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On the op-ed page of Monday's NY Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, in "The Competition Myth," revisits much of what I covered in my last diary, yesterday (which included use of quotes from one of Krugman's blog posts over the weekend). To make his point with his readers, the Princeton economics professor notes numerous inconvenient truths about GE, whose CEO, Jeff Immelt, was just tapped by President Obama to chair his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Krugman notes that Immelt's GE derives more revenue from financial services than from manufacturing; and it does more business outside of the U.S. than in it.


The Competition Myth
By PAUL KRUGMAN
NY Times
January 24, 2011

Meet the new buzzword, same as the old buzzword. In advance of the State of the Union, President Obama has telegraphed his main theme: competitiveness...
...

...But let's not kid ourselves: talking about "competitiveness" as a goal is fundamentally misleading. At best, it's a misdiagnosis of our problems. At worst, it could lead to policies based on the false idea that what's good for corporations is good for America...
...
...Consider: A corporate leader who increases profits by slashing his work force is thought to be successful. Well, that's more or less what has happened in America recently: employment is way down, but profits are hitting new records. Who, exactly, considers this economic success?

Still, you might say that talk of competitiveness helps Mr. Obama quiet claims that he's anti-business. That's fine, as long as he realizes that the interests of nominally "American" corporations and the interests of the nation, which were never the same, are now less aligned than ever before...


(Bold type is diarist's emphasis.)

Krugman asks what the administration's embrace of the "competitiveness" meme means for economic policy, going forward?

Taking a balanced approach, he notes that, at best, "...it's just packaging for an economic strategy centered on public investment, investment that's actually about creating jobs now while promoting longer-term growth." At worst, he states, there's a misdiagnosis which has incorrectly determined "...that the economy is ailing because they've been too tough on business, and that what America needs now is corporate tax cuts and across-the-board deregulation."

Earlier in his column, we were told that what's good for Wall Street (corporate America) is not what's good for Main Street. As he closes out his Monday column, he continues this theme  as he points out that what happened in 2008 was "...an object lesson in what can go wrong if you trust a market economy to regulate itself."

I encourage readers of this post to read Krugman's entire column, especially as it concerns his sentiments about GE CEO Jeff Immelt. Cutting a little more to the bone on the matter, here's Marcy Wheeler on the Immelt selection, "Jeff Immelt's GE: The Too Biggest To Fail."


Jeff Immelt's GE: The Too Biggest To Fail
emptywheel
FireDogLake
January 21, 2011   12:50PM

...In other words, Immelt and GE aren't about building the jobs American needs... ...Rather, they're about transforming the fruits of American manufacturing into yet more destabilizing casino games.

And that's what Obama picked today to lead his election-season effort to appear serious about job creation.

Sure, maybe it'll fool the Joke Lines of the world into believing outsourcing to China is a solution to America's job crisis. But those of us in flyover country seeing that jobs crisis up close are smarter than all that.

In his final comments, today,  where Krugman distinguishes the vast (sometimes diametrically-opposing) differences between doing the right thing for corporations versus doing what's best for Main Street, Krugman notes that the President may profit, politically, from his current economic strategy, and thusly improve his chances for re-election in 2012; but, the greater truth is "...the ideology that brought economic disaster in 2008 is back on top -- and seems likely to stay there until it brings disaster again. "

IMHO, once again, Krugman's spot-on.

Originally posted to http://www.dailykos.com/user/bobswern on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:18 PM PST.

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  •  Tip Jar (230+ / 0-)
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    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:21:43 PM PST

  •  Many wanted Krugman to be tapped by (37+ / 0-)

    President Obama for one of the leadership positions.  Back in 2009, it might have been possible.  By this point, I don't see any way that this would be done.  I hope Krugman continues his columns because someone needs to talk to the President and give him a view that's different from what he's getting now.  And no, I don't see his new Chief Of Staff doing that.

  •  Lots of talk about creating jobs but nobody (31+ / 0-)

    seems to say what kind of jobs they will be.  What does competitiveness mean?  It's trying to do something better than others.  What are we going to try to do better than others?  It's all bullshit without a real plan with specifics. Face it, American citizens are not that skilled.  Full employment isn't going to come from the creation of more high level management or professional jobs.   We aren't going to transform the country into a nation of high performers.  We need jobs that the common people can perform, which has been manufacturing.  But the deck is stacked because they can make it for ten cents somewhere else.  So what again does competitiveness mean?  

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:47:15 PM PST

    •  We are all Mexicans now (16+ / 0-)

      they might be too expensive these days come to think of it.

      We are all Chinese now.

      If you can't work for what they do you obviously can't compete.

      Please won't you think of the poor corporations?

      •  Not really. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        virginislandsguy

        Amerians make several times the wages of Chinese.

        And both countries have similar unemployment levels.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:48:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (4+ / 0-)

          That was my point.

          We can't compete until our wages match theirs.

          many corps have already left Mexico to take advantage of even lower wages elsewhere.

          I assume that is what the corporate oligarchs and their minions in our gov't want.

          •  Compete on what baisis (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alizard, jiffypop, neroden

            As is being discussed elsewere on this thread, quite a few developed nations are also export led economies (I cited some statistics) and I think it's worth understanding how they do that.

            As far as I know, the workers benifits for people in Ireland, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland etc are as go if not better than the US but these nationas take a different approach.

            Likewise, many American companies quite sucessfully export or the US would have zero.

            So my question is how to translate the formula into better policy and supports to promote revitalization of US industries. In fact Obama is trying but Congressional support is pretty weak.

            Ultimately, you could make the same argement about China - lots of companies have left for other, cheaper countries because they consider China too expensive - at the bottom of the food chain that is always the case.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:56:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  No, Mexico's establishing single-payer (0+ / 0-)

        health care, one province at a time.

        China's building high-speed rail nationwide.

        What the hell are we getting?  The US industrial boom in the 19th century brought real quality-of-life improvements along with its miseries and abuses.  But what are we getting in exchange for the robber-baronism now?  Mexico and China are getting something, what are we getting?

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:04:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Part of the reason (22+ / 0-)
      China is so competitive is their attitude towards regulation.  US businesses must comply with laws restricting pollution, minimum wage, worker safety, consumer safety, etc.  These costs are not borne by Chinese companies to the same degree, giving them another competitive advantage.

      The answer is not to start paying our workers dramatically less and letting more of them die on the job.  Nor must we suffer environmental destruction or dangerous products.  

      We could simply employ a penalty (a countervailing tariff) for those products that are not manufactured in compliance with the same laws our American companies must obey.  

      This would not solve the entire problem, but it would reduce the comparative burden on US companies and create a few more jobs here.

      •  Exactly right. You stop the race to the bottom by (18+ / 0-)

        forcing China and others to compete on our terms.  I would suggest using the money that comes in from the tariff to invest in American businesses.  The debate should be framed as part of a green jobs initiative and a "made in America" initiative.  Not necessarily demonizing a country or its exports to the US but celebrating American business and pursuing a new path forward based on green technology and new ways of doing things.  We sell the idea of a green revolution in the US as innovation that will put us in front when the future demands greener technology.  We do what we do best, innovate and create instead of trying to play by rules where we and any other non-emerging economy can't compete.

        •  Re Made in America/Buy American (15+ / 0-)

          Is America Too Corrupt To Keep Up?. . .
          Evidently, not within our own government. As "Buy China" policies now economically supercharge the world's most populous nation, the White House and congressional Republicans have opposed many of the very "Buy America" proposals that might help us keep up — and that obstruction has come at a steep price.

          Remember, Businessweek in 2008 warned that in an America with few domestic purchasing mandates, any economic stimulus — whether spending or tax cuts — would likely "leak" abroad, thus "reducing its impact on jobs here." When congressional Democrats responded in 2009 by trying to expand the meager "Buy America" regulations still on the books from the Great Depression, President Obama opposed the effort. He argued that targeting stimulus dollars at domestic investment would "send a protectionist message."
          [Bolding mine]
          . . .

          "As Bloomberg News reported during the stimulus negotiations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fiercely lobbied against the "Buy America" provisions when Congress debated them, just as the group lobbies against similar proposals today. That may seem strange coming from an organization whose name pays homage to this country. But don't be fooled: The chamber is a front group for huge multinational firms whose first priority is not this nation's economy, but a profit-maximizing business model based on exporting jobs and production facilities to low-wage countries abroad."

          David Sirota
          [Remember when we used to get his stuff? Thanks loads ****bots!]

          Read the entire essay (IMHO, a must read) at: Creators.com

          Alito. Kennedy. Roberts. Scalia. Thomas.
          More important than ever: ERA NOW!

          by greeseyparrot on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:27:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Frame it as (7+ / 0-)

          You stop the race to the bottom by forcing China and others to compete on our terms

          a switch from exporting jobs to exporting American standards. Let our export to the world be a higher standard of living, a living wage, union protections for workers. Instead of scrapping OSHA and the EPA, let's export them to where they are desperately needed. Let's export the weekend, the 40 hour week, and an end to sweatshops, child labor, and slave labor.

          Let's export what's good about the American way of work, instead of exporting jobs and importing lower standards.

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:20:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well done (4+ / 0-)

            That also resonates well with me for the hypocrisy I have witnessed for so many years as we tout our beacon of liberty myth while simultaneously overthrowing democratic regimes and replacing them with right wing dictators.

            Whenever I hear politicians proclaim that we are exporting freedom and democracy I want to puke. All we have exported for many decades is greed, corruption and hardship. A few minor exceptions noted.

          •  Bravo! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            drewfromct, pgm 01

            Exporting the values of a just and sustainable world sounds like a very good idea to me. The more so because, in order to do that, we would have to practice them here.

            Speaking of justice and sustainability, this line from Krugman provides something to think about IMHO:

            And we can’t all export more while importing less, unless we can find another planet to sell to.

            "Competitiveness" by definition implies that there are winners and losers. While I certainly don't want to see the US in the losers column, to be a winner means that one or more other countries must lose. Taking a planet-wide perspective, this is essentially an exercise in cost-shifting. Our own fortunes may improve, but on a whole-system basis, there is no increase in justice or well being.

            Also, "competitiveness" as a guiding philosophy provides strong incentives to maximize exploitation of resources. In the long run, it's not where we want to go.

        •  That still hurts the poor. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pgm 01

          What tarriffs would succeed in doing is spiking the price of every day manufactured goods significantly.

          We tried raising tarriffs during the Great Depression and it was a disaster.  Mind you, back then imports and exports were only a small part of our economy...

      •  Yes. And these tariffs should have been the (7+ / 0-)

        backbone of any free trade agreements that were made.  It's amazing how we've spent two trillion dollars, ten years and thousands of lives to bring the example of democracy to two Middle Eastern countries but when we were formulating free trade agreements we couldn't be bothered to put in place the structures necessary to bring American middle class dignity to the countries our management class was going to exploit.

        Really shows our values.

        Democracy is often an indictment of the voting populace.

        by electricgrendel on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:29:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on the case. (3+ / 0-)

        Suggesting China doesn't have such laws is urban myth. The issue is the degree to which they are followed or enforced.

        In very poor areas and bottom tier companies the case can be quite poor as you suggest, but in developed area and mid to top tier companies regulations are enfored and China has many word-class operations.

        The factory I work in is far more modern, clean, safe an efficient that one I worked in 20 years ago in the US after I graduated university.

        And I should add, that about 4 years ago when China was introducing a new labor law, who was making the most noise about "Draconion Regulations" were muntinational corporations, particularly AMCHAN, which should surprise no one.

        China is a fundamentally poorer country than the US juat as Vietnam, etc, are poorer than China.

        So if a company is just chasing cheep labor and lack of regulations, they will move from country to country to do so and that is exactly how some operate.

        Right now a "China plus one" strategy is quite common for such industries. It means they keep an operation in China for high line products and for China market produts and then go to lower wage countries for low-end products to get the cheapest labor. I assure you factories in Pakistan ans Bangladesh are not as nice as China.

        And this has been the case of "working-up the value chian" since the industrial revolution.

        England => US => Japan => Hong Kong => Korea => China => Thailand => Vietnam => India => Pakistan => Bagladesh .... rise/repeat.

        Read Charles Dickens or Upton Sinclair. A centry ago things were not different in England or the USA.

        London was a sewer pit of pollution choked with coal smoke and Lake Erie was as polluted as some Chinese rivers are today, or Japan 40 years ago.

        And the wealthy of Europe looked down their noses on the working classes suggesting just as much.

        It's quite human.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:09:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is exactly why (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PrahaPartizan, Sychotic1

          So if a company is just chasing cheep labor and lack of regulations, they will move from country to country to do so and that is exactly how some operate.

          we should be slapping massive, punitive tariffs on goods and services imported from nations which willfully refuse to enact or enforce American-style regulations for the protection of workers, consumers, and the environment. The Race To The Bottom will continue unabated as long as the slave drivers have unfettered access to what is still the world's biggest and richest market.

          Instead of exporting our jobs, we should be exporting our standards. Global trade should be about raising standards, not lowering them.

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:26:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK then ... (0+ / 0-)

            we should be slapping massive, punitive tariffs on goods and services imported from nations which willfully refuse to enact or enforce American-style regulations for the protection of workers, consumers, and the environment.

            And should Europeans do likewise to the US?

            The problem I see in any case is that there is no way to wave a magic wand over the world and transform poor countries into wealthy ones overnight, and the fact is companies from wealthy countries are part and parcel of the system.

            Another point you may consider is that most of the economic growth in the world today is in developing nations and this will ontinue to be the case for the forseable fututre.

            Many people who are working to improve conditions in poor countries suggest a middle road where pressure is put on buyers and governments to improve conditions rather than the punative approach that, in effect, inhibits economic growth and Liberalization.

            It's a fact of life that in some places of the world, children toil to live. That's not good, but it's better than them staving, which is the other alternative.

            And I have to add two last points: (a) weathy countries were not always so and worked through similar processes of developement (as I noted elseware) and (b) wealthy countries continue to exploit the resources (including human) in these countries and if the end result is you slap the rape victim for being poor, it, um, adds insult to injury.

            Suggest you reconsider how this works.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:14:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This doesn't negate the point (0+ / 0-)

          in fact if we did this it might actually put a damper on the race to the bottom.

          Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

          by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:12:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well ..... (0+ / 0-)

            What is the race to the bottom?

            In one sense it is the equalization of poverty, ie, putting people around the world on the same level.

            The alternative (in practice) is that wealthy countries continue to enjoy their advantages atr the expense of the poor.

            For example: "advanced" economies tend to control markets, technology, intellectual property, etc, which they guard jealously as their "posessions" while consuming a disproportionate amount of resources which generally come from poor countries at a low price because "ideas" like an iPod have "insanely great" value to humanity while the materials and labor that produces them is "chip shit" (often hear it referred to that on Liberal blogs including Dkos0.

            Well, in the viewpoint of Class Struggle that is one fucked-up value system and in the view of Charles Dickens or Sinclar Lewis, the grist of classic literature.

            So I do sympatize with the privlidged when they lose some of those privlidges, but what is the real cost of this?

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:24:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  This is exactly what we must do (0+ / 0-)

        and what I have been saying all along.  Fair trade with standards set by us.  We are still one of the largest consumer markets and we can set these rules.

        Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:10:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think Grmany is a good model (5+ / 0-)

      In the German system, at high school there is a split to University track and Vocational track.

      On the vocational track they will test and try to match students interests to jobs in demand and provide the requisite traing to prepare for a 2 year technical school.  After that graduates will seek apprentiship positions where they work for 2-4 more years at entry wages before graduating to journeyman position.

      And the inportiant thing is all sizes of German companies particupate, particularly the SME's who really depend more on skillful workers than Universty grads.

      This means it's possible for the SME to produce at a higher caliber.

      You are correct, no soley needs just Universiy grads and sometimes teaching a trade can be better than sending people to University only to have them be dissapointed later as over-educated Service workers.

      But from what I understand, US educators are against such 2-track systems until the second track becomes re-training.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:46:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am all for it (0+ / 0-)

        I just don't want people forced into one track or another.

        Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:14:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand that. (0+ / 0-)

          Freedom of choice is a basic concept of American society.

          But the practical embodiment of it might not be as good as it sounds in principle.

          Most people in the world don't get so many choices and I think that goes for an increasing number of Americans.

          What I think is good and worth emulating from the German system is:

          :: The government is really engaged with industry and works to deliver the skills companies really need - I think that is a win-win for companies and workers.

          :: The industrial culture puts a high value on workers skills and versatility, which is the advantage of humand over machines - treat each for what they are.

          So there probably would be a middle way to learn from and addapt some of these ideas.

          I have to think that a lot of people who are not headed for university would jump at the chance to recieve training for a trade verses getting stuck in low paid, low skilled jobs, or unemployment.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:33:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  how many college students (4+ / 0-)

      are going to go into massive debt to go into sci-tech professions where if they get hired, they'll work until an offshore operation replaces their jobs? If you want students to go into productive professions instead of getting an MBA or law or marketing degree, they have to believe that getting those degrees is an actual career path. I don't know of anyone who encourages their kids to go into IT. Change the incentives and we'll probably have a big bunch of new grads in technology in 2 years and a much bigger bunch in 4.

      WRT to the abilities of the American factory worker, many American factories are already highly automated, and operated for the most part by those ordinary people whose abilities you don't believe in.

      Back when I was reading trade magazines for the electronic manufacturing industry in the late 1980s, I was amazed by some of the complex things (management of automated production machinery using statistical analysis for debugging, for instance) factory floor employees with some classroom training were getting paid to do.  Note that those kinds of tasks would be simpler now, desktops are far more powerful... as are tablet computers and netbooks. Bottom line, if we can get the factories in operation, don't worry about finding competent employees. Our labor pool is drastically underutilized, not incompetent.

      IOW, you've been sold a bill of goods by employers whose incentives are to persuade a dozen or a hundred students to cough up large blobs of cash and spend 4 years of life to discover that only the top few percent are cherry-picked for hiring.

      Your concept that America can only compete with the Third World in a race to the bottom sounds a lot like centrist public policy, but it doesn't make it good.

      However, perhaps more to the point, we already have $2.6T in pent up demand for fixing the nation's civil infrastructure, and the majority of jobs in this area don't require rocket scientists to do. Where's WPA 2.0? It didn't happen because while it would be profitable for the wealthy, it isn't as profitable as direct wealth capture with the help of government is.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:09:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  correction to above (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Virginia mom

        IOW, you've been sold a bill of goods by employers whose incentives are to persuade a dozen or a hundred times as many students to cough up large blobs of cash and spend 4 years of life to discover that only the top few percent are cherry-picked for hiring.

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:21:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Good point about WPA 2.0! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, neroden, fille americaine

        Why this isn't being discussed seriously in policy circles and the media I will never understand though I know why. The focus of American government is on "security" and the Empire. The U.S. is the garrison state for the international oligarchy--as such it needs to have a sizable poor population that will enlist in the military--this is not by design necessarily it's just that's the only place the U.S. has a real competitive advantage--we love violence and nearly half the people are religious fanatics who believe the U.S. has been appointed by God to whatever.

        •  agreed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard

          I've always wondered by there wasn't a WPA 2.0, but I really do think it's about having enough poor and desperate bodies for the military industrial empire. My husband and I were seriously discussing him joining the military (he could be an officer) but then it kind of pissed me off because it'd be doing exactly what the elites wanted us to do. THEY won't spend any of the horded cash they have to hire him, so we would be giving into them if he joined up. This country just sucks sometimes. He is Canadian-American so we've discussed moving to Canada, but I don't know if the job market is any better there than it is here. At least we wouldn't have to worry about getting sick I gues...

          Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at adorgan@hotmail.com if you have any leads!

          by fille americaine on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 11:25:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm inclined towards the "Mafia bust-out" (0+ / 0-)

          scenario when thinking of what the real plans of the oligarchy are for America. If one plans to torch the place once the easy to get value is extracted, one puts the absolute minimum into repairs and maintenance. (see also the stimulus)

          As opposed to the $2T+ the ASCE says is required to bring America's civil infrastructure up to the First World standards required to get businesses to pay First World premiums to do business in America.

          If the oligarchy had long-term plans to do business in America, the money would be getting spent. Particularly given the lack of demand, money spent on infrastructure would go a lot farther than it usually would, stimulus program projects were often coming in under budget.  

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:16:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  SOTU 2010 (4+ / 0-)

      "That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010. . ."

      We have seen where Obama's focus on jobs has gotten us in 2010.  Having given up on that he wants to pound us flat with his idea of corporate competitiveness.

      Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

      by Fossil on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:32:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is no there there (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, BigAlinWashSt, caryltoo

      So it will have to emerge out of the general mix of things.

      The U.S. once had a cultural attitude of independence and creativity. The ideal of less regulation existed in the hopes that if you wanted to start a business you just set up your little pushcart or whatever and started doing things that people wanted. Today the entrance into business often involves regulations that, as a practical matter, only allow large companies or wealthy people to compete. Between permits and requirements (based on laws promoted by monopoly capitalists) it is pretty hard for people to start businesses and compete. I'm not suggesting that we eliminate regulations only that the regulations not be written by monopolists.

      In addition, few people want to take chances with their money or quit their jobs to start businesses because the cost is so high if you fail--particularly health insurance costs. If we had a socialized system of health insurance perhaps more people would take a chance--if they failed they could live in their parent's basements for a couple of years and get back into it and they wouldn't have to worry that they'd be in bankruptcy if they got ill.

  •  we'll be just in time (15+ / 0-)

    to celebrate the centennial of calvin coolidge's presidency. the chief business of america, indeed.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:47:33 PM PST

    •  I'll be referring to Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt... (20+ / 0-)
      ...quite a bit in upcoming posts.

      From the Wiki link for Lewis: Sinclair Lewis

      Here's an excerpt on: "Babbit."


      ...Though written well before the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, and the post-war economic boom, Lewis's comic novel has remained popular into the 21st century. Critics have posed reasons for the book's continuing accessibility to include Lewis's seeming success in identifying and portraying emotions, challenges, and concerns that remain relatively viable over time, and with which modern readers -- especially white-collar workers and professionals, dissatisfied housewives, and middle-aged representatives of middle-class America -- seem to still easily identify. By the 1920s, the United States was already concluding the process described by historian Olivier Zunz as "making America corporate."[5] Thus, if the continued popularity of Lewis's characters is any indication, despite the many intervening, superficial advances and changes in technology, in Babbitt's fictional world one can still recognize much of today's, non-fiction one.

      In the characterization of the work Babbitt does for a living, Lewis implies a critique of capitalism. In the novel's opening chapter, we are told that Babbitt makes "nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry," but that he is "nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay." Likewise, while he is home sick in bed, Babbitt, too, reflects on his career; he exclaims to himself that his work is "mechanical business -- a brisk selling of badly built houses."

      Historically significant is the author's use, throughout, of the political word "liberal." The book was written not long after the project of "new liberalism" began, and the term had not yet congealed in the United States as a definition of a specific brand of ideology belonging to centre left-wing politics. Babbitt's warped interpretation of the word, and his (and other characters') equally skewed practical application of it, are examples of one of the humorous literary devices in which Lewis uses satire to illustrate and simplify complex ideas...


      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:10:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gee, I wonder if Krugman regrets supporting NAFTA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    virginislandsguy, GeeBee
  •  In fairness... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MGross

    there are things that can be done that would be considered "pro business" that would effectively bring jobs back into the United States.  Reducing the corporate tax rate might be a good start to enticing companies to move to the United States.  Currently, only one country tops us in taxes, and not by much.  The third place country is nearly 10% less. See:

    http://www.cnbc.com/...

    Please note the disclaimer given regarding the calculation method and which countries our included.  However, it still appears that there may be room for improvement in this area within our borders.  

    •  Brilliant (13+ / 0-)

      So you think accelerating the global race to the bottom will solve your problem.

      What you call "pro business" is just "anti common good". A short sighted and ignorant beggar-my-neighbour policy out of pure selfishness.

      It really is interesting how most Americans seem to be unable to recognize that there exists a whole world outside the US borders. You can't solve the problems of globalization by unilateral reactions!

      The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who never viewed the world - Alexander von Humboldt

      by germanliberal on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:00:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Speaking of Beggar-Thy-Neighbor, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mollyd, Tx LIberal

        why does Volkswagen USA sell their cars for half the price the Germans have to pay?
        Could it be that German consumers are forced to subsidize the exploration of the US market, and subsequent destruction of the American auto industry?
        Why do German car-makers build all their US factories in the anti-union South instead of relying on partnership with the unions as they do in Germany?

        A short sighted and ignorant beggar-my-neighbour policy out of pure selfishness.

        I'm all for internationally coordinated development, but as of now, it's nothing more than a pipedream, and since Germany has been pretty ruthless in pursuing its agenda, you should be careful with the condescension...

        "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

        by aufklaerer on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:42:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why is It Up to Germany to Change How We (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1

          exploit people, destroy their lives, and crush their dreams?  How did Germany become responsible for the conditions we have allowed to occur?

          The relevant question is why have we allowed these conditions to come about?  Blaming Germany or any other country is seeking a scapegoat for America's self-inflicted economic wounds.

        •  Sorry, I didn't intend to sound condescending (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, aufklaerer

          By no means did I want to imply that German policies are unselfish let alone that German companies are any better than their American counterparts when it comes to play off the people of the world against each other.

          My point was that it is not in the interest of the average citizen of ANY country to implement race-to-the-bottom fiscal policies. Because in the long run this will only hurt themeselves. If you need any proof for this just ask the citizens of e.g. Ireland or Iceland.

          The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who never viewed the world - Alexander von Humboldt

          by germanliberal on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:21:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not at all.... (0+ / 0-)

        What most Americans forget, and you would have been reminded of if you had actually read the link, is that corporations in this country are subject to both federal and state taxes.  This exists nowhere else in the world.  This also places our corporations near the top of the heap for taxes by comparison.

        By the way, since when MUST pro-business policy be anti-common good?  Your assumption leaves little room for ingenuity, and government protection of the little guy.  

        What would YOU do to entice companies to remain and move to the United States?  Leave things as they are?  Perhaps institute tariff's? Yeah, that'll work well.  Give the big bad corporations more incentives to raise prices and screw the American people.

        •  I don't have a solution (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think that pro-business policies have to be anti-common good in general. But I do think that reducing corporate taxes is. Because I believe that in the end this doesn't help anybody except the shareolders of these companies.

          Besides that I think that only very few companies base their deciscions of leaveing their home country mainly on taxes. By far the most important factor is probably the ratio between wages and skills of the workers. And in this ranking the US frankly are at rock bottom without any hope to move up significantly within an acceptable timeframe.

          Therefore your country will have to think about ways to totally alter the rules of the game if you want to stop your decline. Unfortunately the most obvious way to do this is a major war. I hope that your government manages to find and pursue another one.

          The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who never viewed the world - Alexander von Humboldt

          by germanliberal on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 01:53:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Let's not conflate the corporate tax rate... (23+ / 0-)

      ...with our country's pathetic inability to put a saddle on a financial services sector gone wild.

      These are "the corporations" running the show on Capitol Hill, and apparently, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue now, as well.

      Some corporations actually "make things." Others, like GE, pretend they're primarily a manufacturing concern, when in fact they're more of a financial services company than anything else. Yet, other "corporations" exist by providing no significant benefit to society other than "financial innovation." And, paraphrasing Paul Volcker, the only significant financial innovation of the past three decades was the invention of the ATM machine. From that point forward, it's been all downhill from there.

      I beg to differ on this comment:

      ...there are things that can be done that would be considered "pro business" that would effectively bring jobs back into the United States...

      Tax breaks for job creation; taxation of financial services (which, in the U.S., are among the lowest of the major industrialized nations); a payroll tax holiday.

      One "small" example: Requiring banks to use call centers in the U.S. for government-funded programs, as opposed to offshore call centers, such as is the case for S.N.A.P. (food stamp) "debit cards" currently distributed by JPMorgan Chase in 26 states in this country, where that TBTF bank manages the card program on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer.

      That's right...If you're one of the 1 in 5 and/or 1 in 6 Americans on food stamps that have a problem with SNAP Card, and your program's administered by JPMorgan Chase, you make a call to our government and you'll end up at a call center in India right now!

      (What's wrong with this picture?)

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:18:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Isn't it the case that we have a high corporate (18+ / 0-)

      tax rate, but that we actually have a much lower corporate tax burden?  We have so many loopholes and ways of preventing the payment of taxes that many corporations don't even pay anything in the end.

      Democracy is often an indictment of the voting populace.

      by electricgrendel on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:33:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Disingenuous or sheer ignorance? (13+ / 0-)

      The published tax rate is utterly meaningless as just over 2/3 of American corporations pay no taxes (in fact some of the largest and most profitable get huge subsidies) and the ones that do pay, pay an average of less than 10%.

      We have steadily lowered the taxes corporations pay here for over 30 years, so how do you imagine that more of the same is going to help?

      Why is it that every time a reply begins with the words "in fairness", "in all fairness", or some similar sop, what follows is invariably an advocacy for less fairness?

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:33:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, he's correct. (0+ / 0-)

        Corporate taxes have corrosive and undesirable effects even when not paid, because of the forced resource allocation they cause.  The main problem with American taxes isn't the rate, per se, but the fact you have to pay them on overseas income, which no other country requires.

        It makes American companies far less profitable than the equivalent foreign company, and offers a very strong incentive for foreign takeover.

        The fact that 2/3rds of the companies don't pay income tax hints very strongly that the tax rate is over the Laffer curve and is actually returning less revenue than it could at a lower rate.

      •  LOL (0+ / 0-)
        Why is it that every time a reply begins with the words "in fairness", "in all fairness", or some similar sop, what follows is invariably an advocacy for less fairness?

        Just as when someone starts a sentence with "honestly" or "frankly", you know they are lying.

  •  Obama looked better in his sheeps clothing. (13+ / 0-)

    He sounded better, too.

    He took that clothing off the day after the election, and has never been the same.

    I still don't know what the deal is with him. Was he always a Corporatist? Has he been forced into this behaviour because of the "machinery" of our political/corporate/Wall Street structure?

    One thing I do know is he could be doing things very differently. He could be inviting ordinary citizens to the WH for conferences, for ideas, for dinner, for meet and greets. He could be doing Townhalls with off-the-cuff answers, and the questioner is allowed to keep asking the question until it's actually answered. He could be on the telly 3 times a week promoting some good and worthy cause, or policy change, etc, etc......  Even if he can't do anything because his hands are tied by Corporations.... because remember, this is no longer a democracy, we are now a corporatocracy....he could atleast spread the good word of what could and should be done. He could put those kernels in the American peoples minds. Instead of trying to convince us that the recession is over, or that compromise with the GOP on anything will be good for us, or that we all need to sacrifice on SS/Medicare, or any of this other GOP bullshit that keeps being pushed on us.

    He could do that.....he absolutley could, and yet, he doesn't.

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

    by Lucy2009 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:03:48 AM PST

    •  Everything went as planned planned (10+ / 0-)

      No need to do what you promise after you win the election.

      Now the dem strategy is that "we" will have no option but to again vote for the same shyster in chief because we are afraid of the slightly worse republicans getting into power again.

      The dems need to have their ass handed to them.

      It will be a cold day in hell before I vote for Obama again. I'll leave the looking forward and not backward to him since he is so good at it.

      •  I track with your sentiment, but........ (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, Outrider

        remember the Supreme Court. It's already a shambles. If a GOP President gets in office and assigns the next justice or two....wow.....we'll be thoroughly and royally fucked for decades to come. Maybe even in an irreversible way.

        I understand the anger, the feelings of betrayal, and the desire to strike back in the only way you can (not voting), just keep the above in mind.

        The only other option will be Palin, Pence, Huckabee.....it would be really gruesome.

        I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

        by Lucy2009 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:11:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Supreme Court... (6+ / 0-)

          Obama will do just as he did with his prior choices...he will place a justice on the bench who is to the right of the one he is replacing.  Who will probably be the next justice retiring?  Probably Ginsberg...and if he acts as he did with Stevens's replacement, we will get slight shift to the right still.  The court is already right-wing at this point, Obama is (and will not) doing nothing to counteract that trend.  I just hope their is a Democrat, a real Democrat, when Scalia and Thomas retire.

          •  Scalia and Thomas need to be impeached. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cardboardurinal, cameoanne, Lucy2009

            They've both committed repeated violations of the canons of judicial ethics.  Scalia's violations are particularly brazen and abusive, and frankly I'm surprised that lawyers haven't started requesting his removal from all cases as a matter of course, just to make the point.

            Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

            by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:07:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really. If you have a court filled with people (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cardboardurinal

              who lack ethics, integrity, and fairness....what's the point?

              The Supremes are starting to feel a bit like a relic that has gone beyond it's usefulness. Maybe not literally, but it sure feels that way sometimes.

              I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

              by Lucy2009 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:02:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Irrelevant At This Point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, Lucy2009

          So, we're supposed to just accept this garbage so that the pain increases only a little more slowly and the recovery takes much, much longer?   I don't think so.

          The current Democratic Party politicians need to be cleaned out of the underbrush.  They've failed their constituents.  A party is like any other organic organism.  A new dominant hierarchy can only become established when the old one swept away.  Alas, that time has come, as has been demonstrated by the continuing incompetence of the last four years.  We need something radically new and different and it won't come out of the leadership we currently enjoy.

          Re the Supreme Court, sufficiently dominant legislative positions can change the entire USSC in a heartbeat.  We see now that at least two Justices have committed likely impeachable offenses in just the last five years.  At least two of them could also likely get nailed for their Bush v. Gore decision back in 2000.  Once the electorate rises against the oligarchs and plutocrats, the USSC can be changed.  That's written into the Constitution.  The recent Administration actions have revealed that relying on this Administration for any major changes in USSC nominees is relying on a slender reed indeed.

          "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

          by PrahaPartizan on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:37:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with you completely. (0+ / 0-)

            D.C. is a sewage dump that needs to be cleaned-out, sterilized, and replaced IN FULL.....BOTH PARTIES!!!!

            If Obama doesn't tinker with SS, which I think he will, but if he doesn't, I'll probably vote for him because I do think he's better than the GOP, not by alot but a bit. However, if SS/Medicare are snipped in any way, that's it. I will not vote for him and I will register as an Independent. I won't be a party to a Party that is intentionally setting out to destroy me, my family and the rest of us that aren't in the top 2%.

            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

            by Lucy2009 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:06:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  If he did, the Corporate Media would be (8+ / 0-)

      pushing "Is He Really A Citizen?" stuff at us all day, every day. Or promote another version of "Swiftboating" on him. "Our top story tonight: Day 100 Without A Birth Certificate!"

      You can't get to be President in the United States without first being vetted for your willingness to cooperate. I can see how a good person would think "Reality is the system, so I must work within the System."

      But they'd be wrong if they don't recognize that the system is suicidally inclined. Which ours is. Sadly, there's no place in all of officialdom for the public recognition of how screwed up the status quo, and the players in it, are.

      It's the transpartisan Big Money agenda from which we suffer.

      Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

      by Jim P on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:18:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P

        We've got to get money out of the system from start to finish and even after that!

        I would really like to see all the liberal blogs and organizations get together and formulate a strategy for getting money out of our system. I can't hardly see that there is anything else worth putting their time and money into anymore. (or just about) This infection invades all legislation. Health, environment, jobs, banking, retirement, everything is geared to the big money interests and power brokers. Until and unless that is broken completely we are royally fucked in an ever increasing manner.

        Dontcha think?

        I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

        by Lucy2009 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:16:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, but to get that done, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pete Rock, Lucy2009

          to get anything at all done, well:

          Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

          by Jim P on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:07:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So you think that is even more basic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim P

            than getting money out of the system?

            Is that because folks are bombarded with false information, lies, fear and craziness from the Right? Thus we can't get enough correct information out to the public and therefore wide-spread agreement to get something like money out of the system pushed through?

            If that's your thoughts, then how the heck do we battle that?  I mean the media is all corporate and seemingly more Right leaning than anything. What would be a game plan on that?

            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

            by Lucy2009 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:15:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  How do you make anything an issue, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lucy2009

              and have success with that issue, if the mass-reach media (300 million people in a day or two, whether they want a given message or not) buries it, or undermines it?

              You'll never see "getting money out of politics" as a featured item because the boards of media interlock with the boards of the corporations which buy the politicians. They like it.

              Media is the gatekeeper, when it comes to candidates and to issues, and media builds the narratives about whatever they allow.

              So nothing changes till centralized messaging goes down.

              As to who: we'd have to work on it. You can start with there is no entity more despised by every single political/social outlook in the US than Corporate Media.

              I've written over and over about what could be done, but if you just keep "get a say in programming and content decisions over to the public" all the strategies and tactics unfold from there.

              It wouldn't really be that hard to do, IF we made it a priority, and had the sense to form coalitions.

              Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

              by Jim P on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:12:28 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  The question I have, is (0+ / 0-)

        this: what evidence do we have that Obama is really calling the shots? On some issues his handlers have given him a little slack, (health care reform).

        However, his selections of Wall St. insiders to "fix" the economy, the Gitmo issue, along with a bunch of illegal detention cases of which Bradley Manning is just one, leads me to believe that there is a wide swath of power in this country over which Obama has NO control. He is basically a puppet to the banks, the pentagon, and the milcon.

        Obama is a lawyer. He knows that the constitution is being violated, he knows the banks are cheating and breaking laws. He is being told to sit down and shut up at the point of a gun, I think. In DC, power is controlled by those who want it the most.

        I can't rationalize what he has done so far by calling him moderate. If this is moderate, then we folks here are frothing communists.

    •  And I believe he could have raised more money (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, Virginia mom, Lucy2009

      from individual citizens and won his re election. Instead he will now be completely funded, bought and paid for by the corporations and financial institutions he really serves. History will not be kind to him, or this period, for the destruction which is occurring through out this country.

      My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. Benjamin Disraeli

      by pvmuse on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:48:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That will depend on who writes the history NT (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PrahaPartizan, irmaly, Lucy2009

        "It is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence"

        by JesseCW on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:03:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  He's willing to be a one-term President. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lucy2009

        And if that's what it takes to get cushy jobs after he leaves office, perhaps that's what it takes.

        OK, I actually don't think Obama is that crooked.  The thing is, if he isn't that crooked, there's only one explanation.

        I think he's a fool.  A wilfully blind fool.  I refer you to the introduction to Krugman's The Great Unraveling for the psychology of denial involved.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:09:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I dont' think he's a fool. (0+ / 0-)

          With that said, I don't know what makes him tick. Why he would want a second term, why he doesn't stand-up and fight for us, why he seems to be a willing and happy lap dog for Wall Street/Corp America. How the hell does he sleep at night?????

          I don't know what his trip is anymore, but I'm not digging it at all. I don't really care anymore. He needs to stand-up for the middle class, and he's not doing it. If he doesn't win the fight, well OK, but he needs to atleast fight!!!!

          I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

          by Lucy2009 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:12:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  What does Obama care (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lucy2009

      about ordinary citizens  beyond the casting of their votes?   He suckered one group of ordinary citizens into getting him elected the first time  and now he is done with them.  It will take a different group of ordinary citizens  to reelect him and he is starting to work on them.    The citizens he most cares about are the not so ordinary rich ones because he is one of them now.  

  •  if this is what the administration actually (15+ / 0-)

    thinks:

    ...that the economy is ailing because they've been too tough on business, and that what America needs now is corporate tax cuts and across-the-board deregulation

    then I fear that the WH has become a little out of touch with the economic realities of working people. We don't need more corporate give aways, thats for sure.

    ty for the diary bob.

    Keep your objectivity: masturbate early and often!

    by rexymeteorite on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:14:13 AM PST

  •  More from Krugman's piece (26+ / 0-)

    The financial crisis of 2008 was a teachable moment, an object lesson in what can go wrong if you trust a market economy to regulate itself. Nor should we forget that highly regulated economies, like Germany, did a much better job than we did at sustaining employment after the crisis hit. For whatever reason, however, the teachable moment came and went with nothing learned.

    Demand Filibuster Reform call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 -AND KEEP CALLING

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:14:13 AM PST

  •  bobswern, for some time (6+ / 0-)

    i've thought your diaries and the climate-emergency diaries have been the most relevant here... notwithstanding the pootie follies, of course...
    please keep posting.  k bai thnx

  •  In the present social and economic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, zaka1

    environment, stasis equals regression. How many disasters are we going to be asked required to weather?

    Thanks for the diary, bobswern.

    "Space Available!" is the biggest retail chain in the nation.

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:44:22 AM PST

  •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    John Boehner - The hairy blue mold on the American congressional sandwitch. Matt Taibbi

    by blueoregon on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:55:40 AM PST

  •  Krugman is right on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, Free Jazz at High Noon

    How does this best case scenario play out? How exactly are we going to get the increased public investment? Jeff Immelt certainly didn't provide any specifics in his article... all that sounded like to me was more free trade, less taxes, less regulations. Do we really need Jeff's help to get any more of that?

    Krugmans been barking up this tree for close to two decades... one of the first econ books I read pop internationalism is all about this. In a recent blog post he pointed us towards an article from '94.. here's a part under the heading the Dangers of Obsession

    Thinking and speaking in terms of competitiveness poses three real dangers. First, it could result in the wasteful spending of government money supposedly to enhance U.S. competitiveness. Second, it could lead to protectionism and trade wars. Finally, and most important, it could result in bad public policy on a spectrum of important issues.

    During the 1950s, fear of the Soviet Union induced the U.S. goverment to spend money on useful things like highways and science education. It also, however, led to considerable spending on more doubtful items like bomb shelters. The most obvious if least worrisome danger of the growing obsession with competitiveness is that it might lead to a similar misallocation of resources. To take an example, recent guidelines for government research funding have stressed the importance of supporting research that can improve U.S. international competitiveness. This exerts at least some bias toward inventions that can help manufacturing firms, which generally compete on international markets, rather than service producers, which generally do not. Yet most of our employment and value-added is now in services, and lagging productivity in services rather than manufactures has been the single most important factor in the stagnation of U.S. living standards.

    A much more serious risk is that the obsession with competitiveness will lead to trade conflict, perhaps even to a world trade war. Most of those who have preached the doctrine of competitiveness have not been old-fashioned protectionists. They want their countries to win the global trade game, not drop out. But what if, despite its best efforts, a country does not seem to be winning, or lacks confidence that it can? Then the competitive diagnosis inevitably suggests that to close the borders is better than to risk having foreigners take away high-wage jobs and high-value sectors. At the very least, the focus on the supposedly competitive nature of international economic relations greases the rails for those who want confrontational if not frankly protectionist policies.

    We can already see this process at work, in both the United States and Europe. In the United States, it was remarkable how quickly the sophisticated interventionist arguments advanced by Laura Tyson in her published work gave way to the simple-minded claim by U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor that Japan's bilateral trade surplus was costing the United States millions of jobs. And the trade rhetoric of President Clinton, who stresses the supposed creation of high-wage jobs rather than the gains from specialization, left his administration in a weak position when it tried to argue with the claims of NAFTA foes that competition from cheap Mexican labor will destroy the U.S. manufacturing base.

    Perhaps the most serious risk from the obsession with competitiveness, however, is its subtle indirect effect on the quality of economic discussion and policymaking. If top government officials are strongly committed to a particular economic doctrine, their commitment inevitably sets the tone for policy-making on all issues, even those which may seem to have nothing to do with that doctrine. And if an economic doctrine is flatly, completely and demonstrably wrong, the insistence that discussion adhere to that doctrine inevitably blurs the focus and diminishes the quality of policy discussion across a broad range of issues, including some that are very far from trade policy per se.

  •  This is neoliberalism, defined. (6+ / 0-)

    There's nothing surprising here. Neoliberalism is about destroying the State to please business. Sometimes the desire to please is born out of an obsessive ideological focus on The Market; other times it is a much less interesting form of self-dealing.

    They want to destroy America, just like they work to destroy every other State.

  •  When the cost of housing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irmaly, drewfromct, Jimdotz

    finally catches up with the lowered American wages, we will be become more "competitive".
    Housing prices still have a ways to go in most areas.

    The cost of housing had turned us into slaves but at the same time made us very expensive to employ.

  •  Actually Krugman's column is positive towards (7+ / 0-)

    Obama as well.

    What Obama is trying to do is increase investments in infrastructure, research and education which will increase job growth.

    The argument Obama is making is that by doing that that will increase our competitiveness in a global economy.

    The reality is that this is what business wants too.  Obama is trying to wrestle business from the GOP.

    Jim Manley: "Republicans are making love to Wall Street, while the people on Main Street are getting screwed."

    by Drdemocrat on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:27:30 AM PST

    •  I heard this spiel 10 to18 years ago, (14+ / 0-)

      Infrastructure. Education. Competitiveness.

      On a yearly basis. Sounded great (and comfortably familiar even then), and Clinton could at least wrap himself in the tech bubble.

      Actions now matter much more than words.

      "Space Available!" is the biggest retail chain in the nation.

      by Free Jazz at High Noon on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:36:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's what Clinton said when he wanted (21+ / 0-)

      to pass NAFTA and deregulate the banks.  Think there's a pattern here?

      Business union busting, offshoring has been going on since the 70s.  "Do this or else we'll leave."  It's always been our faults.  Wages too high, unions too awful, benefits too big, pensions too expensive, too many rules, too many taxes, the devil made them do it. Business has been allowed to extort their way right out of here. Gave them everything we wanted because Reagan said "business isn't your enemy" and beat Democrats who were fighting CEOs.   Been that way ever since, and now we have nothing left.  Should have told them waaaaay back then to not let the door hit them in the ass.  Made it here, or we'll tax the living shit out of you to bring it back in.  Short and sweet - still not too late.  It is what France does, I understand.    

      What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

      by dkmich on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:45:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When are people going to call bullshit on this? (6+ / 0-)

        I am tired of this neoliberal spiel.  It doesn't work and never will work.

        "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

        by noofsh on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:07:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If we had called their bluff in the 70s (10+ / 0-)

          when there was no Chinese or Asian markets, they would have folded like a house of cards.     Build here what you sell here, or we'll tax you out of our market; and import a foreign company that actually wants our business. The longer we wait, the less any of the corporations will need the US market place.  

          We never use the power we have - always too timid, too ignorant, too afraid, or too loyal to a party that stabbed us in the back and abandoned us in the 90s.

          What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

          by dkmich on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:14:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It started (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PrahaPartizan, irmaly, drewfromct, neroden

            with the steel mills, I grew up in a steel mill town, and it had a healthy middle class, good schools, jobs, small family businesses, and it provided a good life for many.

            Right around the 1970's is when they started moving the steel industry overseas, and now the area I grew up in is a dismal place compared to the good days, I grew up in the town that Gene Shepherd wrote about in "God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash." His father worked in the mill and he writes about the kind of middle class background that is now a treasured memory of days gone by.  

            I will always remember some of the better times in our country when people mattered.  If we continue down this road eventually our government will become irrelevant to the people.  Especially, if they cut any last remaining safety nets like social security.  

            Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. Herman.

            by zaka1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:33:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You assume that the powers that be (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            neroden, Betty Pinson

            want to see the democratic capitalistic model that's been in place since the country's founding, succeed.

            They don't.

            Read Jeff Sharlett's "The Family."  We're headed for an evangelical fascist plutocracy, and the target date is 2015.  

            •  The thing is, that will explode. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bluezen

              We're headed for an evangelical fascist plutocracy, and the target date is 2015.

              Yep.  But those people are so batshit crazy that they're going to self-destruct in a massive fashion.

              Trouble is they could take a lot of the world with them.  Hitler self-destructed in a massive fashion, after all, as did the militaristic elite of Japan in the 1930s.  We call it World War II.

              Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

              by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:11:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  This: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PrahaPartizan, zaka1

        Made it here, or we'll tax the living shit out of you to bring it back in.

        Massive, punitive tariffs on goods and services imported from nations which refuse to meet or exceed American standards for the protection of workers, consumers, and the environment. At home, let's enact the Tobin tax on financial transactions on Wall St., and higher taxes on short term profits. Lower taxes on long term investments that create jobs, punitive taxes on businesses that exploit workers and export jobs. Oh, and tax penalties on businesses that replace humans with robots. We've all seen video of robots building cars on the factory floor. Ever seen a robot roll onto a showroom floor and buy one?

        Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

        by drewfromct on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:39:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, don't wash (6+ / 0-)

      We tried this for decades and it just doesn't work.  

      Our economic system is busted.  Let's face the reality that this country has been taken over by corporations.  That is the real problem.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:06:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Business (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PrahaPartizan, Betty Pinson

      wants everything for themselves and they don't give a damn about the people, this will not end well.  Business has been given everything including bail outs for their failures, it won't happen again, they have killed the goose that lays their golden eggs (the middle class).  The balance that kept the American people rebounding time and again crash after crash has passed the tipping point.  We are not rebounding, rebalancing, and to force us into thinking that we just need to be more competitive is pure myth.

      Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. Herman.

      by zaka1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:54:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irmaly, aufklaerer, JesseCW

    as always bobswern for your diaries.  This quote;

    "the President may profit, politically, from his current economic strategy, and thusly improve his chances for re-election in 2012; but, the greater truth is "...the ideology that brought economic disaster in 2008 is back on top -- and seems likely to stay there until it brings disaster again. "

    tells me that the people of this country are being left behind.  We can't compete with other countries that have a totally different political and economic system, it was difficult enough to compete for jobs in this country before NAFTA, and now we are suppose to compete with other whole entire populations in other countries.  This is insanity.

    Yes, the President may gain politically by gaining corporate finances for his 2012 campaign, but what about us, the voters, there I don't think he will gain politically.

    Too many world leaders are focused on corporations and not their populations and the people are fed up.  There is much civil unrest all over the world and people are beginning to question the relevance of their governments.  I remember a time in this country where your government didn't tell you what you could be when you grew up, you were free to decide for yourself.

    Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. Herman.

    by zaka1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:46:23 AM PST

  •  Corporation that increases profits (6+ / 0-)

    by slashing workers instead of expanding or improving product is nothing but a rogue pirate ship, swashbuckling its way from continent to continent, sucking up the economy and leaving an empty shell of a community in its wake.

    What's become sadder as this administration passes through is that its not going to change, and that there are so few corporations anymore that don't fit this description that the entire country has become the community that has been raped.

    I'm not afraid of guns! I'm afraid of the people that obsess over owning them.

    by Detroit Mark on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:07:13 AM PST

    •  "Downsizing" Represents Failure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Detroit Mark, Betty Pinson

      Executives who downsize their corporations are actually highlighting the fact they personally have failed in running their businesses.  Any reduction in staff beyond the normal churn which occurs in business means the executives have mismanaged the business.  Current business policies and tax practices allow corporations to reward executives for downsizing.  What a way to promote moral hazard!  The executives who screwed up get to increase their bonus by doing the very thing that shows they failed.  Until the incentive system denies any bonus to executives who downsize in a major way in a given year, we'll continue to get this type of crap.  The incentive system will drive behavior.  Don't expect good behavior with lousy policies.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:23:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's the power of Wall Street and short-term (0+ / 0-)

        profit over long-term growth. Check the stock price of a major company after it announces layoffs. That's where the reward for the real-world failure of downsizing comes from.

  •  Competitiveness is just another word for... (14+ / 0-)

    ...lower salaries, fewer benefits, and union busting.

    Consider me a Tea Party Democrat, but it's not my "country" I want back:
    The Corporations stole the People's party -- I want my party back!

    by Jimdotz on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:37:12 AM PST

  •  We had another battle (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, Jimdotz, CA TreeHugger

    in the plutocrats long running war on the working class, and the plutocrats were once again victorious. This will be the thrust of the State of the Union address. Nothing will be done to impede the upward flow of wealth from the working class to the already wealthy and getting wealthier. In fact, this upward flow of wealth will be presented as evidence of our ongoing economic recovery, i.e., it will be alleged that this upward flow of wealth will be used to make job creating investments.

    We had an economic crisis that destroyed millions of jobs, caused by Wall Street, as it made enormous gambles on the housing bubble, and lost, leading to a taxpayer funded bailout. The Obama administration made a failed attempt to bring some needed reforms to Wall Street to prevent such a crisis from happening again.

    The Obama administration will now preside over the continuation of the anti-regulatory regime that's been ongoing for decades, without reservation, and without hedging their bets by throwing a bone to working Americans

    Wall Street is, however, run by a mob of cynical bastards, who will demand incontrovertible proof that the Obama administration will remain faithful to them, and is willing to incur the wrath of the common folks by grabbing with both hands the third rail of politics in the form of Social Security reform. Wall Street must do this, you understand, or how else can they be certain that Obama isn't merely biding his time, awaiting another opportunity to reign them in?

    Of two things we can be certain. One, there won't be a single legitimate job creation initiative implemented in 2011, because successful job creation initiatives tend to divert wealth to the wrong people, and the wealthy are too short sighted to see how they would benefit from that. Two, Social Security will be reformed in some manner that leaves no doubt that Obama is willing to risk the anger of working Americans. I mean, once a president decides his primary mission is the welfare of working Americans, who knows where that might lead?

    And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out. --DFW

    by klingman on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:38:45 AM PST

  •  Do americans actually believe this bullshit? (5+ / 0-)

    After all the decades of talk about competitiveness, do "we the people" believe this bullshit anymore?  We have well educated, trained people who can't get a job because corporations don't create jobs in this country.  It's as simple as that.  If Obama goes down this road, he'll just open the floodgates for further attacks on unions, benefits such as social security, regulation, etc...

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:03:43 AM PST

  •  "Competition" = 3rd World Wages for Americans (6+ / 0-)

    . . . at least it'll solve the illegal immigration . . . when all the peons get paid the same crap hourly, why bother to move.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:10:47 AM PST

  •  Compensation drives behavior (9+ / 0-)

    If we really wanted to turn around our economy and make capitalism and engine for the good of all we could do it tomorrow.

    The Problem:  Executives are paid on short term results via options with relatively short vesting terms and Restricted Share Units.  That drives the behavior of cutting costs by cutting jobs and cutting R&D.  Cutting jobs hurts the economy today.  Cutting R&D hurts the economy tomorrow.

    The Fix:  Legislate that any payment in stock requires that the stock be held a minimum of 10 years before it can be sold.

    That simple change would drive massively different behavior.  Cutting costs would no longer be the name of the game.  Driving a sustainable business would be the name of the game.  

    That would be good for everyone.

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:17:32 AM PST

    •  Exactly (5+ / 0-)

      Corporate officers should only be treated as mere professionals with no other compensation than a salary.  The worst thing promoting myopia was the astoundingly stupid notion that corporate officers should be rewarded for performance that can just as easily come from hollowing out a company as by putting it to productive use.

      Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

      by Fossil on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:39:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We used to have regulations like that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, Mosquito Pilot, neroden

      Some also limited the amount of stock a corporation could give or "sell" to its top executives, for precisely those reasons.  

      No reason not to re-regulate.  Abolishing those regs didn't bring anything positive other than a massive shift of wealth and the offshoring of US jobs.

      Proud member of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:12:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another big problem are the huge "pensions" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden, Betty Pinson

        that former CEOs receive.

        G.E. actually is a great example for CEO pensions gone haywire.... Jack Welch, their former CEO, receives a 9 million dollar pension, plus all kinds of other benefits, while Jeffrey Immelt, as current CEO, receives "only" a third of that.

        Now how the fuck does it make sense for a former CEO to receive a pension that is 3 times as high as the pay of the current CEO?!

        We definitely need much higher top marginal income tax rates, that much is sure.

        "The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

        by Lawrence on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:47:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Fix #1: "proxy access" (0+ / 0-)

      Give shareholders the right to submit competing board candidates, and require that all resolutions pass by majority vote.

      Fix #2: "Say on Pay"
      Require that the CEO's pay package be approved by shareholders, or he gets nothing.  Ditto on the board's pay package.

      Fix #3: Require stockholder approval for all stock giveaways.
      No more handing out wads of newly issued stock to executives, require majority stockholder approval for it.

      Fix #4: Prohibit insurance for directors and executives against claims made by stockholders as a class.

      This sort of stuff is just considered "normal corporate governance" in Europe.  Lack of this is why CEOs can walk in, wreck a company, and loot it of billions, then waltz out without a care in the world.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:14:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bingo. Right on the money n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, zaka1

    Obama talks of "shared" sacrifice. What have the banksters and wealthy elite sacrificed, other than us?

    by Johnathan Ivan on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:28:57 AM PST

  •  Obama is a profoundly ignorant man. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, east bay, neroden, Tanya

    He, and the current crop of CEOs are unable to even comprehend what productive competitiveness is.  Schooled in nothing more than bean counting and employee manipulation these people have no interest in industrial and mercantile policy.  We can't expect much from their warped perspective.

    Obama has no experience in using the power of the government to aid citizens.  It shows.  And neither does he chose as economic advisers those who have actually had to create solutions for value-added work in America or productive investment.

    We can't expect an economic resurgence for main street from these people.  Obama has no clue.  The millionaires congress has no clue.  The Democratic elite, wedded to wall street, has no clue.  Yet they will, like a myna-bird, repeat words like competitiveness without understanding its meaning is some haze of truthiness.  

    Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

    by Fossil on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:33:33 AM PST

    •  You're giving him far too much credit. He is a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      east bay

      profoundly corrupt man. He knows exactly what he is doing.

      You're assuming Obama wants what 95% of America wants: a country that works. We need to get our minds around the fact that this man does not work for the people who voted for him. He shills for his heroes: the 5% who rolled him out as their new spokesmodel at the Democratic convention in 2004 - the suits, the savvy guys - the Wall Street team who provided the real money behind his presidential campaign.

      Obama works for the 5% that have our economy, the media monopoly, and all three branches of government working only for them - an all-powerful Wall Street/corporate establishment that will go to any lengths, including holding the American economy hostage, to keep it that way.

      We don't need a third party. We need a second party.

      by obiterdictum on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:16:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never assume malice (0+ / 0-)

        when incompetence will suffice.

        I think Obama's simply a deluded, sad little incompetent.  In denial about the problems he is facing, and unwilling to face up to them.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:15:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Certainly works for the media monopoly (0+ / 0-)

        Comcast GE  monopolky merger sailed thru, and now Immelt takes a job to make his buddy look good after their sale of media unit was allowed!

        No connection of course, GE is just being a global player and helping its friends...

        We have ClearChannels, what 5? 4 ? supergiants that control nearly all the distribution channels and they want more control and thjey are fgetting it.

        What happened to  widespread national free broadband, the competitiveness in access and information?   Schools helped to produce informed citizens regardless of rich or poor district? Ooops, there are big players that need to monetarize it.

        Forget it.

        cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

        by Pete Rock on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 11:10:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's inexperience and lack of good advice (0+ / 0-)

      Obama doesn't research or develop his own policy issues. He relies on others to bring ideas to him, then he gets his inside group to patch something together that helps him politically.  

      He does occasionally come up with good ideas.  The problem is that his access is so restricted he never hears new ideas. Its just the same old DLC/cororate pap.  

      I do believe if he had a more diverse group of ideas and opinions available to him, he would come up with better policies. His major blind spot is banking and finance.  He was raised by a banker (his grandmother) for many years and the pro-banking mentality is ingrained in him.

      Proud member of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:17:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks bobswern (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, Tanya, zaka1

    Competition is not the problem.

    Corporate Profits is not the problem.


    Investing in THIS Nation, starting with local communities,
    IS the Problem.

    When are we going to Nation Build, at home,
    where Americans actually work and live?


    I dream of things that never were  -- and ask WHY NOT?
    -- Robert F. Kennedy

    by jamess on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:05:50 AM PST

  •  GE TBTF? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, drewfromct, Tanya, zaka1

    "Tell me again what a triple-A rating is good for? Not a whole lot, if one of the iconic triple-As in American industry, General Electric, has to go hat in hand to the federal government for a $140 billion bailout.

    Or maybe G.E. isn't the bulletproof financial juggernaut the rating agencies say. The company's vaunted GE Capital unit has supposedly been a money machine for years, having generated solid returns come rain or shine. By now, the unit generates upwards of 40% of G.E. overall profits."
    This is from Seeking Alpha, Novermber 2008.
    http://seekingalpha.com/...

    Using Google, you can find lots of other articles showing how GE's very existence today is a result of taxpayer forced generosity and the FED.

    Why is it the Obama overwhelmingly chooses TBTF sycophants and employees for positions in his administration?

  •  Obama time & again invokes India when talking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, DorothyT

    about competitiveness. Let's hear from the horse's mouth for a change. This from Tehelka , an alt news source :

    http://dailycensored.com/...

    Nov 2, 2010: Voters to Obama: "Yes, we did. We looked forward, not backward".

    by Funkygal on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:29:19 AM PST

  •  Nobody's Running the United States. Other Nations (8+ / 0-)

    are being run as nations --China and India for sure-- but our leadership is only running markets.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:38:20 AM PST

    •  Yessir. (0+ / 0-)

      Central to the capitalist mindset is a weak government that puts markets above the rest of society.

      And most of America has bought into the ideology hook line and sinker. Markets matter. People don't.

      For all their talk of patriotism, they surely don't give a shit about the citizens. Its like folks who care about the edifice of a church rather than the parishioners.

  •  It's funny, you know who is the world's (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, east bay, Tanya, DorothyT

    second larger exporter in dollar terms but first per capita by a huge margin?

    Germany.

    In "old dying Europe" with its strikes, "lazy workers" 5 week paid summer holidays, and government run health care. And they don't get to be the number one exporters selling BMWs and Mercedes alone.

    Lack of competitiveness, or so-called onerous labor laws are not what's killing manufacturing in the US. It's policies so-called Democrats like Obama have embraced along with Republicans since the 80s that have done the trick.

    "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

    by michael1104 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:01:50 AM PST

    •  German Austerity (0+ / 0-)

      Their response to the recession was to force concessions from the unions and roll back social benefits.  Austerity there was relatively uncontroversial.

      •  Not exactly true. In response to less wage (0+ / 0-)

        bargaining, work councils have spread. In response to cutbacks, welfare payments actually went up. Read "Were you born on the wrong continent?" The Germans have handled this financial mess far better than many other countries.

  •  "Competitiveness" (0+ / 0-)

    sounds like a great way to fall behind the rest of the world, and fast.

    We didn't win the Cold War. We lost it to the same corporate oligarchs that Russia did.

    by verdastelo on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:09:58 AM PST

  •  The other problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Virginia mom

    is that more education is unlikely to help the 55 year old out of work and looking for a job. Not if no one hires him/her no matter how educated or retrained.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:43:19 AM PST

  •  Good diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    I read Krugman this morning.  I think he's right, especially about this:

    and seems likely to stay there until it brings disaster again

    Trumka: "Absolutely Insane" to Extend Tax Cuts for Millionaires

    by TomP on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:50:26 AM PST

  •  Has GE created ANY net jobs in the U.S.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    east bay, MixedContent

    ...in the past 30 years?

    No.

    That makes Immelt the perfect choice for a president who wants to destroy what's left of the middle class.

    Obama stands with war profiteers, torturers, Wall Street, health insurance companies, Big PhARMA, Big Oil and Social Security-haters. Good at photo ops, though.

    by expatjourno on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:53:07 AM PST

    •  Seeing that Immelt has only been the CEO (0+ / 0-)

      of G.E. for 10 of those 30 years... how is that question relevant at all.

      I want to know what G.E. has been doing for direct and indirect job creation since the recession.  That's what is important here.  And if they have pared down employment numbers in their financial division, I sure won't tie a noose for them over that.

      "The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

      by Lawrence on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:10:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Income Disparity & Executive Overcompensation (0+ / 0-)

    is where the competiveness gap needs to be addressed.

    Overpaid, counterproductive, lazy trash who don't want to get their expensive wardrobes dirty, sweaty, or wrinkled are the problem.

    It takes NO SKILL to hand out jobs according to your personal prejudices and dishonestly call it "Equal Opportunity".
    Personnel is where corruption and incompetence get opportunity.
    BIGOTRY is NOT "people skills".  EOE-l/i/e.
    DISHONESTY is NOT "communications skills".  EOE-l/i/e.
    The lottery is EQUAL OPPORTUNITY.

    Personnel bigots outsource illegal discrimination to employment agencies while simultaneously claiming to be experts in the field of "work".

    Public Relations liars put lipstick on the corporate pigs.  
    How Ironic.  EOE-l/i/e.

  •  It's worse than that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan

    CEOs often don't do what's best for the corporation or entity in their charge, choosing instead to take actions that increase their bonuses at the expense of shareholders and long-term growth.

    Today's example:  Fannie May and Freddie Mac.

    Plus, companies flush with money are buying out their competitors, thus eliminating competition, creating virtual monopolies thanks to lax oversight by the Justice Department.

  •  Krugman is a national treasure n/t (0+ / 0-)

    I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use - Galileo

    by hamm on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:02:30 AM PST

  •  If Obama were (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Virginia mom

    to come out about being competitive in investments in education, green technologies, high speed rail, infrastructure besides expressways, it might mean something beneficial to the US in the long run.

    But to date, it would appear that he has abandoned those efforts after the initial stimulus and now he's joined the runaway freight train off the broken tressle which collapsed due to insufficient investment in infrastructure.  Its a race to the bottom that will end in a crash, but no one seems to be worried.  Kind of like the old joke I heard as a kid about a guy that jumps off a 50 story building and can be heard as he passes the windows on each floor, 'so far, so good'.  Unfortunately, it ends badly.

  •  Competitiveness has always only meant one thing (0+ / 0-)

    Lower wages, no unions and lax regulation. If we're going to go for global convergence, can we at least agree that we shouldn't aim to build a global banana republic?

    22 December 2010: Democrats have one good day in two years, and what will it cost us?

    by papicek on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:37:36 AM PST

  •  I respectfully disagree with Krugman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence

    "...But let's not kid ourselves: talking about "competitiveness" as a goal is fundamentally misleading. At best, it's a misdiagnosis of our problems. At worst, it could lead to policies based on the false idea that what's good for corporations is good for America..."

    Since Reagan, I think the US trade deficit  is about $6 trillion. It's amazed me that the economists haven't given this as much attention as it deserves. How can the US continue to thrive as long as they're sending $6 trillion more in cash to other countries than they're taking in? I've yet to see any economist convince me the US doesn't have a problem here. And a big chunk of that problem is 'competitiveness'. Personally, I think it's had a greater impact on the loss of jobs and the economic crisis than the financial deregulation/bank&credit mortgage issues.

    To some extent, with entitlement programs, it's very difficult for the US to compete dollar for dollar in labor. But to me, competitiveness goes well beyond that.

    China and others have been playing currency games. The US on other countries deserve a level playing field.

    China and others have been ripping off intellectual property that belonged to US companies. That needs to be stopped.

    China and others do not adhere to labor and environmental standards that do contribute to the cost of products made in the US. If they won't adhere to improving those, then their products that cause environmental issues should be smacked with a duty to level that playing field. If there's child labor or grotesque labor practices involved, the products shouldn't be allowed into the US.

    And if one addresses those issues - that Obama has been talking about for years, some of the US jobs lost to other countries can be returned.

    So no, 'competitiveness' isn't all about corporations. It's also very much about getting the trade pendulum to swing back some the other way, cutting down the $6 trillion dollar cash gush and getting Americans jobs that were effectively ripped off with illegal or unethical or environmentally unfriendly trade practices.

    I like Paul and think he's a brilliant, great guy but I heartily disagree with his narrow view on competitiveness.

    •  You make some really good points here. (0+ / 0-)

      Another aspect that people tend to forget, and that Krugman has ignored here, is that oil imports are killing the U.S. in terms of trade deficit numbers.

      Eliminate the oil imports by switching to renewables would, at the minimum, halve the U.S. trade deficit, if I remember correctly.

      "The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

      by Lawrence on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:06:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is no feasible way (0+ / 0-)

        to eliminate oil imports anytime soon. We import around 10 million barrels of crude alone each day. To completely ween ourselves off that would take decades.

        Not that we shouldn't, you know, start....

        •  A 5% reduction every year would be pretty easy to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Betty Pinson

          achieve.

          With a national plan we could get rid of most oil imports within ten years.

          But yeah, it's really hard when one party is bascially controlled by Big Oil.

          "The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

          by Lawrence on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:17:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We were starting more than 30 years ago (0+ / 0-)

          when Carter was president. Then Reagan came in a tossed the whole plan. We have short memories as a country. Six years after the 70s oil crisis that saw long gas lines and alternate day plans, we ditched any plan for weaning ourselves from oil. Instead, we were soon back to buying even bigger, less efficient gas guzzlers.

    •  None of this could have happened if it had not (0+ / 0-)

      been the policy of our government. I think that's an obvious point that should be made.

      We don't need a third party. We need a second party.

      by obiterdictum on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:19:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Krugman has written on most of the issues (0+ / 0-)

      you mention and his POV is similar.  He's been talking about our problems with trade imbalances and currency manipulation for years.

      As for "entitlements" being part of the problem by keeping US wages high, that seems absurd unless you're promoting a drastic reduction in US wages and the resulting reduction in our standard of living. Impoverishing the working class isn't necessary to achieve a healthier economy, that's been proven time and again in our economic history.

      Proud member of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:23:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's being proven to this day in Germany. nt (0+ / 0-)
      •  I'm not advocating a drastic reduction in US (0+ / 0-)

        wages and entitlements. I did not say that. That's a strawman attempt.

        Look at where China & the US fall in healthcare for example:
        http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/...
        (I don't subscribe to the accuracy of this chart - but it does roughly reflect the problem)

        The US would be more competitive with jobs if it's spending per capita on healthcare was more in line with the rest of the world - ignoring China. I'm sure Krugman would agree. To me, that's an ingredient of competitiveness. That is a part of what Obama has been trying to do with healthcare. Getting it in line with the rest of the world won't solve competing with China on that cost component but it would help with competing with the rest of the world and help to recover some US jobs. And that's but one example.

        Evergreen, a solar panel company got tens of millions in subsidies for it's manufacturing plant in MA. They just announced they're closing the facility because China offered them incredible financing (basically bought the business). Now if the GOP want to cut the government's purse strings, how can the US compete with that? To me, that's another issue regarding competitiveness that needs to be addressed either by having the dough or altering the trade rules.

        Krugman is being dismissive of Obama's efforts to address these issues on competitiveness. Obama wrote about them in Audacity of Hope and has talked about them for years. I think Krugman is wrong portraying them as something that will only help corporations because addressing these issues can help bring back jobs to the US.

  •  Krugman's complaint in a nutshell: (0+ / 0-)

    But even if he proposes good policies, the fact that Mr. Obama feels the need to wrap these policies in bad metaphors is a sad commentary on the state of our discourse.

    But I am told constantly by progressives that people don't care about process or optics- they just want jobs, gosh darnit.

    What progressives must mean, in reality, is that they care about process and optics when it is process and optics they favor.

    Not surprising, but they should be more honest.

    Progressivism, like conservatism, cannot fail. It can only be failed.

    by tomjones on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:17:40 AM PST

    •  Exactly the opposite (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LucyandByron, neroden, RandomSequence

      Your quote from Krugman illustrates the damage that message framing can do to sincere efforts to fix the economy.  He and the rest of us already know a lot about the "process" and past evidence of which economic policies work.

      But we also know that, even when tendering sensible economic reform, the president's habit of couching those ideas in conservative terminology and framing actually weakens his chances of getting what he wants.

      Proud member of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:27:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Laws are made out of words. (0+ / 0-)

        Poor choice of "metaphor" leads to poor law and regulation. It's not optics or PR -- the very essence of a policy is in the language that is used to describe the policy.

        But then again -- you are responding to a poor man'sGoebels! You could have written an 5 pages deconstructing every propagandistic element in "TomJones" statement.

  •  I read this last night (0+ / 0-)

    and posted a comment to the effect of, "Tariffs will help us compete... railed against Immelt and GE, and that I am embarrassed for Obama...Anyway they didn't post it. hmmmm

    The San Francisco Bay Bridge, MADE IN CHINA

    by east bay on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:31:52 AM PST

  •  Robert Reich offered four (4+ / 0-)

    definitions of competitiveness

    This is the one he prefers:

    <...>

    — It’s the number and quality of American jobs. This is my preferred definition, but on this measure we’re doing terribly badly. Most Americans are imprisoned in a terrible tradeoff — they can get a job, but only one that pays considerably less than the one they used to have, or they can face unemployment or insecure contract work. The only sure way to improve the quality of jobs over the long term is to build the productivity of American workers and the US overall, which means major investments in education, infrastructure, and basic R&D. But it’s far from clear American corporations and their executives will pay the taxes needed to make these investments. And the only sure way to improve the number of jobs is to give the vast middle and working classes of America sufficient purchasing power to get the economy going again. But here again, it’s far from clear American corporations and their executives will be willing to push for a more progressive tax code, along with wage subsidies, that would put more money into average workers’ pockets.

    It’s politically important for President Obama, as for any president, to be available to American business, and to avoid the moniker of beiing "anti-business." But the President must not be seduced into believing — and must not allow the public to be similarly seduced into thinking — that the well-being of American business is synonymous with the well-being of Americans.

    I'm not sure why there is a need to get hung up on semantics. As the other three definitions show, those approaches will not create jobs here.

    Obama's approach is going to have to be as close to Reich's preferred definition to be considered successful. This is not a situation like the 1990s, there is a huge jobs deficit and people are focused on the quality of the jobs that are being created.

    The pressure is on, and unless the economy begins to create millions of quality jobs, President Obama is going to be lambasted.

    •  How we define "success" (5+ / 0-)

      seems to be part of the problem in defining "competition".  

      Those who define "success" as maximizing shareholder value have a much different view of "competition" than those who define "success" as a good standard of living for all Americans, energy independence, a healthy democracy and a secure future.

      Those who define the endpoint differently will never reach agreement. Myself, I support economic and regulatory policy that works for the public benefit of all Americans, not just a few.

      Proud member of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:40:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not even really maximizing shareholder value (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chuckvw, LucyandByron, Betty Pinson

        That's actually a scam -- those who invented the idea are saying so now.  The people who claim to "maximize shareholder value" have been destroying the value for long-term investors.  It's all about maximizing the take-home money for CEOs and their buddies.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:17:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Free" market version of 5-year plan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Betty Pinson

          Remember the old Soviet-Era Five-Year Plans for economic growth, many of which were quietly abandoned as failures?  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          Here, the plan is for a five-year cycle of Mafia-style bust-out:  neutron-bomb the worker bees, bonus; bubble, bonus; then activate the golden parachute and bail before the crash.  The company reorganizes and gets a fresh infusion of capital or credit.  A new CEO comes on board and the cycle repeats.  The old one moves on to a new target or cushy appointment to a board or in DC.  

          Bust-out illustration from the Sopranos:  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" --King Jugurtha

          by LucyandByron on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 11:30:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Bust Out" (0+ / 0-)

            Thanks for the terminology. That's exactly what it is.

            A "bust out" is a common tactic in the organized crime world where a business's assets and lines of credit are exploited and exhausted to the point of bankruptcy.

            Organized crime moved into Wall Street along time ago

            Proud member of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

            by Betty Pinson on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:55:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Well said Betty. nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chuckvw, Betty Pinson
  •  Dan Rather had a special on HDNET (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, neroden, Betty Pinson, Oh Mary Oh

    called Help Wanted! - Not Here that describes the outsourcing of work to India.

    Now that the Fortune 1000 has embraced this arrangement, the Indian outsourcers are looking to go down-market and attract work from the smaller companies.

    Very poignant and distressing - seeing the hollowing out of Silicon Valley, unemployed techs and managers.

    The rewarding of companies through our tax code bears a lot of the blame.

  •  We're dealing with an addiction issue (0+ / 0-)

    We have a ruling elite that's addicted to quick, easy money.  It's no longer about business cycles or structural instability. There is increasingly less business - in the traditional sense of inventing, manufacturing, marketing - being conducted, and the structure is being rapidly gutted, hollowed out for that quick fix.

    It's greed. The Villagers are mainlining it. Smoother words were never spoken than by a jonesing junkie.  But if you don't fall for the con, he'll just wait for you to go to work and steal your television and grandma's brooch.

    They are addicted, but, apparently, we will have to hit rock bottom before we admit we have a problem.

    Whom do you blame more? The rattlesnake, or the bipartisan guy who put it in your sleeping bag?

    by chuckvw on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 11:13:31 AM PST

  •  Competition is basically uncivilized. (0+ / 0-)

    Where did the idea come from that the "general welfare" purpose of the United States Constitution is un-American?

    I'll be happy to have a polite discussion with an elected official who thinks the best way to promote the general welfare is to compete rather than share intelligently.  But I won't be civil to someone who isn't trying to promote the general welfare.

    A right answer to the wrong question is a wrong answer.

    by legalarray on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 11:36:38 AM PST

  •  With 15 million lost middle class jobs (0+ / 0-)

    and even more scheduled- more manufacturing is scheduled to close than open new plant this year, there will be buyers' caution and resistance.

    How many small and medium companies are pulling the plug after struggling to survive these past 2 to 3 years?  A big company like Stanley Bostich is closing a US plant this year.  So are many, many others.  Where is the unbiased count of companies be they 25 or 50 of 1500 or more (Stanley Bostich is 1,500  and their plans?

    I am looking for a second dip in the Great Recession.  

    The purchasing power is seriously eroded. 2%  SSI "taxholiday" pay hike in the face of new inflation is a wash and the new  millions who have no money to spend besides their rent and food.  Real estate is still headed down because there is no great pool of domestic purchasers, it is a bad bet to invest in a depreciating asset.

    cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

    by Pete Rock on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 11:45:13 AM PST

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