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Paul Krugman has proposed a neologism: Geloiocracy which he defines as “rule by the ridiculous”. He specifically complains about the Wall Street whiners and Congresscritters who insist that their staffs read Ayn Rand.

Digby also reacts to a discussion of the Wall Street whiners on Countdown. She sees it as ploy by the White House and Wall Street to make people believe that Obama has done something about the financial industry, when it is obvious that this White House covered Wall Streets gambling debts and let them return to the casino.

It would be one thing if this was a sit-com, but the reality that these “children” are destroying the economy of the United States makes it a tragedy for millions of people. As long as the people in charge of the country refuse to look at and accept the hard facts, rather than relying on their belief in fairy tales, like Atlas Shrugged and Reaganomics, we will not recover.


1 JuanitaM { 12.31.10 at 9:18 am }

So true. In further thoughts on this issue, I can see in my business the furthering divide between the haves and have nots. Either people are living in the upper and upper middle class or they’re dirt poor. We keep hearing about the diminishing middle class, but in my area of the world, the divide is already huge. Small shopkeepers and little businesses are out of business or going out of business daily here.

The large companies and ones that sell internationally are fine. When Congress is in bed with the “big boys”, the rules are slanted in their favor. A case in point is your fine example of the way the Bush & Obama administrations took care of the big banks. Four to six small banks are closed every Friday evening by the FDIC while all the mega-banks have been working the “same old, same old” and giving huge salaries, bonuses, etc. “Too big to fail” is just a euphemism for “too important to my re-election funds”. Everyone else is welcome to go down the drain. Republicans and Democrats alike have this disease.

A pox on all of them.

2 Ame { 12.31.10 at 1:20 pm }

There was a discussion on Thom Hartmann’s radio show one day this week about America’s vanished mercantilism, which decades ago served as the economic anchor in our communities alongside manufacturing. Big Box and the NAFTA cabal ate them both.

3 Ame { 12.31.10 at 5:23 pm }

I thought you might enjoy reading this item. Postell doesn’t overtly show his own hand but makes some observations that suggest bias. Whatever. I haven’t read any of these books, but I may now. I’ve scrolled through the WH staff directory in the past but Sunstein’s name didn’t make a bleep on my radar, this piece makes me curious.


4 Bryan { 12.31.10 at 7:58 pm }

Juanita, few people understand that small business really does the hiring in this country and provides stable jobs for communities. When local officials “attract” corporations to locate in their area, they burden small businesses by requiring them to pay the taxes that the new corporations will not pay. Corporations are the recipients of almost of the tax breaks and other benefits handed out by the Federal government, which, again burdens small businesses.

The Village doesn’t understand how things actually work, and their ignorance becomes conventional wisdom.

Absolutely, Ame. When the local political leaders think about the impact of something like WalMart they never factor in the jobs and taxes that will be lost when local small businesses go under. The big box stores only increase jobs in an area until the small businesses go under, and the result is fewer jobs overall. NAFTA wasn’t good for anyone except the corporations that pushed it. It has resulted in lost jobs and businesses in all three countries involved with the bulk of the business actually going to China and other Asian countries. It was a con from the word go.

Cass Sunstein is a bit of an odd duck who is normally classed as liberal, but that “depends” on what area you are talking about. He is a firm believer in the “imperial Presidency”, and a supporter of much of the worst of the “War on Terror”. He supported the appointment of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and has some odd views about the role of the Judiciary in the Federal system.

Let me put it this way, I wouldn’t vote for him for any position in local government because I’m not always certain what planet he is on at any given time. His books and ideas are interesting, but I would use the library to read them rather than buying them.

5 JuanitaM { 01.01.11 at 10:25 am }

Sunstein is a new name for me, too.

Is there anyone else who thinks the use of the term Czar sets an unfortunate tone. Obviously, the Obama administration doesn’t mean it to imply imperial connotations. Still, words do matter. And in public relations, they matter a lot. I know this might seem petty considering the larger problems we have, but it just highlights once again the general tone deafness in Washington.

Being a lifelong Democrat, I really did want the Obama administration to do well. But, the extension of Bush era largesse toward big corporations has been painful to watch. I never thought it would come to the point where it makes little difference who is in power. The results stay largely the same.

6 Bryan { 01.01.11 at 11:24 am }

The use of the word “Czar” is totally incorrect on many levels.

First, that is the Polish spelling of a Russian title, Tsar, a short-form of the Russian spelling of Caesar [Tsezar] which is actually pronounced in Latin like the German version Kaiser, and the use of the term requires the approval of the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church.

Second, the rule of a Tsar is absolute. There are no checks on the authority of a Tsar beyond death or abdication.

Third, the “powers” allotted to “czars” by Presidents are always severely limited to a single narrow field, which would indicate that “coordinator” would be a more realistic title of the job, i.e. someone who coordinates the activities in a specific field.

The Director of National Intelligence, the “intel czar” is cover for the fact that Condi Rice couldn’t do her job. Before Bush II the National Security Advisor fulfilled the function of coordinating intelligence operations, and that was one of the reasons the position was created. Henry Kissinger had no problems determining priorities for the intelligence communities, no matter what Cabinet position they came under.

These positions are nothing more than an expansion of the Presidential staff to include people who actually know something while the people at the top play games. This is the result of the “MBA/CEO” mentality – the desire to have a lot people doing ever more limited jobs as the size of your staff indicates your importance in the organization. This is how corporations function, as I found out doing consulting work for Fortune 50 firms. This is also how responsibility is avoided, as there are always questions as to which individual was actually in charge of the latest screw-up or disaster.

Abraham Lincoln dealt with the Civil War and the Presidency with two secretaries for a White House staff, and at the time the President appointed even town postmasters. The quality of people running for office hasn’t gotten better, just lazier. Appointing a “czar” is a variation on creating a “committee”, which translates into stall for time until everyone forgets what happens.

7 JuanitaM { 01.01.11 at 12:16 pm }

Appointing a “czar” is a variation on creating a “committee”, which translates into stall for time until everyone forgets what happens.

Well said. Something like “a committee to select a committee to study the problem…..”

8 Bryan { 01.01.11 at 7:09 pm }

It’s amazing how much time and money is spent on making sure that nothing gets done.

9 Kryten42 { 01.01.11 at 9:25 pm }

LOL Now you remind me of Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister! Ahhh… They were so apt and timeless! 😀

They had a lot to say about committees, government processes, and even bankers! 🙂 Hmmm… Maybe it’s time for my first batch of quote’s of the year! 😀

“In government, many people have the power to stop things happening but almost nobody has the power to make things happen. The system has the engine of a lawn mower and the brakes of a Rolls Royce.”

“James Hacker: This is a democracy, and the people don’t like it!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The people are ignorant and misguided.
James Hacker: Humphrey, it was the people who elected me!
[Humphrey smiles and nods]”

“Any unwelcome initiative from a minister can be delayed until after the next election by the Civil Service 12-stage delaying process:
1. Informal discussions
2. Draft proposal
3. Preliminary study
4. Discussion document
5. In-depth study
6. Revised proposal
7. Policy statement
8. Strategy proposal
9. Discussion of strategy
10. Implementation plan circulated
11. Revised implementation plans
12. Cabinet agreement”

“Two kinds of government chair correspond with the two kinds of minister: one sort folds up instantly and the other sort goes round and round in circles.”

“If people don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what you’re doing wrong.”

“Minister’s language: ‘We have decided to be more flexible in our application of this principle’ means ‘We are dropping this policy but we don’t want to admit it publicly’. ”

“Asking a town hall to slim down its staff is like asking an alcoholic to blow up a distillery.”

“The Prime Minister doesn’t want the truth, he wants something he can tell Parliament.”

“If Civil Servants did not fight for the budgets of their departments they could end up with departments so small that even the Ministers could run them.”

“The Official Secrets Act is not to protect secrets, it is to protect officials.”

“‘This would create a dangerous precedent’. Translation: ‘If we do the right thing now, we might have to do the right thing again next time’.”

“Avoiding precedents does not mean nothing should ever be done. It only means that nothing should ever be done for the first time.”

“Government is not a team. It is a loose confederation of warring tribes.”

“Ministers have an enviable intellectual suppleness and moral maneuverability. Translation: You can’t trust them further than you can throw them.”

“It is only totalitarian governments that suppress facts. In this country we simply take a democratic decision not to publish them.”

“How to discredit an unwelcome report:

Stage One: Refuse to publish in the public interest saying
1. There are security considerations.
2. The findings could be misinterpreted.
3. You are waiting for the results of a wider and more detailed report which is still in preparation. (If there isn’t one, commission it; this gives you even more time).

Stage Two: Discredit the evidence you are not publishing, saying
1. It leaves important questions unanswered.
2. Much of the evidence is inconclusive.
3. The figures are open to other interpretations.
4. Certain findings are contradictory.
5. Some of the main conclusions have been questioned. (If they haven’t, question them yourself; then they have).

Stage Three: Undermine the recommendations. Suggested phrases:
1. ‘Not really a basis for long term decisions’.
2. ‘Not sufficient information on which to base a valid assessment’.
3. ‘No reason for any fundamental rethink of existing policy’.
4. ‘Broadly speaking, it endorses current practice’.

Stage Four: Discredit the person who produced the report. Explain (off the record) that
1. He is harbouring a grudge against the Department.
2. He is a publicity seeker.
3. He is trying to get a Knighthood/Chair/Vice Chancellorship.
4. He used to be a consultant to a multinational.
5. He wants to be a consultant to a multinational.”

“To suppress an internal government report, rewrite it as official advice to the Minister. Then it is against the rules to publish it, so you can leak the bits you want to friendly journalists.”

“A good political speech is not one in which you can prove that the man is telling the truth; it is one where no one else can prove he is lying.”

“It is our job to tell Select Committees the truth and nothing but the truth. But it would be profoundly inappropriate and grossly irresponsible to tell them the whole truth.”

“Administration is about means, not ends. The only ends in administration are loose ends.”

“Politician’s logic:
We must do something.
This is something.
Therefore we must do it.”

“When anybody says ‘It’s not the money, it’s the principle’ they mean it’s the money.”

This one, from the Yes, Minister Season two episode “The Quality of Life” says a lot about the current financial *crisis*, and especially Bankers in general, IMNSHO. 😉

Sir Humphrey: Didn’t you read the Financial Times this morning?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Never do.
Sir Humphrey: Well, you’re a banker. Surely you read the Financial Times?
Sir Desmond: Can’t understand it. Full of economic theory.
Sir Humphrey: Why do you buy it?
Sir Desmond: Oh, you know, it’s part of the uniform.
Sir Desmond: It took me thirty years to understand Keynes’ economics. And when I just caught on, everyone started getting hooked on these monetarist ideas. You know, ‘I want to be free’ by Milton Shillman.
Sir Humphrey: Milton Friedman?
Sir Desmond: Why are they all called Milton? Anyway, I have got only as far as Milton Keynes.
Sir Humphrey: Maynard Keynes
Sir Desmond: I am sure there is a Milton Keynes.

Enjoy! 😉 😀

Oh… and a Happy New Year! May it be less bad than the last one. *sigh*

10 Bryan { 01.01.11 at 9:57 pm }

FYI: Many British comedians and writers refer to Milton Keynes as the dullest city in the universe. It is outside of London and was a “planned community”.

I worked in New York civil service and it is a fact that civil servants are only empowered to say “no”. The power to say “yes” always resides with elected officials. This is to direct all negative feelings towards the “bureaucrats” and gratitude towards the politicians.

Oh, yes, I could relate to both shows, and there was a lot of truth being written in them.

Glad to see that you still have power and an ‘Net connection. I am going to write a blurb on the Australian flooding. Happy New Year, but then you get to enjoy it a lot earlier than I do. Time wise the US is in the back of the bus.

11 Kryten42 { 01.01.11 at 10:27 pm }

We are still busy sorting and packing. Garage sale next weekend, then Salvo’s for anything that we can’t sell that’s of any use to them, and the dump for the rest. 🙂 We get the keys to the new house on the 20th I think. It’s a new *compact house (ie. they took a normal old house on a normal size block, demolished the house, and subdivided the lot and built two smaller (unit size) houses with small yards. 🙂 Still, it’s actually well designed and makes use of the space pretty well mostly. And it has built in reverse-cycle A/C with vents in the ceiling (because there is nowhere to put them at floor level without loosing valuable space). It’s even zones, two main bedrooms, and the rest of the house. Makes sense I guess. 😉 And it’s about $20/wk cheaper than we are paying now, but this place is twice as big (and much higher maintenance!) The new house is… cosy. 😉 😆

I’m not sure how long I’ll be off-line when I move. If we go with a new ISP (possible. The current one is getting annoying!) could take up to 16 days to get provisioned, if we stay with the current one, about 7 days. *shrug*

I’m looking at this one, but they are fairly new here in Aus! (Though they are a well established Singapore company). They are trying to get market share, so are offering a great deal. 🙂 They also have free peering with the PIPE network (a fairly large peering provider, for example, we can stream video’s from the ABC network and it won’t count towards our usage. they also have most Linux distro’s etc, so d/l new ISO’s won’t cost anything), they also provide a Static IP, don’t count uploads, and have fast churn (especially useful as they use the same wholesale provider, Optus, so we should get provisioned within 7 days) so it will only cost us $35 to transfer, rather than $130 (I think). They also don’t count many sites such as YouTube, Google, eBay, etc, etc! So we won’t need as high a monthly allowance. 🙂

One of the anoying things is that our large town has just been rezoned ‘Zone 1, Metro’ rather than ‘Zone 2, Regional’. That’s important because it lowers the costs (as you can see from the following table). So, we can go for the Metro ADSL 2+ 100GB/mth plan for $49.95. We are currently paying $65/mth for a similar plan (120GB/mth with NO peering or freebies).

Fortana Evolution Broadband

Decisions… decisions… 😉

12 Kryten42 { 01.01.11 at 10:28 pm }

Oh! Yeah, the flooding up North is very bad. And here in the South, we have high fire danger days. Crazy really! *sigh*

I really hope everyone stays smart and safe!

13 Bryan { 01.02.11 at 12:09 am }

Good luck with the move and keep the mood elevators handy.

Except for satellite service, residential customers generally don’t deal with all of the choices that you have. You pay a fixed price for the connection and get “unlimited” bandwidth, with “unlimited” being defined by the ISP without any notification or warnings. Fixed IP addresses require a business connection which is about twice as much as a residential connection.

Unless you live in a large urban area your choices are THE cable company or THE phone company, unless you want to go with satellite. The satellite pricing follows a similar scheme to yours.

Come on, there will always be candidates for a Darwin Award to fill the newspapers. Some people just feel a primal urge to take a stupid risk that either gets them killed or involves a lot of sane people risking their lives to thwart the improvement in the gene pool.

14 Kryten42 { 01.02.11 at 6:35 am }

Yeah, fixed IP are rare here in residential plans. A few ISP’s offer them as standard, and some others offer them as a cost option. A static IP is very useful for me, for P2P, VoIP & and development work (running my own Web, FTP, Mail servers).

I’m still trying to figure out how we have been rezoned “Metro” (not that I am complaining!) Given we are about a two hour freeway/highway drive from Melbourne! You have to pass through several other towns to get here. 😆 World is crazy. 😉

Yeah, the cop’s in Qld. already arrested some morons who decided swimming in the polluted & treacherous flood waters would be fun (after one of them needed to be rescued by a chopper!) There are morons everywhere, it’s the one human constant!