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July 23, 2008

Keep the Government Out of Housing

The recent talk of government bailouts on both lending institutions and personal mortgage loans has me deeply troubled about the future of our market system. Over the past several decades, the ‘self-anointed’ (as I like to refer to our pro-government bailout friends) have felt it proper to step in and prop up struggling markets. Their results have not been impressive. Our social security’s return on investment is less than inflation and the money is spent by the government, converted into bonds, and placed back into Social Security as a one trillion dollar debt (but sometimes referred to as trust).

Then, there is health care. Government spending in health care has led to $100,000 per day bills for patients in ICU and multi-million dollar bills for long-term care. Patients are charged this because private businesses know exactly how much the government is going to cover and how much the patient can afford. Government involvement in health care has inflated health care demand, thus spiking the price.

While we’re going down the road of government involvement in our economy, we can also illustrate how the government is extremely slow and ineffective in responding to other crises. For example, remember Hurricane Katrina? Not only was the federal government slow in getting to New Orleans to help people, it was ineffective in distributing the FEMA trailers afterwards. Now, we want this type of management to ‘butt into’ the housing market?

Let’s face facts, the housing market is better off without government interference.

There are many factors to blame for the rising foreclosure rates in the US. First, irresponsible people should have expected that if they got a mortgage that they could not afford (either now, or in the future), they would lose their home. These people should not be rewarded with taxpayer money. Otherwise, what is there to stop them from doing this again in five or ten years? This could even encourage people who reconsidered making a poor investment to change their minds in the future with the backstop of the federal government being presented as a means of bailout.

Many liberals argue that while they may agree with my logic, this specific circumstance involves people’s ‘livelihoods.’ While losing a home may be a major loss, the foreclosed family still has the option to rent or live with other friends and/or family members. If the situation was as personally dire as the liberals have pointed out, wouldn’t we see a surge in the homeless population nationwide? Instead, we have seen a surge in the number of renters (returning to historical levels) as families cope by finding acceptable alternative living methods.

Another group of players that cannot be ignored in this conversation are the banks that intentionally gave out the bad loans. Aside from the Freddie and Fannie debacle (which I will discuss in my next blog), bailing out distressed home owners also bails out these bad banks. With this bailout, your tax dollars will go to irresponsible home owners to be paid to irresponsible lenders (unless they decide to buy an HDTV). Where is the disincentive to stop this type of behavior? Now, the government, in its infinite wisdom of wanting to help people, has inadvertently encouraged bad business and irresponsible spending.

The bottom line is that the system needs another one to three years to work itself out. People who are not responsible enough to own a home should find an alternative means of housing. Bad banks that overleveraged on bad loans should be able to fail and set an example to the surviving banks on what irresponsible banking will lead to. Finally, our tax dollars should stay right where they are (wherever the hell that is) and not be handed over to ‘distressed homeowners’ and bad banks for bailouts.

On Saturday, I will address the Fannie/Freddie bailout and why I am opposed to it.

Readers are also leaving their comments here.

19 comments:

H.C.I.C. - New Whig Chairman said...

if government "involvement" in health care has so inflated demand why do americans never seek preventive care? why is it that nations with much more government involvement in health care do not have such excessive costs? if government involvement raises the cost of health care why is it that nations which utilize it spend a fraction of what we do on administrative costs in health care?

I've always been a fan of the right-wing "government can't do anything argument" - they get in charge, are inept at doing their jobs, and then use their own ineptness to argue that government is incapable. brilliance.

and wasn't it you conservative types that were pushing so hard for the "ownership society"?

just wondering when you will realize that it took friedman access to brutal dictatorships to install his free market ideology...or perhaps you have no problem with oppressive control by the state over everything but business.

Tonya~TNGOP said...

I believe the people who bought their homes knowing full well they were more than they could fully afford should just face facts and reality. It is NOT the goverments job to bail all these people out!

The loan companies took BIG risks giving credit to just anyone who applied now they are in a world of hurt with huge losses.Risky buisness practices bring bad outcomes.

Shady lenders and irresponsible home buyers will have to deal with their poor choices. Our tax dollars should not be paying for these bailouts etc.

Jeremy said...

Paul,

Without government aid, do you really believe that hospitals would be charging the same for health care services? Nobody would be able to afford it. Instead, we take money from the rich and have them pay for the poor's health care. Typical redistribution of wealth.

Sex Mahoney for President said...

Redistributing wealth isn't such a bad thing so long as there are trustworthy people in charge of the redistribution; unfortunately, the kind of people attracted to government careers are hardly trustworthy.

The borrowers were irresponsible, yes, but the vast majority of them were not trying to defraud or mislead the lenders. The same is not true in reverse.

This crash has been a long time coming because, for the last forty-odd years, business has been given more and more autonomy to do what, how, and when they wish. Hopefully, the crash will cure America of it's ridiculous notions that organized labor, business regulation, and accountability are useless.

Sex Mahoney for President

Jeremy said...

The best way to redistribute wealth is through capitalism. Capitalism allows for there to be no central authority (which as you have stated cannot be trusted). Wealth in capitalism can be created thousands of more ways than in socialism or communism.

And to add to my point against Paul's argument, as health care costs continue to rise at a faster rate than wages, higher taxes are going to be the only means of which we pay these costs. Therefore, we will eventually have to tax the middle class. Fiscal cuts in these areas would put deflationary pressure on health care costs.

H.C.I.C. - New Whig Chairman said...

"the best way to redistribute wealth is through capitalism"

depends on how you want to redistribute wealth. you apparently want wealth to be removed from labor and moved to the top. I personally would rather see every person receive an amount of wealth commensurate with their worth, as a human being, laborer, etc.

hospitals would be charging more without government aid. what you are ignoring is that the vast majority of those without insurance and too poor to afford health care do not go to your precious private hospitals - the same places that ignore their ethics and turn those folks away. they are forced into county hospitals run by the government.

you claim that health care costs are rising because of government involvement - but cannot refute that nations with more government involvement have lower health care costs. much of our costs come from the administrative side of insurance - which is drastically lowered under a single-payer system. the amusing thing is that hospitals are forced to charge so much because the "free" market insurance system is designed to avoid paying them in any way possible.

as for higher taxes - we are wasting more in tax dollars now paying for emergency room visits in county hospitals than we ever would under a single-payer system which would promote preventive health care. furthermore, the savings from insurance costs would far offset any minimal increase in taxes.

your love of the market utterly ignores the simple reality that markets are created by government. without government involvement, there is no market.

friedman's ideas are not only stupid, but they are extremely dangerous.

Jamie said...

Paul,

Let's not forget that not only do those Single payer systems pay less for the health care, they get better results as well.

Jeremy,

You said - "Without government aid, do you really believe that hospitals would be charging the same for health care services?"

No. It's not the government aid that's driving up prices, it's the middle men. The insurance companies.

Further Jeremy, the radical form of free market that you seem to be promoting, requires an authoritarian government to run. Just as a radical communist does.

Democratic governments will always round off the rough edges of any system that puts the squeeze on groups large enough to elect those that see things their way.

Friedman-omics requires Pinochet style leaders.

H.C.I.C. - New Whig Chairman said...

and lest we forget...thanks to the globalization push that you free market folks have pushed the world economy has pretty much come to depend upon the american consumer to run - in the process, not only is prosperity limited to a select few, but stability is severely shaken.

what you are basically advocating is to risk a collapse of the global economy all so you can say "bad dog" and wave your finger at some folks that purchased homes when all your brilliant economic leaders were telling them they must buy homes.

common sense capitalism includes a safety net - and while I hate that it goes to banks which know they were operating under no risk...I fear what may happen if we pull it away, especially after we have yanked it out from the backbone of society already.

abogue1 said...

Wow…too many people to respond to. I will start with Jeremy:

I agree that the government shouldn’t be “bailing-out” the lenders or buyers, because I do believe in “personal responsibility”, a phrase that doesn’t usually show up on more liberal “let me do whatever I want, and someone else will clean up my mess” literature. This is why I don’t own property yet: I’m not going to make a stupid decision to sign away my life, because of some ridiculous deal on a mortgage.

However…I firmly believe that IF the government is going to act as the primary insurance company of the same banks that offer these loans, the government has a responsibility to the taxpayers to set guidelines for how these institutions will operate. I mean, if a guy with three DUI’s went for auto insurance, do you think an agency in their right mind would insure that person AND do so for a discounted rate? The government shouldn’t insure banks who give loans to people who do not meet certain criteria and are likely not to pay them back.

As for Jamie and Paul’s arguments about big government being good, and it’s all the Republicans fault for failures: I would like to know what they think about the current state of Chicago/Cook County (pretty much 100% Democrat-run and the same machine that bred Mr. Barack Obama, AND now has the highest SALES tax in the country at 11%?) I would like to know how telling EVERYONE who lives in the city and county that for every dollar they spend, they have to give an additional 11 cents to the county, alone (this does not include state sales taxes). Chicago also has some of the highest property taxes as well…yet when you compare Chicago to the surrounding suburbs (especially the Republican ones), taxes are lower in the ‘burbs, and the quality of almost every other thing is 100% better.

Just think about it: even with Chicago’s high taxes, the Chicago Transit Authority claims that they are barely afloat. Streets in the city are loaded with pot-holes. The parks and schools are far inferior to those of surrounding suburbs. And guess what? While the richer are taxed much more heavily when it comes to income taxes and property taxes, the poor pay the same ridiculously high sales taxes. Also, because the poor don’t have the resources to leave the county and buy goods in surrounding suburbs for far less, they are stuck paying the higher prices. But yeah, the Democrats are out there fighting for the “little people”.

It’s just one example of what happens when you begin to rely too much on government, and not enough on yourself.

As for health care…how many of those prosperous single-payer systems are countries with populations over 100 million (let alone 300 million)? How is China’s single-payer system working for its people? The one thing people are quick to leave out of the equation when they argue in favor of single-payer healthcare is the fact that most of the successful nations are much smaller, require much less infrastructure in order to deliver the service, and much less culturally diverse than our own nation. These are major issues that I have yet to hear any proponent of state-funded health care address adequately. They usually resort to the same old, “Republicans are bad and messed everything up” argument. Our system definitely has it’s problems, but I do not think that government-paid healthcare is the answer. IF the government was so great at running things, the Illinois DMV offices (and some post offices) wouldn’t have to hang signs warning people that they will be thrown out if they get into a fight with a clerk. Why? Because there wouldn’t be nearly as many fights! BTW… Illinois’ Secretary of State is a Democrat, as is our governor, the majority of our state assembly, and all top offices!

H.C.I.C. - New Whig Chairman said...

initially, I should warn you that I am not a democrat. so the partisan thing does not work well with me - I referred to the right-wing mantra of "gov can't do shit right" which they then prove by placing right-wing morons in office who cannot do the job and then say "see, we told you so." I am well aware that just because someone has a (D) after their name in no way makes them intelligent, liberal, or even a decent human being. for the most part, when it comes to larger economic issues, the democrats have sold out in favor of the braindead and historically misproven ideology that is still being touted as proof of never-ending growth. I agree with you that the democratic party abandoned you and I in favor of a big business and the uber-wealthy long ago.

second, I should warn you that I am from the chicago area and grew up in the suburbs you seem to believe are proof positive that government should not do anything to protect people from capitalism run amock. with that in mind, I point out that suburban villages do much less in terms of public infrastructure (and are required to do much less in terms of public infrastructure) than the city (for example, public transit in the suburbs is nearly non-existent...the courts are required to handle much less...the much lower rate of poverty equates to a much lower crime rate...lower populations necessarily mean less spent on law enforcement...etc.). and I should point out that the streets in the suburbs are loaded with potholes as well (although one would expect more potholes within the urban centers as traffic density is higher and therefore the roads are under much higher stress). put a bunch of wealthier people in a smaller community and of course the community as a whole will have to do less to support them - the problem arises when those pesky working poor get in the way (they really are such a nuisance, we should just remove them all).

as for the "we are too big of a country" excuse - I actually used to subscribe to it...and it is just that, an excuse. if the private market was so great at running things, the insurance company would not drastically limit my choice in doctors. if the private market was so great at running things - it would not waste such a high percentage of the money spent on health care on administrative tasks. as much as you hate to admit it, medicare works.

Jamie said...

first of all let me say that I am in the same boat with Paul on the idea that are plenty of Dems out there that have their heads way up their asses. I don't see this as a partisan thing so much as an ideological thing.

Comparing China's system to any other system where the government is democratically elected, is completely without merit.

The people of China cannot hold their leaders accountable if their system sucks. We can.

Why should be writing checks to a health care company that is just going to turn around and take 30% of that money and pay for it's lobbyists corporate jets, and massive CEO salaries, when we could all simply move to a single-payer system that is cheaper, and gets better results?

Josh said...

This will be as brief as I can make it:

They are out to screw you. Take what you can, while you can, and run. "They" are the Republocrat blood suckers in office, the greed driven corporations, the insurance companies who take premiums like they are owed them, and then come up with every excuse not to pay out. They are the shady lenders who give out "liar" loans to folks with little to no real income to continue to fuel the speculations that housing prices will rise forever. They are the oil companies who are getting bigger and fewer every year. They are the Military industrialists who wage wars with our sons overseas. They are the bleeding heart liberals who think that poor folks deserve an ever bigger chunk of your inflated and ever shrinking pay check. Get gangster. Take what you can, and run.

AaronIL said...

Well...here's the thing. I don't feel left behind. I just feel it's a rip-off in the city. My point is that conventional liberalism has been proven to be just as (if not more) ineffective as conservatism. It's too shallow, and seems mostly based on class warfare, which a) is inaccurate, and b) doesn't solve anything.

I agree... conventional conservatism wants to focus on punishing bad behaviors, where as liberalism wants to naively believe that bad behaviors only exist in those who have more than me. Also, liberals generally choose to deny the fact that our government IS incredibly inefficient, and that socialistic programs only truly benefit those who put the least into the system, therefore rewarding those who don't contribute or pay their share.

I think an ideal system would help those who need it, not just anyone who doesn't really feel like working, or putting in their fair share. I've said this a million times...this whole talk of the "hard-working American" is a crock of BS. I've been through three more employees this past six months...one we had to fire after only a month of work because he almost burned down a client's building. One we fired because he was calling in sick four out of five days for three weeks straight, for a mysterious stomach flu, which he claims he went to the doctor for, but could not produce a note. The last guy just had a rough day at work one day, and call the next day and said he was going to a funeral in Texas (15 minutes AFTER start time). The last one never even called back to confirm his hours so we could pay him for his last three days of work...so we had to estimate and send him a check based on that!

As for the China remark...the reason why China's government is what it is goes back to the fact that is has so much power. The last time our government had a LOT of power over the employment of its citizens was during FDR, and guess what...he also was 'elected' for four consecutive terms! It got to the point, during part of FDR's terms, that congressional districts that had supported him in the election were the ones who got the most WPA programs. Sounds kind of like the Chicago machine politics. Basically, you sign off on your freedoms in order to get a biscuit here and there (in the form of welfare, minimum wage increases, etc), we will head towards being a China.

Finally, I think it's kind of funny when people use the whole, "private insurance agencies tell us which doctors we can see" argument. You really don't think that public health care, if universal, won't become just as political? They do it in everything else! Plus, I'm not sure if you noticed, when governments take bids on anything, they generally go with the lowest bid, regardless if it's the best solution to the problem. AND...public health care isn't free! So what do you say to all of the Americans who currently DO get healthcare paid for by their employers? They will probably lose the benefit, and end up paying more in taxes to get the same thing (or maybe worse!) Like socialism...sounds good on paper...but in practice is loaded with more holes than a slice of swiss cheese!

Jamie said...

I know you hate him Aaron, but FDR is well thought of by a vast majority of Americans who have any knowledge of his administration.

Why do you think he was elected to four terms? Could it be because he was helping the people first?

Here comes the argument that it was only the war that pulled the country out of the Depression, right? Not possible. Wartime spending will give short bumps to an economy, but that kind of investment yields no long term gains. After you've built all the tanks and bombs you need, what do you do with them. But if you have instead invested heavy in infrastructure (i.e. roads, dams, hospitals, and schools) the return is very long term. And the return stays here with American workers.

I know many of you on the right like to think of FDR as some totalitarian dictator, but he was democratically elected. Wildly different from anything in China. The comparison is fairly deplorable.

The average tax payer will see there overall expenditure for health care from a single-payer system decrease by 35%.

Your taxes might go up, but you will no longer have to pay for insurance. And of course if you still want to go privately, you still have that option. Go buy all the corporate lobbyists and jets for United Health you want.

H.C.I.C. - New Whig Chairman said...

looking back at history - conservatism (in the sense that we understand it) has always been a tell-tale sign of relative economic decline...often following a much more liberal period which happened to coincide with the rise of economic super-power status. just look at this nation...it rose to take over the world behind the new deal, which created the backbone of a world economy in a huge american middle class. you seem to have bought into the reagan fear machine that says government is inefficient...and ignore all the instances when government is way more efficient than the private sector (see health care). you also mentioned that government always takes to the lowest bid...apparently forgetting that no bid contracts have been on a sharp increase (and being from chicago you obviously are aware that in certain venues government always takes somebody's cousin's bid, regardless of its merits).

and you assume that those that receive minimal assistance from a social safety net are getting everything without putting anything in. but you forget that those that don't require a social safety net are getting much, much more value for what they pay in (afterall, I would love to see the very wealthy maintain their wealth and status without all that taxes pay for and the government provides - law (enforcement and the court system), communications infrastructure (built with tax dollars), transportation infrastructure (paid for with tax dollars), etc.). you also apparently do not realize how miserable your experience would be without the myriad of individuals that work shit jobs to keep your life as pleasant as it is. our system could function fine without the top income earners...it would crumble if the bottom income earners all took a day off. moreover, take away the social safety net and you take away incentive to innovate (because if you know that you are taking a risk, and failure means the street, you are much less likely to take that risk). further, it reduces poverty - which we all know directly affects crime rates, something that benefits those that "put all into the system but don't get anything out." most importantly, capitalism only works when the worst off have a reason to buy into the system - the safety net provides that. unless you would prefer to just keep moving into gated communities with bigger walls and stronger gates to hopelessly avoid the strife that inevitably results otherwise.


as for hard-working americans...do you pay a decent salary with benefits to your employees? what type of tasks do your employees do? how do you choose your employees? I ask because the vast majority of people that I know work their asses off (oddly, the ones that I know that don't happen to be largely within the professional class).

you seem to have latched on to a version of the reagan welfare queen story (which he made up by the way). things like welfare fraud are actually pretty minimal and cost much less than right-wing nutjobs would like us to believe (and a hell of a lot less than fraud and government pilfering by the likes of right-wing nutjobs and the wealthy).

I would like to see a system where everyone pays their fair share and those that are better off realize that the very fact that they are better off shows they are getting more out of the system than the mother that needs to get stamps to by bread and act accordingly.

Jamie said...

Aaron,

When you say, "I've been through three more employees this past six months...one we had to fire after only a month of work because he almost burned down a client's building. One we fired because he was calling in sick four out of five days for three weeks straight, for a mysterious stomach flu, which he claims he went to the doctor for, but could not produce a note. The last guy just had a rough day at work one day, and call the next day and said he was going to a funeral in Texas (15 minutes AFTER start time)."

You seem dead set upon the idea that these people are lazy losers and therefore most Americans are not hard working.

I've heard you tell these stories in one form or another a few times. Did you ever stop to think that maybe people don't like working for you? I'm not trying to make this personal, I could say this about any job or employer. I've had a couple where I left quite quickly. It wasn't because I didn't want to work hard. It was because the job wasn't what it was sold to be, the conditions sucked, or the employer was just a top notch a-hole.

But at all the jobs I've had that all items were not a problem, I excelled and worked hard for my compensation.

As do the vast majority of Americans.

AaronIL said...

Jamie:

I just explained...one of the reasons FDR was elected over and over again was because he bought those votes with his WPA programs. People knew that if they didn't vote for him, they may lose the job they now had.

Secondly, many times, people in the WPA did build necessary infrastructure, which is fine...but other times, work groups were overstaffed, and people were paid just to show up and stand around. People forget that the government, however, still has to get the money from somewhere...and that is through taxing the American people. I have no problem with the government investing in infrastructure, and actually think that it's good when there is a need for it. But subsidies don't do anything for an economy. If the government is paying more than what they are getting back in return...eventually the money will dry-up.

With World War II, however, there was a true demand for war goods. You are right that the tanks and guns only server their purposes during the war, but the money that the average people made building those things gave them more buying power, and allowed them to spend on other goods, boosting the economy. In other words, the clock factory that, during the war, was able to stay afloat because they were able to use the metal to make bullets, was also able to pay employees as well...employees who would now have buying power to buy goods from other companies like their own, creating a sustainable demand for goods into the future. With the WPA programs, on the other hand, once the job was done, the job was done.

I know your intentions are good. You want to see that all Americans have a fair chance, as do I. We just strongly disagree as to how the government should play into it. I don't think relying on the government, especially one where the stability of any program or service the government is offering could change after any voting season, is a good, or even logical idea.

The problem with our government is that it doesn't operate like a business. If it did, it would invest in its citizens in a logical and productive way, so that the return is always greater than the cost. Unfortunately, programs like Universal Health Care, our current form of Welfare, Education, and other programs are not like that at all. That doesn't mean that they can't be.

As for the employee comment, I guess it can go both ways. Currently, I have three GREAT employees, whom I treat really well, and will get good raises. My last good employee received a 33% increase in pay after two weeks, a key to the shop, and was added to our health care program one month earlier than his stated 3 month probation. One thing that all of my bad employees had in common, though, was that they all thought they were excellent employees. And not to get personal or anything, but maybe the reason why you are not getting paid what you think you should be getting paid may be related to how good of any employee you actually are. Even though those idiot employees thought they were good, they didn't get raises, or if they did, it was a lot less than others who actually were good. (BTW...I don't know if you are a bad employee, but you were the one who decided to go down that road first.)

I also find it funny that MOST cases, the bad employees didn't stay at ANY job very long. When I get resumes, I would say that 80% of applicants do not stay at one job longer than 6 months. Now, I'm just finding it hard to believe that when you have one employee who constantly is having to switch jobs every couple months, that ALL of the employers are soo bad, and this guy is just the greatest, hard worker out there. I'm also guessing that you were never in a real hiring/firing position. It was funny, my one uncle, who used to be just an employee, and shared most of the same views as you, got promoted to supervisor at the hospital he works, and all of a sudden, his whole outlook changed. I've worked for people, and I've had to employ. People who haven't been in an employer position really do not have a clue, and most don't realize how clueless they sound when they think they do.

AaronIL said...

Paul...

It's not just about working hard. It's about showing up. It's about learning how to do the work, and learning how to work as a team to make EVERYONE in the organization money. The people I used as an example are people I bet you would never associate with in the first place...nor would I, once we got to know them a little better. I think my biggest problem is pre-job screening. It's hard to tell if the person is being honest on their resume (many are not), and you can only legally ask references, and even interviewees, certain questions...leaving a lot of the big ones unanswered until the person shows up for work (or decides to call in a bunch of personal days.) Like I said in my post to Jamie, I'm VERY lucky to have three excellent employees right now.

As for the whole conservative policy leads to bad economies and liberal governments have good economies, I believe you are trying to make a correlation that does not exist. First off, the FDR New Deal, alone, did not bounce the U.S. out of the Depression...in fact, at first it actually got worse for a while, until we went war. Secondly, you cannot possibly argue that Jimmy Carter's economy was progress. Nor can you argue that the Clinton/Gingrich moderate to conservative policies of the 90s hurt the average American's pocketbooks. Under Clinton, corporate taxes were cut, free trade was established, and conservative welfare reform was adopted....about the only truly liberal policies the Clinton administration adopted was 'don't ask, don't tell' (one which many liberals are still not happy with, and was originally Colin Powell's stance) and his Supreme Court appointees (who also were VERY old when appointed.)

But you are right...the Republicans, after Gingrich, started to act like Democrats, built bridges to nowhere (New Dealesque) and focused on silly non-issues like marriage amendments, and deporting Mexicans. Hassert really sent Congress down the wrong path...and now Pelosi's only making it worse (NOW with an approval rating in the single digits, and declining further!)

I think one of the biggest problems we have is our education system, and I am not talking about funding or lack of education. I am talking about the fact that our education system has turned its focus from preparing students to be successful individuals to creating intellectual elitists who basically are taught to fear the real world, rather than seize opportunities that are all around you. They trick people into attending their schools, promising great paying jobs without having to do that much in return, but once you are in, they scare you from making the moves that are likely to help you succeed and basically be happy. My college entrepreneurship teacher spent more time trying to talk us out of starting our own businesses than actually teaching us techniques to being successful if we do. I think that's just wrong, but that's just me.

H.C.I.C. - New Whig Chairman said...

I in no way meant to impugn the environment you may create for your employees...the reason I asked those questions is that I know I have bailed on jobs because all things considered it just wasn't worth the money I was being paid. I have no idea what you do, what your employees do, whether it is worth it to them, maybe they just did their own cost-benefit analysis and decided it wasn't worth it and there wasn't enough incentive to make everyone money. maybe they were just lazy shitbags...but the generalization then evens out with the three great ones you found now.

what I said was that conservative economic policies always coincide with relative economic decline. and it is the same for now (look at how the EU has been catching up to the US since we bought into the conservative bullshit). you make the same mistake that every economic hegemon has made since the dawn of western civilization - financialization and "growth" of that sector equates with overall economic strength...it is a premise that has been proven false throughout history. stability disappears with conservative economic policies, stratification of wealth skyrockets, etc. it is especially troublesome these days when the american middle class is trampled (and yes, I can argue that clinton's economic policies hurt the average american pocketbooks in major, major ways - declining real income, less stability in employment, rising costs hidden by altering how inflation is measured, unsecure retirements, rising housing costs, etc. it was a sham that anyone with any historical context could see). the new deal, on the other hand, provided protections to the average american worker and the average american that created the largest and most equitable economic expansion in history - the foundation of which allowed for the ridiculous increase in financialization since...a foundation which is now very shaky as the american middle class is barely middle class any longer.

high stock prices is not economic progress. until we learn this lesson (which history has generously attempted to provide many times over) we will continue to make the same boneheaded mistakes based upon belief in false "growth" of nations past.

I agree that our educational system is a disaster (but find it amusing that you knock it because it "creates intellectual elitists" - who, by the way, are the same schmucks whose economic rhetoric guides conservative policies). the educational system is designed to support the conservative economic system - provide quality education to the already elite and retain the rest in a position to fill the ranks below. it is another example of the conservative's completely fucking something up so they can declare the government cannot do it and turn it over to the forming aristocratic class to run in the "free" market.

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