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    • Why Labour Lost In Britain
      There’s been a vast amount of foolishness in the discussion of this. Labour lost for two main reasons: Their base was split by Brexit, and in a real way, no “positioning” could avoid this. There was a vast propaganda campaign against Corbyn in particular and Labour in general. What urban liberals don’t seem to understand […]
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Not liberal, not even progressive

So says Jay Ackroyd at Atrios regarding Christina Romer’s farewell note, which recognizes the severity of the crisis we’re in but recommends very, very weak tea as a remedy:

The pressing question, then, is what can be done to increase demand and bring unemployment down more quickly. Failing to do so would cause millions of workers to suffer unnecessarily. It also runs the risk of making high unemployment permanent as workers’ skills deteriorate with lack of use and their labor force attachment weakens as hope of another job fades.

….

Policymakers should also take sensible actions to increase confidence. While some in the business community talk about regulatory uncertainty as one reason they are cautious about hiring and investing, I suspect that uncertainty about future sales is a much larger determinant of firms’ actions. We can, however, do more to highlight and codify our pragmatic approach to regulation. As OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein detailed in his recent Congressional testimony, the estimated net benefits (that is, the benefits minus the costs) of the Obama Administration’s regulatory actions during its first year far surpass those of the first year of the two previous administrations. For the health of the economy, we should continue and trumpet this prudent regulatory approach.

While we would all love to find the inexpensive magic bullet to our economic troubles, the truth is, it almost surely doesn’t exist. The only surefire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate demand in the short run are for the government to spend more and tax less. In my view, we should be moving forward on both fronts.

I was talking to a French expat yesterday and I don’t think the idiots in charge have the slightest clue what is really wrong with the economy from the ground floor.  The expat told me that she felt robbed when she came to this country.  Everything comes with a fee slapped on it.  Her salary is higher than her French colleagues, this is true.  But everything here costs more.  And her taxes here in the US are very high.  She didn’t feel that she was getting the same bang for her taxpayer buck.

Now, it’s true that in France, you have to put up with a lot of striking workers.  But they have a mass transit system that we can only dream about.  Here, college is unaffordable for most people.  There, college is nearly free.  In France, maternity leaves are long and the government gives you a stipend for each child.  Tax deductions are generous.  Here, if you’re not employed, good luck with health insurance.  There, the unemployed are covered and there are no Glenn Becks making the unfortunate feel guilty about collecting on the money they have paid into the system all their working lives.

The French are now complaining about their version of social security.  The transit workers are going on strike to protest a proposed raise in the retirement age- to 62.

If that’s socialism, I’d take it.  Yeah, they have problems but you don’t have to worry about becoming destitute over there. Here, you can be pretty sure that every sufficiently developed company has a sophisticated Metropolis algorithm optimization program designed to deprive you of the last disposable dollar in your wallet.  There are fees on top of hidden costs on top of private free market taxes everywhere you turn.  It has gotten a lot worse since Bush took office in 2000.

But we must be prudent with regulation.  We must not hire a champion like Elizabeth Warren to look out for the consumer, who can’t pinch pennies any longer and pay both governmental and capitalist taxes.  Heaven forfend we ask people who benefitted most from the Bush tax cuts to give them back.  No, let’s just starve state and local governments, lay more people off and scratch our heads when businesses can’t seem to sell anything to anyone. And I am beyond appalled that Obama would appoint the Catfood Commission to find ways to cut social security, just about the only thing we have left between old age and poverty.  He would do this on the backs of working people who have paid into social security all of their working lives and are now seeing pensions and 401Ks drying up.   He would have us all starving in order to prevent him from going to the very rich and ask them to give back and act like they care about their fellow Americans.  And to think that Alan Simpson has the ability to cut the military benefits of my brother and widowed mother enrages me beyond belief.

I want him gone.  I want him out of the White House in 2012.  No, I am not negotiable on this.  There is nothing Democrats can say or do to make me want to have him running things for four additional years.  Dont.  Even.  Ask.  He is everything I feared he would be: self-centered, inexperienced and cowardly.  He doesn’t have a clue how to get us out of this mess and he’s trying to please the wrong people.  He’s got to go.

While we were out chasing phantom racists…

Pic courtesy of The Daily Show

…like magpies drawn to some shiny object, the fabulous banker boyz were deep sixing Elizabeth Warren for head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

(One of our commenters said that ‘racism has been weaponized’. Pretty much.)

I’m not surprised that they hate Warren’s guts.  The consumer finance industry is juicy with rent type devices.  Here’s a good example:  I tried to convert some dollars into euros for my daughter’s upcoming trip to France.  Went to my bank to do the deal.  No can do.  I would have had to order the euros 3 days in advance.  They don’t keep euros laying around, you silly customer of 22 years.  I didn’t have time for that so the bank directed me to a money changer in the mall.  So, I went there and found that they weren’t offering the current exchange rate.  No, their exchange rate was much higher.  Fees, you say.  Nope, worse than that.  The cashier said that the currency operator negotiated its own exchange rate for euros and then charged a fee on top of it.  The fee was waived if you exchanged more than $500.  But even if I had it, who in their right  mind sends a teenager abroad with more than $500 in cash?

The final rate for the exchange on July 6, 2010 at the ubiquitous ripoff currency exchanger was going to be $151.00 for 100€.  Needless to say, I passed, bought her a Visa with some emergency money on it and put her on the plane with her US cash, instructing her to get her host family to make the conversion at the French end, which they did for the correct exchange rate.

But wait!  There’s more.  We got to the airport and at the very last minute, got charged an additional $100 unaccompanied minor fee.  This fee pays for a flight attendant to take your kid’s passport, put it in an envelope, and escort the kid to the waiting family at the arrival gate.  $100 buckaroos.  Pay up or the kid never leaves Kennedy, which is a fate worse than death.  I mean, have you *been* to Kennedy?  Was there any mention of this fee at the time the (ridiculously expensive) ticket was purchased online where the kid’s age was clearly entered in the age field of the ticket form?  No, there was not.  The same thing happened to the host family on the French end resulting in a $100 last minute fee for their kid too.  Surprise!  Surprise!  (Should I mention the airline?  Ok, it was Delta)

See, with an Elizabeth Warren type, I’m thinking that abuses like this would happen with less frequency.  And the only reason they’re happening now is because there is no one watching the store.  Put in a less competent or committed individual and it will be one little rip off after another.  My little example from my “overprivileged” lifestyle is just the tip of the iceberg.  Consider all the ATM fees, the wireless fees that are *supposed* to go towards building better networks but don’t, the teaser rate mortgages, the financial services fees from people who are managing your 401K but don’t seem to think they owe you a decent return on your investment.  Stuff like that.  A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon we’re talking about real money.  *YOUR* real money.  Maybe the wealthy don’t think these fees are a big deal but the rest of us can’t afford to keep shelling out hidden costs and surprise last minute fees and astronomical interest rates.

Anyway, that’s what was going on while you were distracted by the unfortunate saga of Ms. Shirley Sherrod, may she live long and prosper at an agency that will appreciate her dedication and enlightened attitude.

More on what the new Financial Reform bill and what it will do, or NOT do, can be found in this Fresh Air interview with Benjamin Applebaum of the NYTimes.

Update: ABCNews reports that Warren will be “actively involved” in the Consumer Finance Protection Agency that she helped to create.  Oooo!, isn’t that special.  Maybe they’ll let her pick out an agency logo or choose the colors for the offices.  My leg is all tingly.  Actually, this news is depressing.  But don’t despair.  There’s probably another racism story in the works to take our minds off of it.