The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

An Evening Rant To All the Fools Who Think Bernanke Saved the World And Obama has done the right things

So very glad to hear your opinions. Unlike most of the morons who think Obama/Bernanke/Paulson/Geithner did the right thing, I predicted almost everything that happened to the economy, in many cases years in advance, and I sure as hell don’t think so.

But what do I know? Unlike the people who call the shots, I have a consistent record of being right far far more than chance would allow.  Therefore, as with everyone else who called their shots right far in advance I have no say, but have to listen to morons who didn’t call it right tell us how they had no choice but do stupid things like not nationalize banks, not force banks to actually increase lending, not force bondholders to take a haircut, not institute massive progressive taxation and not pass a health care bill which is a massive giveaway to the medical industry of the US.


I hope all you morons who think there was no other choice but to do what has been done enjoy the right wing populist backlash that Obama and the Dems, by doing the wrong things over and over again, have made virtually inevitable.

God I wish Canada wasn’t right next to America.  Being in a dingy attached by a chain to the Titanic, while the Titanic is run by morons cheered on by fools is immensely depressing.


America’s Future: Sheriff Joe Arpaio


The House Bill Ain’t That Much Better


  1. I can’t help but think that it’s quite a small number of people overall. A handful of card-carrying neoliberals.

  2. Ian Welsh

    Yes, well, unfortunately, they seem to be running the show, don’t they? And they have many many fools in the media repeating their talking points.

  3. Rumor

    Quit stealing my thoughts!

    I’ll have a drink for you tonight, Ian. I understand your frustration, at least a little bit.

  4. They definitely are running the show.

    However, David “Lion’s share” Frum (brief moment for a ritual Canadian snort) disagrees with you that we’re on the verge of a right-wing populist upsurge, electorally speaking.

    Yes, yes, I know, it’s David Frum, consider the source, and so on. BUT I think it’s the case that the American public is quite used to thinking in terms of 11-dimensional chess: the media environment trains people in this kind of thinking much more than it does thinking in terms of actual policy. The first part of the comments are particularly informative IMO.

    The problem that Frum points out is that the GOP has a base of right-wing populism but it has very visibly not provided any alternative plan to address the increasingly obvious market failures that exist. This is why a neoliberal-dominated (D) party doesn’t feel that it is making bad bets, electorally—because neoliberals *do* officially believe in market failures and rightly.

    I’m going to call my shot and say that I do think that (D) will lose seats in the House, but not enough seats to lose the majority in the House in 2010. It’s way too soon to seriously predict what will happen and I called it wrong in Sep 2008, but I’m going to Officially Predict that anyway.

  5. Bobby the Lip

    Although this country is, arguably, pretty dingy, a small boat is a “dinghy”, which can itself be dingy, of course.

  6. S Brennan

    Just a little ironic…yeah, I really do think.

    Mr Obama said the Senate showed it could “stand up to the special interests” and move the nation closer to a health insurance overhaul.

  7. Ian Welsh

    Now that’s funny. Need to put that statement next to Chutzpah in the dictionary.

  8. Ian Welsh

    Good for you Mandos. I haven’t said the House will necessarily go Republican, I’ve just said they’ll lose a lot of seats and may go Republican.

  9. Fair enough, but you’re predicting a “virtually inevitable” right-wing populist backlash (presumably of great proportions?)…

  10. Jim

    Yes, Ian, we are in no short supply of “morons” in this country. Many are protecting their privileged life style–either perceived or real.

    We do have a bit of history that says Americans can do the right thing once the objective conditions and their understanding of what is at stake combine.

    The Civil War in this country could not have been won until the North–and even sections of the South–understood that slavery, not just as an economic system but the very act of enslaving people, was the enemy. Then, they had to be taught that the destruction of slavery was the defense of their own liberty:

    * Objectively slavery and free labor could not forever exist side by side. If you allow slavery to exist, then what is to keep your from becoming a slave?

    * Subjectively and equally importantly, the destruction of slavery was the moral imperative….the necessary democratic thing to do.

    That was the historic task trust upon the Abolitionist. Once the American people understood the nature of the war, their actions conformed to the realities and the war was won.

    Maybe history shows we should not give up on the American people, or at least a section of the American people. As the objective conditions do continue to expose the realities of our economic and political system, and given that those that do understand these realities can bring this understanding to the American people, then maybe, just maybe, we can do it again.

  11. anonymous

    LOL. Well, they’ve already got polls bouncing back, supposedly. So that means they have more political capital to mis-spend on war appropriations.

    And I’ll trade my deck chair for your dinghy seat any day. If Canada gets dragged down by the US, that only means that Canada has been propped up by the US for some time. Just adjusting to your proper level in the world may prove painful, but I doubt you’ll go down nearly as far as us.

  12. Formerly T-Bear

    Elsewhere I commented:

    Too Big to Fail!

    Designed to Fail!

    Bound to Fail!

    concerning the systemic collapse of the Republic.
    Nothing but a complete implosion of the social contract will overcome and clear the miasma of political lies, political myths, and political propaganda that is necessary for teaching an indifferent and apathetic public the necessary political and economic equations for conducting a Republic. As these equations are lost upon the public, the education, by trial and error is necessitated until either the Republic is restored or an economic aristocracy takes its place.
    A complete collapse is about the only path that has any possibility of sufficiently weakening the economic aristocratic hold upon the country where the future may be wrested from their grasp.
    A warning must be engraved in stone that henceforth universal suffrage is limited to those who can demonstrate a rational hold upon reality and the political necessities required of a citizen of a republic. If this is not done, restoration of the republic is not worth the effort, too much corruption exists in the body politic at this juncture to conclude a successful restoration. The conditions evident at the founding of the Republic can never be replicated.

  13. Lex

    In the end both sides of the aisle are neo-liberal, are they not? (And if Ian or tjfxh could answer that for me i would appreciate it greatly.)

    Assuming that i’m not off base in my semi-rhetorical question, the next step is to ask if there has ever been a nation that doesn’t get torn apart by practicing neo-liberal economics? I know that Chile often gets trotted out as a positive example, but i also know that it’s bullshit. The great economic successes of the last half century have all been mercantilist.

    When i look at the stories of neo-liberalism in the developing world in broad strokes and graphs, they look – to me anyhow – surprisingly similar to the story of the US since roughly 1980. The growing income disparity and wealth distribution, the hollowing out of public sector and infrastructure investment, the loss of self-sufficiency (and hence ability to trade well), etc.

    Which leads me one final question: if all of those neo-liberal projects ended badly…and from the perspective of everyone but corporations and foreign investors they did…what makes anyone think that the same end won’t befall the US?

  14. Ian Welsh

    Full free trade works for city states. It doesn’t work for anyone else. Moderate free trade can be good, however.

  15. BDBlue

    Lex, your questions bring me to one more – has anyone ever done more economic damage than Milton Friedman or any school more than the Chicago School?

  16. Lex

    Ah, i suppose that Singapore might be the exception that proves the rule then.

    Economic isolationism would seem to me as dangerous as full, free trade. And free trade, like globalization, does not seem inherently bad to me. Like so much else, implementation is the key. For example, raw agricultural commodities appear to be an area where the system is gamed to the detriment of producers. There’s no reason that nut growers in, say, Africa could not shell and package the nuts…or coffee producers couldn’t roast and package the beans. If they did so, they would capture a great percentage of the full value. As the implementation of free trade stands, the producers tend to ship the raw materials out, thereby gaining the least significant portion of the product value.

    Those producers freely trading their finished product seems like a very good idea to me. The economic colonialism currently practiced, however, seems more like the British colonial model that provoked the Southern American planter class to rebellion. (and iiuc, that was the main motivation of the Southerners, being forced to ship raw cotton/tobacco to England where the majority of the value was added, leaving the American producers perpetually in debt to English corporations)

  17. marku

    An Effing brilliant post over at the HuffPo, filling in on Ian’s idea that Obambi is trashing the progressive brand

    “What’s costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn’t a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.

    What’s costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting. ”

    It is full of great analysis like that. An excellent post.

    “I don’t honestly know what this president believes. But I believe if he doesn’t figure it out soon, start enunciating it, and start fighting for it, he’s not only going to give American families hungry for security a series of half-loaves where they could have had full ones, but he’s going to set back the Democratic Party and the progressive movement by decades, because the average American is coming to believe that what they’re seeing right now is “liberalism,” and they don’t like what they see. I don’t, either.”

  18. Formerly T-Bear

    (writing about free people) – It is easy to understand how this affection for a free way of life arose in those (populations of the Italian peninsula contemporaneous with Rome),because experience demonstrates that cities have never enlarged their dominion or increase their wealth unless they have lived in liberty. It is truly a marvellous thing to consider what greatness Athens achieved in the space of one hundred years after the city freed itself from the tyranny of Pisistratus. But it is even more wondrous to consider how much greatness Rome achieved after it freed itself of its kings. The reason is easy to understand, because it is not the private good but the common good that makes cities great. And without any doubt, this common good is pursued only in a republic, …

    From “Discourses on Livy” Book II Chapter 2 by Niccolò Machiavelli

    This book is a treasure trove for those who are capable of rational thought.

  19. marcopolo

    As someone commented over at Firedoglake: passing this travesty of health care reform is definitely Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment. Instead of a jumpsuit, maybe a hospital gown?

  20. I did laugh bitterly at your last comment, but as Frum has been brought up, I actually do wonder how much of America’s governing problems have to do with America being some kind of right wing magnet state.

    How different might America be, nevermind Frum, without Rupert Murdoch and Rev Moon?

    Does the influx of Galtian super-men (and money) from other lands tilt the natural political balance in America too far to the crazy side?

    The corollary of this, would be that Canada gets saner government because a lot of its real or aspiring malefactors of great wealth move south to do their malefacting.

  21. Ian Welsh

    God, Frum. What a putz. Though, to be fair, a higher quality putz than most home-grown right wing putzes.

    Thank God his mother never had to see the full flower of his putzitude.

  22. John B.

    Putzitude Flower would be a food name for a band…

  23. I like the thought of a band with a food name. Do any well-known bands have food names? Like “Captivated Saurkraut” or … wait, isn’t there someone called “Wavy Gravy”?

    Canada has no shortage of malefactors. Stephen Harper, John Baird, and Jason Kenney just to name three of them. And they’re running the country.

    Frum is…what he is. He’s totally blind on the neocon international bugaboos (“An End to Evil”) but quite alarmed at GOP capture by crazy right-wing populists.

  24. Formerly T-Bear

    Here it is 2:30 pm 24 December, best regards for the holiday season to all and great thanks to Ian for bringing this forum, may his efforts go rewarded, this world (preferentially) or the next.

    As an expatriate, I am blessed with perspective, Ian is NOT amiss. History does verify his very real concerns; note must be taken, the alternative is not desirable by any measure.

    For all other commentaries here, erudite as you may be, do not loose sight of what Ian is presenting; niggling does not serve you well although your intentions are admirable.

    These are era changing times, fin de siècle, what quality that can be produced will have great effect on the following era (Cicero owes his enduring fame rivaling Caesar’s to this). What will your contribution be in the annals of the Republic, a advocate or a hinderance?

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