As Democrats continue to push their hyperbolic “War on Women,” something actually useful has resulted from the exchange between Republicans and Democrats. I would like to thank both the World in Motion and Doubleplusgood Infotainment blogs for making me aware of both incarnations of the “Julia” ads.
It all started with the Obama’s campaign ad known as “The Life of Julia“, which takes “a look at how President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime — and how Mitt Romney would change her story.”
The conservative Heritage Foundation fired right back with its own ad, “A Better Life for Julia“, which shows how conservative policies “can empower Julia and all Americans without government inference at every stage of life” in lieu of “President Obama’s vision of cradle-to-grave government dependence.”
What is wonderful about both ads is that they highlight the fundamental contrast between liberal and conservative ideals. Moreover, both sides are trying to present their values in the most compelling and persuasive manner possible.
Based on my ideals, Obama’s ad confirms every stereotype I have ever held about the Democratic Party: cradle-to-grave government programs; a deep and unremitting hatred of success; and the unshakable belief that if government throws more money at a problem, it can find a solution. Furthermore, at each stage of Julia’s life, the government dishes out more handouts. Who will pay for these handouts? Why the “rich”, of course!
I would be shocked if many liberals did not have a similar reaction to the Heritage Foundation’s version. In fact, I think that is what is so effective about both of these campaign ads – they summarize the ideologies of both camps in a clear, compelling, and practical way.
What say you?
But note how the Obama “slideshow” avoids having Julia dependent on government. Almost everyone agrees that it is a role for government to assure quality education. Most people want to make sure student loans are not debilitating. The GOP has loan touted the success of the small business loan program. She uses this to become an entrepreneur (with all due respect to Romney, not everyone’s parents are rich enough to loan money to their kids for that). She’s a hard working entrepreneur who might not have had the opportunity to achieve if there hadn’t been help.That’s the Obama message — the goal is to help those who are not well off get opportunity, not just to transfer wealth.
The problem with the heritage foundation show is it is a vague “if conservative reforms” are passed, and dubious claims about what the result would be. It certainly won’t be a vote getter for independent women – it’s complex and speculative. One just asserts that there will be more and better jobs if the Republicans are elected. One says the real problem of uninsured students will go away because…well, that slide really isn’t very clear.
The difference is effect. The Heritage foundation speaks to true conservatives, but isn’t a campaign presentation, and certainly is not likely to convince undecideds. Obama’s is a campaign ad, well tested, and apparently is effective with independent women. Obama’s claims are at base inconsequential – again, Romney would change very little of it. It’s pure marketing, playing on the negative perceptions of the GOP on policies towards women. The GOP is still messaging as if it is in primary season mode. It reminds me of the Democrats in 1984 (I am indeed old enough to remember that one!)
“But note how the Obama “slideshow” avoids having Julia dependent on government.”
But it does. What about Head Start? Or Race to the Top? Or government interference in a free labor market (Ledbetter)? Or a Loan Program that may be waging the dog of out of control college tuition costs? Or legislation that makes young adults increasingly dependent on their parents for health insurance? Or the government forcing religious institutions to provide her with free birth control? Or unreformed Medicare?
But note how these are programs designed to help people who are disadvantaged, or assure non-discrimination. Most people support that – its only dependency when government actually takes care of people, not where it helps people help themselves. We should interfer in the free market if it has gender discrimination! Religious institutions aren’t forced to provide anyone with birth control (a big loser issue for the GOP, by the way), like in every industrialized state it’s something that’s part of insurance plans. And nothing said medicare can’t be reformed!
There is no gender discrimination in pay. If you look behind the numbers, control for everything but women leaving the workforce to have children, woman make 91% what men make for comparable jobs. The rest is likely attributable to time having. children. Moreover, the main reason woman have lower pay overall is they go into lower paying professions.
Under liberals, minorities get advantaged admission status based on nothing other than the color of their skin and regardless of economic status. The government values them more highly than non-gay whites via hate crime legislation, which is basically the commission of a “thoughtcrime.”
Moreover, liberals have constantly meddled in hiring decisions to the point that the business climates in Democratic-leaning states like California, Illinois, and New York are among the worst in the United States.
Lastly, few of these policies “enable” anything. Unreformed Medicare is a straight entitlement. Head start is an entitlement. Forcing religious institutions to provide contraceptives at their expense is an entitlement. Nearly everything in this ad breeds further dependency on the government.
Under the conservative plan, Julia can go to a school that caters to her individualized needs, like Home Ec and How To Get a Husband!
I kid, I kid. Well, not really, but that’s not the point.
The Obama slide you pull out makes sense. Julia is impacted by a loss of school funding. The heritage slide is much more opaque. National standards are bad because it will cost schools money to implement them, but it doesn’t address any supposed deficiencies in the new curriculum. If new standards are better, then no one should care if they are also a little more expensive. Granted, there’s a cost benefit analysis to make there, but all of that is irrelevant to Julia.
So, you’re right that it does show the two ideologies in stark contrast. Democrats are concerned with her well being, and conservatives want to teach her creationism out of a used textbook to pay for a tax cut.
(Obviously I’m being hyperbolic for humor, but the underlying sentiment is true as far as I’m concerned 🙂 )
I know, I know. Plus, I needed someone to balance my cradle-to-grave comments, so it’s all in good fun!
I like the humor but an alternate hypothesis is that Democrats care about expanding an increasingly ineffective education system staffed by person whose work quality is rarely measured. Democrats care about the “system” they build to express their concern for Julia than they do for actual well being.
We want to teach her creationism and evolution so she can assess the evidence for herself. We want to teach her ( and all children) how to learn and earn by her own effort, skill, and creativity. We think that Sylvia creates her own well being and that the state or government can not give it to her very well if at all.
We want to teach her creationism and evolution so she can assess the evidence for herself.
Will you also teach her the flat earth theory? How about the “Earth on the back of a giant turtle” theory? Or will you only teach her evolution (which is as close to fact as science ever gets) and creationism (which, while being unscientific and unprovable, also happens to coincide with your religious beliefs)?
Evolution is proven. Creationism is a religious dogma that, quite frankly, is not true. It is a myth. If you disagree with those sentences, then you’re an irrational person who is both ignorant and closed to facts.
I’m happy to engage people who disagree with me on things that are debatable. Evolution and creationism are not in that universe, and teaching children that they are the two sides of a debate is a disservice to education.
I am not sure, nickgb, to which of the many meanings of “evolution” you refer. If you mean the Darwinian version and it’s later to the current version set forth in textbooks, which I learned majoring in Biology, then it is a theory. Like all theories, evolution can not be “proven” – a term properly reserved for proofs in geometry. There are data to be found which support the theory. And, like all theory, it is entirely legitimate to look for data that does not support the theory of evolution. Except, however, the biologists have rigged the game by defining what counts as data and what does not.
I believe the sentence, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” is true. I am as entitled as any one else to gather evidence in support of my belief. And I am not alone, I refer you to http://www.reasons.org/ . for other work in this area.
I am neither ignorant nor closed to facts. As a biologist I was taught that creationism was to be rejected out of hand because it involved taking into account an independent will messing with our reality. This means that the debate between creationism and evolution in both philosophy and science. In such a debate, Julia ought to be an enthusiastic participant rather than a passive lump being taught the latest “correct consensus in science”.
You were so close to being rational, until you claimed “Except, however, the biologists have rigged the game by defining what counts as data and what does not.”
The game is rigged against theories that (a) are not falsifiable, (b) rely on evidence not in place, (c) deputize fairy tales from thousands of years ago as evidence, etc.
Why don’t you go looking for ways to reconcile evolution with, say, the creation myths of the Native Americans? Or Zoroastrians? Why do we treat creationism, which happens to be a pseudo-science based on the tenets of a religion that just happens to be politically controlling in our country, like it’s a real theory? Where are the scientists who want to reconcile heat-death with Shiva?
There aren’t any because, as is obvious to anyone who isn’t ideologically blinded, creation science/ID/whatever is religion, not science, and teaching the controversy is the same as teaching religion as an alternative to science.
Thank you nickgb for demonstrating how MUCH INSTRUCTION an ideologically blinded spokesman needs to create a logically compelling argument. 1) Evolutionisim assumes a priori that there is no end – no teleos to the process. 2) Biologists count themselves as materialists accepting only data available to the senses … (at least in principle) To make either assumption is an item of philosophy (and religion) and thus outside the realm of science itself. . Ironically, as a consequence, neither evolution nor biology can be falsified although particular subtexts within each field might be found to have more or less supporting data.
Let me ask you a question. I too have observed the big changes among wide variety of life among animals and creation itself. I have studied Comparative Anatomy and Embryology and other pieces of Biology and I know what homology means. I marvel at the design of unusual animals like Bower Birds and unexpected life at the smokeholes of cracks between the tectonic plates. The simplest explanation is that these are all created by God who loves to create beauty. The evolutionisimist for each new and odd and wonderful animal must write, design, create a complicated possible evolution path which always much more missing data than conjectural possibilities. Whatever happened to Occam’s razor?
Are you so sure there is no God that you must throw Him out of his creation? I pray that you consider carefully the openings and closings of your own mind. . I have spent the last 55 years of my life in just such considerations and will not cease in the few years I have left.
I agreewith nickgb, you correctly understand that theories are never proven — that’s the strength of science, it’s open to new evidence and better theories. Even very successful ones like Newton’s theory of gravity was amended thanks to Einstein (and probably will be further developed in coming years). Darwin’s theory of evolution has also itself evolved due to new findings and theoretical insights. Yet as with gravity, there is considerable evidence backing up its core points. Science counts as data what nickgb notes below — belief and opinion are not data, and thus should not be taught in biology class, since biology is a science. A belief that God created the world is consistent with science in that current theory holds that 13 billion or so years ago the big bang brought space-time into existence. Space-time can be seen as possibly created, and perhaps by an entity outside of space time (which you label ‘God’). But until it can be tested, that belief while consistent with known science, is not itself scientific. However if you add conditions to it (e.g., the earth is only 7000 years old) then science can reject those specific theories. You can believe what you want — I have spiritual beliefs myself. As long as they aren’t falsified by science, there’s possible. But unless they can be tested, it’s not science.
Agreed that people create their own well being and certainly can’t rely on the state for it. Public schools here do an excellent job trying to promote independent and creative thought. I’m sure not all schools are as good as the ones my kids in Maine enjoy. I would be furious if they ‘taught’ creationism since that’s not a legitimate scientific theory. It would be like teaching the geocentric view of the universe as an alternative so she can analyze the evidence herself. Somethings are pretty well established. I do think that it should be stressed that no scientific theory – or any scientific ‘fact’ is set in stone. Anything in science can be overturned by new evidence or a better theory. Science in that sense deals only with contingent knowledge. On the other hand, one can say that the big bang created space/time, so the idea that the universe was created (by processes we don’t know) is taught by science. It’s also completely compatible with the notion of evolution.
Had I been present 4.5 billion years ago, God’s Word would have been a Big Bang.
While I agree that evolution is a theory that can change as more information comes to light, I don’t think it ought to be afforded the same status as creationism. As Scott noted, the notion that the earth is only thousands of years old is easily disprovable using radiometric dating techniques or counting the reversal of earth’s magnetic field every 10,000 years or so by observing the repositioning of iron filaments on the ocean floor.
I have a simple test for whether creationism should be taught in schools. I simply ask myself if I would be comfortable having the Islamic creation myth (which is the same as the Christian one) or any other Islamic philosophy taught to my children in a public setting? If the answer is no, than teaching Christian principles in public school should adhere to the same test.
Not all of us who believe Genesis 1:1, hold to a 6000 year earth history. T’is true that we regard God as outside space time so that even the term”eternal” has no meaning since he created time itself. Even so, Genesis 1:1 does not forbid us from research how and by what possible methods God brought this creation into being and certainly developed it though many geological ages. How did we wander so far from Julia?
The “Conservative” is going to stand a picket at abortion clinics supposedly standing on the high ground. Once they’re done, the sign goes in the trunk and it’s back to ‘warped ville’. Reality is over.
That kid that they fought so hard to save has made it, but now it’s game over. An innocent kid who happened to be born in the ‘hood’ is ‘rightfully’ expected to compete with ‘silverspoon’, and it’s even explained that is the right and proper way it should be.
In the younger days, the “conservative” is going to gripe about the healthcare necessary to take care of that child “they fought to save”, and gripe and whine about those poor people who won’t work. They will fight to end all programs designed for these ‘people’ as they are just a ‘waste of tax dollars’.
“You’re here, we did our job.” And they think this comes from the Bible?????
Then if the child does well in thier ‘hood school’ and has ‘earned’ entrance into a state college, they will gripe because ‘their to 10% ranking isn’t the same as thier top 10% ” and insist it should go on test scores or some other method….again, thereby faulting the area they live and not the person.
There is no ‘craddle to grave’ mentality, there is a ‘reality’ that “Johnny Hood” by no means has the opportunities afforded “Johnny Silver Spoon”, and if success and independence is what we want… supposedly, then possibly a little help would be in order.
“Just don’t expect me to pay for it”. Again, “I rightfully fought for the baby to be born, but my responsibility is over and don’t expect me to pay for any part of its’ future”.
Arguments are weak… to say the least…but you have them memorized well.
You are making the classic liberal emotional argument here. Life is hard, so let’s redistribute wealth as a cure all.
News flash: Life’s not fair. Life’s hard, but that doesn’t absolve people from taking responsibility for there own actions. Building dependency to the government is an unsustainable strategy. It’s never worked. The Soviet Union failed. Greece is a basket case. The first operated under the ideal that there ought to be forced economic equality. The other had lavish cradle to grave entitlement systems. Both failed. At some point, these systems become unsustainable and corrupt.
Obama’s only policy solution now is to “spread the wealth.” His policies aren’t working, and wealth redistribution will not work.
Yes, conservatives offer tough medicine, but the country cannot afford these entitlements. Sometimes it’s not fun being the adult in the conversation, but someone has to do it.
As for abortion, you see a fundamental right, I see one of the worst mass murders in human history, and the practical realization of Margaret Sanger’s eugenics policies.
Well, nobody is suggesting that the Soviet Union or communism is a viable alternative. That comparison can be removed. But look at some very successful economies: Sweden, Norway, Germany, etc. Even conservatives in most European states recognize that the raw market yields power differentials that allow the wealthy to rig the game in their favor and harm society – it hurts growth, leads to political instability and a lower quality of life. The question is not “dependence on government” vs. “total self-reliance,” it’s what role can the government play to try to assure real opportunity so people have the tools to succeed and use their talents to help society, with enough regulations to assure the wealthy can’t rig the game too much, but which do not inhibit growth and investment. I’m not sure what the right balance is, but I don’t think people on the left want people dependent on government.
Interestingly, William Bennett published an article on CNN today, making some similar points (see http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/09/opinion/bennett-obama-campaign/index.html_)
When Bill Bennett agrees with you, you know you need to rethink your position.
Bennett’s piece was pretty awful, I thought. For one thing, he criticizes Obama’s life of julia for not talking about her community or church or whatever. He criticizes the fact that Julia has a child but there’s no mention of a father. He criticizes the narrative for leaving out that head start is useless (he’s wrong http://1.usa.gov/91Qw3X), for not mentioning student loan debt (which the GOP is currently making into a bigger problem), etc.
But the biggest criticism he has, that the original ad only discussed the govt’s role, misses the whole bleeding point. It was an ad saying how govt would help her under Obama, why would it discuss her church or community groups?
I obviously disagree. The most important takeaway for me was that government had a prominent role in every stage of Julia’s life, which to me is a very bad thing.
Government does a lot of things, but it doesn’t do many of them well or efficiently. As such, I’d like to minimize government’s role in society to the extent it is practical. Obama’s vision is clearly outlined in this vignette better than anything any opposition researcher could ever devise. That’s what so wonderful about it. This is Obama’s vision, and it is horrifying (to me at least). 😉
Eh, the governmental roles that are so abhorrent are:
1) Head start, which is optional
2) School standards, which have been around for a long time
3) Health care
4) Federally subsidized student loan rates, which everyone thinks the government should keep low (except Senate GOPers)
5) Tax credits for educational expenses, which most people think the government should allow
6) Medicare and social security, which most people think we should protect
None of this seems that bad to me (obviously you free market fascists will disagree). Maybe we do just disagree, but out of curiosity, which of those six do you think are so bad?
Why don’t we add:
7) Free cable television
8) Free meals for everyone
9) Free phone service
10) Free puppies
11) Free manicures for homeless men
Just curious, which of those five do you think are so bad?
None of those things are bad. The problem is that someone has to pay for them, and they increase people’s dependency on government. Social Security is projected to be bankrupt by 2033. Providing more and more free services to people breeds dependency, and is impossible to take away once given. Medicare is projected to be the single largest expense of our government over the next several decades, and it is simple unsustainable.
Well, there’s two different problems that can come up. Government can be designing programs it can’t afford (which is what you’re talking about in that comment), or government can be designing program that intrude into our private personal lives. Your criticisms tend to lean to the former (which is fair, though we disagree), but the heritage foundation is criticizing the Julia ads for the latter. It’s government meddling that bothers them, and I just don’t see it here.
It’s definitely there. For instance, the government is mandating what insurance coverage religious institutions should offer, even if it violates their first amendment rights. Setting educational standards is something best done by individual states rather than a centralized government bureaucracy. Nearly all of the policies increase dependency on government, which ultimately makes it easier for governments to control people. Again, just my two cents.
I’m sorry, but that is a terrible analogy. Education and healthcare, which are fundamental rights, are not comparable to cable television and manicures. You are trivializing the issue with your oversimplification. I have to say as well, as I started perusing your site, I had some hope that you might actually be a rational, pragmatic Republican. After reading many of your articles and subsequent posts, it’s clear you are just another of the ideologues that you pretend to condemn. You don’t seek a middle path, you are just trying to confuse people into thinking you do.
How is forcing me to pay for your contraceptives not similar to forcing me to paying for your other recreational activities like watching cable television? How is that a fundamental right?
It’s easy to throw out a catch all statement like “healthcare is a fundamental right” as if it is equivalent to “the sky is blue.” The problem is that your statement implies self-evidence, whereas the statement that healthcare is a fundamental right is anything but self-evident. Moreover, it lacks any subtlety or nuance. For instance, is my paying for you to purchase contraceptives a fundamental right? Surely providing you will food and shelter is certainly higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Why aren’t they fundamental rights too?
You can quickly see how these overreaching and presumptuous statements can easily lead to a slippery slope. Society has to make choices, as there are a limited amount of resources. Once everything becomes a “fundamental right”, there will be no one left to provide “fundamental services.”
Lastly, given your declarative statement that healthcare is a fundamental right, perhaps you see me as an ideologue because you are the very archetype of one. I don’t expect you to change your views when you come to this site, but I expect you to at least examine some of your underlying biases and assumptions, and try to imagine what their implications might be 10 years down the road.
I am all for supporting the advancement of negative rights (i,e., freedom of speech), but cringe when people assign the same weight to positive rights (i.e., healthcare and education). That said, this is a key philosophical difference between the right and left. Just because I hold negative rights as more important than positive ones does not make me irrational. It’s what defines me as a conservative.
Oh, number 7: SBA loans. Again, I ASSUME conservatives are in favor, but I also assumed they didn’t feel so threatened by gays, and obviously I’m wrong.
“Oh, number 7: SBA loans. Again, I ASSUME conservatives are in favor, but I also assumed they didn’t feel so threatened by gays, and obviously I’m wrong.”
OK, that’s a complete non-sequitur, as well as a sweeping generalization. C’mon, you’re better than that.
Well, the number 7 part is serious, as is my assumption that conservatives support it (I’m genuinely curious if you do or not).
The gay thing is a little jab to remind you that your party is on the wrong side of the issue de jour, but it was meant to be light-hearted. It’s been a long day (le sigh).
I kind of agree with neither side on gay marriage. I say thread the needle, call everything a civil union (man-man, man-woman, woman-woman) with equal rights across the board. Let the churches call whatever they want marriage, but leave government out of it. That way everyone has the same rights.
I suspect both sides would hate the idea, but it is the only one that rationally reconciles both sides of the issue.
And yes, conservatives, in my view, should support #7, provided government can afford it.
I’m sympathetic to many supposedly conservative arguments about church and community (I saw supposedly because a liberal activist friend of mine who is very involved in his Episcopal church makes the same complaints, so it’s not just a right/left thing). I think the fact Julia works and starts her own business. I also think that social welfare should be reformed to really focus on community as the core role — to get assistance, you should be involved at some level in community building. But money for education, health care, small business loans, and the things Julia gets aren’t exactly big brother! Indeed, the criticism of Obama for listing things that most Republicans actually agree with is a bit more to the point, I think.
I’ve been thinking……..perhaps someone could do a cartoon on the evolution of healthcare reform from the 1990s through today. We could show the origin of the mandate to purchase healthcare from the Heritage foundation, and the 2 dozen Republicans who suggested and proposed many of the reforms that are present in todays ACA. We could then show Mittens signing his healthcare reform bill while his coiffed do remains perfectly in place and also show his sudden animosity towards a mandate and any reform at all.
A more fitting title instead of ” a tale of two”…….would be the “bifurcation” of a single plan due to political expediency .
You could go back to Nixon’s plan in the early 70s, I suppose! It was more ambitious than Obama’s. I think the real thing to do in the health care debate is take a comparative perspective. What do other countries do, how much do they spend, what kind of results do they get, etc.? When you do that, and find out that most other countries do not have the long waits and poor care that sometimes gets claimed, we see that other places cover everyone more cheaply, have no medical expense bankruptcies (many years that’s the majority of our bankruptcies), have outcomes as good if not better than ours, and unlike here, the people liberal and conservative are satisfied with their health care system. We can learn by comparing rather than arguing from ideology, since ideologies are always vastly over simplified perspectives on reality.
Or just look at how poorly the VA does it, and find ways to reduce government involvement.
You could look at the VA for health care, but I think the rest of the industrialized world has a much richer source of alternatives and data. No matter how you slice it, other countries get quality care more cheaply with vast support from conservatives and liberals, all of whom look at the expensive US system that doesn’t cover everyone with disdain. Leaving health care to the market is to put abstract ideology ahead of human value! Again, ideology vastly oversimplifies reality and should not alone be a guide, you have to look at the data!
None of these countries innovate nearly as well as the US. In other words US consumers subsidize innovation that benefits them.
I don’t think there are easy answers, but I think the right answer involves less, not more, government.
“None of those countries innovate…” Really? Japan doesn’t innovate? They’re the ones perfecting low cost MRI machines. And is “innovation” – a vague term in this case – worth spending nearly 17% of GDP compared to 6 to 10% (Switzerland is a bit higher with about 12%), covering everyone and having superb results. I don’t believe we’re subsidizing anyone. They just do health care more cheaply, cover everyone, have no medical cost induced bankruptcies (that can destroy families) and students no longer covered don’t have college careers destroyed by a surprise health care problem (which I’ve seen happen). I’ll sacrifice a little “innovation” for those advantages – but last I checked medical science was advancing in Europe and Japan pretty well!
I should have been more specific. Few of these countries innovate as well as the US does in biotech specifically.
“Leaving health care to the market is to put abstract ideology ahead of human value! Again, ideology vastly oversimplifies reality and should not alone be a guide, you have to look at the data!”
I couldn’t agree more. By the way, the Headstart Impact Study did not use a control group of children from families below the poverty line. In other words, these typically inner-urban children in headstart were compared against a random sample of peers who may have even been home with Mommy in a nice suburban home. The intro to the study explains the grant that supported the study was intended to produce a casual study. So the Heritage Foundation’s (by the way, wasn’t our heritage more about every man for himself?) use of the study is not only inaccurate, it is misleading.
As I read the little slide show on the Obama Campaign website I had to fight the urge to pull on my boots and grab a shovel. Did you notice that he was taking credit for programs that were in existence way before he was even elected? The truth is, neither scenario, whether it is Obama’s or the Heritage Foundation’s accurately reflects the real life of Julia. Making her dependent on the government for her cradle to grave care will eventually backfire like it did in Greece. Once the producers have been bled dry and robbed of any incentive to create wealth, the money will run out and untold misery will ensue. On the other hand, unbridled capitalism will not reduce the cost of healthcare and education to the point where they will be within reach of working class families. While it will create more freedom of choice, those choices mean nothing if you can’t afford them.
“Making her dependent on the government for her cradle to grave care will eventually backfire like it did in Greece”
The Republican narrative lately is that it was only spending on huge social programs that have finiancially destroyed Greece, Spain, and Italy, Portugal, Ireland etc. ….The European sovereign debt crisis has resulted from a combination of complex factors, including the globalization of finance; easy credit conditions during the 2002–2008 period that encouraged high-risk lending and borrowing practices; international trade imbalances; real-estate bubbles that have since burst; slow economic growth in 2008 and thereafter; fiscal policy choices related to government revenues and expenses; and approaches used by nations to bailout troubled banking industries and private bondholders, assuming private debt burdens or socializing losses.
Several well known economists have pointed out that the biggest factor was the giant pool of money that was available for investment from high growth nations that grew from 30 thrillion….to well over 70 trillion, and many of those investors were looking for higher yielding financial instruments than US treasury bonds.
The European welfare state has only contributed to the crisis, it was definately not the cause. The PBS show frontline just did a 2 part expose on Wallstreet and the European debt crisis, and showed how so many little European municpalities got in on the investment scam offered by Lehman and Goldman Sachs etc. hoping to bolster their portfolios only to lose their bets to the tune of billions. And much of it was risky, and while legal, it bordered on criminal in my book.
Its amazing how the conservative narrative though…. is that all debt worldwide is due to social programs …I mean trillions of capital( much of it in overnight paper) used for casino ( and thats what it was) vaporizing in 48 months is bound to cause problems anywhere. I do blame Greece for carrying large strucural debts from the early 80s then jumping into the risky market in trying to erase that debt.
To be sure, the countries handling the crisis the best — with the least debt, best economic conditions, financial stability — are Sweden, Norway, Finland and Germany. They do have high taxes and “cradle to grave” care, and they are vibrant successful economies, out performing the US. The claims of the far right are falsified by looking at these cases.
They also are culturally homogenous and have the least extensive social welfare programs amongst the European socialists. For instance, no one in Germany is entitled to a lifetime pension at 55 as they are in Greece, and they don’t have to support a massive North African Muslim underclass as they do in France. The Germans forestall it with their xenophobic Gastarbeiter arbeiter programs.
They have very extensive social welfare systems in comparison to the US – national health care, a good pension system. Nobody compares good to Greece and I think over-exaggerate the problem in France. But the point is clear: it is possible to have a solid market economy that performs well and does not have high debt AND still have high taxes and an active state with a strong social welfare system. That defeats the claim that taxes and welfare necessarily will destroy an economy. Yes there are other factors, but the big issue is HOW it’s done. In comparing one can see where it’s done well and compare it to where it’s done poorly. It’s the execution that counts. (Not sure what you’re saying about Germany there — Gastarbeiter programs ended long, long ago).
In fact, Germany is going to be sucked into the European Debt crisis and has, reluctantly, agreed to print money to cover the debt. See this newsletter,http://www.johnmauldin.com/frontlinethoughts/waving-the-white-flag. Neither German nor the rest of Europe can afford that to which they have committed. Nor can we.
Jeff, I agree with you that there were many factors in the collapse of Greece’s economy.
However, the riots and unrest were a direct result of the cutting of social programs. The same thing would happen eventually here because redistributing the wealth rather than creating wealth is unsustainable.
Sean made the fair point that it’s hard to compare Scandinavian states (which have massive social welfare systems but are sustainable with functioning economies) to the US due to cultural differences. But the same is true when comparing Greece to the US. The realities are complex, I personally reject ideology-inspired responses from left and right and prefer pragmatism and looking at real world data with an eye towards compromise and problem solving. Austerity alone – budget cuts alone – would slow the economy. Higher debt is completely unsustainable. So the answers are hard, not easy – and neither party really has a grasp on what’s best to do at this point.
I will not accept the constant creation of labels or “talking points” that shows up daily in the echo chamber. Three months ago it was “you will hurt the job creators” by closing loopholes, raising rates, and doing away with the carried interest scam. Now the mantra is “wealth redistribution” . ………And I am sick of hearing “8% pay 80% of the taxes” or only ” 49 % don’t pay any taxes at all” ……………….its all smoke and mirrors. The fact remains that a pecentage of ones income is A PERCENTAGE……….and over the last 30 years the top end has found ways to lower their percentage rates even more. I have no problem as a right leaning voter in doing away with loopholes, carried interest, 4 dozen tax breaks, off shore tax havens and shelters, and doing away with the UNJUST social security cap or “cut off” of $109,000 on income. Why as a self employed individual should I be forced to pay 12.4% of my income to social security while the guy who makes 10 million pay less than 1 tenth of a percent on his? The system should strive to be equitable and fair. How about we all pay the same rate on everything with no breaks or loopholes ? I would lay good odds on the fact that revenues would rise considerably and rates could actually drop. And I am sick of hearing about the con job of american corporations facing the highest rates in the world. In the heyday of the powerhouse 1950s that most Republicans “fantasize about returning to” the corporate rates were in the 50% ranges……..and top tier earners were paying well above 85%….yet America was prosperous. The Fact remains while American corporate taxes are now some of the highest in the world at a mere 39%( thats a joke)………….most corporations don’t pay close to that thanks to loopholes and breaks created by their congressional lackeys. Some get away with paying no taxes at all.
So keep listening to those talking points that really don’t solve any of these problems but play the blame game. Fine…….you want to see upward mobility curtailed even more and income gaps increase while we take on more debt ? then keep the con job and finger pointing going…….At some point the hard right will have its way, and when they get to cut all the things they want as the “culprit” …..All of those stupid oversatiated low income Americans who are much of the hard right wing’s base, (who depend on these programs) will see their goodies disappaear….and you couple that with the birth demographics of the next 25 years and the Republican hard right will won’t be able to hold many seats all.
The real problem with such low taxes on top earners is not only does it make it harder to cut debt and it shifts the burden of the recession to the poor and middle class, but the money that was “saved” by lower taxes did not go into building the economy. It went into chasing bubbles and damaged the economy. It would have been better to have higher tax rates (not oppressively higher) on wealthier folk (and more income taxed for social security), less debt, and investment in infrastructure.
Jeff, I agree with you that it is unethical for big corporations and the wealthy to take advantage of dubious loop holes and tax shelters. Cutting out the waste, fraud, and abuse should be job number one for both the government and the corporate sector. As for the “talking points”, you may as well put on your boots and get your shovel. It is an election year after all. Both sides are guilty of pandering to the emotions. The Obama campaign calls it “the rich paying their fare share” the republicans call it “wealth redistribution”. The upper quarter pays 70% of the taxes yet Warren Buffet pays less than his secretary. Both sides manipulate the statistics to support their agendas. The truth is that we’ll never learn the truth by listening to campaign propaganda. The best most of us can do is to learn what we can and then go with the side that seems most credible to us. For me that is usually the conservative side.
“the upper quarter pays 70% of the taxes”…………….for Christs sake……..do I have to bang my head against the wall? They pay 70% of the total revenue….. because they make far far more money than the rest……..that does not negate the fact that the majority of your upper quarter pay a LOWER percentage of their income than the rest of America……HELL, many of the top tier pay next to nothing with all the special goodies bought from Congress. How hard is that to get into these thick skulls? How about we all pay the same percentage ? …..and stop trying to suggest there is some sort of equivalence between the two positions. THERE ISN’T ! And its also wrong to assume that by paying the same percentage ………or having your rate raised back up to the previous level ( pre “unfunded” Bush tax cuts) you are suddenly redistributing wealth. All fricking taxes are wealth redistribution !!……is that hard to understand? Those taxes go to pay for thousands of items and goodies we need and use…. to make this country work. Don’t like high taxes? ……..then stop spending so much. Do we have to have a military budget that is now 57% of all DISCRETIONARY SPENDING? …….57% !! why should we have thousands of military facilities worldwide? If you do want this…then people should do the patriotic thing and stop trying to get out of paying their taxes with off shore havens, and swiss bank accounts …..like Mittens……and start pushing for an equitable system that will not impose too much of a burden.
To me the claim that half the people in the country pay no income taxes is an admission that there such a vast income disparity in the country that over half are that poor. Cantor wants to increase taxes on them while not increasing taxes on those making the most. It’s perverse.
Why not just restore tax rates to what they were before the Bush tax cuts?
@Jeff: All taxes are not wealth redistribution, only those tax dollars that transfer dollars from one citizen to another like Social Security, Medicare, and food stamps.
Calm down Jeff, Please don’t bang your head against the wall. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to clean the blood off of the paint. The point I was trying to make is that both sides manipulate the facts, so you have to use your own common sense and knowledge. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they are lacking in these. I actually agree with you that abuses of the tax code need to be stopped, but abuses are not the only reason for the disparity in the tax percentage between the rich and the middle class or poor. It can be reasonably argued that the income of many rich people comes from investment income. Those investments were originally purchased with funds from earned income that was already taxed at a higher rate. Personally, I think our tax code is unnecessarily complicated and that’s what makes the loopholes so temping. I think that rather than just readjust the tax rate for one particular group, the whole tax code needs to be overhauled and simplified. We need to go to some sort of flat tax or consumption tax that would have everyone paying the same rate.
“Higher debt is completely unsustainable. So the answers are hard, not easy – and neither party really has a grasp on what’s best to do at this point.”
Scott, you have just written the campaign slogan for most of Americas independent voters. 🙂
In my opinion, the education system needs the government to step out.
I am not able to view the slide show while at work as my works filters are very screwy at times, will do when I get home.
Dependancy is never a good thing EVER. I was raised to not have it because if it suddenly goes bye bye one day who will you have left to depend on at that time? If we can;t take care of ourselves then we are royally screwed over imo.
Our schools are a little f*****d up atm due to the way the government passed “No child left beind” act and other things like how much money a school gets based on the grade performance. Children are also taught while in school and in college. As long as they have a education they will make a lot of money and live a comfortable life. On top of all that, I see a lot of “lazy” children who don’t want to learn from what I just said previously. That the education alone will get them that job and lifestyle. Thankfully I had a 5th grade teacher that said to me “Question those around you and of the world it’s self”. I learned from that to further my knowledge but to be comfortable with what I have.
We have had bills passed by previous presidents that in the grand scheme seem like great ideas. Tell banks they have to accept people for housing whom don’t make more than 20k a year at the time. While said people will go and buy a 80k a year house and be accepted for it.
My stance as a republican with gay marriage. Government allow it… churches don’t want to allow it thats their preference. Should be no law controlling the marriage of any sex of any relationship.
I have the same feelings for student loans as I do for housing. If you don’t make the money for it, don’t apply for it. I went to college and am now down to 12k in student loans. I think we need to lower student loan interests.
The last thing I feel that needs to be fixed is bailing out of “To big to fail” buisnesses. To me that has a double meaning. 1. Says that the job won’t ever fail because it’s just to big to fail *insert evil laughter* 2. That the buisness is failing and when it fails the economy will hurt from it. So what needs to be done, if they need a bail out then they get it as a loan that they HAVE TO PAY BACK!!!
Along with a mandatory downsizing of the company to balance out the budget and such to keep them from going under. If they don’t want to cut back the size of the buisness then they need to be left to fail. Like a tree that gets to big in the forest it smothers the other trees from growing but once the tree is either cut down all the way or the branches cut back. Then this will allow for other trees to grow and maybe take over said tree one day. That is how buisness should be.
Xerik, I agree that government programs have screwed up the school system. The problem is that school administrators and teachers miss the point. Rather than improve test scores by employing creative techniques to help students become proficient at basic skills, they use valuable classroom time to drill students on how to take the standardized tests. Gone are high school classes that teach life and household management skills. We have high school graduates who can’t balance a bank account or create a budget. They enter the working world ripe for exploitation from lenders who can convince them that with a little creative financing, they really can afford a five bedroom house and a Lexus with a 60K a year salary. Teachers unions make it hard to weed out ineffective teachers and are a huge impediment to improving the quality of education. Teachers and school administrators need to be reminded that it is their job to serve the needs of the students and their parents, not the other way around. This is why we need school choice. To force schools to improve by making them competitive. We should do away with federal programs like “no child left behind” and “race to the top”. Allocate X number of dollars per year per child then let the money follow the student and let them CHOOSE where to go to school.
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Forcing someone to pay for contraceptives is like forcing someone to pay for fire protection or perhaps police protection. Health care is more like education, police and fire protection than it is like cable television. Moreover, contraception is a tiny percentage of health care costs. Throughout the industrialized world health care coverage is universal, supported by conservatives and leftists alike. It costs less, provides just as good if not better outcomes, makes sure everyone is insured, and eliminates medical care bankruptcies (which accounts for most of ours). This should be no more a left-right ideological issue than is having a police force, fire department and public school system. The problem is most people do not know how well it can work, and very wealthy special interest groups manipulate both Congress and public opinion.
That said, I do think there are particular problems in implementing a system in a country as huge as the US, and the reforms passed have real flaws. I’d rather the two parties address the flaws rather than treat this like an ideological issue. I agree that in the abstract talk about fundamental rights can be dangerous. I prefer to see it as more of an ethical issue — a rich country should make sure that all citizens have access to quality health care. No one should be bankrupted by medical costs, no one should refuse to get treatment because of fear of costs. How to do this is a very serious question. I see health care alongside education as essential to try to create more equality of opportunity.
“I see health care alongside education as essential to try to create more equality of opportunity.”
Couldn’t agree more – and I believe both are necessary to have true freedom.
Ortho: You are certainly correct that an assumption of pure materialism is misguided. Some scientists make that error. I took biology at a Lutheran college, and our Bio prof spent the first class on evolution basically saying how creationism was anti-science and there was nothing contradictory about evolutionary theory and Christianity. As Galileo said in his letter to the Dutchess Christina, if there is lack of agreement with what we know to be true from science and what scripture says, then our interpretation of scripture must be false.
However the assumption of a God is not the simplest explanation. It raises new questions (where did God come from?) and so long as it doesn’t make specific claims that can be tested, is unfalsifiable and outside science. There is nothing wrong with believing in God — my Bio prof in college certainly did. The Catholic church embraced the “big bang” as fitting with the Bible – basically accepting modern cosmology. Creationism tries to inject non-scientific speculation and opinion into science, and often tries to claim as scientific things that have no basis in science.
My view: a God hypothesis that makes the most science in an Occam’s razor way would be a kind of pantheism in which we are all parts of some larger whole, with an essence coming from outside space-time that we are completely unable to comprehend given how our minds can only think in space-time terms.