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Jun. 11 2010 - 8:20 pm | 451 views | 0 recommendations | 52 comments

Liberal policies fail again, May retail sales slump

Oh the numbers are bad, unexpectedly (always with the unexpectedly) bad.

Sales at retailers unexpectedly fell in May, raising some questions about how much consumers will be able to continue contributing to an economic recovery.

According to a Census Bureau report released on Friday, retail sales dropped in May for the first time since last fall, driven mostly by a sharp plunge in purchases of building materials.

“What’s going to happen is a reassessment of the underlying momentum of the economy,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics. “If the monthly numbers don’t improve in coming months we can probably expect the third-quarter growth number to look very shaky.”

And the reason for the slump? You guessed it, the Cash-for-Appliances welfare checks ended.

Economists have attributed the decline to a possible winding down of incentives to purchase energy-efficient appliances, like tax rebates. Sales by building material suppliers had surged more than 8 percent in each of the previous two months.

“Basically when the incentive was there, people bought,” said Nigel Gault, chief United States economist at IHS Global Insight. “When the incentive dries up because funds run out, people pull back again. And frankly the correction in building materials probably has further to go.” . . .

The winding down of incentives to purchase energy-efficient appliances may also partially explain the decline in sales at department stores, which sell goods like air-conditioners and kitchen appliances. Department stores saw purchases fall 1.8 percent in May after falling by the same percent in April.

Big shocker. As we noted just a week ago, when the $8,000 home-buyer giveaway ended, home sales cratered, when Cash-for-Clunkers welfare ended, car sales dropped, and when the temporary Census jobs go away, employment numbers will drop.

Not to beat a dead-horse here, but how many times do we need to explain that the way to spur sustained sales of a product, whether it’s a car, TV, Cuisinart, house, or even a job, is for there to be a genuine demand. Genuine consumer demand arises when people can earn disposable income. Genuine corporate demand for employees arises when companies have money from sustained sales of their products.

Welfare payments to people so they can buy specific products doesn’t change anybody’s underlying economic condition.

If the government wants to assist, it should cut individual and corporate tax rates. And then get the hell out of the way.

The Liberals’ policies are untethered from any viable economic model. Just look at their numbers.


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  1. collapse expand

    “Welfare payments to people so they can buy specific products doesn’t change anybody’s underlying economic condition.

    If the government wants to assist, it should cut individual and corporate tax rates. And then get the hell out of the way.

    The Liberals’ policies are untethered from any viable economic model. Just look at their numbers.”

    I agree. You are absolutely correct.

  2. collapse expand

    How much taxes should be cut from individuals? 5%? 10%? Let’s go with 10%. For someone making, say, $45,000/year.

    So, if I am now paying 25% from my paycheck, instead, I’ll pay 15%, growing my income from 33750/year to 38,250/year. Roughly. Is that kind of what you’re talking about?

    • collapse expand

      Exactly. Multiply that by everybody who works for a living and consumer spending will explode. The goods and services they purchase will be a boon to companies (and to the U.S. Treasury in the form of taxes), who will then hire more employees. Unemployment will drop. That’s the way it works.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I’m sorry, but an extra $5,000 is likely just going to pay back debt.

        Besides, isn’t this whole year – and last – failed conservative economic policy? It’s unfair to focus on “May” as an indicator and ignore the, well, RECESSION that Republican economic principles caused in the first place.

        There’s a line in the merchant of Venice, where a character pokes fun of the fact that during the summer time, the government goes on to fix roads that were never broken in the first place. Because actually, the way it works, is that government can and always has created jobs when necessary. Just as every war-torn country after WWII. And WWI, for that matter.

        You want lower taxes, fine, then get rid of At-Will-Employment. You can’t take away social safety nets while simultaneously giving managers the right to fire an employee “for no reason at all”, as the law is now.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          First, there is no “right” to a job. And yes, $5,000 per person would generate an avalanche of consumer spending, which more than any other factor, is what drives the economy.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            I did not say “right” to a job, I said end at-will employment (which exists only in America in terms of other Western nations, by the way. They don’t have “right to a job” either, but they have rights as workers not be fired arbitrarily).

            You cannot legitimately defend that we, the consumers (we’re also CITIZENS, by the way) need money in our pockets to sustain a healthy economy and then dismiss the secure access to that money.

            It is far cheaper to pay for our roads, fire, police, and public schools across all the citizenry by pooling together resources (in the form of taxes) than we would pay for those thingson the free market. The same goes with healthcare (which is why private healthcare in the UK costs the average family about $800/year, instead of a month).

            Labor creates wealth. Workers create wealth. We create wealth. That is what should be rewarded. As long as we have the mentality that “wealth creates wealth”, you get a huge divide between the wealthy and the poor, created institutionally rather than “naturally, through the free market competitiveness”. And that is inherently unsustianable, and turns into what we have happening in America today – where last year, the wealthy actually became WEALTHIER, and the other 95% of us ended up where we are.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I’m sorry, but an extra $5,000 is likely just going to pay back debt. Maybe from healthcare bills or the $90000 of school debt that saddles young people their whole lives.

        Besides, isn’t this whole year – and last – failed conservative economic policy? It’s unfair to focus on “May” as an indicator and ignore the, well, RECESSION that Republican economic principles caused in the first place.

        There’s a line in the merchant of Venice, where a character pokes fun of the fact that during the summer time, the government goes on to fix roads that were never broken in the first place. Because actually, the way it works, is that government can and always has created jobs when necessary. Just as every war-torn country after WWII.  And WWI, for that matter.

        You want lower taxes, fine, then get rid of At-Will-Employment. You can’t take away social safety nets while simultaneously giving managers the right to fire an employee “for no reason at all”, as the law is now.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    I wish governments would realize what they’re for.

    We build them so that we can defend our country, we build them so that we can police our streets, build better roads, invest in education. In other words, they are insurance, and investments.

    When we build government that “redistributes the wealth”, nothing much will happen to our economy. And I think that pretty well describes what is going on here. Unless, we’re building infrastructure, shoring up our civilization, exploring new frontiers in science, or educating future generations, we shouldn’t spend the money.

  4. collapse expand

    Mr. Dupray,

    You wrote:”If the government wants to assist, it should cut individual and corporate tax rates.”

    This is precisely the problem, taxes are at their lowest rates since the 1920’s. In the 1950’s & ’60’s the highest individual rates was over 90% where now it is the low 30%’s. It is a similar situation with corporate taxes. If lowering taxes help anything our economy should be in better shape than the 1950’s but it is much worse.

    • collapse expand

      david:
      You are absolutely right! And to take it one step further: the biggest corporations in America aren’t paying ANY (US) taxes because most of them are ‘headquartered’ in countries other than America just so they don’t have to pay them (see the Rachel Maddow show from a couple of weeks ago about how some of the wealthiest US businesses have headquarters in foreign countries that don’t require them to pay ANY taxes ANYwhere).

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Did it ever occur to you that companies go where their taxes are lowest? If you want to keep them here, lower the taxes. If you build it, they will come.

        Virginia is the Number 1 state in which to do business. It has low taxes and regulations. That brings jobs, often at the expense of high tax and regulation states like California.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Bill,

          Did you ever stop to think that Virginia’s economy is almost totally dependant on the Federal government, and that a substantial amount of the “business” it attracts is paid for with taxes withdrawn from other, more productive, states?

          I mean what sorts of companies do you think fill all of those fancy offices in Rosslyn, Vienna, and Herdnon? They’re all contractors who the vast majority of their business with the government.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      So I guess big, fat tax increases will help? The total amount of taxes, not just income taxes, we pay is staggering. And why do we have such high taxes? Politicians simply will not stop spending our money on a bunch of utterly useless, economically backwards crap. They are parasites, nearly all of whom need to be removed from office – and yes that includes a lot of Republicans too.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    When will conservatives stop the BS. Your policies didn’t work either plain and simple. You put two endless wars on the credit card of the American people and now Obama’s the bad guy. I’ll give you guys some credit taxes are too high and yes too many social programs that are meant to help end up just abused by lazy people gaming the system, but for the love of God please admit when your wrong too. Both sides of the isle sold the American middle class down the road, and thats a fact. Medicare part D where was the fuss from the right? Halliburton no bid contracts where was the fuss from the right? Stop writing BS and let’s finally have an intellectual conversation in this country

  6. collapse expand

    It’s nice to wave scholarship around but there are economic models suggesting, for example, cutting individual but not corporate tax rates:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/why-we-are-moving-toward_b_610017.html

    Political posturing is no substitute for astute analysis.

    • collapse expand

      measures for the redistribution of incomes in a way likely to raise the propensity to consume.” Translated: Instead of big tax cuts for corporations and the rich, tax cuts and income supplements for the middle class.

      Cool; these words mean Obama is doing it right, and … using the phrase: ‘redistribution of incomes’ instead of that other phrase that means essentially the same thing: ’spread the wealth around’ I’d say it’s past time for the far-right wingnut population in this great ethersphere to realize how stupid they really sound.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Todd, Obama and Co. are Keynesian. They are going to cause the double-dip. Democrats have controlled Congress for nearly 4 years. They are the ones in charge of spending. And look what they have wrought. The recession happened while they were in charge of the purse.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    Any “cash for” program is a (specific) price cut, and the end of same is a price increase.

    Price cuts stimulating demand, and price increases reducing demand, sounds more like the first day at my Econ 201 class than a surprising insight.

    The price-cuts did drag a lot of savings money out of the woodwork, because people then spend it on a durable good rather than hold it back, which strikes me as a good thing during a recession. Sales don’t “crater” afterwards, they return to their previous level – at least you got some money into circulation you wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Tax cuts obviously also stimulate demand – from those who don’t have all the durable goods they already want. The richer you are, the more likely you are to already have the fridge and car you want, the more likely you are to just put the extra money away in the bank, stimulating exactly nothing.

    Obama did cut taxes for everybody below, what, $250K/year? I make half that and there’s very little I would buy with extra money.

    The opposite philosophy is that cutting taxes at the top “trickles down” money to the great unwashed. We’ve had almost 30 years of that and the bottom 50% of the income distribution now owns 2.5% of total wealth. You still on board with that one, Bill?

  8. collapse expand

    Mr. Dupray,

    I would like to add that the “Cash for Clunkers” program was not just about stimulating the economy, it was also about getting older, less fuel efficient and more polluting cars off of the road – hence the “clunker” end of the equation. The program was not supposed to, in and of itself, revive the economy but both provide improved average fuel efficiency to the total US fleet of automobiles, reduce the overall emissions of pollution, AND give the economy a bit of a boost.

    • collapse expand

      What it did was take more affordable, older used cars off the road, which made it harder for lower income folks to find a car. I wrote a piece last August with about 5 reasons why Cash-for-Clunkers was one of the most economically idiotic programs around. The cons of the program far outweighed any pros because this kind of program alters the incentives of a normal free-market, leaving numerous unintended consequences, which, in this case, adversely affected almost exclusively lower and middle class people.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Mr. Dupray,

        I noticed that you did not actually reply to my comment. The purpose of the “Cash for Clunkers” was, in large part, to improve energy efficiency and to reduce pollution. In this it was successful. Did it single-handedly end the “Great Recession”? No but it did not do any harm.

        You linked story was full of sound and fury but decidedly short on actual facts.

        You mention in your posting some unintended consequences of the “Cash for Clunkers” program but you did not identify any other than a crippling shortage of used cars. However, I am unaware of any sudden shortage of used cars or of individuals of modest income being unable to purchase a used car because of unavailability.

        Perhaps you might provide some documentation

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I’m sorry, did you say “Free Market” in the context of automobile ownership and usage?

        That would only be a free market if everybody had to pay for the roads they use, rather than relying upon FREE public roads, urban and highway. The USA has 4 million miles of them at a cost of a few million per mile, on the average. (I’ll skip the free government bridges and $100M interchanges, you get the point.)

        If we didn’t have those, car ownership would plummet. The gas tax works out to a penny per mile driven; if you funded it ALL with gas taxes, it would be many dollars per gallon rather than 18 cents.

        Half the people in the USA pay little or no taxes, so don’t pay for roads now. If they had to, the probably couldn’t. The lowered usage would mean way fewer roads entirely; rural areas would be served by dirt roads only. Suburbs would be only for the wealthy, most people would take the bus, we’d have a whole different urban design and a whole different-looking society. Businesses would have trouble finding labour that could make it to the job site unless it was served by buses or trains.

        Greenpeace, I suppose, would be ecstatic, but the rest of us, (non-green-fanatic) liberals included, would be bummed.

        The argument here reminds me of “government out of health care, especially, it shouldn’t touch my Medicare”. It’s “I demand a Free Market, except the huge parts of it that already aren’t free; those are grandfathered-in and not subject to discussion”.

        Look, the “cash for” programs do EXACTLY the same thing to the market that business does all the time: put products on sale at a time when sales are slow. People buy because products are cheaper, but more importantly, they buy NOW because the sale will end soon. It took some billions in government money, and many more billions in private money (that would otherwise have stayed in the bank) into vendors pockets, keeping their doors open and their employees off the dole. No vendor would expect business to stay up after the sale was over; neither did anybody in government expect that for this “sale”. It worked as designed, but it wasn’t designed to pass a miracle.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          That would only be a free market if everybody had to pay for the roads they use, rather than relying upon FREE public roads, urban and highway. The USA has 4 million miles of them at a cost of a few million per mile, on the average. (I’ll skip the free government bridges and $100M interchanges, you get the point.)

          They are not free. That is a common liberal presumption, that money that the government spends is somehow free. Roads were paved with American taxpayer dollars. To the extent that people who don’t pay taxes use the roads, the rest of us paid for them. It’s a free ride (as it were).

          Look, the “cash for” programs do EXACTLY the same thing to the market that business does all the time: put products on sale at a time when sales are slow. People buy because products are cheaper, but more importantly, they buy NOW because the sale will end soon. It took some billions in government money . . .

          Again, from an economic standpoint it is NOTHING like a sale. The money being used is other people’s tax dollars. So you and I were paying for part of somebody else’s car and refrigerator. To the extent the GM (which is, ironically, owned by the government) or Frigidaire sold their products, they were effectively bailout payments, i.e. they received government tax dollars for their retail products. Under the clunkers programs, those particular manufacturers won the prettiest girl at the ball contest. It is all about political influence when Congress and the president pick the winners and losers in the free market. For example, there was no subsidy for chimney sweeps because the UAW knows more people on Capitol Hill than the United Chimney Sweeps of America (presuming there is such a thing). Money that might have been spent on sweeping contracts were diverted to the clunker products. The government has no business picking winners in the retail market.

          If you want to give $500 of your money to Best Buy to subsidize some guy’s new dishwasher, be my guest. That is what the “sale” was here. I just ask that you leave the rest of us out of it.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            Ok, looking at all the programs that Obama has run since he took office and how these programs were paid for with taxes that you and I paid reminded me of the war that we have been fighting for 6+ years now (long enough that I don’t even know when it started)and all the taxpayer money that was used (and sadly, is still being used)to prove who the big dog is. I would much rather “subsidize some guys’ new dishwasher” than spend 1 more dollar on a war that has gotten us nowhere.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            Ummm…I must have expressed that badly. I wasn’t arguing that roads come from hard-earned tax dollars. (Since I started commuting by bike, I have a whole new view on it.)

            I was arguing that the whole notion of “public roads” that are suitable for cars is a massive, massive, ongoing, yearly subsidy of the “Car Culture” that dwarfs the Cash-for-Clunkers program. The entire industry is not managed by the “Free Market”, never has been from its inception. Were it not for the massive subsidy of “free” (note the quotes) roads, there would hardly be a car industry worth mentioning.

            On the other topic, I only meant that it appeared as a “sale” to the consumer. To the vendor, it looks like a subsidy, bailout, whatever. But it was a subsidy that HAD to go through the consumer’s pocket; they couldn’t simply take the money and keep it and pass along nothing, which is pretty much what the banks did with their bailout.

            Also, I was challenging your headline-point that these government giveaways to business were “failures” because sales had again dropped back to normal. They temporarily stimulated sales, then ended. They worked as designed; whether that design did good is another question…

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  9. collapse expand

    This is the problem I have with this type of analysis. Mind you, it’s not aimed at you Bill, but the utter ridiculousness of financial reporting these days.

    It doesn’t take into account the reality of personal finance and spending.

    We’re sitting in the worst economy of our lifetime. Unemployment is still over 9%, and worse in certain parts of the country.

    A large part of this problem is that we, as Americans, have spent beyond out means for the past 30 years.

    And now, as have a chance to correct it (which, I believe many are doing) by saving money, tightening up the belts, making real decisions on needs vs. wants, etc., some in the financial world wonder why spending is down, and conversely, blame that somehow on Washington politics? It’s mildly entertaining, but really just absurd.

    Spending will probably never return to the levels they were at pre-2007. And why? Because now that we’ve experienced tough economic times, the paradigm shift in thought process and financial stability will (hopefully) change.

    Let’s be honest. We’ve lived in a saturated retail environment for the past 15 years. An environment where wealth was measured in over inflated assets, not in cash. Thousands of “paper millionaires” were created, of which, thousands have now gone away.

    Why would anyone expect retail sales to rise and rise and rise when millions of Americans are still out of work? And further, how could anyone expect the general American public to go right back to the same spending and borrowing habits that created this problem in the first place?

    This has nothing to do with Obama, Bill. It has everything to do with the public at large.

    And the sooner that big business realizes that their revenue streams in the retail world are not going to rise back up anytime soon, the better off they will be.

    I don’t get it. This isn’t advanced economics. This is basic psychology and only requires that one look no further than the data itself, surrounded by the circumstance of the past 4 years, in order to understand what is happening.

    I make 100k+ a year, and I live in a very in-expensive part of Washington state. And tbh, I completely re-evaluated my spending habits and have since really tightened the belt. All the crap I spent money on 5 years ago isn’t anywhere in the cards today. But then again, i was never the one to go out and buy that new BMW, when all I needed was a used Acura to get me from A to B.

  10. collapse expand

    Respectfully, to characterize any policy that comes out of D.C. or any other State or local government as being liberal or conservative ignores the fact that the big money that elects Presidents, Senators, or Congress Persons also controls most of what they produce in the way of policy. Don’t feel bad, in the past I often got caught up in the partisan bickering; however, as my journey of writing and researching has progressed, the facts that I have unearthed so to speak have helped me to come to the conclusion that the bickering between right and left, conservative and liberal, religious and atheist, and pro-life and pro-choice, to name a few is nothing more than a way for the Plutocracy to divide us into managable demographic groups whose core beliefs once exposed are easily manipulated.

    The United States is a Representative Democracy in name only, it has been for sometime a Supercapitalist Plutocracy. I write on economic and political matters and a great portion of my articles with links to main stream media sources and professional association website articles are included in a recent article I wrote titled http://bit.ly/Why-Obama-Cannot+ Fix The Real Economic Problems.

    The problems we face as a country are because we are being divided by the Plutocracy. Please take the time to read the article and the links to supporting articles and all the sources that back up my thesis. Then after that point if you choose to engage in this type of writing we’ll at least know how to gauge what you are trying to accomplish.

    Consider this point: Presidents have two masters, the Plutocracy and the People. Common sense policy that solves problems and brings back jobs for the people that are in conflict with what the Plutocracy demands forces a change in policy to something un-sound that does not address problems, but merely try to hide symptoms. That is the dysfunction of Government the tug of war between the votes of the people and the money and power of the Plutocracy.

    You stated above: “Genuine corporate demand for employees arises when companies have money from sustained sales of their products.” If a corporation’s management outsources its production to a country with labor rates of $5/day, and whose laborers cannot afford the product they are making, because the corporation has ceased growing and in order to satisfy stockholders and keep their management jobs they shift production in ever increasing amounts to these low wage countries, eventually you have a collapse of epic proportion that cannot be corrected for because the Plutocracy won’t allow the problem to be corrected but only symptoms to be addressed.

    • collapse expand

      On your last point, whether a company’s laborers can afford to purchase the product they are making is utterly irrelevant to anything. People work for a company if the overall package of remuneration is better than any other job that is available to them. It really is that simple. If they get paid $5.00/day and the alternative is $3.00/day or unemployment, aren’t they getting paid the most they can earn? Aren’t the workers lucky the company is there, since otherwise they would have nothing? After all, the company can go anywhere it wants, but it chose one particular place, where residents will now have a paying job.

      A shareholder-owned company is in existence for one purpose: Make money for the shareholders who gave their capital to the company expressly for that purpose. Companies do not exist to employ people. They employ people to make a product that will make the shareholders money. The best way to do that is to find the cheapest labor you can find to keep overhead costs down, thereby maximizing profit.

      One can argue correctly that companies who engage in sweat-shop labor practices should be exposed and ostracized. This will cause consumers to avoid their products, and profits will drop. Shareholders will not be happy and will start to take their money elsewhere. That dynamic is exactly what the free-market is designed to do: penalize bad behavior and poor products and reward those who correct their ways.

      The most ignorant statement one can make about business is that somehow a private company owes something to anybody but its shareholders. It is a private company – owned by private people. As long as it does not violate any laws, nobody has a right to tell it how to do anything.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Respectfully, regarding your first point if 9 million people working for U.S. companies that can afford the product they are producing and the jobs are shifted to wage slave nations where laborers cannot afford the product they won’t lose 9 million units in potential sales? What about the income of the U.S. worker going from 20 per hour to 10 whose job went to the $5/day country? Does that sound like a negative economic pressure? Does that impact taxable U.S. income negatively? Does it impact Social Security and Medicare receipts? And how does one achieve such a trade policy that produces that much harm to the U.S. economy if they aren’t in control of the government? A company can go where it wants when it maneuvers the government into entering into trade agreements that benefit the company, a select few, and the wage slave nation at the developed nations economy expense, but those days are soon ending.

        Your second point is very myopic respectfully. A shareholder-owned company that ignores its customers, their communities, and their property values in pursuing profits at any cost and causes harm to our country like I described above will eventually reorganize itself to be a better steward of the communities it profits from or fail.

        That is why we moved most production from Mexico to China. China is very controlling of the media coverage and does what it can to prevent its slave labor practices from becoming public knowledge.

        Respectfully, I’ve owned and operated a business and survived longer than virtually every competitor I faced when I started my company in 1991. If I were to have operated my business in the manner you espouse, I would have surely failed like most of my competitors have. The reason why there are so many mergers and acquisitions in Corporate America is to hide the devastation that results from the singular focus on profits without regard to anything else.

        And you make an assumption when you call me a Liberal. I am an Independent and I have liberal tendencies in some areas and conservative tendencies in others. Respectfully, do you understand the word Conservative? Is operating a business that does not consider its customers welfare conservative? Isn’t ignoring everything else except profit a dangerous and therefore very unconservative approach to business? I’ll await your responses.

        Thank you for the discussion. Take care.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          On your suggestion that I am implying that corporations should be all profit at the expense of everything else, including their customers, I would reiterate my point above.

          One can argue correctly that companies who engage in sweat-shop labor practices should be exposed and ostracized. This will cause consumers to avoid their products, and profits will drop. Shareholders will not be happy and will start to take their money elsewhere. That dynamic is exactly what the free-market is designed to do: penalize bad behavior and poor products and reward those who correct their ways.

          Good corporate citizens make more money because their customers will view them in a better light. It is in their best interest, so as to maximize their profit to be as appealing to as many people as possible in as many ways as possible. You and I agree.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Boycott sweatshops? You know, for real supply/demand economics to work, the consumer has to be well informed. And consumers are most certainly NOT.

        As for the oft-repeated but never less infuriating. comment that laborers should be “happy” they have a job, it’s the other way around. The bosses should be happy they have laborers,  because I am fairly certain companies could not exist without them.  It is from their labor the management makes their money, not their own labor, and labor is a commodity like anything else that should have fair market value, not exploited and paid the leasy amount possibly LEGAL so that profit at the top could be maximized. Don’t give us the trickle-down BS: if any company in the world could figure out a feasible and legal way to have the work of 100 employees done only by 30 employees, they’d lay off those 70 in a heartbeat and maximize profit at the top.  That is the reality of American capitalism. Workers have no protection,  under “at-will employment” laws, we can be fired for “no reason at all”.

        It is an inherently unfair system which is why it is collapsing.  Not because “taxes are too high”. The most developed European economies have higher marginal tax rates than we do, did they have tent cities popping up when their recession hit last year?  Are young people crippled under university debt there? Are people going untreated because they can no longer afford healthcare costs? Are there no millionaires in France or the UK? They have more independent businesses there per capita than we do.

        Those populations are secure – becaues at-will employment does not exist, they will never die due to unaffordable healthcare, they will never have $40,000 in student loans (or higher) – and they have some of the strongest economies in the world. Only here do our “conservatives” sell us the line that we should be “grateful” to have a job when compared to other developed economies and throw us a few thousands (or usually, HUNDRED) dollars in token tax cuts when the top income bracket rakes in millions – who then move it offshore and pass it on to their spoiled useless

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  11. collapse expand

    “On your last point, whether a company’s laborers can afford to purchase the product they are making is utterly irrelevant to anything. People work for a company if the overall package of remuneration is better than any other job that is available to them. It really is that simple. If they get paid $5.00/day and the alternative is $3.00/day or unemployment, aren’t they getting paid the most they can earn? Aren’t the workers lucky the company is there, since otherwise they would have nothing? After all, the company can go anywhere it wants, but it chose one particular place, where residents will now have a paying job.”

    This is PRECISELY why most of the world’s population hates our guts. And it’s also the reason that you and your ilk will finish your days in front of a firing squad.
    How’s that for socialism, you goddamn exploitive fascist prick.

  12. collapse expand

    Oh I don’t have to worry where I stand. I’m not the one who’s gonna end up getting run over by the tide of humanity. And you can shove that “tolerant lefty friend” shit right up your ass, you fascist prick.

  13. collapse expand

    “You seem to be saying that the government should run corporations. Am I wrong?”

    Yes, on several counts. I never said one word about “government” running corporations. This is a totally mute point at this time, because it is in fact corporate interests that are running the “government.” (I apologize for the quotations around the word “government” but this is necessary in this context, because you continually use the word as a noun, an entity, when in fact it is a verb, an activity.)
    Secondly, I never said anything about outlawing corporations. I am not some muddle-headed granola-girl dingbat in a tiedye blathering incoherently about how evil the corporations are. A corporation is simply a legal framework for oligarchs and autocrats to hide their ill-gotten gains. For example, BP isn’t evil; the greedy mutherfuckering fascist pricks who RUN and OWN BP are evil. “BP” didn’t fuck up a drilling operation in the gulf; the assholes who run it did. The idea that BP is some kind of entity apart from the people who make it up is just pseudo-hegelian nonsense. Which brings us to my third point:
    It is this very inability to distinguish between the organization and the people who actually constitute it that will inevitably lead to atrocities (and this is true for those outside the organization as well as those within it), WHETHER THEY ARE DESERVED OR NOT. When Nicholas II bought the farm did he deserve it? Fuck yes. Did his daughters? I’d say no, but we both know how these things work out.
    Which unfortunately brings us back to the aforementioned firing squads. And note that these firing squads need not be literal. We thought (both democrat and republican) that debt was something, a noun if you will, that was external to our own activity that created it, and now our economic system is facing a financial firing squad.
    Our glorious leaders have failed us. As our leaders, they have, by definition, led us to this. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. I do not say this as a rallying cry, but as a comment on the weather. It’s raining; we’re fucked. My original comment about you and yours (which unavoidably includes me and mine) in front of a firing squad was said in exactly the same sense.
    Ultimately, you and I, as Americans, are just as fucked as any rabbi in Tel Aviv. We have grown old, weak, and slow. There are younger lions waiting in the wings.

  14. collapse expand

    Bill Clinton and the Democrats raised taxes in 1993. Republicans voted against, every one, and predicted economic doom. The republicans preemptively repudiated any responsibility for what would follow.

    Too bad for them what they repudiated was rapid ecnomic growth for years.

    In 1981, Ronald Reagan signed legislation raising the national debt limit to one terabuck. Our national debt as a percent of GDP was 32%.

    When Shrub the First left office in 1992, our national debt as a percent of GDP was over 60%.

    By hard work, and without Republican assistance (remember, they repudiated responsibility for the consequences of Clinton’s economic policy), our national debt as a percent of GDP was down to 57%.

    Shrub the Second drove it well over 70% by 2007%, by which time Greenspan’s sustained lunacy caught up with us and the bottom dropped out of the economy.

    Yup, Republican fingerprints are all over about 80% of our national debt.

  15. collapse expand

    I wish we (mankind) HAD conquered space by now. That way we could have the luxury of setting up an experimental PLANET in which Bill Dupray and his friends (who honed their political views in Ayn Rand discussion groups in college) could have at it and implement their program in its purest form.
    We (the rest of mankind) leave them alone for 20 years, then return to check on the result: Will they have created a utopian capitalist paradise? Or maybe a “Lord of the Flies” hellhole? Would be curious to see…

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    About Me

    I am a lawyer afflicted with a consuming desire to analyze and debate politics.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 55
    Contributor Since: September 2009
    Location:Virginia