Archives for posts with tag: Adam Smith

Latest example of Adam Smith’s wisdom: Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since the private sector wasn’t going to provide the requisite infrastructure to support 21st-century businesses, the local and Federal (but not state) governments did the job. And now businesses are clamoring to relocate to the city with some of the best Internet access in the country:

Chattanooga rolled out a fiber-optic network a few years ago that now offers speeds of up to 1000 Megabits per second, or 1 gigabit, for just $70 a month. A cheaper 100 Megabit plan costs $58 per month. Even the slower plan is still light-years ahead of the average U.S. connection speed, which stood at 9.8 megabits per second as of late last year, according to Akamai Technologies.

As federal officials find themselves at the center of controversy over net neutrality and the regulation of private Internet service providers like Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC), Chattanooga offers an alternative model for keeping people connected. A city-owned agency, the Electric Power Board, runs its own network, offering higher-speed service than any of its private-sector competitors can manage.

” People understand that high-speed Internet access is quickly becoming a national infrastructure issue just like the highways were in the 1950s,” Berke said. “If the private sector is unable to provide that kind of bandwidth because of the steep infrastructure investment, then just like highways in the 1950s, the government has to consider providing that support.”

The comparison to the Eisenhower Interstate Highway is appropriate. One might also consider the government’s essential role in providing electricity, water and flood control, and a host of other infrastructural necessities on which businesses rely.

Businesses need to make a profit. It’s what businesses do. No ethical (or rational) business would or could build something like public infrastructure. If a CEO were to propose building a, say, city-wide fiber network that would not make his or her company a profit, they would be (rightly) escorted to the door with their personal effects and never allowed back into the building. In fact, they could even be sued.

That is why governments are good for business: they provide an environment in which businesses can provide goods and services, and by so doing earn a profit. Anybody who thinks otherwise should try starting a business in a place with little or no government and see how they fare. Somalia comes to mind.

We should also note that the state government of Tennessee is full of Teapublicans and is a royal mess: they think that the Randians and Paulbots are correct about Reagan’s “government is the problem” crap. Indeed, the state is busily shooting itself in its supply-side foot. The Feds and Chattanooga locals pulled off their huge Internet success in SPITE of their Red State, not because of it.

(Teapublicans like to pretend that Adam Smith was somehow an Ayn Rand/Ron Paul/Rand Paul anti-government ideologue. But anyone who has actually READ his work knows that he was a lot smarter than that: he knew that some things that businesses wouldn’t build on their own were necessary for the people, society, and indeed businesses themselves to survive, thrive, and prosper.)

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

Regular readers know that Mr. Blunt and Cranky has had long careers in business and the arts, and is therefore not at all opposed to making money. Indeed, Adam Smith is frequently cited here: the man was a firm believer in a WELL-REGULATED free market. Because he was smart enough to see the harm that unchecked profits can cause.

Profits are not inherently bad: in the right measure, they can do a lot of good. But anything can be overdone: and the Teapublican “greed is good” mantra is an object lesson. Here, then, are three examples of the horrors that can be wrought by profits:

Number A: America’s profit-centered “health care” system kills lots of people. Including this writer’s only son. Yes, Aetna has death panels: people are denied care based on profit margins. That is why my son was kicked out of the hospital just a few hours after awakening from a coma. PROFITS CAN AND DO KILL. PROFITS KILLED MY KID.

Letter 2: American industry is constantly pushing for less (or no) regulation, in order to increase profit. Thence came disasters such as massive oil spills, poisoned rivers and aquifers, and destructive, deadly industrial accidents. Profits can and do destroy.

Thirdly: American politicos are taking bribes in record quantities to enhance the profitability of private businesses with taxpayer dollars. Yes, they call them “contributions”, but c’mon: these are bribes. Bribes that result in the theft of our hard-earned. Profits can and do corrupt.

Once again, Gentle Reader: your humble correspondent is not, repeat NOT opposed to profits. But not everything has a free-market solution. Some things are better divorced from a financial profit motive. Some things must be non-profit in order to succeed: things like health, education, public safety, and so on.

It’s long past time we put the final nail in the coffin of Reagan/Bush voodoo economics and its resulting death, destruction and corruption.

Reality is calling, America: better pick up the phone while we still can.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

Falling gas prices have recently created a huge demand-side boost to our economy. Millions and millions of dollars worth of boost: serious money. The increase comes from families having a few hundred extra bucks a year to spend on things other than filling their tanks. That is the free market in action, folks: consumers consuming, and by so doing creating jobs where they spend that additional money.

Classic, common-sense, evidence-based economics. People making additional purchases with the money they are saving because of lower pump prices. Demand-side economic stimulus via the private sector. Somewhere in the Afterlife, Adam Smith is shouting “See? SEE, motherf***ers? Who’s the man? I toldjaso!”

And none, repeat NONE of those falling petrol prices had Thing One to do with tax breaks for millionaires. No, oil prices are falling because of supply and demand. Once again, class, all together: “supply AND demand”. But of course, “republicans” don’t care about anything but the supply side. Because that side has all the friggin’ millionaires and billionaires that can (and do) buy Teapubbie Senators and Congresscritters.

This blog has ofttimes posted about the complete and utter failure of supply-side “economics”, and the laughable Laffer Curve that it is based upon. (Click the links, Gentle Reader, lots of supporting data to be found if you folllow the breadcrumbs.)

Once again, all of the Post-Reaganista bulls*** has been exposed, in all of its fetid, malodorous splendor. The American economy used to grow, before these dark days, because sensible adults recognized that all sides and strata of the economy are interrelated, and that we needed to manage supply and demand, the rich and the poor, and everything in between. But because of the Voodoo Wing of the “Republican” Party (and by that we mean, “the entire f***ing GOP”) focusing ONLY on the supply side, we have naught but deficts, crumbling edifices, and corruption all around us.

The positive economic effects of falling prices for the consumer prove, once again, that the Teapublican party is, as usual, completely full of s***. Almost as full of it as the idiot voters who voted for them, or failed to vote against them. But hey, enjoy the cheap gasoline while it lasts; until the Teapubbies find yet another way to steal those extra dollars away from us, and hand it back to their supply-side patrons.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

When Forbes, of all magazines, says “Obama kicks Reagan’s ass”, or words to that effect, you know that the Supply-Siders are totally f***ed. And that they suck dead elephant d***s. And are too f***ing stupid to realize how stupid they are.

But Big Business follows data, and data proves that Voodoo Economics is a giant, stinking heap of dinosaur bollocks:

Bob Deitrick: ”President Reagan has long been considered the best modern economic President. So we compared his performance dealing with the oil-induced recession of the 1980s with that of President Obama and his performance during this ‘Great Recession.’

“As this unemployment chart shows, President Obama’s job creation kept unemployment from peaking at as high a level as President Reagan, and promoted people into the workforce faster than President Reagan.

President Obama has achieved a 6.1% unemployment rate in his sixth year, fully one year faster than President Reagan did. At this point in his presidency, President Reagan was still struggling with 7.1% unemployment, and he did not reach into the mid-low 6% range for another full year. So, despite today’s number, the Obama administration has still done considerably better at job creating and reducing unemployment than did the Reagan administration.

Big businesses may not like Obama, but they (unlike brain-dead ideologues like Ted Cruz) can read a balance sheet. They know that good old-fashioned math-based accounting proves that supply-side economics is deader than a doorknob. So too do most normal Americans.

Why, then, does our nation persist in its apparent infatuation with such a bankrupt ideology? Simple: the Teabaggers who are dumb enough to buy the voodoo potion turn out and vote; and the precious few in the business world who are profiting by the Reagan-era policies spend lots of money buying elections for ideologues like Ted F***ing Cruz.

Sad to say, mere facts and common sense matter litlle when politics rears its ugly head. This writer hopes that you, Gentle Reader, will at least consider facts when you express opinions and cast ballots. The same facts that even the Repubs at Forbes are acknowledging.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

This blog sneers ofttimes at “Republicans” and their stupid-f*** “supply-side” economics. (Here is one example of said mockery.) The gist is: tried and true data-based economic practices are the way to succeed, and Randian, Lafferesque Voodoo economic policies are the way to fail.

In Kansas, one of several states that have decided Ayn Rand was the false Goddess they shall worship, Voodoo economics have had the result most of those in the Reality-Based community have predicted:

In Kansas, the right wing has completely run the show in the state capitol since the 2012 elections, when Sam Brownback (who became governor two years earlier) led a purge of moderate Republicans who were acting as a brake on his agenda in the state Senate. Kansas is now a laboratory for what would happen if conservative Republicans gained full control of government. Empowered state Republicans slashed taxes for the rich, arguing that an economic boom would follow. It didn’t, as job growth in Kansas has underperformed the national average (as has Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, another state that moved hard right around the same time). But what did follow was a huge hole in the state’s budget (while liberal-dominated California is running a surplus and paying down debt).. (Emphasis via Cranky)

In state after state, the predicted results have occurred: Voodoo economics have created a sort of Zombie economy. What might seem just a mildly amusing turn of phrase is in fact a devastating blow to those of us not in the 1% (said 1% motherf***ers not being in the least incommoded by the Undead Economy). The economy is limping along, barely alive as far as most of us can tell, and that is not a sustainable path.

In Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, and indeed across the nation, we see the results of “Republican” policies: and rotten results they have proven to be. Using millions of people to test their voodoo theories was unethical at the outset, and has since sucked most of the life our of our economy.

Unlike the zombies one sees in movies, our Repub-afflicted economy can be healed and brought back to life. All that is needed is to lay off the voodoo, apply some healthy policies, and the rotting ambulatory corpse of our nation will be restored to health.

And the first step of that cure? Get out and vote. Vote against each and every “Republican” in every race, in every location. Banish the witch doctors and bring back the trained, educated professionals that had served us so well for centuries. Ditch the dream of Supply-Side, and awaken to reality.

That ‘dream’ turned out to be a nightmare the likes of which even Romero could never have envisioned, anyway.

Mr. Blunt and Crankly

Let’s just take the guilt as given, shall we? Craven Cliven Bundy has been found guilty of any number of crimes by a court of law. He has committed more crimes since then in the full view of TV cameras.

And his Moocher Militia has been videoed and photographed (including by themselves) committing acts of treason, insurrection, sedition, interfering with law enforcement in the performance of their duties, incitement, intimidation, theft, and trespassing. It’s pretty much open and shut, innit? They, like their mooching Rancher buddy, are guilty as shit.
The evidence is overwhelming.

And they are turning it up to 11 now that the BLM caved. Yes, they had serious, valid concerns about a bloodbath. But surely there was something between mass killing and total surrender? Between picking the guilty to triumph over the law-abiding?

That’s what happened, and please don’t pretend otherwise. Here is one bit from the local news:

They were equally hostile to journalists covering the story. Pistol-packing militia men have blocked 8 News NOW’s access to public roads. Some poured lighter fluid around our news vehicle while others got physical.

And here are militia members threatening people who are just trying to drive across roads they paid for:

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The government showed mercy to the guilty, and now the innocent are suffering at thir hands. Sure, the government says, they will deal with these terrorist motherfuckers someday. And while the authorities sit with their heads in the sand and their thumbs up their asses, the people they are sworn to protect are at the mercy of a load of armed, homicidal, deranged lunatics.

Mercy to the guilty, cruelty to the innocent. True in Adam Smith’s time, and it’s true in Nevada today, too.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

Because it’s pretty effing obvious that they’ve never read his works. He never promoted unregulated free markets: in fact, he advocated for individuals and governments to control capitalism, and to take into account the needs of people, no matter which economic and social strata they may occupy. Our “Republican” “leaders” and their corporate paymasters are willfully ignorant of these facts, damn their manifold “souls”.

A few sample Adam Smith quotes for all y’all who haven’t read him:

“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

Yeah, but don’t tell that to the BoehnerBots.

“No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.”

Again, the Baggers and their puppeteers have evidently missed this little bon mot.

“Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”

Pretty obvious reference to the 1-percenters of his day and ours, innit?

:“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires.”

Sounds a lot like Repubs and Teabagggers, does it not?

More of his quotes can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/14424.Adam_Smith But if you can, you really ought to read all of his Wealth of Nations writings, because the man was the kind of capitalist that has nearly gone extinct in these decadent modern times.

This writer hopes that whatever eventual tribunal metes out justice to these Teabagging scumbuckets remembers one more Adam Smith quote:

“Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.”

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

P.S.: What prompted this rant? Why, ’twas this article on a skanky lobbyist who played both sides of the street during the recent ACA imbroglio. Said scuzzbucket is the recipient of ALEC’s “Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award”. ALEC is, of course, the über-teabagger lobbying group that wants to ban all regulations, so the very notion of those f***wits naming an award after Adam Smith is so far beyond ironic as to be beyond belief.

As your friendly neighborhood blogger blunts and cranks his way through the 2012 Silly Season, he is glad to see (and he is not the only one to have expressed this sentiment) a serious debate on the proper role of government. As a radical centrist, it is not likely that his own personal views will be put into action, but these questions have been inadequately considered for far too long now, and just the fact of a discussion could make this election year potentially more useful than has become the norm.

At one time, the U.S. Government pretty much did what nobody else could or would do: make laws, protect the public, build big stuff that didn’t make a lot of profit, set standards, make war, and such. Normal government functions, in a tradition that goes back for thousands of years. As governments tend to do, it gradually became less and less efficient, and thus more and more wasteful.

From time to time, various efforts were made to cut out waste, and these encountered various degrees of success, though none were completely successful. One idea that gained wide acceptance during the last few decades was to make government “run like a business”. In theory, an inefficient business fails of its own accord, according to market conditions. So treating government in a like manner would ensure efficiency and thus success.

This is a seemingly well-constructed bit of logic, and when presented convinced a large number of Americans to go along with the idea. However, as a student of logic, Mr. Blunt and Cranky was long ago taught to examine the premises behind any seemingly logical statement to see whether or not it is true (true is not the same thing as logical). This one fails to hold up under scrutiny.

Government is not a business: businesses sell products/services to earn a profit (or to break even in some cases). Government supports businesses, of course (for a variety of reasons) by providing services, infrastructure and incentives, but government’s core product is not inherently profitable: the maintenance of a reasonably safe and orderly society. Examples:

  • Military, to protect the people from foreign threats
  • Law enforcement and firefighters to protect the people from local threats
  • Infrastructure like roads, utilities and such to facilitate commerce

 

There is a reason why businesses don’t tend to go into these areas: they are not profitable. Regardless of any Randian pipe dreams you may have heard, these “products” have never been profitable (some isolated bits and pieces are, and businesses do flock to those few profitable chunks), and no rational business person would ever undertake them.  Government built and/or enabled the building of nuclear power plants, our ground and air transport systems, utility grids, radio and television, communications wired and wireless, and a host of other essential services. None of these create or have ever created a profit for the government that may be viewed on a balance sheet.

 This does not mean that the services provided by government are worthless: cash is not the only measure of worth, after all. Businesses make profit in part by utilizing these government-enabled services, but the government itself does not. People profit in a certain sense by having safety, water, roads and such, but government does not record a monetary profit.

Governments “profit” not in the monetary sense: successful (“profitable”) governments are those that preside over an orderly society full of citizens who are reasonably satisfied with their lot in life, who are reasonably satisfied with the job that their government is doing; and if satisfied, they return elected officials to office for additional terms. The public-sector “profit margin” could be determined by election/re-election statistics, approval ratings and poll numbers.

If we accept that definition of governmental profit, then the margin is pretty darned low these days. Maybe government should be run like a government, since running it like a business has been steadily decreasing the “profit margins” of all three branches of government.  The experiment has failed, time to go back to what works.

Mr. B & C