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stephanie
06-04-2011, 09:52 AM
This is an '06 piece by Ellen Willis that I ran into elsewhere, and I was curious what people think about the argument in it, especially in light of events since it was written.

What's the Matter with Tom Frank (and the Lefties who Love Him)? (http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/situations/article/view/30/26)

For the record, I'm asking and posting this not because I definitely agree or disagree with it. I have more mixed feelings, but think there is some stuff worth discussing.

It's pretty long, but I'll post a bit of it in the first post.

stephanie
06-04-2011, 09:55 AM
Here's one bit (obviously the context is provided by the whole article):

As I’ve suggested, the very nature of the cultural rebellion provoked a backlash; it was well underway by 1968—even as the radical feminist movement was getting off the ground.… Just as economic security had encouraged cultural experimentation and dissidence, economic anxiety had the opposite effect. In addition the renewed class warfare that marked this period was presented as a cultural offensive. Politicians and corporate spokespeople justified lower wages, layoffs, and assaults on public goods and social welfare programs as moral correctives to Americans’ hedonism, profligacy, and excessive expectations.

Until 1980 this offensive was bipartisan (it reached its height under Jimmy
Carter) and targeted the American people in general. It was the Reagan
administration that began scapegoating the cultural elite (Spiro Agnew’s
“effete snobs” and “nattering nabobs”) along with the “welfare queens” of
the underclass. But Reagan also did something the left, to its great misfortune, has never understood: with his paean to “morning in America” and
call for an “opportunity society” he coopted the yearnings that had been
aroused by the `60s movements and stifled by the nonstop pull-up-yoursocks
lecture of the Carter years. Freedom, as recoded by the Reagan right,
meant pursuing unlimited wealth, at least in one’s dreams, and so identifying
with the rich, their desire for low taxes, and their aversion to “big government”; it meant embracing America’s mission to make the world safe for
democracy; it meant license to express rage.

Pleasure in sex might be restricted, but pleasure in aggression was encouraged, including uninhibited bashing of black people, poor people, criminals, deviants, and liberals. The cultural elite, on the other hand, was portrayed as not only immoral and unpatriotic but repressive, what with its guilt-mongering attacks on greed and its allergy to guns and its lectures about bigoted language. Ever since, the right has won elections with some version of this formula. Its success has depended on convincing working-class swing voters not only that liberals are their class enemy, but that their own aspirations for “opportunity” and “ownership” are best expressed by policies that favor the rich. It’s true that during this time American workers have not been offered a serious alternative to the right’s plutocratic program. But neither have they been offered any alternative to the right’s conception of freedom. The disastrous trajectory of American politics should long since have made clear that this second lacuna is as ruinous as the first—if not more so.

eeeeeeeli
06-06-2011, 09:58 AM
I never read Frank's book, but this essay seems very interesting.

eeeeeeeli
06-06-2011, 12:03 PM
OK - so a quick thought as I read (p.9)
"The first great right-wing-populist backlash movement was
Nazism. Hitler’s kulturkampf mobilized the population against the traitorous
cultural elite: the rootless cosmopolitans both capitalist and communist,
the sexual perverts, the degenerate artists, the race mixers, and above
all the iconic representative of all these groups—the Jews. Unlike their contemporary
American counterparts, German workers could have voted for
communist and socialist parties speaking to their economic interests, yet
many supported the Nazis"

(I know I'm breaking a cardinal rule of internet polemics here, in invoking Nazism, but with the above quote, I felt I could do it in a serious way. Feel free to push back!)

I've been reading a book on Nazism and one of the things that struck me about Nazi rhetoric was how much its antisemitism reminds me of right-wing demagoguery of the left. For instance, Hitler's "degenerate art (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_art)" seems an expression of the same sort of cultural backlash that fuels a lot of right-wing criticism up to this day. There was a deep sense that the cultural left was rooted in an elitist, eggheaded, parasitic, relativist, non-Christian, "Jewishness".

Anti-semitism is certainly not motivating the right today, but it is interesting to note the similarities among Nazism's critique of the left than and that of the right today. If you simply remove "Jews" from the equation, many of the same themes are still there.

operative
06-06-2011, 01:58 PM
OK - so a quick thought as I read (p.9)


(I know I'm breaking a cardinal rule of internet polemics here, in invoking Nazism, but with the above quote, I felt I could do it in a serious way. Feel free to push back!)

I've been reading a book on Nazism and one of the things that struck me about Nazi rhetoric was how much its antisemitism reminds me of right-wing demagoguery of the left. For instance, Hitler's "degenerate art (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_art)" seems an expression of the same sort of cultural backlash that fuels a lot of right-wing criticism up to this day. There was a deep sense that the cultural left was rooted in an elitist, eggheaded, parasitic, relativist, non-Christian, "Jewishness".

Anti-semitism is certainly not motivating the right today, but it is interesting to note the similarities among Nazism's critique of the left than and that of the right today. If you simply remove "Jews" from the equation, many of the same themes are still there.

Hitler's fanaticism with art had to do more with his status as a failed art student and was tangential to his core philosophy, which was more left-wing than right-wing.

Now, I won't criticize you out of hand for referencing the Nazis, because I've compared the propaganda style employed by certain posters on here to early fascist propaganda. I will say that I think that the level of comparison that you're making is more superficial than mine, so I think there's less validity to it.

stephanie
06-06-2011, 03:16 PM
For instance, Hitler's "degenerate art (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_art)" seems an expression of the same sort of cultural backlash that fuels a lot of right-wing criticism up to this day. There was a deep sense that the cultural left was rooted in an elitist, eggheaded, parasitic, relativist, non-Christian, "Jewishness".

Anti-semitism is certainly not motivating the right today, but it is interesting to note the similarities among Nazism's critique of the left than and that of the right today. If you simply remove "Jews" from the equation, many of the same themes are still there.

Yeah, I'm not sure what I think this means, but I see it.

I'm inclined to see it as an essential part of populism (the distrust of elites, belief that the elites are immoral, association of disfavored groups with "the elite") and the use of it within Naziism as related to that. However, I think it does demonstrate how easily populism gets channelled into cultural issues or perhaps that those cultural issues tend to be more central than many acknowledge.

This makes me think of what I've read about the influence of pop cultural ideas and literature and so on on the French Revolution -- the economic explanations tend to ignore this stuff.

I wrote a thesis on the Peasants Revolt of 1381, and that was one of my interests -- how ideas (including rumors and such, although I focused on other things) that filtered down from various other debates that were going on at the time were so much a part of setting the stage for the revolt. (It is sad how little I remember about this now.)

chiwhisoxx
06-06-2011, 09:08 PM
Just to ask permission before I potentially hijack, do you mind (stephanie) if we turn this thread into a broader discussion of What's the Matter With Kansas? I have a lot of thoughts on the book, but don't really know how to express them within the context of the article you linked.

graz
06-06-2011, 09:19 PM
Just to ask permission before I potentially hijack, do you mind (stephanie) if we turn this thread into a broader discussion of What's the Matter With Kansas? I have a lot of thoughts on the book, but don't really know how to express them within the context of the article you linked.

If your considerate request is granted, do you agree that a significant percentage of voters choose against their economic interest, as Frank claims? Are social issues a trump?

stephanie
06-06-2011, 10:06 PM
Just to ask permission before I potentially hijack, do you mind (stephanie) if we turn this thread into a broader discussion of What's the Matter With Kansas? I have a lot of thoughts on the book, but don't really know how to express them within the context of the article you linked.

Sure, I wouldn't object.

operative
06-06-2011, 10:15 PM
If your considerate request is granted, do you agree that a significant percentage of voters choose against their economic interest, as Frank claims? Are social issues a trump?

It's an absolutely fallacious argument because economy-killing redistributionist policies are not in the interest of poorer and middle class voters, or any voters for that matter. It is far more logical for them to vote for free-market Capitalists instead of Crony Corporatists and Socialist-lites.

chiwhisoxx
06-06-2011, 11:07 PM
ok so....scattered thoughts on tom franks book, and I'll try and address your questions here graz...

it's worth mentioning right off the bat that frank's argument is suspiciously data free. that doesn't mean he's wrong, I just think it's worth pointing out at the start his argument is more normative than empirical.

The first thing (besides the data issue) that always bothered me with the entire argument is this: who the hell says you have to vote for someone based upon your personal interest? one of the things I think we can and should cherish about our democracy is that people can vote however they want without having to justify it. that doesn't mean I think people should vote based on stupid or superfluous things. but I do think it means you can vote based on principles, and not necessarily on your personal interest, however defined. and for whatever it's worth, there's political science that suggests people actually do vote in a more macro oriented way: "sociotropic" concerns about the economy as a whole usually outweigh "pocketbook" or personal changes in wealth and income. Kinder and Kiewiet have a good paper on this from 1981, but since I can't find a free version, and I'm guessing no one cares, gonna go ahead and move on.

my second complaint is a whole bunch of complaints rolled into one, I think. basically, I'm not sure it's so easy to ascertain what "your interest" is, even defined narrowly as economic interests. going to try and avoid instigating a massive liberal vs. conservative economic debate, because this isn't the place for that. suffice it to say, honest people can disagree about the policies that best help a certain person. but beyond that, the effects a certain policy will have on a given person isn't always crystal clear, and this is even murkier when we're talking about electing a president, who's only promising things. campaign website policies rarely end up being photocopies of the final thing. that point is a bit tangential, but I think it's part of a broader point of how we view the president. gene healy talks a lot about this, but it's part of a larger trend of viewing the president as sort of this omnipotent, all powerful figure that has large amounts of influence on our daily lives. this just isn't the case for a lot of people. would a middle class farmer in kansas really have a radically different life under john mccain instead of barack obama? I doubt it.

I didn't want to dwell too much on the data, but there are a few points worth making in that regard. first off, the last half-century has seen poor white people actually move toward the democratic column, which would seem to run counter to a narrative of these sorts of people being brainwashed by gay marriage ads.

and secondly, i'm just going to straight rip this from an old douthat/salam:

"For Rose, the economic story of recent decades is not one of immiseration but one of dramatic gains for both middle and working-class families. His most striking finding: When you average-out family incomes over 15 years and capture only the peak earning years--from age 26 to 59--fully 60 percent of Americans will live in households making over $60,000 a year, with half of these households making over $85,000. This has meant that more and more workers feel like beneficiaries of the changing economy rather than victims of it--and as a result, feel comfortable voting for the GOP."
(whole article here: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/950kzhlj.asp?page=2)

I also think it might be harder to separate culture and economics than frank thinks. this gets into a lot of stuff liberals are uncomfortable with, in terms of promoting family and stuff like that. and frankly, it's not something i'm in love with either in a lot of cases. but serious economic implications flow from family structure; family breakdown is a real factor in poverty, and being born into a stable, two parent family is a great advantage. and it doesn't just work in one way; family isn't just influencing economic outcomes, but economics is influencing family structure. this can create seriously vicious cycles.

so does the GOP spook people with nonsense issues like gay marriage and flag burning? yes. but i'm not necessarily the person you want to be asking about that anyway, because I don't agree with the GOP on those issues. one thing I'd caution though: I wouldn't always necessarily assume the use of social issues is to scare people into voting for republicans. that may be the case, (may even often be the case) but a lot these guys really are committed to these sorts of socially conservative ideas. I'm not sure if that's supposed to make anyone feel better, and I'm not sure if it's better to be cynical or crazy, but it seemed like it was worth pointing out.

Don Zeko
06-06-2011, 11:07 PM
If your considerate request is granted, do you agree that a significant percentage of voters choose against their economic interest, as Frank claims? Are social issues a trump?

I'd push back a touch on that. The research I've read (http://www.amazon.com/Red-State-Blue-Rich-Poor/dp/0691143935/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1307416103&sr=8-1) on voting behavior indicates that, while poor states vote Republican and rich states vote Democrat, the poor people in poor states are more inclined to vote for Democrats than Republicans. So the basic premise that Frank is working from is flawed.

Still, there are certainly people that fit Frank's thesis, i.e. people with huge economic problems that would be solved by Liberal policies who listen to Fox and vote Republican anyway. My uninsured type 1 diabetic aunt would be a good example of this. But even here I don't think it's right to say that social issues overpower the natural inclination of these people to vote Democrat. Anecdotally speaking, I've always had the sense that my relatives in this position believe Republican rhetoric about economic issues just as they agree with Republican positions on the culture war. There's no latent economic liberalism being overwhelmed by conservative social positions, there are just conservative beliefs and an unawareness of or disbelief in liberal claims that our programs would help them with the big economic problems in their lives.

So if I had to stake my own claim, I'd say that what Tom Franks is imperfectly describing is the perfectly natural phenomenon in which members of our country's largest single ethnic/religious/cultural group support the party of (white, Christian, middle-class) American nationalism, and that class is an extremely limited prism through which to understand American politics.

stephanie
06-07-2011, 12:23 PM
The research I've read on voting behavior indicates that, while poor states vote Republican and rich states vote Democrat, the poor people in poor states are more inclined to vote for Democrats than Republicans. So the basic premise that Frank is working from is flawed.

Yep. I've read the same source, so am certainly willing to hear evidence to the contrary, but I think it's worth noting that unless this is wrong the data that has to be explained is that poorer states tend to be more polarized by economic factors whereas in richer states people tend to vote more similarly despite their relative economic position.

But even here I don't think it's right to say that social issues overpower the natural inclination of these people to vote Democrat. Anecdotally speaking, I've always had the sense that my relatives in this position believe Republican rhetoric about economic issues just as they agree with Republican positions on the culture war. There's no latent economic liberalism being overwhelmed by conservative social positions, there are just conservative beliefs and an unawareness of or disbelief in liberal claims that our programs would help them with the big economic problems in their lives.

I do think there's a subset of people (we can call them rcocean types) who do tend to prioritize social/cultural issues over economic ones, and in part this explains the realignment of the parties. But I would agree it's a lot more complicated -- many people group economic issues into the overall cultural issues, for example. Also, and in part this is what both Frank and Willis are talking about, there's a question about how much of an alternative (at least for the populist leaning types) the Dems provide. To me, the Dems seem quite different and more reasonable on economic issues, but that's because I'm so not a populist.

It's been a long time since I read the Frank book, though, so if we are going to talk about it I need to refresh my memory. I know it annoyed me when it came out, but I'm not sure I'd have the same reaction now.

TwinSwords
06-07-2011, 12:35 PM
I do think there's a subset of people (we can call them rcocean Dems) who do tend to prioritize social/cultural issues over economic ones, and in part this explains the realignment of the parties.

Would you mind clarifying this point? What's an rcocean Dem? And do they vote for Democrats or Republicans? Are you saying people like him vote Republican because of cultural issues but they hold economic views more commonly associated with the Democrats?

stephanie
06-07-2011, 12:39 PM
The first thing (besides the data issue) that always bothered me with the entire argument is this: who the hell says you have to vote for someone based upon your personal interest?

I'll agree with this. I'll also agree that even when people do vote personal interest it's usually more complicated (at least as they rationalize it) to who they think is better for the country as a whole.

That said, I wouldn't agree with Frank to the extent he argues that people are knowingly voting against their interests (I don't think he actually said this, but as I said to DZ, I have to refresh my memory of the book). Clearly, when people focus on cultural/social issues, they see themselves as taking an important stand on what the country should be, which they see as benefitting themselves and the country as a whole or (sometimes more important) punishing those who deserve it.

Kinder and Kiewiet have a good paper on this from 1981, but since I can't find a free version, and I'm guessing no one cares, gonna go ahead and move on.

I already believe this, but I do care, so if you find a link and want to share it, I'd read it.

would a middle class farmer in kansas really have a radically different life under john mccain instead of barack obama?

I think this gets at a somewhat different point, which is that it's not necessarily clear how national policy affects one's life, especially at the level of information many people have and, in particular, time lags. Maybe this is more favorable to Frank's argument than you would be, I dunno. But I think there's evidence that people tend to focus more on direct interests (to their communities if not themselves) in more local elections. Also why pork is hard to stop.

I didn't want to dwell too much on the data, but there are a few points worth making in that regard. first off, the last half-century has seen poor white people actually move toward the democratic column, which would seem to run counter to a narrative of these sorts of people being brainwashed by gay marriage ads.

I think we should look at the data. I think this is quite likely true, but we'd have to look at specifics. I also think the biggest shift in recent years is the white working class (which may not mean lower income people at all, obviously, but more of an education/occupational distinction) is increasingly in the Republican column, whereas the professional (and often upper middle class) are increasingly Dems.

As for the argument that the middle class see themselves as better off than in the past, I'm really skeptical of that, but will at least check out the sources for the article and anything else you want to add.

so does the GOP spook people with nonsense issues like gay marriage and flag burning? yes. but i'm not necessarily the person you want to be asking about that anyway, because I don't agree with the GOP on those issues. one thing I'd caution though: I wouldn't always necessarily assume the use of social issues is to scare people into voting for republicans. that may be the case, (may even often be the case) but a lot these guys really are committed to these sorts of socially conservative ideas. I'm not sure if that's supposed to make anyone feel better, and I'm not sure if it's better to be cynical or crazy, but it seemed like it was worth pointing out.

I think the cynicism here is in part because the differences on these kinds of things (with the possible exception of abortion) tends to be more class-based, education-based (which is related to the former), or region-based. So probably in any given race the difference in the real view of the Republican and Dem on these issues is less dramatic than the focus that the issues have in the political discussion (and I'd add both immigration, which tends to be used by the right, and protectionism, which is more commonly used by the left) to these issues, among others.

But I'd also say that you can't so easily separate these issues. Economic discussions tend to take place in a broader discussion of "what kind of country should we have." (This is also why the libertarians will never take over the Republican Party. They can't win these kinds of arguments, IMO. On the other hand, some economic policies they might like can win as part of an overarching narrative. I don't know if that means I'm agreeing with Frank now or not.)

TwinSwords
06-07-2011, 12:40 PM
So the basic premise that Frank is working from is flawed.

I hate to ask you to bring me up to speed, but I haven't read Frank's book. Can you recap in a sentence or two what his basic premise is? My understanding of it was that lower-, lower-middle, and maybe middle-class people who vote Republican are voting against their own economic interests.

stephanie
06-07-2011, 12:47 PM
Would you mind clarifying this point? What's an rcocean Dem? And do they vote for Democrats or Republicans? Are you saying people like him vote Republican because of cultural issues but they hold economic views more commonly associated with the Democrats?

Ah, you caught me before I edited. I was going to say Reagan Dem, but I don't think that's a valid category anymore, yet I do think there are many who express rather populist views on economics, excuse their lack of support for the Dems by insisting the Dems and Republicans are basically equally bad on economics (see the numerous insistences that Obama won't protect SocSec and should be slammed for that) and thus vote on cultural issues instead (including immigration, which is at least in part seen as an economic issue). Since rcocean has been the more fervent in expressingn such views around here I changed it to "rcocean types" (supposed to be joking and descriptive, not a slam). But I didn't wholly change it.

Anyway, I think they mostly vote for Republicans but can swing. Probably less likely to swing than at one time.

And, yes, I do think their views on key economic issues are more similar to the Dem views than at least the controlling views in the Republican Party, but there are a mix of views in both parties even on economics, which is one reason people can sometimes see themselves in a different party economically than I'd peg them as fitting into.

TwinSwords
06-07-2011, 01:02 PM
Ah, you caught me before I edited.
Whoops, sorry. ;-)


I was going to say Reagan Dem, but I don't think that's a valid category anymore, yet I do think there are many who express rather populist views on economics, excuse their lack of support for the Dems by insisting the Dems and Republicans are basically equally bad on economics (see the numerous insistences that Obama won't protect SocSec and should be slammed for that) and thus vote on cultural issues instead (including immigration, which is at least in part seen as an economic issue). Since rcocean has been the more fervent in expressingn such views around here I changed it to "rcocean types" (supposed to be joking and descriptive, not a slam). But I didn't wholly change it.

Anyway, I think they mostly vote for Republicans but can swing. Probably less likely to swing than at one time.

And, yes, I do think their views on key economic issues are more similar to the Dem views than at least the controlling views in the Republican Party, but there are a mix of views in both parties even on economics, which is one reason people can sometimes see themselves in a different party economically than I'd peg them as fitting into.

Okay. Thanks for the elaboration. Now that you've clarified, it makes perfect sense, and (FWIW) I think the analysis is correct.

Can I ask you something else? When you talk about the realignment of the parties, exactly who do you see as moving where? One obvious answer would be that some whites concerned with social issues (going back to Nixon's decision to exploit white anxiety/rage about Civil Rights) migrated into the Republican Party. Indeed, there's a lot of overlap between these erstwhile Democrats and the "Reagan Democrats" of 1980, I think -- though there are clearly other social issues besides race that fed into this shift.

Is there anyone else that's part of the realignment as you see it? For example, moderate Republicans becoming uncomfortable with the new GOP?

Don Zeko
06-07-2011, 01:30 PM
I hate to ask you to bring me up to speed, but I haven't read Frank's book. Can you recap in a sentence or two what his basic premise is? My understanding of it was that lower-, lower-middle, and maybe middle-class people who vote Republican are voting against their own economic interests.

Frank's basic thesis is that lots of downscale voters supporting the GOP is the source of GOP electoral success over the last couple of decades, and that these voters ought to support Democrats (and have supported Democrats in the past) because Democrats have more concern for the economic interests of the middle and working classes. The Culture War is the reason that these voters don't vote on the basis of their economic concerns.

The book I linked to basically says that in Red states you see a positive correlation between income and support for the Republican Party, with poor people voting for Dems, middle class people voting Republican, and rich people strongly Republican. In blue states that correlation is much weaker, so the middle class and the rich vote Democrat but do so less strongly than the poor, and the difference in voting patterns between income groups is much smaller than in red states. So if anything this data supports an inversion of Frank's argument: rich voters in blue states support Democrats against their own economic interests because of liberal positions on social issues.

stephanie
06-07-2011, 01:54 PM
Can I ask you something else? When you talk about the realignment of the parties, exactly who do you see as moving where?

Sure. I think you and I are on the same wavelength here, as I am also looking at it over a long time frame.

IMO, a lot of the "people should vote their economic interests" stuff goes back to an understanding of politics that came out of the New Deal but basically prevailed in the early post-war period. For a time there was (to some degree) general agreement about foreign policy and the cultural issues which prevailed, and the main difference between the parties was economic (even if the differences there seemed a lot less extreme than what we currently see). As in all "good old day" arguments, it's oversimplified (ignores the McCarthy-stoked fears, for example), but it's why both social cons and economic leftists can speak of the '50s as a Garden of Eden.

But all of this got shaken up by the Civil Rights Movement (mainly), feminism, and Vietnam/the growth of the counter-culture. Plus the crime problem and the Warren Court (and reaction thereto). This is especially illustrated by the realignment of the South and of African-Americans and by the events of the '68 and '72 Dem Conventions, as well as Nixon's (and subsequently Reagan's) realization that going on about "elitism" and crime as cultural issues was a winning strategy.

The result of this was that the parties started to be seen as different more based on cultural/war issues (and I'd include race and crime as cultural). It seems weird that this is so in that it includes the Reagan period and Reagan was seen as extreme on economic issues at first even among the Republicans, but I'd argue it's so to a large extent. This was the beginning of the realignment, and at first this seemed disasterous for the Dems (Reagan Dems and all that, the loss of sections of the white working class), but ultimately the increasing liberalization of the country socially in a lot of ways changed that.

This is when we get one set of Frank-like arguments, from many who claimed the problem the Dems were having was that they were less obviously an alternative, that they needed to move left.

Instead, however, we got Clinton, who had as his project making the Dems acceptable to the moderate types again by moving right on some cultural issues (crime, school uniform), just kind of talking conservatively in some ways (and being southern and Southern Baptist), going back to more traditional Dem ways of talking about foreign policy (not pacificistic or overly focused on Vietnam era rhetoric). But along with this was a strong buy in to what at one time would have been mainstream Republican economic ideas and a commitment to the cultural liberalism that had generally become popular in some segments of the country. At this point, social issues started to work at least someone in the Dems' favor, especially in that there were many who might have been traditionally Republican but were extremely disilusioned with what the Republican Party was becoming. Add to this the effect of immigration.

I think this is basically where we remain, where the Dems aren't appealing to traditional economic interests, in large part because so many of those who traditionally were swayed by such appeals either no longer care or are Republicans already, and because their loss was taken up by the addition of many who aren't very left on economics but who are committed to the Dem views of social liberalism. The reverse happened in the Republicans.

Given that both the specific foreign policy issues and the crime problem which largely motivated the original realignment are gone and that the controversial social divides seem less relevant now, it's interesting to see how the cultural divide persists.

Edit: it's also why the leftwing argument that the problem with Obama is that he's not left enough (I mean the political problem, not any moral argument) is incoherent. There's not and has never been in recent years a large constituency who are simply left on everything. There's instead been a significant and important split between those who are left on these various issues who may either disagree with each other or the priorities that the others have.

stephanie
06-07-2011, 01:58 PM
Frank's basic thesis is that lots of downscale voters supporting the GOP is the source of GOP electoral success over the last couple of decades, and that these voters ought to support Democrats (and have supported Democrats in the past) because Democrats have more concern for the economic interests of the middle and working classes. The Culture War is the reason that these voters don't vote on the basis of their economic concerns.

Like I said, I need to check the book again, because my memory might be wrong, but I recall the thesis as being as much about what the Dems ought to do as people acting stupidly.

In other words, I see Frank as one of a line of economic leftist types who said that the Dems were screwing up by not being sufficiently to the left on economic issues or by emphasizing those issues, and thus letting the Republicans set the discussion based on cultural issues.

I could be overly influenced by Willis' argument against Frank, though.

Anyway, if I'm remembering correctly, this is why I think I might take Frank somewhat more seriously than I did when I read him, because then I would not have agreed that an absence of economic populism was a problem for the Dems, whereas now I kind of do.

handle
06-07-2011, 02:39 PM
It's an absolutely fallacious argument because economy-killing redistributionist policies are not in the interest of poorer and middle class voters, or any voters for that matter. It is far more logical for them to vote for free-market Capitalists instead of Crony Corporatists and Socialist-lites.

I do believe I am about to make bloggingheads history by preemptively banning myself for my unwritten, true, and heartfelt response to the above relentless and absurd campaign of misinformation and oversimplification of our complex and fragile economic system.

I will see all of you in living hell if these neophyte-fanboy-douchebags ever get their way, and give the greedy pigs of this country any more control over us than they have already wrested in the last thirty years of extremely intense, and heavily financed effort.

Operative: Get a job, and try to support a family in the real world, then decide if giving your bosses absolute power over you is a great idea.

Shorter handle:
Get a life before you give advice.

Bye y'all! It's been fun, and most of you are great, but reading some of this shit is getting too nauseating, which is why if I were you, I wouldn't bother responding to this comment, as I will not be reading it. Cheers!

eeeeeeeli
06-07-2011, 03:32 PM
Something I've never really understood is the relationship between college and socioeconomic status, particularly in the changing rates of college attendance over the past 50 years.

Today, college attendance - not withstanding the general drumbeat equating it with economic success - has come to signify upper socioeconomic status. While it certainly has currency in the marketplace, I wonder whether much of the actual association with it has more to do with its socioeconomic correlates: family income & education, and individual motivation. I'm not sure where, but recently I heard/read that the vast majority of Ivy League students come form families making over $200k a year.

College obviously signifies more than mere status. You can reasonably trust a college graduate to have good reasoning skills, exposure to a modicum of historical thought, as well as some degree of intellectual desire. However, much of this can have more to do with the family and peer groups within which one has traveled.

If you go back 50 years, far fewer people attended college (http://popecenter.org/assets/Enrollment_Chart_1.png). Yet there still would have been family and peer groups that produced individuals with what we now associate with college education. Sure, they didn't take college-level courses - yet they no doubt were still voracious readers and possessed the critical-thinking skills that allowed them to make daily social interaction and personal reflection a higher-order experience.

An interesting question might be what effect has this increased college attendance has had on social segregation, in that individuals with proclivities towards higher-order thinking and intellectual curiosity could now self-select into more rarefied social groupings, organized at least by economic affiliation, if not by shared cultural interests formed in no small part by college-going cultural communities. This would be seen in the "college-town" phenomena, where veritable islands of higher-order* cultural progressivism and experimentation existed within a larger geographic sea of traditional and conservative norms.

*My use of "higher-order" here is damning (as much to myself as anyone). I accept the conceit that higher equals better, or at least more important - to a degree. Because what I mean by "higher" is a meta-analysis that can only come from increased consciousness both of past and present. A sort of cultural geometry exists that literally requires amassing perspective and increasing "viewing angle". I tend to be what you might call conscious-ist: I generally feel that increased knowledge and awareness is a good thing. I suppose there is a good deal of the Platonic ideal in this judgement.

Interestingly, this may really now be getting at the root of class and cultural resentment. Because the idea that "higher is usually better" implies the reverse, that lower is usually worse. So what then to make of that which is derived from lower-order knowledge or thought?

Well, maybe I ought to back up a moment. To be clear, I am only talking about knowledge/consciousness/awareness, not action. It can certainly be the case that pure reliance on knowledge itself can limit one's expression, and even one's acquisition of more knowledge; "just because you can play all those notes, it doesn't mean you should". I think one of the great things to come out of cultural postmodernism has been the embrace of the "low" as a legitimate form of expression. Yet the crucial difference is the meta - the knowledge that the "low" is merely one form, relative to its position, and that other forms exist. It is the knowledge that is important, not the action.

One of the lessons post-modernism has taught us is that the high is also relative. It is here that power-dynamics come in to play. The platonic ideal of those in possession of the light of truth must question how they came to possess it, and instead of self-congratulation, holding themselves in high regard, be humbled by the task of uncovering how it came to be that they came to find the light while others did not.

There is a great deal of bitterness on the right and a sense that the left - the "liberal elite" - looks down on them (http://www.redneck-humor.com/files/picture/41983724.jpg). It is an interesting notion because it is partially true, but works both ways - do not these aggrieved people look down on the left? I think there there are a couple of things going on here. First, there is a definite positional, hierarchical relationship between the cultural values being debated. (As I stated before, if we're talking about degree of knowledge/consciousness of the relative nature of truth, the left's position can literally be said to be geometrically "higher".)

Second, there is an economic implication for power dynamics - "learnin'" - that goes back to the dawn of civilization. There are the haves and the have nots of knowledge/consciousness. Furthermore, the "knowledge haves", to the degree that they have insinuated themselves into any system of elite intellectualism (whether through schooling or social organization), have traditionally been white collar, or at least not involved in industry of brute strength. Their contemplative natures represent - so goes the perception, with a good deal of truth - a sort of social luxury, or frivolity. To the have-nots, they seem little more than peacocks, parasitically lolling about in a land of abstract ideals, while "real" people do all the heavy lifting.

This is no doubt true. Yet it is also false, and suffers a revanchist motivation that obscures proper cognitive analysis. Because first of all, there have always been individuals that are more interested in intellectual pursuits, while others more interested in that of the physical, or socially important. It is literally true that these folks will not possess the same consciousness of a particular subject, and thus have less "expertise". But we all can't be surgeons, or auto mechanics. Civilization is built on a division of labor. Second, intellectual pursuit is also the backbone of civilization. And while Plato argued that an intelligentsia run affairs of state and culture, democracy has completely rejected that notion. Certainly our founders were incredibly learned men, and spent most of their time in intellectual pursuits. It is virtually agreed upon by all that true democracy requires an educated public. Can there ever be too much education?

And so today we have a situation where higher education has never been more democratic. Interestingly, most of the voices you hear decrying this actually come from the right, ironically seeking to make education more exclusive. And yet higher education is overwhelmingly liberal - at least its professors are. And so to is its export of ideas - filtered out not only through graduates, but through papers and policy groups, as well as through journalism, which relies on its massive bank of credentialed "authorities" for expert commentary, not to mention the college-educated journalists themselves.

This dynamic - academia and journalism - works as one of the great engines of social reflection and progress. The mission of both entities is explicitly one that is progressive in nature, in that it seeks to critically analyze and reflect on knowledge, seeking to create more in the process. There is a reason it is called "higher", not "lower" education.

Is it no wonder then, that its resulting formulations and conceptions of our world would be innately progressive? William F. Buckley once wrote both in defense and statement of conservative principle (and I'm paraphrasing), that we have solved most of the major social problems. A better argument for intellectual complacency would be difficult to make. He said this also, I believe, around forty years ago - a time I would hope most people would not really want to return to. Certainly we have in many ways become worse-off, but there is no clear way of saying that this was the result of progressive social inquiry. To be sure, we certainly wouldn't want to be better of not knowing certain things about ourselves. Yet I wonder if that statement may not be more controversial than I give conservatives credit for.

It is a general given nowadays that there exists a large split between the right and left on intellectual vs. anti-intellectual lines. There is certainly much evidence of this in the rhetoric of politicians, as well as pundits. I imagine that the right isn't opposed to what it feels is genuine intellectual pursuit, but merely opposes what it feels is a take-over of intellectual institutions such as the press and academia by liberals, hence a "liberal elite". Yet this opens them up to criticism that their critique is less substantive, and more an irrational rejection of real truths that these institutions have uncovered, which align with left-wing values. Because of course, as with the tendency for conspiracy theories to thrive in cognitive blind-spots, if established authorities are existentially suspect, and claims they make that might give dissonance to one's prior belief, it is perfectly logical to dismiss them as "biased".

Ironically, this opens the door to a form of relativism, albeit a factual relativism - not the moral relativism that the cultural right has always criticized the left for. Interestingly, factual relativism requires the denial of facts, while moral relativism denies absolute, metaphysical authority. (Moral relativism in practice is actually incredibly rare: most simply argue that morals are relative to human culture, and not that no morals can ever exist. I've actually never encountered anyone who believes the latter).

eeeeeeeli
06-07-2011, 03:33 PM
lol - I've just hit the character limit! My final paragraph - for the apparently masochistic among you. :)
....



In the end, the right-left, socio-economic, cultural split may have more to do with cognition than anything. Rates of college attendance aren't much different on the right and left. Given the degree to which college professors, as well as journalists tend to be liberal, one might assume that the conservative response is simply to discount these authorities - relying on a cognitive model that reduces their authority.

stephanie
06-07-2011, 03:40 PM
Anecdotally speaking, I've always had the sense that my relatives in this position believe Republican rhetoric about economic issues just as they agree with Republican positions on the culture war. There's no latent economic liberalism being overwhelmed by conservative social positions, there are just conservative beliefs and an unawareness of or disbelief in liberal claims that our programs would help them with the big economic problems in their lives.

Sorry to respond to this twice, but I was just kind of thinking about something related to this. Basically, what I find more possibly confusing than the idea that people might buy into an overarching rightwing narrative.

There's an element of the RW argument, especially recently, that really focuses on economics. Specifically, during the '08 campaign and since, a significant segment of the Republican have been pushing the theme that the lower income and middle class are taxed too little, based on the stats that in '09 slightly over 51% paid no federal income tax and in '10 something like 45% paid none. A number of the rightwing sites freaking about this also freak about the EITC as "socialist" (sigh, what a shock), which is only surprising because it has seemed to me a relatively uncontroversial program, in that it helps working people and all.

In that since the Clinton era reforms it's harder to get a good rant going about welfare (and to be fair I supported the Clinton reforms), this seems to me to be a new form of class warfare from the Republicans. Basically, the argument is that you are overtaxed while "they" (whoever they are) are undertaxed, are benefiting at your expense.

What's weird about this, by definition, however, is that 50% of the country is a lot of people, and the numbers more specifically include about 2/3s of those making $50K or under and even 16% or so of those making $50K-$100K. Thus, they include lots of people who do vote Republican. And they probably even include lots of people who are absolutely convinced that they are overtaxed because of these poor people who don't pay enough, since in paying taxes people probably don't distinguish between what they pay in federal income tax and what they pay in FICA.

Thus, one could certainly argue that when it comes to direct personal benefit, those who vote Republican but pay very little in income tax are voting against their direct interests -- indeed, if you take the Republican rhetoric seriously, the Republicans want to make taxes more flat, which would by definition mean that these people are voting to raise their own taxes.

Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with that -- I've voted to raise my own taxes, after all -- but what's kind of weird about it is I'm not at all convinced these people would include "I pay too little in taxes" as part of the worldview they endorse. To a certain extent this is the result of everything thinking they are above average.

Ultimately, however, what I think results from all this is in essence a cultural argument masquerading as an economic one. Knowing that it would mean raising the taxes of people whose support they need, I don't think the Republicans would ever seriously push the flatter tax thing in a way that would mean raising taxes. But they will campaign on it in a way that fails to quantify what they really mean here. And they'll campaign on it in a way that focusing on the cultural aspects -- people who pay little of this one kind of tax (who of course aren't Republicans) are by definition bad people, lazy, etc.

Frank might say this illustrates the point. I'm not so sure, but I do think it's different than the wealthier Dems who want to raise taxes on the rich, because I don't think anyone who is in this category is unaware that they are included in the group of people who would pay more. (Indeed, this is one reason why the claim that this is "class warfare" or entitled to punish the rich seems so off the mark to me.)

Florian
06-07-2011, 03:59 PM
Bye y'all! It's been fun, and most of you are great, but reading some of this shit is getting too nauseating, which is why if I were you, I wouldn't bother responding to this comment, as I will not be reading it. Cheers!

Do reconsider. Your vitriolic comments are often amusing, even when directed at me. Libertarianism is only nauseating if you take it seriously. Now how can anyone, outside a lunatic asylum, take it serously?

operative
06-07-2011, 04:09 PM
Operative: Get a job, and try to support a family in the real world, then decide if giving your bosses absolute power over you is a great idea.


Well since you are leaving I won't bother asking you what precisely constitutes the 'real world.' I will however note that Estonia proves me right.

Don Zeko
06-07-2011, 04:32 PM
I will however note that Estonia proves me right.

We're going to try an experiment here called Choose Your Own Rebuttal.

A) Ah yes, of course. The experience of a tiny ex-soviet state looking to join the Eurozone is clearly generalizable to the United States.

B) Wait, what about the horrific economic contraction and massive unemployment? (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/congratulations-to-estonia-or-maybe-condolences/)

graz
06-07-2011, 04:36 PM
We're going to try an experiment here called Choose Your Own Rebuttal.

A) Ah yes, of course. The experience of a tiny ex-soviet state looking to join the Eurozone is clearly generalizable to the United States.

B) Wait, what about the horrific economic contraction and massive unemployment? (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/congratulations-to-estonia-or-maybe-condolences/)

Maybe he meant Freedonia (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8aKKF1-f-A&feature=related)?

operative
06-07-2011, 04:43 PM
We're going to try an experiment here called Choose Your Own Rebuttal.

A) Ah yes, of course. The experience of a tiny ex-soviet state looking to join the Eurozone is clearly generalizable to the United States.

It demonstrates that free market economics works. It doesn't matter that it's in a small Baltic country. The same principles can and will work here in America.

You can also compare the policy trend in Mauritius and the accompanied economic growth, with the far more socialist tendencies of many mainland sub-saharan african countries. Markets work. Socialism fails.


B) Wait, what about the horrific economic contraction and massive unemployment? (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/congratulations-to-estonia-or-maybe-condolences/)

A contraction (caused by terrible policies in the US) does nothing to disprove the economic approach in Estonia. Free market economics doesn't mean there will never be a contraction. It means that there will be dynamic growth, and that the country will accelerate faster and further than it would in a statist model. And yes, Estonia proves that.

AemJeff
06-07-2011, 04:45 PM
We're going to try an experiment here called Choose Your Own Rebuttal.

A) Ah yes, of course. The experience of a tiny ex-soviet state looking to join the Eurozone is clearly generalizable to the United States.

B) Wait, what about the horrific economic contraction and massive unemployment? (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/congratulations-to-estonia-or-maybe-condolences/)

I think we ought to add
I will however note that Estonia proves me right.
to the general lexicon! We can all join in the fun! Any time you want to make a point about the evident cluelessness of any interlocutor, just quote the above and pause for a moment, maybe letting just the hint of a quirk shade your expression for a microsecond or two before moving on to other topics with other, more promising conversational partners!

operative
06-07-2011, 04:46 PM
I think we ought to add

to the general lexicon! We can all join in the fun! Any time you want to make a point about the evident cluelessness of any interlocutor, just quote the above and pause for a moment, maybe letting just the hint of a quirk shade your expression for a microsecond or two before moving on to other topics with other, more promising conversational partners!

Well if you want to prove your own economic cluelessness then by all means, do so.

Starwatcher162536
06-07-2011, 07:21 PM
The Estonia miracle huh? Somehow I think I've heard this tune before for several other countries. We all know that liberalized markets experience large business oscillations. We also know the Heritage Foundation's, among many other libertarian and conservative think tanks, game plan in these situations. Show a country with high growth rates that recently deregulated several vital industries, popularize the hell out of it while it's on the up-swing and then ignore it on the downswing and go find some other country on the upswing to popularize. Anyone else remember Ireland? I myself am not going to find much convincing on data that isn't even two cycles long. I'm more interested in the trends.

Another problem with your post is it is comparing the relative performance of a U.S.S.R. command economy vs. Estonia's relative liberalized economy. The relative performance of endpoints on some central/decentralized economy isn't very useful for determining the relative performance of a slightly more or less socialized economy compared to wherever we currently are. This is very reminiscent of the old Laffer curve arguments.

eeeeeeeli
06-07-2011, 07:21 PM
Also note: Estonia is made entirely of straw!

operative
06-07-2011, 07:28 PM
The Estonia miracle huh? Somehow I think I've heard this tune before for several other countries. We all know that liberalized markets experience large business oscillations. We also know the Heritage Foundation's, among many other libertarian and conservative think tanks, game plan in these situations. Show a country with high growth rates that recently deregulated several vital industries, popularize the hell out of it while it's on the up-swing and then ignore it on the downswing and go find some other country on the upswing to popularize. Anyone else remember Ireland? I myself am not going to find much convincing on data that isn't even two cycles long. I'm more interested in the trends.

You're right that there are larger oscillations--I don't think too many libertarians will actually disagree with you there. I don't think too many libertarians attempt to sell a free market system as a utopia of permanent expansive growth.

But it has led Estonia to grow faster than comparable countries, along with becoming safer and less corrupt. It's no coincidence that Estonia is the freest of the Baltic states and also the most developed.



Another problem with your post is it is comparing the relative performance of a U.S.S.R. command economy vs. Estonia's relative liberalized economy. The relative performance of endpoints on some central/decentralized economy isn't very useful for determining the relative performance of a slightly more or less socialized economy compared to wherever we currently are. This is very reminiscent of the old Laffer curve arguments.

You're right that the old Soviet system presents an extreme end. But compare Estonia's performance to comparable post-soviet countries--Latvia and Lithuania stand out. Estonia has grown faster than them and is safer and less corrupt. The same is starting to happen in Georgia. The same already happened in Chile. And it's happened in Mauritius.

chiwhisoxx
06-08-2011, 12:11 AM
We're going to try an experiment here called Choose Your Own Rebuttal.

A) Ah yes, of course. The experience of a tiny ex-soviet state looking to join the Eurozone is clearly generalizable to the United States.

B) Wait, what about the horrific economic contraction and massive unemployment? (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/congratulations-to-estonia-or-maybe-condolences/)

we'll of course be keeping this in mind when bemoaning the lack of socialism in the united states as compared to Scandinavian states, right?

Don Zeko
06-08-2011, 12:55 AM
we'll of course be keeping this in mind when bemoaning the lack of socialism in the united states as compared to Scandinavian states, right?

I was hinting at a more sophisticated argument that I don't think is worth spelling out to someone as uninterested in listening to me as Operative, but there's actually a more specific point here. The argument that austerity budgeting will trigger economic growth relies on foreign investment and exports to drive growth. Without these factors, slashing spending just decreases aggregate demand and makes deflationary pressure stronger. So Estonia, a tiny country with an export-oriented economy and low wages relative to the rest of the Eurozone, is much better situated to make austerity work than a large mixed economy like the US is. A better guide for how austerity would work in the US might be austerity budgeting in the UK which is, wait for it, not working. Oh, and of course you also have the fact that Estonia has an additional policy objective that we don't share: joining the Euro, which meant that they couldn't just devalue their currency.

And on top of all of that, your post is built on a false equivalence. Operative was appealing to Estonia and a handful of other tiny post-Soviet states to bolster his "liquidation will work this time" theory (and never mind that Ireland was the poster boy for Conservative economic policies not so long ago). When I talk about the experience of other countries in order to argue that nationalized health care is better or that a modestly higher tax burden won't sink the economy, I point to basically the entire developed world, which includes all sorts of countries that are both more similar to the US than Estonia and that cover a much more diverse set of situations while still supporting my basic thesis. One of these things ain't like the other.

Don Zeko
06-08-2011, 12:58 AM
It demonstrates that free market economics works. It doesn't matter that it's in a small Baltic country. The same principles can and will work here in America.

You can also compare the policy trend in Mauritius and the accompanied economic growth, with the far more socialist tendencies of many mainland sub-saharan african countries. Markets work. Socialism fails.



A contraction (caused by terrible policies in the US) does nothing to disprove the economic approach in Estonia. Free market economics doesn't mean there will never be a contraction. It means that there will be dynamic growth, and that the country will accelerate faster and further than it would in a statist model. And yes, Estonia proves that.

Mauritius? Estonia? You're picking your examples awfully carefully, Op. It almost makes me think that you don't have some native expertise in the economics of post-Soviet republics or sub-Saharan Africa, and are in fact just parroting the cherry-picked bullshit that comes out of the WSJ editorial page or something. But that would just be ridiculous, now wouldn't it?

Starwatcher162536
06-08-2011, 02:52 AM
But it has led Estonia to grow faster than comparable countries, along with becoming safer and less corrupt. It's no coincidence that Estonia is the freest of the Baltic states and also the most developed.

My whole point is that it is probably to soon to say that Estonia has grown faster then Lativa and Lithuania as this is the first real downturn. Not even one full business cycle has completed yet. Regardless, I imagine there is probably a fair difference in optimum policy in bringing a third world nation to first world status and a first world nation maintaining it's prosperity.

Finally, I really don't have strong opinions on this and my original post here was just pointing out flaws in your reasoning. If you wish to argue with someone Don Zeko seems a more knowledgeable opponent then I.

operative
06-08-2011, 08:41 AM
Mauritius? Estonia? You're picking your examples awfully carefully, Op. It almost makes me think that you don't have some native expertise in the economics of post-Soviet republics or sub-Saharan Africa, and are in fact just parroting the cherry-picked bullshit that comes out of the WSJ editorial page or something. But that would just be ridiculous, now wouldn't it?

I'm picking the freest economies. Estonia and Mauritius both have all of the ingredients that you need in order to have a functioning free market system. Paraguay has an even better tax structure and has very responsible government spending, but is horrifically corrupt, doesn't protect property rights, and has restrictive labor laws. El Salvador also struggles with protecting property rights and combating corruption. Peru has had those issues and is about to go down the drain now that they elected a Chavez-style tyrant. But, both Paraguay and Peru have established extremely healthy growth since implementing free market policies. El Salvador is too violent to enjoy the benefits.

You're correct that I don't have some unique background in Estonia or the Baltic region. Estonia is a lovely country but ugh, the weather!

operative
06-08-2011, 08:53 AM
I was hinting at a more sophisticated argument that I don't think is worth spelling out to someone as uninterested in listening to me as Operative,

Such incorrect assumptions.



but there's actually a more specific point here. The argument that austerity budgeting will trigger economic growth relies on foreign investment and exports to drive growth. Without these factors, slashing spending just decreases aggregate demand and makes deflationary pressure stronger. So Estonia, a tiny country with an export-oriented economy and low wages relative to the rest of the Eurozone, is much better situated to make austerity work than a large mixed economy like the US is. A better guide for how austerity would work in the US might be austerity budgeting in the UK which is, wait for it, not working. Oh, and of course you also have the fact that Estonia has an additional policy objective that we don't share: joining the Euro, which meant that they couldn't just devalue their currency.


I don't see the comparison to England--see, for example, their extremely high income tax structure. You can't improve your economic conditions unless you pair a reduction in government spending with a reduction in the tax rate. Otherwise you are correct that it will rely on exports. If you pair a reduction in government spending with a reduction in the tax rate, however, then you will spur the private economy and create greater wealth in the country. Estonia runs a flat tax of 21%.

Another comparison would be Chile, which doesn't have a low individual tax rate but does have a low corporate tax rate and also does have responsible government spending.


And on top of all of that, your post is built on a false equivalence. Operative was appealing to Estonia and a handful of other tiny post-Soviet states to bolster his "liquidation will work this time" theory (and never mind that Ireland was the poster boy for Conservative economic policies not so long ago).

Ireland had a housing bubble that might not have happened had we not had our own housing bubble created by government policies.


When I talk about the experience of other countries in order to argue that nationalized health care is better or that a modestly higher tax burden won't sink the economy, I point to basically the entire developed world, which includes all sorts of countries that are both more similar to the US than Estonia and that cover a much more diverse set of situations while still supporting my basic thesis. One of these things ain't like the other.

You mean the countries that like the US are drowning in debt and having tepid to nonexistent growth?

stephanie
06-08-2011, 12:20 PM
IMO, Operative's effort to turn this thread into a debate about libertarian economics is off topic. (Also rather like arguing with a fundamentalist Christian over whether the account of Noah is realistic or not.)

To be clear, I'm happy to talk about Frank, and I think a legitimate rebuttal to Frank's "why do people vote against their economic self-interest" is, indeed, that they don't think they are (as Don Zeko and others have argued). However, whether libertarianism is best for the economy, whether Estonia is a good example of what libertarianism in the US would be like or demonstrates anything about the US, or whether libertarians are the only ones who really care about struggling farmers and factory workers is off the topic. Normally, I wouldn't be a thread nanny, but I was enjoying the conversation which represented a variety of views, and the tedious libertarian conversation is going on plenty of other places.

If you want to argue with operative about the off-topic assertion, please do so in another thread.

operative
06-08-2011, 12:58 PM
IMO, Operative's effort to turn this thread into a debate about libertarian economics is off topic. (Also rather like arguing with a fundamentalist Christian over whether the account of Noah is realistic or not.)

To be clear, I'm happy to talk about Frank, and I think a legitimate rebuttal to Frank's "why do people vote against their economic self-interest" is, indeed, that they don't think they are (as Don Zeko and others have argued).

Also, that they're not. It's not perceptual. Frank's faulty hypothesis requires an embrace of Krugman economic fallacies. The best you can say of it is that it is highly debated and that it can not be stated as absolute fact that redistributionist policies are good for poorer people.

Don Zeko
06-08-2011, 01:08 PM
Also, that they're not. It's not perceptual. Frank's faulty hypothesis requires an embrace of Krugman economic fallacies. The best you can say of it is that it is highly debated and that it can not be stated as absolute fact that redistributionist policies are good for poorer people.

Yes, yes, we know that you don't share Frank's premises. Now can you go away and let us discuss the book?

operative
06-08-2011, 01:09 PM
Yes, yes, we know that you don't share Frank's premises. Now can you go away and let us discuss the book?

Sorry, I'm just allergic to fallacious economics arguments :o

graz
06-08-2011, 01:15 PM
Sorry, I'm just allergic to fallacious ... arguments :o
The only reason to want to wallow in the details of Anthony Weiner's sex life is because of the voyeuristic titillation it provides: a deeply repressed culture celebrates when it finds cause to be able to talk about penises and naked pictures and oral sex while hiding behind some noble pretext.
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/06/07/weiner/index.html