Happy Constitution Day

By James Kwak

(Actually, it was on Saturday.) I just read Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (W.W. Norton, 2009), by Kim Phillips-Fein. It’s a history of the resistance from the business community to the New Deal and how it gave birth to at least one major strand of the modern conservative movement. One of Phillips-Fein’s major points is that the conservative movement is not just a reaction to the civil rights movement, the 1960s, and the women’s liberation movement (and Roe v. Wade). Those trends gave the conservative movement more energy and support, but business leaders had for decades been trying to build an intellectual and political movement that could reverse the New Deal. And while some of them talked about Christian values, what they really cared about were breaking unions and lower taxes.

I think this is relevant because it gets at the question of what the modern conservative movement and the Tea Party are all about. There has been a lot of work on this issue, from a variety of different angles. David Campbell and Robert Putnam looked at longitudinal surveys and found that the best predictors of being a Tea Party supporter are being an activist, conservative Republican and wanting religion to play a larger role in politics—which implies that the Tea Party is just the same foot soldiers who have backed the conservative movement for the past thirty years. Vanessa Williamson, Theda Skocpol, and John Coggin (Chrystia Freeland summary here) studied one local Tea Party movement in depth and found that there is something new about the movement:

“We find that the Tea Party is a new incarnation of longstanding strands in U.S. conservatism. The anger of grassroots Tea Partiers about new federal social programs such as the Affordable Care Act coexists with considerable acceptance, even warmth, toward long-standing federal social programs like Social Security and Medicare, to which Tea Partiers feel legitimately entitled. Opposition is concentrated on resentment of perceived federal government ‘handouts’ to “undeserving” groups, the definition of which seems heavily influenced by racial and ethnic stereotypes.”

Jane Mayer famously described the Tea Party as the creation or the tool of the Koch Brothers and former Gingrich lieutenant Dick Armey. And a number of scholars, including Thomas Ferguson, have argued that political conservatism derives its strength not from a shift in popular attitudes, but from the money provided by businessmen with an anti-regulation, low-tax agenda.

Obviously, as with any complex phenomenon, there are nuances and differences—between elite organizers and grass-roots supporters, and between people who came to the movement for different reasons. I don’t have anything particularly original to add here. But I think Phillips-Fein’s book strengthens the relative position of the pro-business, anti-union, anti-regulation strand in the genealogy of the conservative movement (as opposed to the family values strand, or the true libertarian strand).

It also contains this gem for anyone who thinks the American people suddenly developed warm and fuzzy feelings about the Constitution in the past two years. Describing the 1934 founding of the American Liberty League—a rabidly anti-Roosevelt, anti-New Deal organization—she writes (p. 10):

“The main topic of discussion was creating a ‘propertyholders’ association,’ as Irénée [DuPont] put it, to disseminate ‘information as to the dangers to investors’ posed by the New Deal. The group decided that the name of their association should not refer directly to property—it would be better to frame their activities as a broad defense of the Constitution.”

35 responses to “Happy Constitution Day

  1. The U.S. government is currently spending $1-2 trillion more per year than it collects in taxes. If you have a problem with that in any way, you are obviously an anti-intellectual Bible-thumping racist moron who has duped by mega-corporate interests.

    Any questions?

  2. If you did not leverage yourself to the hilt to buy a house because you believed prices would rise at 20% per year forever, then your wealth is going to be confiscated and transferred to people who did. (Because otherwise our banks might have to take some losses and some people might lose “their” homes.)

    If you have a problem with that, you are also obviously an anti-intellectual Bible-thumping racist moron who has been duped by mega-corporate interests.

    Indeed, if you believe that anybody anywhere should be responsible for the consequences of their own actions, ever, you are dangerously reactionary and need to be educated. It is totally impossible for any intelligent person to understand your position unless it is based on white supremacy, opposition to abortion, or money spent by the Koch brothers. We have whole books exploring these themes, with more surely on the way. It really is an enigma.

  3. When I’m invited to any type of party I want to know who’s in charge. I’d rather not go to the Land of Toys (or Pleasure Island for those who’ve seen Disney’s film version).

  4. Nemo,

    You said, >The U.S. government is currently spending $1-2 trillion more per year than it collects in taxes.

    The problem with the deficit is not the rate of spend or the percentage of government spend to GDP, it is the rate at which taxes, (ie, revenues), are collected – and both the GOP and the Dems have caused this perpetual shortfall over the last three decades, (mostly thought, the GOP has been the culprit of this tragic farce).

    I have watched as republicans have spent money at a rate that is as high as the best of politicians – to finance wars, ridiculous military buildups and deliver pork spending in their districts, instead of focusing that money on education, infrastructure, healthcare, science and the poor, just to name a few, (which would have been far cheaper, btw, than what we blew on military chips and pop). And then they say things like “but no new taxes and heck, lets give back more money to buy more votes”. They did it with ill-conceived tax cuts based on ridiculous ideas like supply side economics until they have now broken our government, but sold it as ‘giving back to the American people’. In fact thought, they ripped us off.

    What the government spends has no impact on the investment capital and business spending that, for example, built the Internet, drove the tech revolution or caused the tragic housing bubble that has wrecked the global economy through greed driven investments and hedging that has backfired on a massive and global scale.

    Unfortunately for the American people, however, they have been handled by professional GOP magicians who have used the art of misdirection to make many uninformed people think government is the problem, not Wall Street and mega-wealthy nutballs like the Koch brothers.

    I can’t believe how stupid the average mid-income republican is to not see what has happened – its like blinders on a plow horse – but this is why we are now unable to deal with our problems and are on the precipice of falling into a severe recession and further loss of jobs and it will be global in scope.

  5. Okay, looks like Kwak is growing a fetish towards the *Constitution*….

    I’m much more curious to hear how other cultures around the world understood that *religious holiday* that is “traditional” in Iraq. Interesting documentary footage about a parade where thousands of men, only, parade down the street bare-chested and chanting in unison as they whip themselves with metal chains.

    Let me know how the *constitution* and anyone’s self-serving political explanation of it – especially non-American view – explains the differences in science, philosophy and religion between that Iraqi “religious” celebration and USA youth who like to go zip-lining….

    If that’s not the correct *tool* to use – political interpretation of *religion* – to explain such differences between peoples, then how about a GLOBAL modern-economy calculation – which activity is better suited to getting *rich* as a rent-seeker? All male whipping parades or mixed-gender zip-lining parties….?

  6. Nemo,
    If you keep reading here, you may not be dissuaded of your Bible-thumping ways, but you may be fortunate to find yourself relieved of some of your anti-intellectual, racist, and moronic tendencies. Readers here will be happy to help you out in any way they can……. being bleeding heart liberals, and all that.

  7. Slightly off-topic but constitutes a word or two,.. ?

    After listening to Obama and his circle-speak rapidly expanding into a vortex of discontent – just how far right westerly-northbound is Barry to the GOPster’s, or better said a bonafide made-man for Bankster’s Inc., is he?

    Ref: “Why Obama should Withdraw” (Chicago Tribune 9/18/11)
    hjttp://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-chapman-obama-reelection,0,622512.column

    Note: Even if the United States doesn’t go into recession, the unemployment will remain high, and unquenchable as time passes, period! Sadly, Obama has a chance for reelection if the U.S. stays stagnant – believe it or not, even as he whittles down the entitlement programs as bargaining chips with a far-left GOP now headed easterly-southbound compared to #44’s politically opaque mantra!
    There is however a Jerry Brown from California, who happens to have his share of up’s and down’s,… kisses and bruises, fight’s won and lost, but with a character to learn from his battle scars. This man has a lot of quality experience under his belt having run for U.S. President three times? So, I humbly ask,… why not a fourth time? JMHO

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Brown

    Thankyou James

  8. As we say up here in Boston, David G, WICKED GOOD POST!

  9. OK, the right wing, is completely reactionary; its’ wanting *everything* for a relative few, and being blocked, thwarted, shunted, and stultified along the way.

    No wonder so much ANGER by its’ adherents. The smiles can not disguise the stridency.

    But what’s funny, and ironic: the manifold dupes carrying water for the ideologues….truly hysterical and they haven’t changed.

    I caught some fresh air this afternoon, in the sunlight of a pleasant day, and heard the angry raving of an obviously sick man, near the Lindemann Mental Health clinic.

    I prefer THAT because at least it is genuine.

  10. Since the days of Saint Ronnie, the once divorced man, who re-married to the Hollywood pincushion, and raised at least one f*cked up daughter and a son who most likely felt unloved during portions of his life (but I digress)………. Since the days of Saint Ronnie all I can ever remember is talk from Republicans and MSM like Rupert Murdoch’s FOX on the “evils” of unions. And no doubt there were a few funny noises coming from the inside parts of GM cars to lend some small amount of credence to the problems with some union workers.

    But I would argue that some years ago (not that far back, but more than I would care to mentally admit to myself, let’s say roughly a decade) I was a Semi Truck driver. When I joined the industry, unions had long since been effectively killed. The killing of unions in the Semi business dates to around 1984. But I can tell you that when I worked, company drivers were in whole treated lack sacks of sh*t, not paid for hundreds of hours of work done when the truck wasn’t moving, forced to pay safety fines for policies forced on them by the companies, forced to pay fees for lumpers which the company originally promised to pay or risk serious bodily injury operating forklifts they were either not trained for, or given half-ass 1 hour training for a joke certificate to excuse the company out of liability if they injured themselves after refusing to pay dock workers what should have been payed by the company and not the driver. And drivers were rarely completely reimbursed for their receipts for road taxes and costs which the company was responsible for legally and contractually to reimburse the driver for.

    This is not to mention the extreme amount of anger and frustration one feels when spending large amounts of time alone and your main connection to your employer (your “dispatcher”) is a born liar, with lying skills/habits only to be rivaled by used car salesmen and lawyers.

    I worked for two major companies at that time (and still going strong today). The first one with gold trucks and black lettering started out hauling meat and steel between Iowa and Chicago. They were renowned for having poorly trained drivers (Their drivers were new to the industry because they offered “free” training if you made it through the school. But what they called “free” training was really having a huge loan for tuition hanging over your head until you finished training+ 1 year of service, with the principal loan amount +higher than credit card usury rates hitting you if you left or quit before you finished 1 year of work). The second company I worked for had orange trucks (like a “pumpkin”). Less than half of Semi truck drivers last more than 6 months in the industry, I am proud to say I lasted some multiple more than that.

    While anti-Union propaganda was forced on drivers from their original day of work to at least one brainwash every week thereafter, along with not so subtle threats of termination if you so much as whispered the word Union, what I would call rinky-dink drivers were prevalent in the industry.

    And that 1 in 20 drivers who wore a uniform, were always on time, did their equipment safety check, and didn’t curse every other sentence and didn’t have the Dixie-flag on their grill??? 99% union drivers to the man. Inevitably, every time I asked a quality driver who had given some impressive feat of service or skill on the road in my observance I would ask “Are you a Union driver??” nearly every time the answer came back “yes” or my personal fav one-syllable trucker utterance “Yup”.

    Any semi truck drivers out there reading this blog??? I tip my hat now and say “You provide the vast majority of products and factors of production which keep America running in good times and bad. We thank you for that. CYA driver, CYA”

  11. Nemo, if that is your real name ;) —

    what about breaking unions and lowering taxes on the wealthy and corporations relates to government spending more than it takes in? I’ll tell you. Lower wages (breaking unions) means less government tax revenue. Lower taxes on the wealthy and large corporations… ditto. So its nice to see that you support the main tenets of liberal ideology.

    If wages are strong and rising with productivity (as they did during the hey-day of this American republic (1940s-1970s)), and corporations and the wealthy paid there fair share of taxes as they did during that same period, the government would not be in massive debt right now and the economy would be prospering. Of course it would be even better if the wealthy didn’t hollow out our manufacturing sector and send it to China, and destroy the home-ownership economy by creating a huge real estate bubble, but hey, give me strong unions and fair progressive taxation back and we’ll take it from there.

    Now, none of this has anything to do with bible-thumpers so that’s a moot point.

    The idea that when you give wealthy people insanely huge incomes and low taxes that they create jobs is total bull, as the last 30 years proves. What they do with that money in fact is speculate with it, and cause commodities bubbles, housing bubbles, and other economy-destabilizing feats of wonder, all towards the wonderfully short-sighted goal of “chasing alpha” (look it up). When personal income tax rates for the wealthy were between 70-90% back around the Eisenhower administration what did the wealthy do with that money? They REINVESTED IT IN THE CORPORATIONS THAT MADE THE PROFITS — which helped those same corporations grow and prosper, and allowed for rising wages and a strong middle class. They did this rather than take a huge hit on personal income. So if you really want the wealthy to become job creators again, rather than financial speculators, increase the top tax rates to at least 70% and watch investment boom.
    This all has nothing to do with bible thumpers except that they are the rubes that get ensnared and fooled into voting for the plutocratic money grabbers that have almost completely ruined our country. Now, if you have a real response to the above, I’d genuinely like to hear it as I’m always trying to refine my arguments…

  12. Sophia In San Diego

    I really appreciate this article, especially the notion that the Tea Party problems with Health Care Reform is racially motivated. Paul Krugman discusses this issue as well in, “The Conscience of a Liberal,” and it is good to know that yet again he is right.

    Thanks so much for all the work that you do.

    Sophia in San Diego

  13. here’s a right wing *leader*, Breitbart, making veiled if not explicit threats against “liberals”….or whomever or whatever else is the object of its’ cathexis:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/09/breitbart-conservatives-outnumber-liberals-and-we-have-the-guns/

    they are a sorry lot, and mad.

  14. the right will never admit to being wrong. that’s another given. not that Liberals are “smart” or were right, which they were for the most part, lol. just that watching the Right’s world come crashing down, of course they will continue to blame the Left.

    that’s their whole ball of wax. no facts or anything else that in any way resembles reality.

    maybe that’s why they say Facts have a liberal bias.

    so i expect to see and hear people like Nemo rant and rave as the Conservative fallacy comes crashing down. and there is not much the Left can do about this. no matter how much the Right blames the Left for all the problems the Right has created with their FantasyLand called Business, Inc. Like Austerity as a “fix” for the Recession here and in Europe. Facts/Reality just won’t comply with their version of Faith based Reality.

    the whole Faith Based World since Reagan et al invited the Christianists into the Republican “Big Tent” has been systematically created to avoid facing the “reality.” such lies and inconsistencies have created this “faith Based Reality”. so the Blame will remain dumped on the Left. There simply is no wealth of organizations existing to undo the “propaganda” of the Right spewed on Americans for the last 40 years.

    of course, the crash of Greece simply exposes the “fallacies of the whole “Faith Based” Way the Right has depended upon to maintain the political and economic control. their “apparent” effectiveness and success of their abilities, pushing the same lies for the last 40 years. Unfortunately for the Right, reality has “reared” its’ ugly( for them) head once again. Lies only work up to a point, then the cracks and inconsistencies eventually destroy the foundation the whole Ponzi Scheme/Republicanism/Supply side was based upon.

    so enjoy the ranting of the “Nemos”. they are the “signs” that the crash is now exposing the “Light” of day on the lies and darkness that has held this country and world hostage for so long now. Considering how well the Propaganda worked and still works, the crash will be a gradual one. eventually enough light will allow for the “Reality/Light of Day” to show just how the “fair and balanced” Right has duped the American public. like the Tea Baggers, the anger of being used will explode here and there. the Right has smartly co-opted the anger for its’ benefit.

    the left is so non existent. The Left is so scattered, so here and there across the landscape that once held America together. the Left is really at the mercy of its’ environment, which is why it is non existent for all practical purposed and its’ supposed political reality.
    and this allows the Right to use and misuse what “little” there is of Liberal thinking for its’ own diabolical purposes.

    after all you can talk to a closed mind. the Right has been closed to any difference of opinion, and sure of its’ own “truth” for many many decades. Waiting for the Right to collapse will only happen when the weight of all its’ “lies” falls down on its’ self. that is what we see now, courtesy of the economic policies of “Supply Side Economics/Austerity, the Chicago School/Milton Friedman.

    screaming and yelling and blaming the “other” is all the Right knew how to do to create the America of the St. Ronnie era. Now there is no “other” left to blame, nor has there been a “Left” for years in America, yet the Right will go out blaming everything on the “other” as it is now.

    not a pretty sight, all the collateral damage their “vision” has visited upon the once Great American Dream.
    just the natural consequences of building a world upon fantasies and unreality.

  15. cant talk to a closed mind, oops

  16. When I was a part of the fight to win greater healthcare coverage for folks in Pennsylvania, we ran into this issue a lot. That is, the undeserving, undesirable poor. The trouble the left had was that they were never really willing to confront the issue head on.

    In other words: look… whether folks are desirable or deserving or not, you are already paying for their coverage one way or another. In part thru your taxes in uncompensated care funds (which is such a total scam on everyone) and in part thru costs that hospitals pass on to other patients in the form of higher fees. Only, you’re paying for it the most expensive way. Only when those folks need acute care.

    So, regardless of what you feel about these folks, society as a whole would save money if we just cared for the uninsured a more efficient way. Earlier. In doctor’s offices. That’s the better way.

    We’d say this a little, but it should have been our main line. We kept trotting out poor people with sob stories, but the simple fact is that only we cared about those people. The folks we wanted to move didn’t really care about them. They didn’t identify with them. They didn’t like them. We would get nowhere with the sob stories. We needed to appeal to their bottomline and expanding coverage and reigning in hospitals DOES MAKE SENSE from a bottom line perspective, if you can just get folks to see it.

  17. Peter Principle

    “The anger . . . coexists with considerable acceptance, even warmth, toward long-standing federal social programs like Social Security and Medicare, to which Tea Partiers feel legitimately entitled. Opposition is concentrated on . . . perceived federal government ‘handouts’ to “undeserving” groups, the definition of which seems heavily influenced by racial and ethnic stereotypes.”

    In South Africa under apartheid, this was called “Afrikaaner Socialism” — generous government benefits and subsidies for working-class whites — and it was one of the pillars of support for the regime.

    The more things change, etc.

  18. Bruce E. Woych

    Huhne compares Tory right to US Tea Party

    http://email.channel4.com/a/tBOeLYwB8ci9fB8dkLlNsgcFQPz/link3

    Huhne compares rightwing Tories to Tea Party. (Getty)

    In his speech to the Liberal Democrat conference Chris Huhne criticised “uncompromising” Conservatives who put the UK’s economic recovery “in peril”.

    It is the most outright verbal attack on the Lib Dems’ coalition partners made at the conference in Birmingham.

    He said: “This coalition government saved Britain’s credit standing by compromise. The danger if you don’t compromise is now clear from America.

    “There the markets looked over the brink when the mad-cap Republican right in Congress would not compromise with the president.

    If you fail to compromise… you will put in peril the most crucial achievement of this government. Chris Huhne

    “Let that be a warning to the Conservative right here – we need no Tea Party tendency in Britain

  19. It is good to see you are reading Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (W.W. Norton, 2009), by Kim Phillips-Fein. I have more than once said here that you and the other readers here should read Anti-Intellectualism In American Life (Vintage, 1963) by Richard Hofstadter and still in print. Yours seems to add to what Mr. Hofstadter said as it adds the last 20+ years. Thanks. I will add yours to my nightstand collection.

    Might I recommend another book The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy (W.W. Norton, 2011), by Dani Rodrix. The name speaks for itself. Rather quick read.

    The questions: Are we at a 1433 Ming reversal and going into a truly isolationist conservative pattern? Or are collective institutions using this to dictate and rival governments into something that is larger than say a Hudson Bay Company, but not the same as they are not given charters, but rather lobby, threaten, and play politics better than the politicians?

  20. http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/09/18/gop_iran

    constitution smunstitution!

    we don’t need no stinkin’ constitution!

    we just need to *believe*

  21. Just a little reminder to the commentors above that there are many Christians and other believers within the progressive movement. Please throttle back the invictive when discussing “Bible-thumpers”. I’ll remind you that the UK Labor Party has its roots in Christian Socialism and we are beginning to see real cleavages amoung Evangelicals on issues like social justice and the environment. Evincing an anti-Christian stance will do nothing but cause resentment and further alienation from potential allies.

  22. James:

    I read Kim’s book over a year ago. Aside from the obvious liberal bias of the author (I am mostly a liberal so it did not upset my sensibilities) I found that it dovetailed perfectly with another book about The American Liberty League and the greedy affairs of the industrialists of the day (listed below).

    I urge you to go a bit farther and read two other books:

    The first is about The American Liberty League and General Smedley Butler (Yes, the “War is a Racket” author). The book title sounds like a wacko conspiracy but both the author and the BBC are in accord regarding the veracity of the conspiracy. The BBC did its own documentary on this matter! Indeed, a well-documented US Senate investigation was undertaken and it verified the plot! One of the main senators is interviewed in the book and verifies much of the printed information! “The Plot to Seize The White House” by Jules Archer.

    The more recent book by a history of science professor at UCSD and a science writer, “Merchants of Doubt”, demonstrates how the a very small group of distinguished Republican scientists sought to mislead the public on public health issues by combining forces with the tobacco industry, the coal industry, the aerosol propellant industry and the energy companies. Their goal was/is to introduce “doubt” about the harmful effects of tobacco, the CFC harm to the ozone layer, sulfur dioxide contribution to acid rain and, most recently, anthropogenic effects on global warming. Their efforts have been aided by – surprise – Republican administrations and Conservative think tanks as well as pro-business publications (e.g. WSJ, IBD, Forbes, Fortune, etc.).

    As a result of the state’s tobacco settlements, the treasure trove of released documents afforded the authors of “Merchants of Doubt” insight into their propaganda techniques and how the Republicans adopted these techniques to further an Austrian school economic agenda.

    Both are “must reads” if you want to fill in some gaps to Phillips-Fein’s book.

    Honestly, I read 13 Bankers, too (I read a good deal) and found your reasoning absolutely correct and your syllogisms impeccable.

    I find it amusing to see Keynesians, Monetarists and Austrians debate the merits of their ideologies today when corruption and rent-seeking has, in essence, rendered such debates moot. When venal political interests rule the day, such economic school debates are as useful as a wet noodle lasso. The public will continue to be fleeced when absolute power is unchecked. Why can’t a Ralph Nader win? He makes the most sense of anyone I have ever heard!

    All the best to you and Simon.

  23. Logic, “The more recent book by a history of science professor at UCSD and a science writer, “Merchants of Doubt”, demonstrates how the a very small group of distinguished Republican scientists sought to mislead the public on public health issues by combining forces with the tobacco industry, the coal industry, the aerosol propellant industry and the energy companies.”

    What is the explanation for this? Scientists should KNOW that freezing progress at a poorly evolved point like where the coal industry is (poorly evolved from the point of how much misery it causes vs. benefits), is NOT NEEDED in order to grow business and profit!

    Who ARE these people – and what do they *believe* that they expend so much time and money on permanent-izing MISERY for fellow human beings…?

    I seriously do not get why they they get up every morning to go to *work* on such fraud. No wonder why they launched *every child left behind*….massive effort at creating people who will become more stupid than the good lord made them in the first place!

  24. *No child left a dime*….the psychometrician industry got every penny with its’ dumb testing regimen, the end result of which is an entire generation of publicly-educated children who have been programmed NOT TO THINK.

    I feel badly, as well, for any public school educator, having to deal day-in and day-out with the demand characteristics such a pile of horse poo invariably brings forth.

    Thanks, Bush, and to all the right-wing fascists, for another one of your *patented* sneak attacks on the USA!

  25. Charles:
    I often make the same mistake that you point out, regrettably; my wife reminds me the there is a difference between Christians and Christian Fundamentalists or Born Again Christians. The latter two groups seem to be more extreme and ideological, less compassionate, more doctrinaire, more inclined to “water the tree of life”, carry guns, oppose abortion, ignore life after birth, and hard to separate sometimes from the larger group of moral, honest, thoughtful believes. Generalities are easy and troublesome.

  26. Moses Herzog – agree 100% that the decline of pay, service and professionalism in the trucking industry correlated directly with union busting during the Ronnie Years. I hope the railroads continue to run the trucking business into the ground. The trucking business deserves it.

  27. Annie, I appreciated your comment upon the lack of evolution of coal procurement (anyone acquainted with strip mining / mountain top removal would agree with you!).

    As for the majority of scientists who have – and continue to have – their science misrepresented and perverted by political apparatchiks, I have no explanation other than their desire for money and power. They demonstrate a lack a conscience and/or mental illness by placing their short term gain ahead of the world’s long-term health. It is all very perverted to me but history is littered with such sad and destructive creatures.

    On a different subject, it would be great if both James and Simon could write about how “regulations foster innovation.”

    In the “Merchants of Doubt” book they cite a study from Carnegie-Mellon which makes such a claim and I am curious if a body of research on this very subject exists?

    Are free market Austrians going to deny that “necessity (even if created by government regulation) is the mother of invention?”

    Surely we can all agree that not all technical advances are “market driven”. After all, I do not think those physicists working on the Manhattan Project envisioned setting up their own atomic weapons companies after the war!

    For example, the ban on CFCs to protect the ozone layer prompted the discovery and production of safer, cheaper and better aerosol propellants! Here, an “onerous” government regulation resulted in an innovation that likely increased private profit margins! Surely this is not the only example of this. I would think the Prius and the Volt would qualify?

    Hey Simon – how about rounding up some of your graduate students and have them study this issue? It seems to be of an entrepreneurial nature!!!

  28. @Logic

    “regulation fosters innovation” – or maybe just an SOP – this is how you make a wheel :-)

    All the things you a can do with a wheel? Well, that *innovation* depends on what you are trying to do, right?

    I think there might have been one or two physicists on the Manhattan Project that did envision setting up a nuke factory in their garage after the war – that’s how we got to where we are today – *private* nuke factories, private biotechs, private corps owning EMFs for communications, etc.

    Trenton Makes, The World Takes came first. After Carnegie stole the fruits of all that labor, Princeton University went up. Innovation died. Policy grew.

    The sign on the bridge across the Delaware River from Trenton to Morrisville now reads, “Call Jose for the Good Sh-t”.

    You might want to ask Scalia and Alito for the history on that shift in their hometown of Trenton NJ from the Garden State, to Manufacturing State, to Information Age Global Economy…all I have is an *opinion*.

    Anyway, the Amazon.com warehouse in Allentown PA is a project ripe to prove how the Information Age that Amazon.com grew up in can allow all that *information* that they sell through books, CDs, downloads, etc. to research the VERY BASIC *physics-how-to* to cool down the inside temps that the workers are subjected to – as is, they went for the option to have emergency medical services people standing by to treat workers for heat exhaustion…

    yup, agreed, Logic – tons of human activity crying out for innovation based on *regulation* – heck, even poverty can be *regulated* at least the manufacturing of poverty can be regulated? You can only cut off “x” amount in 6 months, after that, the peons notice and get all pitchforky…

  29. @ Annie, correct re: Amazon labor practices. Slaves in the USA, work-to-you-drop…..no more of my money GOING INTO AMAZON DOT COM……no way.

  30. @woop – DOT.COM does not *allow* people to make their lives less miserable through HONEST WORK – DOT.COM is the nihilistic force being applied to HONEST WORK…

    But we are supposed to be using *regulatory* policy to select projects – there’s one – the Amazon warehouse – it is RIDICULOUSLY easy – 5th grade science project if we were still educating the kids – from the standpoint of *market* – applied physics, if you will….why did they not put up some solar panels? The hotter it gets, the more efficient is the cooling…

    But let’s think *bigger* – the whole beat the swords back into ploughshares thingy – there are close to 200 bridges across USA that are the same design as that bridge that fell down in Minnesota (damn, the drugs are good for memory erasure, eh?) that are *code red* for maintenance. Okay, there’s no robot who can do the tool and die re-design, but there are PEOPLE (hiding in the hills from the TP crazies :-)) who can re-tool the bombs into bridges….which military division is going to do the work when they come home?

    Thousands upon thousands of jobs waiting to happen – it’s a WAR, Woop…always was…I’m checking in with the Trenton gang – it’s amazing how we ALL have the same facts about the history in the past 30 years….you can put us in separate rooms and waterboard us until we cough up made-up stories, but for right now, we ALL are telling the same story – the TRUTH – about what went down with the oil cartels…

  31. @ Annie, exactly.

    I have really nothing more to add, except “that bridge” in MN…..failed in such a manner that leads me to think it was un-conventionally “pushed” some how…..especially that SCENE after the fact……bizarre beyond words.

    Remember the “OUTER LIMITS” television show as kids” ?

    “do not adjust your television, we are controlling the vertical, we are controlling the horizontal…..”

    All the TRILLIONS $$$ down the rathole, not “wasted”.

  32. What is *bizarre* is that, all of a sudden, in the *information age*, no one can figure out how things come crashing down….

    when galaxies collide:

    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/

  33. The Christian Right arose as a political towards the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Supposedly, this was over their disappointment with Carter, who was and is an evangelical Christian, for not promoting their values. What do we know about the finances of the Christian Right leaders at that time, like Jerry Fallwell and James Dobson. They wanted us to think that their money all came from small contributions. Were there also big chunks of money from rich anti-New-Dealers? If so, that would complete the circle in Kim Phillips-Fein’s, Jane Mayer’s, and Tom Ferguson’s analysis. (Before you dismiss my suggestions, as yourself: Is there any major political, religious, or philanthropic institution in the U.S. that doesn’t rely on big donations?)

  34. @Sam Baker – (Before you dismiss my suggestions, as yourself: Is there any major political, religious, or philanthropic institution in the U.S. that doesn’t rely on big donations?)

    Not dismissing it at all! All that non-profit crap is trickling out back to the peons what was stolen from them – the ultimate *middle man* position…and you have to bend your knee to their theology in order to get a miniscule % of what was stolen from you back…it’s BARBARIC.

    only so much room at the top. right?