happy as we could be. Nope. We need to buy this somethin' or other or that somethin' or other and then, ahhhh, bliss. Finally. Our troubles will be solved. World's wealthiest nation somehow has its most miserable. Need proof? Check out the figures for anti-depressant use.

      What I think Granny Doc is saying is that nothing will ever change as long as we stay stuck in a culture of scarcity. A culture where we must shop at Target to stay happy, where our next temporary excitement lies in a silly plastic box shipped from China (pthalate laden of course).

      I don't think government is the only answer. I do think, as you suggest, that it does require a cultural shift. But the underlying change that must be made seems like a psychological one. Not a political, policy, or government program change, though all of these will help, they are not the answer by themselves. I think all three diaries on this subject are right actually, in their own way. My question is how do we do what Granny Doc is suggesting with as little pain as necessary? And how can the government help with that? Because ultimately in order to make the dramatic changes necessary socially and especially environmentally in our world, Americans remaining "unhinged" consumers (yes, trampling each other for useless crap) will not bring about any of the changes the three diarists seek.

      Also worth exploring are the questions, who has a vested interest in making sure we all feel as if we are not having as much fun as those people in that magazine ad? And ultimately, who benefits most, whose power is retained, in a society in which its citizens are never satisfied?

      •  I agree, though also think that government (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Methinks They Lie

        can lead the way through its investment in people and new/increased industry, trade scrutiny, etc.

        I feel that Granny Doc's diary is being a bit misaligned in purpose, here.  Tone is one thing, but she was talking about a new social responsibility to recognize - where the effects may inflict much pain during transition.  Yet, there will be pain if we do nothing much different than today.

        Perhaps we can blunt that pain through smart investment and bolstering by governmental policies, but government can't hold our hands - only offer support and hopeful emphasis, at best.  Provide services we may require to simply stay afloat, while businesses of worth in creating jobs and investing in this country's infrastructure are given enablements and enticements to continue on that path.  I hope something like this occurs, especially for those least able to weather the storm that's already hitting.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:02:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I liked it, but (0+ / 0-)

      I do believe that mild to moderate recessions can be necessary in an otherwise healthy economy, but an economy surviving on huge, serial bubbles has an underlying lack of health. Especially when the fed has, in the last decade or more, manipulated superficial aspects of economic management and indicators to mask the underlying illness.

      Where some would say let it destroy itself and start over or hone down to basic structure, I don't think we survive the "creative destruction" cure when our economy is so bad.

    •  You and teacherken and Granny Doc . . . (5+ / 0-)

      . . . have all written good and thought-provoking diaries.  Unfortunately, the whole personal-choice issue--"Will I or won't I decide to spend less money on the holidays this season?"--is a rather remote one to the many among us who have no money this year, or a great deal less than we had last year.  Less money is going to be spent this holiday season whether anybody likes it or not, and a lot of retail establishments are going to close.  One pressing thing that needs to be done, imo, is to find a way to convert a very large percentage of that financial sector bailout (the one the AIG executives are partying on in Aruba, or wherever) into a means of salvaging what can be salvaged in the retail sector and beefing up unemployment benefits for those whose jobs will be lost.

      "Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure." -- White Rose letter no. 1

      by keikekaze on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:24:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry to break your bubble but ... (21+ / 0-)

      the USA is Grossly Over-invested in retail.  
      Look at the following chart on retail square footage per capita:

      This US over-investment in retail is an enormous mis-allocation of resources.  Basically, we've got an order of magnitude more retail space than saner countries.

      The fantasy of a so-called consumer-driven economy is pure, un-adulterated bullshit.  You either build something you can use or you go into debt.  I knew that the "consumer-driven economy" was a complete fraud and a road to lowering living standards when my economics professor talked about it in 1971.  Consumerism is crap.

      It's time to start building useful, tangible, energy-saving infrastructure instead of just selling cheap Chinese imports.

      A consumer-driven economy is not part of the solution, it is the problem.

      Instead of shopping until we drop, how about building more tangible goods like this light rail system in Houston?

      That would put people back to working building something useful for a change, wouldn't it?

      James Howard Kunstler and I are in complete agreement on this:

      I hate to keep harping on this -- but since nobody else is really talking about it, at least in the organs of public discussion, the job is left to me -- we have to get cracking on the revival of the railroad system in this country, if we expect to remain united country. This is such a no-brainer that the absence of any talk about it is a prime symptom of the zombie disease that has eaten away our brains. Automobiles (the way we use them) and airplanes are utterly dependent on liquid hydrocarbon fuels, and you can be certain we'll have trouble getting them. You can run trains by other means -- electricity being state-of-the-art in those parts of the world that do it most successfully. I know that California just voted to create a high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It's an optimistic sign, but it shows more than a little techno-grandiose over-reach. High speed rail would require a mega-expensive re-do of the tracks. We need to scale our ambitions for this more realistically. California (and every other region of America) would benefit much more from normal-speed trains running every hour on the hour on tracks that already exist than from a mega-expensive, grandiose sci-fi program that might not get built for ten years. The dregs of the Big Three automakers can and should be reorganized to produce the rolling stock for a revived railroad system.

      Forget consumerism.  It's soooo 20th century.  We've got a lot of work to do, and it doesn't involve selling junk Chinese imports at Wal Mart.

      •  Yeah, but that light rail is limited. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theran, keikekaze

        It just scurries around the Med Center. People that live out of the med center still have a hell of a commute. The buses that do run don't take into account the med center shifts...

        Build public transportation!

        You gave Obama a To Do List. What is your To DO List?

        by redtex on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:10:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Houston has just one light rail line now but (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob, theran, wader, Juneappal, Quincy Woo

          the Harris County Metropolitan Transit Authority are building five more.  Your info is a bit dated.

          And the existing line doesn't "just go to the Medical Center"  It serves downtown, midtown, Reliant Park and goes all the way to Bellfort in south Houston, which is handy for suburban commuters from Brazoria County, like me.  It runs from 4:45 AM to 1:30 AM (the last northbound trip to downtown from the Medical Center leaves at 12:45 AM.

          This line carries an astounding (by USA standards) 45,000 riders per day.  Even on Sundays and holidays, it carries over 12,000 riders.  This is the heaviest transit line in Texas.

          New Houston light rail lines:

          East End Light Rail Line Already under construction

          Northside Light Rail Line

          Southeast Light Rail Line

          University Light Rail Line

          Uptown Light Rail Line

          Houston is a blue city in a red state.  Houston is investing in new light rail at a faster pace than almost everywhere else in North America.  

          Don't think Houston light rail is extensive enough?  Wait about five years.  The whole central city will be covered with streetcar tracks.

          My eventual goal is to be entirely car-free.  Houston will be a good place to live for people that are sick to death of driving.

          Now, if the rest of the country can just follow Houston, we can have an economic boom building sustainable, affordable transportation systems instead of the expensive, energy wasting one we have now.

          Houston MetroRail, San Jacinto at Calumet Streets:
          Houston: San Jacinto at Calumet

      •  Shifting from consummerism to sustainable (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        will take a long time to prevent major pain. Obama's plans to invest in infrastructure are a good starting point. Americans do need to live more within their means, and the wealthy need to pay higher taxes. I think the middle class will have to start paying higher tax's at some point in the not so distant future. Our country's balance sheet will demand it.
         The other thing that seem's to go unmentioned is the rise of wages and secondary cost to the growing economys in the world.(China, India, etc.). Over time, that will tend to level the floor.

    •  The great value of locally owned businesses (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, redtex

      can not be overstated. I live in a small town and own the local toy store. My products are carefully chosen with health of children and the planet as my main theme. yes some products come from  China but far fewer than several years ago. I employ 3 people and support my family with my store. I have been in business 31 years in the same location. I have been President of 3 local non-profits to which I donate heavily. Every local raffle, auction and athletic team gets my support.
      Without me and my fellow small business owners our town would have no economy. So lets choose where we spend our money. I always support businesses that I have common politics with. I vote with my dollars. I hope you will as well.
      Happy Holidays!

    •  Commit to the eugene (0+ / 0-)

      As always.

      I must have a beer with you someday, since we generally occupy the same exact wavelength.

      "Raybin is not a lying maniac. I've found this person to be an extremely clever and devious lying conartist, but never a maniac."--RElland on Daily Kos

      by Raybin on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:33:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I like your final thought (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kentucky DeanDemocrat

      although, of course, the big chains employ so many people that choosing to shop small business will still hurt people other than overpaid CEOs.  
      But I always choose a small locally-owned or family owned business over a big chain when I can.  Part of the reason is selfish -- I often find that they're more responsive because their business depends on good will of customers and word-of-mouth.  But the other part is not selfish -- sometimes I have to drive a little further or pay a little more to go to a family-owned store.  But I like to support them, particularly now when they are really struggling just to stay afloat.
      I'm not a small business person, but I admire those who are brave enough to make their livelihoods running a small business.  

      If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

      by Tamar on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:01:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  thank you thank you thank you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for talking about locally owned businesses. After the death in Walmart yesterday illustrated everything wrong with Black Friday, it's important to point out the alternatives that small business owners provided.

      NFTT Progressively supporting the troops

      by Timroff on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:38:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

      I've started looking for local retailers and mom-and-pop stores in Phoenix.  Christmas gifts will be nonexistent this year for me and mine, but I can at least get a few things from merchants whose stock won't be limited to cheap plastic crap.

      Hope is a good thing--maybe the best of things--and no good thing ever dies.

      by Gemina13 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:12:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ah... Excellent Refocus Effect, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, theran

      Eugene... I read both Diaries hours ago, and tumbled into them and the point-of-view they created. I am sympathetic to each side of the dilemma.

      This Diary is fine level ground. FWIW, when I got the news that retail spending was up 3 percent, I was, quite simply, relieved.

      I rely totally on numbers and fundamentals. Here's the one I keep in mind during this dangerous time:  The GDP of the US is 70 percent driven by the retail sector.

      I think we all want to move American from a nation of consumers and borrowers, to a nation of sustainable production. But I'd sure like to see that transition move slowly to prevent terrible damage to others and to ourselves.

      I know! Let's do what we always do but spend 10 percent less. A nice slow tapping of the brakes so no one flies through the windshield.

      The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them.

      by Pluto on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:49:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Apparently we are doing it 3% more (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, Pluto

        I know! Let's do what we always do but spend 10 percent less. A nice slow tapping of the brakes so no one flies through the windshield.

        There's no chance of any break tapping.  All the other diaries represent a certain amount of wishful thinking.  Credit card lenders expect a bailout, which will, in turn, let consumers fire two-handed with their plastic for the next few weeks.  Sustainable production isn't really on the radar yet.

        "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

        by theran on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:27:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can't Argue with That, I'm Afraid (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I will say that I was glad about the Black Friday  3 percent becaused I hoped it might buffer the stock markets on Monday (as they slowly ratchet to their 6,500 or 5,600 bottom).

          But I was thinking the taper off will be larger and by the end of the year, seasonal spending will be modestly down. It seems to me that people are restraining themselves.

          Sustainable production isn't really on the radar yet.

          Tragic but true. However, I look at it this way -- there is no other way. It will happen even if the United States ends up an enterprise zone for foreign nations -- which is the direction its heading. As for the US continuing as a financial center? I know Dubai -- and the US, sir, is no Dubai ;-)

          The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them.

          by Pluto on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:39:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Respectfully disagree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, wader

      I understand what you are saying and part of me agrees. That part of me is the part that is going to lose his job in about a month.
        I'm scared and i want someone to save the economy so I don't have to worry about unemployment.

       The other part of me is the part that realizes that all this government spending is really just shifting the tax burden from us onto the next generation. That is morally wrong.

       It really isn't a big debate in the end. The government and the Fed has already said that they will do "whatever is necessary". So I know that the bailouts will continue.
        But nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge what we are doing and that is has a cost.

      "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want & the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

      by gjohnsit on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:59:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  One thought here is to realize that our current.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      economic model defines economic growth in terms of spending and consumption and not on savings and sustainability.  When the US can redefine economic goals then can we implement policy changes.

    •  Granny's and Teacher's positions are not (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, Clem Yeobright, creamer

      mutually exclusive.  It is not elitist to say the world will not be able to continue to support rampant consumerism.  Teacher recognizes this and understands that to get from where we are to where we need to be will cause massive disruptions.  You are correct when you say government needs to be the leader in this in order to minimize the mayhem.  To recognize that there will be mayhem (and that there currently is mayhem around the world) is not to be unfeeling or elitist, it is to be clear headed and observant.  

  •  Thanks, eugene. I do not (44+ / 0-)

    want to witness the creative destruction of capitalism if it takes down the entire American economy. Let me put in my two cents. One of the policy decision that we need to make as a nation is to reverse the 30 year trend toward increasing inequality in income and especially in wealth. A good start would be by re-examining in heritance taxes. We can certainly find a way to exempt small farms. However, we don't need more Paris Hiltons.

  •  a couple of comments (37+ / 0-)

    as I pointed out a couple of times on the thread, I did not think my diary was all that well written - it was just thrown together in reaction to reading Jackson and connecting that mentally with some of my reaction to listening to Pollan.  Thus I certainly have no problem with another diary on the issue, focusing more narrowly as yours does in order to emphasize a particular point.

    However, I do not fully agree with you.  And again, it is in part because of recognizing the dependence of so many economically upon enterprises that perhaps in an ideal world we might prefer to do with out.

    I do not believe that there is a simple solution - that is the key part of my diary, that any change will have some negative consequences often for people who have few other options.  And while we need to adjust our personal behavior and governmental policies that encourage behavior such as that, we also need to take into account how many livelihoods are at stake and make some effort to cushions the effects and transition to other kinds of employment.

    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:53:17 AM PST

    •  I fully agree with the last part (24+ / 0-)

      We need to focus on cushioning the effects and making it easier to transition to other work. I made the point in Sirota's recent diary that job retraining is getting almost totally ignored in the national economic discussion, even though it's a) incredibly important and b) more difficult to get in this recession owing to education cuts and loan debts.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
      Neither is California High Speed Rail

      by eugene on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:59:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps you are both saying the same thing... (4+ / 0-)

        ...just a little differently.

        It seems to me that you're both on similar, if not the exact same page.

        There is the old saw that I live by, "Think Globally, Act Locally" - which is the clarion call for individual responsibility, certainly. But to me, a part of "acting locally" is calling my Rep, Senators, and local politicians to urge them to act responsibly on important issues.

        Any substantive change in our consumer driven society HAS to come both from grassroots change in purchasing patterns and the attendant market shifts that will result and also a redefinition of the social contract and the safety nets implicit in that construct.

        This is not a zero sum game, nor is there only one path to an equitable solution. This is a case where may paths can lead us to the same destination, as well as many other paths leading us to utter collapse.

        The key, imho, is to choose a path and start (or continue) the journey. Complacency is the key to disaster, not unlike the old ssaying from Act Up:

        Silence = Death

        In this case,

        Status Quo = Disaster.

        "It's never too late to have a happy childhood" - Tom Robbins

        by ARS on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:20:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  now interesting that 3 dairies on this topic (18+ / 0-)

        are the recommended list at the same time?   hmmmm. . .   well if my intent was to start a discussion, it seems like I succeeded, right?


        do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

        by teacherken on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:26:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Job retraining means nothing (6+ / 0-)

        if there's not at least a realistic opportunity of a related job at the end of the process.  Having been through a Job Training Partnership Act training course in sheet metal work that ended up with me turning big ones into little ones at $4.25 an hour, I have some experience in this regard.

        This sig line is in foreclosure. For details on acquiring a credit default swap on this sig line, contact H. Paulson, Dept of the Treasury, c/o Goldman, Sachs

        by ActivistGuy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:21:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Same 4 The Auto Industry (14+ / 0-)

      Your comments Teach are similar to the feelings that I have about the auto industry bailout/loans that are being discussed here on DKOS. We've got many many diaries ranting about how we should ignore the pleas of the industry and let them fail and/or go out of business. Most of those people never take into consideration that the demise of the auto industry will affect millions of employees, their health care, pensions and living standards, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.

      I never understand how people just capriciously advocate for the demise of the American auto industry, without realizing the human tragedies that will prevail with their demise.

      •  I agree with you. However... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think the argument is something like better to suffer that human tragedy now, than a larger tragedy of ignoring the structural inadequacies of the current system, especially in terms of the environment.

        If a million people were employed by a company who's goal it was to make the Earth uninhabitable to humanity, it obviously would be better to put those million out of work than to suffer the larger effect of that company succeeding.

        President Barack Obama -- Eat that, Wingnuts!

        by fearisthemindkiller on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:32:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Doubt It... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fearisthemindkiller, David PA

          I don't think anybody is thinking about the environment when they call for denying loans to the auto industry. I think they are thinking strictly in terms of "why bailout another industry" without realizing what their own personal consequences will be as a result. It's strictly a shoot-from-the-hip opinion.

          •  We'll... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            it is important to realize that if you save everyone, you save no one. Every company has to fear failure in order to be at its most productive. Why compete with your competition if the government is going to save you regardless? Why worry about cutting costs if the government will back you up if no one buys? I'm oversimplifying this a little bit, but competition is spurred by both the rewards of success and the fear of failure. If you remove the fear of failure... That being said I hope the auto companies are saved and that there are some sort of consequences, like reduced pay for the CEO or something.

            •  Except... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ChemBob, chrome327

              ...except that the main culprit with the auto industry is an uneven playing field.  Our auto industry puts out great cars now. The problem is that foreign car makers don't have to abide by the same rules and expenses such as health care and pensions, which tack on additional costs to the sticker of American cars.

              If Americans want to get angry, let them get angry at the unfair trade regulations that we have set up to make it easier for Asian manufacturers to produce here, at the expense of our own industry...

            •  What I want to know is if GM would (0+ / 0-)

              be facing bankruptcy if the Exec's always flew coach.

              President Barack Obama -- Eat that, Wingnuts!

              by fearisthemindkiller on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:10:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  The Law of Unintended Consequences (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David PA

      AND Murphy's Law seem to apply to many economic solutions....our own AND those of the so-called experts.   There is not one answer, but many.   And pragmatism is key.  

      Which is why I'm pleased with Obama's approach:   there will be a panel that is grounded in the REAL world (the one most of us have to survive in) that will provide feed back about how the policies are actually working.'s not just the Council of Economic Advisers who will have Obama's ear.

      --It's a feverish world, Inman said, for lack of better comment. (Charles Frazier)

      by Taya Lawrence on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:20:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are relatively progressive chains (25+ / 0-)

    While I do shop local when I can, that often means paying a premium. And I can't (yet) afford that.

    OTOH, Costco pays a living wage and does well too. Between that and Trader Joes, I've cut my shopping at chain grocery stores by about 75%.

  •  Tipped and Recd (11+ / 0-)

    Hopefully others will follow suit because I agree wholeheartedly that only those with money in the bank could possibly be so callous and indifferent about millions of other citizens losing their jobs and the economy tanking.  

  •  It's an important topic (9+ / 0-)

    and certainly will not be the last as ideologies meet economic realities in the months and years to come.

    We are headed for seriously bad times. And some seriously heavy restructuring needs to happen.

    How many will suffer is likely to be way, way too many.

    But we will recover. I just hope that we do it right.

    "One of the reasons we were all thrilled Tuesday night is it was pretty obvious this was a collectively intelligent decision." - Al Gore

    by Marcus Junius Brutus on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:54:03 AM PST

  •  Creative destuctionism. Wow. (9+ / 0-)

    I heard they tried that in New Orleans, with Katrina.  Nobody liked it then, either.  

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:59:42 AM PST

  •  given the choice (42+ / 0-)

    which I don't really have due to my current state of impoverishment, I would choose to forego one last frenzied collective humping of the leg of market capitalism by purchasing an SUV of plastic doo-dads, and instead invest in a nice tasty sandwich, which is about all I can afford anyway.

    The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

    by FireCrow on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:59:43 AM PST

  •  Tips for three good diaries. (18+ / 0-)


    I'm glad you plugged local businesses.
    Every day as I go to work I pass the coffee shop where I used to get my coffee before I gave it up to save money.

    I know (am aquainted with) the people behind the counter.  They put their selves into what they do-- with the hand printed signs/menu board, the little choices about what to offer, and how to serve it.  

    And I hope that their business --- and others like theirs --- survives this changing economy.  Because they add to our neighborhood.  They are part of "where I live" that makes it special.

    I usually won't buy things I don't need/want or can't afford.  But when I do buy small luxuries, I want it to go to a business -- and to people -- that is part of my community.


    One other thing.

    All of that material spending.... the option to continue that was originally created when we chose to spend on luxuries instead of schools, roads, charities, non-profits, those in need, etc.  

    Shifting that away from certain things now isn't the first choice we're making about what to do with the fruits of our labor and talent.

    McCain is this year's Alan Keyes.

    by chicago jeff on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:01:24 AM PST

    •  Yeah (10+ / 0-)

      If I'm going to spend money, it's going to be local.

      And if it comes at a premium, and I wind up spending less, well, I figure myself and the local business benefit more than if I spent at the cheap chain store.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
      Neither is California High Speed Rail

      by eugene on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:02:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keep the money close. (6+ / 0-)
        I pay more for meat and eggs and milk.  Every dollar that I pay goes to a owner operated business that is regionally local or at most, located in state.

        1) Money stays here, instead of being sent to a corporate owner somewhere else.  

        2) I'm supporting various local agribusinesses, preferably ones that are environmentally responsible.

        In economically depressed areas, I'm seeing a strong sense of "taking care of our own" emerging.  

        Little things count.  I bought some navel oranges and when I went to buy some more, the labels said they came from South Africa.  Why am I buying produce from literally halfway around the globe?  I switched to Florida grapefruit.  

        Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

        by Fabian on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:59:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  OK, I'm getting sick of this. (4+ / 0-)

      The people behind the counter at the local Big Coffee Chain (it's a Dunkin' Donuts) I patronize know me so well they have My Usual half made before I get through the door. That's no joke. In fact, they know what my car looks like and when I pull up to the drive thru they say my usual before I get a chance to. :)

      This "Big Impersonal Chains, Not Local, Eeek" crap is elitist, condescending, ignorant, and an insult to every one of us who works for a chain.

      What do you call a parent that believes in abstinence only sex ed? A Grandparent.

      by ChurchofBruce on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:18:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think i said anything about chains. (0+ / 0-)

        I just said I like the little coffee shop down the street and the people who run it.  If there were a Dunkin Donuts in that spot and I felt connected to the people who worked there, I'd be similarly interested in their well-being too.  When I was growing up, the 7-11 on the corner functioned that way:  it had the Asteroids video game which drew us like magnets, it's where I got my Hostess lemon cupcakes while doing my paper route, etc.  

        I suppose any business is local in some sense, somewhere.  But in my experience, that sense tends to be diluted and often not-there in "chains."  To the guy behind the counter, there may or may not be a sense that what he's doing is more than just-a-job.  That part of who he is is wrapped up in the business and that the business is tied to customers and the neighborhood in ways that go beyond monetary transaction.  If the DD goes down and the employees go get new jobs ... and everyone else moves on ... will they feel sadness and a sense of something lost?

        The franchise owner who put her all (time, money, self) into that DD will, probably, especially if that's her only DD.  You might.  But I suspect that if you added it all up ... it wouldn't be exactly the same from business to business.  And my perception of that difference is all i'm talking about in relation to the whole "local" thing.


        The other point about choices and priorities stands.

        McCain is this year's Alan Keyes.

        by chicago jeff on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 08:25:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Jobs" isn't the issue (4+ / 0-)

    it's remuneration for the work done.

    We can employ everyone as long as they don't want to consume.

    Hell, I'll make them work 20 hour days if they want to work so badly!

    But again, we've bankrupted the language in addition to the economy.

    People hate work, but love to consume.

    So we call "jobs" not consumption the political hot potato.

    In the real world, curtailing consumption is the only escape route.

    If a depression is a prolonged recession, what's a prolonged depression? A Dark Age... welcome home...

    by Paul Goodman on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:03:47 AM PST

    •  Jobs and remuneration . . . (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolkay, Clem Yeobright, chrome327

      are connected to consumption.  If no one is buying goods and services there's no money to hire people to make those goods or to provide those services.  

      If not one is employing, then there's no upward pressure on wages.  There's no remuneration for work.

      Limiting the availability of credit is probably a step in the right direction.  Curtailing consumption as an end unto itself is self-defeating.

      •  Right on. Why is that hard? (5+ / 0-)

        Obama is on top of this. When there is insufficient demand for the supply of labor, the government must take advantage and direct that labor into necessary infrastructure works.

        If the deficit next year is less than a trillion, I will be sorely disappointed.

        Meanwhile, these yearnings for a managed economy are sending shivers up my back ...

        You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

        by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:38:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Time will tell . . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clem Yeobright, chrome327

          the short-term answer is obvious as far as the Feds are concerned -- spend like crazy on domestic projects.  Obama's given some nods in that direction, we'll see if he pulls it off.

          Long-term the rebirth of a labor movement is probably key to putting a floor underneath wages.  Unions over-reached in the 1970-80s, but hopefully the pendulum swings back in their favor for another 30 to 40 years.

  •  I always think of he economy as an ecosystem (20+ / 0-)

    and not in the survival of the fittest crap terms either.  What I mean is that there has to be a balance for the ecosystem to work.  The bees collect the pollen that gives to flowers and trees.  The flowers give the bees its nectar so the bee can have its own ecosystem in the hive work so it can survive. You take out one part of that delicate balance, like the bees that deliver the pollen, and suddenly there aren't as many flowers as there once was or something small becomes a huge problem.

    In the same way the economy needs workers, the workers need employers, the employers need shoppers to by their products, the shoppers get their money by being workers.  If there is an imbalance there, if the employer become too selfish and takes off the top making it less likely that the worker becomes a shopper, then that messes up the economy.  

    Right now there is an extreme ecological situation going on.  The employer has no shopper, so in turn, he cuts off the worker, which in turn cuts off another shopper.  What needs to be balanced is getting the worker enough money and enough work where the worker can  become a shopper again or even become an employer hiring more workers to become shoppers.

    I hope that made sense.  lol

    •  You might have something there (13+ / 0-)

      Ideally, the employer/owner takes the profits made from their business and puts it back into the business, either by hiring more people, improving their product/service, or other means. But more and more, you see people taking the profits and simply lining their own pockets or the pockets of the people at the top -- while those doing the real work see next to nothing. And more and more, you're seeing multiple "owners" (shareholders) who all want their piece of the pie.

      "Once you choose hope, anything's possible." ~Christopher Reeve

      by Cali Scribe on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:13:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, this crisis was basically (18+ / 0-)

        the flowers witholding the nectar for themselves and then when the bees stop coming they realize "Oh shit, I need the pollen they give me."

        Employers, bankers, and Wall Street got greedy and didn't realize that they need the workers to be shoppers or the whole shop of cards falls apart.  Workers get less, they can't afford the house, they can't afford the cable, they can't afford the medical assistance, and that in terms put other staff out of business in other sectors because nobody can afford the product.

        On of the smartest things Ford ever said about his product when he first mass sold the car was he would never build anything his workers couldn't afford.  Because he knew that ultimately other workers are his consumers.  They feed off of each other and without one there can't be the others.  People have forgotten that now.  We've acted like the guy who burned down the forest and now wonders why all those deer are in his back yard.  We killed manufacturing here which in turn killed off shoppers needed to hold up businesses.

        Point blank, we need a situation where the workers are taken care of, paid well, and given actual manufacturing jobs so they can buy more products.  It's not the happier the boss is, the better we are, it is the happier the worker, the better we are.  If we realize that, we all win.

        •  When my hours got cut because we slowed (9+ / 0-)

          down, I understood but having front desk person leave small hotel at 6pm might be okay on sun-thurs but now they are doing it on fri & sat as well.

          I tried to say i need to be there for last minute people and for phone calls but they are looking at how many guests are actually there and trying to cut payroll costs.

          I understand but if i stayed until my usual 8 we might have a chance to get more people in. I live in a tourist town and even on slow weekends people will call.

          The other thing they did when they bought last year was to raise prices. While that might have worked last christmas time and will work for the busy weekends, on the slow time they have to go down on price. I get in trouble if I sell a room for less so I find myself losing my great selling I am good at and just sticking to their price.

          The bosses are far right neo cons upset that Obama won and haven't liked me and the other employees they took over when they found out we are all dems.

          There are no new jobs in town at all and i need the money so i have to bite my tongue all the time. When they first came a year ago i got into small arguements with the new owner because he is a control freak know it all and all i was trying to do was offer advice. At the time they knew nothing about hotels having had a large lumber business before, this is their retirement business.

          Me and the other girl both have years of travel experience, before I retired i worked for AAA in travel and my friend worked for Delta for years. It was hard in the beginning to shut up but we both did to keep our jobs. Now I have low hours but i have to not complain. I mentioned to one other girl that I don't talk to anymore about hours and she told the bosses and their response was we should all be grateful we have a job. I am but in bad times like this bosses have alot of power.

        •  Of course Ford... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          almost immediately began to feel the heat from GM and their introduction of name-plate cars, yearly model changes, color choices, and other add-ons that Ford didn't offer. In other words, GM activated the aspirational buyer. Seems buyers wanted the latest and the shiniest. It begs the question of what the rational player really looks like.

          Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

          by JoesGarage on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:40:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Simpler response is INCOME INEQUITIES. (6+ / 0-)

        The solutions of letting business fail is the conservative position. Which allows the failing business to reorganize and destroy all the employee benefits that have been won over years of negotiation.

        So the next time you say, "let the auto industry fail" remember that.

        No matter how cynical I get, it's impossible to keep up.

        by Flippant on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:38:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting.... (0+ / 0-)

      So who are the spiders spinning webs that capture the bees, and don't they serve a purpose as well?

      Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

      by JoesGarage on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:25:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course they do... (4+ / 0-)

        if they don't go overboard.  Which is why we have the birds to eat the spiders.  And you have the other animals eat the birds.  But when you have too many spiders eating the bees, you destroy a part of the ecosystem that is necessary to another part of the ecosystem and alters its course, for better or worse.

        In the case of the economy, it is for the worse right now.  Like my father said, you might hate snakes, but that snake eats the rat that you hate a lot more.  

        •  The point was... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ecosystems are violent places, not stable environments. Individual players are always at risk. My comment begged the question, if you want to engage the conceit of transfering the workings of the natural world to the society of men and women, don't you have to accept its violence and danger? By the way, the analogy you make was used in the 19th century as an "apology" by the winners of the Gilded Age.

          Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

          by JoesGarage on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:37:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not necessarily... (6+ / 0-)

            Yes, it is a violent place, but at the same time there is a balance there in how it works.  If there wasn't ecosystems that have lasted for thousands of years wouldn't have survived.  It's all in the balance of what is going on in that ecosystem that makes it run.  Anything that is introduced into it that is not compatible with it can destroy the whole system instead of just a species or one individual animal, plant, or organism.

            My main point is that there has to be balance in the economy the same way there is balance in ecosystems.  The economy runs of workers, employers, and shoppers.   If any of these factors are out of whack, the economy goes down.  Workers don't get paid, they can't afford the bills, they get foreclosed on.  Employers don't get shoppers or people to buy their houses, they cut workers.  The workers get cut they don't shop.

            It's a big giant clusterfuck of cause and effect.

            •  Fair enough... (0+ / 0-)

              but balance is not the same thing as your inference (socially) of a steady state. For the individual there is always danger, and, as an economic system, capitalism requires constant destruction and the destructive requirement of growth.  

              Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

              by JoesGarage on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:55:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Functional destruction yes, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Kentucky DeanDemocrat, chrome327

                but not complete and total destruction at once.  Not without something replacing it and taking that space.  

                The problem we have now is we have no manufacturing structure.  It's all service orientated.  So that means most of the jobs are in the service industry.  Once the service industry is gone, all these places are destroyed, where do we go?  Where do we build capital if the workers aren't working, the employers aren't working enough to tax, and the shoppers don't shop because they are unemployed. Captalism doesn't work in that void because nobody has capital to spend.

                When we removed manufacturing, totally destroyed it and shipped it overseas, our options decreased significantly.  It was akin to burning down a part of the forest and then being overrun by the animals who are homeless due to people tearing down the ecosystem.

                Right now the country has to build up the trees and keep those who are working working so that we create more people working, and in turn, spending.  The key is building a balance that works, even if that means we have to do it so unnaturally so that the system recovers.

    •  This makes the most sense to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      me, out of everything I've heard before regarding the economy. I am something of a dunce when it comes to money matters, as my checkbook can ascertain. I'm right-brained, or left-brained, or whichever-is-the-creative-one brained. :)

      So thanks for writing it.

  •  "Shaking out" doesn't cause the suffering... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, Alanna Trebond's just one more result of the disease of materialism and consumerism.

    We can keep spending on one heart transplant after another for our people, or we can get off the Krispy-Kreme addiction which is our diet, that is keeping us all fat and at risk, spiritually and economically speaking.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:07:06 AM PST

  •  So: Buy plastic crap and junk food (8+ / 0-)

    to show you love your fellow man?

    I agree with Granny Doc not to try to put a finger in the dike, and I agree with both her and eugene that the government has to provide the safety net to deal with the economic dislocation, as it has traditionally done.  

    I think the accusation of Hooverism should be red-carded.

    You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

    by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:07:44 AM PST

  •  Hoover was also about balanced budgets... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, carolkay, wader, NotGeorgeWill

    which is a chimera when it comes to government, but an imperative when it comes to the household. Teacherken is correct that economic dislocation hits the poor, the working poor, and the stretched middle-class the hardest. But, so does the imperative to keep shopping on credit cards and borrowed money.

    In the end, the "search for more" has been sustained by debt and the massive transfer of wealth upwards to the "investment class." But now, we've become exhausted and demoralized by our debt and we're defaulting at an ever faster rate. When we do this, we're moral failures, when investment bankers do it we're chastised by the market ghouls on channels like CNBC for abandoning the mall and refusing to play our part any longer.

    Marx said, "All that is solid melts into air." It's true, we're in a moment of creative destruction, but also a teachable moment that carries tremendous political potential.  

    Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

    by JoesGarage on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:09:04 AM PST

    •  Balanced budgets . . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright, chrome327

      aren't a bad objective when the economy is growing.  

      e.g. if Bush hadn't passed a tax cut and gone to war, we would be much better off than we are right now.  At a certain point large deficit borrowing -- especially from outside national borders -- presents an inflationary risk to the entire economy.

      •  The Bush - and the Reagan - deficits (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, chrome327

        (except in '81) were unjustified economically and there was in fact no effort to justify them; they were the worst of the worst: accidental by-products.

        That said, I applaud in advance the Obama deficit of a trillion or more a year for at least two years.

        You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

        by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:42:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Three diairies on this subject should only be the (16+ / 0-)

    beginning. And the solution is undoubtedly more complex than anything encompassable by even a slew of diairies.
    My own personal view is that their is much truth Granny Doc's position about the need to reorient our consumer driven culture. And Teacherken is undoubtedly correct to worry about all the pain such a change will cause.
    It's very like the classic leaky roof, when it's raining and the water is pouring in is no time to fix it. When the sun is shining it presents no problem so is shuttled to the back burner. The solution, of course, is to attend to the roof on a day we'd rather go to the beach.

    Politics is who gets what, when, and how. Harold Lasswell

    by DaNang65 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:09:34 AM PST

  •  'more carefully construced...' is NOT hooverism, (5+ / 0-)

    hoover was just the parent of RayGun and Cheney --- feed the fat front line first in trough pigs MORE,

    and there will be more chucks in their shit for the peee-ons to pick out.

    and, government, community action, is NOT the solution, just part of it. As a community, we need to invest so that people have the most opportunity, and they don't have that opportunity when the scales in hte market are crooked, when the roads and the toilets and the judges and the teachers and the infrastructure don't work, so the market is a subsistence market.

    We the peee-ons do have to be involved with our community so that the community investment isn't a piggy bank for bechtel and halliburton.

    HOWEVER - WE, ALL OF US ... we gotta stop buying shit made by slaves. PERIOD.

    Oh, and, by the way, we outta start buying stuff that supports the community.  Buying shit from the bechtels and the halliburtons and the exxons is NOT supporting the community, is is rewarding the fucking criminals.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:11:07 AM PST

  •  Eugene... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Void Indigo, oaktownadam

    Economies can't expand forever, at some point they have to contract to regain fundamental equilibrium.  

    There's nothing right wing about this idea.

  •  Hoover and private capital . . . (6+ / 0-)

    the issue with Hoover, as I understand it, wasn't that he told people not to shop -- it's that he tried to balance the federal budget at a time of economic crisis.

    Granny Doc's diary seems to be more of a diatribe against the consumer culture rather than an indictment of federal spending policies (e.g. she's not pushing for an increase in taxation, a cut in federal spending, and a move to balance the federal budget in the context of an economic crisis -- there is no macro policy outlined in the diary).  

    The diary is about personal finances and the idea of not buying crap with credit.  In itself the idea isn't objectionable -- even in the context of an economic slow-down.  

    Your two major prescriptions -- buy local, and get political active -- I have no problem with.  The misrepresentation of another diary is what I'd find most objectionable.  There's nothing in Granny Doc's diary that I'd consider Hooverian, because her diary focuses primarily on the purchasing choices of individuals.  

  •  But (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Kentucky DeanDemocrat

    Sure, individual choices can help. But those choices do not happen in a vaccuum. Government needs to provide a much stronger safety net, needs to provide universal health care and housing and money to live on when millions are fired from their jobs by the profit-greedy. Government needs to provide job retraining and education funding and promote green, sustainable jobs. Government needs to rewrite the rules of the game in food policy, retail policy, labor union policy, trade policy, to produce the more prosperous and sustainable economy we so desperately need.

    The last time I checked the government was already spending $600 billion a year more than it is taking in. That's about $2,000 per person that citizens are getting in value, more than they are paying in. This money is being borrowed from the likes of China. There is not a lot of free money around. What is spent must be spent smartly, not blindly.

    I fully agree that government has a major role to play - but it must make its investments wisely...not on bridges to no where. A key example is spending $500 billion a year on defense (half of the world's defense spending). What a fucking waste of money, money that the country does not have.

    Universal health care is a good example. Government could provide this at a lower cost than the private sector as so much is wasted on "administration". The US spends double per person on health care than other advanced economies. There could be an easy 5% of GDP saving by switching to universal care. That's huge.

    I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

    by taonow on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:15:52 AM PST

    •  When your house is on fire, you don't worry if th (0+ / 0-)

      e tank will run dry in a few years.  Thus, deficit fear is misplaced in the short-term.  Albeit, the idea of a trillion dollar deficit should boggle your mind.  Just remember who created it - Bush.  The Wars (Afghanistan would be more or less over if we had not abandoned it, just like Poppy). The Collapse. We are paying now for not paying for everything he put on the credit card.

      Unfortunately, in this case private virtue is public vice, to quote Krugman quoting George.  Besides, lots of things could happen between now and when the tank might run dry that will affect the amount of water in it.  It only took 5 or 6 years to get to surpluses under Clinton.

      As for defense spending, the real savings possible are much smaller than you think.  The Iraq war (which is not included in the $600 b defense budget), Star wars deployment, some massive cost-overruns, etc.  But, a lot of it is inevitable, the result not only of Empire but because we do much of the heavy lifting the rest of the world needs. One example, our Navy keeps the sea lanes more or less open, to everyone's benefit.  It provides a shield to Japan and Taiwan, to name 2.  What is the cost of defense in a world with a nuclear, militarized Japan and Taiwan?  Not to mention, manpower cost are the biggest chunk.

      Besides, this just plays into one of the primary political weaknesses we Democrats have: the public is ready to think we are weak on defense.  Despite the fact Clinton won a war without a single US military casualty, and Bush won Iraq with Clinton's military (the one the Rethugs claimed was hollow in '00).  

      Part of this is framing: don't say 'cut defense', say 'procurement reform'.  But part is also accepting that, while there are tens of billions in savings to be had, it is but a drop in the bucket given the magnitude of the mess we've inherited.

  •  I've read all three diaries (15+ / 0-)

    And I feel completely out of touch on almost every side, as I have for years.

    I'm the worlds "worst" consumer, I just don't buy crap unless I have to. Most everything I own is used. I'm not about to change that in order to "help" an economic crisis.

    But if others don't continue to spend money on crap they don't need, I'm out of a job, so I don't appreciate the flippant attitude of others to just let everything fail.

    That being said, I agree that no matter how much I continue to buy local when I actually make a purchase, it's not going to change a damn thing if I'm one of only a handful willing to do that.

  •  This is probably as good a place as any to (5+ / 0-)

    make the point that reducing some participants in the market to "consumers" is an anti-humanistic strategy.

    The market used to be make up of sellers and buyers, presumably equals in completing a transaction.  But, the reality is and always was that the buyer is at a disadvantage because the seller "knows" what he's got, while the buyer has to rely on "expectation," and that's an iffy condition.

    In a sense, the reclassification of the participants in the market into producers and consumers has served the purpose of enhancing the status of the former (people of talent who make things) and reducing the status of the latter (people who consume or use up or otherwise destroy).  In other words, instead of equalizing the relationship between seller and buyer by putting standards that affect the former in place, there's been an effort to move in the other direction and define the buyer/consumer as morally suspect.

    Remember "buyer beware"?  This advice contained the implicit judgment that if the buyer was cheated, it was his/her own fault.  Reducing the buyer to consumer status implies a condition of moral turpitude that needs to be overcome.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:20:17 AM PST

  •  I think (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Fabian, NotGeorgeWill, chrome327

    all three of you have parts of the "truth" (why am I thinking of blind men and elephants??), and there are other pieces of the mess we have yet to talk about.

    For me, the two key issues are equitability and sustainability. The more we discuss the problems from ALL angles, the more ideas we kick around, the closer we'll come to equitable sustainability. (My 2 cents, no inflation here  ;> )

    IMPEACH " that no future president may infer that we have implicitly sanctioned what we have not explicitly condemned." John Conyers, 1974

    by rincewind on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:22:11 AM PST

  •  Your last paragraph assumes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Fabian, NotGeorgeWill

    that there still are such things as locally owned businesses at which to shop. Our one and only independent bookstore (which was pretty sucky, considering the amount of space it had and the fact that this is a university town) folded when Borders came to town awhile back. There's a used bookstore, but those are always dicey propositions for the people on my list. Your general shopping needs are going to be met at Carson's, Kohl's, Mall*Wart (which I categorically refuse to enter), or Target (which I rather like, and since they do have a distribution center here and also hire an awful lot of college students, plus giving back an annual percentage of their profits to the community, I have no qualms about shopping there). There are no mom-and-pop electronics stores anymore. I don't buy clothes for other people on principle, so that's out. And nobody needs more tchotchkes, which pretty much exhausts my local shopping options.

  •  Man, I got all invested in the discussion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JT88, dharmafarmer, princess k, chrome327

    in the other comments and forgot to leave one of my own. :) Duh.

    I did not tip/rec either teacherken's nor Granny Doc's diaries, although I agreed a little more with teacherken's. The truth is, I just don't know what the hell to do about the economy: it's too big of a problem for me to even wrap my mind around. But of the 3 diaries I've read on this topic, yours seems the most sensible.

    •  Hell (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The truth is, I just don't know what the hell to do about the economy

      The hell of it is that neither does anybody else.

      What we do know is that everybody, except for the two of us, is evil and greedy and stupid and that must be corrected.

      Some people during the Great Depression were remembering how bad it was during the Panic of 1873 and how the young 'uns had it easy.

      Actually they may have been right.

      Now you know why we discuss good and bad, right and wrong, rather than economic reality.

      Best,  Terry

  •  Markets cannot design complex systems ... (4+ / 0-)

    ... complex systems are designed by people.

    And that is an important part of the answer to this question:

    But could the result be a more carefully structured economic system?

    ... only if it there are institutions that lead in this direction.

    If we allow corporations to design the system, we will end up in a neo-feudalism.

    If we want a more "carefully structured" economic system, we have to take the action to design the missing pieces that the current economic system lacks.

    •  It's implicit in Granny's Diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stiela, wader

      that the unfair trade 'free market' and blind consumerism she would have us rebel against is not where the solutions would emerge to the problems it's created.

      I think this got rec'd becuase people havn't had their fill of Thankgiving pie.

      •  But the difference between creative destruction . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        keikekaze, chrome327

        ... and just destruction is that with creative destruction, the creation is what people are doing, and the destruction of old ways of doing things are a side-effect.

        Rebelling against unfettered corporate power and blind consumerism is a fine thing, provided that the rebellion consists of creating more desirable alternatives.

        •  The natural alternative outcome is that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the global corporations power to shape the economy is lessened in favor of consumer well being.

          •  Natural in what sense? (0+ / 0-)

            That certainly is not what I would see as the outcome to be expected unless people work hard to make it come about ... a far more common "natural" outcome of simple rebellion is for it to be used as a bogey man to shore up support for the status quo system.

            •  Giving less money to corporations (0+ / 0-)

              reduces their market power. That sense.

              •  Power is a relative, not an absolute ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ... building alternatives reduces the power of corporations.

                Corporations retaining their share of a smaller GDP is the same market power in a smaller economy.

                •  Yeah besides the entire body of Granny's (0+ / 0-)

                  diary focused on imports and global conglomerate's she failed to state in the conclusion that what money needs to be spent should be spent on alternative sources of goods.
                  But she was also addressing our consumer debt load that requires a net reduction in consumer spending to alleviate.
                  Money spent on interest that produces zero goods imported or domestic but instead is used to create imaginary towers of paper risk to sell bonds on (credit default swaps) isn't helping global consumer product traders or local suppliers gain market share. It's just a black hole at Wall Street.

      •  Indeed, the final lines of GD's diary ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        keikekaze, chrome327

        ... highlight even more where that approach is going wrong:

        If we are really serious about saving the planet, and changing our foot print on the globe, could we consider beginning with a major reduction in spending this Christmas?  Not because we must, but because we should.

        Some times a cure can only be found in radical surgery...

        We presently lack the means to keep our current population fed on a sustainable basis, to keep us housed and clothed and to move us around to where we need to go.

        Dropping out of participating in the orgy of consumerism viewed as an act of rebellion doesn't do anything to fill in those gaps.

        My mom and her husband are taking the money they would have spent on Christmas gifts to grown-ups this year and giving it instead to organizations that feed the poor. That's the kind of redirection of cash flow that individual can do to do some individual good.

        To take on the bigger gaps, it will be necessary to organize into working parties and get working on something (given the massive holes in a sustainable economy, almost anything).

        And to take on the biggest gaps, it will take government action, so we must organize to help determine government policy.

        And if we are doing any of that, let alone all of that, I reckon we'll be too busy to be actively devoting any time and energy to the "destruction" of existing systems.

        And, indeed, once we are invested in getting new, more sustainable systems up and running, we will not be adopting a confrontational attitude to the old, unsustainable economy ... it will fall in the end, and the less we provoke entrenched vested interests into fighting the next economy in a vain effort to prevent the fall of the old economy, the more rapidly we will be able to make progress.

  •  Many corporate chains may be doomed anyway. (7+ / 0-)

    The market value of many (if not most) national corporate retail chains, and, thus their ability to continue short term borrowing to fund their operations, is inextricably intertwined with commercial real estate values.  As commercial real estate values inevitably collapse and consumer spending declines, many corporate retail chains will be unable to continue almost no matter how brisk their holiday sales are.

    This has already begun with those that were in financial trouble to begin with.  As they close stores, vacant mall space will increase, further driving down property values and further eroding customer visits, thus eventually dragging down even the better-managed chains in yet another death spiral.

    With local independent retailers, however, there is usually a quite different financial relationship between the business, the property it inhabits and the bank - to the extent that they would likely be less affected by declining commercial property values (unless, of course, they rent). But they still will suffer from a decline in consumer spending.

    My point being that consumer spending at national corporate chains may have little, if any, impact on the much larger financial forces at work.  IOW, holiday shopping at the mall will likely not save any jobs whatsoever.  However, consumer spending at local independent retailers (and even regional chains) may have a huge impact on their survival and on a handful of jobs.  OTOH, if these businesses fail, folks may soon not have anywhere to purchase necessities within a reasonable travel distance.

    So, perhaps it's not a moral issue or a political issue, but a simple economic survival issue for your local community.

    Opposition to an ideology is not inherently another ideology. When you're at the South Pole, there's no other direction to go but north.

    by sxwarren on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:29:59 AM PST

  •  why both GrannyDoc and Teacherken are right (11+ / 0-)

    One is arguing that you can't cut spending without harming the economy and the other is arguing you cannot borrow and spend and have a good economy.

    They are both right.

    Problem is debt.  If you have to borrow a hundred bucks to buy someone a two hundred dollar gift, you are hurting the economy.  If you use the hundred dollars to buy a 75 dollar gift and put the other 25 towards a college savings account or a rainy day fund, you are helping the economy.

    So go ahead and de-lever.  Build a 3 month expense cushion in a savings account and then cut up your credit cards.  Or pay it off in full each month.  Budget for an annual gift buying spree and save for it, starting from Dec 26.

    If we can hold household debt service down to about 35% of household income we will do just fine as a consumer economy.

    Yes, flat panel TVs will be a little more expensive but when you figure the cost of 30% annual interest on your credit card, it ain't that cheap anyway.

  •  I'm Too Poor To Shop. (12+ / 0-)

    The only thing I would buy, if I had any money, would be books, and I would buy them from Left Bank Books in the central west end here in Saint Louis.

    Left Bank Books offers personalized, socially responsible service, and it is the only independently-owned, full-service bookstore in the greater metropolitan area of St. Louis.  

    I enjoy reading all these thoughtful diaries.

    "The market is not self-correcting, it's self-serving."

    by Ronald Singleterry on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:36:18 AM PST

    •  me too. (7+ / 0-)

       And what I do buy- mostly groceries etc.- I have to get from a large chain. I dream of being able to shop only at my local co-op and spend fifty dollars a week on cheese made in northern minnesota, cider from just outside the twin cities, locally made organic frozen pizza, and beef from north dakota. However, since that is utterly impossible, I buy a few treats there and then get much more for much less at target. We forget here that the poor cannot afford to "buy local" in many circumstances, that they are forced to shop at national chains.

      •  When you are (7+ / 0-)

        trying to feed 4 people on $40 a week, shopping at the small, local boutique stores is not really an option.  

        •  That is a point that always seems to get left out (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, princess k, chrome327

          of these discussions.  There is usually no affordable "local" option for the poor.  They buy what they need and they buy it for the lowest price they can find, because they need to have enough money left to pay rent or utilities or emergency rooms.

          Proud to be an American, once more.

          by LeanneB on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:11:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is a line from (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wader, princess k, LeanneB

            the Simpsons where Marge says, "We can't afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy."

            I would love to buy my produce from local farmers and hormone free things and support fair trade.  

            But I am in utterly dire financial straits.  I am trying to avoid foreclosure and any money I spend on groceries is money that I can't put towards the electricity or gas bill.  There is not a "budget" per se because my bills currently outstrip my income.  

            Obviously, I hope to change this situation and if that happens, I will try to make the best choices about shopping based on more than utter desperation and the cheapest price.

            People have pointed out that it is really less expensive to buy, say, quality shoes.  Yes, I agree.  But one has to be able to gather the $60 or $80 or more to buy the quality shoes in the first place.  If it's a choice between cheap crappy shoes that will wear out in six months or no shoes, I sadly go with the cheap crappy shoes.  

            Things are bad out here for a lot of us.

  •  Diary mistates and then builds on mistatement. (10+ / 0-)

    "let them all lose their jobs and let God sort it out."

    GrannyDoc didn't say that and interpreting it that way is a straw man argument and the diary is then built on a weak foundation...of straw.

    The argument was stop the mindless consumerism of buying useless imported crap that friends and family will toss out in a month while you keep paying for it for years on your over extended credit card.

    Shop smart for Christmas. Forget the "imported diamonds" and gift wrapped imported luxury car, get Mom that US made, super energy efficient washer/dryer she's been lusting for.  Get the kids the US made, union label clothes they need. Don't spend more than you have.  If things are tight, pay the mortgage, buy a nice turkey for dinner and give everybody a card with a "One more month in our home together" line.

  •  I'm reccing this for its key recognition that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mvr, soccergrandmom

    individual human beings behaving according to their individual impulses will not, by and large, bring about a particularly optimal "solution" to the "economic problem".

    which is why we need social and legal structures that guide, constrain, and channel individuals so that their choices don't include running together off a cliff. or over top of a walmart employee.

    I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:37:25 AM PST

  •  the timing is the thing. (5+ / 0-)

    Stop buying now?  Why not last year?  Why not five years ago?  Seems kind of vindictive to me.  And vindictive at the wrong target.

    The timing of huge deficits is also an issue.  Deficit spending is meant to happen when you have no other choice.  Like now.  Keep your budget healthy, and even put something away for later (like Clinton was doing), and then when shit hits fan, spend like a drunken sailor, on the right things (Obama has it right), and we'll work harder after it's all better, to get rid of the deficits.

    It's called fiscal sanity.

    I agree with Granny's assessment of (part of) the problem.  But I don't know if I agree with the timing of her solution.  In fact, as this diarist points out, we have historical proof of its wrongheadedness.

    And if it's any consolation to Ken and this diarist, Obama agrees with them.

    Every time a Republican is convicted, an angel gets its wings.

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:46:07 AM PST

  •  I agree with this post... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rockhound, mvr, Ellinorianne, redtex, chrome327

    when I think of people suggesting that mass job loss is a "correction" in the economy... I can't help but think individually... I think of the one family, with a single income, a mortgage (or high rent) to pay, and the only breadwinner loses their job... then I think of the desperation people go to in situations like that... and my mind always goes to thinking of suicide.  People under such stress and hopelessness kill themselves... it's not just about a "correction" in the market... this affects people's individual lives... we can't stop (suddenly) shopping at these huge stores and allow the work force to completely collapse until there's a system ready to absorb these workers... one that can re-train them for more skilled jobs so they can maintain, and live their lives productively... Otherwise we just create a whole new poverty class that we wont be able to care for...

    I think a switch from big box to local and from crap jobs to skilled, union protected jobs has to happen, but you don't just pull the rug out from under the people who are struggling the most in society...

    I have a strong desire to stop consuming as well (mostly b/c my personal finances are in the toilet), but after reasoning it out and reading this diary, I don't believe full and sudden abandonment of consumerism is the best way to effect positive change.

    -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. - African Proverb

    by L0kI on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:51:31 AM PST

  •  The two diaries are opposite ends... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myriad, mijita, soccergrandmom

    of the same coin. If you are going to consume, consume green. Buying local won't help if you are buying rare wood in a local shop.

  •  Why do you assume (4+ / 0-)

    But could the result be a more carefully structured economic system?  A system of making things, of hiring people with skills, of paying for good products carefully made, and total rethinking of growth, with all of its unintended consequences?

    this prescribes a 'market' solution and not a policy solution?

    that by government standing back and letting the markets do its thing the nation would emerge stronger on the other side.

    I didn't read anywhere GrannyDoc saying government should stand back.

    Each of the cited businesses are the direct result of thoughtless, and uncontrolled growth by these establishments, with the attendant traffic, pollution, and feeding of the beast of consumerism, with no thought to the consequences.

    ...imported from places that still do make things
    ...yet more imported stuff
    ...into debt to pile a lot of imported stuff in fancy paper, under a fake, Chinese manufactured pine.

    How did you read her diary?

    How does this

    But could the result be a more carefully structured economic system?...and total rethinking of growth

    become this

    greater creativity and entrepreneurship...

    And how does the populace going deeper into personal debt save the economy from from disaster?
    That's what caused the economic crises we are experiencing.

  •  Nice synthesis. (4+ / 0-)

    And if I could just make a plug for my pet government-propelled change that I wish I could make everyone put at the very top of their list:

    New, smart electrical grid.

    Without it, we can't even hope to solve the climate crisis.  It should be priority number one, IMHO.

    The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place -- in cities all over America -- Frank Rich

    by Mother of Zeus on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:59:39 AM PST

  •  Politically active to what end? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester, Marie, mftalbot

    So the primary thing you must do this holiday season is get politically active.

    All that there seems to be on offer these days is "centrism", that is, political activity that reinforces neoliberal hegemony.  I'm too old and too worn out  to spend any energy propping up the very structures that I for one believe are the cause of the problems.  Any politi9cal eactivity that attempts to be anything other thancentrist (or rightist) is swiftly attacked and condemned as aer those that would participate in them, to which ridicule and marginalization is added.  We've reached a certain rubicon in America in which there is no more role for left voices and likely never will be again.

    This sig line is in foreclosure. For details on acquiring a credit default swap on this sig line, contact H. Paulson, Dept of the Treasury, c/o Goldman, Sachs

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:12:34 AM PST

  •  as i said in grannydoc's diary: $58 trillion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Fmr. Comptroller General David Walker says we're up to our eyeballs in debt that most people don't even know about:

    2/3 of the american economy depends on consumerism so if we need to spend out way out of this mess, so be it... THEN we can "do the right thing" later once america is back on our feet.

    the problem with that scenario is that americans can no longer finance their spending so there will be a change regardless.

    as to that massive debt?  we're looking at millions of job losses next year that will exacerbate the housing crisis... add to that a looming commercial real estate collapse and you see a bleak picture.

    yes obama can mitigate with the stimulus package but we all need to face the fact that we ARE looking at a "super" recession or minor depression.

    and so events will dictate how we react, not what we discuss here.

    •  It has to be done simultaneously (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      soccergrandmom, Calamity Jean, output

      If you wait until the overall economy is "back on its feet" then the motivation to change won't be there.  That's why the New Deal combined equal parts immediate relief and long-term restructuring, because it was only in a time when immediate relief is so widely needed that people will even be open to the idea of long-term restructuring.

      This sig line is in foreclosure. For details on acquiring a credit default swap on this sig line, contact H. Paulson, Dept of the Treasury, c/o Goldman, Sachs

      by ActivistGuy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:26:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re (0+ / 0-)

      2/3 of the american economy depends on consumerism so if we need to spend out way out of this mess, so be it... THEN we can "do the right thing" later once america is back on our feet.

      Why didn't we "do the right thing" anytime in the 20 years leading up to this crisis? I believe that even with Obama at the helm, if this crisis suddenly "went away" then things would simply return to "normal", i.e. excessive credit granting, excessive government borrowing, trade deficits, etc, and things would be worse when that bubble bursts.

      Doing things wrong is simply the status quo for the last 20 years: doing them "right" involves a lot of pain and lowered American standards of living in the intermediate term. What President wants that on their watch? Better to wait till the Repubs are maybe elected in 2012/2016 (hey, that's what they tried to do to us, and what Clinton did the GW Bush). The result is merely an endless downhill slide as the government tries futilely to stop the inevitable.

  •  I agree with this.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This isn't about individual moral choices. It's about collective choices, about collective goals. teacherken has precisely the right idea here when he says government must be at the center of this. It's only government, government alone, that can produce the kind of change we need

    but I do not see why that precludes individual action, nor do I think teacherken thinks so either.
    His essential point, at least to me was to

       Act as an individual in as moral a fashion as you can.  Urge by your actions as well as your words that our government begin to take the lead to reshape our economy in ways that are less destructive - of environment, health, local economies, and human dignity.  Recognize that we are facing economic dislocation and restructuring, and insist that ALL participate in the costs that will incur so that NO ONE suffers unfairly.

    while GrannyDoc says:

       What would happen if we just said, "No!"  Not this time.  Not this year.  Now with my future and that of my children.  I'm not going to go into debt to pile a lot of imported stuff in fancy paper, under a fake, Chinese manufactured pine.  Not this year.  I am not going to contribute to the pollution and waste and pretense that everything is OK.

    I think the idea is to do what you can, and beseech government to do the rest.

    More of these ravings at the website listed in my profile.

    by Barth on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:19:05 AM PST

  •  I am rec'ing this diary, not because I agree with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellinorianne, oaktownadam

    it, but because i feel it adds to the depth of the debate.

    The necessity for profound re-examination on a global scale of many of the industrial world's deep seated economic, moral and spiritual foundations are imperative.

    We should all endeavour to go emotionally and mentally back to our high school debate teachings and try and learn from exploring intelligently and in depth all sides of the dilemmas that face us at the beginning of the 21st century.

    In the Western world we are still operating under economic and social philosophies defined in the 18th century. In the world of labour, slave and otherwise we are still operating under imperial expanionist imperatives that commenced in the 15th century. In the arena of religion we have reverted to ideas  formulated in the 13th century and even further back to the dawn of Christinity.  In the political field we are still struggling with ideas from ancient democratic Greece.

    In the meantime the planet's population has reached unsustainable levels and we are still wearing blinders and looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

    I don't have any answers but i certainly welcome opportunities to examoine solutions to a sustainable future, if indeed it is possible.

    Maybe a good place to start is to change the right/wrong, black/white, left/right groove we seem to prefer to the multi shades of gray world we actually live in.

  •  You can't escape the basic issue (4+ / 0-)

    For the last few decades, we, our country, our society, and our households have been consuming more that we produce.  We made up the difference with cheap easy credit.

    Well, the party is over.  Even with all the safety nets we can string up, our consumption and standard of living will decrease.

    So far increased government borrowing is taking up some  of the slack, but this too cannot go on forever.

    No matter what we do, it will be ugly. -- over 4000 published reviews.

    •  Not exactly (7+ / 0-)

      It's not that we've been consuming more than we produce.  The productivity of American workers has sskyrocketed in the past 30 years.  It is however that with average working people's share of what we produce in wages and salaries has stagnated, or at the lower end of the spectrum declined, and thus our ability to participate in the growth we through our labor have created can only come through debt.  This is the consequences of the upward redistribution of wealth  of the last 30 years.

      This sig line is in foreclosure. For details on acquiring a credit default swap on this sig line, contact H. Paulson, Dept of the Treasury, c/o Goldman, Sachs

      by ActivistGuy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:30:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My husband and I are mostly using donations to (5+ / 0-)

    local food banks as our gift giving this season.  Our business gifts will consist of donations in our clients' names.  We'll take eugene's advice and avoid shopping in chain stores for the minimal gifts we can afford this year.  My favorite clothing store, Talbot's, is going out of business anyway...  And lets add the government's re-regulating the mortgage and banking industries to eugene's comprehensive list, which got us all into this horrible mess with it's "free" money scams in the first place.


  •  Speaking of Herbert Hoover (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, boriquasi
    Just posted a book review diary that covers some of Hoover's later, nastier activities regarding aiding and abetting Japanese war criminals and war looters.
  •  We sure don't want all those people to be hurt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    by the "shaking out", but patching our unsustainable system together will just delay the inevitable. As a species, we're like a drug addict who has to hit bottom before s/he can help him/herself. It's scary to think what hitting bottom will look like for most people. If we learn anything, it will surely be a devastating lesson, but it's probably our only hope.

    The truth is hidden in plain sight. Always follow the money. Keep asking why until there's no reasonable answer.

    by Iamyouareme on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:36:33 AM PST

  •  Buy local -- experiences not things (8+ / 0-)

    "Experiences not things" was the motto of a friend who died of cancer some years ago, way too young.

    If your community is like mine, local theater, music, schools, and arts organizations are hurting badly in this economy. Show them some love. If you're looking for gifts -- or comfort for yourself -- buy gifts from their gift shops, theater tickets, calendars, museum memberships, gift certificates to your local independent bookstore. All these enrich the cultures of our communities and employ local people.

    •  Cultural note (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mijita, chrome327

      Here (Ukr.), local theater, music, schools, and arts organizations are the mainstay of the economy.  It's the only part that will not collapse. Nuke physicists from the labs that invented the H-bomb?  Phukkem.  Arts and culture?  People will go hungry to attend a performance, and sacrifice everything to get a gifted child through the expense of international travel during training.  Culture is the main item on the menu.

      I love the smell of victory in the morning. Smells like - - - napalm.

      by USexpat Ukraine on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:16:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  All three diarists make valid points, (4+ / 0-)

    Teacherken, GrannyDoc, and you, Eugene.

    What I would like to add to the mix of all three of you passionately speaking folks is to pretend as if the price of gas is still at $4.00, and will stay there forever.

    Pretend that forever, whatever the pump signs say today. That may be the single most important politically proactive thing we can do within our power, on so many levels.

    Conserve by driving less, car-pooling more or using mass transit. And dump those gas guzzlers as if we lived in the time of "Mad Max" that still looms stealth before us, save the ability of the oil cartels & Mobil-Exxons to fuck with us at whim.

    To resonate with both Teacherken and GrannyDoc, we need to support local businesses in our neighborhoods, perhaps to discover for the first time or with renewed experience, what's shaking there. Take a walk and have a talk with the those who live and die outside of the big-box worlds.

    We all need to position ourselves for a balance of savings and well-planned, budgeted spending. And non-profit gifts.

    What's the rule that says we can't save, give charitably, and spend -- all locally -- without breaking the backs of anyone? It's all about shifting the money around with sensibility. Heaven forbid!

    Not my original thought. Just a synthesis of some really great thinking people here at DKOS.

    And my last thought is, let's all have some Sweet Potato Pie, our president-elect's favorite pie, at our inaugural parties on Jan. 20th. I've got my recipe to share soon, for which I'll start a thread somewhere after New Year's.

  •  Keep Louisville Weird is our local slogan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, redtex

    which means buy locally.

    We avoid national chains as much as we can. And we can do this 100% when it comes to eating out and even for most of our groceries. And it isn't always more expensive.

    I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

    by SocioSam on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:54:13 AM PST

  •  Good Diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, Burned, leonard145b, TomP

    But I'm afraid that I don't agree with this:

    "Granny Doc's proposal is essentially the same as Herbert Hoover's."

    Oh, my!  No ...  Not quite.

    But I do agree with you about collective action and the political nature of any solution to our economic problem.

    You can call me "Lord Bink Forester de Rothschild."

    by bink on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:58:13 AM PST

  •  FWIW (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxado, boriquasi

    I posted a diary about this - Shop Like Your Future Depends On It - general topic last week which attempted to make two points. To paraphrase: 1) Our economy as we know it is essentially broken so we  are going to have to expect and make changes. 2) One way to do that is to shop locally as much as possible.

       The mega merchants have this in common. They all extract as much money as possible from communities and concentrate it. It's inherent - big corporations are all about concentrating wealth, not spreading it.

         Where government is really important in this is that it is one of the few mechanisms for collecting wealth and distributing it generally, that quaint public good notion. Corporations exist for the benefit of their shareholders and management; everyone else is expendable. Governments exist (or should) for the benefit of all their citizens.

      That being said, we have to do what we can with the government/economy we have, not the one we want. Like it or not, it's all currently structured around mass consumption. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and there are plenty of people who still believe it is the ultimate end of economic development. It turns out it's like an addictive drug that's killing us.

    Going cold turkey would probably prove fatal. We're going to have to start from where we are by continuing to spend - but we're going to have to start spending towards different ends. Sustainable development. Conservation. Investment in things for the long term. Things that can be reused or recycled rather than used and then tossed.

    Government is going to have to lead the way on this, because the business sector isn't built to work that way - yet. We're going to have to grit our teeth and bear some pain while we drag them kicking and screaming toward the light.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:03:19 PM PST

  •  well for many there is a very good reason (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Over the Edge, LynneK

    they can't afford to shop anywhere but the one that has the lowest prices.

    Sometimes that is the local store, but most often it is not.

  •  Balderdash !! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, Clem Yeobright, lotlizard, xaxado

    Sometimes you just have to throw away the old broccoli in the back of the fridge - -
    WITHOUT even opening the Tupperware.

  •  What is also wrong is that the basic fundamentals (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maynard, lotlizard, xaxado, TomP, pragprogress

    of capitalism are being ignored.  There are many facets to this theory of consuming less, how spending less will affect our economy, jobs and the environment, and the common sense argument of buying local.  

    But everyone seems to be ignoring the basic fundamentals of competition, capitalism and the efficient use of resources.  

    Businesses should not be bailed out collectively so that employees and stockholders won't suffer.(for now let's ignore the Bush Bailout disaster) There will be some bailouts, some just, some unjust, but we cannot allow our entire economy to collapse.  

    In a true capitalistic economy, businesses fail, people become unemployed, investors lose money and it is all supposed to work that way. We must continue to allow poorly run businesses to fail.  Unfettered capitalism is not the solution.  We can all agree that workers need to be protected from the ravages of unfettered capitalism and greedy business owners.  The environment needs to be protected from the destruction that unfettered, unregulated capitalism brings.  The credit markets should be regulated so unfettered capitalism does destroy them.  

    However, as a nation, we have been brainwashed by the last 30 years of conservative thinking based upon the notion that greed is good, destroying the environment is good, that anything that appears to help "business" is the goal.  Anything that is counter to those arguments is branded as "socialism", "class warfare" or even "communism".  I have long said that the masses will not reject conservative policies until there is great dislocation, and that is happening now.  

    The solutions are going to be as mutlifaceted as the problems.  To suggest we can find reasonable substitutions for foreign goods if only we look hard enough is ridiculous.  Entire industries do not exist in the US anymore.  

    Things must change and they will, but simplistic solutions, and ignoring the basic structures of capitalism will not work.  

    The things that Granny Doc said are already happening, and will continue to happen no matter what.  The destruction of our economy will continue until there is a foundation to support it's collapse.  

    Our government's role is not to support the unsupportable, but to create new policies that will invent  opportunities, support the displaced workers and their families and increase the safety net where needed so the suffering will be minimized, while protecting the environment and our natural resources.  These are broad categories but they will encompass all that is needed for change.  

    What we are going to be experiencing is a major realignment of the entire US economic system, and the world's will follow suit.  To ignore this and just say "buy local" will not solve these incredibly enormous problems.  Many of us have been boycotting the WalMarts of the world, but many others are too strapped financially or geographically to do so.

    We are beyond recession.  Japan has been in a permanent recession/depression since 1989.  Our recovery will resemble theirs.  

    There will be profound changes in everyone's life with social acrimony and unrest as the recession and crisis continues.  In the end a new economic order will emerge, but the cost will be enormous.  

  •  Modest Proposals (0+ / 0-)

    I own a small business that may not survive.  Still, I'm happy to see the great deleveraging take place.  Too many of my customers are having their debit cards declined.  Time to get real.

    Here are my thoughts, as a business owner, on what would be productive change:

    1.  Reduce debt, personal, business, government, to no more than 20% of current levels.
    1.  Create a meaningful store of value, which our monetary system no longer does.  Reset all currencies to sustainable stable value.
    1.  Definancialize -- take the financial sector back to 5% or less of the economy.
    1.  Close all banks and reopen them as depositor owned credit unions.
    1.  Reduce transportation as a sector of the economy -- localize agriculture and manufacturing, work from home, ban further conversions of arable land to suburbs.
    1.  Convert corporations to cooperatives.  Too much investment is abstracted from productive knowledge and thereby waste.  Coop owners tend to understand the business.
    1.  Cut the military industrial complex back by 50%, and then another 50%.  Be a good global xitizen for a change.
    1.  Stop 'externalization' of environmental damage -- reflect the true cost of present products to future generations in prices.

    All of that done, restructure our lives to a standard of living that is within our means.

    The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein -- best book ever, I nominate for a Nobel Prize!

    by xaxado on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:11:47 PM PST

  •  Buy American (5+ / 0-)

    Buy American wherever possible this holiday season.  Don't buy imported unless it's something you absolutely need and doesn't have a domestic alternative.

    Especially if it's a discretionary purchase, you should let the domestic guide your choice of gift.  If you're torn over whether to get the commercial-grade coffee maker or the big-screen TV as a gift, you at least have a fighting chance of finding a domestic coffee maker.  If you're equipping a bike with new components, try to go for SRAM (American) rather than Shimano (Japanese) or Campagnolo (Italian) if you can.  Etc.

    •  One problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kentucky DeanDemocrat, chrome327

      How much "American" stuff is actually still made in America?  How many "American" branded products are actually made in China, or Mexico, Or India, or some place where wages are low and environmental and worker protection are nonexistent?

      "What if everybody thought like you?" "Then I'd be a damn fool to think otherwise."-- Catch 22

      by Johnny Q on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:58:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keep a close eye on that (0+ / 0-)

        For example, Bunn-O-Matic, which is a major coffee maker manufacturer based in Illinois, has too many of their consumer models outsourced, but the high-end and commercial-grade product is made in the US at facilities such as Creston, IA and Springfield, IL (their home town).

        It's true that a depressingly large proportion of consumer goods have been outsourced.  I recently bought a Cannondale bike, which is US-made, but I had to take the off-the-shelf configuration which meant imported wheels and drivetrain.  When it comes time to replace components, it will be a hand-built set of US wheels and a SRAM drivetrain, (mostly) made in Chicago.  But the problem for most people buying a bike is that there's simply no way you're going to get a Made in the USA bike for under $1,000 anymore.  Like with the coffee makers, the low-end is outsourced.

        I suggest Googling Made In The USA to find stuff.  There are still domestic apparel manufacturers producing good stuff at reasonable prices.  Failing that, buying from within the NAFTA zone (i.e. Canada, Mexico) will likely have more positive feedback into the US economy than buying outside it.

        Something else I suggest, seeing as the USA-made stuff is generally higher end, think in terms of buying something that will last a few more years.  Or let's say you're replacing kitchen appliances -- do you just willy-nilly replace all of them, or do you focus on what you really need, and buy, let's say, a nicer oven that just happens to be made in the US?

        With cars it gets more complicated because there is so much cross-border trade in automotive components, and increasingly cost-shifting on automotive assembly due to punishing US healthcare costs.  Almost a third of Michigan's car assembly has been moved to Ontario due to the healthcare issue over the past 15 years, with US and Japanese manufacturers alike joining in the stampede for Windsor and Toronto.  The Ford Focus and Ford Fusion both have very high US component content -- but Focuses (Foci?) destined for the North American market are assembled in Hermosillo, Mexico, alongside the Ford Fusion hybrid.  The Toyota Corolla has rather low US content, but there are assembly lines in both the US and Canada.  For a long time (don't know if this is still true), buyers of the Toyota Corolla in the US opened the hoods of their cars for the first time to notice an AC Delco battery -- GM suppliers in the US were providing batteries and some electrical components.  Then again, there's always the Ford Escape hybrid, made in Kansas City and with a lot of US components (although on a platform that saw a lot of design input from Mazda).

  •  Our consumer culture and economy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    An Affirming Flame

    are unsustainable. There are simply not enough raw materials available. Better to take the pain now when with attention focused we may mitigate some of the pain.

  •  creative destruction (9+ / 0-)

    Nice call out on the most absurd rhetoric to dismiss massive job losses, increased poverty and erosion of a middle class.

    This term, which claims one must destroy jobs and sectors of the economy to create jobs is a very misplaced term that originally was about advanced in technology making certain jobs obsolete.

    For example, the sewing machine made some hand sewing obsolete.

    Now to justify offshore outsourcing, global sourcing, which is a race to the bottom on wages, they try to apply this term.

    It's pure spin, not applicable and job destruction is what it is, job destruction.

    Even more absurd is this idea that America would be on the only country who could innovate, make advances and that is pure bunk.

    What makes economists believe the United States has a leg up on innovation?

    Frankly, the Chinese economists as well as the ones from India are blowing U.S. policy makers out of the water.  Why?  Because Chinese and Indian economists work in their national interests whereas we have policy enacted by corporate lobbyists, including foreign lobbyists using local front people and organizations to advance their agenda in our economic policy.

    •  what does this have to do with grannydoc's (5+ / 0-)

      assertions though?

      discussing things here can be a really torturous experience.

      grannydoc asserted nothing close to an idea that this is a natural course of events, or that the destruction of jobs is a necessity.

      however, what she does say, is that propping up bullshit businesses that have been borne of a capitalism-on-steroids that we have adopted, has been harmful - and changing it will cause shortterm harm as well.  it's pretty simple, but this diarist seems - well - afraid.  i'd almost say he/she has an agenda to make us afraid.  good god, no!  don't go that far!

      Obama 44! So why are we moving to the right again?

      by jj24 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:41:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  nothing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm talking to this diary.  

        •  this diary is a reaction to grannydoc's, calling (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stiela, Clem Yeobright

          her out, and stating her view is nothing more than "creative destruction."

          Obama 44! So why are we moving to the right again?

          by jj24 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:45:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think so (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kentucky DeanDemocrat

            look, it's a comment, if you don't like it, don't read it.  That's my take on the post and this is a very important myth that is perpetuated among economists that needs to be dissected.  

          •  re-read, all three are wrong and then right. (5+ / 0-)

            All 3 are all wrong and right.  What needs to happen is the United States needs to return to a production economy and that is by a massive effort to revamp U.S. manufacturing.

            I'm just ignoring whatever this call out stuff is, I don't do call out on posts.

            Rereading they are all missing the point, but I stand by the call out on this absurdity called creative destruction.

            I understand the sentiment and pushing consumerism as an economic tool is absurd.  The bottom line is all three are ignoring the massive need for a revamped, highly strategic manufacturing agenda.  Obama and team acts like manufacturing is an after thought and giving $8.5 trillion in pledges, actual money to the financial sector, which is a shadow banking, derivatives system, plus feeding off of consumerism with predatory lending instead of revamping the U.S. back into a production economy is like burning the money for heat.  

            That's the issue here is investment, bottom up investment and turning the focus into a nation which produces and exports.  Real Goods, real services.

            •  YES! I KNEW that's what you meant! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              This is the case I was waiting for someone to make here, and I knew you didn't intend to suggest that moving someone from retail through a period of unemployment to authentically productive work (as the retail sector contracts) is not a bad thing.

              You had me scared for a minute, Bob.

              You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

              by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:33:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am saying that (4+ / 0-)

                What I'm saying is there should be no period of unemployment and a direct transition into a manufacturing, industry sector job with union wages, benefits, retirement but not a sudden state of unemployment.  

                Under no circumstances right now do you want to add to the unemployment rolls.  That's like a tsunami of disaster.  Hit above 10% and it becomes a self feeding prophecy and can grind the economy to a halt.

                I'm saying that team Obama needs to get all of those financial sector pals and their revolving door away from dictating US policy, esp. on trade and get in those who really understand U.S. manufacturing, trade and get policy to invest in America, Americans and manufacturing and assuredly change trade policy, almost immediately.  They need to confront China and India specifically.  No more trading away US jobs for some nebulous foreign policy that never comes to fruition and is often instigated by corporate lobbyists for those own short term gains.

                As is it, well, having Goldman Sachs and Citigroup dictate U.S. policy, including trade policy has worked out really well!  They have completely imploded even for their own micro-economic interests!

                •  I see this shake-out as a great opportunity (0+ / 0-)

                  if handled correctly.

                  I don't know why you want to argue about two weeks or a month of unemployment; if things go right, the laid-off retail clerks (and others) will want a week or two to examine their options and to choose among a variety. I saw that happen to my dad three times in the '50s - a week once, two weeks another time, 3 weeks when he packed up the family and moved us from MN to CA with no prior job search but only confidence in his skills and in the booming economy.

                  Not everyone will choose the lateral transfer you might propose for them, Bob. We have to get away from this diary's trembling fear of change and embrace it. IMHO.

                  You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

                  by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:10:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  because it will cause erosion (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Clem Yeobright, chrome327

                    and more importantly, unemployment is not necessary.  You don't have to suddenly just "drop" consumerism, force people out of work.  It doesn't have to work that way.  One can firstly put the production economy jobs in place and while working, box mart workers can apply for those jobs.  Believe me, $16 bucks an hour with benefits will have box mart workers lining around the block to apply, working or not.

                    Also, the minute one moves to a production policy focus, consumerism will follow because people will have more disposable income.  

                    the financial crisis and the debt economy, consumer debt is the thing burning itself out as we speak, which isn't the same as forced unemployment but does imply a production economy move is needed right now.

                    (supports jobs programs right now as an "economic stimulus).  

                    I think my main point, which is transitional policy is being missed here, it's not an issue of a black and white static economic snapshot, it's not either/or.

                  •  Trembling fear (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Clem Yeobright, chrome327

                    He's right on that score.  You really do not want a sudden unemployment spike of 10%, 12%.  What happens is that generates waves and waves through the economy and causes further recession, further problems.

                    I think that's his trembling with fear issue but thinking outside the box (especially thinking outside the boxmart box ;)) is what is missing from all three of these posts.

                    I swear, the blogs, there is just so little awareness, focus on blue collar, manufacturing, "let's get dirty", "let's have a union" jobs and the entire sector and what's really happening there, esp. w/ trade.  So, they are all seemingly not aware there is an entire sector out there which if invested in, strategically protected depending...therein lies the solution long term.  

            •  the diary is a call-out. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stiela, Clem Yeobright

              not really anything to focus on, not even in any connotation.  call it a direct refutation, then, using a bogus point.  whether or not you have a pet peeve with "call out" (sheesh), this diary's entire impetus is grannydoc's diary.  ignore that if you want, but this diarist mislabeled grannydoc's POV, and you then took the term and expounded on it - which also serves (in this context) to bolster misconstruing the point.

              the argument of creative destruction is the name by this diarist given to a sentiment of grannydoc's.  by your definition, and the diarist's, this is not at all what grannydoc had to say.

              having said all that, i believe you, me, and grannydoc agree on what the focus needs to be - and your last two paragraphs here spelled it out perfectly.

              Obama 44! So why are we moving to the right again?

              by jj24 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:54:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  eh (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Clem Yeobright

                come over to EP.  We don't do call out.  The only sacrilege is to write economic fiction.  I don't care about call out or personality whateverness and Jerome is a good blogger (as is Granny Doc) but I sure do care about getting people to focus in on economic issues and start using their math head.

                •  READ. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Clem Yeobright

                  i'm talking about the POINT OF VIEW, not personalities.  

                  Obama 44! So why are we moving to the right again?

                  by jj24 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:06:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I did read it (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    and as I've said, I really don't care about any of it.

                    I don't focus in on personalities, I care about policy, I don't care who is misunderstanding who what is right and wrong and I've already said all three are wrong and all three are right because all three are missing something called transitional policy to shift from a consumer economy to a production one.

                    I'm not going to defend, finger point or do I care about any of that shit, I only care about getting policy, legislation, executive decisions right that are for America, working America and in the national economic interest.

    •  This diary is about "Save jobs at Target" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stiela, mijita

      [but ferxrissake don't shop there].

      Can we afford to maintain the bloated retail infrastructure - even if no one shops there - or is there some 'destruction' that would be beneficial, even necessary?

      You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

      by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:05:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  no it's not (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clem Yeobright, chrome327

        To successfully transition smoothly from a consumer economy to a production economy, one cannot have a sudden drop in those Box mart jobs, but more of a smoother transition.  

        A sudden drop in consumerism, when policy has created this absurd consumer society and we don't have a transition plan will cause further economic hardship.

        Creative destruction is a concept in and of itself which is so often misapplied and a myth.

        If one does not have policy, industry, investment, plans, legislation, better trade policy already in place there is nothing creative about handing out pink slips.  It's just plain increased unemployment.  

        •  So, how do we save Ann Taylor and Circuit (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stiela, theran, Campfire30

          City? Do we institute a Department of Shopping that will send someone into each store every hour or two to buy a big-screen or a dress and ... drop it off at Goodwill? Do you think this might have an effect on employee morale there? As people get disgusted and leave, do we replace them, or do we let them lock the doors when the last employee quits? Or maybe the shoppers are lucky citizens selected to make retail purchases who get to keep the booty!

          OR do we let the organization fail and provide support with unemployment benefits ... and other programs?

          You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

          by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:23:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ;) (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Clem Yeobright, chrome327, Kharafina

            This is a very large macro-economic problem versus focusing in on a couple of bad retailers.  

            What I would like to see, immediately is spending on infrastructure rebuilding.  It's a very good investment in the United States and would provide higher paying jobs almost immediately.  I would put a caveat on it to ensure that only U.S. citizens, perm residents get those jobs. (which is questionable and if money is siphoned out of the US system, the stimulus of this will not work).  

            It's a transitional problem versus a static, in time, sudden "stop shopping" or "unemployment spike up".  
            Transitions take time, which is more my point.  

            Come on over to EP, it's pretty clear as a policy I sure do not support massive consumption of Chinese made toxic plastic bins as a U.S. industry.  

            I just don't think the big picture here is being amplified, this is a transitional issue, not a black and white, static policy issue.  

  •  How was Hoover different from FDR? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, mrchumchum

    During the interregnum between Roosevelt's electoral win and his inauguration on March 4th of 1933, Hoover repeatedly requested joint appearances and policymaking with FDR in order to stabilize the economy. One such proposal Hoover recommended immediately after the election was to support extending a moratorium on Britain's WWI (Great War) debt payments to the United States. Since Hoover was political damaged goods, he sent a telegram to FDR requesting his support of an extension in order to whip congressional acquiescence to the proposal. Further, Hoover suggested that the United States might consider accepting goods instead of gold, as England at the time was debasing their gold standard and planned to pay back with depreciated pounds.

    This was exactly what FDR did as soon as he took office. There are many other examples. So, I ask: during those first 100 days when FDR pushed through so much legislation - the New Deal I in 1933 (as opposed to the New Deal II in '35), in what way was FDR's policies different from what Hoover finally recommended?

    Further, just how did FDR's conservative penchant for balanced budgets in the midst of severe deflation and output decline affect the national economy in 1937? I'm led to believe it caused a severe recession.

    Please see David Kennedy's Freedom from Fear as support for these assertions. In particular, read Chapter 3, The Ordeal of Herbert Hoover and Chapter 4, Interregnum.

    "This is the twenty-first century. Nations don't just go invading other countries." --John McCain, said without a hint of irony.

    by maynard on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:27:33 PM PST

    •  Don't know the exact time line... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maynard, lotlizard

      But Hitler came to power, was made chancellor, very close to when FDR was inaugurated.  It was probably too late during the interregnum, but had America forgiven, not merely postponed, Britain's WWI debts, they in turn could have forgiven German Reparations.

      Had this happened during the Wiemar regime, Hitler's support would have vanished, and a Democratic Government under Von Papin could have survived.

      Now, as then, Economic conditions affect international policy in ways we can only find out after it is too late.

  •  I went to our local family assistance agency (6+ / 0-)

    last week to donate some household goods I will never use.  I cried when I came out to see the dozens of people sitting there waiting to be interviewed to get a bag of food.  These are hard working people, who have lost their jobs and can't make it on unemployment or food stamps.  The agency, itself, has been begging for donations, as it is overwhelmed.
    I buy a little extra every week and the week before Christmas I am going to drop off the food.
    Please, people, there has to be an agency like mine in your area, please give what you can, no matter how insignificant you think it is, it may be a great help to those in need.
    I live in a very wealthy resort area and the agency wrote that if every family in my area gave 10 dollars (which they can well afford), the agency can afford to exist until next July.  I am not wealthy, but I can afford to buy an extra can of tuna or a box of pasta every week.  I'll also be dropping off ten dollars.  I hope you can, too.

    Hang in, America! Our long national nightmare ends January 20, 2009, 12 noon EST.

    by incognita on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:28:20 PM PST

    •  Holiday turkeys giveaway (3+ / 0-)

      Many grocery stores have the turkey giveaway if you spend x amount on groceries with your membership card during a certain time period.  

      This is an easy and painless way to help the food pantries. Earn the free turkey, get the biggest one and give it to the pantry.  

      Another easy way is to take advantage for the multiple deal can food items.  If the offer is 10 for $5 dollars I buy all 10 and keep the 2 or 3 I need and give the rest.

      Both my mom and I did this for Thanksgiving and will do it again for Xmas.

  •  Biblical Jubilee from the OT. (5+ / 0-)

    Every few years things revert. Except this time it would exclude the favored few.

    I'll repeat the mantra:
    Loose the job.
    Loose your health care.
    Lose the ability to pay existing debts.
    Credit rating craters.
    Loose your home and/or car.
    Credit rating totally bombs.

    Jobs look at your credit rating.
    Some landlords look at your credit rating.

    Millions of Americans?

    You gave Obama a To Do List. What is your To DO List?

    by redtex on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:36:00 PM PST

  •  Excellent diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Once again, you make more sense than most.

  •  I'm rich... (5+ / 0-)

    ... with friends and family; don't have much money now but when I did, we still kept spending down.

    Like I said, I've always been rich, even when I've been monetarily poor.

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

    by justiceputnam on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:48:14 PM PST

  •  awesome, brilliant diary (8+ / 0-)

    well done and spot on.

    •  I'm not getting it. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stiela, lotlizard, Campfire30

      Sincerely, can you summarize the argument? Is this a plea for a planned economy? GD never spoke against extended unemployment benefits, retraining, or any government assistance - how does this contrast with her assertions?

      Maybe I'm alone in this, but if anyone can you can explain wherein lies the brilliance. Help me out.

      You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

      by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:29:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  GrannyDoc is not like Hoover because (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mijita, Clem Yeobright

        Hoover was the president. He should have done something (else). GrannyDoc is a citizen, or as we have nicknamed them over the past few decades, a "consumer." The government has its job. And we have ours. I think the best thing we can do for the disease of consumerism is to shake ourselves awake and stop participating in it. And I agree with the above comment. Extended unemployment benefits, job retraining, and investment in sustainable jobs and infrastructure are all things for government to do to reshape our economy. Spending our precious little money this year on one more round of consumer sickness is not an efficient or helpful response to the situation.

        ~~~ Successfully electing Barack Obama is not an excuse to stop participating in government. It's an encouraging success that we should continue to build on.

        by Campfire30 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:13:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  the emphasis on governmental rather than personal (5+ / 0-)


        Everyone always tries to "be the change they want to see in the world."

        That sort of thinking is foolish pollyannaism more worthy of The Secret than of serious political analysis.

        The fact is that your personally buying fewer or more Christmas presents this year is a completely meaningless exercise, as it relates to the broader.  Your personal choice to drive a Hummer vs. a Prius is nice, but not ultimately significant.

        The only thing that matters is structure.  Right-wingers always try to elect the right person, and then give that person ultimate power.  That's because they're dumb and naive enough to believe that it's all about the person, rather than the structures of the office.  Then they're always disappointed in people.  Same thing goes for the doctrinaire Left.

        People don't actually create change.  Structural changes create change, whether externally or internally imposed.

        In terms of the TK and GD dispute, it's essentially irrelevant.  Personal choices are not going to dictate the creation of a better world.  Governmental action to reorganize incentives away from mindless consumerism is the only thing that will help.

        And in fact, if the GD's of the world were to be successful in altering the national consciousness, it would in fact look like Hooverism.

        •  Okay. Thanks. n/t (0+ / 0-)

          You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

          by Clem Yeobright on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:35:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Agree in general (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clem Yeobright

          but I think you overstate the case. Change happens at all registers of being and policy doesn't always dictate behavior. There's more of a feedback than you describe.

        •  There's one of those mojos I promised (0+ / 0-)

          I'd do even if for something you said that I don't agree with :>

          What music are people listening to now?  Howzabout this being the weekend and all, somebody do a diary on that?  (Me: Rhapsody in Blue, which might have to do with why I just wrote that.  Hard to be still inside when listening to that.)

          Anyways, I need to go over to KNning now, so checking out here for now.

          Love always!  Dammit.  How many times does that have to be said?

          /Saturday night rant.  Ciao!

          Mwuh oh.  Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz just kicked in.... I'm feeling very 2001ish somehow.  Seems to have turned out quite differently than imagined.

          /definite rant end. конетс. пока!

          I love the smell of victory in the morning. Smells like - - - napalm.

          by USexpat Ukraine on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:24:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  If you're looking for real reasons to support (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, USexpat Ukraine

    locally owned businesses over the corporate chains (and I understand that this is not always possible), then read Big Box Swindle by Stacey Mitchell.

  •  I am siding with Granny Doc (9+ / 0-)

    We do almost all our shopping at thrift and second hand stores as a conscious decision not support Chinese-led crap consumerism. For food we do farmer markets, local markets and growing our own. We are proud to have never set foot in a K-Mart, WalMart or Target, say nothing of shopping there. Just looking at them is enough to freeze even my Scandinavian blood.

    And let me say we are some of the best fed and best dressed people and most amused people around for a tiny fraction of the price!  I have never paid more than 4 dollars for a shirt, and no polyester or crap fabric has even touched my skin. And yes I wear designer goods, all pure wool, linen or cotton or other natural fibres (all for no more than $4 a shirt and $10 a trousers).

    You can get brand new, very well made and crafted clothes, furniture, appliances, toys etc etc if you are a clever shopper at thrift and second hand stores. And if really you know what you are doing you can even occasionally find antiques and other great values worth far more than the asking price especially at yard sale and flea markets.

    On second-hand on-line devices like E-bay one can also get great deals.

    So if you care about sanity in economics and a clean environment, not to mention human and worker's rights in China, please stay out of K-Mart, WalMart or Target etc.  They are the devil's roost!

    So if that is elitist so be it.  I am damn proud to be a member of the Flea Market and Thrift Shop Elite.

    I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Norwegian Chef on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:11:03 PM PST

    •  Amen to this! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Norwegian Chef, Clem Yeobright

      You're my kind of people!  

      Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day - Thomas Jefferson

      by RadicalGardener on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:08:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you for the most part (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that being a smart shopper and only buying good quality items and avoiding mass produced crap is smart...we all know that a well made garment will last much much longer than any of that synthetic cheaply made stuff sold at the Walmart and Target. We also know that having well made items that last longer will cause you to need to buy replacements less often...thus saving money.

      However, I know you also realize that in order for the thrift stores and such to have such quality merchandise for sale either someone else had to buy it at full price or the store had to overestimate demand and sell or donate to the thrift the overrun.

      If everyone behaved like you and only bought thrift, soon enough the stores wouldn't over buy, so there wouldn't be overruns, and the donations from regular folks would dry up. Then there would be nothing decent in the thrifts to buy except junk. There aren't enough thrift store buys for everyone.  Besides, good thrift store buys are only available with enough time, patience, and a vehicle to go around to find them...all of which are luxuries for many.

      There has to be balance.  The problem now is that we are way way out of balance.  The consumer monster is too big.  But we must be careful not to go too far the other way.

      •  I follow you to a degree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mijita, lotlizard

        but I would argue that we are so out of balance that vast amounts of people could be all going to thrift shops for 10 years before we had a supply problem.  Plus all the crap synthetic clothing could be recycled into a whole host of new, recycled polymer products for decades again replacing Chinese junk.

        In most urban areas there are no end of thrift stores and the like. In Seattle and Sydney which are my current home towns, there are about 4-5 second hand, recycled, charity and thrift shops per square kilometre and certainly more per unit area than Targets, KMarts and the such. So they are much easier to access than the big crap shops. In rural areas, there are hosts of yard sales, weekend markets, people know their neighbors and share etc.

        And yes it does take time and patience, but when the planet and the global economy are at stake, time and patience are a small ask.

        I think it would be decades if not a century before we could go too far the other way.

        I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

        by Norwegian Chef on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:54:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The only problem I have with this argument (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KateCrashes, lotlizard

    is that it assumes that the government will be more responsible to the people that vote for it than for the corporate donors that fund the campaigns.

    And I really have some doubts.

  •  Awesome, thoughtful, relevant... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I agree government must take the lead.  Mass Transit, Education, Health Care, Energy Independence.  How are any of these problems solved through individuals acting to a common purpose ?

    We NEED government laying a framework for the priorities and then and only then millions of people act collectively to get it done.

  •  kill all the diarists and let kos sort them out! (0+ / 0-)


  •  A combo approach (0+ / 0-)

    I agree with the diarist that if at all possible, spend money on local businesses and not on global service companies or national retailers flagship stores.  Support local and small business!  

    I'm in between the various diaries. I oppose the bailouts and believe that these large companies need to go out of business. If they have been run poorly or have rested too long on various subsidies and have not pivoted to respond to the market, then they need to go out of business.  It will be painful for a while, but better to get it over with now, than prolong the pain.  When mega-business fails, small and local businesses will be creative and spring up to provide the needs of the community.    

  •  Call me ignorant, but I don't really care! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, EastcoastChick one who always prefers to shop online instead of going to the mall anytime of year, never mind on black Friday I don't see the super imperative nature of this topic? You need something, go buy don't need anything then don't!  

    Ok, so I don't have to shop on but the problem with consumerism isn't where you shop but why are you shopping in the first place?? Beyond getting the kiddies their toys, buying useless pieces of crap people will re-gift anyway is pointless.

    Just get your friends a nice bottle of wine and be done with  it!

    Dang, how about these numbers-> -8.00,-7.38 Does this make me the reincarnation of Gandhi?

    by HGM MA on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:44:12 PM PST

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HGM MA

      Buying useless things just for the sake of putting a gift under the tree is part of the consumer monster.

      Gift baskets full of smelly synthetic based lotions and soaps, lighted key chains, scented candle sets, cheap acrylic "festive" sweaters, "gift" jewelry consisting of 10k, or gold over silver super thin chains and earrings with flecks of diamonds, singing electronic fish, etc etc.  None of these things serve any real purpose, and are not quality items...they will either be quickly broken, discarded or given away.

      We would all spend significantly less if we only bought things that were useful and of good quality. Things that our family and friends needed and could use.

      This year for Xmas from me,  my husband will get a new winter coat (because his current one is threadbare at the elbows), my parents will receive a joint gift of a refurbished laptop (because the 6 year old handmedown from me has developed some quirks that I don't feel like fixing), and everyone else will get a homemade food item, either their own pie or a large container of spiked egg nog. (this arrangement will work out great, so there will be no snarking and dirty looks from dinner guests squabbling over left overs to take home.)

  •  This diary has let me see the "club" effect ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, David PA

    ... on Kos. Some commenters are going out of their way to attack this diarist (some have over dozens of comments of the same drivel). Defending grannydoc (which is totally cool) even when you can tell they have no idea what they are talking about after reading their comments (which is totally lame).

    Agree or disagree but bring something to the table other than, " the diarist is the bestest!".

    Offtopic, I know.

    Great discussion all around plus the "fan club" effect has been an amusing subplot to the discussion.

    It's going to be a landslide. PERIOD.

    by boriquasi on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:48:44 PM PST

  •  Dancing at the margins of the problem. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, Cassiodorus

    Where to shop or where not to shop, what to buy or what not to buy mean nothing at this stage.  There are 6.5 billion of us in a world of finitely and quickly depleting resources.  Noboby wants to admit to that reality, I realize.  But it remains the reality nonetheless.

    I'm a progressive man, and I love progressive people - Tosh

    by VeganMilitia on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:51:34 PM PST

  •  Change not from choice, from policy and available (0+ / 0-)

    funds.  The DKos and other green communities aren't large enough to significantly change spending habbits even if everyone here agreed.

    What will change spending habits is that with less money, people will in general make more need-based choices. So, items that are more frivolous will fair poorly.

    Diarist is right that govt. policy will also be a big factor in changing spending habits and creating a greener economy with respect to energy and products.

    Longer term, changes in spending habits towards less needless consumerism, fueled by grass-roots movements can happen.  But, they take years to catch on.

  •  Let it collapse (0+ / 0-)

    Economies never really die anyway.  Needs like food, shelter, clean water, clothing...these things are constants.

    "It stinks." - Jay Sherman

    by angry liberaltarian on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:01:18 PM PST

  •  The whole "shop local" thing is overrated (7+ / 0-)

    because everybody that works in your local Big Box is local.

    As for the one I work for: we're nationwide, a Big Chain Pharmacy...but our headquarters is one state over, and the whole schlemiel started less than 20 miles from the one I work in. So, are we "local"? For me, sure. For one of our stores in CA, no.

    But everyone that works in my store, right up to the District Manager, is "local".

    Honestly, my memory of the local "mom and pop" drugstore before the chains came in was that I couldn't buy condoms there because the owners knew my parents :D

    What do you call a parent that believes in abstinence only sex ed? A Grandparent.

    by ChurchofBruce on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:03:38 PM PST

  •  Meta, meta (4+ / 0-)

    I read the diary, and good on you, Eugene.  Gave mojo, and I'll be back up there to rec it in a moment.

    This may have been mentioned in comments upstream.  I apologize if it's Department of Redundancy Department.  The conflict POVs outlined -- govt. must be integral to the solution vs. the market will shake it all down -- is not new.  In fact, it's approaching the end of its first century.

    Our dear, oft loved and oft maligned, PBS has quite a timely piece to offer.  Since we already paid for it at grassroots level, why not spend some time giving it a fair look?  It'll take a couple of hours, more to review episodes to really grok it, but I promise viewers that you'll come away enlightened -- not least in the Santayana sense: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

    So let's take a look at that history.  Courtesy of PBS, courtesy of US DoD's DARPA who made this communication (Internet) possible -- for free to the entire planet, I will add -- and take advantage of learning from history in a way that neither Keynes nor von Hayek could have imagined.  Which is basically the discussion here, now, going on a century later.

    And, bear this in mind: the communication medium we are now using for this predicted enlightenment came about due to citizen investment into government, and government investment into citizens.

    Meaning, in short, any argument claiming that the market will sort things out is hereby and forever null and void by evidence of this communication.  Market did NOT do this.  Government did.  In fair trade and and unprecedented win-win fashion.

    The PBS piece: Commanding Heights.

    I love the smell of victory in the morning. Smells like - - - napalm.

    by USexpat Ukraine on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:12:13 PM PST

  •  shop local must evolve to produce local. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why buy a computer made in Malaysia from a local retailer, who adds nothing of value to the product while taking a markup?  Better to buy direct and donate the difference to the local food bank, if you really are concerned.... and if you really need that computer.

    And since we don't currently, and are not ever likely to, produce these masses of products locally, we're better giving up on the idea of 'shop local' beyond such truly locally produced commodities as food, shelter, and cloting.

    I'm a progressive man, and I love progressive people - Tosh

    by VeganMilitia on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:12:25 PM PST

  •  Hoover was quite interventionist (0+ / 0-)

    Begged businesses not to cut wages, even though prices were dropping like a stone.  Result:  cascading bankruptcies and liquidations.

    Smoot Hawley:  huge intervention.  Nothing like croaking international trade to help in an economic downturn.  (That's my shout-out to all you "fair traders" out there.)

    Tripling the top tax rate -- another stellar intervention.

    Lest anyone forget... the Democrats re-took the House in 1930.

    Had Mellon's advice been followed... we would have had a sharp deep recession like in 1920-21.  Not a decade long nightmare and the establishment of the belief that the government can solve all our problems, if only we give it a little more power and control over us.

    Helping You Find Freedom.

    by jimsaco on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:18:33 PM PST

    •  And Mellon's advice was? (0+ / 0-)

      Who thinks government can solve all of our problems any more than anyone thinks that it can't solve any?

      •  Liquidate everything. (0+ / 0-)

        And reflate as needed.  Friedman/Schwartz, and Bernanke, are the standard references.

        And without naming names... I think a lot of the people at this site do fervently believe the government can do little or no wrong, and should be substantially larger and more intrusive than at present.  They are itching to have it directly take over another 1/6 of the economy, after all.

        Helping You Find Freedom.

        by jimsaco on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:44:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Govt. should take over the big banks, who haven't (0+ / 0-)

          a clue what they're doing.  The whole management staff at the Citi's, Goldman's, etc. are f-ing criminals, who ought to be publicity pilloried for a month before their trial.

  •  Diary repeats some easy myths... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it says: (I have put spaces only to respond in itals)

    Government needs to provide job retraining and education

    Retraining is the greatest myth. A 40 year old auto worker can not be retrained to be a computer designer.   Not when there are hoards of 20 years olds with better skills and more agile brains (age takes it's toll) who will compete.

    funding and promote green, sustainable jobs.

    Government needs to rewrite the rules of the game in food policy,
    retail policy,

    Does this mean eliminating free market principles, if so it should be stated.  Government does not define retail policy, individual retailers do, and they are either valid ed or refuted by their customers, of lack thereof.

    labor union policy,
    trade policy,

    Without details of what is proposed, the words don't mean much. Is diarist for expanding free trade, globalism, or restricting it?

    to produce the more prosperous and sustainable economy we so desperately need.

    Yep, but its all in the details, and if the details are wrong it just won't work.  Goals are not policy. They may win elections, but they don't provide a viable economy or government.

  •  Here is the problem with world economics (0+ / 0-)

    including America since about 1945 the world has "closed the circle" what do I mean well the world is round but for all of human history the "circle was not closed" there was always a "New World" to settle even if it was by the sword but now since there is no "New World" to settle and Nuclear weapons have made Major Wars no longer an option to opening up "New Worlds" the "Circle is Closed",now take Rome when their Technology reached the limits of opening "New Worlds" the Empire stagnated and declined and brought the Middle-ages which only really ended with the discovery of "Small New World" that led to the Discovery Of The New World that led to hundreds of years of Expansion for good and ill.Now the whole world is about to face the "Fall of Rome" from the stagnation of "No New World Syndrome" but unlike Rome we(the World)has the Technology to "open the circle" it's Space Flight to the "New World" of the Moon,Mars and beyond just look at what happened to the Nations that made the ships and supplies that were the major colonizers of the New World they got rich and powerful beyond anything they could have ever done had they never discovered the "New World".

  •  Living in Portland,'s easy to buy local (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And I do everytime I can.

    There are numerous local produce markets that sell only local produce.

    I've found a local rancher who not only raises grass fed lambs, he will deliver a whole butchered lamb to your door foor about $4.00 lb on average, trimmings included if you like to make homemade suasage, as I do.

    There is a thriving Saturday Market downtown that hosts dozens and dozens of local crafters, artists, jewelry makers, wood workers, honey producers, weavers, you name it.

    We have several top shelf Micro-Breweries  (allthough, I must say...Portland also keeps Pabst Blue Ribbon in business)  We even have a home grown micro-distiller (Clear Creek Distillery) that produces blue ribbon liquours made from locally grown fruit...Apple Brandy (an American Calvados that is to die for), pear brandy, Kirsch from local cherries, a liquour made from, of all things, essence of Fir Tree...even a homegrown Scotch in collaboration with one of the local Micro-Breweries that has won several awards and sells out as soon as he can bottle a batch of it.

    In the summer, we are surrounded by farms and orchards that allow you to come and pick your own veggies or fruit at a significant savings over market prices.  

    Most of the nicer restaurants here base their menus around what is frsh and locally available...and you can't swing a cat around by it's tale without hitting a local artisan bakery.

    Downtown Portland has a thriving art district, with many galleries that feature Oregan artists, and the city promotes a monthly "artwalk" that brings pedestrians into the gallery district to have a look see and hopefully make a purchase.

    I've lived in a few cities in my 52 years...but this one is hands down the best I've ever encountered when it comes to promoting and nurturing the local economy.  If every other city were to replicate this model, we would be well on our way to achieving the kind of economy we desire.

  •  You don't have to spend... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, mijita, Valahan

    If the economy relied on my consumer spending, it would collapse.  While if everyone stopped spending the economy would collapse, there is little danger that Americans as a whole will stop spending.  Encouraging individuals to save money is a smart thing to do.  

    An ironic aspect of capitalism is that the minority benefits from the majority acting foolishly.  If everyone spends like crazy, and you just save money and invest it, you will end up rich (yes, it is hard to believe with the stock market down as it is, but it is still true).  It is the unfortunate nature of the system.  But that is not a reason to act foolishly yourself.  

    Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

    by Asak on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:48:44 PM PST

  •  About Hoover's actual policies. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hoover was very much of an activist when trying to stem the great depression. I'm not sure he exactly stood back and said, "Let the markets work". He intervened into private businesses and froze wages, which led to the unemployment, enacted the smoot hawley tariffs, banned short-selling, and he was the one to raise income taxes above 80% on the top income bracket.  Hoover also created massive public work projects (Hoover dam among others), he was an engineer, after all. One of the reasons why the Tennessee River was chosen to have a bunch of dams put into there was because a lot of the Western Rivers already had dams in them put in place by Hoover. Hoover and Mellon did not always see eye to eye.

  •  I guess I see it this way... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Clem Yeobright

    If you were a smoker and quit smoking, you might be a small part of some tobacco farmer going out of business.  And yet nobody would argue that it is a good idea to continue smoking just to preserve someone else's job.

    Yes, it is a valid concern that many retail stores will go out of business in the months to come.  But to me we have a retail bubble in the same way we had a housing bubble.  If you simply view the problem as stores closing, then there isn't any sort of solution.  If you view the problem as what to do with workers that are laid off, then yes, it is something that we will need to address.  But continuing with self-destructive behaviors to save their jobs isn't a viable option..

  •  Ecosocialism now more than ever -- (0+ / 0-)

    The Keynesian economy espoused by the likes of FDR was appropriate as an antidote to the Hooverism of its time.  But global ecosystems can no longer take the expansionary trend of the period btwn. 1932 and 1971, as world population is today much larger and the industrial consumption of planet Earth is already far more extensive now.  (This is not to cite Peak Oil and abrupt climate change, factors nonexistent in those times.)

    Nevertheless the public still deserves a good meal.  Thus we will need an economic system that focuses on the basics -- enough food, shelter, medical care for all, and protection for global ecosystems.  We should call it "ecosocialism."

    "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers" -- Thomas Pynchon

    by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 06:07:57 PM PST

  •  Neo Hooverism?? I don't think so (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, lotlizard
    Nor do I like the implication that teacherken's thoughtful diary is naïve: so many of his diaries consider many different aspects of a problem, often contradictory.  

    "Creative destruction" is not a rightwing marketing object. It comes from Marxist-Leninism, and has been coöpted by neofascists, along with "politically correct" and several other ideas.

    As another commenter said, it isn't about consumerism. The assumption that it is all about consumerism and feeding the capitalist glutton indicates to what degree the capacity for critical thinking has been damaged in this society, sadly, I find, moreso among people less than 40 years old.

    The shit is going to hit the fan, and there will be vast changes. grannydoc is simply trying to show a positive aspect of it. "Elitist"? Absolutely not, and anyone who thinks that should go back to the books. You do not know enough to make such judgements. And teacherken's concern with suffering is not in opposition to grannydoc's "creative destruction" perspective. They are two entirely different things, looking at the same problem in two ways that differ mostly in timing.

    I think that teacherken and grannydoc are much more in agreement with one another than you realise.

    "True peace is not merely the absence of tension -- it is the presence of justice." MLK

    by dhaemeon on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 06:09:26 PM PST

    •  Don't think so (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Creative destruction" is not a rightwing marketing object. It comes from Marxist-Leninism, and has been coöpted by neofascists, along with "politically correct" and several other ideas.

      from the Wikipedia entry:

      The notion of creative destruction is found in the writings of Mikhail Bakunin,[1] Friedrich Nietzsche and in Werner Sombart's Krieg und Kapitalismus (War and Capitalism) (1913, p. 207), where he wrote: "again out of destruction a new spirit of creativity arises". The economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized and used the term to describe the process of transformation that accompanies radical innovation.

      "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers" -- Thomas Pynchon

      by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 06:46:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think you are right, but to more of a point (0+ / 0-)

    to it: government policy got us where we are today, and only changes in that policy can effect the real, lasting changes we need.

    The rightist idea of letting it all fall down is very Marxist: it is willing to sacrifice many millions of lives on the alter of a (possibly) better future, where the rich can get richer.

    The policies that need changing are the ones that have, since the 1970's, encouraged us to become a consumer culture rather than a producer culture. There was a time when people were encouraged to save by the government, and even given a tax break for the first few hundred dollars of interest income. The Savings and Loan industry, a whole seperate system of banking, financed real estate and was closely regulated; but it was given an advantage in attracting deposits. Thus, mortgages were community based.

    There was at time when banks were regulated in how much they could charge for interest, and the spread on what they paid and what they collected was closely watched. When only primary residences were tax deductible, and when someone who hired people in America recieved more tax deductions than those who shipped production off shore.

    There was a time when the country practiced fair trade: that countries who didn't levy duties were able to sell duty free in this country, but countries who were protectionist were penalized when trying to sell here.

    But, alas, that all changed in the 1970's and 1980's, when the wealthy elites rebelled against egalitarian policies and started raiding firms for their cash, bankrupting them and sending production off shore.

  •  In defense of "creative destruction" . . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . . or at least against supporting failed enterprises with government funds. I think the idea is simply that the essence of the free market system is the rewarding of success and the punishing of failure, but as it relates to private business, not people.

    Now . . . as a progressive, of course I believe that the role of the private market in our lives should be limited. Government should establish strong rules and regulations, but they should be neutral as to any particular business. There should be a strong public sector, with vibrant investments in infrastructure, education, health care and the social safety net.

    But if we are to have a "free market", then it would seem to me that it would be best to have a well-functioning one. And a well-functioning one requires bad businesses to fail and disappear so as to provide more opportunity for good ones to thrive and grow.

    Any of you who have ever tended a garden knows this all too well. If you don't clear out the vines, the weeds, and the remnants of last years plantings, nothing of much use or beauty is going to be able to grow this year. To put it more simply, without winter, there can be no spring.

  •  But on the other hand, look at it like this: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, lotlizard

    The invention of the car put the Horse and Buggy Industry out of business. The invention of the CD put the vinyl record stores out of business. The invention of high powered computers like this one put Commodore and Atari out of business. The rise of the  green economy will put the coal industry out of business at some point in time. The rise of alternative cars will put GM, Ford, and Chrysler out of business unless they adapt. This sort of change is inevitable; however, sound public policy involves helping people adapt to the new realities.

  •  If not locally owned... (0+ / 0-) something that is made by a small business in the U.S. or Canada. Skip the big screen television and buy some cool toy made by a company with good ideas and 50 employees. Local is highly overrated - we're all in this together, really - but try to think small. We're giving gift baskets to some friends with locally made jam, soap, honey and trinkets. We're also giving some environmentally friendly gifts to other friends - made by small companies in the U.S. and Canada. We're also scaling back on things like Christmas stockings so that we can afford to give more to charity. There is more need this year than in years past. We're spending about as much on the holiday's this year as last - but it's not going to as much stuff that was made in China.

  •  Books are written and sold, ideas are (0+ / 0-)

    controlled and promoted, by the interests current in power. That includes us. Most if not all of this is changing now, slowly and steadily, as the scale of the economic and political disaster the country faces becomes more fully comprehended.

    Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama have little in common besides the title of president elect and the misfortune of inheriting economic collapse of rare dimension. Obama has been forced to deal with the collapse even before taking office while Hoover's inauguration was one of total innocence in economic uncertainty.

    There is some hope. Barack has an advantage of hindsight and history Hoover lacked. Barack is also not hopelessly tied to the ideologies of the political party at fault (in both cases the Republicans); although I am unsure if we or he yet can fully recognize the implications.

    That said, "Creative Destruction", as explained (not invented) perhaps best by Schumpeter, cannot be avoided, only delayed through efforts such as bailouts (which cannot continue indefinitely). Here, I am not advocating Creative Destruction, or the concept that good news should be created (propaganda) to drown out the bad news that is coming - just that these are forces which have a will of their own and which ultimately cannot be stopped, certainly not by opinion, popular or otherwise.

    Creative Destruction

  •  The fact that all 3 diaries were recc'ed... (0+ / 0-)

    seems to me that there is a serious need on this site to school people about economics.

    Q: What's the difference between liberals and cannibals? A: Cannibals only eat their enemies.

    by AdamSmithsInvisibleFinger on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:12:47 PM PST

  •  Granny Doc does happen to be a rentier (0+ / 0-)

    she lives off a substantial trust fund of some sort (as she has shared in previous diaries).

  •  Here's my opinion, FWIW. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And .. no one here holds 'the answer'.
    No one.

    It's all just opinions, as we are traveling uncharted territory: the actions needed and responses expected are going to cover a huge spectrum of possibilities.

    If consumers remain scared of the future and hoard their money, this economy dies a horrible death. There's nothing to replace it, except bedlam.

    In the short term, we have no choice, other than revolution to change the existing system. So it's either build back up consumer confidence to the point where 'business as usual' can be brought into play, or prepare for extremity all over the place, including violent revolution, a rending apart of the basic structure of this country.

    I'm not big fan of mindless consumerism, but I don't want to have to buy firearms to defend myself and my family as society crumbles around me, either.

    If you want to see what happens when people get pissed off because the economy is busted, try China. They are ready to explode over there: it's the biggest story that is being ignored by the Western media [and in part because the Chinese government is desperate to keep a lid on it]. People are protesting all over the country, the banks are in serious trouble, and unlike here, depositors are not insured.

    They are screwed. All hell is threatening to break loose, over the oppressiveness of the government, the pollution, the lack of job security and now the new middle class is being told they aren't doing so hot.  

    That's going to be a fun ride for the next few years, as the Chinese deal with just a simple slow down in their extreme growth. I cannot begin to imagine what would happen if they went negative.

    So, we get our country back into a reasonable place as where we were before - yes, even if it's built on a rickety hollow shell, we need the consumer confidence. Once that's re-established, then changes must be made to the tax code, serious changes to take the money out of the hands of irresponsible rich people who don't give a damn about anything, and put back into the hands of the people and the government.

    2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

    by shpilk on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:26:20 PM PST

  •  I for one reject your attacking Granny Doc (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    … on the basis of her class background. Her opinion isn't valid because she's not a worker, she's too well off? That part of your argument reminds me of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. No thanks.

    See the national finals of Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen's 2008 Song Contest December 14 in Hoorn!

    by lotlizard on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:54:40 PM PST

  •  What the three of you are ALL working against: (0+ / 0-)

    No one ever went broke underestimating the good taste of the American public.  H.L. Mencken

    That goes for ideas as well as trinkets...

  •  Savings rate and the consumer society (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Consumers faced with the threat of unemployment, shrinking incomes, collapsing asset values and cut off from easy credit respond by saving more and spending less. According to the numbers for the last quarter that is happening big time already.

    We are moving from a negative savings rate enabled by "free money" and inflated asset values to a reversion to a more normal savings rate of maybe 8% or so. That process will contract the economy by almost a $Trillion.

    The de-leveraging happening on Wall Street and Main Street is not a matter of choice, moral or otherwise. It is a forced consequence of the collapse of the biggest credit bubble in history. We rediscovering the fact that you can't borrow your way to wealth and that asset speculation is not a substitute for making stuff that people need as a basis for an economy.

    Unsustainable economic trends will always revert to the sustainable mean. That is an event beyond any individual or government control.

    •  You have SO nailed it. (0+ / 0-)

      But most won't understand.

      YOU are the Prognosticator, hankg...

      This nation will necessarily "revert to the sustainable mean", of course.

      Misery and some death will necessarily accompany such.

      But rectification, and joy, will balance it.

      We have tough times ahead.  But love, and good, WILL prevail...

  •  A vicious circle (0+ / 0-)

    It seems to me that the failed conservative Republican notions of flat taxes and no social safety net go hand-in-hand with crappy, environmentally-unfriendly products: when there is no limit on the profit that corporations make by increasing the volume of their sales, and where there is no limit to the hazards that workers face if the demand for what they produce fails to justify their continued employment, the clear, shared incentive for both is to produce crap that will be obsolete or that will have fallen apart as quickly as possible, forcing consumers to replace the broken crap they bought previously with new crap that will break before too long as well.

    If instead there were steep tax rates at higher income levels, shorter work weeks and more vacations, and protections for workers who can't find employment, it would be far more agreeable to investors and to workers to concentrate on making good quality products that will last a long time and that will have a minimal footprint on the environment.

    In short, it should be no surprise that Japan and non-English Europe -- where they do have steep tax rates at higher income levels, shorter work weeks and more vacations, and protections for workers who can't find employment -- generally make much better products than we do in America.

    I believe in Barack.

    by ProbStat on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 06:06:46 AM PST

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