The Government Does Have Something To Do with It

This guest post on the relationship of business and government comes to us from Lawrence B. Glickman, chair of the History Department at the University of South Carolina; the author, most recently, of Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America; and an occasional contributor to this blog.

One of the most telling statements of our political era, –made ten years ago this week by Dick Cheney during his Vice Presidential debate with Joe Lieberman on October 5, 2000, –was actually a misstatement that went largely unnoticed. And therein lies an important lesson about the place of government in our political culture.

In response to the Democratic nominee Lieberman’’s jibe that Cheney had profited handsomely from the job he had recently departed as CEO of the Haliburton Corporation, the Republican nominee replied, “”I can tell you, Joe, the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.”” Amid the laughter and applause of the audience, Leiberman chuckled good-naturedly and joked about joining the private sector himself.

Following the debate, media analysts focused on what the New York Times called Cheney’s “avuncular self-confidence” but, like his opponent, they largely passed over the fact that his statement was a whopping lie.  Despite his denial and his antigovernment rhetoric, the company Cheney ran depended on billions of dollars of government contracts and loan guarantees. It would not be an exaggeration to say that government was Haliburton’’s primary source of support.

How was it that such a statement, easily disproven, was left largely unchallenged?  Part of the blame may be due to the shallowness of our televised politics, –the media’’s obsession with  humor, and a superficial conception of civility.

At a deeper level, Cheney was the beneficiary of a long-term campaign against government that at the time of his comment was at least three decades in the making, and that has reached new heights in our current political moment.  A narrative pushed by conservative think tanks and parroted endlessly by politicians and pundits has prevailed in which the state, especially the federal government, is depicted in almost entirely negative terms, as a drag on the economy and a threat to freedom.  In this view, government is the problem, as Ronald Reagan famously put it: government spending is always wasteful; government programs are at best mediocre and at worst dangerous manifestations of the “nanny state.”

This negative view of government has also been underwritten by an inaccurate version of American history. It has become a cliche to praise what Ronald Reagan called, in his 1964 attack on Medicare, “our traditional free enterprise system” and to describe the battle against government intervention in the economy as a return to venerable traditions.  The prevailing narrative treats laissez-faire as the American norm and understands state intervention in the economy as a recent development.

History tells a different story. Ever since the Constitution was described in 1787 as “a revolution in favor of government,” Americans have recognized that the state has a positive and essential role to play in promoting economic dynamism and political freedom. Early national citizens promoted internal improvements.  Nineteenth-century Republicans supported public spending on railroads and the democratic experiment of Reconstruction.  Progressives endorsed antitrust legislation.  Free and robust markets have been the wellspring of economic growth in the United States. But, from the Erie Canal to the Internet, government policy––including land grants and consumer protection laws–has provided a framework for markets to operate, choices to proliferate, and citizens to consume.

Despite their endorsement of the state’’s role as a creator of markets, provider of infrastructure, and consumer of goods and services, Americans have simultaneously held a longstanding suspicion of the state.  What they most detested about the state as it existed in Europe was the way in which it granted privilege to the powerful and enabled the wealthy to further enrich themselves. They also feared the standing armies and the co-mingling of the military and the civil government that characterized Old World regimes. They feared the kind of arrangement that Cheney and his company profited from––what today we call corporate welfare and the military-industrial complex––and they did so not because they uniformly condemned federal power but because they feared a state that would entrench insiders and elites.

Cheney’’s comment is even more relevant today than it was when he uttered it a decade ago.  Politicians and pundits continue to deny government’’s proper––and historic–place in economic development and equally to deny or minimize the dangers of government power as manifested by secrecy, the revolving door between business and government, and unscrutinized contracts handed out to private businesses like Haliburton.

We desperately need a narrative about the role of the government in our political and economic life  to compete with the one that currently dominates the conventional wisdom. Such a narrative would hold that taxes are a means of  raising funds for necessary collective endeavors, that regulation can just as easily promote as stifle freedom (such as the freedom to avoid toxic drugs and unsafe food), and that government can, as the Founders recognized, promote the general welfare. It need not celebrate all forms of government power and should call attention to the dangers of an overreaching state that we have become especially aware of over the last decade.  Perhaps if such a narrative had been in place in 2000, Americans would be facing our current crisis with a more balanced sense of the strengths and limitations of government, and a more accurate sense of how our predecessors understood them.

79 responses to “The Government Does Have Something To Do with It

  1. It need not celebrate all forms of government power and should call attention to the dangers of an overreaching state that we have become especially aware of over the last decade.

    You mean Medicare, for example?

  2. Americans share a fear of big government. We need to realize that big government is fearful only when it is used by other big powerful institutions (mostly big business) to further their ends at the expense of the public’s.

  3. I remember that exchange between Lieberman and Cheney. How appropriate for that rapacious slime ball to discredit the role of government in his success…he held the second highest position in government for Christ’s sake!

    Moreover, it’s no secret the hardcore Republican ideologues hate anything that smacks of government…unless it happens to benefit them or protect their wealth.

    Trying to have a dialogue with these greedy scumbags is a futile endeavor. Best just to expose them for their hypocrisy and move on without them.

    P.S. Go Cocks!

  4. CBS from the West

    “What they most detested about the state as it existed in Europe was the way in which it granted privilege to the powerful and enabled the wealthy to further enrich themselves.”

    But that is exactly what the US Government has now become! So the ideology has been, in fact, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    But how do we break out of this? If we give the existing government more through taxation and regulation, they _will_ use it to enrich and empower themselves and their cronies/sycophants/donors etc. I would glady pay more taxes to a government that would use them in the public interest. How do we get such a government in place? It seems rather hopeless.

  5. But, from the Erie Canal to the Internet, government policy––including land grants and consumer protection laws–has provided a framework for markets to operate, choices to proliferate, and citizens to consume.
    And for businessmen to make fortunes, I might add. It always amazes me that people buy this “self-made” meme, as if these gazillionaires arose, fully formed, out of the earth itself.

  6. Terrific post. Here is another post over at Asymptosis blog by Steve Roth, closely related to Professor Glickman’s. I have only begun reading Mr. Roth’s blog about a week ago, but everything I’ve read there so far seems good. Check out the graph and the time that the public debt level starts to rise. Remember who was our nation’s President in 1981??? Hint: He was a B-movie actor who spent half of his life in government.
    http://www.asymptosis.com/the-reaganomics-strategy-a-legacy-of-debt.html

  7. The government will be too large when it deprives the private sector of adequate labor resources. At present, the private sector is unable to provide adequate employment for those out of work even without considering what would happen with less public sector employment. Consider for example just how bad our unemployment rate would be right now if we eliminated our militaristic intrusions around the world. Neocolonialism has in fact become an integral dependency of our culture.

    It is therefore ‘beyond’ delusional to argue that ‘big government’ is detrimental at this time. Delusional arguments have however become part of US culture, naturally. So I suppose an occasional intellectual push… back toward more rational footing is necessary, but the premise that ‘big government’ is a problem is beyond delusional nonetheless. Good Post.

  8. Or maybe The Patriot Act?

  9. Who’s worse, the fool or the fools that follow? It’s crazy how some of the hard core right/libertarian/ conservatives are, almost to the point of say, having one of their children sick/down/in pain, but if you were to blurt ‘government overreach’ or government anything in their face they’d drop whatever was on the mind and back it up.

    Amazing how some are wired.

  10. CBS,

    Once the internet becomes worldwide, international boycotts of MNCs will allow power to shift to the consumer. It must be the global non-investment class against the investment-class of a single nation so as to have the necessary numerical advantage needed. This could occur in the not too distant future. Consumers need to only unite against an injustice and a widespread boycott will force corporate compliance due to the risk of financial collapse. Nations that become dependent upon equity shares could also be boycotted regarding all global market-share gains in protest to imperialism, negative externalities, or whatever. The global market-share game makes its winners very vulnerable to global public opinion, or at least it will once information is able to flow freely and honestly. The process is unfolding right here, right now.

    Ray

  11. without Medicare the elderly would be without any health care. such a grand idea you have there. hopefully never implemented. or you yourself will be in trouble when you get to that age and discover that no insurance company will even consider selling you coverage. and as it is, we barely are in the range with other advanced countries for how long we live. with your plan, that would plumet

  12. As I’ve mentioned before in these comments, the dynamic Dr. Glickman refers to is described in detail by Thomas Franks in The Wrecking Crew.

  13. Did I specify a “plan”?

    I just find it amusing how Prof. Glickman can shift like a weasel between promoting freedom (e.g. FDA regulation), investing in long-term infrastructure (e.g. railroads), and entitlement programs.

    Only one of these is (a) relatively new and (b) consuming a larger fraction of current and future budgets than everything else combined.

    Just as mindless Republicans think everything the government does is bad, mindless Democrats think the opposite, and both sides will trot out the same old logically incoherent garbage over and over and over again.

    Although to be honest it’s more boring than amusing.

  14. Matt, you are so right! An irrational fear of government seems to have seeped into the bloodstream of almost every American. Did they actually put something in the water? Well, Cheney, the Koch brothers and their ilk would be the ones in the position to do it.

  15. Re-inventing the circle by making it a square – Nihilism has gone fundamental.

    What on earth is everyone’s freekin’ problem with HEALTH CARE?

    If you are inhabiting a skin suit – that is your mechanism (your “vehicle”) for LIVING.

    So what kind of “economic theory” resents the flow of any “capital” into the MAINTENANCE of a skin suit?! You just want us all to wallow around in toxic assets our whole lives? from cradle to grave because of your SIMPLE math formula:

    More misery for others = More money for ME ME ME

    Seriously, what is WRONG with you people who go on and on and on and on and on and on and on

    about ANY $$$$, whatsoever, going to LIFE MAINTENANCE and not “secret mission” WARS?

    How is ANY MONEY going to food clothing shelter medicine education

    WASTEFUL SPENDING?!

  16. I’m paraphrasing, but I think Paul Krugman said it best when he described the Federal government as a giant insurance company with a military attached to it. Of course social insurance is not quite like private insurance, there is a redistributive aspect to social insurance that doesn’t exist in private insurance, but for Medicare and Social Security that redistributive aspect is not so large I think that Krugman’s metaphor fails to be apt. You may not approve of the prioritization of social insurance, or “entitlement spending” if you prefer, over other possible avenues of government intervention or non-intervention in the economy, but you are in the minority Nemo and the choice to devote substantially more resources to social insurance than to any of the other possible government functions you mention (regulation and infrastructure) is not in and of itself logically incoherent. One can want regulation, infrastructure, and entitlement spending all at the same time and still be logically coherent. Most Americans want all these things and more. And they are right to want them.

  17. All I know is that if high price-inflation or a currency flight enduced hyper-inflation strike America, many Canadians will be thrilled to snatch up U.S. assets with loonies. While I don’t know the specifics, my gut tells me that the Canadian economy, while being rocked severely by such a U.S. crisis, would prevail as a) we have a single payer health care system which eliminates the moral hazard of insurance companies refusing anyone for any reason and b) despite differences of opinion on the right/left spectrum, we inherently trust each other when difficulties of an existential nature rear their ugly heads c) We fundamentally believe that government has a role at, well, governing. We trust our institutions and do not take political corruption lightly. I’m well past my student years but when at University in Montreal meeting American students, the biggest topic of conversation, the one thing we Canucks were the most perplexed by was “How does one get medical care in the U.S. if it is not provided by the State?”. The Canadian Health care system, with all its strengths and weaknesses, is a pillar of what constitutes the Canadian identity. We are, for the most part, staunch believers in the collective’s responsibility to look out for those who are brought into the world at a lesser advantage. To say that America’s preference of the past 40 years of favouring individual freedom at the expense of liberty (as in liberation from the burden of bankruptcy from health expenses) created a lot of wealth is a whole lot of bunk if it ultimately leads to the Nation’s ruin.

  18. In the documentary Why We Fight, journalist Charles Lewis made a most startling but true comment about Dick Cheney as Vice President. He noted that in nominating himself to the position (he did) and becoming VP, America had installed a private military contractor in the executive office—which is something normally expected from a banana republic or any other troubled nation such as Indonesia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_We_Fight_%282005_film%29)

    The Mystery of Capital by Hernando de Soto was very interesting in explaining how America’s system of government helped create American prosperity and lifted us from a developing nation (that’s how we started out, for most of our history until WW2) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hernando_de_Soto_Polar). I read this book a few years ago and liked it, it was informative. But the Wikipedia entry mentions that some are critical of him for his “neoliberal” approach so, there you go. Either he has a good message or a controversial one. But his description of the role and function of our government as central and important to the well-being of our society and for a prosperous economy made sense. (It was easier to read popular economics before the banking crisis, before knowing about the philosophical controversies in the field. Ah well. I guess that means keep reading.)

  19. I also got a lot out of deSoto’s book. That it is backed up by solid data and research is to his credit. Much of the recent criticism centers on the fact that he essentially advocates establishment of property rights to enable the leverage of those rights — and leverage has become a bad word since 2008.

  20. I love when the government takes stuff away from productive people and gives it to me. Otherwise, I might have to get a job, and, that wouldn’t work.

  21. ditto from me!

    these are the people who look back longingly at Dickensian times………ahhh the work houses, 7 day work weeks, child labor, people dying in front of hospitals.

  22. You are missing my point. You and I might well disagree on the desirability and long-term effects of massive entitlement programs, and we can have that debate. Great! But my point is that Prof. Glickman’s post does not even begin to approach the question. I happen to agree with his historical examples of “beneficial government”, but they all have zero relevance to entitlement spending.

    Or military spending, for that matter. Speaking of which, gee, I wonder what Prof. Glickman thinks about the desirability of shrinking that?

    Anyway, if you author a piece allegedly about “big government” but fail to mention either the #1 or #2 items in the budget (entitlements and the military), you are just using lots of words to say nothing at all. “Terrific post”, indeed.

  23. jeff simpson

    What astounds me about the anti-government movement is how it glosses over the horror of not providing basic services to the poor, the elderly, the handicapped. The idea that hard-working Americans might have some of their tax dollars going to support lazy people is just too much for some to take. But mixed in with those lazy people on the dole are those that really do need help. If one is against government waste, I would think one would declare war on the inefficient aspects of a program rather than the ENTIRE program.

    On the other hand, if the goal is to repeal the New Deal, then those advocating its repeal need to fess up and tell the truth. We could all get behind reducing and eventually eliminating government waste, but it is a more nuanced approach that is not soundbite-friendly. Another problem I have with those wanting to kill all the social programs is that they seem to have never met a weapons system they didn’t positively adore, which is BLATANT HYPOCRISY that the media fails to call them on, if only because this contradiction is wrapped in a bloody American flag.

    Failure to invest in basic infrastructure can only result in an overall decline of our national living standards. Education, roads, bridges, dredged waterways, the list of deserving domestic programs is long and varied, but it receives short shrift from those eager to pump all government spending into maintaining a crumbling hegemon. Our grandchildren will curse these short-sighted, greed-addled zealots.

  24. CBS from the West

    @Annie

    Unfortunately, not all of health care consists of investment in life mainteance. Even the admirers of the US health care system acknowledge that about 1/3 of the services provided do no good. My own belief, based on a long career as a physician and researcher, is that it’s closer to 1/2 of all services that do no good. Be that as it may, a substantial part of health care is just about profit for doctors/hospitals/drug companies, etc. and has nothing to do with life maintenance.

    It is hard to know whether Medicare is higher, lower, or about the same as the rest of US health care in terms of the amount of waste. It seems pretty clear that a lot of the services provided to the elderly consist of futile heroic efforts to prolong a life that is really already lost. These “services” often result in a degraded quality of life–so they are worse than waste.

    On the other hand, young people who see doctors typically have self-limited problems like colds, minor injuries, etc., that do not require any treatment or are easily self-treated. These episodes of care are individually not all that expensive, but the volume of them is quite high.

  25. CBS from the West

    “…big government is fearful only when it is used by other big powerful institutions (mostly big business) to further their ends at the expense of the public’s.”

    But nowadays that is precisely what our government is! That is what this blog has meticulously documented with respect to the finance industry since the financial shock. And examples of the capture of government to the service of big powerful institutions in other sectors abound as well.

    If you take that part away, what is left?

  26. CBS from the West

    “Education, roads, bridges, dredged waterways, the list of deserving domestic programs is long and varied, but it receives short shrift from those eager to pump all government spending into maintaining a crumbling hegemon. Our grandchildren will curse these short-sighted, greed-addled zealots.”

    Let us hope our grandchildren curse them. But if the decay of our education system continues on its current course, our grandchildren will be so ignorant they won’t even know what has been done to them or who did it, or that things were ever different.

  27. Actually the whole point to any insurance plan is redistributive – preferably over the largest possible subset of the population that could be afflicted by the harm the insurance is trying to address. The point of insurance is to spread unpredictable losses over the whole insured group rather than have individuals carry the whole cost of the harm at point of impact.

  28. I’m grateful that the government pays for my meds, and, of course, my therapy.

    Dr. Leo Marvin is a wonderful man, and I highly recommend his book, “Baby Steps,” but, he doesn’t work cheap.

  29. I prefer it that way. I might have to compete with you for a job. I wouldn’t want that.

  30. Of course they won’t. They’ll be programmed not to.

  31. I believe big government should be feared only when it refuses to account for the spending and lack of oversight in the private sector shadow government it has created.

    Conservatives who fill our heads non-stop with anti-big government rhetoric know it’s just propanda. What we really need to fear is big contracting.

  32. As Noam Chomsky observed, all of our computer and network research and development was funded by military contracts or direct DARPA work.

  33. I wouldn’t be much competition. The times I’d bother to show up, and didn’t have to leave for a doctor’s appointment, I’d spend the day drinking coffee and writing bad poetry.

    Fortunately, Socialism allows me to maintain this lifestyle without the inconvenience of having to work for a living.

  34. Don’t worry. Whatever evil/unnecessary spending that occurs will be uncovered, either by Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal or their intellectual cousins at FOX news. Why just today they were the first TV journalists to report on $1,000,000,000 (that’s a Billion) in jetpacks the city of Los Angeles had ordered for the Los Angeles Police Department and LA Fire Department. Quoting directly from the LATimes:

    Co-host Gretchen Carlson said that while she was “all for buying stuff up and helping the capitalism and all that” she wondered whether the costs would be prohibitive in a bad economy.

    Brian Kilmeade wondered about possible safety issues.

    “You gotta make up some rules,” Kilmeade said. “Because you’re going to have jetpacks flying into choppers!”
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/10/fox-and-friends-falls-for-ruse-alleging-purchase-of-billion-dollars-of-jetpacks-for-lapd-la-fire.html

    Remember folks: “FOX News, fair and balanced”

  35. Actually the whole point of insurance is to pay a premium in order to transfer risk. The greater the risk, the higher the premium.

    Now, you can pass a law forcing everyone to share their risks with each other and call it “insurance”, just like you can hand hundreds of billions of tax dollars to bankers and call it “the free market”. But that does not make it so.

  36. Bush invented “faith based initiatives” because “god” wants me to be rich.

  37. Yeah, but you Canucks don’t have anything BIG to “win” when you become CEOs.

    The CEO of the for-profit health insurance giant – United Health Care – gave himself a 1.8 BILLION USA dollar “package” in 2005.

    That’s a whole lotta “tough love” – buck up and suffer, Baby – we’re saying “Nyet” to your diagnostic labs for that ick on your skin and other oil libe “maintenance” so that the boss can get enough money in his e-account.

    Guess that’s the game? How much money do you have that you can’t spend even after you buy Africa…

    No one can spend 1.8 BILLION in one life, can they? But it sure does buy a lot of air time from MSM to tell everyone how stupid they are.

    Optimum air temperature for lucid brain function is about 50 degrees F. Southern zone of USA doesn’t get that temp for long enough to matter :-)

  38. If you are saying that social insurance programs are new, you are quite mistaken. While it is not widely known, the US was a precocious social spender in the 19th century – surpassing much of Europe at points. A program of pensions for Civil War veterans grew into a massive social safety net as it progressively expanded its defined class of beneficiaries – See Theda Skocpol’s “Protecting Mothers and Soldiers.”

    I think you illustrate the author’s point nicely in that the history of state activity in this country is widely misunderstood and that misunderstanding is used instrumentally by (mainly) conservative politicians.

  39. The Patriot Act and IRS coming after you to fine you for not buying FOR PROFIT health insurance…

    WHY is that kind of “government” okeedokee

    And a government that protects true MIDDLE CLASS productivity from predatory banksters “too much government”.

    ALl we have for November is a big slate of total nut jobs running for elected government positions – so what does the “promotion” of such a freshman class of NIHILISTS tell you about “secret” FOREIGN interference in our GOVERNMENT.

    What’s next after 40% of HOME real estate in some kind of “foreclosure”? Importing foreigners for unfilled positions because USA people lack tent building skills?

  40. Coffee is a scarce resource.

  41. He didn’t mention military spending?!? Dude, his primary example is Halliburton.

  42. Fair enough Nemo. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but I think a better word for your criticism of the post would have been incomplete rather than “logically incoherent.” I didn’t think Professor Glickman’s post was about “big government,” per say, but about what he feels are necessary and beneficial roles the government should play and has always played in American society. As you rightly pointed out, two of those roles are investment in public infrastructure and the creation of regulatory bodies to provide the boundaries markets can function within. Whether or not the provision of social insurance, or entitlement spending if you prefer, falls under the umbrella of necessary and beneficial roles the government should play and has always played in American society, is debatable I guess. I think the overwhelming answer the American public would give to that question is yes, but you are right to claim the post is incomplete because the issue is not explicitly addressed. Especially because as you rightly call attention to the provision of social insurance has become by far the single largest responsibility of the federal government over the past 40-50 years.

  43. Actually, the whole point of insurance is to MAKE MONEY, which is why private health insurance is such an impediment to actual HEALTH CARE.

  44. you don’t have to be mindless to be anti government, it helps, but it isn’t necessary. all the PR the Republicans have done over the last 40 years worked wonders. even supposedly intelligent “people” think Gov is the problem.

    what amazes me is the lack of any thinking whatsoever by these “educated” masses out of law and business schools. focus is on profit only. stupidity in such concentrated “elites” is proof of how effective the PR the anti-gov forces are. these so called “educated idiots” show how easy the average uneducated Americans are.

    after all, the focus on “test scores” in schools proved how effective the dumbing down of Americans works. this has allowed the “Greed is Good” PR campaign to work it wonders.

    after all with the late great St. Ronnie as its’ touchstone, who could dare be for any form of Gov. unless of course that Gov is run, operated and controlled by the same Elites who used that “evil” Gov to get “Gov. welfare” for their businesses. Cheney proved how to do this. Privatize the profits and socialize the costs.

  45. It is not that ‘big government’ is intrinsically inefficient, big governments of all types have a history of efficiency during wars, and there are many nations that have shown that a larger percentage of socialist dynamics are efficient, it is that our culture has become lazy and convinced that our presumed ‘superiority’ is enough to guarantee continued success without dedication and commitment. Our private sector, if it were possible to see past how much it relies on the exploitation of those who are left with few if any options, would probably reveal a lack of efficiency as well. We have lost our way.

  46. Bayard Waterbury

    Professor Glickman, praises for the article, which is, to say the least, spot on. I only find fault in what I see is a continuing narrative where there are still those who like to make logical and concise arguments for change, and are unwilling to describe just how such change may logically be sponsored or caused to happen.

    I am a peace loving American. I ran a company, started from scratch in the early seventies until my recent retirement. I made a decent living providing legal services to the legal community. It was fun. I had lots of employees who did well by me, and continue to do well since I left the business. I rose to national prominence by publishing a book and being involved with both the state and national industry associations. I learned about the politics at a grass roots level, both state and federal. I am a student of history.

    At one time I belonged to the Republican Party, because I felt that it best represented the interests of all entrepreneurs. Later I switched parties because, during Reagan’s tenure, it appeared that they were interested only in sponsoring policies which benefitted the upper middle class and elites, and I’ve always had a strong egalitarian bias which I felt was being betrayed by their policies and programs.

    But now I refuse any party affiliation owing to my belief that America has now become a plutocracy so out of control that its government can’t be retrieved from this defacto state of action/inaction and brought back into alignment with the interests of ordinary citizens (now largely becoming the working poor, or American Serfdom). It is a sad state of affairs, when no citizen may go into the voting booth and select someone they are confident will represent them. There no longer are choices between good and not so good, but only voting selections between evil and much more evil.

    It is purely the influence of money that guides all governmental policy today. If we look at the daily news, we see nearly endless examples: unnecessary wars, oil spills, eggs with salmonella, foreclosures with no one reviewing documents, endless carbonization of our atmosphere, endless tax breaks for the wealthiest, the disparity between the earnings of employees and their bosses, etc., etc. I could go on and on and anyone reading this will not only agree, but think of lots more to add to this list.

    The problem isn’t our government, it is the coopting of our government by the corruption and greed with obsesses its key members. One last example to make my point. Bernie Madoff was found guilty of bilking his customers of more than 60 million dollars, was prosecuted and sent to prison for life. It took multiple bites of the Bernie apple for the SEC to even act or investigate. Meanwhile, by fraud and deceptive business practices, the Wall Street Banks and their coconspirators inside and outside the government destroyed the American economy with imposing a malaise likely to last at least a decade, if not far longer, and the only notable thing done was an action againsts Goldman which was settled before trial for a mere pittance. The estimates of what the Wall Street banks caused is quantifiable, and as been widely estimated to be somewhat in excess of $10 TRILLION DOLLARS!!! And yet, the Obama Justice Department is not bringing any significant prosecutions, Congress is only scratching the surface with its mealymouthed hearings, and Timothy Geithner has made claims that we won’t lose money because TARP will soon be substantially repaid.

    That is the story. Care to write more nice explanations of the problem? Sure. Anyone think that this will be resolved in our present system? If they do, they are just plain wrong. Do I advocate revolution? Yes. Violent? Never. The only real possibility is for the American citizen to stand up and request a Constitutional Convention to change election law. Without that, the Supreme Court, the judicial handmaidens of the elite, will continue making decisions like Citizens United which protect in interests of the artistocracy which saw to their appointments.

    Does someone care to disagree? I await your arguments, and will gladly agree to accept any well reasoned differences of opinion.

  47. Here’s what Max Keiser says about entitlements programs being unsustainable: ‘American workers paid into these schemes and they are entitled to get their money back. What is atrocious is the banks have stolen the money … Goldman Sachs has just announced they are giving their partners supplementary bonuses while they have openly admitted to committing fraud in Ireland and the Eurozone … They have committed massive fraud. They are peddling bonds with absolutely no collateral’.

    The man is a total kook :)

    (about 7 minutes into show)

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    The Midterm Report, hosted by Washington media veterans Todd Zwillich and Adam Belmar, airs live every Monday – Thursday through the election from 6:00 – 8:00 pm ET on P.O.T.U.S., SIRIUS channel 110 and XM channel 130

  49. Mark McDonald

    When Mr Cheney made the remark about government having nothing to do with his income, it was not new in Dallas. He was preceeded by two other Dallas businessmen/politicians. (Dick Cheney lived in Dallas for a time). The first was Eddie Chiles, a businessman in the Oil Field business, and who once owned the Texas Rangers baseball team, this was in the 70′s or 80′s. The second was Ross Perot in the 90′s. The companies of all three of these men were hugely expanded and enriched by government contracts and subsidies. The statements seemed amusing at the time, but alot of people believed them. I think the Texas Rangers baseball connection is interesting.

  50. The issue is who runs the government, not what the government does. Never has been and never will be anything else. When 1% to 2% of the population can dominate election speech, the capital needed to build this country and access to power, the common good will be crushed. We are back to the late 19th Century and it looks like the advocates of that paradigm are going to be victorious. Luddites/tea partiers will cheer all the way to the poorhouse and the powerful will become more so. Can you say expat? Sure you can!

  51. Despite all the GOP “spin” that the economy is
    bad off and that government intervention made bad conditions even worse, my modest portfolio with Vanguard is doing quite well. In fact, I am really surprised.
    True, unemployment is a serious problem, but some
    of this is “structural unemployment” which requires
    job retraining and time to correct.
    See:
    http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/structuralunemployment.asp
    Also consider the following:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39416231/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/
    http://money.cnn.com/2004/01/21/markets/election_demsvreps/
    http://www.aier.org/research/business-cycle/conditions

  52. Bayard — do you have a list of reforms you would want in election law?

  53. I agree with KenC on the purpose of insurance. Applied to medical, it implies single payer.

  54. Scott Arlon Waite

    “To say that America’s preference of the past 40 years of favouring individual freedom at the expense of liberty (as in liberation from the burden of bankruptcy from health expenses) created a lot of wealth is a whole lot of bunk if it ultimately leads to the Nation’s ruin”

    “as in liberation from the burden of bankruptcy from health expenses” seriously? you are a nut. Healthcare is a good, like chocolate. God did not give you right to it. and if you want the good stuff you better work for it cause you dont want the gov’t stuff. I mean seriously, you want the gov’t car? like the VW? or maybe a GM Malibu….”the care your knew america could make” Jesus. This is too important to leave to the gov’t. Take it upon yourself as your own responsibility. Who would dare leave such an important good to someone else? I wouldn’t. I work my ass off so I know I can get the best healthcare. and it ain’t from the UK or Canada.

  55. Scott Arlon Waite

    Why would you leave such an important issue to the Gov’t? when the US has taken such good care of its needy via Church and donations? No one. and I mean no one has taken care of the needy more than successful US citizens worldwide. show me how I am wrong.

  56. Scott Arlon Waite

    “and there are many nations that have shown that a larger percentage of socialist dynamics are efficient”

    Cite your source please.

  57. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward | Official Trailer

  58. Actually, there’s only a few useless bums such as yourself. The actual large and significant numbers of useful, hardworking people who used to have an important stake in this country but who now are suffering the discouragement of long term unemployment(if they’re somewhat older they’re likely to never find a decent job again the way things have been going) do so partly because certain liars and useful idiots keep promoting the falsehood that free-riders amonsgst the working class are a real problem, this when the financial executives who drove this economy into the ditch reward themselves with tens of millions of dollars in bonuses for their accomplishments, this being the “productive” class you love so well that you ignore their rampant skimming of our national wealth. I hope your one of them. Otherwise, I feel for your evident lack of ability to think.

  59. Re: @ Mark McDonald___Ref: earle,floida (5/13/10 – 7:51pm comment) http://www.baselinescenario.com/2010/05/13/senator-kaufman-was-right/

  60. Scott,

    Presumably, by “source” you mean to ask that I support my claim. The “source” is me, I am capable of forming opinions on my own. I am also able to support those opinions, although, considering that the recent health-care debate revealed how much more efficient that nations with varying degrees of socialized medicine are, as measured by differences of related spending as a percentage of GDP, as well as comparatives regarding overall health factors and the prevalence rates of diet-related diseases, I assumed that my claim was axiomatic. But since you evidently disagree with my assumption, I’ll include also as support those European nations which provide more socialized medicine and education than what the US does, and then this from Wiki:

    “While developed European nations and Canada tend to have Gini indices between 24 and 36, the United States’ and Mexico’s Gini indices are both above 40, indicating that the United States and Mexico have greater inequality.”

    Then of course there are nations which are more-so socialist than what the US is, yet rank higher than the US in nearly every possible way that exists which allows the a comparison of any two nations. Norway for example ranks higher than the US whether measured as GDP per capita for OECD countries, or, as purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita, and with its gini number at 25, Norway is still at the top, or near the top, of nearly list that attempts to provide comparisons of national efficiency.

    And of course my claim is about degrees of socialism.

  61. As Western Civilization Lies Dying
    by John Kozy

    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21244

  62. Scott,

    Back when the US relied on “good care of its needy via Church and donations”, the poverty rate, even during what were considered the best of times, reached 71% (BLS, 1929 [before crash]).

    Now, global poverty is concentrated in urban centers that lack sufficient sanitation facilities and, consequently, dead-zones are forming in the oceans at what should be an alarming rate. In 2003 there were about 100 dead-zones and by 2008 this number had spiked to over 400. The underlying cause of this, has to do in large part with a vast migration of ruralites which, is the result of manipulations of food prices (ag subsidies by all developed nations), and by water issues and generally by a disregard for the harm being caused ecologically, and for the people too, so long as labor markets are kept in a state of perpetual oversupply. There are, in other words, manipulations of the global economy that are exploitative on an unprecedented scale. It is therefore not so simple as what philanthropists give back, it is what percentage of that ‘charity’ was the result of ill-gotten gains in the first place. As Joe Stiglitz puts it, for every dollar the developed nations spend on development aid, they receive a return of 3 dollars. He is talking about government aid here, not private philanthropy, but it is important to realize that wealth is not derived from immaculate conception.

    And by the way, when you make an unsupported claim such as that which you made regarding philanthropy, and then put the burden of proof on others with something such as this: “show me how I am wrong”; while on another part of the thread demanding “sources”… well, that will not win you any awards for integrity. These types of tactics only serve to disparage the causes which you are associating yourself with. Low integrity tactics say: ‘people on my side of these issues lack integrity’, and, not surprisingly, with dependable consistency.

  63. “I work my ass off so I know I can get the best healthcare.”

    You need an ass, so if you work yours off in order to be able to afford an ass transplant, how are you getting ahead financially?

  64. Anonymous,

    The Paradox of Asses

    Had you identified yourself here, you may have received credit for solving the central problem of all economic considerations:’asses’. You could have deemed your theory The Paradox of Asses had you just given a little more thought to the import of your discovery and how much of a role is played in all things economic by ‘asses’.

    I suppose changing health-care costs may make the importance of such theory somewhat transitory, at least that part of the theory dealing exclusively with the anatomical aspects, and the theoretical value would have eventually been made obsolete by ever improving ass transplant techniques anyway… but you have, I think, missed an opportunity to gain some timeless celebrity nonetheless because the other ‘ass’ factors may never cease to exist.

    It is however worth noting that sometimes it is best just to quickly say, what needs to be said, regarding ‘asses’ for instance, as opposed to investing precious time in the development of complex theories and explanations thereof.

    Ray L Love, known for his theory regarding ‘asses’ (some controversy regarding the origin of The Theory of Asses does however exist)

  65. The narrative on limited goverbnment has already been written. The collective good for purposes of the protection of life and property are already well established. The greed of power and special interests are the corruption that we all need to address in November. Throw the bums out. Vote for principled people, not party.

  66. Unfortunately, it does not take as much effort, or as long of a time, to kill a civilization. And the killers are always those who did nothing to built it, just “traded” on it and “shorted” it.

  67. Thanks rene, Zeitgeist was très cool – as the images.

  68. “Despite his denial and his antigovernment rhetoric, the company Cheney ran depended on billions of dollars of government contracts and loan guarantees….” It would be an interesting dissertation to obtain a Freedom of Information exposure of the Halliburton contracts, to see how big a liar Cheney was.

  69. There have never been 7 billion people on the planet.

    Best to stay “grounded”, so to speak, and realize that there are really only two “classes” of people on Spaceship Earth when facing the challenges of LIFE maintenance – productive people and parasitic people.

    Sorry, but Strauss and Howe sound like they got their inspiration from Astrologers :-)

    Teenagers must pass through a rebellion stage and much depends on how the adults in the room, so to speak, channel the “rebellion” – innovation or destruction.

    “Financial innovation” – historically – has always led to the destruction of the producers of wealth – ie. “parasites”.

  70. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

    — Mark Twain

  71. I always thought that “Anonymous” was the family name of an elite group of social commentators…certainly a lot of evidence for my theory – quotes are attributed to “Anonymous” from every age and every bona-fide culture.

    :-)

    Probably the only way women could have a serious say about serious topics/problems without being ignored…?

    For-profit health insurance companies are retarding real scientific advances in medicine and health care

    because the DATA such organizations generate/collect

    is fixated on sucking up money while not providing the basics of health care

    - meaning that their spin on the data makes it impossible to correctly ascertain both the cost and the real health care needs of any geographical segment of the human species.

    It’s a cruel and sadistic game they play – and the profits are especially obscene, imo.

  72. what a life eh! You work your free market, commie hating ass off so you can afford to preserve it for no other reason (certainly no other benefit) than to get it kicked into touch by those ever so compassionate insurance companies when your no longer physically able to work it any more…..condolences my friend

  73. or how to spell hegemon!!

  74. The information above is very well explained. Author has made the point clear

  75. Bruce E. Woych

    THERE IS MORE THAN A LITTLE “ANIMAL FARM” DRAMA HERE.

  76. Bruce E. Woych

    OR MAYBE “ANIMAL FARM” WRIT LARGE?

  77. Bruce E. Woych

    The “weasel” comment is uncalled for and you (NEMO) have overstepped by shfting bases. Prof. Glickman might be accused of oversimplification, but not of playing three card Monty with the facts of history. In effect he is saying that the three blind mice saga of contemporary history has been orchestrated by 3 see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil republican monkey principles that has essentially replaced government of the people, by the people and for the people.

    His call for a “structuralist” narrative is a bit academic, but the intrinsic notion of a revival for a “participatory democracy” is overshadowed by a crony and phony Republicanism that rules by lip service (rather than the so-called public narrative that Prof. Glickman is so romantically seeking).

    Mr. Nemo…I presume you are NOT an ACADEMIC ! So you are pardoned for the ill mannered rhetoric!

  78. What percentage of Halliburton’s revenues came from government contracts? Were these the result of some fix? For this blog post not to be utterly insane, I need to see proof that it is (a) significant and (b) proof that they were not honestly earned.