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laureth's avatar

Americans, how would you prefer your congresscritters vote...?

Asked by laureth (27091 points ) November 2nd, 2010

There are two schools of thought (at least).

1. Legislators should vote based solely on the opinion of their constituents.

2. Legislators should vote in the best interests of their constituents.

There are good and bad points to both paths. For #1, what if the constituents are uninformed boneheads who wish to see some horrible, dangerous thing enacted into law that they really haven’t thought through, maybe because it’s popular? For #2, what if you feel like you’re being told what is good for you, and you disagree – whether it’s right or wrong wouldn’t matter to you, would it?

The easy way out is to say that there is a time and place for both methods of governance, based on the matter under dispute. Of course this is true, and sometimes the vote would be the same either way. But sometimes, these will be two different results, and on the whole, which tack would you rather see your congresspeople take? Would it be the same if your own ideas, which you felt were correct and reasoned (who doesn’t?), were unpopular with the masses?

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55 Answers

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Arent legislators supposed to vote based on the constitution? I really believe this is the cause of most of our problems. Too many people think we are a democracy, which leads to tyranny of the majority. We are supposed to be a constitutional republic. Thinking that we are a democracy, where no laws are made based on protecting rights anymore, has led to the erosion of our fourth amendment, undeclared wars, a broken economy, and many more problems we face.
We are bombarded by a 24 hour news cycle, whose main goal is to keep us in fear, so we are supposed to believe politicians need to protect us. We have strayed so far from what government was created for… to protect the RIGHTS of it citizens, nothing more.
The only oath an elected public official takes, is to protect and obey the constitution, which seems to be nonexistent anymore. We need to take a major step back and examine the difference between rights and priveleges and realize that the govt doesnt give us rights, its supposed to protect our rights. All the govt gives us, are priveleges. And when all you have are priveleges, they can be taken away just as quickly as they were given to you.
The tax code is one of the most obvious examples of unequal “rights.” Why does a single, renter, with no kids, pay much more in taxes than a married homeowner, with kids if we are all created equal? I think its because we are born free and equal until the govt gives certain priveleges to some while taking from others. That changes tne definition of free and equal.

laureth's avatar

@chris6137 – You can do either one and still stay within the bounds of the Constitution, if you do it right.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The entire premise behind representative democracy is that voters will choose representatives who will act in their best interests, using their best judgment. This doesn’t always mean a majority of those represented will agree with every decision. That understanding is part of the contract – theoretically.

If this were not the case, we would have direct democracy, in which every law or other action of the government would be passed by plebescite. This is impractical for large associations of people, even if a means – internet voting, for example – could be devised. It’s also inconsistent with the spirit of a constitutional government; indeed, one purpose of a constitution is to protect citizens from the tyranny of temporary majorities.

In practice, these principles are not working out as well as they should. In the U.S., politicians appear to be more beholden to special interests than they are to their constituents, and tend to vote along party lines with uncanny consistency. The voters themselves are partly to blame for this. Most people don’t understand how their government works, and more ominously, they don’t care as long as they feel things are going well for them.

laureth's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex – I agree with you, and that’s a pretty good summation of the issue as it stands. How would you answer the question?

I had a discussion with someone yesterday who thought that representatives ought to poll their constituents, and vote according to the poll, in a way that was so basic that even a trained monkey could legislate, and that was his definition of a representative that voted in his best interests. Opinions vary.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@laureth , I would look to soon-to-be-ex-Senator Russ Feingold as an example of a good representative. He scrupulously avoids taking money from special interests and votes according to his principles. He frequently takes unpopular stands, and ruffles quite a few feathers within his own party.

Wisconsin is about to give him the bum’s rush in favor of an ideologue who represents nothing but a rash of irrational anger. This where representative democracy fails. That rash of irrational anger is, however, the greatest argument against direct democracy I can think of.

JustmeAman's avatar

All I know is that we need change our nation and constitution are at risk and I think we need to change those in office. It is time for the voters to send a message and I hope they do but the vote will be the story. The way things are is not working and America is in serious trouble.

laureth's avatar

@JustmeAman Personally, I think the serious trouble and endangered constitution come in if the election goes the Tea Party’s way today, but I didn’t mean to turn this into a “which side is best” debate.

JustmeAman's avatar

I just think we need serious change. I would love it if the Constitution party would begin to get some votes and I’m with you that we should not be divided any longer and come together as a Nation.

crazyivan's avatar

Every two years we fire everybody and call it “sending a message”. Can you imagine if we were trying to build a tower. Every year we come out, see that the new contractor has fallen behind and fired him and his whole crew? You think we’d ever get the tower built? If you want to send a message, don’t just vote, get active. Get involved. Educate yourself. Educate your congressman…

Oh, and @laureth I’m not sure if this is ducking your question, but I’d like to take option #3 in which my representative votes based on their own principles. I’m lucky enough to have a congressperson that has principles (Anthony Weiner, most awesome legislator in congress), but for those in less fortunate districts I suppose I’d lean toward #2.

CaptainHarley's avatar

If your congressperson is of good character and truly has the best interests of his or her constituents at heart ( HUGE “if!” ), then go with option number 2. If he or she is NOT of good character, and/or does NOT have the best interests of their constituents at heart, they should be voted out of office.

JustmeAman's avatar

@crazyivan That is not so we do not fire them all every two years. Senator Hatch has been there for many years and is the senior Senator. But we are in a situation America has never faced and if it doesn’t change then bye bye America and the Constitution.

laureth's avatar

What situation is that, @JustmeAman? I hate to derail my own discussion, but I’m curious.

JustmeAman's avatar

@laureth

We are about to become a one world government. Our constitution is no longer followed. The IRS and the tax system are against the Constitution. We as a Nation are bankrupt and our social programs are bankrupt.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@JustmeAman

Don’t underestimate the will and creativity of the American people. I strongly believe that the Tea Party is but one example of the American capacity for self-renewal.

JustmeAman's avatar

@CaptainHarley I agree and I hope it will come forward and we as a People take our Country back and again use the Constitution as our guide.

laureth's avatar

@JustmeAman – [citation needed] ;)

crazyivan's avatar

@JustmeAman Sorry to cast doubt on your assertion, but I’ve been hearing that since Clinton was inaugurated. It starts to lose some of its punch when it keeps not happening…

I should add that according to the constitution, the job of interpreting the constitution falls to the Supreme Court, not to you personally. What the Supreme Court says is constitutional is constitutional according to the constitution. If you disagree with the direction of the country, that’s fine. But hiding behind a very flimsy interpretation of the constitution harms your credibility.

JustmeAman's avatar

@crazyivan

My credibility is not my concern our Nation is. I talked about what is going on years ago and tried to help people see what was coming and here it is. It actually started when they put the Federal Reserve into place not with Clinton.

TexasDude's avatar

Option 1 is my preference.

I’m very wary when someone… especially a politician, says they know what’s best for me.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard

As a mater of fact, that’s what’s wrong with almost every politician in DC these days… they always know SOOO much better than we do about virtually everything! I sometimes wish we had automatic referrendum on major issues, perhaps via the Internet! : (

Jaxk's avatar

Our system of government is designed so that we hand over the decision making responsibility to our congress. In theory that allows them to do more research and become more knowledgeable on specific issues than would the general public. The people we send to congress (and the president) should be in line with our basic philosophy on governance. If so, our best interest should be served by them voting their conscience. I would not want to see a representative voting the polls.

At the same time, I expect that they will vote knowledgeably. That means reading the bills. That means when we tell them they are taking the government in the wrong direction, they hear us. If they don’t listen on a philosophical level or they feel that they can ram things down our throats, they should be voted out of office in favor of someone with a more acceptable philosophy.

Representatives should know what’s important to their constituency. If the constituency is telling them they are spending too much money, they should not rush to spend even more before the next election. There is a basic disconnect with where the people want the government to be going and where the elite congress feels we should be going. We need a congress that believes in the same ideals we do. That’s what voting is all about.

JustmeAman's avatar

Great answer @Jaxk

Tuesdays_Child's avatar

My issue (one of them) with option #2 is that once a person is elected to a Congressional position and take off for Washington, D.C. they seem to lose sight pretty quickly of what is actually “good” for their constituents and get interested in what can be done to retain their position to make it a lifelong one. They are elected to represent the wishes of their constituents and find a happy medium that will also benefit those constituents. No one ever said this would be an easy job and that is part of the reason that the founders wanted a “citizen government”. These citizen legislators were to serve their term and then go home and gauge their constituents reactions to their actions while governing. They never mentioned career and politician in the same sentence, probably for good reason

laureth's avatar

@Jaxk – I am mostly with you, but I can also see where spending more might very well be in the public’s best interest, even if the public doesn’t understand why (because they haven’t done all the research).

augustlan's avatar

In an ideal world, I’d take option #2 every time. Even in this not-so-perfect one, it’s my preference. The vast majority of people don’t take the time to fully educate themselves on every single issue, and therefore often hold uninformed opinions. Given that, why would we want our legislators voting on a ‘majority rules’ basis? Let’s face it, if it was always done that way, blacks and women still wouldn’t be allowed to vote! “Popular” does not always equal “right”.

Of course, the most important thing to do is vote for smart, trustworthy candidates… those who do understand all of the issues and won’t abuse the privilege of doing what’s ‘best’ for us.

TexasDude's avatar

@augustlan, what if there are no smart, trustworthy candidates as an option? Is it excusable to not vote in that situation, or should you hold your nose and vote for the “lesser of two evils?”

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m with @augustlan on this one, I would prefer they act in the best interest of the people.

augustlan's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I’m actually in that situation today. I live in West Virginia, and have two asshats to choose from. I can’t tell anyone else what to do, but here’s what I’m going to do:

This particular election is a very important one. It could really change the course of things (IMO, for the worse). So, not voting is not an option for me today. Since my highest priorities are social issues (liberal ones, natch), I go with the one that is a closer fit to my ideals. In this case, the Democrat. Even though I think he’s a jerk. The alternative candidate is also a jerk, and is very far right. So, I’m holding my nose and voting for the lesser evil. In a less important election cycle, I might sit it out.

TexasDude's avatar

@augustlan, works for me. Thank you m’dear.

augustlan's avatar

BTW…

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@augustlan

You say that “‘Popular’ does not always equal ‘right,’” which may indeed be true, but how do you determine “right?”

And why in the world would you hold “social issues” in such high regard when economic issues are so dire just now ( almsot 10% unemployment, deficits our grandchildren won’t be able to pay, even a house out of reach for many people )?

SamIAm's avatar

congresscritters is my new favorite word… I can’t believe I’ve never heard it. bless you @laureth

Jaxk's avatar

@laureth

Whether spending will help to lessen the recession is a valid argument to have. Assuming that those who want the spending to stop are merely uninformed is not a valid position. If you believe that government should fix the problem, spending may be an acceptable solution to you. If you believe that the private sector is where jobs are created, spending may not be an acceptable solution. Most of that is based on your ideology and your political philosophy. Ergo, elect the candidate that most closely corresponds to your political philosophy. However wrong it may be :->

augustlan's avatar

@CaptainHarley Well, someone has to decide. I’d rather it be people who are educated and knowledgeable about the issues than your average group of citizens, for reasons I’ve stated above.

As to why social issues are more important to me than the economy, it’s simple: I value people over money. Every time. We must do what is right for the people first. The money can (and will) be sorted out later.

BTW, My asshat won!

laureth's avatar

@Jaxk – It is a valid debate to have, and I’ve had it many times. But more important than what people believe about it, is whether or not it is true. (For example, a debate about how many people believe in the effects of gravity on a dropped weight will not change the effect of gravity at all.) I believe the data points my way on this, and if I weren’t on my way to work, I’d be attaching a number of links.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@augustlan

Yeah, sort the money out later, just like they did when the economy tanked in 2008. [ rolls eyes ]

As to “educated,” I wouldn’t trust most of the “educated” people as far as I could throw them. Being “educated” generally means “brainwashed by leftist professors.” Give me a military man or woman who has been through hell and back, or a businessperson who has struggled mightily to build a business… people who have actually DONE something in their lives other than run their mouths.

Jaxk's avatar

@laureth

I have had this debate many times myself. The data does not point your way. If spending were the answer, we would never have had this recession. Bush spent way too much and that was one of the major issues against him. Obama felt that his spending was out of control and the answer was to spend even more. Nuts!

FDR tried your tactic during the Great Depression and all it did was to extend the depression for another ten years. Japan tried your tactic during the 90s. They called it the ‘Lost Decade’. Spending does not avert or reverse a recession, but it can prolong it. Government takes money out of the economy. If you want to recover from recession, you need money going into the economy. Taxes currently take 50% of our income (federal, state, and local). We lose another 30% of our GDP to regulation costs. The burden is just too great.

laureth's avatar

@Jaxk – It’s not “just” spending, it’s what you spend it on, and when. (If you spend a lot of money when everyone’s employed, like Bush did, it doesn’t prevent them from losing their jobs in a later year.) FDR’s spending was a trickle, which is why it barely helped us get by until the Big Huge spending and jobs program that was WWII. What Japan did is, every time they had the slightest hint of inflation, they jacked up the interest rate to but the brake on the inflation, and that kills their recovery. they’re still doing that, which is why they haven’t recovered.

Piddly peanut spending, like the WPA and the Stimulus package, is enough to avert things like bread lines, but it’s not enough to jump-start the economy the way it needs started. We have lower taxes now than we did in the Clinton years, than we did in WWII, why doesn’t that make the economy grow? (I could point to that and say “tax cuts don’t work” – heck, the Bush ones didn’t.)

Aw heck. I’ll just link to another response of mine that took forever to write, here. Many of the links are relevant, and it saves me the trouble of having to write it all over again.

augustlan's avatar

@CaptainHarley I never went to college, so have had no opportunity to be brainwashed by those nasty liberals.

I don’t want you to misunderstand me… I think the economy is important. (Though I think no matter where we rank its importance, you and I would surely disagree on how to fix it.) It’s just that I rank things like health care for everyone, equal rights for everyone, and making sure everyone has food on their table and a roof overhead above making sure everyone can buy a house (though that would be nice). In addition, we’ve been through tough financial times before, and I’m sure we will again. We will survive it. We will recover.

Ideally, the candidates I vote for would be concerned about both sides… the social and the financial. But if I have to choose between one and the other, or which to address first, I’ll choose the social side.

Jaxk's avatar

@laureth

If I understand your argument, it is that Stimulus didn’t work because it wasn’t big enough. At least I’ll give you credit for taking the first step, Stimulus didn’t work. The WPA didn’t work either nor did the jobs program called WWII. WWII put 12 million men in uniform which did lower unemployment. But as with government programs, you either keep them employed or when you release them unemployment returns to the previous level. Luckily after WWII the entire industrialized world was destroyed and we were the only country left to rebuild it. That’s what ended the great depression. Not spending.

As for Stimulus, I find it amusing that $800 Billion would be considered piddling in your estimation. But even if it is, keep in mind that is not the only spending he did. There was Omnibus that contained a 10% across the board increase for departmental budgets (works out to another $50 billion). We don’t know how much he expanded them in 2010 because he was afraid to write a budget, but it is estimated to be another 10% (another $50 billion). And let’s not forget the $75 billion for the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. Oh, and let’s not forget the $5 billion Cash for Clunkers. And of course how much in lifetime unemployment benefits (I say lifetime because it obviously isn’t over and there seems to be no end in sight). So if this $trillion spending spree was not enough, how many $trillions would you suggest?

As for your guy on the Bush tax cuts, he has a short memory (or selective). We had the Clinton recession (I would call it the DotCom bust but I thought you’d like the Clinton recession label better). That lingered until the attack on 9/11. If you recall the Dow was at 7200, the Airline industry was going belly-up, in fact it was much like the current recession. Your guy seems to want to ignore that and assume the economy was growing. The Bush tax cuts brought us back from the brink. And they didn’t cost a $trillion.

As for your other post, I am happy to discuss any point you want to make but am unwilling to address a scatter shot post like that one. I don’t have a research staff to refute every liberal blogger you can link to. If you have one that is intelligent, I will discuss.

laureth's avatar

@Jaxk – I am indeed saying that not enough was spent. Perhaps this would be a better explanation for you. Conservatives want to spend like crazy when the economy is good (and the spending is not needed), and starve us to bones when the economy is bad (and the spending is key). A better fiscal policy is to tax when the economy is rolling (and save that or pay down the debt), and spend like nuts when the economy is in the gutter to get it going again.

After the Great Depression, when people wanted this to Never Happen Again, work was put into figuring out what it would take to do that. You can find the answer in Samuelson’s 1947 Econ 101 textbook. You figure out how much of a GDP gap you have, and how much you need to bring it back up, and that’s how much to spend: in this case, Krugman was saying it should be about 1.4 trillion, all at once. Anything less than that wouldn’t fix the economy. And that’s why the stimulus didn’t bring us back up to “happy times are here again!” – it was a fraction of what it needed to actually work (and spread over too long a time), because the Republican and blue dog Democrat spending hawks in Congress would not have allowed it. What it did was keep us (barely) from getting any worse.

The policies that the Right is espousing (when they bother to espouse one other than “no!” nowadays) are things that will dig us deeper for longer. And you can bet your bottom dollar (lots of people are there nowadays) that the Republicans will blame the “Tea Party Recession” on that crazy Obama’s crazy spending, yo. Their aim is, at all costs, to keep Obama to a one term president, even if they have to trash the economy to do it.

Now, as far as your rebuttal of my various links, yes, some of them are bloggers, and some of them are liberal. But I’m sure you realize that you are including NPR, Forbes, Paul Krugman (A Nobel Prize winning economist), David Frum (one of George W.Bush’s old speech writers and a noted conservative), the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, David Stockman (Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget) and the American Enterprise Institute (a Conservative think tank) under the umbrella of ‘every stupid liberal blogger I can link to’. Wow.

laureth's avatar

Also, @Jaxk, not to nitpick, but I’m not sure where you get some of your numbers. Cash for Clunkers, for example, came in around 2.8 Billion or so. Why are you quoting almost double that? And I’m quite surprised you were never able to find the 2010 budget, since even the Wall-Street-Freaking-Journal has it up for public consumption here, not even behind the pay wall.

Forty percent of the original stimulus bill came in the form of tax cuts, which don’t need to be counted or paid for when Republicans favor them. So we can chop that right off the Stimulus, since they pay for themselves. ;)

crazyivan's avatar

And to further support @laureth‘s point, numbers are numbers, facts are facts. Political ideology does not change facts no matter how bad Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh want to make them do so.

The overwhelming majority of noted economists are on laureth’s side of this argument.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@laureth, @Jaxk, I ran across an article a few days ago that you both might find interesting.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69S0ZJ20101029

Roubini, like his contemporaries Krugman and Stiglitz, credits the stimulus with preventing another depression, and also argues that it wasn’t big enough to put the U.S. on a path to recovery. You can make what you will of that argument, but his predictions of what will come in 2011 and beyond are the thrust of his argument.

Roubini warns that the U.S. is on course for an extended period of economic malaise similar to what happened in Japan in the 1990s. Further action by the Federal Reserve is unlikely to have enough of an effect to prevent this, particularly if there is an economic shock. We could see that as early as February when a showdown is expected over raising the debt ceiling.

I hope Roubini is wrong and we will see an acceleration in growth over the next few years. But if we do enter into an extended period of economic stagnation, will it prove him right?

laureth's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex – that is the point I’m trying to make, and it’s the sort of thing that makes me wish that the far-Right fringe talk of secession is a promise rather than idle chatter. It would be interesting to spin them off with their set of high moral economic ideals, as a control to the experiment. I would like to see if it’s true – but I don’t want to experience it, if it turns out that way.

laureth's avatar

@Jaxk has been “crafting a response” for about 24 hours now. I keep waiting for the onslaught…

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@laureth , the most disturbing thing about the Roubini article is that he is not only telling us what’s going to happen, but how it’s going to happen. Two years down the road, if his gloomy prediction has come to pass, we’ll be able to look back and know what went wrong. The right will blame it on taxes and big government – as always – but history will have been written already. In advance.

laureth's avatar

The thing about Roubini, though, if I’m not mistaken, is that he’s been doing the “doom is coming!!” thing for a while. If you shout long enough that the sky is falling, then eventually, when the sky falls, you’ll be right.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@laureth , I know Roubini has been a prophet of doom for some time. He is, however, well aligned with Krugman and Stiglitz this time around, as well as Christina Romer and quite a few others – probably the entirety of the Neo-Keynesian school.

I’m gravely concerned about the plight of the states right now. They are going to have to cut workers, raise taxes, or both in order to meet their budget shortfalls, and that’s going to be a further drag on the economy. The only thing I can be hopeful for is an uptick in private sector hiring, which is growing, but not at a significant pace. It’s difficult to say what effect congressional gridlock will have on the private sector, but I can’t see it being anything good.

Those public service workers buy groceries and gasoline and shoes for their kids just like everybody else. Losing a job is losing a job, and it has the same overall effect on the economy.

Jaxk's avatar

@laureth

Sorry, I got called away rather urgently and left my computer logged on. Finally my wife shut it down and I lost my response. So the onslaught is lost. I’m trying to remember the argument (old age, ya know).

Just for the record however, I find it interesting that in a $trillion dollar spending spree, you complain the I over estimated by $2 billion. If you are asking for another $1.4 trillion in stimulus and need it spent right away, how exactly would you do that? Tax cuts are immediate but we know you don’t like that. Infrastructure by it’s very nature is long term (you don’t build high speed rail across the country in a few months). Sort of loading dump trucks with money and distributing it to all Obama’s constituents, I don’t see a way to do it. Not that I think it should be done. The latest move by the fed to monetize our debt is the scariest thing these imbeciles have thought up yet.

@crazyivan

You’re right, numbers are numbers and facts are facts. Between the Bailouts (TARP) and the Stimulus we have spent more than $1.4 trillion. Doing it again because Obama spent it poorly is not going to happen.

Now I’m off to read the article from @IchtheosaurusRex .

laureth's avatar

@Jaxk – The reason I’m quibbling about your exaggerated numbers is because they’re exaggerated. It doesn’t represent real spending, it just represents (from what I can tell) someone on the Right trying to fudge numbers, which is something I’ve seen too much of in these last few years.

Infrastructure is long term, but a decent way to spend if it’s necessary. We still have a lot of the structures built during the WPA years – those represented good investment in the future. But it’s important to remember that while it does take a while to build things, the contracts are written and orders placed soon. Like they say, “shovel ready.” Largely, we need things that increase employment, like, now. And remember, austerity measures increase unemployment which would put us on a grand spiral downward.

By “dump trucks,” do you mean spending on things like unemployment, which does a lot to help the economy? As we know, wealthy people who receive tax breaks often save, and poor people in need of kids’ clothes and peanut butter spend what they get immediately on necessities. And where ever they spend it, that creates jobs for people like cashiers, distributors, farmers, up the chain. While it doesn’t build a road, it sure is felt sooner than later in strapped communities. Remember, all Americans are Obama’s constituents.

It’s not that it was spent poorly, it’s that it wasn’t enough. I don’t know about you, but if I have a headache, and one ibuprofen doesn’t work, I’ll take another: I don’t sit there whining about the ineffectiveness of ibuprofen.

Here’s a somewhat better explanation. Yes it is a blog, but it’s Mr. Laureth’s blog. ;) And when you get done with that one, here’s another.

I could understand the fear of borrowing if we were facing extortion-level interest rates, but we’re not. Interest rates have been at historically low levels, sometimes even in the negative – meaning people have even paid to loan us money. Credit is a resource, and just like in nature, a pile of resource screams out for someone to come along and utilize it. We should be using this credit to get the economy going again. Get it going, and then, as employment rises and the situation stabilizes, bring in savings measures, tamp down the spending, and pay down the debt. But we need to do that when we’re healthy, not when we’re sick.

Jaxk's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex
If you recall Obama told us that one of the things his plan would do is to eliminate the fluctuations in our growth. No more highs and lows. Unfortunately he picked a low point in our growth and I think he’s accomplished his goal of no more fluctuations. I kind of wish he’d waited for a higher point to do that.

Jaxk's avatar

@laureth

I’m not sure you want me to take these guys seriously but if I’m wrong I’ll just make a few comments.

First your guy Murstein. And I have to contrast him with your comment about how great the extended unemployment is. We have people that have been living on unemployment for two years now. Of course no one wants to hire them. The longer a person remains unemployed the less appealing they are to employers. The longer we extend unemployment The longer they stay unemployed. If this seems like a vicious cycle, it is. Unemployment is intended to be a safety net, not a career. We are exacerbating the problem not fixing it. In fact, if I take your spending proposal and just hike the unemployment payments to, say $100,000/yr we’d fix the problem. Of course everyone would want to be unemployed but hell debt is no issue for us so let’s go for it.

Second, he goes on to say “Demand for US Treasury bills is so great that the interest rate has actually been negative surprisingly often in the last couple of years”. Except that isn’t holding true. In fact the fed is buying up treasuries because no one else wants them. They are doing it to keep the rates low and the rest of the world is complaining (especially those that already hold some). What we are really doing here is lowering the value of the dollar. I can only assume the plan is to make the dollar so worthless that our debt will be peanuts. Unfortunately there is a price to be paid for that strategy. And as far as the fed making any move timely, that’s a joke. They are always behind the curve and usually way behind.

The total manipulation that is occurring is quite scary. According to the Fed buying our debt is expected to keep interest rates low and spur investment/borrowing. Hell interest rates are already at an all time low. Interest rates are not the issue. But the low interest rates are affecting the market as people search for any investment that will have a better return than treasuries or bonds. Foreign investments and gold look like good bets. Unfortunately neither one helps us.

Everyone thinks the Fed will have the tools to extract all this extra money from the economy once we see inflation rear it’s ugly head. What tools? The only thing they can do is sell the debt and it will require much higher interest rates to do so. Our debt payment is already approaching 10% of the total federal budget and it could rise to 20–30% quickly as interest rates rise. Hell 10% interest on $13 trillion is 1.3 trillion. And that’s not anywhere near a hyperinflation scenario. So you want to pay it back when we’re healthy but as this gets out of control we can’t. We’ve created a monster that will not be controlled. Just remember we are borrowing in a subprime lending scenario. When the rates adjust we’re dead.

And let me talk to your infrastructure. When Obama said shovel ready he was talking about plans that had already been developed. And it took 2 years even then to get them going. And if they go the way they did last time we’re looking at union only jobs insuring a higher price tag but making the unions wealthy. I can see why that would be appealing to some (just not me).

The problem is your guy seems to think we can spur growth with his green energy plan. There is no plan and there is no green energy. Even if we populate the land with windmills we lose more coal jobs than we gain in windmill jobs He wants to push electric cars and higher fuel standards that will cost an average $3500 per car. That’s not stimulating anything. He thinks that if we can increase the cost of energy it will spur developers to create a new industry we haven’t yet discovered. All it does is drive down the economy. We have resources here to cover all of our energy needs. And for a very long time (as much as the entire middle east). We need to open up those resources and allow development. For every barrel of oil we produce domestically we save $87 that would have been shipped over seas. In addition we inject $87 back into our own economy. That’s a $174 gain for the economy. we are spending almost $400 billion/yr importing oil. by producing it ourselves, that an $800 billion gain. And I haven’t even discussed any reduction in the price of oil. Government regulation is killing us and I haven’t even started on the big regulation problems. State local and Federal regulations combined suck 30% of our entire GDP. Even a small reduction in the cost of regulation would have a dramatic effect on our economy. I’m not talking about eliminating any essential regulation but only the waste. The crap that costs industry billions and adds no value.

One example and I’ll stop. When the BP oil spill happened, Obama immediately blamed BP for putting profits above safety. I have no problem blaming BP but so far the investigation has shown no evidence of anyone putting profits above safety. Nonetheless, Obama felt the oil companies were too close the regulating body and created a new agency to oversee them and create new regulations. He didn’t get rid of the old agency, he didn’t get rid of any of the old regulations, he just added new to put on top of the old. Typical government response. Don’t fix what’s wrong just expand government to create more regulation at phenomenal cost to industry with little concept of whether they even address the problem let alone fix it. Maybe I’m old fashioned but if you have a working process and something goes wrong, you go in and fix it. If it is so bad it can’t be fixed you replace it. Only government would build a new process on top of the old dysfunctional process.

OK, I’ve rattled on too long already.

Jaxk's avatar

@laureth

BTW, if I have a headache, I take two aspirin to begin with (remember I’m old fashioned). And if they don’t work, I work through the headache. I wouldn’t take the whole bottle. And I certainly wouldn’t shove them up my ass like we did with the first stimulus ;-)

laureth's avatar

A couple points.

Re: “The longer we extend unemployment The longer they stay unemployed.”
That would be true if, perhaps, there were plenty of jobs just waiting empty to be filled with people as soon as they found the wherewithal to get off their bloated, resource-sucking butts. This is not the state we’re currently in. The Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco did a study on this very thing, and found that this is true, but really, really tiny, about 1.6 weeks longer for those receiving unemployment.

Re; unemployment, you say ” We are exacerbating the problem not fixing it.” – Finally we agree. We’re not putting nearly enough spending out there as we ought, so the problem is not fixed. ;)

Re: “Second, he goes on to say “Demand for US Treasury bills is so great that the interest rate has actually been negative surprisingly often in the last couple of years”. Except that isn’t holding true. In fact the fed is buying up treasuries because no one else wants them.”

I do not find that this is true; a quick look at current treasury bill interest rates for 5— and 7— year bills still reveals negative interest going on, and they haven’t yet begun to buy any back. (The buyback is going on because they hope that if they push more money out into the economy, people will start buying things again. The amount that is involved, though, is still a drop in the economic bucket. $600Bil sounds like a lot, until you realize how many US dollars are out there.)

Re: your oil shale scheme.
Yeah, there’s a lot of oil in oil shale, but do you have any idea what it takes to extract it? Even the Oil and Gas Journal (an industry rag) says, “While achieving total US energy independence is an unrealistic objective, it is conceivable that large-scale production of domestic oil shale, combined with continuing growth in tar sand and extra-heavy oil production, could make the US effectively independent of Persian Gulf supply sources.” That sounds like a lot until you realize that the great majority of our oil comes from non-Persian Gulf countries.—and at what cost? That sort of degradation will cost a lot (in terms of health and cleanup), but those are externalities that pro-shale folks seem to prefer to ignore.

There is a middle ground between taking one aspirin, and if that didn’t work, taking the whole bottle. I favor that middle ground – something between “not enough to work” and “stomach-pumping overdose.” My opponents on the Right, though, often see things in absolute black and white, never a moderate, helpful shade of grey.

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