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Happy New Year, folks.  I hope some of our issues will finally be properly addressed this year.  After a few weeks off from Daily Kos to make presents, visit family and friends and otherwise ignore the brutal realities of our collective existence, I hope to keep a more frequent diary this year.

To that end, I looked in the bottom of my red Santa bag and found a gift for the Democratic Party. Now buying presents for our political elites does not come easy for me, since their collective efforts have pretty much ruined my economy, destroyed my ability to earn a living wage or pay back those obscene, student loans that gather in the corner (quite literally my only debt).  And since I am a native New Yorker, our Rambo-without-a-jock-strap, imperial foreign policy has brought a reign of destruction down on almost everyone I love. Continuing these policies means my government is putting my loved ones in harm’s way to protect the interests of global capital. So you might say I’m a little pissed at them.

But the spirit of the holiday puts me in a generous and forgiving mood, so there's even something in my Santa bag for our political leaders. What did I give them? Please read on..................

Getting a Grip on the Holidays
In my travels around NYC this season, I noticed a New York Daily News headline alerting the reader to their leading editorial. "Get a grip!" the headline screamed and made reference to the fact that President Obama was incensed over a bloody mess that the government made. I thought they were talking about health care reform. Alas, it was just another paranoid rant about security.

But whether we are talking about health care reform, domestic security, our out-of-control wars, our cannabilized educational system or our depressed economy, the desire to scream "get a grip," at our government seemed to fly easily from the lips of everyone I met this season.

Needless to say, finding a present for President Obama and the Democratic Congress was not high on my priority list, especially since their willful refusal to address the economy from the bottom up -- and the legacy of neoliberal/neoconservative socio-economic policies that have gutted our job market -- has meant my economic fortunes remained in the toilet. We’re now on the ninth day of Christmas, but there’s still one more present left in my red, Santa bag. And the holidays always leave me in a generous and forgiving mood.

Occam's Razor: The First Stroke
To help the Democratic Congress survive the next election, I’m giving them a razor blade. Its an Occam Razor, to be exact. Well used and still sharp after several hundred years of productive use. There's an inscription on the side that says, "the explanation or strategy, with the fewest variables, tends to be the correct one." Another way of putting it is "The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."

If the Democrats use this Razor carefully and bravely, they will -- with a few deft strokes -- solve a myriad of problems and ensure their success in the upcoming and future polls. May it help the Democrats solve the following problems:

War – If you can't win, get out. We can't win either of these wars, so our only rational response is to take our bombs and soldiers and go home. Even our benign presence on a street corner or standing in the shadows behind our chosen puppets, only makes the situation worse. Sun Tzu understood that 2300 years ago: not all wars can be won. And even if they could what do we get for our efforts? Trillions of dollars wasted, thousands of people dead, our enemies emboldened and empowered, new 'hot spots' (like Somalia and Pakistan) lighting up because of our presence in the region, and our reputation and economy in tatters. Apply your new Occam’s Razor to this problem, cut our losses and get out fast.

With the same carefully chosen swing of your new Occam's Razor you can also address the so-called 'domestic security' problem that seemed to dominate the news this past week.

Domestic Security – See the previous issue for the solution. These wars don't make us more secure, they are making us vulnerable and insecure. When all a terrorist needs are chemicals that can be found under any kitchen sink or in any barn, you need to demilitarize minds, not arms, to make us more secure. Neither Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Palestine/Israel are a part of the United States, we should not be spending more money on them than we do the taxpayers of this country. Especially when our presence there makes our enemies stronger and legitimates their grievances. Stop waging war in the Muslim world and our enemies will have less reason to blow us up. This  imperialistic fantasy of ours, that we are the 'chosen people' to serve as the world's policemen, leads us to disaster every time. Only the craven, the opportunistic and the overly powerful want us to do that job. We will be far safer when the world polices itself and we attend to our own problems. Getting out of the Mideast is the first critical step to taking our place among nations, not as their self-imposed leader. Nobody likes foreign gunboats in their harbors making demands. Its not terribly neighborly and leads people to extreme measures to make us go away.

Getting out of these wars is truly a deft use of Occam’s Razor. It will save trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. It will improve domestic security because it will reduce the ardor of our enemies to blow themselves up at our expense. And – this is what makes is such a clever gift – it frees up money to rescue our devastated economy.

Occam's Razor: The Second Stroke
Having profoundly changed the world in one broad stroke of your new Occam’s Razor, I suggest using it to clear the bullshit out of the Democratic Party. No, I don’t necessarily mean specific individuals, loathsome though some of them may be. Rather, use your new Occam’s Razor to cut a clean ideological line between the neoliberalism of the Clinton era and a truly progressive liberalism. Some of those scoundrels will end up on a cutting room floor anyway, once the ideology that drives their career is repudiated and abandoned by the Democratic Party.

Ideology – Neoliberalism is simply the velvet glove that hides a neoconservative fist. If the Democratic Party base wanted a continuation of the free-trade, pro-corporate, deregulated economic policies of the 1990's, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee in 2008, Al Gore would have won in 2000 and Senator Kerry might even have been electable in 2004. But as those elections proved again and again, the Democratic Party base is opposed to those policies that punish the poor, impoverish the working class, disempower everyone for the benefit of international capital and lead us into unwinnable wars in foreign countries trying to shove our economic system down their throats. The economic realities that flow from this ideological line of thinking have led to disaster at home and abroad. It was always a fraud, a con, a dishonest line of argument that made the rich richer, the poor a great deal poorer and disempowered everyone from being able to do something about it. It leads to rampant corruption and turns social concerns into playgrounds for profit, while making the world a more miserable place to live in.

Neoliberalism is a recipe to ensure that poor and working people sniff in disgust at the Democratic Party and either stay home on election day or show up angry and in an unpredictable mood. The average punter may not be able to define what 'neoliberal' means, but they know from the methane smell that its bullshit. The quickest way to kill Democratic Party fortunes is to apply neoliberal ideas and solutions to social and economic concerns. If 1994 is any guide, that's a 2 year window to mismanage one's mandate and give it away to the political opposition.

The goal with your second stroke of Occam’s Razor, is to cut away the fat-producing ideological beliefs that capitalism has all the answers to social problems, that greed is a moral good, the private sector can do the job of government better, that ‘free trade’ will create world peace, that deregulation will be good for the economy, that all money, resources and labor should be privatized and poured into the trading markets. If your next swing of Occam’s Razor is successful, all that trash will be finally separated from the work of government. Let the Republicans wrap themselves in that wasted fat, they'll look like fools to all but their most rabid devotees.

This second cut will be trickier than the first. So hold your Occam’s Razor high and away from your body and bring it down in a strong, broad sweeping motion, cutting out the private contractors in the military and all the software companies, consultants and private contractors throughout the executive. With the edge of your blade, cleave all their policy reports, recommendations and projects into the trash. As you do so, you should also clear all those the Clinton and Bush holdovers and other corporate hacks from Obama’s cabinet (like Duncan, Geithner, Summers, Bernanke, etc.) into the trash with their policies. Your blade should come down cleanly between the institutions of the state on one side and the parasitic corporations -- and their syncophantic advocates -- on the other. Use the ideology of neoliberalism as your guide while you cut, cleaving that fraudulent ideology from government, your party and your minds.

If you do this cleanly, your second stroke of Occam’s Razor will save billions, if not trillions, of dollars, and cleanly divide the social tasks between the public and private sector, protect national resources and citizens and give the federal government its first opportunity to function properly in decades.

Neoliberalism Costs Too Much
If you've used your new Occam's Razor properly, you may notice that you've saved a great deal of money in Education, Health, Housing, Defense, now that the greedy hand of the private sector have been removed from the budgetary process. Use that money wisely to hire teachers, not software and publishing companies; road workers, not contractors; accountants and lawyers, not consultants and subcontractors; social workers, not defense-contractors-masked-as-social-work-agencies. Take the savings from the Defense Department and pare down the deficit, since our war industry is primarily responsible for our 12 trillion dollar national debt. If you only caught half the defense budget in your swing of Occam’s Razor, we’ll still spend more on war than most of our allies and enemies combined. But we'll have saved billions.

Some may poo-poo the importance of this second swing of the blade, but it is the most crucial to the Democratic Party’s future. Its what divides the Democratic Party leadership from its base is the sense that we're all just patsies for a big, fat political-corporate con game. We vote for a 'New Deal, but the Democratic Party leadeship gives us flaccid, pro-corporate leadership instead. Invariably, the base responds by staying home in the next election (see the 1994, 2000 and 2004 elections for evidence). This is the core of the argument when you hear people say, "I can’t tell the difference between the two parties." What they mean is that both parties serve the same corporate masters and we’re left to choose in a crooked shell game. Democrats get elected, their promises get perverted to the needs of major corporations, their base gets disenchanted and they don't show up to the polls. Does this pattern sound familiar?

By applying your brand new Occam’s Razor to the important – and all too overlooked – issue of ideological hypocrisy, you’ve also finally made a clear distinction for voters between the Democratic Party and the Republicans. And we’ll all be spared those heart-breaking speeches from Democratic Party politicians about ‘bipartisanship.’ We know too well that’s just a code word for ‘sell out.’

Having rid yourself of neoliberal thinking, take advantage of the situation to put our out-of-control private sector under the direct thumb of government. No, greed is not a virtue. No, a corporation isn’t a citizen. Yes, people have a right to go out there and sell their wares in the marketplace, to inovate and create, but private profit does not trump human need. Corporate America should not be allowed to abuse their workers, poison the landscape, cheat or rob their customers. No corporation should have more rights than individual citizens, let alone whole communities or municipalities. Any corporation that is too big to fail is too big and no one -- citizen, executive, investor or politician -- should be above the law.

Once you've removed the poisons of neoliberalism -- as a legitimate political and economic ideology -- from the business of government, it will be easier for the Democratic Party to find common ground with its political base, to clearly recognize what their base expects from them and to reform our government in a manner that satisfies them. Time is running out, so the next ten months should be action-packed, if you use your Occam's Razor wisely and bravely.  

Occam's Razor: The Third Stroke
Having solved three problems with one stroke of your new Occam’s Razor, having cleaned up government, saved trillions of dollars, begun the process of making government work for the people and straightened out your message with your second stroke, you now have the resources to address the central issue that will define the 2010 election: the job market.

The Job Market – As Bob Marley pointed out, a hungry mob is an angry mob. Americans need jobs. Having cut the private contractor out of government, there should be no shortage of social needs to address. Spend the money on a WPA program and rebuild our social safety net. Put people to work directly. Make sure they are well-paid.
Rebuild the economy from the bottom up, not the top down. Save the depositor, not the bank. Save the worker, not the company and save the community, not just its most privileged or well-positioned citizens. If you want the people who showed up to the polls in 2008 to come back, you had better take care of their bread and butter issues. Symbolism means nothing to the poor and working class. Flaccid words and crocodile tears just make them angry. Only meat and potatoes will even register as positive help. Keeping them waiting only pisses them off, and they’ve already been waiting for over a year.

If you find you have a gift for using your new Occam’s Razor, try to clean up our bogus social and economic statistics as you complete your third stroke of the blade. The GDP, GNP and other nationally aggregated statistics should be on the cutting room floor with all the other mythological nonsense that we use to define our universe. Be sure to clean up our definitions of poverty – the most shabbily-developed statistic in the federal arsenal – and our massaged unemployment statistics while you are at it. Our current statistical models only obscure the depth of our economic woes and lead to weak solutions instead of more profound and substantial change.

Occam's Razor Will Save the Democrats
In three clean strokes, you have gotten us out of war, cut our budgetary deficits, improved the functionality, efficiency, accountability and transparency of the federal government, cleared the air of bullshit and hypocrisy and brought jobs home for the folks. This is the beauty of Occam’s Razor.

I would have given the Democratic Party this present last year, but the neoliberals were just so full of themselves that I figured they’d stare at the worn handle of the Occam’s Razor and avoid it like the New Deal. But now that the neoliberals have had a full year to screw up health care reform, economic stimulus, the budget and our ever expanding war in the Mideast; now that they are shaking in fear at the prospect of reliving their 1994 defeat, perhaps they will pay more attention to this gift now.

I hate to sound like the Ginsu knife salesman, but I believe that this little Occam’s Razor is the Democratic Party’s most important gift of the season. Winding down the wars, clearing the neoliberals – and their budget-busting, corruption-breeding policies – out of government and getting a jobs program going and making those who created this mess pay for their avarice will position the Democrats nicely to handle the mid-term election bounce. Then they can use their Occam’s Razor to tackle those problems they bungled or ignored in their first year in office, such as health care reform (single payer this time, please), economic stimulus, corporate regulation and reform, civil rights, education investment, rebuilding our social welfare system, renegotiating free trade agreements to properly protect living wages and taxation reform.

May the Democrats use this Occam’s Razor well and for the best purposes of all. If not, we’ll be dealing with the Republicans more seriously in a year’s time and they use Occam’s hatchet.

Originally posted to Tom Taaffe on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 09:23 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  The razor is too sharp? (9+ / 0-)

      It even cut off its own mojo?

      I really like the concept of simple honesty as a foundation for political action.  
      After Rove's spin house of twisted mirrors, what a refreshing contrast.

      If cats could blog.... they wouldn't.

      by crystal eyes on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 09:43:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Obama has a chance to pull this off, but... (24+ / 0-)

        Thanks, folks. Obama has enough of an air of honesty, that he could reasonably pull this off. But he needs to take out the trash first and prove his words are more than simply symbolic gestures. He should start by getting rid of his economic advisors. They are -- one and all, it seems -- culled from the Bush and Clinton administrations and the stench of neoliberalism is all over them (is Goldman Sachs a school for neoliberals?).

        Tossing them out and replacing them with fresh minds would be a welcome start. They are all directly responsible for this mess. After a year of mis- rule, it is more than clear that they are bereft of new ideas and opposed beyond all reason to very purpose most Democrats voted them in to begin with: to further the spirit and cause of the 'New Deal'. Like it or not, that's why people vote Democratic: they are expecting the second coming of the New Deal, not some shabby, messy bunch of corporate crap.

        Unlike the current crop of corporate-sponsored Democrats, Roosevelt understood how to use Occam's Razor to cut out the bullshit clearly enough for folks in the cheapest seats to see. That's why the called him a 'class traitor'. And back then, that was a complement.

        Its not complicated if you don't make it so. Ban the private sector from the battlefield. Your soldiers and the military chain of command will thank you. Run investigations into all those companies that made a fortune out of our recent wars. If there is the slightest whiff of scandal in their contracts, burn them to the bloody ground and run their executives repeatedly across the TV screen, doing the 'perp walk.'

        In doing so, you've saved billions and you've made your political enemies look like the war criminals that they are. And that's just one department in the halls of government. By exposing the fraud, the lies, the war-profiteering, all support for the Republican Party will shatter and the ground will have been prepared for us to fundamentally change our foreign policy so that we do not start wars willy-nilly every time some tabloid tells us that we have a moral duty to invade this or that country. Getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan will be easier and that will save us trillions of dollars.

        Now use that money to save the ordinary American.

  •  I think that if the HCR (9+ / 0-)

    had the Occam's Razor put to it things would be much much better.  Complexity is hard to sell.  Congress ought to just expand Medicare for everybody and deal with the subsidies for the payouts by adding a 1% tax on fats, colas, beers, whiskey, smokes, sugars (other than fruits), computer software (hit on the lack of movement), CEO Bonuses, and a 1% surtax on salaries over 250,000.  That will take us a long way and as the benefits kick in we can move some of the monies into rehabilitation and preventative care.  Maybe even work on improving CDC for our national security sake.

  •  Well done.... (12+ / 0-)

    I think this is the most astute diary I've read for a long time. It encompasses my left progressive wish/want-list.

  •  Occam's Razor (9+ / 0-)

    Never unnecessarily multiply ontological premeses;-)

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 10:20:14 AM PST

  •  I would tip you (7+ / 0-)

    if you had a tip jar. I rec'd.

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 10:21:27 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Especially the bits about neoliberalism. "A velvet glove that hides a neoconservative fist." A wealth extractor from nations, not unlike Wal-Mart from communities.

    And this:

    Symbolism means nothing to the poor and working class.

    How many times during the last decade have we heard variations of Nothing is more important that symbolism, symbols are the only way you can communicate with low-information (i.e. also most likely to be poor and working class) voters?

    Begone to treacly pseudo-psychological excuses, for why we can't build a better world!

    Real Democrats don't abandon the middle class. --John Kerry

    by Lucy Montrose on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:53:42 PM PST

    •  Symbolism is cheap and empty (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bakenjuddy, Lucy Montrose

      It is symptomatic of that insular world of privilege, from whence all our so-called political leaders come from, that they regard our poor and working class as the 'low information' crowd (or is it mob?). Their perceptions are inherently classist and the result of an American educational system where all our leaders come from private schools and all their victims come from public schools. Our ignorant elites -- and I point directly at neoliberals and neoconservatives when I say this -- have destroyed our public educational system, for the benefit of private capital. They have gotten away with this atrocity, because the attitudes of our priviliged classes legitimate this behavior.

      When I walked into a public grad school -- out of the ghettos of NYC -- I heard faculty and students say 'if you can't afford it, you don't belong here.' By the time I left grad school with my Ph.D., the Chancellor of the university was publicly saying the exact same thing (while he used a public university as a cash cow for his corporate buddies).[For the record, all those people would regard themselves as 'liberal Democrats'.]

      Knowledge abhores a vaccuum. If we deny people educational opportunity -- and both Democrats and Republicans have done serious damage to our educational system, with their pro-corporate, standardized-testing, class-stratified policies in recent decades -- should we be surprised that the 'lower social orders' latch onto new forms of knowledge to arrive at their understandings? People aren't stupid, they are just denied quality information and the skills necessary to develop and assess that information.

      If they view elite behavior with deep cyncism and from a highly alienated position, is that because they are stupid, or is it because elites have betrayed and lied to them so often, that they have come to expect the worst from our so-called leaders?

      We live in a country where we systematically drive the 'lower social orders' out of our educational system and into our prisons or the bottom of the economic pile. So we have no excuses when we are confronted by a mass of people who think that the world was created 6000 years ago, or that evolution is a godless conspiracy.

      But even if they are denied all quality information and choose to adhere to the most absurd beliefs, they can still tell the difference between a symbolic gesture and substantial help.

  •  Splendid sentiments. Great diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tom Taaffe

    Couldn't agree more.

    But a pipe dream.

    Occam's Razor is of little offense against the Shield of the Status Quo.

    My own pipe dream, that Barack Obama would be different, has evaporated.

    For instance should also clear all those the Clinton and Bush holdovers and other corporate hacks from Obama’s cabinet (like Duncan, Geithner, Summers, Bernanke, etc.) into the trash with their policies.

    That would be great, but then, replace them with who?  Me?  You, Tom Taaffe?  I couldn't do any of their jobs, and certainly wouldn't want to.  And at any rate, I'm in no position to suggest replacements let alone do I have any power to install good replacements.

    I'm deeply sorrowed to let my cynicism show so blatantly, but I've lost all hope for this country.

    This  imperialistic fantasy of ours, that we are the 'chosen people' to serve as the world's policemen, leads us to disaster every time.

    The disaster of American Imperialism is not going to go away in my lifetime.  Therefore I must go away from America if I'm to have any life left to me, short now that my years are.  I'm not renouncing my citizenship; I have no other besides, and besides with my taint of Americana no other country would likely have me.  All I'm doing is to attempt to uncloak myself from an Americanistic identity.  As I am no imperialist, I am not American in idendity.  I am a citizen of the world.  The world alone is now my home, and throughout the world I will pass my final days.

    As I've asked so many times before, in irony, are you sure there isn't another planet I can move to?

    The question is not what, but who you want to be. --F.R. Prince

    by cn4st4datrees on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 01:28:47 AM PST

  •  Interesting ideas, but not Occam's Razor. (0+ / 0-)

    This ...

    the simplest explanation or strategy tends to be the best one

    ... is not Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor is an experimental heuristic about competing models to explain phenomena. It says that if you have competing models, all proposing equally complete explanations of observed phenomena, you should test the one with the fewest variables first. If experimental results validate the "simplest" model, use it. If the results invalidate that model, move on to the model with the next fewest variables and test that.

    Occam's Razor does not predict that the "simplest" model will be validated. The "simplest" model often does not hold up under review, and it may not offer a complete enough explanation to justify the time and expense of testing. There's "simple" and then there's "simplistic."

    •  your point is well-taken... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That said, I think my rhetorical use of Occam's Razor remains valid. By letting corporate America dominate the solutions to our social problems -- and determine the limits of any potential answer to said problems -- we produce convoluted solutions that utterly fail to do anything but drive up costs and make matters worse.

      Should we use tax credits or a WPA project to address the job crisis? Tax credits are the neoliberals answer to the problem. It will produce endless shenanigans come tax time and proving it helped anyone but the corporations will be hampered by fraud and shady accounting practices.  

      On the other hand, if we the WPA approach, the government hires people and we can clearly count the gains. Sometimes, simple is not simplistic and some people make things complicated so that they can run their cons.

  •  Neoliberalism defintely sucks, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tom Taaffe

    and its' advocates make me mad beyond belief.

    I expect Republicans to be corporate pigs; if you come from the left--you should actually be pro-labor.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 04:10:51 AM PST

  •  Rec'd/tipped/subscribed. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tom Taaffe

    When people show you who they are, believe them: Maya Angelou

    by bakenjuddy on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:20:41 AM PST

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