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De la démocratie en Amérique, 2009

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Here we are. People are outside the homes of the employees of AIG; if it were the 1830s, they would be burning torches. Our President and his cohorts have succeeded in creating massive mobs of their supporters outraged against this organization. I agree, AIG has deserved trouble, and I too am absolutely sickened by the TARP bailout. That sickness does not give us right or reason to threaten their employees and their families.

I have to ask all of the outraged, vengeance-seeking folks to stop and reason for a minute. If you were in possession of a signed contract from your employer that guaranteed you income, would you expect it? Be realistic in your answer. If you say anything other than "yes", I would suspect that you are dishonest. It does not matter one bit if the amount is $20, or $2,000,000. Contractually owed is just that. The contract is the basis of law in our nation. Don't get caught up in the hype. Don't let the term executive get caught in your mind.

I was once considered an executive, and believe me, I had absolutely no power to steer the organization for which I worked at the time. For all we know right now, executive could mean executive assistant, which we all know means secretary. I apologize to all of the secretaries who may be reading. It has always been the policy of political advocacy groups of all types to create an enemy term that places us against them.

Tocqueville spoke of a paternal government taking over in America, and we may be there. I believe Barack is seen by many in our nation as the ultimate father figure, and what he and his cabinet say is taken as blind truth. Citizens, I am afraid, are acting far too much like children of the government, looking to Washington for the answers. This is scary. There are many historical references to look upon to see where we may end up.

It has been said the demise of the Roman empire was in great part due to the "egg syndrome". The Romans had a hard outside shell (government), and a soft (population) inside. The population of Rome had become very much non-Roman, and multiculturalism was the rule of the day. They were the greatest power on the face of the planet, and could not fail. We all know what happened.

When mob rule took over in France, their citizens got the guillotine. The government was used as a tool to remove enemies. There was no congruent thought that kept the nation together. Religion was scattered and suspect, as it is in America now: the us versus them mentality reigned over the populace.

The Nazi regime in Germany also succeeded in creating mobs against a single class of people. The world got a war out of that one, too. Much of the hatred came shortly after the hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic (Germany from 1918 to 1933). There are more than a couple theories about how the inflation came about, however, one thing is for sure, the inflation came at the end of a tremendous amount of government spending. We probably all remember seeing the pictures of Germans with wheelbarrows of money waiting to buy a loaf of bread. With this economic situation in place, all it took was one more action by a member of Jewish society, and the Nazi Government and their mobs had the excuse they needed for the night of the broken glass, or kristallnacht.

This isn't necessarily the case in America, but it is historical reference to possible results regarding today's news stories. It has been reported that a labor union-sponsored bus tour of the homes of AIG employees is being planned. Nothing like allowing potential criminals the perfect means for casing the residence where they intend to inflict ill will. Senators are calling for the suicide of people who took a bonus. This is completely unacceptable behavior for an elected official.

With retroactive tax laws not necessarily being susceptible to ex post facto rules, the leaders, in their infinite wisdom, are attempting to tax it back. A very slippery slope has been created with the passing of this initiative. We can only hope the Senate is wise enough to understand the implications of this action. Creating a precedent for future acts is usually not a good thing when it comes to American government. For any that may disagree, just look back at the Homeland Security Act. It was an absolute outrage to the Democrats when President Bush signed it. It was "destroying our Bill of Rights." Now that their guy is in office the chatter isn't nearly as loud. It is still a terrible law, and it did erode our liberties as citizens, but the clamor to remove it has subsided.

The TARP money is spent. It's not going to come back any time soon. Real outrage should have happened prior to the money leaving the treasury. We each own a little bit of the situation we are in, regardless of whether we are fiscally responsible or voiced an opinion against the bailouts and spending. Each voice could have been louder. There could have been one more letter to the editor, or an additional e-mail to a representative. Those people who bought the outrageous mortgages knew in their souls they were going out on a limb.

Apparently, it would have fallen on deaf ears. That being the case, there is one clear option, these employees (which is what elected officials are at the end of the day), need to be fired. Political affiliation doesn't matter. It is time for these power hungry thieves to go away. The message must be clear when we tell government officials they work for us. If a Senator or Representative voted for even one of these "recovery" measures, they deserve that reminder. Our memory needs to be longer than a two-and-a-half minute commercial break because many of these people won't be up for reelection for several more years.

We, as a people, need to come to several conclusions. First, we do still live in the greatest nation on earth. We have the means to do whatever it takes to correct our course. We simply need to step back, put differences aside, and do the right thing. History is our greatest teacher; greed at the expense of others is our greatest adversary. We have to create our own personal economy. Taking from one to finance another does not work.

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About Political Common Sense

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    All this is class warfare. Reagonomics started it. The odious “trickle down” has run its course. Now the pendulum is swinging back the other way. For a number of years we got to watch “Lifesyles of the Rich and Famous.” We were all supposed to drool, and imagine ourselves living in a home with a bathroom the size of Madison Square Garden having a 5 story waterfall dropping into a blue lagoon stocked with vintage Champaigne. Conspicuous consumption was the name of the game.

    What we’re experiencing today is the backlash. Now people are boarding buses to get a first hand look at excess – the “Let them eat cake” bunch.

    It does have an ugly air to it. It is reminiscent of the storming of the Bastille. But, ultimately who was at fault in Paris? Who thumbed their noses at the masses?

    I’m not suggesting that we are anywhere close to mob rule, but, and as you seem to be warning, the seeds are sown. Whether they germinate is largely in the hands of those in power and those ensconced in their multi-million dollar palaces.

    You seem to indicate that this is part of Obama’s plan. I think not. The bailouts, as odious as they may be, were necessary. Those who assert the contrary are largely those who would have been insulated against the likely crashing of the economy. The rubble would have further buried the poor.

    The lack of oversite was a huge mistake that initially falls on Bush’s shoulders – just as with the immediate aftermath of the war in Iraq. None of them had the capacity to think ahead. Once again, we are paying the price with Bush and Cheney just shrugging their shoulders and pointing their fingers at Obama.

    The weight is now on Obama’s shoulders. Obvously, some things have slipped by him, but I trust that he and his people will soon get a handle on things. They may not. It is in the end a crapshoot. No one knows what is ultimately going to work, if anything. The pooch may already be screwed.

    But, in the meantime I think the ivory tower folks had best reign in their excesses and endeavor to keep a low profile. There’s lots of idle busses out there.

    Baritone

  • Clavos

    There’s lots of idle busses out there.

    Yeah, but who’s getting kissed?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Baritone, it’s Obama and his little demagogues who are fueling the misdirected rage. They’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dave,

    Comments are wasted on the obamabots. They won’t figure it all out until the internet, cell phones, computer link-ups and telephones are all jammed and soldiers are patrolling the streets in the States.

    That’s when they’ll finally figure it all out….

    Your system of “democracy” has led you down a blind alley that gave you shitty choices for the last eight years (or more) – and you managed to finally pick the shittiest of the lot.

  • pablo

    #4

    Excellent post Ruvy, and so very apt.

  • http://groundzeropolitics.blogspot.com Political Common Sense

    I was(above) and am now saying that Obama and his staff are a part of the problem. I believe what we are experiencing is a natural progression of a society.

    Our country has forgotten how to build anything. There are precious few hard goods produced here anymore. I do not blame Reagan on this. I do, however blame Americans for their never ending quest to have inferior products because they are unwilling to save an extra month to have the “good stuff”. This forces production overseas because American unions have the warped idea that they should be able to get $35.00 and hour PLUS full benefit packages for their members. This cannot be done and still keep products affordable. I REALLY wish it could.

    Believe it or not, I AM a union Supporter. Today’s trade unions create remarkable things at fantastic prices. Without them, the construction industry would be full of corruption and quality would be horrendous. I simply have a problem with what today’s factory unions stand for. Many times they are not used as a protector of the worker as designed. They are used to bully management until they have no options left. Look at GM’s retirement plan for UAW workers as an example. The UAW is responsible fo GM’s demise. Nobody can doubt that.

    In order for us to make the wages demanded and produce at price levels comparible to our world competition, we need to outproduce them. We also have to slow the demand for their product. That will take extreme marketing and PROOF of a superior product.

    It wouldn’t hurt for the governemnt to stop doing things it has no authority to do, and begin to pay attention to trade either. We need to take a page from the playbook of our competition and use price supports, tarriffs and high entry taxes as they do. That kind of hard ball is a little tough to play when the people you are competing against are financing your industy through bailouts.

    Spending into oblivion is NOT a viable option. Obama and his socialist media believers are using angry mobs to take light away from what they are really pulling off. It is a perfect distraction. While the media gets us worked into a lather over $165 million, he proposes the largest defecit budget in history, and convinces the Fed to buy over a trillion in troubled assets from the TREASURY. Who would have ever thought they would begin hearing the word Quadrillion in reference to American debt? If you listen, it is being tossed out once in a while.

    This is one of the most complex situations our nation has encountered, and it is going to take a lot of tough decisions and concessions on everone’s part. We must do it with the resources we have however, and this means doing it without more money. The resources that we do have far outweigh the lack of funds. We have the absolute best workforce on the planet, we have the best technology, and amazing natural bounty. The number one thing we have is the American Spriit. It is time for us to look back (as Obama so elequently said he would not do)and remember the spirit of the founding fathers. There is nothing our nation cannot overcome, as long as we can somehow find the will that seems to be slipping away.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    PCS,

    I realize from some of your comments, you’re trying to be fair, but the following is not a fair question. It starts out as a straight question, but ends up being rhetorical:

    “If you were in possession of a signed contract from your employer that guaranteed you income, would you expect it? Be realistic in your answer. If you say anything other than “yes”, I would suspect that you are dishonest.”

    Besides, it’s not factually true. A great many from AIG have already refused their bonuses. This may be for many reasons, of course. But the circumstances do and can affect prior contractual agreements.

    Besides, fairness may have nothing to do with it. As Baritone pointed out in #1, the French have stormed the Bastille when they had enough. Was it fair? Perhaps not. But shit happens when people are fucked with. And the kind of distance that the AIG execs have put themselves at with respect to hoi poloi is reminiscent of the distance between the French aristocracy and the Parisian masses. The situation is explosive.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Of course Dave. Anyone who doesn’t follow the “Nalle prescription” to libertarian utopia, they are alchemists of evil.

    And Ruvy, I am NOT an obamabot … bamabotbamabotbamabotbamabotbamabotbamabot……….botbotbotbotbotbotbotbotbot……

    BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think it’s rather easy for Ruvy to make such comments since he doesn’t live here anymore.
    I should think, however, that the well-being of America is going to affect the rest of the world. You should wish us well, Ruvy, because everybody’s future is at stake,

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “it’s Obama and his little demagogues who are fueling the misdirected rage. They’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

    B-man,

    It’s not so implausible. On one of the discussions on Democracy Now! it was pointed out that in FDR’s times at least, there were pressures and counter-pressures from both sides – Big Business and the elites on one side, and “from the bottom,” as it were, on the other. Oddly enough, this kind of push ‘n’ pull is conspicuously absent in the present instance – in no small measure, no doubt, because of the enormous popularity of our President-elect.

    So it may well be there’s a concerted effort to mobilize the right kind of pressure “from the bottom” in order to achieve the right kind of dynamics.

  • bliffle

    PCS says: “…They are used to bully management until they have no options left. Look at GM’s retirement plan for UAW workers as an example. The UAW is responsible fo GM’s demise. Nobody can doubt that.”

    I doubt it. I lived through that period of industrial history (I even worked briefly at GM in the 50s, did you?) and watched it all develop. What ACTUALLY happened is that GM refused to share income and profits with blue collar workers during the Halcyon years, and so MANAGEMENT introduced and pushed for the paternalistic pension and benefits programs as a substitute for increased wages. Most workers would rather have had pay increases for the simple reason that they figured management would renege on any deferred benefits.

  • bliffle

    “If you were in possession of a signed contract from your employer that guaranteed you income, would you expect it? Be realistic in your answer. If you say anything other than “yes”, I would suspect that you are dishonest.”

    I suspect that you are naive and inexperienced.

    Nothing is immutable, everything is subject to renegotiation.

  • http://groundzeropolitics.blogspot.com Political Common Sense

    Bliffle,

    The point of the statement had nothing to do with being naive, or inexperienced. Of course contracts may be renegotiated. The point had to do with human nature, and law. If you tell me that you would not expect what was contractually obligated to you, you are dishonest because our foundation for LAW in our country is the contract. The time for renegotiation is not after the fact. When the bailout was passed, everyone but the taxpayer knew these contracts were going to be paid. Our anger should be directed to Washington.

  • Siddhartha Vicious

    Baritone – to put the onus on Bush, when he did try repeatedly to increase regulation on sub-prime mortgages, and was blocked by the Dems who were receiving (quid pro quo?) campaign donations from Fannie, Freddie, et al, including sepcifically Obama who was the highest paid of the bunch in his extremely short time as a US Senator, is a bit disingenuous.

    However, that said, I really did enjoy your ‘I am not an Obama-bot bot bot’ response.

  • Clavos

    As do I your nom de plume, Sid…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “If you tell me that you would not expect what was contractually obligated to you, you are dishonest because our foundation for LAW in our country is the contract.”

    As I remarked earlier, PCS, that’s playing dirty. I’m certain that bliffle doesn’t fall in that category. It’s not as black & white as you’re presenting it. These people should have never accepted the bonuses given they fucked up in the first place.

    How about injecting some personal integrity into the equation.

  • http://groundzeropolitics.blogspot.com Political Common Sense

    I’m not intending to play dirty. I am simply talking about the basis of law in our country, integrity aside. I also stand by the fact that many of the folks the received these bonuses are innocent. Many are not, I am sure as well.

    The point remains that contracts are law. It really, unfortunately, is that black and white in this instance. By making it otherwise, it’s easier to go after the next group. When it is your turn to be singled out, wouldn’t it be nice if someone stood up for you?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m not suggesting setting up any precedents. And no, if I were one of those AIG execs, I would refuse the bonus. So calling me of bliffle dishonest here does not advance your argument.
    You don’t need a straw man.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    this kind of push ‘n’ pull is conspicuously absent in the present instance

    Roger: !!! As frequently as you read and participate in this forum, which is just one of many hundreds of discussion forums, how can you write a sentence like that?

    There has been, if anything, an excess of ‘push ‘n’ pull’ of a not very thoughtful variety: extreme, heated rhetoric all over the place, such as calling the president a socialist. Yes, they did that to FDR too. Wasn’t true then either.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    it’s Obama and his little demagogues who are fueling the misdirected rage. They’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Patently false. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, yes, are shamelessly patting themselves on the back for ‘responding’ to popular anger. And the media, which always beats every story to death, is providing much of the fuel this time. [I don’t think their motive is political; a ‘big story,’ authentic or not, boosts their ratings.]

    The Obama team came dangerously close to falling behind the 8 ball of popular opinion this week. They were compelled to follow the story rather than lead it. I’m not sure exactly what they could have done differently [this week, I mean]. But they have gotten even Pollyanna-ish me worried how this crazy scenario will play out.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Handy. That comment is an excerpt from a discussion on Democracy Now! two months ago. And there was a legitimate concern from Naomi Klein and the like that the pressure on Obama was one-sided. Perhaps it has changed since, perhaps not.
    I do believe he means well, but political realities are another thing. So I don’t necessarily think it’s such a bad thing that people are outspoken about AIG. They ought to be.

    As to political rhetoric and calling people names, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. It comes with the territory.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Roger,

    RE Your #10: But apparently you and Dave have the opposite take on the “pressure.”

    You use the phrase “right kind of pressure” while Dave says “they’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

    Of course there is pressure. That’s why Obama has made the town hall appearances, Leno and such. There’s nothing wrong with taking the message out to the people. Dave simply hates the message.

    Sid’s #14

    “Baritone – to put the onus on Bush, when he did try repeatedly to increase regulation on sub-prime mortgages, and was blocked by the Dems who were receiving (quid pro quo?) campaign donations from Fannie, Freddie, et al, including sepcifically Obama who was the highest paid of the bunch in his extremely short time as a US Senator, is a bit disingenuous.”

    Once again that’s the right wing revisionist history. Bush is always the good guy – the Dems always the evil doers. Never mind that it’s at the very least a distortion. It was for years the Reps who gutted all the regulatory agencies and their attendant oversite. That Bush may have made a weak kneed last ditch effort to stop the bleeding is hardly notable in that it was he and his free market buds who ripped the wounds open in the first place. Talk about disingenuous.

    B

  • bliffle

    PCS continues his naivete by claiming the holiness of contract law. What a laugh! Big corps routinely stiff contractees. For example, hotshot salesmen. We even had testimony from a veteran BCer about that.

    They have a policy: don’t give an inch. Even after court judgements they pursue appeals until they wear down the other party.

    The examples of such battles are plentiful.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Baritone,

    After reading you lampoon Bush Inc. for a couple years, it is painful to watch you make excuses for that Luo incompetent in the White House. Obama is a smart boy. But he is not up to the job in front of him, and he does not have the best of intentions. This brouhaha with AIG should demonstrate that.

    Mind you, this is not some right-winger screaming at you. I am a socialist and damned proud of it, and probably to the left of you on a lot of economic issues.

    But I am a fiscal conservative because there is just no way around this iron rule – you can’t spend money you do not have. Eventually, you have to pay it back – or you devalue the currency of the land. That is what your sitting president is doing. You may want to invest in a wheel barrow or two to cart that $5 million you will need to buy a loaf of bread in the near future….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m glad, bliffle, you’re carrying on the good fight. Somebody’s got to.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    I think it’s rather easy for Ruvy to make such comments since he doesn’t live here anymore.
    I should think, however, that the well-being of America is going to affect the rest of the world. You should wish us well, Ruvy, because everybody’s future is at stake.

    My sister and nephews live in the States, their children live in the States, my father-in-law lives in the States, my wife’s siblings live in the States, her nieces and nephews live in the States, my cousins live in the States. I am one of the few from my family who does not live in the States.

    Do you seriously think I wish Americans ill, considering that aside from my wife, sons and a distant cousin, all of my family will be stuck in the disaster that is overtaking the United States?

    If I warn that Jews may die in detention camps there, for example, it’s my own family I’m warning that will die. Think about that and bear in mind that I do not delude myself that the United States can pull itself out the mess it is in without going to war on its creditors. Now you tell me the likelihood of that occurring, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    I don’t you don’t wish U.S. ill will. But it’s easier to throw sling shots at Obama from afar.
    You should hope we pull ourselves out of this mess.

    Roger

    PS: Maybe you can get on the other thread to finalize the matters you raised.

  • http://groundzeropolitics.blogspot.com Political Common Sense

    Bliffle, Bliffle, Bliffle… You can continue your rant, but I am not sure you understand where the topic was really meant to take you. The purpose was that contract law is the basis for all law in our society. Society meaning in the group of humans with which you reside. Reside means to live with.
    Doing what corporations do to us does not make anything fair or proper. In fact, that is the kind of vengence that I referred to. By the way, I agree. Do not give an inch. If it is written and both sides sign, it is a Contract. If you don’t like it, it doesn’t matter. Law is law. Should we start to let other criminals free? Really, stop being a leftist pointing at someone on the right. It’s not becomming and solves absolutely nothing. The time has come to call things what they are.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    War on its creditors, Ruvy? Like on China?
    You may have a point, there. There could be a general conflagration. But it’s going to be a different pretext.

  • http://groundzeropolitics.blogspot.com Political Common Sense

    As to #24. Ruvy, I couldn’t agree more with your post. We can’t spend what we don’t have, and Hyperinflation is what we may be facing. See, I am a complete Reaganistic Capitalistic pig, and I agree with the socialist. That was the point of my post originally! Sorry, and Thanks, Ruvy.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    At comment #30 – thank you!

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    We ‘spent what we don’t have’ in World War II.

    We ‘spent what we don’t have’ during nearly all of the 1980s and 1990s.

    In both instances, prosperity followed or accompanied the deficit spending.

    Paul Volcker, legendary inflation-tamer of the early 1980s, is one of Obama’s major behind-the-scenes economic advisers.

    Ben Bernanke is a well-known scholar of the Great Depression. He has also said deflation is a more immediate concern than inflation.

    So why all this blah-blah-blah certainty about the coming economic apocalypse? Does anyone writing on here actually know more than Volcker or Bernanke [or Summers or Geithner, for that matter]? No, you don’t. So ease up on the rhetoric

  • http://groundzeropolitics.blogspot.com Political Common Sense

    #32,
    We simply know that if you spend more than you take in, you go out of business. There is an end to credit extensions. Ask the Farmers of the 1980s.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Simplistic analysis of a gigantically complex situation.

    Gets us nowhere.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s why I’m staying out of this debate. I don’t know enough. But apparently BC is populated with economic experts, not to mention prophets.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    handyguy,

    We ‘spent what we don’t have’ in World War II. We ‘spent what we don’t have’ during nearly all of the 1980s and 1990s. In both instances, prosperity followed or accompanied the deficit spending.

    You left out a couple of major points. The first is that all that money spent that the country didn’t have is a debt burden on the budget. At some point, the debt burden carried in the national budget will get too high unless balanced out by inflation. The second is that Reagan turned the United States from a creditor nation to a debtor nation – though he was preceded by Carter’s money printing and “misery index”.

    Now that the States are a debtor nation, they have to hope that their creditors do not cut them loose, and they have to listen to the assholes (like the Communist Chinese) when they criticize the government’s spending. The American government has a whole lot less freedom to act than it used to have, a fact you just cannot get around.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There must be a way out. And perhaps these relationships do not really obtain if the whole world is caught in a spiral. It’s not exactly that the Chinese are home free while the rest of the world in going under.

    Don’t you think?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The Great Depression of 1929 might serve as an example of the debtor-creditor relationship in times such as those.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    There must be a way out.

    On a private level there might be a “way out”. Individuals in real trouble sometimes encounter “angels” who give them large gifts of money to get them out of the mess they are in.

    The “way out”, such that there might be one, is that individual nations act in their enlightened self-interest, doing the logical thing. Aetius Romulous wrote an article debunking that likelihood.

    It is true that the creditor is pulled down when the debtor sinks. But the “I-wanna-survive-and-I-don’t-give-a-damn-about-you is the mentality that generally holds in situations like these. So, enlightened self-interest is exactly the solution that will not be followed.

    Looks like we are all in for a good exciting ride. So, strap on that seat-belt tight and hold on!