Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On The Idiot's Narrative Concerning Me And Libertarianism

There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there's only narrative ~ Edgar Lawrence Doctorow (dob 1/6/1931) is an American author known internationally for his unique works of historical fiction. Doctorow spent nine years as a book editor, first at the mass-market paperback publisher "New American Library" working with Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand among others; and from 1964, as editor-in-chief at The Dial Press.

The following from the blog of an idiot named Willis V. Hart... note that in this post he refers to me as an idiot while revealing that the real idiot is himself.

Willis Hart: What the idiot fails to comprehend... is that libertarianism, just like with a lot of other things, is a) a continuum (from the moderate policy oriented libertarianism of the Cato Institute to the harder, more doctrinaire, orientation of the Mises and Ayn Rand Institutes) and b) a construct that has a great many permutations to it... [blah, blah, blah] I mean, I know that the simpler that person is, the more that this type of individual requires a clear-cut dichotomy, ideal types, etc., just to get frigging by in their life but enough. Enough. (1/28/2014 at 7:51pm).

This from an idiot who spends a lot of his time mischaracterizing Keynesian economics. I used to have SOME respect left for the guy, thinking he was intelligent and well read, but had simply reached the wrong conclusions. That was until he started lying about Keynesian economics by creating obvious strawmen descriptions of what Keynesians "invariably" say when they don't invariably say it.

I mean, it would be LOL-able if it wasn't so frigging pathetic. I'd say "enough", but I'm sure there is a lot more to come from the strawman-loving Hart. More of his insisting Democrats walk in lock step and we're all of a like mind in supporting anything that comes out of the Obama administration... which is completely false, but something he and his like-minded cohorts sit on their high horses feeling superior about (they are men of reason who think for themselves while criticizing both sides equally... in their minds); and more of his ridiculous characterizing of Democrats and Democratic politics/economic policies.

It's pretty easy to knock down theories you disagree with when you misrepresent them to the extreme extent that Mr. Hart does on his blog. And this idiot has the nerve to accuse me of misunderstanding Libertarianism, labeling me "simple" and requiring a clear-cut dichotomy to "get frigging by" in my life? Obviously constructing and knocking down strawmen is the only way this Hart fellow can get by. I, on the other hand, do recognize that, as with any political ideology, there are many different flavors and that only the most die hard (a small minority) walk in lockstep.

But, that Democrats who "support" Obama are simple, while "freethinkers" such as himself are far superior to the rest of us (Dems and Repubs) is a narrative that clearly gives the dude comfort. Without his arrogance I think Mr. Hart would be nothing but a shell of a man who, no doubt, couldn't go on living if the idea that he's got it all figured out was taken away from him.

"Support" is in quotes above, BTW, because, while I consider myself an Obama supporter, I do have my problems with the fellow, some of which Mr. Hart points to a comment on the (ironically titled) "rAtional nAtion" blog.

Willis Hart: This is what Jeremy Scahill of "The Nation" has to say about President Obama. He makes some pretty solid points... "And then, in Western societies, you have, on the one hand, President Obama saying that his administration is going to be the most transparent in history and that they want to be friends with the press; and on the other hand, they are monitoring the metadata of journalists, they are seizing phone records, they're trying to compel journalists to testify against their sources, they're trying to figure out who journalists are talking to within government so that they can go and indict those people... [end quote] Finally, a progressive with some guts, integrity, and consistency. (1/28/2014 AT 11:49pm).

OK, so it was AFTER I said I agreed (with Mr. Hart's agreement with Jeremy Scahill) that the Hartster authored his post about me requiring a clear-cut dichotomy and "ideal types"... so I guess absolutely nothing is going to derail the Hartster when he's spinning his narrative. There are SOME reasonable Dems, but REALLY, Willis Hart (as a "small L" Libertarian) is among a select few that REALLY gets it... (which is why he says "finally" in regards to Mr. Scahill. Scahill is a Progressive that doesn't represent the norm).

Video Description: Jeremy Scahill says Obama White House Doesn't Want Journalists, It Wants "State Media". (posted to "Real Clear Politics" 12/5/2013).

SWTD #229, wDel #49.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Highly Dubious LBJ Quote & What It Says About Those Who Eagerly Believe It

When he signed the act he was euphoric, but late that very night I found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the bulldog edition of the Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day. I asked him what was troubling him. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come", he said ~ Bill Moyers, on page 167 of his 2004 book, Moyers on America. Bill D. Moyers (dob 6/5/1934) is an American journalist and liberal public commentator who served as White House Press Secretary in the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration from 1965 to 1967.

Conservatives hate that African Americans vote Democratic in overwhelming majorities. Obviously, in their minds, the reason for this must be that they were (and are still being) tricked and/or are lazy. Offer Black people goodies and get them hooked on those goodies. Then they'll have to keep voting Democratic... that or get jobs, work hard and provide for themselves. But, if you're thinking that sounds racist (that an entire group of people could be manipulated in this manner), well, the Cons and Libertarians are quite eager to point out that the reverse is actually true... it is actually the Democrats who are racist!

In fact, the very president who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was himself "a bigot and a racist of high order" according to Libertarian blogger Willis Hart who repeats a supposed quote from LBJ in a post on his blog...

Willis Hart: Lyndon Baines Johnson 1963... "These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference... I'll have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years". (12/31/2013 at 8:42pm).

Whether or not the quote is authentic is questionable, but I'll get to that later. First an excerpt from a political talk radio program in which the host, Thom Hartmann, discusses racism with Jennifer Burke of the "Tea Party News Network". Jennifer Burke, herself an African American, subscribes to the "tricked" theory to explain why a majority of African Americans vote Democratic, as well as the claim that it is actually the Democrats who are racist.

Excerpt from the discussion between Thom and Jennifer on the 10/23/2013 airing of Thom's program as follows (Thom does his set up and then introduces Jennifer 2:20 into the first hour & I pick up the conversation at the 5:17 mark)...

Jennifer Burke: It amazes me that the Left tries to take their racist history... the KKK was formed by the Democrats...

Thom Hartmann: Oh, the Democrats were definitely the party of racism in the early 20th century, absolutely. And they changed in the 1960s, and, as I'm sure you know, in the 1970s Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy was to reach out to Southern racists. That's why, when Ronald Reagan was nominated to be president, the first speech that he gave as a presidential candidate; his first official speech was in Philadelphia MI where those three Civil Rights workers were murdered. And he gave a speech about State's Rights, wink, wink.

JB: So, State's Rights now equals racism, so Ronald Reagan was a racist?

TH: It certainly did in 1980. In 1980 there still was an ongoing effort to roll back the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Yes.

JB: You mean the Civil Rights Act that the Democrats tried to stop from happening?

TH: No, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act that the Democrats passed overwhelmingly, Lyndon Johnson signed; and that's how the Democrats lost the South. He told Bill Moyers at the time he signed it that the Democratic Party would lose the South for a generation. Turns out it's been two generations.

[Thom next points out that, although the Democrats used to pander to the racists, now it is the Republicans who do, and that a large number of racists have gravitated to the Tea party. Thom then asks Jennifer Burke what she thinks the Tea Party should do about it].

JB: I have no idea what you're talking about. ... I've been a member of the Tea Party since it's inception, and I've not seen that. Now, what I have seen is a history in the Democrat Party of having a control factor under the guise of compassion for Black people. It was Lyndon Johnson that said, and it holds true to this day, and these are his words, during his Great Society push... "I'll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next few hundred years".

And, that is the stronghold that they have had; that guise of compassion; let us take care of you...

TH: I have no knowledge of Lyndon Johnson ever saying that.

JB: Anybody that tries to get them [the Democrats] to see beyond skin color and to see beyond a certain circumstance; that government does not have to be the answer. And, if you ask me, Democrats constantly pushing big government as the answer to everybody's problems ... "generational welfare" is racist...

TH: Well, it's not always productive, I'll grant you that. Lyndon Johnson did cut poverty in half in the United States, both in the poor Black and the poor White communities, and set the stage for an emerging Black middle class in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

JB: And how are Blacks faring under Obama now? Black employment is...

[Thom agrees with Jennifer Burke's statement about Black unemployment, but he correctly blames Reaganomics. Then, as the music indicating that the segment is nearly over has started to play, Thom says goodbye to Jennifer, plugs her writings on, and thanks her for being on the program... but she has already hung up. The segment ends at 9 minutes & 45 seconds into hour 1 of the program].

That Jennifer Burke is African American does not make the suggestion that Black people vote Democratic because they've been tricked by racist White Democratic politicians not itself racist. Escaping poverty can be extremely difficult, and although welfare can sometimes be "problematic" as Thom points out, the solution isn't to get rid of it. That suggestion, that welfare actually "subsidizes" poverty is self-serving nonsense (this is an actual argument that Mr. LB has made previously).

And that Democrats do not have genuine compassion (and belief that we are our brother's keeper), but that it is only a "guise" maintained for political benefit - is also self-serving claptrap. That government has a RESPONSIBILITY to all the people (including the poor ones) is one Democrats take seriously. "Buying votes" is how Conservatives and Libertarians characterize it because they see their responsibility as being only to the class that funds their campaigns; the wealthy.

The poor, in the minds of the "fiscally Conservative" deserve no representation because they cannot afford it. What we need to do is help the rich and the poor should be satisfied with what is "trickled down" onto them.

Also, as pointed out by a caller to Thom's show later in the hour, the LBJ quote is suspect; the source being an author and journalist who currently writes for NewsMax, of all places! (a Conservative propaganda machine that has a history of lying about Democratic Presidents).

What follows is from hour 1 of the same Thom Hartmann broadcast quoted above, this time beginning at the 37:14 mark...

Caller: ...the woman who gave a quote from LBJ; saying that the Democratic Party was going to have, quote, the "niggers voting Democratic for the next 100 years...". ... That quote can be found all over the internet on Rightwing blogs, and it can be traced back to one book by a very Rightwing author, Ronald Kessler, and it's in a book called Inside the White House. And [the quote] has never been corroborated by anyone else. He is the only person who ever alleged that LBJ said that, that I can find.

TH: To say that trying to eliminate poverty in the United States, when the vast majority of people in poverty in the United States were [and are] White, was going to, somehow win the Democratic Party the Black vote for 200 years; that doesn't make any sense that LBJ would say such a thing... it's not how he spoke; it's not how he thought; and it certainly wasn't his motivation. But it has clearly brainwashed some young Conservatives. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Those brainwashed include some older Libertarians as well (as illustrated by the excerpt from the Hartster's blog above, as well as this comment from the blog of Ayn Rand devotee rAtional nAtion). And Wikipedia notes that Mr. Kessler is also the author of a 2004 book titled "A Matter of Character" which is "an admiring look at George W. Bush's presidency". That is reason enough to strongly suspect that the LBJ quote is not accurate.

While I can not say for sure if Mr. Kessler is the only source for this quote, LBJ's prior actions while in the Senate very much contradict the idea that LBJ was a racist who signed Civil Rights legislation because it would help Democrats trick African Americans into voting Democratic. The following book quote via an article on the Media Matters website...

LBJ biographer Robert A. Caro: In the Summer of 1957... Lyndon Johnson, in an abrupt and total reversal of his twenty-year record on civil rights, would push a civil rights bill, primarily a voting rights bill, through the Senate [even though it had] no realistic chance of passage [LBJ,] in one of the most notable legislative feats in American history, would cajole and plead and threaten and lie, would use all of his power and all his guile, all the awe in which his colleagues held him, and all the fear, to ram the bill through the Senate.

It was, thanks to him, a bill that the House could also pass, and that the President could sign - the first civil rights legislation to be added to the statute books of the United States since 1870. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 made only a meager advance toward social justice, and it is all but forgotten today, partly because it was dwarfed by the advances made under President Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. But it paved the way - its passage was necessary - for all that was to come. As its Leader, he made the Senate not only work, but work toward a noble end. (Excerpt from Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Master of the Senate).

So, given the quote at the top of my post by Bill Moyers and LBJ's past history of championing Civil Rights legislation, do I think the quote is authentic? No, I do not. LBJ's signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 COST the Democrats, politically. They didn't benefit from it. Yes, the signing of the legislation by Johnson does have a lot to do with why African Americans vote Democratic, but the Republicans have won a few elections since 1964 without the Black vote. Fact is, Nixon's Southern Strategy gave the Republicans a virtual lock on the South (by appealing to White racists).

I find it quite unbelievable that the LBJ who rightly and correctly worried that his actions had "just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come" would also gloat (racial epithet, or no) about how his actions had ensured that African Americans would be tricked into voting Democratic for a long time to come. For this reason my verdict is that the quote is false. And my other verdict is that people who very willingly believe that African Americans are gullible in this manner might be a wee bit racist.

Update 8/9/2015: Bob Mack likes this commentary and has placed it on his Facebook page.

SWTD #228, wDel #48.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Irrational Goose-Stepping By Libertarian Hypocrite Appreciated By His Masters

Sorry, libertarians: You're still hypocrites ~ RJ Eskow of AlterNet, in an open letter to those who responded (with great vitriol) to his guide to exposing the lies of free market radicals.

It appears the nation of scandals has yet another scandal to add to its long list of scandals. While this time it is a scandal occurring on a little read blog that surely will not be machining it's way all the way to national notice. It is nonetheless a scandal I feel it is worth my time mentioning on my own (even lesser read) blog.

This time the scandalous party is none other than a Libertarian Progressive-basher (ironically?) known as rAtional nAtion. It seems this Nation fellow wishes to exact a pound of flesh from a movement the paranoid irrationally fears had the audacity of having nothing to do with an actress deciding to resign from an acting gig after endorsing a Tea Party candidate for California Governor.

A summary/excerpt from the story that offended the sensibilities of Mr. Nation as follows...

Fox 44 Celebrity News: A San Francisco arts organization has parted ways with a well-known Latina actress, who was to star in its rendition of "The Vagina Monologues", after the thespian appeared in a political ad with a California Tea Party lawmaker who is running for governor [Tim Donnelly]. "We really can’t have her in the show, unfortunately", Eliana Lopez, the producer, told KPIX 5 of Maria Conchita Alonso's resignation on Friday from the cast of Brava! For Women in the Arts' upcoming Spanish performance of the Eve Ensler play. "Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we're in the middle of the Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe". (Fox 1/19/2014).

So, what we have here is a post by Mr. Nation in which he blames the ENTIRE "liberal progressive left" for an incident in which a Conservative lost their job due to voicing political views (supporting a Tea Party candidate). Blogger Shaw Kenawe was the first to respond, and what she pointed out was that, in his post, Nation is "painting with a broad brush". Nation disagreed and instructed Shaw to "read carefully". Then he said he stood by what he wrote.

Well, I read carefully, and labeling this as story as "the open hypocrisy of the liberal progressive left" can NOT be described as anything other than painting with a broad brush. So I submitted a comment saying that I agreed with Shaw.

In response the defensive Mr. Nation posted the following bullshit comment...

rAtional nAtion: What that conclusively proves is the partisanship you share. Carry on, your lockstep (or is it goosestep) is appreciated by your masters. (1/19/2014 AT 8:16pm).

An attack belittling me while praising himself (Nation is above "goose-stepping", being more highly evolved than the rest of us partisans) is no big surprise. But my reply to Nation's bullshit obviously didn't fit his narrative, and therefore Nation could not publish (which he did not). What I said in this unpublishable comment is as follows...

Dervish Sanders: Here is some Goose-stepping for you RN... I don't believe anyone should be fired (or forced to resign) from a job for their political views. But RN's masters might appreciate that his sowing of discord and hatred for the "liberal progressive left" with his blaming of the ENTIRE Left for something a small group is responsible for. [Note: this is not the actual comment I submitted but only what I remember submitting... as I didn't save it. It is close, however].

I suppose I can see why Nation did not publish, as the comment is tinged with a little hostility. But, given that the guy can not seem to ever respond to a comment by me without condescending and insulting (while at the same time praising himself), I don't know why he should expect sweetness and niceness from me. He does the same to me on my own blog, and I don't take it personally. I don't like it, but do still publish (most of) his comments.

Although I do not believe the primary (or only) reason Nation did not publish my comment was because he was offended. More importantly, what I said did not fit his narrative, which is that the ENTIRE Left is comprised of hypocrites who would cry foul if someone spoke their mind and voiced their political opinions... and those opinions were Progressive in nature; but that they would NOT do the same if the person speaking his or her mind was a Conservative or Libertarian... or Tea Partier.

And I am sure that Nation's "masters" are appreciative that dupes such as himself are eagerly buying into and spreading his message of the "hypocritical Left".

On the other hand, another commenter made a contrary point that I found some agreement with...

Jersey McJones: Alonso's another anti-Castro Republican Cuban, and this Donnelly guy is just another pandering scumbag of the lowest order. Support a pandering scumbag and don't be surprised if people call you out on it. I wouldn't book her either. Let her go perform for the tasteless, humorless, witless cons. (1/20/2014 AT 12:23am).

My agreement has to do with the fact that ex-Minuteman and gun nut Donnelly is an individual who demonizes undocumented workers because it plays with the racists in the Tea Party. But this is the kind of racism that does not play with the Hispanic community, the target audience of the play Maria Conchita Alonso was to participate in. And, due to her endorsement of Donnelly, those bankrolling the play faced loses if the Hispanic community boycotted it.

Alonso was the one who decided to give the political endorsement, so why should the play's financial backers lose their shirts if the play was boycotted? Surely a consumer has the right to refuse to attend an entertainment event if they strongly disagree with an endorsement one of the entertainers has made.

Eliana Lopez, the producer of the play did say that "of course she has the right to say whatever she wants", but then she also said "We really can't have her in the show, unfortunately". The right thing to do would have probably to make a statement letting people know that the play has nothing to do with politics and that Ms. Alonso has the right to speak her mind on political issues just like anyone else... but that may have ended up costing them.

Think about this, if you will... an employee saying something objectionable that might cause a loss of money for the employer... is that situation in which a Conservative would say the employer (as well as the other employees) should suffer the consequences of their employee's words? For some reason I think not.

Also, is it not possible that Ms. Alonso resigned for that reason (so as to not hurt the other actors she would have co-starred with). The story does not say she was forced to resign, only that she did. I'm guessing she realized that, by staying in the play she would be doing a disservice to her co-stars. If that is the case there certainly is no "scandal", as Nation implies. Not really that much of one even if she was strongly "encouraged" to get lost, as pissing off the play's target audience wasn't a very smart thing for her to do (and RIGHTLY not appreciated by her employer).

My conclusion? This isn't a "scandal", and those backing the play were within their rights to ask that Alonso leave (if they did). Also, what happened is definitely not indicative of the "open hypocrisy of the liberal progressive left", although, as I already said, I'm sure Nation's "masters" are appreciative of this type of discord sowing. Some "offended" Donnelly supporters might even decide to throw a few bucks his way that they may have otherwise not.

SWTD #227, lDel #14.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Singapore Health Care System Touted By True Believing Libertarian Who Is Almost Completely Wrong On It Being Market Oriented

There is no free market. And, you know what? We are the only country in the world that insists on the notion that there can be a free market. Everybody else has tried something else and it works better. They get better health care results at a much lower cost ~ Steven Brill (dob 8/22/1950) a columnist for Time Magazine, whose most recent story is Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, which is a "special report" in Time's March 4, 2013 issue. Quote from an interview with Jon Stewart on the 1/16/2014 episode of The Daily Show.

This commentary addresses yet more misinformation from the true believing Libertarian who "is wholly incapable of critical thinking [and] at the very minimum useless". This time the misinformation the non-critical thinker believes to be true when it isn't comes from a commentary he titled "Toward a Free Market Solution to Healthcare and a Hell of a Good Lesson to Learn"...

Libertarian Blogger: Singapore's system is one of personal health savings accounts (mandated but with subsidies for people who need it) supplemented with catastrophic plans for emergencies. (1/14/2014 AT 4:47pm)

Not quite true. Not by a long shot. The method Singapore uses to fund it's health care payments system is significantly dissimilar to health savings accounts (HSAs) as they exist in the United States, as explained in a 10/23/2013 Slate article...

Matthew Yglesias, writing for Slate: [Funding for health care in Singapore is provided for by] Medisave, a compulsory individual medical savings account scheme ...Singaporeans and their employers contribute a part of the monthly wages into the account to save up for their future medical needs. [However] ...these Medisave accounts are deposited into the Central Provident Fund, a government-run investment pool, rather than constituting private savings as we would understand them. HSAs [As they exist in the United Sates], are a tax exemption for savings that are set aside for health care purchases; that's totally different from a mandatory contribution to a sovereign wealth fund. (What Do Conservatives Like About Health Care in Singapore?, Slate 10/23/2013)

This sounds very much like our system currently works. The employee pays a portion and the employer pays a portion. In the US the portion paid by the employer is considered by the employer as a cost of retaining the employee (part of their wage). US health savings accounts, on the other hand, are wholly funded by individuals, are not compulsory, and the accounts are controlled by the individual, not the government. US HSAs and Singapore's Medisave are clearly quite different animals.

Also, as pointed out by Slate, Singaporeans rely heavily on socialized direct payments to hospitals...

Slate: The first tier of protection is provided by heavy Government subsidies of up to 80% of the total bill in acute public hospital wards, which all Singaporeans can access. [The second tier is the Medisave program, and the third tier is] MediShield, a low cost catastrophic medical insurance [program] supplemented if like by private insurance called Integrated Shield. (source same as above).

So, what we have here is a highly socialized health care system that includes publicly-owned highly subsidized hospitals that a Libertarian is holding up as a "free market" solution that we should consider adopting in the United States.

But a 8/23/2013 HuffPo article on the most efficient health care systems in the world (which has Singapore ranking 2nd), says "the unifying factor seems to be tight government control over a universal system". I don't know about you, but "tight government control" does not sound very Libertarian to me.

So, where does the "free market" come in? Mr. LB says it is a "free market" approach in Singapore that keeps costs down via competition... according to this excerpt from Mr. LB's misinformed commentary...

Libertarian Blogger: [the Singapore system] has in fact produced solid healthcare outcomes while at the same time bending the cost-curve. I mean, just take a look at these huge comparisons; hysterectomy - $20,000 in the U.S., $7,000 in Singapore, hip replacement - $43,000 in the U.S., $12,000 in Singapore, heart bypass - $127,000 in the U.S., $22,500 in Singapore... (1/14/2014 AT 4:47pm)

So, does the "free market" and competition keep prices down as Mr. LB claims? The answer is NO, as this blog post by Maggie Mahar (author of Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much) reveals...

Maggie Mahar, Writing on Her Blog "Health Beat": The government... put price caps on all services and procedures delivered in public hospitals, which provide 80 percent of hospital care in Singapore. These caps apply not only to procedures like surgery, but also to ward stays. So while patients are in fact able to choose between types of accommodations for a price, those prices are fixed by the government (except in the case of private hospitals, which can charge whatever they want). (Health Care in Singapore: What's the Secret? by Maggie Mahar 7/30/2008).

So, no HSAs and no competition keeping prices down (but rather price controls). In addition, one of the reforms instituted by Singapore to keep costs down was to restrict "how fast new, unproven technology can be introduced into government hospitals"... so none of that "cutting edge" technology we're so proud of in the US.

As for the publicly-owned hospitals, Singapore's Ministry of Health website reports the following...

Ministry of Health/Hospital Services: In 2012, there were a total of about 10,756 hospital beds in the 25 hospitals and specialty centres in Singapore, giving a ratio of 2.0 beds per 1,000 total population. About 85% of the beds are in the 15 public hospitals and specialty centres with bed complements between 185 to 2,010 beds.

Does a figure of 85 percent socialized (AKA government owned) when it comes to available hospital beds sound like competition? What about a government that covers 80 percent of the bill, uses price controls to keep costs down, and has a Medicare-like program for the poor called "Medifund aid"... does that sound like the "free market" in action? Or does it sound like Socialism?

To me it sounds like the success of the Singaporean system is due to Socialism. And it also sounds to me like Mr. LB's assertions have been thoroughly debunked. And, while Mr. LB says "Progressive goals but with free market solutions is kind where I am right now", the ACTUAL "hell of a good lesson to learn" from Singapore is that they didn't attain efficiency via free market competition. The REAL lesson to be learned, as Maggie Mahar concludes is...

Maggie Mahar: Singapore's health care experience isn't an argument for consumer-driven medicine, but for targeted government interventions and smart, timely, regulation of over-treatment. (Health Care in Singapore: What's the Secret? by Maggie Mahar 7/30/2008).

Laughably, the latest from Mr. LB is his enthusiasm for "ridiculously low prices" he thinks are the result of free market competition in Singapore (and this from an individual who often cries about doctors not getting paid enough... under Medicaid and potentially the ACA).

But there is no notion that there should be a "free market solution" in any other country in the world (including Singapore) as Steven Brill points out (see quote at the top of this commentary). That Mr. LB believes otherwise is, frankly, delusional.

SWTD #226, wDel #47.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

True Believer Easily Led By Liars Who Spout Misinformation He Likes About Medicaid & ObamaCare (Which He Hates)

One seldom discovers a true believer that is worth knowing ~ Henry Louis Mencken (9/12/1880 to 1/29/1956) an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, critic of American life and culture, and scholar of American English. Known as the "Sage of Baltimore", he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the twentieth century.

A "true believer", according to the Libertarian Blogger Willis Hart, "is wholly incapable of critical thinking". "These folks", the Libertarian concludes "are at the very minimum useless and can in fact be dangerous during the reigns of charismatic leaders".

I AGREE, I say to the blogger I've referred to as "Mr. LB" in prior posts. Although to that definition I'd add (or emphasize) the fact that true believers tend to get their information from one side and NEVER question whether or not those representing that perspective are being honest with them or if they are being partially honest but spinning the truth to make it essentially a lie.

And THIS is the case with the oblivious true believer Mr. LB, who is oblivious to the fact that he is what he castigates those who disagree with him for being (in his mind). A good portion of the information he uses when authoring his blog posts comes to him via Libertarian and "fiscally conservative" sources (Think Tanks and individuals who identify as Libertarian/fiscally conservative). And, when I've looked into his various claims, what I find is a grain truth and a silo of spin. The latest example of this is a post in which he slams Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (AKA "ObamaCare")... as follows...

Mr. LB: According to a recent study from the University of Virginia, surgical patients on Medicaid were 97% more likely to die prior to discharge than privately insured patients were and 13% more likely to die prior to discharge than patients who didn't have any insurance at all. And, yes, this study DID control for intervening variables such as age, income, geography, surgical procedure, and prior health status. Wow, I guess that there really is a difference between "coverage" and actual healthcare (1/15/2014 AT 8:06pm)

Could this be true? Is not having insurance at all better than being insured by Medicaid? Of course not. If you don't have insurance you don't get treatment (unless you are wealthy and pay out of pocket). The results of not getting treatment when you need it are predictably worse than if you do get treatment, as the following Kaiser Health News article confirms.

Jonathan Cohn, Senior Editor of The New Republic: ...for the last few months, a cadre of conservative writers and intellectuals has argued that [Medicaid] doesn't actually help beneficiaries and may actually hurt them. To prove their point, they've cited a handful of studies in which Medicaid recipients ended up in worse health than people with no coverage whatsoever. According to Medicaid's critics, this evidence suggests that expanding the program, as the Affordable Care Act would, is a bad idea. (Are You Better Off With Medicaid Than No Insurance? A Landmark Study Says Yes, Kaiser Health News 7/7/2011).

So, should we scrap Medicaid (and perhaps Medicare) and turn these functions over to the private health care insurance industry? Does this study prove government can't do anything right and we're best off letting the private sector handle things whenever possible? Absolutely not. There is actually another explanation as to why the results for people on Medicaid are worse (even than for those with no insurance). And the reason is really simple (in fact I guessed it before doing any research). However, as a true believer, I can understand why the following did not occur to Mr. LB.

Jonathan Cohn: ...if you know you suffer from serious medical problems, you're more likely to sign up for public insurance when it's available. As a result, the Medicaid population may be fundamentally sicker than the uninsured population - and end up with worse medical outcomes, even if they're benefiting from the program's coverage. (Excerpt from the same Kaiser article quoted above).

The stats for the people on Medicaid are worse because they are generally sicker, and expanding Medicaid in Virginia would NOT "imperil the lives of low-income people who have surgery"; which is the nonsensical assertion made by Pete Snyder "a Northern Virginia businessman who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor". Pete Snyder is, I suspect, the source of Mr. LB's claims... although I can't be certain, given the fact that Mr. LB rarely cites sources. In any case, I'm going to cite PolitiFact to debunk/explain this one...

Politifact: ...researchers place little of the blame on Medicaid... [because] Medicaid recipients are the poorest, sickest and least educated group of patients. They are the least likely group to seek preventive health care. As a result, they are more likely to enter hospitals in dire conditions that require emergency surgery. ... Does the research prove, as Snyder and other conservatives suggest, that it's safer to be uninsured than on Medicaid? Ailawadi, co-author of the study, said it does not. (Pete Snyder says Medicaid causes higher risk of surgery death, Politifact says "Half True" 3/6/2013).

As for the uninsured people that have better results (the "13% more likely to die prior to discharge than patients who didn't have any insurance at all" folks)? Politifact gives the reason for this as well (as per the same study Mr. LB says he is citing).

Politifact: Many of these people may have been uninsured by choice. "The uninsured population in our study included a subgroup that may have had a high income", Ailawadi said... (excerpt from the same Politifact article quoted above).

The outcomes for this group of uninsured people are better than for those on Medicaid because they're healthier (and THAT is why they chose to go without insurance). Now, Mr. LB says "yes, this study DID control for intervening variables such as age, income, geography, surgical procedure, and prior health status" and it is true the paper does say that. But is also goes on to say "researchers place little of the blame on Medicaid", but that is the precise inference Mr. LB is drawing (and he draws it even though he read the PolitiFact article).

Am I missing something, or does "researchers place little of the blame on Medicaid" mean something other than what it seems to mean? I guess Mr. LB's takeaway from the study is what he wants it to be, and for that reason I say he is an easily-led true believer. Led by his ideology or led by people like Snyder who are obviously spinning (lying) in an effort to argue against the Medicaid expansion provided for by the ACA (the expansion the Conservatives on the Supreme Court decided the states did not have to accept).

In regards to that claim (Medicaid being worse than private insurance and even worse than no insurance), PolitiFact says "Half True" (which technically is the case), but I say Snyder is 100 percent a liar. And Mr. LB is a gullible sap for buying into these lies. Also, "at the very minimum useless" and possibly dangerous (if enough useless idiots like LB listen to and believe these lies).

SWTD #225, wDel #46.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Demonstrably False Libertarian Assertions Concerning What Keynesians Invariably Say

One of the true advances in contemporary thinking is that both a power and a duty of government is to use fiscal and monetary policy to ameliorate downturns and create economic expansions. This is the legacy of Keynes, well supported by empirical research ~ Jeff Madrick, a journalist, economic policy consultant and analyst. He is editor of Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, visiting professor of humanities at The Cooper Union, and director of policy research at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School. He was educated at New York University and Harvard.

An assertion from the Left in support of Keynesian economics, according to a certain Libertarian Blogger I have refuted here before, is that austerity (in times of economic downturns) invariably leads to a bad economy. In regards to this assertion Mr. LB says it is false, demonstrably (in a 12/16/2013 post).

In support of his case, Mr. LB presents two examples of situations in which the US government cut spending and the outcome was economically beneficial. Mr. LB further says that both of these examples are of governments cutting spending during periods of economic downturn, and that "Keynesian idiocy" says that this "should have INVARIABLY lead to a worsening of the situation AND THEY DID NOT". (Words that are capped inside quote were capped by Mr. LB).

That Keynesians say austerity in times of economic downturn leads to a worsening economy is something I agree with Mr. LB on, they just don't say it INVARIABLY, you liar. Because it would be incredibly stupid to say a possible solution to a problem should be applied regardless of the specific circumstances! Yes, this commentary by Mr. LB is yet another of his beloved straw men. In support of his straw man Mr. LB provides a few examples he says "prove" the Keynesian theory to be demonstrably false... but THEY DO NOT.

Keynesians will tell you that private sector spending is FAR preferable to government spending. The government should only step in with deficit spending intended to stimulate in times of economic downturn when private sector spending falls. Then, and only then, does Keynesian economics say the government should deficit spend to make up (at least) some of the difference.

When the economy begins to recover any stimulus spending should be dialed back. And, if the government spending is actually holding back a recovery, it should definitely be cut. Government spending could hold back a recovery if that spending is going toward manufacturing war goods... and those war goods are being manufactured by the private sector... which, given the rise of the military industrial complex, doesn't happen any more. But it used to. During wars that took place in the "olden days", manufacturers that churned out goods for the American consumer were converted to manufacture goods for the war effort.

Now, if the war were ending and those manufacturers went back to manufacturing consumer goods, well, then spending cuts of those nature could be good for the economy. And it is spending cuts at the end of a war, when the economy is poised for recovery that Mr. LB cites as "proof" that Keynesian economics is "idiocy"...

Libertarian Blogger: Harding cut spending by 50% in 1921 and the unemployment rate dropped from 12% to 2% in less than two years. (23/16/2013 AT 8:13pm).

The spending cuts by Harding were MILITARY cuts. A 4/29/2011 Firedoglake article points out that Harding's spending cuts "were purely military budget cuts..." [which, in part were a result of] post WWI demobilization". In regards to the tax cutting of Harding, the author of the article points out that they "took effect on 11/2/1921 but the economy had already bottomed in July of 1921 and started a path toward recovery before the tax cuts kicked in".

So, the Firedoglake article points out that we were already coming out of the downturn when the MILITARY spending cuts were instituted, and as the Harding budget cuts were mainly in regards to our building of Navy warships, those cuts had a positive effect, because we stopped "endlessly pouring the nation's steel and oil resources into the rat hole of battleship construction".

The second example given by Mr. LB is yet another time when military spending was cut while in the middle of an economic downturn and it benefited the economy...

Libertarian Blogger: Truman cut spending by 45% in 1946 and the following several years were amongst the best in U.S. history. says "Harry Truman cut defense spending by very large amounts after World War II [and that] the reductions in defense spending in percentage terms were over 75 percent". The cutting began on 12/31/1945 when Harry Truman delivered Proclamation 2714, which officially ended hostilities in World War II".

Neither of these examples disprove Keynesian economics. Mr. LB says Keynesian economists at the time (end of WWII) warned that cutting spending "would cause yet another yet great depression", but it turns out they were wrong (Keynesianism was a new economic theory at the time). Plus, one can only see that an economic recession is ending AFTER the recovery has already begun. What these economists did not know was that we were poised for a recovery. Manufacturers went back to producing consumer goods and consumers (after wartime rationing) wanted to buy those goods.

Keynesian disproved? Absolutely not. Mr. LB's two wartime cutting (demobilization/ending) examples occurred when we reduced military spending and were poised for recovery. The cutting HELPED the recovery. But if we had not done the earlier spending? The recession/depression would have lasted much longer. Notice that NEITHER of these examples are of the government cutting spending at the BEGINNING of an economic downturn. It is always at the end. That is when government spending SHOULD be cut.

Keynesian economics says spending should be increased at the beginning of an economic downturn and cut when the economy is poised to recover (although that can be hard to determine, as we only know when are in a recovery some time after it has begun). Both of these examples, I would say, PROVE that Keynesian economics works. They do NOT disprove the theory as the government cutting did not begin immediately when the economy worsened (which would definitely prove Mr. LB's theory... but that ISN'T what happened).

But those two examples aren't the end of the misrepresentation of Keynesianism from Mr. LB. As "proof" that Keynesians are dumb enough to believe the government should immediately start spending whenever an economic downturn hits (and keep spending) with no regard at all to what the exact circumstances are, Mr. LB says...

Libertarian Blogger: ...the Keynesian assertion is that government spending OF ANY KIND (remember Paul Krugman's ludicrous argument pertaining to the fake alien invasion), INCLUDING WAR SPENDING, invariably has a stimulating effect on the private sector.

Yes, it is true that the nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman said "the United States could benefit economically if the government began pouring money into anti-ET defense in preparation for possible alien invasion of Earth", he said that (in June 2012) in regards to the CURRENT economic downturn. Mr. Krugman noted that infrastructure spending would be preferable (and only gave this fictional military spending example because Republicans LOVE military spending).

Key here is the fact that the current economic malaise is not due to the the private sector being prevented from producing consumer goods because they've been converted to producing for a war effort. Nor are we wasting resources that could go toward meeting the demand for raw materials from the private sector (as was the case with Mr. LB's two military spending cut examples). The current recession is due to a lack of demand. And, if the private sector can't spend due to a lack of demand, then increasing government spending WILL help.

So, even though the alien-invasion-prompted military spending example of Mr. Krugman sounded silly... HE WAS RIGHT! But he was NOT arguing for spending "invariably", only spending when the private sector can't (due to a lack of demand). THIS is what Keynesians believe. They do NOT believe that the government should "invariably" spend in times of economic downturn, as the straw-man-loving Mr. LB claims. Obviously the only kind of invariability at play here is that Mr. LB will invariably continue to misrepresent Keynesian theory in order to "refute" it. And give bogus examples of when economic policies of a more Libertarian-bent saved the day. Pathetic.

SWTD #224, wDel #45.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

On The Utter Ridiculousness Of A Libertarian Citing A Socialist Country As Proof That His Economic Theories Unequivocally Equal Success

If we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail ~ Henry A. Wallace (10/7/1888 to 11/18/1965) the 33rd Vice President of the United States (1941–1945). In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party. His platform included an end to segregation, full voting rights for blacks, and universal government health insurance.

What does the Socialist Democracy of Sweden prove as far as Libertarian economics goes? According to a recent blog post by the Libertarian blogger Willis V. Hart, Sweden shows Libertarian economics rule and Socialism stinks. Argument as follows...

Willis Hart: In the early 1960s, total government spending in Sweden was approximately 30% of GDP and Sweden was the 4th wealthiest country in the world. By the early 1990s, government spending had literally doubled to 60% of GDP and Sweden fell all the way to 17th in terms of wealth. Yes, the Swedes eventually scaled back on some of this spending and they also cut back significantly on regulations (two factors that greatly helped their economy) but how anybody out there can still say that what they did in the '70s and '80s was good for the economy is well beyond me. (The Massive Cost of a Bloated Welfare State, 1/7/2014 AT 7:42pm).

What is beyond me is that a Libertarian would cite Sweden as proof that the economic theories they subscribe to equal success while Socialism equals failure. The government spending of Sweden (as a percentage of GDP) is STILL 52 percent (as of 2011), according to the Investopedia article Countries With The Highest Government Spending To GDP Ratio. The same article reports that in the United States "total government expenditures as percentage of GDP totaled 35% in fiscal 2010. This includes both Federal and State spending and off budget items as well".

Now, it appears as though Mr. Hart could be correct in that very high levels of government spending in Sweden did not leave room for the private sector to grow. However, while Willis puts forward the argument that Progressives make the "assertion that austerity invariably leads to a bad economy", that is a strawman (Progressive make no such assertion).

Keynesian economics does NOT say government spending should ALWAYS be increased in times of economic downturn, even if it is already high. Private sector spending is always preferable to government spending, and a government that monopolized it's country's economy would KILL the private sector. Sweden decreased government spending, allowing it's private sector to expand, and that helped it recover from an economic downturn.

Comparing Sweden (with it's high government spending) to the US (with it's much lower spending) and saying because Sweden didn't destroy it's private sector in response to an economic downturn... that this disproves Keynesianism? Utterly ridiculous. The downturn, BTW, was caused by the kind of liberalization Willis advocates, as noted by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)...

NBER, in a 2010 paper "Reforming the Welfare State: Recovery and Beyond in Sweden": The immediate causes for Sweden's early 1990s crisis are similar to those that set off America's late 2008 crisis: the deregulation of financial markets and excessive credit expansion fueled a real estate bubble that burst, causing a contraction of economic activity that spread from the banking sector to the economy as a whole.

In response to this downturn Sweden increased government spending to "above 70 percent of national income". So, While it is true that Sweden eventually cut spending and loosened some regulations... and afterward their economic situation improved (as Willis notes), Sweden remains one of THE MOST Socialist countries on the planet with levels of government spending (as a percentage of GDP) that far exceeds spending by our government.

Furthermore, as concluded by the NBER report cited above, Sweden pragmatically dealt with "policy blunders"... i.e. Libertarian/Conservative deregulation and not their "bloated welfare state" (although it was a factor that government spending held back private sector growth). But the sparking of the downturn can be directly attributed to liberalization and deregulation and NOT Socialism.

One of the accomplishments of the Socialist approach of the Swedish government that is "beyond" the Hartster, as reported by NBER, is as follows...

NBER: Much of what American outsiders saw in Sweden puzzled them. They found it remarkable that Sweden had eliminated poverty through interventions in markets without running into serious economic problems before the crisis.

The bottom line is that the Liberalization advocated by the likes of Mr. Hart often causes bubbles followed by bubble burstings, recessions, and always increases inequality and deepens poverty. On the other hand, the right balance of Socialism and Liberalization with the addition of smart regulations and government interventions leads to economic stability and greater equality... or an economy that benefits everyone, not just the plutocrats. Some may find that "puzzling", but they're the ones who believe economic success starts at the top, and so we must take care of the wealthy and the business community first (by subsidizing their labor expenses, for example).

So, Sweden a case study that proves Libertarian economics? I say "hell no". Citing as an example the socialist democracy of Sweden (with it's government spending as a percentage of GDP FAR above that of the US even after they scaled back a bit) as proof that Liberalization is the key to economic success and that a "bloated welfare state" leads to economic ruin is, IMO, a TOTAL strawman. The Swedish government had to "bloat" it's spending DRAMATICALLY before it choked off private sector growth. They reduced it somewhat following a downturn caused by TOO MUCH deregulation and the economy improved. The lesson we should learn from the example of Sweden is that Social Democracy and a mixed economy (as advocated by Progressives) yields the best results.

Postscript: The quote at the top of my blog posting, is, I believe an excellent response to the comment by fellow Libertarian blogger rAtional nAtion (left in response to Willis' commentary), which is...

rAtional nAtion: In democratic socialist nations the rulers still have to be elected. Do I see America trotting further into democratic socialism? You can bet I do. (1/7/2014 AT 8:00pm).

I seriously hope you are right Mr. nAtion, although I think we're quite a way away from putting "our trust in the common sense of common men" given the fact that one of the major political parties (and one minor one; i.e. Libertarians) are putting their trust in the self interest of the wealthy elites and believing THAT is what will save us ("rational self interest", greed as a virtue and all the similar hogwash that the rAtional oNe and Willis Hart subscribe to).

SWTD #223, wDel #44.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Conservatives Pro-Mooching When Tax Payer Handouts Go To Business Community

...many full-time workers qualify for food stamps or other government assistance. If the minimum wage were raised to a "living wage" we, the taxpayers, would not have to subsidize these corporations with government handouts. Yes, if wages were raised prices would go up to cover the employers' added costs. But isn't that really a reflection of the capitalistic system? ~ Excerpt from the article Minimum Wage Vs. Corporate Welfare by Jim Kinninger, 12/11/2013).

Conservative often complain about the "welfare state", arguing that we need to stop "subsidizing" poverty... but when it comes to welfare for the business community, it seems they completely FAIL to understand how labor should be priced. Libertarian blogger Rational Nation put forward the boiler plate argument against raising the minimum wage in a recent blog posting...

rAtional nAtion: Labor unions, now clamoring for a ridiculously high minimum wage see no correlation between the effect of increased costs to the businesses and the effect it will have on the price of product or service to the consumer. (1/4/2014 AT 6:57pm).

Not so, Mr. nAtion. I would say the problem is that business is clamoring for ridiculously lower wages and they see no correlation between the amount of money it takes a worker to live and the cost of their labor. If we were talking about a machine that needed a certain level of maintenance to function (and it was the only machine suited for the job... or other machines all needed the same level of maintenance), business would have no choice but to pay what the maintenance cost. Similarly, human workers require a minimum wage in order to provide the basic necessities of life. But with human workers business does not want to pay.

Sorry, but if you NEED workers you HAVE to pay what it costs to "maintain" them. If not the taxpayers will have to make up the difference in the form of welfare. The argument the rAtional oNe presents is one for corporate mooching. Nobody would suggest that taxpayers should foot the bill for the maintenance of machines owned by private businesses, so why the hell do Conservatives believe taxpayers should foot the bill when business won't pay to "maintain" their workers?

As for the effect paying a minimum wage would have on the price of product or service to the consumer... the effect will be that the price of the product or service will reflect REAL COST (plus a reasonable profit), and not a price subsidized by the taxpayer. And raising prices, as Conservatives always argue will most certainly be the result of a minimum wage hike, will NOT necessarily be the result (as stated by the author of the quote at the top of my article, with whom I disagree slightly... on this point).

First of all, it is the market that sets prices (or it plays a large role, at least). Charge more than people can afford, and your product won't sell or people won't pay for your service. But business has many other options they can consider before raising prices (which they may not even be able to do)... like paying management less, for example.

Surely in this era of record profits, that is an option that the big boys can consider. But, what about small business, the Conservative will ask? A higher minimum wage will drive them out of business, for sure (the Conservative will argue). But they (intentionally) fail to realize that the big employers (when the minimum wage is inapplicable) set the wage in any given industry. The big employers refuse to pay a decent wage, and the small businesses can't offer any more (or they will be unable to compete).

But, if the larger employers must pay more (a reasonable minimum wage that reflects the true cost of labor exists), then smaller employers can pay more as well and still be able to compete. The bottom line here is, that when the supply of labor is high (more people looking for employment than jobs exist) then the cost of labor will always drop to a sustenance level... or lower, when Conservatives enable business that want to mooch off the taxpayers by arguing against paying a minimum wage. Time to end the mooching, I say. Business should pay the true cost of their labor and STOP looking to the taxpayers to subsidize their costs.

7/4/2015 Update: During a 6/20/2015 discussion re WalMart on the blog rAtional nAtion uSA, the proprietor seemed to come out in favor of paying a minimum wage that is a living wage. Specifically RN said "the minimum annual wage is in any geographical area to keep an adult just above the poverty level. That it seems would constitute a living wage. What is necessary not all that is desired. That ought to be the standard for a minimum wage in each geographical area. At least in a society that understands Thomas Paine and the concept of general welfare". Then, when Jerry Critter said (in this same discussion) that "higher taxes may mean lower profits", RN agreed! Paying a higher minimum wage may also mean lower profits (and not increased prices for the consumer). Is this a reversal of the RN position as referred to above and thus a (lessening, at least) of the prior RN delusion? Was it RN who "sharpened his pencil"?

SWTD #222, lDel #13.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Indian Economic Liberalization Winners & Losers (Another Straw Man Courtesy of Mr. LB) liberalization... tends to benefit elites more and thus to increase income inequality ~ The WTO and the OECD (excerpt from a 2009 study, as quoted in the article Winners And Losers: The Human Costs of "Free" Trade by Peter Costantini, Huff Post World 12/14/2009).

The country of India is proof that Libertarian economics is the shiznit, or so says a Libertarian blogger in a recent commentary...

Libertarian Blogger: Back in 1991 the government of that country instituted freer trade, deregulation, privatization, and a significant change in tax policy. This is the Indian economy, folks *graph showing the Indian economy growing*. For the first 43 years of its existence it was tightly managed by government. You see what happened? And do you see what happened when they finally liberalized the sucker? Yeah, huh? (12/31/2013 at 8:42pm).

The Libertarian blogger believes this is irrefutable evidence that decreasing regulation and eliminating tariffs is key to economic success. And he posts on this subject because he thinks Progressives oppose "liberalization" and support "strong government controls". But this is just another strawman from Willis "I Love Strawmen" Hart (AKA the Libertarian blogger or "Mr. LB").

But Mr. LB is wrong about Progressives. Progressives acknowledge that the private sector is key to a healthy economy. Although we do know that smart regulations and tariffs are NEEDED to protect workers (the 99+ percent that actually drive the economy) and the environment. I suspect Mr. LB favors "liberalization" because it allows the plutocrats to run roughshod over both (workers and the environment). A regulatory system that works well, isn't corrupt and protects workers and the environment should be our primary concern (not liberalization). Although "liberalization" certainly is not a bad thing (necessarily). But the two need to be balanced.

In any case, the Indian economy was not quite "liberalized". Certainly not to any kind of degree that proves or lends any credence what-so-ever to full-on Libertarian economics, as pointed out by Live Mint (India's second largest business newspaper), in an article titled "The myth of liberalization?"...

Manas Chakravarty, writing for Live Mint: Laura Alfaro of Harvard Business School and Anusha Chari of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [examined the data and found] an economy still dominated by the incumbents, state-owned firms, and to a lesser extent, the traditional private firms, that is, those firms that existed before the first wave of reforms. [The] evidence [shows] continuing incumbent control in terms of shares of assets, sales and profits accounted for by state-owned and traditional private firms. (Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal, 10/31/2009).

State control, crony capitalism, and corruption still are VERY much a part of the picture, in other words... all opposed by Progressives, BTW. So, is India a case study that proves that when Libertarian economics is adopted success follows? The answer depends on how you define success. The following Wikipedia excerpt explains the downside of Liberalization...

Wikipedia/Economic liberalization in India: Since 1992, income inequality has deepened in India with consumption among the poorest staying stable while the wealthiest generate consumption growth. As India's GDP growth rate became lowest in 2012-13 over a decade, growing merely at 5%, more criticism of India's economic reforms surfaced, as it apparently failed to address employment growth, nutritional values in terms of food intake in calories, and also exports growth - and thereby leading to a worsening level of current account deficit compared to the prior to the reform period.

So, what really happened is that the Indian government instituted limited "liberalization", and the plutocrats rushed in to take advantage of the cheap manual labor and the cheap skilled labor... provided thanks to India's socialist educational system. Wikipedia notes that "the various articles of the Indian Constitution provide for education as a fundamental right".

Wikipedia also notes that in India "the medium of education is English". This explains why so many of our White-collar jobs were outsourced to India. Under Liberalization jobs that can be outsourced go to the lowest bidder. India underbid American workers (who couldn't go lower due to a higher cost of living in the United States). Indian workers won, in that they got decent paying jobs... in the context of what the cost of living is in India (or at least some of them did) and American workers lost.

But there was another, even bigger winner... and those winners were the plutocrats (or the elites mentioned in the quote at the top of this commentary). The plutocrats are always the BIG winners under Libertarianism. But the strawman Mr. LB presents is that any country adopts Libertarian economic policies will come out ahead... and that just isn't true. India is proof of this. India experienced impressive economic growth because they were a poorer country to begin with. And the fact that their population benefits from a socialist educational system didn't hurt either.

What Libertarian economics does is pit wealthier workers against poor workers (worldwide). The wealthier workers invariably lose, and their wealth is transferred to the poorer workers... with the plutocrats as the middlemen who skim off a very healthy percentage for themselves. I don't know about you, but I think there are better ways of achieving economic success without the plutocrats taking such a very large cut for themselves.

Me, I'm thinking Fair Trade (as opposed to Free Trade) might be a part of the solution. Governments should act in the best interest of all it's citizens, instead of pitting workers against each other for the benefit of the plutocrats. This would involve us increasing our tariffs to protect American jobs (less liberalization). Impoverishing American workers so the plutocrats can become even richer is utter stupidity, IMO. But clearly Mr. LB disagrees.

SWTD #221, wDel #43.