Steve Klingaman

Steve Klingaman
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
January 01
Steve Klingaman is a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer specializing in personal finance and public policy. His music reviews can be found at

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 12, 2012 8:22AM

Sorry! The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock

Rate: 57 Flag



I saw it in L.A. during a holiday vacation, just a fleeting verbal image: “Sorry! The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock.” I  was hanging out with some members of the twentysomething artistic community out there, and thinking of them the phrase seemed to say it all.   When I got home and googled the phrase I saw it was by Banksy, the British graffiti mogul, who has long been a favorite of mine.  It made perfect sense.

            That lifestyle, that elusive, promised chimera; it seems so gone for so many that even its promise is gone.  Banksy's observation fits for twentysomethings, fiftysomethings, sixtysomethings—just about everybody.  But I saw something else on my trip to California, too.  Bustling restaurants in wine country, new mega-pickup trucks in ranch country, hard-to-get hotel reservations and fifteen-dollar movies in theaters busting at the seams.

            Those that have shall get.  That’s what I seemed to be reading. And what of those that don’t?

The Bread Line Has Gone Virtual

            No more standing in those depressing lines that so characterized the grim reality of job-seeking during the Great Depression.  Today we stand in line in the privacy of our own home, or apartment, or a family member’s home, or elsewhere, wherever passes for shelter.  It’s a good thing that the public stigma has disappeared, but so has the public face of want.  Where are the people who are hurting?  We seem to have spawned an invisible nation of those who do not have.

            Many of those who are hurting are working, often in dead-end jobs that won’t cover student loan bills, health care, or retirement.  There are some things you can postpone, like having children, but you can’t postpone illness, aging or bankruptcy.  I am astounded by how many younger people in big cities are paying thousand-dollar rents for one bedroom apartments.  And they are doing so on incomes that mean, between rent and student loans, that two thirds of their income is spoken for.  Put that together with the one luxury no one seems to be able to live without—the 4G cellphone plan—and these kids are tapped out before they hit the starting line.

            The singer Paul Thorn says everybody looks good at the starting line, but financially, for many, it just ain’t so.

            And of those twenty-five million who are out of work—thirteen million who are “official” and another twelve or so who just quit looking, that lifestyle is really, really, out of stock…and for how long?  It gives the lie to traces of recovery and pockets of privilege.  I am astounded that Mitt Romney has the stones to say that the question is whether we want European socialism or free enterprise.  Free enterprise.  Such a ring to it.  European socialism  -- Bad.  Free enterprise -- Good. Damnit, why don’t those twenty-five million deadbeats just get off their asses and create their own jobs?  We have “free enterprise.”  What’s to stop them?

            Never mind that equating Barack Obama with European socialism is like equating Mitt Romney with the Tea Party.  No, that's not quite accurate; Romney is closer to the Tea Party than Obama is to European socialism.  What brutalizes the sensible mind is that four years into this doom loop we still get nothing but facile rhetoric…and it still sells!  Free enterprise.  Job creators.  The sound bites of the right mean less than nothing to those whose lifestyle is out of stock and isn’t due in anytime soon.

Banksy got it right.  Lifestyle is the right word.  During the pre-crash party we all had lifestyles, not just lives, didn’t we?  When rent and utilities consume two-thirds of your paycheck, you don’t get to order the lifestyle.  Oh, you still have a “lifestyle,” I suppose.  Crappy, crimped and cramped.

            But you know what?  As I survey Gen Y at work—in the larger sense of the word—I find remarkable resilience, good humor, and a sense of sticking together.  I think it has been evident in most of the Occupy events—at least those where police tactics did not get out of hand.  I see it often.  And I think the kids are alright.  They just don’t have the opportunities they deserve, and that there parents had.  As a general rule, you don’t set up a system that tells young people to load up on college debt when you can see that the job pool won’t sustain their numbers.  This has been true for a while in a number of professions.  I think the field of law would be a poster child for that observation.  And yet, when times are tough, young people double down on education that may lead, well, nowhere.  If you are underemployed in this economy and carrying sixty or eighty thousand in student loan debt, that lifestyle you ordered may never come in.

            That’s a bit of a tragedy.  It’s a Plan B moment.  Heck, for many, it’s a Plan B life.  When in doubt, improvise.  It’s an American hallmark. Let’s hope that resilience is not out of stock because, for far too many, relief is not in sight.  As pertains to Gen Y, I’m an optimist.  Time is long, it may ultimately be on their side.  For the vanguard of the Baby Boomers, not so much.  For them, the clock is running out.


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Man that was a depressing read. Fortunately, the economic data paint a much better picture of America than the one you just described. I mean, if you lived in Spain the Unemployment Rate is almost three times higher than that of the United States. If you lived in Mexico, it wouldn’t take long to realize that the border patrol isn’t there to stop American citizens. If you lived in Argentina, your money would be worth 20% less every year.

Face the facts, Americans should pinch themselves, we are far better off than most of the world. Sure economic growth is anemic, unemployment is high compared to historic standards and the deficit continues to threaten the future but the ship can be righted in November.
Well put Steve. And that Banksy quote is just great; I am stealing it and passing it on right away. The Plan B life line is also a good one - you should get it to Banksy right away; it's worthy of a wall somewhere!
The feverish comment above is typical of the breed who, despite the evidence of the last several decades, somehow imagines everything will be okay if only we pull the R lever. This is the same breed that believes in "American exceptionalism", as if the nations that gave us Churchill, Bonaparte, Goya and Da Vinci are filled with only lesser beings.

What we are witnessing with our economy is the effect of globalization, or as I prefer to call it gobblization, the endless capitalist quest for slave wages -- if not outright slavery. Globalization was sold as the rising tide that lifts all boats. Nader quipped that it was the rising tide that lifts all yachts. I say it has become the tsunami that sinks all life rafts.

Today's soulless capitalists tell us the corporation has but one purpose, and that is to maximize profit, whatever the social cost. That sort of capitalism is a Bain in the ass.

A true capitalist like Adam Smith knew better -- even if today's so-called conservatives don't. For Smith, the purpose of capitalism was to promote the Commonweal, or as we have it in our Constitution "to promote the general welfare".

There it is right from the outset in the Constitution, originalists -- welfare. For far too long, too many Americans have imagined welfare is an evil abused by other people. The Great Recession is beginning to show many of them just how wrong they were about that.

How does this end? As a true conservative, Thomas Hobbes, pointed out five centuries ago, rulers who don't promote the general welfare tend to lose their heads. Don't believe it? Ask Mubarak or Khadaffy.
Johnny Fever, if you think that electing the same people who were responsible for the policies that led to the economic meltdown is going to solve the problem, it would seem that logic and common sense are also out of stock.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg......

It just kills me that so many of those not yet hit - hard - by this recession/depression still think it can't happen to them. Do they not realize the import of the Patriot Act and the NDAA negation of the constitution? What do they think that police forces all across the country are being sent free tanks and drones for?

Blind is one thing but this is ridiculous!
Johnny's fever has made him delusional.
Very good read, Steve. Though I do not agree with the idea that one party brought this country to it's economic knees, as history shows it took some collaborative teamwork over the last 40 years, I will say something about Gen Y. My kids are that generation of college grads and then some, that have a fierce take on the economic status quo in the country and a long peek into the overextended lifestyles of their parents and the mass of boomer parents that have found themselves digging out barely, from the excess of the past. They may not be working in the field of their degrees, but many of them are working their young butts off to make a living without the excess or the debt that rides for free along with it. I am impressed by the sense of calm they display at knowing there is no debt for them, no home ownership or mortgage debt, no credit cards, therefore, no credit card debt and on and on...They have found a way to sustain their lives for the present and without the burden of having to have it all now, like their boomer parents. They pay as they go. They make rent, they eat well, they are working more than one job but complaining, not. They are always smiling! No sitting at the kitchen table once a month, shuffling through bills, wondering where the money is coming from to cover the excess. They are living simply and smart. I am impressed with this new generation; those who do not expect mommy and daddy to pay their way any longer, who do not feel entitled, like so many of our boomer generation and are willing to work hard and live within their means. Now that's a brilliant concept. No college tuition wasted on them! I'm serious. No sarcasm here. I think they really do get it. When it comes to money problems, burdensome mortgages, lifestyle debt and the like...they want no part of it. Owning a lot of stuff has become a big part of the problem we are facing today. In reality, we don't own very much at all. It has all dwindling down and devalued to nothing.
But we still owe on most of the stuff. For as long as we can sustain the payments. The notion of being debt free sounds incredible to me at this point in my life. I think these "kids" have the right idea. And if they stick to it, more power to them!
Terrific essay on the really big picture, Steve. Lifestyles out of stock, indeed.

And, far from defending Mr. Fever, we do need to remember who one of the biggest proponents of globalization was: none other than Bill Clinton. A "D" beside someone's name is no guarantee of anything anymore.
It is funny how Europe is manipulated by the GOP crowd; take johnny fever that compares Spain to the whole of the USA, that is of course cheating as if you compare Europe to the USA the unemployement rate is, unfortunately for both, about the same; talking about numbers, a recent report put at 149 millions the number of americans that are either poor or barely make it to the end of the month, anymore numbers like this and americans will start migrating/returning to other countries (a lot of them already do); one could spend untold time trying to figure out which country, or agglomerates thereof, are better off, but if it is done blindly and emotionally damage will result as you can't deny your own reality in the end
Cathy, I, too, am impressed with this new generation for the same reasons you express so well. You just gotta love 'em.

As to the point you and Jeanette raised, that one party did not bring this country to it's economic knees, I was, admittedly, painting in broad strokes with that statement. I agree that the Clinton administration was responsible in part for the deregulation that enabled the meltdown. The repeal of Glass Steagall was a perfect example of that. And Jeanette correctly points out that the Clinton administration's globalization policies further enable the offshoring of jobs.

However, I think that that W's administration was responsible for roughly 80 percent of the problems that led to the meltdown.

What's more, those policies were far more intentional under the Republicans, who followed precise plans to facilitate the regulatory capture at every level. Those policies enabled the meltdown. That is to say, they did not enforce laws on the books, gutted laws that protected markets and consumers, embraced Abramoff-style corruption, followed Alan Greenspan over the cliff, and trashed normal economic balances in countless ways, with the Bush tax cuts and two unfunded wars as marquee moments on the rush to economic ruin. They ran the economy too hot and too recklessly in every aspect they touched. So I highlight their culpability. But, yes, Clinton was in Wall Street's pocket, too; as is Obama. They are all in Wall Street's pocket.
Thanks Steve and for your detailed response. "They" are all part of the "Good Old Boys Club" once they make the trek up the "hill." The view becomes distorted from that high up and the air becomes thinner. While we are all gulping for air at the bottom.

There is also the US currency issue; from it's raw beginnings and how it is made and distributed into the eco-stream of the populace. Much can be said about the disintegration of the dollar and how that has affected the collapse of our economy as well. That is a biggie.
Dismal and true. Dang it. I want so much the growth of the 90's. I cringe when I see the poverty rates for American children- rising dramatically and no way out of the recession (which I call Depression) in the near future.

Liked your piece.
Well said, Steve. I am very glad, Johnny Fever, I don't live in Spain or Mexico, but that doesn't make what's happening here any less difficult, does it?

America's always been a place where those who have, have very little awareness of those who don't, and those who don't, frequently feel there's no way out. This is the truth that the Horatio Alger, Streets of Gold, Amway, Limbaugh and Silicon Valley liberal crowd acts as a hypnotic-sedative to conceal, all cemented across your cerebrum by the cult of celebrity and endless images of unimaginable wealth that so few really have.

I've noticed the same thing; While people I knew who I once thought would never have a worry now worry about how to pay for their Rx's, there's still the new mega-pickups, gunning their engines throughout CA (itself cutting, cutting cutting and taxing, taxing, taxing to survive) while they burn up $ 3.75 a gallon gas that others have to cut back on food to afford. The disconnect is bigger than ever before and yes, all you get is the pap of cardboard like Romney, because that's what we buy, just like we buy happiness via i-Phone 4s.

Keep this in mind: The "Lifestyle" you bemoan in it's absence was an illusion; it functioned only as a component of consumer-capitalism driven desire, was sustained by credit as the frog-in-the-pot of workers spent longer hours and indebted themselves more and more on credit cards to sustain it, along with mortgages that were sold on the speculation of housing-as-slot machine and left only the bankers rich as they made twice the cost of the house in interest and the gamblers felt good about their fractional tax-write off on it (2012 may yet be the WORST year for foreclosures, which have only declined because the banks were forced to stop robo-signing them).

As far as the Baby-Boomers go, well they have to be largely written off and that still won't compensate for the incredible theft of wealth and the debt which has been created sustaining the “A Lifestyle”. Debt equal to the GNP of the country and personal debt that's estimated to be up to four times as high! Meanwhile, as Tom Cordele points out, the “gobbalization” of trillions of dollars (decades of other people's productive lives) has been distilled into the pockets of them that got, product of a party that lasted too long, got everyone too drunk to notice and the sweat of those in the third world, who can only await the time when they are elevated enough to be deemed suitable to replace us, not as workers, but as suckers to be fleeced by the smoke and mirrors of a pointless impossible dream – stuff will make you happy and if it doesn't, toss it into the storage area and buy more stuff.

And if you've never seen it, watch this too, "Mardi Gras: Made in China" for a view into the abuse the Chinese worker has suffered to fill our Walmarts with good stuff for the "Lifestyle":
Excellent piece. Many of the invisible are back in the parent's care. At least temporarily. Families are split, kids are hurting and resources, dwindling. My generation is helping our kids...mature adults....with essentials and housing. It is exceedingly worrisome. Once it was called the American Dream.....Lifestyle...better put.
Samasian, thanks for the detailed comments. You know, I'm not sure I "bemoan" the loss of lifestyle exactly. I'm with Banksy here. That statement is a little arch, a little poking in the eye of entitlement. Personally, I'm a minimalist, so I'm a little innoculated by temperament. But the potential expenditure of personal resources on things that matter, like rent, mortgage, prescriptions, retirement; I'm all for that--and that is harder than ever for far too many, especially those stuck in McJobs because too many real career jobs have been outsourced or blown to smithereens.

Just go somewhere and live with it without too much fuss.
The cops are now armed with drones and tanks and you don't GET a "day in court" anymore. We have 600 prison camps ready and more being constructed. We'll jail every last one of you who object too loudly, no charges, no court date, no trial, no sentence. Just life in the prison camps - maybe.

The American Dream? We changed it.... so what?

L in the Southeast - “I am very glad, Johnny Fever, I don't live in Spain or Mexico, but that doesn't make what's happening here any less difficult, does it?”

It should make it so that you look at America as a shining example of success versus whatever vision of America Klingamen would have you believe. To be sure, not everyone has a job but I know of no country where there aren’t examples poverty and unemployment. The data speaks for itself, America is kicking ass and has been for some time.

It boils down to this, Klingaman (and others) think the answer to our economic woes is taxation, regulation and Government spending, Republicans would like less of all three. Basic logic suggests Republicans are right. Put yourself in the shoes of a corporation looking to expand, the only question is where?

Country A has high taxes, high regulation and is on the path to bankruptcy.

Country B has low taxes, low regulation and spends only what it taxes.

If you're still not sure where, take a look at the bond prices of Germany versus the rest of Europe. Or look at the situation in California versus Texas or some other high-growth state.
I'm one of those not quite Baby Boom and not Gen X either (for some reason, the pundits have slipped in a nearly 10 year gap between being a baby boomer ['45-58] and a Gen X'r ['67-82] go figure. Once again, I am ostracized from the groups... shit) people who are without a job, without prospects and without the means to either move, advance my formal education, or get retraining. My employment benefits ran out long, LONG ago.

In the meantime, my daughter got leukemia (one of those things you can't postpone) and that, even though covered under my wife's medical benefits, managed to put us fairly far behind the curve. While she was being treated, I didn't work -- I was at the hospital tending to my daughter, sometimes for more than 28 days straight.

Sure, some would say that was a bad choice. They'd say it was my fault for not just getting on with the business of life while hers hung in the balance. Assholes, each and every one -- any person with a modicum of compassion, care and love of family knows that there was no choice involved here.

So in the meantime, I have had the opportunity to explore the lives of kids between my age and my daughter's (who will be 20 soon) and I agree.

They are resiliant, full of good humor, but still have their eyes pretty wide open. They see the hypocrisy of the situation and are doing something to try to change that. I support that fully.

Right now, I am working with a young man who got his engineering degree, started a small business making a natural and environmentally conscious soap product that -- oddly -- is great stuff! He doesn't pay me. I don't care.

I'm an idealist, first and foremost, irrespective of all my hard knocks, unrealized potential, setbacks and jaded views of things I have seen. To me, if I can find a way to help someone succeed at doing something I think is a good idea is a great way to spend my bonus of free time.

And he appreciates it, he really does. That makes me happy. That's the gratification I get out of it. If I do things well and I actually do succeed in helping him commercialize his production (I'm working on a design for machinery that will Septuple his output, putting him from the "Scraping By" category to "Being Profitable" category) he'll start really taking off. His employees *(which are more like a giant commune than a set of hirelings) will be able to start thinking about getting cars, or new cars (well, new to them, anyway) and they'll be able to start increasing their production and investing more into the business to grow it.

If I am a champion of that ideal, wouldn't it be hypocritical of me to stand on the sidelines, cheer them on with empty prhases and, when he failed without assistance, walk off saying, "Man, that sucked?"

I think so. It's why I'm doing it. I don't like hypocrisy when it's directed at me. I like it even less when I see it in myself. If only I could train that ideal into more people.

Meanwhile, this country needs to reassess it's leadership -- or serious lack thereof. We the people need to start electing people who actually represent us. Not in voting, but in life and living. Integrity is just another dirty word in politics these days.

So with that in mind, I think, "Hey, maybe I should run for Office?" I'm definitely one of the 99% and it's for damnsure we need more people like that in office than the 01% who are currently in there. In fact, just getting into federal office, the salary that is given to our elected officials puts them into the top 20% of earners automatically.

Most of them started there, anyway, so your phrase, "Those who have, shall get," is even more salient in that regard.

Keep speaking out, Steve. People need to hear the message repeatedly. If a lie, repeated often enough can be believed as truth, it takes the truth, repeated ten times longer, for people to start to realize the truth makes more sense than that lie -- even if it is more uncomfortable to hear the truth.

Insightful post. Well done.
"A plan b life." Absolutely. You'll see we're clearly on the same wavelength today if you read my post.
Fever, Thank you for the compliment. I absolutely support appropriate levels of taxation, as opposed the to Bush tax debacle; regulation (see economic meltdown),; and government spending, especially of the variety that serves the public good as in student loan subsidies, Head Start, cancer research...that would begin a list of, oh, say a couple thousand entries. As for your team, Fever, the least you could do is pay for your wars.
Well put, though it is depressing. The only thing that keeps me hanging on is that I see how the new generation is made, of maybe sterner stuff than I was. I have a son and four nephews in their 20s and all of them are ready to change the world, and world hard doing it.
"Klingaman (and others) think the answer to our economic woes is taxation, regulation and Government spending".

Proving yet again that Fever can't think beyond sloganeering. As one of the "others" -- why is it always the Other with wingnuts? -- let me assure you, I don't want any more taxation, regulation and government spending than is absolutely necessary to maintain a civilized society, keep the worst impulses of the greedy in check, and keep people from starvation.

Unlike you, I don't think that can be achieved by electing people to run the government who don't believe in government, that is people who believe government is the problem, not the solution, people who believe the private sector has all the answers, and the public sector has none -- despite the fact they are educated in public schools, protected by public police and fire depts, drive on public roads, and rant on an Internet created by the public sector.

Why is the Luddite mind so incapable of comprehending that govt can operate efficiently, too? Why can't such minds comprehend that government, when it works as its suppose to, is a hedge against the wretched excesses of corporate capitalism? Why is hedging fine for corporations, but not for societies?

But, alas, I'm wasting words on a rock.
Krugman exposed the ugly truth about Texas job growth:

“[The Texas miracle is a myth, and more broadly that Texan experience offers no useful lessons on how to restore national full employment. It’s true that Texas entered recession a bit later than the rest of America, mainly because the state’s still energy-heavy economy was buoyed by high oil prices through the first half of 2008.

Also, Texas was spared the worst of the housing crisis, partly because it turns out to have surprisingly strict regulation of mortgage lending.

Despite all that, however, from mid-2008 onward unemployment soared in Texas, just as it did almost everywhere else. In June 2011, the Texas unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. That was less than unemployment in collapsed-bubble states like California and Florida, but it was slightly higher than the unemployment rate in New York, and significantly higher than the rate in Massachusetts.

By the way, one in four Texans lacks health insurance, the highest proportion in the nation, thanks largely to the state’s small-government approach. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has near-universal coverage thanks to health reform very similar to the “job-killing” Affordable Care Act.

Still, does Texas job growth point the way to faster job growth in the nation as a whole? No. What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and weak regulation can attract jobs from other states. I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is “Well, duh.”

The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.

In fact, at a national level lower wages would almost certainly lead to fewer jobs — because they would leave working Americans even less able to cope with the overhang of debt left behind by the housing bubble, an overhang that is at the heart of our economic problem.”
Johnny Fever: The United States ranks well behind most European nations in social mobility, 11th in GDP per capita, 39th in income inequality, 49th in life expectancy, and, in education, among adults aged 25 to 34 the U.S. is 9th among industrialized nations in the share of its population that has at least a high school degree. In the same age group, the United States ranks seventh, with Belgium, in the share of people who hold a college degree. By both measures, the United States was first in the world as recently as 20 years ago."

By what stretch of the imagination do you consider these numbers "kicking ass"? We are sliding backwards in nearly every indicator of social, economic, and physical well-being, due in large measure to your prescription of lower taxes and less regulation. That prescription has worked out very well for those at the very top of the economic ladder but rather dismally for the rest of us - all you need do to see that truth is take off your ideological goggles long enough to watch our middle and working classes withering away and poverty levels rising even as the the very richest are doing better than ever and each year control an ever-larger share of our national wealth. Given these realities, your rah-rah-rah spiel about us being a "shining example" is, to put it kindly, rather simpleminded.
"There are some things you can postpone, like having children, but you can’t postpone illness, aging or bankruptcy. "

nail on the head...excellent analysis as always Steve ~
Great post and comments Steve. So, what will really happen now? Revolution...nah! It's too HARD, with groceries still available. No one wants rifle bullets in their groin, etc. New employment opportunities...nah, just boutique employment for bio-engineering PhDs, systems analysts, and skilled tradesmen like pipe-fitters, mettalurgists, etc. on the tar sands pipelines, etc. More taxation on the super rich...nah, or just a little token bit, with continuing political gridlock and the recognized fact that the majority of economic improvement, if it's at all possible, must come from NEW business initiatives....which are DRYING UP!. So, I think PUNISHMENT of the most underprivileged is unavoidably next...cutting off poor Medicaid recipients, fuck them, and sending the million or so of the most dangerous offenders to penal colonies in Alaska, and saving on incarceration costs. Wanna bet? People in extremis WANT to feel that there is someone worse off than they are...that is human nature, not solidarity and kumba-yaya.
It's kind of like the war dead. We don't see them, they don't exist. We don't see bread lines, they don't exist. Most excellent post. r
Poor Johnny Fever. . . a lonely voice with facts, common sense, and reasoning crying out in a desert where such things are generally non-existent. . . .

Like. . . I always thought that one had to work for the lifestyle one wanted. . . and never realized one was simply entitled to order it. . . . Stupid me. . ..
Nice post! As a Gen Y kind of guy, I'm kind of flattered by the portrayal of my generation as determined, cheerful, and hard-working. I think it's tough to categorize a generation like this, but I think it's true that Gen Y expectations are understandably lower than most other demographics. A lot of my friends are still living at home (and I graduated 2 years ago), but blaming the economy for that can only go so far. You also cite people living in 1k studios. They could choose, like me, choose instead to live in a 2-bedroom with 3 people with a raccoon in the attic and save some serious money. Again, it's all a matter of adjusting generational standards.

Student loan arguments are pretty interesting to me, too. As a generation, we were sold three big points in terms of higher education by parents, media, and culture:

-> Go to college
-> Go to the best (most expensive) college you can
-> Major in what you love and the rest will fall into place

A big problem is that what we love to learn is not what capitalism loves to commodify. The market has become saturated with degrees, so going to college simultaneously becomes less valuable, and even more necessary. That means that, really, with the impossibly high cost of an education, we should all be going to state schools to save for the future.

The one thing that has changed for my generation is what we do during college. Three years of my collegiate experience were passed in a kind of panicky flutter about "Ohmigod how can I get an internship to pillow my resume?" At the very least, the recession made us painfully aware of our employability at a very early age.

One huge complaint I have about tiny, expensive liberal arts colleges, is not about the quality of education (still amazing), but the perpetually narrow focus of the degrees. It's time to admit that Internet Marketing is a more useful degree than American Politics, at least as a secondary concentration, or that Web Design should be a major at every institution. As long as colleges, and our educational system at large, keep failing to adapt to contemporary realities, there are going to be kids who graduate with no employment prospects.
Replacing America's economic viability with nostrums and insipid scolding IS the Republican economic plan. When it isn't obscured by layers of incoherence its blatantly contradictory nature is even more evident.

Fever presents a good example of a nearly irreducible ignorance. The imagined company won't invest in either country because those scenarios are irrelevant when the consumers can't generate an expanded demand for products or services. Further, and illustrative of the irreducible ignorance, if the consumers DID have that ability, the tax scenario wouldn't matter. To say profits would be abandoned because of the tax rate is a denial of capitalism, human nature and any level of intelligence above that required to sneeze.
It is true that profit-seeking would quickly fill the demand, as capitalism abhors a vacuum, but intelligence doesn't work the same way, so we shouldn't expect it to automatically fill the Feverish void.

Chris! Man, am I glad to see you!

I've been hoping you and Fever would meet, as in the E-Harmony world of simplistic ideological internet man-dating, you guys are as perfect a match as can be had. If you will comment in tandem, the rest of us can simply ridicule the first one and "ibid" the second.
I'll be honest here. I am 46 years old, and I work two jobs. Why? because I want to retire some day. I've saved, invested, lost money in the market,made money in the market, shopped at thrift stores and lived by a budget. Do I have a good life, yes. Do I have a great life, No. Are there things I want? Sure! Will I ever get them? Not unless I win the lottery.

I hate the Occupiers who on TV were made because they didn't have "stuff". Really? Seriously, I mean really? I graduated from college in the 80's, I've worked for companies, got laid off with many others, found myself working for minimum wage at Starbucks for a time, and figured out how to live frugally and survive. I never missed rent, I paid every bill, I didn't go out to eat or buy shiny new toys. I drive a 16yo car which runs great and is paid for.

I work for a Fortune 500 company and what gets me riled up is the 20-somethings who come in here fresh out of college with their fancy degrees but have no personality and cannot even look anyone in the eye for long because they are accustomed to glancing at their cell phone for the latest update on what their friend had for breakfast.
They all want high paying jobs NOW. Most of us had to work our way up and put in many log hours, nights, weekends to get where we are. We didn't sit down in the middle of the street and demand anything. We worked for it.

I honestly don't have a lot of compassion for the Gen Y'ers as those that I've met over the last year (from colleges all across the country) possess the same trait - Entitlement. You want it, but you don't want to work for it.

Cry me a river so at least you will help the drought in California.
So many good comments here, I can't keep up. Paul, yes, my thoughts exactly: without demand, no buyers no business--with demand, capital will rush to the fore panting and sweating for more, taxes be damned.

Great to hear from a Gen-yer, Blucey...affection for your generation is not so much a generalization as it is based on the fact that many of us Boomer parents have had unbroken contact with kids, their friends, lovers, bandmates, couchsurfers and so on. We do know you guys. And we love ya...we worry though...constantly, cuz the future ain't what it used to be, at least for now. While we could argue the merits of Poly Sci, yes, I think a major, or minor, in Internet marketing could be helpful. Or better yet if you all knew how to write code. Then you'd all be working.

Tom, Nan, all of you, thanks for your comments.
It sure would be nice if one of these comments addressed my logic question, but I digress, let’s talk about hypocrisy.


“I absolutely support appropriate levels of taxation, as opposed the to Bush tax debacle”

Seeing that Obama extended the Bush Tax Cuts don’t you think it’s a little hypocritical to blame Bush?

“the least you could do is pay for your wars”

FYI, the Democrats supported both wars and Obama escalated the fight.Look, I understand the fact you think Bush did a terrible job. I disagree but I have a news flash for you, he’s not running for president. Here’s another news flash, Bush never had the power to do anything without bipartisan support. Thankfully, in November, we have a choice far superior to Bush and Obama.


Are you suggesting that Republicans are hypocrites for not believing in Government despite wanting to be in Government? If yes, you completely misunderstand their philosophy. Government can grow in one of two directions: bigger or smaller. Republicans prefer a smaller Government (and all the benefits that go with it), or do you think it’s impossible for Government to ever grow too big? What if the deficit was $5 trillion, would you still be arguing for more Government?


The single biggest metric of economic strength, GDP, and you consider 11th out of 190 bad? Did you happen to notice the population of Luxembourg? We have the highest GDP in the world by a wide margin, are you suggesting things would be better if we were more like Luxembourg?
Excellent analysis. I feel so lucky to have managed to get to my 60s is ok shape, and through years of good economic times when I could grow my savings. I feel for those less fortunate. Timing is luck, luck is timing.
Don't worry. Pretty soon those people who miss their "lifestyles" will realize they're missing their lives. And if they ever understand that the political process refuses to give a damn about them, they'll learn something about how other people got their rights, and they'll start making 7.62 millimeter suggestions to the people who aren't listening.
I wonder where the buyers come from? Gee, let me think. . .

Ohhhhh yeah! They’re the ones who have jobs!

Ohhhhhhh. . but. . wait. . . There are no jobs without employers. . . .


And. . . there are no employers without products or services to sell. . .. and customers to buy them. . . . and there are no customers without jobs. . and. . .

So, why does this circle always begin with “buyers”. . . .. ????? I can’t figure that one out. . ..

Oh. . Oh. . WAIT! I get it!

We don’t NEED any frickin’ employers!!!!!

The governments give people who don’t have jobs money, or its equivalent. Those unemployed welfare beneficiaries go out with their government money and spend it buying what they need. When these unfortunates run out of their government money, they can go back to the government, so long as they are unemployed, and get more money from the government to buy some more stuff in order to keep grocery stores, utilities, and apartment owners in business.

It’s like a social contract! Get involuntarily terminated, and remain unemployed, and the government gives you money! It get it!

It’s like the unmarried woman with all the babies and no job. All she has to do to keep getting government money is remain unemployed, never marry an employed husband, and keep having babies.

What a deal! It’s the lifestyle to which we are all entitled!!!! I get it!!!!

And. . . all of this works great so long as the governments have money, or the national government is willing to print money, to meet the welfare demand. Problem is that these welfare spenders don’t buy a lot of satellites, new cars, electronics, furniture, or consultation services. So, good-bye to those employers!

Nevertheless, all of this makes Socialists feel warm and fuzzy because the unfortunate are being “cared for”; and they don’t have to care for them directly. The government does it for them. Everybody is helping “care for” them by paying “an appropriate level” of taxes.

Steve, this is marvelous!!!!! Thanks!!!!!
And how are you doing in the market, Steve? Pretty well? Dow is up, ain't it?

Kids (if there is anyone under 50 who actually reads this crap), this is what you call a two-faced boomer fuck. He's REAL sorry your "lifestyle" got interrupted, but he's doing FINE. Just FINE. So you know what to do if you catch him on the street. I hate people like this, they give my generation a bad name with their oh-we're-so-sorry-but-it's-all-gone-now false sympathy, and their pseudo-progressive bullshit. So spit in Steve's face for me, kids. And then do whatever you want with him. We won't miss him.
Yep. You know what else? The answer came to me a few years ago. They call it the American "dream" because it isn't true.
I did address what you apparently think is your "logic question." It's illogically based, irrelevant and I assumed irreducibly ignorant. However, Chris has managed to find new divisions of ignorance, so I stand corrected.

Notice, Fever, that you're again arguing with yourself. You conveniently decide Steve's position but, even with spotting yourself your version of what he didn't say, still can't manage to effectively rebut your strawman.

You and your all turd ego, Chris, both jump to the assumption that you have even the slightest understanding of economics, macro or otherwise. You have slogans/sayings and, in Chris' case, quotes!

In these last 2 comments, I'll give you the higher grade as yours is a controlled ignorance that at least attempts to appear "as if" your thoughts are your own, or relevant.

Chris, though, has cast off all self control and releases an extremely inane stream-of-unconsciousness pant-spew that should embarrass any adult, even one well into a second childhood. Of course, knowing Chris, his goal was to sound witty and sarcastic. But wit is a product of intelligence, so he's only left with sarcasm, which is only effective if one is making an intelligent response, so he falls far short of the objective.

But I am happy your found each other. Two guys who tend towards prefacing a stupid statement with one of educating others about their "errors." Two guys that think intelligence involves taming a foolish thought by what you think is the language of plausibility. Two guys trapped in the Catch 22 of being too inadequate to realize you're too inadequate.

I now pronounce you man and wife, and will leave it to you as to who gets to be on top.
My goodness tom, it took me all of 3 sentences for me to know it was you. Your Ayn Rand quotes and general welfare quotes are old.

You want my head, come get it.
Tom - why don't you come to TX and experience it instead of all the reading from sources you want to draw conclusions from. I have seen TX grow for 30 years. Specifically Austin.
I don't you have a clue what you are talking about.

Yes TX does have some funny mortgage laws. But I didn't need restrictive laws to keep me from making stupid loans.
But on the other hand if these laws prevented a crisis, then maybe the feds should have been just as restrictive instead of just the opposite.
I'm left to wonder if Fever is Lonnie or someone else having us on, or if he really is that stupid. Think I'll got with the latter. Let's take 'em one at a time to keep it simple for ya, John Boy.

Am I suggesting Republicans are hypocrites for not believing in Government despite wanting to be in Government? You betcha.

Do I think it’s impossible for Government to ever grow too big? No, but your kind thinks it's impossible for government to get too small.

"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Grover Norquist

Either you agree with Norquist or it is you who completely misunderstands Republican philosophy.

What if the deficit was $5 trillion, would I still be arguing for more Government? First of all, our enormous deficit is a direct result of policies followed since 1980 by people you put in office. That includes deregulation, merger mania and passage of the Gramm-Leach-Briley Act that gutted Glass-Stegall -- a law adopted by Democrats under FDR that kept us out of a disastrous financial crash for seventy years. And yes, I know Clinton signed it into law, and I have roundly criticized him for doing so. Now, please show me one instance where you ever criticized a policy of W, the worst President in US history.

Leaving facts aside since they're wasted on you in any case, let me close by pointing out that you have yet again beggared your argument by arguing against yourself. I did not argue for bigger government, I argued for better government.

It's plain you don't believe there is such a thing, despite ample evidence government does work; you can read and write after all, though the public educational system certainly failed you when it came to developing critical thinking skills. And yet, you continue to believe in Voodoo Economics despite abundant evidence it didn't work. Frankly, I pity you.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph Cole
"I have seen TX grow for 30 years. Specifically Austin." You do realize you made an example of the one relatively liberal bastion in the whole damned state -- thanks for making my argument.
Excellent post, Steve. It makes me more and more determined that the most important thing I can do for my (middle school) children is help them get through college without debt. If it means community college and living at home to go to a local 4-year state college, that's better than being saddled with armloads of debt when they're starting out in life. An education is valuable, but a shot at independent life is too.

They might not get that chance to go off to college and live in a dorm, because we likely won't be able to afford it.
You make many excellent observations and points.
@Joseph Cole
Since you're fond of Austin, maybe you'll accept what somebody there has to say about Perrynomics:
Tom., duh? just how stupid do you think I could be that I don't know Austin is liberal. I think I have said many times that pretty much ALL my friends are liberal. But that said it isn't really ALL liberal . Just majority in the city. Go to the burbs and the opposite is true.

So what point did I make for you? I said Austin is proof that all the jobs in TX are not low wage. So what if the voting in Austin proper is liberal. Austin is now a metropolis of several cities. Do you think just because Austin is a liberal majority they are somehow responsible for the job creation? There are many states with a big liberal city, especially a capital city. How are they doing?
Even the liberals in Austin thrive on capitalism. They just don't admit it while taking home dual 6 figure incomes.
It is always someone else that needs to pay for there agenda .
They love Obama's crap about $250K being "middle class". I can tell you if one is pulling down 250K in Austin they are living as well as they want. And let Obama break that promise or means test their SS retirement and we will see how liberal they are.
Then there is the let over hippies that are happy for someone else to build the a hike and bike trail. Or a light rail system that no one really wants to ride.

And what of your point about TX not having as big a housing crisis? Does not TX's restrictions give you a clue that the feds screwed up with the "affordable housing give everyone a loan" thing. You think maybe no state income tax has something to do with jobs?

And if the masses get pissed off and want my head because I don't agree , they can have it if it makes them happy. Like a good Texan I will die fighting, but in the end what do I care. Why would I want to live in a world where all the like minded heads are gone except me.
And when they get all the heads they want, then what? I think you know Rand's answer. Nothing is what.
Yup, Joseph, you're absolutely right -- god knows liberals never create jobs.
One more thing, you say like a good Texan you'll die fighting. You remind me about a job interview my dad once had in Dallas. The boss man was a little fella, about 4' 10' sporting a twenty-gallon cowboy hat, which he continued to wear even while sitting behind his desk in his office.

Dad concluded fairly quickly that this guy was lying his ass off about the job, and he decided to have a little fun with this tiny "cowboy". He said "Mister, at your size and with that hat, you look like one of them Texans somebody beat all the bullshit out of."

Say, Joseph, you wouldn't happen to be that guy, would you?
Nah, couldn't be -- you're still too full of bullshit
Banksy's brilliant catch phrase says much and you filled in the details nicely. As for me and mine, we're still pretending. No longer middle class really, but we fake the lifestyle out of habit I suppose, and fear. If we keep looking the part, perhaps the financial gods will smile on us and we will one day return to our former glory.
I am 67 and have been "retired" (read unemployable) for 3 years.
My wife still works so we get by but I worry for my kids. Fortunately, we were able, at great sacrifice, to get them through college on our student loans. What bothers me is the political apathy of the x and y generations. One of the few jobs I have managed to land is that of poll worker. I have worked two elections and have observed that old people vote, and young people do not. If they had come out in 2010 like they came out in 2008, the TP takeover might not have happened. You can occupy Wall Street til you are blue in the face, but nothing will change if you don't organize politically and vote. R
It's too bad conservatives don't act upon their own good advice: With freedom comes responsibility.

With the freedom to make a living without government supervision or interference comes the responsibility not to use that freedom to harm or exploit others. That seems a rather straightforward proposition which is echoed from church pulpits all across the land, but one that conservatives strangely reject.

In a defense of an absolutist definition of "individualism" and "personal autonomy" worthy of the most extreme "if-it-feels-good-do-it" liberalism, conservatives simply refuse in their economic relationships to accept that they should be governed in any way by human or humane criteria (such as empathy, compassion, justice or fairness) apart from what the supposedly impartial "market" itself decides.

But there is no contradiction between a "free" market that rewards individual initiative and imagination and one that also reflects a more human set of values -- including the freedom of people to intelligently use the tools at their disposal (such as government and the rights we have in a democracy) to shape their living conditions apart from the enforced servitude of the wholly autonomous "market."

And to suppose that such a contradiction exists is usually the mark of a feverish defense of vested interest and privilege, in the very same way that Mitt Romney equates any questioning at all of the current distribution of income in his favor as nothing more than a manifestation of class "envy."

As an aside: It was good to see the right winger Johnny Fever above making such a spirited defense of the success of the American economy and why President Obama therefore deserves re-election by unanimous acclamation!
Gerald Anderson:

Excellent comment, I agree with every word. The problem for these young people is that they got everything they wanted out of the political process in 2008 and in return they got more unemployment, more deficit spending and more war. That is how/why the Occupy Movement became so popular. They figure, rather than make their voice heard at the polling booth, let’s see what we can accomplish outside the law.

Tom Cordle:

We agree! I too would like a better Government. In light of the fact the current Government is wasteful, inefficient and corrupt, wouldn’t it behoove us to limit its growth so that it’s not more wasteful, inefficient and corrupt?

“Now, please show me one instance where you ever criticized a policy of W, the worst President in US history.”

The prescription drug bill; Government shouldn’t be providing new entitlements without the means to pay for the entitlements we already have.

Paul O’Rourke:

So when faced with the simple question of where to make an investment (country A or B) you respond with (essentially); companies don’t make investments. As always, I’m impressed by your writing but you could really benefit from a lesson in remedial logic/economics. Actually, most Democratic philosophies, when faced with the common sense of logic/economics, look similarly silly. BTW, you’ll be happy to know I made my first post!
Steve, you hit the mark with this one.
Terrific piece as usual, Steve. I keep hearing a similar lament from my twenty-something son who's "waiting to start his life" until the economy improves. Around here, jobs typically held by college students and teens are taken by those of us who are middle-aged and out of work. Frankly, if I hear the phrases "free enterprise" and "job creators" once more from these Republican candidates, I'm going to hurl. Talk about being out of touch with reality!

By the way, your term "doom loop" is the most perfect term I've heard so far to describe this endless economic misery.
Again you beg me to engage in the tedious task of ridiculing your near total lack of ability to perceive, much less practice, logic, reason or comprehension.

Your "logic" question is far more a billboard advertising your lack of logic. First you assume that your limited knowledge represents the whole. While the Catch 22 prevents you understanding that just because it's the limit of your ability to --generously stated -- "think" doesn't mean it represents the whole of thought or that your limitations apply to others.

When you say I "essentially" state that investment never happens, I can dismiss you as an idiot, which you are, and refuse to waste a lot of time further illuminating the how and why you're an idiot. You don't get that even a single statement of sheer oblivious stupidity exposes you as a very poor thinker and you provide such statements in abundance.

I said your premise is irrelevant because it is. As you assuredly have zero business experience, you laughably presume that investment is driven by tax rates when reality proves you wrong. It can be a consideration, but it is one weighed against a wider field of variables, at least among investors with intelligence. Explain why American investment, job and wealth growth was far more vibrant when corporate taxes supplied more revenue than now, and marginal taxes could be assessed at rates well above 50%.

The humor least one element of that you must believe, and properly so, that people cannot be guaranteed equal outcomes. Yet you obviously think your limited intelligence and knowledge should be treated as equal to what are obviously superior abilities and knowledge.

In the battle of wits, Fever, you're just a welfare case begging for affirmative action. A slacker, too lazy or incapable of accumulating knowledge, which precludes any hope of you synthesizing facts into a valid opinion or observation. With you it's stunted ideology first, inept attempt to prove it second and ability to prove it non-existent.

You're not even interesting, Fever.
For some, moving to another country might provide better opportunity.
As always, I’m impressed by your writing but you could really benefit from a lesson in remedial logic/economics.

This is coming from someone who believes that Medicare was introduced in 1980. Bravo!
Of course. However, would you consider a lower tax rate the dominant motivator, or cheaper labor? The lower tax rate would seem to apply more to where to stash profits than invest them, but there is a practice of paper-shifting true costs of production by declaring a lower export value of a component shipped for assembly in a lower-taxed country.
Either way, expanded productive investment, as I point out above, depends on expanded demand. Static or declining demand doesn't invite investment anymore than hanging an ear of corn above the ground will cause a stalk to grow to meet it. I say that for Fever and Chris' benefit, of course, not yours.

The idea we can attract more investment by further lowering of corp tax rates, especially the effective rate, is at best a marginal consideration, far less influential than the cost of labor. As the bulk of our economy is non-trade service-based, we're mostly speaking of trade in manufacturing, which, obviously, is now more tied to labor costs than tax rates. Ultimately, the truth is a lowered standard of living, beyond what is possible or functional in America, would be the only way to outbid foreign labor, but would also further lower American incomes, defeating the purpose.

You would have to go well beyond tweaking tax rates to find that functional balance between demand and productive investment.

We've seen lowered corp and marginal taxes for almost as many years as we've seen outsourcing and the systematic replacement of consumer wealth with credit. The idea we can use the poison to cure the poisoning is blatantly silly, and can only been accurately labeled as a race to the bottom, which is the only race we're winning lately.

Again, some of that is directed your way, some to Fever and Chris. I'm betting you can sort it out. :)

"The idea we can attract more investment by further lowering of corp tax rates, especially the effective rate, is at best a marginal consideration, far less influential than the cost of labor. As the bulk of our economy is non-trade service-based, we're mostly speaking of trade in manufacturing, which, obviously, is now more tied to labor costs than tax rates. Ultimately, the truth is a lowered standard of living, beyond what is possible or functional in America, would be the only way to outbid foreign labor, but would also further lower American incomes, defeating the purpose."

You pack a lot into a paragraph, Paul, including a number of factors I have been thinking about lately. Nominal corporate tax rates are something to consider in a real negotiation with the right, but ultimately don't drive the bus. And attempting to compete on the basis of labor price ultimately becomes self-defeating in our economic context. That isn't to say we can't make things here, but in an age in which nearly everything Apple makes comes from proprietary partners in China, you have to work awfully smart to enhance domestic output.

As for Spain, if I were them, I would try awfully hard to market myself as a retirement destination for rich Norwegians.
I like to tell people that I bought the American Dream and I want my money back. If I had a receipt for my massive student loan debt, I would take it to Customer Service and demand a refund. Seriously. I am an artist and am therefore accustomed to living on not much at all. Because of this, I feel that people now understand how I have felt for years - the tension in my stomach of whether or not I am actually going to make it this month and is it worth cutting back on groceries to save a little money (usually yes and that means I only eat peanut butter, bread, eggs, and pasta)? I pay the sky high rent and even without the 4G phone, I barely get by. Why am I optimistic about life in general even when funding for the arts has been drastically cut and jobs are scarce in an already cut throat field? Because I know what it means to have all I need. The student loan debt will take care of itself...eventually... I hope.
All of our Politicians have lost their minds and are only doing things to maintain the status quo, or to make it worse- so they can maintain their power. Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah has voted for 16 debt ceiling increases- 7.6 trillion dollars- he's top chair on Senate Finance Committee- and Obama wants to raise debt ceiling again- they'll all go for it. Hatch voted for the NDAA- but says the white House is "Autocratic." He's in favor of SOPA- regulating the Internet- this is all the beginning of tyranny in this country
Razzle ( & others wanting help on the student loan), this article may help. Can't believe I wrote it more than two years ago, but still few have really taken advantage of the potential benefits for those who are still trying to gain a foothold...

The article is on OS, "Finally! Student Loan Debt Relief Arrives for Many," posted 7/30/09, & sorry but my posted links won't show up as comments...arghh.
I just added it to My Links, hope it shows up there soon.
How Much Is Enough?

I believe it was Marx, his very own self, wrote the Industrial Revolution, properly distributed, would provide so much food, clothing and shelter that the 'proletariate' would have at least four hours per day for philosphical contemplation. We live in a society where the single most serious health problem of 'the poor' is morbid obesity.

Further, economists routinely divide the population into five quintiles of economic resources. Guess which of the five is routinely found to be the most content? The second from the bottom. My family is chock a block full of these. They are lower working class. Grocery store check-out clerks, shoe salesmen etc.

And why is that? First, those who are not satisfied with that level of economic advantage work their way out of it and upward, where they remain just as discontent as they were before they left the second quintile.

I am sick to death of those who are green with envy over the great divide between rich and poor. I am confident their lives would be degraded upon winning a lottery of sufficient size to move them up one single quintile.
RD - You wrote: "Why am I optimistic ... Because I know what it means to have all I need." Good for you....

'How much is enough...' is one of the single most important questions any human being needs to answer. I have plenty more then I need. I could eat steak and lobster every day with a $20 bottle of wine at a nice restaurant arrived at by BMW M3.

I am most satisfied with soda crackers and beer, brought home in a Chevy Malibu. And a whole let less trouble.
The sad thing is though, the numbers the gubermint gives us, aren't the real numbers, the unemployment, as noted in this wonderful piece, is much higher, but the gubermint likes to give us "Rosy Glasses" with 9.9 percent here, a whatever there, when the numbers are more like mucho higher, the unseen masses who are still looking for work but have fell off the unemployment insurance line.

YAY for the American Dream, it went poop, and the lawyers, the bankers and Corporate Bullies who we call job makers("we's can't raise taxes on the job creators then they won't create jobs!!" Hahahahahaha!! Yeah,tell me another fairy tale grandpa!!! :D) are still making fist over hands in dollars at our, The Peoples' Expense, awesome.

And I wonder why my butt is sore for!!!
banksy is brilliant, I havent seen anyone do a blog post on him, but boy that would be a great idea. he clearly anticipated the whole Occupy movement in his art. subversive! pioneering!
Somebody pinch me, I’m reading some intelligent comments about the economy. I mean, barring Paul who’s too far down the rabbit hole, there is hope!


Great thoughts but I would add:

“nominal corporate tax rates don’t drive the bus” but they are an important factor.

The United States is too advanced to truly be competitive for the low wage, low skill jobs on a global basis.

The Spanish and Greek economies are essentially based on attracting wealthy northern Europeans.


Correct, the United States’ economy has moved from being largely a product of manufacturing industries, born during the industrial revolution to an economy largely based on the technological and digital revolution. However, this didn’t happen because of treaties or tax policy, it happened because our civilization advanced to the point where we don’t have to work in factories. From sophisticated financiers to biochemists making new drugs, the American workforce has evolved. That’s not to say we don’t make stuff anymore or that low wage jobs don’t exist, it’s just a few examples of how our economy is evolving. And it’s not a capital drain, its evidence of capital growth.
Again you avoid responding to the substance, but given your total lack of knowledge and addiction to those trite, partisan slogans that are made for the least attentive political dupes, not critical thinkers, your retreat is the only display of self-realization you offer.

It's nice that you agree with long as you can ignore what he said. Are you trying to be funny --in that ha-ha way -- or are you that stupid? There's one you needn't answer again, as you have provided that answer many times in many ways.

Your analysis of the evolution of the US economy is a joke, but I'll let Rwoo explain why. I'll just have a good laugh at the idea of a major nation surviving off of finance, which in its present over-bloated representation is extractive, not productive, but can't create a substantial level of employment, even it it was rationally apportioned as to GDP.

I guess I'll have to give you some time to figure out why ever-lowering corp tax rates haven't produced the results you claim can be had by lowering corp tax rates. I'm sure you can find some ya-hoo willing to post "the reason" on the internet, with a fancified headline and by-golly sorta-slick web page, which, as we've seen before, is the only requirement for you to cite it as a conclusive example of monolithic empiricism.

Evidently, the only thing between you and abject poverty is the Nigerians haven't figured out your e-mail address yet.
Oh this post is just marvelous even though times are tough. Thanks for the Plan B too.
Tom -have you ever considered that your philosophy which you would impose on others is an execution of their very soul? Their ambition? That the fate you would impose on them is worse than physical death. If this country ever gets to the extremes you would have, I would be paying a visit to Dr. Kevorkian. Because my very spirit would already be dead. I would have ZERO motivation in your world. And I know for fact that there are people (haves and have nots) in this country that have been demotivated by big gov social thinking.
Economic hardship is not the only way that one can suffer. I am well aware that people that need basics in life. And that they suffer and need help. Do you somehow think that I have no loved ones or friends in need? I have given to charity since the day I started a career. That is my choice. My resources are mine to give out as I see fit. Not as you see fit.
If you knew what I do you may not be too critical. But it doesn't really matter if you think I my choices are noble or not. And it would mean nothing to me if the whole world blessed my actions. Because I don't act on others' approval. I act on my approval.

But you seem to be totally unaware that your fix for social problem can cause enormous spiritual damage to others. You think you are just taking extra money they have etc. You are not. You are stealing the most valuable thing they possess . Their free will. Their ambition. To quote Pacino 's character.

"You think you're merely sending this splendid foot soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are... executin' his soul!"

I and many conservative people I know are not ignorant or unsympathetic of peoples' needs. We are not selfish uncaring beings. But I find it difficult to find the moral imperative to dictate that person A help person B (especially if B is myself)
while I give nothing except help enforce that social contract.

But I have not heard even a remote thought from you about how your ideas might be hurtful to those you want to take from. I have never read a word of yours that even contemplates any sympathy for what it feels like to be the one that is taken from by force of law.

You seem to think that taking money from the rich is just taking their money. You are wrong. You are taking something irreplaceable. Something you cannot seem to comprehend.

Have you ever had anything stolen from you Tom?
What would you feel like if you woke up tomorrow to notice your car stolen?
Steve - I am sorry if you were ever under the delusion that anyone could order up a lifestyle. I don't know about you, but I was not born with a menu in hand.
Terrific piece. Somewhere, there's a brilliant ad exec working on a campaign for the 1% to get the rest of us to accept poverty as a "lifestyle choice". Austerity chic.
As usual, a great read Steve. My first response to the sign was more than one of economic fatalism. I wondered how much it also says: Lifestyle is not the same as quality of life. Is there a gentle mocking of the idea that one's life "style" is what matters, that whether it's in stock or not is irrelevant as we're perhaps shopping for the wrong thing in the first place?

All that said, whatever we're shopping for -- figuratively or literally -- we all need a degree of economic security, which you correctly point out is slipping our grasp. Rated.
RW, Fascinating. A discussion of how U.S. policy promoted and continues to promote outsourcing and offshore manufacturing is sorely needed. Bring it on. Amazing the analysts were on to this in the early 80's.

Drew, yes, Banksy's piece is multi-dimensional, is rather, as I noted, arch, in tone, is ironic, is poking fun and does speak to expectations and for sure, entitlement. And it's also an economic indicator.
Your post shows just what the problem is with the people who believe like you do. You talk about those who are spending a grand a month on rent and that's 2/3 of their income.

They just need to move!

The reason their lifestyle is out of stock is because they want what they can't afford. They think they are entitled to that lifestyle and cry when they can't have it.
Our good old Johnny Fever wrote Somebody pinch me, I’m reading some intelligent comments about the economy. Me too! Paul, Steve and Rwoo5g are right on the money. This doesn’t include you, as expected. Since you believe that Medicare was introduced in 1980, we don’t expect you to understand basic economic principles either.

For the more informed readers, here are some links that show how high tax rates alone do not lead to the destruction of a country:

GMs Healthcare Double Standard: Bad ideology trumps good business

"Yet just across the Detroit River in Ontario, the company's subsidiary-like the subsidiaries of Ford, DaimlerChrysler and other U.S. firms----strongly endorses Canada's national health system...

...The Canadian plan has been a significant advantage for investing in Canada," says GM Canada spokesman David Patterson, noting that in the United States, GM spends $1,400 per car on health benefits. Indeed, with the provinces sharing 75 percent of the cost of Canadian healthcare, it's no surprise that GM, Ford and Chrysler have all been shifting car production across the border at such a rate that the name "Motor City" should belong to Windsor, not Detroit.

Just two years ago, GM Canada's CEO Michael Grimaldi sent a letter co-signed by Canadian Autoworkers Union president Buzz Hargrave to a Crown Commission considering reforms of Canada's 35-year-old national health program that said, "The public healthcare system significantly reduces total labour costs for automobile manufacturing firms, compared to their cost of equivalent private insurance services purchased by U.S.-based automakers.""

As seen above, it’s not the tax rate which is the issue. It’s what you do with the taxes collected. Up north, the taxes can be used to lower the production costs of companies, as shown with the automobile industry. Weird isn’t? This is too complicated for Johnny to understand.

Part II to follow.
Part III


It is capital availability that matters, not the tax rate that you pay," said Silverman. "The difference between us paying a 35% corporate tax rate and a 25% corporate tax rate is peanuts at the end of the year compared to our ability to raise a couple million dollars when we need it. That is what is important. That is what creates jobs."

Phony Fear Factor

...The answer, repeated again and again, is that businesses are afraid to expand and create jobs because they fear costly regulations and higher taxes. Nor are politicians the only people saying this. Conservative economists repeat the claim in op-ed articles, and Federal Reserve officials repeat it to justify their opposition to even modest efforts to aid the economy.

The first thing you need to know, then, is that there’s no evidence supporting this claim and a lot of evidence showing that it’s false.

Isn’t interesting that Norway, as an example, has half the unemployment rate and much higher tax rates, but much better credit than the US? Europe is not limited to Spain and Portugal.
It seems that the modest lower middle class lifestyle of my youth is endangered by our bizarre economic system which rewards hard work with sinking wages and spiraling debt. Still, the young people I was in jail with after an OccupyChicago mass arrest were cheerful and optimistic. They know the odds are against them, but they plan to fight for their careers and for the well being of our world anyway.

Maybe the journey is the reward.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph Cole
I hate to pick on a cripple, and I wouldn't do so, except for the fact you have for some reason chosen me as your whipping boy. You said:

"I find it difficult to find the moral imperative to dictate that person A help person B (especially if B is myself)".

Can't find the moral imperative? It's all over your Bible -- read it and weep. Especially if person B is yourself? As I recall from your previous whines, you're bent out of shape because you were denied Social Security disability. You made that disability claim on a system you routinely savage. You made that claim despite the fact that, according to you, you hold several worldwide patents, despite the fact you enjoyed a six-figure income (working for a company whose business was largely dependent on govt contracts I might add), and despite the fact you stand to inherit a generous estate from your parents.

I won't bother responding to the rest of your puerile diatribe, but let me say I pity you, just as I pity Fever, because you can't see what is blatantly obvious to anyone who reads your mewling whines: You are a pathetic, shrill, selfish prig, who despite having had every advantage in life, still prefers to wallow in your imagined misery.
sticking to my Plan A. I got this.

If your statement "provinces sharing 75 percent of the cost of Canadian healthcare," is correct I want to thank the average taxpayer in Canada for paying part of the cost of my new car. I'm sure that taxpayers up there are just tickled pink that the money taken out of their check, that they could be using for their family, is paying for my car.

Corporate taxes are just another BS scam that hurts those who can least afford to pay them. Do you really think that corporations pay income taxes? A corporation that makes $X in profits at 35% is going to make the same $X in profits at 0% tax rate. The difference is that the price will fall by the tax rates. So if we reduce the tax rate, and prices fall because there is no tax collected who do you think is going to be the biggest winner? If you said the poor people let me know so I can take the nasty name I just called you back.
@ PJ'O
Wow! You sure can hold your virtual breath a long time!! As for this:

"Isn't a worker a consumer?"

Yes, and this is what Henry Ford, a true capitalist unlike the Libertardian windbags who show up around here regularly to display their ignorance, understood. That's why he DOUBLED the existing wage in his auto plants. The robber barons of his day called him a traitor to his class, and Henry squelched the ignoramuses with a rhetorical question: "Who the hell do you think is going to buy my cars?"
If your statement "provinces sharing 75 percent of the cost of Canadian healthcare," is correct I want to thank the average taxpayer in Canada for paying part of the cost of my new car. I'm sure that taxpayers up there are just tickled pink that the money taken out of their check, that they could be using for their family, is paying for my car.

Notwithstanding the fact that you didn’t understand the meaning of the quote, Canadians couldn’t care less about the statement you made above, especially given what they pay to get access to health care compared to here (see here too). By access, I mean for every citizen and permanent resident, not just for people who can afford it.

Corporate taxes are just another BS scam that hurts those who can least afford to pay them. Do you really think that corporations pay income taxes? A corporation that makes $X in profits at 35% is going to make the same $X in profits at 0% tax rate. The difference is that the price will fall by the tax rates. So if we reduce the tax rate, and prices fall because there is no tax collected who do you think is going to be the biggest winner? If you said the poor people let me know so I can take the nasty name I just called you back.

See my comments above, as they apply here as well. Paul gave an illuminating response as well. Enough said.

Paul, very weird! I suggest that you copy and paste it again and ask Steve to erase the original one.

p.s. We should add Tom Cordle with Paul, Steve and Rwoo5g above.
Here's the short version...

You display the same erroneous type of thinking we see in Fever and Chris, and most any "conservative" indoctrinated acolyte. Your Canadian commentary is humorous, as ultimately Canada wins both sides of what you see as a win-lose scenario and America loses on both. Canadians get the better healthcare and the jobs. America merely gets a discount on imported cars. Canadians would love to have more of such abuse.

I've noticed that playing chicken/egg with taxes is a popular pastime among the faithful. One could put the burden of taxes on any entity involved in the virtuous cycle, which is unavoidably a cycle, but lately not often virtuous. Did the corp produce the value without the workers? Did the workers, without the corp? Isn't a worker a consumer and the corp an employer and a supplier?

If you think lowering corp taxes will reduce prices, would you be willing to hold your breath waiting for prices to drop? The idea it's some sort of linear concept is exceedingly obtuse as there are variables and consequences that influence prices.

As one example you may see as familiar, my raw material prices are petroleum price sensitive in a direct way. When prices rise I hold off raising mine due to some competitive pressure, but if they rise enough, I have to, like the competition, raise prices. It's not so much that prices control the market, it's just that raising them might send steady customers looking at other vendors. Prices don't always decide the issue anyway, as there are trade-offs between set price and perceived value.

Of course, when oil prices go down, or that processing unit at a refinery is back in operation, increasing the supply of polyester resins, I NEVER, once, either considered or did lower my price, nor did the competition. The extra money went in my pocket, just as yours would, as there are other considerations beyond simple and direct cost/price realities.

Those taxes the corporate person isn't paying will almost always become profit reflected in adding to taxes you're paying, or debt that extracts its price less directly. It's not nearly as simple as you say.
"Of course, when oil prices go down, or that processing unit at a refinery is back in operation, increasing the supply of polyester resins, I NEVER, once, either considered or did lower my price, nor did the competition."

Proving, of course, that Paul is a run-of-the-mill greedy capitalist as well as a liar.

I guarantee that there was at least one time that Paul's competition considered, or did, lower their prices and the Paul came down on his faster than a two-dollar hooker with competition. Either that, or Paul hasn't been in business very long.
It's always comforting to have an fool call me a liar. You don't know my business, and while you may know yours, what you know about economics could be poured into a thimble and leave enough room to add everything you know about history.

In my line of business, those who get price-aggressive never last long. That's due to the nature of the business and that of the customers, neither of which you know anything about.

I know you'd love to find a way, at least once in your miserable existence as an OS horse's ass, to appear as if your intelligence matches your self perception. This is not the way or the day because, as usual, you don't know WTF you're talking about. You should choose more realistic targets for that pea shooter you call a mind.

Sign me:
Your Great White Whale who will always Prevail.
Well, this much we do know -- deregulation got govt off the backs of corporations like Exxon/Mobil, Enron, Hospital Corporation of America, et al, but it didn't result in savings for the consumer -- quite the opposite. Deregulation and merger mania were part of the same Big Lie that said lowering taxes would raise revenues. Laffer Curve, indeed, but nobody's laughing.

The Neo-Econs told us we no longer needed a manufacturing base, we'd be paper-handlers to the world. Instead, outfits like Goldmine Sux turned us into the paper-hangers of the world.

Why do Freemarketeers always assume bigger is better when it comes to private companies, but not when it comes to government? Why do they continue to advocate such obvious nonsense when there is so much clear evidence to prove Voodoo Economics was an abject failure? Why should we pay the least attention to people who were so tragically wrong and yet refuse to admit it and learn from their mistakes? Why should we respect the opinion of people who voted twice for Bush the Lesser, the worst President in US history? And why, oh why, does that name NEVER come up among ANY Republicans, just as it never comes up here in comments from Libertardians?

Those were rhetorical questions, of course, because the answer to all of them is obvious. Being a Conservative means never admitting to error -- like the Duke said "Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness." Whatever; they're still a sorry lot.
Tom., why would you stop responding. You never have answered direct questions anyway?

Why you Tom?
Maybe because you are the only one here that has said I and people like me should not receive any SS benefits ever just because I have saved my money. Many of my peers have not saved their money but made the same. Do they get theirs? What about someone that earned less but also has a bank account? If you want to means test, consider a persons whole potential, earnings and the way they spent and/or saved.
What about my doctor friend that is 50K in CC debt because there are not enough material things in this world to satisfy her? I guess she gets a retirement check becuae she is broke. Brilliant isn't it Tom. I have paid 250K into that system and you think it should just be part of the general revenue because the law contains the word “tax”. The SS fund has been raided for multiple reasons, not just by conservatives. And Mr. Greenspan calls a box full of IOUs an asset. Bull. If I have an IOU from you maybe it is an asset. If I have an IOU from myself, I have nothing but phony bookkeeping.

Maybe because you often are quick to chime in on another’s post. It isn’t good enough for you to agree with whatever the line is, you always tend to help the OP out with your over the top inflammatory rhetoric. So while I may disagree with the OP it is your crap and a ew other like you that invite me to post.

I am no cripple in the way you are trying to imply in a nasty way. But I do have health issues. I will talk about that later.

I am no whiner. Does not mean I cannot hurt. But I don’t whine. I have worked for 30 years under conditions imposed by my employer, further imposed by my own ambition and aggravated by health issues for many years. Whiners don’t look forward to working weekends and evenings. I did NOT “:enjoy a six figure income”. I “LOVED” my work regardless of income. It was my passion. Yes I have patents, which you seem to think is false bragging. They do not earn me any money. They are owned by my employer. I have one of those because my management came to me to solve a problem that was far outside my official training. I was asked to become a mechanical engineer/physicist. I am a software guy. A whiner does not accept that challenge. I earned that reputation. Just as some colleagues always projected the “don’t ask me for anything extra” attitude. That year I worked form 8 am until 5 pm the next day on 3 occasions not to mention 12 hour days for 8 months. Not even my evil corp employer would have faulted me for putting the brakes on. It was my choice. I got no extra money that year. But I was on top of the world. Not whining. You are the whiner. And I don’t need any union telling me if I can or cannot work a weekend. And if the guy next to me does not like to compete with me, too bad.

My body hurts for health reasons. My mind and spirit hurts because of policies people like you promote. You seem to mistake hurt with whining. Not the same thing. And no where in your little brain can you understand what I am saying. You seem to think that physical and economic ills are the only things that are difficult.

Go back and read any post of mine you want. I am no religious conservative or zealot. You will never find a post where I have mentioned I have any religious affinity. It is not MY Bible. So you have not caught me in some clever contraction. But it has some good lessons on life. It promotes people taking care of each other. Is DOES NOT promote a gov to enforce its teachings. If you believe the Bible, then Chirst performed a few miracles and cured the ill. He did not save everyone. He promised salvation in the after life, not here. He rebelled against the gov. and the tax collectors. He warned me of the consequences of my actions. He did not tell you to correct my actions or me to correct yours by force of law. He told me feed my brother, not for me to force my other brother feed him. He left our choice to ourselves. And our judgment will be individual, not collectively. So I will not read it and weep. You have mislabeled me because you assume a fiscal conservative is a religious zealot. I happen to think those teachings are fine. I happen not to think much of organized religion or using it to justify much of anything. There are many philosophies worth drawing from. I am not a card carrying member of any religion.

Your response points out my income, my parents, who were poor as shit when I was a kid, and lived frugal as shit but did well. This is just like your type to try to demonize me to other readers because I have done well. I have a bank account because I have made good money AND because I did not spend it on useless crap. My self worth is in my mind not car I drive. I never owed a new car. I don’t own a smart phone. My laptop is 10 years old, the most expensive and only piece of jewelry I own is the $100 watch on my wrist. My guess is that many salon posters that agree more with you than me, actually live better lifestyles than I do even with less income. I refuge to be penalized by your righteous collective thinking for behaving responsibly.

As for my SS disability claim, you know nothing of its merit.
But here is how it goes down for me. And I know from my lawyer this is nt unusual. The judge I had cant add. He could not subtract the current date form my birth date and correctly determine my age. Nor does he seem to be able to read transcripts. I his ruling he stated I had not seen a doctor since 2003. The question was when was the last time I engaged in a particular sporting activity.
The mountain of recent doc records were in front of him. Of course I had seen docs recently.
And of course it should take 8 months to get a denial. Of course the denial letter should arrive in my mailbox post marked more than 60 days after the judge signs it, thereby technically making it too late for me to appeal. And 17 more months to appeal that. And 4 more months to get another hearing. But hey, the 4 month thing was quick. In the next few weeks I will get my hearing before the same dumb ass judge. Maybe now that his stupidity has been pointed out by the appeals council that smacked him down for his failure to notice the obvious, he will rule in my favor. Or maybe he will be a pissed off asshole because his decision was vacated harshly.

Now I know your situation. Do you think you had some special immunity from having to put up with this crap. Maybe you did? Aren’t you glad a someone didn’t misread your application and take years to correct. There is no EXCUSE for the time it takes to move things. But there is a REASON, the judge is a gov worker probably making twice what I ever made and NO ONE will make him or any other SS worker work a weekend.
Your comments do more to mock you than I could ever do.

As for the system, I don't pretend to have all the answers, but your view of how things are and how they ought to be is self-serving and simplistic. Said it before, I'll say it again. Social Security was intended as old-age assistance, that is, to keep old people from starving. It is not now, nor has it ever been intended as a retirement program. That John McCain is pulling down $28,000 a year from that system is indeed an outrage.

It being the case that SS is to keep old people from starving, and it also being the case that people like you insist Social Security cannot be sustained without reform, one of the obvious reforms is means testing. Should you be so fortunate as to not need Social Security to survive in your dotage, you should count your blessings. Instead you whine.

You remind me of the older son in the parable of the Prodigal Son. You don't have the grace to extend mercy to those less fortunate or those who weren't as careful and wise as you. What would you prefer, that they starve? Would you, like the older brother, leave your little brother to root with the hogs?
Gen Y has a long road ahead of itself. There's still time and hope (remember that "audacity of hope" thingy?).
I'm a boomer. 60. Been working for 35 years. Can't retire. I got let go from my job yesterday. I have 30K in a 401K. The future don't look too bright from where I sit.
Walter, I'm sorry to hear that. Hang in there, maybe the slow uptick in the economy will pick you up.