« What Will You Give Up To Pay For Iraq? | Main | Getting the Bum's Rush on FISA »

August 02, 2007

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b97969e200e39334ed9a8834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Let's Rebuild America First!:

Comments

Back in the early 90s, it was clear that our infrastructure was failing. Over the past few weeks, we have had explosions in New York. Los Angeles, and somewhere else -- none from bombs but rather failing aging public utilities. There was a recent L.A. Times article about the City water and power company (DWP) and how it will cost billions to fix all the deferred maintenance and replace major elements that are beginning to fail. But alot the workers have been laid off to save on budgets. So they are having a hard time keeping up with repairs. Our system is crumbling. But if you drive a hummer, who cares if the roads are bad...

I feel for the people who lost thier lives in Minnesota. If there had been a $2/gallon road tax on gas, there would be enough money to pay for the repair of the infrastructure (by the users). Instead, we have given that $2/gallon to the oil companies and emirates.

Investment bankers (esp. Goldman Sachs) have had their sights on the national highway infrastructure for some time:

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/01/highwaymen.html

Revealingly, I once heard a movement conservative complaining about the ill-effects of the national highway system on traditional families because of the ease of mobility it provided. .... They will privatize all of interstate commerce if given the chance!

But the highway system also allows the movement of goods that is critical to the just-in-time inventory system with its distributed supply chains. Disrepair costs companies real time and money.

These observations by Lester Thurow appeared some years ago in a critical review of William Greider's "One World, Ready or Not", but they are pertinent to this discussion:

What Greider leaves unexamined is the role of the state as an investor in the educational skills, research and development, and infrastructure necessary for growth in today's man-made brainpower industries and for the invention of the industries of tomorrow. In the end our societies will rise or fall not because of some financial boom or crisis but because of our willingness -- or unwillingness -- to make such social investments. They are our equivalent of the irrigation systems that underlay the prosperity of many ancient societies -- and that were maintained or not.
(snip)
Capitalism is myopic and cannot make the long-term social investments in education, infrastructure, and research and development that it needs for its own future survival. It needs government help to make those investments, but its own ideology won't allow it either to recognize the need for those investments or to request government help. That is the ideological paradox of our time.
Indeed.

Absolutely true. Great post, Mimi. Here in Austin we have toll roads coming out of our ears. They have even tried to convert some existing freeways into toll roads, fortunately that has failed, for now.

If toll roads are profitable for corporations, why would they not be profitable for the government to own. It's all about starving government, so they can 'justify' privitization of all infrastructure.

I've really grown the hate these conservatives over the past few years.

They don't love America.

My area already has one toll bridge and one toll highway gifted to private companies. Unfortunately, that is a continuation or business-as-usual for the corporate 3rd world state of Florida, rather than a degradation. (You have to have come up to go down).

Via Skippy we find that this bridge was part of Bush's Nafta Superhwy

http://xnerg.blogspot.com/

What a surprise.

Mimikatz

you misuse the name Conservative for political purpose, and though that is not unexpected, still I feel that I should say that "no new taxes or tax roll back" is not by definition conservatism.

George Bush is not a Conservative not matter what he says.

Speaking of NAFTA, here in Texas I-35(major north-south interstate highway from Mexico) is a parking lot most of the time, if not just terribly congested. I remember when it was first passed that there was some concern raised about improving the freeway, but it got poo-pooed. I think, personally, that there is a decided effort on the part of our state's Republican leadership and possibly Washington to force taxpayers to shell out more through the implementation of tolls so that it does not affect state or federal budgets.

So, we are supposed to continue buying and using automobiles and gasoline, but we won't have highways to run them on? That is not very efficient...

One other thought: I have seen a serious decline in government oversight, both at state and federal levels, of public protection with regard to finances. Consumers in Texas and some other states are saddled, for instance, with "electric deregulation" which was a major fiasco in California, thanks to Enron. By implementing it here in Texas, with little or no oversight from government, the market is wide open to manipulation -- and it appears to be happening. Despite extensive information and evidence to that effect, our Republican-dominated legislature failed to do anything about it.

A laissez-faire marketplace is the dream of every businessman, but it is a theory. There have to be some limits and oversight by government to ensure everyone does play by the rules. Today, it appears that there are NO rules for anyone and chaos prevails.

Imagine what could have been achieved if the $2 trillion for destroying the entire social fabric of Iraq was spent $1.5 trillion here at home and $500 billion to Iraqi citizens???

Our U.S. transportation infrastructure was built pretty well, as evidenced by how few of these types of catastrophes have occurred. We won't be able to say the same, though, as these projects become privatized. Just as in Iraq, greedy private contractors will come along and build with substandard materials and plans. When their constructions fail us and recourse is due, they'll file bankruptcy easy as you please, create a new company, rinse and repeat. The Republican philosophy is a failure. Privatization can't and won't do a better job of providing better services, infrastructure, or protection for the people. Our healthcare, roads, bridges, military defense, etc., must remain under our control.

If anyone knows of a "fight privatization" organization, I'd like to know. Thanks.

Not only has this horrific crash caused an as yet untold number of lost lives, it also decimated a bridge which connected the northern and southern parts of the Twin Cities. The bridge was so centrally located that it abutted downtown Minneapolis on one side and the University of Minnesota on the other.

A few well placed tax dollars could have prevented this human tragedy and the economic slowdown that will occur as we await bridge replacement.

I don't think the "no new taxes" slogan will continue to play well in this area.

Jodi--If deregulation and lower taxes aren't the hallmarks of modern conservatism since Goldwater, I don't know what is.

Or you could always use Digby's definition, as quoted by Rick Perlstein, who has studied conservatives as much as anyone, having written the definitive book on Goldwater and now writing one on Nixon:

As the Internet's smartest liberal blogger, Digby, puts it, tongue only partially in cheek: "'Conservative' is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives' good graces. Until they aren't. At which point they are liberals."

Off topic just a bit, but WTF is the deal with this?

Scott Jennings appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Leahy: You work at the White House, you’re paid for by taxpayers, you work for the American people, I’m just asking you what kind of work you do.

Jennings: Sir I understand and based on my understanding of the letter I have from Mr. Fielding this falls under the president’s assertion of Executive Privilege and therefore I must respectfully decline to answer at this time.

He can't state his job description for the record because that is classified and claimed to be executive privileged? What, is he some sort of Jethro Bodine Double Naught Super Secret Agent or something? These guys have made the quantum leap to just plain crazy.

It's a delicate political dance -- one has to be very careful about accusations of exploiting personal tragedy for political gain. But there's clear potential here (for the reasons Mimikatz elucidates) to make clear, much as after Katrina, the wages of right-wing/cut-taxes-uber-alles government. Iraq may well be the accelerant poured on the anti-GOP fire, but public disquiet over the economic/social havoc wrought by years of Republican policy has been growing as well. Remember: the Roosevelt coalition may have been killed in the near-term by Vietnam and Civil Rights, but resentments against "the welfare class" had been exploited as well, and, by 1980, Reagan was able to declare government the enemy without facing the repudiation Goldwater had only 16 years prior. The horror of this bridge collapse can be for Democrats what the welfare queen was for Reagan: an anecdote illustrating something people are already inclined to believe but aren't seeing reacted to by their government.

There are cycles of public opinion on these matters: voters would have recoiled at Reaganism earlier (even during the Nixon presidency) but soon came around to it; they'd also have rejected flat-out populism from Clinton but seem ready for it now. This is why I have so much trouble with Hillary's position-myself-carefully campaign. I think it's time not to stake out a calibrated set of positions, but to replace the entire electoral calculus. The pieces are all in place, and it's a matter of the smart candidate picking them all up.

I'm thinking China, that's what we'll get with lax government regulations on bidness and corporations, but strong gov influence on private life choices and free speach.

We have to ask ourselves which bridge collapse, which bout of food bourne illness, which bad federal response to anything, which blackout, which school shooting will be the last? When will we, as a people, say enough!? And which of our so called leader's will be the first to say it? And which the first to place the blame squarely and forever on the failed conservative governing philosophy?

Great post Mimi! Oh and over at Hoffmania, he has a link to a countdown video showing the collapse as it happened, it doesn't actually look like that cascading effect that was discussed last night.

To quote a quote:
"'Conservative' is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives' good graces. Until they aren't. At which point they are liberals."

We used to call that the "good ol' boy" system.

Lost in all the labels here is the failure to debate Perlstein's central point - which is that collapsing roads are the price we pay for "tax cuts."

While this is an arguably reasonable proposition, the facts don't bear out the accusation.

First, most state & local governments, as well as the feds, have been raking in cash over the last few years. Absent Iraq, the US budget is nearly in Surplus territory.

As for states (I'm most familiar with Illinois) they have been on spending binges, as have the local governments, gorging themselves on property tax assessment increases.

So where is all this money going? (Iraq already mentioned)

The answer puts the onus equally on the left as it does the right. As an education watchdog who sees and chronicles the massive fraud, waste, and abuse that goes on in America's "district based" and 'bureaucracy based' education system, I've come up with a simple equation.

You can fund a child's education, or you can fund a corrupt and wasteful education bureaucracy - you can't fund both.

Further (again in Illinois - which may have surpassed NO and NJ as the most corrupt state in the nation), you can't fund new "L" tracks as stations when you are funding RTA bureaucracy, worker featherbedding, and obscenely unsustainable pension schemes.

Piling on, you can't fund health care for the poor (clinics, NOT INSURANCE!!)when you are funding productivity-free government and private insurance schemes that do little else but push paper.

As self proclaimed "conservative", I'm more than happy to see bridges built and maintained, as I am fine with rational mass transit and health-care for the poor. I have news for you. None of that can be funded when you lefties are shoveling cash into the maw of a class of tax-eating pigs who use all the AFSCME and NEA (IEA, WEAC. etc etc) dues to promote the growth of an even larger class of tax-eating pigs.

I am glad to work with the decent left on shoring up needed infrastructure, as I'm also happy to call Hastert as big a tax-eating pig as any worthless school superintendent (whose salary and piggish benefits educates not one child)

I'll help you lefties go after Chertoff, Brown, Haliburton, and other useless Bush Cronies if you help me go after the productivity-free class of bureaucrats eating this nation alive with their piggish salaries and pensions.

Once rid of these scum, there will be plenty to educate, treat, and provide jobs and retirement for the poor, with a little extra for even more tax cuts.

I'm right about this, but I'm happy to debate the issue with Rick on my Radio Show.

Sounds like throw the baby out with the bath water Bruno. While you're punishing those liberal government employees, another family goes hungry and their kids don't get to the doctor again this year. But you did get those Government employees!

Baby Bush just got done trashing our state here. One example is that his contention that our schools are sooo bad because those haughty educated people ain't teaching good enough. He forgot to mention that it was the 48th in line state for education, BUT IT WAS THE 49th worst funded system in the country at the same time. His conservative solution: give some of that money to the Rich to send their kids to private UNREGULATED schools (vouchers not large enough to cover all the tuition, so it doesn't work for the poor), while importing a no-bid contract company to test our kids, and then take money AWAY from schools that weren't doing so well. Just to punish those "you think you are so smart" teachers. BTW, he "forgot" to regulate the private schools that get the voucher money so they don't get tested the same way, or as we have found, they don't even have to exist. (Final, do or flunk exams for 3rd graders, they now spend their entire year learning how to take the test).

You have to actually DO SOMETHING besides bad-mouth the situation. And while you are doing it, remember the people at the bottom will be the first to suffer while you get your jollies punishing those just below you, as is so popular with the nouveau-riche. We've had over a decade of "oh, I'd gladly help if only.....". It's getting old.

I think good old (up to the 'z' in Alzheimer's) Ronny used the phrase "personal responsibility" when degrading the poor. In retrospect, that's just elitist code for "that's your problem, not mine".

Bruno--First, many functions have devolved onto state and local governments as the Feds cut taxes ands services. That was Dean's point about the fallacy of federal tax cuts. Second, there are population increases and technological advances that have boosted the amount that needs to be spent on education and health care.

And here in California, we spend aqn inordinate amount on prisons and prison guards, among our highest paid state employees, because of all the "law'n'order" measures that the conservatives championed. Once again we are balancing our budget by cutting funds for the poor and disabled.

There is at least as much waste, fraud and abuse among private industry, to say nothing of sheer greed, as among state workers. That is really a pittance compared to Halliburton and other friends of Dick.

The "law and order" conservatives in this state not only imprison people for things like having a legally prescribed drug on you (25 years, because there is no "it's my prescription" defense for possession); but their friends now OWN THE PRISONS!

I feel soooo much safer with conservatives protecting me from?????

The corruption in the privatized services here far dwarfs the Government corruption in both magnitude AND cost. One small problem, the Repugs are linked at the hip to these "private" companies, so we don't investigate or punish when corruption is stumbled upon.

NO MORE Toll Roads,no toll Booth at the end of my Driveway!
No Nukes is good Nukes.
I hope the next President will reverse ALL executive Orders,that the Waterboy issued.
NO Incumbents in 2008

The fundamental flaw of privatization is that you cannot improve service and still make enough of a profit to make it worthwhile. If you try paying your workers much less in order to make a profit, it will cause service to deteriorate. It just doesn't work. Public employees may have
benefits and job protection, but usually that makes up for lower pay. In my experience they work as hard as anyone, and the best work harder.

From Sojourner:

One other thought: I have seen a serious decline in government oversight, both at state and federal levels, of public protection with regard to finances. Consumers in Texas and some other states are saddled, for instance, with "electric deregulation" which was a major fiasco in California, thanks to Enron. By implementing it here in Texas, with little or no oversight from government, the market is wide open to manipulation -- and it appears to be happening.

Absolutely. This trend picked up steam under Reagan —you could probably say that it's what "Reaganomics" was all about— and has become grotesque beyond folly by now, partly due to pressure from the very groups that intend to make fraudulent use of the lack of supervision, and partly from convenient-idiot ideologues, which has resulted in the loss of system capacity to deal with white collar crime and keep up with business and financial "innovations" at all levels.

We saw in the Libby case a good example of how much time, sustained effort, attention to arcane detail, and sheer brain power it takes to prosecute just one white collar case, which did not even involve a complex entity like a hedge fund or the kind of spinoff structure that Enron used in its malfeasance.

We also saw in that case the way in which the perpetrators of these frauds, and those who support them whether or not they know of the fraudulence, use the press to undermine public support for proper supervision and enforcement, and try to buy off those branches of government on which monitors rely for support.

An earlier example of this whose inner history is more in the open is the banking crisis of the 1980s to early 1990s, during which S&L regulators in particular had to spend much valuable time struggling with Congress to maintain their capital budget and staffing levels —forget trying to increase them significantly to deal with the emergency.

Part of the problem proved to be the access to insufficiently knowledgeable, and apparently ineducable, members of Congress that was afforded by campaign contributions to individuals and Congressional campaign committees.

It is the iceberg which we might already have struck, in the form of the growing debt market turmoil. While States are often free to try to remedy these situations individually, there are obviously co-ordination and interstate commerce problems involved in some of these areas that would make it easier, or maybe even constitutional in some cases, to proceed on the federal level, if we had a federal government. Not to mention that some financial and other regulatory duties were pushed onto States by devolutionary hawks in DC.

Citizen historical research, anyone?

A worrying trend is the outsourcing of highway infrastructure, such as Indiana's sale of its toll road, the main interstate in the northern half of the state and the principal connection between Chicago and the East. Such deals are investment banking confections, whose principal function is generating deal fees. They ought to be banned. If not banned, Congress should ensure that the terms of any further deals protect the public's interest in a working and up to date highway system on which we all depend. I can't think of a more obvious exercise of the power inherent in the interstate commerce clause.

More generally, the "market" has only one interest, to maximize profit. This used to be leavened with a recognition that corporations and the places in which they did business had mutual or overlapping interests. That notion has flown out of the boardroom window like an employee pension. Recognizing the validity of anything that competes with maximizing profits is now seen as bizarre, like a Catholic advocating for married priests. Shorn of its restraining context, the profit motive has metastasized, giving us Jeffrey Skillings, unregulated hedge funds, and the dark side of international outsourcing.

The govt's job, on the other hand, is to act in the best interests of its citizens. That's high school civics talk, of course. For the GOP, that has traditionally meant maximizing the returns for its corporate backers (masquerading as job creation schemes) via friendly regulations, low taxes, anti-labor policies, and virtually free timber and minerals and grazing rights on govt lands. (The Bush administration is batting a thousand there.) The Dems at least aspire to being the party of the people, though they, too, have a full closet of corporate skeletons.

Govt is the only actor capable of acting in the public interest. Hence, Bush's interest in creating the impression that govt is incapable of being more competent than he is. The real issue is that he won't allow it function on behalf of the people. Until November '06, for example, the GOP Congress refused to pass any legislation that had too much Democratic support. Now that they are in a minority in both houses, the GOP's strategy is to prevent the Dems from passing any legislation, regardless of who wants it or the good it would do. Who cares about the savings from reducing childhood illness (via SCHIP legislation) when what matters is subsidizing private businesses? Morality isn't profitable. (Just as Bush's sale/giveaway of arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel has little to do with regional security and a helluva lot to do with a fifty billion dollar subsidy to American defense contractors.

As for investment in our aging infrastructure under Bush, it gets back to Karl Rove and his electoral math. Minnesotans may be lucky; its governor is a pretty craven GOP'er. New Orleans, not so lucky. What better gift to leave a resurgent Democratic Party than an aging and unpaid for infrastructure, an unpaid for war and occupation, and a DOJ more in need of structural repair than any highway bridge?

There's a third group that should be mentioned among those who push for what could be called pathological deregulation and desupervision, alongside the outright frauds and the useful idiots: some of those who are legitimately caught having to cope with the business environment that the other two groups generate.

In the S&L example, this latter group would include S&L owners and managers who were not looting their institutions as Keating or Dixon were, but who got into financial trouble in part because they had to compete in markets that were badly skewed by the reckless activities of the looters. In that episode, some of these honest businessfolk also sought to have the S&L regulators called off, in hope of getting enough time to salvage their businesses. The presence of these honest "brokers," furthermore, made it all the more difficult for regulators to persuade some critical members of Congress that wolves were among them.

On the other hand, anytime one can identify an honest businessperson, there's a chance of flipping that person over to the side at leasst of better supervision, I should think.

Boy,

For people who call conservatives "dogmatic," the dogma flows freely here.

Certainly, there are bad ways to privatize, and good ways to run government. I'd argue that neither side does either particularly well, as corruption runs rampant through our culture. This is more a function of the hollowing out of American Character than it is of an increasingly shallow "left/right" debate.

Let's address some of the howlers above...

"Government is the only actor capable of acting in the public interest./!!!?? Good God!! Where did you get that, your poly sci 101 Prof who never worked a minute of real work in the private sector?

Government is made up of individuals with the same failings as any Corporate Exec or sleazy lawyer. Public Education is seething with corruption, and any industry that can force 90% of it's customers through it's monopoly is just as craven and greedy as any tobacco or oil executive.

There is virtually no distinguishable difference between an elected official's interest in expanding his patronage army and an executive seeking to pad his profits. The human failings that motivate any bad businessman are the same motivations that cause an elected official to take a bribe, fix a contract, or tax the productive to benefit the unproductive.

Howler 2

"The fundamental flaw of privatization is that you cannot improve service and still make enough of a profit to make it worthwhile.?"

More leftwing 'Political Economy 101' nonsense. To make such an argument, one would have to believe that EVERY government function was not only efficiently provided, but that government was also capable of innovation and dynamic change.

The opposite is closer to the truth. Once the government picks up a function, that function develops a constituency (not that different from a "market") that will demand that its own propagation and growth. Though the same vile phenomenon take place in the business sector, government has perfected the "baseline" budget, whereby it blows any possible savings for the sole purpose of asking for more the next time around.

Business, which must compete for customers, is under constant pressure to innovate, improve, and compete. This is why I hold the business exective's calls for "protection" as craven as the public education drone's.

The fact is there shouldn't be ANY business function that we ought not ask whether government can deliver the service better, and there ought not be ANY government function should be "protected" from the "privatization" question.

As reasonable people, we ought to be open to new and different ways to do things, and the mediocre leftwing drivel emanating from some posts here indicate the same intellectual rigor mortis that you (accurately, in some cases) accuse conservatives of having.

Well, I live about a mile from the former I-35W Bridge, and I have been doing all sorts of "bridging" stuff today, while thinking over and over about a post here about it all, particularly the local political tensions and conflicts that are exposed because of this tragedy. But Pearlstein is absolutely right on with his description of Pawlenty's cutting the heart out of the Transit and Transportation bill at the end of this legislative session -- the Governor has the veto, and he has his utterly idiotic no new taxes pledge, but if you knew what you were watching, the idiot caved in on National TV today. The consequences of his Republican Ideology were spread across the river for all to see -- and people are digging into all the reports of inspections of that bridge -- and he is getting killed. I'll try and frame it as a post tonight with details on local and state politics for all to engage.

This Bridge happens to be located in a State Senate District that voted 78% for John Kerry. It is the ultra progressive core of the most progressive district in the country -- the one that sent Keith Ellison to the House of Representatives. Everyone talked it out -- and decision was not to be Katrinized.

This morning the Downtown Council -- 400 businesses that headquarter in downtown Minneapolis, had an emergency Breakfast. Most members are probably genetically Republican, but this morning they had a most un-Republican Breakfast. Apparently someone from the WH called in, and got a total earful from the kinds of folk who normally pay to attend Bush Events and all. Anyhow -- I will use a new post to integrate it all.

Anyhow, I am OK -- so far no one I know is reported missing, One friend drove over the bridge about two minutes before it fell -- she was returning home from the Red Cross after a meeting about some Somali immigrant issues. I have a whole list of links to multiple flickr shows of rescues in the first minutes after the collapse (courtesy of our DFL District Officers) with many first hand diaries of bikers and runners who were in the riverside park when it all happened, and who jumped in the river to help folk. Media has not done justice to the area -- and they certainly don't know how to read politics.

But a bit later -- Today I had an arrangement with a friend of mine who is a very senior member of the legislature (and pragmatic but very progressive) to help me out -- My old car died last week (18 years old, RIP,) and I needed someone to take me to the outer suburbs for a car shopping expedition. It was very frustrating -- but alas, tomorrow I will be the owner of a brand new car, that hopefully will last till I die, but which I got at a great discount. On a car shopping expedition you can have a huge discussion about the politics of all this -- and of course I did. So let me see how to frame it all, maybe in a couple of hours.

Reply to Mimi,

"Second, there are population increases and technological advances that have boosted the amount that needs to be spent on education and health care."

Technological advances REDUCE the cost of providing services. If a well developed DVD can educate a kid on history or science, why suffer an ossified "Seniority X worthless Masters Degree" system to pay a burned out teacher to deliver content?

With the internet, can anyone make a case for why there is even a text book industry for K-8? Surely, there is a need for transitional content, but textbooks are a perfect example of an industry that deserves to go the way of the buggy whip. But hey, every new edition is a reason to hype the kids who don't have it.
____

If any are wondering why I spend so much time talking about education, it's because it is the ultimate litmus test for the intellectual honesty of a lefty.

The system is as corrupt as any big corporation. It is as ineffective and overpriced as any bad pharmaceutical. The political structure supporting it is as greedy as any corporate titan. It exploits it's low level employess (teachers) as badly as any fast food joint. It uses children as a stick to beat more money out of taxpayers, yet produces an increasingly shoddy product for an increasingly unsustainable price, and ...drum roll please... it pimps over blacks, the poor and disadvantaged more than any.

When a lefty defends it, s/he reaches the height of hypocrisy. When s/he seeks honest change, s/he knows that we must fund children, and not worthless bureacracies.

This is America. We used to be dynamic enough to solve our problems, but we now just shout epithets (Surrender Monkey, Smirking Chimp, etc etc.) across the aisle and hope that the dumbest of the dumb buy our crap on election day.

____

Prostrate Dragon,

"Better People" don't need supervision. That's the point of producing "better people" instead of the insanity of trying to create "better superivisory bureaucracies."

Apply Gresham's Law to regulation. Bad regulation drives out good regulation. A society of self-regulators requiers less bureaucracy, and a society of regulatory bureaucracies destroys self-regulation.

I think it was Spencer who distilled this. "Protect a people from folly, and you will end up with a nation of idiots." Rent Mike Judge's "Idiocracy". It is already here.

Thanks for a very timely post Mimikatz, look forward to your take Sara.

Bruno,

1) My take is that we have to go with the people we have and adapt processes to them; hopefully they will evolve, but something that once turned up on a bas-relief somewhere suggests not, very much. The other thing —trying to find New People— has a history of turning out rather more badly than is usually intended.

2) Regulation, or formulating of rules, is not the same thing a supervision, or I guess monitoring adherence to whatever rules there are. Bank examiners, loan underwriting oversight. Bridge inspections, but especially followups, those kinds of thing.

There have been defects in both processes in recent years, but arguably it's been worse in supervision, in the sense that existing rules and standards could have prevented some of what we are going to be seeing more and more of as the credit tide ebbs.

Sara, glad to hear you're ok. I've been trying to remember all those I know or encounter who might have been in the area, and have been surprised at how long the list is. Lot of friends in the Twin Cities.

Bruno,

"It uses children as a stick to beat more money out of taxpayers, yet produces an increasingly shoddy product for an increasingly unsustainable price, and ...drum roll please... it pimps over blacks, the poor and disadvantaged more than any."

[1] Why is there a shortage of physicians? [2] Do you understand what the Liason Committee on Medical Education is and who they are funded by? [3] All the cost saving tips you provide apply a lot more appropriately to Medical school education, why aren't they used there wrt symptom identification? [4] Why are the markets not working?

I am not in love with the teachers unions, but they are a perfectly legal and reasonable economic response. At least none of them are getting rich that's why your pharmaceutical comparison is so wildly inaccurate. Also your comment about no textbooks from K-8 reveals an astonishing ignorance of the digital divide.

WRT your comment about "technological advances," they do not always "REDUCE" the cost of providing services, it's a little more complicated. Horses are a lot less expensive and more energy efficient than cars.

"Government is the only actor capable of acting in the public interest./!!!?? Good God!! Where did you get that, your poly sci 101 Prof who never worked a minute of real work in the private sector?"

Instead of rhetoric, try making an argument. Is it your point that oligarchic corporations have a responsibility to government that they do not have to their shareholders?

[You can just ignore me for a moment. I need to act out.]

Why the fuck do people write shit like this:

It would be so expensive to fix hundreds of thousands of bridges, that it's just not going to happen. But these numbers highlight the problem of the nation's infrastructure. No word is likely to make taxpayers' eyes glaze over more quickly.

My emphasis. Especially on a day when suddenly structural engineering, failure testing, and all manner of such subjects should suddenly be oh so sexy? Surely the writer could have responded to the occasion better than that. If he and I had been in the same room when I read that, someone would have had to leave, quickly.

[Thank you, you have no idea how much that meant ...]

Boo,

The "rhetoric" was a reaction to a demonstrably silly sentence. 10s of 1000s of corporations "act in the public interest" every time the produce the product their customers want at the price their customers wish to pay. They do the same when they pay their employees an agreed upon wage for work.

This idea that only the government (and an army of Not-for-profit NGO Naderites) "act in the public interest" exposes a dangerously narrow view of said "public interest." It is my experience that this dangerously narrow view is rampant among academia.
___

Your talk of a teacher "not getting rich" again exposes a bias, but also ignores facts. I frankly don't care how rich a teacher gets, as long as they educate the kids in their charge. Earth to lefties, getting rich isn't bad, it's good. Most of the rich are that way because they are productive.

There is plenty of data out their indicating that teachers are highly compensated relative to other professions. http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_50.htm

In my town, an adminstrator's compensation went from $146,000 to 229,000 in 5 years, where she then 'retired' at 75% of an artificially inflated 4 year compensation. This was the rule, not the exception in IL. I'll bet the same happened in MN and across the country. That money could have bridged that "digital divide," but instead went into the maw of a functionally "privatized" education monopoly. (it is run for the private benefit of those inside the monopoly)

I actually agree with the left re: the dangers of some industries and corporations buying up legislation and protecting themselves from competition. As some one who despises collectives and collectivism, I'm smart enough to see that Corporations are merely collectives of a different sort, and government created to boot.

My basic point was, and continues to be, that you can't maintain bridges when you are maintaining an unsustainable bureaucracy and their unsustainable and actuarilly impossible pensions. Both parties across this nation have turned much government employment into a cesspool of nepotism, incompetence, and patronage.

Our towns and school districts are being run by a cadre of losers who believe they have a God-given right to fat pensions and free health care that kicks in at an obscene 55 year-old retirement age.

Newsflash - India and China, not to mention Africa (which grew at over 5% in aggregate last year) don't suffer from the fat and flabby mindset of the American "slacker nation" that thinks it has a right to cheap gas, below market electricity, fat retirements, and high paying jobs free from competition.

There is no "protection" from reality, and the patronage army left is just as guilty for bridge collapses and Katrina aftermath as the tax cutting right. Reasonable people of differing ideologies had better stop with the rhetoric and compromise on workable solutions to our problems.

Or you could continue to pursue the myth that it's all Pawlenty and Bush's fault.

eoh

I'm wondering how legal it is for a state to sell a highway to private interests - if part of the funding was federal (and with interstates, that's pretty much guaranteed), surely Congress should be involved! (I think it ought to require a vote of the citizens of the state proposing it.)

"The "rhetoric" was a reaction to a demonstrably silly sentence. 10s of 1000s of corporations "act in the public interest" every time the produce the product their customers want at the price their customers wish to pay. They do the same when they pay their employees an agreed upon wage for work.

Bruno, I didn't rob a bank today, does that mean I am acting in the public interest?

"10's of 1,000's of corporations..."

I am not aware of any corporations that are not oligarchies. Each corporation within the one oligarchy dwarfs the US agencies that were built to regulate them. Read up on the Johnson County War and the Lincoln County War to see what happens when "government" cannot protect the public interest. If you do not like government, try pro wrestling. The NFL and MLB work, because they have invested heavily in reliable referees/umpires. (NBA maybe an exception).

"This idea that only the government (and an army of Not-for-profit NGO Naderites) "act in the public interest" exposes a dangerously narrow view of said "public interest."

Show me where any corporation acts against shareholder interest to protect the public interest.

As for your unregulated not-for-profits, most have been silently taken over by the relevant oligarchies to advance their narrow commercial interests under the banner of "impartiality" that non-profits used to have.

"It is my experience that this dangerously narrow view is rampant among academia."

These gratuitous and overly general shots don't win you any points with me. Academia has had to unionize. They are not trying to "get rich," they are just trying to survive. Above I asked above what you know about Medical School education? You ignored those NUMBERED questions in your response. This is the way markets work. Oligarchies perpetuate oligarchies on BOTH sides of the labor capitol continuum. I just don't see any of the academic labor unions as nearly as predatory as the very effective labor union that artificially restricts the number of physicians that graduate from US Medical schools every year.


"Your talk of a teacher "not getting rich" again exposes a bias, but also ignores facts.

What facts I have ignored? If you are trying to piss me off, keep accusing me of "bias" without backing it up.

"I frankly don't care how rich a teacher gets, as long as they educate the kids in their charge."

Well, I do care. Teachers are not a big player in determining overall academic success. A lot of the major factors in academic success are way beyond a teacher's control. That doesn't mean, however, they don't provide value and shouldn't get paid a living wage.

"Earth to lefties, getting rich isn't bad, it's good."

When did I or anyone here ever say "getting rich" is bad.

"Most of the rich are that way because they are productive."

Link?

Most of the rich are "rich," because their parents were rich before them. Nobody gets "rich" without owning capitol. People who own capitol don't often give it away.

"There is plenty of data out their indicating that teachers are highly compensated relative to other professions. http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_50.htm

From your link: "The Manhattan Institute, a pro-free market think tank,..."

Yeah Bruno, I'm familiar with the Manhattan Institute. They are pro-oligarchy, not "free market." They are not capitalists. Please work to understand the difference between an oligarchy and the "free markets."

We have a SHORTAGE of teachers. Review the laws of supply and demand. Shortages exist where equilibrium between price and quantity does not exist.


"In my town, an adminstrator's compensation went from $146,000 to 229,000 in 5 years, where she then 'retired' at 75% of an artificially inflated 4 year compensation. This was the rule, not the exception in IL. I'll bet the same happened in MN and across the country. That money could have bridged that "digital divide," but instead went into the maw of a functionally "privatized" education monopoly. (it is run for the private benefit of those inside the monopoly)"

Link?

You're talking about one administrator in one school district? My guess is you adjusted the salary to include benefits. Compare that to what the captains of industry make, they NET $229,000 in a MONTH not a year.

Here is a pro-growth, conservative, Republican County Executive asleep at the wheel when pensioners tried to rip off the taxpayers for around $50 million. Some of the worst offenders were Republicans in his government.

If you want qualified people in government, you have to pay them.

"I actually agree with the left re: the dangers of some industries and corporations buying up legislation and protecting themselves from competition. As some one who despises collectives and collectivism, I'm smart enough to see that Corporations are merely collectives of a different sort, and government created to boot."

It appears we have some common ground here. A lot of oligarchies are here to stay, the market forces them to concentrate. My point is that the government needs more muscle to regulate an oligarchy than for example a family owned farm.

"My basic point was, and continues to be, that you can't maintain bridges when you are maintaining an unsustainable bureaucracy and their unsustainable and actuarilly impossible pensions. Both parties across this nation have turned much government employment into a cesspool of nepotism, incompetence, and patronage.

I would agree that the GOP learned from the old corrupt Democratic party patronage machines. What we need is what we will always need, honest, clean, transparent government from both parties. I was raised a Barry Goldwater Republican, so I do not appreciate being called a "lefty."


"Our towns and school districts are being run by a cadre of losers who believe they have a God-given right to fat pensions and free health care that kicks in at an obscene 55 year-old retirement age.

Newsflash - India and China, not to mention Africa (which grew at over 5% in aggregate last year) don't suffer from the fat and flabby mindset of the American "slacker nation" that thinks it has a right to cheap gas, below market electricity, fat retirements, and high paying jobs free from competition.

There is no "protection" from reality, and the patronage army left is just as guilty for bridge collapses and Katrina aftermath as the tax cutting right. Reasonable people of differing ideologies had better stop with the rhetoric and compromise on workable solutions to our problems.

Or you could continue to pursue the myth that it's all Pawlenty and Bush's fault."

First, a myth is "true." if it's not true, it ceases to be a myth. The Garden of Eden story/myth at one level is about aging. It's "true" in that respect. We are "cast out" of the garden of youth, vitality and good health. Unfortunately, public figures in general have substituted "myth" when they are too gutless to say "lie" so the word "myth" has been substituted.

Government is about wise investment. Companies that produce bridge monitoring equipment are as susceptible to cheating as companies that pour concrete or steel, or bridge architects and engineers. We need smart people in government who work in the "public interest." That means we have to nationalize elections so candidates and parties do not have to go hat in hand to oligarchies.

Also you do not get a free pass on Bush's $270,00,000/day occupation of Iraq when discussing the abandonment of infrastructure in the US. My tax dollars do not willingly go to making Iran and Russia more dominant in the Middle East.

Bruno-

If you look out at the world, and the problem that really gets your goat is an overpaid, overstaffed, self-dealing public bureaucracy, then all I can think is that you either live in a different world than I do (possible; I don't live in Illinois, and corruption there is legendary), or you should take another look at the world again. I usually see an understaffed, underpaid, overworked, and undereffective public sector. I've seen baseline budgeting behavior, and that does bug me, but beyond that I don't see the ordinary public sector as a significantly alarming per-capita money scam. I do see several types of corporate behavior, and most types of government contracting behavior, including DoD-type stuff, as that: a money scam that is really significant on a national scale. Other corporate sectors are almost entirely legit. But the public sector, while somewhat problematic, is not the great big angry problem of the day, I think, and if your focus is there then you're probably missing something more important somewhere else.

You are absolutely right to focus on education as the great failure of liberals. I have no answer to that, and this problem has bugged me for a long time. The big cities are entirely Democratic, and still can't get their education systems together. White flight to suburbs and suburban school districts is part of it, and property-tax-based-funding is part of it, but still, liberals have been in charge of big cities for 70 years now and should have found some way to do something. And if not, they should at least be screaming about it, and they're not. The education status quo is entirely unacceptable to me, and even if the GOP bears much of the key fault for non-funding, or something, the Dems seem to accept the status quo and are not pushing education as a problem and an issue they intend to force. That is very unsettling.

(Although, in their defense, the education system actually works acceptably well for the middle and upper class, and finding the money required to fix education for the lower class and successfully routing it there is very difficult in a Reaganite, "welfare queen" political environment. I can't decide how much blame Democrats bear for having failed to deliver on this. Especially since Democrats were delivering consistently for this constituency in the 60s, and urban education only became the Next Great Problem at the same time as Dems were crippled by Reagan's movement, and rendered unable to deliver a solution.)

In general, I think you are being ripped off by other cartels, and for a hell of a lot more money and social costs, than you are being ripped off by the public sector. So, my impression of your anger is that it is peculiarly off-target. The only obviously Democratic public-employee cartel that comes close to the damage of these other cartels is education, and that's because while the money involved is not great, the social costs of that failure are enormous and appropriately enraging. On that, I am right there beside you. On the rest, I see bigger problems elsewhere.

Mix Mimikatz with Prostratedragon and you have reality. Mimi give the way it needs to be prostratedragon shows the endgame for this administration, after rape, pillage and burn the repukes say it's all yers good buddy gone partyin"

Bruno's a good voice here. He wants the right things. His motives are coming from the right place, and it's good to see the dialog. Jodi could learn from Bruno, he's ernest.

And I do agree about his schools point. We can't just blanket defend the idea that run by government is good. Schools are full of useless layers of management, and graft. In the cities School Districts have gotten way too big for their britches. I've long thought that all school districts should be broken up into community based independent systems. Like a dozen neighborhood run schools - few elementary, few intermediate, 1 or two high schools - all under one super. Coops could exist for common functions and each small district could choose to participate in the co-ops or negotiate on their own.

I'm from a small town and the small district model still works. Big school districts also cut parents out way too much, they get cumbersome and arrogant. Parents are frustrated, dealing with big districts is like trying to deal with the state, it's just too much. The parents would keep smaller districts honest.

I used to buy the "private industry is more efficient" story. Who would have thought that industry greed and dishonesty would dwarf government waste. It probably could have worked with good government and more honestly evaluated privatization theory, but the current neo-con assholes that hijacked what may or may not have once been an honest conservative movement have created a land run of private pig feeding at the government trough.

It's all about accountability at the end, and unless both sides are willing to hold THEMSELVES accoutable FIRST, we're not going to have good government - we will fall as surely as did Rome. It urks me to see Republicans just continue to bitch about dems - most of the one's I know are fully disenchanted with their own party, but I don't see any of them taking responsibility for cleaning up the mess they made.

It's easy to fault the other guy - but we would all be well advised to keep our own dogs on tight leashes. Otherwise they will terrorize the neighborhood, I don't care who's yard they come from.

Dismayed,

Thanks for the assist. For my part the commentators here are of much hight quality than those suffering from BDS (Bush derangement syndrome) over at the smirking chimp or DU.

For my part, each person who actually cares about politics and policy is about 1/3 liberal/socialist, 1/3 capitalist/libertarian, and 1/3 conservative/moralist, and merely unconscious of the wide range of cognitive dissonance caused by the variances in beliefs.

The 2 party system exacerbates these problems with its demand for "loyalty" and the lie that a vote for an alternative is a "vote for the opposition." We need more electoral alternatives in the US, and we need to get past calling those who disagree with us "evil."

I support personal accounts for Social Security, Free Trade, HSAs, and tax cuts. I have absolutely no interest in pimping over "the little people" or making corporations rich. I can make a 'progressive' case for all of the above, but realize that many who disagree with me have valid views as well.

The 2 party system has become a game to keep 2 many decent people of differing views from talking to each other.

Boo wrote:

Government is about wise investment. Companies that produce bridge monitoring equipment are as susceptible to cheating as companies that pour concrete or steel, or bridge architects and engineers. We need smart people in government who work in the "public interest." That means we have to nationalize elections so candidates and parties do not have to go hat in hand to oligarchies.

The Robert Taylor homes and Cabrini Green were NOT 'wise investments.' Yet billions of "Social Security" taxes were spent on them. While your point about moral hazards re: bridge companies is true, the daily headlines scream that government employees are really no different.

In all this talk about the bridge collapse, please note that the MN bridge was "publicly owned." (tragedy of the commons, anyone?) I'm 100% in support of clean, open, and effective government. The fact of the matter is that we need to become a better class of people for both government AND privatization to work.

Both can work, and currently, neither is working.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad