State of the "Union"



  • I know this site has a global audience, but as the world is now a smaller place this general topic probably affects everyone in some small amount.

    So my question is - does anyone else feel that the State of the Union address last night was more about division than about unity?  I find it really sad that the leader of a nation founded with a recognition that "divided we fall" had a large focus of his speech on exacerbating the "income inequality" debate.  There was very little about "let's work together" and instead it was "we need to make sure that this group we want to vilify pays more!"

    Wouldn't it be better to foster an environment where the "haves" feel compelled out of interest rather than force of law to give back to society*?

    I heard a great illustration recently about how in the Australian outback the cattle ranchers don't build fences but build wells instead - instead of putting restrictions on their herds they put in things that the herds want so they stick around naturally.  I think there's something to learn there.

     

    *I make this statement even though I personally feel that capital gains should indeed be taxed at higher rates than they currently are.  One thing that I'd change that would really have people up in arms, though, is that I would even tax gains on real estate; the US systems is a bit odd in that gains of up to a half million dollars on real estate are not counted as income (although some argue it's balanced because losses are not deductible either).  I'm pretty sure that's part of the reason we had a housing bubble - as evidenced by popular television shows like "Flip this House" which pretty much make me sick to my stomach.



  • I was expecting some SQL WTF.




  • Yeah, something about UNION ALL etc.



  • Fuck the South!  They're nothing but a bunch of slow-talking, lazy racists anyway.



  • Which country are you talking about?

    What kind of "income inequality" are we talking about here?

    Why should I care? Elaborate on how you seem to think this affects everyone globally in some way.



    If you're going to open your post acknowledging that this is a multinational forum, the least you could do is explain wtf you are talking about.

    @too_many_usernames said:

    I heard a great illustration recently about how in the Australian outback the cattle ranchers don't build fences but build wells instead - instead of putting restrictions on their herds they put in things that the herds want so they stick around naturally.

    First I've heard of it, and it sounds like a lie.

    Hint: Cattle can't operate wells.

    Hint 2: Fences keep things out as well. Like dingoes. And kangaroos.



  •  I hear Obama declares his variables in the line before they're first used, rather than at the top of the function. Doesn't he know the rift that causes in these tough socioeconomic times? What a jerk.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    So my question is - does anyone else feel that the State of the Union address last night was more about division than about unity?

    The SOTU speach has become an extended campaign exercise. I think we'd be better served if the President went back to sending a written statement to Congress.

    @too_many_usernames said:

    I make this statement even though I personally feel that capital gains should indeed be taxed at higher rates than they currently are.

    Is this because you would prefer less dollars paid into the treasury as a result of these transactions? Because that's what history shows happens. Or are you just focused on some ghost of "fairness." In fact, when charged on stocks, I think it's important to note that the taxes on capital gains happen after the corporation has been taxed. Also, there's the issue of inflation, since for a long term asset, that probably makes up a lot of the capital gain.

    Frankly, I'd prefer to get rid of corporate taxes and capital gains taxes altogether. Well, maybe just lower capital gains, but definitely get rid of corporate taxes, since corporations don't actually pay taxes, they just collect them.

    @too_many_usernames said:
    ...the US systems is a bit odd in that gains of up to a half million dollars on real estate are not counted as income (although some argue it's balanced because losses are not deductible either)

    I think it's generally been that way for residential real estate purposes. Like any other transaction, taxing it more reduces the number and value of transactions. I guess you could argue that this isn't worth much, and at least partially contributed to the real estate bubble, but I don't think it did much as far as that goes.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    So my question is - does anyone else feel that the State of the Union address last night was more about division than about unity? 

    Are you talking about division by zero and Unity? How are they related?



  • @ochrist said:

    Unity?
    Not this Unity? The "Develop once, publish Everywhere!" software for developing games.




    - "Everywhere" does not include Linux.



  • I do wonder wether it was about trying to scupper Romney so that Newt will run against Obama and he will then have an easier election!



  • @boomzilla said:

    Is this because you would prefer less dollars paid into the treasury as a result of these transactions? Because that's what history shows happens.

    I suppose some of that matters if your goal is to increase treasury
    revenue, but I'm not sure that's a sensible goal in and of itself (yes,
    if you have a deficit, then this is a good goal - but so is reducing
    expenditures). 

    @boomzilla said:

    In fact, when charged on stocks, I think it's important to note that the taxes on capital gains happen after the corporation has been taxed.

    This only applies to dividends.  Most capital gains associated with stocks are wholly independent from a company's revenue except by association.  Take Apple's recent massive revenue and profit quarter, and the associated increase in stock price.  Yes, Apple's income was taxed.  But if I held stock and then sold it, the money I gained is not the money that Apple took in.  There is no double taxation there.  While I could argue for no taxes on dividends though, I think the rates on stock appreciation should be at a much higher rate than 15% purely because they involve a different revenue stream.  Consider that a plane-jane interest-bearing account has that interest charged at your marginal income rate rather than at the 15% capital gains rate. Why is this, when the interest on a savings account most surely is the same type of income as that realized from stock appreciation?

    @boomzilla said:


    Frankly, I'd prefer to get rid of corporate taxes and capital gains taxes altogether. Well, maybe just lower capital gains, but definitely get rid of corporate taxes, since corporations don't actually pay taxes, they just collect them

     

    Again, it depends on your goal.  Some people would rather see the opposite: only corporate taxes, and zero personal taxes. Of course, this gets strange anyway, because in the US corporations are considered "persons" for certain legal situations.  In general the question you have to ask (and look at past history) is, when companies have to pay less tax, how does this affect profitability, employment, median income, etc.?

    Now, I agree that a question that should be asked (that most people don't) is: if a company or person has $X billion, where is that money?  It's most surely not sitting idle in a vault somewhere - it is probably "stored" as people's salaries, etc.  Similarly, most of people's "wealth" isn't realized anyway (for instance, the value of stock that you've not sold, or the equity you have in real estate).

    @boomzilla said:

    Like any other transaction, taxing it more reduces the number and value of transactions. I guess you could argue that this isn't worth much, and at least partially contributed to the real estate bubble, but I don't think it did much as far as that goes.

    I might argue that perhaps the frequency of real estate trades should be lower, as should the nominal value associated with those trades.  What benefit to society is there for people who don't want a house to live in buy it at a low price, then sell it to someone who does need it at a higher price? The answer that most traders give is "liquidity" which to some extent is valid, but there are not many checks and balances on the system - it is far too easy for a trader to start buying things up, then gain a market-making share, and then the market is controlled by a very few who don't actually use the goods they control (this is the main argument against commodities traders - the individual is at the whim of the wholesalers).

     



  •  Let me guess... Tea Party Republican?

     From an objective standpoint (I hate both parties), the Republicans were far more divisive.  In his criticisms, Obama didn't really target the Republicans as much as Congress as a whole.  The opposition response was all about how great the Republicans are, and how things would be much better if only the Democrats would cooperate.

     Oh, and I don't see how asking rich people to pay the SAME RATE as middle class people is vilifying rich people.

    Regardless of whether you feel Obama really meant what he said, it's really difficult to argue that he was divisive. His address was pretty close to centrist as you can get.



  •  For the record, I'm not a fan of the president.  I detest his bailouts, his failure to prosecute Wall Street, his signing the NDAA, his pandering to unions, etc.  But if we're talking about divisiveness, it's impossible for me to look anywhere else but the sour-grapes, obstructionist, hypocritical Republicans in Congress.  I expect a Democrat to lean towards government intervention, but it pisses me off when a Republican calls for a smaller government and then votes for a bigger one.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    @boomzilla said:
    Is this because you would prefer less dollars paid into the treasury as a result of these transactions? Because that's what history shows happens.

    I suppose some of that matters if your goal is to increase treasury
    revenue, but I'm not sure that's a sensible goal in and of itself (yes,
    if you have a deficit, then this is a good goal - but so is reducing
    expenditures).

    So....why are you levying taxes if not to raise money for the government? You just want people to stop buying and selling assets? Or you just haven't thought this one through.

    @too_many_usernames said:

    @boomzilla said:
    In fact, when charged on stocks, I think it's important to note that the taxes on capital gains happen after the corporation has been taxed.

    This only applies to dividends.

    Yes, it's a lot more of an issue with dividends, and stock value appreciation is much more indirect, and obviously not completely correlated.

    @too_many_usernames said:

    I might argue that perhaps the frequency of real estate trades should be lower, as should the nominal value associated with those trades.  What benefit to society is there for people who don't want a house to live in buy it at a low price, then sell it to someone who does need it at a higher price? The answer that most traders give is "liquidity" which to some extent is valid, but there are not many checks and balances on the system - it is far too easy for a trader to start buying things up, then gain a market-making share, and then the market is controlled by a very few who don't actually use the goods they control (this is the main argument against commodities traders - the individual is at the whim of the wholesalers).

    The problem, with pretty much any market, is rarely speculators. Rather, speculators are just taking advantage of what's already there. And the reduced liquidity can have lots of unintended consequences. For example, if it's difficult to sell a house, you may be effectively stuck in one region, and cannot relocate to take advantage of different job markets, or just a different place that is more desirable.

    That's not to say that the benefits from taxation are necessarily outweighed by the unintended consequences, but it's certainly something that should be considered.



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    Let me guess... Tea Party Republican?

    Relatively accurate, yes.

    @ShatteredArm said:

    From an objective subjective standpoint (I hate both parties),

    FTFY

    @ShatteredArm said:

    ...the Republicans were far more divisive.  In his criticisms, Obama didn't really target the Republicans as much as Congress as a whole.  The opposition response was all about how great the Republicans are, and how things would be much better if only the Democrats would cooperate.

    Ah, right, the Congress as a whole. Well, firstly, no one should be surprised when partisan politicians behave like partisans.

    @ShatteredArm said:

    Regardless of whether you feel Obama really meant what he said, it's really difficult to argue that he was divisive. His address was pretty close to centrist as you can get.

    You mean like how he contradicted himself, thereby averaging out to the center? Like when he talked about how great the auto bailouts were...and then said, "It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody." I really wonder what you believe "centrist" to be.



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    But if we're talking about divisiveness, it's impossible for me to look anywhere else but the sour-grapes, obstructionist, hypocritical Republicans in Congress.  I expect a Democrat to lean towards government intervention, but it pisses me off when a Republican calls for a smaller government and then votes for a bigger one.

    So, which is it? Are they obstructionist or voting for bigger government (right now). Maybe you're comparing them over a wider time frame, but you seem to be talking about the current group in Congress. I'm with you on loathing them when they act hypocritical and vote contrary to rhetoric.

    I have been amused as elected Democrats have accused the Republicans and their supporters of creating a hostile political environment since Obama was elected. It's like they forgot all of the things said about Bush...the assassination porn in books and plays...and it's not like the hostile politics were anything new long long long before all of that.

    I think the problem isn't "divisiveness" per se. It's not like there's a consensus among the population. Why would we expect either side to give up its principles simply for the sake of unity?



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    but as the world is now a smaller place

    When did that happen?

    @too_many_usernames said:

    So my question is - does anyone else feel that the State of the Union address last night was more about division than about unity?

    For me it was mostly about: "WHY THE FUCK CAN'T YOUTUBE STREAM A FUCKING VIDEO CHRIST THIS IS WORSE THAN REALPLAYER FUCKING SHIT COCK SHIT FUCK!" The stream mostly cut-out when Obama was actually talking, so I pretty much only heard the applause.



  • By "centrist," I mean, "in the middle." You know, something that would appeal to moderates, and not people at the extremes.  Sure, he wasn't always consistent, but the things he said were generally not ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative.  

    The Democrats were certainly divisive under Bush, but there weren't nearly as obstructionist as the current crop of Republicans.  I certainly don't remember any threats of government shutdown under Bush.  Before 2011, I considered the Republicans to be ideologically inconsistent, and, like all politicians, bought and paid for, but after holding the debt ceilings and payroll tax cuts hostage, they took on a new level of obstructionism that transcends the expected Washington partisanship.

    Why would we expect either side to give up its principles simply for the sake of unity?

    Don't conflate principles and ideology. Only a small minority in either party have the former.

     

    @ShatteredArm said:
    From an objective subjective standpoint (I hate both parties),

    FTFY

    No, I meant objective.

     

    objective (comparative more objective, superlative most objective)

    1. of or relating to a material object, actual existence or reality
    2. agreed upon by all parties present (or nearly all); based on consensually observed facts  [quotations ▼]
      • 1975, Constitution of Greece:
        Engagement of employees in the Public Administration and in the wider Public Sector, ... , shall take place either by competitive entry examination or by selection on the basis of predefined and objective criteria, and shall be subject to the control of an independent authority, as specified by law.
    3. not influenced by irrational emotions or prejudices
    4. (grammar) of, or relating to a noun or pronoun used as the object of a verb  [quotations ▼]

     



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    Before 2011, I considered the Republicans to be ideologically inconsistent, and, like all politicians, bought and paid for, but after holding the debt ceilings and payroll tax cuts hostage, they took on a new level of obstructionism that transcends the expected Washington partisanship.

    Oh, like how they passed several bills, not to mention a full on budget earlier in the year?

    @ShatteredArm said:

    @ShatteredArm said:
    From an objective subjective standpoint (I hate both parties),

    FTFY

    No, I meant objective.

    OK, so you hate them all, but are still objective. That's a sweet trick.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    The stream [strike]mostly cut-out when Obama was actually talking[/strike] played perfectly, so I pretty much only heard the applause.
    FTFY



  • @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    The stream [strike]mostly cut-out when Obama was actually talking[/strike] played perfectly, so I pretty much only heard the applause.
    FTFY

    No you didn't. It cut-out. I was sitting there there.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    ... Similarly, most of people's "wealth" isn't realized anyway (for instance, the value of stock that you've not sold, or the equity you have in real estate).


    What do you mean by "realized"? It seems to me that the value there is encapsulated in an instance of something. Do you mean "illiquid" or is there some other important distinguishing feature between valuable stocks and property and money in the bank?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    The stream [strike]mostly cut-out when Obama was actually talking[/strike] played perfectly, so I pretty much only heard the applause.
    FTFY

    No you didn't. It cut-out. I was sitting there there.
    Whoosh



  • @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    The stream [strike]mostly cut-out when Obama was actually talking[/strike] played perfectly, so I pretty much only heard the applause.
    FTFY

    No you didn't. It cut-out. I was sitting there there.
    Whoosh

    I didn't type any kind of sound effect, least of all "whoosh". I'm not sure what you are referring to.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    The stream [strike]mostly cut-out when Obama was actually talking[/strike] played perfectly, so I pretty much only heard the applause.
    FTFY

    No you didn't. It cut-out. I was sitting there there.
    Whoosh
    I didn't type any kind of sound effect, least of all "whoosh". I'm not sure what you are referring to.
    We know, blakey.


  • A busy afternoon at work, so I lost track of things...

    And for the record, I don't think I fit in either the Republican or Tea Party or Democratic camps. Probably closest to Libertarian, but I do like the FAA, FCC, NTSB, CDC, and FDA at least in principle. Most of the other organizations outside the military can go; although I'm pretty isolationist rather than imperialist, it is foolish to strip the military too much - just stop all the preemptive and world police activity and I'd be happy. Mostly I'm just jealous that the military gets to play with the coolest vehicle technology I think.



  • The Universal Union is doing very well, despite the loss of a Citadel.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    A busy afternoon at work, so I lost track of things...

    And for the record, I don't think I fit in either the Republican or Tea Party or Democratic camps. Probably closest to Libertarian, but I do like the FAA, FCC, NTSB, CDC, and FDA at least in principle. Most of the other organizations outside the military can go; although I'm pretty isolationist rather than imperialist, it is foolish to strip the military too much - just stop all the preemptive and world police activity and I'd be happy. Mostly I'm just jealous that the military gets to play with the coolest vehicle technology I think.

    Vote for Ron Paul! :)



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    Oh, and I don't see how asking rich people to pay the SAME RATE as middle class people is vilifying rich people.

    Fine, but you should understand the capital gains is not only earned by rich people. Anyone who has stock options with their employer, a 401k, participates in the stock market in some fashion, or owns a small business will be affected by a capital gains tax increase. If someone who is thinking of starting a small business (thereby employing people and contributing to the economy) suddenly realizes their taxes from their profits will effectively double, they could be discouraged and decide against it (or compensate for the added cost by hiring less people or increasing prices of their products). A lot of the richest people whose sole income is capital gains have earned their money through "evil, greedy ways" but a good lot of them are also the guys who honestly finance and invest in the small businesses that [I]earns[/I] them those capital gains.



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    From an objective standpoint (I hate both parties), the Republicans were far more divisive.  In his criticisms, Obama didn't really target the Republicans as much as Congress as a whole.  The opposition response was all about how great the Republicans are, and how things would be much better if only the Democrats would cooperate.

    The Republicans never claimed to be for unity.  And in fact I'd prefer my representatives stop cooperating with the other side, that's how we get half-hearted measures that never solve any problems, like a couple hundred million in cut expenses which doesn't do DICK to actually fix the deficit.

     @ShatteredArm said:

    Oh, and I don't see how asking rich people to pay the SAME RATE as middle class people is vilifying rich people.

    You could confiscate the entire collected wealth of everyone who Obama so loosely defines as "rich" and it would only operate the Government for about three months.  And after you do that, you can't do it again, because that money gets burned in the Government furnace.  More taxation is not going to fix this, end of story. Not to mention, the Obama admin has no place talking to anyone about not paying enough when as a whole the big fish that make up that administration owe about $800k in taxes.

     @ShatteredArm said:

    Regardless of whether you feel Obama really meant what he said, it's really difficult to argue that he was divisive. His address was pretty close to centrist as you can get.

     

    Obama is as much a centrist as Gingrich.

     



  • @ShatteredArm said:

     For the record, I'm not a fan of the president.  I detest his bailouts, his failure to prosecute Wall Street,

    Prosecute for what?

    @ShatteredArm said:

    I expect a Democrat to lean towards government intervention, but it pisses me off when a Republican calls for a smaller government and then votes for a bigger one.

     

    Agreed there.

     



  • This thread belongs under Forums > General Discussion. Side Bar WTF is for WTFs.



  • @dgvid said:

    Side Bar WTF is for WTFs.
     

    Politics and political discussion.

    This thread is in exactly the right place.



  • @dgvid said:

    This thread belongs under Forums > General Discussion. Side Bar WTF is for WTFs.

    Can you name the last SOTU that wasn't a WTF? I'm not sure, but it was probably long before electronic computers.



  • @dgvid said:

    This thread belongs under Forums > General Discussion. Side Bar WTF is for WTFs.

    Heh, from the thread title I thought it was going to be about using too many database unions or something!



  • @Master Chief said:

    Prosecute for what?

     

    Fraud.  The SEC only goes after non-politically-connected rogue traders. But none of the investment banks, underwriters, treasury secretaries, etc. who have committed fraud have been prosecuted.



  • @Master Chief said:

    The Republicans never claimed to be for unity.  And in fact I'd prefer my representatives stop cooperating with the other side, that's how we get half-hearted measures that never solve any problems, like a couple hundred million in cut expenses which doesn't do DICK to actually fix the deficit.

     You cannot cut the deficit without cooperation.  You need legislation to cut it, and even if you have a Republican majority, you need Democratic cooperation as long as you have a Democrat president.

     The Democrats did, in fact, agree to discuss medicare reform in August, during the debt ceiling debate, but Boehner walked away from the discussion because the Democrats asked to rollback the tax cuts on the wealthy in return.  The Democrats may have been bluffing, but the way to call a bluff is to say, "OK, let's talk."  A good rule of thumb is, if the Democrats are offering entitlement reform, you should at least see what kind of deal they have, because you're not going to get them to talk about entitlement reform very often.

    You could confiscate the entire collected wealth of everyone who Obama so loosely defines as "rich" and [b]it would only operate the Government for about three months. [/b] And after you do that, you can't do it again, because that money gets burned in the Government furnace.  More taxation is not going to fix this, end of story. Not to mention, the Obama admin has no place talking to anyone about not paying enough when as a whole the big fish that make up that administration owe about $800k in taxes.

     

    That's completely absurd.  You don't think 40% of all American wealth (assuming we're talking about just the wealthiest 1%) can run the government for more than three months?  Really?  Not that I'm suggesting all of their wealth should be confiscated, but at least don't use patently absurd made-up factoids in your rhetoric.



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    @Master Chief said:
    Prosecute for what?

    Fraud.  The SEC only goes after non-politically-connected rogue traders. But none of the investment banks, underwriters, treasury secretaries, etc. who have committed fraud have been prosecuted.

    Is there a significant amount of non-prosecuted fraud out there? I've heard complaints about the process used in foreclosures, but frankly that sounds like technicalities. I mean, if they did something wrong, they should face the consequences, but it's not like they were generally foreclosing on up to date loans, from what I understand. Which may be wrong.



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    The Democrats did, in fact, agree to discuss medicare reform in August, during the debt ceiling debate, but Boehner walked away from the discussion because the Democrats asked to rollback the tax cuts on the wealthy in return.  The Democrats may have been bluffing, but the way to call a bluff is to say, "OK, let's talk."  A good rule of thumb is, if the Democrats are offering entitlement reform, you should at least see what kind of deal they have, because you're not going to get them to talk about entitlement reform very often.

    I guess. If you assume the offer of talks made by the Democrats was made in good faith. Their behavior with respect to press releases vs what they were actually willing to offer seems to say that they weren't very willing to actually bargain in good faith. I'd include their current 1000 plus days since the Senate has passed a budget in the evidence against good faith.

    @ShatteredArm said:

    That's completely absurd.  You don't think 40% of all American wealth (assuming we're talking about just the wealthiest 1%) can run the government for more than three months?  Really?  Not that I'm suggesting all of their wealth should be confiscated, but at least don't use patently absurd made-up factoids in your rhetoric.

    I don't know exactly how long it would work, but here's an amusing look at how to pay for a year of government. Whether it's only 3 months or a year, the scale of the US government's budget has gotten absurd. IIRC, only China and Japan have a GDP higher than the current annual budget of the US Government.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @ShatteredArm said:
    @Master Chief said:
    Prosecute for what?

    Fraud.  The SEC only goes after non-politically-connected rogue traders. But none of the investment banks, underwriters, treasury secretaries, etc. who have committed fraud have been prosecuted.

    Is there a significant amount of non-prosecuted fraud out there? I've heard complaints about the process used in foreclosures, but frankly that sounds like technicalities. I mean, if they did something wrong, they should face the consequences, but it's not like they were generally foreclosing on up to date loans, from what I understand. Which may be wrong.

     

    Have you read any of Matt Taibi's articles in Rolling Stone?  That would be a good place to start.

    And I'm not sure it's legal for the treasury secretary to be tipping off hedge funds about Lehman's forthcoming demise, while at the same time telling the general public (e.g., retail investors) that Lehman is fine.  Well... it may or may not be legal, but it was certainly fraudulent.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I guess. If you assume the offer of talks made by the Democrats was made in good faith. Their behavior with respect to press releases vs what they were actually willing to offer seems to say that they weren't very willing to actually bargain in good faith. I'd include their current 1000 plus days since the Senate has passed a budget in the evidence against good faith.

     Like I said, I don't know how much they were really willing to give on Medicare, but my point is, you have to call their bluff, and find out.  If you do that, then you can accuse the Democrats of being unwilling to address long term fiscal problems.  But instead, the Republicans made it completely obvious that they care more about the tax rate on wealthy people than long-term liabilities.

    I don't know exactly how long it would work, but here's an amusing look at how to pay for a year of government. Whether it's only 3 months or a year, the scale of the US government's budget has gotten absurd. IIRC, only China and Japan have a GDP higher than the current annual budget of the US Government.
     

    It's true the US government's budget is out of control.. But at the same time, the problem is the structural, not cyclical, deficit.  The US has more than enough wealth to pay the bills for at least the next decade... Which is why neither party has made a serious effort to repair the structural deficit.



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    Have you read any of Matt Taibi's articles in Rolling Stone?  That would be a good place to start.

    I haven't, but browsing a bit, isn't the stuff he brings up the stuff that Goldman was fined a few months ago? That business was certainly less cut and dried than Taibi's stuff seemed to make out.

    @ShatteredArm said:

    And I'm not sure it's legal for the treasury secretary to be tipping off hedge funds about Lehman's forthcoming demise, while at the same time telling the general public (e.g., retail investors) that Lehman is fine.  Well... it may or may not be legal, but it was certainly fraudulent.

    Unless he was under oath, or something at the time, I can't imagine that it would be illegal. Such a thing could (and should) get him in political trouble.

    @ShatteredArm said:

    @boomzilla said:
    I guess. If you assume the offer of talks made by the Democrats was made in good faith. Their behavior with respect to press releases vs what they were actually willing to offer seems to say that they weren't very willing to actually bargain in good faith. I'd include their current 1000 plus days since the Senate has passed a budget in the evidence against good faith.

    Like I said, I don't know how much they were really willing to give on Medicare, but my point is, you have to call their bluff, and find out.  If you do that, then you can accuse the Democrats of being unwilling to address long term fiscal problems.  But instead, the Republicans made it completely obvious that they care more about the tax rate on wealthy people than long-term liabilities.

    I can't imagine how you could come to that conclusion after the Republicans actually passed a bill that included some reform. The traditional way to work through that sort of thing would be to pass something else in the Senate, and then work out the differences. Or at least propose something concrete that could be voted on. Even if it's filibustered, you'd have some definite stand. Prior to that debacle, Democrats had let it be known that they'd love to let the Republicans come out with some plan, and then just sit back and attack it rather than try anything substantive themselves. Politically, of course, that's pure cynicism and conventional wisdom, and cynics rarely are wrong in politics.

    Obviously, I can't convince you to stop believing press conference statements from politicians, but in general, I tend to take actual votes a bit more serious. You're also ignoring how lots of top Democrats, including the Top One Himself had been, in December 2010, going on about how awful it would be on the economy to raise taxes.

    @ShatteredArm said:

    It's true the US government's budget is out of control.. But at the same time, the problem is the structural, not cyclical, deficit.  The US has more than enough wealth to pay the bills for at least the next decade... Which is why neither party has made a serious effort to repair the structural deficit.

    Yeah, we've skated so far largely because as bad as we are, Europe looks even worse. But the Chinese money faucet seems poised to shut off, so that will be fun. While a growing number of people seem to be starting to take the structural problems seriously (a pension plan with an army), not enough people take it seriously enough yet to actually vote to stop it. And the Greek example shows that we're not likely to see it happen if there's any way to wiggle out for a little while longer.



  •  

    Obviously, I can't convince you to stop believing press conference
    statements from politicians, but in general, I tend to take actual votes
    a bit more serious. You're also ignoring how lots of top Democrats,
    including the Top One Himself had been, in December 2010, going on about
    how awful it would be on the economy to raise taxes.

    I'm not reading Democrat press releases.  Here's a great blog post on the subject: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/07/republicans-blew-it.html

    This excerpt pretty well sums up my feelings:

    I do not like tax hikes, but we are talking peanuts here. Moreover,
    Obama's proposal on Medicare and Social Security had Nancy Pelosi
    howling so loudly that Obama held a private meeting with her.

    Anything that has Pelosi that upset, is probably a good deal. When will there be another chance to rein in Medicare?

    I think all but the most steeped-in-ideology should be able to admit that raising an additional $100 billion in revenue per year is worth reducing the deficit by $400 billion per year, especially if it touches liabilities/entitlements.  It's certainly better than the deal they ended up reaching, which basically amounts to nothing.



  • @ShatteredArm said:

    I'm not reading Democrat press releases.  Here's a great blog post on the subject: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/07/republicans-blew-it.html

    This excerpt pretty well sums up my feelings:

    You're not reading my posts, either. That says nothing at all about the Democrats' willingness to do anything serious about entitlements. The real problem is for anyone talking about promises to cut future budgets as anything but a fantasy. That goes for both sides.

    @ShatteredArm said:

    I think all but the most steeped-in-ideology should be able to admit that raising an additional $100 billion in revenue per year is worth reducing the deficit by $400 billion per year, especially if it touches liabilities/entitlements.  It's certainly better than the deal they ended up reaching, which basically amounts to nothing.

    That might be reasonable. But since the spending cuts were pretty much all back loaded, while the taxes start immediately, it would be a retarded deal for the House Republicans to make, especially since they had just been elected with a mandate to cut spending and not raise taxes. And remember, not raising taxes was a bipartisan imperative quite recently before that. While the Republicans, like all politicians, are serving themselves first, they still remember getting snookered with tax raises today for spending cuts next Tuesday, and so do the people who voted for them.

    All that said, the Democrats never even put forth a real plan. It was all allusions to secret talks, while the Republicans actually passed several bills in the House. You can keep believing that the Democrats were negotiating in good faith, but don't believe them when they tell you about a great deal on a bridge...


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