Good Late Nite!
And on to part two of tonight’s funnies. This post will be centered around the drones of Obama, including a little of this and that.
The first two are a take on Dr. Stranglove:
(They both are missing the Hey there/Dear John message but still are funny! The second one from John Cole is the better of the two.)
Now a bit of the old immigration…
Now a few on the blizzard hitting the Northeast right now, and the new Monopoly game piece!
You may not have heard, Monopoly will no longer have the little iron game piece…and they are replacing it with a cat…
That is a good one, this is an open thread.
I woke up from nap with this thread writing itself. This happens frequently to me when when I’m trying to reconcile ideas that look separate and unconnected but I know intuitively that isn’t true. I just haven’t found the way to make the connection. This latest dream tapestry came from what seems like three distinct sources. The first inspiration was a conversation from The Confluence. The second kick came from a rude comment from an even ruder blog. The third click came from my basic market structure lectures to my freshman survey classes where I have to teach economics to non-business majors. This means I teach economics concepts without much use of graphs and math so you have to tell a lot of stories to get your point across and be very down to earth about things. It makes me really work my brain so I can explain complex concepts in intuitive ways.
So the thread at the Confluence was about what is ‘crude populism.’ The rude comment was about me being at times seemingly ‘Keynesian’ and at other times a ‘rabid free market libertarian’. The primary concept that I’m leading up to in my survey class is ‘market failure.’ There’s actually a middle path between these concepts and we’re about to go down it. The connecting point is market failure and its root source as well as the source of resolution. The source of market failure can frequently be the government. It can also frequently be something with in the market itself that has nothing to do with the government. Either way, to deal with the market failure,the government must find the root source and remove it. This means creating laws. Sometimes, this means removing government intervention. Other time it means adding it. I’ll give you some examples here in moment, but stay with me on those points because I’m going to tie it to American populism in its varied forms.
The most recent form of American populism in this country comes from Ronald Reagan. A previous form of American populism came from Huey Long. They were both very skilled at speechifying the masses into jingoistic furor, but with very different views of what the government’s role in messes were. Reagan’s speeches were full of the “government is always the problem.” Here’s example one, the first Reagan inaugural address.
Here’s the part of the speech that describes the Reagan brand of Populism.
These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflation in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.
Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.
But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.
You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.
The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
This is the philosophical basis of the tea parties of Michelle Malkin. The line goes like this, there is this gang of elitists sitting in government taking our tax money and creating problems with our jobs to help their buddies and themselves. Let’s get them! We’re little businesses! We’re little people! We’re the solution ! They are they problem!
Here’s some highlights from the life of Louisiana Governor Huey Long, the Kingfish. He’s another politician associated with populism. Notice his breed of populism is quite different. Listen to his speeches. This line is one that grabs me.
“How many men ever went to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what’s intended for nine-tenths of the people to eat? The only way you’ll ever be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain’t got no business with!”
Long’s type of populism puts the government squarely as the root of the solution and not the problem. This is another type of populism that is the philosophical catalyst spurring the pitchforks and torches aimed squarely at the AIG bonuses. Huey attacked the corporatist that he saw as distinct from the government. So, the line here goes, there is a gang of elitists taking our money and creating problems for our jobs. Let’s grab the government and go get them! We’re little businesses! We’re little people! We’re the solution but we can’t really do much unless the government is there to help us get them! But, let’s get them!
So yes, the problem can somewhat be boiled down to the government is the elitist problem for populist Republicans. The government is part of the solution to the elitist problem for populist Democrats. These are both ideological oversimplifications and I’m going to use simple economics to show you why. We can see that both can be true when you study market failures in economics. They aren’t completely irreconcilable viewpoints.