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Works and Days

How to Weaken an Economy

March 11th, 2013 - 12:16 am

Cynicism

Don’t forget the value of cynicism in weakening an economy. It is a critical tool in sowing distrust and fatalism, as in “Why try, when it doesn’t matter anyway?” or “Why should I follow the rules, when they don’t?” Greece, for example, is a cynical country to the core and one can see where such endemic distrust got them: a successfully ruined economy.

I would lecture about the evils of federal bailouts to Wall Street fat cats who then take million-dollar bonuses for mediocre performance — and then appoint a Treasury secretary who did just that. I would trash offshore accounts as something amoral and unpatriotic — and then appoint a Treasury secretary who did just that. I would lecture about paying your fair share and hiking taxes — and then appoint a Treasury secretary who avoided paying the income taxes he owed. I would sermonize on the evils of the revolving door — and then appoint as my top financial officials those who for a lifetime have gone into the White House, out to Wall Street, and back into the White House. Again, if “they” do that, why then do “we” need to pay our taxes or follow ethical behavior? The cynical mindset is a valuable tool in recreating a Greece or Italy. Indeed, almost any cynicism is a good thing: so why not praise federal financing of campaigns and then be the first to refuse it, or campaign on the evils of the Bush anti-terrorism protocol and then embrace or expand almost all of it?

Top Down, Not Bottom Up

Leveling must go in one direction, not two.  To ensure equality, the public schools should lower standards so that all are the same. The more who need remediation upon entering college, the more likely the curriculum will have to adjust to level the playing field, and the less skilled will emerge the average graduate. The more that those with “Cadillac” insurance plans can have procedures rationed, the more others will see their own options expanded.

The world is a finite system, a pie with only so many slices. There is no middle class, just rich and poor. For each F student, an A student stole the former’s resources. I would invest not in honor students, but in remedial ones. Grades and test scores should count little for college admission; life “experiences” and community service far better would ensure the presence of mediocre students. The aim again is not to turn out graduates with expertise or knowledge who build a strong economy, but to graduate students, brand them with degrees, and ensure they are invested in a similar ideology of redistribution. If California — of Caltech and Stanford repute — can dumb down its public schools to rank 48th or 49th in the nation in math or English testing, then there is hope for the country at large.

The War of Words

Prosperity is always relative, never absolute. A car, a house, or a job is not to be judged on its own merits, but in comparison to someone else who has one better.  If today’s Kias are better than a Mercedes of 20 years ago, it matters little: they are not as nice as someone else’s Mercedes of today. Britain in the postwar 1940s discovered the power of envy and what it can do to slow down ill-won prosperity.

From Plato to Marx to Tocqueville, philosophical minds, for both good and bad reasons, have always appreciated that human nature is attracted to the idea of enforced equality, to such a degree that most would rather be poor and the same, than better off with some far better off. Let’s give them that chance!

I would try to redefine the entire capitalist notion of profit, getting ahead, and being rich or successful as something arbitrary. Better yet, it should be analogous to cheating, proof of unfairness, or incurring general shame. The point is to make profit-making synonymous with failure; and poverty something inherently noble. Compensation should be seen as capricious, never based on logical requisites like education, knowledge, experience, level of responsibility, hard work, personal comportment, or even the less predictable such as health, luck, fate, and chance. Redefine rich and poor to emphasize the fact that one making $20,000 a year and another $200,000 is unfair, period — and to be corrected by a fair, all-knowing, and compassionate government. I would talk always of poverty and hunger, never of the epidemic of obesity or the nation’s collective youth glued to iPhones.

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Top Rated Comments   
How to Weaken an Economy: Elect a community organizer President.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1) Refuse to produce a budget

2)Propagandize the media so you are not held accountable

3)Make a full assault on success, defining it as "giving more, getting less"

4)Crush the job creators, small business and the entrepreneur with inane and unwieldy regulations, fines and assessments

5)Hang out with Hollywood stars and pop culture icons to look cool

And tell them you are doing it for "the middle class". Rinse, repeat...and condition the masses.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Re:Unfairness- Author Shelby Steele has written that in 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress, number of black leaders created a phenomenon called, "White Guilt." That instead of focusing on creating Black Capitalism which would enrich the black community and contribute to the national wealth, the "man" had to be made to "pay for his past discrimination." The result of this type of thinking led to many federal programs that failed and also weakened the fabric of the black family. However, he also points out that white politicians adopted "White Guilt" and used it as a currency to demonstrate their lack of racism and secure votes. This combination of "thinking" spilled over into other "oppressed groups" i.e. Latinos, women, illegal immigrants, gays, etc. and has evolved into the venomous "identity politics" that slows our growth down today by creating animosity. It was a distraction from the real problem in 1964, and remains so today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (60)
All Comments   (60)
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What would this economy look like without the Feds spending 85 BILLION a month on long term US bonds? Remember, printed money that has no real value.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, it does. That's why they're printing it.
What you're describing is the hyperinflationary debasement of the currency.
Bing: Financial Repression. Read the scholarly papers on it.
It functions as a Wealth Tax -- to balance the budgets of fiat issuing sovereign governments.
It's a loopy way of collecting taxes -- by devious means.
Spread the news.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Stand-up and fight back; do not give an inch to the Marxist anti-freedom Democrat Party!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Be careful folks. Don't give them any ideas. I think the business cycle is turning, if anemically. However the Eat-the-cake-twice-plus-save-it-too gang could always torpedo the country yet again…
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Our national energy trade deficit is shrinking fast.
Hence jobs and money are staying on shore at a hefty clip.
Buraq has done all that can be done to stop it, but this favorable trend won't slow down.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We are truly in trouble when we let the government create problems that then the government demands money from us to solve. Our messed up health care system being a prime example.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In passing, those of us who (more or less) agree with VDH will note how inept the GOP has been in selling any of this to the electorate. To be blunt, Romney couldn't sell s*** to a toilet, yet there seem to be many on this site who wouldn't change a thing. That's one way to spot those who are part of the problem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Brazil has to be added to this cocktail of perverse, socialistic type economies.
See, "spending (redistributing a nations wealth) a Nation's way to prosperity" is typically a tyrant's M.O. America's Democratic form of government works (checks and balances). What doesn't work is crony-capitalism and We The Elite People of culture of corruption in Washington DC. Recent historical examples? New York's Tammany Hall, Chicago's "Daly Machine," and America's erosion of electorate's confidence in it's ability to "self-govern!"
Enter a sea change of immigrants, to the USA, from foreign countries (legal or illegal) where nothing in their homelands, is understood about "self governance" and "Rule of Law."
The stage is set for:1) a spreading cancer of indifference, 2)erosion of America's democratic form of governance and3) gerry-mandering of all elections and electoral processes (just like in Central and South America).
Yes, Latin American style democracy is rapidly becoming the new "normal" in all these USA. Soon, America will be just like the rest of Central and South America... socialistic basket cases or permanent "debtor nations."Pray. Amen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Government- ice on the wings of progress.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Another good one.

Government is also regulating the heck out of everything and different bureaucracies often have conflicting rules. One bureau says that a food preparation area must be cleaned every so often. Another bureaucracy says that that same area must be kept dry at all times. This is how business owners end up a with a long shelf sagging under the weight of a dozen or more books of regulations written in brain killing legalese.

There is a way around that: hire an expensive compliance. However, few small business owners can afford one, even many midsized companies can't, not in this economy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's right, but the huge mega corporations or large competitors can afford it. That is how you destroy the mom and pops, the middle class.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, have our central bank print money backed by nothing, buy about 85 billion worth of our long term treasuries every month. That should give the appearance of a strong economy.......
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How to Weaken an Economy: Elect a community organizer President.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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