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29 April 2013


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William R. Cumming

Bismark is ususally credited with creation of the social welfare state in Germany and first in the world.
Why? to ensure that troops understood their families would be cared for if they died at the "front"!


Col. sir,

RE: "Yes, the notion that life is a choo-choo ride through Disneyworld is disappearing from America's collective mind. Good. It is better to live in the real world like other people."

[Sage] Advice from the (Y)i Ching. --


"Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent."

When a man seeks to climb so high that he loses touch with the rest of mankind, he
becomes isolated, & this necessarily leads to failure.



窮則變 ,變則通 ,通則久。

“When out of means, seek change. Then opportunities will come.”

The only problem now is what sort of Change is to be sought by hoi polloi of America...


The only problem is that we PAID for those Social Security benefits. A recent Urban League study showed that many Americans will not get back what they put in.

Anti-entitlement crusaders want to make sure that we really get screwed.

Reducing benefits is one thing. Grand larceny of retirement savings is another...

Paul Escobar

Mr. Lang,

"Other people" are realistic. They have also managed to foster employment & the quality-of-life policies this 1% cheerleader - Samuelson - lazily caricatures.

IMO, the more "diverse" the population...and the greater the reach of a capital: the less successful these basic pursuits become.

Hence, "realistic people" would advocate the liberation of the distinct cultures which exist in Texas & Massachusetts. Let them live according to their values - without the interference & judgement of some alien capital...and its sycophantic scribes (cough! Washington Post! cough!).

Paul Escobar


paul escobar

I don't think that you understood my comment. WIMTS is that Americans will no longer be able to think that all possibilities are attainable. pl



The race to the bottom which Samuelson advocates for here is not an act of nature, but the result of predatory, neoliberal, economic policies.

One of the bright spots imho is South America--the first victims of globalization and the financialization of the world economy and the first to push back.

w. patrick Lang


I think it had more to do with competition with the socialists for the loyalty of German workers. pl


For a long time, this has been a nation of children demanding the proverbial free ice cream and....
....predictably electing thoroughly corrupt and self-absorbed politicians who will say ANYTHING to get elected.
Hell, promising free ice cream is easy.

Paul Escobar

Mr. Lang,

I am all for greater humility, and the wide-reaching implications of such a mind-set.

IMO, it will not play out in the uniform & ideological manner advocated by Samuelson.


The idea of the German social welfare system was to fight both, the socialists and the Catholic church. :-)

I have still to read a serious source that claims that the welfare system was created to enhance morale of the army. Officers were often not allowed to marry, so no need there, and BTW the losses of the wars in 1866 and 1871 were very low.


"some recipients are less deserving than others"

This should get applied to allot more programs than Social Security/retirement benefits. Just to name one how much is NEA funding and for what?



I don't think I'm particularly enamored with the way domestic entitlement policy in US are changing. It would be one thing if it is changing because we are running out of money, but they are in financial distress to a large degree because members of our policymaking elite want to remake the whole world according to their ideals. So, one set of dreams being turned in for another, but the latter is even less realistic and elitist in nature.


Agreed. But what are you going to do about it?

Trial by lobby has been a way of life in the US for some time. Good governance has no lobby. Special interests have the advantage of focus. You will be robbed to benefit the rich. Cos they can lobby for their corn and you cant.

This process is already pathological, but most people have not noticed. I see no evidence it will come to an end untill there is a wider analysis of recieved wisdom and why it is incorrect.

Mark Gaughan

"All things that are born must die. Work hard for your own freedom from sorrow."
The Buddha

Charles I

Add yt's "The only problem now is what sort of Change is to be sought by hoi polloi of America..."

to "Americans will no longer be able to think that all possibilities are attainable"

and the only question for the neolib/cons will be:

Where shall we direct the blame and acrimony for the loss of all those un-crystallized yet already leveraged opportunity costs, er, dreams, and how to squeeze a dime and an inch out of it?.

How much of what the hoi polloi want has been acheived in the past?

Trick is to keep financing GWOT and periodic massive military and economic interventions on foreign money, so long as U.S dollar is, er, credible reserve currency and there are remaining entitlements and non-cororporate economic and political profits to be ultimately rendered by that debt.

Liberal consumerism of a chastened hoi poilloi is now likely to be redirected towards technologically driven, corporate, er, managed, sort of War Communism as a last means of occupying all of the market.

Labour, esp organized labour is the new donkey-tailed target under complete assault- now by indignant capitalists - herding mobs of middle class taxpayers, themselves hand-to-mouthers two cheques away from default - to corral those bits of trickle down from the Labour to the Capital side of the ledger. Which having privatized country, community, money and opportunity, will hand the bankrupted hoi polloi their "change". It will be as impoverished, de-legitimated, dis-articulated, disenfranchised reserve battalions of urban penury.

I'm moving to the country, conservative small town Muskoka, trading all my grand visions and half my principles for the view, community, freedom and simple pleasures of curmudgeonly cynicism. With fish, game and a garden. Living up there dulls all my liberal senses.

Not many hoi polloi gonna have so soft a landing.

This place otoh, its like having The Cave explained to me over and over and over til I stop blinking. As grateful for that as for the means to change the view. Ok, not quite, but thank you one and all very much.

Oh,yes, also, according to this nugget FB Ali sent me, EVERYTHING to do with money, or rather fungible market value on the race to the bottom is rigged, whatever our political conspiratorial abilities.




The reality is that we now live in a corporate controlled state that is servicing only the wealthy stakeholders, not the people. The rule of law has collapsed. Jon Corzine and MF Global will never be indicted for stealing 1.2 billion dollars from American farmers. Too Big to Fail CEOs can risk everything to get big bonuses financed by free money from the Fed. Yet, if they go under, they will be bailed out by the taxpayer and keep the cash and their Hampton Mansions.

Social Security and Federal Civil Service pensions are at risk even though we funded them out of our salaries. We are the 47% Parasites. Military pensions could be at risk too except that current active duty officers are the 21st Century Praetorian Guard. A military coup is likely if young soldiers are forced to rotate to war till they die, like gladiators, not able to retire after 20 years with a pension.

Company Propaganda continues marketing that the USA is the best of all possible worlds even though youth unemployment is at 22%.


We could also stop the massive immigration into the US from the 3rd World via H1-B visas and the unsecured southern border, as well as the 'refugee' racket that has Chechen refugees blowing up the Boston Marathon?

Realistic people would demand that our leaders treat America as a nation, and not a hotel, and to hell with the neocons, the racial grievance lobby, and all the rest of them.


With respect Col. Lang, Samuelson is full of it.

The reason for Americas woes are simple - a predatory 1% doing their level best to screw the other 99%.

Spare me the rubbish about "responsibility" and "Property Rights" and all the other right wing rubbish about people on food stamps buying filet steak.

Your economy is broken for any number of reasons and cannot generate the returns necessary to provide a decent standard of living for the population.

A few examples:

1. A Congress that enables the success of rent seeking behaviour on a massive nationwide scale - that beggars belief. It costs you money and destroys value.

And yet my favourite example of rent seeking behaviour still exists - The Louisiana Florists licence - protecting the proud morons of Lousiiana from bad flower arrangements. Multiply this example by a million times and see how this behaviour shackles you.


Then of course the biggest xample is your entire health system which costs a fortune and produces rotten results. Australia and many other developed countries have been running single payer for at least Forty years.

2. A Political organisation of states and jurisdictions that imposes massive economic costs on business and consumers. Fifty states and Fifty different sets of laws and taxes.

For example, do you understand the total lunacy of of things like taxing an airplane as property in one state but not another?

The link below is to an article that discusses these considerations - do any of you understand what the economic cost of this idiocy is? Let alone the bureaucracy to try to enforce it?


3. Social systems and institutions that are outmoded, inefficient and unsound. For example, your entire public education system which enshrines inequality of opportunity and produces rotten outcomes.

For example, the TEXAS GOP thinks teaching clear thinking and analysis skills in schools "undermines family values".


...And of course America is the only country where "stealing education" is a crime. Who ever arranged things this way should hang their head in shame.


However that is your choice. You want to believe the crap Samuelson writes? If so, watch your nation become a Third world country - complete with no go areas, warlords and poverty.

If not, then kick every bastard out of both houses of Congress put in decent men and start cleaning the mess up instead of wringing your hands and whining about how you can't afford anything anymore.

john in the boro

Long ago we had the Turner Thesis which noted the closing of the frontier, now we have the Samuelson Thesis which notes the closing of American Exceptionalism.



I ,for one, am among the idiots. I have no desire to live in a "centralized" state. pl

Babak Makkinejad


I think you might not be aware the extent which government all over the world are subsidizing their populations.

I cannot of think of a single state in the Middle East that does not have subsidies - and I am not writing of the oil and gas producers.

I do not think this aspect of social experience - "hand out" and "give me" is unique to the United States.

I also think that since US has been a country of immigrants, and they were largely poor unprooted people who came to the United States to get a better deal, it stood to reason to expect one to do better than one's parents and grand-parents.

But eventually one or one's descendants plateau out.

I think that is normal and not exceptional, given the circumstances.


" Fifty states and Fifty different sets of laws and taxes."

You mean we should go back to the Queen appointing our governors like you do in Australia? We fought a war over that once. As to fifty sets of laws, that's not entirely true as there are numerous reciprocity statutes amongst states as well as both parties pushing the Commerce Clause to the limits. That's what unleashed banking deregulation in the '80s all the to the present.

Jose L Campos

My impression is that the 1% accumulates more and more freedom , that is property, to manipulate a progressively more degraded world.
Perhaps at the end they will have a world turned to dust.


We could stop offering illegal aliens food stamps, housing benefits, & education, for starters.

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