Alec Baldwin is not Worthless

October 21st, 2011 at 8:12 am David Frum | 121 Comments |

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Alec Baldwin visited Zuccotti Park last night and got drawn into an exchange with some of the wilder and woolier protesters. NY Mag describes one exchange which was caught on video:
It’s pretty clear that Baldwin, a liberal Dem, wanted to like what was going on there more than what he actually saw. He’s been tweeting a lot about it ever since: The visit seems to have brought out a little bit of his inner Jack Donaghy (“Arbitrary, or even considered, attempts at defining ‘acceptable’ levels of income disparity may lead 2 Chinese style socialism. U want that?“) or maybe it’s the criticism protesters have lobbed his wayfor his gig doing TV commercials for Capital One. Below, watch Baldwin defend capitalism (though not the SEC), clarify emphatically that he will not endorse Ron Paul, and refer to his walking-talking tour of Zuccotti Park as being a little like a Woody Allen movie.

It’s an entertaining clip in its own right, but it may be un-worthless in one more way:

For many conservatives, Alec Baldwin symbolizes the Hollywood Left. Baldwin’s politics can be belligerent and silly, sure. But it’s also sometimes useful to be reminded: if “left” means “replace the market economy with some other form of social organization,” then there’s a lot of air-miles between most American liberals and “the left.” Alec Baldwin, Capital One pitchman, very much included.

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121 Comments so far ↓

  • Fart Carbuncle

    Alec is driven by greed. The bank paid him serious cabbage for shilling. Donated it all to charity? I don’t think so. He’s also driven by vanity. He wants to be in the news so he ‘visits’ the OWS crowd to say “I’m not one of them, the greedy bankers, even though I shilled for them.”

    Greed. The effects of what we’re suffering through now: ~6 years of an unsustainable housing bubble. It will take several more years until all the people who are upside down get righted and the housing market improves. Until then, we are still in market correction mode.

    • chephren

      Typical. Ignore what the guy said, just smear him as “greedy”.

      Uh – excuse me, but I thought “you Cons” liked greed. Isn’t greed, otherwise known as “the invisible hand”, the thing that drives the capitalist system?

      You wouldn’t by any chance be making an implicit argument in favor of government regulation, would you? In order to protect consumers and investors from the power of avaricious corporate thieves? I mean, if greed is so bad, and all . . .

      Or is greed only worthy of notice when it can be imputed, rightly or wrongly, to the Liberals you happen to dislike?

      • Fart Carbuncle

        Typical. Ignore the fact that Baldwin shills for a major bank–and you don’t notice the hypocrisy of him showing up at OWS claiming sympathy.

        Or is an attack post only worthy of the non-Liberals you happen to dislike?

        • chephren

          Typical. Don’t debate, just restate your original point as if it constitutes a counterargument. Trollery, in other words.

  • Xunzi Washington

    This is so tiresome.

    Complaining that CEOs now make many, many, many more multiples in salary than the median worker in their own company is not calling for a law setting a “multiple cap” that will interfere with sacred capitalism.

    Complaining about it is suggesting that if this trajectory continues, the social-political-economic bonds that once held between Americans “as” Americans will collapse. These insane multiples were not always the case – and there were no laws that made the multiples during those times more human.

    What is needed in America are not new laws in this case (and this is not because I think capitalism is “sacred”) but rather a healthy injection of social conscience that is sorely missing at this time. When I hear people on the right saying “those rich CEOs have a RIGHT to make as much as they want!” or “making a law interferes with their RIGHTS!” then I see conservativism collapsing in the conflation between “right” (as law) and “right” (as ethical).

    Oddly enough, it’s that very conflation that conservatives have always historically argued that the left wrongly encourages. It’s that conflation, they argue, that leads to the pulling apart of the social fabric (as we become a nation populated by “rights holders” as opposed to “fellow citizens”). But here the right is, even Frum in this post by implication, making just the same exact moves that conservativism has long bemoaned.

    • Fart Carbuncle

      You sound very smart. Are you a teacher/professor?

    • indy

      Complaining about it is suggesting that if this trajectory continues, the social-political-economic bonds that once held between Americans “as” Americans will collapse.

      If the trajectory continues and less than 5% of the country holds virtually all the wealth, what holds up capitalism itself?

    • Frumplestiltskin

      great post Xunzi. I lived in China, lived in many 3rd world countries and I know a well regulated market economy is the best system there is. If wages grew at the rate of productivity growth then we very well could have continued along the lines that we did during the Clinton years as people would have been able to afford the goods and services being produced instead of running up a huge tab on their credit cards. Bush, in his infinite ignorance, went back to the idiotic supply side theory of give the rich money and they will make jobs out of the goodness of their heart or some such nonsense as opposed to creating jobs based on demand.

    • paul_gs

      Do we just stop with CEO’s? How about Alec Baldwin’s salary? CEO’s often shoulder enorumous responisiblities unlike Mr. Baldwin who only acts.

      • Xunzi Washington

        Personally? Sure. I think the salaries of all actors/sports players, etc, should be lower.

        However, there’s a big difference between an actor’s salary and a CEO’s, since the latter stands in a direct relationship with his/her workers. There is an obscenity in the latter relationship that the former does not represent. The CEO’s salary multiple is a direct comment on the worker/boss social and economic compact at the core of capitalism. The actor/athlete’s salary represents just plain ridiculous consumerism.

      • dugfromthearth

        Yes, the top tax rate should affect actors who make millions as well. And athletes, and everyone else who makes millions.

        But I don’t hear Baldwin or other actors asking for a bailout of movie studios or tv shows, with them getting paid millions and the taxpayers covering their costs and failures.

    • Houndentenor

      What we need are not more laws, but a return of basic human decency and maybe even a little shame. Skank of America laid off tens of thousands of employees and then posted billions in profits. A decent executive would be ashamed of that.

      I have a good friend who is the cfo for his family business. He hasn’t taken a paycheck in over a year so they wouldn’t have to lay people off. He can afford that (for awhile, but not forever). That’s decency. At some point when you are losing money you have to make hard choices. You might have to lay off 10% of your staff so that the other 90% still have a job. That sucks but it’s reasonable. Screwing over people to give yourself an even bigger bonus is indecent.

      • medinnus

        I’m nor sure that returning a sense of shame will actually have any effect; I’ve worked either directly or one level down for several CEOs in the Silicon Valley and Hollywood environments; they’re basically soul-less reptiles, for the most part.

        Example:

        CEO: So, we’ve got a press release and conference later this morning about our new joint venture with XYZ company – have your web team get it up as soon as its formatted, yes?

        CTO: Sure… where is the budget for this new joint venture coming from? We’ll need to ramp up manpower, resources, blah blah blah.

        CEO: No we won’t – neither of us are actually going to do it; we just want to issue the press release so that we can bump our share price in advance of our Shareholders report.

        CTO: …

        So cry me a river when they defraud the shareholders and leap from the 51st floor with their golden parachutes. In a perfect world, they end up in jail for fraud (which THAT CEO did, btw); far too often they use a selective view of their track record (“I raised the stock price by 37%, hire me!”) to move on before the company splashes and a few hundred people find themselves locked out in corporate bankruptcy proceedings.

    • Levedi

      Bravo! +10 internets, sir. The loss of an ethical center to business practices in this country, all disguised as a moralistic and patriotic defense of American rights, is at the heart of this crisis.

    • Primrose

      What you say has plenty of merit. However, I do think shareholder rights need to be strengthened so that CEO’s can’t manipulate the boards as easily.

    • Tamon

      …CEOs now make many, many, many more multiples in salary than the median worker in their own company…

      Don’t forget that American CEOs make many, many, many more multiples in salary than CEOs in other western industrialized countries. But, of course, they deserve it.

  • Oldskool

    I guess “not worthless” is high praise. He sounds like most Dems. He sounds unlike most Republicans.

    • willard landreth

      What percentage of Frum style republicans actually bothered to try to communicate and defend themselves or question what the TPers were doing during their demonstrations?
      I didn’t read anything here to indicate that they tried, altho there’s lots of praise that they represented *real America*

  • jamesj

    “replace the market economy with some other form of social organization”

    I’ve met very few people in the US who advocate this, no matter how “left wing”. In other countries, that’s a different story. But in the US, even folks who debate me from what they describe as a “liberal” stance are very much pro market and see eye-to-eye with most of the economic policy forged by Republicans a few decades ago.

    Now people of course do disagree with how to get the market to produce optimal results for human beings, but that is very different from wanting to scrap the market and implement some other form of social organization.

    The basic laws of economics of course dictate that a completely “free” market will have some undesirable effects for several different reasons. Modern American politics seems to be a debate between those who accept the ill effects (since trusting government is worse) and those who want to regulate the market to mitigate the ill effects (and trust government to do so).

    The entire spectrum of American politics is now center-right in relation to the spectrum of politics throughout Western Civilization. As a result, I find it dangerous that extreme right wingers in the US claim their opponents are too “left wing”. They aren’t by most reasonable standards.

    While I disagree with a guy like Baldwin on several important issues, he’s not an extremist. He doesn’t advocate risky systemic changes to the tax code from the depths of a recession. He doesn’t threaten default on our national credit from the depths of a recession. He does not advocate the dismantling of any virtuous structure for managing human life in favor of a completely unregulated sea of human self-interest. I fear those who advocate these extreme positions from the very seat of government much more than I fear Baldwin or any other Hollywood Liberal.

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      He doesn’t advocate risky systemic changes to the tax code from the depths of a recession. He doesn’t threaten default on our national credit from the depths of a recession. He does not advocate the dismantling of any virtuous structure for managing human life in favor of a completely unregulated sea of human self-interest.

      Very well put.

      Folks who want to upset the institutions that have worked for decades tend today to be powerful, well-off whites. Therefore, the threat to society is much greater than it was in the 1960s– and our elites are much less alarmed.

      It’s a dangerous situation.

    • balconesfault

      +1

  • Southern Populist

    This is why OWS will never go anywhere. These people cannot seem to resist mixing their core message about Wall Street with other peripheral left-wing kookery. It is very unfortunate. A properly framed anti-banking, anti-Fed, anti-Wall Street movement could sweep the country.

    - DSP

    • Oldskool

      There are how many different tea party units, each with a slightly different name and message. So far at least, the OWS enjoy more general support than the ‘baggers.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      who the hell are “these people”? You are aware I take it, that it is not a hive colony but a large group of people of many diverse viewpoints whose core message is pretty easily understood. You focusing on the kooks is the exact same criticism that the right wing makes when Dems focus on the right wing kooks in the Tea Party.

      • Bingham

        I agree that if the MSM can find people at OWS who aren’t alternafreaks, now would be a very good time to spotlight them.

        • Levedi

          Me. I support the OWS movement and I’m not an alternafreak. Neither are any of my friends. We’re all employed, middle class, highly educated, and moderates. Some are registered Republicans. Most of us vote issues, not party lines. A few of us own homes. Only one family in my group of friends is vegetarian. Most of us have small kitchen gardens and own minivans. We live in middle America for the most part. About half of us have children and most are married. We go to a variety of churches, but all but two of us are Christians. We’d be down their at our respective city halls right now if we didn’t have jobs to be at. Is that normal enough for you?

        • Bingham

          It’s normal enough for me. Let’s see how it plays in Peoria.

        • Levedi

          Me. I support the OWS movement and I’m not an alternafreak. Neither are any of my friends. We’re all employed, middle class, highly educated, and moderates. Some are registered Republicans. Most of us vote issues, not party lines. A few of us own homes. Only one family in my group of friends is vegetarian. Most of us have small kitchen gardens and own minivans. We live in middle America for the most part. About half of us have children and most are married. We go to a variety of churches; all but two of us are Christians. We’d be down at our respective city halls right now if we didn’t have jobs to be at. Is that normal enough for you?

    • Ray_Harwick

      I think you’ve missed something about the Democrats. They’ve been doing precisely this kind of consensus finding for the lifetime of the party. You do recall when the entire segregationist south were Democrats at the same time 95% of blacks were in the party, don’t you? And don’t tell me: the eight frontrunners in the GOP primary all just love each other, right?

      I do agree with you that a unified message would make enormous waves, but as Will Rogers said, “I don’t belong to any organized political party – I’m a Democrat.” He words have never been truer than they are today in Zuccotti Park.

    • balconesfault

      This is why OWS will never go anywhere. These people cannot seem to resist mixing their core message about Wall Street with other peripheral left-wing kookery.

      Seriously brother? You had the Tea Party mixing in with their anti-Big Government message a fixation with border enforcement, a heavy dose of birtherism, rabid 2nd Amendment fetishism, anti-gay rhetoric, etc … and yet they were wildly successful at influencing the 2010 elections.

      • drdredel

        Yes, but god forbid the Dems develop their own brand of TP… You think the government is useless now (with the GOP beholden to the crackpot fringe)… how will it look when BOTH sides are beholden to their respective loons?

        • balconesfault

          I have to admit, I find the message “let’s reduce corporate influence in Government” to be a bit less crackpot than “the Federal Government sucks”.

        • LauraNo

          Who are the loons on the left?

        • drdredel

          At the moment, there really aren’t any… my point was that the government would get even more dysfunctional if the Left were to develop a relevant crackpot segment that they had to make happy, as has happened on the Right.

        • medinnus

          Code Pink? The name of that psycho-Mom who kept stalking Bush?

      • dugfromthearth

        Not really. They got a lot of press. They cost the republicans some congressional seats, but they had almost no effect on the elections.

        Want to bet 90% of incumbents got re-elected just like every congressional election?

    • Southern Populist

      If the definition of success for the OWSM is whether it energizes the Democratic party and their constituencies, the OWSM as it is presently constituted might do that.

      But so what if it does?

      Wall Street owns the Democrats, so nothing will come out of electing more Democrats. In terms of instituting policies to restrain Wall Street, the best they could do at the height of their power was Dodd-Frank.

      If the standard for success is forcing political change that will reverse the trends that are leading to the progressive impoverishment of the middle class and the redistribution of wealth to the top 1%, the OWSM as it is presently constituted definitely won’t do that.

      When I say OWS will never be successful or go anywhere, that is what I mean.

      My standard for success whether the net effect of the movement will be to alter the fundamental trends not elect Democrats.

      • balconesfault

        Wall Street owns the Democrats, so nothing will come out of electing more Democrats. They best they could do at the height of their power was Dodd-Frank.

        Wrong.

        Wall Street owns a number of Democrats … as opposed to corporate interests owning virtually all the Republicans.

        Had their either been more Democrats in the Senate (moderating the influence of a few Dem senators who are deep in Wall Streets pockets), or some number of GOP Congressmen willing to work with the progressive Dems to put stricter limits on Wall Street, Frank-Dodd would have been a much better bill.

        Personally, I see two ways to get to a place where we may have the stronger regulation of the financial industry that we desperately need.
        1) elect more progressive Democrats, and give the Dems a solid filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a majority in the House
        2) elect more progressive Republicans

        Since I’m not even sure that #2 is even possible, I’m going to work for the longshot and support #1.

        • LauraNo

          This is how I see it. If #OWS drags the voters slightly left in order to deal with these problems, we could get rid of the Ben Nelson traitors. And yes, I mean to say traitor. He voted against a very good and very popular jobs bill for teachers and first responders. THAT IS NOT A DEMOCRAT.

        • balconesfault

          I actually think Ben Nelson is an idiot … because he spends most of his time in office basically making a case for why Nebraska should just elect a Republican instead of re-electing him …

          My biggest disappointment with Nelson is his willingness to support GOP filibusters. It troubles me less that a Dem might vote for or against a particular piece of legislation based on their conscience and how they believe they should represent their constituency. But supporting a filibuster by the other side is basically declaring that you don’t believe your own party to be acting honestly … in which case it should be asked why he’s a Dem, just as we should consistently ask Frum why he’s a Republican when he believes the GOP caucus to be acting dishonestly.

        • Southern Populist

          @balconesfault

          This author provides a concise summary of the status quo.

          -

          Reason No. 1: The Democrats depend on Wall Street for campaign donations.

          Both national parties are captured to a large degree by financial industry contributors. But this is not as much of a problem for the Republicans as for the Democrats. Since Nixon, the Republicans have successfully channeled anger away from Big Money to Big Government. They have done so by manipulating the classic populist paradigm of producers vs. parasites. They have treated private sector workers, business owners and investors as allies in a common struggle of producers against parasitic public sector employees and poor people dependent on welfare.

          To counteract this powerful neo-Jacksonian narrative, the Democrats would have to be equally pungent in their criticism of plutocratic bankers and overpaid CEOs. But how can President Obama and Democrats in Congress wave pitchforks at Wall Street while engaging in Wall Street fundraisers for their 2012 campaigns?

          Barack Obama, who went without federal matching funds in 2008 so that he would be free to shovel in unlimited amounts of big money, is a particularly unlikely critic of Wall Street. In 2008, if professors at universities are not counted, the top institutional donors to the Obama campaign were Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Time Warner.

          Obama’s 2008 campaign looks less like William Jennings Bryan’s outsider challenge than like William McKinley’s successful fundraising in 1896 from the banking and corporate elite.

          http://www.alternet.org/occupywallst/152693/6_reasons_why_occupy_wall_street_protests_won%27t_help_democrats

      • Bingham

        @ SP:

        Agreed, as long as OWS has all the diversity of a Seinfeld episode, it won’t be anything more than a boutique sideshow.

  • Ray_Harwick

    Since he’s now taking the pulse of the left’s celebrity class for readings on the coming socialist revolution, I look forward to David’s commentary on Hank Williams Jr.’s musical masterpiece “If The South Woulda Won” and the emergency of Williams’ political conscience.

    It’s so annoying when someone you take seriously (that would be you, Mr. Frum) pulls a Drudge and trivializes the whole conversation focusing on meaningless blather coming from a celebrity. Haven’t you learned anything from Limbaugh, Beck and Palin?

  • Graychin

    “For many conservatives, Alec Baldwin symbolizes the Hollywood Left.”

    You do like your straw men, don’t you? Most liberals think that Alec Baldwin is a clown, and nothing more.

    • Ray_Harwick

      Drudge is so infectious.

    • drdredel

      Wait… why is Baldwin a clown, all of a sudden? I’ve never heard him say anything particularly clownish. Not touching on his personal life, when I have heard him share his political ideas (be it on Charlie Rose or Fresh Air or Real Time) he comes off as well informed, and entirely measured. There is no hyperbole, and never the implication that there are easy solutions to our problems (which would be an immediate tell-tale sign of political clowndom, in my opinion). So… I can see not agreeing with him, but “clown”?

      • balconesfault

        I agree. And that’s kind of the point of his appearance at OWS. He was trying to take the same “step back, think about what you want, and move towards it” approach with the crowd.

      • Frumplestiltskin

        I think Graychin is confusing Alec with Billy, who is a clown.

        and you are right, Alec has a perfectly fine relationship with Billy who is known as a radical Conservative so he does temper his language very well. Hell, he appeared on SNL with Palin.

  • Houndentenor

    I think some people like Baldwin like to think they have “street cred” with the left more than they actually do. Baldwin is a millionaire who takes money from a bank that has screwed over a number of the people protesting. It’s funny that it never occurred to him. You can’t be a corporate whore and a liberal activist too. You can try, but you’re going to get yelled at when you confront the true believers. It’s kind of funny that he didn’t see this coming. But then people in that income bracket (at least from my experience working for executives) are almost always completely out of touch with the economic reality for the other 99.9% of Americans.

    • drdredel

      ok, this will be my third (and last) post on this thread defending Baldwin.

      Some banks are worse than others and some corporations are worse than others, but if you’re going to be an actor in America the reality is that you’ve signed your deal with the devil. If you try to follow the money from any major acting gig (commercial, film, even stage) there’s 99.9% chance that somewhere at the other end someone in the Murdoch family is making a dollar off of it. And if not them, then someone equally despicable and detestable. To hold Baldwin to account for taking a job with a particularly visible entity is to dress up the naked emperor. It would have been just as bad for him to a commercial for Lexus or Allstate or Tide for that matter… just not as obvious.
      And the sad truth is that it HAS to be someone from the .1% who actually makes a difference in changing things eventually because the 99 .9% only has one way to get change, and that way involves a LOT of blood.
      I’ll take a bit of hypocrisy from our well intentioned leaders over the guillotine.

      • balconesfault

        I’ll even argue that it’s not hypocracy.

        When Alex Baldwin makes an ad that suggests people should use a Bank One card, he’s not advocating their desire to defang the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he’s not making a pitch for higher swipe fees, he’s not giving props to the Citizens’ United ruling which allows Bank One and other financial institutions to purchase Congressmen.

        As long as he doesn’t believe that fundamentally offering/using credit cards is wrong, I have no problem with him taking Bank One’s money. It’s a stupid claim that it’s hypocracy. That’s like the claim that someone who wants offshore drilling stopped but still drives a car is a hypocrit. It’s like claiming that any OWS protester who hasn’t already shredded all their big-bank credit cards is a hypocrit.

        • Primrose

          I’d agree with both of you, particularly since Alec Baldwin is not longer a blockbuster action hero. You really do need the ads, or retire, and he’s too young for that.

      • Houndentenor

        I’ve taken money (indirectly) from a lot worse than Capital One. (The arts in this country are primarily funded by corporate blood money. The more avant-garde a project is, the more likely it was funded by Philip-Morris!)

        My point is that people should do what they think is right and say what they believe but not be crybabies when someone criticizes them for it. I say that all the time about conservative actors boohooing about all those liberals (funny how Kelsey Grammar and Tom Selleck seem to be working nonstop anyway…they’re hardly being persecuted) and the same should be said to liberals. Not everyone is going to like what you say and do. If you’re that big a crybaby then either don’t do it or grow a spine.

  • Hunter01

    “Alex Baldwin in not worthless.” What an insulting caption. Frum sinks lower and lower every day.

    • Fart Carbuncle

      He should stop trying to fool himself and others…he’s a Democrat.

      • drdredel

        Yes… that’s my wish as well… if only all “fake republicans” could just hurry up and join the Democratic party, then the remaining 26 of you can go live in Hannity’s basement… so many dead birds… so few stones!!!

        • Bingham

          If you’re such a majority, then who are you trying to convince, and why?

        • drdredel

          I’m trying to disabuse the moron minority, trapped in the Fox echo chamber, of the idea that they are anything other than precisely that. It’s easy to get the false impression that there’s an overwhelming consensus amongst Republicans that agree with Tea Party nut jobbery. But the polls consistently, repeatedly, and reliably show that this is simply not true. They are definitely the loudest, and the angriest, but their numbers are insignificant… and most importantly… dwindling.

    • chephren

      See LFC’s post below. “Worthless” is a reference to a song sung about Baldwin in a movie.

  • valkayec

    Ok, having watched the video clip and gone to Malkin’s site (ugh!), I’m still confused about what point Frum is attempting to make. Now, granted it’s still early here on the West Coast and I’ve not finished my first cup of coffee yet so maybe I’m missing something.

    Baldwin meets a couple of “wild and wooly” Ron Paul supporters who want to end the fed. He tells them exactly what most liberals would say which is what would be the consequences of such an action. How would the capital markets work, and we need capital markets for the whole economic/business system to work.

    Baldwin’s questions and opinions, as expressed in this video, are common amongst liberals and Democrats of all stripes. So, is Frum saying that conservatives like Malkin are in error; that they are the ones, in fact, that have jumped the shark by making claims against liberals that are entirely incorrect and over the top? If that is indeed the argument he’s making, then I thoroughly agree and what I’ve argued time and time again.

    The simple fact is that conservatives like Malkin have a completely erroneous picture of liberals. Liberals are just as business oriented as conservatives but they see something truly wrong with our society today. It’s not just the vast inequity or lack of social mobility or the 46% of children that go to school each day without having eaten or the ~ 26% of kids who are homeless. These are symptoms of a political and economic system that is not functioning properly – at least not as it should be functioning or has functioned during the last half of the 20th Century. It’s broken.

    Since liberals tend to focus on economic matters and how to make lives better economically for Americans, they seek to fix what is broken in the system. I suspect this aspect of liberal ideology either is not understood amongst conservatives or they choose to ignore it as Malkin does.

    The challenge for Frum, et al, is to reverse the trend amongst conservative thought that opponents are enemies that must be completely destroyed. If this piece by Frum is targeting that issue, then it’s a good start but confusingly weak.

    • drdredel

      I agree with your post, but your numbers aren’t right… and you’ll get beaten up over it by those who want to discount the premise of your argument (rather than just take issue with your stats). I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I’m SURE that 26% of american children are not homeless, and if 46% of our kids go to school without having eaten, the vast majority do so because their parents don’t insist they eat, and they’re in a hurry… not because they’re unable to afford food.

      • valkayec

        The stats may be slightly off by a percent or two; I heard them this morning on a news story but didn’t write them down. Nevertheless they’re close to the actual numbers stated.

        I was staggered by the numbers, particularly the number of homeless children. In a country as rich as this one, the fact that now millions of children are homeless says something is terribly wrong with our political and economic systems. It’s important to note too that childhood poverty has increased so dramatically over the last several years that adequate food is a real problem for many families. See http://www.childrensdefense.org/policy-priorities/ending-child-poverty/

        • drdredel

          you must have misunderstood. It’s self evidently false that 1/4 of the children in this nation are homeless! Unless we’re going to redefine “homeless” as “not at home at this precise moment”. There was just an article last week about sesame street (http://www.nationalreview.com/home-front/279374/sesame-street-tells-fib-about-hunger/julie-gunlock), which points to the 5.7 percent of americans that fall into the category of not having enough to eat. Now, again… I agree that it’s a huge problem, cause even 5 percent is 15 million people. But still… that’s 5% and not 45!

        • Primrose

          Some numbers.

          1.5 MILLION = the number of children in America who go to sleep without a home each year
          1 in 50 = an American child’s chances of experiencing homelessness in their lifetime

          flhomeless.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/how-many-children-are-homeless-in-america/

          Children represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States; they are 24 percent of the total population, but 36 percent of the poor population. In 2010, 16.4 million children, or 22.0 percent, were poor. The poverty rate for children also varies substantially by race and Hispanic origin, as shown in the table below[4].

          http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/

          However, I think it possible the number Valkayec heard were children who will at some point have experienced either homelessness or food insecurity, respectively. So that while 26% are not at this moment homeless, 26% of all children may have experienced it which is still fairly astounding, if the case.

          I don’t think that is that unlikely. Because while life may not be consistently dire for the poor, it goes in waves. And it isn’t good for children to go through these troubles early in life.
          it leaves them with more learning disabilities and psychological blocks. This makes it harder for them to get out of poverty as well.

  • LauraNo

    Excuse me? Whoever said he was worthless? Is that the kind of thing said in conservative circles? Someone is known to be a democrat so ipso facto, he is worthless? How very decent of you David.

    “… if “left” means “replace the market economy with some other form of social organization,”
    WTH do you get this stuff? Find me a liberal or a person of the ‘left’ in this country that wants to eliminate capitalism and I will show you a quack. Show me someone PRETENDING to think people want to eliminate capitalism and I will show you a…well, I’m too polite to say what.

    • drdredel

      It’s much easier to be right (and Right) when your positions are in stark contrast to a bunch of goofball nonsense, than if you had to articulate why your view is better/different from the ACTUAL view of the “opposition”. The Democrats are morons because they want to turn every flying monkey into a communist death panel! You’d have to be CRAZY to be a Democrat… etc. etc.

  • LFC

    For those bothered by the use of the term “worthless” to describe Alec Baldwin, this is actually a reference to the song “You Are Worthless Alec Baldwin” sung by Kim Jong-Il in the movie Team America. It is not a direct shot at him. I actually found the title amusing, but then I loved the movie.

  • jdd_stl1

    Having just watched the Alec Baldwin video, I get why conservatives
    have a problem with him. His main point was, “I don’t want to
    support ending the FED until I hear from some experts what
    impact that would have on capital markets in this country.”
    (Those are not his words, just my interpretation of what he said)

    So, the whole relying on experts is a red flag for the far right
    conservatives.

    If those 4 minutes or so are a good example of Mr. Baldwin’s
    positions and approach to things in this country then my opinion
    of him has just gone up.

    • Southern Populist

      Baldwin is more reasonable now than in the past. Conservatives generally despise him because of vile statements he has made in the past. He once joked about killing Republicans’ wives and children on national TV.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxVVhF3jQis

      • drdredel

        well… as you (correctly) noted… he was joking. And if you examine the joke, the whole reason he went to the “wives and children” was so that there could be no question about the fact that he was joking, cause the joke starts with him calling for the stoning to death of Henry Hyde. See? He doesn’t want there to be any confusion that this is not an ACTUAL call for anyone’s execution, so he takes it to the next level of absurdity, so that everyone understands that between
        A) this being a late night comedy show and
        B) him going way over the top and kind of bonkers and
        C) ranting about killing people’s wives and children
        he’s not serious.

        However, consider what he was actually saying, aside from the joke. He’s just come back from Africa (we are going to take for granted that he wasn’t staying at the Ritz Carlton in Johannesburg) and he’s come home to a nation where the government is spending its time and effort to impeach a president who is both effective, and popular, on the grounds that he lied about a personal relationship! So… he’s pissed off about that (as any reasonable person ought to be).

        Given all this, I would suggest that he is spot on in his analysis and if someone doesn’t like his comedic style, that’s entirely a matter of taste, but that doesn’t make him any less credible or reasonable.

        • Southern Populist

          If you don’t believe that telling jokes about killing kids calls a person’s judgment into question and undermines credibility, we will have to agree to disagree.

        • drdredel

          Read what I read again, please. The joke isn’t the killing of children. The joke is that he’s being a lunatic. It’s a comedic mechanism… a well established one, that you diffuse whatever controversial thing you may be saying (in this case, let’s stone Henry Hyde to death) by going much much further, so that it’s obvious that you’re just being silly.
          As I said, you can find it unfunny, but it has nothing to do with his credibility as a political commentator, since THIS rant is designed specifically as comedy and NOT as a agit prop.
          He’s an actor, and a comedian… he’s not a politician running for office. So, he wears the two hats, and it’s unreasonable to allow one of his roles to color the other one.

          It’s very similar to George Carlin, who said a lot of things that were completely over the top, but remained completely credible… why? because it was very easy to tell where his opinions stopped and his desire to make you laugh began. Baldwin is not the master of comedy that Carlin was, but in this clip, it’s immediately clear where he crosses over from having an opinion to clowning around. I’m sorry if this is lost on you, and even more so if you don’t find it funny (cause I think it’s pretty hilarious, so, I get to enjoy it on that front too), but really… you’re completely missing the point if you see this coloring his credibility as a person who is capable of having valid and rational opinions.

      • jdd_stl1

        OK. I have to agree that joking about killing wives and children
        was over the top.

        His point that we spend a lot of political and government energy on
        ridiculous stuff could have been made in a better way. Even stopping
        at the point of “If we were in a foreign country… stoning…Henry Hyde.”
        would have made his point.

        • drdredel

          anything can be “better” (other than Beethoven). But I disagree that stopping at stoning Henry Hyde would have been more tempered. On the contrary, without taking it to the next level, the joke is just mean (and might even be missed, which would be the LAST thing you want… to come off as having actually called for someone’s death!).

  • djmeph

    if “left” means “replace the market economy with some other form of social organization,”

    Yes, base your final point on a meaningless definition that you just made up.

  • kirk

    The Occupy folks in Austin are mostly of the ‘burn the churches to save the churches’ collection of individuals who have shared their thoughts only with others who have read the same books. I had a long discussion about what would happen on Thursday if Glass Steagall was enacted on Wednesday. Absolute silence followed by “be sure and contact your senator about passing Glass Steagall!”. I left my email for a Occupy Book Club and the moderator chose an anarchist cookbook about blowing up hydroelectric dams. The implication that this is silliness is NOT cringe-worthy or that the only opposition to 1000 points of insanity is ‘The Man’ makes me sad. I am on the team and I don’t think we can move the ball down the field.

    • Oldskool

      If you were around in the 1960′s you probably wouldn’t despair at the OWS. Yoots back then were into hundreds of unorganized things but they all seemed to agree that changes had to be made. And looking back, they were on the correct side of most every issue.

  • nitrat

    It is way past time that these politically involved actors like Baldwin, Clooney, Pitt-Joley, Sarandon stop focusing on Africa and pay attention to what is going on in the USA. Last time I checked the Patriotic Millionaires website, Edie Falco was the only entertainer I recognized. It might not be such an adventure, but they could really mobilize many of the people in acting, entertaining in general and sports to join Warren Buffett and lobby for increased taxes on the super rich – like themselves.

    One of the biggest points they should make is the Social Security FICA tax cap at $106,800. These people earn millions a year and pay FICA on only that $106,800. That is an amazing tax break /loophole for them and the people rich enough to employ them. And, many working people are oblivious to this since they think everyone pays FICA on 100% of their income like they do.

    • drdredel

      when I mentioned this to some friends of mine in sweden they looked at me like I was a complete lunatic. “Why doesn’t it START at 60,000, they said… why would it END at 106?!”

      Of course, that’s why Sweden is one of the most prosperous and happiest nations on earth… cause they’re not idiots.

  • chephren

    My observations:

    1) Interesting to see the OWS camp includes Ron Paul supporters. The Occupiers appear to be much more diverse ideologically than the media (especially the conservative media) would have us believe.

    2) Baldwin’s response to the Dump-the-Fed guy was thoughtful and reasonable. Exactly what would happen if the Fed were closed? Paulfans never talk about this. The US financial system could well revert to the unstable, boom/bust conditions that prevailed in the late 19th century, when bank runs and financial panics were regular events, and it was left to the goodwill (and self-interest) of bankers to prevent broader systemic credit failures. Do the anti-Fed people really want to go back to the days of 1907, when the salvation of the banking system came down to the skill of one man (J. P. Morgan) working with his friends in a Wall Street back room to prevent a financial crash? If the Fed is to be shut down, what about the FDIC – if the government has no business regulating the credit supply, would government deposit insurance be done away with too? How would the US preserve the dollar’s status as a reserve currency (and the world’s major trading economy) without a central bank? What about the SEC? What about bank capital requirements?

    3) OWS is NOT anti-capitalist – certainly not in the sense that Marxists were in the 30s or the New Left was in the 60s. Removing corporate influence from the political sphere, or at the least, moderating it, is a goal most Americans can embrace.

    • Xunzi Washington

      On the whole, it is unclear to me how OWS is consistent with boilerplate libertarianism. If OWS is against, among other things, income disparity, then libertarianism has no issue with this. If a free market winds up with extreme income disparity, or social conditions that would make Charles Dickens wish for the good ol’ days of the 19th century, that would be fine with them.

      • drdredel

        I’m not sure what the confusion even is… This is a movement that is calling for a tectonic shift in the direction of transparency, and regulation. They’re not looking to throw out any babies and they’re not even looking to dump the bath water… they just want our financial sector to not be some sort of secret cult, that gets to play all sorts of games in the dark. That’s why they’re on wall-street! The reason it comes off as unfocused is that it’s a very broad problem. It’s not like fixing a flat tire. There are facets of this that reach out in all directions and they all DO have to be addressed… but the core complaint? It’s certainly a lot more clearly articulated than the core complaint of the TeaParty, which is “GOVT is TOO BIG”. That means absolutely nothing.

        • Xunzi Washington

          That’s all well and good.

          I’m simply saying that some of the apparent goals of OWS are not particularly libertarian. If they want regulation, that’s not libertarian; if they want transparency, that could be libertarian, unless it calls for regulation; if they want to address extreme income differences between median worker salaries and CEOs, that’s not libertarian – hell, if they just think the median salary should be higher — that’s not even necessarily libertarian. As a matter of fact, a purist libertarian policy would likely drive wages for average income earners down further, and CEO pay up.

        • drdredel

          Sorry Xunzi, I wasn’t addressing your point directly… I was addressing the general sentiment that these people have no unified demand or point and are just rabble rousing noise makers. You are right… they are definitely not uniformly libertarian in any sense. Additionally, true libertarianism is as much a panacea as true communism, so, even if these people had a libertarian slant, you could only run with that so far before you start to really undermine the fabric of society.

      • chephren

        You’re right that OWS is inconsistent with “boilerplate libertarianism” – though it appears so far to have some common threads in the areas of greater transparency and democratic accountability. But libertarianism – of the boilerplate variety – has a huge blind spot with regard to the power of corporations. How is it possible for Ron Paul and his fans to ignore the pervasive economic and fiscal advantage corporations, the rich and their lobbyists have bought from government, to the detriment of the middle class?

        The power of Big Government that libertarians so vigorously attack is wielded more and more for the benefit of bank holding corporations, private government contractors (especially in the defense/intelligence sector), and the richest individual asset holders.

        What is the true worth of libertarianism its chief economic and political effect is to transfer ever more wealth and influence to the moneyed elite?

        • Xunzi Washington

          Chephren –

          Libertarianism does not appeal to me at all, for a whole slew of reasons, one of which is this very economic one. As a theory, libertarianism is not concerned with the “middle class”. It’s not even concerned with “the rich”. De jure, it only recognizes individuals, not classes. De facto, however, this way of thinking favors the rich. Since libertarians do not see corporations as real and instead see them as proxies for large numbers of free individuals, the theory is unwilling to regulate their activities. That those proxies have tremendous power, and that this power results over time in increasing inequity is not important to them, because the theory does not address power or equity, just liberty. As long as individuals are not coerced, the libertarian world is a beautiful one, fully moral and without fault.

          Moreover, it is hard to argue with libertarians about any of this, because you try to make moral appeals to them in terms of justice or equity or power, and simply stare at you blankly, because as I said all that matters to them is liberty as non-coercion, and that can co-exist with all sorts of crappy outcomes and mal-distributions that to them are entirely just and proper.

        • Southern Populist

          Some libertarian goals are definitely consistent with some of the OWSMs goals. Some of their goals are obviously in conflict as well, but that does not necessarily preclude friendly cooperation in the areas where they have goals in common. Political coalitions are usually made up of discrete factions that rarely have exactly the same interests but who do have enough goals in common that they are willing to work together.

          I think this explains the presence of the Paulites. Under a libertarian regime, corporations would not be able to exploit government to avoid all risk. Libertarians are well aware of the dynamic you describe in your second paragraph, and one of their reasons for wanting to curb government would be to prevent government from doing exactly what you describe.

          There are also a lot of left-oriented people who support ending the Fed, for example, or at least forcing more transparency in their activities. Those things, of course, are among Paul’s major goals. Paul would also abolish abolish all corporate welfare such as bailouts and wealth transfers to the military industrial complex.

          - DSP

        • Xunzi Washington

          DSP -

          The goals you point to are not core essential goals of OWS, they are peripheral ones, at best. OWS is – by my reading – a reaction to a failure of the system with respect to massive income disparity, high unemployment, and so on. These core concerns are not alleviated via a libertarian set of policies, which in theory (and practice, I presume) simply accepts the much bumpier economic conditions that would naturally be present without federal intervention as natural givens.

          I am aware that libertarians want to curb government from reaching for justice, equity, and power distribution. This is exactly my point: libertarians are not bothered by injustice, inequity and mal-distribution of power, as long as liberty as non-coercion (understood in a very narrow way) is present. So if OWS is bothered by injustice, inequity and mal-distribution of power, they should not be looking at libertarianism, which is not only unconcerned about it, but simply accepts those things as natural features of a free economic system.

        • Southern Populist

          I agree overall; I was just attempting to explain why some libertarians are turning up at OWS. I am sympathetic to certain elements of the libertarian program in areas such as drug legalization, guns, civil liberties, federalism, and the decentralization of government power in areas of society where a wide berth for individual liberty makes sense. But the logical consequence of their economic theory, strictly applied, would be totalitarianism under corporate rather the state rule. They also have no concept of something you alluded to earlier — social conscience — or what I call the public good.

        • Primrose

          I agree with both of you here in the purpose of OWS, Xunxi but that coalitions don’t mean movements are diffuse, DSP, Also, a libertarian world would end up in corporate totalitarianism.

          I think one of the problems with libertarianism is twofold. First, it ignores how much the government would be involved in enforcing “choice”. How is that segregationist business owner going to ensure that African-Americans don’t sit at his lunch counter? Why he’s going to call the cops when they refuse to leave. That means the government is taking sides and supporting segregation.

          Secondly, it ignores that individuals are part of groups. We are not to Use Amira Baraka’s beautiful line (from his curious play Dutchman), “anonymous beauties smashing through the cities entrails.” And our lives are just as affected by the groups we are in as who we are as an individual.

          Yes I am Primose but that is not the only way people see me. I am a woman, which matters a giant degree if I’m walking down a dark street or empty parking lot, or a college dorm even. I am white which means store clerks take me more seriously. (Going with a friend to shop for her wedding dress I saw this in phenomena in action. It wasn’t until I channeled my mother that they stopped just shoving dresses at her and walking away to help their white client.) I am a mother and people react to me that way (usually with more kindness but less respect sadly). I descended from an upper class family, which means nothing now, but back when the ‘establishment’ held sway would have changed my life (and many of yours for the worse). My parents are farmers and we have all walked into a Wendy’s dead tired after a hot day hauling hay, cleaner than in the field but still not very clean. Let me assure you we are treated differently than when my parents are in their proper clothes. My father is an atheist, my mother is an Episcopalian and my foster brother is Muslim and those identities matter very much when they go out in the world. (Not being Catholic matters very much where I live.)

          Where you can go and how life treats you is not simply limited to who you are as a pure soul moving through the world. If I learned anything in my 10 years as in the great hoary beast that is public relations, it is that perception is one of the most important determinants there is. So any political philosophy that refuses to acknowledge this truth can not be a solution because it is addressing a fantasy world.

        • Primrose

          Valkayec a few weeks back or is it months, linked to an excellent article about a libertarian leaner on the problem of Ron Paul and race. He said that Ron Paul missed the idea that the point of libertarianism is more freedom and that not addressing racism meant many peoples lives were less free. The same point might be made about permitting the untrammeled power of corporations.

  • nickthap

    The video should prove that OWS isn’t full of left-wing nutjobs, it’s full or Ron Paul/libertarian nutjobs.

    • drdredel

      Paul is a very enigmatic figure. Many things he says are spot-on, and he frequently gets laughed at, even as he is pointing out things that most reasonable people wholeheartedly agree with and wish the government would stop pretending weren’t real (his position on the ludicrous approach to drug control in this country is a perfect example).

      But then he goes off the deep end with all sorts of proposals and ideas that are just goofy. Hard to understand how an intelligent person, armed with the facts and a desire to be rational, can go AS astray as Paul frequently does.
      However, he is consistent, honest, and never comes off as self serving or mean. I think if he were surrounded by the right people, he might actually make a reasonably decent… umm… I’m not going to say president, but how about grandparent? I’d love to have him as a grandfather that I could visit a couple of times a year. Much better than the cadre of dead relatives that I currently have that are just rubbish for conversation!

  • cranky_engineer

    H’mm after scanning all the above. This pretty liberal old fart still thinks the Will Rogers quote still works “I belong to no organized political party, I’m a Democrat” still works. Rag tag and disorganized and as diverse as they might be I’m pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to find a Republican in the crowd. If the whole occupy movement translates into political action the results will be interesting, scary or encouraging depending on your point of view. Stay tuned for further developments…

  • Sinan

    cisco recently laid off 6500 excellent employees while sitting on around 40 billion in cash. Why? Because fabulously wealthy and egotistically immature CEO Chambers is about to get fired and the only thing he could think of doing was firing some of his world class employees. Instead of saying to the board ” I am going to take some of that 40 billion and make this company great by investing in new markets, utilizing my people to the best of their abilities and making a corporate statement that cisco will not let minor bumps in the road break our commitment to our staff, our markets and our customers.” Instead, he let them all go. And since he is a conservative, he likely complains about the lack of jobs in America.

    • Southern Populist

      An absolutely crucial distinction that does get nearly enough attention.

      From a policy standpoint and from a moral standpoint, people who acquire wealth from producing should be treated differently than those who acquire wealth through usury, financial speculation and other activities that don’t require work, creativity, producing a good or delivering a service.

      The wealth acquired by professional athletes, actors, musicians, productive geniuses like Henry Ford and creative geniuses like Steve Jobs bothers me a lot less than wealth acquired the way George Soros and most banking and Wall Street executives acquire it. A lot people probably feel that way.

      • ktward

        I have zero problem with people making their money on Wall Street- so long as the rest of us aren’t screwed in the process.

        Baldwin makes the provident point:

        You want the banks to do what banks do. But when the banks, like they’re a hockey player that starts throwing their elbow in your eye socket, you want the SEC to throw the flag. The SEC never throws the flag.

        • Southern Populist

          The question is whether it’s possible for these huge banks to do what they do without screwing ordinary people. Debt usury alone is pervasive in this society and inherently exploitative. Baldwin is not radical enough on this point IMO. When Baldwin says banks should do what they do, does he include usury, debit fees for accessing your own money, and forcing unemployed people into foreclosure? Banks routinely do all of those things.

          Baldwin has good intentions but should be taken with a grain of salt. He is a very wealthy man himself who is far removed from the realities of economic hardship, and he did work for Capital One bank, one of the most abusive and consumer unfriendly banks out there. I don’t think he is in the best position to analyze the problem.

        • ktward

          It’s deregulation in the main that allowed the big banks to engage in the risky and shady practices that brought our economy to its knees. Baldwin’s implication is that when banks are intelligently regulated and there is effective oversight (SEC’s job), then we absolutely want banks to do what they do best.

          Baldwin’s not anti-capitalism, nor am I for that matter. Drdredel and balconesfault above do a fine job of explaining why Baldwin’s ad work for Capitol One in no way delegitimizes his opinions on the matter: http://www.frumforum.com/alec-baldwin-is-not-worthless/comment-page-1?replytocom=350715#comment-350558

          However, fundamentally the problems are systemic and until we get corporate’s mega-billions out of our elections we’ll be fighting tooth and nail for every scrap of regulatory oversight that might keep us from getting thrown under the bus again.

        • drdredel

          The problem isn’t credit card fees, or foreclosures. Neither are anything to sing songs about, but nothing is perfect and if you’re going to fight the fight, you have to pick your battles.
          Just about all investment is a gamble. You buy something and hope that it appreciates. There are ways to hedge your bets, but at the end of the day, you may end up losing your money. This risk is what keeps people rational and careful. However, if you are gambling with other people’s money, and you will make money either way (perhaps more if your bets pan out, but if they don’t, you still make *something), and if a complete loss is then backed up by the tax payers, who will be forced to settle your debts, then you have no incentive to do anything other than take the biggest risks/longest shots possible. What’s the downside?

          The regulations that we need have to make sure that all investments are backed by dollars that can be collected, from people that are aware of what they’re investing in, and by people who lose money if those investments don’t pan out. It sounds simple, but it’s not, owing to the incredibly complexity in how all these transactions work. But it’s worth the effort to sort it out! And anyone who is against this sort of impartial management of the structure is either on the take, or misinformed.

        • indy

          As drdredel says, loans/debt aren’t the structural problem (unless of course the loan is divorced from the risk of loss). Once upon a time, wall street banks operated in approximately the same way as your neighborhood bookie. They merely took bets and adjusted the line in such a way that bettors on both sides of the gamble would bet about equal amounts, and the bank would collect a fee for the service it provided. They had no real interest in what the outcome was because they payed the winners with the losers money.

          Once the banks were allowed to bet themselves things went off the rails because they were invested in the outcome. They then did what any bookie would do: They tilted the game so they would win. And Baldwin is exactly right. The refs just kept their flags in their pocket the whole time.

          Now they own all the teams and the games and are 40% of the US economy. Good luck putting the genie back in the bottle.

        • Traveler

          Good one Indy!

        • ktward

          @So Pop (may I call you So Pop? I’m getting lazy in my old age.)

          You know, I fear you might have been left with the impression that your concerns were being dismissed as insignificant. Not my intent, and I’m sure not anyone else’s.

          Really, I simply think you have your microscope trained too tightly on one teeny tiny corner of a picture that really must be viewed in its entirety to be fully appreciated. That said, I think you might like the following reads:

          All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
          http://www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/1591843634

          A seminal accounting of financial market deregulation–or ideological resistance to new regulation–even by Clinton’s admin who, thanks to Greenspan and his lackeys, arrogantly dismissed the prescient warnings of Brooksley Born. Dominoes fell.

          New Bank of America Fees Good for Consumers and Small Banks
          http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/10/16/new-bank-of-america-fees-good-for-consumers-and-small-banks/

          A good recent illustration of how effective regulation allows consumers to truly take advantage of a free market. Capitalism working properly. And with a CFPB with teeth, we can have reasonable assurance that it will continue to work properly.

          I’m afraid if I include any more links I’ll land in moderation purgatory. But this is a good start. :)

        • Primrose

          Also, an interesting note on credit cards. Most states say that credit cards can only charge 8% but a federal law permits credit cards to charge card holders based on what the state their company resides in permits. Thus Delaware became the land of banks and credit cards. I think changing that one federal law would ease the debt of many Americans. It’s not an original idea but I don’t now who to attribute it too.

          Most people just don’t understand how different the cost is between different interest rates until they are so far into debt, they can’t get out.

        • indy

          And, of course, deregulation is only the visible tip of the iceberg. There are substantial issues with the financial markets, particularly the derivative markets, that are related to problems in financial theory, but that is too technical of a discussion to even attempt here.

      • Primrose

        Absolutely DSP and Ktward. I have even more problem with short sellers and hedge funds because they actually make money off failure.

        • ktward

          Did you by any chance read Michael Lewis’s “The Big Short”? It blew my mind. In some very notable instances, the short sellers were screaming at the top of their lungs to anyone who would listen (including the SEC) that stuff was FUBAR.

          Here’s an excerpt, but if you haven’t read the book I highly recommend it.
          http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/04/wall-street-excerpt-201004

        • jamesj

          The Big Short is a very interesting read. Highly recommended.

        • indy

          I also recommend Andrew Lahde’s open letter just for fun. Lahde owned a small hedge fund in California,.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Lahde

        • Primrose

          I haven’t read the book but I’ve heard him interviewed a lot. (I’ll try to download it). I remember the discussion of how bothered many of these folks were, how even as they made money they were disturbed but ignored. Truly upsetting, when I think of all the financial loss and pain.

          While I have trouble completely understanding shorting, what I really can’t understand is how we could permit people to borrow stock so they don’t have the risk of it even. What purpose does that serve the larger economy? We should want people to make money from success, from creation, not destruction. That is just common sense.

        • ktward

          You echo Prisco’s point. Beyond common sense even, I’d argue it’s a moral imperative in a capitalistic society. Without such an imperative we end up, well, where we are.

          In the end, all we have to show for this economic devastation is Greenspan’s mea culpa following his apparent “shock” that he found a “distressing flaw” in his ideology. If there’s ever a line formed of people to be held accountable, he should be right up there in front.

  • kelly87

    He has a really good interview on the Adam Carolla podcast today. So funny http://bit.ly/sr2iDM