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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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The Dismal Science Comes to a Dismal Realization

Uploaded: Nov 20, 2013
A consensus is emerging, at least among liberal economists, about what continues to ail the US economy. It's not a happy message, because it suggests that we're in a "new normal" condition of high unemployment, low growth, and, in a term they've resurrected from the 1930s: "secular stagnation."

That term refers to a situation where Demand is simply insufficient to encourage producers to Supply more stuff, wages from which generates more demand in a cycling-up of economic activity. Japan's mediocre economic performance since its own 1990 asset-bubble burst is the best contemporary model, unless you want to return to Great Depression era for an analog. Remember the 1980s fear that we'd all be submerged by Japan Inc.? We don't hear that talk much, anymore.

Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, to their considerable credit, have been beating this drum for years ? against a mainstream flow of policies recommending Austerity, here and in the EU. 'Austerity' here takes the form of government budget-cutting, relying entirely on monetary policy to stimulate growth by making new money essentially free to borrow.

Krugman has called for continued fiscal stimulation of the economy to pump-prime, or jump-start consumer demand. Reich has written earlier and more perceptively than anyone to explain the deteriorating plight of the American middle class since the 1980s. As he says, in vain attempts to stay even, they first went to two incomes, then worked the world's longest hours and finally borrowed against the bubble equity in their primary assets ? their homes. None of it has worked, the bubble burst, and the great middle class engine-of-spending is sputtering, badly.

Now Larry Summers has joined that estimable band. In a recent, fifteen-minute, extemporaneous talk at MIT, he laid-out the basis for the concern. Policy makers are used to tinkering with their monetary and fiscal tools, around a 'normal' situation of good growth and low unemployment. The idea is tp maintain that middle ground -- to goose the economy out of lows, and poop-the-party when it overheats.

But here we are, five years out from the 2008 crisis that ground new economic activity to a halt. You would expect that there would be a catch-up bump in such activity and employment, to make up for ground lost in the crisis. It hasn't happened, as the economy just lies there on the couch. That suggests that the "new normal" may be high unemployment and low growth, in response to the fundamentals identified by Reich. And that's what gives rise to comparisons with Japan's "Lost Decade," a period that has now stretched into almost two such periods of secular stagnation.

In Japan's case, consumer demand has not returned to prior levels, likely because of a cultural preference for greater frugality and saving than is broadly shared among Americans. My sense is that, in the aggregate, we'd love to spend the money ? if we only had it. But the vast migration of wealth from the middle to the top in America means that the middle doesn't have it anymore, and the top can't spend it fast or conspicuously enough to take up the slack. The result is a similar secular stagnation, with no obvious end in sight.

Policy responses, beyond the immediate Stimulus (which worked, after all), have run monetary and fiscal policy at cross-purposes. Real, inflation-adjusted interest rates are actually negative ? and still no takers, whereas we are pulling the reins-in on general fiscal spending ? 'Sequestering' it. Congress is even taking away spending that responds to The Most Basic of needs ? food in the mouths of babes (the SNAP program). Deficits fears have turned 'irrational exuberance' into 'irrational hostility' to spending that would goose this dead duck of an economy.

Since I don't have to try to get elected to anything, nor do I have to douse my prescription in political reality, here's what I'll do when they make me King. Monetary policy can't address the fundamental demand problem; only fiscal and tax policy will do that. What is needed is to move static wealth from the cob-webbed coffers of the top few percent, and invest it in things that will generate new jobs and the middle class spending that will inevitably ensue in the short run ? and that will contribute to greater American competitiveness in the world, in the longer run. Education would be my first priority, followed by technological and physical infrastructure. This generation has really not invested in America the way our forebears did, and it shows.

Now, if you think this prescription hearkens back to the 1930s and the New Deal, indeed it does. The infusions of public spending then relieved economic malaise and contributed mightily to American competitiveness later in the century. That stimulus has run its course ? we've lived off it handsomely. It may be time for another dose. Of course, the trick would then be to reduce spending as better times return ? as King I could do that, too, but politicians can always find something else to spend-on, even when it doesn't contribute to good policy.

Will it happen? I fear not, as the deficit hawks hold sway, as well as the House of Representatives, and tax reform is a dead-letter among those who can't finance their own re-election campaigns. But the New Normal is unhealthy, unjust and unsustainable, unless you believe in demand fairies. It will only get worse with the progressive hollowing-out of the middle class that is clearly well underway.

I'm reminded of the internet meme that Serious Cat is Serious. Well, the Dismal Science is Dismal, indeed.
Local Journalism.
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Posted by DIY, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Are you aware that since 2008 $2 trillion dollars of wealth has been transferred from the top 10% to the bottom 40% wage earners. Except, sadly it has not been in wages only; welfare has increased.

This generation has invested- we pay quite a bit in taxes across federal and state lines. The affordable health care act will add to the wealth transfer from the middle class to the poor.

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:39 am

See that rich guy over there? When he comes around the corner, let?s bop him on the head and take his money. He wasn?t spending it anyway. We?ll spend it and we?ll all be better off.

That won?t be enough. What else can we do?

Ok, let?s mortgage everything.

Won?t that saddle our kids with huge debt?

So what. That?s their problem.

Why are we doing this?

I want my free stuff. Don?t you?

Why don?t we all just live a little bit more frugally like people used to and count our blessings for what we have?

You fascist! Kill him. Anyone else?

No sir.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:58 am

I'll-informed sniping aside, the two commenters above offer no alternate solutions to what Tom has proposed.

The bottom line is that the federal government's fiscal policy over the past 12 years -- driven largely by excessive spending on defense, imbalanced tax cuts favoring the wealthy (historically low effective income and capital gains tax rates), and increasingly harsh cuts to the very poorest in our society -- have given us what?..........intractable long-term unemployment, consumer demand that is too low to grow our way out of this recession, record corporate profits (generated in large measure by cost-cutting, including jobs), corporations sitting on more than $2 trillion in cash because consumer demand isn't robust enough to justify spending that money on expanded production and new hires.

What lessons should we learn from this?

Austerity doesn't work; it just starves the economy of much needed fuel for expansion.

Growing only the incomes of the top earners doesn't create sufficient demand for growth in an economy that is 70% driven by consumer spending. The rich simply don't spend as high a percentage of their incomes as the poor and middle class do.

And finally, failing to re-invest in education and infrastructure only handicaps our long-term prospects for competitiveness and growth in an increasingly global economy.

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm

That rich man spends his money on all the wrong things.

Hasn?t he spent a lot of money on us? I think it?s up to $3 trillion a year now.

Yes, but it?s not enough. And we?re still poor. What lessons can we learn from this?

Pouring money down the drain doesn?t solve anything?

No. The lesson to learn is, if we take even more of his money and spend it on what we want, it will work this time. Bottom line.

Ever notice that when people use the phrase ?bottom line,? they keep talking?

Are you a fascist too?

No sir.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm

DIY: couple things -- I'm not sure of the source for the $2T since 2008 statement -- would you kindly link it? There a lots of things it might/might not include.

As to the 'investment' point, there's a huge difference between spending and investment. An awful lot of physical infrastructure was put in-place by prior generations via government spending -- thinking here of highways, bridges, dams, the electric grid, airports, school buildings, tunnels, public transit, R&D facilities, etc. etc. Today, we seem to have a tough time deciding to add one inadequate bore to the Caldecott tunnel. Those old investments continue to pay-off handsomely in ways we don't even think about. I'm not suggesting more physical infrastructure necessarily, but other countries are getting ahead in communications and internet technology, for example. Or solar (Solyndra be damned, many of those investment do pay-off -- and some don't. Do you bat a thousand on yours?). I just don't think we're reinvesting in 21st-century stuff that will have a similar pay-out in the future.

Dave: I couldn't have said it better -- in fact I didn't. Thanks for joining-in.

S-P: Wha ... ? Are you trying too hard to convince that Sam guy we're not the same person?

Posted by tiger guy, a resident of another community,
on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm

In a non-consumptive and stagnant global economy, it might be wise to look to our nation's status as being only as strong as our weakest links. If our strongest attributes of ingenuity, innovation, technology, free markets, and bold initiative give way and further the rift of disparity and divisiveness, we will soon become the United States of Europe, Lower Canada, or possibly even North Mexico.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:34 am

I find it interesting that any time someone points out that wealth has become increasingly concentrated in this country over the past 35 years, a class warrior like spcwt comes along and accuses him of trying to "steal" money from the rich.

The fact is, government policies - the myriad regulations, taxes and other laws which govern how we do our business everyday - affect how wealth is distributed. It's not just the federal income tax laws - which skew more favorably towards the wealthy than they did a few decades back, or the overall tax structure - which skews even more forcefully against the poor and middle class, as increasing reliance on sales taxes take a much higher percentage of the income of workers than of investors and Prop. 13 ensures that corporate landowners' share of property tax will continue to shrink.

But there are thousands of other, less obvious policies - deregulation here, limits on the ability of consumers to seek redress for being cheated there - that all tilt the economic playing field just a fraction of a degree each, adding up to an economic structure which invariably funnels more and more of the nation's wealth and income to fewer and fewer people.

In sum - the increasing concentration of wealth in fewer hands didn't just "happen." We caused it to happen. It is the result of decisions made by our governmental agencies - most of which few people know anything about, and all of which folks like spcwt are determined to make sure we don't do anything about.

Warren Buffet said it best: "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:50 am

@Huh -- I agree. It seems to me that there's another class war afoot, as well -- a civil war among the middle class.

I took the opportunity to peruse that crappy new Comments section in the sfGate last evening. There were 700+ entries regarding an article about BART management's "late nibble" in approving the contract their team negotiated -- except for the part they didn't like. The comments were overwhelmingly pro-management, and they didn't reflect much more than knee-jerk hostility -- and vituperative, at that -- against the union, per se.

It evoked the Parable of the Last Cookie. Web Link

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

I find it interesting that every time I try to take that rich man?s wallet, he accuses me of theft.

We?re going to steal his wallet though, right?

Right, but the fact is, there are thousands of other, less obvious ways to steal people?s money. And I don?t rob rich people only. I rob poor and middle class people too, in different ways.

But we steal the most from the rich, right?

No! The money in that rich man?s wallet didn?t just ?happen.? We gave it to him.

How?d we do that?

By not stealing enough of it. We should have stolen more of it over the years. By not stealing it, we gave it to him. Don?t you see?

Um, not really. If it?s our money, then why is it in his wallet?

Because we haven?t stolen it yet.

I don?t get it. Didn?t the rich guy earn the money?

NO! We did. We earned it by not stealing it.

Ok. Whatever you say. My head is spinning. Can I have a cookie?

No! It?s my last one! Go steal your own gol darn cookie.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

Yes, spcwt, your head is spinning. I suggest you sit down and have a nice cup of Chamomile tea, until your thoughts become less confused.

Once your equilibrium returns, ask yourself: How did the rich man get the money in the first place? Did it just "happen?" Was it manna from heaven, bestowed by a grateful deity on the most worthy? That appears to be your belief.

But you may wish to consider that it is instead the product of a society which rewards certain types of conduct with wealth and which enables wealth to be secured, increased, and passed down from generation to generation by providing things like infrastructure, enforcement of rules which may tilt one way or the other, and free access to the products of government-funded research such as the building blocks of the internet, free advice to large agricultural enterprises, etc. In short - if you own a business it can only succeed by building on the foundation which society as a whole has created. And yes - you didn't build that foundation. It was provided for you.

I find it interesting that some people criticize deadbeats, but ignore the fact that the corporate entity was created expressly to allow wealthy people to rake in the profits of a business if it succeeds without having to pay off the business' debts with their own wealth if the enterprise failed. I guess being wealthy means never having to say you're sorry...

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Look at that rich man, walking down our streets, enjoying them, as if he owns them.

Weren?t the roads paid for mostly by money stolen from him? We?ve stolen more from him than anyone else by far. Doesn?t he kind of have a right to use the roads too?

That?s not the point! How would he be rich without the roads, the courthouse, the sheriff and everything else?

But only 3% of the stolen money goes to pay for roads, 2% for education, 5% for courts and law enforcement, 2% for science and research. That?s a pretty small amount compared to all the money we?ve stolen from him. What do we do with the rest of the money?

How dare you question how I spend his money. Do you have a problem free stuff?

No. I love free stuff. I was just wondering why you?re criticizing that rich man, when the vast majority of the money we steal comes from him and not deadbeats like us.

I find it interesting that people criticize me for being a deadbeat, when sometimes that rich guy fails too. I guess being rich means never having to say you?re sorry.

I thought it was love.


Yes. Love means never having to say you?re sorry. You know. That line from the movie ?Love Story,? with Ryan O?Neal. Ali MacGraw. Now THAT was a good movie. Web Link

Just shut your trap and drink your tea. Smart alek.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm

spcwt, I'm not criticizing "the rich man." I know lots of rich men. I'm actually pretty affluent myself.

I'm criticizing you. I'm criticizing you for making the pitiful claim that adjusting the rules of society - things like taxes, regulations, etc. so as to return them back to where they were 30 years ago or more - constitutes "stealing." I'm criticizing you for engaging in class warfare of the most devious sort - by misrepresenting what the issue is, and wrapping your "rich man" in a phony cloak of victimhood. The only instance I'm aware of "the rich man" having a lot of money stolen from him was Bernie Madoff - but I don't think that's what you're trying to comment on in your oh-so-precious posts.

Oh, and I'm criticizing you for trying to be clever, and failing.

Posted by Rosa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm

The Dismal Science Comes to a Dismal End.... Ah, But If I Were King!

Contemporary applications of economic theory to the last phases of capitalism have proven to be toothless. At best (I guess), it leaves bloggers wishing they were king so that they might have rich people give some of their money to the white middle class that Cushing is so concerned about.

The blogger cites Krugman, though without noting how Krugman has argued for nearly a decade now that the owning and controlling class has been honing its primary though unstated aim: to convert the US into a 3rd world country where corporations don't have to move operations all over the globe since they'll find plenty of cheap labor here in the US of A.

In important respects, the owning/controlling class is succeeding. Cut off people's food stamps and they'll crawl over broken glass in order to work like dogs in sub-human conditions for minimum wage. Oh, but this is merely anecdotal, I guess. (As are McDonald's telling their minimum wage-earning mothers and fathers that they should take at least two (unpaid) vacations a year, and break their food apart so that their kids' stomachs get full faster; and Walmart launching a worker-help-worker campaign where Walmart's minimum wage-earning parents are asked to donate food to fellow Walmart minimum wage-earning parents whose food stamps have been cut back. What to make of this? Well, they aren't statistical, these stories, so all we can do is chuckle and appreciate them as anecdotes, I guess.)

The blogger wishes for the owning and controlling class to give back because, gosh, shouldn't they want to? I mean, heck! But, alas, although blogger tells us the owners/controllers might desire to give back ... to the white middle class ... these well-intentioned owners/controllers [blogger doesn't want to offend anyone] just aren't able to spend their money fast enough. You see, that's why we're in this economic quagmire, because the owning and controlling classes just haven't had time to reinvest in labor-generating capital outlays. They want to. After all, look at what Bush's tax cuts for the rich did for everyone ... only months before the crash. Or look at the extraordinary profit being made today by the owning and controlling classes, who are really nice people, honest, but they just haven't found the TIME to curtail lay-offs or use that surplus capital for society's (white middle-class) benefit.

Of course the only thing that will change this is if people with like experiences and needs organize and mobilize, putting pressure on owners and their governmental henchmen alike. But, gasp (and alas), union membership is down. So let's not talk about real people engaging in real class-based action. (How very quaint, how very anecdotal.) No, let's talk about what I'd do if I were king....

Registers 9 out of 10 on the vomit-o-meter

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 5:43 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Mr. Cushing deserves credit for an attempt to have a serious discussion on thee pages. However, too often comments devolve into ridicule and name calling or go off on irrelevant tangents. And the discussion ends. It is too bad the PW doesn't have the resources to keep discussions focused and civilized.

Mr. Cushing writes, "What is needed is to move static wealth from the cob-webbed coffers of the top few percent, and invest it in things that will generate new jobs and the middle class spending..."

But, other than a vague reference to fiscal and tax policy, nothing specific is mentioned. How would the government take a person's wealth? Would there be a new "wealth tax" in addition to the estate tax? Would the estate tax be raised significantly? And how much money would really be raised by any of this?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 7:27 am

Thanks, Doug. The commentary on these missives is semi-steadily improving. In the early editions, it tended toward threatening to boycott the publication and what fun it would be to tar&feather the humble scribe. There was a new variation on the old Thumper Rule: if you can't say something nice, come comment on my blog. I'm encouraged, although I'm also congenitally pretty optimistic of mind.

The policy prescription IS global, and 'coffers' implies a wealth tax that I actually hadn't considered. What I more have in-mind is income tax policy, where rates are historically low, and that's Before the accountants have a crack at the bill. I'm not impressed with those self-serving claims about the fraction currently paid by the top%ers, a stat that speaks mostly to the fabulous wealth being amassed, rather than the burden being borne (a small part of a huge principal is still a small part). For a lot of reasons, I would prescribe vastly simplifying the system, broadening the base (skin-in-the-game being important, generally) AND substantially raising the actual top-end payments to fund my public investments without exploding the deficit. IF those investments revive middle class Demand, then it might be thought-of as a way to contribute sustenance to a currently unsustainable system.

@Rosa: "the White middle class?" That didn't come from me. If your intent is to distort my blog for your own purposes, as it seems to be, okay -- but kindly leave the race-based perversions out of it.

You also generally confuse Activity with Results. When the WalMart workers, for example, actually succeed in organizing their workforce -- and I hope they do -- THAT would be evidence of Labor getting results. And while stories are more heartening than stats, they generally form a poor basis on which to found policy. One more time: when union membership as a % of the economy starts to rise, or when Labor succeeds in organizing new, relevant sectors for the future, then I will be pleased to amend me "Labor in retreat" statement.

As an avid partisan, you appear to interpret observations of objective reality as somehow disloyal, and therefore worthy of your scorn. If your goal is to feel better, have at it. But if your goal is promote a different direction, then even a partisan needs to know his current location.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 7:44 am

One more thing, Doug: I have the capability of "moderating" these comments to try to keep them on-track. My experience elsewhere, though, is that folks are so wed to their own prose that the discussion blows-up into the wrongs that's been done 'em, rather than accepting the re-focus. That's especially true when the blogger wields the editing weapon, because I'm "obviously" just trying to squelch eloquent dissent!

So I'm reluctant to use a heavy hand. I try to reply to relevant commentary, and hope the tide of it rises. Suggestions (other than what I should consume before expiring, in a conflagration) are welcomed, here or via email. Thanks!

Posted by Rosa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 8:57 am

Cushing doesn\'t see labor activism unless it translates statistically into union membership; and since labor union membership is down, and therefore, he assures us, \'labor is in retreat\', then the role of labor in analysis of production, consumption, political practice just isn\'t worth mentioning. (Just as race goes unmentioned in his earlier pieces, albeit with frequent assurances that race DOES interest him because, after all, he has on occasion referenced Barack Obama, our black president!) Rather than hitching one\'s policy recommendations to, say, government assisting labor in its efforts to democratize the workplace but where labor faces arbitrary firings of its organizers as happens with Walmart frequently -- being part of the company\'s surveillance culture -- Cushing moves to the land of what he calls objective reality where he is king and gets to wish for stuff.

What the blogger fails to recognize is that significant kinds of capital\'s control mechanisms as well as labor activism do not get translated into statistics. Walmart, for example, as is increasingly true of other companies, refuses to publicize just how many of its 1.4 million workers (they call them \'associates\') are making minimum wage. My point: Capital has the resources to obscure the facts of production, and since newspapers (Cushing\'s primary \'objective reality\' sources) don\'t engage in any real substantive analysis of matters of class, class exploitation, class control, then the stuff newspapers don\'t mention just doesn\'t exist, apparently. Same is true with labor activism. Since newspapers do not report on the kinds of activism Walmart workers are forging among themselves, then Walmart workers just don\'t count, cuz statistically their activism, how it affects workers\' consciousness and thus, for example, how they as workers vote or contribute to political campaigns, just doesn\'t fit into Cushing\'s objective reality.

So, let\'s move to Cushing\'s objective reality, where he is king. And in Cushing\'s kingdom, the \'middle class\' -- heck of an objective concept there -- is being hollowed out because, jeez, capital just can\'t spend its profits quick enough. It is with cold, analytical, fact-based concepts such as \'middle class\' that drives his monarchical pronouncements in his land of \'objective reality\'. And who are the middle class? In the absence of any recognition or discussion of race (Obama excepted because, you see, Obama is black), we can only infer that Cushing\'s reference to the middle class is to people like himself and those he lives with. (There are African Americans and even a few Latinos scattered throughout the neighborhood, but statistically they just don\'t warrant much of a mention.) This is akin to the Republican Party assigning Rand Paul to head up a committee to woo African Americans: "Yes Republicans really DO care about African Americans, why just the other day several of us [all white] Senators had lunch with Barack Obama the other day, and he\'s black.

When pushed by a lefty to own up to his true conservative leanings, Cushing chafes and turns the discussion toward the lefty\'s rhetoric. Not surprisingly, regular conservative as well as tea bag contributors are quick to jump to Cushing\'s defense. After all, he speaks their language. He draws upon \'facts\' and concepts supplied by right-wing newspapers and tv talking heads. They know whose side he is on.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:50 am

Rosa, I find your post to be long on jargon and apparent vitriol but remarkably opaque in terms of actually communicating coherent ideas. If you have access to a copy of Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" I'd suggest reading it, then rewriting your post in a manner that someone who hasn't spent innumerable hours talking to people who already agree with everything you believe might understand.

It's unlikely that many people who don't fit that very narrow demographic will (a) read all the way to the end of your posts and (b) understand whatever it is that you're trying to say. You may have an important message but it's not going anywhere right now.

Posted by Rosa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:15 am

Okay, Tom, or is it "Huh?" now? I guess people who are part of that "narrow demographic," as you put it, just aren't statistically significant enough to be given a reasoned hearing. Beyond that, rather than deal with another's opposing view that is formed outside the narrow parameters of whether one's conservativism belongs to Ronald Reagan or Ted Cruz, it's just a whole lot easier to criticize another's writing style. I'll humbly submit that if a reader is unable to reach the end of my written contributions without being able to understand my claims well, perhaps that falls upon the reader -- specifically, his will to understand.

Last night I woke up at 2 AM. I saw that this blog site had 710 views. I went to the kitchen, had a glass of orange juice, came back, and lo and behold, the site had 760 views. Darn! Now that's impressive. 50 readers over the course of 5 minutes, in the early AM hours.

Strunk and White's recommendations are great, especially if you're dealing with a relatively uneducated audience. I do understand how Pleasanton isn't very well educated and represents the Jeb Clampettville of No-Cal. Nevertheless, I don't dumb down for a dumb reader. No apologies in this regard.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

You know, Rosa, last week you thought I was S-P and now this week I'm Huh?. I will say that my colleague Roz also once thought I was Huh?, too. I could only respond that I take it as a compliment, but no. As to your obsessive middle-o-the-night movements, I can assure you that I was sawing logs long before 2 AM, and until 6 or so this AM. And I have a witness who'll vouch for me. She's not Huh? either.

I think the whole Leftie-Rightie thing has something to do with one's perspective, the point from which each of us views the spectrum. Coming from the Left of me, you find me to be Conservative, although you're not very discerning about it. I can assure you, though, that many, many folks in these environs find me to be disconcertingly liberal, based on where they sit on the same spectrum. I'm happy to leave it at that, but YMMV.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:50 am

I have to agree with "Huh?" -- Rosa may have some good points to make; but, they are too mired in her rambling, run-on style to figure out.

Spcwt -- I believe that you are wrong about the wealthy paying for a large share of the nation's highways. Highway costs have been paid for historically by the gasoline taxes (federal and state), which are regressive taxes that are not based on income, but rather on gasoline purchases.

Spcwt also seems to ignore the huge amounts of government largess that rains down on the wealthy and corporations -- even beyond the tax breaks ( or as spcwt prefers to characterize them -- money that hasn't yet been stolen from the wealthy).

The federal government awards all kinds of direct grants to corporations. One example was the $250,000 grants, up to four per company, given to pharmaceutical companies a couple of years ago for each research program they were pursuing (regardless of whether it succeeded or failed). Free money.

Another example would be the "no-bid" contracts handed out to defense contractors in connection with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- billions of dollars worth. Just quote a price and the government would pay it.

It's easy to overlook money flowing in that direction when it contradicts one's view of the world.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Now that my name is being cast about here I shall weigh in (and as people who know me know, I weigh a lot). Tom does post under a variety of nom-de-blog, but as he said above, he is not "Huh?" When I do guess them right, he admits it. So far none of the posters here are Tom other than Tom himself.

I might have been some of the hits after 2 am. I have very strange sleeping habits and stay up to 2 or 3 am doodling on the Internet. I don't have to wake up early in the morning, not just because this is Saturday but I work at home online and don't have to wake up early to go to work. So I just revert to my odd hours of staying up late and sleeping late.

I can remember the old progressive income tax from the 1950's and '60's. I'm not sure when these changed, but wasn't the top level 90% at one time or was that only in Europe? I can remember people turning down raises because it put them into a higher tax bracket and they would actually end up with less money.

I'm not sure when the tax rates changed. Was that under Reagan? It seems like when taxes were more incremental the middle class grew, and when they flattened out the middle class shrunk, but I don't have any statistics to support this so it is just my perception.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Thanks, Roz. I appreciate the character reference, and would only add that when I post anywhere under a nom-de-blog, it'll be a pun that relates to the post. "Cubbrey Porter" in response to "Jimmy Olsen" is the only recent example, at least since ol' CP retired.

My numbers are actually more accurate than ever, as I've discovered that I can see how the totals are progressing by clicking into the Town Square button, which doesn't add views to the blog. I'm sitting here on this lovely afternoon, pushing out the next nugget of a blog -- seeing if I can get it done before this count hits 1,000. I must be having fun.

(Made it, with 14 views to spare).

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