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Proviso Probe

Monday, July 21, 2008

what do you want in Dem platform?

The Obama campaign is encouraging citizens to participate in writing the platform for the Democratic Party. See Prairie State Blue (bored now).

You can locate meetings near where you live using the Obama campaign website.

The nearby meetings that haven't passed are in Oak Park and Cicero.

July 22:
Obama Platform Input Mtg. (Oak Park, IL)

July 27:
Economy & Health Care (Cicero, IL)

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  • He ventured forth to bring light to the world
    The anointed one's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action - and a blessing to all his faithful followersGerard Baker
    And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

    The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

    When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

    In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

    Obama fears the Blair effect as tour continues
    The Europhiles are not the future, Mr Obama
    The Bugle - Barack Obama is coming to Europe!
    Our leaders go after some Obama magic
    And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

    He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the

    Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

    And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

    From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

    And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

    And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

    From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

    In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

    As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

    And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

    The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

    And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

    Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

    And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

    Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

    But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

    And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

    Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

    On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

    And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”

    By Anonymous obama, at 10:24 PM, July 25, 2008  

  • McCain and Obama represent two fundamentally different economic philosophies. McCain's is top-down economics; Obama's is bottom-up.

    Top-down economics holds that:

    1. If you give generous tax breaks to the rich, they will have greater incentive to work hard and invest. Their harder work and added investments will generate more jobs and faster economic growth, to the benefit of average working people.

    2. If you give generous tax breaks to corporations, reduce their payroll costs, and impose fewer regulations on them, they will compete more successfully in global commerce. This too will result in more jobs for Americans and faster growth in the United States.

    3. The best way to reduce the energy costs of average Americans is to give oil companies access to more land on which to drill, lower taxes, and lower capital costs. If they get these, they'll supply more oil, which will reduce oil prices.

    4. The best way to deal with the crisis in credit markets is to insure large Wall Street investment banks, as well as Fannie and Freddie, against losses. This will result in more loans at lower rates to average Americans. (Bailing them out may risk "moral hazard," in the sense that they will expect to be bailed out in the future, but that's a small price to pay for restoring liquidity.)

    All of these propositions are highly questionable, especially in a global economy. The rich do not necessarily invest additional post-tax earnings in the United States; they invest wherever around the world they can get the highest returns. Meanwhile, large American-based corporations are doing business all over the world; their supply chains extend to wherever they can find low labor costs combined with high output, and their sales to wherever they can find willing buyers. Oil companies, too, are operating globally and set their prices largely at the point where global supply meets global demand. Additional drilling here creates environmental risks for us but generates the same marginal benefits for consumers in China, India, and Europe as we might enjoy (most likely not for a decade or more). Credit markets are global as well, so the beneficiaries of bailouts of large investment banks and lenders are also worldwide while the potential costs (including moral hazard) fall on American taxpayers.

    This isn't to argue that top-down economics is completely nonsensical. America is, after all, the world's largest economy. So whatever helps the top of it will to some extent trickle down to everyone else here, and whatever hurts the top is likely to impose some burdens all the way down.

    But in a global economy, bottom-up economics makes more sense. Bottom-up economics holds that:

    1. The growth of the American economy depends largely on the productivity of its workers. They are rooted here, while global capital and large American-based global corporations are not.

    2. The productivity of America workers depends mainly on their education, their health, and the infrastructure that connects them together. These public investments are therefore critical to our future prosperity.

    3. Global capital will come to the United States to create good jobs not because our taxes or wages or regulatory costs are low (there will always be many places around the world where taxes, wages, and regulatory costs are lower) but because the productivity of our workers is high.

    4. The answer to our energy costs is found in the creativity and inventiveness of Americans in generating non-oil and non-carbon fuels and new means of energy conservation, rather than in access by global oil companies to more oil. So subsidize basic research and development in these alternatives.

    5. Finally, in order to avoid a recession or worse, it's necessary to improve the financial security of average Americans who are now sinking into a quagmire of debt and foreclosure. Otherwise, there won't be adequate purchasing power to absorb all the goods and services the economy produces. (As to "moral hazard," the financial institutions that did the lending had more reason to know of the risks involved than those who did the borrowing.)

    Listen carefully to the economic debate in the months ahead in light of these two competing economic philosophies. And hope that the latter wins out in years to come.

    By Anonymous differences, at 9:33 PM, July 28, 2008  

  • Top down is easy. Politicians just dutifully sign the bills that lobbyists pay them to sign.

    It's easier to ship jobs out and give corporaitons subsidies to stip America of assets and jobs. It pays good bribes too.

    Americans just need to get used to declining wages, rising prices and a corporate government that strips their protections. It's easy to let this happen.

    America is about doing the lazy easy things.

    Now the Chinese and Indians are hard working people. That's why our government works hard to improve their economies.

    And top down helps foreign economies right now. It has a lot of short term advantages for wealthy corporations operating across multiple nations.

    Bottom up, might prevent a Kuwaiti Prince from buying an seventh yacht. And that's unlucky.

    By Anonymous top down, at 9:36 PM, July 28, 2008  

  • “Listen carefully to the economic debate in the months ahead in light of these two competing economic philosophies. And hope that the latter wins out in years to come.”(top-down vs. bottom-up)

    Will Obama really be bottom-up? His main economics guy is Jason Furman. He’s so far been closely associated with the top-down corporate driven agenda of Robert Rubin. If Obama wins, more Rubinomics like we saw during the Clinton administration seems inevitable. I’m afraid the dems still believe this centrist approach is the way to go. It works politically so would they go back to the more traditional populist approach that would better serve the middle-class and the poor but present far more political risks. The pattern goes something like this: left of center dems influence primaries and elections but this influence significantly deteriorates when dems are governing.

    By Anonymous top down, at 9:37 PM, July 28, 2008  

  • There is no panacea. Top down, bottom up, neither appears to be Valhallic.

    You premise your bottom up philosophy relying heavily on productivity. Most of the productivity gains of the past 20 years derived from automation, not from more efficient workers. Actually, a strong argument could be made that work ethics among workers in emerging markets are far better than those of American workers.

    There was a time when we had a huge edge in production system knowledge and could more easily integrate automation than many of those countries just entering the manufacturing sphere. That time has passed us by. One of the impediments to automation is capital investment.

    With globalization, manufacturing has become the economic growth means for emerging economies. Low labor costs of course started the relay race but as we move to the other legs, experience and knowledge bases have grown in these emergers and capital can now flow freely to any point in the world where opportunities for savings exist.

    Two major factors might offer us a temporary respite. If oil prices remain high then transportation costs may begin to offset labor cost savings, shifting some production back to the US for market proximity. The other factor is that, presently, we still represent the largest consumption market in the world and in order for our consumption levels to remain high we must employ more people at higher wages. These two scenarios are not mutually exclusive and may work in concert to improve our plights. They also, if likely at all, would be likely under either a top down or bottom up economic policy. Profits, much like water, seek the path of least resistence.

    In my mind, Reagan set us on a path to believing that greed is good because, "them that has" will provide for "them that hasn't". As we segued to this new paradigm, it seems that the "them that has" group have not quite secured enough assets yet to start the provision for the "them that hasn't" group. I guess it could be argued that they are looking to help "them that hasn't" but are starting with the underdeveloped countries where "hasn't" is much more pronounced.

    I fear that we have evolved to the point where the pilot of this spaceship is corporate/wealthy America. Maybe that was always true but the corporate/wealthy view has become much more myopic. Government has become just one more asset to be managed by the "real" people in charge. We are driven by capital growth not national growth.

    A simple example is the cash activities of the oil sector. Far more cash is being expended on repurchasing stock shares than on exploration. Why is that? Primarily because less shares outstanding means better "eps" (earnings per share) and therefore stock prices go up and since executive bonuses are driven by increased stock values, execs benefit and the shareholders benefit. It's really kinda silly since "eps" is merely an arbitrary measure developed to try and equate the relative stock values of one industry/company to another.

    Increases in overall profits, regardless the measurment standard, is the important measure. At best, as a measure of comparability, returns on assets employed is a more realistic measure of value than "eps". If increases in "eps" were significantly paid out in dividends my argument might be lessened but that is not generally the case; almost never.

    In net, we know top down doesn't work and the only way bottom up works is if worldwide capital looks at us, essentially, as nothing more than a consumption market that requires the means for consumption.

    I would agree that historically innovation has been our forte. If we can spur greater innovation, and the alternative energy sector appears the new frontier, that may lead to a bottom up scenario but maybe not. In today's world it would not be hard to take the benefits of our innovation and transport it to production environments operating more cheaply. Productivity, as with so many other commercial endeavors, is no longer the sole province of the US.

    Pogo said it best: "We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us".

    By Anonymous pogo, at 9:40 PM, July 28, 2008  

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