Sorry... I see a social security crisis

The typical criticism of deficit spending is as follows: Deficits let current generations off the hook for paying the bills. Thus, consumption rises while rate of savings and investment declines. This leads to there being less capital per worker, and therefore lower growth in productivity. Since capital is scarce, the rate of return rises, which leads to a rise in interest rates. These high interest rates attract foreign investors which, by definition, cause our trade deficit to widen. However, there has been almost no correlation between the budget deficit and the interest rate, productivity growth rate, or the savings and investment rate. Some economists, such as Robert Barro of Harvard see this as absolute proof that deficits don't matter. To them, the typical criticism of deficit spending is nothing more than a scary story to tell in the dark. If only it were just a "story". Like economists Robert Eisner and Michael Boskin (chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers under George H. W. Bush), I believe that correlation between the deficit and other economic variables is so low because the deficit has been defined incorrectly. The official debt is only a measure of our government's liabilities; it completely ignores our assets. In layman's terms, its akin to calling the owner of a $1 million property a debtor, by mere account of his large mortgage. There are fierce arguments amongst academia and government officials on how to measure our debt. Those are beyond the scope of this post, but we can conclude: The deficit is not a well-defined economic concept The real problems with deficit spending are not measured by our current federal deficit figure. Most notably, we should be worrying about transfers of wealth between generations (or maybe just me, since I'm 22).

Can Socialists Be Happy?

Marc Chagall: The Whie Crucifixion

By George Orwell

The thought of Christmas raises almost automatically the thought of Charles Dickens, and for two very good reasons. To begin with, Dickens is one of the few English writers who have actually written about Christmas. Christmas is the most popular of English festivals, and yet it has produced astonishingly little literature. There are the carols, mostly medieval in origin; there is a tiny handful of poems by Robert Bridges, T.S. Eliot, and some others, and there is Dickens; but there is very little else. Secondly, Dickens is remarkable, indeed almost unique, among modern writers in being able to give a convincing picture of happiness.

Dickens dealt successfully with Christmas twice in a chapter of The Pickwick Papers and in A Christmas Carol. The latter story was read to Lenin on his deathbed and according to his wife, he found its 'bourgeois sentimentality' completely intolerable. Now in a sense Lenin was right: but if he had been in better health he would perhaps have noticed that the story has interesting sociological implications. To begin with, however thick Dickens may lay on the paint, however disgusting the 'pathos' of Tiny Tim may be, the Cratchit family give the impression of enjoying themselves. They sound happy as, for instance, the citizens of William Morris's News From Nowhere don't sound happy. Moreover and Dickens's understanding of this is one of the secrets of his power their happiness derives mainly from contrast. They are in high spirits because for once in a way they have enough to eat. The wolf is at the door, but he is wagging his tail. The steam of the Christmas pudding drifts across a background of pawnshops and sweated labour, and in a double sense the ghost of Scrooge stands beside the dinner table. Bob Cratchit even wants to drink to Scrooge's health, which Mrs Cratchit rightly refuses. The Cratchits are able to enjoy Christmas precisely because it only comes once a year. Their happiness is convincing just because Christmas only comes once a year. Their happiness is convincing just because it is described as incomplete.

All efforts to describe permanent happiness, on the other hand, have been failures. Utopias (incidentally the coined word Utopia doesn't mean 'a good place', it means merely a 'non-existent place') have been common in literature of the past three or four hundred years but the 'favourable' ones are invariably unappetising, and usually lacking in vitality as well.

By far the best known modern Utopias are those of H.G. Wells. Wells's vision of the future is almost fully expressed in two books written in the early Twenties, The Dream and Men Like Gods. Here you have a picture of the world as Wells would like to see it or thinks he would like to see it. It is a world whose keynotes are enlightened hedonism and scientific curiosity. All the evils and miseries we now suffer from have vanished. Ignorance, war, poverty, dirt, disease, frustration, hunger, fear, overwork, superstition all vanished. So expressed, it is impossible to deny that that is the kind of world we all hope for. We all want to abolish the things Wells wants to abolish. But is there anyone who actually wants to live in a Wellsian Utopia? On the contrary, not to live in a world like that, not to wake up in a hygenic garden suburb infested by naked schoolmarms, has actually become a conscious political motive. A book like Brave New World is an expression of the actual fear that modern man feels of the rationalised hedonistic society which it is within his power to create. A Catholic writer said recently that Utopias are now technically feasible and that in consequence how to avoid Utopia had become a serious problem. We cannot write this off as merely a silly remark. For one of the sources of the Fascist movement is the desire to avoid a too-rational and too-comfortable world.

Kandinsky describes what he wants from his viewers

"In conclusion, therefore, I shall embark upon the negative path and explain as clearly as possible what I do not want. ... I do not want to paint music. I do not want to paint states of mind. I do not want to paint coloristically or uncoloristically. I do not want to alter, contest, or overthrow any single point in the harmony of the masterpieces of the past. I do not want to show the future its true path. ... I want only to paint good, necessary, living pictures, which are experienced properly by at least a few viewers." -Wassily Kandinsky

Imperialist Lackeys Tarnish Image of Great Savior

How could anyone say "no" to that smile? Well, apparently the capitalist pigs at the Czech Foreign Ministry can... The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (who are mere parlor-pinkos, might I add) give us the full scoop:

The North Korean embassy in Prague is calling for a ban on Team America: World Police in the Czech Republic. The main villain in Team America is North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who is shown in the movie shooting his translator in the head and feeding former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix to a tank of sharks.

Aided by vacuous Hollywood stars, Jong-il plans to carry out an attack with weapons of mass destruction that will result in damage that is "9/11 times 2,356."

"Such behavior is not part of our country's political culture," the North Korean diplomat added. "Therefore, we want the film to be banned."

See? That's all that he asks. But the imperialist lackeys in the Czech Republic continue to insist that they don't "ban films" in a Democratic society. I wonder if the Czechs might consider the fact that they might make Kim Jong-il cry. (Link Via Rebecca MacKinnon)

George Orwell on Socialists

One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England. One day this summer I was riding through Letchworth when the bus stopped and two dreadful-looking old men got onto it.... They were dressed in pistachio-coloured shirts and khaki shorts into which their huge bottoms were crammed so tightly that you could study every dimple. Their appearance caused a mild stir of horror on top of the bus. The man next to me...glanced at me, at them, and back again at me and murmured “Socialists”.

-George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)

More Proof that Howard Dean was the Right Choice

Caught this editorial at

Democrats, about to choose a new national chairman for their party, are on the verge of making a decision that is both fraught with potential consequences and interesting for the insight it offers on the current state of the party.

The front runner—indeed, increasingly the prohibitive favorite—is former Vermont Governor and Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean.

Just think how scared we'd be had this editorial argued that Howard Dean was a good choice...

What is DeanSpace?

By Aldon HynesOriginally Submitted for Extreme Democracy

In the summer of 2003, Dean supporters with an interest in information technology started meeting online and talking about how they could use their skills to help the Dean campaign. Inspired by community-focused sites like Slashdot, IndyMedia, Kuro5hin, and Scoop, they looked for tools they could build or customize that could be used to help promote the Dean candidacy. They wanted to create a toolkit for people without strong technical skills to use to set up powerful, interoperable websites for of information sharing and community building.[read more...]

Note: Deanspace morphed into civicspace (which is what drives this blog)


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