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Recently Paul Krugman pointed to this piece on Europe's current problems by Kevin O'Rourke:
One lesson that the world has learned since the financial crisis of 2008 is that a contractionary fiscal policy means what it says: contraction. Since 2010, a Europe-wide experiment has conclusively falsified the idea that fiscal contractions are expansionary. August 2011 saw the largest monthly decrease in eurozone industrial production since September 2009, German exports fell sharply in October, and is predicting declines in eurozone GDP for late 2011 and early 2012.

A second, related lesson is that it is difficult to cut nominal wages, and that they are certainly not flexible enough to eliminate unemployment.

Of this, Krugman says:

Basically, European experience is very consistent with a Keynesian view of the world, and radically inconsistent with various anti-Keynesian notions of expansionary austerity and flexible prices. [...]

The crisis really has settled some major issues in economics. Unfortunately, too many people — including many economists — won’t accept the answers.

This is a rather fundamental point. Not just economists, of course, but think-tank ideologues, politicians and general hangers on are awash with notions of how such-and-such will happen if you do such-and-such. The difference between evidence-based theories and hackish ones, however, is the part about being evidence-based. Any decent economist or policymaker will hungrily examine the real world results of their policy implementations and, if necessary, adapt their thinking in line with the evidence. Ideologues, however, will not, and that is the prime definition of a hack: someone whose theories never hold up to real world scrutiny or practice, but who nonetheless still vows in their efficacy because, damn it, it behooves them to do so.

The current fad is to declare that austerity, in the form of slashed budgets, slashed jobs, a slashed tax based and so on will magically produce the opposite of all those things, as wealthy benefactors rush in to spend all the new money you have given them, create jobs creating new products nobody can afford to buy, and, I don't know, start rebuilding infrastructure out of the goodness of their hearts. It is never clear, and nor is it honest: it is predicated on the danger of the Scary Deficit Monster, who was not at all scary during the time he was being fed by these same politicians and think-tank prophets, but who, like any false god, just happens to hate all the same things that his worshippers do.

In this case, the Scary Deficit Monster hates helping unemployed people, hates regulations (regardless of whether or not they save money), hates government in every form save the military, and especially hates it when well-off citizens are asked to pay the same rates they did a few decades ago, back during the dark, nearly apocalyptic 1980s or 1990s. That is damn nuanced policy for a mindless, frothing Deficit Monster, but it is consistent: the Deficit Monster hates anything Democrats might want and just happens to love all the ideas of the Heritage Foundation, etc., etc. And why not? Even a Deficit Monster ought to love its mother.

Europe, meanwhile, caught austerity fever early and with gusto, as O'Rourke says. The experiment was tried. It didn't work. It's still not working, and basic economic theory (of the non-silly variety) pretty much predicted that outcome. A rational approach would be to write the whole thing down in the notebook under stuff we tried that didn't work,and move on to something else. This, however, would require admitting that much-loved economic countertheories about how poor people are leeches, rich people gods, and government powerless saps have been rendered invalid, and at least two-thirds of the political and nine-tenths of the financial industries are devoted to propping up those notions, so that "invalidation" will never happen.

This speaks to the very core of conservative distrust of science. A fundamental of science is that once something has been conclusively disproved, you ought to stop believing in it, and certainly ought to think twice about using it as the foundation for building your own supposedly "scientific" notions. You can believe that if you feed a horse a penny, it will poop out a dime, but once the experiment has been tried and has failed you probably should cancel your plans for a horse-based retirement fund.

This is roughly what has happened in Europe, as every nation that has attempted contractionary polices has found itself faced with, glory be, contraction. Austerity has resulted in austerity and has not magically morphed into expansion via the power of Told You So. We should probably stop expecting the horse to crap out dimes, at this point. We should also probably reflect on what this means for our own "austerity" policies here in this country, but that would require several hundred politicians, thousands of lobbyists, and a hundred thousand ideologues to cop to being proved wrong on something, which will never, ever happen. The mere suggestion is always met with fury. The point is not what reality proves or disproves, the point is the ideology, and if the reality conflicts with the ideology then it is reality that can go to hell.

You'll seldom see this in the hard sciences. Physics, chemistry, biology, fluid mechanics, you name it: everyone is allowed to have a theory that is wrong, but once you start asserting things that people know and have proven to be wrong, you are labeled a crackpot and not taken very seriously after that. If the horse does not poop dimes, it does not poop dimes. If the world is not flat, or the moon is not made of cheese, or your attempts at transmuting lead into gold using nothing more than incantations borrowed from old nursery rhymes did not, in fact, result in gold, then continuing to  vow it is true will not get you anywhere. Unless, of course, you work for a group whose funding is predicated on vowing it; then you're all set. Continue on!

The notion of expansionary austerity has been disproven. There's no evidence for it, and quite considerable real-world evidence against it. It is the economic equivalent of Cold Fusion claims, and if economics were treated like a hard science then the practitioners would now be laughed out of the room so that the serious folks could get on with doing more serious work. That, however, will not happen, which is about as discrediting a thing to tar the profession with as I can think of. Economics has long been smirked at as one of the few supposed sciences in which being disproven will not actually diminish your stature. Hell no—get disproven spectacularly enough, and Glenn Beck might even start promoting your books.

On the ideological front, we will keep hearing of magical ponies that are fed pennies and poop dimes; of regulations that, if repealed, will allow financial managers to transmute alcohol into gold during their lunch hours; and of job-creators that will create jobs just for the hell of the thing, whether they have any need for them or not. The Deficit Monster will continue to be very, very scary, and continue to hate all the same things Republicans hate. We will continue to be told that if we lower taxes on rich people, the rest of us will be better off, even after decade after decade of trying that exact goddamn thing to no such effect. It is not a science, it is a damn religion.

I said above that this speaks to the more general conservative distrust of science. For most people, it would be fairer to say that it speaks to a conservative misunderstanding about the whole notion of science. My own hypothesis—and I would be happy to be proven wrong, since it seems easily testable—is that there are a great many people who have difficulty grasping the boundaries between belief and fact, or between supposed and proven. This is why evolution drives them to fits: the Biblical version is presumed to be "fact" because it is in the Bible, case closed; the biological version, however, can never possibly be "proved" to satisfaction because you will never see a monkey with chicken wings, or because eyeballs are terribly complex, or countless other variations. It is an inability to parse out what constitutes evidence, and what does not, and to evaluate the relative strengths. At the extreme end is conspiracy theory.

The movers of policy, however, have no such excuses. If you are claiming expertise on a topic, you had better show some damn expertise, or be discredited. If you are claiming, as Paul Ryan loosely has, that your budget will work because the Magical Budget Fairy will float down and fix all the numbers afterward, you had better be prepared to produce evidence of said Fairy or be proven a hack.

A large segment of American political life is dedicated to the notion that wealthy Americans should be coddled, poor Americans should face austerity, and free-market magic will then fix all. There is certainly motive for rich Americans to make that entirely self-serving claim, and there is certainly a cash motive for lobbyists who work on their behalf to peddle it, and for "think tank" figures to pipe up with whatever bare-bones figures they can possibly come up with to defend it, but it is a tried idea. It failed. It is failing, even now.

Any rational person would now discard those ideas. We, however, are not governed by rational people. We are governed by ideologues, grifters and children.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As a Brit, (65+ / 0-)

    I can confirm austerity isn't working over here. I can also confirm that, just like the American right, the British right is not only ignoring common-sense, proven economic theory and instead flirting with this crazy hyper-conservative bullshit known as austerity, but is also protecting tax-dodging massive corporations and trying to cut taxes for the rich while at the same time making university more expensive, raising taxes on the poor and slashing vital services. David Cameron may be fairly socially liberal, but on most issues he's a dick.

    British guy with a big interest in US politics.

    by General Goose on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:09:08 AM PST

    •  Someone here a few months ago noted (32+ / 0-)

      that the real divide here on the Big Orange is between those who know about "neo-liberal" shock doctrine economics  (free trade, open markets, the importance of a balanced budget) and the Washington Consensus (the mating of otherwise liberal Democrats to the conservatism of "neo-liberal" economics) and oppose neo-liberalism, and those who don't know about it, and so are left to make political judgements without much understanding of the economic forces destroying America. That's why I have argued that Barack Obama is not really an evil person, just that he is a dolt when it comes to economics because he believes in "neo-liberalism,"  Wow, you could hear the screams of anger through the tubez back in  December 2008 when I first starting writing along those lines after Obama announced his economics team of Summers, Geithner, and Goolsbee.

      Hunter has better way of attacking this problem of false gods of ideology because he can make you laugh about it with a witty turn of phrase.

      A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

      by NBBooks on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:48:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But Hunter is still conservative on the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, Tommy Allen, yaque


        He says "We, however, are not governed by rational people. We are governed by ideologues, grifters and children."

        Nowhere in the diary does Hunter call for any kind of confrontation with those Democrats who are enabling the grifters.

        How can one endorse the end but not the means?

        As long as DKos refuses to push for change, we will not have change.

        DKos needs to stop believing in hope

        But this leaves you no defence against Feior's next spell - a blast which strikes you full on, incinerating you instantly

        by GideonAB on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 10:29:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, the real problem is the ideology (5+ / 0-)

          and that's exactly what Hunter is attacking imho. And I think it's appropriate to focus on the wrong-wingers, because, I can honestly say, there's been a huge shift on the left in USA. Back in August 2009, Bonddad posted his GBCW diary, apparently after not enough people applauded thunderously enough for the "green shoots" of that summer. Remember them green shoots?

          Bonddad's departure caused a lot of wailing and self-recrimination here. Well, not me. I posted a diary that basically said good bye and good riddance, and tried to explain It’s the IDEOLOGY of the economy, stupid. Go back and see how little attention it got. But then tell me I was wrong. Because I still think I got it right:

          When President-elect Obama announced his economics team, I tried to join in raising an outcry, especially over Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner (The Problem with Obama's Economics Team, Dec 09, 2008). I was not wrong – those who responded by insisting “give him time” or “Obama’s got it” were wrong, and we can thank them in large part for the terrible summer this has been for Democrats, with the increasing evidence that progressives are unhappy and even disillusioned with President Obama.

          But I failed spectacularly by not including Rahm Emanuel, who made his fortune as an investment banker with Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort), in the group of advisers who would be giving the President woefully bad economic advice. Krugman has another nice quote.

          It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary” — or, I would add, his campaign contributions — “depend upon his not understanding it.”
          This is why it is going to be almost impossible to find anyone that can provide good economic advice among the ranks of those who have been “successful” at becoming rich in the past two or three decades. The system in which they succeeded is exactly the system hopelessly infected with systemic flaws that make the system a threat to the rest of us – whether that threat takes the form of financial insecurity, lack of health care, or environmental Armageddon. FDRs’ great triumph of saving capitalism from itself and creating a liberal order that lasted half a century was ensured by his bringing into his circle of trusted advisers a few people who had not become rich and successful in the system, such as Harry Hopkins, and Frances Perkins, both managers of welfare services from New York and Philadelphia, respectively. (See Frances Perkins - The Woman Behind FDR's New Deal)

          This problem of elites being too fully invested in their previous structures of thinking is discussed as a primary cause of the collapse of previous civilizations by Jared Diamond.

          Not that I'm an overlooked genius: in my naivete, I actually thought that the financial crash of 2007-2008 would finally allow us to destroy the political power of Wall Street. I'm sure there are people who remember me writing about that. For example: Dec 2008, Need to be ruthless and punitive toward Wall Street  or Feb 2009, The Beast of Wall Street must be brought to Justice.

          But people like Obama, or my Congressman, David Price (who I have confronted three times with the demand that Goldman Sachs be "annihilated" which left him thinking I'm a raving lunatic - this was two frigging years ago now), though they are generally "good" Democrats, were educated and rose to success in a system of political economy in which the role of finance as predatory was not just accepted, but admired. THAT's the problem. Almost everything they think they know about political economy is simply wrong. This is in no small part, no fault of their own. The religious cult of neo-liberalism has been taught to the exclusion of almost every other school of economics. But, as Hunter quotes Krugman above:

          The crisis really has settled some major issues in economics. Unfortunately, too many people — including many economists — won’t accept the answers.

          I think there has been more progress here, and on the left in general, toward accepting the answers. For one thing, no one here treats me like a lunatic when I call for annihilating Goldman Sachs anymore. Maybe that's not enough progress to save our sorry asses, but it is progress.

          A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

          by NBBooks on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 01:09:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  how did you identify (0+ / 0-)

            the ideology as the problem?

            And how does posting the ideology here on this blog address it? Many people here are already dubious about Geithner.

            However, if you attack Schumer, raise hell, then we have the possibility that we can replace him and move the country in the right direction.

            Do you agree?

            But this leaves you no defence against Feior's next spell - a blast which strikes you full on, incinerating you instantly

            by GideonAB on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 01:40:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Count Me Among Those... (4+ / 0-)

        who howled.  I thought Geithner, in particular, was a good choice, and was not at all concerned about the others.

        Geithner has proven a disaster.  His job is to protect the wall street status quo.  I think he honestly believes that is the right thing to do.  That is because his background and experience makes it impossible to think otherwise.

        But in the intervening (nearly) four years, it has become clear that the survival of wall street should not and can not be the most important domestic policy objective of the government.

        The thing that bothers me is it shouldn't be that hard for a (presumably) smart man like Obama to learn enough about economics to realize how wrong this policy is.  That leads me to believe there is something other than ignorance going on here, and that makes me very sad.

        •  well Obama (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is not smart at everything.

          He is probably smart at the law but we should not assume this extends to everything else

          But this leaves you no defence against Feior's next spell - a blast which strikes you full on, incinerating you instantly

          by GideonAB on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:10:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  He has the ability to learn. Why won't he? (0+ / 0-)

            How many divisions does OWS have?

            by Diebold Hacker on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:24:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Two suggestions (4+ / 0-)

              I have no special insight.

              It might be interesting to speak to an insider on this.


              Having said that, imagine you are a lawyer who suddenly feels out of your depth in Washington.  You might very well rely on people like Geithner.

              My second point is that Obama is a Christian.  Christians often do not like the world around them.  So they find solace in bad philosophy.  Because those ideas are accepted for emotional rather than logical reasons, it can be hard to listen to other people challenge them.

              Look at internet atheist chat forums.  Christians will often just dodge the question.  It is easier to do that than to accept you might be wrong about one of the most fundamental questions of life

              But this leaves you no defence against Feior's next spell - a blast which strikes you full on, incinerating you instantly

              by GideonAB on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:31:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  He sez he likes Lincoln, he should emulate the man (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Matt Z

              I'm a James McPherson junkie, just finished his Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.  One thing McPherson stresses is Lincoln's intense interest in self-education.  Lincoln went on a self-study crash course on the art of war, strategy, and military history in the first months of his presidency.  He came to understand on an intuitive level what was needed to defeat the South.  Lincoln's advice to his generals was often ignored in the first years of the war, despite that he was right.  His ideas, when applied by Grant and others later in the war, brought victory.  Not only that, but Lincoln cultivated an intense interest in military technology, encouraging and even pushing forward new types of rifles and naval technology.

              Obama's a smart guy, and studying economics isn't like trying to get up to speed on Clausewitz in the middle of war.  He's got no excuse for cracking a book in the privacy of his office for an hour or two each day.  So, Mr. President, you've got no excuses.  Grab some books by Krugman and Galbraith, and gun up your brain.

              "To know what is right and to do it are two different things." - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

              by rbird on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 12:47:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But there are NO economics books worth reading (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Matt Z

                I've quoted and re-quoted this comment of mine three or four times the past two years:

                Stop and think: on economics, who could Obama possibly call that would give him an alternative view to mainstream economics? Try a little test, if you have one or more college economics textbooks on your bookshelf. Look at the index, and see if the word "usury" appears.

                I used Amazon’s look inside function to check some of the most popular economics textbooks.

                "Usury" in not in the index of N. Gregory Mankiw’s Principles of Economics, reportedly the most used economics textbook today.  I could not check the newest Nordhause edition of Paul Samuelson’s Economics, which used to be the most assigned economics textbook, but the word "Usury" does not appear in the recent reprinting of Samuelson’s original 1948 Edition. How about International Economics: Theory and Policy, by Paul R. Krugman and Maurice Obstfeld. Nope, not there either. Macroeconomics: Principles and Policy, by

                William J. Baumol and Alan S. Blinder? Nope. Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, by Robert B. Reich? Not there, either. How about Joseph E. Stiglitz?  No, I could not find "usury" in the index of two of his books, Making Globalization Work (2007), and Globalization and Its Discontents (2003). I have a copy of James K. Galbraith’s The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, and "usury" is not in that book. Neither is it in Simon Johnson’s and James Kwak’s 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.

                What’s the point I’m trying to make? Simple: the field and profession of economics today has been thoroughly purged of anyone who would dare to insist on making moral judgments about economic outcomes. This is the complete triumph of Milton Friedman’s radical "free market" "free trade" economic "neo-liberalism." The fact is that the issue of usury was one of the most contentious and persistent in Western history. The practice of usury has destroyed kingdoms and nations through all of recorded human history, yet American economics today has excised the issue entirely from its academic corpus of work. One of the few economists willing to openly discuss the problem of usury is Michael Hudson. I very highly recommend that everyone spend the rest of the evening reading his excellent 1993 study, The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations, in which you can learn that

                In 1516 Martin Luther preached a sermon on the Eighth Commandment, classifying usury as a form of theft and warning that it was destroying cities much as a worm destroys an apple from within its core. Jews were forbidden from taking interest from one another (permitted to charge it only to outsiders), but Christians charged it to their own brethren. The papacy itself sponsored the Italian bankers to drain money to Rome. In a similar vein, John Calvin, in the final year of his life, wrote a commentary on Ezekiel (published in 1565), defining fraud and usury as theft. He held that wealthy lenders were as guilty as robbers and highwaymen in breaking the Eighth Commandment (Hyma 1951:283ff., 443ff.).

                So, what panel of economic experts can the President convene that will tell him about the problem of usury, and how it is destroying our republic? Except for Hudson, there are no such experts. As Hudson writes near the beginning of his study:

                what was radically disturbing in archaic times was the idea of unrestrained wealth-seeking. It took thousands of years for the idea of progress to become inverted, to connote freedom for the wealthy to deprive the peasantry of their lands and personal liberty.

                Can any single individual, even if they hold the office of President of the United States, be expected to learn an economics concept that the entire effing economics profession refuses to even discuss or even acknowledge? This is a problem not just with conservatives, but, as the list of economics textbooks above shows, with liberals and progressives, including some of the very best we have in economics.

                I think the only book worth reading on political economy at this point in Jonathon Larson's 1992 Elegant Technology: Economic Prosperity from an Environmental Blueprint, which is available free as a pdf online. At the very least, read Larson's Chapter 6 "Money!" which explicitly defines when interest rates become usury.

                A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

                by NBBooks on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 01:56:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I disagree. nt (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  "To know what is right and to do it are two different things." - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

                  by rbird on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 03:17:03 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I hope there are more economics books worth (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Matt Z

                    reading out there. I hope you have a title and author to suggest. That's text books, though, not books on the topics of economics, such as Galbraith's The Predator State, or his father's Economics in Perspective (which I also recommend as a good overview of economics, though it is not a textbook, now was intended to be I think) or Johnson and Kwak's Thirteen Bankers.

                    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

                    by NBBooks on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 03:43:37 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You ought to have specified textbooks. (0+ / 0-)

                      There are many econ books worth reading, but you are correct about econ textbooks. Obviously, the Samuelson is worthwhile as a point of reference, but it is really not good for truly understanding the economy.

                      Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or

                      by pHunbalanced on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 06:20:27 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  It ruins the joke if I have to explain the joke... (0+ / 0-)

                      ....Initial post about Lincoln and Obama emulating Lincoln's devotion to self-improvement by studying economics.  You respond with an insanely long post about economics textbooks - or something.

                      My response:  one line.

                      Get it?  Get it?  Never mind......

                      "To know what is right and to do it are two different things." - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

                      by rbird on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 07:16:38 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  True, but... (5+ / 0-)

            I'm not smart at everything either.  I was still able to understand enough economics (at a simple level) to realize that when you have high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and virtually zero bond rates, you should borrow money and put people to work.

            He seems to be smart enough that if someone put it to him that way, he would admit the fact.  That's why I say something other than ignorance is at work here.  He is being misled by advisors (convinced it is not that simple), or (more likely) there is a political calculus at work.

    •  Also why a "global economy" is a horrible idea (9+ / 0-)

      If political leaders of "developed" nations refuse to practice evidence based economic policy, why should we allow our economic and financial institutions to be dependent on less "developed" nations with even shakier governments?

      The push for the "inevitable" unbridled global economy is just another dodgy scheme cooked up by multi-nationals seeking more pockets to pick.

      "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

      by Betty Pinson on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:06:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank You (8+ / 0-)

      For showing the genius of Nobel Prize winner Professor Krugman!
      The trillions in defecit spending under Obama has prevented this country from going into a depression and has created or saved millions of good paying middle class jobs.  The uneployment rate is now less than 9%!
      But it could have been better if we had only listened to Professor Krugman and ran up trillions more in debt.  Economist Mark Zandi has created an economic model that shows if we had run up an annual defecit of 5 trillion dollars rather than 1.5 trillion dollars, the unemployment rate would be at 5%!
      We currently are running an annual defecit of only 100% of GDP, it should be at 200% or even 300% of GDP.  The low interest rates call for this type of action.

      by coonsey on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:10:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Austerity is the sibling of trickle-down... (39+ / 0-)

    ...economics, where the 1% piss on the 99%, and emphasize that it's a golden shower!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:10:33 AM PST

    •  "It just makes sense!" (22+ / 0-)

      This has been the rallying cry of the ideologues for 30 years. "It just makes sense" that if you give rich people more money, they'll hire people with it. "It just makes sense" that if the government "cleans up its house" and "operates like a family budget" everything will work out great.

      And when these ideas completely fail, "obviously" they either must be implemented even more fully, or something else must have gone wrong. It could never be the idea itself, because "it just makes sense."

      Every argument I've ever had with a conservative about their pie-in-the-sky Utopian ideas (I love turning terms like that back on them, because they hate it), they fall back on that: "It just makes sense!"

      Well, if it made sense, it would work.

      Fight until we win. Then we can begin arguing about the details. - Kwickkick (RIP) 2009

      by RickMassimo on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:29:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like a market solution (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z

        Ask those utopians to put money on their predictions.

        Perhaps lead in with a remark like, "this discussion has come at just the right time.  I have been looking to make some easy money."


        As for Krugman, I think his feet are often made of clay.

        His blog posts can be:  This happened.  I interpret it to confirm my ideas.  Therefore my ideas are correct

        I wish he would put real money on his ideas too

        But this leaves you no defence against Feior's next spell - a blast which strikes you full on, incinerating you instantly

        by GideonAB on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:25:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How about reading one of Krugman's books..... (0+ / 0-)

          ....or maybe his introductory economics textbook.  You can get a used copy on Amazon or Alibris for next to nothing.  And yeah, you are right, every now and then he phones in his blog posts.  I don't hold it against him.

          "To know what is right and to do it are two different things." - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

          by rbird on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 01:02:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Ronald Reagan (4+ / 0-)

      started this madness.  I am old enough to remember the Jimmy Carter years when we had a very small budget defecit.  The UE rate was low, there were jobs available for anyone who wanted to work.
      Inflation was tame except for oil, and that was the fault of OPEC.
      It was easy for a middle class worker to buy a decent house.  I remember those years very fondly,
      Reagan and then the Bushes changed all that with their disasterous defecit spending.  Thanks God we have President Obama to reverse that madness!

      by coonsey on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:14:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No---Austerity is Trickle-down with LESS Piss (9+ / 0-)

      Austerity is to economics as bleeding is to medicine.    

      To put it gently, both just make the problem worse.  

    •  In the Conservatives Gone Wild version... (4+ / 0-)

      ...of the world, austerity would breed more deficits, which in turn, would breed more austerity.

      In essence, we'd have a never-ending death spiral where, eventually, there would be a few hyper-wealthy overlords while the rest of us would be back to carrying clubs and slings.

      "Self-respect is the keystone of democracy"

      by neverontheright on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:30:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Austerity Rules (18+ / 0-)

    Not because it is good policy, but because it is good policy for the 1%, or so they think.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:13:50 AM PST

  •  And what does this say.... (7+ / 0-)
    Any rational person would now discard those ideas. We, however, are not governed by rational people. We are governed by ideologues, grifters and children.


    ....about liberal democracy in America?

    We choose these goons

    I got yer 'pony'.....RIGHT HERE (don't ask what I did with the 'unicorn.')

    by jds1978 on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:16:00 AM PST

  •  I get the sense that (15+ / 0-)

    the reason ideologues shun science is that it proves them wrong, hence it is just another discardable item.

    The Universe is strange enough, you don't have to add hocus pocus

    by rsie on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:16:16 AM PST

  •  Amen Krugman (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rlharry, blacksnake, OhioNatureMom

    Your article says it all. It's malpractice by Major News Media to ignore this story. Of course republican supporters may be too ignorant to understand what Krugman is saying to us.

  •  Austerity is Hooverism (11+ / 0-)

    "The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."--JMKeynes
    A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923)

  •  Undisciplined and belief ridden decisions (15+ / 0-)

    are evidence of a superficial mind.
    Clearly critical thinking skills are lacking in those in control of the levers of power.

    Our schools need to focus on the fundamentals of  intelligent decision making.  Instead of teaching students  how to pass a test, we need to be teaching them how to think.  

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:29:48 AM PST

    •  But that would screw up the grand plan. (7+ / 0-)

      People who think would not accept these fairly tales of austerity leading us to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbos with such overwhelming evidence before them that they are totally false and contrary to reality.

    •  We try to every day, but... (13+ / 0-)

      with all the extraneous crap loaded on us by those very same ideologues we have a hard time teaching what really needs to be taught.

      Education policy is, in fact, a perfect example of what Krugman is talking about. The push to charter schools and the overburdening of the curriculum with testing and other "core standards" ideas that have been proven not to work is now the norm for our public schools. The older concepts that we once used and that are still used in the kind of exclusive private schools where the 1% send their kids produced people far better able to logically assess evidence and come to rational decisions, including Obama himself (a product of the same era of public education that I and many others of us here at dKos are.) But that too has been a target of the right-wing elites of the 1% for many years now. I think the reason is obvious, but it's seldom stated bluntly:

      They don't want the 99% to be able to think, because then they'd be able to see past the propaganda and understand just how badly their being robbed.

      Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

      by Stwriley on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:05:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And some hunanist enlightnment (3+ / 0-)

      would be good. Cranking out drones for a system with no human values other then the insane race to the top like lemmings should not be the purpose of education. I'd like them to teach self evident truths and the ideas concepts and principles behind the  systems humans have evolved over centuries for civil and human rights.  

      Maybe then you wouldn't have a society that allowed the ruling class to tweak and interpret the Law to the point where people's hard won 'inalienable rights' like habeas,  corpus, posse comitatus and even tort, property rights   are being destroyed.  

      All this for profit and power under the guise of the greed head's power hungry, wet dreams of neoliberal/neocon world domination. Whatever you call this 'world as we find it is' in direct opposition to democracy and even our and the planets survival. they act like these self evident truths contained in our sacred documents are unfit to teach as the principles behind them would  not allow their insane ideology to be 'inevitable' and the way forward.        

      •  For all the talk about family values (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Saint Jimmy

        the right wing is all about selfishness.  The both evangelicals and the fat cats lack a kindness and compassion for the plight of those in distress.

        If cats could blog, they wouldn't

        by crystal eyes on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:20:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The evangelicals (4+ / 0-)

          are not the majority. They are used by the elected pols and given power by them. Look at Obama last week jeeze, he uses them and gives them equivalence over the majority. It's not just the right wing preaching austerity ad vicious unfettered  capitalism. The evangelicals get their political power from both sides. They are the preferred and perfect voters as they are ignorant and ass backwards and easily duped. In short they are nasty and like authority.  

          That's what happens when all principles of democracy, the structures that separated church and state and humanism  is thrown aside for cooked up culture wars that only empower the status quo. Human rights and civil rights are thrown out the window and the most ignorant, fearful and authoritarian become the constituency that actually gets represented. There is no right or left or even center anymore, all we have is the fictions they use to maintain this fraudulent democracy.      

  •  It all comes back to not being (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jck, Stwriley

    reality-based and unless you are using the term "conservative" to describe a fair few elected Democrats, your term is too narrow in scope for this discussion of austerity.

  •  Amen! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And thank you.

    The trouble with normal is it always gets worse. -- Bruce Cockburn

    by clarknyc on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:32:41 AM PST

  •  Let us not forget (16+ / 0-)

    How the deficit was created: By a big tax cut, a big ongoing gift to big pharma and huge gifts to the military/industrial complex.

    Just as a smart investor shorts the market when it going down and goes long when it turns around -- making money no matter where the market goes, Republicans see a surplus as an opportunity to give to the rich, and a deficit as an opportunity to cut expenditures to the not rich.

    I'm a fucking retard.

    by Helpless on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:33:15 AM PST

  •  Mark Twain (as usual) nails it (18+ / 0-)
    "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." —Mark Twain

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:40:48 AM PST

  •  When they finally admit failure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrismorgan, Matt Z

    ..the inevitable response will be - "Let's shove pennies down a pig's throat instead! Dimes for everyone!"

    And get in line behind a pig's ass.

  •  Economics is NOT a science (4+ / 0-)

    But we still see the "profession" hijack its way on the stage of the Nobel Awards with its pseudo-Nobel actually awarded by the Swedish Central Bank (Riksbank).  Occasionally, they award the Riksbank Prize to someone interesting (Krugman, Stiglitz) but most of the time it goes to crackpots and nobodies like  Myron Scholes and Robert C. Merton whose nonsense theories blew up Long Term (sic) Capital Management.

  •  Austerity: Who Benefits? (10+ / 0-)

    Austerity clearly does not benefit the economy as a whole (that is it does not benefit everyone) and is actually counter productive from that stand point.  So why do the political elite on the right stand by an obviously failed policy?

    Because it does benefit some, and that some are those in the top 1% (or perhaps more accurately, the top 0.1%).  Since they do not need the services government provides, except for the military to protect them, they are happy to see government austerity and reductions in their taxes.  

    I subscribe to the theory of "Conservation of Wealth" (analogous to the theory of "conservation of mass").  That is there is a limited amount of wealth which gets shifted around.  Using this theory, the wealth did not disappear into thin air as a result of the 2008 collapse, it simply got transferred from the many to the few.  Austerity in the form of smaller government and smaller taxes allows the few to keep more of the wealth they aquired.  Anti-austerity forces the few to spread the wealth around.  Therefore, austerity rules, as long as the top 0.1% rule.

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:45:15 AM PST

    •  Exactly. The diarist assumes leaders want recovery (13+ / 0-)

      when deflationary depressions are significantly better for the upper class than economic expansionary periods.  

      Here's a list of the benefits:

      1. Deflationary depressions expand the labor pool, pushing down wages and increasing the ratio of real value taken from goods produced taken by Capital.

      2. Property owners on shaky ground lose what the have to creditors, simultaneously increasing the number of people who need to rent and the amount of property held by the rentier (creditor) class.  So they can get more of something for no personal labor, the whole point of rent seeking behavior.

      3.  Because the primary source of government capital is private lending, and in Europe especially lending by private banks, banks (entities of by and for the creditor class) demand and get public assets.  So the creditors can take control of essential services, like water and power services, increase the % of the economy going to economic rents, and once again get something for nothing.

      4.  By cutting social services through the politicians they own, the creditor class can make people more desperate for employment in general, and employers' power can creep into people's daily lives in more serious ways.  People are occasionally fired for smoking cigarettes at home.  In the US defense industry employees are contractually obligated to report it if they see a fellow employee drunk at a bar, a violation of the code of conduct.  In this way the creditor class creates a private government with no accountability to the governed, and slowly replaces entire democracy with a new feudalism.

  •  Conservatives and Theories (13+ / 0-)

    Why is it that conservatives don't believe in theories like evolution and anthropomorphic climate change that are well supported by data, but do believe in theories like Supply Side economics and the safety of fracking, that are disproved by available evidence?

    Conservatives love theories as long as holding them brings money to campaign contributors (who can pass along a cut to the lobbyists and politicians).

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

    by Mosquito Pilot on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:45:45 AM PST

  •  Well, when you define "working" (6+ / 0-)

    as what's best for the top 1% in the short term, this is what you get.  And long-term disaster is irrelevant to them, because they figure it'll be someone else's problem.  And they'll be rich enough to buy their way out anyhow.

  •  Death spiral (17+ / 0-)

    Over and over again, you see organizations (non-profits as well as corporations) who put primacy on cost-cutting metrics get trapped in a death spiral.

    That spiral goes like this:

    Costs are too high, therefore we must cut them.  This reduces the services that people can use/products people can buy/jobs available/etc, so the customer base/tax base goes elsewhere/dries up.  So costs are again too high.

    It happened in California, and precisely what happened in California is what is happening in the US at large.

    We need to break out of the "austerity trap" and raise taxes to pre-Reagan levels and begin an all-out push on infrastructure reconstruction, education, and alternative energy (including rebuilding the energy grid) to lay the foundation for the rest of the century, or we will end up like Rome, with the Chinese playing the role of the Germanic invaders.

    -9.00, -5.85
    If only stupidity were painful...

    by Wintermute on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:46:27 AM PST

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

    The power of the Occupy movement is that it ....realizes a fundamental truth about American politics… there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.

    by orson on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:46:41 AM PST

  •  Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands (0+ / 0-)

    How are Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc managing to keep their economies; if not exactly healthy; at least not heading off a cliff?

    Is it increased levels of tax collection?  Higher levels of regulation?  Capital flight from Greece, Spain, Ireland, etc to the countries mentioned above?

    •  They haven't reached the cliff yet. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, foucaultspendulum

      But they're heading in that direction, with the pedal to the floor.

    •  Exports (5+ / 0-)

      Surplus countries benefit from exports, bu as Keynes said, you need a surplus recycling mechanism, or else the imbalances between surplus countries and deficit countries will grow over time.

      So, by adopting austerity measures, these countries are causing even greater imbalances in the economic system.

      It is irrational logic.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:32:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But they are not adopting austerity (0+ / 0-)

        measures because they don't need to, they have balanced their budgets since way back. Sweden for example learnt the hard way that you cannot run endless deficits.

        Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

        by Joe B on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:53:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They haven't balanced their budgets (0+ / 0-)

          Germany was the first country to blow through Maastricht caps on budget deficits.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 01:09:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  This is more of a guess (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Utahrd, foucaultspendulum, Matt Z

      than reasoned, logical economic argument, but Germany, compared to the US, the UK, France and Italy, has an economy where industry and manufacturing forms a fairly large chunk of their economy, as does Sweden too, to a lesser extent, and the Netherlands to an even lesser extent. There might be a correlation between how well a nation has survived the economic crisis and how large a portion of their economy is industrial and manufacturing-orientated, but I'm just making educated guesses.

      British guy with a big interest in US politics.

      by General Goose on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 10:35:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  For the Time Being (0+ / 0-)

      Germany is benefiting from a very positive current accounts surplus (they are taking in more than they are spending).  Their export market is strong, leading to a trade surplus, and the collapse of the periphery states has made the bund the only safe bond in Europe, leading to an influx of investment capital as well.

      Looking forward, I would imagine exports must be threatened by the austerity in the periphery: those markets will simply not be able to afford German exports.  I would imagine German banks still have significant exposure to periphery states' bonds, which would make Germany just as vulnerable as any other European nation to a banking crisis.

      They are certainly in better shape than say, Greece, or even Italy, but they are by no means in the clear from the crisis.  (It could also be argued that much of the benefit to the German economy came from the very policies that are no leading to the gutting of the peripheral economies.)

    •  Yes, people forget about Scandinavia (0+ / 0-)

      which is a success story post-recessesion, especially Sweden. DKos diarists should separate between northern and southern Europe.

      Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

      by Joe B on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:46:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  By balancing their budgets (0+ / 0-)

      and taxing the rich so that they don't need austerity measures.

      Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

      by Joe B on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:54:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I once had a horse that could talk (3+ / 0-)

    You just had to lift his tail, put your face down near his ass, and ask him if he wanted some oats. Sometimes he'd answer: A feeeeeeeeeew. Austerity is a little like that too.

  •  Change will come someday. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    One way or another. If we can bring it about sooner, it might be relatively painless. If not, it will be like France in 1804, but with deadlier weapons.

  •  I screamed my head off about this a couple of (10+ / 0-)

    years ago, it doesn't require a doctorate in economics to see that if you throttle an economy then don't expect it to gambol around afterwards.

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:00:58 AM PST

  •  Economic ladders (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista, OLinda, Matt Z

    A group of people were out walking one day when they all fell into a deep hole, with no apparent way to get out.  After talking about various ways to escape, they asked an economist among them if he could get them out.

    He replied, of course, just use economic principles.

    OK, they said, what do we do?

    The economist replied, First, assume a ladder.

  •  Don't write off cold fusion just yet... (0+ / 0-)

    Just sayin'

    What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

    by RobLewis on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:02:04 AM PST

  •  Countries do not have a right to borrow money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, pHunbalanced

    if investors do not want to buy the bonds.  In the Euro zone, an individual country does not have the power to monetize their debt without the consent of the other Euro countries.  

    Keynesian economics says that increased taxes are contractionary.

    Countries, such as Greece may have borrowed too much in the past, so when their economy became weak, their government had already used up their capacity to stimulate ther economy with government debt.  The forgotten part of Keynes's recommendations, was reducing the debt in the good years.

    10 year Greek bonds have an interest rate of 35%, issuing new debt will not find buyers in sufficient volume to provide enough funding to stimulate their economy into healthy growth.

    The countries other than Greece, don't want to become like Greece, so they want to keep debt capacity in reserve, so they are still increasing their debt but not rapidly enough so government spending levels don't look like austerity.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:05:00 AM PST

    •  you mean... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9, Saint Jimmy, Egalitare, Matt Z

      that when faced with a giant surplus, you should probably pay down debt and hold onto that surplus to get the house in order rather than eliminating the surplus by giving giant tax cuts to billionaires?

      who could have predicted that?


      In other words, we had a chance to not be Greece, but Bush blew it back in 2002...

      •  Well, duh. W and 'blew it' are synonyms. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        judyms9, Saint Jimmy, Egalitare, Matt Z

        The real villian here is Greenspan, who knew better and sold bondholders down the driver.  Yet they love him for it.

      •  Politics make it difficult to pay down debt. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Social Security should never have been included in the annual budgeting or what is in the budget surplus or deficit.

        So for the past three decades the budget deficits have been significantly understated by including the Social Security surpluses, so spending was higher and taxes lower than they should have been.  

        So now we have rising debt (excluding Social Security surplus), at the same time the Social Security surplus has withdrawals making turbo- charging rising debts and deficits.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 12:48:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Griftopia versus the Spirit Level (12+ / 0-)

    Taibbi nailed it. To a great extent, our governments have been captured by the rich and turned into wealth transfer machines.

    While there may be a few exceptions, one does not get to be a member of the super rich or run a multinational corporation without developing serious deficiencies as a human being and a distorted view of the world. The 3 children of Sam Walton and their spouses now control as much wealth as the bottom 30% of America. There is no way that is good for either the Waltons or the rest of the country.

    Austerity is being pushed so heavily by these oligarchs because they've strip-mined away the wealth the middle class once controlled; austerity is how they're going to steal what's left. It doesn't matter that this will make the world a poorer place for everyone - including them. What matters is they end up controlling what's left.

    Study after study has found the as inequality increases in the developed world, so do a host of problems affecting all members of society, from the bottom to the top. One of the infuriating things about austerity is that we know better, that it's not just about money but survival. That The Spirit Level is not known more widely is a crime; it should be required reading in school - instead we get Atlas Shrugged.

    Austerity is the policy of those who have embraced the unholy trinity of conservatism: Ignorance, Ideology, and Superstition.

    If anyone is still looking for gift ideas this year, I'd recommend Griftopia and the Spirit Level. (And if you can donate copies to your local schools, maybe we can save the next generation.)

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:10:00 AM PST

  •  This: (7+ / 0-)
    My own hypothesis—and I would be happy to be proven wrong, since it seems easily testable—is that there are a great many people who have difficulty grasping the boundaries between belief and fact, or between supposed and proven.

    It is exactly what I've been thinking myself recently. I have been a student of human nature with an interest in human cognitive process for my whole life-when I was young, it was a matter of emotional defense-and I really do believe most people either are unable or unwilling to differentiate between belief and fact. It's a sad state of affairs.

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Hamlet

    by Ooooh on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:14:13 AM PST

  •  I keep stating that if they are going to preach (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink, Matt Z

    Austerity, I will listen.

    I buy very little.  I can buy more, but I won’t.  I buy what I need like winter boots or a scarf.  I don’t buy the, “I want it,” items that often.  I let it stew for a while and usually the feeling goes away.  If I buy, I try to buy American and Union made, local is better.

    If NYC can’t afford to give me a raise, but hire more consultants (at high salaries), I will not spend.

    If the middle class and the working class should sacrifice, then I will ‘suffer’ by not helping larger (non tax paying) companies get my money.

    The longer I live like this, the less I seem to need.  When they stop talking about austerity, I think most people will look around and realize they don’t need all the crap they push.  Americans like to shop, but I don’t think they will be the shopping fools we used to be.

  •  "Austerity" is 'monetarism', the idea about the (5+ / 0-)

    'value' of money. The result of austerity should be deflation, the increase in the value of money, (wealth)by devaluing everything else, which governments (Bernanke especially)have been fighting. The super wealthy have not 'won' until deflation makes their wealth worth more, and wages, etc. are pennies a day.

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:19:43 AM PST

  •  Citizens United means Congress does not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Throw The Bums Out, judyms9, Matt Z

    work for us.

    The only answer I can see being viable is votes.  What else checks dollars?


    Might come to that.

    Until then, we need to continue to build movements, AND their support structures so that votes have a shot at checking dollars.

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***

    by potatohead on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:22:08 AM PST

  •  austerity and supplyside (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, Saint Jimmy, Matt Z

    have been comprehensively DEBUNKED by the past 30 years of real-world history

    but those Texas textbooks will probably have the final say

  •  austerity is working quite well (7+ / 0-)

    As a money and power grab.  I'm not sure why anyone views it as intended for anything.else.  c'mon:  give me all your money and political power and maybe something good will happen...?  Like what, you'll get your money and political power back...?

  •  Here's the greater lie: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chris Jay, Saint Jimmy, Matt Z

    "start rebuilding infrastructure out of the goodness of their hearts."

    Conservatives HAVE NO HEART.  Their ideas of compassion, patriotism, the greater good, etc., are a sham.  Conservatives want people to believe that some fictitious higher power, be it god or the unregulated free market, will somehow do all this great good through them.

    It's as appallingly insincere as an athlete thanking god after scoring a touchdown or hitting a home run.  The notion, somehow, that god, or fate, or whatever that fictitious power is, favors THEM over the other, that they are "blessed" and should therefore be treated specially, given more, deigned more authority.

    This is why the Founders created bureaucracy and made that bureaucracy secular; so that silly notions of an interventionist deity would stay out of the day-to-day business of real governance, and so that tyrannical businesspeople could not make heinous changes to benefit themselves.

    At least, until.... I give you Ronald Reagan.  Then all bets were off.

    Conservatives do not, and NEVER HAVE, had the interests of the greater good in mind when they've made business decisions.  Republican voters in rural and industrial areas need lots of reminders of these facts when conservative business people hold up progressive legislation and use lies like "job creators" to spin things in their favor yet again.

  •  Define Criteria for Success and Failure (6+ / 0-)

    If the objective is to undo The New Deal and the Reforms of the 20th Century, then austerity is a success rather than failure.

    If the objective is to cause a fire sale at which the wealthiest can buy up everything at bargain price, then austerity is a success.

    If the objective is to cause pain (and studies show that many at the top are sociopaths and worse) then austerity is just marvelous. Sadists thrive.

    Question: Is there a wallet-sized card somewhere which summarizes examples from history of what works and what doesn't? In terms of the greater good for the most people at the lowest cost.

    •  Matt Taibbi wrote on this: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, LNK
      If the objective is to cause a fire sale at which the wealthiest can buy up everything at bargain price, then austerity is a success.

      Rolling Stone:
      The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They've been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s — and now they're preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet. - emphasis added

      Read more:
  •  Price stability makes no sense (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nada Lemming

    when it destroys demand. You maintain stable prices but in the end, what does that get you? You run out of places to stash your money.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:35:00 AM PST

  •  Civilization in reverse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nada Lemming, Saint Jimmy

    For the first time in centuries, our civilization is creeping backward instead of forward.

    "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

    by Betty Pinson on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:43:08 AM PST

  •  All Americans had better get used to austerity, (0+ / 0-)

    for if we don't get our financial house in order, more than just discretionary spending will feel the budgetary meat ax, into the bone.  

    Congress can't coddle the rich and buy the votes of the middle class and the poor forever.

    Little rule I live by: "Never trust a dude in a tunic."

    by SpamNunn on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:47:21 AM PST

  •  this line is a revelation (so to speak) (5+ / 0-)

    "the Scary Deficit Monster, who was not at all scary during the time he was being fed by these same politicians and think-tank prophets, but who, like any false god, just happens to hate all the same things that his worshippers do."

    The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. --Calvin & Hobbes

    by reid fan on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:47:38 AM PST

  •  Austerity = Religion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Saint Jimmy, bink, Matt Z

    I will not that the preachers of austerity often invoke a Protestant work ethic associated with the Northern surplus countries, which closely correlates to their economic ideology.

    In other words, austerity is rooted in notions of superiority where one's chaste relationship to money is set against the profligate teachings of other inferior religions.

    That such thinking is invoked so openly is mind-boggling given Europe's bloody history.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:48:03 AM PST

  •  the last line (5+ / 0-)
    We are governed by ideologues, grifters and children

    therein lays the very reason I worry about our future.  we've got sociopaths, reactionaries, and the intellectually inactive running the house GOP; their Senate counterparts are no better, in fact I'd say they're treasonous.  i'm low on hope and becoming more disillusioned every day.

    Damn it, I would've been the Simon Cowell of death panelists!

    by OneCharmingBastard on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:57:02 AM PST

  •  Spend more, save less.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ahumbleopinion the macro-economic sense.  That means you tax the rich (taking more out of savings) and reduce taxes on those who will spend it.

    That's why income inequality is such a real problem.

    What most of the rich fail to understand is that if the economy is stimulated, then the increase in stock values will exceed the additional amount they pay in taxes.  Warren Buffett isn't stupid. He wants the rich to pay more taxes because his net worth will increase.

  •  "Economists" (4+ / 0-)

    Who are these economists who think that austerity will lead to economic expansion?

    I guess they must be similar to the "scientists" who deny climate change.

    27, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-07 (originally), liberal-leaning independent

    by TDDVandy on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 10:05:25 AM PST

    •  Most economists (0+ / 0-)

      Are 1% apologists trying to justify their salaries.

      They ones that actually study the flow and distribution of capital with honesty and integrity are Kenysian school theorists.

      Are there no prisons? No workhouses?

      by meatballs on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 02:27:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Of course, it is also deliberate. It is not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Saint Jimmy

    a coincidence that the right wing governments of Sarkozy and Merkel wrap themsleves in some sort of moraility tale to promote austerity.  It is a very good way to weaken the unions throughout Europe.  I don't really believe that they don't know what they are doing.

    Hey, Republicans, the whole world is watching.

    by TAH from SLC on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 10:15:36 AM PST

  •  Economics are just man made systems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it cracks me up when people say if they fail we will all go over a cliff or the world as we know it will collapse. Cause and effect are ignored and the whole purpose of societies  is ignored in favor of thinly disguised power lust and greed as the natural state of humans.

    People also say Obama is not an ideologist. Think again he's a true believer in 'the theory and implementation of oligarchical collectivism'.  The Third Way neo liberals are nothing but fundies of the insane economic theory that places profit and growth of the finite resources and humanity above reality and self evident truths. This is an age old struggle and the power hungry, greedy sociopath's always proclaim they are inevitable and the only way forward, or doing God's work.  

    Evolution is a tangible theory, social Darwinists are full of it. The concepts that humans have evolved that are democratic like freedom, equality, justice, common good mean nothing to these people as they hide their inhumanity behind bogus science that elevates inhumanity and in fact is unsustainable.

    Ass backward economics that is already a fail and needs to go. Even as 'survival of the fittest' this fails as the whole cannot survive with a vampire squid attached to it's face, sucking all life out of the organism, for nothing but death dealing profit and growth. In reality no one including the earth that sustains us profits.


  •  Congrats (0+ / 0-)

    One of the best posts ever. Let's put it in leaflets and spread it around town.

  •  Way True (0+ / 0-)

    Well said and appreciated, perhaps because I have been saying this for so long.  As a trained botanist, I am unsurprised by this, but steadily and deeply chagrined that headway for the ascendency of evidence-based living has not occurred.  Let us "press on."

  •  Thanks for this - it reminds us that there is a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    difference between responsible economic growth and growth for its own (or for the 1%) sake

    A large segment of American political life is dedicated to the notion that wealthy Americans should be coddled, poor Americans should face austerity, and free-market magic will then fix all. There is certainly motive for rich Americans to make that entirely self-serving claim, and there is certainly a cash motive for lobbyists who work on their behalf to peddle it, and for "think tank" figures to pipe up with whatever bare-bones figures they can possibly come up with to defend it, but it is a tried idea. It failed. It is failing, even now.

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:49:37 AM PST

  •  Still, you cannot run endless deficits (0+ / 0-)

    Austerity policies aren't working but without the Bush tax cuts and unfunded wars we wouldn't have been in this position to begin with.

    I'm surprised that US progressives aren't mindful of the Scandinavian socialist solution: keep a balanced budget to begin with, so that no austerity measures are needed, and do it by taxing the rich.

    Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

    by Joe B on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:51:20 AM PST

  •  Austerity, Inc. (0+ / 0-)

    In Europe the problem is sovereign debt
    The nations all owe too much and yet
    There’s always a need to borrow more,
    A situation banks deplore.

    The folks at Merkel and Sarkozy say
    Austerity’s the only way:
    Increase your taxes and cut your spending
    The markets’ll see the message you’re sending
    And buy up your bonds quite willingly
    If you stick to the path of austerity.

    But any hopes for this plan sank
    As all economies began to tank
    And any gains were soon offset
    By a further increase in the debt.


  •  Seems to me...... (0+ / 0-)

    The root cause of the "misunderstanding" of science on the part of the average winger is the appalling lack of education that the right-wing power elite has succeeded in foisting on the gullible and unsuspecting American public.  If a majority of us understood the real principles and processes of science we'd  have a lot more faith in it.  As it is, we don't understand even the most basic fundamentals and, therefore, we don't trust it.  The Bible, on the other hand, is just ONE book which leaves no room for doubt.  And lack of doubt is very comforting....

    Well, it sure is a mess, ain’t it, Sheriff….
    Yep, and if it ain’t it’ll do ‘til the mess gets here.

    Liberal = We're all in this together
    Conservative = Every man for himself
    Who you gonna call?

  •  Unfortunately even Dems don't get it... (0+ / 0-)

    From Bill Maher, 2009 "This country needs a party that unambiguously represents cutting the military budget, a party that is straight up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal health care, legalizing pot and steep direct taxing of polluters. These aren't radical ideas; a majority of Americans are either already for them or would be if they were properly argued and defended. And what we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren't being represented by the Democrats, because, bottom line, Democrats are the new Republicans..." From his commentary titled "Democrats have moved Right, Republicans have moved to the Mental Hospital"

  •  It's really just dogma (0+ / 0-)

    I wish that I could waive a magic wand and a bunch of conservatives would read Hunter's work and say "Eurika, I get it now!"  That's not going to happen.  My leaning conservative mom (since the Clinton blue dress debacle-thanks Bill) tried to tell me that colleges are full of liberals who want to brainwash people.  I stopped her from repeating that meme when I asked her "Mom, why do you think that those who teach in college are predominantly liberal? Could it be that these are educated people who know how to discern facts in spite of unrelenting propaganda?" She was forced to think about it from another point of view.  Professors don't study because they are liberal, they are liberal because they study.

    Anyway, back to dogma.  There will always be contrarians in higher education.  That's fine because they will propose alternative theories that will be studied.  They're right occasionally.  Hopefully the whole process contributes to knowledge.  Milton Freedman inspired an entire school of economic thought.  It may be that those theories will eventually fade, but they provided a basis for conservative dogma.  I'm sure that there are some educated conservatives that grapple with the possibility that their world view is flawed, but the fast majority are merely engaged in repeating the talking points in a neverending quest for power.  Economics is hard.  I have an MBA and still struggle with competing influences.  It's much easier to latch on to understandable concepts, like cutting taxes increases revenue or Obamacare will kill Grandma.

    We need some new dogma.  How about this?  Why are jobs created by the private sector better than those created by the people?  Those are Walmart variety jobs with low wages, crappy working conditions, and no health insurance.  We're cutting good public jobs in order to give tax cuts to "job creators" so they can create crappy jobs with no pension (and keep a chunk of profit).  I don't want to privatize services provided by the government, I want to make those services better.  Let's hire the experts directly at a good salary and keep the profit.  How do we make this part of Democratic dogma?

    Thats the challenge...

  •  You're missing the point (0+ / 0-)

    Austerity isn't about ignoring science. It is about shifting the focus onto government debt, instead of private debt. That is necessary to cover the real culprit: The rise of private debt through the rise of Neoliberalism economics.

    Neoliberal economics brought about the exorbitant rise of private debt, and consequently the economic and political power of the financial industry which profited from the rise of private debt. They are getting virtually all the money the Fed can print, in the hope that another debt based bubble will inflate. Good luck with that. They've run out of tricks.

    The only way out is to tear Neoliberal economics down. Yet, how in the world will that be done when academia, the media and our political class are embedded in promoting and protecting this economic system?

    The only way real change will occur will be through the continued failure of Neoliberalism economics, which is going to happen. They will try to inflate another bubble based on thin air, but the bursting will make things even worse. Eventually, the failure of this economic model will produce massive social upheaval, and  change. It's just a matter of time.

Andrew Lazarus, Geenius at Wrok, pHunbalanced, Shockwave, Wintermute, billlaurelMD, OLinda, dash888, Zinman, smokem2271, ClickerMel, oceanview, Moody Loner, Sinan, figbash, Noodles, potatohead, chrismorgan, Nemagaiq, ohiolibrarian, rlharry, OneCharmingBastard, Albanius, lyvwyr101, Josiah Bartlett, liberalcheesehead, wizardkitten, MT Spaces, ChemBob, afew, fixxit, lennysfo, techno, zinger99, coolbreeze, jct, JanF, xanthippe2, Oye Sancho, cre8fire, BalanceSeeker, vigilant meerkat, andydoubtless, dopper0189, KenBee, abe57, Triscula, blueoasis, timj, PapaChach, rsie, doingbusinessas, hrned, shaharazade, Friend of the court, Habitat Vic, jujubawana, oklacoma dem, offgrid, FishOutofWater, Matt Z, HCKAD, jnhobbs, Rumarhazzit, GeorgeXVIII, malie, JeffW, obamamama, zerone, Snarky McAngus, Tango Uniform, BYw, LaFeminista, 207wickedgood, Danish Brethren, Bule Betawi, Rick Aucoin, maryabein, fromcascadia, Keith Pickering, winkk, Wendy Slammo, Larsstephens, BigVegan, FogCityJohn, jethrock, Melissa J, tb mare, DeanObama, Betty Pinson, stevenaxelrod, slice, annieli, TAH from SLC, allenjo, the mom in the middle, ozsea1, sostos, jm214, Mr MadAsHell, freesia, TerryDarc, RedlandsDem, soundchaser, poorbuster, Zutroy, OhioNatureMom, Brad ODonnell, laurnj, BarackStarObama, muddy boots, docmidwest, Canuck in Ohio, rlk, StratCat, DRo, RhodyRed, allergywoman, Azazello, Monsieur Georges, demongo, quill, SteveA NC, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Mindful Nature, Siri, foucaultspendulum, ahumbleopinion, oldcrow, barkingcat, AmyU, belinda ridgewood, the Don, radical simplicity, cuphalffull, miningcityguy, lollol, Glen The Plumber, dotdash2u, Marjmar, Buckeye Liberal, Captain Chaos, andrewdski, nomandates, Saint Jimmy, Illinois IRV, Setsuna Mudo, dhcallahan, CarolinaCatbird

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