Daily Archives: June 10, 2009

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

 

This 2008 book (now out in trade paperback) by Amity Shlaes has been  flying off of the shelves of D.C. book sellers.  Allegedly, both sides of aisle are deeply interested in this book.  Conservatives are giving the book high praise, e.g. “The finest history of the Great Depression ever written” – National Review.

I am guessing the contemporary interest in this book stems from the similarity in presidental events – FDR’s inheritance of a economic diaster following the stewardship of three Republican presidencies v. Obama’s inheritance of the economy from the two terms of G. W. Bush oversight [sic].

Amity Shlaes

Shlaes certainly has the conservative bona fides – she served on the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, for example.  Her book takes an unmistakeable conservative re-interpretation of the New Deal.

To put it most simply, Shlaes believes that FDR declared war on business and set up New Deal entitlements, not to help the “forgotten man”, but to achieve political advantage.  Shlaes even provides what she claims is the origninal definition of the “forgotten man”.  According to Amity, the forgotten man is the one who pays the taxes conceived by special interest groups, and does so year after year, without complaint.

Suffice it to say that Shlaes has the conservative mantra down: “All taxes and regulations are bad, all business and free-markets are good!”  In fairness, though, Shlaes points out some very curious regulatory excesses practiced by the New Deal agencies.  FDR considered himself an experimenter and I think he would have admitted some of his experiments failed miserably.

I came away from the book, asking the question, “can there not be a balance of encouraging business, but also demanding business responsibility via regulation?”  I believe there can be, and I think President Obama is tryng to achieve this precarious balance.

Iggy Donnelly

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15 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Economics, Elections, History, Obama, Political Reform, Populists, Republicans, taxes, The Economy

Obama Is For “Preventive Detention”?

In a national security speech Obama indicated that some detainees at  Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted would pose a risk to the U.S. if they were to be released.  Thus for these detainees our president stated favoring “preventive detention”.  Obama did not state the reasons these detainees could not be prosecuted, but a reasonable assumption would be that they were tortured.  I would sure like to see the evidence that torture worked, so that we might feel better about being in this legally ugly double-bind.

iggy donnelly

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104466660

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Filed under Addington, Cheney, Crimes, Diplomacy, Enhanced Interrogations, Obama, Political Reform, Republicans, torture, World Politics

Bush . . . Obama and the fatcat bailouts.

Fat CatAre the bailouts by both Bush and Obama the right thing to do? In my opinion, and in one word: NO

Let me explain: The logic behind the bailouts, that those institutions were too big to fail, is wrong, plain and simple. Why? Glad you asked. By seeming to make yourself too big a player to fail, you are attempting to create an entity that can claim itself to be not responsible for it’s own actions. Sound familiar? Isn’t that pretty much what the giants of industry claimed as they lined up at the public trough to feed off the taxpayers?

Peter Schiff was Jon Stewart’s guest last night. He was laughed at when he said the bubble was going to burst, and the financial house of cards would fall with it. It turned out he knew exactly what he was talking about. And he said last night nothing has changed, which it hasn’t, except for the fact we’re all in it for a total of well over a trillion dollars. The sad fact is these institutions should have been allowed to fail, and the CEOs, CFOs, COOs and the rest of the major principals involved should have been brought up on fraud charges and bunking with Bubba.

An example of how nothing’s changed: CDS . . . Credit Default Swaps. This is the financial industries way of bypassing  federal insurance regulations.  CDSs are insurance, make no mistake about that, but because they are not called insurance, they don’t have to be backed by an equal amount of real money. In other words, if you sell an insurance policy to someone for a million dollars, you have to have a million dollars of real money to backup that policy. That is a federal regulation. When you sell someone a CDS, you don’t have to back it with real money.

When the financial bubble burst, mainly due to unrealistically low interest rates, and the subsequent increase, which nobody could pay, those CDSs became due. When that happened, and there was no real money to back them, the cards started falling like week old fruit flies.

So how has that changed? It hasn’t. CDSs, part of the whole derivative scheme, are still legal, and still out there. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have failed miserably in dealing with this legal ponzi scheme. The very fact Obama’s asking for the American people to rely on more credit does nothing more than feed the financial beast. Remember over extended credit was part of the problem. While much of what Obama is doing is, in my opinion, the right thing to do, such as health care and open dialogue with both our friends and enemies, his handling of the financial nightmare we are still facing is just plain wrong. Business is still running Washington, and, sadly, that has not changed.

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Filed under Economics, Obama, Political Reform, Republicans, The Economy

Do those hopelessly dumb Dimlibs want to import terrorists and terrorism to U.S. Soil?

 

House minority leader John Boehner (gotta love that surname) thinks that the answer to the above question is a resounding “Yes!”

Read more at politico.

iggy donnelly

3 Comments

Filed under Crimes, Republicans, torture, Wingnuts!

Wednesday, 06/10/09, Public Square

r9585~It-s-a-Complicated-World-PostersWhat are you thinking about?  Care to share your thoughts, questions, opinions?  This is your thread, and the topic is yours to choose.

fnord

45 Comments

Filed under The Public Square