Asymmetric Economics

Economics has been around for almost four hundred years as a field of study.

For most of its existence, it was known as “political economy.”  Glasgow University was the last academic holdout, only changing the name of its department to “Economics” in 1998.  Too bad.  Or maybe not.

Maybe we’ll need to save that name to be able to describe our Supreme Court and the results of its wildly activist view of free speech and the “persons” who have that right.  If you think you saw too many negative and dishonest political ads these past couple of months, I predict it has only begun.

The 2012 Presidential campaign will begin Wednesday this week, and it will be dirtier and more expensive than any campaign in our living memory.  Unfortunately, the governing we’ll get from that campaign will also be dirtier and more expensive than ever.

//Rant On, and fair warning not to continue if you want to believe the Tea Party isn’t just another way to manipulate us by a pack of even greedier thieves than the current bunch.//

Political ads and contributions are really cheap call options on the taxpayers’ collective purse, and it won’t just be defense contractors, agribusinesses, oil and gas, utilities and pharmaceutical companies draining us through subsidies, tax breaks and taxpayer-provided services before we fix this problem.  Wall Street is convinced it can get more out of us, and they know how to get it.  The corporate media aren’t going to settle for only a billion or two in revenues from our elections, and they know how to get it.  Security companies, software contractors, telecoms, hospital companies, real estate developers and law firms will all be angling to get “their” pounds of our flesh.

It’s all become a matter of maximizing shareholder value, after all.

Consider what Massey Coal did — spending $3 million to elect its very own state supreme court judge (in a race where total spending other than Massey was around $2 million).  Once elected, that judge cast the deciding vote to reverse a $50 million judgment against Massey on a case that was already on its way to that very court.

That’s seriously asymmetric as a return profile.

Not all cases will be that simple.  For example, the majority of the state legislators who voted to support Arizona’s “show me your papers” law had gotten campaign contributions from Corrections Corp of America, the same company that wrote most of the law, and not coincidentally, has the Arizona contract to hold detainees awaiting Immigration Department disposition or deportation.  I guess they thought of it as a kind of marketing plan.  Pretty clever when you think about it.  State legislators are probably very grateful for contributions of even a couple thousand dollars.  CCA could probably get their private meetings and/or support from a decent majority for less money than they get for holding a couple of extra “privatized” inmates.

Once again, a single company stood to make millions or even tens of millions by making political contributions that were just a tiny fraction of the upside.

Now, with Citizen’s United making anonymous unlimited direct political spending the law of the land, any company or union can affect the outcome of elections, and they won’t have to deal with the potential trouble their shareholders or customers or the public might give them if they knew who was paying.

The beauty of the whole scheme is that the people who execute the political hatchet jobs can be nicely compensated, too.  Consider the sordid story of the Tea Party Express.  That organization is run by a long-time political influence peddler who takes both corporate and individual contributions.  Sal Russo tapped into genuine populist anger and fear when he took in millions from the health insurance companies and for-profit hospitals in 2009 and launched his anti-reform campaign.

The resulting law was most of what Russo’s sponsors wanted; they got the tax dollars paying for tens of millions of new customers, and didn’t have to compete with a public alternative.  Russo was able to siphon off more than a million of that to other operations controlled by his wife and himself while setting up a nationwide network of angry people who had theirs, but were afraid of losing it.

Russo’s Tea Party Express played their game as if they weren’t spending corporate money, but rather were expressing the outrage of the grass roots of America.  Well, the initial sponsoring corporations got what they wanted (almost everything), and Russo got something even more valuable, a list of 400,000 potential donors.  A year after launching his effort with insurance company seed money, Russo has collected over $5 million in donations, and widened his target choices.

That’s enough money to be a kingmaker in small ponds.  In Delaware, for example, Christine O’Donnell got the 30,541 votes she needed to become the Republican nominee for US Senate over the objection of the Party.  Russo’s spending?  Just $237,000.  In the Alaskan primary, Russo spent $600,000 putting his candidate into the nomination over the sitting Senator.  In the Nevada primary, Russo spent $800k.

As a “grass roots” effort, the Tea Party Express foot soldiers took a surprisingly comfortable path.  For example, it wasn’t too awful for the cadre of door-knocking young people he sent to the Great White North to help perennially unshaven Joe Wilson defeat Murkowski.  They got to eat and sleep on a three-star Holland American cruise ship while they did their “boots on the ground” imitation of earnest young Alaskans working on the campaign.  It’s almost as if they were getting the 21st Century corporate version of “marching with Martin” street creds. I’m sure the Russo’s don’t need to fly commercial any more, now that they have the checkbook for one of the more visible “grassroots” political movements.

Even in much larger Nevada, it only cost $800K to defeat the party-selected candidate and replace her with Angle, a wacko so far out there that she was famous in the state legislature for regularly voting alone against the entire (very conservative) House she was part of.

So what do these candidates that Russo chose have in common? At first glance, not much, other than the support of some of the thousands of separate (and often feuding) groups who call themselves Tea Partiers.

They all say they revere the Constitution, but have different interpretations.  Angle thinks the Second Amendment is there so we have “remedies” if elections don’t go the way we want them to.  O’Donnell thinks the First Amendment doesn’t enshrine separation of Church and State. Wilson, a lawyer, thinks the Constitution bans unemployment insurance, social security and medicare, except when he and his family are collecting those benefits.

They don’t share religious beliefs.  O’Donnell is a radical anti-sex Catholic who first appeared on the national scene pushing an anti-masturbation agenda.  Angle is a fundamentalist who draws her policy choices from a late 20th century political-religious movement called Christian Reconstructionism.  Wilson calls himself a non-denominational Christian.

They do all say they want to reverse the “socialist agenda” they fear.  But that’s just good old fear-mongering, and not rooted in reality.  After all, the two most hated items passed by the “Pelosi” Congress were a cap-and-trade energy bill and a private health insurance mandate that follow almost to the letter proposals that came out of that famously Marxist organization, the American Enterprise Institute.  Funny, that.

If we were actually “going socialist”, we’d be launching a free national health service supported by general tax revenues, as they have in other democratic countries.  Or we would at least pay for everyone to go to private doctors as they do in most developed economies.  Of course, that might actually give us more freedom and a stronger free market economy by having insurers and health care providers compete, and by freeing entrepreneurs to strike out on their own and start new businesses.  It doesn’t escape my notice that Germany has more of its citizens working for small companies than we do.  Without the burden of health care to worry about, they are free to do what many of us can’t.

The energy bill, the other big “government takeover” so hated by Tea Partiers is another example of distinctly un-socialist action.  As Newt Gingrich said in a one-hour interview with PBS way back in 2007, cap and trade is a “free enterprise” solution to the carbon emission problem modeled after the successful Sulfur Dioxide cap and trade system the first President Bush put in place to deal with acid rain — again, hardly the stuff of Lenin and Mao.

So that leaves me wondering how particular candidates in these statewide primary contests got chosen.  What policies do they support that could roll back the terrible socialist tide?  Where do they get their ideas?  For Rand Paul, the answer is simple — the apple fell near the tree, though not quite as honest.  For all his conspiracy theory tendencies, Ron Paul is consistent.  His son Rand espouses even more radical Libertarian ideas, except when it comes to paying him and other doctors from the government trough.  Then they should be able to enjoy “a comfortable living.”

Angle gets her policy insights from praying.  The real reason Russo chose her in the primary was probably related to his fealty to his corporate sponsors — Sharron Angle was the only candidate for the Senate Republican nomination (among five) who felt there was no need to regulate Wall Street, even while the financial meltdown was fresh in everyone’s memory.  She also says she wants to privatize Social Security (can you imagine how much extra money the fund managers and stock brokerages will make off that?) and to eliminate Medicare and privatize the VA hospital system, since those kinds of programs make the people worship the False Idol of government. Wilson gets to the same place from his peculiar reading of the Constitution.  Think of the bonanza as we continue to uphold our commitments to veterans and retirees, but hand everything off to private companies to run for profit.

O’Donnell is pretty vague on everything, including how she pays her own personal bills when the only money in her world is campaign contributions for her serial runs for office.  I’ll have to take her statement about regulating Wall Street from her official web site, since she has spent most of her time in the limelight explaining how she “dabbled into witchcraft” got access to Top Secret information on a Chinese plot to take over America, and where the companies might be that she said had created mice with fully functioning human brains.  Maybe those positions are the reason there has been no more Tea Party Express money since she won the primary and all the old video came out to haunt her.

Just for the sake of completeness, here are O’Donnell’s positions on jobs, taxes and the economy from the website


Christine O’Donnell believes that jobs are created when business’ of all sizes are freed from the red tape and taxes that big government forces on them. Christine is pro business and will fight for reduced taxes and smaller government.


She will fight to lift the overwhelming burden that the current tax code has placed on American business and families in Delaware and around the country. She wants to simplify the existing tax code and put the power back into the people’s hands, instead of a bloated government.

The Economy

Christine feels the current out of control government spending is eroding the freedoms that make America so special. This spending is leading to a destruction of our economy and giving up our future to foreign debt holders like China, a communist country. When elected, Christine will fight for our economy and work to restore America’s position in the world.

Not much substance, but clearly she will support corporate priorities if given the choice between that and government.  Her positions during the primary are harder to determine because her official website was wiped clean a few hours after she defeated moderate Mike Castle.

While not part of the Russo posse, Rand Paul takes the worship of all things private enterprise to a whole new level.  He even believes that coal companies shouldn’t have the restrictive force of government safety regulations.  Owners of private property open to the public shouldn’t have to accommodate anyone they don’t want to, so the Civil Rights Act is out.  So is the Americans With Disabilities Act, since owners of small multi-story buildings with doctors offices have been forced to provide access to wheelchair-bound patients.  With Rand, it doesn’t stop there.  He thinks voluntary charity should replace Social Security and Medicare for the indigent, and everyone else should just suck it up and take care of themselves.  If a family has a child with an expensive chronic illness, that’s just too bad.

So let me suggest that we put Rand Paul and every other politician who claims to support free markets and cutting government “interference” to a simple test.  I know that they all (and most other people in the country) find something inherently distasteful about limiting profits, except in the cases where a company has a government-enforced monopoly.

The question is, are those same “free marketeers” willing to let the free market give the private enterprise unlimited losses?  Obviously that didn’t happen with the banks, brokerage firms, Fannie, Freddie and AIG in 2008 or the car companies in 2009.

So maybe it will be different with the new crop.  And then again maybe not.

If they don’t want government dictating to business through regulations and oversight (see Rand Paul’s statements on mine safety regulations for the extreme version), then they should also let anyone damaged by a corporation or person have unlimited potential to extract compensation for their damages.  In other words, every politician who claims to support free markets but wants tort reform to limit damage awards is simply lying, and using the free market banner to hide their agenda supporting government-imposed limits to corporate liability.  In the cases of mine owners, literally giving them a license to kill, if the economics favor that.

Asymmetric economics, in other words.  In the vernacular, “Heads, they win, tales, we lose.” Not a bit different from the Wall Street bailouts, in my mind, and certainly not consistent with the claims of every Tea Party supporter I’ve met.

It gets even more extreme when we look at the foolishness surrounding the privatization agenda.  We somehow missed the lessons to be learned when smaller governments (states, cities, etc.) gave up their publicly owned utilities and roads only to find themselves trapped in a cycle of inflating user costs and declining levels of service.  I’d be very happy to hear from anyone pleased with the result a few years after their local government sold its water company or highway to private companies.

But we’ll entertain the notion that Social Security or even the VA should be privatized.  Why?  Do we somehow think Wall Street will work for free when it starts “helping” individuals manage their Social Security private retirement accounts?  Do we think they will do any better protecting the interest of millions of individual investors than they did providing safe investments to pension funds and cities in Norway with the structured finance AAA bond scam?  Didn’t we notice that the NASDAQ is still way below its peak more than ten years ago?

Maybe potential future Governor of Florida Rick Scott’s old company (HCA) will take over the most efficient hospital system in America with the highest patient satisfaction (the VA)?  Rather than put them out of business when they committed the largest single party fraud against the taxpayer in US history, Scott’s HCA was fined $840 million, or about a third of a year of cash flows, in a business that currently sports gross profit margins of nearly 80% (without overbilling) and selling, general and administrative (S,G&A) costs amounting to 64% of revenue.

I’m just guessing here, but I think those doctors and administrators at the HCA hospitals have nicer compensation packages than their VA counterparts.  The 24% net profit margin also doesn’t make me think that taxpayers will get a very good deal turning the VA over to the largest private operator.  If I were at HCA and charged with putting together the powerpoint presentation to my hand-chosen Congress chattel, I would do what Old Man Rockefeller did when he decided to vertically integrate and take over new territories.  Just set the price below the level the competition (in this case the government) can stand.  Run at those prices until the competitor goes out of business.  Then raise prices. Rinse and repeat.

Would it be unreasonable for HCA to support candidates favoring privatization of the VA, or more to the point, dishonest negative advertising against their opponents, especially if they could do so behind the veil of a “non-profit” with a patriotic name like Americans for Freedom?  A few million spent in a dozen or so key races around the country could pay off with literally billions of dollars in future profits, so I would fully expect them to try.  And it’s not as if the Veterans themselves will pay for their own care under any of the trial balloons floated by the radical candidates this year.  That would still be on the taxpayers’ dime.  But it would be a dime subject to corporate fraud and waste, first.

The sad part of this whole equation is that the benefit of not having a single corporation or concentrated industry rip us off is so diffuse that no one can justify spending the big bucks it takes to counter the efforts of the profiteers.

Teddy Roosevelt recognized this when he broke up the industry trusts.  In a way, he recognized it also by establishing National Parks, Monuments and Forests owned by all of us.  That doesn’t stop the asymmetric economics from tempting companies to even ruin that legacy, however.  In the last year of the Bush Presidency, a proposal that was not subject to Congressional approval was making its way through the Bureau of Land Management.  That proposal was to permit “hard rock” mining in the upper reaches of the Grand Canyon National Park.  That’s right.  But for an organized protest of those leftist anti-American conservationists, we almost got the chance to see an “accidental” toxic mine waste spill come flooding down the Grand Canyon.  But at least the mining companies took their shot at maximizing shareholder value.

The same goes for giving all these new political entities tax exemptions.  Since when should all 0f us subsidize their politicking? They need to disclose who their donors are, and how much they gave.  They need to disclose when those donors dictate where the money gets spent. They need to pay sales and property taxes like the rest of us.

It still won’t level the playing field, because the concentrated benefits of a government handout for a company so outweigh the benefit of not getting ripped off once it’s spread across the entire population.

But as I’ve said many times now, much of what our government does is protect and improve private property. If the Tea Partiers get their way, that’s all the government will do.  That concentrated benefit can and should be paid for by the beneficiaries as much as possible, and in proportion to the benefit they gain.  It worked pretty much that way until 1913.

But the Tea Partiers I’ve spoken with don’t like the idea of oil companies paying tariffs to support the US Navy.  They would much rather have all of us pay for their corporate subsidy with a gigantic sales tax. It would, after all, maximize shareholder value.

Same goes for giving our jointly owned resources away to the highest bidder to exploit as they see fit.  Can we really say that rem0ving one mountaintop only affects the value of that mountain, and not the surrounding mountains, valleys and downstream watershed?  Give me a break.  And if a holding pond of tailings and toxic water lets go, it will turn out that that a special purpose company was formed for just that mountain, letting the people who made the decisions walk away.  Asymmetric economics at its finest.

The Tea Partiers really don’t seem to like Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, where it explicitly gives the Congress the ability to levy taxes to provide for the common welfare of our citizens.  They have no problem at all when it levies taxes to provide for the specific welfare of non-breathing corporate “persons.”

The problem is, while “competition” sounds good to all of us, in a lot of industries competition was replaced by collusion a long time ago, and there’s simply no customer more ripe for the fleecing than the taxpayer.  And the cost is pennies on the dollar, as long as those pennies buy the right ads for the right candidates.

Political economy, indeed.

//Rant off//

Don’t forget to vote.  If you don’t vote, your license to complain will be suspended for the next two years.



17 Responses to Asymmetric Economics

  1. Bruce B says:


    The “smartest people in the room,” have been manipulating our economy and politicial system for centuries. Look where we are. We know you don’t like the Tea Party. Maybe I’ve missed it, but would love to know where you are on Barney Frank (“Fannie and Freddie are sound”), Chris Dodd (friend of Angelo), Kent Conrad (friend of Angelo), the late Teddy Kennedy,(son of daddy bootlegger and really bad driver) etc. etc. etc. Our country is in a terrible state. Are you not mad at the incumbents that got us here? These people listed above are the same people, along with most of the rest of the other 531, from all parties, that are culpable in leaving us $120T in debt over the remainder of this century. Maybe you can argue the $120T figure. A trillion here, a trillion there……… Are you suggesting we “stay the course” with Democrat party rule in all 3 branches? Those people are at least as bought and paid for as the Tea Partiers that you resent so severely. Are you willing to forgive Lyndon Johnson for allowing the social security “lockbox” to be opened and the funds added to the general treasury to fund the VietNam war?

    We’d love to hear some solutions. Please don’t make them complicated. Complicated solutions are unworkable. They might work for high I.Q. individuals with a gift for math. They don’t work for the rest of us chumps or the people that are supposed to govern us. “Greed is not good” and either is complexity.

    Do you believe the problems of the country are repairable? I tend to think they probably aren’t anymore without shock treatment including debt repudiation, federal pension reductions, social security and Medicare cuts. The shock treatment will probably lead to civil unrest. It would appear that governance that provides an alternative to the status quo is worth trying, even if the candidates and their backers aren’t pure enough.

    Thanks for the post.


    • hhill51 says:

      Hey, Bruce…

      Thought you would like to read an analysis I did of exactly this issue last January.
      As to a fix, I’m afraid simplifying it too much leads to mistakes. We have a complex society of more than 300 million people. Imagining that setting up the system to maximize everyone’s “pursuit of happiness” could be a couple of pages understood without studying would be unlikely.
      Having said that, I’ll take a stab at cleaning up our elections.
      A good beginning would be to outlaw contributions from outside the district that does the voting. All contributions or candidate-specific spending would be disclosed as to source within 24 hours of that spending. Another good beginning would be to mandate (at state level) for any top-ticket statewide candidate that they have at least two televised debates, carried on both the three largest cable news networks in the area and the three largest broadcast stations. In addition, I’d give the top three candidates (determined by primary votes or by petition signatures) availability of an uninterrupted half hour of television to make their case to the voters. Finally, any advertisement determined to have substantially false claims would be yanked from the airwaves and that sponsor (unless they were the candidates themselves) would be ‘put in the penalty box’ and not allowed to run any more ads until after the next general election.
      Once they get to Washington, they’d have to disclose, by name and topic discussed, everyone they meet with to discuss policy. All Congressional and Senate schedules would be available online within 48 hours for constituents to see.
      Feel free to add your own suggestions.

      • Increase number of representatives to parity with the house of 1789 (Approx 1 per 20,000) and make them work from home district (telecommunications no longer require congress to gather we don’t use pony express either). Dilution will result in congress dealing with big picture not local “pork” issues.

        Repeal 17th. Amend. Return senate to state representation (appointed by state legislature.) Again decentralization forces big picture concentration.

        Dial gov back to Art 1 Sec 8 and keep it there. Gov operates at level of memoranda of understanding. Congress passes law to restric court jurisdiction on speech. Free speech is for sovreigns, not golems (corporations). Let States do their job.

  2. hhill51 says:

    I got an excellent additional example in an e-mail from James Kwok, co-author of 13 Bankers. He was being interviewed yesterday and liked this passage that explains the fundamental hypocrisy of our ‘moral’ loudmouths.


    “Middle class wages have been declining for ten years and stagnant for thirty years, and if you have a financial system that allows people making $15,000 a year to take out $400,000 mortgages, I don’t think that’s the fault of the guy making $15,000. I think it’s the fault of the financial system.

    “But, let’s say I’m a guy who makes $15,000 a year. I realize, wow, I can get a $400,000 mortgage and I can live in this house for a few years, and if housing prices go up, I can flip it and I can actually make a couple hundred thousand dollars. And let’s say I’m really clever, and I say, if housing prices go down, I’ll just walk away and I will have gotten to live in a really nice house for three years at no cost to myself. I mean, that’s the worst, most cynical spin you can put on it, right? But this is exactly what people on Wall Street do. The person who is criticizing the janitor for doing this is the same person who thinks that businesses should exploit every legal opportunity to make profits. So even if you attribute the worst possible state of mind to the guy making $15,000, he’s still just doing what any businessman should do under the circumstances. But our national ideology somehow doesn’t allow us to think about it in those terms.”

  3. hhill51 says:

    Yet another example of concentrated benefit making it a good investment for a corporation to change the laws. Washington state has a state liquor control system with state liquor stores that sell at a fixed price. The system produces hundreds of millions in revenues for the state. Tomorrow the state will vote on allowing private companies to sell liquor (they now sell wine and beer). Of the $5.3 million spent promoting Initiative 1100, $3.6 million has been spent by Costco. Almost nothing has been spent opposing it. I have a feeling that the citizens of the state are not going to like the increase in other taxes to replace the lost revenues. The police have expressed concern about the additional cost of enforcing age restrictions on purchasers at thousands of additional outlets which are not staffed by state liquor control employees. Higher public costs, lower public revenues, and those costs and lost revenues apply to all citizens, not just the hard liquor drinkers. Such a deal.

    • Bruce B says:


      Some of us would maintain that the state of Washington has no right to be in the liquor business. Consumers should have a right to purchase legal products at market prices. Just because it produces “hundreds of millions in revenues for the state” does not make it right. The state could go in to the marijuana business and generate “hundreds of millions in revenues for the state” as well. Doesn’t mean they should.

      Your post above regarding the janitor and the $400,000 house is valid and the janitor was making a business decision. Many of us think that a free market in housing, unencumbered by artificial price rises that are cause by government making housing “affordable” would have resulted in more discipline in the private mortgage market. We understand that you don’t blame the CRA, but it was a factor. As always, when you get a perfect storm like this, there are multiple factors. It has to be undeniable that government intervention in housing has to be a factor, isn’t it?

      It’s one slippery slope after another.


      • hhill51 says:

        Bruce —
        I think the CRA thing should be declared well and truly dead.
        1) It began in 1977 and had no “bubble” effect for a quarter century.
        2) Nearly all CRA loans were NOT sold and securitized, but retained in portfolio by the lending banks (so they could show their examiners they were in compliance).
        3) At its absolute peak, CRA lending was a tiny fraction (less than 5%) of the total “affordability” lending in the market.
        If you want to blame government interference, choose the biggies — tax deductability of mortgage interest, “deregulation” of Savings and Loan rates paid (without removing taxpayer guarantee), and the one that actually happened right before the bubble — free ride for flippers and investors — the cut to zero capital gains for up to half a million dollars from selling primary OR SECONDARY homes every two years, without limit. You’d be surprised how many comfortably middle class people decided to have vacation homes in poorer sections of their home towns instead of the traditional beach house or lake cabin after that law was put in right at the end of the 1990’s.
        Regarding the common Fannie/Freddie blame game, please try to explain why their market share dropped so precipitously between 2001 (when they were 70% of the market) and 2006 (when they were only 50% of the market). I would tend to look to the actors in the market that took away their market share to assign blame, myself.
        As to whether there should be “sin” taxes and government profit off our weaknesses, you have to agree that the Founders thought so. Alcohol and tobacco revenues were the biggest portion of our Federal tax revenues for the first 100 years of the Republic. Even today they are huge, though the totally dishonest crew that says half the people pay no taxes wouldn’t admit it.

  4. Bruce B says:


    The first question I would ask about Fannie/Freddie is why should the private sector have had to compete with them in the first place? They had long ago outlived their usefulness (this assumes they were useful and Constitutional to begin with). 50% market shares still matters. They are proof that nothing in government is ever temporary. They were a very convenient place for Dems to send loyal operatives to get rich (Franklin Raines, Jaimie Gorelick, Rahm Emanuel etc.).

    We agree on tax deductibility. Without it, the prices of houses would drop by the amount of the tax break. The deductibility does nothing for people. It helps builders get higher prices for their product since “everybody should own a home for the tax break.” Isn’t the removal of a tax break what caused the S&L meltdown in the 80’s? Here again, HH, “the smart people” tinkered with the tax code and screwed things up. Some of your answers to my questions are annoyingly well reasoned and logical and I dare say it – correct. But the question you can never answer to my satisfaction is how we will keep the unintended consequences that occur as a result of the tinkering, from destroying us in the future as they seem to have in the past/present. It is why simplicity is more practical. We have to accept there are no utopias. Once we get to that point, we decide which does the least harm. I maintain simplicity is less harmful.

    I agree with you on campaign disclosure. However, the largest spender will not win every Congressional race today. But this is a silly way to run a Republic. There can be very little question about that. Are you going to miss the campaign commercials as much as the rest of us? 🙂


  5. David Ericson says:

    Howard: Fine analysis!

    The honest tea baggers (and there are a few) simply confuse the idea of a public good with socialism. A public good is simply one that cannot (easily) be enjoyed by anyone unless it is enjoyed by everyone. In a decent society, public goods are clear candidates potentially deserving of universal taxpayer support. But this does not make the society that pays for public goods socialist in nature. Properly defined, a socialist society is one in which “the means of production” are owned and controlled by the state. That is a far different matter.
    Note that interstate highways, clean water and clear skies, education, and healthcare are all good candidates for public goods. And better yet, national defense and security is treated in states with all different kinds of economies as a public good — however, I don’t see (yet) a tea bagger who is arguing that national defense and security should be “privatized” for sale on the market (fully Blackwatered to the highest bidder?). This simply illustrates their confusion.
    But I think that you’ve got the less honest tea baggers and their masters hiding in the shadows dead-on.

  6. David Ericson says:

    Howard: For clarity’s sake, I left out the “not” in my fourth sentence. It should read: “But this does not make the society that pays..”


  7. William Kinsolving says:

    Ah, would that this article and debate was on the pages of the NYTimes! Wonderful stuff!!!

  8. Tom D says:

    Howard, I fail to understand why you were not invited to this press conference:)


    • hhill51 says:

      hilarious…. thanks

      • Robin says:

        In the version that apeared on the SNL website before it way pulled (I have it!), Soros is introduced as “…and the new owner of the Democratic Party”. This was maybe their funniest skit ever.

        Wasn’t Russo convicted of voter fraud — something truly vile I seem to recall, like hiring people to pose as democrat polsters then directing democrat voters to the wrong polling location in Orange County, CA. Maybe not that exact thing but something along those lines and equally evil….

  9. hhill51 says:

    That sure didn’t take long. Rand Paul’s not even sworn in yet, and already proving he’s a shill for corporate welfare hogs, not a libertarian.

    • Ryen says:

      This should not be terribly surprising, Ron Paul works for the pork for his district as well but always votes against the bills themselves. I would think Rand would follow a similar path. They are there to represent their constituents after all.

  10. Don’t forget to vote? License to complain suspended? You’re whacked!
    With all the evidence of vote fraud you want us to stop complaining?

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