mad as hell
July 19, 2010 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Dylan Ratigan's Howard Beale Moment (via se)

BONUS
- 58% of Real Income Growth Since 1976 Went to Top 1% (and Why That Matters)
- How Inequality Fueled the Crisis
- Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger
- The economic, political, and financial problems behind the financial crisis
- Redo That Voodoo
- In Finance We Distrust
- Preventing 2006 [1,2,3]
- 'Manufacturing', cont. [4,5]
- Why the west faces a harsher future
- Zero marginal product workers
- Radicals, activists, and reformers
- Building a Sustainable Global Future
- An Age of Miracles and Wonders
- "Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems," E. Ostrom (2010)
posted by kliuless (35 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This guy is as full of shit as anyone ever. He spent what a year on that absurd "Fast Money" show on CNBC whoring the "make your money trading in the markets" bullshit. Now he realizes anti-wall street populism is his path to fame so he does this on MSNBC.

Ironic that he got his first job at bloomberg because he knew Bloomy's daughter.

(This is not by any means about the message, just the messenger)
posted by JPD at 10:09 AM on July 19, 2010


"let's focus on jobs. let's focus on what's killing jobs and keeping the economy down. you know, i know it is impossible to tax yourself into new jobs and i think it's impossible for the government to spend itself into new jobs."

We have lower taxes now than under Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, JFK and Eisenhower. So, where are the jobs that tax cuts are supposed to create?
posted by stavrogin at 10:14 AM on July 19, 2010 [23 favorites]


Not a challenge, stavrogin, but do you have a cite? I'd be interested in seeing the numbers.
posted by echo target at 10:28 AM on July 19, 2010


Here. Though, I was wrong about Bush I. And I could have included FDR and Truman.
posted by stavrogin at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's impossible for the government to spend itself into new jobs.

That explains why the WPA was such a spectacular failure.

And looking up that link, I found this hilarious story, including the fact that the Conservative Nutbag Uncle has been a staple longer than I realized:
John Steinbeck refuted the most common slur against WPA workers in his essay, "Primer on the '30s": “... It was the fixation of businessmen that the WPA did nothing but lean on shovels. I had an uncle who was particularly irritated at shovel-leaning. When he pooh-poohed my contention that shovel-leaning was necesary, I bet him five dollars, which I didn’t have, that he couldn’t shovel sand for fifteen timed minutes without stopping. He said a man should give a good day’s work and grabbed a shovel. At the end of three minutes his face was red, at six he was staggering and before eight minutes were up his wife stopped him to save him from apoplexy. And he never mentioned shovel-leaning again.“
posted by DU at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2010 [31 favorites]


On the one hand, Howard Beale was a raving lunatic who believed that God spoke directly to him and who was actually a tool for greedy corporatist fatcats who manipulated him to keep the public where they were-- entertained and thinking their entertainment made a difference.

On the other hand, I actually felt bad for Howard Beale.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:36 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


We have lower taxes now than under Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, JFK and Eisenhower.

Is that just plain old federal income tax? Or does that include ALL taxes, at the federal, state, municipal level?
posted by davidmsc at 10:45 AM on July 19, 2010


On the other hand, I actually felt bad for Howard Beale.

It's natural to feel bad for people who are getting called out on how much they suck.
posted by scrowdid at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2010


That appears to be federal income tax, and I'm not sure you can conclude that we have lower income taxes now than in the past without some sort of way to make the brackets equivalent across time periods. It's not just the top bracket's rate that has changed, but also the number of brackets and the income distribution between them. Just looking at the top bracket's rate over time doesn't tell you that much about what the actual tax structure has been.

I'm not saying we're not taxed less now than we have been in the past, just that I don't know from that info on wikipedia.
posted by rusty at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2010


I'm not sure you can conclude that we have lower income taxes now than in the past

Pretty sure nobody is paying 90% on their last dollar.
posted by DU at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, I don't know about every state, but under its Republican legislature, the state of Florida has been in the process of cutting its tax base to the bone over the last couple of decades, even to the point that they began in recent years preempting the authority of local counties and municipalities to determine their own property tax rates in order to further cut property tax burdens (and we don't have a state income tax, only property and sales taxes, and it seems pretty much every sales tax with a sunset clause has been allowed to lapse and voters haven't even been willing to accept a two-cent tax on gas to support local school districts to help make up the loss of revenue from local property tax levies that are now capped at the state level).

My distinct impression is, in Florida at least, we are definitely paying far less in terms of overall tax burden than at any other time in post-Depression era history. Even those of us without the resources to set up off-shore tax shelters are paying a little less.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:10 AM on July 19, 2010


Pretty sure nobody is paying 90% on their last dollar.

Yeah, but sheltering structures have changed radically. Figuring out real historic tax burdens is actually a pretty complex accounting problem...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:15 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


DU: If the ten richest people pay 90% on income over a million dollars, and everyone else pays 3% on all income, is that more or less taxation than when the richest 100,000 pay 40% on income over a million and everyone else pays 25% on all income?

Comparing top brackets would say that 90% is greater than 40%, so we're taxed less now than then. I don't think you can conclude that from the information given, except for those ten richest individuals, whose tax has indeed gone down.
posted by rusty at 11:17 AM on July 19, 2010


The discussion of tax rates began with reference to policies that involve lowering tax rates on the rich/corporations in order to create jobs. Historic shelters and rates on the poor are irrelevant to that discussion and merely muddy the water. Conservatives are not arguing that we should create some more off-shore tax havens, they are arguing that we should actually reduce the top marginal rate.
posted by DU at 11:30 AM on July 19, 2010


Who and who?
posted by leapfrog at 11:40 AM on July 19, 2010


I don't like this politics stuff much, and I figure you're likely to see something similar to this any time you turn on MSNBC. But I want to say: this Ratigan dude just managed to get a Republican congressman from Texas to utter the words "I don't think you should demonize liberals like that."

Wow.
posted by koeselitz at 12:02 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've recently seen more Ratigan than I really care to and I think some people are doing him a disservice. I'm by no means an overly credulous sort and I think Ratigan really does believe most of what he's saying.

He's a repetitive and insufferable boor, but being right doesn't make those things go away.

Still better than virtually all of the CNN daytime anchors. Where do they find those guys, BUFFOONS 'R US?
posted by Justinian at 12:08 PM on July 19, 2010


On the one hand, Howard Beale was a raving lunatic who believed that God spoke directly to him and who was actually a tool for greedy corporatist fatcats who manipulated him to keep the public where they were-- entertained and thinking their entertainment made a difference.

Howard Beale also went crazy because he got fired from his fourth-place news broadcast. Later, he was assassinated on-air because his corporate masters' message was killing the ratings, giving a boost to a new reality show about SLA-style terrorists.

Thus: Glenn Beck will be killed live by Ryan Seacrest.
posted by solistrato at 12:08 PM on July 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dylan Ratigan seems to want to be the left's long awaited answer to Glenn Beck, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, is it? (Well, okay, it probably is.)

But his one, perhaps overstated point is a decent one: Wall Street has in some ways become a sort of capital vampire, promising risk-free returns on "investments" that don't actually amount to investments on anything in particular, and skimming as much as possible off each transaction in the process to keep its profits healthy.

Theoretically, all that Wall Street investment activity should make its way back to the banks in the form of capital available to business owners and entrepreneurs for use in establishing and growing their businesses (and homeowners for buying homes, etc.), but the banks, too, have been/are apparently turning around and putting most of their capital back into Wall Street. And who can blame them?

After all, who wants to invest in actual entrepreneurship with the potential to create jobs anymore, after the dot-com bust? Wall Street decided real estate would be a safer bet to deliver those risk-free capital gains investor's everywhere are longing for, so they sank everything into real estate only to watch that market sink them right back.

It's no wonder investors, individual and institutional alike, would rather just swirl all their money around in the bottom of Wall Street's enormous Bordeaux glass of capital rather than park it anywhere in the real world. At least as long as it's there where they can keep their eye on it, it isn't being furtively slurped up by the hired help.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


This guy's all over the place. I'm not even sure what, specifically, he's for or against.

At least the evil Texas Republican stayed calm.

This guy is no Howard Beale. He's not even Keith Olberman.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:47 PM on July 19, 2010


I was wrong about Bush I

...who was a recession President. The facts mean nothing to anti-tax zealots, you can chart economic growth against tax rates and they will still insist that taxes destroy the economy. The Overton Window has moved so far now that every politician is dead certain that increasing taxes is impossible, but that's what we're going to have to do to get the economy (and the country) back on track.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:21 PM on July 19, 2010


If you wanna see a fuckin Left-Wing alternative to Glenn Beck (long-awaited? Who's been holding their breathe for that?) give ME a show, and I'll show ya what a real Left-Wing Glenn Beck would be like. Oh I can outcrazy that mofo anyday!

(Actually, I think Mike Malloy would've been the Left's answer to Glenn Beck, now that I think about it. Or the left's ... That right-wing Savage guy (not Dan, the other one))
posted by symbioid at 2:38 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


DU: we could bring out a new WPA today if we wanted to.
posted by wuwei at 4:00 PM on July 19, 2010


Eh, the "debate" was pretty boring. Standard talking points plus yelling. Boring. The points he was making in the first part of the segment were reasonable, I thought. I suppose he's spent more time explaining his thesis on the show, because if you just state these things people may write you off as something of a crackpot. On the other hand, it seems like so much of this 'style' of argument is in the media now that it may seem more reasonable to people today, then, say, when Ralph Nader was saying it back in 2000.

What bothers me is the fact that Obama seems intent on propping up this corrupt system and "working with it" rather then trying to explain to people what's wrong. There are reforms, although they've been watered down quite a bit.

I mean a central pillar of his campaign was arguing against the corrupt, lobyist infested politics in washinton. Who is he appointing to adminster the new healthcare bill? Liz Fowler, a former VP of wellpoint, and the person who actually wrote one of the drafts of the bill for Max Baucus. And then of course there's Geithner

If it was the case the Obama was actually fighting on this issue, then he should say so. Instead it appears that he doesn't particularly care about it at all, and just wanted to get people to vote for him by calming he was.
posted by delmoi at 9:45 PM on July 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


that was lame. being one of these wall street vampires I'm getting a bit tired of the refrain that this is all our fault and that a complex economic system can be distilled down to a simple "they are stealing our money" line. What exactly is he calling for? No more banks? No more computer trading? No more risk management for banks clients? No more 4.75% mortgages? Anyone ever wonder how banks can lend mortgage money at 4.75% these days? It sure as hell isnt because everyone is paying back their mortgages!

I call bullshit on Ratigan and think the way he treated his guest on the show was awful. Whats the senator supposed to say - "yeah they are all blood sucking leeches lets lynch the several *million* people who works at banks"?

Lets not forget that financial services is the biggest industry in the US now.
posted by H. Roark at 1:42 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


- A View on the World Outlook
- The Great Restructuring
- How to Tell a Nation Is at Risk
- Job Training Struggles to Keep Pace in an Economy in Flux
- A curious unemployment picture gets more curious
- Fiscal Fibs and Follies
- Some thoughts on the Goldman settlement
- Hope
- The Future of Finance
- "Shared social responsibility" as a path to greater profit?
posted by kliuless at 3:49 AM on July 20, 2010


Untangling Skill & Luck - "There's a simple and elegant test of whether there is skill in an activity: ask whether you can lose on purpose. If you can't lose on purpose, or if it's really hard, luck likely dominates that activity. If it's easy to lose on purpose, skill is more important."

Jeremy Grantham's Summer Reading - A good set of summer readings on finance, aging populations, and global warming, among other topics, from GMO's Jeremy Grantham.
posted by kliuless at 4:11 AM on July 20, 2010


"Lets not forget that financial services is the biggest industry in the US now."
posted by H. Roark at 3:42 AM on July 20

Wait, so might makes right? What's your point? "OH NOES IF WE KILL OFF FINANCE CAPITAL WE'RE ALL DOOMED!"

I hate this line of logic. I'm hoping that's not what you're saying, I really am, but I have a feeling that somehow that's part of your justification. You're the hand that feeds, so we best not bite?
posted by symbioid at 10:43 AM on July 20, 2010


no, my point is that the argument seems to always be targeting a group of "fat cat wall streeters" when in reality this is a huge swathe of the US employed. I'm a software guy working at a hedge fund. Volker rule is shutting us down - I will probably lose my job and my wife is stay-at-home-mom. We are not rich, are likely going to have to move etc. There is a lot of collateral damage being done here.
posted by H. Roark at 12:47 PM on July 20, 2010


As opposed to the collateral damage that was happening due to the bubble bursting in the first place? My old co-worker was drooling when he thought of all the wonderful profits to be made by buying ARMs and all that shit, and flipping houses. He wasn't rich (he was, however, a bit stupid). He never ended up doing it, AFAIK... But, had he gone ahead with the game, should I have excused him for his role in it all, because he wasn't rich?

I'm all for people having the right to own their own home, but let's face facts, this bubble and burst wasn't about people buying their first homes - it was about a bunch of organizations and groups and people colluding into a giant fraud to con people in get-rich-quick schemes. Essentially a giant fuckin' Ponzi and they made out like bandits, and in the end, it's people like you who end up suffering because are we supposed to just let shit like this continue to be legal? Or do we regulate, and you have to be a casualty?

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this, unfortunately (lots of) people, are gonna end up suffering due to regulations that are needed. Any systemic issue that is causing lots of problems that needs to be rectified is, in the end, going to end up causing short term pain during the process of fixing it.

I don't like it, and I think it's important to alleviate the pain on those who bear the brunt of it and can ill-afford it... Just as I, while I oppose these wars, support giving full health benefits to the soldiers when they get home and recognizing the damage they've had to go through.

That said, these modest reforms are much much much less than what I'd prescribe.

In fact, the reforms, IMO, are targeted at getting the machine back into play, running smoothly, continuing on a particular path that is never questioned, in the end. There are some very fundamental issues at play here that, because we are so enmeshed into a system that's kind of propped itself up as a house of cards (which fell), we seem to ignore the fact that the cards are very very narrow on the edge, and we want to keep building with the cards. Maybe if we limit how big the tower can be, or maybe we can make the cards just a little bit wider, maybe that will fix it. And we keep on building this tower, only to watch it crumble again and again.

Anyways, if you do end up losing your job, I wish you nothing but the best, and hope you don't have to suffer too much. I've known too many people suffering in this current economic climate and it ain't pretty.
posted by symbioid at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2010


I do not agree that it was about a bunch of organizations and groups and people colluding into a giant fraud to con people in get-rich-quick schemes. Essentially a giant fuckin' Ponzi and they made out like bandits. you are falling into the same trap - who are "they"? The people who get mortgage mods and live in houses they dont pay for? The "fat cat bankers"? call it what you want, I think the term "business cycle" is appropriate. credit expansion and contraction are all part of the game. The idea that the only reason we dont perpetually grow at 5% is because of wall street theft is damaging.
posted by H. Roark at 3:00 PM on July 20, 2010


No - I don't think we should be growing at 5% either. I guess my framework is completely outside of the current system that when I complain about it, I'm not doing so from the same vantage point as a lot of so called progressives and moderate-leftists.

We'll have to agree to disagree, I guess.
posted by symbioid at 3:52 PM on July 20, 2010


if i may try to bridge the divide with some of the links in this thread and maybe help get people on the same page (at least the way i see it! ;) i think this is a conversation that there hasn't been enough of -- which is why i keep on posting stuff about it, axe-grinding if you will, but (i hope?) relevant? i dunno, y'all be the judge* -- like i think it should be part of mainstream discourse and, to me at least, it's distressing that it's not being widely considered, much less discussed...

so, to provide some context, i think a good place to start is this overview summary by felix salmon on the debate, where i think the root cause of our current predicament is "the inevitable consequence of the twin revolutions of globalization and technological change."

from this one can go to raghuram rajan (known most now for presenting this paper to the fed in 2005) and how inequality fueled the crisis...

then, with that in mind, one can see how 'malinvestment' spurred it on; one of my favourite SRW quotes: "in economic substance, the government is currently spending through a financial time machine on the exurban subdivisions and auto loans of several years past. We are retroactively turning in the entire mid-decade 'boom' into a gigantic Keynesian stimulus project..."

what's more, stephen king (not that one, HSBC's chief economist) seems to agree and even bill gross appears to share this view.

rajan i think is probably the most articulate and prominent proponent of this 'false-' or 'pseudo-economy' theory, where large swathes of US workers, facing obsolescence from globalization and technology, latched on to debt, housing and construction to stay above water, and which took over for awhile, but turned out to be false idols... so now we're left with an investment bust and a $4tr debt overhang on top of the obsolescence that we never really addressed to begin with. but his proposed fix -- "more investment in improving education and retraining" -- i think is inadequate and calls for something more radical... and, fwiw, altho i can't pretend that i know what the solution might be, i suspect it ties in with evolutionary group selection :P ahem!

so basically, the problem -- unlike the industrial revolution where agricultural workers could (relatively easily) move into factories -- is that displaced workers that were trying to enter the 'information economy' (financial services writ small, aka "the biggest industry in the US now") ended up on the assembly line 'manufacturing' triple-A securities on the one hand or in the low-wage service sector on the other. while business visionaries could see this happening 15 years ago nothing's really ever been done to bridge the gap to an america of the future that still has a middle class...

now all that's quite a bit of an oversimplification of course, and i hope it turns out to be an exaggeration but, like a lot of people i think, i'm pretty skeptical that our political institutions are capable of managing well the transitions brought on by "globalization and technological change". like it may in fact be that the political entity we all know and love as the 'nation-state' only really ever worked well as an industrial-age institution! (it's alternatively fun and depressing entertaining such a possibility ;) more explicit state capitalism may be the answer, but i guess i have the same qualms with that as with a benevolent dictator, cf. the federal reserve...

anyway, to the extent that emerging markets are able to utilize state directed capitalism to 'converge' with the developed world in terms of standards of living, if not political enfranchisement, then in a world where 'demand' (problematic in its own right i know) itself is scarce, those who command it will have an advantage...

---
*feedback is helpful if you're running on the courage of your convictions...
posted by kliuless at 9:00 PM on July 20, 2010


I'm a software guy working at a hedge fund.

Maybe you can get a job doing something useful instead of enabling thieves.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:58 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Report: Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews
posted by XMLicious at 3:29 AM on August 10, 2010


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