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Terez
02-15-2012, 06:38 PM
I am reading Decision Points by The Decider, which Gonzo nicknamed "My Pet Goat", and now I can't stop thinking of the book as such. It's really quite fitting.

What I want to know is, how can a president of the United States get away with saying something this stupid and hypocritical? Is this what they teach in Harvard Business School?

The lessons of Harvard Business School were reinforced by an unlikely source: a trip to visit Mother and Dad in China after graduation. The contrast was vivid. I had gone from the West Point of capitalism to the eastern outpost of communism, from a republic of individual choice to a country where people all wore the same gray clothes. While riding my bike through the streets of Beijing, I occasionally saw a black limo with tinted windows that belonged to one of the party bigwigs. Otherwise there were a few cars and no signs of a free market. I was amazed to see how a country with such a rich history could be so bleak.

In 1975, China was emerging from the Cultural Revolution, its government's effort to purify and revitalize society. Communist officials had set up indoctrination programs, broadcast propaganda over omnipresent loudspeakers, and sought to stamp out any evidence of China's ancient history. Mobs of young people lashed out against their elders and attacked the intellectual elite. The society was divided against itself and cascading into anarchy.

China's experience reminded me of the French and Russian revolutions. The pattern was the same: People seized control by promising to promote certain ideals. Once they had consolidated power, they abused it, casting aside their beliefs and brutalizing their fellow citizens. It was as if mankind had a sickness that it kept inflicting on itself. The sobering thought deepened my conviction that freedom—economic, political, and religious—is the only fair and productive way of governing a society.....

....The campaign lifestyle was a perfect fit for me in my twenties. I enjoyed moving around and meeting new people. I thrived on the intensity and competition of the races. I liked the finality that came on election day, when the voters picked a winner and we all moved on. I hadn't planned it this way, but by the time Congressman Mahon retired, I was a relatively seasoned political operative.

I started to think about running for the seat. I had the experience to handle the political side of the race. I also felt something stronger pulling me in. I was concerned about the direction of the country. My experiences in business school, China, and the oil business were converging into a set of convictions: The free market provided the fairest way to allocate resources. Lower taxes rewarded hard work and encouraged risk taking, which spurred job creation. Eliminating barriers to trade created new export markets for American producers and more choices for our consumers. Government should respect its constitutional limits and give people the freedom to live their lives.

When I looked at Washington under President Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Congress, I saw the opposite. They had plans to raise taxes, tighten government control over the energy sector, and substitute federal spending for private-sector job creation. I worried about America drifting left, toward a version of welfare-state Europe, where central government planning crowded out free enterprise. I wanted to do something about it. I was having my first experience with the political bug, and it was biting hard.
How tf do you get from China to 'welfare-state Europe'? What exactly is the definition of that anyway? Sweden? Greece? Those are two examples on opposite ends of the 'honest, responsible government' spectrum, but both could be described as welfare states, right? One of them actually collects taxes—more, in fact, than the US collects (per capita), which is in turn more than Greece collects—and allows its citizens arguably more freedoms than the US allows its citizens.

So, there are some facts, which as Rachel Maddow likes to say, are checkable.

1. Free markets don't really exist. All free market fundamentalists say so. There's actually no evidence that they work, and plenty of evidence that they are a bad idea. As for allocating resources, Lincoln himself said that labor is superior to capital. But money is power, and free markets only respect the one kind. How is that fair?

2. Nearly every wealthy country in the world has a long history of trade barriers—high import tariffs or blocks for infant industry protection, government bailouts of said industries, etc. Yes, getting rid of trade barriers is, at least on the surface, favorable for the wealthy countries. But what about the developing ones? Oh, screw those guys. They don't matter. But isn't it in our best interests to allow other nations to develop healthy economies? How can they do that when they have to play with the big boys? It's a race to the bottom, and no surprise that our own wages are working conditions are steadily declining.

3. Lowering taxes does not create jobs. That's checkable (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/12/04/381510/upton-cant-explain-tax-cuts-jobs/).

4. China started going 'free market' in the late 70s, and it's still not a great place to live, because the government is still dictatorial. The free market brought about such lovely episodes as Tiananmen Square. As Naomi Klein writes in The Shock Doctrine (2007):
The most visible symbols of the opposition [to Milton Friedman's shock therapy] were the demonstrations by student strikers in Tiananmen Square. These historic protests were almost universally portrayed in the international media as a clash between modern, idealistic students who wanted Western-style democratic freedoms and old-guard authoritarians who wanted to protect the Communist state. Recently, another analysis of the meaning of Tiananmen has emerged, one that challenges the mainstream version while putting Friedmanism at the heart of the story. This alternative narrative is being advanced by, among others, Wang Hui, one of the organizers of the 1989 protests, and now a leading Chinese intellectual of what is known as China's "New Left." In his 2003 book, China's New Order, Wang explains that the protesters spanned a huge range of Chinese society—not just elite university students but also factory workers, small entrepreneurs and teachers. What ignited the protests, he recalls, was popular discontent in the face of Deng's "revolutionary" economic changes, which were lowering wages, raising prices and causing "a crisis of layoffs and unemployment." According to Wang, "These changes were the catalyst for the 1989 social mobilization."

The demonstrations were not against economic reform per se; they were against the specific Friedmanite nautre of the reforms—their speed, ruthlessness and the fact that the process was highly antidemocratic. Wang says that the protesters' call for elections and free speech were intimately connected to this economic dissent. What drove the demand for democracy was the fact that the part was pushing through changes that were revolutionary in scope, entirely without popular consent. There was, he writes, "a general request for democratic means to supervise the fairness of the reform process and the reorganization of social benefits."

These demands forced the Politburo to make a definite choice. The choice was not, as was so often claimed, between democracy and Communism, or "reform" versus the "old guard." It was a more complex calcluation: Should the party bulldoze ahead with its free-market agenda, which it could do only by rolling over the bodies of the protesters? Or should it bow to the protesters' demands for democracy, cede its monopoly on power and risk a major setback to the economic project?

Some of the free-market reformers within the party, most notably General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, appeared willing to gamble on democracy, convinced that economic and political reform could still be compatible. More powerful elements in the party were not willing to take the risk. The verdict came down: the state would protect its economic "reform" program by crushing the demonstrators.Now you have something different yet similar happening in Greece. On the one hand, the Greeks can't be bothered to pay taxes, so they are somewhat complicit in their economic situation. On the other hand, they are victims of corrupt leadership and American financial predators. Either way, it's not pretty. But Sweden sure is nice.

GonzoTheGreat
02-16-2012, 04:45 AM
1. Free markets don't really exist.
Somalia?

All free market fundamentalists say so.
I think that is because they do not like the actual examples (Congo was another one, for a while), so they prefer to claim there aren't any.

yks 6nnetu hing
02-16-2012, 04:53 AM
3. Lowering taxes does not create jobsneither does raising them

As you already pointed out, the country (and its population) that wins is the one that has a simple transparent tax system where taxes are actually collected.

Davian93
02-16-2012, 08:11 AM
What I want to know is, how can a president of the United States get away with saying something this stupid and hypocritical?

Cocaine is a helluva drug.

Tomp
02-16-2012, 08:53 AM
What I want to know is, how can a president of the United States get away with saying something this stupid and hypocritical?

You mean like these things said by GWB:

"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." --Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." -Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

"Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004

"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, Sept. 6, 2006

"The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th." --Washington, D.C., July 12, 2007

"I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." --as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War


"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." --Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

"Do you have blacks, too?" --to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

"This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating." --as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." --Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006

"They misunderestimated me." --Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000

"For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." --Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2001

"This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base." --at the 2000 Al Smith dinner

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe -- I believe what I believe is right." --Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

"So what?" –President Bush, responding to a an ABC News correspondent who pointed out that Al Qaeda wasn't a threat in Iraq until after the U.S. invaded, Dec. 14, 2008

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." --to a group of Amish he met with privately, July 9, 2004

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." --Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." --Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." --Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." --Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

"You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005


I excluded a number of the most common ones and some others.

What other president would get away with all this?
Would Obama even get away with five of these?

GonzoTheGreat
02-16-2012, 09:17 AM
Would Obama even get away with five of these?
The slacker doesn't even seem to try.

JOS
02-16-2012, 11:26 AM
You mean like these things said by GWB:

"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." --Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." -Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

"Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004

"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, Sept. 6, 2006

"The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th." --Washington, D.C., July 12, 2007

"I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." --as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War


"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." --Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

"Do you have blacks, too?" --to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

"This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating." --as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." --Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006

"They misunderestimated me." --Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000

"For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." --Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2001

"This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base." --at the 2000 Al Smith dinner

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe -- I believe what I believe is right." --Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

"So what?" –President Bush, responding to a an ABC News correspondent who pointed out that Al Qaeda wasn't a threat in Iraq until after the U.S. invaded, Dec. 14, 2008

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." --to a group of Amish he met with privately, July 9, 2004

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." --Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." --Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." --Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." --Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

"You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005


I excluded a number of the most common ones and some others.

What other president would get away with all this?
Would Obama even get away with five of these?


I think someone has a 'W' crush.

Terez
02-16-2012, 12:53 PM
Somalia?

I think that is because they do not like the actual examples (Congo was another one, for a while), so they prefer to claim there aren't any.What I don't get is how Bush can say that China convinced him that free markets are the only fair way to allocate resources when there wasn't a free market in China. But that's the whole narrative isn't it? Communism bad, therefore free market good. Soviet Union bad, therefore free market good.

neither does raising them
Well what does that have to do with anything I said?

As you already pointed out, the country (and its population) that wins is the one that has a simple transparent tax system where taxes are actually collected.See, I'm not entirely sold on the idea of 'transparent tax system'. I've seen you argue for the flat tax before, with an exemption gap for low-income workers IIRC. But I like the idea of tax breaks for companies that go above and beyond, individuals that donate to charity, etc. I just don't think that's what our current system does in effect, though. And sometimes I think extra taxes for companies that don't follow the rules is a better way of looking at it.

Cocaine is a helluva drug.
If only Whitney had stuck to pot like Obama.

You mean like these things said by GWB:
This is different. Those are gaffes. Stupid things he said when he was live, on the spot, and didn't have lots of time to think about it, and several people to look it over before it was published.

ETA: With the exception of this:


"This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base." --at the 2000 Al Smith dinnerThat was on purpose. His best stand-up was at the White House Correspondents' dinner in 2008 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH1RfcuNNoI). But Colbert (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7FTF4Oz4dI) was better. In any case, W. said in that linked video that he was considering making My Pet Goat a pop-up book. He also considered some alternative titles:


How Dubya Got His Groove Back
Who Moved My Presidency?
Tuesdays With Cheney

What other president would get away with all this?
Would Obama even get away with five of these?
The slacker doesn't even seem to try.
He has a few, including one about 57 states that conservatives love to bring up at every opportunity. But at least he can write a goddamn book.

yks 6nnetu hing
02-17-2012, 02:29 AM
Well what does that have to do with anything I said? not much. You just presented your argument as in a way that categorically negated lowering taxes, therefore - as the only alternative to lowering is either keeping them as they are or raising them, and let's face it, keeping them as they are is not going to happen - without saying so it looked to me that you were advocating for raising taxes.

See, I'm not entirely sold on the idea of 'transparent tax system'. I've seen you argue for the flat tax before, with an exemption gap for low-income workers IIRC. But I like the idea of tax breaks for companies that go above and beyond, individuals that donate to charity, etc. I just don't think that's what our current system does in effect, though. And sometimes I think extra taxes for companies that don't follow the rules is a better way of looking at it.
see, that's the thing, I don't actually mind a progressive tax system or tax breaks or anything. So long as it's clear and transparent and not corruptible. I don't mind government aid to parents of disabled children, I don't mind tax breaks for companies that go above and beyond, so long as the system is so clear that the stupidest gov't official can immediately see if someone's been tampering with their numbers/certificates.

so, the difference between Sweden and Greece while both are "welfare" countries? corruption or lack thereof in the case of Sweden.

Also, bureaucracy should exist to help people, not the other way around.

Terez
02-17-2012, 02:53 AM
not much. You just presented your argument as in a way that categorically negated lowering taxesHow so? I'm pretty sure I only called W out on the fallacy of his own arguments. My arguments for not lowering taxes (especially when it is only for the most wealthy) would be more along the lines of the fact that it leads to things like the monstrous deficit we have at the moment, and the Starve the Beast philosophy of people like Grover Norquist (thinking that if the government is starved for revenue then they will cut programs like Medicare and Social Security). Job-creation is tangential. Yes, we could create jobs with extra tax money...but none of the American liberals are arguing that such a thing would be automatic. But the right-wing argument depends on that assumption of an indirect cause.

without saying so it looked to me that you were advocating for raising taxes.Nope. It's something I would argue for, but I didn't say it, and didn't even imply it. The problem here is the notorious Bush Tax Cuts, which helped destroy our economy, and on top of that, did not create any jobs, which was the entire justification for passing them in the first place. (I don't expect you to know that by the way. Though I wouldn't be surprised if you were aware. Just saying that's why I didn't explain myself more thoroughly the first time.)

so, the difference between Sweden and Greece while both are "welfare" countries? corruption or lack thereof in the case of Sweden.Agreed. But somehow only one is used as an example of a 'European welfare state'.

yks 6nnetu hing
02-17-2012, 04:11 AM
How so?
3. Lowering taxes does not create jobs. That's checkable. seemed categorical to me.
Agreed. But somehow only one is used as an example of a 'European welfare state'.

yeah. sadly.

Terez
02-17-2012, 04:30 AM
seemed categorical to me.It was, but only about the fact that 'lowering taxes creates jobs' is pretty much a myth.

I skipped ahead to the index and found myself near the end of the book:

In February 2002, Laura and I made our first trip to Beijing. President Jiang was a cordial and welcoming host. AFter a banquet in our honor at the Great Hall of the People, he entertained the crowd with a rendition of "O Sole Mio," accompanied by two beautiful Chinese women clad in military uniforms. His serenade was a big change from the previous year, when I couldn't get him on the phone. It was a sign we were developing trust.

That trust was strengthened by an understanding on Taiwan, the island democracy that had been governed separately from the mainland since Chiang Kai-shek clashed with Mao Zedong during the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Every time I met with Chinese leaders, I confirmed that America's longstanding "one China" policy would not change. I also made clear that I opposed any unilateral change to the status quo, including a declaration of independence by Taiwan or military action by China.

When Hu Jintao took office, I was determined to forge a close relationship with him as well. Sixteen years younger than his predecessor, President Hu had an unexcitable demeanor and a keen analytical mind. Like many in the new generation of Chinese leaders, he was trained as an engineer. During a lunch in the East Room, I turned to him with a question that I liked to ask fellow world leaders: "What keeps you up at night?"

I told him I stayed awake worrying about another terrorist attack on America. He quickly replied that his biggest concern was creating twenty-five million new jobs a year. I found his answer fascinating. It was honest. It showed he was worried about the impact of disaffected, unemployed masses. It explained his government's policies in resource-rich places like Iran and Africa. And it was a signal that he was a practical leader focused inward, not an ideologue likely to stir up trouble abroad.

I worked with President Hu to find common ground on issues from North Korea to climate change to trade. Expanding American access to China's one billion potential consumers was a high priority for me, just as access to the U.S. market was essential for the Chinese. I also saw trade as a tool to promote the freedom agenda. I believed that, over time, the freedom inherent in the market would lead people to demand liberty in the public square. One of my first decisions was to continue President Clinton's support for China's entry into the World Trade Organization. To solidify our economic relationship, I asked Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Condi to create the Strategic Economic Dialogue.

Davian93
02-17-2012, 08:16 AM
It must have been tough for the ghost-writer to write that book at the 5th grade level so it would sound like Dubya.

JOS
02-17-2012, 03:08 PM
It must have been tough for the ghost-writer to write that book at the 5th grade level so it would sound like Dubya.

I would rep you if I could ... :D