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George Bush’s Annus (Horribilis)

I always enjoy reading the local L.A. column written by my good pal Andrew Gumbel. Andrew is also a U.S.-based correspondent for The Independent of London.

In his latest take, Andrew laments that while rigor mortis is already consuming the Bush Agenda, the rest of us, nevertheless, have to put up with the rotting carcass for the next three years:

2005 was the year the Bush administration curled up and laid down to die. The president told us a little over a year ago that he regarded his re-election as political capital he was now free to spend, but in retrospect it seems he was handed no more than loose change, or, to extend the metaphor in a slightly different direction, a pile of fool’s gold. 

His ambition to dismantle Social Security as we know it -- going nowhere. His continuing itch to extend tax cuts for the wealthy -- denied by the realities of out-of-control deficit spending. His Iraq policy -- ever more floundering and tragic, and now, thanks to Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania and the investigations of Patrick Fitzgerald, condemned to incoherence in the public relations arena, too. 

His war on terror -- exposed as both incompetent and morally bankrupt in the wake of the scandals concerning torture and the unauthorized wiretapping of American citizens. His general credibility in the domestic arena -- shot to pieces by the scandalously lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina, and by the numerous corruption scandals now lapping at the heels of the entire Republican establishment. 

It’s hard to know, in fact, what the administration still hopes to achieve. The president talks a lot about staying the course, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of course left to stay…

And yet, we have a Congress that -- thanks to gerrymandering-- is locked up tighter than a nun's chastity belt, making political sea change a difficult proposition. The antidote to this malaise? Well, says Andrew, start thinking about Jack Abramoff. Or maybe even Dashiell Hammett. Read on...

274 Responses to “George Bush’s Annus (Horribilis)”

  1. Billy Bean Says:

    Only a liberal would lament the fact that Bush and his congress is in a stalled position. I think it’s great, the more gridlock the less damage they can do! Imagine if the war in Irak were going smoothly, kill rates at some 100-1 say, and social security were then able to get put on the cutting board, more permanent tax cuts, etc. I say Hurray and let’s have more gridlock!!

  2. Randy Paul Says:

    When I first saw the post title on my RSS Reader I had to do a double take. Glad you got that second “n” in there . . .

  3. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Overseas-wise, a lot may happen in the next three years beyond Iraq.

    Something seems certain to happen in Iran, given how the nuclear thing keeps getting closer to a crisis-point; and even as anti-W a newspaper as our local Star-Tribune recently ran an editorial stating that Iran “cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”

    If Iraq stabilizes at all, in any form, that would reinvigorate the movement to push for democracy reforms in other Middle Eastern nations. And those efforts aren’t really dead anyway.

    Speaking as someone who works in the non-profit world, I wouldn’t underestimate the gradual way the Faith-Based Initiatives project is gradually involving inner-city churches in dealing with thorny issues. The anti-W crew assumes it’s a disguised attempt to obliterate the divide between church and state, but it isn’t, at least here in northern climes. I work for the most liberal nominally faith-based organization possible, and we’re eager recipients, spreading money we get to local churches to help with any number of issues. There really is a special passion that churches bring to these things that government agencies almost never have.

    I believe faith-based inititatives was originally proposed under Clinton; the fact that it’s become a reality under a Republican pres could have implications for how inner-city voters view Republicans.

    All that said, W definitely ran for president with only the vaguest sense of what he wanted to do with it. And there is a sense of “now what?”, no doubt.

  4. al derardo Says:

    Paul, faith based organizations utterly failed during the Depression. There is little evidence that they could do a much better job during a major economic crisis. In fact,every time there is a recession, they call on goverment to get more involved in the crises of increased poverty, forget if a depression occurs.

  5. Marc Davidson Says:

    Randy, the single “n” version refers to the rest of us, after several anni of being reamed.

  6. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Gumble makes a good point when he states: “The Bushies don’t like admitting they are wrong about anything, and longevity in public office in this White House is measured by loyalty, not competence.” How true! Our government is like a useless organism ravaged with disease, but too stubborn to die; survival has become its only purpose. This should be an ANNUS MIRABILIS for the Democratic Party—but except for Murtha and Barbara Boxer they have proved to be a “spineless” lot. Fat, lethargic and complacent, that’s the condition of both the congress and senate—although they did manage to stay up late the other night to pass a 770 page bill which cuts taxes for millionaires while taking medical benefits away from poor children—the same “children” that Bush did not want to leave behind? Hopefully, Gumble’s, conclusion is correct—the system will become so incompetent that even their survival instincts will malfunction or maybe it will just be Deja Moo– a feeling that we will all be hearing the same bullsh-t again!

  7. Woody Says:

    Just more of the same belly-aching and hypocricy from the left without new ideas–only cries that they want to be in power instead. The Democrats and the left were in power and had their chances. Putting down their replacements is all they can do now. Come back when you actually have realistic ideas for a better, freerer, and more secure America.

  8. Paul From Mpls Says:

    Things aren’t perfect but we’re not in a Depression. Socially, we have this one hideous problem: the inner city. Government programs and non-profits – I speak from some direct experience – are not really getting the job done.

    Other problems like the possible decay of the middle class, wealth disparities, health coverage: we’ll deal with ‘em. I have faith in that.

  9. reg Says:

    “Just more of the same belly-aching and hypocricy from the left without new ideas”

    I hate to say this Woody, but since you had such a sharp, rude reaction to Andrew’s piece, I have to say that the day you contrive to come up with a post with, say, 10% of the originality and information contained in this commentary – sentence for sentence and paragraph for paragraph – I’ll buy you a new lawnmower. No shit…it’ll be on me, free.

  10. reg Says:

    “Socially, we have this one hideous problem: the inner city.”

    Yeah, no question about it, the poor blacks are the one truly hideous problem in this fair land…without them, we’d be fine.

  11. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    How does the neo-conservative view poverty and the working poor! They arrogantly look at the poor and disdainfully feel it is their own fault. These so-called passionate conservatives with good Christian values actually look at the poor in utter disgust. A case in point is Rick Santorum’s book “It Takes a Family. “ Santorum believes that liberal values are immoral; feminism has destroyed traditional families; divorce and fatherless homes are a sin and also the reason for poverty.

    But Santorum is not the lone heartless “blowhard” on the far right. The unfortunate fact is that he represents a predominant point of view.

  12. Rich Says:

    ” for a better, freerer, and more secure America.”

    Woody, in full of acknowledgement of your good sense of humor, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that this grammatical Bush-ism was intentional and meant for comic relief. Of course, the joke’s on us (read: Americans) either way, sadly.

  13. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    The richest one percent of American households owns approximately 40 percent of the national wealth. The top 10 percent owns 71 percent of all private wealth and the TOP 1 PERCENT now own more than the bottom 90 percent.

    Among industrialized nations, the U.S. has the highest concentration of individual wealth.

    In order for Bush to ensure a better freer and more secure America he should address the distasteful topic of poverty. But then it’s easier for Bush to BRUSH this matter aside, and concentrate on more important issues, like how to extricate his administrations from an assortment of sordid scandals: Trent Lott; Bill Frist; Tom Delay; Maggie Gallagher; Michael Mcmanus; Duke Cunningham; Jack Abramoff; Robert Ney and Michael Scanlon and how about is close family friend Ken Lay. Oh, maybe Carl Rove will come up with a winning strategy—of course only if he has time, since I’m sure he is busy having consultations with his own lawyers. Isn’t Carl still being investigated for the Valerie Plame affair? Oh my, it will be an exciting year at the White House.

  14. Kevin Says:

    C’mon, Woody, did that come from the “Conservative stock response cut-and-paste file”?

  15. Paul From Mpls Says:

    Reg, that’s an asshole thing to say. I think you probably know that. I won’t get into why since you know that too.

  16. Woody Says:

    Dadgum it, Rich. As soon as I posted my comment, I saw the misspelled word. My first thought was, “Is Rich (yes, Rich) going to make some big deal of it? Should I do an immediate follow-up post acknowledging the error?” Then, I thought, “Forget it. It’s no big deal.” From now on, I’ll be sure to do a subsequent post correcting spelling and grammar errors not initially noticed or add a disclaimer at the end of each one.


    Eleanore, what is this business about wealth concentration and the “working poor?” Are these people both working and still poor? If so, how can that be…is it my fault, is it their fault, is it twisted statistics (often), or are just these phony and trite talking points (probably)? This “working Americans” terminology is out of the Democrats’ handbook. I’m a “working American.” Am I supposed to vote for the socialists because I work? Do rich people not work, too? This type of talk is class envy meant to divide rather than simply recognize that good decisions result in success while bad decisions result in problems. Class envy doesn’t pull people up but only sows discontent that is only solved by making sure that wealth is taken away and distributed until incentives are removed and everyone is “poor.” It sounds as if you need a little more time away from your college professors.


    Kevin, what I said was my first thoughts. It gets so tiresome of hearing the same bitchin’ and moaning from the left. They complain but offer no solutions acceptable to the majority of Americans or even in the best interest of America. Look at all the entries that Marc has had against Bush and company this year and all the comments from his readers. One starts to sound like another. We’ll just index these and use reference numbers to save everyone a lot of typing.


    reg, that wasn’t an original and information packed article. It was more of the same. You can take one article from one socialist and interchange it with all the others. They all say the same thing…”Waaaaaaa, I wish that we were in power.” I’m looking through my Sears mailer and will notify you of the lawnmower model to have shipped to my house. Thanks!

  17. Michael Turner Says:

    A freer, safer, better America? As with many tripartite desiderata, my knee-jerk reflex is to say, “pick any two”.

    The Dems never have any solutions on offer? Consider not only the inner city but the *outer* city — American dependence on the automobile and hence a great deal of its dependence on imported oil. The Bush administration has stubbornly resisted the Kyoto protocols while evidence mounts that we’re running out of time.

    Bill Clinton recently weighed in on both issues at once in his Montreal proposal (which I vaguely remember offering myself in this forum a few months back) that New Orleans be rebuilt as a model Green City. Hey, Woody, that would employ that “working poor” you don’t seem to believe exists (try feeding three kids as a single parent while earning minimum wage and not feel poor). And it might do more than just help bring the still-mostly-displaced poor of New Orleans back home — it might equip them with job skills appropriate for adjusting to a harrowing reality of this century. Where fossil fuel consumption per capita used to be a proxy for level of economic development, that index may actually reverse itself in the developed world. The nations that figure out how to get by on less will be in the vanguard — while America will be saddled with a pattern of development and a transportation infrastructure that impedes economic development more than it helps. We can’t stay out of Kyoto and its successor forever — eventually the rest of the world will take it out of our hides in the form of trade barriers and duties. We’ll be in the global GHG emissions market regardless of what our government chooses.

    Some ghostly writing on the wall as the year draws to a close: bond yields are showing an inversion, a signal that strongly correlated with the onset of a recession. This inversion reflects fears of inflation reigniting. Predictions that oil prices would moderate in 2005 were all wrong — they never go below $40/bbl ever again — and that realization is probably what’s feeding the inflation fears that are inverting bond yields. Expensive oil is a cost we’re stuck with, and it’s sinking in: that cost will only grow. The economic recovery seems to have peaked. Notably, at this business-cycle peak, Americans are much more fearful about losing their jobs than they were at the *trough* of the early 90s recession. You want a gloss for “working Americans”, Woody? Except to the extent that it’s code for “unionized labor”, a Dem mainstay voter base, you might read it as “Americans who are scared of losing their jobs in the next downturn.” There are many more of them now. Finally, the housing bubble — a huge driver of consumer spending — appears finally to be bursting. That’s gotta hurt, especially since it involved more investment than the Internet/Telecom bubble (and was largely a reaction to the end of that bubble, since property bubbles usually follow stock bubbles). It’s probably only a matter of time before Steve Roach issues another one of his recession-warning broadsides.

    I think what this means for the Dems is that they have a good chance of coasting back into power in 2008 on a wave of economic reversals. It could be 1992 redux. “It’s the economy, stupid” will make a comeback. But what will really make a difference over the long run is a hard sell that neither party really yearns to make: what Jimmy Carter called “the moral equivalent of war” on energy economics issues.

    As for the wealth-inequality issue, I don’t see it as a problem in itself, except insofar as plutocratic undertow might assert itself — to the point of dominance — in democratic processes. To me, it’s more a question of what the rich invest in. I readn an interesting op-ed the other day by an economist who, with incoming Fed chief Bernanke, wrote a bestselling econ textbook. In his analysis of the rich as consumers, the rich often just spend money to one-up each other in displays of opulence. Imported designer watches that cost $100,000 and up? Imported sports cars that cost even more? (VW’s CEO is pushing a new Bugatti that will cost $1.4 million and drink a gallon of gas a minute at top speed.) With a shortage of investment opportunities, that’s how many rich people prefer to spend their money.

    If you think envy is ugly when it’s the poor envying the rich, Woody, why is it any *less* ugly when it’s the rich envying the rich, and reacting by spending money in ways that don’t generate that “tide that lifts all boats”? I’d rather the ultra-rich put their money to work, in ways that put others in work, and help solve long-term problems. I don’t even have a problem with them profiting by it. But only the government is big enough to make a major market in adjusting to the long-term realities of rising energy costs, import dependence, and GHG emission in industrial societies. I don’t see the GOP pushing that agenda. Sure, you get Bush-endorsed projects like FutureGen ($10 billion over 10 years for an emissionless coal-burning power plant), but $10b is one week’s worth of what we’re spending in Iraq right now. Much, much more will be needed. It’s gotta come from somewhere.

  18. reg Says:

    “Reg, that’s an asshole thing to say”

    Not to someone who’s touting “faith-based inititatives” as the best solution ever to the problems that people in inner cities face. Frankly, that’s ludicrous, I don’t care whether you “speak from some experience” or not. I’ve never been a supporter of the welfare system set in concrete during the Nixon-era because it deliberately seperated jobs and any social intervention from a “paycheck” for political reasons, institutionalizing a monster of a bureaucratic response and imbedding certain problems, but the idea that it’s going to be turned around by Marvin Olansky’s bright ideas is preposterous. I’m not down on churches as a vehicle for assisting change in inner cities at all and I’m a big fan of Catholic Charities which has been using assistance grants from the government for decades, but it’s a bigger problem than they can handle on their own. Let me know when Jonathon Kozol and William Julius Wilson start doing a happy dance over Dubya’s wonderful programs to rescue the inner cities…

  19. rosedog Says:

    Excellent essay, Andrew. (You are out there, aren’t you Andrew? And thanks for posting it Marc.) In addition to the smart analysis, you’ve made me want run right out and get Hammett’s Red Harvest.

    Woody…about your working poor questions.

    Some recommended reading:

    “The Working Poor : Invisible in America” by David Shipler.

    “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Erenreich…


    For you, I think probably the Shipler book is better as its loaded with stats…and, Erenreich’s liberal POV might get on your nerves. (I happen to love her writing, but I’m a…you know…liberal.) But Erenreich’s book makes the points in a far more entertaining fashion.

    In any case, both books are entirely solid, when it comes to the hard information. Both have been widely praised—and for good reason. They’re each very important books and, frankly, one or both should be required reading.


    A good Reader’s Digest condensed version of the issue may be found in the WaPo review of the Shipler book by Eric Schlosser. I’ve pasted the parts that go to the heart of the matter below.


    “…..In The Working Poor, David K. Shipler directs our gaze to the people we encounter every day, yet hardly seem to notice, the low-wage workers who flip burgers at McDonald’s, stock the shelves at Wal-Mart and sew the hems of designer clothes. Their misery hides in plain sight. …

    “Shipler’s focus is not the lazy, the homeless, the seriously mentally ill — the sort of people whom you might expect to be poor. Instead he chronicles the plight of those Americans who have jobs but still live in poverty. It is remarkable how many people fit that description. A conservative estimate would be between 35 and 40 million. ‘Poverty’ is not easy to define, and regional differences in the cost of living make nationwide measurements particularly difficult. According to the federal government, in 2002 a family of four — one adult, three children — that earned $18,500 had an annual income above the poverty level. An adult in such a household, working forty hours a week, five days a week, would have to earn more than $8.80 an hour to remain above the official poverty line. That is an hourly wage 70 percent higher than the current federal minimum wage. However you measure poverty, it has been growing in recent years, along with disparities in wealth. One-fifth of the American population, those at the very bottom of the income scale, have a median net worth of $7,900.

    “…Shipler spent five years investigating the subject, and the depth of his reporting conveys a reality too complex to fit neatly into any liberal or conservative scheme. Poverty emerges in these pages not as the inevitable result of an unjust society or as a reflection of individual failings, but as a mixture of both. ‘Liberals don’t want to see the dysfunctional family,’ Shipler argues, ‘and conservatives want to see nothing else.’ He supplies a haunting portrait of a woman whose upward mobility in the service industry is blocked, in large part, by the fact that she has no teeth. Poverty was responsible for her losing the teeth — and lacking the sort of smile assistant managers like to see behind the counter, she became trapped in poverty. We meet victims of sexual abuse trying to recover from the trauma, migrant workers sleeping 12 to a room, sweatshop workers exploited by greedy employers, teachers and social workers struggling to lift children from the lower depths.

    “The sort of problems that are merely inconvenient for an upper-middle-class family — a flat tire, a baby sitter who fails to show up, a bout of the flu — can prove disastrous for the working poor. They live precariously near the edge, without job security, health insurance or money in the bank. A boss at Wal-Mart expects workers to come whenever needed, morning, noon or night. A labor contractor deducts a smuggler’s fee, along with room and board, from a migrant worker’s weekly paycheck. The owner of a sweatshop suddenly closes the business, then reopens at a new location, leaving workers with weeks of unpaid wages. And it’s not just unscrupulous employers who prey on the poor. Financial institutions that offer easy credit can plunge them into debt. The annual interest charged by some check-cashing outfits — where the poor must often do their banking — can reach 521 percent.

    “No matter how close to the bottom a family may fall, there is always a relentless, downward pull. ‘Poverty leads to health and housing problems,’ Shipler explains. ‘Poor health and housing lead to cognitive deficiencies and school problems. Educational failure leads to poverty.’ There is no simple way out of such vicious circles, and Shipler advocates remedies that are as complex as the social problems he addresses. A more responsive network of social services could simultaneously offer legal, medical, educational and even parenting support. A higher minimum wage and health insurance for all Americans would help, too. Shipler’s proposals defy ideological labels; they are guided by a pragmatic appreciation of what might actually get results.

    “…This is an essential book. Even those who lack pity and compassion should be concerned about what is now happening to the poor. One of the great achievements of postwar America was the creation of a stable middle-class society. That achievement is unraveling. At the moment, the dispossessed are politically apathetic, distracted by video games and cable television, the modern equivalent of bread and circuses. Yet throughout our history, poverty and great inequalities of wealth have led to political extremism and social unrest. The Working Poor and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, a book that eloquently covers some of the same ground, should be required reading not just for every member of Congress, but for every eligible voter. Now that this invisible world has been so powerfully brought to light, its consequences can no longer be ignored or denied. …”

  20. reg Says:

    Also, dare I say, unless and until the working poor, who are by no means simply creatures of the “inner cities” get a better break – with public benefits like health care supplementing marginal incomes too meager for families to get past the bottom rung – the character of the inner cities isn’t going to change much. I’m with Wilson on this – the key is ensuring entry-level jobs, job training and rehabilitating broken educational systems – not charity or welfare checks from an anonymous bureaucracy. (This was a legacy of Nixon’s and, regretably, his poverty mouthpiece Pat Moynihan’s by the way, not LBJ-era Dems. Rumsfeld, among others was head of the “Office of Economic Opportunity back then, incidentally, and if memory serves right-wing nut Howard Phillips also in charge of dismantling any activist inner city programs. Go back and compare Michael Harrington’s writings from that era or the A.Phillip Randolph/Bayard Rustin “Freedom Budget” that was integral to the broader jobs strategy of the March on Washington in ’63 to the post-’68 welfare system institutionalized under a string, mostly, of Republicans. Dems dropped the ball for sure – but the revisionist crap like Charles Murray’s writings on these issues are just that….crap by a pre-fab, Ayn Randian ideologue, not serious research.)

  21. reg Says:

    rosedog…do you really believe Woody actually wants to know the answer to his stupid question ? The answer is contained in the asking…”I don’t give a shit and anyway it’s all the liberals’ fault for even mentioning these people and their alleged problems.”

    I think there’s a point at which someone has retreaded the same moronic, one-note response so many times that – unless perhaps they have a real incentive, like a new lawnmower – they’re not about to open their minds…or dare I say it, their hearts.

  22. GM Roper Says:

    Reg: “The answer is contained in the asking…”I don’t give a shit and anyway it’s all the liberals’ fault for even mentioning these people and their alleged problems.”
    “I think there’s a point at which someone has retreaded the same moronic, one-note response so many times that – unless perhaps they have a real incentive, like a new lawnmower – they’re not about to open their minds…or dare I say it, their hearts.”
    Wow, talk about re-treaded arguments. Obviously the poverty pimps on the left are still castigating the right for being “heartless.” But the reality of the situation is far different. People (fools?) like reg are equally, if not more so, close minded than ever Woody could be. Let’s look at problems and solutions. We (collectively, the United States Government and its 50 governmental units called States) have spent trillions and trillions of dollars on the so called war on poverty. Please point out reg, if you would be so kind, as to which of those programs have worked and worked consistently. Poverty is still out there reg, unless you lack the discernment to recognize that there has been little change since LBJ. So, some one will say, “Well, wait a minute, it is because educational opportunities haven’t been there and college graduates with a Ph.D. are flipping burgers, and … and … and… and…” Yet, we have spent billions on “improving” education, with little to show for it. We hear black kids with IQs in the stratosphere (figuratively, not literally) with poor grades because they don’t want their peers to make fun of them for being “white.” We hear about some groups with a 60% or better illegitimacy rate or 15 and 16 year old babies having babies so that they will “have someone to love them” and this has nothing to do with race. We have people not wanting to move to a better paying job because they would have to “leave” their extended family. We have people deciding that taking from others at the point of a gun is much better than earning it for yourself. We have people ripping off companies (Kenneth Lay anyone?) because of a sense of entitlement or “hell, they’ve got insurance” or “they can afford it.” We have folk like Jesse Jackson blackmailing companies to hand out perks to relatives of his (anyone know the story of Jackson’s son and the son’s beer distributorship?)
    We have a federal minimum wage law, yet many companies pay higher hourly wages than that, yet are still castigated because they are successful businesses (Wal-Mart anyone?) and often offer jobs to those who no one else will touch (the elderly, the ones fresh into a job market). We do have people flipping burgers for minimum wage, but these are not often heads of households, although for a variety of reasons, sometimes we find them there also. Let’s raise the minimum wage then. What would be a good place to start? $10.00 an hour? $20.00 an hour? How about $35.00 an hour? Regardless of where you set the minimum, it will raise the cost of everything because it is not companies that pay wages, it is ultimately the consumer that pays the wage. If the minimum is then $35.00 an hour, the average will be somewhere in the 60’s and there will still be comparative poverty. Note that I said comparative poverty. Anyone that has been to other countries in this world knows full well that the poor in this country often (almost always?) live better than many (most?) folk in other 2nd and 3rd world countries.
    I frequently see (hear?) that point out the quality of life in other European countries with a more “social” form of government (read cradle to grave socialism). Yet, those countries have also been in the vanguard of keeping agricultural subsidies (you find that here also, especially in the sugar industry) and high tariffs for agricultural imports, thus consigning many 3rd world countries to continued poverty.
    So you bet reg, you thoughtless ass, point the finger at others, but by God don’t come up with a workable plan. Castigate Woody, but don’t sit down and try to figure out a program that might work, cause everyone knows that Woody and Phil and GM and John and … … are only wingers and don’t have any hearts or ideas or anything else and all they want to do is kill black folks and invade middle east countries and rob the elderly of medicare and shut the poor out of health-care. Yep, that is the ticket.
    Oh yes, heartless righties… the world would be so much better off if the left could only control everything because after all, the left have bigger hearts and they feel more for others. What a bunch of CRAP.

  23. too many steves Says:

    what pap. so the failure of the 40 year old “War on Poverty” begun by LBJ in 1964 and continued by the Democratic Congress (when did they lose the majority?) is the fault of Nixon, Rumsfeld, Phillips and other Ayn Randian conservatives? Dems just dropped the ball and let those evil conservatives screw up the whole program turning it into a system of charity and welfare checks from an anonymous bureaucracy. got it. glad to see you agree its a bad system.

    rosedog: excellent and interesting post. until i read the book, does shipler make any mention of the chronically poor? that is, those poor who never make it out rather than those that go through short (ish) periods of being below the poverty line? it would seem that an effective system would account for the difference in causes that lead to the different condiditons.

    this quote from the review made me laugh “Even those who lack pity and compassion should be concerned about what is now happening to the poor.” why? because of self-interest (cuz’ by definition they lack pity and compassion)?

  24. tim Says:

    “. . . curled up and laid down to die.” You’d think a proper Brit would get the past tense of the verb “to lie” right to avoid a stern caning from the pince-nez’d professor. Oh, and “tighter than a nun’s chastity belt” seems a bit old-fashioned nowadays, don’t ya think? But otherwise, couldn’t agree more.

  25. Marc Davidson Says:

    GM, you very conveniently leave out any mention of anti-poverty programs that work, or would work, that conservatives have fought against for decades. Let’s start with Social Security and Head Start, but let’s also talk about universal health care and fully funded and high-quality public education, which are not your dreaded “handouts”. Talk about the inability to assume responsibility, conservatives like you and Woody are culpable in your dogged determination to remain ignorant of many of the root causes of poverty, and our society is paying the price.
    Your argument ad absurdum about the $35 minimum wage is ridiculous on the face of it. By your reasoning, why not totally eliminate the minimum wage? (Then again, maybe that’s what you want.)
    Please read one of the books that rosedog recommends. It’ll be an eye-opening experience.

  26. reg Says:

    Roper, you are so shallow and ignorant in your rants, it’s pathetic. Personally, I don’t take either you or Woody seriously any more on anything because digging into your arguments with even the slightest bit of serious research proves what a couple of twits you are. I’ve debated you in depth on social security on your own site and proven you didn’t have a clue what you were talking about, I’ve raised questions about where the mess in Iraq has been headed that you’ve lampooned but every prediction I’ve made on that one to date has proven to be prescient, and now you’re lecturing me…in your profound ignorance…on the working poor with an utterly silly rant on the minimum wage. Don’t make me laugh, you buffoon. I’m not wasting my time with that ridiculous concoction you confuse with “analysis”. Neither you nor Woody are really worth debating with…

    Incidentally, if you read my earlier comment, you read a criticism of the kind of welfare bureaucracy instituted under Nixon…but rather than even consider the implications of that comment, you proceed to lecture me with your pre-fab bullshit about “liberals”. I’ve come to have nothing but contempt for the kind of psuedo-arguments – pre-fabbed from the most shallow right-wing talking points – you and Woody continuously proffer and guess what…more than anything else at this stage of the game, I’m bored. Maybe you’re right…you’re not heartless…just mindless.

  27. Jack Sheldon Says:

    “But the reality of the situation is far different. People (fools?) like reg are equally, if not more so, close minded than ever Woody could be.”

    “So you bet reg, you thoughtless ass”

    Yeah this is a plan. Crap indeed. Read the books and you’ll see well-laid out arguments. Something the luntic rantings haven’t bothered to include.

  28. GM Roper Says:

    reg, in your thinking you think you won arguments. In my thinking, you continue to show yourself as close minded as you claim others are.

  29. GM Roper Says:

    MD: “Social Security and Head Start, but let’s also talk about universal health care and fully funded and high-quality public education, which are not your dreaded “handouts”. ”

    Why yes Marc, let’s talk about the unfunded monstrosity that Social Security is. Let’s talk about Head Start that shows little or no benefit beyond the 2nd or 3rd grade, let’s talk about fully funded high-quality public education that doesn’t exist even after throwing trillions of dollars at it. In fact, let’s talk about real programs that work consistently. I’m willing, nay, eager to help people get out of being poor, but I’m not willing to fund programs that keep people poor because it makes me feel good. You obviously are.

  30. reg Says:

    too many steves Says:
    December 30th, 2005 at 6:23 am

    what pap. so the failure of the 40 year old “War on Poverty” begun by LBJ in 1964 and continued by the Democratic Congress (when did they lose the majority?) is the fault of Nixon, Rumsfeld, Phillips and other Ayn Randian conservatives?

    First of all, that’s an idiotic twisting of what I wrote and barely deserves a response…but…

    Read a bit of history on what happened to the War On Poverty programs under Nixon and come back with a comment when you actually know something about this… (You left out my mention of Moynihan…he was the guy who championed the Guaranteed Annual Income as special advisor to Nixon. Conservatives love to remember Moynihan’s writings on the black family of that era, but they fail to credit him with what, yes, was a very flawed approach.) Nixon dismantled the activist and community organizing aspects of the War on Poverty because they were too much of a sop to urban Democratic mayors who used them to build local patronage. Nixon is a very interesting figure in the hot-button issues like welfare and affirmative action, because he managed to, literally, use them to play both ends against the middle. Your glip response to this sounds a bit too much like GMRoper to be taken as something worth discussing in depth, but the fact is that Nixon hated the components of the old LBJ “War On Poverty” that smacked of social intervention, community organizing or – what people on the left like Michael Harrington proposed – jobs programs but was perfectly happy to build a bureaucracy to transfer cash payments from the working stiff to an increasingly marginalized and isolated class of poor people, one which clowns like The Gipper would ultimately use to foment racist resentment with apocryphal stories about Welfare Queens and build the GOP base among the gullible (a few of whom regularly show up here.) Most of the Democrats in Congress aren’t defensible on any of this stuff. But the poverty program that was initially proposed by LBJ was gutted in it’s more potentially empowering aspects was gutted by the Nixon crew – it’s historical fact. One short version of this can be found in Nick Lehman’s great book on the black migration to Chicago, “The Promised Land”. It’s sort of a sidebar to his main story, but I’ll look up the page numbers on this for you if you are interested. Also, anybody who discusses these issues without reading or reference to the pioneering work of William Julius Wilson should be embarrassed to claim an informed opinion. Seriously… Not that ignorance stops the usual suspects from declaiming their recycled nostrums.

  31. reg Says:

    Roper…don’t go there on Social Security because you literally don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. I’ve debated the real stats on this in the past, provided you with the statistical data that calls your whole house of Cato cards in question and you ended up with no argument left and dropped it. And don’t tell us that the trust fund is unfunded, because that makes our debt to China and Saudi Arabia unfunded and the world economic system collapses. You guys are totally dishonest. You’re a fucking GOPer wind-up doll and we’d all be better served if you spent at least as much time researching your arguments (checking in at Captain Quarters, Newsmax and Malkin doesn’t count) as you do recycling your rants.

    I’m out of this one. This is a waste of time…

  32. Woody Says:

    As I’m very short on time, I’ve only scanned these posts and don’t have time for a lengthy reply, but we’re somewhat off topic anyway.

    First, I sincerely care about the poor. I’ve bused kids’ baseball teams from housing projects to play in a police league to help them. I’ve “temporarily loaned” a car to a poor person going on ten years–also carrying the insurance. I donate to charities that actually help the poor. And more. The self-righteous left has no monopoly on caring and helping.

    Which leads me, second, is that the “solutions” for the poor by the left are not solutions. The left is so afraid of calling it like it is that they skirt all around the root problems and try to solve surface problems. They think that a few more laws and a few billion dollars more will solve poverty–but, it never has and never will. Poverty goes much, much deeper to root problems that the left ignores.

    When a recommended book addressing the issue of “working poor” brings up higher minimum wages as a solution, then I know that the author is addressing short-term and phony solutions to avoid uncomfortable truths and real solutions. Bigger and more expensive government health care programs drive the costs up and services down.

    Who is “ignorant of many of the root causes of poverty?” It’s not I. It’s not G.M. It’s the left that cares simply by spending other people’s money with little to show for it–but, it feels oh so good to them. They get to wear their gold badges of honor while the poor are still no better off.

    If the left really wants to help the poor, maybe it needs to take those root causes to even deeper roots, throw off concerns about political correctness, and address those issues that really cause and continue poverty. Anything else is more damaging, because it gives false hope which is snatched away leaving bitterness and despair.

    Perhaps, too, there are spiritual laws that would help the poor, if they were only taught that there is a power greater than government that can help them change their lives. Ignore that and you ignore the best solutions.

    Disclaimer: This comment has not been reviewed for spelling and grammar. If there are any such errors, blame the public school system that I attended.

  33. Paul From Mpls Says:

    reg, all you’re doing is what people on the left commonly do: reading someone you disagree with – in fact, looking for something to disagree with, since vehemently disagreeing and morally condemning is your lifeblood, on current evidence – and then figuring out how to caricature it in the most negative way possible.

    Turning what I said about faith-based initiatives into touting them as them as the “best solution ever” shows that you may not be a person worth taking seriously in strict debate terms.

    It’s worth a shot. The commitment of churches is worth considering., and will aprobaly at least do some good. For you, I guess that’s more ultimate conservative darkness. Climb off your fucking high horse and enter the world. It would be so much more pleasant for people around you.

  34. evets Says:

    Good article. I only wish I were as confident that Bush’s agenda is truly dead in the water. I remember Bush 1 and Clinton’s presidencies and how quicky their fortunes turned. Remember that Bush 1 looked impregnable after two years in office and Clinton looked utterly pregnable at the same point in his 1st term.

    Paul from Mpls -

    How widespread is the feeling in the inner city that faith-based programs are a working solution? Are you allowing for your (understandable) rooting interest in making these claims for their efficacy and popularity?

  35. Michael Turner Says:

    Oh boy. Where is Jack Kemp when we need him? He’s the only conservative I can think of, off hand, who could talk persuasively across divides like these. He could do that because, on the one hand, his bona fides as a conservative were impeccable, and on the other, he would never be caught dead saying something as stupid as “how can someone be poor if he has a job?” or “we’ve spent trillions of dollars on poverty programs and we still have poverty, so they must all be worthless efforts.” He knew better.

    Yes, individual, adult decisions do matter. People make stupid ones, and end up with less as a result. But let’s get at least one thing straight: nobody gets to choose who their parents, nor what communities and cultures they grow up in. There will always be the exceptions, the ones who can get from the projects to Purdue, with support of loving families and their own inborn talent. Those cases don’t tell us much about how to address the real problems, though, do they? Circumstances make a big difference in how mere mortals turn out in life. Maybe there’s not much government can do about most of those circumstances, but that’s no reason not to keep looking for what can be done.

    “Poverty will always be with us” can be a pragmatic observation. (It’s one I’ll make myself, to be honest). But it can also be a cop-out. Which one is it for you?

  36. Paul From Mpls Says:

    evets –

    I don’t really have that much of a rooting interest, I don’t think. It’s my job now, it’s not my life mission.

    What I know for sure is that in Minneapolis, the program is not a stalking horse for destroying the boundaries between church and state; and I know that in Minneapolis, in the inner city communities I work in, there is a nearly universal sense among activists that churches offer real hope and energy. And when I talk to activists, I don’t pick up the same automatic disdain for W – at least on these issues – that I do when talking to my long-time liberal friends.

    And yes, at the risk of offering reg another opportunity to assume I want to get rid of black people, I am talking largely about black people. African-Americans, whichever you prefer.

    I think it is something the left should watch out for, that is, too easily dismissing this initiative as more W nonsense when the people actually taking part may not see it that way at all. Nationally, the Democratic party is addicted to its bizarre 90-10 advantage among black voters. If that ever erodes at all, they’re in serious trouble.

  37. reg Says:

    “GM Roper Says:
    December 30th, 2005 at 8:01 am

    reg, in your thinking you think you won arguments. In my thinking, you continue to show yourself as close minded as you claim others are.”

    If my mind is so fucking closed and I haven’t won any arguments, go back and check out your ridiculous reaction when many moons ago I raised the problem of the influence of Iran on whatever new Iraqi government would likely rise from the ashes. You had some absolutely stupid ad hominem reaction to my bringing that up. Your ego is larger than your capacity for either wit or wisdom. You’re a clueless vanity blogger who has, literally, zilch to contribute to any serious political debate. Neither could you come up with a credible response to the social security stats I hit you with.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, but I sure as hell can spot loudmouthed morons regurgitating right-wing bullshit when I run into ‘em. The worst one’s aren’t even drunk…

  38. Paul From Mpls Says:

    I’ve always thought of “poverty will always be with us” as almost a mathematical construct.

    Seriously, though, conservatives do have to convince themselves and the rest of the world that they genuinely care about these issues. I think more and more they are talking them, partly as a result of being joined tentatively by those of us in the disaffected left.

    Recommended reading: Some of it will piss people off, but there’s also serious writing on urban issues (and lots of issues).

  39. evets Says:

    I’m glad to hear the programs are doing some good. I’d feel better about Bush’s support for them if he didn’t seek to promote them at the expense of certain gov’t programs which might also do some good, if they didn’t come wrapped with a disdain for govt itself. As a religious person, I’m also troubled by the blurring of the boundary between church and state; this boundary is necessary for the health of both. Not all who embrace these programs are looking to remove that boundary but many certainly are. Those on the receiving end of the aid may not (understandably) be concerned about this side-effect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not troubling.

  40. too many steves Says:

    And you missed my point (my fault). Playing the blame game is a collosal waste of time and accomplishes nothing – other than, perhaps, making the blamers feel superior.

    The Shipler book is a good step in the direction of identifying the nature and extent of the problem as it is today without the partisan assigning of blame. Why do 16 year-olds have children (plural) they cannot care for? Why is education so dismal and lacking in quality in the inner cities, despite the annual expenditure of vast amounts of money? How is it that some overcome these and other obstacles while most don’t? Why do many resort to violence (Boston has broken a 10 year old homicide record in 2005)? Once we know these things solutions can be proposed, debated, and implemented – or not, depending on the mood of the polity at the time.

  41. reg Says:

    “Nationally, the Democratic party is addicted to its bizarre 90-10 advantage among black voters. If that ever erodes at all, they’re in serious trouble.”

    It’s hardly bizarre when you look at the history and practice of the GOP since the 1960′s – welcoming the disgraced, unreconstructed Dixiecrats, among other things. It’s also a fact that the GOP has similiarly bizarre “advantages” among sectors of voters that are more likely to erode over time – such as the currently “solid” GOP South – than any significant defection of blacks from the Democrats. The GOP problem with African-American voters is so deep and so rooted in both history and present reality that even if Condi Rice ran for President she would have serious trouble getting 50% of black voters – and that only because she isn’t a hard-core conservative on issues like affirmative action. Imagine – the first serious black presidential candidate SPLITTING the black vote. And this is among one of the most self-conscious ethnic groups in the populace. If that’s bad news for Demcrats, what does it say about the poison pill of the GOP in the view of black people.

    Anecdotally, I have yet to talk to a single black female – and via my wife’s friends and relatives I talk to more of them than I wish I had to some days – who finds Rice an attractive figure that they respect. Frankly, they talk about her like she’s a dog – and I doubt that this is uncommon among other middle-class blacks, male and female. Powell is a respected figure who is looked on with some regret that he served in Bush’s administration. He could have run for President successfully, gaining the majority of black votes because he’s percieved as essentially moderate to liberal on the issues – which he is. But I’d put up “a sizeable wager” that Condi is percieved as an opportunist and apparatchik who has a problem with the truth and that the best she could do is get a chunk of reluctant swing voters who put racial pride before their politics but not overwhelming black support.

  42. Paul From Mpls Says:

    When federal officials come out to talk about the program, there are strict guidelines on recruiting church members and all. Maybe it’s different in other areas of the country, although I doubt it; it wouldn’t take many stories like that for the initiative to get all kinds of bad press.

    There may well be a subtler agenda at work, gradually making religion a more important part of life again in areas where it’s withered; I’m not sure it’s a good idea politically for the Democrats to identify that per se as a dark agenda. And again: I’m pretty sure the general idea emerged out of the Clinton administration. (As did a lot of thing the left is enraged at W about, by the way, but that’s a whole other topic.)

    Disdain for government’s actions on dealing with our thorniest social problems is not a wholly absurd position, I don’t think. It’s simply true: government agencies lose their passion over time, tend to self-perpetuate, and as you go higher in the system become less concerned with success in any real sesne and more concerned with ass-covering, budget-perpetuating and so on. These are things that have been truisms among people working in these fields for along time, in my experience. Dealing wiht the federal government in any kind of grants context is like dealing I would guess with the Soviet communist party: hoops galore.

    John McKnight at Northwestern is a sort of far-left-based critic of government spending and social programs as a way of dealing with the inner city for decades. He talks about the emergence of a “client economy.” Very interesting.

  43. Paul From Mpls Says:

    reg, if Condi got 25% of the black vote, all things being equal, she’d win in a landslide.

    The 90-10 advantage does make sense in the context of viewing politics from a perspective of 1967 though perhaps the 1980′s. Since then, the advantage seems based on reminding people of decades-old politics, insisting that capitalism can never work for black people, and diverting their attention away from the questionable success of liberal ideas on the inner city.

  44. reg Says:

    “Climb off your fucking high horse and enter the world. It would be so much more pleasant for people around you.”

    You’re the one who made “a sizeable wager” that you could read my mind, so don’t upbraid me for arrogance. And your last remarks on faith-based intitiatives are a significant backtrack from the claims you made earlier. As for CityJournal, you’ve got to do better than a libertarian thinktank. Anyone who comes at the complex of inner city problems with an ideological agenda – particularly a “free-market” one – as their main priority is bound to lead into a dead end. I would say this for “leftist” as well as “libertarian” ideology. One thing that amuses me about people – like McWhorter – who write for City Journal is that they assume that the dissemination of cultural values they tout as the sole solution to “inner city” problems aren’t already common among African Americans – as common as among any other group. And they act like the negative values that are propagated with a vengeance by, among other things, the gangster rap culture have nothing to do with “the free market”. The worst aspects of “the culture of poverty” are the ones that have been most relentlessly commercialized and promoted in “the free market” by some of the biggest corporations on the planet. As my wife says, “Gangster rappers are nothing but Enron-Abramoff Republicans writ larger than life – they’re selfish bastards who just care about the bling-bling and the big cars and nothing about the community.”

  45. Woody Says:

    reg, I’m not going back to locate and read the prior posts you mention, but Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and always has been. When Roosevelt introduced it, he said that it would become funded in about twenty years, but it never was. Even Democratic golden boy Al Gore campaigned to have a “lock box” for the system.

    Right now, Social Security has only IOU’s from the general fund. A lot of company retirement programs had IOU’s of future earnings to fund them, but many of those companies and plans stopped before the promised benefits were paid. If we have a severe depression or a return to out-of-control inflation, combined with the growing benefits voted by a spineless Congress, then Social Security has a great chance of failing its purpose.

    I don’t know what statistics you mentioned, but surely you’re not content with the current arrangement of paying current benefits with the funds of future retirees? And, to put this somewhat back on point, at least President Bush raised the issue that we need to address this now before it becomes unsolvable later.


    Regarding the lawnmower, you may find it interesting that I do need some help. The kid down the street who use to cut my grass first got a football scholarship to Notre Dame and went on to sign with the NFL. His rates are too high now. On the other hand, I could always hire a poor person and pay them, but some liberal would accuse me of taking advantage of the poor rather than seeing it as food money plus an opportunity.

  46. reg Says:

    reg, if Condi got 25% of the black vote, all things being equal, she’d win in a landslide.

    You missed my point – if the best a black Republican could do is SPLIT the black vote, it proves what a poison pill her party is among blacks.

  47. reg Says:

    Woody, I’m not going back either but you can find them on Ropers site. Fact is you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Your assumptions and supposed facts on Social Security are wrong or so hopelessly muddled and out of context it’s worthless. Like most of the crap you pass along from Newsmax and the like. I’m through debating you. It’s a fools errand…and you don’t have the self-respect to do anything other than recycle the same silly talking points.

  48. Paul From Mpls Says:

    It was a sizeable backtrack from you thought I was saying, reg, and didn’t say.

    And of course I didn’t say City Journal is the fount of all wisdom. It’s just another point of view that most of my well-read friends have never heard of. You evidently have, good for you; though you also evidently read it just enough to find ways to dismiss and condemn.

    Automatically condemning the “free market” as a starting point for trying to solve problems is a good example of the ideological problem the left has. More and more, the left is alienated from the economic ideas that have always played a very large part in defining the country, and as far as I can see always will.

  49. Paul From Mpls Says:

    I’m not disputing the Republicans are currently a poison pill among blacks. I’m saying it’s an inherently unstable situation that will someday erode, and probably surprisingly quickly. In fact, I think putting that day off is one major source of insanity in the Democratic party.

  50. evets Says:

    Paul from Mpls -

    ‘There may well be a subtler agenda at work, gradually making religion a more important part of life again in areas where it’s withered; I’m not sure it’s a good idea politically for the Democrats to identify that per se as a dark agenda.’

    In the case of those like Marvin Olasky this agenda is not subtle; it’s quite clear. I will say this for Olasky – I think he genuinely seeks to help the poor, for religious reasons. In many cases support for faith-based programs is disingenuous (and unlinked to religion), based instead on the ideological attachment to an untrammeled fee market, to a Darwinian sort of capitalism, which in the end can produce a society as ugly as those produced by command economies.

    I’m all for “making religion a more important part of life again in areas where it’s withered”. However — while it may not be “a good idea politically for the Democrats to identify that per se as a dark agenda”, I’m absolutely sure it’s a good idea for the country that the government (and both parties) refrain from promoting or interfering with religious practice.

    Like Reg, I’m a little annoyed about the comment on the Democrat’s “addiction” to the black vote? Are you also concerned abot the Republican’s addiction to the southern white male vote?

  51. Jack Sheldon Says:

    Social Security has nothing to do with private pensions. Those are being withdrawn at record levels. It’s NOT a Ponzy scheme. It’s a safety net as designed. If millionaires earned out it would increase the fund base which is a long range problem. Long long…. range.

    “You’re a fucking GOPer wind-up doll and we’d all be better served if you spent at least as much time researching your arguments (checking in at Captain Quarters, Newsmax and Malkin doesn’t count) as you do recycling your rants.”

    Sing it brother.

  52. Woody Says:

    reg, reading follow-ups about acceptable black Republicans, I assume that you might define someone as a black only if that person is a liberal Democrat. Any conservative blacks are Uncle Tom’s or imposters. Also, your stereotype of the Southern voter is quite dated and incorrect.

    The Republicans don’t promise unsuccessful but good-sounding programs like the Democrats, who need to keep the blacks on the Democratic Plantation. The group that really cares for the blacks is not the one that depends on them being kept down for political gain.

  53. Woody Says:

    Jack, I assume you didn’t major in economics.

  54. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    This is an e-mail that I sent out a short time ago that I would like to share. Consider it just a little post script to the ongoing discussion regarding the distribution of wealth.

    Oh, for all those who don’t want to waste time reading a sociological/economic analysis of poverty; view the DVD “Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.” You won’t even have to buy it; your local library might own it. And then you might begin to see the self-perpetuating conditions that allow poverty to exist in order to allow GLUTINOUS profits to prevail.

    No one is suggesting that we live in communes, dress in shabby grey frocks and memorize political ideology from a “little red book.” However, what is needed is a SOCIAL SAFETY NET so that everyone has the chanced to live with DIGNITY.

    Besides, unless you are totally demented, could you really enjoy consuming a gourmet meal in front of a someone who is undernourished—well, perhaps, only if it is Ann Coulter.


    A recent news article noted that palaces previously owned by Saddam Hussein and occupied by U.S. military, might be turned into tourist attractions to demonstrate how Iraq’s wealth was squandered. There are 18 elaborate palaces all ornately decorated with enormous carved wooden doors, marble staircases and elaborate chandeliers. Evidently Hussein was very much into aesthetics, and only wanted to sleep in the most elegant of surroundings. I wonder, will Iraq eventually become a trendy exotic tourist location, similar to Vietnam; if so, we better start developing a taste for such delectable dishes such as timman, chickpea soup and hadgi badah.

    But what I really find curious is why Hussein’s avarice, is considered odd and touted as morally corrupt. Is he considered immoral, because most of the Iraqi population suffered economically under his regime? If so, why does our government find Saddam Hussein immoral for living well; but does not find immorality in the lavish lifestyles of the billionaires in our own country. In fact, our President rewards billionaires with TAX BREAKS. There seems to be a different moral standard in our own country when it comes to the disparate lifestyles of the extreme wealthy and poor.

    According to Forbes’ Magazine, the richest families in the United States live “Saddamesque” lifestyles and this is illustrated in Forbes’ list of the Ten Most Expensive Homes, $58.1 million dollars is the average price; 216 times greater than the average home-sale price. Fifty-eight million dollars might seem like a lot to you, put it is only one-tenth of one percent of Bill Gates’ net worth which is estimated at 51 billion dollars. Gates’ compound in Medina, Wash. Is assessed at 140 million dollars.

    What makes a home worth 58 million dollars? Is it the guest houses, pool, pool house, carriage house or 10,000 bottle wine cellar located on 60 acres with three ponds and a golf course at Bridgehampton, N.Y.? Couldn’t we make this house into a tourist attraction, and give tours to the working-class and poor so that they could see a luxurious lifestyle that they will NEVER enjoy.

    Larry Ellison, head of Oracle spent 100 million dollars to create a Japanese style palace in California—that sounds like a spectacular tourist attraction to me! If the working-class toured this palace, it would be the equivalent of visiting Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
    And how about the Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart, they are number four, five, six, seven and eight on Forbes Top Ten List of the richest Americans. Okay, they live in Bentonville, Ark., but their residences are quite astounding. And let’s not forget that the Walton family owes their wealth entirely to the thousands of full-time workers, who after a 40 hour work week at Wal-Mart, need to go on public assistance. Most workers don’t even have health care! When Wal-Mart opened a branch store in Canada, the employees organized a union. Wal-Mart quickly closed down the store. They would sooner close their business than have their employees organized. Why doesn’t our government consider Wal-Mart IMMORAL? Why are they given free reign to exploit the working-class? What tax breaks did they receive? Do they pay taxes on any of the goods they manufacture in China?
    And China which our government refers to as a communist country has become “UBER-CAPITALISTS.” In fact one Chinese businessman was selling a mansion in Manhattan for fifty five million dollars and a photo of a newly built palace in China owned by another Chinese billionaire was so lavish, the Palace of Versailles looked paltry.
    So what does it all mean? Perhaps, the Darwinian results of economic natural selection, caused by a competitive market system are destined to create immoral inequities. There will always be a few INDIVIDUALS that can navigate the system at the expense of others. These are the winners of the economic “Olympics.” But what about the billions of people who are not financial Olympic champions? Do they have to resign themselves to poverty?

    Some people say that the purpose of our government is to protect our country from being invaded. Yes, that is important, but what I think is just as important is that our government protects the working-class and the poor. We are all human beings and should be treated with dignity. All people should have a safe place to live, health-care, good schools for their children and protection from corporations that overstep their boundaries to exact profits at the expense of their workers. Our country needs to demonstrate by its ACTIONS and not just by its words that our democracy is worth fighting for, and that we are not like the despotic regimes we so despise. Our president needs to learn, that a society is judged not by how well they treat the powerful but by how they help the poor. That’s a spiritual value worth fighting for!

    Net Worth ($mil)

    1 Gates, William Henry III
    48,000 48 Medina , WA Microsoft

    2 Buffett, Warren Edward
    41,000 74 Omaha , NE Berkshire Hathaway

    3 Allen, Paul Gardner
    20,000 51 Seattle , WA Microsoft, investments

    4 Walton, Alice L
    18,000 55 Fort Worth , TX Wal-Mart

    4 Walton, Helen R
    18,000 85 Bentonville , AR Wal-Mart

    4 Walton, Jim C
    18,000 56 Bentonville , AR Wal-Mart

    4 Walton, John T
    18,000 58 Bentonville , AR Wal-Mart

    4 Walton, S Robson
    18,000 60 Bentonville , AR Wal-Mart

    9 Dell, Michael
    14,200 39 Austin , TX Dell

    10 Ellison, Lawrence Joseph
    13,700 60 Silicon Valley , CA Oracle

    11 Ballmer, Steven Anthony
    12,600 48 Redmond , WA Microsoft

    12 Johnson, Abigail
    12,000 42 Boston , MA Fidelity

    13 Anthony, Barbara Cox
    11,300 81 Honolulu , HI Cox Enterprises

    13 Chambers, Anne Cox
    11,300 84 Atlanta , GA Cox Enterprises

    15 Kluge, John Werner
    11,000 90 Palm Beach , FL Metromedia

    16 Omidyar, Pierre M
    10,400 37 Henderson , NV Ebay

    17 Mars, Forrest Edward Jr
    10,000 73 McLean , VA candy

    17 Mars, Jacqueline
    10,000 65 Bedminster , NJ candy

    17 Mars, John Franklyn
    10,000 68 Arlington , VA candy

    20 Redstone, Sumner M
    8,100 81 Beverly Hills , CA Viacom

    21 Icahn, Carl
    7,600 68 New York , NY leveraged buyouts

  55. Woody Says:

    Eleanore, this is the politics of envy. Do you think that we would have WalMart and Microsoft, (and Democratic Cox Enterprises)–all which create jobs and grow our economy–if the founders had no incentives to take risks and invest time and capital? If we go back to the time where income is taxed at 90%, then why work? I would rather increase the size of the pie for everyone than take pieces away from others.

  56. Billy Bean Says:

    GM wrote:
    We (collectively, the United States Government and its 50 governmental units called States) have spent trillions and trillions of dollars on the so called war on poverty.”

    Hmmm: “—after Johnson announced plans to divert funds from the War on Poverty to Vietnam in December of 1966, King began to reassert his criticism of the War. With the aid of Levison, King prepared a statement to Senator Abraham Ribicoff’s Government Operations Committee, which directly addressed Johnson’s decision to increase military involvement in Vietnam.”

    So much for the myth of a war on poverty. More like a war on Vietnam.

  57. Paul From Mpls Says:

    When I say “addiction,” I’m talking pure numbers.

    Good question on the southern white male vote. If the Republicans gained among blacks by adopting liberal policy ideas, they’d run the risk of losing some of that vote (although I actually don’t know what the split is these days). But if a move among blacks toward the right happens because some blacks decide to see things differently, I don’t think there’s any significant risk for the Republicans.

    If you’re saying that the simple fact of more blacks voting Republicans would mean automatically fewer white southern males doing so, i think you’re operating from a somewhat archaic view of southern white males. Times really are changing.

    One thing that amazes me about liberal analysts when they talk about why it is that middle-class and lower-middle-class whites keep voting Republican is how they just skip over the possibility that these voters simply agree with the Republicans. And they describe these voters as clearly “voting against their interests” without realizing how that construct is entirely a liberal one, based on liberal views of how the economy and taxation and so on work.

  58. reg Says:

    “Since then, the advantage seems based on reminding people of decades-old politics, insisting that capitalism can never work for black people, and diverting their attention away from the questionable success of liberal ideas on the inner city.”

    You really are in shallow water…

    First of all, who the hell thinks that liberals insist that capitalism can never work for black people. That’s one of the dumbest characterizations I’ve ever read. Liberals – ie. through the New Deal and successor policies – gave capitalism the best shot in the arm it ever had and were brough into play precisely to ensure that capitalism COULD work. This is pretty elementary, and frankly, most of the basics of this approach aren’t even seriously debated anymore on the basic structural level. Liberalism has never been opposed to capitalism – merely committed to curbing it’s excesses, picking up slack for the market where it doesn’t work (like health care) and providing for people who the market has passed by in it’s “creative destruction”. Further, the idea that the problems of the inner city are primarily the result of “liberal ideas” rather than a complex of very tough problems – among them structural changes in the U.S. economy of the past 25 years – is laughable at best. You really have been sucking up the wisdom of City Journal. Try reading William Julius Wilson’s “When Work Disappears” for starters on this question. The loss of industrial jobs has been one of the most pernicious trends impacting black male unemployment. And as I’ve said, I’ve always been critical of a welfare system that seperated income from work or job training and favored single females, but – yes Virginia – you can thank the political impossibility of enacting a more vigorous, jobs-oriented poverty program for that and – yes, Virginia – it was a pact with the Devil when none other than Richard Nixon was the reigning Devil. (All of you right-wingers who continually praise Pat Moynihan as your favorite Democrat should go back and check out his recommendations of that era when he was working for The Dick. Precisely what proved to be problematic.) Personally, I don’t think a serious anti-poverty strategy was ever attempted. A typically opportunisticf pact was made between Beltway “liberals” and Beltway “conservatives” around a completely screwed up welfare system – primarily to derail the kinds of programs Wilson discusses, and it’s been downhill ever since. It’s also true that the gains of the civil rights movement fragmented the black community into one group that was assimilated and another that was increasingly marginalized. This is a complex problem – but at the root of it is connection to a jobs economy – and to act like the problems face by poor blacks are primarily the fault of LIBERALS – or even that the programs enacted were the one’s desired or considered sufficient by the kinds of liberals who actually studied these issues – is one of those damnable Big Lies that gains currency through constant, essentially malevolent repetition, no matter how grotesque or ignorant it is on its face.

  59. reg Says:

    “I assume that you might define someone as a black only if that person is a liberal Democrat.”

    Woody, that’s just a stupid comment that doesn’t engage any argument I made. Again, you recycle a typical right-wing talking point. You’re clueless. You can take your silly shit and shove it…

  60. Billy Bean Says:

    “One thing that amazes me about liberal analysts when they talk about why it is that middle-class and lower-middle-class whites keep voting Republican is how they just skip over the possibility that these voters simply agree with the Republicans.”

    —In a fascinating paper called “What’s the Matter With What’s the Matter with Kansas?”, Princeton professor Larry Bartels uses data from National Election Study (NES) surveys to test Frank’s thesis. He examines class-related patterns of issue preferences, partisanship, and voting over the past half-century. Bartels concludes that the white working class hasn’t moved right and that “moral values” are not pushing them to vote Republican.

    Moreover, for the most part, voters’ economic and cultural attitudes are either both liberal or both conservative rather than the bifurcated split Frank sees. Bartels also disproves the argument that there’s been a long-term decline in turnout.

    Here’s a summary of the report’s findings if you don’t have time to read the full 43 page paper, first presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association this September. You can also click here to listen to Henwood’s interview with Bartels.


    * Has the white working class abandoned the Democratic Party? No. White voters in the bottom third of the income distribution have actually become more reliably Democratic in presidential elections over the past half-century, while middle and upper-income white voters have trended Republican. Low-income whites have become less Democratic in their partisan identifications, but at a slower rate than more affluent whites–and that trend is entirely confined to the South, where Democratic identification was artificially inflated by the one-party system of the Jim Crow era–itself a holdover from the legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

    * Has the white working class become more conservative? No. The typical views of low-income whites have remained virtually unchanged over the past 30 years. (A pro-choice shift on abortion in the 1970s and ’80s has been partially reversed since the early 1990s.) Their positions relative to more affluent white voters–generally less liberal on social issues and less conservative on economic issues–have also remained virtually unchanged.

    * Do working class “moral values” trump economics in determining voting patterns? No. Social issues (including abortion) are less strongly related to party identification and presidential votes than economic issues, and that is even more true for whites in the bottom third of the income distribution than for more affluent whites. Moreover, while social issue preferences have become more strongly related to presidential votes among middle- and high-income whites, there is no evidence of a corresponding trend among low-income whites.

    * Are religious voters distracted from economic issues? No. For church-goers as for non-church-goers, partisanship and voting behavior are primarily shaped by economic issues, not cultural issues.

  61. reg Says:

    “If you’re saying that the simple fact of more blacks voting Republicans would mean automatically fewer white southern males doing so, i think you’re operating from a somewhat archaic view of southern white males.”

    Except he didn’t say that. I, for one, think the Democrats are going to have a resurgence among white males – Southern and mid-western – over the coming decade. That’s just a gut feeling, but it’s shared with a lot of other liberals these days – perhaps because we don’t believe in the stereotypes that are ascribed to us. Of course, just because we don’t believe in stereotypes doesn’t mean we can’t spot a fool who lives and breathes right-wing cliches.

  62. Paul From Mpls Says:

    Elizabeth: The existence of lavishly (immorally?) wealthy people is an an inevitable result of a successful capitalist system. Pointing out their existence doesn’t make a point, unless you’re saying we shouldn’t be capitalist. I don’t agree with that, and not many people do.

    And of course, speaking generally, most super-wealthy people in this country have contributed some sort of wealth-generating value to the economy (obviously there are exceptions). No one can make an argument that Hussein did that, beyond the construction jobs; his wealth was wholly unearned and looted. His wealth is a sign of his destroying the economy.

    Low-paid jobs and lack of health insurance are genuine and difficult issues. I think the actual prepondeance of bad jobs, compared to the past, is a more complex issue than you may believe. I also think the direct relationship between the great wealth you describe and the low-paying jobs is not as obvious as you think.

    But yes, they are real issues. And as I said a long time ago, I have faith that our country wil deal with them, through a combination of politics and an evolving economy.

  63. John Mc Says:

    Reg says:

    “The GOP problem with African-American voters is so deep and so rooted in both history and present reality that even if Condi Rice ran for President she would have serious trouble getting 50% of black voters – and that only because she isn’t a hard-core conservative on issues like affirmative action.”

    Almost true, Reg. I hate to be such a cynic, but you’re forgetting how sleazy Republican strategy can be sometimes. A Condi for prez campaign would not be complete without a propaganda campaign aimed at black churches to convince them that armies of homosexuals are descending upon them and demanding to be married inside their doors. Just like they did in the last election, where they actually almost doubled the percentage of Bush-voting black folk. Thsy know it’s a powerfull button to push, and in a Condi campaign, they’d be working it furiously. Otherwise, you’ve been pretty dead on in your posts.

  64. Billy Bean Says:

    “No one can make an argument that Hussein did that, beyond the construction jobs; his wealth was wholly unearned and looted. His wealth is a sign of his destroying the economy.”

    –yeah, Paul, boy the Iraqis sure are lucky Ahmad Chalabi has taken over the oil ministry to enforce the IMF’s forced massive rise in oil prices for a population experiencing rates of 30,40,50% or more unemployment depending on location…sure are lucky people….

  65. Paul From Mpls Says:

    Reg –

    Here in Minneapolis, among white leftists of the sort who read and edit an alternative newspaper called City Pages, I read exactly the dismissive attitude about capitalism as a hopful thing for the inner city. I read it in the local black papers, too. It’s not universal in the Democratic response; it’s an extreme but not invisible part of the Democratic response.

    Why do you keep trying to turn me into a fool who spouts right-wing cliches? All I’m saying is that conservative prescriptions and ideas actually can have something to offer, and in my experience a great many liberals spend their time and energy rejecting them out of hand as inherently dark and dishonest. You seem to be one of those people.

    If you want me to, I can make the left-side arguments for you better than you are. Then maybe we’d get somewhere.

  66. Paul From Mpls Says:

    Topic jump, Billy.

  67. Mark A. York Says:

    “Jack, I assume you didn’t major in economics”

    Law. But the way to cavalierly dismiss someone you don’t know makes me suspicious of anything idea you may hold including Ponzi’s. I see ample evidence of a belief in misinformation in this thread. Attribution is easy.

  68. Paul From Mpls Says:

    I’m gone for a while. I’m sure you’re all heartbroken.

  69. Billy Bean Says:

    More on the sources of the vote for Bush:,perlstein,58272,1.html

    “Pundits blow hot air. Political scientists crunch numbers. On his blog Polysigh, my favorite political scientist, Phil Klinkner, ran a simple exercise. Multiplying the turnout among a certain group by the percent who went for Bush yields a number electoral statisticians call “performance.” Among heavy churchgoers, Bush’s performance last time was 25 percent (turnout, 42 percent; percentage of vote, 59 percent). This time out it was also 25 percent—no change. Slightly lower turnout (41 percent), slightly higher rate of vote (61 percent).

    Where did the lion’s share of the extra votes come from that gave George Bush his mighty, mighty mandate of 51 percent? “Two of those points,” Klinkner said when reached by phone, “came solely from people making over a 100 grand.” The people who won the election for him—his only significant improvement over his performance four years ago—were rich people, voting for more right-wing class warfare.

    Their portion of the electorate went from 15 percent in 2000 to 18 percent this year. Support for Bush among them went from 54 percent to 58 percent. “It made me think about that scene in Fahrenheit 9/11,” says Klinkner, the one where Bush joked at a white-tie gala about the “haves” and the “have-mores”: “Some people call you the elite,” Bush said. “I call you my base.”

  70. Paul From Mpls Says:

    Oh, hell, one clarification: “topic jump” referred to the Hussein post, Billy.

    A question to you all: was there a non-stupid, intellectually honest and morally acceptable basis for voting for W? Reading between the lines, of say Billy’s analysis, the answer would seem to be no.

  71. Billy Bean Says:

    I’m sure you’re all heartbroken.

    –here’s to your victimology.

  72. Billy Bean Says:

    “was there a non-stupid, intellectually honest and morally acceptable basis for voting for W? Reading between the lines, of say Billy’s analysis, the answer would seem to be no.”

    Not much of a counterargument. You read a lot into evidence. Let’s see, how about, the wealthy who did in fact increase in numbers and percentage of vote voted in their perceived self-interests? from their moral [class] interests, the vote was very logical.

  73. reg Says:

    “Here in Minneapolis, among white leftists of the sort who read and edit an alternative newspaper called City Pages, I read exactly the dismissive attitude about capitalism as a hopful thing for the inner city.”

    That’s what you base an assertion that liberals don’t believe that blacks can sucessfully participate in capitalism on ? Jeeez… Why would you make the comment in the first place on that kind of kooky evidence. I’m talking about the actual, existing liberal legacy in the arena of public policy, not some crap that you read that irritates you while you’re sucking on a latte. And I wasn’t talking about you when I mentioned “fools who live and breathe right-wing talkiing points” – I was talking about Woody (who managed to write a long diatribe lambasting liberals for not paying attention to “root causes” without actually telling us what he believes a single one of those might be. I think I can guess…but I found that a rather bizarre approach to discourse. Jeezus…now I’m really out of here. This crap is just working my nerves and I have too many real things to do today to waste more time on this.)

  74. reg Says:

    Okay I lied, one more thing I missed.

    “was there a non-stupid, intellectually honest and morally acceptable basis for voting for W?”

    I would say that if you even find it a question worth asking, it doesn’t bode well for the likely answer.

    Since “morally acceptable” is a relative matter and “non-stupid” doesn’t premise what results one desires from a particular action, I’d say there would have to be, depending on your values. But it’s not a question I would want someone asking about my candidacy who’s apparently disposed to be somewhat sympathetic….

  75. Joe Cone Says:

    “All I’m saying is that conservative prescriptions and ideas actually can have something to offer, and in my experience a great many liberals spend their time and energy rejecting them out of hand as inherently dark and dishonest.”

    That’s a proclamation sans evidence. Where’s your data that supports conservative policies work? All I see after five straight years of failures is heads in the sand and proposals that exacerate problems at every level of every issue, while diverting money into already wealthy hands. Just like Reagan.

  76. Woody Says:

    “Shove it” is a great rebuttal, reg. Exactly where was I wrong on Social Security? Was it when I referenced a true statement from Roosevelt? What was inaccurate?

    Regarding the points on poverty, I made it clear that what the left prescribes has been tried and failed. I was only specific in saying that their are certain spiritual laws that can help and that the left ignores. These are as realistic as the law of gravity, and that ignoring those results in personal destruction as sure as jumping off a building can result in death.

    To give specifics into other areas, the left absolutely refuses to discuss personal repsonsibility. They blame “society” and “Republicans” rather than tell people not to have three kids if you’re only making minimum wage. They push permissiveness rather than self-discipline. They ignore problems and destructive attitudes in cultures, particularly within the black culture, because pointing those out might be offensive, and we would rather lie than offend. Sometimes the medicine is hard to swallow, but it needs to be swallowed for the patient to get better.

    It clearly time for your medications. If you need further help, be sure to check with counselor Roper.

  77. Woody Says:

    Yeah, yeah. There is a misspelled word in there..which should be there. Okay, leave me alone about it.

  78. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    When all is said and done, is it even possible to discuss our future political system when elections are rife with voting fraud.

    Technology has been a real boon to the industry; folks who “ain’t” too happy with exit poll results can always modify that condition.

    Who cares about demographics when you have Diebold? And wasn’t Florida’s “chads” just a slight bit amusing—Jeb and Katherine Harris were dizzy with laughter as the voting tallies were being counted and announced. The cork was not popped from the final bottle of champagne, until Rehnquist announced his decision.


    1. Over two thousand dead American soldiers in Iraq (probably much more)
    2. Over Fifteen thousand eight hundred four wounded American Soldiers
    3. Thirty seven million living in poverty
    4. Forty five million without health-care insurance
    5. Forty-four million adults are functionally illiterate—lowest level of literacy
    6. Fifty million adults have limited literacy skills —second lowest level of competency skills
    7. Less than 10% of the population in need of literacy is being reached. A functionally illiterate adult is unable to fill out an employment application, follow written instructions, or read a newspaper. If they are confronted with printed materials, adults without basic literacy skills cannot function effectively.
    8. One hundred and fifty thousand Hurricane Katrina evacuees are still living in hotel rooms—and will be forced to “evacuate” these rooms.
    9. On September 21 the EPA exempted thousands of facilities from reporting toxic releases by eliminating the TRI (Toxic release Inventory)—no data will be collected and disclosed for years. There has been an eleven percent increase since 2002 in persistent bioaccumuative toxins (PBTs), these chemicals include lead, mercury and dioxin. These toxins can build up in our bodies and cause disease and death.
    10. Because of NAFTA, the manufacturing sector lost 2.85 million jobs during the period of 2000 to 2003 and from 2000 to 2003, payroll employment in manufacturing fell by 16.2%–this is the largest decline since the end of World War II.
    11. The appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and the nomination of judge Samuel Alito (both are ultra-conservative and members of the Federalist Party) to the Supreme Court. Appointments that will effect future constitutional decisions regarding race, gender and class for possibly the next 30 years.
    12. Tax cuts for the richest Americans, while simultaneously cutting programs for the working-class and poor. The congress calls this “Budget Reconcilliation.” I call this UNFAIR!

  79. Woody Says:

    Eleanore, despite Gore’s sick attempt to steal the election, the press conducted their own recounts and found that Bush’s win was legitimate. Hanging chads didn’t cost Gore the election. Hey, I have to go, too. So, you guys can fill up all the space on the left side of this comment page.

  80. evets Says:

    Woody -

    Just put your post in spell-check and actually found 2 misspelled words. Please watch that in future.

    Do you think you might be caricaturing current liberal views on poverty? Maybe just a wee bit. Once you’ve set up such an bloated straw-man, what do you accomplish by knocking it down. I’m to the left of liberal on certain issues and to the right on others, so I guess that means I’m a liberal. And yet, surprisingly enough, I wouldn’t think of pushing “permissiveness rather than self-discipline” or ignoring “problems and destructive attitudes in cultures”. You’re painting a cartoon here.

  81. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    reg, you’re absolutely unbelievable. Snip, quote, denounce. Marc Cooper deserves a better class of ally, it seems to me. Although thanks for (temporarily, I assume) removing me from your ‘fools” list.

    As for my question, the two responses seem to lend support for the idea that the answer is”no. To clarify what I would assume would be clear, except I forget I’m dealing with people looking primarily to sidestep when a question bothers them, by “morally acceptable” I mean from your own perspective. So, a rich person voting to give himself tax cuts at the expense of the general national interest I would guess you’d see as morally unacceptable.

    To be more precise: from within your own moral construct, is it possible to be non-stupid, non-deluded, intellectually honest and morally grounded while supporting at least some of W’s economic policities, like, say, the tax cuts? Or while supporting the war? or while supporting his approach to pollution regulation?

    As for Joe Cone’s response, that’s really amazing. He doesn’t question the premise that liberals tend to only denounce; instead he provides evidence for that assertion by wondering why in God’s name I would be so odd as to assert that some conservative policies actually arguably work once in a while. Amazing. Oh, and checkmate, too. Not that you’ll see it that way.

  82. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    evets –

    You’re an honorable debater.

    What I think the left tends to do, on questions of personal responsibility, is to claim and actually believe that personal responsibility is very important, while overlooking the way their policy prescriptions might end up undercutting that as a motivation in people’s lives.

    On the on hand they acknowledge personal responsibility is important, but simultaneously tend to see all poor people as hapless victims, I think, and build their policy ideas around that assumption, and even go so far as labeling inherently dark policies that aim to incorporate promoting personal responsibility.

    During the decades-long debate leading up to welfare reform, all conservatives were at bottom trying to do was to point out that the ironclad, mainstream economic law that “anything you subsidize, you get more of” may have some application to the problem. The general response on the left was and actually still is to decry that position as a only a disguise for cruetly and greed.

  83. Dan O Says:

    Woody says: “the Democrats, who need to keep the blacks on the Democratic Plantation.”

    Don’t you think that rhetoric is a bit overdone? Slyly implying that Democrats need the black electorate as slaves and that Dems work to keep them that way. The expression itself is distasteful, the idea that Dems want to keep blacks poor is insulting, and the whole idea you advance isn’t rooted in reality. If anything the Democrats, as they shift rightward, have been abandoning the traditional black constituency in an attempt to compete in the suburbs. Seems to me the Republicans have the incentive to keep the black vote down (I wouldn’t be so crass as to suggest they have an interest in keeping blacks in poverty), and have been doing so all across the country, and especially in Florida and Ohio as we all know.

  84. rosedog Says:

    I have neither the time nor energy for a food fight, but I’ll attempt to lob a couple of points in the direction of the ….uh….discussion.

    (Reg……I either ignore Woody’s rants. Or enjoy his humor. Or take something he says entirely at face value and respond in good faith. Depends on my mood. No better excuse or rationale on my part. This time I chose door number three because I find, off blog, Wood is often very responsive to a reasoned argument. Not today, however.)

    Right now, I think evets has it right. Woody, you’re setting up straw men and then knocking them down, rather than informing yourself neutrally on the problem.

    Too Many… That is a funny quote. It flew by me last night. And yes, both Shipley and Erenreich address chronic poverty.

    GM… I specifically posted that review because it—and Shipley even more so—make a point of removing the discussion from liberal/conservative contexts.

    It’s easy to stand back and make political pronouncements about poverty, and in this country there was always the promise that with hard work nearly anyone could climb the ladder out poverty into the middle class. Yet in the last two or three decades, the bottom rungs of that ladder have, in many ways, been removed to the point that we have a calcified underclass that grows larger each year. That’s the simple truth.

    When you work around the poor, yes, you see some people who are too passive or lazy or messed up or whatever to do what’s necessary to succeed. But you see far, far more people genuinely struggling with a cycle that is not of their own making, which is extremely hard to break.

    GM…You bring up lots of issues—-too many to address in the time and space here. For instance, you and Woody both talk about young unmarried girls having kids—why this goes on cannot possibly be penetrated with a one line answer. But if you’re honestly interested—above and beyond the rant—by far the best study on this issue was published in book form earlier this year. It’s called “Promises I Can Keep.”

    Woody, I’m genuinely surprised that you dismiss these books so cavalierly. Neither is stumping for a simplistic answer to the problem of poverty in America. They are merely asking—no, screaming desperately—- for us to look at the problem squarely in all its complex dimensions, and begin to address it in good faith.


    On the subject of wages and Wal-Mart.

    Here are a few facts:
    In 2003, sales associates, the most common job in Wal-Mart, earned on average $8.23 an hour for annual wages of $13,861.The 2003 poverty line for a family of three was $15,260. [“Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?”, Business Week, 10/6/03]

    A 2003 wage analysis reported that cashiers, the second most common job, earn approximately $7.92 per hour and work 29 hours a week. This brings in annual wages of only $11,948.
    Wal-Mart is also notorious for forcing employees to work off the clock.
    As of the printing of their 2005 Annual Report, Wal-Mart faced 44 wage and hour lawsuits. Major law-suits have either been won or are working their way through the legal process in states such as California, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. [Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005]

    Wal-Mart was recently ordered by courts to pay up to 120 workers in Gallup, New Mexico and 400 workers in 27 stores in Oregon for violating wage and hour laws.

    In 2002, statisticians estimated Wal-Mart shortchanged its Texas workers $150 million over four years by regularly not paying them for working through their 15-minute breaks. [Associated Press, "Federal Jury Finds Wal-Mart Guilty in Overtime Pay Case," Chicago Tribune, Business 3, 12/20/03 and Steven Greenhouse, “Suits Say Wal-Mart Forces Workers to Toil Off the Clock,” New York Times, A1, 6/25/02)]
    There’s lots of information out there, if we really want to look. And to pass this issue off as some knee-jerk liberal fiction, is absurdly insincere.
    Oh, and by the way. Surprise, surprise! It turns out that being a fair minded employer even pays off in terms of profit.

    Business Ethics Magazine publishes a 100 Best Corporate Citizens List.

    Okay, so we know who some of the good guys are, so what? Right? But the real kicker is that a few years ago, when a curious-minded DePaul University professor did a study to find out how well these good corporate citizens were actually doing from a fiscal perspective, he found that..”…the overall financial performance of the 2001 Business Ethics Best Citizen companies was significantly better than that of the remaining companies in the S&P 500 index, based on the 2001 Business Week ranking of total financial performance…”

    “”The difference between the performance of the Best Citizens and the others was strikingly large,” said the dude who conducted the study, a Professor Curtis Verschoor.

    For the accountants among us, the DePaul study worked from total financial performance rankings conducted by Business Week magazine on the S&P 500 index. The ranking was based on eight statistical criteria, including total return, sales growth, and profit growth over the one-year and three-year periods, as well as net profit margins and return on equity. The Best Citizens scored ten percentile points higher than the mean ranking of the remainder of the S&P 500 companies.

    Bottom line, if you do the right thing, it even works better in the marketplace.

    And about that faith thingy you mentioned, Woody, I think Eleanore said it perfectly. “….a society is judged not by how well they treat the powerful but by how they help the poor. That’s a spiritual value worth fighting for…”

    WWJD? And that’s not a rhetorical question.

  85. reg Says:

    What have I snipped from you …

    Frankly, I think you’re the one who sidesteps and trims to fit your fancy…you made an astoundingly stupid, ahistorical, fanciful generalization and then told me it was based on your reading of a local alternative newspaper. And I’m the one who doesn’t measure up to whatever class of “ally” Marc deserves ?

    As for your stretching out the Q on W, frankly it’s not an argument that interests me and I’m mystified by your obsession with it. I’m sure there are people who support all manner of nonsense who have some measure of honesty, integrity and morality. You’re the one who appears to be trying to turn this into black and white “liberals believe this” generalities…and wildly inaccurate ones, even as brazen stereotypes.

  86. rosedog Says:

    Sorry, I misspelled Barbara Ehrenreich’s name above, and there are likely some other glaring typos.

    Oh, well. I gotta go back to work.

  87. reg Says:

    That last thing was, I thought obviously but perhaps not, a response to Paul from M

  88. John Mc Says:

    One other book to add to rosedog’s Ehrenreich
    and Shipley, is American Dream by Jason Deparle.
    For those interested in an honest debate of the matter (and the book), without Larry Elder inspired pre-fab arguements, check out this one between Mickey Kaus, Jonah Edelman, and
    Ron Haskins. A bunch of weepy, meddling liberals, right? good stuff

  89. reg Says:

    excellent link – thanks – light not heat

  90. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    reg, what you snipped was the following sentence, where I explained briefly how I saw that kind of thing fitting, acknowledging the obvious point that it was far from universal in Denocratic circles, but was part of the thinking of an element of the Democratic party, most meaningfully in my experience among a certain category of black thinkers and writers.

    (City Pages may be an “alternative” newspaper, but it is also the Twin Cities most-read weekly, and reigns supreme among the younger, urban set. There are versions of City Pages in almost every metro area, politically I mean, from what I’ve read on the net. It’s interesting I think, until it was purchased recently by another conglomerate, it was owned by the chain that owns the Village Voice, meaning it was owned by a larger outfit than owns the local major daily, the Star Tribune. So we’re not talking some little published-out-of-the-garage 4-pager.)

    The reason I bring up the question on W is because i think it gets to a trap the Democrats find themselves in: beleiving people who vote the other way to be unworthy of taking seriously, either intellectually or morally. I don’t think it works the other way. The best (and most) conservatives understand the intellectual and moral basis for people being liberals; they just think it’s mistaken and tends to be blind to certain principles they see related to reality.

  91. Dan O Says:

    Woody: I just got to your quip about personal responsibility. We all need to stop talking in platitudes here. I know, all conservaties are heartless Scrooges and all liberals want to dole out free money to a bunch of layabouts who can’t unwrap a condom. Can we try something with a little more subtlety?

    The point about capitalism misses the quality of jobs issue, which reg sources above. The private sector doesn’t help alleviate poverty if it doesn’t offer jobs with incomes people can raise a family on. The Republicans sold out the poor on this issue and always have. Poor and black voters know this and vote the way they do for that reason.

    Rosedog: I recently saw an article that compared Costco and Wal-Mart, and found that Wal-Mart payed significantly less in wages and benefits. As a result Wal-Mart had far more churn among it’s employees. Here are some direct comparisons: Costco CEO Jim Senegal has said: “We pay much better than Wal-Mart. That’s not altruism. It’s good business.”

    Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti explained: “From day one, we’ve run the company with the philosophy that if we pay better than average, provide a salary people can live on, have a positive environment and good benefits, we’ll be able to hire better people, they’ll stay longer and be more efficient.”

    A 2004 Business Week study ran the numbers to test Costco’s business model against that of Wal-Mart. The study confirmed that Costco’s well-compensated employees are more productive.

    The study shows that Costco’s employees sell more: $795 of sales per square foot, versus only $516 at Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart (which, like Costco, operates as a members-only warehouse club). Consequently Costco pulls in more revenue per employee; U.S. operating profit per hourly employee was $13,647 at Costco versus $11,039 at Sam’s Club.

    The study also revealed that Costco’s labor costs are actually lower than Wal-Mart’s as a percentage of sales. Its labor and overhead costs (classed as SG&A, or selling, general and administrative expenses) are 9.8% of revenues, compared to Wal-Mart’s 17%.

    So to those of you who think we lefties don’t like Capitalism, I’ll say we probably just don’t like it in its more predatory form, and we don’t think that maximizing shareholder value is the best way to make money AND be a good citizen. It certainly shouldn’t be the only way we measure the success of business.

  92. Woody Says:

    rosedog, I didn’t dismiss the books you referenced cavalierly. It’s just that there is so much material covered in your comments and the other ones that it would take a thesis to cover them properly. I just did some selective picking of obvious issues. However, I, at least, did a cursory check of each book and saw fatal logic flaws in their conclusions, and that was used to skip more reading to save time in my thoughts about the authors.

    Regarding the straw man issue, maybe you and evets are right. Sometimes, I have to say what the left believes from my observations and experience because the left often fails to confess to its real objectives and methods. I don’t build up a false image to knock it down. I say what the left has taught me and go from there. If my perception is incorrect, then let me know.

    From some things I have read here, it appears that solutions are (1) that rich people should pay more taxes and (2) that corporations should pay higher wages. That is simply income redistribution and only addresses moving money and does not address the reasons that people are poor. Those aren’t solutions–they’re bandaids–and, they have negative effects on investments, incentives, and overall economic growth.

    In short, my view is that the left wants to help but doesn’t know how to do it properly, and the right sees the problems but addresses how to help by simply issuing instructions on living. (These views do not address the politics, because I sincerely believe that the Democrats are race whores who will say any lie to keep the blacks on their plantation.)

    If the left really wants to help, then they should take a page from the instruction book of the right and apply those principles. I believe that the left has the emotional energy for the battle on poverty and that the right has the calm logical solutions that should be applied.

    Anyway, this is way off topic. Long live King Bush!

    This comment may contain misspelled words, grammatical errors, and sentence fragments–which are the entire fault of government schools and inconsistencies within the English language. Please ignore these errors.

    P.S. Where is Civil Truth when you need him?

  93. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Dan O -

    Taking what you say as accurate, Wal-mart is acting stupid, and will either correct its ways or be overtaken.

    What I observe among a certain type of person on the left is an overeagerness to observe an entity like Wal-mart and leap to concluding that our system is rotten to the core. There’s always bullshit, there’s always greed. It’s life and life only. I’mnot sayin gwe just accept these things. I’m saying their presence doesn’t automatically translate into an overhwleming verdict i the system, esecially in light of other things that are maybe not such bad news.

    Capitalsim is slippery and ful of surprises. The loser now will be later to win. It seems to always work out that way.

  94. Woody Says:

    Dan O, free enterprise, in theory, applies resources to achieve the maximum return. If your example about Sams and Costco doesn’t have additional factors to consider, then Sams will adopt business policies shown to be successful by Costco. If what you say is right, then business will move that way.

    Regarding your statement: “…we don’t think that maximizing shareholder value is the best way to make money AND be a good citizen. It certainly shouldn’t be the only way we measure the success of business.” These issues are discussed every day in colleges and corporate boardrooms. Unfortunately, in a way, people are more concerned about the returns on their investments than they are about economic problems of employees.

    Check the California teacher’s retirement fund. Do you think that the trustees look further than return on investment or do you really think that they put emphasis on being a good citizen? Do you think they would be around long if the teachers found that the retirement fund of Alabama outperformed theirs? You’re dealing with humans. Investors, right and left, are greedy and want the most that they can get relative to their risks.

    The social and economic changes you want aren’t going to come from income redistribution. It will come by making individuals more knowledgeable and responsible for themselves and their families. It’s just that the left wants to take the easy way rather than the correct way to their goals.

    Okay, I’ve got to complete some work, so I’ll check in later.

    The commenter may have misspelled words and sentence errors in the post. If you find any, please email the corrections to .

  95. reg Says:

    Paul – that thing you claimed I “snipped” was from your response to my objection, it wasn’t your original comment. I believe my original response was totally fair in setting the record straight.

    I’m going to toss a statistic out here that turns a lot of conventional wisdom about a central aspect of this discussion on it’s head. It’s the kind of information that seems counterintuitive – but only because so much DISinformation has been spread by characters like Charles Murray and Seasoned Storytellers like The Gipper that false, ideologicially-driven constructs have come to be taken as Conventional Wisdom.

    Between 1972 and (I believe) the late ’80s – a period of fifteen or so years when the Welfare Queen argument was peaking – birth rates among unmarried black women FELL by 13 percent (compared to an increase during the same period of 27 percent among unmarried white women). There was during this period, as a statistical fact, an increase in the proportion of black children born out of wedlock – the data that gets bandied about by the Charles Murray types – BUT what is never mentioned by the Right-Wing Agenda crowd is that key to understanding this aggregate statistic is that there was a 38% DROP in the birth rate among MARRIED black women during the same period. This is quite a different phenomenon – or at least far more complex – than what we’ve been told is the skyrocketing increase in black “illegitimate” birth rates. It’s statistical sleight of hand that masked the fact that changes in the choices made by black married women were a major factor impacting the ratio, not some massive shift toward more illegitimate children by unmarried women because of welfare – when in fact the birth rates of unmarried black women had declined. I don’t doubt that “Welfare Queen” cases exist anecdotally, but the cartoon version of this problem is just that – a charicature based on contempt and ideological agendas. I also don’t doubt that proportions of umarried versus married mothers have increased over the years, but the rates of increase that I’ve seen documented have been greatest among white women – far greater than among black women. I expect Woody or GMR or even Paul from M wouldn’t ever consider looking for “root causes” by examining the evidence beneath the surface of stock, recycled ideological talking points that obscure more than they reveal.

    That bit of information is in chapter ten of The Way We Never Were – American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz. (The reason I said “I believe” on the ending date of that statistic is because Coontz frames it in the present tense, the book was written in 1992 and her footnotes reference several studies that mostly appear dated to the late eighties. Of course, it’s pretty common knowledge that in the dozen of so years since Coontz was writing, the rates of black children born out of wedlock have started to decline. I don’t have the latest comparative stats to figure that one out in detail, but it’s even better news than the fact that the “Welfare Queen” was mostly fabrication and numbers juggling.)

  96. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Reg, you were quoting the response.

  97. Dan O Says:

    Paul from my hometown:

    Well, there is always more than one way to skin a cat, and I think business owners, especially of public ones, find it very difficult to resist the huge pressue to maximize profit at every turn. Often this drive blinds business to the long-term gains that may not be measurable in quarterly returns. This is what I find rotten. The motive is entirely amoral, and any behavior can be, and often is, justified, merely because it will generate more profit.

    There is nothing “natural” about capitalism–it’s just something we set up–just as there was nothing natural about fuedalism.

    I find free market conservatives too often talk about the natural dictates of the market as if these were bellowed out from the burning bush.

    The focus on short term shareholder value, quarterly profits, lowering labaor costs and all of the like assumptions lead to a certain kind of corporation that is itself an artifice of the system we’ve set up. Flying in the face of much market orthodoxy, Toyota is about to become the number one auto maker, and, gasp, they insist on making cars here, and not merely in low cost countries. There are other examples too.

    We could, if we chose, have a policy that discourages big national chains, and encouraged regional and local companies. This may or may not be a good idea, but it would still be just a choice like the ones we have already made or allowed to be made for us.

    It’s not true that the only companies that can thrive are those that drive labor costs to the lowest possible level. If shareholder value is the only thing that matters and the only thing that is ever rewarded, then we’re in for some pretty rough treatment. I say let’s start by getting rid of the 40 hour work week. It’s government intrusion in the natural workings of the market afterall. And if you’re ten, it’s off to the factory…forget baseball on Saturdays, the market has no time for it. On second thought, I think I like a little government intrusion.

  98. reg Says:

    Paul – cut out the Bob Dylan lyrics to rationalize over-reaching by petty capitalists. It’s unseemly…

    I promise I won’t quote Toby Keith or Charlie Daniels to score any liberal points – although I do reserve the right to reference Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard.

  99. Joe Cone Says:

    “I would be so odd as to assert that some conservative policies actually arguably work once in a while. Amazing.”

    It is. I asked which ones worked. You couldn’t name one apparently. I’m not surprised.

  100. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Those are interesting statistics, reg, but here’s the deal: Aside from statistical prevalance overall, do you actually doubt that fatherless families are a characteristic of those who end up in what we call the “underclass,” amd among the kids who end up in gangs?

  101. reg Says:

    You’re confusing me with this thing about quoting your response. I couldn’t have made a reference to your response in my own response to the original comment. Youre comment was, as I said, an utterly crackpot assertion. Your explanation of it was just more proof of that fact. You’re picking at nits…

  102. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Joe -

    Seriously, do you doubt I could?

    Here’s an extended excerpt from a writer named Gregg Easterbrook, who used to write for The new Republic:

    POLLUTED COVERAGE (PART THREE): This new study from the National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that while air pollution is declining, the reduction could be accelerated by a “multi-state, multi-pollutant” approach that sets broad overall reduction targets, then allows industrial facilities to trade reduction permits with each other. (Current Clean Air Act rules generally require cumbersome site-by-site, pollutant-by-pollutant litigation.)

    It’s, um, a scientific study, and so perhaps The New York Times might have been forgiven for reporting it in a short article on page A11, while The Washington Post might have been forgiven for according the study but three grafs under “Washington in Brief.” Here’s what was missing from the coverage. The “multi-state, multi-pollutant” approach just endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences is exactly what the Bush administration has proposed to adopt under its Clear Skies initiative.

    The ill-named Clear Skies plan would replace the Clean Air Act’s cumbersome site-by-site litigation formula with a new system that sets broad overall reduction targets, then allows industrial facilities to trade reduction permits with each other. The Clear Skies plan has been roundly condemned by Democrats, especially in the Senate–among the president contenders, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have been withering in their denunciations of Clear Skies–and mocked by editorial writers.

    As this space noted in December, Democrats are fighting Clear Skies exactly because they know it would reduce air pollution: They want to deny George W. Bush a progressive victory going into the 2004 election. But the official reason Democrats, and editorial writers, have derided Clear Skies is their claim it wouldn’t work.

    Comes now the National Academy of Sciences to say the Clear Skies approach is desirable, and the big papers bury that inconvenient development. The Times story does note, though not “up high,” that the study backs the president’s proposal; the Post sniglet says nothing about the connection, simply presenting the study as a disembodied research finding. New York Times and Washington Post editors both have placed denunciations of the Clear Skies proposal one the front page; but when the plan receives very prominent expert support, that’s not news.

    Some studies from the same organization, studies that discomfit the Bush White House, have gone directly to page one–for instance, a National Research Council finding that the fuel economy of SUVs and pickup trucks could be increased was (deservedly) a headline story. But a major scientific study backing a controversial Bush position is quietly buried. Now, what’s the word I am looking for?

  103. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Reg, your reponse to my response is what i was talking about “snipping.”

    Your initial response didn’t do any kind of decimating, by the way, although it fairly prodded me to clarify what I meant. I didn’t change my meaning, I just turned a short comment into a slightly longer one. Then you quoted that one incompletely to maintain the objection you had to the first one, seeking to pretend that I hadn’t answered it, it seemed to me.

  104. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    That Easterbrook thing is from early 2003, incidentally. Just a quick examplle. I’m sure a google search of Easterbrook Bush pollution would turn up more of his stuff, although he is ofetn behind a subscription wall.

    I’m waiting now for someone to call Easterbrook an anti-Semite, based on a litlle foofaraw he got into while writing for ESPN (h eranges wide topic-wise). It’s a tried and true method: when in doubt, undercut someone’s morality.

  105. reg Says:

    No I don’t doubt that for a minute. Do you think it takes some right-wing ideologue to figure that out. What I brought into discussion was whether the Woody’s of this world even have a minute clue as to what they’re talking about when they recycle the talking points. Nice of you to change the subject from the nature of the Right’s line of argument and penchant for distortion to what anyone with a grain of common sense could figure out. I see these kids every day, incidentally, so this isn’t some arcane issue for me. You ask a lot of rhetorical questions, so do you for a minute think that the radical shifts in the nature of our economy and disappearance of industrial jobs hasn’t had an enormous impact on the so-called “inner cities” (a huge chunk of our “inner city” in Oakland is on the outer edge of the city). The biggest economic gains among blacks were during the booms of the 40′s and 60′s. Notably both “booms” were preceded by militant civil rights activities – A.Phillip Randolph’s March on Washington Movement that forced FDR to sign an executive order desegregating defense jobs in mid-1941 and the movement that culminated in the 1963 March. The decline of blue collar jobs has been devastating on the segment of the black male workforce that traditionally was able to raise a family on those workingman’s wages. I’m mystified by anyone who talks about this stuff without referencing structural economic changes and their impact on a major segment of the African-American workforce (not exclusively of course, because entire towns that aren’t predominantly black were impacted as well and many of them are still hollow shells.)

  106. rosedog Says:

    GREAT link, John Mc. Wonderfully enlightened discussion.

    Woody, if you haven’t followed that one, please do. Two of the three men who take part in the discussion Mickey Kaus and Ron Haskins— are conservatives. The third, Jonah, Edelman is Marion Wright Edelman’s son, and has more than earned his opinion with his own work with poor kids.

    Dan O… interesting stuff about WalMart and CosCo. Out of curiousity, I’d love to see a similar one about Target as it tends to treat it’s employees far better than Walmart, although they’re both discount retailers. Although as Target’s price point is a little higher, maybe it’d be apples and oranges.

    And just to show nothing is simple, and in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, we should note that Wal-Mart was SPECTACULAR with their work and response during the first days of Katrina—and in their follow-up donations. Amazingly good, smart, functional and compassionate. (And if I hear one stupid reductive remark about the private sector being more effective that government, I’m going to smack somebody. Don’t make me come down there!)

    Paul from Minn… always happy to find Dylan references….in this or any other context.

  107. reg Says:

    Paul, you’re whining.

  108. reg Says:

    Again, sorry, but that “I don’t doubt it for a minute” comment was a response to Paul’s question about children without fathers…

  109. Marc Cooper Says:

    Im staying mostly out of this fight and will remain mostly in Ant Farm mode (doesnt that make you all feel loved).

    But I will say this much: There are all kinds of lay poor people, Im sure. But if you want to meet some really LAZY people? Then spend some more time among the rich and wealthy! You guys in GA and Texas are gonna have to defer to us Bev Hills folks on this one. You think you know what lazy is… but you dont. These people need nannies for their nannies and can’t wash their privates without a helping hand, puh-leeze.

    The sad news is this: people in general seem to be flawed and self-centered. This is a great basis for a class-based socierty because those who do better will always want to justify the division solely on the failures of the poor rather than on other less comfortable features of our socierty i.e. greed, duplicity, hypocrisy, lack of compassion, selfishness etc.

    I have more respect for those — say libertarians– who falt out tell you they dont give a flip about anyone else, that other people are not their responsibilty etc than I do for those who sayoh gosh, we just will never be able to solve poverty.

    Well, as long as we as species make that choice, I suppose it is true. But you are kidding yourself when you say it isnlt possible. Im not talking about enforcing global equality. Im talking rather about providing everyone with a basic, humane fllor of existence. This, of course, would require enormous sacrifices for those of us who live in the top 5% of the world economy.. as everyone on this blog does. It would mean a completely different world and one in which very few of us, probably, would feel comfortable. I would have difficulty seeing my swimming pool converted into a communal water fountain, precisely because Im a corrupt selfish bastard like the rest of you.

    But that is exactly why poverty is going to be with us probably forever. Not because the poor insist on remaining miserable. But because the rest of us like being comfortable. Given the oppty, the poor would do exactly the same.

    Bit of a problem, I’d say.

    That said, that is NOT an excuse for mustering the will to legislate obvious and basic band-aids. Our refusal to do so is pure mean-spirited selfishness dressed up as principle. A higher minimum wage; national health care; subsidized college tuition; a 30 hour work week. This is all immediately doable. Only greed stands in the way.

  110. Joe Cone Says:

    “Do you think they would be around long if the teachers found that the retirement fund of Alabama outperformed theirs?”

    Does it? Who is covered in this catch all state fund in Alabama? Or is it just a literary tool, a fictional straw man.


    LOL! See above.

  111. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Reg, FU. All I was doing was trying to explain the snip I meant. You claimed to be unclear on that. And you’ve still managed to avoid explaining how I’m wrong about it.

  112. reg Says:

    Paul – I’m sorry but your injecting the “I’m waiting for someone to call Easterbrook an anti-semite” is just too characteristic of your entire game. You really do have a problem…and I don’t think you get it one little bit. You’re constantly making accusations that liberals have some penchant to stereotype their opposition and then proceed to make claims as to what they believe or “might” believe that are really egregious stereotypes, second-guessing or shifting subjects to suit you. The line “do you actually doubt that children without fathers, etc.” as a response to a specific set of statistics I offered to show that Conventional Wisdom isn’t necessarily Wisdom nor even accurate, is a classic example of this. On another thread you laid a “sizeable wager” as to what you assumed I believe about Hugo Chavez on exactly zero evidence, except for your own biases and bullshit. And you have the audacity to imply that I’m arrogant and tendentious… Really ? Go look in the goddam mirror. There’s something happening here and you don’t know what it is…

  113. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Marc, I don’t think it’s quite fair to say only greed stands in the way. On the one hand I would be all in favor of every single one of those things you mention, but I do believe there are strong principled arguments that they wouldn’t work, and in the end would put us in the same condition as Europe economically.

    Do you beleive it’s only the overhwleming presence of hyper-capitalism as embodied by the US and Asia that has prevented western Europe from thriving? That’s an argument I rarely hear made and would llisten to.

  114. reg Says:

    “And you’ve still managed to avoid explaining how I’m wrong about it. ”

    I think the fact that you backtracked rather mightily when I pointed out that anyone who thinks liberals don’t believe in capitalism, or that any significant percentage of liberals think blacks can’t benefit from it, is full of crap. It’s pretty goddam simple. Again, you’re whining.

  115. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    I cannot beging to tell you the times I or someone who thinks like me has brought up some writer only to be greeted with morally-based hoots like the one I suggested. It was perhaps hypersensitive, but it gets to you after a while. To denby it happens – well, I disagree. Check out the tactics at Ann Althouse’s site sometime.

    My rhetorical question was simply intended to convey the idea that your statistics didn’t necessarily decimate the conservative take on the importance of the phenomenon. You leap awfully quickly to crying foul youeslf, it seems to me.

  116. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Reg, I didn’t backtrack. You commented, I understood your point, i clarified, you lied about my response, and now you’re lying and whining yourself and i’m sure this is very tiring for all but us.

  117. Joe Cone Says:

    Mr. Cooper gets it. Paul is a bit too comforted by conservative bias to know a sound policy. Clear skies is based on voluntary reductions, which have never worked. Getting better is a bit too broad an assertion. It isn’t in New England or LA in the last five years although it had been; certainly better than the ’60s. This is reversing now.

    The NAS has a fallen back in recent reports. It depends who’s looking and what the conclusion actually says for sure. One decided salmon didn’t need more water in the Klamath River, which is totally bogus. Inconclusive by a hair doesn’t mean conclusive of the opposite.

  118. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    We do have a basic disagreement on the importance of a radical, anti-capitalist fringe withing certain segments of the party, though. You dismiss it too easily, I believe. And to reiterate, my point is I think it plays a particular role in the black voter context, as we began talking about.

  119. reg Says:

    “Check out the tactics at Ann Althouse’s site sometime. ”

    I can’t believe that you think bringing up the nature of various blog comments is key to understanding the intellecutal integrity on either side of the left/right divide (or shades in between). Do you want me to point you to websites where the comments by so-called “conservatives” would lead one to believe that most of them are some combination of ignorant and insane.

    Incidentally, since you now claim I am “lying” about something, I’d like you to produce the evidence. I don’t give a goddam if morons call me a moron, but I don’t like to be accused of lying unless someone has the goods. Yes, this is tiring, boring, and blah, blah, but that one pisses me off…

  120. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    I have a feeling, Joe, that you’d respond wiht something no matter what i offered. As far as Clear Skies, goes, I think the pertinent conlcusion is that it’s not as clearly dark and wrong-headed as it’s always described.

    This whole debate reminds me of a whole lot of greased pigs trying to wrestle each other. I gotta work, goodbye.

  121. NeoDude Says:

    War is Truth!

    War is Life!

    The Wealthy are Strong!

  122. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Okay reg, I owe you that.

    You snip of my response is what I mean by a lie. The whole response clarified what I meant; you quoted only the sentence that didn’t clarify at all but seemed only to repeat, taken on its own. I gotta say, it seems pretty obvious. Maybe you don’t see it and are too blinded by your own eagerness to emerge victorious.

    I’m talking entirely in the context of blog comments. My little jokey prediction was in the context of a blog. We’re on a blog right now. Right? Am I mistaken on that?

  123. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    And the reason I used the word “lie” was your insistence you had done no such snipping, and your accusing me of “whining.” Very disingenuous and irritating.

  124. Paul From Minneapolis Says:

    Now I mean it. Goodbye. As a blinded conservative theocrat, I’ve got to go home and remember my days spent door-knocking for Paul Wellstone.

  125. Woody Says:

    reg, I’m not disputing your statistics, but it would help if you provided links or references, just on occasion, so that I could study your sources.

    Regarding “talking points,” you should know by now that I speak what comes to my mind rather than swallowing and spitting out what someone else said. If my ideas and talking points are the same, then it’s because logical, analytical minds came to the same conclusions. In many cases, I noted that your perceptions of what I believe and the reality are quite different.


    Joe Cone, I don’t know the performance of different teacher funds. It’s just an illustration that is no different than saying that money will move to the best performers. Social performance is not measured in stock reports and usually not considered by investors.


    rosedog, I quickly scanned the link from John Mc earlier but couldn’t do it justice. Someone is going to have to give me the executive version of this thread as it’s getting too long to digest with limited time.


    I have an appointment and then have something more important at this time–the Peach Bowl.

  126. NeoDude Says:

    While attending a private university, I was astounded by how many lazy and passive kids of the wealthy were being rewarded for their behavior.

    When the children of the wealthy get popped for criminal activity it is treated as a humorous passage into adulthood…while the children of the lower-classes, it becomes a scarlet letter.

  127. NeoDude Says:

    I see Woody and his type are carrying-on the grand tradition of the hoi-polloi defending the rights of the aristocracy.

  128. Paul's alter-ego From Bloomington Says:

    Neo, there’s definitely something to that. Although I find myself wondering if it’s not just the universal truth that it is much, much easier being rich than poor.

    Now, again, good-bye. Sayonara. In spite of the heat, ther ehas been some substance here too.

  129. rosedog Says:

    Okay, I now agree with reg. I hope everyone stops quoting any and all musicians of any kind ever…at least on this thread.

    Just for the record, apropos of nothing other than accuracy, although unwed births are down slightly this year, overall—the trend of American women of all races and ethnicities having kids outside of marriage arguably represents the biggest demographic shift in the U.S. in the last half century.

    In the 1950s, only one in 20 babies was born outside marriage. Now the figures are one in three. The vast majority of unmarried mothers are poor, and half of these lower-income mothers have no high school diploma. Four of 10 poor unmarried fathers have been to prison by the time their baby enters the world; a quarter have no job.

    And as reg has already noted, efforts to place the “welfare queen’ label on this problem have proved repeatedly to be false.

    Interestingly, the best research I’ve seen on the issue (the book-length study linked in one of my rambling posts above) found that the poor avoid marriage, not because they think too little of it, but because they revere it,—and so they are unwilling to risk failure.

    According to the authors (socialogists named Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas) the reasons these women had so little faith in hooking up legally had to do with the panoply of social dysfunctions that haunt most poor neighborhoods: physical abuse, serial infidelity, drug addiction, joblessness and incarceration. The women studied also feared marriage as a “loss of power” that would transform their men into autocratic decision-makers….so tended to put off marriage until that time in the receding future when they would have achieved their own hoped-for economic stability.

    Okay, so why didn’t these same women take the route of their middle class sisters—i.e. put off both marriage AND childbearing to pursue careers and financial stability?

    Turns out, that in our present economic climate where underclass women have shrinking educational and career opportunities, many viewed childbearing is the one reachable goal. “Poor women consider marriage a luxury” wrote the authors, “—one that they hope someday to attain, but that they can live without if they must. Children, on the other hand, are a necessity.” In other words, for a lot of poor women, motherhood, not husbands or work, has become the primary signifier of personal success and emotional fulfillment.

    Anyway, a bit more info……for what it’s worth.

  130. rosedog Says:

    “….while the children of the lower-classes, it becomes a scarlet letter….”

    No kidding. Unfortunately these days, in many states—California most notably—the scarlet letter often comes in the form of a significant jolt in an adult prison.

    Okay, I’m really outa here now too. (I only wish it was to watch the Peach Bowl, which sounds like a genuinely worthy endeavor.)

  131. reg Says:

    “reg, I’m not disputing your statistics, but it would help if you provided links or references, just on occasion, so that I could study your sources.”

    Woody – What the hell are you talking about – I cited a fairly scholarly book and gave you the chapter I reference – it’s not posted on the internet. I got if off my bookshelf – read it some years ago and go back to it again periodically, because it’s a very interesting take on some of these issues. Go to the library…

  132. NeoDude Says:

    Fro the Kids!!!:


    TOM MERTES | The New Left Review | November-December 2004

    Why did cultural bogeys trump economic distress as working-class voters went to the polls in the US? Can the case of Kansas stand in for proletarian America at large, as Thomas Frank suggests? Billionaire Democrats and blue-collar Republicans in the twisting shapes of the 21st-century political system.


    Berger, Peter L. | Commentary, 1997

    The contemporary religious Right has deep roots in American history, in effect running back to the very beginnings of American society in various forms of Protestant utopianism which then continued in wave after wave of revivalism. Often this utopianism took explicitly political forms, notably in the campaigns against slavery and against alcohol. But the contemporary story begins in earnest only after World War II. It is a story of how a large evangelical constituency, for the most part politically dormant since the failure of Prohibition, became aroused by what it perceived as powerful aggressions against its most cherished beliefs and values. It is also a story of increasing politicization, from grass-roots beginnings to national organizations, and of increasing sophistication. And finally, it is a story of increasing conflict, in particular between the religious Right and the nation’s cultural elite.

    The Contradictory South

    Sheldon Hackney | Southern Cultures | 7.4 (2001) 65-80

    Not long after the reelection of President Clinton in 1996, while the sore losers were picking through the rubble trying to figure out how such a flawed character could win, and when the press was feasting on the story about the hazing of four women cadets who had rushed through the breach blasted in the walls of the Citadel by Shannon Faulkner the year before, a car going very fast passed me while I was driving on the Interstate from Washington, D.C., to Charlottesville, Virginia. 1 This would have been unremarkable had I not noticed as the other car pulled away from me that it sported two stickers on its rear bumper. One read, “Don’t blame me, I voted Libertarian.” The other simply announced its loyalty to “The Citadel.”

    Love Thy Neighbor? Moral Communities, Civic Engagement & Juvenile Homicide in Rural Areas

    Matthew R. Lee & John P. Bartkowski | Social Forces | 82.3 (2004) 1001-1035

    While juvenile homicide garnered a tremendous amount of attention from the general public, the media, and policymakers around 1990, macro-level research examining intercommunity variations in juvenile homicide is generally sparse. In addition, most studies addressing this topic focus on urban areas, neglecting the equally important issue of juvenile homicide in rural communities. This analysis extends prior research by investigating the structural sources of variation in rural juvenile homicide rates and by examining the influence of religion on this phenomenon. Informing our analyses with theoretical insights drawn from the moral communities and civil society literatures, we investigate the protective effects of civically engaged religious denominations on juvenile family, acquaintance, and stranger homicides in rural counties. For comparative purposes, we also perform parallel analyses on a sample of urban areas. The empirical analyses of county-level data using negative binomial regression estimation techniques indicate that the presence of civically engaged religious adherents is inversely associated with juvenile homicide in rural areas (net of the effects of a range of control variables), but that this protective effect is primarily confined to juvenile family homicides. In contrast, the measure of civically engaged denominations has no effect on juvenile homicide in urban areas. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical importance of these findings and directions for future research.

  133. Joe Cone Says:

    “I gotta work, goodbye.”

    Good for you. Many folks don’t have jobs. A bad policy shouldn’t have defenders. It definately shouldn’t have particulars swept under the rug. Clear Skies also didn’t pass unless I missed it. Good. States don’t pass their own versions by region if the federal policy recomendations look as if they’ll work. Unzipping ones that do work is another matter. Calling it Dark Skies may just mean it deserves it.

  134. John Moore Says:

    This “lazy, rich folks” trope is quite a bit off track. That they exist is hardly news, just as it is hardly news that rich Hollywood clowns constantly tell us how to live our lives, and advocate laws that will hurt the middle class but will make these idiots feel better (such as environmental restrictions that won’t stop these hypocrits from driving their SUVs or flying around in private jets).

    But those who inherit wealth and are lazy are not going to pass on much wealth. The jet setters I know are rich because they work their butts off (in addition to having good luck and brains). They continue to work until they are unable – their work is their passion.

    Finally, the ultimate “fat cats” of Wall Street are the pension funds, with the California fund (CALPERS) being the biggest gun around. When WalMart makes money, the retirement funds of teachers and firefighters do better.

    In any case, grumbling about the rich is nothing but envy (envy I am also tempted into). It says nothing about how to handle poverty. Taking all the money from the top 1% wouldn’t make a dent.

    Better to look at “root causes”, and see if there is *anything* we can do about it.

    One of the biggest causes is fatherless families, with white divorcees heading the most (hardly surprising given the population ratios).

    The primary impediment to leaving poverty is attitude – a failure to grab onto the educational opportunities, a failure to take low paying entry level jobs and then move up (many of us here had entry level jobs at one time ), a failure to make lifelong commitments that should go with creating children. These attitudes come from one of several “welfare cultures.” ‘It “isn’t black” to get good grades in school’ is an example from black inner city poverty culture.

    Inner city illegitimacy rates (a result of attitudes) have exceeded 80%. Nuclear families create the best chances for their children, but they are no longer “in style” in our culture in general, and are almost non-existent among the poor. The correlation between fatherlessness (whether due to illegitimacy or even serial marriage) and reduced life success in very strong.

    Poverty isn’t an issue of educational funding (many poor countries with much lower educational funding do much better than the US in educationing their children). It isn’t poverty program funding, as increases in that funding are simply not correlated with poverty reduction. It isn’t raising the minimum wage (which prices the poorest wookers out of jobs).

    I don’t know how to solve the problem of poverty, but encouraging monogamy and respect for education amongst the poor would probably help. Entertainment which did not glorify damaging values (such as single motherhood) would be helpful for the horribly poor to watch on their color TV sets (unimaginable to the really impoverished in other countries). Churches in poor areas can have a dramatic effect on some, and is one reason for the much maligned “faith based” initiatives. Religious charities (with some scandalous exceptions) tend to have low overhead and better results because they are staffed by those who care, rather than those who merely get a salary.

    I don’t remember who said it, but here is a truism: what is frequently a mere life-style experiment for the middle class (cocaine use, high divorce rate, etc) becomes a devastating trend when it trickles down to the poor.

    Obviously this is just part of the poverty equation. And obviously some people are poor because they have no choice, but I don’t think it a mere coincidence that poverty has remained unfazed by the trillions spent since we started the “War on Poverty.” Self-defeating behavior has increased dramatically among the poor during the WOP. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s prediction that the welfare state would turn fathers into mere DNA donors, with resulting damage to the mothers and children, is clearly true.

    Most people don’t want a handout unless they have no choice. But many in the poverty culture assume that a handout is a right, and have not the slightest shame in taking it while not making any attempt to improve their lot. Read a bit of Theodore Dalyrymple to see examples disordered welfare thinking.

    Not mentioned here is the important fluidity of the “class structure” in the US, where most people move between “classes” through their life’s trajectory. Poverty is escapable. Wealthiness is easy to lose. Class membership is not static.

    Rosedog, you have spent a lot of time hangin’ in poor neighborhoods (I presume, perhaps incorrectly, that the gang members and their parents are poor). To what do you attribute *their* poverty?

  135. John Moore Says:


    Interesting that your should raise the same issue as I did, with a significantly different twist.

    However, the attitude you attribute to the women (not one that I necessarily believe in many cases) is supremely selfish – a clear example of social dysfunction.

    If children are created simply as a personal goal, even though those children are going to suffer the consequences of their mothers’ situation, then the mothers are being remarkably indifferent to the fate of their own offspring.

    This is the kind of terrible values adopted by too many poor, and is obviously a cause of multi-generational poverty!

    If those mothers, instead, got an education (the opportunity is there), took an entry level job, and worked, they could probably both find a suitable husband and provide a much better life for their children.

    But they don’t. They simply breed “as a goal.”

    This matches, very clearly, the observation that poor values (the “welfare culture”) is a major factgor in maintaining poverty!

  136. Joe Cone Says:

    The pregancy and divorce rates are as high in the Bible belt states too so the lack of values meme fails on its face.

  137. rosedog Says:

    “To what do you attribute *their* poverty?”

    Woody, this requires a book-length answer. Any of the three books mentioned here would do.

    As for the marriage deal, perhaps I didn’t express myself well. Woody, I honestly don’t have the energy right now to try again. I’m sorry.

    I’m probably an idiot to do this, but instead I’ll offer three annecdotes from my own experience of the complex and often tragic web of reasons poor girls and women have kids without marriage. If you see these women as awful selfish people, so be it:

    1. First there’s smart, funny Ophelia, with her curvy body and her fabulous cloud of bottle-red hair. Born in the Pico Aliso housing projects of East L.A. to a heroin-using mother, at age 3, Ophie was dumped as a toddler together with a garbage bag containing her clothes, on the doorstep of the first relative who agreed to take her, then sexually abused by almost every male family member who should have been her protector.

    After she hit adolescence, Ophie’s habitual way of approaching male-female relationships was to throw herself under the wheels of the boys she dated as if they were speeding cars, seemingly getting pregnant with every infatuation, each time hoping this guy was the one who could save her and that a baby would provide the glue. Instead, by age 24, she found herself with four children by charming but wounded men who quickly disappeared.

    Ophie knows what most people think about girls like her. “But what they don’t understand,” she told me years ago, “is if your mom’s a hype or a basehead, and your dad’s not around, you grow up without a sense of belonging to anyone. So you want one thing that really belongs you . . . and so you have a baby. That’s why I did it. That’s why all the girls I know have done it. And that’s how the cycle starts all over again.”

    Contrary to stereotype, Ophie rarely took any kind of public assistance but did whatever it took to support her small family, sometimes dancing in clubs, other times working two or three straight jobs.

    “At least my kids know they can depend on me,” she told me. “At least we have each other.”

    2. Graciela — called Grace for short — also grew up in the projects, but her dad was no abuser. He was a crack-cocaine addict who stole anything not nailed down whenever he was on a binge. Heartbreakingly beautiful, with an IQ registering highly gifted, Grace steered clear of boys until age 15, when she met a charismatic homeboy named Danny and the two fell in love with Romeo-and-Juliet intensity. They had unprotected sex only once, yet it was enough.

    I drove Grace to the hospital to deliver her daughter a month before her 16th birthday. She and Danny talked about marriage, but only as a dream in the distant future. He kept badgering Grace to go back to high school, then on to college. After that, they’d think about a wedding. Before any of those things could happen, there was a gang shooting, and Danny went to prison for life.

    3. The variations on the theme are nearly infinite. Frances—the woman whose family I profiled for my LA Weekly series—was a wild, tough, wonderful girl who spent her childhood watching her mother slide horribly into Parkinson’s dementia. When she was 14, her mom was institutionalized, and Frances went to live with an older sister. Unluckily, the sister had a boyfriend with a habit of creeping into the younger girl’s bed, and Frances fled to the street. Eventually she found a boyfriend of her own, and promptly got pregnant, thereby insuring herself her first stable home with the boyfriend’s mother. Three children later, Frances tired of being beaten by the guy, packed up her kids and moved out.

    Frances, Ophie and Grace are all easy to criticize from the outside because, admittedly, they haven’t always made great choices. But, when I get a good look at the loads they grew up carrying, and how far they’ve come nonetheless, I can’t help but personally see them as sources of courage and light.

    Frances and Grace are now both married, not to the fathers of their first children, but to other men with whom they believed they’d found a more mature form of happiness and stability. Frances still struggles financially. Despite the fact that they both work, she and her husband are the working poor we’ve talked about, still trying to make their way, step-by-step away from the brink of financial disaster where one setback can lead to ruin. In the meantime, her kids know they’re loved, and are doing okay, in spite of all the insecurity blows they’ve taken.

    Grace and her husband, on the other hand, have hit middle class—she with a great career as the production manager for the making of national TV commercials, he as a mechanic. They have three great kids, (all of whom wanted and got some form of iPod for Christmas).

    Ophelia is relatively financially stable, but still single, working two jobs, raising her four kids on her own, presently taking in a 5th kid, the little brother of her first boyfriend, who keeps running away from foster care where he’s been placed on account of his heroin addict mother. She plans to start taking online-college classes next fall and has sworn she’ll have her degree before she’s 40. (She’s 33 now. I’ve known her since she was 17.)

    All three of these women would tell you—although in other words—that they were helped out of the cycle of poverty into which they were born specifically by bleeding heart liberal intervention programs….and also by individual bleeding heart liberals who refused to give up on them the myriad times they were ready to give up on themselves.

    The point is this: broad-brush, judgmental attitudes about the poor get you nowhere at all. They just do damage.

  138. rosedog Says:

    Dear God, I’ve written several novellas on this thread. Sorry about that. I’m now beginning to see this as a clever form of work avoidance on my part.

  139. rosedog Says:

    Ooops. John Moore, I didn’t realize that was you I was answering at such length about the marriage thang. Apologies to John and Woody for the confusion.

  140. rosedog Says:

    PS: forgive the idiotic typos like…”…the insecurity blows..” which was meant to be “…the insecurity and the blows..”

  141. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Yes, Marc is right, it is very true the wealthy need a staff—if one of those little princesses ever walked in the shoes of a working poor woman, it would be a fate worst than death—There is very little character building in the purchase of designer tee shirt; facials; massages and twice a week therapy sessions. And of course who in their right mind would want to give-up that lifestyle for a job as a Sales Associate at Wal-Mart?

    But isn’t there something also called the “middle-class,” or is that just a myth? Well, an insightful book on that topic is called The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke.
    Perhaps the so-called middle-class are only one catastrophe away from that unmentionable underclass, that has caused their own downfall because they just couldn’t figure out how to play that fun loving capitalist game—the pitting of the haves against the have-nots. But who will be playing this game successfully when most of the good paying jobs will be outsourced; pensions will no longer exist and medical and pharmaceutical costs will become astronomical?

    Maybe, capitalism at its best only allows for two classes—little princesses and Wal-Mart Associates?

    Yes, human nature is questionable, and the notion that people are really good at heart is becoming more dubious. And that is why there is something called a GOVERNMENT which needs to regulate economic abuses and protect the 37 million who are not getting weekly massages and the local spa.

    The following is an excerpt from the above mentioned book:

    And Ruth Ann was a planner. In college, she had majored in accounting. It was respectable and dependable, a little bit the way Ruth Ann saw herself. After graduation, she resisted the lure of Houston or Dallas and moved back to her hometown, Wylie, Texas, where she could live near her parents, get some experience doing payrolls and tax returns, and build up a little savings while waiting to begin what she always thought of as her “real life.”
    Real life began when she saw James Wilson, a friend from her high school days, who was managing a carpet and flooring store in Wylie. It was his hands, she would later say, his capable hands, the sure hands of a carpenter, that drew her to him. But it was something else as well. During her junior year at Texas Tech, Ruth Ann had broken off an engagement because she couldn’t shake the feeling that her intended was not the kind of guy she could count on. With James she felt she was marrying someone who would work as hard as she did to build a life together.
    After a brief courtship, they married. A year later, in January 1994, Dexter was born. Ruth Ann was back at work in six weeks.
    Three years later, Ruth Ann and James took a deep collective breath and jumped. They bought their first home. It wasn’t the house of their dreams, but it was the house they thought they could afford. The roof needed to be replaced and the kitchen hadn’t been updated in fifty years, but the house had three nice-sized bedrooms, a big yard, and, most important, at $84,000 it was within the couple’s price range. Ruth Ann recalls the day they moved, a happy confusion of uncles and cousins carrying furniture, while Ruth Ann’s Aunt Ida set up a big picnic in the front yard of the new home to feed both the movers and the neighbors. That night, Ruth Ann sank down in the big old tub in the upstairs bathroom and let the joy run through her.
    Two years later, in September 1999, there was another cause for celebration: Ruth Ann gave birth to a little girl, Ellie. Nine weeks later, Ruth Ann returned to work and life settled down again.
    Then it happened. Just after the 1999 Christmas season, when Dexter was six and Ellie was five months old, James’s boss announced that he was closing the store. A national megastore had opened a few miles away, and its huge floor-covering department was sucking away business. To save on costs, layoffs were effective immediately. James was out of work in one day.
    James was frantic about finding another job. Like Ruth Ann, he didn’t want to disturb the life they had put together. But nothing came through that matched his previous salary. “After I lost my job I did odd jobs. Carpet cleaning, crazy stuff. I figured any work is better than no work.” Ruth Ann asked for extra hours at work, but her office was already overstaffed.
    Cutting back was hard to do because they weren’t really spenders in the first place. Most of their money went for the basics — the mortgage, car payments, day care, and food on the table. They hadn’t realized just how tight their budget really was until they missed a mortgage payment three months after James lost his job. Both had been raised to pay their bills, and as an accountant, Ruth Ann had seen what happened to people who didn’t. But they held on to the belief that their situation was temporary.
    Within six months they were two payments behind on the mortgage. To raise cash, they had had two garage sales; then they sold the antique dining set that James had refinished. Ruth Ann quietly asked family and neighbors if she could prepare their tax returns for $50 apiece.
    As Ruth Ann and James learned, the dance of financial ruin starts slowly but picks up speed quickly, exhausting the dancers before it ends. Few families have substantial savings, so they usually run out of cash within a month or so. Soon the charges start mounting up for the basics of life — food, gasoline, and whatever else can go on “the card.” When there still isn’t enough to go around, the game of impossible choices begins. Pay the mortgage or keep the heat on? Cancel the car insurance or the health insurance? Meanwhile, interest and late fees have piled on, making everything more expensive. Ruth Ann and James got a small reprieve from family. James’s parents kicked in $4,000 and Ruth Ann’s brother lent them $1,500. But these temporary infusions of money were just that — they covered the minimum payments for a few months, but they didn’t begin to provide a way out of the hole. Before it was over, Ruth Ann had taken to parking the station wagon behind the elementary school and walking the six blocks home, figuring the bankers wouldn’t repossess her car if they couldn’t find it.
    A neat stack of manila folders on Ruth’s bedroom bureau told the story of how quickly their carefully planned lives had unraveled. The first folder held a letter from the county threatening to foreclose on their home for failure to pay taxes, along with past due notices from the mortgage company. Other files held a variety of bills totaling $12,000, and Ruth Ann’s carefully documented IOUs to their families.
    The end for Ruth Ann and James came with a bang. One evening Ruth Ann walked into the living room to hear Dexter, now seven, on the phone, talking to a bill collector. “My mom doesn’t do that, and you shouldn’t call here any more. Leave us alone.” When he heard her enter the room, he whirled around, his eyes wide. He slammed down the phone and ran out of the room. Ruth Ann wasn’t sure whether Dexter was afraid or angry, but she knew this had to stop.

    p.s. And now it’s almost impossible to declare bankruptcy thanks to the new legislation which creates a class of “indentured servants.”

  142. NeoDude Says:

    If moral dexterity is the key to wealth, then Paris Hilton and her children will be living in a trailer park in Lomita.

    And all the children Angelina Jolie has out-of-wedlock will be living in Compton.

    Listen, the richest nations have some of the slowest birthrates. The poorest nations have some of the highest. Poverty and limited access to capital is a horrible way to maintain birth control. Poverty and limited access to capital is also the hardest way to maintain law and order.

    Make fun of the Europeans all you want, but their rates of murder, theft, general depravity and violations of the Laws of God, are pretty low.

    But the white people of Europe, especially Northern Europe, never had their fellow countrymen distrust each others motives to the extent white Americans distrust their own countrymen. The Protestant work-ethic and radical Calvinism of Northern Europe never denied the need of Social Democracy, because it is easier to for the wealthy classes to care for fellow ethnic tribesmen than care for other ethnic tribes. Or better yet, it is harder to believe the wealthier classes have your interests in mind when we are in a homogenous tribe?

    Either way, the Protestants of Northern Europe were less dicks than America’s Protestants…maybe it would have a different attitude if they were not so homogenous…the next few decades will tell us…but make no mistake about it, American capitalism is reverting back to survival of the fittest tribesmen.

    This generation’s aristocracy is more multi-ethnic than before, but it is more a testimony to the activists within Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, communities that fought hard to force WASPs to start sharing. Right-Wing platitudes would have crippled their movements.

  143. Woody Says:

    reg, I forgot or didn’t notice your reference. This thread is longer than most books. It got so involved that rosedog even lost of track of who said what. Therefore, there are oversights to be expected.

    One last comment, all the wonderful statistics about fewer births out of wedlock may be misleading. Rather than showing people becoming more responsible, it might be that they are becoming more self-centered and irresponsible. It’s easy to skew birth rates if you’re killing millions of unborn children.

  144. NeoDude Says:


    Killing a fetus is not the same as murdering a baby.

    If you were really concerned for the deaths of tiny innocents you wouldn’t be such a warmonger.

  145. NeoDude Says:

    And yes, a Christian should believe a woman has the right to kill a fetus GROWING INSIDE HER if she is not prepared to carry it, let alone care for it!

    Like adultery and divorce Christians can live with that.

  146. rosedog Says:

    Eleanore, I see you’ve posted your own novella length anecdotes. Makes me feel better. Plus I liked the excerpt from “The Two Income Trap…”

    I once asked Barbara Ehrenreich why she thought “Nickel and Dimed” had become such a humongous best seller. I mean, after all, it wasn’t a diet book, or written by Frank McCourt, or a thriller suggesting Jesus had really been married to Mary Magdalene.

    She said that she figured it was because so many educated, middle-class people now are entirely terrified that with one or two big curveball’s tossed their direction unexpectedly by life, they could slide all too easily into the category of working poor.

    Okay, that’s it. Screw this socially relevant stuff. I’m going to the movies.

  147. John Moore Says:


    I think the stories you wrote show how we let the poor down morally. In other words, our society, with its rejection of most moral values, harms the poor the worst – they can least afford moral lapses (the trickle-down theory of moral danger).

    And your stories show that well. If we had higher standards for all of us, it is likely that those standards would extend to the poor, and might provide some help to those you wrote about.

    It is easy to justify the actions of the women who were caught in the traps, and easy to feel badly for them. These were almost-tragedies that seem to have been averted (I suspect some with your own help, thank you). But the start of the problems arose, not from poverty, but from the vaues of the subculture to whom these women, and their oppressors belong.

    Thus if we can improve the way in which we value children and the families necessary to give them the best chances, we may also, by doing so, prevent the abuses and bad choices being made by the poor.

    Neodude… you are way out of date with regards to Europe. You are twice as likely to get mugged walking the streets of London or Paris as you are in New York City. The cultural mores that protected people in those countries have collapsed, quite rapidly (basically, since the last time I spent much time there). The idea that the Europeans live in some sort of low-crime utopia is nonsense.

    Go take a look at the Interpol statistics on France, England and the US. You will be in for a surprise. I suggest a read of Theodore Dalyrymple’s (an English doctor) works on this subject to get an idea of how far down a formerly civilized society can fall.

    As to your assertion regarding abortion – it would be nice if you could at least acknowledge that other people, including smart well educated other people, find your view to be utterly wrong. Christians can tolerate adultery and divorce only slightly more than abortion, because the former do not involve homicide. That hardly makes Christianity hypocritical wrt abortion. But please let’s not make a thread out of that!

    Eleanore… you are right that capitalism does not guarantee that you will achieve your dream life. Neither does any other system. As I said before, there is considerable mobility among classes. You could also have cited a story of a poor person who took at minimum wage job, and through hard work and determination parlayed it into a “captain of industry” job. That happens too.

    I had a black employee who started as a janitor at a major aerospace company because, back then, they didn’t hire black’s to be technicians. This guy made it into senior engineering by his own efforts.

    I know plenty of people who started with working class backgrounds who are now retired, in pretty good style, strictly on the earnings they made. Its a two-way street.

    The biggest problem of the middle class is lack of savings (I must admit to this mistake myself). There is a natural tendency to go along with everyone else, buy into the TV commercials, and spend too much of what you make. This leads both to the debt you describe, the vulnerability to sudden economic shocks such as layoffs, and a later problem at retirement time. I was shocked when a well paid 65 year old friend of mine said he had NO assets – he was going to have to keep on working. That was *entirely* by choice.

    We have systems in place to help the impoverished. Medical care is provided free by Medicaid. Welfare and unemployment insurance provide income. Food stamps provide food. Free public schools provide education. And there are many more programs..

    The problem is that people don’t want to live at the level that this provides, even if it is higher than the economic level of the vast majority of mankind. Heck, I don’t want to live at that level myself.

    But what is the alternative? Guaranteed jobs? The prohibition of big discount stores like WalMart and Costco? Government ownership of all businesses? One can lament the risks associated with capitalism, but I have yet to see a viable alternative.

    There are also traps built by our government for the poor: earn too much and you lose your benefits. This has led to a black-market labor economy, and counter-incentives to work. But it is hard to avoid (although the idea of an annual wage to every citizen is interesting – I haven’t thought it through).

    Socialist systems as are found in Europe have one very big problem: their are underfunded and facing a demographic catastrophe far more than Social Security and Medicare. The current generation of older Europeans are living the high life – free medical care, guaranteed jobs (if they already have them), and great vacation benefits – all at the cost of their childrens’ economic positions. Many young folk from these countries simply go straight onto “welfare,” where they can live as well as they did as students anyway. They then turn up all over the world as tourists, rather than working.

    Canada’s much vaunted health care system is so poorly funded that a judge recently ruled that it was incapable of providing adequate care. Canadians routinely cross into the US for expensive care that they would otherwise have to wait a long time for (and often die waiting).

    My conclusion is that there are no simple solutions. The left and the right both have ideas about how to solve some of these problems, but nobody has a good answer.

  148. John Moore Says:

    Cone: The pregancy and divorce rates are as high in the Bible belt states too so the lack of values meme fails on its face.

    Accepting this without checking, for the sake of argument… I suggest you compare the pregnancy and divorce rates with the past, and then compare the social dysfunction rates.

    Furthermore, the “Bible belt” states are not completely full of “Bible belt” people. Furthermore, while Christianity provides a good value set, there are plenty of nomical Christians who don’t adhere to them.

    The value of breeding a kid in order to make some sort of achievement is clearly damaging to society (and especially, to the kid). I don’t care if this value is held in the “Bible belt” or somewhere else… it is deeply wrong and extremely selfish.

    Hence the “values meme” is demonstrated to be significant: bad values produce bad kids (bad as a result of the disadvantages they face growing up).

  149. Michael Brooks Says:

    Thoughtful post, John Moore. You correctly note that the problems we face are much deeper than the liberal/conservative dichotomy we are being forcefed.

  150. NeoDude Says:


    Killing a fetus is not homocide.

    Just as jacking off is not homocide.

    Or does the Church still teach their young boys that masturbation kills?

    Quite literaly, it was taught, because killing sperm is homocide.

  151. NeoDude Says:


    Or is it killing only when women do it?

  152. Dan O Says:

    rosedog: Great stories. You’ve contributed stories on a topic a couple of times to great effect. It really helps to put a human face on these topics. It’s so easy to treat the “other” with disdain and contempt. Stories like those prevent us from reaching for these easy mental crutches.

  153. NeoDude Says:

    Sorry, meant to write:


    Or is it homocide only when women do it?

    and I agree with John O, rosedog your journalism is incredible.

  154. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    you are right that capitalism does not guarantee that you will achieve your dream life. Neither does any other system. As I said before, there is considerable mobility among classes. You could also have cited a story of a poor person who took at minimum wage job, and through hard work and determination parlayed it into a “captain of industry” job. That happens too.”

    Nobody is safe in our economic system– especially the so-called Middle-class—you can play by the rules and still lose the game. And John, what do we do with all the people who are not bright beautiful and talented? The ones that are unable to be successful in every endeavor they pursue. Do we feed this “mediocre” population to the lions or throw them into the leper pit?

    You say that the Canadian medical system is dysfunctional, but it would supply 45 million Americans with healthcare that they do not have now. My understanding of the system is that care is given immediately for life threatening conditions. Hip replacement surgery is delayed.
    But our health-care system is like our legal system quality is dependent on the quantity of cash you are able to pay. It’s rather harsh. Wouldn’t you say? Private health policies and premiums are exorbitant, and to obtain Medicaid one needs to be indigent.

    So even if you happen to be that black engineer who “made it” one medical catastrophe in middle-age or as an older adult would bring you right back to the ranks of the underclass compliments of our federal government.

    You ask for a solution, well we need a universal health-care system which guarantees that every American citizen will have quality free medical care. The elderly should not be ripped off by the extravagant price of pharmaceuticals. Nursing facilities and Medicaid should not be permitted to extract every asset from the elderly. This is a disgrace!

    There also should be 100 percent employment. Everyone who is not ill should be working. Rather than outsourcing good jobs to third world countries; companies should be compelled to hire Americans.

    These corporations who set-up factories all over Indonesia and China pay no taxes there and subsequently pay no taxes here. And yet these CEOS consider themselves patriots—another disgrace!

    The poor might get a free education, but I would call it warehousing. If a child comes from poverty and an abusive background they need small class sizes and private instruction. The wealthy know that; that’s why they send their little princes and princesses to “private schools.” Everyone knows that if schools are NOT located in affluent areas they are overcrowded and students roam through the educational system in anonymous neglect.

    I would continue with more solutions, but I’m sure you are already dismissing the ones I have already cited.

  155. eddie Says:


    I was worried about the Austin case as a lawyer. Earle is either a politician or a fool.

    But the Post who has been kicking ass for the last two mornings, has allowed the Government to give the hypocrite just a taste of what “Abe” has on him!!

    I promise all the other rats will be off board by Sunday morning.

    Anyone of you right wing religious people like them using “family” as the “enterprise” fo this RICO case?

  156. John Moore Says:

    I’m not going to reply to the Christian baiting, above. It is puerile.


    You are right that nobody is safe. Do you know of a system where everyone is “safe?”As for the mediocre population… they can still exceed the poverty level. If you get down to those who are disabled or mentally deficient, I agree that appropriate assistance should be provided by the government, and it is in fact available.

    This business of 45 million Americans not getting healthcare is utter bladerdash. Everyone in the US can get health care. Some may have to pay because they don’t have insurance (which is different from “health care.”), but if they are poor (even if the cause is pure laziness) they pay nothing. If you go to a hospital, they *have* to treat you. As for quality, certainly you can get better care, at times, if you have big bucks. Do you plan to make that illegal (if so, the business will simply move offshore, taking with it specialists that today *also* treat poor people).

    As for the Canadian system, you need to explain why Canadians flock to the US for cardiac bypass surgery and critical diagnostic procedures before you assume that life threatening conditions are immediately provided. There are more MRI machines here in the Phoenix metro area than there are in all of Canada (at least the last time I checked).

    If we turned our system into a Canadian system it would be a terrible disaster. Canada outlaws private provision of care. This is a strong hint to potential doctors that they should go somewhere else once they get their knowledge. It simply begs for lower quality medical professionals. When you consider that it takes 25 years (!) of education to create a novice medical practitioner, restricting their practice to government only is not too smart.

    I am quite aware of the issues of medical catastrophe. I worked in the insurance claims processing industry, and am currently on COBRA insurance (meaning that if I don’t get a full time job pretty soon, I will not have medical insurance). Oh, and I *am* an older adult and well aware of the dangers. There is a reform I would like in medical insurance – to achieve uiniversal coverage of catastrophic care insurance.

    I am in favor of a universal health *insurance* system. In other words, a system which allows everyone to purchase catastrophic medical coverage (without regard to pre-existing conditions – which also means that everyone MUST participate or the economics fails). Our current medical insurance system has that one hole in it. I also believe that if you can’t afford catastrophic health insurance, the government should provide vouchers with which you can buy it. Of course, perhaps that’s my selfish interests at work – since this would give me medical insurance security and allow me to retire!

    But the idea of a government run universal health care system does not belong in the same discussion as “quality.” It belongs in a discussion on involuntary euthanesia (coimmon in some of the European socialized medical systems).

    As for the “extravagant price…of drugs” – have you looked at what it takes to get a drug approved? Those high prices are caused by a combination of the inherent financial risks of drug development and the enormous cost of getting governmental approval, on top of which those favorites of the Democrats, the trial lawyers, throw on enormous costs.

    Any attempt to stop those plutocrats of the class action bar (and they get *really* rich – they made *billions* off of the tobacco suits) is squelched by the Democrats because the lawyers are second only to the teachers’ unions in funding Democrat campaigns!

    Of course, if it wasn’t for government price control in almost every other country, our drug prices would be lower. Our drug companies have to sell at high prices within the US because other countries (such as Canada) have tight, government controlled price limits. In other words, those countries are free-riding on the backs of American medication consumers.

    Perhaps you would have the government do all the drug development too?

    If you understand business, you know that nursing homes have fixed expenses, and people need to pay them. Again, Americans don’t save enough. So now you want all of us aging yuppies to have the government bail us out because we didn’t save enough. What a deal! I’ll vote for you – it’s a free lunch!

    As for 100 percent employment… surely you are joking. Would you care to explain how to achieve that? Are you going to force people to work? Are you going to draft them into virtual chain gangs run by the government? Just how the hell are you going to get 100 percent employment?

    Also, are you aware that throughout the free world, high unemployment is strongly correlated to liberal/socialist governmental policies? Take a look at France – an unemployment rate stubbornly hanging around 10%. But if you do have a job, you’re pretty safe, because government policies make it almost impossible (and certainly expensive) to fire you – no matter how poorly you perform. You don’t suppose there might be a correlation between high unemployment and such featherbedding rules? Nah…

    I lived and worked in France. I never saw such a high percentage of lazy and incompetent workers – no doubt because it was just too expensive to fire and replace them.

    As for your comments on education… nonsense! America delivered much higher quality education in the days of one room school houses and hardly any money at all to the teachers (who were *not* educated in “education.”) I personally went to school in army barracks, with large class sizes, and our rooms heated by a single oil-burning stove in each classroom. Somehow, it didn’t hurt my education.

    There are many problems with our public school systems, but lack of funds is not one of them. Try teachers’ unions, the “professionalization” of teachers (i.e. degrees in education), the fads that sweep our schools, and the demands that schools fulfill social goals beyond education.

    America has one of the highest per-pupil spending rates in the world, and one of the lowest educational achievement levels. Perhaps you should study this issue a little bit beyond the class-oriented tjhrow-money-at-it absurdities.

    Catholic schools provide consistently better education than public schools at a dramatically lower per-pupil cost than the public schools, which is why my “little princess” went to one.

    You say you are providing solutions, but you are mostly providing unattainable pipe dreams. You don’t like our medical system (which provides the best care in the world, which is why so many foreigners come here), even though anyone can get care in it. You seem to think the Canadian system is better, even after a Canadian court has ruled that it has failed. Your employment “solution” is another pipe dream – you don’t mention how you are going to implement it (nor do you apparently understand how such a system would almost certainly halt all economic progress).

    I get the feeling that you would be happiest in a Soviet system – not the one that the USSR actually built, but the one it claimed it was going tto build but which no nation has ever been able to create.

    Why not refer to working systems that achieve your goals rather than these fantasies. BTW, you might want to read the Wall Street Journal article today on how the Chinese medical system works (or doesn’t) – it requires cash upfront.

    In any case, this is getting old. The discussion seems to be expanding to every part of life that the left has an issue with, which is to say – everything.

  157. reg Says:

    True to form – and while his interest in some form of universally mandated catastrophic insurance would no doubt make Hillary Clinton happy – John Moore doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about – or talks about the wrong thing in order to make a bogus point. Fact is the French health care system – which provides universal coverage AND allows additional private insurance to fill in any gaps, real or percieved, for the upper crust – spends 9+% of the country’s GDP on health care, while the US spends 14+% – that is they spend nearly a third less of their available wealth and provide far more. And per capita, French expenditures are just a bit more than half of what the U.S. spends but they provide universal coverage – in what is acknowledged to be one of the best health systems in the world. Costs for the French are going up, so they’ll probably have to do some fixing…but tell me that the costs in the U.S. haven’t been runaway, with no fix in sight. And did I mention that the results in terms of all major indicators – such as infant mortality, death rates, etc. – of general health of the populations of the other industrialized countries that have universal coverage in one form or another are better than ours. I’ve read one statistic, although I can’t find it now, that the U.S. government spends as much as the French government on health care without even beginning to provide the universal coverage. That, of course, doesn’t even take into account the huges private sums that are spent on health insurance here.

    Every health care system in the world I’m aware of is having problems keeping expenditures controlled – it’s a universal problem, but anybody who argues that the United States has the best health care system in the world is completely ignorant of the facts or using some measure that won’t wash if you actually compare either results or the amount of money spent per person to deliver something that is increasingly considered unacceptable. As for the Canadian system, I think it’s flawed and could probably be fairly easily fixed by making it more like France where supplemental insurance for those who can afford it isn’t as restricted, but Canadians express far more confidence in their health care system than Americans do, for all of the problems. This is one of those areas – again – where conservatives are pretty much blowing it out of their ass, feeding on half-truths and disinformation, and pretty much just reveling in their ignorance. Ah, the bliss…

    Stats: Scroll down –

  158. reg Says:

    Since I know that our friends on the Right care deeply about these issues and want to make this a better world, here’s more information that will be useful in their quest:

  159. reg Says:

    Sorry that last one is a PDF and I can’t get a workable URL…try this:

    Google “US Health Care System Best In The World or Just The Most Expensive” and the PDF will probably come up first – something akin to the gobbledygook above should show up as the link info to help identify it.

  160. NeoDude Says:

    John Moore,

    I would never confuse a Roman Catholic with a Christian.

    The only road to heaven goes through Rome, right?

    Or did the Church change that one too?

  161. Joe Cone Says:

    Neodude makes a string of good points. Alas like the rest to no avail with these two naysayers. They don’t want to see, hence the false comparisons flying in the face of fact.

    “here are plenty of nomical Christians who don’t adhere to them.”

    So the high rates of out of wedlock birth and divorce in Oklahoma are really just the high rate of sin by nonbelievers. Uh huh sure thing.

  162. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    John the only thing that is getting old is your diatribe—is everyone who believes that economic inequities exist in our corrupt and selfish system a communist? That is so 50’s—well maybe with our new Supreme court in place and a couple of more years of King Bush we’ll have time for another round of McCarthy-like hearings.

    “This business of 45 million Americans not getting healthcare is utter bladerdash. Everyone in the US can get health care. Some may have to pay because they don’t have insurance (which is different from “health care.”), but if they are poor (even if the cause is pure laziness) they pay nothing. If you go to a hospital, they *have* to treat you. As for quality, certainly you can get better care, at times, if you have big bucks. Do you plan to make that illegal (if so, the business will simply move offshore, taking with it specialists that today *also* treat poor people”

    So is the emergency room of hospitals your recommendation for obtaining health-care. Have you priced the cost of privately owned health-care insurance? How much a family needs to pay in premiums? There are people who are NOT YET indigent but do not have insurance through their work. Are you suggesting they become indigent so that they can go on Medicaid or to the emergency room for care? By the way, the Doctors I know HATE “managed health care companies”.
    Do you know who the biggest recipient of welfare is in this country? It’s the HEALTH-CARE INDUSTRY? Research Universities receive billions of GOVERNMENT dollars a year to do medical research. Who benefits from this FREE R&D—pharmaceutical entrepreneurs with their commercialization of patents and licenses based on university research. It creates great wealth for all of them! How nice that we fund their research with our taxes; then they patent the successful results and subsequently charge the public $50.00 a pill. Didn’t these same snake oil salesmen operate from a covered wagon in the Wild West?

    Oh and as for nursing homes, try coughing up eight thousand dollars a week. And that isn’t for a stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel. That’s for a CRAP HOLE! How many pennies could you save during your lifetime to cover those retirement costs?

    So your little princess went to Catholic school. Why don’t those schools pay taxes? This country was founded on the concept of separation of church and state. U.S. tax payers should not subsidize your religious ideology. Besides, the Catholic Church is just not another corporation. Check out Italy, I think the Vatican is like a multi-national corporation.

    And as far 100 percent employment–people want real jobs with a real future and not this Wal-Mart crap. It seems to me you are the anachronism that harkens back to Russian; the Russia that was governed by Czar Nicholas.

  163. NeoDude Says:

    And another thing, why did the Roman Catholic Church, in Europe, not block socialized medicine, if it is so evil?

    As a matter of fact, the Catholic political parties allied with most of the center-left to implement such a socialist system.

    Is it that you only use the Church for excuses to hate and stick to regional right-wing theories when the Church doesn’t have the hate you need?

    I notice you right-wing white people really love socialized systems, as long as it only stays in white hands.

    Are you afraid of non-whites getting help from the system?

  164. NeoDude Says:

    I would just like to point out, that religious extremists in America are used much differently by the Aristocracy, than in Europe.

    Religious extremists, in Europe, just do not have the following, any more, like they do in the States.

    So poverty = weakness, works among the right-wing nihilists of Europe, but it does not have the same fertile soil among the “religious.”

    Again, I think this is more a result of ethnic tribalism but I could be wrong.

  165. Woody Says:

    It doesn’t do any good to take the time to sort through all the statistics and claims of the left, because one already knows that there are almost always flaws in what they present. I’ve lived long enough and seen enough liberal plans backfire to learn that lesson. It’s a pure waste of brain energy.

    What’s wrong with liberal plans is that their predictions and models typically fail to produce the results touted and/or result in bigger problems unanticipated by them. They try to justify the efforts with selected and misleading statistics or falsely blame factors inserted by the enemies from the right. Why should I consider any other ideas from the left as having merit?

    Compassion and socialism don’t make a better world. The left has had its chance here and in other parts of the world. We’re worse off if anything. The left is advised to start using their brains rather than their emotions to solve problems.


    Addendeum: reg, I thought about your earlier claims on Iraq and Iran as you being such a wise and thoughful analyst. Then I considered that you might be like the psychics who predicted what was going to happen in 2005 at the beginning of the year and now are waving their successess at the end of the year. If one makes enough predictions, then the odds are good that one or two might come true. However, you don’t see the psychics bragging about all that they missed. Your claims about Iran and Iraq, like your claims about Bush, were just hopeful wishing and were statistical inevitabilities.

    The commenter makes no guarantees for correct spelling and grammar. All views, however, are guaranteed.

  166. reg Says:

    Woody – frankly I can’t tell your stupidity from your humor on some days, because both are awesome…

  167. reg Says:

    On a more serious note, Woody, do yourself a goddam favor and read George Packer’s book on Iraq “Assassin’s Gate” and then come back with some commentary on the problem with “hopeful wishing” – especially when you’re planning the next move in an ostensible war with al Qaeda…

    If you actually read that one, you might want to check out former Baghdad-based CPA official Larry Diamond’s “Squandered Victory”. I mean it when I say do yourself a favor…

    As for me, I’m not a fucking expert on ANYTHING – some days I think that’s good news, but let’s assume it’s the bad news. The good news is that I’m not one of the guy at the pinnacle of power or at the President’s elbow who decide where we send our kids to war but who’s “predictive powers” aren’t even as good as those psychics you reference…even though, so far as I can tell, they use nearly identical techniques (one which I would characterize as “argumentum ad rectum”).

  168. reg Says:

    Okay Woody…now it’s time to go back to sticking out your tongue and putting your fingers in your ears.

  169. Marc Davidson Says:

    For once I would like to see a detailed list of social programs that the right wingers here would like to eliminate. John Moore, Woody, and GM are forever lamenting the destructive nature of these programs in very broad terms. Let’s hear some specifics and let’s hear some specifics about how they would deal with the consequences of these cuts. If they’re at a loss, let me help out with a few ideas.
    Medicaid — people like Dr. Tom Dooley and Mother Theresa are cut out of the current system of subsidized care
    public education — education should be reserved for those who can show that they really want it and are willing to work an afterschool job to pay for it (kids with wealthy parents excepted)
    Social Security — kids should take care of their elderly parents; SS breeds selfishness in families
    any form of welfare — welfare allows too much contact between indigent parents and impressionable children; moreover it undermines the work of the great charitable organizations of the good old days when the Mother Cabrini’s built huge systems, subsidized by the benevolent industrialists, to help the poor; without these charitable societies, rich people are left with nothing to spend their billions on but fast cars and big houses; they need this as much as the poor.

    Please complete the list.

  170. Mark A. York Says:

    “because one already knows that there are almost always flaws in what they present.”

    But none in yours? Puleeeze….This must be the principal employed in the offhanded discrediting of the two books by Shipler and Ehrenrich. It’s liberal =wrong, movin on, stickin to my dogma.

    There’s no end to it. The facts prove you wrong in every case. Bend over, insert head.

  171. Mark A. York Says:

    The rich are against all big government programs while lining up to the trough. See farmers and ranchers. First in line for government subsidizing of their “Free market” businesses. I’d like to see that list myself.

  172. reg Says:

    I’ve already made too much of Woody’s comment – but really, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Our man is on record now of the assertion that “compassion…doesn’t make a better world.”

    This from the guy who lectured us on the war on Christmas, war on Christians, etc. This is spectacular hypocrisy. Now our man is going to check in and say that – because I clipped the words “and socialism” out of that sentence he means Government Compassion. Well, that’s all well and good, but if one were a Christian, don’t you think you’d look for compassion anywhere you can find it. Do you think that if a public school teacher was compassionate to her kids, you’d lambaste her as a phony because she’s on the government payroll ? If a nurse getting paid by Medicare funds is compassionate to a an impoverished patient, does it make her efforts inauthentic to the True And Only Jesus Loving folks ? If an old lady has no family or savings, but is able to live a decent albeit modest life on a Social Security check that’s long ago exceeded the amount of money she paid into the system from a low-paying job, should we resent her small pleasures and sense of dignity because it doesn’t come courtesy of her neighbor’s voluntry charity ? I guess the answer to those would be a resounding yes, because…you know…compassion and “socialism” don’t make a better world.

  173. NeoDude Says:

    Hey Woody…some other right-wing nationalists agree with you!

    We Germans have seen where such doctrines lead. Liberalism tore down the structures that held races and peoples together, releasing the destructive drives. The result was economic chaos that led to millions of unemployed on the one side and the senseless luxury of economic jackals on the other. Liberalism destroyed the people’s economic foundations, allowing the triumph of subhumans. They won the leading role in the political parties, the economy, the sciences, arts and press, hollowing out the nation from inside. The equality of all citizens, regardless of race, led to the mixing of Europeans with Jews, Negro, Mongols and so on, resulting in the decay and decline of the Aryan race.

    All that Nordic civilization had won from the powers of darkness in the areas of culture, science and freedom was threatened at the instant when the Jews and other inferior elements gained power. A result was the collapse of European domination in the world as the result of the World War, and the danger of the decline of the best of the German peoples, the Germans. Adolf Hitler alone rescued Germany and all of Europe from this fate.

    The source: Der Reichsführer SS/SS-Hauptamt, Rassenpolitik (Berlin, 1943 [?]).


  174. NeoDude Says:

    Those right-wing nationalists are sure scared of liberalism!

    Even most conservatives of Europe have the sense to call themselves liberal Tories.

    But the knee-jerk anti-intellectualism of American right-wingers sure know-nothing of the liberal traditions of Western civilization.

  175. rosedog Says:

    A Happy New Year to all. May 2006 bring loving times, satisfying, productive work, and some kick-ass fun for each of you.

  176. reg Says:

    Christ, rosedog, what’s the matter with you ? Can’t think of anything tendentious, sarcastic or spiteful to say ? Sheeesh..

    Okay then, a happy New Year to you too !

  177. NeoDude Says:

    Can I add 4 more albums:

    Brian Eno – Thursday Afternoon
    Kieth Jarrett – The Koln Concerts
    Zero 7 – Simple Things
    Bill Laswell – Imaginary Cuba

    (I’ts a rainy LA day

  178. Mark A. York Says:

    Same from here rosedog.

  179. Woody Says:

    Thanks, NeoDude. It make my year complete to have some lefty compare me to Hitler. Such is the logic and strength of arguments from the left.

    Naturally, too, reg completely misrepresented what I said, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and not say that it was intentional deception. It likely was simple stupidity.

    reg, compassion that chooses socialism, the type of government that you want, as the solution is not effective in solving problems. You remind me of the people who say that communism never worked only because the right people weren’t in charge.

  180. NeoDude Says:

    I’m not comparing you to Hitler, I am comparing you to the author of Der Reichsführer SS/SS-Hauptamt, Rassenpolitik (Berlin, 1943 [?]).

  181. rosedog Says:

    Neo….. I confess I LOVE the Koln Concert. That album became such a New Age-y touchstone and a stoner cliche that I didn’t play it for a decade or more, but then began again a few years ago. It still floors me.

    You can download segment 2c on iTunes for 99 cents. Bargain of the year.

  182. Woody Says:

    Okay, neo, you just linked me to Hitler and his ideas. I see the big distinction. I’m amazed that you read such material and actually see that as similar to my beliefs. Of course, you, as a lefty, worship Stalin and Pol Pot. Sheez.

  183. GM Roper Says:

    Happy New Year to all. My last comment in 2005. There won’t be any in 2006! When you learn to discuss issues without the invective, call me.

    Reg, you are one sick puppy, but don’t worry, there is treatment available in almost any state mental health system.

    York…. you are just plain pathetic.

    Rosedog, you are one of the few bright spots here, you argue without being vindictive or nasty. When I have gotten so irked I got nasty myself (I chose that folks, you didn’t “make” me get nasty) it has never been directed at you.

    Marc, it’s been a great ride, thanks for everything and especially the advice on blogging and the encouragement to do so. A very Happy New Year to you. See you in Vegas sometime.

  184. Rich Says:

    Communism works quite well for the Benedictines. Maybe they should be in charge. ;)

  185. reg Says:

    GMR – childish…very childish. Especially pathetic coming from an alleged “mental health expert”. You wield crap psuedo-analysis like a goddam blunderbuss, and play the self-righteous game to boot, but you’re too chickenshit to deal with it when you’re called on your persistent nonsense. Oh well…

    Woody…as usual, your comments make no sense. If you can’t discuss the real substance of, say, the French approach to health insurance vs. the American without invoking “communism” you are just too fucking stupid to argue with. Really. You’re alleged “political analysis” is a joke.

  186. reg Says:

    I have to say that in response to several posts that contained a wealth of factual data to reference and either accept as valid or refute – and even in response to my sarcastic posts to Woody but which contained suggestions for two serious books he might want to check out by people who are, dare I say it, better informed than his usual references – Newsmax and Captain’s Quarters – by virtue of their actual experience and first-hand observations, the above reactions of GMR and Woody are an embarrassment – simply tossing out bullshit generalizations about “socialism” and flatulent assertions about liberals that aren’t linked to any substantive argument or research related to the subject at hand, and a series of bleats that are pretty much the standard “conservative victimology” at the hand of Liberal Meanies (“you’re a sick puppy” who needs “professional help” ) – and from a couple of guys who routinely denigrate by broad brush and recycled generalizations – or batter their predictable and by now rather tattered straw men – in order to avoid serious discussion based on actual information. How pathetic… I guess I’m supposed to be the “bad guy” in this scenario, but frankly, these two are so used to sliding by on canned bullshit that I think I’ve been doing them a favor and helping them build their character by not giving their tired cliches a free ride.

  187. John Moore Says:

    Reg, you post interesting links (although the second one used the rhetorical trick of comparing apples and oranges). In any case, they would be more interesting to me if you didn’t start out, as usual, by attacking me personally. One really has to wonder about your mental status, given the almost absolute guarantee of rudeness and ad hominem attacks from you. You must be very bitter.

    Neodude, not surprising, but thanks for the typical anti-Catholic bigotry. But then your other posts are very rude, not to mention wrong. Go suck rocks – you aren’t worth my time and have made my list, along with the windup toy, of people whose posts I will ignore in the future.

    Eleanore, the reason I disliked your posts is that they broaden the area of discourse to the whole left/right panoply. Then we end up all over the place. As to private health care, I know plenty about it, and what I know, I don’t like. As I said, I worked in a health care claims processing company. Your points about pharmaceutical profits are absurd, but I’m sure they give you a great deal of moral outrage, the fuel the left lives off of. It is possible that if Canada spent as much money, per capita, as the US, they might have as good a system. So you have to ask yourself why they instead prefer a system so bad that their own judge found that ban on private care unconstitutional (tell me that’s a lie, reg). Again, we do have universal health care, but (and this is the part I don’t like), you may lose your assets in the process of getting it. So when you say 45,000,000 people go without health care in the US, you are telling a blatant falsehood. The demogogues on the left seem to routinely equate lack of health insurance with lack of health care. There is a huge difference. Furthermore, the biggest perversity in the system is the fate of those who are not in poverty but are too poor to get insurance, and the fate of those (of all classes) who lose employer health care and cannot buy private insurance due to pre-existing conditions.

    My mother died in a nursing home, and the cost was about $35,000 a year. The care was excellent. My dad lives on the property of this private elderly community which provides living from unassisted to full nursing, and was able to judge the quality (as did myself and a number of others).

    You complain that the Catholic school doesn’t pay taxes; Nor do public schools. Neither are for-profit operations. I pay lots of taxes for public schools that do a terrible job of education – much worse than Catholic schools.

    As for the separation of Church and State, this is a fundamental doctrine of catholicism (and Christianity – “Mat 22:21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”.

    Churches are not taxed simply because of the first amendment, and the fact that they are non-profit, Churches which get too involved in politics run a risk of losing their tax exempt status.

    Catholic Charities and other groups (one of which my wife headed for her parish) provide tuition for those who cannot afford Catholic education – aid based on need as opposed to the stupid idea of tuition based on race, and selection (they don’t have enough money to come close to paying for all who prefer Catholic schools) based on merit rather than race..

    Your answer on 100 percent employment was a total non-answer. Even most on the left, these days, at least recognize that 100% employment is unachievable.

    MarcD, if the left on here would respond to any of my challenges, I might be tempted to respond to yours. But since they haven’t, I ain’t gonna. Also, you should understand that the right (with the exception of some extremists – usually libertarian right) do not believe in eliminating all of these programs, but rather in changing them. The idea of a social safety net has pretty universal support, but the need to change the system to reduce incentives for multigenerational welfare cultures, and to provide ways out of poverty is clear to most everyone. On the other hand, this thread has strayed into so many different areas that the lack of focus makes it pretty useless.

    Where the left fails, in particular, on medical care is:
    1 – espousing a federally run system, in spite of the evidence of failure and corruption of other such systems in the US and Canada. Do you want your health care from the Department of Motor Vehicles, or from FEMA?
    2 – attacking the pharmaceutical companies, with intent to control prices if they gain power, without understanding the economic and social issues (such as incentive to create, and predatory lawyers). I would add in specific answer to one of Eleanor’s criticisms: when my daughter worked as a scientist at Johns Hopkins, the primary competition for the discovery they were racing towards was a drug company researcher. This was in an area of basic research. The idea that the drug companies are somehow getting off cheap because of government funded research is rarely true. This, like so many issues opened by Eleanor, could take several threads in itself. We could also argue that the semiconductor industry gets federal subsidies because of federally funded research; or the environmental lobbies, whose data almost all comes from federal research and who themselves receive vast amounts of federal grants.
    3 – the politics of envy.
    4 – failing to recognize the devastating effects on family economics (including health insurance) of single parent families.

    The right failes, on:
    1 – Failing to mandate certain standards, especially in the computerization of hospitals and practices, with the result being the high cost of claims processing and insurance administration.
    2 – Failing to deal with the problem of pre-existing conditions
    3 – Failing to deal with the perversity between the Medicaid eligibility line and enough income to buy insurance and also have a life.

    rosedog, your politeness is always a breath of fresh air in this otherwise seething cauldron of hate and viciousness. I will be ignoring some of the others on this thread, should it continue, both for irrelevancy and because I get tired of listening to people who spew hatred and vile insults.

  188. John Moore Says:

    Another comment on public ed. My mother, who was a mathematician, engineer, and then public school teacher, put one demand on my brother and myself: our children were not to be educated in the public school system.

    Do you suppose that her personal experience might have had something to do with that?

  189. Mark A. York Says:

    Or her bias she obviously passed on to you JM. Roper you’re a bitter old man. I actually pity you. Don’t let the door hit you in ass. Did you notice the invective came from your end. I didn’t think so. That would require two eyes open.

  190. reg Says:

    John…first of all, I’m not bitter at all and am damned happy.

    The reason I said that you didn’t know what the fuck you were talking about is because you used the Canadian system to prove a general point about what I guess we would call “single payer health insurance” and acting like the case was closed. I was hardly compating apples and oranges – I was looking at two countries with similiar levels of economic development and living standards and suggesting that the experience of one – certainly by any of the data I’ve been able to glean – seemed to yield significantly better results for the general population than the other. You linked to a court case in Canada that certainly points to a likely flaw in their system, but it doesn’t prove the general case against single payer systems – that spend much, much less on adminstrative costs and insurance company profits and are not necessarily more bureaucratic or prone to “rationing” than most HMOs. I appreciate the fact that you have what many would consider an almost “socialistic” view on this. Frankly, I think that the “socialism” canard when discussing pragmatic problem-solving of a pretty serious problem under “market medicine” is just a giant fog machine. Now one can say that you don’t give a shit about anyone’s health care but one’s own…I understand that. But to make generalizations about the U.S. having, prima facia, the “best health care system in the world” without doing some comparative digging and looking at the cost-benefit ratios in other countries just doesn’t cut it, IMHO.

    Also, don’t call journalists and war veterans traitors and expect to be given a pass and treated like you’re some pristine character. You’re not…far from it. Frankly, by the standards you’ve already set on you’re blog and your extra-curriculars, you’re very fair game for some pretty damned vicious name-calling.

  191. Mark A. York Says:

    One final comment: reg rocks! He knows his bourbon too. The Knob Creek was good, but I still like Wild Turkey.

  192. reg Says:

    I think I misinterpretated your apples & oranges comment and took it as a reference to my bringing France into the picture as an alternative example . I’ll check that second link to see if I can figure out precisely what you mean by that.

  193. Woody Says:

    reg, it’s just that some of us on the right don’t respect the opinions and information from the left enough to put our time and detailed debate ahead of more important things–like watching the bowl games and the Twilight Zone marathon. At this time, it’s enough for me to discuss ideas without getting into your 1992 statistics and the like.

  194. NeoDude Says:


    And the Sun Bear Concerts are Koln on steroids!

    His “fits of ecstasy”, especially in Köln and Sun Bear, can really flow with the music (and on some other albums, not so much)…but his music makes up for everything.

    His quartets, trio and classical albums are extraordinary.

  195. NeoDude Says:

    John Moore,

    Truth hurts, princess?

  196. NeoDude Says:

    And another thing…there really ain’t nothing wrong with Roman Catholicism….the problem is a big group of nationalistic right-winging Roman Catholics I’m bitching about!

  197. NeoDude Says:

    I mean Roman Catholics in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zeland all had the sense to socialize medicine in their nations!

    Get with the program! The darkies won’t hurt you!

  198. Mark A. York Says:

    $35K a year? My dad lives in a managed care residence on his social security in Maine. They take all but $17 dollars a month of his meager $780. He worked in the swaetshop bakery with no pension or benefits. The state takes care of everything along with medicare. You can call that socialized medicine. It’s a safety net that works. Just like the LA County Valleycare that I use.

    Second that reg on the vicious thuggery in conservoblogaria. What a laugh hearing a call for civility from the likes of that crowd.

    Happy New Year!

  199. reg Says:

    “reg, it’s just that some of us on the right don’t respect the opinions and information from the left enough to put our time and detailed debate ahead of more important things–like watching the bowl games and the Twilight Zone marathon. At this time, it’s enough for me to discuss ideas without getting into your 1992 statistics and the like.”

    And, pray tell, what is contained in your bluster and recycled talking points that would command anyone’s respect…

    You really need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

  200. NeoDude Says:

    Oh yeah,

    Happy New Years Folks, may we have another year of great political food fights and the such.

    We are really blessed to have this technology to interact with each other, no matter how demented and silly and serious we get!

  201. John Moore Says:

    If you aren’t bitter, then what drives you to use personally offensive language, over and over and over and over again? If you were arguing in order to press your point, you wouldn’t engage in such off-putting behavior.

    Yes, I believe that one Vietnam war veteran in particular is a traitor, and I have supported that view. You might be interested to know that a number of former Vietnam POWs, including a Medal of Honor winner, are suing that bastard, right now, for defamation. Do you suppose he might have been throwing some nasty words at people with far more chops than he has?

    However, my past allegations about a public figure hardly justifies the almost continuous barrage of slime that you throw at me on this blog. You are using my political opinion as a justification for your own malicious behavior. Sadly, based on what I see on this blog and elsewhere, you may be way too typical of the left. Insult the opposition as much as possible seems to be your creed.

    Anyway, in spite of your ready file of links, and your writing ability, you fit best into the same category as the other to-be-ignored writers. I haven’t yet decided to take GM’s course and write off this blog entirely, but if I can’t control my own tendency to answer the shit thrown at me, and the silliness often used to answer my arguments, I may just wander off. Then you and the others can sit in your echo chamber and have a circle jerk, or wait for some other conservative to wander by so you can feed on his shock at being subject to undue and vicious personal attacks.

    Marc Cooper is a gifted writer and reporter. Too many of his acolytes here, including you, reg, are just ill-mannered punks.

    Have a shitty new year.

  202. Woody Says:

    reg: “You really need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.”

    Hey, reg. I really don’t care what people think about what I say. I state my opinion and they can take it or stay stupid.

  203. NeoDude Says:

    John Moore wrote,

    …are suing that bastard, right now…

    You right-wing nationalists and your scapegoats…scary.

  204. Mark A. York Says:

    Stuck on stupid is a staple for one regular from the “right.” Wrong Way Feldman rides into 2006. We don’t know what W’s last name is because he’s too ashamed to say.

    As for Moore and his continued campaign against John Kerry, this lates stunt fails on its face.

    “October 15, 2004 email from Podesta to Kerry activists called Carlton Sherwood a, “disgraced former journalist, right-wing propagandist and apologist for cult-leader Sun Myung Moon.”

    Sherwood is. Defense against defamation is truth something you folks on the right would know little about since the whole case against Kerry is a proven lie. Shove it up your collective asses. The case is laughable.

    Have equally dismal and miserable new year.

  205. The_DC_Sniper Says:

    Woody: “It doesn’t do any good to take the time to sort through all the statistics and claims of the left, because one already knows that there are almost always flaws in what they present.”

    It’s richly ironic that you often complain about ad homina but then dismiss a piece of evidence because it was referenced by someone on the left. I guess the last time I discussed ad hominem, didn’t take so on the theory that if I repeat myself mantra-like maybe you’ll achieve enlightenment, here I go again. There are actually two problems with rejecting the statistics reg linked to on the basis that reg is a liberal: 1) even if reg was a liar prone to fabricating evidence in order to win arguments it wouldn’t affect the reliability of someone else’s statistics. 2) if the reliability of statistics does somehow depend on the person who references them, rather than the person who compiles them, then we enter a strange situation where the statistics can be both reliable and unreliable at the same time! It is entirely conceivable that a right-winger and a left-winger could both reference the same set of statistics, thereby making those statistics simultaneously reliable and unreliable by your thinking (i.e. reliable when referenced by a right-winger and unreliable when referenced by a left-winger). How can the same statistics possess two contradictory truth values at the same time, Woody? They’re either reliable or not, right? Surely you see the problem here?

    Woody: “I really don’t care what people think about what I say. I state my opinion and they can take it or stay stupid.”

    I’m so glad to see that this is what passes for argumentation on the internet. At least it reinforces my (purple) characterization of internet debate as “a dissonant madrigal of soliloquies.” I mean, honestly, Woody, why the fuck are you even here? If you don’t want to actually engage with the crowd you can always soliloquize alone in your living room without need for the internet. You really shouldn’t make claims that you aren’t prepared to back up and defend, and if you have better things to do then you perhaps you shouldn’t waste everyone else’s time by making the claims in the first place. Do you honestly expect someone to just blindly accept what you say when you aren’t prepared to either respond to counterarguments or to deal with counterclaims that are backed up by statistics? Would you?

  206. Woody Says:

    DC, let me address your comment with generalities.

    (1) First, keep in mind that facts, polls, and statistics that I have provided here in the past are routinely and incorrectly dismissed because they are from the left’s considered conservative sources–as reg, himself, has done in this thread. What can I provide that won’t be dismissed by false conclusions from your side? The left is completely close-minded.

    (2) Next, even if people on the left, such as reg, provide statistics, I see flaws in them. Sometimes they’re outdated, they’re incomplete, they’re biasly prepared by a prejudiced source, they’re misinterpreted, etc., etc. It’s rare that statisitics from the left can’t be butchered with facts, logic, and truth. Frankly, right-brained people are not equipped with using analytical ammunition that their brains can’t fire correctly.

    I give the left opportunities to convince and impress me. However, I have learned to offer little, if any, respect to analyses from people on the left because they have not earned that respect. In addtion, they have not earned my trust. I continue to consider their views with disapointment, and the left continues to reinforce my negative conclusions about them. Generally, the ideas coming from the left should be received with as much respect as fecal matter flung by monkees at the zoo.

    (3) Frankly, any statistics from anyone are suspect. You’ve heard that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Both sides claim similar attacks on these numbers–with mine, of course, having more validity. In my field, I can make numbers say anything that I want them to say, and I’m cautious and skeptical about others doing that–especially, if those people can’t be trusted.

    So, what we are left with is the presentation and argument of ideas. Ideas can be debated without claims that the originating source is made-up or incorrect. Ideas can and should be debated on merits and logic.

    Unfortunately, it is your side that is most guilty of rejecting facts that oppose its agenda based upon nothing but agenda. It is your side that rejects ideas by saying F yourself. It is your side that is closed minded to opposing views.

    So, first, I don’t waste hours anymore to prepare and provide research that the left will reject based simply upon it’s source or conclusions rather than validty. Second, I don’t waste time anymore to explain their flaws that the left would never accept, anyway. Next, I say what I think based upon a lifetime of learning and analysis. Finally, because the left is never, never satisified with anything that contradicts their indoctrination, I don’t worry about whether or not they accept what I say.

    I state the truth and my views and it’s simply up to the reader to do what he wants with that. Reject them without serious consideration and you stop learning. Consider them seriously and you might see that opposing views might be right and demand respect. Either way, I don’t worry about it–but, I still keep an open door.

  207. Mark A. York Says:

    “Unfortunately, it is your side that is most guilty of rejecting facts that oppose its agenda based upon nothing but agenda.”

    I’m addressing this claim generically, not personally to one subscriber. It’s patently up-is-down false.

    It is our side that repeatedly states objective facts, that are dismissed on sight, as bias. Bad news from Iraq; no weapons; Iraq involved in 9-11; the budget; scientific consensus and on and on. In this breathtakingly foolish through the looking glass of personal bias screed we see the conclusion is predetermined by dogma and belief. Guess which side uses this baseline the most? There are two sides alright, but objective truth is neutral. And one side, the so-called right is consistently wrong in every case. Whose fault is that? Not mine for pointing it out.

    Now back to the latest episode of the fallacy files. There’s nothing behind the latest claim but indocrination. Yours.

  208. Woody Says:

    Mark, that is probably the clearest comment you have eveer written at this site. However, your facts are slanted or incorrect.

    You ignore successes in Iraq, such as the votes and new government. There were WMD, and they were used against Iraqi citizens. Bush did not say that Iraq was involved with 9-11 or use that as a reason for invasion. (In fact, the left has claimed that it was Bush himself who was behind 9-11.) Scientific consensus is very different from scientific proof. Consensus can be political, proof is science. And on and on.

    It just gets tiresome dealing with “facts and statistics” from the left that are wrong.

    I’m analytical and see too many problems with the positions from the left, and the left is not analytical and rejects information from the right from emotion.

  209. reg Says:

    “I’m analytical”

    That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen…Woody, you’re one of the most knee-jerk, reactive, poorly-informed, crap-media obsessed characterers I’ve ever had the misfortune to engage in debate…

    Without your canned bullshit about “socialism”, you are completely unable to actually deal pragmatically with the underlying issues, not to mention even the FACTS, regarding the problems with the U.S. health care system…

    You haven’t even attempted to raise a single question relevant to the reality. Some statistics are bullshit – as I showed by digging deeper into the question of black “illegitimacy” by breaking the statistics down so they weren’t oversimplified to fit a bigoted conclusion. If you can do that with the information I put on the table regarding how much we spend on health care per capita versus the French, as an example, and the results based on standard public health indices, like infant mortality, please do. I suspect you can’t, so you do a dumb dance around the issue, acting like some sage who’s been victimized by the Blue Meanies. Grow the fuck up. You argue like a little kid.

  210. reg Says:

    John Moore…you’ve earned my contempt. No apologies. No quarter.

  211. Meatbrain Says:

    It doesn’t do any good to take the time to sort through all the statistics and claims of the left, because one already knows that there are almost always flaws in what they present.

    There are flaws in what you present, too, Woody — mainly, the utter lack of factual support. When you are questioned on this, you throw a hissy fit and cry foul. How DARE anyone ask you for facts to back up your claims!?!?! EVERYONE ELSE should do your homework for you, of course:

    Why don’t you come back only after you’ve done your research on the matters that I referenced…

    You’re so afraid of being asked questions or challenged to provide supporting facts, that you delete such comments when they are posted on Roper’s site. When you behave in this way, when you flee the simplest of questions that would require that you produce factual backing, do you really think that you can be taken seriously?

  212. John Moore Says:

    Reg, if I ever had anything but your contempt, it wasn’t at all visible from your vicious behavior. I have lost nothing of any value on your quarter. I thought that perhaps you should just once experience what I routinely had to put up with from you.

    bye bye, idiot

  213. Woody Says:

    Meatbrain, G.M. and I just delete comments from trolls.

    I did leave up your last one, despite your pseudonym, because it was half-way civil, even if inaccurate. Your other posts about me and arguments with me have been fallacious and typical of trying to waste my time.

  214. Meatbrain Says:

    G.M. and I just delete comments from trolls.

    That is not what happened in this case, Woody. You deleted three civil questions, civilly asked.

    When you realized you did not have the facts to back up your claims, you redefined them as the work of a troll (convenient, that!) and deleted them to avoid answering them.

    Why should you be taken seriously, when it is so obvious your claims have no factual substance?

    Your other posts about me and arguments with me have been fallacious…

    Ad hominem attack. You’ve no evidence of any ‘fallacies’ in my posts. You are afraid of being asked questions you cannot answer.

    It would have been so simple to provide the facts for your claims. But you do not have those facts, and you know this. Hence you delete the questions.

    Why should you be taken seriously, when it is so obvious your claims have no factual substance?

    I did leave up your last one, despite your pseudonym, because it was half-way civil, even if inaccurate.

    Which comment? What inaccuracies? You won’t answer. You can’t.

    Why should you be taken seriously, when it is so obvious your claims have no factual substance?

  215. Mark A. York Says:

    Slanted? Let me show you yours:

    “There were WMD, and they were used against Iraqi citizens.”

    In 1986 on Reagan’s watch. Fact. None since the first gulf war. We were told something else. It wasn’t true.

    Any successes are dwarfed by the negatives. Fact.

    “Bush did not say that Iraq was involved with 9-11 or use that as a reason for invasion.”

    He most certainly did. Polls verify this. Where did FOX watchers get this idea? Fact.

    Consensus is evolution is fact. That’s proof. It’s an expert opinion based on fact.

    No woody you just don’t get it. You have the slant. The wingerville sidestep. Up is down baby!

  216. Meatbrain Says:

    Woody wrote:

    There were WMD, and they were used against Iraqi citizens.

    1. What specific WMDs are you referring to?

    2. When did Saddam Hussein use these against Iraqi citizens?

    3. Which of these WMDs have been confirmed as still being in existence and in usable condition in Saddam’s arsenal at the time the US invaded Iraq? Cite your source(s), please.

    Civil questions. Civilly asked.

    How will Woody answer?

  217. Woody Says:

    Meatbrain, I make one comment for which it takes you two minutes to ask questions but, in some cases, could take me up to an hour to answer with complete documentation. That’s not a very fair ratio, especially since you’re not seeking information but just want to argue. And, for what? You’re not worth that time investment. You typify why I say it’s not worth arguing with the left.

    Also, you form questions to statements that I didn’t make but you imply that I did, as in number three. That’s one other thing that you do to make me waste time. On the other two questions, please tell me if you’re not familiar with Hussein gassing the Kurds and need more information. In that case, find it yourself.

    For the other people here, Meatbrain has posted at GM’s Corner using eleven different names to sneak in attacks that have nothing to do with honest debate of issues. You can see for yourself from his site his obsession with me, which crosses the line from sanity into that of being psycho. steve is mild to Marc Cooper compared to that. Meatbrain goes to many conservative blogs and gets ultimately ignored for personal attacks and arguments which result in no information and wasted time.

    Get a life, Meatbrain.

  218. John Moore Says:

    Since there was actually a polite request, I’ll put in yet one more appearance on this thread:

    binary sarin nerve agent

    5/17/2004 (artillery shell)

    If you care to do a little digging, you will discover that mustard gas was also found.

    One shell just like this one, if used by terrorists, could kill a large number of people. They’d merely need to recover the pre-cursor agents from the shell, and remix them in a mister (bug sprayer, for example) and then spray the mist into the air handler of an office building or hospital.

    Actually, in this case, there were two casualties (in spite of what CNN reports) – bomb disposal specialists who had to be treated for sarin poisoning. This was not used against Iraqi citizens.

    However, the whole argument about WMD’s is a distractor… it is being used in a duplicitous manner to attack the president of the United States.

    Congress cited a number of causes for war against Iraq. The previous administration claimed that Iraq represented a threat.

    So let’s stop this WMD game. Yes, Saddam played a big bluff (every behavior by the regime prior to the war was designed to give the appearance of having WMDs) and lost. But our government’s intelligence agencies (with the exception of some lower level CIA folks) and the agencies of many other western powers were confident that Iraq had WMDs. Furthermore, if Bush knew ahead of time that Iraq did not have WMD’s, why would he use that as a major argument, and burden the armed forces with WMD protection requirements? He would have to know the political firestorm that would erupt, and the enormous political cost it would cause.

    Hence the continuous drone of “Bush lied, People died” or whatever form the WMD argument arrives in is either highly illogical, or highly duplicitous. In general, it seems to be the latter.

    It is unbalanced in the sense that Congress, in its resolution gave a number of reasons for war with Iraq, as did the White House, but the people raising hell about WMD’s, including some who voted for that resolution, choose to ignore that annoying fact.

    It is also surprisingly hypocritical since those same people supported the previous president, who made the same arguments and also waged war on Iraq.

    So have fun, folks, but the WMD meme is nothing but a cynical political ploy by the Bush haters.

  219. Woody Says:

    Oh, and every comment from Meatbrain is created from different IP addresses so that his comments can’t be filtered. He has mastered technology to enhance his stalking and trolling. Those extreme steps coupled with his public obsessions indicate suspicious intent and indicates a person to be avoided.

  220. Woody Says:

    John Moore, you have more patience to answer that than do I.

  221. Meatbrain Says:

    Civil questions. Civilly asked. How did Woody react?

    With personal attacks and no facts whatsoever.

    Woody wrote:

    Meatbrain, I make one comment for which it takes you two minutes to ask questions but, in some cases, could take me up to an hour to answer with complete documentation.

    As before, you run from any questions that require you to produce facts.

    If you don’t have the facts, why should anyone believe your claims?

    In that case, find it yourself.

    Someone please do all Woody’s homework for him! He’s far FAR too important to bother with the menial job of providing facts!

    If you don’t have the facts, why should anyone believe your claims?

    For the other people here, Meatbrain has posted at GM’s Corner using eleven different names to sneak in attacks that have nothing to do with honest debate of issues.

    Notice that Woody is still making fact-free claims. Notice that when Woody is asked questions, he whines and runs — this ensuring that no honest debate can take place.

    You can see for yourself from his site his obsession with me, which crosses the line from sanity into that of being psycho.

    You can see for yourself that Woody is still incapable of conducting a conversation in which he does not make an ad hominem attack. It is now “psycho” to ask Woody any questions about his claims. It is now “stalking” to ask Woody any questions about his claims.

    Meatbrain goes to many conservative blogs and gets ultimately ignored for personal attacks and arguments which result in no information and wasted time.

    The discussion results in no information because you haven’t got the facts and do not know how to find them. You don’t even understand why facts are necessary.

    But it’s not a waste of time. It proves just how incapable you are of supporting your claims with facts.

  222. Mark A. York Says:

    Woody you answered my questions with fallacies. I rebutted. You lost. Attacking meatbrain is an ad hominem. His questions are civil and unanswered by you. You’ve attacked the messenger to dodge the fact that your answers are proven lies. It’s cheap rhetoric for those whose argument lacks merit. That would be you.

    You lost. End of story.

  223. Mark A. York Says:

    Is it obcessive to run two cyber acres-long posts deriding me? I’m asking. I read them and rebutted. I believe it was you and roper who drew first blood. Badly and laughably I might add.

  224. Meatbrain Says:

    One more thought… Woody revealed more than he meant to when he said:

    Meatbrain, I make one comment for which it takes you two minutes to ask questions but, in some cases, could take me up to an hour to answer with complete documentation.

    Here’s a hint, Woody: Professionals do their research first. Then they publish their claims.

    Fact-based arguments. What a concept!

  225. Mark A. York Says:

    By all means document the answers. Enquiring minds want to know. Try objective sources if at all possible.

  226. Mark A. York Says:

    binary sarin nerve agent

    5/17/2004 (artillery shell)

    If you care to do a little digging, you will discover that mustard gas was also found”.”

    Moore, this was the old shell left over from the Iran/Iraq war in the 80′s. Is your case this pathetic? Yes it is.

  227. Marc Cooper Says:

    ==== PLEASE===========

    stop the back and forth backbiting. it’s really boring. Im about to ban everybody.

  228. John Moore Says:

    That would be a good idea, Marc. Then I wouldn’t succumb to the temptation to post in this cesspit (not your blog, but the commentershpere) again.

  229. The_DC_Sniper Says:

    I actually agree with John Moore here. All I seem to get for wasting my time is depression about the state of modern political discourse.

  230. The Ugly American Says:

    “And yet, we have a Congress that — thanks to gerrymandering– is locked up tighter than a nun’s chastity belt”

    This pretty much sums up the pathetic state of the Democratic Party.

    It is not “the evil Republicans” keeping Democrats from winning elections. Its stupid Democrats who refuse to get the message that rolling out the same old tired race baiting and class warfare arguments are looser issues.

    The question is how many elections does the party have to lose before someone says “Hey I have an idea lets offer some new ideas!”

  231. Mark A. York Says:

    Well I’ve got new ideas and recognize the old ones that have been tried for the last five years are reckless and stupid even if others refuse to. Whatever.

  232. Billy Bean Says:

    John Moore,
    How is Jonny O’Neil dealing these days with being spat on? It musta been real tough for him, a macho marine being spat on by a hippy and responding with Ghandian humility forgiving the hippy and turning the other Jesusian cheek.
    How is that buddy of yours that was stabbed by the inaugural protestors? Or was it punched in the back? The tales are hard to keep track of.

  233. Billy Bean Says:

    Yes Marc, Ban away!!! A good way to start a liberal new years!

  234. The Ugly American Says:

    Now if you would like to offer a serious answer and actually lay out your “new ideas” Mr. York I would love to hear them.

  235. Billy Bean Says:

    “If you care to do a little digging, you will discover that mustard gas was also found.”

    Yeah, sure john, just like your buddy was punched in the back by a hippy or John Ghandi Oneil was spat at by a flower girl.

  236. Mark A. York Says:

    That was a serious answer. Read my blog and you’ll hear a lot of them on mumerous issues. I fed Clinton a number of ideas that he adopted during that time, mostly on natural resource issues which are my professional specialty. If you scan the news today you’ll see the opposite being implemented by POTUS et al. Richard Pombo and others. It’s a gutting of our natural capital at the taxpayers’ expense. Wrong road.

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